How could Anki improve deck sharing & search?

Hey guys,

Problem: Currently finding relevant decks is really hard!

I think Ankis value proposition could be greatly enhanced by making it easier to share & find relevant decks.

What do you think? What ideas do you have?

Some ideas from me:

  • adding some categorization or labeling that is prebuilt (eg. adding schools (Harvard, MIT, UCL), subjects (maths, biology, etc.), course name labels (CS150), level of education, department):
    • this way people could search easier for specific subjects and reuse old decks easier
    • it would greatly improve the usability of deck sharing
  • deck search could have some categorization by default, so people can easily explore decks by categories or downloads
    • some great example is
1 Like

This sounds more of like a social media thing no? A little outside the scope of a flash card program. Also, I think Anking, a separate product with a different team, is already kind of doing something similar to this for medical decks.

Great question! There are a number of candidate solutions to the problem of finding relevant decks. And as mentioned by @O3nnM7LP5GzFMBS, the AnkiHub team has implemented a solution that, if it gained wide enough usage and they work out the bugs, could be a substantial improvement over AnkiWeb. Unfortunately, I see a difficult road ahead of them convincing the entire community to jump ship, mainly because their system costs money, and the existing system is free. People say a new product needs to be 10x better than the existing alternatives to get widespread adoption, and I think that adage makes the implicit assumption that both the old thing and the new thing cost about the same.

AnkiWeb can certainly be improved, although it is fantastic in that it is free and searchable at all, and that there are a large number of creators who live there. The search facility is extremely rudimentary in modern terms, and seems almost purposefully limited. There is also no good way to browse decks before you download them, or version your releases if you’re a maintainer. It’s also not exactly ideal that all of that data is at the mercy of whoever runs the AnkiWeb servers (is it just Damien? I don’t know).

My feeling is that there’s no need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to document search or project collaboration. Open source tools like document databases, elasticsearch, and other things do search very well, and collaboration is handled well by things like overleaf, google docs, git, mercurial, etc. Browsing/previewing content is just a front-end engineering problem, and a really simple one at that (this really shouldn’t require any javascript).

My hope is that eventually, the deck maintainer community makes a soft, gradual transition to a platform like GitHub, GitLab, or sourcehut. These platforms have extremely mature, sophisticated and reliable search mechanisms, and they have browsing functionality built-in. They also have the advantage of supporting collaboration with git, which is an extremely robust, powerful distributed version control program. These services are free, have interoperable decentralized alternatives, and really care about preventing data loss. They also make it very easy to build a community around a deck, solicit user contributions, correct errata, etc.