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More context please vs. NDAs
Thread poster: NancyLynn

NancyLynn
Canada
Local time: 09:30
Member (2002)
French to English
+ ...

MODERATOR
Dec 12, 2005

Good morning everyone,

There have been several threads on the issue of askers not providing enough context.

Jabberwock has started a new thread - see http://www.proz.com/topic/40147 - suggesting technical improvements to the site to encourage greater context for KudoZ questions.

I agree.

However, and this is not to be taken lightly, more context gives clues as to what the translator is working on.

I often use ABC Inc. instead of a company name in order to protect confidentiality.

Yet there is often a wise-aleck who decides that since s/he recognises the origin of the document, s/he has the right to announce it publicly, to all and sundry. "As you can see, Nancy is working on a project for XXX, and in fact if you go to xxx.com you'll see the website she is currently working on".

Please refrain from doing this. Those who do it think that it shows off their expertise, that their answers will be chosen on the strength of said expertise, but it only shows that they haven't learned one of the golden rules of our profession: Discretion is the better part of valour.

Phew! Glad to get that off my chest.

Nancy

[Edited at 2005-12-13 01:15]


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Sara Freitas
France
Local time: 15:30
French to English
Hear, hear! Dec 12, 2005

Nancy,

Not only have I cringed to see well-intentioned askers post what looks like pretty confidential information in the name of providing context (not only names of companies, but names of individuals as well) but I have also noticed what you just described on a couple of occasions.

Discretion, discretion, discretion!

Thanks for getting that off my chest, too!

Sara


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Ricki Farn
Germany
Local time: 15:30
Member (2005)
English to German
Careful with context Dec 12, 2005

If your context is such that by simply entering it on Google one answerer can find out what you are doing, then anybody can. So even if that asker does not divulge his or her findings, they are on principle in the public domain. Perhaps replacing the company name by XXX is not enough - sometimes the asker may have to rewrite the complete context sentence or refer to a web site that contains a similar context/content but is not what they are working on...

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Mikhail Kropotov  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 17:30
Member (2005)
English to Russian
+ ...
Asking and answering Dec 12, 2005

Asking for more context is simply a request meant to help the answerers help the asker. The asker is the one responsible for keeping things discrete.

That said, you are right about discretion.


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NancyLynn
Canada
Local time: 09:30
Member (2002)
French to English
+ ...

MODERATOR
TOPIC STARTER
How do you do that? Dec 12, 2005

Mikhail Kropotov wrote:
The asker is the one responsible for keeping things discrete.

That said, you are right about discretion.


This is what I'm trying to do now.

How do you ensure someone else is discreet? When you do all you can to maintain confidentiality whilst providing enough context for answerers to do their job, and someone else decides to blow the lid off?

True, Ricki, if it's recognisable by someone, it may be recognisable by many - but must we therefore blab everything we know just because we recognise it?

Nancy


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Mikhail Kropotov  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 17:30
Member (2005)
English to Russian
+ ...
Question to Nancy Dec 12, 2005

Dear Nancy,

Are you pleading to askers or answerers?

Certainly, those who ask for more context are not out to blow the asker's cover.

Mikhail


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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:30
French to English
Confidentiality is not the same as discretion Dec 12, 2005

If, by entering a string that you have provided into a search engine, I find the exact text that you are translating, why is it wrong to say so? The text is clearly in the public domain - as long you haven't disclosed it, and neither have I - where is the problem?

I can see other side issues, for sure, e.g. that the author of your text may have "stolen" the text and be passing it off as their own. It would certainly be crass in the extreme for me to announce that you must be working for Agency ABC because I happen to know that ABC is used by company XYZ on whose website I found the text.

But surely the NDAs we all sign and comply with only apply to information that is not in the public domain? How can one "disclose" something that is already freely available? I'm not trying to be difficult, and if a good reason is given, I'll happily change my point of view, but as things stand, I just don't see the problem.


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Oliver Walter  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:30
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
Bad manners, not worse Dec 13, 2005

Charlie Bavington wrote:

If, by entering a string that you have provided into a search engine, I find the exact text that you are translating, why is it wrong to say so? The text is clearly in the public domain - as long you haven't disclosed it, and neither have I - where is the problem?

I suppose the fact that this translator is working on it may need to be kept confidential. But in that case the translator can't post the question in the first place because when s/he does, the search engine can find the source.
Can an NDA (non-disclosure agreement) legitimately relate to text that is on a publicly accessible web site?
I conclude that when the asker renames the company to XXX etc., it is tactless (but no worse) for somebody else to reveal the (publicly available) source: without this bad manners the other translators will, in most cases, not know which company it is because they won't search the Web for the text.
Oliver


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Claudia Iglesias  Identity Verified
Chile
Local time: 11:30
Member (2002)
Spanish to French
+ ...
Agree: bad manners Dec 13, 2005

Trying to understand why I dislike that too (it also happened to me that somebody told me "I know the text you're translating...), I just had an image. It's like in my garden I have my underwear drying and in the next neighbour meeting one of my neighbours describes in public my underwear.
Sure, all the neighbours might know that, as everybody can have a look into the garden (public domain) but do they have to say it?

Claudia


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gad
United States
Local time: 09:30
Member
French to English
Thank you! Dec 13, 2005

NancyLynn wrote:

Discretion is the better part of valour.



I agree, and thank you for posting this! I've seen people post company names, and I just can't believe that they have no respect for confidentiality. The client there didn't ASK for the company name to be posted publicly on this site, so I should think that one would automatically err on the side of caution.

Like you, NancyLynn, I'll use someting generic in the place of the company name, or in the place of anything that could be considered proprietary.

Excellent, excellent post! Thank you!


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gad
United States
Local time: 09:30
Member
French to English
Another excellent point Dec 13, 2005

Ricki Farn wrote:

If your context is such that by simply entering it on Google one answerer can find out what you are doing, then anybody can. So even if that asker does not divulge his or her findings, they are on principle in the public domain. Perhaps replacing the company name by XXX is not enough - sometimes the asker may have to rewrite the complete context sentence or refer to a web site that contains a similar context/content but is not what they are working on...


Exactly!

[ETA]: Let me add to that. Suppose an Asker posts a question, and then someone comes along crying "more context!", and then proceeds to insist that the Asker post the country, industry, etc, etc...there are times when it is not advisable to provide all that information, for instance if the Asker's text is from a company that is one of the only companies (or THE only company) in that country that produces that type of product / provides that type of service.

[Edited at 2005-12-13 02:50]

[Edited at 2005-12-13 02:50]


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xxxtazdog
Spain
Local time: 15:30
Spanish to English
+ ...
post a similar text Dec 13, 2005

Apart from always changing any identifying personal or company names to XXX, I often post another text (found on the Internet) that uses the problematic term in the same way, rather than my own text. Actually, sometimes I do this precisely BECAUSE my own text provides so little relevant context unless I post a big chunk of it. I've found it a good solution, because I get more specific help without spilling any beans.

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gad
United States
Local time: 09:30
Member
French to English
Excellent approach, Cindy Dec 13, 2005

Cindy Chadd wrote:

Apart from always changing any identifying personal or company names to XXX, I often post another text (found on the Internet) that uses the problematic term in the same way, rather than my own text. Actually, sometimes I do this precisely BECAUSE my own text provides so little relevant context unless I post a big chunk of it. I've found it a good solution, because I get more specific help without spilling any beans.


Thank you for posting this.


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moken  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:30
English to Spanish
+ ...
Confessions of a smart aleck Dec 13, 2005

NancyLynn wrote:

Good morning everyone,

There have been several threads on the issue of askers not providing enough context.

Yet there is often a wise-aleck who decides that since s/he recognises the origin of the document, s/he has the right to announce it publicly, to all and sundry. "As you can see, Nancy is working on a project for XXX, and in fact if you go to xxx.com you'll see the website she is currently working on".

Please refrain from doing this. Those who do it think that it shows off their expertise, that their answers will be chosen on the strength of said expertise, but it only shows that they haven't learned one of the golden rules of our profession: Discretion is the better part of valour.



Hi Nancy,

I confess: I do believe I have done this before (ok, not as a habit and maybe only a couple of times in three or so years) and had never really stopped to reflect upon it. To add insult to injury, I also admit that, when providing context, I normally edit bits of my text so that chunks of it cannot be recognised by search engines and preserve confidentiality.

Unfortunately, to my own shame, I had never been bright enough to put two and two together.

So thanks for your post - and my most sincere apologies to whoever I did it to way-back-when - I for one certainly won't be doing it again!

Yours shamefully,

Álvaro ))


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Vito Smolej
Germany
Local time: 15:30
Member (2004)
English to Slovenian
+ ...
"Please refrain from doing this." Dec 17, 2005

Huh?! you mean it happened?

I want to have the perpetrator's name, SIN, OHIP number, PINs, TANs published right here NOW;)

smo.


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