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Anki as a knowledge base (with a "massive cloze note")

Keeping in mind the principle of minimal information, very complex subjects tend to be spread out in an exaggerated number of notes, which ends up making difficult the work of reviewing, editing and understanding their “larger context”. In other words: the information ends up fragmented without there being a connection between the piece of knowledge that is being questioned in Anki, with the “major theme”.

An effective way to solve this problem would be to create another type of cloze note, as suggested in the title, a “massive cloze note”.

This would work as follows: a single subject would be exhausted in just one note with as many clozes as needed to learn it, however, each “paragraph” or “field” would serve as the minimum context from which the answer would come out. For example:

Field “Subject”: History of Technology

(Field 1 or first paragraph) In {{c1::1942}}, emerged {{c2::Nuclear power}}. As part of the {{c3::Manhattan}} Project to build the first {{c3::atomic bomb}}.

(Field 2 or second paragraph) In {{c4::1947}}, emerged {{c5::Transistor}}. On December 23 Bell Labs engineers {{c5::John Bardeen}}, {{c5::Walter Brattain}}, and {{c5::William Shockley}} gave the first public demonstration of the transistor, an {{c6::electrical component}} that could control, amplify, and generate {{c6::current}}.

(Field 3 or third paragraph) In {{c7::1957}}, emerged {{c8::Spaceflight}}. The {{c9::Soviet Union}} launched the first {{c10::artificial satellite}}, {{c11::Sputnik 1}}.

When Anki wants to introduce me to cloze 5 (c5), this is the expected behavior for the front of the note (showing ONLY the paragraph/field where the c5 is found):

Field “Subject”: History of Technology

(Field 2 or second paragraph) In 1947, emerged […] . On December 23 Bell Labs engineers John Bardeen, Walter Brattain, and William Shockley gave the first public demonstration of the transistor, an electrical component that could control, amplify, and generate current.

But after answering the card, the back reveals all the information of all the other paragraphs/fields with the highlight to the target c5 (as usual), for example:

Field “Subject”: History of Technology

(Field 1 or first paragraph) In 1942, emerged Nuclear power. As part of the Manhattan Project to build the first atomic bomb.

(Field 2 or second paragraph) In 1947, emerged Transistor . On December 23 Bell Labs engineers John Bardeen, Walter Brattain, and William Shockley gave the first public demonstration of the transistor, an electrical component that could control, amplify, and generate current.

(Field 3 or third paragraph) In 1957, emerged Spaceflight. The Soviet Union launched the first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1.

Advantages of the approach:

  • Ease of organizing, editing and reviewing cards.
  • larger context presented right after the answer (right or wrong).
  • less information to read and confusion as concepts are internalized, as it will not be necessary to reread the entire note.
  • Saving notes in libraries: in the example, we would have only one note instead of having to formulate 11 different ones, similar to: “In what year did nuclear energy, transistor…?”
  • MOST IMPORTANT: errors with immediate feedback. In the example, suppose that instead of correctly answering c5, you answer “Nuclear Power” (which would be the answer of c2); in a simple “question/answer” card the error would be evident, but the fixation of the right concept would be lost in the middle of the review, as “I know the correct answer is Transistor, but when did Nuclear Power appear?”.
3 Likes

Interesting idea.

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This should be easily achievable with the setlist functionality of Closet.

Take a look at the following example:

In fact, you don’t even need to use Closet for this. I have something similar going on in my note template that doesn’t need any complicated syntax, just an ordered list.
I would like to share it with you as soon as I’m back to my laptop in a few days.

3 Likes

It would be amazing, thank you

Your idea reminds me of the process used by Prerak. In this video, he shows how he uses a lot of information in the extra section. He creates a lot of notes with the same text in the extra. I think his approach has an advantage over what you are suggesting because he can simply grab the paragraph and make clozes, or he can create other kinds of cards (more open questions) based on the same paragraph. So, it’s more flexible than having to make clozes, like in your suggestion.

On the other hand, his approach has a shortcoming: if he needs to change the text in the extra section (to correct mistakes, clarification, etc) he would need to change DOZENS of notes. In your suggestion, this problem doesn’t happen, because the text is shared by all the cards.

So, to get the best of both worlds, it would be nice to have one section to put a long text to be shared by several notes.

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I’ve used this Prearak approach before, but that’s exactly the problem I’d like to avoid: redundancy.

The information will be presented by Anki in the same way both in the classical approach and in the one suggested by me, but in the latter there would be better organization and ease of changing notes, presentation of the general context after the answer and the possibility of controlling more precisely which pieces of information already exists in your Anki library instead of having to use complex add-ons that break with small changes with each new version of Anki, and also bring this native functionality to mobile without needing to know programming or use extras to circumvent cross-platform problems (eg persistence).

While your suggestion is interesting, I think it ends up falling into a very common way of thinking in the Anki community which is the “note type” (which I don’t say is right or wrong, just common).

Let me explain: Anki’s classic note types are “basic”, “basic and reverse” and “cloze”, and through add-ons there is extension for a multitude of other types (multiple choice, cloze overlaper, etc.).

Those achieved only with add-ons or with some Java Script are outside the scope of the suggestion, so we will focus only on “basic”, “basic and reverse” and “cloze”.

The “basic”, “basic and reverse” notes are the most used by the Anki community and the “cloze” is often overlooked for the false premise that “it’s easy to remember what comes in the omitted space”. The problem is not the cloze itself, but how it is formulated. Two notes:

TWO BASIC 1 and 2:

1
Front: When Nuclear power emerged?
Back: In 1942.

2
Front: What emerged in 1942?
Back: Nuclear power.

ONE CLOZE:

In {{c1::1942}}, emerged {{c2::Nuclear power}}.

In other words, you have twice as much work and notes to remember the same information. What I can’t believe is that the words “when” and “what” actually improve the fixation of information in someone’s memory in a way that would be different in two simple occlusions.

Also, in my suggestion you wouldn’t need to cloze the entire text. Let’s say you want to use Anki as a notebook (like in the Prearak video), you can just c1 a letter of the text and save the note to see if it’s worth doing the clozes at the end.

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It’s possible to do this without add-ons and Javascript, but it gets messy:

{{^c4}}{{^c5}}{{^c6}}{{^c7}}{{^c8}}{{^c9}}{{^c10}}{{^c11}}
In {{c1::1942}}, emerged {{c2::Nuclear power}}. As part of the {{c3::Manhattan}} Project to build the first {{c3::atomic bomb}}.
{{/c11}}{{/c10}}{{/c9}}{{/c8}}{{/c7}}{{/c6}}{{/c5}}{{/c4}}

And so on.

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Before I continue to work on this: is this what you want to achieve?

Kooha-2021-07-28-20_49_10

Edit: Actually, forget about Closet. This is all it takes:

Cloze Note Type: Front template

{{Subject}}
<hr>
<div id="content" style="display:none">{{cloze:Text}}</div>
<div id="output"></div>

<script>
    var text = document.getElementById("content").innerHTML
    var paragraphs = text.split("<br><br>")

    var idx = currentParagraph(paragraphs)
    document.getElementById("output").innerHTML = paragraphs[idx]

    function currentParagraph(paragraphs) {
        for (i = 0; i < paragraphs.length; i++) {
            if (paragraphs[i].match("cloze")) return i
        }
    }
</script>
Note: This script only works reliably with paragraphs created inside Anki, as it uses for <br><br> to separate them.
5 Likes

This is amazing, exactly what I had in mind!

Maybe you haven’t realized what you’ve just done with this simple and elegant solution to the problem presented in this topic, but you’ve made notetaking apps like Obsidian, Notion, or Roam obsolete if the user only uses them for notetaking and revise these notes later.

By making this suggestion of unifying related themes in a single note that can be charged in parts by Anki, with subsequent presentation of the macro context, any “X to Anki” type plugin/add-on becomes unnecessary. You’ve created a kind of “Zettel-Anki”.

I really liked that, even separating the notes by paragraphs, it is possible to leave the same cloze in different paragraphs and only the paragraphs with the cloze, for example, c6, appeared on the front of the card.

I have also noticed that it is possible for the same cloze to be charged in ordered or unordered lists, with the only disadvantage that the paragraph after such lists is displayed next to them (regardless of whether or not it is the same cloze).

And, of course, that’s not a problem with your amazing script, but it didn’t work on AnkiDroid, which I think only works with “Persistent Editor - AnkiWeb” (which, if you could add it to the script, I’d be immensely grateful, as I’m a programming potato).

Anyway, at least to me, it seems pretty clear that this would be the next step in the evolution of Anki: by making it possible to take complete notes and organize everything in a way that respects the principle of minimum information per piece charged in the cloze (or even in a question and answer in this format, such as: What color is the sky? {{c1::blue}}), there is a possibility of a quick, effective review that keeps the general context after the answer, in a set of notes that can be corrected and edited from a common denominator, as well as avoiding unnecessary redundancies.

Very good Sir, I take my hat off. This should become an add-on, or come standard in future Anki versions, the whole community needs to start making use of it.

It seems that this solution would be more laborious than creating several similar notes.

But thanks for pointing out the possibility.

:clap: :clap: :clap:
This is excellent!

And it can be used for the Prerak process that I mentioned above, because I can simply make the open questions as paragraphs bellow the content paragraph (and maybe use some kind of notation or color coding to differentiate each other).

Now, we need a way to make it work on AnkiDroid

1 Like

Radorion, pay attention also to the Remote program. Currently, I use Anki to learn a foreign language, and Remote to create a knowledge base. Very convenient.
I really hope that in the future it will be possible to maintain a full-fledged knowledge base in Anki.

2 Likes

Yes my friend, I still point out that it is unnecessary to store the global information in the Extra field, since it will all be in the main field.

I used RemNote for many months together with Anki and I liked it.

Not because of the organization of the knowledge base, but because of the ease of entering information there.

The RemNote team’s clear choice is that all information has some sort of linear hierarchy in a non-referential sense, ie, information from a lower hierarchy (last Rem) hardly connects directly with other Rem’s (second or third ) superiors other than top-down.

It’s an interesting choice and serves 90% of the knowledge that can be divided into even smaller portions, but in my specific case of laws, the different parts of the same legal device make reference to other parts and so on, which made it difficult to use their linear model.

1 Like

You are right about linear hierarchy of RemNote. But Portals and Tags of RemNote can significantly help you. Also you can use other tools of RemNote to link different information.

How about an addon that jumps straight to the cloze you have to answer in a long/longer text?

No need for an add-on. Add this to either side of your note template.

<script>
setTimeout(() => {
    if ((cloze = document.querySelector(".cloze")) != null) {
        cloze.scrollIntoView({
            behavior: "smooth",
            block: "center"
        })
    }
}, 0)
</script>
4 Likes

Hi, Is there any addon where we can upload the pdf and make image occlusion on it. (Presently closet can do image occlusion in one image only)
If we get such an addon, we need not make individual cards but rather occlude only the relevant items in the pdf pages.

Thanks all and wish you a happy and healthy life

  1. So, you want me to e.g. copy/paste this into the cloze addon? Because it’s with my (pretty) long cards with lots of clozes that it loose seconds to find where I have to be in the card.
  2. Shouldn’t it be in the “Styling” part as that’s doing stuff for both the front and the back?
  3. Thy :slight_smile:

It should be wrapped inside <script> tags and put at the bottom of your Front and Back template. I’ll edit the above script in a moment, so you just have to copy-paste the whole thing…

While it’s true that the Styling section affects both sides, you still need to put it into Front and Back separately, because that’s where the HTML/JavaScript goes. The Styling section is for CSS.

1 Like