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Confession of a KudoZ limits supporter
Thread poster: Nikki Graham

Nikki Graham  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:33
Partial member (2003)
Spanish to English
Aug 1, 2006

In recent threads, people like myself (apparently 22% of the community) have been called “negative commentators” who from an “all-knowing” “elevated vantage point” “vent their spite” (classic one, Mats) on others who are “not as professional and knowledgeable” as us and ask too many or too simple questions. We “mean-spirited” “touchy answerers” have been told that “nobody is obliged to help” and that we should just filter out anything we don’t like with the dashboard. In other words, “live and let live” and let others get on with it.

But there also seems to be genuine bewilderment as to why we could possibly not be satisfied with the current situation, given all the recent KudoZ improvements, so I thought I would try to explain here. And the answer is really very simple and can be summed up in just one word: quality.

KudoZ is a great idea. The glossary resulting from KudoZ is a great idea too. Easy to use, easy to understand. But full of ****. The reason for this is very simple. There are people who ask questions without looking things up anywhere else, without Googling, without having any idea of what they are translating, etc., etc. These people are often the same ones who post endless strings of questions. So the glossary is either full of dictionary answers (which one assumes someone with a dictionary is not looking for) or the wrong answers. When people close questions in double-quick time before others have had a chance to add their ideas, the resulting glossary entry can often be useless. As a daily glossary user, I have often been excited to see that someone has asked for the translation of the very term I need, only to open it up and realise with great disappointment that the answer has been supplied by a point grabber and chosen by Ms Clueless. So I do the research myself and sometimes even add my conclusion to one of my own Proz glossaries.

It has been suggested by those who do not support limits that more questions will improve the glossary, the more the merrier approach. To help me with this one, I would like to quote what Gillian Scheibelein said in the recent thread on the poll question regarding limits (I cannot post this there as it would be against rule something or other).

I've always believed that it is not the quality of questions answered that reflects a translator's skills, but the quality of the questions asked because this is where we inevitably reveal the gaps in our knowledge and understanding.

After 25 years of translation, my dictionaries are well-filled and my googling skills are honed so I need less help. I realise that beginners will need to post more questions than old hands, but I think quite a large proportion of the questions could be reduced by simple googling. After all, this will also turn up related texts and reference materials as well. Nevertheless, 45 questions/week is a very high limit and should be sufficient for anyone who has not taken on a translation that is over their heads. Just imagine if 100 or so actually went for this limit in a particular language pair (notably the major languages), the quality of the answers would suffer as no-one would have time to take a look at them all, not even the point grabbers. And with so many up for grabs, KudoZ points would become meaningless; the total would reflect the time spent researching for others rather than actually working.


I already filter out the questions of just over 80 askers, but filtering is not the solution to this problem. Just because some people don’t see these questions, doesn’t mean they are not there and not lowering the standards in KudoZ as a whole (after all, every question comes up in the glossary search process, filtered or not, and the more rubbish there is, the more difficult it is to find the gem). I think that the harm this does is that it damages the reputation of Proz.com as a professional site for translators and it renders vast chunks of the glossary worthless.

We KudoZ limits supporters actually want things to improve for everyone’s sake. We make our suggestions not to be horrible to newbies and beginners, but in an attempt to ensure that Proz.com remains a site for professionals, a place we can not only be proud of, but which we will also want to continue to support with our time, effort and money. Frankly, from what I have seen recently, limiting questions is not the solution. It is Proz.com’s philosophy that needs addressing, which seems to welcome all and sundry with open arms and invite them to remedy any shortcomings they have as a translator, or any lack of native knowledge of the language they are translating into, by asking numerous questions. It is hardly surprising given these circumstances that many people have stopped asking and answering questions here (having been around for nearly 5 years, there are loads of “faces” I don’t see any more) and have gone elsewhere. All we KudoZ limits supporters are trying to do is reverse the trend.


[Edited at 2006-08-01 10:04]


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Kirill Semenov  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 08:33
Member (2004)
English to Russian
+ ...
+1 Aug 1, 2006

I'm with you, Nikki

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xxxIreneN
United States
Local time: 00:33
English to Russian
+ ...
Guys, one more time Aug 1, 2006

I'm with you too, but picture it:

You keep demanding steaks in a cheese store

Proz "operating system" is not cut for it and can not be, period. This is NOT a professional association, NOT a certifying authority, NOT a restricted membership (based on tests/quals), not this, not that.

This is a business enterprise (boy, how many times have I said that!) and its very existence rests upon numbers. NOT for 1 minute does its livelihood depend on quality.

So "live and let live" naturally turns into "stay or go". We have it as is or we shall not have it at all.

Irene

[Edited at 2006-08-01 10:30]


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Kirill Semenov  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 08:33
Member (2004)
English to Russian
+ ...
But they may find better ways Aug 1, 2006

IreneN wrote:
This is a business enterprise (boy, how many times have I said that!) and its very existence rests upon numbers. NOT for 1 minute does its livelihood depend on quality.


But, Irene, there are better ways to organize it as a business enterprise. For example, binding the numbers of questions & answers will lead to ProZians be more active, meaning more income. Moreover, they may start charging for asking questions beyond the allowed limits, etc. It's an ocean of new business opportunities, but I don't see ProZ owners using it, so I don't really think it's all about money only.

[Edited at 2006-08-01 10:32]


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xxxIreneN
United States
Local time: 00:33
English to Russian
+ ...
Kirill Aug 1, 2006

Kirill Semenov wrote:

1. charging for asking questions ... an ocean of new business opportunities

2. it's all about money only.

[Edited at 2006-08-01 10:32]


1. Mutually exclusive:-)

2. It is, everything else is incidental. No shame in it, private hospitals are businesses but incidentally they save lives:-)

Love is still there:-)

It's early morning, I'm at work, as usual...
Irene



[Edited at 2006-08-01 10:52]


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Russell Jones  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:33
Member (2004)
Italian to English
Well said Irene Aug 1, 2006

The quality of the glossary presumably varies between language pairs. From my own perspective, however, I am increasingly using it as a first port of call.
Agreed some of the questions asked are evidence of inadequate research skills (or laziness); agreed some of the answers selected are ridiculous; the value lies in the variety of answers proffered.
Even for some of the most obvious terms, the suggestions given are often far removed from any dictionary entry but do represent how a word is actually being employed in current usage.
I agree that if the section becomes swamped with questions it will deter potential answerers but, in my pair at least, we are a very long way from that.


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Victor Dewsbery  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 07:33
German to English
+ ...
KudoZ discussion (better than glossaries) Aug 1, 2006

Nikki Graham wrote:
As a daily glossary user, I have often been excited to see that someone has asked for the translation of the very term I need, only to open it up and realise with great disappointment that the answer has been supplied by a point grabber and chosen by Ms Clueless.


I agree that the answers chosen in KudoZ are often not the best answers (at least for the context I am working on), and sometimes they are just dictionary entries or even downright wrong.
When I do a "ProZ.com term search", I always prefer it if there are a number of KudoZ entries (rather than a simple glossary entry), because in many cases this gives a greater breadth of opinion and experience, and sometimes some useful web references.
And like you, I sometimes find I have to do my own research and disregard any glossary entries. The same applies to many entries in bilingual dictionaries, too - they are simply suggestions by colleagues, and I need to be critical and sceptical about what equivalents I use. In fact, we would be less competent translators if we did not have a suspicious mind.

As far as I can see, this is a separate issue from the "KudoZ limits" discussion. I don't feel that any imposition of rules will in itself enhance the quality of the entries.


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Nikki Graham  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:33
Partial member (2003)
Spanish to English
TOPIC STARTER
What else could help quality of entries... Aug 1, 2006

Victor Dewsbery wrote:

As far as I can see, this is a separate issue from the "KudoZ limits" discussion. I don't feel that any imposition of rules will in itself enhance the quality of the entries.


Ensuring that all questions are open for 24 hours would help as there would be (in theory) more answers and the asker might realise that first in is not necessarily correct. But you are right, this is a separate issue (there are so many in KudoZ)


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Fernando Toledo  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 07:33
Member (2005)
German to Spanish
Yes, 100% agree and I propose Aug 1, 2006

A new Kudoz menu item, something like Kudoz Clinic

Wen someone find a bad entry in Kudoz, could propose it for voting, the same way as for answering but now for deleting. Where 2 agrees could makes the robot delete it automatically.

Regards


Fernando


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Steffen Walter  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 07:33
Member (2002)
English to German
+ ...
Glossary care and maintenance Aug 1, 2006

Victor Dewsbery wrote:
As far as I can see, this is a separate issue from the "KudoZ limits" discussion. I don't feel that any imposition of rules will in itself enhance the quality of the entries.


... which gets us (once again) to the issue of what I would call "glossary care and maintenance" - my apologies for straying a bit off topic here. The larger the KudoZ open glossary becomes (it has been growing steadily during the past SEVEN years!), the greater the need for dedicated teams - to be organised along language pairs IMO - to go through the countless incorrect entries and rectify them, even if this means to remedy the damage "after the fact", i.e. after the KudoZ activities that led to wrong choices or mistakes. To begin with, this would include the correction of obvious spelling errors, the removal of unnecessary capitalisations, the adequate (re)classification of questions ... but this should go on to also take care of gross mishaps, blatantly inappropriate choices etc., following thorough discussions among team members (consulting other ProZ.com members/users on a case-by-case basis).

I am fully aware of the fact that this would involve a huge concerted effort of staff and members alike. So why not define "THE BIG GLOSSARY CLEAN-UP" as one of the medium-term ProZ.com objectives, and dedicate the necessary resources to it?

Just thinking aloud,

Steffen

[Edited at 2006-08-01 11:20]


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Nikki Graham  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:33
Partial member (2003)
Spanish to English
TOPIC STARTER
Glossary clean-up Aug 1, 2006

Steffen Walter wrote:

I am fully aware of the fact that this would involve a huge concerted effort of staff and members alike. So why not define "THE BIG GLOSSARY CLEAN-UP" as one of the medium-term ProZ.com objectives, and dedicate the necessary resources to it?


I think this is a very good idea, as long as clean-up after the event is not used as an excuse to allow current drivel to continue.


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xxxIanW
Local time: 07:33
German to English
+ ...
With Victor Aug 1, 2006

[quote]Victor Dewsbery wrote:


When I do a "ProZ.com term search", I always prefer it if there are a number of KudoZ entries (rather than a simple glossary entry), because in many cases this gives a greater breadth of opinion and experience, and sometimes some useful web references.


I for one never use the glossary, but always look up the KudoZ discussion in question. Even if the glossary was generally perceived as being reliable - which it clearly isn't - I'd never want to take it at face value.

Great posting, Nikki.


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Levan Namoradze  Identity Verified
Georgia
Local time: 10:33
Member (2005)
English to Georgian
+ ...
On my mind... Aug 1, 2006

Nikki Graham wrote:

What else could help quality of entries...

Ensuring that all questions are open for 24 hours would help as there would be (in theory) more answers and the asker might realise that first in is not necessarily correct. But you are right, this is a separate issue (there are so many in KudoZ)


On my mind, in 'my' Russian-English and Georgian-English pairs, the things you said Nikki, are fully depended on good will of Prozians. Again on my mind, that does not constitute the key problem in those two pairs. I think the most of Russian and Georgian Prozians have already realized that problem and are trying to avoid the most of useless/improper/incorrect entries.


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Andy Watkinson
Spain
Local time: 07:33
Member
Catalan to English
+ ...
3 years ago Aug 1, 2006

Hi Nikki.

Someone might remember this post from 3 years ago.

"Helping \"glossary-cleaners\" Autor de la hebra: Andy Watkinson

Andy Watkinson Mar 4, 2003


In order to ease the workload on the people who are working on and improving the glossaries, would it not be possible to include each day a list of links to a series of questions (5? 10?....nº to be decided) taken from the glossary to be re-assessed by everyone? A section could be included on the KudoZ page itself perhaps, or the main page, wherever....


(NB. if any of this is actually possible...I know virtually nothing about the details of how websites are set up and maintained and the work involved, and can already sense an icy shudder running through whoever would be responsible for any of this)

One need would be to decide which items are posted for review. So as not to trail through the entire glossary itself, items reviewed could be limited by gathering them from different sources and “marking them”:

a) Members who, perhaps from glancing over their past answers / questions (for whatever reason), would often spot ones they remember disagreeing with: there could be some kind of checkbox to “mark” entries for review.

I don’t mean people wading wearily through everything; if each person only supplied one item now and again that would be more than enough.

b) KudoZ answers which members see going into the glossary at the time the “crime” is being committed could immediately “mark” it as pending review (in a relatively short time I’ve seen more than one answer being chosen when even the answerer themselves had said they were mistaken –No apologies for using the plural). I know a system like this obviously creates the danger of unhappy answerers objecting as a matter of course...– one possibility, of course, would be to bar any of the original answerers from “marking” anything– why not leave it to impartial bystanders who have nothing to gain from choosing one option or another)?

c) Members, or other askers, who use the glossary before asking others for help, who come across suspect entries. (suspect, or plainly absurd)

d) i) Other ways could include those answers awarded just one or two points - perhaps indicating an answer which wasn’t 100% convincing (??).

ii) Those having one or more “disagrees” – I know that neither this nor the previous “filter” is anything like a reliable method, as some perfectly respectable answers are occasionally lumbered with one or more disagrees or two or fewer points.... but it does at least increase the likelihood of the answer being questionable.

iii) Those answers chosen automatically.

iv) Anything else anybody can think of.


A second need would be how to decide which answer(s) stand and which are rejected.

Members would simply vote for their choice of translation. If one answer is overwhelmingly chosen (percentage to be decided), it would replace the existing term.

There would obviously be no KudoZ or BrownieZ points, gold stars, gift tokens, free Big Macs or similar, so only those genuinely interested in improving the glossary would take part.

Well, that’s probably spoilt someone’s breakfast somewhere.

T’is an idea.

Saludos a todos,

Andy"

Re-visited
Andy


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Daniela Zambrini  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 07:33
Member (2005)
English to Italian
+ ...
Glossary clean-up (2) Aug 1, 2006

Steffen Walter wrote:
To begin with, this would include

the correction of obvious spelling errors,
the removal of unnecessary capitalisations,
the adequate (re)classification of questions


... but this should go on to also take care of
gross mishaps,
blatantly inappropriate choices etc.,




The first part could be taken care of by a team of volunteers (dividing glossary entries according to a specific month/year - though a search function per date might have to be implemented beforehand - and individual working or specialist areas).
This would certainly be an excellent start, because such actions would be based on objective elements.

As for mishaps, inappropriate choices, etc... well, that might be a bit more difficult, so how about starting up with Steffen's first three ideas?
Ooops, I seem to have strayed off topic: should we open a new thread, find some volunteers and get down to business?

Count me in for the KOG spring-cleaning

DZ


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