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Anki – Powerful, intelligent flashcards (ankisrs.net)
293 points by amjd on May 9, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 135 comments



A lot of people point out other software.

The whole point is the algorithm [1] which how Anki schedules your cards. It is based on Supermemo's [2], and improved a lot over the years, so I think it's the most optimal from all of the SRS software's out there.

Also I think Anki has a very simple UI, not sure how people can find it complicated. You just add cards, and by review you press a button, that's all. Cards are just HTML, but you can edit them with the built in WYSIWYG editor.

Anki is great for learning programming languages! See the Janki method [3] and another blog post [4] how to use it effectively. I found the last one especially helpful, and started learning Programming languages based on that. It works great. You can also learn linux commands, whatever.

People also asked for sharing cards. It is very important to make your own cards progressively and learn from those, because you know what you need to emphasize for the info to stick. Just use small information on every card, use your own terms, and it will be much easier to learn, compared to some random deck you downloaded.

[1]: http://ankisrs.net/docs/manual.html#what-spaced-repetition-a...

[2]: http://www.supermemo.com/english/ol/sm2.htm

[3]: http://sivers.org/srs

[4]: http://www.jackkinsella.ie/2011/12/05/janki-method.html


Is see in this comment and its answers, "most optimal", "more optimal".

An algorithm is optimal, not more, not most, just optimal.

For the case going here, you will have difficulty to prove any optimality, since the process involves humans. Efficient would be a better term than optimality.


developer of http://fluxcards.de (beta) and fluxcards android app (hobby) here.

Anki's spaced repetition algorithm is quite good and I definitely plan to boast on using a better one just like brainscape.com does but in the end, more important than which algorithm to use is to use spaced repetition at all. It just allows you to learn 20 times more with 20 minutes of time per day than I ever could back at school and far too few people know about that. If you never tried, please do it for a week or better longer as the effect kicks in only after at least some days of training the system.

In the end the actual spaced repetition algorithm used is not all that important, as long as easy stuff vanishes while hard stuff stays around.


I'm very interested in all learning software. It's hard to see what your software does different than the others though. Do you have screenshots, videos or something like this?


> most optimal from all of the SRS software's out there

You should check out http://ankiapp.com

The SRS algorithm uses scoring prioritization instead of intervals and I've found it to be more optimal than Supermemo/Anki.

I was an Anki desktop user for over 8 years, but I always became overwhelmed by the number of reviews due that would accumulate if I didn't stay active with the app almost every day (review hell). I've found the priority SRS model much easier when studying in small chunks (5-10 minutes at a time, 2-3 times a day).


Why is this named AnkiApp? I won't use software that creates deliberate confusion by using the same name as another application with the same purpose.


because its anki for iphone

there is also an ankidroid apk for android

i think he meant to say that using the desktop appliation isn't really good to stay on top of the cards, while using a phone makes it very manageable.


The link is not to Damien's AnkiMobile which is the legit Anki for the iphone (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/ankimobile-flashcards/id3734...) but to some other Anki I've never heard of.


Ankiapp appears to be something different. The web app Ankiapp links to below is not Anki's web app, and Ankiapp's site is copyright Admium Corp. instead of being attributed to Damien Elmes.


Isn't ankimobile anki for iphone? I use ankidroid, which seems to be the official anki for android. Ankiapp is mentioned nowehere on the anki page.


I study 10-30 minutes a day once (have a lot of cards in a lot of topic) and I just don't miss a day no matter what. I use the Anki mobile app if I can't use the computer on a day. I'm very lazy, but even I find this method very easy to do. I just made it as a habit; wake up, do the Anki review quickly and that's all.

Also I prefer a desktop app, because it's open all day, and whenever I encounter a new info, I immediately put it into Anki!


Question: are there disadvantages to spaced-repetition or memorizing in general? Could it be that by memorizing new things efficiently you forget older things, or that other abilities deteriorate?


I have been using SuperMemo for more than eight years and have more than 70,000 flashcards on a variety of subjects and languages, and once I got the hang of proper flashcard creation I have been able to remember almost anything I want: http://www.supermemo.com/articles/20rules.htm

Look at the above article for rules on how to make proper flashcards. SuperMemo, Anki, etc. are all good at helping you remember information, but if the flashcards are not correctly made, it's like putting water into an engine that requires gasoline. The thought that all explicit memorization is bad is a total myth; if you break any of the 20 above rules, flashcards will suffer (Trying to memorize before you understand, not learning things in list form, etc.).


I've used it for 8 months, and did not observe any negative side effects in the nature of those you mention.

One thing that I would consider somewhat of a disadvantage of an explicit repetition system is that you need to really take care of how you engineer the questions to match the way you would normally encounter the knowledge they refer to in real situations.

For example, read the section on "Two-way connections" of this article, also linked somewhere else in this thread: http://rs.io/2014/04/05/anki-10000-cards-later.html


For learning languages, I used to make my own flashcards and then search audio that contained the word. Then I discovered that there are apps with pre-filled cards that already have the audio such as MosaLingua (http://www.mosalingua.com/en).


This is also a great article about HOW spaced repetition systems should be used in language acquisition:

http://www.hackingchinese.com/if-you-think-spaced-repetition...


I've been doing the GRE vocabulary decks in Brainscape on my iPhone and I like the algorithm. It seems to be a variant of the Leitner Algoritm with 5 buckets. I'm enjoying it.


Medical student here. I've tried many flashcard programs (StudyBlue, Quizlet, gFlashcard, MentalCase, and more), and Anki is by far the best for my needs.

One thing that puts Anki in an orbital beyond the other programs is the ImageOccusion editor add-on [1]. This lets you screenshot an image, draw rectangles over labels within that image, and then generate a flashcard for each label. This works insanely well for learning anatomy.

I remember about a month ago where I had two hours to learn the names of all the tracts and nuclei inside of the brainstem for a readiness quiz. It took about 10 minutes to create flashcards for them all, and an hour to memorize. I passed the quiz. Days later fellow classmates were still struggling to remember the same information.

1 - http://tmbb.bitbucket.org/image-occlusion-2.html


It's truly a small world, the guy who wrote that plugin is a med student at my fac, but I'd never heard of it. Thanks for introducing me to an awesome plugin, my anatomy classes would've been a breeze with it.

On a more serious note, I've been seeing some comments asking to share Anki decks. This is fine but you should read this disclaimer first (it's about language learning, but it should apply to other areas as well). http://fluent-forever.com/personal-anki-decks/

In short, Anki works better for reviewing rather than learning things for the first time. So the most efficient way to use it would be building your own deck for a more personal experience.

However, if using shared decks, it's best to only add cards to your review log after you've learned the underlying concepts (so that it doesn't break your review rhythm).


I used Anki for French and am currently using it for Spanish. It's TERRIFIC. It's the best method for brute-force memorization of vocabulary and conjugation. While it's a bit lengthy to set it up, the creation process actually helps with the memorization.

Remember to only use photos where you can, dont use english words in it. The whole key is to skipping the "translation" step in your brain. Learn by thinking of the action, not by thinking of the english word and its translation. Getting rid of that "lookup" step is the key to getting good at learning a new language.


Anki and SRS in general are awesome indeed.

As for using pictures only: there are studies that show that pictures and mnemonics improve recall, but AFAIK there are no studies that say that using your native (or another known) language is bad.

The idea that our memory is organized as a mapping native-language-word -> platonic-concept or word->image->concept is just an analogy, we don't have any evidence that our brain works like that.

A trap that many learners fall into is assuming that words and grammatical structures map 1-to-1, and so they try to form sentences by translating word by word. But that's orthogonal to memorizing via pictures. Translation is ok but it must be mostly in the target-language->native-language direction.

FWIW my native language is Portuguese but I've studied 2 languages (Japanese and Hebrew) using mainly English, which is my second language.


This technique might be helpful for the extremely basics, but what is something meaningful you would put on a card for something like hope or dignity that wouldn't be easily confused? I find pictures helpful but usually I use them to illustrate the example sentence and not the word itself.

I agree your original language is a crutch but what I've found has made get better faster is native language translations of the word. It takes a while to get comfortable doing that, but once you start doing it often enough it works very well.


> I find pictures helpful but usually I use them to illustrate the example sentence and not the word itself.

And this is why you are supposed to create your own flashcards. Everyone learns differently and your self-guided learning is no different.

Personally I use pictured even for abstract stuff, I just try and find a picture that says "hopeful" or "amazing" for me and then I use that as my picture since I figure it'll forge the connection.


I believe using your own language is fine (please see my other comment).

That said, you can still use pictures together with example sentences. You don't have to find a picture that unambigously means "hope". It can be a picture of the Red Sox or your $favorite_underdog for instance, the dvd cover of a movie related to hope, etc. The point is to improve recall, not "skip the translation step".


My friend and I have been using this for years. My friend took it pretty serious this year:

http://rs.io/2014/04/05/anki-10000-cards-later.html

It's really useful for courses in college, especially Language, Biology, Chemistry, and Physics for definitions, pronunciations, systems, etc.

Math and Computer Science is a bit hard since a lot of that requires practice and it takes time to figure out how to structure those cards.

Anyways, highly recommend them.


I've been using a similar method to learn some German vocabulary for about 8 months now (using Flashcards Deluxe, not Anki, though), and I could specially relate to the "Two-way connections" section of your friend's article.

For example, my deck is currently German to English. As an experiment, once I reversed the deck for a while (making it English to German) and suddenly it became much harder. Maybe the solution is using two-way decks for vocabulary acquiring, so that you can not only read a word in German and understand it, but also want to - for example - search for something in German on Google and know it.

Or, maybe the way to go (for languages, at last) is just set the deck to Source Language* to Destination Language (in my case, English to German). Anyone has experience with that?

The linked article about "Why" questions was also a good find for me (http://rs.io/2014/02/25/why-questions-reveal-structure.html).

* Actually, English is not even my first language, but I'm comfortable with it enough to consider it a strong enough base to build on another language, mostly because there's more material in English than Portuguese about pretty much anything.


One of my favorite techniques for enforcing two-way connections is the "Jeopardy technique". Here's an example for a beginner in python:

  Side A: This library is the de-facto standard for http in python.
  Side B: What is the "requests" library?
This card is easily reversible in Anki, so you only have to write it once and get quizzed both ways.

Edit: formatting


I'm been using Anki in the last couple of years and I got from zero to more than 4000 cards. The best way to effectively learn new words for me it's put the word with the English definition and than the same word with the translation in your original language. Of course not all the words require this.


I am using memrise.com which works pretty well to learn some vocabulary. You can learn pre-made lists contributed by users, and does not require any set up.


Have a look at Duolingo if you like Memrise, it's a more in depth language learning tool that uses the same kind of ideas.


Duolingo is great, I use it too and know people who got results with it. I don't think it particularly shines on general vocabulary acquiring though¹, so that's where Memrise or a spaced repetition flashcard system like Anki or any other enters the picture.

¹Actually, this is sort of covered by the translation exercises, but since there is not a system to manage the reviewing of new words you learn there, I think it's inferior to a flashcard system.


I really want to use Duolingo, unfortunately I am learning Mandarin, and it is not available yet. It has been announced, a while ago, that it was in their todo list, but I don't know when it will actually be there. It is not even in the beta language section yet.


sadly duolingo has a very limited set of languages, but for thos it had it seemed very nicely done to me.


Memrise is fine too. Do you use decks Source Language -> Destionation Language, the other way around, or both?


Memrise asks you both ways.


It's a great tool for memorizing things that need to be rote-memorized. Chinese characters often fall into that category. Arcane Chemistry vocabulary probably do as well.

It's just a flash card system on steroids. If you know how to use a flash card system appropriately then this is a pretty powerful substitute.


Certainly flash card systems shine on things that need to be rote-memorized, but you can "hack" the system by engineering your questions in a certain way, like the "Why" questions mentioned by the author of linked article on parent comment.


It's just a review tool designed for storing Question / Answer pairs to your long-term memory. Nothing else.

If that means using it to review and remember specific answers to WHY questions (Why is the sky blue?) for the rest of your life, all power to you. Keep reviewing. However, I think the moment you start asking these conceptual questions you're no longer just trying to remember - you're trying to understand. That's not what flash-cards are designed for.

Instead, you might actually want to look at the sky. Do experiments. Meet experts.

In the process, you will come up with new questions and new answers to old questions. More importantly, as a result of this adventure you will not only remember, but also learn. I wonder if Newton used flash-cards.


Yes, is is designed for storing QA pairs, but it doesn't mean it can't be used for anything else.

I believe you misunderstood the use I have in mind for the WHY questions. The idea is not to create cards for things you are trying to understand, but for things you already understood.

These things you describe are about learning. Flash cards/Spaced Repetition Systems come AFTER learning. Say, for example, you meet an expert and because of that have a great insight about issue X. Truly, real "insights" take longer to forget than rote memorized facts. But can you say you will remember this insight in 6 months if you don't serendipitously encounter it again? 1 year? 5 years?

That's where a reviewing system comes into place. And it's not because such a system is designed for things that mostly need to be rote memorized that you can't use the "question" as a trigger to revisit something of a different nature.


> But can you say you will remember this insight in 6 months if you don't serendipitously encounter it again? 1 year? 5 years?

Good point. I think I misunderstood your intention behind asking why questions.


It definitely helps a lot for axioms, basic definitions, basic theorems, distribution functions and for things you "get wrong every time" etc., but everything beyond that it's inferior to exercises. As an example: I remember learning set theory and the subset relations of the number sets much faster than anyone else in my class.


One hack I've been using is making cards like "How to solve exercise X on Book Y, page Z?".

For me, doing a lot of exercises only once has worked worse than doing some key exercises more than once, and by using spaced repetition software (Anki, Flashcards Deluxe, etc) you can leverage its systems to get an optimized "schedule" for solving/revisiting exercises for math, physics, etc, so you don't have to worry about timing issues (like how many sessions of studying, and how long/frequent they should be).


What a brilliant idea!


Could you share more about how you've used it for less structured information? I've used Anki for about 3,000 Chinese words, and also some structured information (world capitals / countries). I've been experimenting with Anki for more conceptual knowledge and it's not nearly as easy.


I use Anki almost every day (for language learning) and from a user interface it is a terrible piece of software. It is inconsistent and not at all intuitive, even simple tasks usually require looking up documentation or tutorials.

That being said it is still the best software out there that I've found for this type of thing. I hope something better comes along at some point.


If you want to try an alternative, look at Mnemosyne:

http://mnemosyne-proj.org/

I use this daily for my foreign language studies. It has less features than Anki, but the interface is pretty clean, intuitive to use, and has a powerful plugin system. Plus, the whole thing is open source, written in Python, and highly extensible.


Wow, I just installed mnemosyne, it looks so much simpler than Anki. I'll be giving it a run this weekend.


Is there an iOS client perchance? I don't see anything listed specifically at the page.


You can run it on a server and use it over http. To my knowledge, there are only (unofficial) clients for Android.


I found a few apps that appear to sync, but they don't work all that great.

Maybe I should build an app for ios as a side project.


I've been using Anki to learn German, specifically getting a handle on the gender of nouns. Its been remarkably successful, since the data is essentially random, I can't imagine how I would remember it without using this tool.

I've also got a maths and a stats deck where I've been adding formulas (it supports Latex) as I progress in a couple of courses I've been taking. If you are studying at University, School, doing a MOOC or learning a language Anki is an incredible tool.

The main problem is that you really need to be using it most days. If you fall behind your backlog builds up and its use as a tool becomes much less useful. I commute on the tube most days so that hasn't been much of an issue for me, but when on holiday, traveling etc its easy to fall behind.


If you're interested in this you should also check out http://quizlet.com

Not strictly SRS but much better UI, mobile apps, audio, etc.


There's also ProVoc for OS X which was great in its time, and still works, but has now abandoned:

http://www.arizona-software.ch/provoc/

But luckily it's been forked and now lives on as iVocabulary:

http://apps.chbeer.de/ivocabulary/

I don't know if it's strictly an SRS app or not? It's certainly smart though, and is available on OS X and iOS and has a web interface too.


I tried Quizlet for many months, but actually just recently switched to Anki. The Quizlet UI looks better on the surface, but Anki's UI is faster and more... utilitarian.


Who cares? The point of Anki is the SRS, the rest is mere sparkles. Sparkles are awesome but Anki is a full featured, usable, extensible SRS.


I care about UI.


Sure, it's important, but it's like buying a pretty car that doesn't have a gas peddle attached to anything. It is THE key feature of the product.

SRS is really THAT important to flash cards.


If you still want SRS it's pretty easy to export from Quizlet to Anki:

Find the export button on the upper right of Quizlet's website, and select tab delimited and new line termination. Copy paste this into a text editor. Now you can just click the import button in Anki and it's pretty straightforward!


One can also try http://studyblue.com/

Personal ranking: Studyblue > Quizlet > Anki


I agree. Studyblue has the best UI


I use a mobile app for Anki, and I have audio for some of my flashcards.


One thing I've been doing in the past months, with great results, is memorizing passwords. I don't know how prevalent this is in the US, but here in Brazil, we use a lot of cards with chips, so that you type a password instead of signing a paper. To make it worse, there are sometimes different passwords for the same service in different situations (for example, most banks use a 4 or 6-digit password for debit purchases and a different 6 or 8-digit password for Internet Banking).

There are also credit card passwords, employee-issued benefit cards (I for example have a different card - and different passwords - for a meal card, a groceries card and a fuel card).

So, lately I've been randomly generating those and memorizing them with flashcards in a spaced repetition system. Has worked very well for me, with about 10 random 4-8 digit numeric passwords to remember.


Please tell me you encrypt your anki deck, or something....

This could be a huge problem if your phone/laptop/whatever is stolen.


I was also concerned about this issue, and have instead taken a nice medium path: After changing a password, I would try to log into the service at approximately the same intervals the Anki algorithm dictates until I feel the interval is long enough (i.e. I can reproduce it after two weeks with no reminder, which corresponds to a forgetting curve of about a month later). Just because I won't use the program doesn't mean I won't use the idea!

Ideally I would have a reminder in my Anki deck to log into some service, but I spend most of the time on Anki via phone and it'd be a PITA to stop my current session and laboriously type out long passphrases on the tiny iphone screen.

I'd be interested if anyone else has found a better solution than this.


That's brilliant!

To avoid doing it on your phone, could you put those cards in a separate deck, or use tagging?


I use Flashcards Deluxe, whose data is only on my phone. After memorizing the password, you can remove the cards. If one is really concerned about security, you can just install a safe password manager and only leave the prompt on the flashcard. For example:

[CARD FRONT] What's the password for Service X?

[CARD BACK] ( Check answer on 1Password )


Free for the computer and android but $24.99 for iOS? That seems like a strange price scheme.


AnkiDroid is an open source project developed by a third party, AnkiMobile is developed by the Anki developer, who is perpetually trying to find ways to fund the development of Anki.


Seems like a very good scheme IMO. With all the hype about Anki and how good it is lots of people will want to try it out. After finding out that it actually is good they might want to use it more frequent i.e. on the iPhone. And then they'll most likely buy it despite the price.

I know I will, anyway. And since Anki is open source and free I feel that the price will keep him motivated to improve on all things.


It's still very worth it. It's the one app I'll never uninstall.


Agreed. Years ago, it took me a few weeks to see the utility of Anki, then I bought the iOS app to support the developer's efforts. I use Anki more frequently on Android however. If you are averse to the price, sometimes there are sales you can check: http://appshopper.com/education/ankisrs but in the goodwill of giving back when you benefit, pay what you can.


For explanation, see this thread: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7540530


I've been using Anki to remember the books I read. I take notes as I'm reading and then transfer the important parts to Anki after I'm done. It's a pretty effective system.


Having studied Homeric Greek vocabulary for ~140 hours with Anki, the only change I found which made the experience more pleasant was to disable the card leeching. The "threat" of a card becoming a leech tended to take me out of the zone.

If one has 20 minutes to spare a day there is no reason one cannot gain a > 1000 word vocabulary in a foreign language in a matter of months. Anki comes highly recommended for vocabulary building.


a great article about using anki to improve as a programmer: http://www.jackkinsella.ie/2011/12/05/janki-method.html


I use this every day, on my commute. Currently focusing on:

Physics

Python module stuff. It's not my main language, so I tend to forget exact names for functions in modules. I.e. what was that function that did that thing? Is it in os or os.path? If I look something up on stack overflow or in the Python module docs, I tend to create an Anki card for it.

Same for Cocoa / Obj-C


Did you make your own Physics cards too?


Yeah, but it's slow going. LaTeX rendering helps. I'm slowly working through Classical EM and non-relativistic QM.


I used to be a SuperMemo user for several years and accumulated more than six thousands items. It has advanced algorithms. Both Anki and Mnemosyne are based on the algorithm of SuperMemo 2(its version is 16 now). And there are several pieces of articles about human memory on its website which are very helpful.

But about a year ago, I gave up Supermemo. Because it's really buggy and bloated. I was so worried about my data that I used to back up my data into a zip file every day. Then I decided that I shouldn't trust a buggy closed source software like SuperMemo to protect my data. If it died, I would have trouble converting my data to other formats.

When I was considering the alternatives, I chose Mnemosyne instead of Anki. Because Mnemosyne seems cleaner, and its author is doing some research on human memory which made me think that its algorithm could be better than Anki.


Unfortunately there's no sign of progress on the Mnemosyne research project, it looks unlikely to ever happen at this point. It uses the same algorithm as Anki (SM-2) as its base. Not to say they are equivalent though - both (especially Anki) add many refinements to the basic algorithm.


I use it a lot for language learning and brushing up on those obscure nuggets of programming knowledge that tend to be asked at interviews.

The interface is quite clunky, but it's good enough, and with Latex and media support quite powerful. Probably not fluffy enough for the general public, though.


I think you hit the nail on the head with this summary apart from that you forgot to mention that the syncing across multiple devices works quite well too.


Mattan Griffel of One Month Rails gives a great use case for Anki in his recent post "How to never forget anything ever again"

https://medium.com/medium-redef/5481606b087a


i.e. remembering the names of faces to build rapport.


I went to Thailand a few years ago to do a research project for school. One of the requirements before leaving was taking a two month intro to Thai course. I used Anki to make flashcards, and they worked pretty well. Apparently I was the only person to realize that digital flashcards existed and when I sent them out to the rest of the class everyone loved me after that, haha. Didn't end out learning that much Thai but the cards served their purpose in helping me pass the class. I especially liked the feature that let you play a sound clip for both the question and answer. Given the tonal nature of Thai it was great to have sounds accompanying each card.


Can you please provide screenshots or a video above the fold? Even if the highlight of the product is not the GUI, I'm still okay seeing the product work even in a command line interface. It helps me process the context of what it is.


You can find intro videos in the documentation: http://ankisrs.net/docs/manual.html#intro-videos


I made an app which uses the idea of spaced repetition to help you memorize flags. I was really amazed when I learned about this system a while back, and made this app to help my niece learn some interesting stuff. My app is really rudimentary and buggy, but I believe we are soon going to be seeing plenty of apps which incorporate these kind of ideas and really help us hack our learning process.

http://www.amazon.com/Touched-By-Designs-Flags-30DMC/dp/B00I...


Anyone enjoying this discussion owes it to themselves to check out Gwern's exhaustive page on spaced repetition.

http://www.gwern.net/Spaced%20repetition


There was a discussion about this a couple of months before: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6461936


I've been using Anki for a hybrid approach to learn for some university courses, learning with the Android app during commute and physical paper cards at home. shameless plug: I wrote a small tool to export Anki decks to PDF: https://github.com/nordicway/a2pdf Only works for simple cards though.


For HN audience, probably the most useful plugin is the syntax highlighting plugin [1]. It uses the Pygments Python package so it can handle almost every known programming language, and makes it easy to save snippets into the cards!

[1]: https://ankiweb.net/shared/info/491274358


Is there a cli version of anki ? a quick google search session didn't give any hint, which means plausible negative.


What do you mean by "a cli version"? A version that would run in a terminal? Or a version that would present one card when the command is invoked? In this case, how would the user enter the answer (again, hard, good, easy)? It would require Anki a way to bind this answer to the right card (the algorithm for choosing a card should be deterministic, or a card ID should be passed to the command for answering).


Simply a shell / terminal TUI instead of a window/mouse GUI


Does anyone have experience learning JavaScript with Anki? I am still trying to figure out the best way to learn JS.


Yes, in fact that's exactly how I've been getting myself to learn some of the more fundamental / weird parts of JS. I've been following this path and building Anki decks after each chapter:

http://javascriptissexy.com/how-to-learn-javascript-properly...


You should try the syntax highlighting plugin [1]. Whenever I read or learn something new I put snippets immediately into Anki with this plugin and review every day.

[1]: https://ankiweb.net/shared/info/491274358


I am not sure how effective this technique is for learning programming languages but here's a post by Derek Sivers discussing about it:

http://sivers.org/srs


The best way to learn JS is very much the same as the best way to learn anything. If you don't know how to learn something effectively then no tool can help you.

What do I mean by knowing how to learn effectively?

* Understanding the basics (js is a dynamically typed scripting language)

* Understanding core concepts (in JavaScript, one core idea is prototypes. Another one is the keyword this which trips a lot of people up)

* Understanding all the connections (variables are actually object properties!)

* Asking a lot of questions

* etc


Not so sure about using flashcards to learn a programming language. Better just to get out there and use it to make something.


I have been experimenting with the idea of learning Urbit through Anki. No useful decks published yet. Hoon has a complex set of runes (~& |- $_ ++) and several rich vocabularies of three and four letter words, and for the most part it's made by one man.

These (unique?) properties make Hoon language a prime target for an Anki deck. Programmers learning languages with less byzantine syntax (like Javascript, or even Brainfuck) might not benefit much from Pauker-style study and deck creation.


Anyone studying Japanese should check out Flashcard Tree: http://www.flashcardtree.com/

It's an SRS like Anki with a focus on integrating real video content like Anime into the learning process.


I have used Anki a lot to learn Japanese. I think that the principle is not that great for languages. It helped me to remember the vocabulary and the kanji, but it only help me to acquire visual memory. When I hear Japanese, I am way too slow to make the relationship between the Japanese word and the associated concept. What comes to my mind first is the French word (my native language) and now I feel like I am learning the same vocabulary again (and the fact that Japanese has a lot of homophones does not help). Having sentences cards and audio cards helped, but that is barely enough.

My advice would be not to rely too much on Anki. I considered it as a silver bullet because it was so much better that using a notebook (like I did in my childhood), that was a mistake. Find other way to practice. Take lessons (maybe one day I'll try these Skype conversion offers), read articles, watch tv show with subtitles, find people you cant talk to…


Anki is not a substitute for a class or a textbook.

Its power comes from using it with those tools. I always struggle to memorize a word or kanji if the first time I see a word or kanji is in the program. It just isn't the right tool for that. But when I make cram decks for whatever chapter I'm studying at the moment, it becomes extremely easy to memorize that information.

In college I always did ok my vocabulary and kanji test but I was always spending hours doing it and it wasn't fun. When I got higher up and setup Anki to review only words from the current chapter I never really had to worry anymore about my quizzes because the information was already in my head. My scores consistently stayed high on those quizzes ever since. Once the current chapter was over I would add the information to the much larger deck of what I've studied already and exam season wasn't bad either because I never had a chance to forget any words.


In my opinion, Japanese homophones only become a significant in problem in fairly advanced Japanese, when the proportion of Sino-Japanese words (as opposed to yamatokotoba, "native" Japanese) increases.

In conversational Japanese it's rarely an issue. Don't sweat it. Just avoid learning 2 homophones at the same day/week so that you don't get confused.


Did you use audio cards? My Japanese listening is pretty good as a result of learning all my vocab through anki with separate image, kanji and audio cards.


I did, but only recently. My listening is improving, but until that Japanese was for me only a written language. Also, it's easy to create cards from a dictionary, but it is more complicated to find audio resources for specific vocabulary (maybe it is possible to get them from sites like forvo.com). I wish I had taken a more diversified approach earlier. The first months/years, I almost only used Anki and a grammar book. A better approach maybe would have been to start from simple texts or dialogues.


I've been using Anki on and off for a while but I don't feel I can get much out of it without the ability to review my decks when I'm on the go.

Unfortunately AnkiWeb isn't a cure for my cheapskate problem, because the signal is so bad on my commute!


Both AnkiDroid and the iOS Anki support syncing, so then all reviews can place on the device without using any data and then synced later in the day.

I do this myself and it works well: most of my Anki reviews each day take place using my phone when travelling without any signal on the metro.


True but I resent having to pay £17.49 to cover the development costs for the other platforms. (I think the android version was developed by someone else which is why its free)


Did you try their mobile apps? I suppose after syncing, the decks would be stored locally on the mobile.


I used the android app before but since I broke that phone, I'm using an iPhone and just can't bring myself to pay that much.


Has anyone found or is willing to share an objective-c or cocoa deck for Anki?


Flashcards are great, but I can't do the initial learn that way. Does anyone know of a way to do SRS but also generate a classic memorization sheet with 2 columns and like 20 pairs?


This is awesome! I can't wait to try it. It would help to have some samples on the front page though. Maybe a loginless demo of ankiweb with something like GRE words.


For people already using Anki, if there are any decks you can share, please post them in this thread. It could be useful for people just starting out. :)


I've saw some great examples today from Gabriel Wyner's upcoming book 'Fluent Forever'. They aren't for public distribution yet, but there are a few good posts on his blog.[1]

There is some really valuable advice in the Supermemo website[2]. and Gwern's post on spaced repetition[3], which I posted a link to elsewhere in this thread, is fantastic if you want to take a deep dive.

[1] http://fluent-forever.com/ [2] http://www.supermemo.com/articles/20rules.htm [3] http://www.gwern.net/Spaced%20repetition


It makes much more sense to share the decks through the built-in deck sharing system where they are accessible on http://ankiweb.net or in the desktop/mobile app.


I use anki to learn Thai since 4 years. Made my advanced decks with html5 audio tag and more advanced stuff like dictionary lookup link...


Anki helped me soar past everyone in Thai writing course. You aren't by chance in Bangkok are you ?


I use AnkiDroid every day. Bit buggy but free and best on Android in my experience.


Anyone else here clicked the link thinking of Anki Drive? (anki.com)


Brrr, I didn't like, much too complicated and - I hope I remember correctly - the install size was huge.

(But it's free so what shall I complain? And people here seem to have a different view than me)


Anki's deb package is 3MB, Windows installer is 24MB and OSX installer is 30MB. The package in the debian repos is 854K and the installed size is 5.4MB, with 2.7MB in locale files. I imagine the "huge" 20MB+ installer file you are put off by includes a ton of third-party libraries/tools to ease installation for novices.


Thanks for the numbers. It was on OSX. Checking out some different flashcard options I was surprised about the 30 MB size for Anki. - But yeah, 30 is not 'huge' nowadays... I'm likely still spoiled by old Delphi applications.


I imagine the extra cruft includes a ton of third party libraries. I think the tarball was 4 MBs. Just grab the source.


Seriously? This crap is so old. SRS is great and I can't believe someone hasn't made a better application than crufty old Anki yet. This is some seriously low hanging fruit here.


I wish there was some sort of demo on the site


How can there be no screenshots?


This comment was killed -- mods, why? It's the only comment in this thread mentioning image occlusion, a hugely powerful anki technique. I've reproduced it below in it's entirety.

""" Medical student here. I've tried many flashcard programs (StudyBlue, Quizlet, gFlashcard, MentalCase, and more), and Anki is by far the best for my needs.

One thing that puts Anki in an orbital beyond the other programs is the ImageOccusion editor add-on [1]. This lets you screenshot an image, draw rectangles over labels within that image, and then generate a flashcard for each label. This works insanely well for learning anatomy.

I remember about a month ago where I had two hours to learn the names of all the tracts and nuclei inside of the brainstem for a readiness quiz. It took about 10 minutes to create flashcards for them all, and an hour to memorize. I passed the quiz. Days later fellow classmates were still struggling to remember the same information.

1 - http://tmbb.bitbucket.org/image-occlusion-2.html """


Serious question, I see this from time to time, but have no idea what triple double-quotes means? These """..."""

Mentally, I transcribe it as CAPS LOCK, and ignore what is written. Should I interpret it in another way?


They're from Python; they're a third kind of string delimiter, alongside '...' and "...". They allow multi-line strings (or, as in this case, quotations) that contain both unescaped " and ' characters.


The comment was posted from an IP that had been banned for previously spamming HN. We unkilled it and unbanned the IP, since this user is clearly legit and presumably unrelated to spam.


If you use emacs org-mode, check out org-drill http://orgmode.org/worg/org-contrib/org-drill.html. It uses the same algorithms, allows you to tweak everything, and you can keep your flashcards alongside the relevant notes/code/files/issues/ToDos/bookmarks/contacts/feeds/calendar-entry/emails/thesis/spreadsheets/journals/diagrams/pictures/evernotes/etc. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-dUkyn_fZA, rather than in a totally separate program.




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