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Agreeing with Kudoz answers
Thread poster: xxx
xxx
Spanish to English
+ ...
Jun 16, 2004

I am new to ProZ and as such am slightly anxious to find myself already raising what appears to me to be an issue in the Kudoz system, but nevertheless it is concerning me and I would appreciate any thoughts that other members may have. The issue is about the decision making process that people (presumably) go through when they decide to agree with an answer posted by another member. I have recently decided to post answers to some questions that happened to be in my own field of expertise, answers that I knew to be correct, or at least accurate for the terminology and language used in this field, and was then slightly surprised to see large numbers of 'agrees' for other answers that although sounded ok from a general language point of view were certainly not correct in the 'language' of science/medicine. I was slightly confused by this. It seems self-evident to me that translation requires a clear understanding not only of the broad language (eg English or Spanish) but also of the specific language (eg science or medicine) that the text is addressing. Consequently it is very easy to see something that sounds correct but, unless you know the specific target language well, can be way off mark. Interestingly, I saw no evidence of experience in these fields whatsoever in many of the profiles of the people who agreed.

This issue has caused me some discomfort as I haven't really known how to address it in the questions without seeming overly agressive, too critical of others, or chasing after Kudoz points (the latter seems a patently ridiculous practice to me). Do people really think about why they are agreeing with a given answer? Do they question carefully whether other answers may introduce any doubt in their minds as to their competence to 'agree' with such surety? Some of the threads that I have seen unfortunately lead me to doubt it, at least in the case of some 'agrees'. Is this an issue of gaining Browniz or exposure (or friends??)?

What I should be clear about here is that this is not about the original answers posted. I think that answers, with confidence levels, are helpful whether they are in fact correct or not, but the agree option seems to be used irresponsibly at times without people having to back up what they are saying.

I am left feeling that maybe the system of points causes a big problem in what is otherwise a wonderful resource for people to use an enormous skill base to arrive at accurate translations of difficult (or at least for the individual) phrases, texts etc. But what to do about it? I have no desire to enter into some sort of competition on this site, but to learn from others and to offer what I know when others can make use of that knowledge, and when I see people at risk of receiving inaccurate information on the basis of majority opinion it worries me.

I should say that I have also had a very positive experience of discussion with another answerer through Kudoz that resulted in what we both felt was an accurate translation in the process. However, my guess is that this may be inspite of rather than due to the Kudoz/Browniz system.

I have noticed one or two threads that seem to be along similar lines so I am sure that I am not the only one to have experienced this. If anyone has any thoughts/experiences I would be interested.

Best wishes to all

Iain


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gianfranco  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 00:19
Member (2001)
English to Italian
+ ...
Welcome Jun 16, 2004

Hi Iain,
and welcome to ProZ.com

Your concerns are shared by many members, and most of the participants to KudoZ do not behave as you have described.

Unfortunately there will be always someone offering less than accurate answers or unwise peer-grading.
This is inevitable, but I have the feeling that these behaviours are a minority, and these actions do not detract much from the overall utility of KudoZ as a cooperation and learning tool.

Gianfranco
ProZ.com Team


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Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:19
Member (2004)
English to Italian
Welcome to UnproZ.com... Jun 16, 2004

IKPatten PhD wrote:


This issue has caused me some discomfort as I haven't really known how to address it in the questions without seeming overly agressive, too critical of others, or chasing after Kudoz points (the latter seems a patently ridiculous practice to me). Do people really think about why they are agreeing with a given answer? Do they question carefully whether other answers may introduce any doubt in their minds as to their competence to 'agree' with such surety? Some of the threads that I have seen unfortunately lead me to doubt it, at least in the case of some 'agrees'. Is this an issue of gaining Browniz or exposure (or friends??)?


Iain


ProZ is a great site, resource-wise, but I would entirely forget the KudoZ thing. It's a good game, but also very frustrating. It's frustrating to see "professional" colleagues posting questions like "television" to find out later, from their profiles, that they have been translating in the electronics field for 5 years.... it's frustrating, like you say, when another - incorrect - answer is chosen by a beginner poster, with lots of agrees from other beginners. KudoZ are a good gymnasium, but nothing more. And you'll learn what ProZ is all about very very quickly...

Giovanni


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Steffen Walter  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 03:19
Member (2002)
English to German
+ ...
Why always this negative attitude, Giovanni? Jun 16, 2004

Hello Giovanni,

Why am I almost always getting the impression that your comments are distinctly on the negative side (at least as regards KudoZ)? Don't you think that things like unwise peer grading (or even "BrowniZ hunting", for that matter) will level out in the long run?

Perhaps I am oversimplifying matters but I can't help thinking that negative things are being paid far more attention to than they deserve, while the positive side, such as adequate terms help and conscious use of peer grade features, goes largely unnoticed (which would be perfectly in line with the media phenomenon that "only bad news is good news").

Please do remember that ProZ.com is a translation workplace also open to people who may still be on their way of developing a sufficient degree of professionalism.

Steffen

[Edited at 2004-06-16 08:47]


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Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:19
Member (2004)
English to Italian
negative attitude... Jun 16, 2004

Steffen Walter wrote:

Hello Giovanni,

Why am I almost always getting the impression that your comments are distinctly on the negative side (at least as regards KudoZ)? Don't you think that things like unwise peer grading (or even "BrowniZ hunting", for that matter) will level out in the long run?



It's funny, Steffen, because I felt exactly what Iain is feeling now when I joined ProZ. The fact that a new member feels this way shortly after he/she joins should raise a few alarm bells. KudoZ is great for beginners, but it is indeed very frustrating for people with more experience. I wasn't being negative... I was just underlying what Iain said because I felt that way as well. I didn't post the thread, I was only partecipating. Anyway, it's not my fault if the KudoZ system has its floors, but I'm sure it's appreciated by many. And I don't believe that the unwise peer grading and the BrowniZ hunting will level out in the long run... if anything, it's got worse.


Please do remember that ProZ.com is a translation workplace also open to people who may still be on their way of developing a sufficient degree of professionalism.


Sure... but then you should change the name of the site....

Giovanni


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marnic
English to Italian
+ ...
changing the name of the Site Jun 16, 2004

Sure... but then you should change the name of the site....

Giovanni[/quote]









...and the Kudoz rules as well (number of questions posted in a short period of time, terms not sentences, preliminary dictionary look-up, etc).

I am new to Proz as well and, as far as Kudoz questions posted in my area of expertise are concerned, I am finding it extremely useful for beginners but quite uninteresting for experienced translators.

Marianna


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Klaus Herrmann  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 03:19
Member (2002)
English to German
+ ...
ProZ keeps me learning Jun 16, 2004

marnic wrote:
I am new to Proz as well and, as far as Kudoz questions posted in my area of expertise are concerned, I am finding it extremely useful for beginners but quite uninteresting for experienced translators.
Marianna


Even after 20+ in the translation business, I continue to learn a lot from the KudoZ section.

With regard to the mild disappointment which started this thread, I think that's the natural course of events. Initially, the amount of information and help offered in the KudoZ section is overwhelming. After a short while, the limitations of the KudoZ system become apparent, which may lead to some disappointment. After another short while however, you'll find that a vast majority of colleagues really knows their stuff (and also know not to answer/peer grade questions outside their area of expertise).

As to wrong answers, don't let erroneous agree votes disturb you. That's what the disagree option is for. Also, it's always a good idea to give some (decent) examples from the web to show how your suggested term is used in practice.


[Edited at 2004-06-16 12:30]


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Lucy Phillips  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:19
Spanish to English
+ ...
a good translator can ignore the 'agrees'! Jun 16, 2004

Hi Iain

I use Proz both to ask and answer questions.

I do the first because I find Kudoz an extremely useful forum for discussing my ideas on translating a difficult phrase or word and, after a time, you do get to know fellow Proz members (at least virtually) and get a feel for their level of competence. I feel mildly frustrated when someone clearly less competent than me has rushed in to give me a literal (and meaningless) translation of my question in order to gain points (I assume). However, I regard myself as a professional, using a professional resource, and feel it is quite within my ability to disregard these answers and weigh up the more considered responses, often entering into email correspondence with those who are kind enough to give my queries some serious thought.

Time permitting, I also answer the odd question. I do this because it helps keep the old brain active and gives me a break from what I'm doing. There are probably two kinds of question I answer - those where I am very confident that I know the answer and am glad to help out and those where I have a chance to flex my creativity by offering suggestions when the asker is concerned with style.

I rarely answer outside my fields of expertise (or indeed my language pairs or native language: Spanish and Portugese to English) and though I have noted (possibly) an increase in not very competent non-native speakers claiming very high confidence in their clearly incorrect answers (and receiving 'agrees' from others who seem equally 'unqualified' to answer), there are also occasions when non-native speakers can be very helpful since they are most likely to truly grasp the concept in the original language (provided that this is their native language!), even if they can't render it elegantly in English, say.

My feeling is that anyone who uses Kudoz to get professionals to help them out in an area unfamiliar to them is doomed to failure - you cannot judge the help you are being given unless you know the subject you are dealing with. So all those wrong 'agrees' will be discounted by the professional translator. Those seeking help at a more basic level (and I think Kudoz is a fantastic resource for anyone, even if they're only trying to read a love letter from a waiter they met on holiday rather than translating a philosophical or scientific tract) are generally given helpful answers and if the odd rogue answer slips in, it's not usually too serious.

My only suggestion would perhaps be for those competent professionals who can spare the time to be more forceful in their 'disagrees'! I must admit that I tend to post 'neutrals' quite often when I really want to say 'no way!' just out of some kind of misplaced netiquette perhaps. But using the 'disagree' option more could be a good way of helping people sort out the best anwers.

Phew, I didn't mean to go on at such length - I really must get back to work!



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xxx
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Ultimately a healthy community Jun 16, 2004

Thanks to all who have responded so quickly and openly to my posting. I appreciate hearing your experiences.

As far as the principle of Kudoz is concerned I think it is great. Maybe with more time my experience of how it pans out will prove it to be more balanced than I have sometimes seen so far. However, on an individual basis I do worry for people who ask questions and see lots of people agreeing with something that appears correct but is in actual fact not. Nothing can balance out for them because they are at grave risk of using something in their work that is inaccurate.

I should say that I\'m not sure that this is necessarily about beginners or more experienced translators but more to do with responsible behaviour. I am relatively new to translation but have many years of experience in science. Consequently the beginner/experienced definition depends on your perspective. What I do know very well is how to write in this field and consequently I know how to put it correctly into the target language. Maybe more experienced translators than myself will be able to look at a sentence and give a confident translation, but unless they know the language of the subject itself they may in fact get it very wrong.

It is a common problem for \"non-English speakers\" in the fields of science and medicine to experience problems in getting their work published on the basis of inaccurate English. At times this can verge on the point of editorial predjudice. Connsequently I always feel very concerned that such authors get accurate advice on what they are publishing and support for Kudoz answers in fields that you do not know well are unlikely to help this issue.

Although the points seem irrelevant to me I can see the logic of grading answers, peer support etc I guess in the end my way forward is to try to act as responsibly and respectfully as I am able and hope that people who ask questions end up getting the info that they need.

Finally, I think that I should say that for all this started as a frustration, the fact that people seem so willing to discuss, advise and take care of the quality of the work that goes on through ProZ is indicative of a professional community. Thanks to you all.

Iain


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xxx
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Good point Jun 16, 2004

>I regard myself as a professional, using a professional resource, and feel it is quite within my ability to disregard these answers and weigh up the more considered responses, often entering into email correspondence with those who are kind enough to give my queries some serious thought.<

Thanks Lucy, that's a really good point.


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lien
Netherlands
Local time: 03:19
English to French
+ ...
After a while Jun 16, 2004

After a while, you can easily recognise the skilled answerers from the others.

After a while people will know you better through your answers and recognise your competence.

Even the wrong answers are useful, because they sometimes start a good discussion about why they are wrong, and sometimes they put someone else on the track of a good answer. Have seen that happen many times.


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Levan Namoradze  Identity Verified
Georgia
Local time: 06:19
Member (2005)
English to Georgian
+ ...
Still nothing better... Jun 16, 2004

Hi All!

Yes, there could be some 'problems' here. I mean at Proz. However, I use to surf through the web and could not discover anything better, than www.proz.com.

Best Regards,

Lev


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Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:19
Member (2004)
English to Italian
maybe I've been unlucky... Jun 16, 2004

I don't want to sound too negative again, but I rarely post a question on Proz; I'd rather use one of the Italian mailing lists. Maybe I've been unlucky, but the few times I posted a question, I received the most unsuitable answers, within one minute, from people who obviously didn't know anything about the subject and just wanted to get the points. I even got answers from people who didn't have Italian in their language pairs! It used to be good, but not anymore. Many professionals have stopped answering KudoZ questions. I hope things will get better... to finish on a positive note.

Giovanni


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Claudia Iglesias  Identity Verified
Chile
Local time: 23:19
Member (2002)
Spanish to French
+ ...
Not my experience Jun 16, 2004

Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL wrote:
...Maybe I've been unlucky, but the few times I posted a question, I received the most unsuitable answers, within one minute, from people who obviously didn't know anything about the subject and just wanted to get the points. I even got answers from people who didn't have Italian in their language pairs!

Yes, this happens, but nothing compels us to accept the most unsuitable answers. I don't like to look at the country, the language or the pairs in which the person who answers works. I just look at the answer and the references. I check by myself and decide to whom give the points. I think that KudoZ are a tool that needs to be learnt. At first we can easily make mistakes (asking or answering).
In each pair, if we follow it regularly, we'll know the people who are usually there and what for (challenge to find the best answer or KudoZ or BrowniZ).

It used to be good, but not anymore. Many professionals have stopped answering KudoZ questions.

I disagree on this point, at least in the pairs that I regularly follow. Of course, it happens that I receive no suitable answer, but it also happens that I look for a word in a dictionary and it doesn't exist. I think that now I see less answers but of better quality, and this is good. Note that all the pairs don't work in the same way.

It's true that many professionals have stopped answering but others still do, I used to answer more than now, but now I have more work (thanks to ProZ and KudoZ), and the volunteer basis isn't worth for many. Again, as when chosing an answer or looking at the agrees, I have to be confident on my own judgement and decide whether it's worth keeping answering or not.

I hope things will get better... to finish on a positive note.


I have no doubt on that point, and we can all help to make things better, and critics also help.

Claudia


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perry  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 00:19
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
The asker must be a professional, too Jun 16, 2004

Like Iain I'm not too experienced a translator, but I have been working for years in the science field.
It's true that sometimes, when I asked kudoz questions I received some silly answers. But, I knew enough on the subject I was working on to notice that and just disconsider both the answer and the agrees it received. On the other hand, I received answers very helpful, too.
Also, I've already seen wrong answers beeing agreed and even chosen as the best one. But, in these cases I think the main problem is the asker. If he/she can't be able to identify a completely wrong answer, so he/she doesn't know enough about the subject he/she is working on. In this case, I think the professional attitude should be not to accept the job...
Katia


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