- Secrets to Smoother SRSing, Part 1: The SRS Is a Servant, Not a Master
- Secrets to Smoother SRSing, Part 2: Fun
- Secrets to Smoother SRSing, Part 3: Don’t Go Looking for Items, Let Them Come Find You
- Secrets to Smoother SRSing, Part 4: Collect ‘Em to Throw Away
- Secrets to Smoother SRSing, Part 5: Timeboxing
- Secrets to Smoother SRSing, Part 6: Maintain Only the Baseline/SRS Holidays
- Secrets to Smoother SRSing, Part 7: The Place of Pre-Mined SRSing and Other Ramblings
- How To Banish Boredom from Sentence-Mining (Sentence-Picking)
- Popping Bubblewrap: Tips for Better SRS Sentence Items
- SRS Precedence Rules
- The SRS Victory Formula (SRS Formula Victoria? 😛 )
In arithmetic, whenever we have an expression, we don’t just go left-to-right, and we don’t just run our calculations all willy-nilly. There is what is called the standard order of operations. These are the rules of engagement, the sine qua non, what the French call the without which not, of doing arithmetic. One acronym for these rules is PEMDAS: parentheses, exponentiation, multiplication/division, addition/subtraction.
You’ve been doing arithmetic a long time, but you’ve probably only started SRSing relatively recently, SRS being a more recent invention than arithmetic. In SRSing we also have an order of operations AKA precedence rules AKA order of priority.
As with arithmetic, the SOOP (SRS order of priority) — yet another meaningless acronym — tells us what to do first, if there is any doubt. Unlike the arithmetic rules, the SOOP is not hard and fast. It’s just an arbitrary set of guidelines to make our lives easier and prevent the harried, type-A, OCDish behavior you sometimes see exhibited by people who are SRSing — behavior that leads them to burn out, give up, and curse this SRSing thing as “useless” or “not for me”.
So here it is, the SOOP, which can further be abbreviated as DADRA (how do I keep coming up with these?!): Don’t Add, Delete, Review, Add.
0. Don’t Add
- The zeroth rule. Not adding anything to your SRS deck is the most “important” activity, in that it takes precedence over all the others. If in doubt, don’t add anything to the SRS. Just don’t. Too hard to add? Don’t add it. Can’t be bothered? Don’t be. When something really needs to be added to the SRS, it won’t feel like a chore at all.
- The first rule. Delete. If in doubt, delete stuff. Delete. Delete. Deleted. Baleted. Let it go. There is perhaps nothing more threatening to your long-term SRSing prospects than bad cards. Nothing will drag down your repcount (reviewcount) more quickly and with more certainty, than the existence of large quantities of SRS cards you no longer give a care about. If in doubt, throw it out. Delete. Doesn’t matter if you would, could or should learn it. Delete it.
- What about “essential” language elements like individual kanji and/or kana and/or hangul, etc? Surely these can’t be deleted, right? Right? My original answer to that would have been a “yes, suck it up”. However, over time, my opinion has changed. I have found bad cards to be so destructive to SRSing that it is better to, yes, delete even cards containing essential, fundamental language elements. Call it “lazy processing”: you can always undelete, or re-add the cards later. If the language element is really that essential, you’ll be able to pick up the slack later.
- Important: I personally prefer to delete one card a time. I say, resist the impulse to “push the reset button” — delete entire decks and start from scratch, because this robs you of the opportunity to discover the properties of the cards you do like and are worth keeping. Also, it’s a bit of a binge-purge behavior, which is something you don’t want.
- I virtually always do my deleting while reviewing. Remember, the SOOP tells us what matters most: it does not mean “do all of activity #n first before doing activity #n+1”. It just means: “if in doubt, if there is a conflict (of interests), default to the higher priority activity — activity #n”. So if you’re doing reviews but you get bored by one or more cards, and you’re not sure what to do, then just start deleting and don’t even bother stop until you hit a card that makes you want to do reviews.
- The second rule. Review cards. Do reps. It’s what we might call the most “normal”, “standard”, “vanilla” use of an SRS. Nothing much more to say here. Click. Show back. Set score. Next.
- The third rule. If all else fails, add some new SRS cards. Add new cards. Why is this last? What the hockey puck is wrong with you, Khatzumoto? Surely, even you, up on your AJATT cloud, are aware that you can’t delete or review cards without having first added them? Yes, of course, that is true. Remember, the SOOP merely tells us precedence. It tells us what should precede what, what should go first, iff there is any question as to what to do. However, by definition, if there are no cards, then while “don’t add” (the zeroth rule) will work, the first and second rules will default down to this one. What matters is to know that if in doubt, adding cards is the least important thing you can do.
And we’re done. These are just random guidelines I came up with by myself. Yeah, I’m good-looking, but not omniscient. So I’d be happy to hear what you have to share, iff you’re good-looking as well.