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Proposal: new good citizenship rule for askers
Thread poster: Kim Metzger

Kim Metzger  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 08:33
German to English
Sep 3, 2008

Maybe I'm taking KudoZ too seriously and should just lighten up and filter/ignore certain askers, but I can't help trying to make it better.

Pro translators want pro-level KudoZ to be a professional venue for translators to assist each other with challenging translation problems that are presented to colleagues after they have exhausted all the other tools that pro translators customarily use before asking for "help". I see pro-level KudoZ as a virtual office with translators sitting next to each other working on their individual jobs. I wouldn't want to disturb a colleague with a question knowing that she is busy herself unless I were really stuck.

Pro translators are also enthusiastic about creating a fine glossary for future reference.

It often takes new askers (even real pros) a while to become familiar with the KudoZ process. It has become increasingly complex as more and more features and rules have been added. But we see more and more askers routinely and persistently ignoring well-intended advice on how to ask questions (context, classifying, etc.) and this has had a harmful effect on the various language pairs and the glossaries.

The problem is twofold: moderators' hands are tied and rules are not rules. Moderators can act only if a rule is violated and there is no rule against not doing your homework, not providing context, etc. You are in violation of rule 3.7 - Commentary on askers or answerers, and their postings or decisions to post, is not allowed - if you cite rule 2.1 - KudoZ should be used for requesting terms help only after other resources have been exhausted. Rules 2.4 - Sufficient context must be provided with each question – and 2.11 - Sufficient time should be allowed for responses to be made - are also unenforceable.

The site has taken the stance that the purpose of KudoZ is "to help the asker". Err ... are we helping askers by giving them terms that are more than likely inadequate because no context was given?

An extreme case – proposal: write a new rule to spare the community from askers who are rude or persistently ignore basic guidelines and who are thus harmful to the process – the good citizenship rule, which requires giving moderators authority to use good judgement. Currently, moderators' hands are tied because none of the following activities are specifically in violation of the "rules" as opposed to rules that are merely "guidelines" that cannot be enforced. For the past 4 months, one asker has consistently

1. refused to provide context despite repeated pleas from members and moderators to do so – reacts with contempt for people asking for context
2. refused to check KudoZ glossary before asking questions
3. refused to do basic research or check standard dictionaries before asking questions
4. refused to type special characters (accent marks, umlauts) for source term despite repeated requests to do so
5. refused to categorize questions properly
6. refused to allow the full process to take place
a. closes questions as soon as first answer comes in, sometimes adding a question such as why another term wouldn't work
b. closes questions without grading – answer found elsewhere without saying what it was
The negative consequences of this attitude:
1. challenging translation problems are in the KudoZ glossary with no good solution. If someone else later needs a translation of the same term, the glossary will be of no use.
2. editors required to clean up mess – reclassify categories, edit the spelling of term so it can be found in glossary searches
3. additional identical term in glossary

Current solution: filter the asker, i.e. ignore him/her

Entire attitude is disrespectful to the community in the extreme. She seems to regard it as a service to which she is entitled without regard for building a glossary or for the fact that real people (translators) are volunteering to help.

Solution: take away her right to ask questions until she has agreed to conform to rule xx (to be formulated). Rule xx would address good citizenship. Because she has persistently flouted the spirit of KudoZ, she should now be required to
a. keep questions open for at least 24 hours
b. provide adequate context
c. classify questions properly
d. type special characters for queried term
e. state what answer she found if she closes it without grading

The new rule would permit a moderator to suspend asking rights until the "guidelines" have been respected by repeat offenders.


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RNAtranslator  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:33
English to Spanish
+ ...
This is a commercial site, not a NGO to help professional translators Sep 3, 2008

I'm afraid you are too naive, Kim.

The goal of a pharmaceutical company is not helping ill people; their goal is to make money, and helping ill people is their way to get it. The same for Proz. As more visits, more money from advertisers. So, they shall not do anyting to stop that kind of people; they might stop visiting the site and Proz would earn less money. This is not a NGO, this is a commercial site.


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Henry Dotterer
Local time: 10:33
SITE FOUNDER
Actually the math is different Sep 3, 2008

RNAtranslator wrote:

I'm afraid you are too naive, Kim.

The goal of a pharmaceutical company is not helping ill people; their goal is to make money, and helping ill people is their way to get it. The same for Proz. As more visits, more money from advertisers. So, they shall not do anyting to stop that kind of people; they might stop visiting the site and Proz would earn less money. This is not a NGO, this is a commercial site.

Many people assume this, in fact it is not the case at all. ProZ.com, the company, is a for-profit business, but the income comes overwhelmingly from membership payments. We are not motivated to stimulate page views.

The motivation has been what Kim said it was: that KudoZ, today, is about "help" (for better or for worse.)

(We have been experimenting, by the way, with a new type of question that is not about "help", but about glossary building. It is interesting!)


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Tomás Cano Binder, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 15:33
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Indeed... Sep 3, 2008

RNAtranslator wrote:
I'm afraid you are too naive, Kim.


I agree...


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RNAtranslator  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:33
English to Spanish
+ ...
Another suggestion Sep 3, 2008

What about granting browniz to the good askers?. Answerers would vote and the good answer would get browniz.

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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:33
English to Spanish
+ ...
Good Thinking Sep 3, 2008

I respect Kim's good thinking and desire to make things better. Sure, it is unrealistic to think that we can create a community here that meets strict professional standards in all respects, or even to a large extent. It's been said before, this is the Net, folks, so you get the wheat with the chaff, the sheep and the goats, all mixed up. But if we cannot reach the ideal we would like, maybe we could at least try to edge closer to it, little by little.

There could perhaps be a system where participants could "gig" an asker by pressing a button or whatever, maybe with a list of "sins" (such as lack of CONTEXT, etc.) which would then go to a moderator. If an asker gets too many gigs then the asker could be suspended for a given period then reinstated. If that does not cure them, then they could eventually be banned from asking.

Or maybe there could be no suspension or banning, just a "brand" by the asker's name showing that they have been branded as an "undesirable asker" by the community, but it could be removed after improved performance.

I really do not know how desirable all that would be, and it could turn out to be quite burdensome. It could be best just to leave well enough alone and be tolerant.

And it must be recognized that even abusers often pay membership fees, so to penalize them would be akin to shooting one's self in the foot.

I just put it out for whatever it is worth, and I'm not charging anything.


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Stéphanie Soudais  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 15:33
Member (2006)
English to French
can't agree more Sep 3, 2008

Kim Metzger wrote:

1. refused to provide context despite repeated pleas from members and moderators to do so – reacts with contempt for people asking for context
2. refused to check KudoZ glossary before asking questions
3. refused to do basic research or check standard dictionaries before asking questions
4. refused to type special characters (accent marks, umlauts) for source term despite repeated requests to do so
5. refused to categorize questions properly
6. refused to allow the full process to take place
a. closes questions as soon as first answer comes in, sometimes adding a question such as why another term wouldn't work
b. closes questions without grading – answer found elsewhere without saying what it was


So true ! It has been months since I told myself "I must open a thread about askers who do not behave professionally". For example, in my pair there are more and more askers who close their questions without grading, reason : other (I am thinking of one member in particular who closes 3/4 of them without grading - why does s/he not ask "not for points questions" then?), while several answers are obviously good or at least quite helpful. Askers simply use your answers without a mere "thank you for helping", and when you publicly tell them that they could at least say thank you or tell what they eventually chose, your comments might be removed by moderators, because the purpose is to "help the asker", not to judge. I agree, but I think it is unfair for the answerers, because answerers take their time to help while askers "are always right" and allowed to behave in a disrespectful manner (as Kim detailed). Ignore them is not a solution, there are always (new) members who do not know this fact and/or are always willing to answer/help them.

I think askers should be more educated (e.g. obliged to read the recommendations before asking a question - have you checked dictionaries? have you checked Kudoz glossary?...). There is for me no reason why askers should be allowed to show so much disrespect to answerers/other Prozians (whether deliberately or not)...

Stéphanie

[Edited at 2008-09-04 06:02]


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Cilian O'Tuama
Local time: 15:33
German to English
+ ...
"Educate" some askers by suspending their asking rights. Sep 3, 2008

Henry D wrote:

(We have been experimenting, by the way, with a new type of question that is not about "help", but about glossary building. It is interesting!)


Hi Henry,
I think it's more a new type of ASKER we need, one who is communicative, courteous and thoughtful....

(Temporarily) Revoking someones right to ask questions seems like a very good idea to me. After their nth question (it takes time to learn the ropes). And of course only after the asker's been "gigged" often enough.
HenryH's "list of sins" for notifying mods sounds promising too.

This topic has repeatedly come up in some form or another ever since I've been here. Kim seems to be the only one who still has the hope and energy to keep going, long after I threw in the towel. Bravo. I agree it's a good cause.

Leaving it alone and being tolerant (Henry H) isn't getting us anywhere.

The dashboard "filters" unfortunately only hide the problem. The learning effect for askers is zero. They don't even know they're being ignored! Never mind for what reason.

I'm trying hard to think of any changes undertaken by the site aimed at improving asker behaviour. To me, the KudoZ arena and the glossaries are the most important part of the site. And a small change here towards "educating" askers could go a long way towards improving the atmosphere.

I doubt anyone will leave if they learn that all they have to do to ask more questions is to obey some simple rules.

They need to realise that THEY too will benefit from it.

Cilian


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Amy Duncan  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 11:33
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Enough with the KudoZ police already!! Sep 4, 2008

Kim Metzger wrote:

Pro translators want pro-level KudoZ to be a professional venue for translators to assist each other with challenging translation problems that are presented to colleagues after they have exhausted all the other tools that pro translators customarily use before asking for "help".


This is unrealistic and, IMO, unfair. This was already mentioned in another forum, but I'll say it again: sometimes you're on a tight deadline, exhausted, and don't have the time to "exhaust all other tools." You know there's a colleague out there who has the answer on the tip of his/her tongue, so why shouldn't you ask for help? What's so wrong about that?

The problem is twofold: moderators' hands are tied and rules are not rules.


We are all adults. We don't need hundreds of rules. If I don't like the way someone is behaving on KudoZ, I'm usually too busy to be thinking up some rule that might stop them from behaving that way.

An extreme case – proposal: write a new rule to spare the community from askers who are rude or persistently ignore basic guidelines and who are thus harmful to the process – the good citizenship rule, which requires giving moderators authority to use good judgement.


Just what we need -- another rule. In any case, who is going to decide what is rude? Or what is good citizenship, for that matter?

Some of the infractions you listed I have been guilty of myself. A few times I forgot to check the glossary before asking for help, when I was particularly harried. Once I forgot to check the box to reverse the pairs when searching for a glossary term and so missed it...I was actually taken to task for this terrible error.

I say enough of the policing and wrist-slapping and being critical and judgmental of others. I may be all alone in my feelings about this, but here is the way I think about ProZ and about KudoZ in general:

I am immensely grateful to every colleague who has ever helped me and I hope I've been able to help some of them as well. I am very happy to have all the resources the site provides, and in particular the KudoZ feature with its glossaries and help from the dear colleagues who offer their time and expertise. They are not forced into doing this, and I honestly believe that most of them are not doing it "just for the points." I guess I'm just too busy being grateful to feel that we need the KudoZ police to round up all the "repeat offenders" and "take away their rights."

So shoot me.





[Edited at 2008-09-04 15:42]

[Edited at 2008-09-04 15:43]


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NR_Stedman  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 15:33
French to English
Leave Kudoz as it is Sep 4, 2008

It may be imperfect but it has helped me a lot and I can't see obvious ways of improving it. Suspending people is not a good idea and contrary in my opinion to internet ethics. Personally I find certain "professionals" unjustifiably hard-edged and sometimes as irritating as eager, point-seeking beginners.

KudoZ does seem to have one basic flaw: questions are often asked by novices who get replies from experts who they are then asked to grade: novices can and do choose the wrong answer. I use KudoZ to ask questions outside my own field of competence and have sometimes found it very hard to grade a series different answers from equally-sure answerers

Recently I think there has been a tendency for the best translators to no longer answer questions or help out novices and this no doubt corresponds to the increased worries about competition exacerbated by reading the ProZ columns.


[Edited at 2008-09-04 06:48]


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Felipe Gútiez  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 15:33
Member (2002)
German to Spanish
+ ...
List of sins is a good idea... Sep 4, 2008

I think this way the asker could learn what exactly he/she has done improperly. Improve is always good, I am with Henry H.
Henry D wrote "(We have been experimenting, by the way, with a new type of question that is not about "help", but about glossary building. It is interesting!)" Can you explain a little more about this? It sounds very interesting!!!

There is another problem:
confidentiality.
Some moderators had to remove some terms asked because some end clients were upset of seeing their terms being asked and publicly "seen" in the Internet.
My question, how much context is allowed to preserve confidentiality? Any information from lawyers?
(to be honest I sheet on the patent system and even the customs systems and all this constructa existing only in peoples heads, but, well, I must live with it, for the moment).


[Editado a las 2008-09-04 07:42]


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Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:33
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
Agree with Amy Sep 4, 2008

There is a trend to imposing more and more restrictions and rules on everyone to try to control the behavior of a few whom it would be best just to ignore. The recent splitting of the "Ask the Asker" function into three (Post reference, Request clarification & Discussion) with complicated rules about what should go where, how much should be included in notifications, what should be displayed by default & what shouldn't, all originally imposed without consultation, someone then starts a forum discussion, a few minor changes are made, but if you ask who changed what and why in the first place, you are just told "It has been determined..." or something similarly vague. Less policing, let people get on with asking and answering in their own way.

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Stéphanie Soudais  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 15:33
Member (2006)
English to French
Agree Sep 4, 2008

I agree with you, Jack and Amy. There are indeed too many restrictions, but they all apply to answerers, while askers are not restricted by anything. When an answerer do not put their comments in the right box (i.e. clarification, reference or discussion), their comments might simply be removed by moderators, even if these comments could have been useful to the asker...When an answerer asks the asker if they have checked the glossary (because the question has already been asked), moderators might removed this because it is not allowed to judge the asker...and so on. In the end, askers are not encouraged to behave better.

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Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:33
Italian to English
+ ...
Why Kudoz shouldn't be left as it is Sep 4, 2008

NR_Stedman wrote:

Recently I think there has been a tendency for the best translators to no longer answer questions or help out novices


That's why Kudoz shouldn't be left as it is - so many of the most experienced among us have got sick of it and bowed out. My own contribution is now near zero - I no longer have the will to wade through several dozen basic and/or wrongly categorised questions to find one that is worth answering and for which I can actually make a useful contribution.

this no doubt corresponds to the increased worries about competition exacerbated by reading the ProZ.com columns


I doubt very much that people have stopped answering Kudoz because they're worried about the competition! You're not serious, surely? For the most part, we're talking about two totally separate markets - I am certainly not worried that any of the bottom feeders taking advantage of lax regulation of the Kudoz system would be able to take any of my clients away from me!


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Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:33
Italian to English
+ ...
Why Kudoz shouldn't be left as it is (2) Sep 4, 2008

Stéphanie Soudais wrote:

There are indeed too many restrictions, but they all apply to answerers, while askers are not restricted by anything.


Exactly. All the restrictions are on those who are trying to help - no wonder they're just giving up.

More power to Kim for having the energy to persevere in trying to get site staff to acknowledge the problem and do something about it.


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