Somewhat In-Depth Carding Questions

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Somewhat In-Depth Carding Questions

Post by Lo, a momentary rabbit-stage » Fri Dec 26, 2014 3:07 am

So, I've recently taken up carding to solidify my rather weak Philosophy knowledge, and I've really enjoyed it so far. I'm using Anki(http://ankisrs.net/) as a tool to help me not only remember who wrote what, but also to summarize the plots of some important philosophical works and movements. It's been fairly successful so far, insofar that I feel like I'm picking up knowledge faster than I would if I were just idly reading questions, but I feel like there are a lot of things I need to fine-tune, and I wanted to ask on here, where some people might have more experience with carding.

1. What should I actually put on the front portion of the card? -

This is pretty much my main problem, and it manifests itself in a variety of ways. One issue is length - I feel like incredibly short cards (e.g. This guy wrote Madness and Civilization) are too far in the membowl category for me - and they aren't really that conducive towards me putting together a picture of the philosopher as a whole. Most of my cards of that nature end up being something more like this - (He wrote a work that lists figures such as gargoyles and jesters as indicative of the first title concept, and discusses the exclusion of lepers represented by the "Ship of Fools" in the Rennaissance, that work was Madness and Civilization). This theoretically helps me synthesize a lot more information with the same card, but I find myself just seeing "Madness and Civilization" and moving on instead of actually paying attention to any of the important description on the card.

To combat this, I've started taking off the part that actually lists the books title once I feel I know it adequately, but I still don't feel as this is optimal. As most of you probably know, Anki works off of repetition and notifying the system how well you know the material - if I change the difficulty of the clue substantially it won't be reflected in the amount it comes up.

I find myself doing this to some extent with nearly all of the longer cards, though - there's one piece of information I know right away and the rest is just ignored. Is this just an unavoidable side effect, or should I be writing / interacting with the cards in a different way to counteract this?

2. Is it better to mix subjects or keep them distinct? -

Right now, I'm just focusing on Philo, and I probably will be for quite a while, but I eventually want to use a similar process (along with other study methods, of course) for SS and Religion. Would it be better to isolate these decks, or mix them all together? I remember hearing once that it's better to stick everything you want to remember together, but for quizbowl specifically it seems a bit of an organizational nightmare.

3. In general, is it better to learn the common clues for an item you have relatively little knowledge about and then go into a more "in-depth" learning method (e.g. Wikipedia (notice the scare quotes around in-depth)), or vice versa? My intuition tells me that it's better to have a basic framework of what gets asked and what's important before you learn details so you can fit those details into the existing model for that entity, but I could be completely off on this.

4. Is it acceptable to merely limit the cards to paraphrased versions of existing clues that have come up?

For Philosophy at the high school level, there's a fairly high degree of consistency in the middle / late and even some of the early clues asked. As such, my cards are almost entirely confined to stuff that has come up on whatever database I'm using at the time more than once. Is it fine if I'm just very lightly paraphrasing the information from these sources, or should I be actively carding obscure or specific things that could theoretically appear in the first lines in the future?

Thanks in advance for any advice you might be able to give. I've found that carding works pretty well for me so far, so I'd really like to maximize my efficiency with it if I can.
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Re: Somewhat In-Depth Carding Questions

Post by Mewto55555 » Fri Dec 26, 2014 4:35 am

Disclaimer: I use Mnemosyne, so this advice might differ slightly in some ways from Anki, but probably not substantially.

Flashcards are the bee's knees dude, awesome that you're using them!
1. What should I actually put on the front portion of the card? -
I'm told there's some fancy way where you can make like ten copies of a card by bracketing some sets of words, and it will leave off one set of each brackets on each card (so if you clues are "Dude X won at Battle Y during the War of Z" it will produce three cards, such as "Dude ___ won at Y during Z", "X won at ___ during Z", and "X won at Y during __"). I personally don't like doing this, but it may be worth your consideration. I personally choose to do slightly more work to achieve greater control over my cards. Using your example, "He wrote a work that lists figures such as gargoyles and jesters as indicative of the first title concept, and discusses the exclusion of lepers represented by the "Ship of Fools" in the Rennaissance, that work was Madness and Civilization" becomes:

In what work are gargoyles and jesters indicative of the first title concept?
What work discusses the exclusion of lepers?
What work uses the metaphor of the Ship of Fools in discussing the Renaissance?
Who wrote Madness and Civilization?

If you think this might be clued in a tossup on "Ship of Fools" or something, you might consider adding a fifth card with that as the answer. For me, I have an actual philosophy player on my team so I don't need to know too much -- I just need enough cards to get me involved in the middle clue buzzer race on the Foucault tossup if he falls asleep at the switch.

Basically, I'm of the opinion you want every flashcard to have one (or in some cases, two) substantial clues, with the rest of the words inserted as needed to uniquely specify the answer.
2. Is it better to mix subjects or keep them distinct?
I was an extreme generalist in high school, and I carded for all of them. I didn't have much trouble with this, but I did separate them into general categories, so I could toggle some off if need be. I didn't start toggling off until I got to college and needed to specialize more, though.
3. In general, is it better to learn the common clues for an item you have relatively little knowledge about and then go into a more "in-depth" learning method (e.g. Wikipedia (notice the scare quotes around in-depth)), or vice versa? My intuition tells me that it's better to have a basic framework of what gets asked and what's important before you learn details so you can fit those details into the existing model for that entity, but I could be completely off on this.
Your intuition is pretty on point here. In high school I predominantly carded from old packets, and what I would do is card the last 3-5 clues I didn't already know. So, if I knew everything past the middle, I'd card the leadins (if they weren't stupid and I thought they might come up again). If I'd never heard of the dude, though, I'd read the Wikipedia article on him and only card the last two lines of the tossup. Similarly, if I 20d a bonus, I'd card the hard part, if I 0d it, only the easy and medium. Go for more clues if you aren't going to get overwhelmed by cards (I had 20+ thousand by the end of senior year, so I had to be very judicious about what I carded).
4. Is it acceptable to merely limit the cards to paraphrased versions of existing clues that have come up?
Yes, this is a good thing to do. Look up what the clue Actually Means though before you stick it into the flashcard deck. If you find other clues while researching it that you think might come up, card those too.


Generally, my suggestion is use the packets as a guide for what to look up. Don't straight up copy the phrasing, but make your cards sound like what would be said in a question so your brain is ready for that. When I card, I acquire an understanding of the clue, then make a card. The card is not a substitute for understanding, it merely serves as a mental trigger for that understanding I'd previously attained. To mine clues, when you're researching a subject, read articles in the mindset of a question writer. Ask yourself what you would include if you had to write a tossup on X, and then make a card on it.
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Re: Somewhat In-Depth Carding Questions

Post by Excelsior (smack) » Fri Dec 26, 2014 3:25 pm

1. What should I actually put on the front portion of the card?
The "fancy way" Max is talking about is called cloze deletion. Creating clozes is a bit unwieldy, but I find them useful.
2. Is it better to mix subjects or keep them distinct?
Put all your quizbowl-related cards (technically, in Anki parlance, "notes") in the same deck, and use tags to identify different subjects (and sub-subjects, and whatever else you want - tags are freeform). Then, if you want to study particular subjects, you can create a temporary deck using Tools > Create Filtered Deck.
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Re: Somewhat In-Depth Carding Questions

Post by Aaron's Rod » Mon Dec 29, 2014 2:00 pm

Mewto55555 wrote:I personally choose to do slightly more work to achieve greater control over my cards. Using your example, "He wrote a work that lists figures such as gargoyles and jesters as indicative of the first title concept, and discusses the exclusion of lepers represented by the "Ship of Fools" in the Rennaissance, that work was Madness and Civilization" becomes:

In what work are gargoyles and jesters indicative of the first title concept?
What work discusses the exclusion of lepers?
What work uses the metaphor of the Ship of Fools in discussing the Renaissance?
Who wrote Madness and Civilization?
Are nearly all of your cards front-to-back only, then? I imagine that you would have very few cards with unique answers with this method.
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Re: Somewhat In-Depth Carding Questions

Post by Mewto55555 » Tue Dec 30, 2014 3:19 am

Aaron's Rod wrote: Are nearly all of your cards front-to-back only, then? I imagine that you would have very few cards with unique answers with this method.
Yes, every single one is.
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Re: Somewhat In-Depth Carding Questions

Post by Lo, a momentary rabbit-stage » Sun Jan 04, 2015 12:56 pm

Thanks for the responses! I've already started incorporating some of the things you guys recommended, and it's been really helpful.
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Re: Somewhat In-Depth Carding Questions

Post by MaestroExtraordinaire98 » Wed Feb 25, 2015 9:46 pm

I'd agree with Max- looking up the dude on Wikipedia is better than simply carding him first. I think flashcards are awesome, but as you said, if you rely too much on them, then you'll just be playing the membowl game. I don't know if this is just me, but I tend to remember the stuff I read in Wikipedia better than the stuff I card. I really liked one of Max's posts where he talked about how he uses flashcards- really, the goal with flashcards is to be able to get to a point where you can see the dude's name on the card and be reminded of all the real knowledge you have of him stored away in a cabinet somewhere in your brain. The danger with binary associations (the general result of carding something) is that they are easy to forget, but if you have read up on the dude (Foucault in your example) then you would be able to associate the term with a whole bunch of information that you read on his wikipedia page. Honestly I would just write tossups to learn a subject really well, but that's too time consuming and there's a lot to learn out there :grin: .

As with what you said about topics/subtopics, I'd recommend splitting up your cards into divisions that are more specific. For example, I have separate lists for philosophers, philosophical movements, and philosophical works. I do this because sometimes what you have in, say, philosophical works, might not encompass all of what you have about philosophers (anecdotal clues are important - take a look at my signature). It's also fine if stuff ends up repeating, because the more times your brain sees the same piece of information in different formats, the more able it will be to remember that piece of information.
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Re: Somewhat In-Depth Carding Questions

Post by Adventure Temple Trail » Wed Feb 25, 2015 10:52 pm

MaestroExtraordinaire98 wrote:I'd agree with Max- looking up the dude on Wikipedia is better than simply carding him first. I think flashcards are awesome, but as you said, if you rely too much on them, then you'll just be playing the membowl game. I don't know if this is just me, but I tend to remember the stuff I read in Wikipedia better than the stuff I card. I really liked one of Max's posts where he talked about how he uses flashcards- really, the goal with flashcards is to be able to get to a point where you can see the dude's name on the card and be reminded of all the real knowledge you have of him stored away in a cabinet somewhere in your brain. The danger with binary associations (the general result of carding something) is that they are easy to forget, but if you have read up on the dude (Foucault in your example) then you would be able to associate the term with a whole bunch of information that you read on his wikipedia page. Honestly I would just write tossups to learn a subject really well, but that's too time consuming and there's a lot to learn out there :grin: .
I also recommend using secondary sources which are not Wikipedia, especially when their writers/editors have more verifiable credentials or expertise than Wikipedia, or Wikipedia is throwing up a lot of "citation needed"s.
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Re: Somewhat In-Depth Carding Questions

Post by Victor Prieto » Thu Feb 26, 2015 12:03 am

MaestroExtraordinaire98 wrote:I really liked one of Max's posts where he talked about how he uses flashcards- really, the goal with flashcards is to be able to get to a point where you can see the dude's name on the card and be reminded of all the real knowledge you have of him stored away in a cabinet somewhere in your brain.
This is here.
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