mattepp's Beeminder/Anki experiment journal


That is gold. Thank you.

I am a data point for that!

Regarding the safety buffer- I will set that quite wide to start with (despite the said query returning 0 cards for me at the moment) and see what I need to do, in combination with the cards per day, in order to nudge me along.

I really can’t thank you enough for taking the time to go into detail on your process. It will no doubt save me weeks if not months of faffing about aimlessly chasing the illusion of progress.

I especially like how your cycle in practice works. It matches my experience with Anki except you’ve broken through to the other side! Keeping it realistic :slight_smile:



Goal and fine print updated today, as scheduled.

As of 2018-04-23:

  • Trial period’s over; committing to keep this.
  • During the 2 week trial I scored a total of 20 points. I scored quite a few more points in the second week, as I more regularly studied multiple decks/day.
  • I’ve updated settings to now require 12 points per day — a 20% increase from the trial average (although less of an increase from my recent current rate). This satisfies my intention to push myself to continue building on this habit. I’ve also retroratcheted to allow 3 days of safety buffer.
  • In one week, I will retroratchet again down to 3 days of safety buffer once the settings change has caught up with me. things:///add?title=retroratchet%20anki%20beeminder%20after%20rate%20increase%20takes%20effect&when=in%207%20days&deadline=in%207%20days&tags=anki%2Cbeeminder&list=home


So far, this is working as I’d hoped. Wow, all this flashcard study takes a lot of time! Downgrading from 10 new cards/day to 5 has been essential.

I haven’t found time to add new cards (enthusiasm has nothing to do with it), and my top priority deck is about to run out of new cards, so I’ll have to do something about that soon; probably this week. I’ve enjoyed @bluetulip and @benkant’s discussion in this thread and will probably try @bluetulip’s method of beeminding Anki reviews. But first, I’ll try simply beeminding the number of notes added/week. That will be less elegant, but simpler. (In general, I make things too complicated. Lately I’m practicing favoring simple above other values. This is difficult for me and goes against my intuition, but feels wise, and is the winning principle for me in this moment.)

I remain happy with manual entry, for the same reasons I gave in my first post. I look forward to eventually automating entry, but to avoid spending far mroe time setting that up than it will save in the short term, I will wait until I’ve first established a regime of metrics that I’m happy beeminding.

Things I’m studying:

  • Bash shell script commands and their nuances & options. This is my priority right now — in fact the reason for this whole Anki reboot. Two weeks in, I know a dozen useful ls option flags, backways and forwards. ls -1AGF FTW.
  • WordPress core function names, uses, parameters, and source files. This was a passion a few years ago, and feels like much more of a chore now, so I’m struggling with whether it’s a good use of my time, as opposed to tricking myself into mistaking high effort for high value (or “mental masterbation”, if you like). I gave up on learning the version of WordPress where a function was added, because I mean come on. I’m working through alphabetically. I’ve started suspending notes or cards more liberally when I find myself thinking I’ll definitely never need to know for functions that need — unfavorable difficulty/utility ratio.
  • Spanish vocabulary. This has been a low priority deck recently. I was seriously committed to this years ago, so it’s mostly all easy review at this point. The deck’s sort happens to be focusing heavily on cognates right now, which makes it even easier.
  • My “general” deck recently has been focused on random quotes and excerpts I like from poems and literature. This has been a low priority; I may’ve only seen 20 new cards in the past 2 weeks. And, II’m unsure how useful this kind of information is to use Anki for: Triggering recall outside the context of flashcards is challenge, and although I understand how cloze deletion can be helpful, I don’t yet know from experience that I’m retaining anything without the cloze prompts. Someday soon I should figure out some way to test this to decide if it’s worth continuing, or an actual waste of time. (Maybe beemind “times I used Anki-reinforced quotes/trivia in a cocktail party context” for a few months with a rate of 0, just to gather data? @dreev that might tickle your “weird ideas for things to beemind” fancy.)


@mattepp if you want to collaborate on automating @bluetulips hard won advice, I’d be happy to help.

We could either fork and add to the existing Beeminder app (seems reasonable!). We could hardcode this specific query, or allow the user to specify an arbitrary one.

Or! Do it via crontab. With that Bash you’re learning! Anki is just a sqlite db. Can be done with sqlite3 command line or bust out some Python.

Thanks for starting this!


Here’s where I was doing mine with a hardcoded change to the addon, though it stopped working for me at some point and I didn’t sort out what the issue was.

If you base something off this and get it working, note that it requires doing a reset of the addon data from the GUI after editing.

If you did do it with bash that could be better because you could run it with cron and update even on days you don’t use anki from the computer. But I agree this isn’t the sort of thing worth spending time on unless you (a) know that beeminding this is working for you but (b) manual entry isn’t working for you.


Cool, I’ll keep this in mind for when I’m ready to take that step! Fair warning, I expect to continue manual entry on the order of months, not weeks or days. So don’t wait for me if you get restless to dive in!

(Also, I don’t know a lick of python yet. This seems like it could would be a good learning project though.)


Happy to pair program with you over Skype or whatever if you’re interested- generalising @bluetulip’s code would be easy.

You started this thread and inadvertently I stumbled across a metric that feels like the answer and it probably saved me hours upon hours of useless tracking. So a fair trade.

But, if we go the bash + sqlite + cron route, we won’t need Python, and it’ll be like magic. No need to open Anki.

Anyway, I’m doing this manually for now in the “months” vicinity as well. So- unless that gets tedious before I think it will, I’m in no hurry either.


I’m getting due for a real update here, which I’ll try to get to soon.

But for now: I’m celebrating having just passed my AWS Cloud Practitioner certification test on the first try! No small feat, especially considering I started studying for it only a week ago. Beeminder-assisted Anki study was critical to getting this done. w00t!


I’ve been able to work studied trivia into casual conversation at least once since writing that, so it’s not a complete waste of time.