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Tech Tips, Tricks & Trivia

by 'Anil' Radhakrishna
An architect's notes, experiments, discoveries and annotated bookmarks.



5 reasons to try Vocabulary.com


  • Vocabulary.com does a great job of "gamify-ing" the process of building your vocabulary through its adaptive learning system
  • It is among the PC Magazine's Top 100 Websites & the Time magazine's top 50 websites of 2012 
  • The site's main attraction, the quiz, has some 100,000+ questions and the answers are educative. The site reportedly contains over 100 million sentence examples.
  • The site is ad free
  • Their dictionary is blazing fast. In an unscientific comparison, it seemed to beat another contender, thefreedictionary.com with the print layout, for the title of world's fastest, smartest dictionary. 
  • Often, it has light-hearted word definitions and explanations that make learning new words more memorable. Sample this explanation for  filibuster, which means "to obstruct legislation by talking at great length." 
  • As a parliamentary tactic, the filibuster dates back to at least the first century B.C.E. The rules of the Roman Senate required that all business must be completed by nightfall, and, on more than one occasion, the senator Cato the Younger spoke until dark to delay a vote. In the Parliament of the United Kingdom, a minister may "talk out" a bill, but his speech must pertain to the bill. In the United States, by contrast, a Senator may forestall action on a bill by speaking on any topic.
While there is no mention on the current version of the website about who created it and when, going by the records on Archive.org it appears to have started in 1998 by the husband-wife team of Jan and Carey Cook. The gamification of the site seems to have been done around the April 2011 period.

I learnt about the site from the English.SE Q & A website and I'm hooked. I have a few nits to pick though.

The way the scoreboard sticks to the quiz section, it seems there is something hidden below the quiz box. A small left margin for the scoreboard would make it a less distracting for me. 

A keyboard shortcut to move to the next question would be nice.

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Posted by Blogger Ben Zimmer | 12/28/2012 05:19:00 AM

Hi Anil,

Thanks so much for the post about Vocabulary.com. The site is run by Thinkmap, which acquired the domain and created all the content and features you currently see. Thinkmap is also responsible for the Visual Thesaurus. (I'm the executive producer for both sites.)    



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