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Optional "text type", "purpose" and "target audience" fields?
Thread poster: Jabberwock

Jabberwock  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 09:10
Member (2004)
English to Polish
Dec 11, 2005

I think that adding those fields (or similar) might be useful... It might help to match the answer with the correct language register, especially in case of literary or advertisement texts, where the style is as important as the content.

While it should never be obligatory (as translators sometimes do not have that information themselves), just looking at the empty fields might encourage the Askers to provide that information. It certainly would be better than repeated pleads "More context, please" in the "Ask the asker" boxes.


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Kim Metzger  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 02:10
German to English
Text type Dec 11, 2005

Thanks, Jabberwock, good suggestion.

I think asking a translation question properly involves as much work as answering one properly. The way a question is posed reveals a lot about where the asker stands as a translator. We all have to start somewhere, and when I started out my questions revealed how much I had yet to learn about translating. I really enjoy seeing colleagues learn from KudoZ: seeing how their questions improve in quality (that they've first used the tools of the trade before asking questions, that their questions are challenging), that they understand the importance of context, and as you say, the language register and target audience.

Another very important aspect is "language variety", i.e. British English vs. American English, Mexican Spanish vs. Spanish spoken in Spain, Canadian French vs. French spoken in France, etc. I think ProZ.com staff is working on adding this feature and hope it will come to pass soon.

Kim


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gad
United States
Local time: 03:10
Member
French to English
Most of the time, but Dec 11, 2005

Kim Metzger wrote:

I think asking a translation question properly involves as much work as answering one properly. The way a question is posed reveals a lot about where the asker stands as a translator. We all have to start somewhere, and when I started out my questions revealed how much I had yet to learn about translating. I really enjoy seeing colleagues learn from KudoZ: seeing how their questions improve in quality (that they've first used the tools of the trade before asking questions, that their questions are challenging), that they understand the importance of context, and as you say, the language register and target audience.



Sometimes, a person just may not HAVE the context that would be desired when posting a question (and, honestly, that may be the reason the person needs to ask the question in the first place). When working with agencies, which is where most of my work comes from, for instance, there are times when the agency does not provide you with certain information that would give more context, such as location/nationality/regional dialect of the end client, etc. I have had several occasions recently where of course I have specifically asked an agency for certain information that would provide this context, and the agency said that they didn't have the information. I don't think that in every case where more context is desired, that the Asker necessarily HAS that context. Ideally one would, but that is not always the case, unfortunately.

I think sometimes that answerers need to have a little patience and understanding for askers, instead of jumping to conclusions and judging the asker's alleged skill set and/or level of experience (likewise, when you think that an asker may have chosen an answer that is "way off", remember that it is the asker who actually has the whole text in front of him/her, and that something else in the document might make the asker favor one answer over another).

But of course, when possible, more information is better when posting a question (though I would NEVER recommend that someone actually post any company name as part of a question, for obvious reasons). It's good to give the option to provide these things, but just don't use it always to judge the asker, as there may be other things that are happening behind the scenes.


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Kim Metzger  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 02:10
German to English
Context for KudoZ questions Dec 11, 2005

gad wrote:

But of course, when possible, more information is better when posting a question .... It's good to give the option to provide these things, but just don't use it always to judge the asker, as there may be other things that are happening behind the scenes.


Dear gad, more information is USUALLY possible. You're talking about exceptions to the rule. Jabberwock and I are talking about askers who routinely provide little or no context, so while it's fine to mention the exceptions (briefly), I'd sure like to see this thread stay on topic.

Sometimes a translator has very little context, and in those instances, he/she should say so very clearly. The asker should simply state up front that the term occurs in a list of headings or whatever and describe the text to the best of her ability.

We're talking about askers who routinely provide no context. These askers don't even know what context is. The way to keep KudoZ helpers from jumping to conclusions is to state your question very clearly, provide as much context as you have and tell them when you have very little context. It's fair for helpers to judge an asker's skill set if the asker routinely provides no context and routinely fails to say so.
If the asker chooses an answer that seems way off because the asker has the whole text, chances are the asker failed to provide that information in the first place.



[Edited at 2005-12-11 20:40]


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Jabberwock  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 09:10
Member (2004)
English to Polish
TOPIC STARTER
If I may... Dec 11, 2005

Quick clarification, before this discussion goes elsewhere: I just had an idea for a technical feature that I think might be beneficial both for the askers (allowing them to reflect on the nature of the text they are working on) and for the answerers (providing more context). It was certainly not meant as another reason for rebuking those who do not provide that information - it should be clearly stated that it is optional. Eventually, if the asker asks an ambigous question, he or she has only less chance for a correct answer.

I have asked today myself two questions which for me were quite obvious and straightforward. However, it turned out they could be interpreted differently. It happens - if you are immersed in a given text long enough, you just ask for that phrase that is missing, everything else is crystal clear. It only later turns out that others have no idea what you are writing about!

I just thought that having those specific fields might help the asker to put the question in the proper perspective.


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gad
United States
Local time: 03:10
Member
French to English
It may be off-topic but it's a very valid point Dec 11, 2005

Kim Metzger wrote:

Dear gad, more information is USUALLY possible. You're talking about exceptions to the rule. Jabberwock and I are talking about askers who routinely provide little or no context, so while it's fine to mention the exceptions (briefly), I'd sure like to see this thread stay on topic.

Sometimes a translator has very little context, and in those instances, he/she should say so very clearly. The asker should simply state up front that the term occurs in a list of headings or whatever and describe the text to the best of her ability.



Sometimes you can say so and the "answerers" still give you a hard time.

I realize this was not "on topic", but I consider it a completely valid point. All over these forums, and all over KudoZ, people go on and on complaining that they need "more context" - well, I just made a very good point, in pointing out that is not always possible. It needed to be said, as I see this NOWHERE. Thanks for respecting my right to post this.


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gad
United States
Local time: 03:10
Member
French to English
I understand that Dec 11, 2005

Jabberwock wrote:

Quick clarification, before this discussion goes elsewhere: I just had an idea for a technical feature that I think might be beneficial both for the askers (allowing them to reflect on the nature of the text they are working on) and for the answerers (providing more context). It was certainly not meant as another reason for rebuking those who do not provide that information - it should be clearly stated that it is optional. Eventually, if the asker asks an ambigous question, he or she has only less chance for a correct answer.

I have asked today myself two questions which for me were quite obvious and straightforward. However, it turned out they could be interpreted differently. It happens - if you are immersed in a given text long enough, you just ask for that phrase that is missing, everything else is crystal clear. It only later turns out that others have no idea what you are writing about!

I just thought that having those specific fields might help the asker to put the question in the proper perspective.


Yes, I understand that, and you made a valid point, but I also made a very valid point - as I stated above, the whole concept of "lack of context" is discussed/mentioned ad nauseum on this site; however, I haven't heard much about the fact that sometimes there IS no context.

And I kind of disagree with Kim's assumption that you made this suggestion regarding people who chronically give no context. I think that you may have made this valid suggestion for ALL of us to use. Correct?

Your point and suggestion is very valid and useful, but my point is also valid: do not EXPECT people to answer ALL of these fields. As long as they are used in a completely constructive manner, I am all for these things. In fact, I think it is a good and valid suggestion. Just like my point is a good and valid point.:)


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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:10
French to English
There is ALWAYS context Dec 12, 2005

Nothing on kudoz annoys me more than 2 word "questions" with the note "no context". Right, so the client just sent you a 2-word job, did they? I think not.

An Asker can always say what sort of document it is, roughly what it is about and so on. Bullet points/headings don't appear in isolation, the Asker can always post the bullets before and after, for instance.

If the fields were optional, they could be ignored (much as "dialect" already is). Far better IMHO would be to impose a minumum number of characters in the description field. I would think that 400-500 characters is the least required to provide decent context, even if it just means the Asker posting the entire paragraph the problematic term occurs in.

Just an idea


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Jabberwock  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 09:10
Member (2004)
English to Polish
TOPIC STARTER
Optional, please! Dec 12, 2005

Charlie Bavington wrote:

Nothing on kudoz annoys me more than 2 word "questions" with the note "no context". Right, so the client just sent you a 2-word job, did they? I think not.


If such questions annoy you, all you have to do is skip them. Answering KudoZ questions is not obligatory.


If the fields were optional, they could be ignored (much as "dialect" already is). Far better IMHO would be to impose a minumum number of characters in the description field. I would think that 400-500 characters is the least required to provide decent context, even if it just means the Asker posting the entire paragraph the problematic term occurs in.


I'll repeat: if the asker does not provide enough context, he or she is only diminishing the chances of receiving the correct answer. If the askers do not feel that the question is "right", they do not answer that question. It is that simple.

The truth is, if someone does not know or does not want to ask a proper question, there is no way we can make them. "Imposing" anything is not the way to go.

I just thought that adding these fields would help those who ask good questions by making the questions even better, by "streamlining" the askers' reflection on the text characteristics.

I would be quite grateful if the discussion stays on the issue of the technical suggestion. No hijacking, please


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Kim Metzger  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 02:10
German to English
Adding fields to KudoZ Ask a Question Page Dec 13, 2005

Jabberwock wrote:

I just thought that adding these fields would help those who ask good questions by making the questions even better, by "streamlining" the askers' reflection on the text characteristics.



I'd say adding these fields would help people who already ask good questions as well as people who are still learning. I don't think anybody resents newcomers to the profession who make mistakes in the beginning and then become better and better as they learn from colleagues here at ProZ.

As far as "streamlining" though, we are already faced with 10 fields to consider. Adding text type, purpose, register and target audience, if not done judiciously, will overwhelm many askers.
Current list of fields (I can't find the "dialect" field any more.

1. source and target languages
2. broad field
3. specific field
4. write-in field
5. term or phrase
6. explanation
As much explanation as possible should be entered for the term. Consider including: type
of document/situation, country and dialect, URLs,
translations you are considering, etc.
7. level
8. language preferred for answers
9. special options
10. private vs. public question with criteria

My question: what would be the best way to incorporate new fields without making asking a question an overwhelming task? Many askers already ignore the "broad field" and choose "other", choose the wrong language pair, select "not for points" because they don't know what the points are all about, etc.
Possible solution: add a link to an article discussing the features of a good KudoZ question.



[Edited at 2005-12-13 01:46]


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gad
United States
Local time: 03:10
Member
French to English
I agree, optional Dec 13, 2005

Jabberwock wrote:

I just thought that adding these fields would help those who ask good questions by making the questions even better, by "streamlining" the askers' reflection on the text characteristics.


Good idea, good suggestion. And I agree to keep these things optional. Thanks.


[Edited at 2005-12-13 03:08]


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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:10
French to English
Consistency? Dec 13, 2005

Jabberwock wrote:

If such questions annoy you, all you have to do is skip them. Answering KudoZ questions is not obligatory.

I'll repeat: if the asker does not provide enough context, he or she is only diminishing the chances of receiving the correct answer. If the askers do not feel that the question is "right", they do not answer that question. It is that simple.



Very true. And I don't (answer them).
But:
a) I've wasted my time opening a question which is perhaps almost impossible to answer
b) such questions clog up the kudoz list, creating "noise" which can obscure "proper" questions.

But I'm not sure you're being consistent. Why is it that your suggested improvement of optional fields of target audience and so on would be any better than my suggestion when it comes to extra context?

Either we accept that incomplete questions are going to be posted, we tut, skip them, and go do something else, OR we attempt to do something about it.

If you were happy with things as they are, you wouldn't have made your suggestion, and I could simply say to you what you said to me - if you're not happy (not knowing the target audience, for instance), then ignore the question.

But clearly we both feel there is room for improvement in terms of quality of questions, it's just a question of approach. You think adding more optional fields is the way forward, whereas I think there are enough fields already, and that perhaps forcing people to explain what they want (since they seem reluctant to volunteer the information) is the way to improving the situation.

But given the choice between doing it your way or doing nothing, I'd do it your way - I just think there are other possibilities to consider


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Jabberwock  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 09:10
Member (2004)
English to Polish
TOPIC STARTER
See above... Dec 13, 2005

Charlie Bavington wrote:

But I'm not sure you're being consistent. Why is it that your suggested improvement of optional fields of target audience and so on would be any better than my suggestion when it comes to extra context?



The difference is that you want to impose obligatory requirement for those who do not ask proper questions, so that they obey the rules. The problem is, you cannot force them to ask "proper" questions, every system, not matter how restrictive, can be circumvented. That will simply not work, and only make life harder for all the rest.

My suggestion is for those who already know how to ask a question, by providing clearer criteria of text analysis. The "dialect" field is a good example: it gives a clear choice of contextual information, which before might be provided, but the asker simply did not think about it in those terms. However, forcing the dialect selection (or any other context information) makes no sense at all, as I quite rarely have that information and it is quite often irrelevant.

As for the number of fields, the concern is quite valid. I have not thought about it, but the number of fields might in fact be a little bit overwhelming. Maybe it work as another subsection opened for those askers who would care to provide that information? It might also be provided after the question is asked (after clarification request, but not necessarily).


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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:10
French to English
Our suggestions are not mutually exclusive Dec 13, 2005

Jabberwock wrote:

The problem is, you cannot force them to ask "proper" questions, every system, not matter how restrictive, can be circumvented. That will simply not work, and only make life harder for all the rest.



True, people can circumvent anything. I had visions of people cutting and pasting "no context" one hundred times until 400 characters were filled But then, who would answer such a question? The "proper" questions easily fill 400 or so characters of description, and so wouldn't be affected.

I just think that circumventing such a restriction would take just as much effort as copying and pasting a decent amount of context in the first place, even if it's just the paragraph before and after the phrase causing the problem - that's usually all we need

(And yes, I still know I can refuse to answer, and I still say that such questions clutter up the kudoz list:-))

Anyway, ultimately I see no conflict between your suggestion and mine. We could have both.

[Later: wow, smiley frenzy - just trying to emphasise that I'm approaching this in a friendly spirit.]

[Edited at 2005-12-13 18:57]


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