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False profiles to earn KudoZ points
Thread poster: Maya Jurt

Maya Jurt  Identity Verified
Switzerland
Local time: 02:03
Member (2002)
French to German
+ ...
Oct 11, 2001

The proz Netiquette clearly states that \"impersonating or \"anonymously\" and fraudulently agreeing with oneself\" is a breach of rules.



It may be very naive to believe that everyone contributing on this site has a minimum of ethical standards and answers questions not only to compete for points, but to help others and be helped in turn.



I have contributed to this site for about 6 weeks now. I have helped a lot, but I learned even more, for although I have been translating and adapting from and to three languages all my professional life, I have not done so recently and needed to get back the reflex and the technical side of translating. I made some good friends and - for a reason I cannot fathom - some fiends out to demolish every answer I give, correcting my spelling mistakes (I am at war with my keyboard) with new postings. That\'s alright, it\'s the name of the game.



What is unacceptable to me and I hope to you, is that some people (especially one person) are posting one question after the other (up to 20 a day) under different names. Sometimes questions so easy that you ask yourself why there are posted. Lately it got a little more complicated. That person gave wrong answers to him/herself, but he/she got the points anyway. Some questions were answered two minutes after being posted, with long explanations and two website as a reference. How is that possible without knowing the question in advance? If the points do not go to the person who asks them under another name, they go to people without profile or very newly inscribed persons. From October 4 to October 11, this person moved from position xx to position x lets say from 20 to 8, with answers to questions from (almost exclusively) people that are not registered.



I have let this person know that I am aware of her/his hoax. Two of the fake names immediately and for the first time awarded points to my answers. Now, another name has popped up. For the time being, this anonymous player distributes points freely and not to her/himself.



This subjects is put up for discussion since my mails to two moderators and to the support/request page have remained unanswered. KudoZ leaders like Mats, Albert, Sven, Cecilia, Yolanda and many others have given their time to answer those questions. Are we ready to accept such abuse? And is proZ able to track such abuse?



Those are my questions.

Greetings to all of you



Maya





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Henry Dotterer
Local time: 20:03
SITE FOUNDER
Thanks for reporting this fraudulent activity Oct 11, 2001

Our goal is to make KudoZ as valuable a tool as possible for professional translators. We therefore take reports of abuse very seriously, and seek to eliminate all fraudulent activity.



In a small number of cases, site users have awarded themselves points on a question or two. I have not yet seen wholesale misrepresentation like that you describe--though it was not unexpected.



I do not know why your request was not processed; probably, Jason has not gotten to it yet.



Please forward details to me privately, and I will take appropriate steps to prevent the offending member from continuing this practice.


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Maya Jurt  Identity Verified
Switzerland
Local time: 02:03
Member (2002)
French to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Tried to reach you before Oct 11, 2001

Hello Henry,

I have tried to reach you before for other matters (when I was called a BIG Zero by someone who was, at that time, not registered) through your e-mail henry@proz.com. Tried to reach Troy as well. The mail always came back.



I\'ll try again. If you do not get my mail, please contact me at mayagyan@freesurf.ch for details.



Thanks

Maya


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Werner George Patels, M.A., C.Tran.(ATIO)
Local time: 20:03
German to English
+ ...
Thank you, Maya Oct 11, 2001

Thank you for bringing this up. It would be a serious offense if this turned out to be true.



However, PROZ should also look into groups that have formed, usually comprising about 3-5 members, who post questions, answer each other questions and award points to each other (at least, that\'s the impression when one looks at the messages they send it each other in some of the answers or votes to answers) - this is especially apparent in the EnglishSpanish community.



These acts, if that\'s the case, would seriously undermine the KudoZ system.


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Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:03
French to English
Allegations of cheating - they'll get their come-upance! Oct 12, 2001

Cheating anywhere anytime is bad news. I sincerely believe that those who get a kick out of it, hoping to achieve merit through unethical behaviour, usually shoot themselves in the foot sooner or later.



The posting of questions by one person who is registered with several usernames which he/she can choose from to answer is cheating, no doubt about that. But think about it... can you honestly imagine the sheer volume they need to chomp through to get any significant amount of points?



It\'s possible also that people working together could post questions which other members in the team can answer and are awarded points for. Again, senseless cheating.



Oh, it is all very unfair and irritating for those who take the time to answer.



For those of you who try to work honestly, those who work hard, show your working-out, and, needless to say, produce work to a high standard, I think you can sleep safe at night in the knowledge that your work will be spotted sooner or later. You no doubt have better things to do with your time than cheat anyway. Leave them to it !

[ This Message was edited by: on 2001-10-12 10:07 ]


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Maya Jurt  Identity Verified
Switzerland
Local time: 02:03
Member (2002)
French to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Impersonating - Thanks to both of you, G2E and Nikki Oct 12, 2001

I feel a little less lonely now. The problem is: When you are seeing those things, you say: No, stop this, you are hallucinating, people won\'t do that. But they do and they continue. Then you start monitoring them - feeling worse than a sleuth - because he gets paid and you are only offended by this fraud - and you see evidence, but have no real proof. This morning,I just discovered another abuse for the German-English pair: a person asking over 40 questions in one hour, and one person answering them (20 times), mostly after one or two minutes. No chance for us to answer. I finally informed the asker and squashed all the questions not graded, not knowing if I did right. But 40 questions, same subject, seems to be an abuse of the system. The person gets paid, we do the work.



Both persons have been openly informed of what I was doing. The questions have stopped. We\'ll see if they pop up again. I just hope there are some means to stop this. Why should people be allowed to give a uncheckable name, no address, no phone number? It invites abuse. Could we all think about how to resolve that problem ? I am sure Henry would be grateful for suggestions.



Maya


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GoodWords  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 19:03
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
We´re just friends Oct 12, 2001

The EnglishSpanish community is the only one I participate in. While it is true that some of us have gotten to know each other, both on- and off-list, if there\'s a conspiracy, I\'m not in it, even though I am a frequent participant, and I consider quite a number of the collegues there as good cyber-friends. True, we do often exchange greetings and friendly words by means of the peer comments, but as far as I know (and I hope I\'m not being naive), it\'s all clean and honest interchange.



Quote:


On 2001-10-11 17:42, G2E wrote:

...

However, PROZ should also look into groups that have formed, usually comprising about 3-5 members, who post questions, answer each other questions and award points to each other (at least, that\'s the impression when one looks at the messages they send it each other in some of the answers or votes to answers) - this is especially apparent in the EnglishSpanish community.

...



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Henry Dotterer
Local time: 20:03
SITE FOUNDER
This may have been a misunderstanding - but you have a point Oct 13, 2001

Dear Maya,



Thanks for bringing this up. An initial review seems to indicate that there was not any abuse.



Still, your point remains. The fact that we can do not yet verify identities does open the door for some abuse.



I have put some thought into this, and this is my plan. It involves creating a credential called \"verified identity\", and allowing three methods of earning this credential:



(1) Paying for Platinum (or Premium) membership with a credit card in your name.

(2) Appearing at a ProZ.com event, or at an event attended by ProZ.com (such as the upcoming ATA convention), with picture ID,

or (3) Paying a small fee for identity verification by a specialized service



This plan is imperfect, and it will be difficult if not impossible to reach everyone. Still, it should go some way to reducing the possibility that exists of identity fraud (or, almost as disruptive, perceived fraud).


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xxxMaGre
Local time: 02:03
English to French
+ ...
Impersonation: This is the way it is done Oct 13, 2001

Dear Henry,

I think we are all very grateful for your answer and your suggestions. However, it does not prevent any identified member to answer questions that he/she has planted by someone not registered, or a buddy, or him/herself, knowing exactly what the questions will be and at what time they will be asked. I agree with G2E that there might be some pros planting questions for each other. When someone gives a very specific answer without knowing the context, you must ask yourself this question. Anyway, you probably will never be able to detect such an abuse.



This said and since it is the end of the week, I amused myself answering questions popping up one after the other. I am brand new to this game, but already No.90 for the overall count and No. 9 for the English-German language pair. I won 72 points today, and I did not answer all the questions asked by this person, nor get all the points.



This person is of course Maya and Magre is Maya. Just a little game to see if it was possible.



Now, Maya takes over: Well, before complaining, I created Magre, because if I wanted questions answered my myself, I did not want to profit from it. I easily could have Magre as the questioner and me the one who answers, but that would have been unfair.



You check the over 40 questions I have asked today. I gave the points to everyone else, when it was possible, to Magre, when nothing else fitted. I could have made Magre answer all the questions first, but there were some problems with the connection. Could only get my questions by choosing all language pairs. And it seems that my questions were highlighted. I already thought you found a device to counter such practices. I am very disappointed that this does not seem to be the case.



But let it be. Far from me to create troubles, I just wanted you to know what can be done. I think this discussion can be closed. Just one suggestion. Maybe you should appoint a moderator or two for each language pair to check periodically what is going on and report it. And not accept more than a few questions from someone who is not registered and has no detailed profile.



Maybe there are other methods to stop this fraud. This is the reason why put the question up for discussion. Any suggestions from anyone???



Greetings



Maya


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Henry Dotterer
Local time: 20:03
SITE FOUNDER
You needn't have gone to this length Oct 13, 2001

Maya,



No one disagreed that it was possible to create two profiles and answer one\'s own questions. My point was not that it *can not be done*, but rather that it *is not being done*...at least not on any significant scale.



MaGre would have been found out soon enough, if she hadn\'t lost interest in the charade herself, first. And to any outsourcer who cared to look at her KudoZ portfolio (as some do), her game would have been evident.



Still, the point remains. Identity verification would be helpful. Thanks.



Now, with apologies to our vegetarians... let\'s move on to the other fish we have to fry!


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Werner George Patels, M.A., C.Tran.(ATIO)
Local time: 20:03
German to English
+ ...
Maya - The Spy Oct 13, 2001

First, let me say that no one should attack Maya for pulling off such an elaborate ruse. On the contrary, it was a commendable effort on her part to show up some of the shortcomings inherent in the system (just like home-alarm companies that have some professional burglars test the effectiveness of the system).



Second, I believe Henry when he says that such fraudulent patterns can be identified when looking at a person\'s KudoZ profile, but who (except for Maya perhaps - ) would take the time to do that???



Third, and that\'s where Henry and I will disagree, this kind of thing IS BEING DONE. Sometimes, it would not be possible to prove it beyond reasonable doubt, but anyone with a healthy gut feeling and some experience under the belt can tell whether or not there is something shady going on (and there is - not all of the time, but there are isolated cases of KudoZ fraudsters).



Fourth and in conclusion, KudoZ is not the be-all and end-all; most outsourcers do not concern themselves with the points (and certainly not with the individual questions - project managers are usually pressed for time and lucky if they manage to verify 2 professional references for new translators within a couple of hours!). Personally, I would give away my points in an instant: for me, it is about helping colleagues without expecting any thanks or \"pecuniary awards\" (as suggested by one PROZ member recently). Simply knowing that a fellow translator got the right answer, thus enabling him or her to complete the translation and satisfy his or her client, is all the thanks I need. It would be nice, though, if everyone played by the rules.


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Maya Jurt  Identity Verified
Switzerland
Local time: 02:03
Member (2002)
French to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Impersonating Oct 14, 2001

Time to move on. I won\'t be around to taste the fish, but I am sure it will be juicy.

Greetings to all



Maya


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pschmitt
Local time: 01:03
German to English
+ ...
Identity Verification Oct 14, 2001

Quote:


On 2001-10-14 03:24, mayagyan wrote:

Time to move on. I won\'t be around to taste the fish, but I am sure it will be juicy.

Greetings to all



Maya





Dear Maya,



I have to admit I felt rather duped after having received your mail today concerning the KudoZ point cheating. Its rather cryptic tone seemed to suggest to me, that you think I might be one of those cheaters.

First of all let me tell you that I joined ProZ about 2 or 3 months ago. I have been answering questions ever since and on a regular basis. Let me also tell you that I’ve got only one profile and that I have only ever posted one question (needless to say I didn’t answer it myself).

I thoroughly enjoy answering questions and feel I’ve learned a lot along the way, both by doing it as well as by observing others doing it. The KudoZ points are a nice little reward but not that important within this context - what is more important to me, however, is the feedback from other translators, some of whom I’ve learned to know and to respect over the last weeks and months (including yourself, actually).

Yesterday afternoon I spent answering questions (call me a sad git for not having anything better to do on a Saturday afternoon), only to find in your mail today that you’ve rewarded the KudoZ points to yourself. Well, I’m not too bothered about the points, since I had quite an enjoyable afternoon. But I am wondering whether it was really necessary to make your point in such a covert way rather than address it directly.

I can see where you’re coming from; I can see the frustration and anger, and I have to say I am sharing it to a great degree (now, that I’m aware of it). But wouldn’t it have been better if you had made your case openly and named the ‘suspects’? After all, their reponse - or lack of response - would have given some indication as regards their involvement, in addition to which it would have raised awareness among the other translators. It would have been an open warning and would have made an impact as such.

This whole incident clearly demonstrates the necessity for some kind of Identity Verification. I have to admit, I haven’t got a clue as to how to go about it, but maybe (and hopefully) Henry Dotterer and others are thinking about this right now. In any case, it would be so much better to talk to a real name and a real person, rather than to some kind of pseudonym, and I’m sure this would have a positive and constructive effect on the communication between translators on this site in general.

I do accept the apology on the top of your mail - after all, you definitely had a valid point to raise. However, I have to repeat myself: I don’t agree with the method you’ve used to raise it, since two wrongs, after all, don’t make a right.



Kind regards,



Peter Schmitt

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Maya Jurt  Identity Verified
Switzerland
Local time: 02:03
Member (2002)
French to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Sorry Peter Oct 14, 2001

My oh my, Peter, that was the last thing I intended to do. I apologize again and I think that by informing everyone what I was doing, I showed that fraud or deceit was far from me. I liberally distributed points and only chose MaGre when none of the answers fitted. Sometimes, I even gave the points to someone with an unfitting answer. MaGre could not be left out, since everybody got points. And I don\'t think I gave the points to myself, since I created Magre exactly to avoid that.





My questions were real and the answers will help me in the translation of my book. I also learned something: Without a lot of context, answers remain guesswork. And that is another sore point a lot of people complain about.



Now Peter: If I had suspected you of any wrongdoing, would I have attributed points to you? You got several (more than others, I think) because your answers were good.

I could not choose the people who answered. But I could choose a Saturday afternoon when I had time and when I was pretty sure the people involved would not be around.

And they were not.



The direct response to my little stunt was overwhelmingly positive. I only decided to imitate the \'maybe-fraudster\' (I want to remain very careful about calling people names, but Henry knows who is involved) after sending several messages to proZ moderators, informing the people concerned),and then posting a message to the forum.



This is and will remain a problem. My question still remains. Any suggestions to stop abuse of the site?



I do mind when people are cheating. Old reflex after 30 year\'s of investigate reporting. It was a child\'s game to find out who does it. But there is no messianic streak in me. I show what\'s going on, then I move on. You can\'t change the world, you only can make people aware.



Therefore Peter: I apologize again. And I sent you my greetings.

Maya



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Klaus Dorn
Local time: 03:03
German to English
+ ...
the majority is decent and honest Oct 14, 2001

Who cares about abusers of the system, we all know that the majority of us is decent and honest. With that in mind, I think we can all continue as is...

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