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Is Your SRS Deck…Constipated?

Even with a large backlog, a living deck is a healthy deck. A deck that experiences turnover is a healthy deck.

Deletion is the best kind of turnover.
Doing reps is the second best.
Deleting while you do reps gives you the best of both worlds. 一石二鳥 (one stone, two bird), if you will.

An SRS deck that doesn’t get cards deleted is like a house that doesn’t get the trash taken out. It doesn’t matter how nice the furniture is — how nice the stuff you add is. Sooner or later, if you don’t take out the trash, the trash takes over. And then it’s all trash. When trash is not removed, everything becomes trash.

A clean house is one where there is a frequent motion of trash in the general direction of out.

No matter how good the food you’re eating is (or isn’t), there have to be waste products that leave your body. You can’t hold that…stuff…in. It’s not good for you. Waste products — bad cards — are a natural results of the “metabolic” process of SRSing.

Delete. For happiness, for hygiene, for the smell, for sanity, for fun. Declutter. Delete.

Yes. Kanji, too. Delete.

  36 comments for “Is Your SRS Deck…Constipated?

  1. Han
    April 25, 2011 at 00:12

    I still find it hard to delete anything, even the words that I just never get and always end up frustrated on… blah.

    • russ
      April 25, 2011 at 02:26

      Maybe the proverb applies here that “There are plenty of other fish in the sea.” In the time I spend trying to get a particular word or kanji in my head, I could have learned 3 or 4 others that are just as useful. My progress gets sidetracked by the need to conquer a stubborn item, but of course, it will still be there 3, 6 or 12 months from now, and maybe it will stick then.

      If you are building a puzzle, don’t waste all your time on a stubborn piece. Move on. As the whole picture comes together, that missing piece will find its place. Anyway, that’s what I’m going to tell myself moving forward. ;}

    • mike
      June 6, 2011 at 00:33

      I can’t delete anything either, but I can suspend the hell of out stuff. What I love about suspend is:
      1) The card goes away and stops bothering me and hinders my progress.
      2) I don’t get that awful feeling like I burned a book.

      • SteelGolem
        July 5, 2011 at 02:25

        that is brilliant! thanks for the suggestion, i’ve suspended a bunch of stuff now that i know i can do that. (rtfm, i suppose? のヮの)

  2. NoSleepTilFluent
    April 25, 2011 at 01:55

    But if I delete any Kanji I won’t ever know all the JOYO kanji…

    • russ
      April 25, 2011 at 02:27

      Can’t you “suspend” the card? In the Anki mobile iphone app, you can suspend cards and reactivate them later.

    • Ken
      April 26, 2011 at 08:04

      Remember, 100 million people in Japan manage just fine in a Japanese-speaking country without having SRS’d all the joyo kanji. SRS is a tool, not a requirement.

      If it’s a common character, you’ll see it all the time anyway. If it’s rare, you won’t really miss it. Regardless, if you know most of the rest, you’ll be able to figure it out from context, anyway.

  3. April 25, 2011 at 02:15

    You shouldn’t worry about deleting. Seriously, if it’s important enough to know, it *will* come up later again. You really only need to be familiar with your kanji to the extent that it’s useful to you right now. The same goes for sentences. Worrying about all of the kanji and all of the words and all of the pronunciation is just going to slow you wayyy down. Only focus on what’s immediately in front of you. Eventually, after some time, you’ll find that you know *more* than the general use kanji.. a lot more. And remember, you don’t actually need an SRS to be successful, it’s just there to make things easier. So, don’t make it harder on yourself by not deleting.

    • Areckx
      April 25, 2011 at 05:15

      Weekly Jumps are my SRS ^^;

  4. Zifre
    April 25, 2011 at 04:13

    I always worry about deleting hanzi/kanji when using RTH/RTK, because if you miss a character that is a component of another character, that next character will be harder, and you might unnecessarily delete it, even it it’s very easy to recall the story and the other components.

    With sentences though, I just delete whatever I don’t like. I also delete sentences that have become unbearably easy.

    • April 25, 2011 at 10:56

      Often with RTK, though, I find that later characters can help reconstruct a weak story that I had with one of the components. So, for example, if your story sucks for 侯 and you get bored with the card, just delete it. Because later on when you hit 喉, you can sort of work your way backwards to a better relationship with 侯 ;).

      • khatzumoto
        April 25, 2011 at 12:00

        Exactly! It’s almost, like…”subtractive” learning 😀
        上杉隆 – Wikipedia

        • mi kun
          April 25, 2011 at 20:33

          woh i think this is a good idea.

          im not only an Anki user,i’m also ndsrs user (DSi)
          good if im not on the perimeters of our house

          still on RTK
          i have a deck on ndsrs that consists of 3000+ kanji cards,coz i put alternates,meaning a mix of front and back

          and coz i’m not seeing new cards,i tried adding lesson-wise kanji like L45-53 deck so that i will see those new and what kanjis i should be seeing.

  5. ライトニング
    April 25, 2011 at 11:23

    Ever since i got FFXIII Japanese (last tuesday) I think my srs time has considerably dropped, but playing FFXIII is studying, right? 😀

    I mean, Since there are J-Subs, i write it on a piece of paper then add it to my SRS, but i’ve noticed a drop in SRS time 🙁

    But whatever, I’m feeling quite great because now i am starting to understand phrases 😀

    • ライトニング
      April 25, 2011 at 12:23

      But what surprises me is the use of Kanji in FFXIII. Cero says 12+, and i read on wikipedia a while ago that a 7th grader in japan would only know slightly over 1k Kanji. I know all the Jouyou kanji and i am seeing quite frequently some obscure ones.

      • David
        April 25, 2011 at 23:16

        Don’t believe the myth of Joyo kanji. It doesn’t mean a student in year 7 knows around 1000 kanji, it means that is how many he has supposedly be taught. He may know less, but probably way more. Kanji are everywhere, Japanese kids learn them as they go. Seeing kanji in games like FF is a way they learn them.

        Luckily the games industry (particularly SE) does not bother with wondering which kanji are okay to use, which have to be given furigana and all that junk. Newspapers should be like that.

  6. April 25, 2011 at 12:58

    Agreed, but I’ve found that you can actually let it accumulate up to a couple thousand words, at least (maybe even up to 4000 or 5000), before you really have to delete some of them. It shouldn’t be happening too often, honestly.


  7. ライトニング
    April 26, 2011 at 09:36

    Just a quick question. How come things like 少ない And 語らない Mean Few and Talks(atleast this is what my dictionary tells me) Wouldn’t they mean the opposite?

    少ない i would assume means not few and 語らない i would assume is not talks because of the nai ending?

    • David Thomas
      April 26, 2011 at 19:23

      The ない in 少ない is not a negator, it is a homophone but has no grammatical meaning. It means ‘few’, the negative form is 少なくない.

      • Areckx
        April 29, 2011 at 04:46

        「な」 adjective

  8. Dr.SMS
    April 26, 2011 at 17:48

    Fortunately,, my decks are having sever diarrhea not responding to treatment 🙂 …

    nice post,,, Actually the reason behind this frequent bowel motion is simply

    your “Critical Frequency (theory 🙂 ) “…

    I love U man,,, I love U bro <<< stop getting so effen emotional …

    Schade! this is my first comment,, after hardcore reading phase of reading

    your super fantastic(x100) post about different aspects of language

    and our pathetic human psyche …

    I declare it : Proudly AGATTer (German)

  9. Ken
    April 27, 2011 at 07:07

    Khatzu, help! I’ve been doing so much in Japanese I’m starting to have trouble with English words. Both “apprication” and “application” sound equally correct to me. Is this normal?

    • Rout
      April 27, 2011 at 23:23


  10. ライトニング
    April 28, 2011 at 10:55

    Because i have not switched to monolingual yet (coming soon!) i do not know what is better for me.

    A)Get Sentence, Get readings and meanings of words, make meaning of sentence with my knowledge and or past similar sentences

    B)Get sentence, take word(s) i do not know, enter in, get sentences with those words, hope the sentence was error free.

    • ブライアン
      April 28, 2011 at 15:18

      Don’t bother translating it. Just define the new words in the answer section. Use a translation if you have one available (the Yahoo dictionary is a reliable source for sentences w/ translations) but otherwise don’t worry about it. If you’re at least passingly familiar with the grammar, that’s all you’ll need. If it doesn’t make sense to you with all of the words defined… skip it and move on. And it’s a good way to transition to monolingual cards. (Just swap out the English definitions for Japanese.)

  11. April 29, 2011 at 11:29

    Running into a small problem…
    I’ve done some major cleaning in one of my decks and I find myself often marking cards as failed just so I can them more. I do this for almost every card in this deck because they are so awesome. Gets really tough with 100s of reviews every day though.

    I think I have issues 😀

  12. Tabacha
    May 2, 2011 at 16:52

    How many sentences do y’all have in your SRS? Is there such a thing as too many? How many do you have Khatz?

    • Matthew
      May 2, 2011 at 20:55

      I got around 3000+ in my deck and I still think it’s not enough. I’ve decided to go monolingual now

      I don’t think there is a “too many” more of, is it useful. Just my personal opinion

    • jumbocrunk
      May 2, 2011 at 21:32

      16,000 or so for me. I don’t think that there is a total “too many”, put personally there is a daily limit for reps. My daily reps are 150-200 so its not a problem for me.
      If you have a feeling there is too much, there probably is. Delete liberally, leave only ones that you can give yourself a good reason not to delete.
      Remember that Katz recommends 10,000 sentences, and I would definitely agree that is a good target to have. If you are like me and don’t have a problem with a big deck (that sounds funny) go nuts.

      • Tabacha
        May 3, 2011 at 11:50

        Thanks! though Khatz says you need to have learnt 10000 sentences, but he doesn’t say you should have that many in your srs all at once. Not that he doesn’t say the opposite either.

  13. ライトニング
    May 2, 2011 at 22:49

    For some reason, even though i have gone monolingual, i still think of a sentence meaning in english..


    Even though i learned it with a japanese definition, i still manage to think “made thing” when i see it.

    Another question, should I bother to learn the readings of definitions?
    Such as:

    Something to do with In water becomes cannot see, right? I already feel the meaning, but should bother to learn readings of kanji in the definition and should i try to understand everything in it even if i get a feel for it?

  14. Ali
    May 3, 2011 at 04:19

    I think that this post only really applies after your first 5000 sentences.

  15. AQ
    May 20, 2011 at 05:33

    Something very odd is going on I,ve tried getting into SURUSU and it won’t let me in i,ve resetted my password maybe 3-5 times now and when I re-put the new password it still says it is incorrect -__-. I recently started using SURUSU maybe 3-4 weeks ago mostly for sentences and everyday I miss adding sentences really brings me down since I know things will start making sense once I keep SRSing those sentences. could the site be going through an update? Is anyone else having this issue as of late (this week mostly)?

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