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Skritter (with pictures and cloze deletions)

Byzanti   August 14th, 2010 1:30p.m.

I've uploaded a short video of what you can do with pictures and cloze deletions on Skritter... It's mostly pictures in the video though, as I've been adding a lot of nouns recently. All this absolutely helps recall, and is worth doing. Anyway:


ジェレミー (Jeremy)   August 14th, 2010 4:11p.m.

That's a great idea, thanks!

Did you have to resize the pictures yourself, and store them on your own webspace?

ジェレミー (Jeremy)   August 14th, 2010 4:20p.m.

ehh.. do you just use [img src="http://xxxx"] ??

Byzanti   August 14th, 2010 4:34p.m.

Skritter has an image tag, it's: img:http://www.blah.com/blah.jpeg

It auto resizes them, but only asthetically. I drag a thumbnail from baidu image search onto my desktop, rename, then drag into my ftp client.

ジェレミー (Jeremy)   August 14th, 2010 6:57p.m.

ah, img:

i'm too lazy to upload, but i'll just use google image links lol :P

thanks again

Mandarinboy   August 14th, 2010 7:26p.m.

Thanks Byzanti, did not know that there where an image tag. I am working with Chinese children now learning Chinese and this where just the function I needed for our test. I will add it to my own study as well.

Byzanti   August 14th, 2010 7:55p.m.

Just make sure you're using a small image, since Skritter only makes it look smaller, it doesn't host/change the file itself. Hence why I source from baidu thumbnails.

g1itch: well, I don't trust those links to stay... Besides, it's no more effort uploading it than copy and pasting the link.

If you don't want to do this, then I guess alternatively you/anyone else could download Dropbox http://www.dropbox.com , and drag the image into the dropbox public folder? Then link accordingly. I haven't checked this, but I guess the link would remain constant, so you'd probably always link to dropbox.com/blah/X.jpeg - just changing the end bit.

Neil   August 16th, 2010 10:03a.m.

with cloze deletions do you have to enter/paste the sentence manually and delete the word? I know its probably already been discussed but this feature with automated sources to choose from would be great.

Byzanti   August 16th, 2010 12:54p.m.

Yes. The thing is, and I've said it a lot, is that I feel to get maximum benefit from these sentences you need to already be very familiar with them. Otherwise they'll just slow you down while you figure them out. I use sentences from my Chinese lessons that I've added into Anki and do as flashcards. A whole lot better than an automated system giving you random examples...

jww1066   August 16th, 2010 2:10p.m.

Yeah, I mostly agree with Byzanti, if you're already familiar with the sentences, they're the best way to learn brand-new characters/words. However, if you're already fairly familiar with the character/word and just need some more context to distinguish it from some other characters/words with similar definitions, brand-new sentences gleaned from nciku or what have you seem to be fine.


sarac   August 16th, 2010 8:11p.m.

On Cloze sentences:
I agree with Byzanti and James, mostly. What they describe - using familiar sentences with new words - to learn those new words is great. And that if the sentence isn't familiar then it can just slow the process of learning that new word.

However, I also appreciate the sentences because they help me with how to actually use a word. Very often the definition (especially of those words that are "noun, adjective...", that mysteriously play many roles) is not sufficient for me. In those cases I can use a sentence to make that word move from a vocabulary entry to a usable word.

I have used (semi-plagiarized?) sentences from texts and from Chinese speaking friends to help me move from the vocabulary list and dictionary to actual usage of words. I enter these sentences as mnemonics for words. Right, they're not really "mnemonics" as in tools for learning the character but rather aids in learning the usage of those words.

jww1066   August 16th, 2010 9:41p.m.

Yeah, I use mnemonics to remember how to write words, and cloze deletions to remember how to use words.

Neil   August 17th, 2010 9:13a.m.

Agreed, but you gotta get your sentences from somewhere before they are familiar, why not with skritter and a user input system similar to the mnemonics system?

I guess this reinforces the point that skritter doesn't do it all (not that it was meant to) - seems to be something with the brain that you need to actually look it up in a dictionary or ask a friend etc. But I think when we are adding new words that the pace slows anyway as we try to understand it and how to use it.

jww1066   August 17th, 2010 9:32a.m.

The ideal is to make the first exposure to a character or word so deep that you remember it the second time it comes up, and the third time, and the fourth time. For me that's happened with only a few characters so far (率 and 空 come to mind); I'm not sure why it happened in those cases, but it shows that it's at least possible.

nick   August 17th, 2010 6:13p.m.

Okay, so, Maksym's Chinese example sentences (the ones from Dict.cn anyway) are in and will be uploaded for alpha testers soon. But in addition to putting them in the word popup, and inspired by this talk of cloze deletions, I'm going to try something more whereby they're in the prompt, under the definition, with automatic cloze deletion for the writing prompts.

I don't have most of this built yet and I imagine that we'll need something for controlling them, maybe choosing between them and making your own, like the mnemonics. But I'm going to put it up for alpha testers (those users who asked about the mnemonics and custom definitions alpha from before) soon because I'll want your input--I don't want to overbuild.

Anyway, I did some prompts today with them in there and it was awesome, so I'm excited.

west316   August 17th, 2010 6:23p.m.

I haven't said anything in this topic to date, but I do like the idea of automatic cloze deletions. Will we have to turn it on when you start the alpha tests or will we just log on one day and it will be there like when you started the custom definitions alpha test?

Byzanti   August 17th, 2010 6:43p.m.

Sounds good Nick. I like the idea of choosing a sentence like mnemonics are curently. I rather figured you might be doing this soon, so have been thinking through some suggestions if you'd like any.

1. The user needs at very least to choose the sentence first, and think through it. No sentence should be displayed automatically.
2. Perhaps this can be achieved by an "show example sentence" field (like "show mnemonics" currently is). Same font/size/colour. *
3. Cloze deletion works best when you see the sentence straight away, so unlike the mnemonic field you would see it alongside the definition.
4. And given the above, for aesthetics, perhaps place the field directly under the definition field.

Just some thoughts...

Byzanti   August 17th, 2010 6:55p.m.

* (Although equally, if you wanted to rely on the magnifying glass you could direct inject it to the bottom of the definitions field. Much better for space, but I guess it would pass people by).

jww1066   August 17th, 2010 6:59p.m.

I agree with everything Byzanti said, but he forgot to say that THIS IS AWESOME!!!!!

One question though: I thought dict.cn was only for simplified characters?


Mandarinboy   August 17th, 2010 7:16p.m.

+1 on all this. Really great feature. @jww1066, it does not matter if it is only simplified character since there are mapping tables in Unicode (unihan) to switch between simp and trad. This is what is used on most sites and i guess skritter do too. I just wrote one such module for an IBM mainframe. talking about that, it would be nice to be able to se both as an option.

jww1066   August 17th, 2010 10:54p.m.

Yeah, but between "a solution exists" and "it works" there is a gap.

nick   August 18th, 2010 7:41a.m.

I'll just turn it on. I haven't built any of the sentence choosing parts yet, so at first they'll just be there without being chosen, but we can build that out later.

Maksym already solved the traditional versions; don't worry.

jww1066   August 18th, 2010 11:46a.m.

It's AWESOME!!!! Maksym is the man!

jww1066   August 18th, 2010 11:52a.m.

One followup: how can we submit example sentences for the characters/words that are missing them? For now I am continuing to put them in my custom definitions, but these aren't shared.

wb   August 18th, 2010 12:16p.m.

化合價,原子價原子或原子團與其它原子反映時由所失,增加成共 _ 的電子數目決定的化合能力
"The combining capacity of an atom or a radical determined by the number of electrons that it will lose, add, or share when it reacts with other atoms."

nice one, who knows the character I took that from? ;-p

sarac   August 18th, 2010 12:31p.m.

I'm not an alpha tester but I'd like to see/use the sentences. Could I?

jww1066   August 18th, 2010 12:40p.m.

@wb that would be 享 享 xiǎng to enjoy; to benefit; to have the use of

pts   August 18th, 2010 12:42p.m.

@wb Is it the character 享? 共享 = share.

nick   August 18th, 2010 12:47p.m.

No submissions yet; that would have to come with a mnemonics-like interface for selecting/saving/creating them, which I'm saving until later.

The character there should be either rare or not used much on its own, wb, for an example sentence that long: they're sorted by toughness, which is similar to length, and that one's really long. It's a common character, but usually used in a word; here it just happened to be segmented as 享 by itself, so it only found that one sentence for it. We might want to do something different for single characters so that they can take sentences which include them in words...

I'll add you to the alpha list soon, sarac.

wb   August 18th, 2010 12:56p.m.

yeah you all got it right...actually I don't know enough characters and words to make any use of the sentences (yet!), but I don't mind having them...

pts   August 18th, 2010 1:55p.m.

In order to differentiate between the characters 青 and 轻, I tested myself with the following 4 sentences put into 4 cards in Anki.

1: 五十岁以下的年 _ 干部都可以争取这次竞选的机会。

2: “现在的小年 _ 啊,真是越来越不象话了!”

3: 你年 _ 时不努力学习,将来要后悔的。

4: 小张今年19岁,很年 _ 。

Can this kind of test be incorporated into the system?

Ans: 1:轻 2:青 3:青 4:轻

pts   August 18th, 2010 4:25p.m.

About that long sentence:
I think “與其它原子反映時” should actually be “與其它原子反应時”。
反映 = reflect, reflection; 反应 = react, reaction

pts   August 18th, 2010 4:38p.m.

My Anki cards for 映 and 应:

1. 群众对此反 _ 良好,证明我们上个阶段的工作取得了胜利。

2. 那年的电影节期间,观众对《红河谷》的反 _ 很强烈。

3. 把群众的意见反 _ 给上级,使你作为人民公布的义务。

1. 映 2. 应 3. 映

pts   August 18th, 2010 4:51p.m.

Sorry! 使你作为人民公布的义务 should be 是你作为人民公仆的义务.

jww1066   August 18th, 2010 5:18p.m.

@pts at some point could you give us a brief history of how you got to be such an expert? I assume it wasn't all Skritter and Anki. ;)


Byzanti   August 18th, 2010 5:20p.m.

Also would be interested to know...

Also, is anyone else suddenly getting lots of freezes (particularly when writing tones?)


Mandarinboy   August 18th, 2010 6:25p.m.

@byzanti, yes, started yesterday and got worse over the day. In the evening Japanese time yesterday it where very frequent. Still have this minor problem today. Don't bother me to much though since it gives med more time to think about the character.

Byzanti   August 18th, 2010 6:25p.m.

Just checked on my windows PC/chrome, as well as with different browsers. Freezing up a bit on all of them when writing tones (although the windows PC is much faster than my mac so it's less frustrating/noticeable).

west316   August 18th, 2010 6:29p.m.

I am kind of curious about pts as well. For a while, I thought he was the guy who recommended Skritter to me. Lately I am not sure if even my former classmate is that good.

nick   August 18th, 2010 7:09p.m.

Hmm, I tried something to fix this for Byzanti's account one hour ago. But it apparently hasn't worked. So I'm not sure what's going on. I will continue to try to debug it, but I may not get it tonight.

nick   August 18th, 2010 9:49p.m.

I think I've finally found this. Do you guys see an improvement back to normal?

Mandarinboy   August 18th, 2010 10:00p.m.

Definitely Nick, thanks! It is smooth as silk now to skritter.

Byzanti   August 19th, 2010 5:19a.m.

Looks good at the moment, thanks Nick!

And Skritter is surprisingly fast on a train... (When the connection doesn't drop)

Neil   August 19th, 2010 8:10a.m.

..... add me please nick

Neil   August 20th, 2010 1:24a.m.

cheers nick :)

davidhm21   August 22nd, 2010 6:17p.m.

I find that the sentences can be too much help when I am working on definitions. I.e., the context can totally give the meaning away, even if I would otherwise blank on the characters.

nick   August 23rd, 2010 10:56a.m.

What about showing the sentences only after the definition is shown, for definition prompts?

davidhm21   August 23rd, 2010 7:19p.m.

Just for me, I think that strikes the right balance. They're useful to have in advance for everything else to disambiguate any question of what word is being asked for (or at least neutral, in the case of tones). But for definition, I'd vote for showing them only after the definition is shown.

Nick: What about showing the sentences only after the definition is shown, for definition prompts?

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