Useless Meanings

Hey, don’t knock Garbage. They were big in the '90s.


You’re good dude. I didn’t look up scripts because I actually dislike using scripts and such as work-arounds, it feels like cheating. And the last time I looked into scripts it didn’t seem like a simple process to start, which… given my schedule right now I don’t know if I have the capacity to try to crack open.

Does my plea at least make sense? Does it not make sense that the meanings section feels like a waste of potential, or that it’s not really helping the user understand what it needs to to properly recognize a vocab word? Like, I have my own decks on Anki, I do what I can to understand a word properly before I start memorizing it, but WK doesn’t really equip the user with what it needs to memorize it properly. At least that’s how it seems, that’s the point I’m trying to make


Yeah, WK doesn’t give people the tools to use vocab. They aren’t intending to, since the goal is just being able to read the kanji. I feel like you’re underestimating the work it would take to write explanations for all the words.

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If that were the case, why would they quiz you on the meaning? And once again, I think you’re overestimating what I’m suggesting- literally just two or three sentences, which most vocab words already have, but they’re unhelpful 2-3 sentences, save a rare few. And given that most vocab words are pretty self explanatory when it comes to the Kanji that make it up it wouldn’t even need to be a majority of the vocab words on the site.

Take 鼻くそ for example. I will never forget what the meaning is because they took the time to make the connection, in just a couple sentences. Now… imagine every vocab word that isn’t self explanatory to have the same care taken, in just a few sentences. Does that make sense?

You could write a short essay about pretty much every word (and many would need much more) if you were intending to teach people how to use the vocabulary, since often even when a word corresponds to a concrete concept it often doesn’t overlap perfectly with the English word.

But since vocab use is not a primary objective, English glosses are sufficient for keeping the general meaning in mind. I don’t see why you think that I think they’d abandon glosses just because they aren’t intending to teach in depth on vocab.

I guess I just think your idea would be a halfway measure toward actually teaching vocab, and Koichi is avoiding “mission creep.”


I’ve given an example of a proper meaning explanation that he’s given- with 鼻くそ, where juxtaposed to the meanings for 生存 and 保存 is leagues better when it comes to helping understand the meaning. So it’s not even outside the bounds of what he’s already decided he can do- why not be consistent? What would be “mission creep” about a proper description? Just for clarity-

Some vocab do have proper explanations like this- I don’t see why that’d be so outrageous to take this approach, instead of “Suppose that life is in existence on this planet… what would that say about life and survival in such and unforgiving place?”, which helps absolutely none

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I don’t see how 鼻くそ is different from anything else, except that since the くそ part isn’t written using the (relatively rare) kanji, they didn’t teach it as its own part originally, so they had to define it within the mnemonic in order to do the mnemonic in the normal way. If they taught the kanji for くそ then the mnemonic would be like any other, where they just line up the meanings of the constituent kanji.

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I wonder why anyone would buy a lifetime subscription for a service that they think is complete garbage.

A lot of the gripes I had with WaniKani when I started, I later realized were either out of scope or a feature instead of a bug. Most instances of both cases can be overridden by userscripts at your own risk.

By the way, scripts are only cheating if you use them to cheat, and it takes literally not 30 seconds to download Greasemonkey and add scripts.

@wantitled, I wish I could like your username, but since I can’t, here’s a :heart: for you.


I don’t know why you’d think I’m calling WK complete garbage, definitely a misread of… .well, everything I’ve said. But I suppose a desire for sensible meaning explanations in place of loose connections is unreasonable. This thread doesn’t need to exist anymore then. Should I leave this up or just delete it? Since, I mean… no one seems to see where I’m coming from anyways

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I just want to say, regardless of whether or not you delete this thread, I see where you are coming from and I understand the plea you are trying to make. I can tell that this means a lot to you, and I hope a solution comes your way since you went through the trouble of making this thread and talking to everyone.


I mean, I think we get where Tomoki is coming from, in the sense that they want WK to give more guidance on the vocab. I just disagree that the example given (鼻くそ) actually represents WK demonstrating that they already are cool with giving more detailed explanations, as I explained above. It would be nice for everyone if WK was a full vocab resource, but that’s just a massive undertaking.

Additionally, I agree with the point that there are scripts that address some of the complaints, like getting dinged for “transport” vs “transportation”. The user will always be capable of finding some novel way to phrase something in English that technically fits but isn’t in the list of things WK came up with initially.

I think 鼻くそ is a bad example because it’s actually really straight forward in the connection. I suppose I should find a better example of what I think is bad and what I think is good when it comes to the meaning category.

But for now I’ll leave it at this- I’m not advocating for more detailed explanations, and I don’t want WK to be a full vocab resource. I think WK should equip the users with the understanding that’s expected of their own vocab quizzes. Replace weak mnemonics with simple descriptions, descriptions that actually work. WK isn’t a bad product, I just think Koichi maybe should’ve been more honest with himself when he wrote some of these meanings- as if they were to be of help. And who knows, maybe he’s been wanting to rewrite some for a while, it’s likely just a low priority fix. But a good chunk of these meanings are insufficient and lead to confusion when it comes to reviews weeks or months down the road. If I can find better examples of what’s good and what’s bad, I’ll be right back with that.

Yeah it’s frustrating. I ended up making some mnemonics up myself because some of them are just terrible, while others are inconsistent. WK saved me the time of doing that with most of them and presented them in an ordered manner but it could definitely be much better.


I think there are quite a few people on here (me included) who don’t use the mnemonics at all. It’s just not often advertised on the forums as it’s one of the main functions of WK. You can totally use WK just as an SRS tool. I also appreciate in-house made sentences and the fact that they’re checked by native speakers. The tatoeba sentences are a big downfall of many other Japanese learning tools.

Like someone already said, WK isn’t an all inclusive tool to learn Japanese. You learn the words but you have to learn how to use them elsewhere. I’ve been watching Japanese media and interacting with Japanese people most of my life which has really helped me to understand the language and especially the nuances. Learning a language is a very multi-layered process and it’s always best to use as many resources as possible.

I do understand your gripe, though. I also wish they explained more about the use of vocab. WK is constantly changing and evolving. It’s just that the staff probably has a lot on their plate already. I think it’s important to appreciate them and what an amazing resource WK is to learn kanji.


Hell, I think you’ll find that there’s a good chunk of us on here who don’t even use WK’s radicals. I at least abandoned them a few levels ago and haven’t found myself missing them at all. And, of course, if you’re not using their radicals, most of their mnemonics go right out the window too. WK is still useful for learning the various common readings of things (an aspect I think most other kanji resources neglect), and being spoon fed kanji and vocab is pretty nice too, but the system definitely has a number of weak points that the learner has to shore up with outside resources.


What do you mean by this? Is there a way to skip over radicals and progress through levels anyways? Or are you saying you don’t think of the radicals the way they’re presented when you do reviews?

If the latter then I understand- I don’t use the mnemonics or the radicals (much) either because, as I’ve been saying, the mnemonics are bad. I only use mnemonics when I have trouble with a word, and usually I make up my own anyways. And that’s why it’s especially bad that when I DO need something to help me understand the meaning of a word, all there is to offer from WK is… well, the original posted image.

If it’s the former, how do you do this?

Unfortunately you can’t fully skip over them, at least as far as I can tell. I use the reorder and ignore scripts to keep them from gumming up my sessions, though. Actually, I wonder if we could request something from the scripting guys to automate this process some and auto filter guru’d radicals . . .


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