Random thoughts on WK's scope

Using this site (and others) makes me realise that whilst I’m appreciative of Wanikani, I’m surprised at the state of the tool and the narrowness of its scope. I understand that WK is only meant to teach kanji, but most people using the site are presumably trying to learn Japanese. So why not tap into that market? Surely they should:

  1. integrate the best scripts (as options) to make WK more usable
  2. (optionally) offer English->Japanese SRS (like KaniWani / KameSame)
  3. (optionally) offer a full range of vocab (like Anki / Kitsun.io)
  4. partner with / integrate White Rabbit to (optionally) offer graded reading material
  5. partner with / integrate Bunpro to (optionally) teach grammar
  6. (optionally) offer curated subtitled videos, similar to https://voracious.app/ functionality
  7. profit

It wouldn’t be that hard to design the interface to let people choose whichever combination of kanji / vocab / grammar / reading / video they wanted. I wonder if it’s a lack of ambition, or lack of resources… or maybe it’s already happening behind the scenes and one day there’ll be a “Hey Presto!!” announcement to our collective amazement?

This seems like a no-brainer to me. Or do you think that the “one-stop-shop” concept is not everyone’s cup of tea?

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I think Kitsun is actually heading towards this direction along with a lot of gammification, is it not? (Correct me if I’m wrong, Neicudi :smile:)

I think Tofugu really is trying to expand to the entire Japanese learning idea, which is why there’s EtoEto and such being worked on. But I think right now theyre aiming to be the #1 for Kanji (I totally expect more levels in the future aside from all of the updating of interface and adding characters theyre doing right now) and then being the ones to go to when searching for how to study Japanese (based on the articles they write on Tofugu.) like which resources are good, reviewing the different apps and sites that pop up, and etc.

All in all, I’m guessing the Tofugu team is aiming for quality and not quantity, thats why theyre not expanding as much and are mainly working on what they already have up right now. :thinking:

I could be wrong though and there’s gonna be a big “BOOM HELLO 2020 WANIKANIANS YOU HAVE BEEN BAMBOOZLED HERE IS EVERYTHING YOU NEED THROW AWAY ALL THOSE BOOKS YOU BOUGHT”

tbh I just really want that level 60 shirt they were talking about before

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Fair enough; there’s nothing wrong with aiming to be the best in a niche (unless someone else takes the initiative to combine all those resources and jump ahead). I don’t check that site; I should find out what EtoEto is! I’m just referring to the WK experience as I’ve seen it over the last 20 months or so, which (it seems to me) has barely changed at all.

I did email them months ago asking about the obvious(?) business opportunity of graded readers that match WK levels, but I only received cryptic answers. Maybe they’re working on something, who knows?

Correct! I’ve got some cool features planned in order to make this your one-stop-tool for learning. Hope to shed some more light on this soon :smiley:

WK teaches Kanji fantastically, but I basically hit the same thoughts as you did when I finished their program (reached level 60). This is actually the reason I started developing Kitsun to begin with. To create a hybrid between WK/Anki while improving certain features/functionality and adding more handy tools to learn with. Most of these points that you’ve listed are already on my mind for the future or are already implemented in Kitsun (E.g. Subs2Kitsun in regards to voracious) but need further finetuning.

I personally think EtoEto is either dead or being redone completely from the ground up (which was the last update we got about the project), I believe the project is around 4-5 years old now. I think they are going to focus on improving the quality of WaniKani, rather than expanding into other territory, but I could be wrong :slight_smile:

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That is a brilliant idea. I long ago thought there would be a market for a good grader reader series, in the form of a book or manga, something with a decent story (not fairy tales, not an exchange student visits Japan) with a decent plot and characters. Linked to WK or something similar would make perfect sense.

Kitsun can already do these pretty well IMO, what did you see missing (minus the mnemonic package that WK built)?

With WK API sent to BP, and extracting unknown vocab from BP into Kitsun for a deck is super easy, I’m fairly satisfied with how a user can integrate this. I’ve had to make some manual decks for what I thought was missing in BP within Kitsun though but just a personal choice. What specifically did you have in mind that would make it better?

I’ve yet to use the Subs2Kitsun function but it looks pretty awesome and don’t see what is missing when compared to voracious. I’m sure it will continue to improve as well but overall, Subs2Kitsun appear much simpler to work with. Has anyone compared?

Never seen White Rabbit before, how does this work, do you pay per story or something? At a glance this looks expensive for what they offer.

I bought just one White Rabbit book (the first one), and while it was well done, it was extremely short, and I didn’t feel like it was value-for-money. I guess anything like that is stuck in a cycle of trying to earn enough money to pay for the work in preparing it, versus setting prices so high that few people buy it.

Yes, it’s possible to manually work several websites, and manually extract vocab between them etc, to learn Japanese. But how many people do that? There was a post recently that said that less than 1,000 people used one of the tools (scripts? KaniWani? I forget) out of a lifetime ~68K WaniKani users. Some real stats would be nice, but I don’t know how to get them.

So my point is simply that a one-stop shop, with a single page that has buttons for “Today’s Kanji!”, “Today’s Vocab!”, “Today’s Grammar!”, “Today’s Graded Reading!” and “Today’s Graded Video/Listening!” would be approximately eleventy-hojillion times more useful than a DIY method, and would be surely be preferred by a huge proportion of learners who (for example) don’t even know that there are scripts that make WK usable.

Even Kitsun.io needs people to understand about decks and adding them and so on… it’s a big improvement on Anki, but the ideal one-stop shop would just use (say) the 10K deck and save the user from having to do anything except click the “Today’s Vocab!” button. Likewise, I haven’t yet tried anything with listening to videos with subtitles, but I’d guess that would be beyond the capability of 90% of users. Having a curated selection of graded videos would be a boon to learners. And so on.

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This is something I’ve been trying to tackle with the redesign. The home page displays most information needed, and the “new deck” popup suggests getting a community deck or importing a worldlist.

In the past I toyed around with having a popup for first time users where they can select their learning strategy (make my own deck | use a shared deck). But I fully agree that you still need to grasp the idea of decks and perhaps even templates/layouts. If you have any further suggestions on how to simplify the experience I’d love to hear it :smiley:

In the case of templates and layouts, I still have a plan to automatically generate them based on your chosen study subject. Hopefully that will make it much easier to start your own deck & collection of cards :slight_smile:


I’m all for introducing new convenient methods of creating cards and such. That’s the main reason we currently have the jisho.org integration and Subs2Kitsun. If you have any suggestions for additional convenient tools I’d love to hear that as well! :smiley:

Regarding reading in specific, all I can say at the moment is… stay tuned. I got a very cool surprise feature coming very soon after launch :see_no_evil:

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Perhaps one day but why WK as the primary platform, because they have the most users? WK is brilliant marketing and surely their Tofugu traffic helps. Some how, it’s the first place many new users are starting though the platform has always been transparent on what to expect. Not sure if you are an active BP user, but it’s quickly apparent the maintenance for an SRS grammar platform is far more complicated than any kanji/vocab system. From the single platform currently available, though I’ve never used them, they don’t look that great at all or have shortfalls in other areas.

I know what you are saying, the planning and thought of “what do I need to study next?” is work and a single platform could simplify this drastically. But I do see alot of same users on all these platforms. At this point, personally, I wouldn’t want to compromise ‘simplicity’ with ‘flexibility’ give all the spectrum of learning goals & experience levels from different users. Though I’m a happy WK user, their platform path is extremely rigid so I would hope a single platform could satisfy the diverse demands from a language learning crowd. Kitsun is probably the closest tool in that respect at the moment and I think they (& BP) have a very bright future given their respective specialties.

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Perhaps one day but why WK as the primary platform

I only mention WK as one of the starting points for pulling it all together, because they have the mnemonic work done. I don’t mean for it to be the primary platform. My ideal tool would have 5 or 6 sections (kanji / vocab / grammar / reading / listening / [speaking?]), and you pay for whichever you need.

Not sure if you are an active BP user

I’ve had a quick look at it, but not got into it (yet). I have no idea if it’s good or not. It must be a huge task to design and maintain a grammar site, hence the idea of integrating it rather than starting from scratch.

From the single platform currently available…

I didn’t know there were such sites; can you point me towards them?

I wouldn’t want to compromise ‘simplicity’ with ‘flexibility’ give all the spectrum of learning goals & experience levels from different users

Yep, if you already have a lot of kanji and just want to dive into grammar (or whatever), then having separate tools is great.

But being included in the one-stop-shop needn’t stop those sites from continuing to offer their kanji/vocab/grammar-only service, for those who wanted it. The one-stop shop is maybe more targetted at those who are starting out, as it would keep everything in sync, and enable stuff like reading and listening practice graded to your kanji/vocab and grammar level.

Kitsun is probably the closest tool in that respect at the moment

It’s more than likely that I don’t know everything Kitsun can do; for me it’s great at “making Anki easy to use for vocab”, but it doesn’t offer curated/graded kanji/grammar/reading/video. Adding kanji and grammar would be an enormous effort. I haven’t used Subs2Kitsun; I assume it helps creating cards from subtitle files - but that’s not a curated/graded collection of subtitled video that users can get stuck into for improving their listening skills. As for reading, I’m looking forward to Neicudi’s surprise!

Overall I’m just thinking of an easy way to offer curated and graded kanji/vocab and grammar/reading/listening to (newish) learners, especially those who don’t understand what scripts are and/or can’t do things like extracting data from one app to another etc. Thanks for the discussion!

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Looking forward to it!

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I’m hopeful that people will eventually create decks that tackle kanji and grammar and post them in the Community Centre. For example, for kanji there’s Beyond WK Kanji. For grammar, there’s Japanese Verb Conjugations. Both are created by @hinekidori.

But this is a bit like the chicken and the egg mystery: in order to attract the best content/deck creators, you need users. In order to get users, you need high quality decks.

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Exactly! I think that as the platform grows, more quality content will become available for all kinds of study subjects and aspects.

Aside from that I’m going to allow myself time post-launch to really focus on content creation (Kitsun Decks). The past 1.5-2 years I’ve pretty much only focused on development so actual content creation (by Kitsun) has been lacking. I hope it will serve as a good kickstart to content creation in general :slight_smile:

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You’ve had to tolerate my content instead. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

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Perhaps the APIs could be consolidated into a single platform for immersion development that would involve reading/writing/listening/speaking. I think that would be possible someday. The architecture just seems so different between these independent platforms as of now (not to mention the business side) unless someone has the ambition and capital to do something exceptionally extensive.

You probably heard of them, I’m referring to platforms like Duolingo, Lingodeer, Memrise (dare I say Rossetta Stone) and any number of platforms that are talked in circles which appear to grab beginners (+ :moneybag:) with it’s convenience and ‘easiness’ but generally lack long-term depth (assumingly, have not vetted any extensively though tried RS long ago :nauseated_face:)

I do recommend it highly and it works very complimentary with Kitsun for me. I think some pure beginners have struggled with it a bit but I think they want it to be more friendly. As extensive as BP is, it does require resources given how crazy grammar gets so many are using Genki/Tobira/Minnami paths with seemingly positive feedback. For me, I have the volumes of grammar dictionaries and still consult with natives on nuances all the time. Try the trial if you have a chance next time :+1:

Will do!

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