Broken record

I want to be able to do 100 meaningfully sorted flashcards a day. It shouldn't matter if I do them at 7 a.m. or 9 p.m. When I click "begin test session" I want to see 100 flashcards. That's it. Not 86 on one day and 204 the next. Just 100. As great as Pleco is, the flashcard system regularly drives me nuts. First comes the starting from scratch, then the too many flashcards, then the tweaking frenzy, then the frustrated post, then the assurance that 4.0 will make it all better. Srsly? /rant
yeah pleco has one or two quirks. i have a list of some that i would much rather see bettered upon than this one. that said, every day i marvel on just how usable this app is. if 4 improves many things quite a bit, does not make any compromises and is coded for "updateability" / continuous optimization and integration of user wishes... then im sure the wait will have been worth the while:)


Staff member
Why not just do a random test, filtered on cards you haven’t reviewed recently above/below a particular score threshold? If you want to review exactly 100 cards a day that’s really not a good situation for SRS.

(This will of course be totally fixable in 4.0, but our default flashcard system is going to essentially just be that, at least for cards that are past the “learned” threshold)
If you want to review exactly 100 cards a day that’s really not a good situation for SRS.
What is a good situation for SRS? Maybe your post 2 years ago makes it clearer:
We don't have a maximum # of cards setting in spaced repetition because it defeats the whole purpose of spaced repetition - if you're not reviewing cards at the proscribed intervals then you're liable to forget them.
The main idea of SRS in my opinion is to increase the interval between successive reviews of a card. The better the card is known the longer the interval. Finally a card can even be removed from further reviews if the card is really known. Why should it “defeat the whole purpose of SRS” if I only want to review a certain number of cards a day?

There are lots of ways to reduce the number of cards of a review session, and with random card selection nobody cares if I select only some categories or select card filters or just set a fixed number of cards. Only with SRS a card limit is a crime? SRS is the only system that somehow takes into account how good I remember a card when cards are selected for review. Why should I be punished to daily tremendously changing numbers of reviews, especially after I stopped reviews for some days, only because I use the "intelligent" SRS instead of the "dumb" random system?


Staff member
The main idea of SRS, at least according to most of its proponents, is to review cards at the time they need to be reviewed to optimize efficiency; not too soon, not too late. If you believe in that, then limits on SRS are not sustainable long-term; if your intervals are set up so that 200 cards will come due every day but you're only reviewing 100 cards a day, eventually your cards will get farther and farther behind schedule until you're forgetting a lot of them because it's been way too long since you saw them last.

If you only want to review 100 cards on a particular day, there's nothing in Pleco to stop you from doing that; you can review those 100 cards, stop your test, and your progress will be saved. But then you'll have 300 cards to get through tomorrow, and I'd argue that that's as it should be - otherwise we'd be giving you a false picture of progress as you fell farther and farther behind and eventually found that you were forgetting half of the things you tested yourself on.
The overload is "as it should be" if you believe that SRS is the be all and end all. I don't, and as far as I can tell, neither do you. The problem with the 300 cards, is that what it leads to is that sooner or later, one ABANDONS the flashcards completely, starts over again, and the SRS intervals become utterly meaningless anyway. I would MUCH prefer to forget some of the cards that I did not review often enough than regularly to get utterly discouraged by an uncompromising system. Regularly. The fact that I as the user know best how much time I can and want to put into reviewing flashcards should not be overlooked. As it is, the SRS system refuses to compromise, and instead demands that I restructure my life around its needs. This just isn't right.

As HW60 pointed out, random cards are not an adequate replacement for the SRS principle of showing you cards you know well less frequently. That should be possible if I look at 100 cards a day, no?
may be due to my iq shortcomings:)
but, calling it srs or not, why not have a modality where a fixed n of cards are shown, according to what cards are most in need of being studied? i insist, regardless of if you want to call that srs or not?


Staff member
TBH this is all kind of moot anyway, I'm just defending the design decisions that went into this 10-year-old system that we're busily in the process of replacing. But the basic logic here was a) if we add that limit, users are going to enable it and not really think about or understand the consequences; b) some of them will then immediately review way too few cards to keep up on SRS - we'll literally have people with the new cards per day and reviews per day limit set to the same values, and c) when they subsequently fail to keep up on reviews and constantly get cards they don't know they'll blame us.

And again, you can stop the test after 100 reviews. But you'll know you still have a lot more cards due when you do stop it. If we hadn't been designing this around the limitations of mobile devices in 2008 we would probably have just given you a live preview of the number of cards due and let you set whatever limit you want. As is I do still believe that making users stop manually knowing how many cards they have left is better than giving them a false sense of progress and having them subsequently frustrated they can't remember anything because they're not reviewing enough cards.

In 4.0 our default Pleco profile is going to handle this by only SRSing 'learning' cards and drawing from already-learned cards randomly (but in rough order of least recently reviewed) - you can set whatever limits you like and it won't cause an overdue count catastrophe because there are only a small number of cards being reviewed on a schedule anyway. (we'll also prioritize learning cards over new ones so you won't see any new cards on a day when you're too behind schedule) There'll also be several other simple default profiles, one of which is our Anki emulator (selected automatically for imported Anki profiles, of course) and thus like Anki offers an option to do SRS on all of your cards but with a per day limit.

And all of these are ultimately just overlay sets of settings for our *incredibly* customizable back-end which you can also configure directly (arbitrary card processing rules, arbitrary filters, arbitrary filter orders / priorities / sorts, arbitrary additional score fields which you can perform arbitrary arithmetic on) - with this two-layer approach, we can scare most users into sticking with our built-in profiles that will do things in what we consider to be a sensible way, but also offer users like you guys the ability to try out whatever ideas you like regardless of how terrible I might personally think they are :)
And again, you can stop the test after 100 reviews.
If you have 300 due cards and stop after 100 cards with 20 wrong answers, the next day Pleco will not ask for the 20 wrong cards, but continue with the 200 due cards from the day before. If you stop again after 100 cards with 20 wrong answers, Pleco will still not ask for the meanwhile 40 wrong cards etc. So if you stop the test after 100 reviews, you are leaving SRS and do no longer review the cards which need a review most urgently.
I would like to suggest that Pleco install some easy mechanisms to keep the amount of due flashcards manageable, for example a "vacation" button (possibly retroactive) that would pause the calculation of scores. As it is, a missed day essentially doubles the amount of flashcards due on the next day, and if this proves unmanageable, then the user either goes into a tweaking frenzy (particularly difficult if one is not mathematically inclined and does not have an aptitude for understanding the effect of changing any of the large number of parameters), or abandons the flashcards completely due to utter frustration. I don't want either, and am really tired of slogging through more flashcards than I want to do while waiting for the long promised upheaval of the system.

The key word in my suggestion is "easy." The current recommendations of reducing the flashcard load are either to switch to a different system such as random, which I don't want to do because as mentioned above, I want to retain the effect of the frequency of seeing a card being dependent on my knowledge of that card, or to lower the points per day and gradually raise them later as one catches up, which does not offer much relief. I know that some people are very happy to be able to tweak parameters, and have no problem for example understanding how to apply filters. I on the other hand struggle with both. In my attempts to reduce the number of due cards, I have tried to install a filter to stop including cards that I have gotten wrong x times in a row and was not able to figure out how to do it. I have tweaked all sorts of parameters without fully understanding the effects. In general, I find the terms not particularly helpful. For example, Which buttons do Quality 4,5 and 6 refer to? Why don't they just have the same name as the buttons?

I would really welcome some quick fix methods such as a vacation button or a show me x cards a day button. As it is, using Pleco's flashcards invariably makes me waste time posting here as opposed to just getting on with my studies.


Staff member
@HW60 - it should offer you the option to review all of your incorrect-at-end-of-test cards when you tap on the [X] button; doesn't it?

@daal - The best 'easy' option I can suggest at the moment is using a batch command; search for any card that's been reviewed more than once, tap Edit, Batch, and use the batch command to increase those cards' scores by 100 * however many days you were on vacation. No tweaks, no adjusting settings, just increase the interval of everything so it's as if you weren't on vacation at all.

Why not switch to frequency-adjusted testing? We actually are still supporting that in 4.0, it gives you what you want in terms of cards that need more help coming up more often. Just set 'card selection' 'system' to 'frequency adjusted' and you can have your 100 card maximum per session with no hassle at all.

Anything we might want to change on the algorithm side we'd now have to do twice - once for our old app and then a second time for the emulation mode of our old app in our new app (which has to support everything the old app does because thanks to Apple not giving people a way to roll back to old updates 4.0 is going to be forced on everybody and some people aren't going to like the new system) - on top of which we have to do it on both iOS and Android and the release versions of those are not as well unified as we'd like at the moment. So there would just have to be a TON of demand for something like that to justify investing the time.