Table of Contents | Anki

Low-Key Anki: Closing

Here are just a few more things I wanted to touch on that didn't really fit in anywhere else.


Around late 2017, my friend Vlad tried to sell me on ja-dark's version of the Low-Key Anki setup, but I rejected it before taking the time to fully understand ja-darks arguments. I fell into the trap of assuming that Anki's default settings are the most optimal; "If changing Anki in this way actually led to better results, then surely Anki would be set up that way by default." Later, around the middle of 2018, eshapard's blog helped me begin to understand how Anki's algorithm actually works, and soon after that, I naturally began to become aware of the ease factor problem. It was at this point that I remembered what Vlad had told me about Low-Key Anki and realized that I had been foolish for not taking him seriously. I called up Vlad, and over the course of a few hours of discussion, we formulated the basic logic for the Low-Key Anki setup which I presented in this series of posts. At the time, I assumed that the logic behind the No Penalties and Pass/Fail add-ons that Vlad and I had arrived at was along the same lines as ja-dark's, but I didn't take the time to actually read ja-dark's writing and confirm (his writing can be a bit verbose and cryptic).

It was only recently that I finally got around to reading ja-dark's writing. It turns out that the paradigm of spaced repetition that he was operating under is radically different than the one I introduced in this series of posts. I won't go into detail here, but basically, ja-dark didn't believe in spaced repetition algorithms. After becoming interested in Anki optimization a few months ago, I spent a decent amount of time refining my understanding of how Low-Key Anki functions through learning about the forgetting curve and the underlying logic behind spaced repetition, via the SuperMemo website. And coming from a perspective grounded in SuperMemo philosophy, ja-dark's logic seems a little backwards to me. Overall, you could say that the formulation of Low-Key Anki that I have presented here is ja-dark's modifications interpreted through a SuperMemo-based lens.


Although the purpose of this website is to help people learn languages, considering the possibility that Low-Key Anki has the potential to benefit people using Anki for other things as well, I tried not to limit the scope of this series of posts to the context of language learning. That said, I will note here that the Low-Key Anki setup is especially suited for language learning for two reasons. First, as I mentioned in a previous section, if you are learning in an i+1 fashion, all the cards in each of your decks should naturally have very similar intrinsic difficulties, and with the Low-Key Anki setup, the more homogeneous the intrinsic difficulty of the cards in a deck is, the more efficient the algorithm becomes. Second, in the context of using Anki for things like increasing vocabulary, each card is completely independent from one another. This means that if a particular card is giving you trouble, you can simply delete it with no negative consequences. If it's a word you really need to know, you will have plenty of other opportunities to learn it in the future, as it will continue to show up in your immersion. On the other hand, if you are using Anki for something like math or science, certain concepts might build upon other concepts, so deleting a card that is giving you trouble might have the potential to cause a chain reaction in which you end up not being able to answer a whole cluster of other cards that build upon the original concept.


As of this writing, it's been nearly five months since I initially presented Low-Key Anki to my patrons. When I asked the early adopters what their experience has been, I received consistent reports of reduced amount of daily reviews, reduced time spent on each card, and massive reductions in stress associated with reviewing.

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