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Guidance for inexperienced Askers
Thread poster: Tony M

Tony M  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 13:09
Member
French to English
+ ...
Aug 15, 2005

I think I'm not alone in being quite often somewhat irritated by the poor quality of some questions -- things like:

Incorrect language pair (sloppiness? failure to understand?)

Incorrect broad / narrow / write-in field

Failure to analyse the true field of the term being asked (rather than of the broader source document)

Questions where the glossary has not be consulted first

Minimal or no context given

Now there has been a lot of discussion recently about 'punishing' abusive Askers, and the various delicious sanctions that we might apply (now that thumb-screws and red-hot pokers are sadly outlawed...), and I have to say that there clearly is a small number of people out there who do quite consciously and deliberately take advantage of the system (and others' generosity)

But I prefer to believe that in the majority of cases, it arises simply through lack of experience, and guidance. I myself have fallen into this trap so many times...

With this presumption of good faith in mind, I'd like to try and find a positive way to help improve questioning performance.

The 'KudoZ rules' are all very well, but are not really a 'How to...' guide to using the system.

I'd like to suggest a system whereby if someone is a recent member AND has not asked many questions AND has not answered many questions, the 'ask a question' route should FORCE them to pass through a number of stages --- for example, obligatory glossary search, then individual pages for 'what language are you starting from?' (with opportunity for explanations etc.) --- I'm sure you get the idea, a sort of 'ask question wizard'

I feel sure this would be good 'automatic' training for novices, and if the time and Q / A limits were suitably judged, it shouldn't be too irritating for new users --- in fact, I feel sure they'd welcome the support (unless, of course, they figure amongst those 'deliberate abusers'). I guess moderator over-ride would also be a possibility, to remove someone's 'novice' flag once they had proved their understanding of the system.

What do others think of this idea?

[Edited at 2005-08-15 15:25]


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RHELLER
United States
Local time: 05:09
French to English
+ ...
a wizard is a good idea Aug 15, 2005

Hi Dusty!

Yes, a wizard would be a help to those

1) in a hurry

2) not entirely sure of their subject matter (help them narrow it down)

3) who do not translate into or out of English (I think that must represent quite a large number).


More importantly, if done well, it would be a teaching guide of sorts, like "steps to take when researching terminology":

1) define field clearly

2) use available resources first (it is quicker to check computerized glossaries than to wait for people to respond and/or to agree)

I usually make a list of vocabulary that I am not sure of and then research google and the proz glossary. Asking a question here is my last resort. (thanks to my helpful colleagues

Special care should be taken to explain to askers that context is vital for a "good" answer. (please post sentence, if possible). Conscientious translators know that recognizing word nuances and idiomatic expressions help avoid "word-for-word" text.

Note: I only get irritated when someone has failed to consult a dictionary for common terms OR is obviously trying to get their job done by others (like posting 7 questions in one day on the same paragraph).


[Edited at 2005-08-15 14:58]


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Tony M  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 13:09
Member
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Helpful suggestions, Rita! Aug 15, 2005

Thanks for your comments, Rita!

Yes, I feel sure it could become a great learning aid, and empower people to be more self-reliant, whilst still keeping access easy for those who know how to use it already.

Let's see what other bright ideas people can suggest, and then maybe ProZ management will take a look at the feasibility of the idea.


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Mats Wiman  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 13:09
Member (2000)
German to Swedish
+ ...

MODERATOR
Good suggestion Dusty! Aug 15, 2005

We should always assume good faith and try to be of as much assistance as possible.
Forcing the asker through the KOG funnel is soon to be implemented AFAIK but I still think that newbies should be helped and steered.
Having attained a certain KudoZ level (100 points?) they could be let off with more direct ways of asking.

Mats Wiman


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gad
United States
Local time: 07:09
Member
French to English
Good idea, Dusty Aug 15, 2005

Dusty, I like the fact that your idea is very positive, in that it intends to help those not familiar with the site, and in effect this will also streamline the process for those who have been using the site for awhile as well.

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Nick Lingris  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:09
Member (2006)
English to Greek
+ ...
Two more points Aug 16, 2005

I wholeheartedly support Dusty’s idea. In case there’s someone there already trying to write the wizard, here are two points you might consider and that I suppose other users will agree with:

1. The new Web Term search does not make it very obvious that other search results are accessible by clicking on one of the tabs at the top. I’m afraid that the new user who is presented with a blank ProZ.com Term Search results page will not know that, by pressing the Google tab, he may have his answer staring him in the face. I think those tabs must somehow become much more prominent.
Of course, the effectiveness of Google often depends on the terms used for the search but it would help beginners to know it’s there to be tried out.

2. When the target language is English, the asker should define whether he wants American English, British English or International English (or English of no particular flavour, perhaps?). I don’t think I need to explain the reasons for this.


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gad
United States
Local time: 07:09
Member
French to English
Yes, language dialect settings would help tremendously Aug 17, 2005

Nick Lingris wrote:

2. When the target language is English, the asker should define whether he wants American English, British English or International English (or English of no particular flavour, perhaps?). I don’t think I need to explain the reasons for this.


Perhaps it is unrealistic to ask for this in EVERY language, but I think it would be reasonable to at least start with
English, and then may offer something similar in just Spanish and French as well. Or, just English would be fine. The only thing is that there should also be a way to fill this in in case it is not American or British, but say Maltese English or other specific dialect, for example?


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