Latest Updates

Feb 2, 2023

Integration with The Chairman's Bao

On February 1, The Chairman's Bao made a massive upgrade to their website, apps, and UX -- and launched an officially supported integration with Hack Chinese.

If you aren't familiar with The Chairman's Bao, they are one of the leading publishers of graded reading material, focused exclusively on current affairs from modern day news sources.

Now, if you enable the Hack Chinese <> TCB integration and subsequently save unknown words while reading in TCB, those words will be sent to your Hack Chinese account for you to review alongside the rest of your vocabulary study.

To get started, press

Settings
on the top of the screen, and then head to 'Integrations'. Enjoy!

Feb 1, 2023

Housekeeping

  • We've moved 'Sync with Du Chinese' from the dropdown menu into the new 'Integrations' subsection of the 'Settings' screen.
  • We fixed an issue with colors (indicating tone number) not displaying properly when switching between light and dark modes.
  • We added an ellipsis to the 'More Responses' button on mobile, hoping to make it more discoverable.

These are small changes, but we're super excited. Why? Because February might be one of the best months ever for HC updates. Stay tuned!

Jan 23, 2023

The 'Algorithm' MEGA UPDATE

Our first update of 2023!

Across the Internet, a common critique of Hack Chinese has been that our SRS algorithm scheduled too many reviews.

So we did a ton of research, and discovered three things:

  1. Our scheduling algorithm does did schedule more reviews than many other systems.
  2. There are no "one-size-fits-all" algorithm settings, because people have different goals.
  3. Most people are quick to become overwhelmed when trying to figure out which algorithm settings are best for them.

Do people really have different goals? Aren't we all just trying to memorize as many words as possible?

We do have different goals. Here are two archetypes that will hopefully make this clear:

The University Student

A student in a university course is, first and foremost, concerned about getting a good grade in their Chinese class. And getting a good grade means having as close-to-perfect recall as possible for the words they are required to know.

For these students, finding and eliminating gaps in their knowledge is extra important (especially before test day). If you're aiming to take a language proficiency exam like the HSK, this could also be you. For these types of students, more frequent reviews (to more quickly eliminate knowledge gaps) makes sense.

The Self-Learner

If grades and exam scores are not relevant to you, then expanding the breadth of your vocabulary is probably the best use of your time. If you think having 80% retention of 2,000 words is more useful than having 85% retention of 1,000 words, you probably fit into this category.

For these people, fewer reviews makes sense: they can accept a few lingering gaps in their knowledge if it means freeing up a considerable amount of time to learn many more words or perform other study activities (like reading and listening).

Goals Change

Of course, goals can change. If you're in university now but then graduate, or pass your HSK exam and want to keep studying, perhaps changing your algorithm options makes sense!

To accomodate different goals, we now offer a range of algorithm options with sensible presets. In addition, we've painstakingly written our copy (the words next to the algorithm options themselves) to make clear what the options do, and how they will affect your experience with Hack Chinese.

The net effect of most of these changes should be fewer reviews and more focus on expanding your breadth of knowledge.

Let's take a look!

New Algo Setting: Positive Interval Modifier (PIM)

Every time you remember a word, we calculate a new interval for that word -- which determines how long we will wait before testing you on that word again.

Previously, everyone was locked into our default PIM, but we now have a range of options to accomodate different goals.

New Algo Setting: Negative Interval Modifier (NIM)

When you forget a word, it goes into a brief "re-learning" stage, after which we calculate a new interval for that word by multiplying the previous interval by the NIM.

Our "classic" NIM (the default until 2023) set the interval of forgotten words to zero, forcing you to learn them from the beginning (even if you had previously remembered them for long stretches of time).

Now, we offer several alternative NIMs that reduce the interval to a fraction of it's previous value (instead of setting it to zero).

New Algo Setting: Automatic Leech Suspension

When you forget a review word, it is called a "lapse". Words you lapse on frequently are called "leeches". Suspending (ceasing to review) leeches can greatly decrease study time without significantly decreasing total vocabulary size.

With automatic leech suspension, you can set a threshold for when you'd like to "give up" studying leeches.

The idea here is to spend your time in Hack Chinese productively. For some, drilling words you find extremely difficult to remember is not as good a use of time as simply learning many other words instead.

New Algo Setting: Mastery Threshold

This new setting lets you provide an answer to the question, "when does spaced repetition end?"

You can now set the length of time you must remember a word (between reviews) before it is considered "mastered". Mastered words are not scheduled for further review.

New Resurrected Algo Setting: Flat Review Schedule

(Yes, it's back! And better than ever.)

Spaced repetition can naturally produce an uneven review schedule (i.e. 50 reviews due today, 500 due tomorrow). You can "flatten" your review schedule by reviewing some words early. Flat review schedules are slightly less efficient, but some people find them much easier to follow. So are they really less efficient? ;)

New Algo Setting: Randomize New Intervals

By randomly adjusting all new intervals by a small amount, words learned together are less likely to be reviewed together. Separating reviews in this way may help eliminate an artificial performance boost that can occur when seeing one word makes you think of another word.

New Dashboard Widget: Review Schedule

While we spent so much time playing with algorithm settings, we needed a good way to see what the future review schedule looked like.

Front and center in your dashboards is a new 'Review Schedule' chart that shows your number of required reviews in the coming days, weeks, and months! Let us know what you think.

Updated Dashboard Widget: Reviews Due Now

The first thing most people check when they log on is how many reviews they have waiting for them. This information has always been on the top left of your dashboards.

But the associated single-bar graph made little sense.

Today, that widget has been replaced with a clearer one that simply tells you how many reivews you have due. And, it differentiates between due right now, and due "later today".

Range Selectors on Dashboard

For the Vocabulary Growth widget and the new Review Schedule widget, there are now range selectors that let you choose the period of time the charts should reflect.

To start configuring the HC algorithm to work best for you, click

Settings
on the top of the screen, and then head to 'Algorithm' settings. Enjoy!

And as always after big updates, let us know if anything needs another look! team@hackchinese.com