Suddenly LOTS of Simple Words in Review Stack

The past few weeks I've been doing 100 cards per day. On average, 70–90 of them have been reviews, and then I do a few new cards. Today around noon (for the first time today) I got on Lingvist and had 70 cards in my review stack. I did 50 cards, had around 80% correct, maybe a little higher, and then left my house.

Around 6:30pm I got back on to do 50 more cards and call it a day. I got to around 85 cards total and thought to myself "Hm, why aren't any new words showing up?"

I checked my review stack, and there were suddenly about 80 cards in my stack! I don't know where they came from, but the next 15 cards I did, I got I think all but one right, and they were extremely easy words. Like "Leute" and "Eltern" and "Foto" and "Name." Words I don't think I've ever seen before (or maybe saw months ago but I've known those words for years now, and I think I tested out of them when I took the initial placement test on LV).

So I stopped at 100 cards like my plan, have dozens of cards still in my review stack, and can only assume they are also very simple words that I'll get around 95% to 100% correct on.

What happened? Is there a bug, or is LV set up such that a certain number of months after you do your placement test, your review stack gets filled up with all the cards you tested out of?

If the words had been more difficult, I don't think I would have noticed anything, but these words were abnormally easy. Where I normally get 70% correct, almost never 80%, and recently closer to 50-65% because I took a couple weeks off for family reasons, suddenly I was getting nearly every card right toward the end of today. That's why I think this must surely be a bug of some kind: the dramatic shift in simplicity of the cards I was seeing.

Generally with learning systems that used Spaced Repetition, you always see old content again at some point, it's just a question of how frequently. The simplest system is a "card box" system where if you get something right, it goes into a the stack of cards that you practice less and less frequently (but not never). Lingvist claims to use "machine learning" to do this more intelligently, but I imagine it's still the same core concept (only with repetition intervals discovered by ML rather than hardcoded) and you're just running up against the set of cards that were scheduled for much later practice.

If you get them all right without fail, then with such a system you shouldn't get barraged with them until much later still.

I doubt it's a bug at all. You were just due to see those words now. Expect to see them a fair amount until you always get 100% on them.

Further reading:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leitner_system
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spaced_repetition
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spaced_repetition#Pimsleur.27s_graduated-interval_recall

last edited by William

I've been doing SRS for years, but thanks for the links. It's just weird that something like 120 cards were all due on the same exact day, and many of them are words I'm 100% positive I never, ever have seen before. Words like "zu" and "ein" and "das." I never saw these words (I would have remembered seeing and laughing at such easy-for-me-to-answer cards), but they were not marked "new." I'm assuming that when you take your placement test at the start of the course, these are the words I was able to skip. I think I initially skipped 200-something.

last edited by Kyle Goetz

I've noticed the same.

I'm doing 100 cards a day, but several weeks ago I did 300-400 cards a day to get the repeat stack back down to zero.

The problem is that my repeat stack is consistently reset to about 400-500 cards everyday.

My success rate is from 70%-80% daily.

The problem is that by only doing 100 cards a day, my repeat stack keeps returning back to the 400-500 card range. At this rate, I haven't encountered any new cards for two weeks now. Logically, it would make sense that if my repeat stack is 70%-80% solved, that the repeat stack should gradually decrease back down to zero over the course of several days, but this is not happening.

But here's what is profoundly frustrating: extremely simple Spanish words like: yo, este, un continue to appear in my stack. I'm currently at level 13 with 1252 words in Lingvist, but it's becoming more and more evident that I'm never going to get to level 14 at this rate. It's very disappointing to look forward to new vocabulary and then be faced with words that I have mastered a long time ago.

The algorithm is definitely not programmed correctly and situations where the repeat stack continues to move back to unattainable, reasonable levels will just make people like me move on to something different.

I just experienced this for the first time yesterday and am curious about it as well. I am familiar with spaced repetition and don't need an explanation of how it works. This is something outside of normal spaced repetition: the words I encountered in one large chunk were very basic--ich, die, Frau, etc.--words I'm certain I "tested out of" when I made my account and have never seen in lingvist. I suspect this might be a way of making sure we see all the vocabulary; words we are assumed to have already known based on our initial placement are introduced into the review stack as a kind of test. Still, it would be nice to hear from the developers what's going on exactly.

works@Lingvist

Hey guys, legitimate questions. You are well-versed in understanding how repeat stack works. Let's clear a few details to make sense of the suddenly rising repeat stacks.

1. Why should my repeat stack jump up (all of a sudden)?

The answer is cited by @William

If you get them <words> all right without fail, then with such a system you shouldn't get barraged with them until much later still.

...and when you get barraged with them, they would come back in apprx the same order and volume. Thus, if you like @goodbyemrevans-lingvist2 nailed about 1500 at first sight, the formula will ask you to repeat them later during the course, to make sure you haven't forgotten them. @goodbyemrevans-lingvist2 hasn't seen a new word since June 6th, and their average correctness level since that day has been 76%. Thanks for being an awesome learner and learning every day, @goodbyemrevans-lingvist2! You have gone through about 50% of the words you answered correctly at first sight, so the repeat stack is still due to grow.

2. There is no chance I saw such easy words before. Are these words from my "fast-tracked batch"?

No. These are definitely the words you have seen before. It happened months ago, and your memory is playing tricks on you.😱

3. When will my repeat stack stop spiking?

After the "repeat waves" recede.

4. The spiking stack demoralizes me and I can't learn anymore.

It's totally understandable how old repetition is perceived as sub-optimal, however, it's a feature of the repeat stack formula, not a bug. As changing it requires a very smart innovation of being able to predict which words you still know—to opt out of testing these words with you— at the moment I could only suggest resetting your accounts if repetition becomes unbearable. Sadly, account resets at the moment wipe out your entire account history, so all your progress across all courses will be gone. Semi-good news is that all the new words you nail at first sight from now on, won't come back to you in one batch, but in smaller batches.

last edited by Marina

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