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Thread poster: Kim Metzger

Kim Metzger  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 00:15
German to English
Aug 12, 2007

We currently rate answerers, and that's a good thing, but I think we should also be able to rate askers.

Currently the focus of KudoZ is on helping the asker rather than on creating a fine glossary for future use by thousands of translators. For this reason, comments made about the asker are prohibited:

3.7 Commentary on askers or answerers, and their postings or decisions to post, is not allowed. Comments or insinuations concerning an answerer's or asker's experience or profile, his/her decision to post a certain question or answer, grade or close a question in a certain way, make a certain glossary entry, etc., are strictly prohibited (whether posted publicly, made directly to the person in question, or made to another site user).

Some moderators enforce this rule to the letter; others are much more flexible. One member's comment while agreeing with an answer was recently hidden by a moderator: "lots of refs on the www-if one actually bothers to look" who cited Violation of KudoZ rule 3.7.

Similar comments are often made in the ask-the-asker box in many language pairs, but again, this is prohibited activity.

I'd like to see a "rate this question box" installed on the KudoZ page below the ask-the-asker box where members can comment on the effort or lack thereof put into asking the question. The quality of answers is directly dependent on the quality of the question. We once had the option of marking questions as "good questions", but I don't know what happened to that feature. This would be a good way to start improving the quality of our KudoZ glossaries. Any thoughts?



[Edited at 2007-08-12 18:05]

[Edited at 2007-08-12 21:09]


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xxxFrancis Lee
Local time: 07:15
German to English
+ ...
I agree in principle, but there are complicated side-issues. Aug 12, 2007

I would certainly welcome any measure that serves to raise the sinking overall quality of Kudoz.

An increasing number of questions just require a decent dictionary or a couple of minutes' research on the Web. Others are admittedly trickier - but the Asker does nobody any favours by a) doing minimal/zero preliminary research b) providing insufficient or no information re. the specific context/readership.

And we often see someone with a series of questions, with each one except the first simply stating "see previous question"!

Kudoz is not "a free dictionary". If you want that then go to LEO - which I never do.

I'm not sure if Kim is simply envisaging an individual question-by-question rating system.

But rating questions AND collating them to provide an "Asker rating" would be great IMO.

Perhaps it could be combined with the points system,
i.e. actual no. of points awarded x Asker rating
(which the latter ranging from e.g. 0 to 2, with 1 being the default/starting value for each Asker)

As an Asker's rating decreases below 1, the "reward" for helping them would be less. This would no doubt lead to fewer colleagues bothering to help them (and their input per question in general would likewise decline). At some point, these Askers would inevitably start to do more of what their own.

I already ignore questions from a variety of IMO "poor" Askers, i.e. those who repeatedly ask questions and provide little (if any) input of their own.

At the same time, I make a special effort to help respected colleagues (Kim being one!) who take their job seriously.

HOWEVER: a tricky aspect that immediately occurs to me. And that's the political dimension. We've all seen cases where colleagues who are given a Disagree then automatically "return the favour", i.e. they give Disagrees to their critic even where they have no grounds.

I fear that this petty and highly unprofessional tit-for-tat behaviour could extend to any "Asker rating" system, i.e. someone who's been on the receiving end of either a) a Disagree or b) a negative question rating could go ahead and give all of their critic's questions a negative rating.

Then adding an extra box requiring people to give a reason for their +/- rating could then make things very complicated for the proz.com technical experts. Plus I also appreciate the view that even a simple question-rating system would be an extra headache for the site team.

But in principle it's a great idea!


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Tina Vonhof  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 23:15
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Depends on wording Aug 12, 2007

I'm not sure that rating the question would really help unless one would still be able to make the very comments that are forbidden in KudoZ rule 3.7. However, a lot depends on wording. In the example you give, the agree would probably not have been hidden if the comment had been "lots of refs on the www." It is the second part of the comment that is questionable. I think the 'agree' itself should not be hidden - that is not fair to the answerer and does not help the asker - but the offending (part of the) comment could be replaced by 'comment deleted'.

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Kim Metzger  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 00:15
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
Forbidden comments Aug 12, 2007

Tina Vonhof wrote:

I'm not sure that rating the question would really help unless one would still be able to make the very comments that are forbidden in KudoZ rule 3.7. However, a lot depends on wording. In the example you give, the agree would probably not have been hidden if the comment had been "lots of refs on the www." It is the second part of the comment that is questionable.


Yes, when askers have a history of being lazy (not checking the KudoZ glossaries, the standard dictionaries, not doing their own research, not providing adequate context, closing their questions after the first answer comes in, entering "see below" or "help with sentence" in the term box, or properly classifying their questions in terms of general and detailed fields, it's sometimes hard to bite your tongue.

In the particular case I mentioned above, the offending member even received a warning message that she will see for two weeks every time she wants to answer a question or provide a peer comment.

Note: The following notice has been entered regarding your use of peer comments: Please respect rule
http://www.proz.com/siterules/kudoz_answ/3.7#3.7

I'm not talking about the newcomer who has to learn about all the bells and whistles and finds KudoZ rather daunting at first, but the long-time offender who has repeatedly wasted everybody's time with questions that can't possibly be translated well enough to deserve an entry in the glossary for future users.

I thought we might avoid comments that may be deemed too personal in nature by providing a list of reasons for assigning points to the question, similar to the list of reasons for squashing questions.

Four points could be awarded to an excellent question, and poor one would get 1 point. Members could select from a list the reason for assigning points: no context, improper classification, failed to use proper glossary form ("see sentence below"), failed to check glossaries or readily available resources, etc.

[Edited at 2007-08-12 20:37]


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xxxmediamatrix
Local time: 01:15
Spanish to English
+ ...
"Rate the question" would be better. Aug 12, 2007

I agree that the current system is lop-sided in favour of the asker, but I'm not sure that what's needed is the possibility of 'grading the asker'. I would prefer to 'grade the way the question is asked'. Interestingly, Kim starts by asking "Rate the asker?" - and ends up suggesting the creation of a "Rate this question" box.

There are a (very limited) number of circumstances in which an asker can quite legitimately find him/her self in difficulties and end up asking a 'dumb' question. It happens all too frequently in the 'Legal/Patents' field, for example, where the specialist patent translator is suddenly faced with a detailed technical specification in an area of technology they know nothing about. Likewise in 'Financial', where there might be unexpected reference to the impact on a company's results of an inquiry into the safety of a drug, and suddenly we have terminology from the pharmaceutical domain rather than pure finance. So, let's not be too hard on askers, and concentrate instead on the way they ask their questions - and what they do when they've got them.

What I find irritating are the following:

- Total lack of context.

- Not checking if there's a perfectly good answer already available in the KOG or other generally-available sources.

- Askers who give 4 points to blatantly incorrect answers, the three most common causes being: - they click the first answer in the list, just to stop those damn reminder e-mails; - they see the name of an answerer they recognise/someone from their country/ someone of the same s*x/someone with a pretty photo/someone they've met at a powwow/conference; etc. etc. and decide to be 'nice' to them; - are unable to recognise a valid answer when it slaps them in the face, probably because they're working way outside their specialist fields (always assuming they have one ...).

and, above all:

- Incorrect categorization of the question. If a patent about roof trusses suddenly refers to the specifications of 'solar panels', then the question must be categorized as 'electric/electronic engineering' and NOT as 'Legal/Patents'! If court proceedings refer to the accused's 'schizophrenia', and that word is a problem for the translator, then it's 'Medical', not 'Legal'!

Looking at my own KudoZ tables, I reckon that at least 60% of the points I've accumulated in subjects that I've not claimed as 'specialities' derive from questions that would have been in my specializations IF the askers had correctly categorized their questions. I regularly recognize terms in the questions page as being related to Electronic, Electrical or Mechanical Engineering and try to help to answer them - only to have my perfectly valid answers rejected in favor of dumb answers from non-engineers reponding, supposedly, to 'Legal' or 'Medical' questions. Why? Presumably because those legal/medical experts' answers are tagged 'Specializes in field' (which they most certainly do not, at least as far as that particular question is concerned...) while mine are tagged with zero specialization and close to zero 'Pro points in category' when I might actually have something worthwhile to contribute.

These problems are not entirely unrelated to the matters discussed recently in the "HowZ your K/Q" thread http://www.proz.com/topic/80531 If (I repeat IF) there's a move towards the use of a K/Q ratio with breakdown by subject category, then it will be essential for questions to be correctly cartegorized when the asker first asks them, or to provide a mechanism whereby answerers can change the category where it is obviously wrong. If those 60% of misplaced pro points were attributed to the categories they properly belong to - i.e. a limited number of engineering subjects - and not spread around 'law/patents/medical/the ubiquitous 'OTHER'/ and a dozen other irrelevent subjects about which I know very little, then this site would give a far better reflection of my overall professional performance as an engineer and translator than is at present the case.

MediaMatrix


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Yaotl Altan  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 00:15
Member (2006)
English to Spanish
+ ...
I support it Aug 12, 2007

Exactly, I suppose this potential new function is aimed to stop Kudoz such as:

DOG

EN > SP

Perro

And it's fair for people asking hard and interesting questions too.


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Christel Zipfel  Identity Verified
Italy
Member (2004)
Italian to German
+ ...
One more reason would be... Aug 12, 2007

Kim Metzger wrote:


Yes, when askers have a history of being lazy (not checking the KudoZ glossaries, the standard dictionaries, not doing their own research, not providing adequate context, closing their questions after the first answer comes in, entering "see below" or "help with sentence" in the term box, or properly classifying their questions in terms of general and detailed fields, it's sometimes hard to bite your tongue.

Four points could be awarded to an excellent question, and poor one would get 1 point. Members could select from a list the reason for assigning points: no context, improper classification, failed to use proper glossary form ("see sentence below"), failed to check glossaries or readily available resources, etc. [/quote]

... "Answer found elsewhere" when already two or three colleagues have answered and some more agreed or anyway racked their brain. And we never will know which answer has been found...

I put those askers that use this issue unreasonably on my personal "black list".


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Heike Behl, Ph.D.  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:15
Member (2003)
English to German
+ ...
No thanks Aug 12, 2007

I agree that there's a fair amount of unnecessary questions. But I don't think awarding/deduction points for questions will be an efficient way to prevent that.

- If points would be awarded, each question would have to be rated to be a fair system.
- Does each Prozian get a vote for each question? What if there are conflicting votes? Will the votes for each evaluation be added for the final result (e.g. 12 votes for excellent question, 13 votes for fair question, result: fair)? How arbitrary will that system be in the end?
- There are already enough complaints about unfair ratings/awarded points in the existing Kudoz system. Why add another source of possible quarrels, accusations, back-scratching, insults, etc.?
- An anonymous voting system is open to abuse; it would have to include the name of the voter, which would increase the likelihood of confrontations and retaliations.

Why not just ignore those questions? Why does everything always have to be evaluated, measured and punished or rewarded?

This disciplinarian approach makes me feel extremely uneasy. It undermines a friendly, helpful and tolerant community, and isn't that what we all would prefer? Of course, there always will be questions and answers where you can only shake your head and wonder. But that's part of the system.

Maybe if you notice a "repeat offender" and you're really bugged by it, you could contact a moderator who might point out politely to that person how the Kudoz system should be used.


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Kim Metzger  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 00:15
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
Feedback to askers Aug 12, 2007

Heike Behl, Ph.D. wrote:

I agree that there's a fair amount of unnecessary questions. But I don't think awarding/deduction points for questions will be an efficient way to prevent that.


OK, I'm willing to concede that my detailed proposals may well not be feasible and could end up being counterproductive. But wouldn't it be good to have some authorized way to communicate to askers what we think of their performance as askers? And yes, there are times when doing a good job of presenting the question is very difficult under the circumstances. A quick note explaining the situation will work wonders.


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xxxIreneN
United States
Local time: 00:15
English to Russian
+ ...
I don't think it's a good idea Aug 12, 2007

Kim Metzger wrote:

Yes, when askers have a history of being lazy


Or, rather, I don't think it is feasible. It's about as good as socialism - would be nice but:-) we don't live in the ideal world.

I think laziness has very little to do with those "we all know and hate them" types of questions. This problem belongs in the area of accepting jobs without having any clue on a subject or either source or target language. I mean that no dictionaries and no research can help regardless - being utterly unfamiliar with the subject lexis, the asker would not know how to make a choice however abundant that choice might be, so h/h would desperately need a confirmation. Once in a blue moon such confirmation is OK. Example - iI feel like a fish in the best fish tank there is in oil-related bid documents but there can be a detailed chemist resume sitting and waiting for me at the very end. With my "knowledge" in chemistry I would very much prefer to obtain a confirmation from the right colleagues to whom that question might appear to be the easiest in the world, found in every subject distionary. If only things were that simple. We should not be contradicting ourselves claiming that going to dictionaries is all it takes to translate any subject.

It would be very hard to draw the line, and after marking some possibly deserving asker as a "bad boy" I should be expecting the same slap in the face even though the difference in our Q/A ratio may speak volumes.

I simply don't want to mess with it and ruin my good mood for the day. I ignore lots of questions until I see a truly interesting one. And even then - quite often the final choice ruins that mood just as well...

I don't believe Proz has any true tools to control the process. Many good people either keep dropping out or stay away from 99% of the questions. It certainly is the case in the English-Russian pair and, as K. Kisin had mentioned in a different forum, a Ru-En pair is a total disaster.


[Edited at 2007-08-12 21:23]


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Heike Behl, Ph.D.  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:15
Member (2003)
English to German
+ ...
Polite way Aug 12, 2007

Kim Metzger wrote:

OK, I'm willing to concede that my detailed proposals may well not be feasible and could end up being counterproductive. But wouldn't it be good to have some authorized way to communicate to askers what we think of their performance as askers? And yes, there are times when doing a good job of presenting the question is very difficult under the circumstances. A quick note explaining the situation will work wonders.


I think that is already possible if it's worded in a polite way.
You could for instance write something like:
You'd probably get more/more useful answers if you include more context.
You might get quicker results when you'd check the Kudoz glossary before asking; there are already some similar questions that might help you.
You might get quicker and more reliable results when you check the dictionary first.
If you google your term, you find many helpful bilingual sources.

etc.

There are some colleagues that are extremely skillful at this approach. Instead of being confrontational and implying "what an idiot you are", they try to stress the advantages of doing it "the right way". And if you don't think they deserve your help, don't give it to them. But then they don't deserve your time trying to - most likely unsuccessfully - correct their ways either.


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Kim Metzger  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 00:15
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
Yes, politeness, by all means Aug 12, 2007

Heike Behl, Ph.D. wrote:

I think that is already possible if it's worded in a polite way.


The examples you cite are perfectly acceptable in some language pairs. Yes, it is possible in some language pairs. Such comments are frequently found in the ask-the-asker box and in peer comments.

But they are against the rules, Heike. According to the rules, which are strictly enforced by some moderators, we are only allowed to use the ask-the-asker box for seeking clarification of the question, i.e. asking for more context, for example.

Rule 3.7 prohibits any kind of comment anywhere that seeks to give the asker advice, whether it's worded politely or not. That's why I'm asking for an authorized way to communicate with askers.


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Textklick  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:15
German to English
+ ...
Kudoz: Glossary, community tool, or guide for potential clients? Aug 12, 2007

Kim Metzger wrote:

Currently the focus of KudoZ is on helping the asker rather than on creating a fine glossary for future use by thousands of translators.


I agree fully - a laudable concept.

Heike wrote: Why not just ignore those questions? Why does everything always have to be evaluated, measured and punished or rewarded? This disciplinarian approach makes me feel extremely uneasy. It undermines a friendly, helpful and tolerant community, and isn't that what we all would prefer? Of course, there always will be questions and answers where you can only shake your head and wonder. But that's part of the system.


I agree also.

Another interesting point is one that a respected site user and outsourcer once mentioned at a Powwow: "I find it more interesting to note the track record/quality of questions asked, rather than the answers offered."

Worth thinking about, from a purely business point of view.

I also think that mediamatrix raises some very valid points.

[Edited at 2007-08-12 22:41]


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Kim Metzger  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 00:15
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
Setting the parameters Aug 12, 2007

Textklick wrote:

Kim Metzger wrote:

Currently the focus of KudoZ is on helping the asker rather than on creating a fine glossary for future use by thousands of translators.


I agree fully - a laudable concept.



Well, Chris, helping the asker should certainly be the primary objective, but not at the expense of what is best for the community as a whole, I think.

Take for example, the asker who enters a question and then closes it as soon as he gets the first answer - maybe ten minutes after posting it. I've gone to work on such questions because the term attracted my attention and I thought here's a chance to get something really useful in the glossary. I can still enter my information after the question is closed but most people just give up. The asker has deprived the community of a possibly better translation for the glossary.

But efforts to make it impossible to close questions prematurely have foundered because of the site's principle that "the person in need sets the parameters". I think it would be better to establish a compromise here and consider the needs of the community as well.


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Andy Watkinson
Spain
Local time: 07:15
Member
Catalan to English
+ ...
Hi Kim Aug 13, 2007

Hi,

I find it difficult to disagree with you, Kim (first time, I believe), but I'm with Irene and Heike on this one, in the sense that:

a) I don't see it as being feasible (Irene), and

b) Why does absolutely everything on ProZ have to be micro-managed down to the last detail? (Heike)

Yes, of course there are askers who ought to be ashamed of themselves and their profiles....

e.g. Asker purports to specialise in accounting, but is nonplussed by the expression "Intangible assets".

e.g. Asker who, in the space of 3 days, posts questions ranging from ceramics to medicine to optical alignment of machine trains.

e.g. Asker stumped by a 1 letter typo in a sentence and has neither the experience nor the simple imagination to solve it for themselves.

What they all have in common is their failure to realise the impression they make on other translators and especially on any clients who see how a translation they thought they'd assigned to the right person is being chopped up into easily translatable chunks and posted in public for everyone else to solve.

Although I ought to come down on the "polite" side of doing things, I remember a not so distant time on ProZ when remarks such as enquiring whether or not the asker had an inkling of the subject at hand, a dictionary or simply an ounce of common sense often did the trick and the "offending asker" took the hint and:

a) considerably reduced the number of questions asked, and
b) did so only as a last resort, which is what I consider KudoZ to be all about. The LAST resort.

Thanks for reading so far.

Just a couple of things:

"But wouldn't it be good to have some authorized way to communicate to askers what we think of their performance as askers?"

Yes, naturally it would be good. But mere users/members are unable to change the status quo.

In my opinion, your question should be directed upstream, not downstream.

Although if you want a quick solution, simply scrap the overly PC KudoZ rule three million, four hundred thousand and ninety-seven and let people say what they think.

"Bass fishing, anyone?"

Cheers,
Andy


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