Today I received an email in my inbox notifying me of upcoming changes to Memrise, and I’m sure that’s been done to death already, so I won’t talk about it here. However, this did prompt me to finally speak out about my personal experience with Memrise. My ultimate aim with this post is not to complain, not to slander, but simply to state the facts of my experience with Memrise. You can do with that information what you will. At the bottom of this post I’ve described an alternative to Memrise, Kitsun.io, which is in my humble opinion, a much better experience for everyone involved - creators and users.
I was going to paste an excerpt from an email I sent to the official Memrise support email on the 22nd November 2018, regarding an extremely serious bug I experienced which has not yet received a response to date: However, this post is far too long already so I’ll spare you all finer details. If you’re interested, you can PM me. I have not received a response nor any official acknowledgement of the email, or the bug.
Here’s a TL;DR for what happened:
- Around November 2016, I downloaded the official Japanese courses that were available at the time (only 3). They had “kanji levels” but did not use this kanji in vocab levels, only hiragana. (There are now 7 or more).
- Downloading the courses froze them and disconnected them. While the official Japanese courses continued to improve over the following two years, adding kanji in vocab levels and new videos/audio files, my courses never updated.
- If you get into the finer details, the data suggests that the official courses I was using were actually discontinued and Memrise created entirely new courses, hence why the older ones never got updated.
- For two years I was paying premium rate membership for a horribly outdated app with barebones features. To top it all off, even though I had the courses downloaded, I could never access them without an internet connection. Wait, isn’t that the point of paying for premium?
Any of you serious language learners out there may be able to imagine how utterly floored I was when I discovered that I had been wasting two years of my life and two years worth of annual membership on outdated content that was difficult to work through to begin with. I was never warned. For those of you that now rely on kanji to make reading sentences easier, you may appreciate the hell that is trying to parse the correct answer out of a string of 50 kana characters.
The lack of response to this issue, which has affected many users (I’ve confirmed this by talking to others online), was very disconcerting. The potential ramifications for the bug are that if you have EVER downloaded a Memrise course, the potential exists for you to be completely cut off from updates. Essentially, using a premium feature nullifies the entire benefit of paying premium in the first place. How much this even matters anymore with the changes in the pipeline, I don’t know.
Ultimately, this completely dissolved any confidence I had in Memrise as a company, and since then I’ve stopped using Memrise. As it currently stands, I have completed all three of the official Japanese (script) courses that were uploaded to Memrise back in 2016 - courses which no longer exist, and an achievement I can no longer be proud of. I’ll be honest, I’m ignorant of most of the current drama around Memrise going website-only. What I can say is that I know enough about the company to know that my future learning Japanese is better spent elsewhere. As for you, you can make that decision for yourself, either on account of my experience, your experience, or all of the other posts you’ll read on these forums in the coming days or weeks. The choice is yours.
Kitsun, The Better Alternative
Kitsun is a flashcard based SRS system that I’ve been using ever since I stopped using Memrise last year. This post is already too long, so I’ll try and keep this short and sweet. Here’s what really matters to me about Kitsun and why I think you should check it out:
- Frequently (weekly) updated, user-feedback is respected, encouraged, and in many cases suggestions are implemented. I’ve made multiple feature suggestions to the owner and he’s always willing to hear me out and discuss new ideas.
- I find it very easy to create new cards using the integrated Jisho tool. Seriously, it’s a life saver. If I find a word I don’t know in a book, I can jisho search it, make a card, and add it to my SRS in seconds.
- The UI, settings and entire construction is simple - easy to configure, and easy to understand. This matters a lot to me, as I found Anki too convoluted and too hard to set up. With Kitsun, you just log in, find a community deck, and start learning. It’s that simple.
- There’s a community centre with dozens of Japanese decks to date and more being added every day. There’s decks for manga, anime and even textbook aids for Genki, including the famous Core 10K deck equivalent and a 4.5K Katakana deck. I’m working through both of these right now, and they’re butter smooth to use.
To conclude this behemoth post, I’ll just say this. When I discovered the Memrise bug that plagued me for two years, I felt pretty bad. But any website can have bugs, right? What really made me leave Memrise was not getting a reply to my email and the realization that nobody at Memrise really cared. Kitsun is the opposite of that.
I’m aware of the problems many creators have been having with Memrise as of late - not in detail, but taking a quick look through the forums paints a very grim picture. The owner of Kitsun always welcomes new creators to bring new content, new decks, and new languages to the community. Kitsun is for all kinds of languages and topics - not just Japanese.
If you’re a Memrise deck creator, I think you’ll find the respect you deserve, the features you want, and the communication you need on Kitsun. If you’re just an SRS learner like me, you’ll find a welcoming community of people on a platform that’s already stellar and improving each and every week.
At the end of the day, no words of mine will convince you to use Kitsun, but I’m confident enough to say that if you log in and have a look at what’s on offer, you’ll understand what it’s about pretty quickly. With a bit of luck, I’ll see you on the forums someday.
Here’s the link: https://kitsun.io/