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Two Anki plugins to reinforce reviewing (updated)

11 Post author: D_Malik 03 December 2012 10:04PM

This post is about two Anki plugins I just wrote. I've been using them for a few months as monkey patches, but I thought it might help people here (or at least the 20% that are awesome enough to use SRSs) to have them as plugins. They're ugly and you may have to fiddle for a while to get them to work.


1. Music-Fiddler

To use this, play music while doing Anki revs. (I also recommend that you try playing music only while doing Anki, as a way of making Anki more pleasant.) While you're reviewing a card, the music volume will gradually decrease. As soon as you pass or fail the card, the volume will go back up, then start gradually decreasing again. So whenever you stop paying attention and instead start thinking about all the awesome things you could do if only you were able to sit down and work, the program punishes you by stopping the music. And whenever you concentrate fully on your work and so go through cards quickly, you have a personal soundtrack!

To use this plugin:

- If you do not have Linux, you'll need to modify the code somehow.

- Ensure that the "amixer" command works on your computer. If it doesn't, you're going to need to modify the code somehow.

- Make sure you have the new Anki 2.0.

- Download the plugin.

- Change all lines (in the plugin source) marked with "CHANGEME" according to your preferences.

- You might want to disable convenient ways of increasing the volume, like keyboard shortcuts.

This plugin provides psychological reinforcement, but is not proper intermittent reinforcement, because it is predictable and regular instead of intermittent. I'm not sure whether this should be fixed; I haven't yet gotten around to trying it with only intermittent volume increases.


2. Picture-Flasher

After answering a card, this plugin selects, with some probability, a random image from a folder and flashes it onto your screen briefly. This gives intermittent reinforcement.

To use this plugin:

- I haven't tested it on non-Linux operating systems, but I can't see any obvious places it'll fail.

- Make sure you have the new Anki 2.0.

- Get pictures from someplace; see below.

- Download the plugin.

- Change all lines (in the plugin source) marked with "CHANGEME" according to your preferences. Be sure especially to put in your picture directory and the number of pictures you have.

To get pictures, I downloaded high-scoring pictures off of reddit. This script can do that automatically. You can use pictures of cute animals, funny captioned pictures of cats, or more questionable things.

The plugin could be made a lot more awesome by having it automatically pull pictures from the internet so you're not reusing them. I'm not planning on doing this anytime soon (because I have no internet on my main computer for productivity reasons), but if somebody else does that and posts it, they are awesome and they should feel awesome.

Update 4 Dec: Emanuel Rylke has created a patch for this plugin which removes the requirement to rename the pictures. It also moves the configuration options to the top of the plugin, making them easier to find. The new version is at the same download link

Update 16 June 2015: The plugins were deleted from the official list where they previously were, apparently because my AnkiWeb account was deleted due to disuse. So I've uploaded the two plugins on GitHub here: https://github.com/StephenBarnes/AnkiPlugins. I also re-uploaded the plugins to the official list. Links on this post have been updated.

Comments (16)

Comment author: Alicorn 03 December 2012 10:19:12PM 4 points [-]

If anyone wants a lot of animal (plant landscape whatever) pictures, for this or other purposes, I've been collecting them from the internet for a long time and have some nice ones I will be happy to share.

Comment author: D_Malik 30 March 2013 02:50:10PM 0 points [-]

Thanks for the pictures! Personally, though, I don't think they would be very reinforcing to me. I spent a while doing the picture-flashing with pornographic pictures, and even that had no perceptible effect. What did work was to change the picture to a message that allowed me to eat one piece of candy.

Comment author: falenas108 04 December 2012 02:14:26AM -1 points [-]

I could use some animal pictures for this.

Comment author: Alicorn 04 December 2012 02:58:54AM *  2 points [-]

An extremely sluggish upload of many hundreds of assorted animal pictures is currently in progress to this folder.

Edit: My FTP client is being obstinate again. I'll try uploading a zip to the same place instead. The pictures come sorted by taxonomy!

Edit2: Is up. Let me know if it doesn't work or something.

Comment author: falenas108 04 December 2012 02:45:43PM -1 points [-]

Wow, these pictures are really cool! Thanks!

Comment author: Alicorn 04 December 2012 06:13:58PM 0 points [-]

You're welcome!

Comment author: DataPacRat 04 December 2012 04:59:10PM 3 points [-]

I downloaded the Anki installer a couple of days ago, but haven't started poking and prodding at it yet. Does anyone reading this thread have any advice for a potential new user of this program, or any Spaced Repetition software in general?

For example, is there an Anki/SR forum you'd recommend for simple beginner questions?

(For examples of such questions: "Is there a decent, non-expensive version for iOS that you'd recommend?", or "If I wanted to try SR to start memorizing a subset of Lojban called Cniglic ( http://www.datapacrat.com/cniglic/ ), what should I know before I start filling out all the English/Lojban word-pair notes?".)

Comment author: gwern 05 December 2012 04:01:46AM 2 points [-]

I put a fair amount of advice into http://www.gwern.net/Spaced%20repetition

Comment author: D_Malik 04 December 2012 09:33:20PM 2 points [-]

The SRS page of the wiki has lots of links to useful things. The Supermemo pages especially have good advice on formulating knowledge as cards.

A few years ago I tried learning Esperanto via SRS, and it seemed to work well, but I stopped reviewing the cards because I realized that it was basically a waste of time - it was less entertaining than other sources of entertainment (especially once you've learnt all the cards and only have reviews left to do), and useless relative to other types of work I could do. I also tried Lojban but gave up for the same reason. Of course, your mileage/situation may differ.

Comment author: aelephant 05 December 2012 12:01:51AM 1 point [-]

I've also been interested in finding an Anki/SRS forum, but haven't found 1 specific place yet. Many people at Quantified Self also use it & they have forums, but they aren't extremely active.

Comment author: ChristianKl 11 December 2012 02:26:49PM 0 points [-]

Yes, if you want to get specific help on using Anki the Quantified Self forum is the perfect address.

Comment author: mapnoterritory 04 December 2012 10:39:51AM *  2 points [-]

I've been long thinking about strengthening Anki with gamification. Have a score display, encouraging messages, bonuses and achievements for answer speed, correct-answer chains etc.

I'll try your ideas!

Comment author: [deleted] 02 November 2014 12:58:47PM *  1 point [-]

I currently maintain the repo for AnkiEmperor, a Anki gamification plugin. I took over the repo when the original author stopped working on it; I haven't updated it yet, since I am only a fifth of the way through the game, and nobody else has asked me to do anything.

Comment author: D_Malik 14 April 2013 02:55:52AM *  1 point [-]

I just uploaded another plugin that's like the picture-flasher but shows popups (prompting you to reward yourself) instead of pictures.

Here's a recent discussion of related things.

Comment author: iconreforged 15 May 2013 08:50:29PM 0 points [-]

I was excited to program this myself and you beat me to it!

Thanks! This will beat doing the random draw by hand.

Comment author: ChristianKl 11 December 2012 02:28:00PM 0 points [-]

Do you know how using those plugin's influenced your Anki scores? Retention of Mature Cards? Speed?