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KudoZ is not a shadow of what it used to be.
Thread poster: Teresa Duran-Sanchez

Teresa Duran-Sanchez  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:49
German to Spanish
+ ...
Sep 4, 2008

Dear friends

I joined Proz.com in 2002. I have a lot to thank to this site because it trully pushed me into freelancing. Before I came across Proz.com, I was working as in-house translator and I couldn´t even dare to imagine myself as I am now, earning money in my pyjamas and my slippers

For a long time, about three years, I didn´t pay attention to this site because I tried my luck in other profession. Now I´m back, happily translating again, and I resort to the KudoZ glossary now and then when I´m looking for some weird term or expression.

When I began in 2002 there was a phantastic bunch of professionals eager to help. Answering in KudoZ was a real challenge, as most people gave excellent explanations and provided dozens of sites for context and references. Even when it was evident that a proposed answer was wrong, one had to post a very convincing explanation to 'counterattack' the other answer, get chosen and earn your points. Still, askers were very picky, and only gave you one or two points if they considered you hadn´t done your homework and references were vague or nonexistent.

You might say I sound a bit aggressive, talking as I am about 'challenge', `counterattack' and so on, but back in 2002 taking part in KudoZ was a very healthy and friendly 'fight' to show the others you were a skilled and resourceful 'terminologist'. The main goal remained, of course, to help the asker in distress, but answering was also an art, the art of showing you know your profession.

It paid off. Thanks to my efforts in KudoZ I got some good translation jobs and I also got to know a group of phantastic friends I later even had the chance to work with.

I believe there are still a lot of good Prozs out there, but a huge number of those who answer the KudoZ questions seems to me, excuse my French, a bit lazy in their explanations.

In the glossary I´ve come across many answers with no context or references at all. The only text appearing under the proposed translation is 'so it is', or 'that´s it' or even 'that´s how I´d say it'. What kind of explanation is that??? And some get 4 points!!!!

We had that kind of lazy answers back then as well, but there were a minority, and of course they wouldn´t get so easily chosen, let alone get points.

Now 'laziness' is the rule, I´m afraid. Few are the respondents who really convincing and helpful. As a result, the KudoZ glossary has turned into a poor help when looking for difficult terms.

The problem might be that the questions are no longer what is used to be neither. Lazy questions with no context get lazy answers. That is understandable. But in any case, I´d rather not answer that answer with a simple 'That´s it' as an explanation. That seems to me too rude and unprofessional.

I encourage those who take their time to answer with references and explanations to carry on, as they will sooner or later get their reward. They might not get the points, but they will get the acknowledgement of fellow translators and outsourcers.

Askers, please ask for references or context before awarding points! At least for the sake of the glossary. Please.


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Susan Welsh  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:49
Member (2008)
Russian to English
+ ...
References for what? Sep 4, 2008

There is no need for references, when what's at issue is simply correct grammar, word choice, and syntax. What are answerers supposed to do, "reference" their fourth grade grammar book? Putting some almost-random web link up is not a useful "reference." You may have noticed that one can justify anything by googling.

If someone writes as their proposed translation, "Throw Grandpa out the window a hammer," and I write as an answer, "Throw a hammer out the window to Grandpa," please tell me why I need to resort to Google to justify my answer, as a native, literate speaker of English.

The same goes for a thread some time ago, when a proofreader/translator was lambasting those lazy colleagues who make changes without providing an explanation. In the above case, the only explanation is that it's laughably wrong as written. If a proofreader were to "explain" every change, the file would end up a hopeless maze of lines and boxes and inserts. To my mind, that's not proofreading.

Susan


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Teresa Duran-Sanchez  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:49
German to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Still... Sep 4, 2008

Susan Welsh wrote:

If someone writes as their proposed translation, "Throw Grandpa out the window a hammer," and I write as an answer, "Throw a hammer out the window to Grandpa," please tell me why I need to resort to Google to justify my answer, as a native, literate speaker of English.

Susan


Hi Susan

I was referring to complex technical terms, not to simple general sentences or expressions.

Of course, sometimes there are no references, as simple as that. But when there are no references, I think at least one should try to cast some light on the question by explaining his/her choice. At least I´d do so if the question is a serious one, or if the asker is a fellow translator in trouble. That is my point of view.

I believe references might not be so important, but explanations are. Do you really agree with explanations like 'So' or even 'xxx'? There were better manners in the way people used KudoZ when I first came across this site. Now it all seems horribly rude and indiferent to me, am I getting old? I´ve always been an idealist, shame on me! Luckily I´m not the only one who´d like to see improvements in KudoZ, see

http://www.proz.com/forum/kudoz/114371-proposal:_new_good_citizenship_rule_for_askers.html

I´ve too often seen serious questions asked where Kudozers answer some rubbish without even bothering to give an explanation or references. Some people seem to be so eager about getting points, that they don´t mind being ridiculous or putting their reputation at stake. There´s always been some of those on this site, but now it´s more frequent than ever. Who said rubbish grows exponentially?

Maybe you´re happy with what you have now because you don´t know how it used to be before. I just wanted to express in this forum I´m terribly disappointed.

Too many friends have left this site, and I begin to understand why.


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Nicole Y. Adams, M.A.  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 22:49
Member (2006)
German to English
+ ...
Agreed Sep 4, 2008

Susan Welsh wrote:

There is no need for references, when what's at issue is simply correct grammar, word choice, and syntax. What are answerers supposed to do, "reference" their fourth grade grammar book? Putting some almost-random web link up is not a useful "reference." You may have noticed that one can justify anything by googling.

If someone writes as their proposed translation, "Throw Grandpa out the window a hammer," and I write as an answer, "Throw a hammer out the window to Grandpa," please tell me why I need to resort to Google to justify my answer, as a native, literate speaker of English.

The same goes for a thread some time ago, when a proofreader/translator was lambasting those lazy colleagues who make changes without providing an explanation. In the above case, the only explanation is that it's laughably wrong as written. If a proofreader were to "explain" every change, the file would end up a hopeless maze of lines and boxes and inserts. To my mind, that's not proofreading.

Susan


Susan,

You took the words right out of my mouth. I totally agree with both your points.

Nicole


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:49
English to Spanish
+ ...
No explanations Sep 4, 2008

Often my explanation of an answer is just "ya".

If an asker wants to know what that means, it is this: "you're doing the job, you're getting paid for it, YOU do the research". I've got to move on.

At times I may provide some good explanations, but sorry, I do not HAVE to provide you anything. Google and other references are there for you to use, I've just given you something to work with, so have at it! After all, what I have to offer comes not from any references but from experience.

No one has to take any answer at face value and no one should. After checking out the different possibilities, YOU, the asker come to your own informed conclusion.

And by the way, did you provide proper CONTEXT?


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texjax DDS PhD  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:49
Member (2006)
English to Italian
+ ...
Cheers! Sep 4, 2008



Henry, you are my hero!


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Teresa Duran-Sanchez  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:49
German to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Nice champion cup!! Sep 4, 2008

Nice one, texjax, hahaha!

I´m also a fan of Henry because I´ve seen his contributions at KudoZ and he IS good, although I don´t support his point of view on this matter.

Henry Hinds wrote:

Often my explanation of an answer is just "ya".

If an asker wants to know what that means, it is this: "you're doing the job, you're getting paid for it, YOU do the research". I've got to move on.


With that approach, why do you help? You seem to be very angry with KudoZ askers, those lazy buggers who don´t even bother to look for a simple word.

Then why do YOU bother? Is it just for the points?

I´d rather not answer than write a simple "ya" ("that´s it") for an explanation. It is somehow rude, and it reminds me of a very bad and rude joke I was told once about a certain "Japanese" word.

Well, nobody has supported my point of view so far, I guess I´ll have to swallow my nostalgia of the better times!

Thanks for your contribution, though. I´ve learnt a hell of a lot


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Angela Dickson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:49
French to English
+ ...
Partial support Sep 4, 2008

I partly agree with you. There was a time when FR>EN medical was much more lively, with much more proper discussion than there is now (and fewer useless answers, though that could just be the rose-tinted spectacles), and I recognise the picture you paint of the way things were.

However, it cuts both ways. From an answerer's point of view: if someone posts as a question 'Term X. From a patient report.' then I am quite likely to post a fairly curt answer, though I usually try to back it up with some explanation or reference.

However, if someone asks 'Term X. This is from the Y section of a patient report, next to Z and A. I thought it might be M, but I'm not sure - could it be N? I've definitely ruled out P.' then I see that the asker knows what she's doing and just needs a bit of help. I'm not saying the askers of the first type of question are always clueless (they're not) but it's nice to see that someone has done his/her homework before asking.


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Kim Metzger  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 06:49
German to English
Disambiguation Sep 4, 2008

Teresa Duran-Sanchez wrote:

When I began in 2002 there was a fantastic bunch of professionals eager to help. Answering in KudoZ was a real challenge, as most people gave excellent explanations and provided dozens of sites for context and references. Even when it was evident that a proposed answer was wrong, one had to post a very convincing explanation to 'counterattack' the other answer, get chosen and earn your points. Still, askers were very picky, and only gave you one or two points if they considered you hadn´t done your homework and references were vague or nonexistent.

... but back in 2002 taking part in KudoZ was a very healthy and friendly 'fight' to show the others you were a skilled and resourceful 'terminologist'. The main goal remained, of course, to help the asker in distress, but answering was also an art, the art of showing you know your profession.

I believe there are still a lot of good Prozs out there, but a huge number of those who answer the KudoZ questions seems to me, excuse my French, a bit lazy in their explanations.

In the glossary I´ve come across many answers with no context or references at all. The only text appearing under the proposed translation is 'so it is', or 'that´s it' or even 'that´s how I´d say it'. What kind of explanation is that??? And some get 4 points!!!!

We had that kind of lazy answers back then as well, but there were a minority, and of course they wouldn´t get so easily chosen, let alone get points.

Now 'laziness' is the rule, I´m afraid. Few are the respondents who really convincing and helpful. As a result, the KudoZ glossary has turned into a poor help when looking for difficult terms.

The problem might be that the questions are no longer what is used to be neither. Lazy questions with no context get lazy answers. That is understandable. But in any case, I´d rather not answer that answer with a simple 'That´s it' as an explanation. That seems to me too rude and unprofessional.

I encourage those who take their time to answer with references and explanations to carry on, as they will sooner or later get their reward. They might not get the points, but they will get the acknowledgement of fellow translators and outsourcers.

Askers, please ask for references or context before awarding points! At least for the sake of the glossary. Please.


Spot on, Teresa. I agree with you a hundred percent. I've come to realize that we must always carefully specify exactly what kinds of questions we're referring to when starting a thread like this. Otherwise, we'll get all kinds of exceptions that we're not talking about.

I think you and I are referring to pro-level KudoZ, not the "I love you" or simple dictionary look-up questions assigned to non-pro KudoZ. If an asker wants to know how to translate "dog" into Spanish, members can just tell him its "perro" and "that's it!" End of story. There are also questions that not just any bilingual person would immediately know the answer to and are thus properly classified as pro-level but that also don't require a dictionary citation because most pro translators specializing in a particular field would know the translation. A simple translation followed by "that's what I always use" or something similar given by a generally reliable answerer should suffice.

Something else we need to differentiate is how the question was asked (as Angela has pointed out). For the sake of your argument, let's leave out the poorly composed questions without context. The asker gets what he deserves: ya!

You and I (I think) are referring to the challenging questions presented by fellow pro translators who have done their own research and come up empty. The kind of question that pro translators enjoy tackling precisely because they represent a challenge or because the question is in a field we are particularly interested in. In those cases, I don't mind spending an hour doing some research, and when I think I've got the answer I post it with references that you can take to the bank. I have helped the asker who may need to defend her translation if the client has questions about it. I have done myself a favor because I've learned something new, and I have done fellow pro translators a favor if they ever need to translate the same term later on and find it in the glossary.

In most language pairs we have witnessed a terrible decline in the quality of answers given. Certain worst practices have been adopted by a majority of answerers, such as "documenting" a translation by posting a page full of Google hits that demonstrate that a proposed target term is indeed used by native speakers instead of showing a relationship between the source term and the target term.

You are right – things are going downhill fast.


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Tomás Cano Binder, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:49
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
I do understand Sep 4, 2008

Henry Hinds wrote:
Often my explanation of an answer is just "ya".
If an asker wants to know what that means, it is this: "you're doing the job, you're getting paid for it, YOU do the research". I've got to move on.


After answering a lot in Kudoz ─in most cases trying to offer clear examples of my proposals, something that usually takes time─, and repeatedly seeing that the asker chooses an answer at random, without even reading my comments or explanations or checking my references, I do understand ─I am not saying that I support─ your point of view, Henry.

Many askers don't add any context, don't explain their doubt, paste full phrases just so that we translate them and do their work, and many cases they don't show any respect for their colleagues. In these cases, "Ya", or "Tal Cual" (thanks Ernesto de Lara) is the only explanation possible.


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:49
English to Spanish
+ ...
Why Sep 4, 2008

Yes, I do sometimes get fed up with askers who are too lazy to look for a simple word or do some research, or more than that, who are too lazy to put in proper CONTEXT, or are too lazy to become educated. Nevertheless, I usually favor tolerance over rules and restrictions because people need freedom to develop. Some do and some don't, that is how humanity is.

I don't believe in handing out free fish, I believe in teaching how to fish. Furthermore, I'm not getting paid for the job, the asker is, so the asker can do the leg work. The next time the need arises, they may have resources of their own.

Why do I bother? Well, I could quit any day, but I like to see our profession develop. I can't teach classes, so this is about the only place I can help. Plus you will never know how much I learn here, but I will say that it is plenty.

And the points? Yes, they are very important. As soon as I reach 50,000 I'm going to trade them for a new Mercedes.

And thanks for the encouragement, TexJax!


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teju  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:49
English to Spanish
+ ...
Thank you for the laugh, Henry Sep 4, 2008

Henry Hinds wrote: And the points? Yes, they are very important. As soon as I reach 50,000 I'm going to trade them for a new Mercedes.


Please tell me more about this new program!



And I'd like to toot Henry's horn since he's too modest to do it himself, and I happen to know him personally. After earning more than 40,000 points, and being chosen as the correct answer more often than not, Henry has never asked one single question. That's why I call him the Master, with a capital M. He's in a class of his own.

To Teresa, I would agree that I miss some people who were regular contributors, people who were excellent translators. And while we're on the subject, I'd like to say what bothers me the most about askers. When they post a question, there's not enough context, several people ask for clarification, and the asker does not bother to respond. Then they close the question without even answering the specific questions they were asked! Huh? Doesn't this person know we are trying to help him? When this happens, I don't look at the question again.


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 08:49
English to French
+ ...
Agree with Teresa Sep 4, 2008

Sorry if I'm not part of the majority, but I do agree with Teresa.

KudoZ used to be fun, challenging and there even used to be an implicit etiquette. Judging from the questions and answers I've seen over the past year, I esteem that all of that is gone now. I am unsure whether any of that should be attributed to point grabbing, the fact that more people are aware that having lots of KudoZ points in your areas of specialization helps in being at the top of directory search results or simply the growth of the "can English, can Trados, me take 2 cents per word, please pick me" segment of the market. But the present KudoZ is not even a shadow of what it used to be.

As for substantiating answers with references, I agree with Teresa once more. Of course, there are questions where references are redundant. But on the other hand, in more challenging or technical questions, I don't see the point in contributing an answer without going all the way and substantiating the answer. Finding a term in a text through a Google search is not sufficient for me - I need to know where the term comes from in order to establish whether it is safe for me to use or not.


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Teresa Duran-Sanchez  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:49
German to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks again for your contribution Sep 4, 2008

Henry Hinds wrote:

Yes, I do sometimes get fed up with askers who are too lazy to look for a simple word or do some research, or more than that, who are too lazy to put in proper CONTEXT, or are too lazy to become educated.


Tomás Cano Binder wrote:

Many askers don't add any context, don't explain their doubt, paste full phrases just so that we translate them and do their work, and many cases they don't show any respect for their colleagues. In these cases, "Ya", or "Tal Cual" (thanks Ernesto de Lara) is the only explanation possible.


I understand you very well, and I´ve also come across many times with cases like the one Teju describes, believe me, but I still think that the proper behaviour with askers like these is just ignore them, or filter them, or send a message to a moderator… But answering and then just writing a “ya” or whatever harsh remark is very contradictory. You´re offering your hand and then slapping their face with that very hand. Mind you, it probably didn´t even hurt. You end up getting frustrated and sulky, but the asker got his/her answer and didn´t even notice you were being ironic.

Ideally the best possible scenario would be that nobody answered this kind of questions, these askers got fed up and disappeared from KudoZ. We know this won´t happen, though; there´s always somebody ready to answer, and what´s worse, there´s always somebody ready to agree, even to the most ridiculous answers!!

This situation is unlikely to change, but the solution begins by ignoring these questions, not by answering them, whether references are posted or not.

The truth is that I began this thread because the quality of the KudoZ glossary has declined horribly, it´s no longer worth having a look at it! ‘Bad’ askers usually don´t bother to add an entry to the dictionary, so I didn´t refer to them in any case. I didn´t even refer to 'easy', general questions.

Kim Metzger wrote:

(…) I've come to realize that we must always carefully specify exactly what kinds of questions we're referring to when starting a thread like this. Otherwise, we'll get all kinds of exceptions that we're not talking about.

I think you and I are referring to pro-level KudoZ, not the "I love you" or simple dictionary look-up questions assigned to non-pro KudoZ. If an asker wants to know how to translate "dog" into Spanish, members can just tell him its "perro" and "that's it!" End of story. There are also questions that not just any bilingual person would immediately know the answer to and are thus properly classified as pro-level but that also don't require a dictionary citation because most pro translators specializing in a particular field would know the translation. A simple translation followed by "that's what I always use" or something similar given by a generally reliable answerer should suffice.

Something else we need to differentiate is how the question was asked (as Angela has pointed out). For the sake of your argument, let's leave out the poorly composed questions without context. The asker gets what he deserves: ya!


You´re definitely right, Kim, you´ve been much more eloquent than me. I meant pro-level questions which are worth answering, questions in which, as Angela points out, the askers did their homework. Questions that are invigorating and challenging, questions which make you proud when you get the right answer, no matter whether you get the stupid points or not.

Exactly these questions:

Kim Metzger wrote:

You and I (I think) are referring to the challenging questions presented by fellow pro translators who have done their own research and come up empty.

The kind of question that pro translators enjoy tackling precisely because they represent a challenge or because the question is in a field we are particularly interested in. In those cases, I don't mind spending an hour doing some research, and when I think I've got the answer I post it with references that you can take to the bank. I have helped the asker who may need to defend her translation if the client has questions about it. I have done myself a favor because I've learned something new, and I have done fellow pro translators a favor if they ever need to translate the same term later on and find it in the glossary.


The kind of enthusiasm Kim and Viktoria mention was shared by many of us; it was a pleasure to help.

Whatever the cause for this bad turn is -and whatever the solution, I hope those of us who still like helping 'properly' in KudoZ don´t became extinct too soon. It´d be very bad for the site and for the translation community in general, let alone for the KudoZ glossary.


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Noni Gilbert
Spain
Local time: 14:49
Member (2007)
Spanish to English
+ ...
More recent member Sep 4, 2008

I joined ProZ more recently than you and have experienced many of your frustrations. I am largely in agreement with your comments all the way through this thread, but I would like to add something.

Since I have joined I have received a huge amount of support from fellow ProZians. Not all of it has been useful, but the vast majority of it has been and has also been well-intentioned and put together with goodwill. I have quickly learned to separate out the dross and ignore it. Winnowing you might like to call it.

So thanks to all those around since I've joined up. Of course we can improve, and we should read this thread with bowed head and great attention, but we're not doing so terribly badly I feel.


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