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A suggestion: three New Year’s Resolutions for KudoZ players
Thread poster: xxxIanW
Local time: 01:33
German to English
+ ...
Jan 2, 2004

I am aware that I don’t speak for everyone, but am nonetheless sure that many of those who are active on the German-English, French-English and English-French KudoZ sites will agree that the atmosphere has been tense, heated and even downright poisonous on many occasions leading up to the universal season of goodwill.

With the New Year all shiny and new, how about all of us making an effort to be a little more respectful to our colleagues, a little more restrained and – dare I say it – a little more grown-up about the whole KudoZ system? I am also aware that I am not saying anything that hasn’t been said before, but I thought it might be appropriate to sum a few of these ideas up in the form of New Year’s Resolutions in the hope that they might be read by more people and – more importantly – that they might actually make a difference this time.

Resolution 1: An end to KudoZ as a popularity contest

Healthy discussion between real translators is interesting and enlightening, something from which we all benefit. The ideal KudoZ scenario is one where a number of intelligent answers are put forward, evaluated fairly and constructively by peers and where the most suitable answer is finally chosen by the asker.

This is often, but not always the case. Unfortunately, sometimes the best answer is overlooked because the answerer didn’t have a string of yes-men to back him/her up. Those who base their agrees on the person who answered the question rather than the quality of the answer given are certainly not acting in the asker’s interests. Look at it this way: a genuine friend is one who is not afraid to tell me when I have screwed up – so why shouldn’t the same apply for colleagues with whom I associate on the ProZ site on a daily basis? However, the sad truth is that the cliques and claques on the F-E and E-F are poisoning those sites, and, judging from what I have read in others forums, this is the rule rather than the exception.

Resolution 2: Constructive criticism and reaction

Constructive criticism deserves a constructive response. If another colleague points out a typo, an inelegancy or inaccuracy without malice or one-upmanship, then he/she deserves thanks rather than sarcasm. I know for a fact that some players are rarely disagreed with because their peers haven’t the time or the inclination to be drawn into a war of words. Perhaps the resolution should be: if you have nothing constructive to say, don’t say anything at all.

Resolution 3: An end to personal attacks

Arguably the most disturbing aspect of the KudoZ sites is the rising tide of “personal attacks”: slander, attacks on other translators’ integrity, skills and knowledge with a view to furthering one's own cause or in order to undermine the credibility of an answer/answerer in the asker’s mind. I suspect that I am not the only one who is sick of seeing excellent translators slandered and belittled, either directly or by sycophantic henchmen.

Tolerating such behaviour is not acceptable and flies in the face of the site ethics – however in practice it seems that some are “more equal than others”. This type of behaviour poisons the site, creates feelings of ill will and allows those who get away with it on a daily basis to feel that they are untouchable.

As I say, I don't speak for everyone, but I do feel that ongoing cat-and-dog squabbles between certain members should not be pursued in public, and that those responsible should be barred from commenting on each other’s answers.

And that those who continually poison the waters should be fished out before it’s too late.

A happy – and peaceful – New Year to all.


[Edited at 2004-01-03 20:15]

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Denyce Seow  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:33
Member (2004)
Chinese to English
Peace to all!! Jan 2, 2004

Well said, Ian. I'll vote you as Mr. ProzPeace! I am more active in the Chinese-English Kudoz group and over there, I must say that the folks are more "peace-loving". Yes, yes... we have a few awkward moments at times but I think we are pretty mild compared to the other groups out there.... (sorry... no offence)

Your resolutions should be extended to everywhere else on, including this very platform. I am very new to this forum thing and I still remember the first time (about 2 weeks ago) I checked this out, my blood chilled!!! The comments were horrible, Horrible, HORRIBLE!! Very unpleasant and not what one would expect out of a professional. Really unnecessary. is a great place. I've learnt a lot from my peers in here and I would like to see this as my "work family". Wouldn't it be nice to live in a peaceful and harmonious environment????

I have so much to say... (it's New Year afterall... people always make grand SPEECHES for the New Year) but I guess I will leave it as this for now. Just one last thing:


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United States
Local time: 17:33
French to English
+ ...
Bravo, Ian! Jan 2, 2004

You are right. A new year merits a new (improved) attitude.

The key here is for all parties to start off on the right foot at the same time (does that make sense?)

May I suggest that you translate this post and post it in the relevant languages?

Happy New Year to all my colleagues

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Lesley Clarke  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:33
Spanish to English
correct me if I'm wrong Jan 2, 2004

I haven't noticed much of this in the Spanish-English kudoz, fortunately enough.
I hope I'm not being naive, but it seems to me that in general people are polite and constructive as it should be and it is a pleasure to participate in.
Maybe we should all make it a New Year's resolution not to let our jobs isolate us and turn us neurotic, of which the first sign is a desire to fight with people who we do not even know.
Happy New Year
Lesley Clarke

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PB Trans

Local time: 00:33
French to English
+ ...
Hear, hear!! Jan 2, 2004

Very well said, Ian!!

And Rita's suggestion is an excellent one.

I consider KudoZ my "workplace" and my fellow translators are colleagues. I would not want to be working in an office where my colleagues are squabbling and insulting each other. It makes for a very unpleasant work atmosphere. So why should this be any different? The fact that ProZ/KudoZ is a virtual world should not deter us from showing common courtesy and respect. Sadly, it is quite common for the Internet to act as a shield, where users feel as though it is perfectly acceptable to display behaviour that they would not otherwise do so in person. I suppose it has something to do with a false sense of security or the anonymity that the Internet provides, as well as the idea that users will not have to account for their actions. The statements I have just made apply to the virtual world in general (not just to KudoZ). However, I am convinced that most of the rude, snappy comments made in KudoZ would never be made in person.

I very much appreciate the assistance I have gotten from KudoZ and my fellow translators. In addition, I also appreciate the opportunity to help others and to learn from others also. I have not always been right but I have always appreciated "disagrees" that provided constructive feedback. I hope others can do the same.

I hope 2004 brings a little less tension and a lot more tolerance.

Happy New Year everyone!! Cheers!

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Mats Wiman  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:33
Member (2000)
German to Swedish
+ ...

My 10 commandments Jan 3, 2004

About 2 years ago I posted this:

"After some heated discussions in the KudoZ arena in spring last year, I summed up what I (and many of my colleagues) had found reasonable behaviour at (focussed on the KudoZ activity.

I jokingly called them my '10 commandments' but there is no joking on my part.

1. In response to a KudoZ suggestion or forum proposal, criticize the content, not the one making the suggestion,

2. When criticizing - be specific, and correct the 'according-to-you' error in the disagree box, or better still:

Make you own superior suggestion!

3. Do not make sweeping comments like "Not idiomatic!", or "Never heard in 10 years of practice” without pointing out exactly what is so frightfully un-idiomatic, or better still: Make your own superior suggestion!

4. Do not try to scare off “non-natives” with contemptuous comments. Prove that you’re a native by providing the superior suggestion and why, based on what reference, it is the superior suggestion.

And keep in mind: Everybody is welcome to make suggestions. Yes the world would be safer if it consisted only of certified professionals but is everyone’s university and we are all there to learn, help and develop.

5. Do not preach the sanctity of translating only into your ‘dominant’ language if you practice the contrary. It conveys an impression of being one-eyed and biased in your own favour – or downright inconsequent.

6. Do not make negative comments like “Wrong”, “Not idiomatic”,, “Bad”, “Biased”, “Typically non-native”,, “Shows only how bad Duden-Oxford is”, “Crap”, “Nonsense”, “This is not English”.

7. Do not speak condescendingly or contemptuously of translators that aren’t decorated with a number of certificates or accreditations. The only one knowing anything at first hand about the quality in the field in question is possibly the agency/client. There is no law saying that accreditation equals quality. Probability yes, but proof of the contrary is abundant.

Therefore, don’t tout them. Let your name only be what you display. Somebody interested to find out more, will be pleased to find them on your profile page.

8. Do no be over-zealous, when some members sometimes exceed the reasonable limits in the KudoZ arena. Do not use the word ‘abuse’, about people that haven’t been proven guilty of that (and the word abuse is often far too strong, let alone not having been defined).

Exceeding a limit, which by the way has not been defined (the only limits that have been discussed is how many ungraded questions one should be allowed to have) is not abuse.

For instance: Some translators accumulate their questions to the end of the translation. If it’s a big job, some questions are answered during work (we all know that) but quite a few might still be unclear or ambiguous.

Also: Two short sentences in one question does not constitute ‘abuse’ .

If a question is too voluminous, there are only two reasonable reactions: You tell the person: “This is a job. Please post it as one” or if you feel like it, translate it but add a comment like “This question exceeds the normal limit of a KudoZ question. Next time, please divide it into terms and sentences.” No harm is done to anyone by the latter approach.

Even if we were inundated with questions due to the fact that word got around that “you can get free translations done at” no harm will be done. It will only bring in food for the ‘mother of all glossaries’ and there is a solution waiting in the wings: Simpler questions already answered will – awaiting some programming - be automatically answered (“I love you” etc.). Besides, there is the ‘Easy’ option for those who are too elevated or too busy to answer easy questions. To avoid them completely, you can deactivate them in the ‘eMail preferences’ section of your profile page.

9. Do not speak condescendingly of people charging too low a price. There is no iron logic in high price-high quality. Probability yes, but certainty: far from it

10. Even if is a community for professionals, this does not mean that amateurs, students or even “ignorants” aren’t welcome. Contemptuous comments about all sorts of “non-professionals”, only poison the friendly atmosphere at

Some ask themselves: “How can so-called ’professionals’ be so bickering, envious, contemptuous and – unprofessional?

To be a professional is to stand up for professional values but also to be helpful, condoning and generous.

If we master that conduct we will induce newcomers, amateurs and less experienced to become professionals, which will serve the translation industry well."


Mats J C Wiman

Übersetzer/Translator/Traducteur/Traductor > swe Deu>swe moderator
Träsk 201
SE-872 97 Skog
Tel : +46-612-54112
Fax : +46-612-54181
Mobile: +46-70-5769797

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Terry Gilman  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:33
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
Thanks for contributing to civilization Jan 3, 2004

Seriously, your resolutions are a nice start to a new year, and I esp. appreciate your observations about why some of us hang back, preferring to avoid coming to verbal blows. As someone in that group, let me thank you for your taking the time to speak out.
I'm about to renew my membership and, thinking about what I value about ProZ, I have to say that it has been fascinating to observe how a community of translators, who are at or near the top of the global communications pyramid, have struggled and managed to coalesce around a decent set of community standards for Q&A and discussion.
My impression in the areas I visit (mainly Ger>Eng and the general forums) is that (despite occasional setbacks) the forces of good are prevailing.

[Edited at 2004-01-03 16:07]

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William Stein  Identity Verified
Costa Rica
Local time: 17:33
French to English
+ ...
Netiquette and Double Standards Jan 3, 2004

[quote]Ian Winick wrote:

I am aware that I don’t speak for everyone, but am nonetheless sure that many of those who are active on the German-English, French-English and English-French KudoZ sites will agree that the atmosphere has been tense, heated and even downright poisonous on many occasions leading up to the universal season of goodwill.

I would just like to say that the atmosphere has always been tense and heated on these sites, at least as far back as I can remember. The only real difference is that it's "okay" for one of the superstars who enjoys a cult of personality to be incredibly aggressive and launch totally unfounded criticisms against others, whereas it's considered a shocking crime for anybody outside the "golden circle" to criticize anybody else, no matter how justly, or, God forbid, defend himself against unjust attacks.
The standards as to what constitutes "a personal" attack seem to be shaky at best. The only thing that people seem to consistently ignore is to what extent the criticism and defense are JUSTIFIABLE. That is apparently of no concern to anybody. If somebody launches a completely unjustifiable attack (often a whole series of them), you can scarcely blame the victim for defending himself. If the refutation shows that the criticism is completely unfounded and unprofessional, who is to blame? The person who made the baseless criticism or that person who "dared" to defend himself and exposed the criticism for what it was?

[Edited at 2004-01-03 16:32]

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Stephanie Mitchel  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:33
French to English
Thanks Ian! Jan 3, 2004

I'm sometimes amazed at the steam that people seem to be letting off in what should be a thoughtful environment. If you don't consider the question to be worth your while, *move on.* If you have a correction for an answer already given, *make it courteously.* 'Nuff said.

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Local time: 01:33
German to English
+ ...
Keeping the peace Jan 3, 2004

William Stein wrote:
The only real difference is that it's "okay" for one of the superstars who enjoys a cult of personality to be incredibly aggressive and launch totally unfounded criticisms against others, whereas it's considered a shocking crime for anybody outside the "golden circle" to criticize anybody else, no matter how justly, or, God forbid, defend himself against unjust attacks.
[Edited at 2004-01-03 16:32]

Bill, I posted this as someone outside the "golden circle" and who abhors the cliquishness, mobbing and aggression which mars the site. It is not meant as a thinly veiled attack on you or anybody else. As there are two sides to every story – and I know both sides of yours – I feel that it is best not to name names or point fingers, either directly or indirectly.

My point was that unnecessary conflict should be avoided: if A and B tend to bombard each other with wanton disagrees and equally abusive responses, then they should refrain from commenting on each other's answers. To keep the peace, so to speak.

In other words, my posting was a plea for the more aggressive players to put an end to pointless squabbling and to stop ruining it for everyone else.

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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:33
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
The best translators I know are modest and courteous... Jan 3, 2004

I was lucky enough to start my professional translating career in an agency office with experienced colleagues who quietly and courteously taught me a lot.

I was trained by teachers who really knew what they were talking about. They and my colleagues saw it as their duty to point out serious mistakes, but were able to do it politely and make positive suggestions.

The best translators I know are in fact very modest people who always check up on the term and context before giving their opinions.

In the long run you know people like that are doing you a favour, however much they criticise, and you wouldn't want to send your mistakes out to customers!

Specific comments - positive and negative - are a real help, and reassurance is just as important as criticism. That is what KudoZ is all about.

Luckily, in 'my' languages we normally use a friendly, if sometimes outspoken tone in response to KudoZ questions, and that's the way to earn real respect and be popular!

Thanks, everybody, and Happy New Year!

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Harry Bornemann  Identity Verified
English to German
+ ...
weird Jan 3, 2004

Ian Winick wrote:
...Those who base their agrees on the person who asked the question rather than the quality of the answer given are certainly not acting in the asker’s interests. ..
I guess you meant "on the person who answered the question", otherwise it would be extremely weird..

I agree with the rest, of course, and I appreciate a collection of antidotes against poisoned atmospheres

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Local time: 01:33
German to English
+ ...
Thanks Harry Jan 3, 2004

Thanks Harry - I've changed the sentence appropriately.


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Gareth McMillan  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:33
German to English
+ ...
Agree with you Ian (DE-ENG). Jan 4, 2004

However, I personally do have a tendency to bite back- maybe this is wrong- but to say nothing when you know one or more of the clique is after you? Difficult.

I have to say that as a new member I have had fun on the kudos board, in spite of making mistakes (and apologising for them) but the rules of the game seemed to change in a subtle and pernicious way whén in November I was among the leaders for that month (I didn't even know it myself till someone emailed me). I had suddenly felt like a fart in a space suit- no comments to my answers at all from certain of the "elite" and no comments when I agreed with them- like I didn't exist. I am not about to name any names but I think we all know who we're talking about.

What to do?
For me the Kudos system engenders elitism anyway. Perhaps if the rating system was changed to, say, a weekly basis, more people might stand a chance of seeing some reward for their efforts. As it is, the people at the top stay there- rather like a big shiny long service medal- doesn't prove their talent though IMO.

That on it's own would probably not be enough but it might at least even the playing field a bit.

Another idea may be to rate according to the answers accepted as a ratio of answers offered- might make people think a bit harder before they answer just for the sake of it, or "to be seen to be there". It would also make it tougher for the political players (i.e. the egoists who are more interested in self promotion than helping out or even having a genuine intellectual brawl (which doesn't hurt anyone, in my view)).

Either way, if people care enough about the dilemma Ian has so lucidly documented, we need some practical suggestions, and maybe even some gentle pressure on the powers that be within proZ.

[Edited at 2004-01-04 00:37]

[Edited at 2004-01-04 12:00]

[Edited at 2004-01-05 00:00]

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Sara Freitas
Local time: 01:33
French to English
It's about time! Jan 5, 2004

Gareth McMillan wrote:

Either way, if people care enough about the dilemma Ian has so lucidly documented, we need some practical suggestions, and maybe even some gentle pressure on the powers that be within proZ.

First of all, thanks to Ian for opening this thread. This is something that has been bothering me on the FR-ENG Kudoz forum for some time now, and after contacting a moderator about it, I learned that this type of behavior is apparently not "bad" enough to warrant any action on the part of site staff. In fact, it was even suggested to me that this is the type of healthy debate that goes on in academia...Having said that, I was also asked for suggestions on how this problem could best be dealt with, so maybe if more members follow Gareth's suggestion by contacting the appropriate moderator directly, a solution can be found.

I am all for healthy debate, but the FR-ENG forum has degenerated way beyond healthy.

I am watching and waiting for things to improve...when they do, I'll renew my Platinum membership and join in the Kudoz forum once again.

Thanks again, Ian and Gareth for your suggestions. I thought I was the only one out there who felt this way!

And by the way, happy new year!


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A suggestion: three New Year’s Resolutions for KudoZ players

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