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misuse of "Ask asker" function
Thread poster: Heike Behl, Ph.D.

Heike Behl, Ph.D.  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:23
Member (2003)
English to German
+ ...
Jun 12, 2007

Is it just me or has there recently really been an increase in cases where completely legitimate answers are posted in the "Ask asker" field instead of being submitted as proper answers? (My observations are in German English only!)

In some cases, it even seems that other translators don't "dare" to put their suggestions in the answer box, maybe in order not to appear as a point-grabber or simply out of respect, when the answer supplied in the "Ask asker" field is obviously a good candidate for the points. The result: A bunch of good answers in a messy heap in the wrong field, the asker left with the dilemma how to award points for useful help and no opportunity to comment directly on a specific answer.

Sometimes, people using the "Ask asker" field apparently do so because they are uncertain of their answer, are just guessing or providing only more information on the meaning of the original term. But isn't that why we have the confidence level? What's wrong with adding just additional information in the answer field that might enable the asker to find the answer on their own?

Obviously, there is a gray zone, and sometimes good suggestions develop from the request for more context and the ensuing dialog in this field. But I think this misuse is rather hindrance than help. And after all, it's called "Ask asker" and not "Comments" or "Suggestions"...

[Edited at 2007-06-12 02:42]


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Noni Gilbert
Spain
Local time: 17:23
Member (2007)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Comments/suggestions box Jun 12, 2007

I see Heike's point completely, and it's not just in German-English! Furthermore, I am often guilty of putting comments rather than questions into the ask asker box. And I think she's also found a possible solution, which is to offer us a separate place to put our suggestions/pointers/useful links etc. How often do you abandon an attempt because you haven't arrived at a useful answer and are in a hurry to go off and do something else? You've often found plenty of useful material, which would inform the asker, and this is wasted if you've nowhere to put it because it isn't a complete answer.

[Edited at 2007-06-12 08:10]


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Steffen Walter  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 17:23
Member (2002)
English to German
+ ...
Contact moderator of language pair concerned Jun 12, 2007

I agree with you that there seems to be a certain trend to use the "Ask the asker" field excessively (and inappropriately) to post actual answers. I've observed the same thing in French>German, for example.

That being said, it would have been better to get in touch with one of the moderators of German>English KudoZ to rectify this situation.

Steffen


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PAS  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:23
English to Polish
+ ...
Answers and suggestions Jun 12, 2007

I would turn this around and say that perhaps the description "Ask Asker" is a touch unfortunate...
In the PL-EN pair this also happens, but I see this (I am speaking for myself here) as trying to avoid "fishing for KudoZ" - let's write down some answer, give it a confidence of 1 or 2 (I remember a thread on this as well) and maybe we'll get the points.

When I do it, I think thus: I want to help the asker, but I don't really know the answer to the question, so I don't want to submit a legitimate answer, but if I share my line of thinking then maybe this will unlock something in the asker's head and help him find the right answer.

Admittedly, this happens mostly in "soft" questions for movie lines or books. I don't recall seeing this in purely "technical" questions.

Best,
Pawel Skalinski


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Steffen Walter  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 17:23
Member (2002)
English to German
+ ...
Legitimacy of answers Jun 12, 2007

PAS wrote:
I would turn this around and say that perhaps the description "Ask Asker" is a touch unfortunate...


I might agree but once you click on the feature, it says:
"Need more info? Post a note for the asker (up to 255 char):"
Sufficiently clear, I'd say.

When I do it, I think thus: I want to help the asker, but I don't really know the answer to the question, so I don't want to submit a legitimate answer, but if I share my line of thinking then maybe this will unlock something in the asker's head and help him find the right answer.


Even educated-guess answers (or hints) are perfectly legitimate as long as you are open about that and declare up-front that you're guessing (and use a correspondingly low confidence level). So I'd like to encourage you (and everybody else using KudoZ) to post an actual answer instead of cluttering up the "Ask the Asker" space, even if you've only got a "suspicion" as to what the target term might be. After all, this might steer the asker in the right direction in terms of research...

Steffen


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PAS  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:23
English to Polish
+ ...
Hints and guesses Jun 12, 2007

@Steffen:

Yes - if I have a fair idea of an answer.
But sometimes it's just a thought that I expand on just a little, but it's nothing that I would (or could) put in as a specific answer. Also, answers such as "see below" are not permitted, so that's out of the question.

P.A.S.

[Edited at 2007-06-12 13:22]


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Heike Behl, Ph.D.  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:23
Member (2003)
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Answers don't have to be perfect Jun 12, 2007

PAS wrote:

@Steffen:

Yes - if I have a fair idea of an answer.
But sometimes it's just a thought that I expand on just a little, but it's nothing that I would (or could) put in as a specific answer. Also, answers such as "see below" are not permitted, so that's out of the question.


I know many cases where helpful colleagues have supplied nothing more but background info, suggestions where to look, or other kind of info in the answer field that proved to be the decisive aspect in finding a solution.

As for the "see below" not being permitted... This is a specific "formula" that was made inacceptable because it has no informative value whatsoever. You still can write "suggestion" or "more info" etc. in that field.

PAS wrote:
I see this (I am speaking for myself here) as trying to avoid "fishing for KudoZ" - let's write down some answer, give it a confidence of 1 or 2 (I remember a thread on this as well) and maybe we'll get the points.


If somebody doesn't want to look like they're putting in a wild guess just for points, a low level of confidence will do enough. A low level of confidence sends the right message: I'm really not sure about this, I'm guessing, but I think it might be helpful nevertheless.
Somebody fishing for points would probably give it a high confidence level. Also, often colleagues supply "not for points" info.


aceavila - Noni wrote:
And I think she's also found a possible solution, which is to offer us a separate place to put our suggestions/pointers/useful links etc. How often do you abandon an attempt because you haven't arrived at a useful answer and are in a hurry to go off and do something else? You've often found plenty of useful material, which would inform the asker, and this is wasted if you've nowhere to put it because it isn't a complete answer.


There you misunderstood me. I don't think we need another field as I don't see any reason why the official answer field would not do in those cases. The answer field is there to provide help for the asker. What's wrong with adding: Sorry, I ran out of time. Maybe what I found so far will help?

The situations described here so far are IMO perfectly legitimate as answers and do not fall into the "Ask asker" category.






[Edited at 2007-06-12 15:12]


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xxxNMR
France
Local time: 17:23
French to Dutch
+ ...
Some remarks Jun 13, 2007

Firstly, what's in a name. I like the Ask asker function because the discussion is in a chronological, logical order.

And secondly, you missed a point, because the new game is: how to help others without having points. The Ask asker function is one solution, the other is to let other people answer and to give an agree or a neutral with a link or the right answer.


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xxxSaifa
Local time: 17:23
German to French
+ ...
Agree with NMR Jun 13, 2007

Hello Heike,

I think some of us are not willing to answer putting a low level of confidence, as they may have been subject to critic ("Why do you dare to reply if you are not even sure of what you are saying?").

Alsol, I am sure NMR is absolutely right here:

NMR wrote:

because the new game is: how to help others without having points. The Ask asker function is one solution, the other is to let other people answer and to give an agree or a neutral with a link or the right answer.


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Steffen Walter  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 17:23
Member (2002)
English to German
+ ...
Why avoid posting answers? Jun 13, 2007

NMR wrote:
And secondly, you missed a point, because the new game is: how to help others without having points. The Ask asker function is one solution, the other is to let other people answer and to give an agree or a neutral with a link or the right answer.


Isn't that a bit of a childish attitude? Why not post an actual answer straight away then? What is the reason for "hiding yourself" in the "Ask asker" space, cluttering it up/misusing it for no apparent reason?

To be frank, I can't believe that you're following this approach just to avoid getting points. In my opinion, your approach is highly counter-productive, not least because questions are not closed properly anymore as a result (which also includes the avoidance of glossary entries).

Steffen


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Enrique Cavalitto
Local time: 13:23
SITE STAFF
Commentary on askers or answerers Jun 13, 2007

Saifa wrote:

I think some of us are not willing to answer putting a low level of confidence, as they may have been subject to critic ("Why do you dare to reply if you are not even sure of what you are saying?").



Hi Saifa!

Such a comment would be a violation of rule http://www.proz.com/siterules/kudoz_answ/3.7#3.7

If this happens to you, just refer the issue to a moderator.

Kind regards,
Enrique


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xxxNMR
France
Local time: 17:23
French to Dutch
+ ...
Counter-productive? Jun 13, 2007

Childish, maybe. But I don't see why helping someone could be counterproductive. I don't have much time but sometimes I have an idea. If nobody answered for, say, two or three hours, I put my answer straight away. And get immediately agrees or criticism, within 30 seconds. But why should I always take initiatives? Let others play too, and have points. Maybe they need them more than I do.

As for glossary entries, I never did that. If someone wants to enter a term in a glossary, it's up to him. From the moment we have a good search function, glossaries are unnecessary and overregulated answer systems seem a bit ridiculous.


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 17:23
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Correct me if I am wrong Jun 13, 2007

-- but I think the rule about not using 'see below' etc. applies more to questions than to answers.

Of course it is best if you give a neat, usable answer straight away, but the whole point of KudoZ is that this is not always possible. I sometimes put my suggestion with a question mark, as well as a low level of confidence.

(I do this when I am busy, and have a gut feeling or guess that might be helpful, but I don't have time to check. Occasionally I have to go back and hide the answer later... but usually I leave it.)

So when the asker selects an answer, he/she should edit the suggestion to suit the glossary.

When I have asked a question, I sometimes combine suggestions in the glossary entry if I have received more than one good answer. Others may find them useful if they find the term in a slightly different context or if they are searching in both directions later.

We're all human and hardly ever 100% certain, but one great thing about this site is that by sharing what each of us knows, everyone benefits. Even if we make mistakes, they can serve as a warning to others who are willing to learn from them.

If there are several answers, I often look at the low conficence levels first! The quality of the answers is sometimes conversely related to the levels of confidence

What annoys me is when the person who deserves the points has answered in an 'ask the asker' or an agree...

Don't hide your light under someone else's bushel !



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Craig Meulen  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 16:23
German to English
+ ...
Place for discussion? Jun 19, 2007

One of the reasons why the "ask askers" section gets 'mis'used is the following:

If I want to comment on or further develop a point made by an answerer (who entered a 'real' answer), I only have 255 characters to do this by entering an 'agree' or 'neutral'. At first that might be enough, but if the answerer responds, and I edit my comment to respond to her, ...., it then starts to get a little difficult to follow.

The chronological, multi-user sequence in the 'ask asker' section is thus a better place to put anything that I think might develop beyond a straightforward comment.


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Heike Behl, Ph.D.  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:23
Member (2003)
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
discussion is not the same as providing an answer Jun 19, 2007

Craig Meulen wrote:

One of the reasons why the "ask askers" section gets 'mis'used is the following:

If I want to comment on or further develop a point made by an answerer (who entered a 'real' answer), I only have 255 characters to do this by entering an 'agree' or 'neutral'. At first that might be enough, but if the answerer responds, and I edit my comment to respond to her, ...., it then starts to get a little difficult to follow.

The chronological, multi-user sequence in the 'ask asker' section is thus a better place to put anything that I think might develop beyond a straightforward comment.


As I mentioned before, sometimes some good ideas can develop during a discussion in the "Ask asker" box. My concern is when people submit answers directly (ie. that don't evolve from a discussion) in this box. And IMO, any kind of answer should be submitted in the proper answer box, even if it has been first suggested following a discussion in the "Ask asker" box, so that

- people have an opportunity to agree/disagree with it,
- the asker can award points properly, and - maybe the most important point -
- somebody looking up this question at a later point in time doesn't have to wade through a lengthy, unstructured discussion, but can get the most useful information glancing quickly over the provided answers and how they were received by the peers.


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