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The KudoZ "addiction"
Thread poster: Todd Field

Todd Field  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:43
Member (2003)
Portuguese to English
Jul 8, 2004

Dear colleagues,

I'm writing out of pure curiosity in an attempt to unearth the motives for some of the intense participation levels that exist in KudoZ.

In my own language pairs, which are high volume/high frequency, I have noticed a subset of participants who respond to an astonishingly high percentage of questions. These folks work feverishly to answer everything possible, month after month, seemingly transcending time zones. By and large they come to the game with a sincerely professional and productive approach, but in some (extreme) cases they fight tooth and nail to win with the intensity of a cornered animal, and are the central figures of ongoing vendettas in their language pair.

I think the KudoZ system is great and try to participate whenever I can. When a big project comes in, however, the KudoZ button gets turned off. For me, it's an activity for after-hours and days without work.

Don't get me wrong: I truly respect the folks who have ten, twenty, thirty times the KudoZ points that I do. I appreciate their past input on my own terminology questions. Obviously, their contributions to are tangible and highly valuable.

What I can't figure out - and my reason for posting this - is:

1) How do these KudoZ participants maintain their relentless energy level along with their work obligations?

2) Are their motives philanthropic? Are they business-related (i.e. do lots of points really attract the eye of potential translation customers)? Or is KudoZ just an addictive pastime... a place where more competitive individuals can find some sort of fulfillment?

I have my own theories already, but would love to hear what others think, especially the elite group of multi-thousand point celebrities out there.

Thanks in advance,


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Sara Freitas
Local time: 18:43
French to English
I was wondering the same thing! Jul 8, 2004

Where do they find the time?

When I was first starting out as a freelance in 2002, I have to admit that Kudoz was a fun activity and good break from prospecting and cold-calling! I did answer quite a few questions, but nowhere near the level of the Kudoz champions!

Now that my business has taken off, though, I just don't have time!

When I do need to ask a question, I make sure I answer a few to "pay into the system" and to be sure that I am making a contribution in exchange for the help others give me.

I hope we hear from a few of the "Kudoz addicts" in the forum. I would love to know if it really is an addiction or if they can truly stop whenever they want


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Mats Wiman  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:43
Member (2000)
German to Swedish
+ ...

KudoZ motivation: A many-faceted composite Jul 8, 2004

Dear Todd and Monica,

I take the liberty of offering my Jan 15, 2003 posting as my answer (some might disapprove of my repeating them):
I have devoted some time to KudoZ from summer 2000 till now (2003-01-15).
My wife has not always been appreciative of the time spent on it and some members have commented infavourably on ‘point grabbers’ in general.
Although I have not seen negative comments the last nine months I still feel there is room for comment from one who has some experience.
For me the KudoZ arena has been somewhat of a private university and a very rewarding experience.
The analysis of the words, the looking them up (dictionaries, glossaries), the checking of their frequency (Google & similar) and the peer responses and the decision of the asker is a very good linguistic experience.
In my case the cross-language associations between e.g. Latin-French-Spanish or Swedish-Danish-Norwegian-German-English has been cross-fertilizing and has developed my linguistic skills considerably.

What’s driving a true KudoZer?

Much has been speculated:

1. We are greedy ego-aggrandizing maniacs without self-confidence outside the KudoZ arena.
2. We are addicts without better things to do – i.e. we have no real translation jobs.
3. We are sick, passive individuals that are simply triggered by someone asking us a question.
4. We are participating in something condescendingly called ‘game’ by some people.

I contend that we are none of these things.
If one is at all curious and if one wants to learn it is almost impossible to withstand the challenge put on one’s table by a person in need. It is impossible because there is always that chain of thoughts:
“Of course the answer must be….! On reflection, one could also say…., or is it possible to use….?
Let’s check it! Hm, that’s funny! Let’s check what YYY says. Hm, that’s interesting! Let’s see what Google says! Hm, maybe XXX is right after all. I think I’ll call my friend at SKF. That’s it. I knew it was something special. etc. etc.”

One interesting facet of the KudoZ world is the discovery that the so-called ‘easy’ questions are very often not easy at all. ‘I love you’ might be easy but ‘I love you dearly’ or ‘I want you’ might be much trickier to express with all its various nuances. Even more casual expressions like ‘Did you enjoy yourself yesterday?’ could bring so many different correct answers that the asker becomes bewildered.
It might be much easier to translate ‘refractometer’.

As to “having all that time do spend on KudoZ”, I want to quote a KudoZ colleague:
“After 45 minutes of translating, I feel fed up and I want variation. A few KudoZ questions later I feel fit for fight again.” That’s exactly how I see it and most of the time, that’s how I have handled it.
If one is, like me, up at 4 in the morning one might have some extra time and extra calm to be allowed to answer a few extra questions.
If one, like me, works from home, it’s also possible to answer questions after the Saturday evening film or Sunday in your free time.
This is, if you like, one of the secrets of ‘grabbing points’.
Anyway: The joy of being confronted with all these intellectual challenges can still keep me awake.

“What is the value of KudoZ points?” member 5293, Prof. Tagir Tagirov wrote:
”One might easily recall as I do those days (not too far from the coming Xmas, though) when KudoZ appeared. As in almost any process in the IT world, by participating in KudoZ you are creating your own traces and ... thus slightly changing the world! Your own world and those of others. I am sure that this invention was, is and will be one of the strongest and freshest things in translation - anybody may trace your answers from almost the origin!
Not saying all those ordinary words about "the best place where you may get highly professional help and assistance", I should note one additional feature: it is absolutely free and can be read and used by anybody joined the site!
I am sure that "clever" "jobgivers" certainly read KudoZ and trace eventual candidates (if they do not, then their intellectual level is not too high ). Usually, people claiming and making complaints in view of absence of work flows via either are rather poor translators, or did not understand all roles in this piece since had not read them , or simply do not correspond to the site's name - means "professionals".”

ttagir’s statement sums up very well what I have unconsciously felt for a long time:

I am killing three birds with one stone.
1. I help
2. I prove myself
3. I leave traces that might help someone to choose me as a translator

Further it’s maybe the best meeting place at You get to know your colleagues step by step without imposing yourself on them or being imposed by them. Most of my friends I have first encountered in the KudoZ arena.
When it comes to nominating moderators, KudoZ quality and behaviour is often one important yardstick.
If you want to try a team effort one of the more common tools is to see how your prospect partner comes through in the KudoZ arena.


One satisfying experience with KudoZ is that we are together building maybe one of the most interesting glossaries in history: The KOG (KudoZ Open Glossary).
It will be a glossary containing a lot of very special words, terms and expressions, that could not be found anywhere else. The best of it all:
The majority of entries (I know: not all!) are of high quality, due to the checks and balances of the KudoZ system. There still remain a number of measures in order to weed out the bad entries, but those are becoming rarer with the increasing number of participants.
I do not know any better mechanism of building a glossary than the KudoZ system.


I am quite proud to have been one of the more active members in the shaping and building of the KudoZ Open Glossary and I still rejoice at every new question.

To be added: If you appreciate knowledge, a question put to you is always a challenge worth accepting:
Maybe I can learn and thus help

Best regards from the holiday maker (departure 9.00 CET)

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

[Edited at 2004-07-11 10:30]

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Monika Coulson  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:43
Member (2001)
English to Albanian
+ ...
My personal opinion :) Jul 8, 2004

Dear Todd,
First, I am not one of those multi-thousand point celebrities out there, but relatively, I do have many points in my language pairs.

1) How do these KudoZ participants maintain their relentless energy level along with their work obligations?

To me, answering KudoZ is a break from work. I work as a full time translator at home and I am online most of the time (week days up to 16 hrs per day and of course, less hrs during the weekends). However, we do not get many KudoZ question in my language pairs (Eng-Alb, Alb-Eng). Some days we are lucky if we get a couple per day and there are weeks without any question at all. However, I love answering KudoZ, because like most of the people who answer them, I like challenges and learning from them.

2) Are their motives philanthropic? Are they business-related (i.e. do lots of points really attract the eye of potential translation customers)? Or is KudoZ just an addictive pastime... a place where more competitive individuals can find some sort of fulfillment?

I am not sure if KudoZ points really attract the eye of a potential client, but it does help to be on the top of the list. Many of my clients from have contacted me directly through my profile and not through bids.

My 2 qindarka ever,

Mats has put it a lot better than I did, thanks Mats and enjoy your vacation

[Edited at 2004-07-08 07:16]

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Local time: 01:43
Japanese to English
Something fun to do in my spare time ... Jul 8, 2004

I like to check KudoZ when my time allows, simply because it's fun and educational at the same time. I answer those questions I can, and sometimes I just take a stab at others, but I've also received some useful help as well. I don't know about the "addicts" -- there do seem to be a few in my language pair as well -- but for me personally, it's simply a fun thing to do when I have some spare time.

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Henk Peelen  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:43
Member (2002)
German to Dutch
+ ...
Kudoz has a wide range of functions Jul 8, 2004

Todd and Monica Field wrote:

I think the KudoZ system is great and try to participate whenever I can. When a big project comes in, however, the KudoZ button gets turned off. For me, it's an activity for after-hours and days without work.


What I can't figure out - and my reason for posting this - is:

1) How do these KudoZ participants maintain their relentless energy level along with their work obligations?

2) Are their motives philanthropic? Are they business-related (i.e. do lots of points really attract the eye of potential translation customers)? Or is KudoZ just an addictive pastime... a place where more competitive individuals can find some sort of fulfillment?



Hi Todd,
I think we have a somewhat different approach.
I especially participate in the Kudoz-ystem when I'm working, because I compare it with the coffee breaks and accompanying communication / jaw when working at a company.
I use two computers, one to work on and one for the internet / email with as start page. I disable nearly all of the Proz e-mail messages, and when I'm not extremely busy, the Proz page is very often 'active' and I regularly hit the F5 button to refresh the page.
Today I woke up at four o'clock and could already answer some questions of somebody in your timezone (for me yesterday).

When I have a day off, I don't want to be focused too much on my work and sometimes I don't look at Proz at all. On sunday, for instance, I never work and choose a different start page.

How odd, Todd, but I think people with much Kudoz don't need the possible clients they get by ranking high.
I think there's no need to be philantropic here. On the other side, it really could pay to rank high on the Kudoz lists.
I think the awarding part of Kudoz is good and don't need to be changed. I think most participating people would participate as well if there were no kudoz to earn, but the points remind you that your contribution is appreciated and so they stimulate you to continue to participate.

The most nice feature of the Kudoz system is the fact everybody can participate, which gives the real pro effect: it reflects everyday life and gives you a lot of information about the culture in other countries, while agreeing and the selection of the answer help to 'unveil the truth'.

[Edited at 2004-07-08 08:36]

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Local time: 18:43
German to English
+ ...
Fun and companionship Jul 8, 2004

Hi Todd et al,

When I started out as a freelancer working from home, there were two things which kept me sane during the hours of solitude. One was a Homer Simpson sound wave which cried "Oh, the mail, the mail is here ... mmmm" every time a new mail arrived, and the other was ProZ as a kind of virtual office.

As far as I'm concerned, KudoZ is a kind of fun brain-teaser which provides a welcome break from one's own work and keeps the brain firing on all cylinders. It is also invaluable when faced with tricky terms or weird wording. And, at least on the German-English pairing where I spend most of my time, there is a great community spirit and good humour prevails.

Still, I got a lot more work done yesterday when the ProZ server was down ... and I'm sure I'm not the only one.

All the best


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gianfranco  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:43
Member (2001)
English to Italian
+ ...
Talking about 'addiction' Jul 8, 2004

Ian Winick wrote:
Still, I got a lot more work done yesterday when the ProZ server was down ... and I'm sure I'm not the only one.

And talking about addiction, as soon as there is a problem on the service (as we had yesterday) here in Support we get a flood of messages and alerts by members.

Some simply to point out the interruption of service, or to ask when the site will be available again, but occasionally we get the desperate message with tones that suggest serious withdrawal symptoms. Many members, it seems, cannot function properly if they know that or KudoZ are not available.

And I agree with Ian, when I was translating something horribly tedious, perhaps for several days, my tactic for keeping the sanity was to visit the KudoZ questions or the Forum...


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xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:43
Spanish to English
+ ...
K can be obsessive...but I prefer the Forums Jul 8, 2004

When I started in ProZ I had a summer of little work and I became totally addicted to answering K questions, arriving to the top of at least one or two lists. This phase lasted about 4 months.

For me it was one of the best training courses - and I have done a few between then and now - for an aspect of translation that is often ignored in courses: research and acquiring knowledge. Academic degrees tend to be theoreticical, professional translation exams are based on the final output. But WWW research and acquiring research skills are a fundamental part of translation, more so today than ever (becuase of the WWW I can translate texts that 20 years ago I couldn't have becuase I wouldn't have had the resources).I am forever grateful to ProZ for that, beause learning to research can only be done on a learn-by-doing basis.

Now I occasionally get in the mood or distracted from my work and answer questions, but much as I like to, I simply don't have the time. (There is also an element of discouragement - when you see bad answers being selected, it happens all too frequently). As for points grabbers, I have no time for them, as I think one should not answer for points but to help other translators/to learn something.

But another very positive benefit of my addictive phase was getting to know other ProZ translators, many of whom are still around and with many of whom I have a somehwat sporadic but cordial relationship.

I have noticed that some people are always online and answering questions too. I think it's a phase, as eventually they stop or slow down for whatever reason, and then begin to drop down the lists. Thing is, when do they work?

I don't think having points necessarily gets one jobs, no more than having a degree or a particular kind of training does. It's more a combination of factors that obtains one a job. Based on my own experience as a user of ProZ, if I wanted to choose a translator from ProZ I would go to their profile page and assess the information there. I would not give a second thought to points.

As for relaxation, answering Qs is more a distraction when I'm bored with my job. I spend most of my waking hours on the computer so for relaxation I prefer anything that doesn't involve a screen and keyboard.

I personally find the Forums more useful, interesting, even relaxing (as long as someone doesn't jump on you!). It's the more human side of ProZ, and is also a source of useful information.

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Selçuk Budak  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:43
English to Turkish
+ ...
Kudoz points are not an indication for the professional merits as a translator Jul 8, 2004

Anyone with a handful of dictionaries, and thanks to google, may answer to kudoz questions. Even we witness certain "point hunters" collecting points in as much languages as 10 or more! Personally, I know point hunters who collect points by answering, say Spanis > English, or Italian > English, etc. questions without ever translating a sentence in such language pairs.

And when we remember the fact that a vast number of questions are simply "dictionary entries" that can be found in any "ordinary dictionary," it is certain that the points "earned" is not a sound indication of neither the experience, nor the linguistic ability of the answerer in question.

In my language pair (ENG > TUR), it is not uncommon to encounter such questions as "I love you," "I kiss you," "How are you," etc. or such simple entries as "pain, hurt, offer," etc.

As to the motives: There is not a singled out motive to answer. To cite but a few:

Some answer questions out of a misconception about kudoz points that the higher your points, the more experienced you would seem in the eyes of any potential customers. This misconception has a point in that in fact certain "naive" customers having no idea as to the translation process may indeed think in that way.

Some questions are really challenging and the answerer really learns a lot in the process.

Some answers question out of mere competition, or of lack of a sound background, and hence, a firm self-confidence, in an effort to prove his/her ability as a translator. In a few cases, this reaches to such pathological dimensions that the person in question contacts the asker privately to earn points, cannot tolerate criticism ("disagree"), obsessed to answer any question, and even gets offensive in the process taking it personally and attacking anyone who does not agree with him/her or does not grant the points to him/her.

In short, Kudoz can turn out to be a dogfiht hurting anyone involved, or it can be a good school where both asker as well as answerer learns a lot.
And all depends on the keen ability of the answerer to discern what is a real challange and what is just a bogus.

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Local time: 18:43
French to English
+ ...
addiction, maybe.... Jul 8, 2004

I had to smile when I saw this posting. It is true that answering questions is "moreish". My "addiction", if it is one, stems from the fact that, for the first time ever, I am working largely on my own. For years I was part of a team, travelled widely to interpreting assignments, shared thoughts with colleagues. I didn't need another network. Now I can only rely on myself and it is so BORING!
I try to restrict myself to "language/style" questions and to help people understand phrases or sentences that escape them. On top of this, if I can help them with the rather specialised technical knowledge I have accumulated over the years, then so much the better. At times I also like to seek help, especially on slogans, which are always a challenge. I like to share mine because other people do, at times, have really good ideas.
I admit that, when answering queries, I have been known to cross swords with some of the strongest, most vociferous and self-assured (arrogant?)answerers but this is largely to defend my corner and stick up for what I believe is right. It seems to me that there are even people who have a horde of acolytes hanging on their every word..... even when they are wrong! And that is something that really frightens me! I find it amazing that some people's powers of conviction are such that they can "sell" anything if they want! Which is why I will dig my heels in when I don't agree.

Otherwise, it's a great way, as others have said, of taking a break, of stepping back from whatever job is in hand and doing something else. One thing is certain, you will rarely find me on the site outside "my" working hoours of 0730 to 1930 and almost never at weekends, so it's only a relative addiction.

Last but not least, I don't give a hoot for points. I am not looking for business: what I need comes to me (too much even!). I am only interested in being helpful, measuring myself against my peers, learning from experience and, occasionally, feeling useful! Is that too much too ask?

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Lesley Clarke  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:43
Spanish to English
All I can say is.. Jul 8, 2004

Thank you to all those addicts out there, your help has been invaluable.

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Kim Metzger  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:43
German to English
In whom do we trust? Jul 8, 2004

One advantage to being a regular KudoZ participant is the ability to know when to trust a KOG (KudoZ open glossary) entry. If I'm looking for a legal term in the glossary, for instance, and find answers given by certain well-trusted participants who regularly take great care in providing answers in fields and language combinations in which they are specialists, I'll feel comfortable using that answer in a translation for which I'm getting paid (if the context is right), whether it was selected by the asker or not.

I also know from experience whose answers are to be taken with a huge grain of salt. A person can develop a track record of honesty and expertise or a track record of dishonesty and carelessness. The latter don't really care about the reliability of the KOG; for them it's all about amassing points by any means. When I use the KOG for my translation work, I am very careful about noting WHO provided a particular translation.

But I hasten to add that the vast majority of participants in the language pair I use most – German to English – are thoroughly honest. Some are more competent than others, of course, but most are honestly trying to be helpful. I love KudoZ!

[Edited at 2004-07-08 15:35]

[Edited at 2004-07-08 15:53]

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Eva T
English to Albanian
+ ...
You made an excellent point Kim Jul 8, 2004

Kim Metzger wrote:
I also know from experience whose answers are to be taken with a huge grain of salt. A person can develop a track record of honesty and expertise or a track record of dishonesty and carelessness. The latter don't really care about the reliability of the KOG; for them it's all about amassing points by any means.

This is an excellent point Kim. It is so true and we see it happening a lot. For example, there is one perfect answer first and the second person, who only cares for points, uses the first answers, by changing a few words around, without adding any value to the answer. Than this person would say anything possible, even far from the truth, to try to convince the asker that her answer is right. Luckily, we have come to know these people and do not trust them anymore. Luckily, they are understanding this slowly, and we are seeing less and less of these asnwers.

Some are more competent than others, of course, but most are honestly trying to be helpful.

That is important I think, helping each-other with what we can and when we can. I love Kudoz too.

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Local time: 17:43
Spanish to English
+ ...
1) eat plenty of tomatoes 2) leave a record for posterity Jul 8, 2004

1) When you've got a broadband internet link and a stable family or home life that the addiction hopefully doesn't destabilise, it's not such an expensive pastime - between jobs - over plates of tomato, cups of coffee or stronger substances for some colleagues dozing off.

Years ago, I would have been out and about town.

However, witness contributors drifting in and out for various reasons.

2) A mixture of philanthropic and business-related motives. I don't need the work now. I may on a rainy day.

Also, prior to compiling that definitive dictionary that will never be, fill in - for contemporaries and maybe posterity - the gaps in paper as well as online dictionaries and glossaries and so generally raise the level and standard of translation & interpreting work amongst the band of addicts. The more this info is available outside hermetically sealed institutions, the more others will have a yardstick to go by and save emergency repair jobs.

A general consensus, unless there is a wholesale delusion, can also be an authority to be quoted.

The often immediate-answer self-help website is, in my field, the envy of tight-fisted lawyers excluding, of course, present company -> the selfless ones who log on and contribute something.

[Edited at 2004-07-08 17:42]

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