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Providing references for KudoZ
Thread poster: Kim Metzger

Kim Metzger  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:50
German to English
Jun 9, 2004

If I remember correctly, it was about a year ago that people started copying pages of Google results as evidence that their answer was the correct translation of a KudoZ term. I guess someone realized that he could get his answer in before anyone else if he skipped a few steps. Why actually go to the page and study it when you can just show the link with the term used? Some of the nicest people do it and mean no harm. But I think it's a practice that's gotten out of hand and ought to be discouraged. Let's say in English monolingual someone wants the definition of "oligopoly." Someone thinks, "well 'oligo' means few, little and 'poly' means many, several. So oligopoly must mean "dictatorship." The next thing you know, we've got a page like this to justify the proposed definition or translation.

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The actual definition of oligopoly is "an industry in which a few large sellers of similar products, such as automobiles, dominate the market." Reference: Barron's Dictionary of Business Terms.

What do you guys think?

[Edited at 2004-06-09 22:07]

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Stefan Keller  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:50
English to German
Separating pros from wannabes Jun 9, 2004

Hi Kim,

I think this is simply a problem of being a very, very open platform. As much as I like this, there are downsides, too. Most people simply don't reply to questions if they're not really into the subject matter. And this is how it should be. This is what I call a professional attitude.

However, there are some people around here, who seem to be chasing after as many Kudoz points as possible. And this actually makes me question the whole idea of granting points for helpful answers.

I believe that everybody posting a Kudoz question should also be capable of searching Google or another search engine. So, I could suggest, he/she should also, to some extent at least, be capable of verifying the answers given.
Provided that this is really a community of language professionals, I don't see any danger of an asker trusting an answer that is way off the spot.


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Elías Sauza  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:50
Member (2002)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Interesting... Jun 9, 2004

...but a case of wrong reasoning.

I agree that this practice should be discouraged. There had also been many instances where the answerers had provided a further justification to the "accuracy" of their answers by supporting them with the number of hits obtained in the google engine. This, in many cases, is also wrong because the number of hits represents a sum of all the individual words in a
multiple-word term when not searched between quotation marks.

The asker is responsible of accepting or rejecting any answer, but I have no doubt that more than one was inclined to accept this premise. This could happen to inexperienced translators though.

Best regards,

Elías Sauza

[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2004-10-21 11:23]

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Kim Metzger  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:50
German to English
KudoZ references Jun 10, 2004

Hallo Stefan, Hola Elías,
You're right about ProZ and KudoZ being open to everyone. That's what's great and unique about this site. And yes, the onus is on the asker to pick the most helpful answer, and most users know a good answer from a bad one.
I'd also like to add that I've seen situations where a page of Google results is all that's needed. One example would be if a question is in the "easy" category as opposed to pro level questions. There are quite a few KudoZ users who aren't up to speed when it comes to searching the Internet, and they tend to ask the easy questions. It's good that KudoZ is for them too.
As for wrong reasoning, here's a thread you might be interested in, Elías.
Supported by 500,000 Google hits!


[Edited at 2004-06-10 02:04]

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Lesley Clarke  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:50
Spanish to English
I agree Jun 10, 2004

I find google very useful and have often used it to find and explain answers for kudoz. However I am mistified by a lot of the answers that use google, either as you demonstrate or with hits that without even opening up the site it is obvious that they do not refer to the word as it is being used in the question.
Still when I first starting using ProZ, I believed that if I got 98 hits for a word, then it was a good word. ProZ has taught me how to be more discriminating using google, the check out where the site is from, if it is Italian or Spanish (I translate from Spanish) and there aren't any or hardly any sites from an English language country, then there is something wrong with the word. It is all a learning experience, which is one of the delights of translation.

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Jonathan Spector  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:50
Hebrew to English
Using web sources Jun 10, 2004

Frankly, I think the use of web sources should be discouraged. Material that appears on the web is often written by non-native speakers or translators and is often used to support erroneous translations. Source material should be 'from the source'.

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Local time: 20:50
Being Fair-minded...? Jun 10, 2004

Kim Metzger wrote:

The actual definition of oligopoly is "an industry in which a few large sellers of similar products, such as automobiles, dominate the market." Reference: Barron's Dictionary of Business Terms.

What do you guys think?

[Edited at 2004-06-09 22:07]

Some reflection on a very stimulating topic,.
Objectivity is based on intellectual humility and also on having done substantial intellectual work in reasoning within multiple conflicting points of view in addressing questions, problems, and issues of significance. It is connected to positive insight into the complexity and many-sideness of issues. I think that once you have achieved this state you can insightfully role-play multiple perspectives on a multiple of issues. It is therefore easy to identify and weigh relative strengths and weaknesses withinthose perspectives. You can be comfortable in playing the role of dissenter, though you don't dissent for the sake of dissent. I mean, you are intellectually independent, perseverant and you have intellectual integrity.
Well...a proper balance between scepticism and gullibility is the gruondwork of being good thinkers consequently good human- translators!

[Edited at 2004-06-10 08:47]

[Edited at 2004-06-10 08:47]

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Local time: 21:50
French to English
+ ...
Quoting references Jun 10, 2004

I have been in the translation business a long time and it seems to me that a lot of the references quoted have little or no value. On the Proz site, however, considerable importance is attached to being able to quote chapter and verse.
To me the big interest of the site is that there are other pros out there with experience and knowledge, who may be able to help when their fellow translators have a problem.
Where odd words and phrases are concerned, there is nothing much you can quote as references anyway.

The important thing for those frequently on the site is to see what others offer and work out who is good at what.

I confess quite freely to giving answers in areas where I have specialist knowledge WITHOUT giving back-up. The reason is that I know what I am talking about in those cases and have other things to do with my time than to hunt around for a website that would confirm what I already knew. And I am not alone in being in this situation.

It seems more important to me that people should refrain from anwsering when they do not know what they are talking about or just guessing (unless they are trying to help someone who is stuck when nobody else has volunteered and provided that they give a low confidence rate and explain what they are doing).

An asker can always look up the profile of the answerer to find out more about experience and background.

So, please do NOT attach excessive importance to mere website references

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Russell Jones  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:50
Member (2004)
Italian to English
From a culprit Jun 10, 2004

I agree that the example Kim has given represents a practice that is to be discouraged.
Sometimes, however, the issue is not so much about the meaning of a word or expression as about whether possible answers are in common usage by native speakers.
If I am suggesting an idiomatic expression that bears no obvious relationship to a literal translation, it is more relevant, in my view, to show the asker that there are 34,568 examples of its use on the web than to quote one isolated example. He / she can then choose one or more of the examples to investigate further if required.
For me it has nothing to do with points; it is about what I would find most helpful if I were the asker.

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DGK T-I  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:50
Member (2003)
Georgian to English
+ ...
Obviously reliable sources should be used, and only in a way that is genuinely useful Jun 10, 2004

(by which I mean, obviously reliable sources should be used (when they are used), and only in a way that is genuinely useful.)

Jonathan Spector wrote:

Frankly, I think the use of web sources should be discouraged. Material that appears on the web is often written by non-native speakers or translators and is often used to support erroneous translations. Source material should be 'from the source'.

But (with apologies) this statement is a sweeping generalization. Judging the suitability and reliability or otherwise of internet sources, or any other, is a necessary skill - both in answering kudos questions and translation generally for that matter. This should include an understanding of the origin of the author/site, and its likely reliability, knowledge and so on - a rounded understanding of whether or not it is fit for the purpose.
It would be absurd to rank a well written specialist article, contributed by experts in their field to a respected peer reviewed journal, and used by someone who knows what they are talking about to make or substantiate a useful point, with some badly written "junk site" unwisely chosen at random - for example.
Obviously material should be used carefully and when there are good reasons to think it is reliable - and for genuinely useful purposes based on knowledge or insight that the answerer/commenter brings.

[Edited at 2004-06-10 13:26]

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Mats Wiman  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:50
Member (2000)
German to Swedish
+ ...

KudoZ is a help function - not an exam. Jun 10, 2004

"Obviously reliable sources should be used, and only in a way that is genuinely useful."

This quotation (see above) has a problem: ¨

1. How to define "reliable"?
I mostly know it for my answers and I am sure many of you do as well. But are you always able to grade the quality of a source?
If in doubt, do you always abstain from making a suggestion?
Hardly, because you know/assume that the asker needs help.

2. "genuinely helpful"? How can you determine what the asker finds helpful.
KudoZ experience tells a different story. Often, the asker thanks the fast answerer, because it sent him/her on the right track to the right answer.

Here, as often, it is important to obeserve some of the golden rules of KudoZ:

Do not assume anything about the asker. Focus on the question!
Present any source in the world or any other reason which YOU believe supports your suggestion.
The only one allowed to finally judge the helpfulness of an answer is the asker.

Bets regards

Mats J C Wiman
Übersetzer/Translator/Traducteur/Traductor > swe
( moderator, deu>swe, Swedish)
Träsk 201
SE-872 97 Skog
Tel:+46-612-54112 Fax:+46-612-54181 Mobile:+46-70-5769797

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Lucinda  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:50
Member (2002)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Why should I prove my expertise of the subject Jun 10, 2004

I agree with CMJ. If I answer the question (indicating highest level of confidence) why should I go to the Web to prove that I know what I am talking about.

I have a slow Internet connection and we pay by the minute for Internet time where I live, so that would be too costly and time-consuming as well.

The good thing is to for all of us to come to a consensus that we provide answers (with the appropriate explanation, own knowledge and/or references) only if we are knowledgeable on the subject.

The nr of Google hits does not tell me too much because often there are multiple copies of the same reference. They then count as multiple hits but are in fact the same thing.

Have a great day!


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German to Romanian
+ ...
There are more problems here Jun 10, 2004

There are more problems in the question:

1. When you answer a KudoZ question you must first be sure you know the context (the field) and you understood the question.
Then you can also look on Google to proof your knowledge.
You may indicate web-sites in order to proof your answer is correct and also to help the asker. He may understand better the term and the subject.
Somebody said here web-sources are not relevant and not correct.
I am sorry, but it is not true. You can find on web-sites a lot of interesting and correct information quoted from books, magazines, PhD-works a.s.o.
But you must know first what you are looking for, because Google gives you a lot of solutions from different fields where a term is used.
I find dictionaries less reliable lately, because they neither of them are complete. Some give only a few synonyms, other more. You find a synonym in a dictionary but not in another and then you are a looser by KudoZ.
2. I am sorry but there are problems with the askers too.
They do not provide enough information about the context of the term and it is hard to find a suitable answer.
Others choose exactly the wrong answer,choosing the person and not the answer.
Lately there was a question with three answers. Two of them received 1 and 2 agrees and had correct explantions and sources.
The last one had no agree and was not correct, although it was given by a native-speaker (English!). This answer was choosen.
I tried to explain to the asker that he was wrong,after he closed the question, but no answer yet.
I really would say many askers do not know theirselves the languages and the context they are working with.
Personally I decided to stop answering on KudoZ, because it is a work in vaine and you are not respected either.
You work, you try to help (I mean professional answers) and then you have bad surprises.
Some answerers are also unfair,they give an answer (but not being sure at all) and then make comments at each other answerer in order to disqualify them.Sometimes they don't answer at all, but make only unserious comments.
I don't like KudoZ anymore.It becomes more and more unfair.

Search-engines and websites are not guilty, you must know to use them.

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Local time: 21:50
French to English
+ ...
Am I alone... Jun 10, 2004

in feeling that, although I do not wish to underestimate the value of Internet, it is usually much better to have a reply from a colleague who can say he or she has specialist knowledge of the particular topic than to receive tons of site references?
I can go on the site and do my own research. What I am looking for is "insider information"

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Gareth McMillan  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:50
German to English
+ ...
You're not alone CMJ Jun 10, 2004

For Kudos questions, I very seldom use googles or dictionaries, for that matter. I like to answer (particularly engineering questions) from my own professional experience as an engineer, or even just a native speaking human being who has a fair understanding of his own language. Apart from anything else, I don't have the time for dico dredging or googling- even if I turn up an interesting hit, I've still got to check it out until I'm satisfied it's a respectable site. That said, because of my hands-on experience, the net is an immensely powerful translation tool for me.

What bugs me sometimes though, is the innuendo or plain sarcasm I sometimes get that my answers are somehow less valid because I haven't produced the back-up evidence of a gazillion hits.

I learned engineering the hard way (i.e. doing it) and I understand that those who don't have this experience must look for the answer elsewhere- but many obviously don't know whether or not they've found the right one- so I don't see how they can be so sure of themselves.

Anyway I get some good laughs out of it.

Gareth McMillan

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