One-year review of Clozemaster Pro

Nine months ago, when I had been using Clozemaster Pro for three months, I posted a review:

I want to explore what has changed and what is still the same.

Biggest improvements:

  1. In dark theme, one could briefly see the cloze word before the blank was displayed, which defeated the whole purpose of the game. This bug was fixed five months after I reported it.

  2. Marking a word “Ignore” used to render the interface unusable for five or ten minutes, presumably while the program performed a real-time search for all instances of the word. Now the program no longer blocks the user after a word has been marked “Ignore”. This makes things much more pleasant. I might still encounter sentences with the word until the program has had time to hide all of them, but that is a much smaller inconvenience.

  3. “Review” and “Favorites” are now split up by category. This took some getting used to, and it’s still awkward to get from one category to the next, but ultimately, I think this was a change for the better.

  4. Mistakenly typing a nonalphanumeric character (such as a backslash or plus sign) used to immediately crash the app. This was also fixed a little while ago.

Biggest improvement yet to be made:

  1. Use a spaced-repetition algorithm (like the SuperMemo algorithms used by Anki and other apps) that allows you to schedule sentences farther ahead in the future if you get them right immediately. (See More repetition scheduling options? - Questions, Suggestions, Feedback - Clozemaster. ) Clozemaster uses a simpler five-level system (0%, 25%, 50%, 75%, or 100% mastered), where, unless you use one of three buttons described below (“100% mastered”, “Ignore”, “Favorite”), you face the following disadvantages:
  • the level depends solely on the number of times in succession that you’ve gotten the sentence right the first time you’ve encountered it in a round (a mistake drops you down to 0%, and you can only get to 25% by the end of the round)
  • you cannot skip levels
  • the time delay between reviews depends solely on level

This means that:

  • you are guaranteed to see every sentence, no matter how well you know it, at least four times in relatively quick succession
  • once a sentence reaches the 100% mastered level, you will see it for review exactly as often as any other 100% mastered sentence, regardless of the relative difficulty of the sentences for you

So no matter how long you’ve played the game, you need to plow through tons of sentences that you find easy mixed in with the ones that you want to concentrate on because you find them difficult. There are various ways to address that, but all of them have drawbacks (and are not available from the non-Pro version, I believe):

a. Use the “100% mastered” button. This is time-consuming (requiring two mouse clicks or touches without keyboard shortcuts), and a more coarse-grained tool than one might like (maybe I’d like to skip to the 75% level rather than the 100% level). It also means foregoing the points I’d get from the intermediate reviews, each of which is progressively worth twice more than the last. (Yes, if I were strictly rational, this would not be a reason in itself to go through the intermediate reviews, but it’s easy to get caught up in the “game”.) Finally, once you’ve reached the 100% level for a sentence, there’s no way to see it any more or less often than any other 100% mastered sentence.

b. Use the “Ignore” button. This has the same drawbacks as the “100% mastered” button.

c. Mark a sentence a “Favorite” if you want to concentrate it (though as others have pointed out, these tend to be the sentences that are actually our least favorite). The drawbacks are that you then assume full responsibility for managing the sentence (by removing it from the “Favorite” list), and that there is no fine-grained way to indicate how well you know the sentence.

Rather than these “hacks”, I prefer a SuperMemo-style algorithm that integrates degree of knowledge seamlessly into the spaced repetition.

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I also find this a significant problem, especially for 100% mastered reviews. I don’t really mind ploughing through the 50% and 75% stages even for easy sentences, but then would like to see them recur much less often than harder sentences.

No matter how I set the time interval for 100% mastered reviews, I find I see easy sentences too often or hard ones too rarely. I’d like an easy, one-touch button to shorten the 100% review interval (say by half or more) for sentences I find hard, and lengthen it (double it or more) for ones I find easy. Changing your review scheduling options when playing different collections isn’t enough, because there are some very easy sentences in the >50,000 most common word collection and a few difficult colloquial expressions in the 100 most common collection.

Anything that takes two clicks or more is more trouble than it’s worth.

I’d prefer a very easy-to-use manual adjustment to an algorithm (or in addition to an algorithm), because I’d like to be able to set sentences for more frequent review even if I get them right. The system only knows I got it right, but it might have taken me considerable thought, which tells me I’m not fluent in that word.

I’ve mentioned this before, but I’d also like a way to get to my 25%, 50% and 75% reviews without having to clear thousands of 100% mastered reviews to access them. This is my Latin progress at the moment, for example:

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To get to the 500 sentences or so that are still in the early stages of review, I have to work through more than 4,500 sentences - almost 3/4 of the entire collection.

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An ignore mastered sentences mode would be a good option.

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I’d like to have the ability to manually change the review date for an individual sentence, within the edit mode, to any date of my choice.

At the moment all you can do is change to 0%, 25% etc which isn’t flexible enough for particular sentences that I’d like to see more/less of.

At the moment, the edit mode already shows the date of the next due review for that sentence, so it seems reasonable that this could be made editable?

The dream would be an algorithm similar to Anki’s but I guess that this would be more difficult to implement.

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@alanf thanks for posting and thanks @kadrian @adrianxu @AlexG71 for the additional feedback!

Help me help you! :slight_smile: I’m trying to imagine what this might actually look like and how we could merge it into what already exists while still keeping everything as simple as possible.

Perhaps we could make it an option to show additional buttons after answering Anki-style that would leave the percent mastered but allow you to choose a different next review date.

So you’d answer the sentence, then perhaps above the Next button, with everything else being the same, you’d see something like “Custom Next Review Interval: Hard (1 month) Good (2 months) Easy (3 months)” (or whatever the suggested time intervals might be using something like Anki’s spaced repetition algorithm).

Or perhaps these options are only available once a sentence is 100% Mastered.

Another option might be replacing the Next button after answering with Hard, Good, and Easy buttons (or similar) where Good acts like the current Next button and Hard/Easy allow for variable review intervals using something like Anki’s algorithm.

Curious to hear if you have any additional thoughts on how you think it might look/work. Our goal is to make these improvements while avoiding adding too much complexity to the UI - it’s already fairly overwhelming for new users! :slight_smile: I also want to mention that it’ll likely take us a bit of time still until we can get to this - we still have a number of bug fixes and other improvements/additions lined up first.

@AlexG71 manually changing the review date for an individual sentence within edit mode should be most doable short term.

In the Review Settings you can set the 100% Mastered interval to Never. Not quite the same functionality is ignore (they’ll still count in your stats), but they won’t come up for review anymore.

Thanks again!

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For me, Hard - Normal - Easy buttons that change the review intervals sounds ideal. Having it apply only to 100% mastered sentences would mean that new users wouldn’t be hit with these extra options at the beginning.

I wouldn’t want to ignore mastered sentences permanently, only be able to preferentially access sentences that aren’t 100% mastered.

The French from English most common word collections are dramatically improved by the update! I’m getting far more out of playing new sentences than I was before the excessive repetition was pared back. (It was often of words no English speaker could get wrong, like “tennis” and “télévision”, so was particularly frustrating!)

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Yes, Mike that would be great if (optional) additional buttons could appear above ‘‘next’’ but only on 100% mastered sentences, with the options easy, good, hard, linked to an Anki style algorithm.

I wrote ‘‘optional’’ as it shouldn’t be compulsory to select easy, good, hard. Clicking on ‘‘next’’ only, should default the review date to whatever has been chosen in the general settings. (I’m just thinking about the interruption to users’ workflow, if they were forced to select easy, good, hard for every mastered sentence).

Thanks Mike! That would be great if you could do this in the meantime.

Sorry to hear that you may have had feedback of this nature. It would be a real pity, if a new user got put off using CM, due to being intimated by the UI, as they’d potentially be missing out on an excellent language learning app.

Maybe a tutorial video on the site would assist new users? It might also help existing users discover features that they didn’t know existed.

Perhaps it would be good to have a separate beginner’s video tutorial. This could be followed up by a second video, promoting all the extra features provided by a Pro subscription. This could potentially attract new Pro subscribers, as well as point out all the benefits afforded to existing members.

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I would also be fine with displaying the additional buttons exclusively for 100% mastered sentences. This would indeed simplify the experience for new users. Presumably, they could still mark sentences 100% mastered from any level, which would let them jump over the intermediate levels if they wanted, right?

As for what the labels should be, I agree that, as @kadrian said, “Hard - Normal - Easy” would be better than “Hard - Good - Easy” (which would introduce confusion by mixing the “good/bad” axis with the “hard/easy” axis).

As for whether the three buttons should be an optional addition to the “Next” button, or whether it would be mandatory to choose between one of them (with “Normal” corresponding to the current workflow): I think I’d rather have to make a decision on each 100% mastered sentence than have to press two buttons in the case where I don’t want the default. I think it would be quite common for me to want to mark a sentence “easy”, and also for me to want to mark it “hard” (for instance, because I was successfully able to use the clues and a little backtracking to figure out the answer, but I don’t consider that that means I’ve fully mastered it). But for someone who almost always wants the default, it’s easy enough to develop the habit of pressing “Normal” by default. However, I don’t care strongly about this. Either way would be fine with me.

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I also would enjoy Hard-Normal-Easy (with Normal being default), with more ‘levels’ of mastery.
Let’s say, I do 100 sentences a day, and mastered sentences come back after 180 days, it’s not possible to learn and preview more than 100*180=18.000 sentences. That is not much…

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