WaniKani could use an Override button

I think one of the biggest issues with WaniKani, as much as I like the platform, is the lack of user empowerment. You’re locked to a specific set of definitions or interpretations for every vocab or kanji, and even if you submit something that’s as accurate as, or a synonym for, the given readings, you still get the item wrong. As an example, I’ve spent over a month with one kanji because I keep writing “congratulate” instead of “congratulations”. The same problem exists in the case of small typos, which can set back an item you otherwise understood. I’d appreciate the option to simply press a button to make the program re-mark it as correct.

I understand some people may see the potential for abuse here(people misunderstand cards but mark them right anyways to speed through levels), but I’m not sure about that. Firstly, we’re all adults with the self-control to dedicate ourselves to learning a language, so I think the userbase can be trusted not to use an override button except in cases where they genuinely got the kanji correct. Secondly, systems like Anki and Memryse are entirely self-rated, and don’t have a rash of people highly rating cards they don’t really understand to warp-speed through their decks.

This problem could theoretically be addressed by giving more readings to each word or kanji, but I think that practically speaking, adding enough alternate meanings to cover every possible nuance of a kanji or vocab’s meaning would be incredibly labour-intensive, and some would probably still be missed.


Ngl, congratulate and congratulations in my head are two very distinct words, but if it bothers you, why not add a user synonym? This is the exact reason it exists.

Also, I believe one of the reasons wanikani isn’t adding an “oops” or “retype” option like in double-check, is because it’s just not their vision of the site. They don’t stop you from doing it, but they won’t encourage skipping cards, because “eh, close enough”.

Having self control does not an adult make. Most people suffer with not being able to control themselves when the other option is way less suffering. This is not because they are children, this is because they are human.


There’s a userscript for that. :slightly_smiling_face:

What a curious assertion. How would you even know?

Given what I know of basic human nature, I’d be willing to assert the reverse.


Can recommend! I typo ALL the time, this user-script saves my sanity :smiley:


Is there a similar way of overriding on Tsurukame for iOS?

According to their feature list there is something in the settings:


Go to settings, scroll down to the ‘reviews’ options, and it is the seventh one down from the top of the section:

Once enabled, there will be a plus sign on the left hand side of a your screen when you get an item wrong in your reviews.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any reviews right now and so I can’t take a screenshot for this.

Awesome! That’s super helpful, cheers.

In terms of how I know, I know a large amount of people who’ve reached high levels of proficiency in Japanese, Spanish, medicine, and other areas using self-rated spaced repetition systems. Jeopardy champions like Arthur Chu and Roger Craig have also dominated the show using programs like Anki. I think there’s also plenty of online Anki success stories out there-frankly, I’m surprised to see someone in the online Japanese-learning community who doesn’t swear by it!

In terms of academic research, there’s solid evidence that SRS systems contribute heavily to learning. This [meta-analysis](https://www.gwern.net/docs/spacedrepetition/1999-donovan.pdf), for example, found an effect size of d=0.42, which is pretty considerable! However, of course, this study pertains to spaced repetition, not self-rated spaced repetition, so we should probably get more specific!

I’m aware of two good literature reviews on the subject in the classroom, and they both come to the same conclusion:student rating moderately-to-highly correlates with teacher rating, but students will still often over- or under-estimate their own abilities, especially when in lower years of school(possibly a proxy for inexperience in their discipline).

However, this research doesn’t come without qualifiers! First is that both analyses sharply criticize the studies included for a variety of very basic methodological flaws, which may undercut the reliability of their findings a bit. Secondly, as Boud and Falchikov indicate, if an accurate assessment is somehow incentivized, people will assess their performance more accurately. This may mitigate some assessment bias in the field of Japanese-After all, everyone using Anki for Japanese has the goal of learning Japanese, which incentivizes them to grade themselves as accurately as possible so their learning is more efficient. These studies also implicitly assume the perfect accuracy of teacher grading, which has in fact been shown to be inconsistent and idiosyncratic.

Lastly, I don’t think students in a classroom is necessarily comparable to a learner using an SRS! The students in these studies were 1.attempting to summarize their performance on complex, multi-question tests and 2.did not have access to the answers. They’d be asked, for example, to rate their own performance on a math test before getting the mark back. In contrast, an Anki user knows the answer the moment they flip over the flashcard, and has a comparatively far simpler time deciding whether that answer they held in their head fits. The fact they can direct check the answers while the students in these analyses couldn’t is big enough, let alone the gap in complexity!

I don’t think self-assessment will get us far due to the difference between Anki and a typical classroom environment, so I took a look at the actual literature on SRS software, which seems to be a ringing endorsement. For example, this study found that use of electronic, self-rated flashcards through Anki increased the pass rate of the bar exam by a whopping 19.2%! Another study found that use of Anki was associated with significant gains in terms of L2 acquisition, even in a group that actively disliked using the application. L2 acquisition was also seen to increase in this study of Japanese students taking the TOEIC.

Of course, this doesn’t necessarily mean that self-rating doesn’t do worse than testing-it’s entirely possible that flash cards have a positive effect, but testing would have an even greater one! Unfortunately, I was unable to find a study comparing learning outcomes after using self-rated flashcards versus computer-rated ones, but I don’t think we have any reason to necessarily make it our null hypothesis that self-rating is an inferior way to learn. For a more detailed writeup on SRS and Anki, I’d recommend reading Gwern’s post here; it was my source for a few of the data I used here, and also a great read in general.


I guess my worry would be that a “user synonym” is basically just a skip button with extra steps-you basically just pre-allocate your skipped words, instead of choosing them during a review session. I don’t see much of a distinction here, outside of the fact that an override button would fix the problem of typos being graded wrong, while user synonyms don’t.

I’d argue that simply choosing to learn a foreign language demonstrates a significant amount of self-discipline and ability to delay gratification. I also think that the online Japanese community itself is pretty significant evidence to the contrary of this idea! Anki, as I mentioned, is a 100% self-rated platform, and is also one of the most widely-used, widely-praised, effective applications for learning Japanese out there. There’s an endless number of success stories who attribute their abilities to use of Anki, as well as academic studies that endorse it. If you want more detail, you can check my response to Belthazar! Hope this cleared a few things up, and thanks for the reply!

I’ve definitely have chosen to learn a foreign language many times over in the past. This is what, my 4th time trying to tackle Japanese?

Anki has the usual issue of hearing about success while not seeing failures. You will see the posts of the language masters, that have been using anki for the past 10 years without a single day off. You won’t see the guy’s, who’s really into one piece and decided to learn japanese only to give up a week later, because languages are frankly hard to learn.

Also, your reasoning has a big mistake in it. The studies you mention compare learning something without vs with SRS. Not with vs without the software testing you. Just try to think back of all the times you’ve tried to put in a reading only to get one or two letters wrong. Using a self graded system you might not notice and learn that reading, even though it will be incorrect. I’d quite like to see a study done that compares self rated vs aided SRS.

Yes, it is. It keeps you from just doing the usual “ah, right, ye, I know that, I know, of course”, when you accidentally get a meaning a bit off for the 10th time in a row. It requires intent and that’s important. You can’t tell yourself, that you know that, because it’s similar enough. You have to go to the word and add the meaning manually.

I think the distinction is that the user synonym feature fixes the issue of Wanikani never being able to account for all possible correct ways of phrasing a meaning (and things like users who would like to add synonyms in their first language if it’s not English), while still locking the user into having to accept that a missed answer is a miss no matter what the reason was (user scripts aside).

For better or for worse, the lack of this feature in the main site seems to be something the designers of the website feel strongly about, to the point that it’s listed as something they are unlikely to consider in the “About the feedback category” post:

If it helps at all, personally I think of the discipline you mention as a reason to keep the takeback feature limited to user scripts, as I found it helpful to instill that discipline when I was a new learner still figuring out how best to learn a language. Misses, even ones I disagreed with, reminded me that the only consequence was seeing that item a little more often in the SRS piles, and that seeing an item again wasn’t something to be upset about. Which is a perspective that I think in some small way helped prepare me for confronting reams of words and kanji in books and the like.

That’s just my take though, and plenty of people get lots of use out of the takeback script as well. :slight_smile: So hopefully its existence, at least, provides the best of both worlds.


I see what you’re saying, but at that point, I don’t see why that particular argument applies to Anki in particular. I could say the same about any other resources:You may think WaniKani, or Bunpro, or Genki are great because of all the people who praise them, but those are only the success stories, and there could be some huge hidden rate of attrition. At that point, we’d be unable to trust any learning tool at all! In addition, there’s plenty of studies vouching for Anki’s overall effectiveness, not just online anecdotes.

I agree completely, haha. I actually wonder if you fully read my post, because I actually made that point at the end, but qualified it. Firstly, we don’t know the RELATIVE effectiveness of Anki to the SRS framework you’re advocating, but we do know it’s a very effective tool that is certainly worth using! In addition, in a situation where we have no data on a question, the correct course of action(IMO) is to suspend judgement until you get more, rather than assuming de-facto that one option is better than another.

I guess my concern would be a few things. Adding alternate readings will always have a few problems. Firstly, they’ll have to be added after you get an item wrong, meaning you’ll still take an SRS hit on an item you know. Secondly, it won’t address typos, which I think are a big deal when you’re trying to get through 100+ reviews a day. Thirdly, even if you add a single alternate reading, that doesn’t mean you won’t type some other, second word which is correct, but not included, putting you right back where you start! I sympathize with your concerns, of course, but it all seems a little paternalistic to me, especially considering how so few Japanese words have direct 1-to-1 English translations, and how incredibly strict WaniKani can be with English translations.

I totally get what you’re saying, and I think the point about beginners is a very salient one. One of my earlier posts in this thread outlines how people inexperienced in a discipline tend to persistently overrate their own performance, and while it’s not clear how well that transfers from a classroom environment to a word/kanji-based SRS, it’s certainly worth keeping in mind!

You’re right that user synonyms wouldn’t solve every single time you had a typo or a similar word that wasn’t one of WaniKani’s default definitions. But it would help with this specific case you complained about:

For that type of situation, you add the synonym after the first failed review and then you never have to worry about it again. So I’d say both user synonyms and an “undo” button have value. You might as well use the synonym feature since WaniKani provides it built in, even if it doesn’t help you the very first time you answer with a valid word that WaniKani happens to not include in their definitions. For actually undoing mistakes, WaniKani has made it very clear that they never plan to add this feature natively. So all you can really do is use the user script that Belthazar posted.


Brah, get the user script “Anki mode”.
Typing 200+ reviews a day?

Thank you so much. I had the correct setting but didn’t realise I needed to use the plus sign.

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I’ve tried Anki a few times but the main turnoff has always been having to selfassess how well I remember something - I don’t like having to go introspective after every single card

For all I know, there may be a way to turn it off and just put universal SRS timers like in WK, I never looked closely into the settings because of problem 2 - the UI hurts my soul.


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