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Poll: Which of the following best reflects a translator's ability? (Comments welcome.)
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
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Mar 8, 2006

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Which of the following best reflects a translator's ability? (Comments welcome.)".

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Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:58
Italian to English
+ ...
None of the above Mar 8, 2006

Kudoz points, answers and even questions asked are certainly interesting in forming an idea of a translator, but certainly can't be relied on to convey his/her ability.

To give a personal example, I had a case a while back where I was asked to revise a translation produced by someone about whom I'd already formed a negative opinion, based entirely on his/her Kudoz questions and answers.
The translation was of excellent quality. 'nuff said.


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Sergio Mangiarotti
Local time: 10:58
German to Italian
None of the above Mar 8, 2006

Rather, if ever, the ratio between earned points and given answers.

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Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:58
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
"None of the above" should not have been a response option Mar 8, 2006

"None of the above" should really not have been offered as a choice, since it is patently evident that KudoZ participation of any kind hardly constitutes a valid criterion in and of itself to judge a translator's overall ability. For example, someone might be particularly adept at quickly finding information on a computer and such a person is more likely to earn Kudoz points than others who are less adept. Given that answers to a fair proportion of the questions are fairly transparent, and it is often simply a matter of cutting and pasting a couple of supporting references, it is easy to see that the race will often be to the swift.

I don't mean, however, to entirely dismiss this particular kind of skill in a translator. Anyone considering contracting a translator to work for him or her will certainly want someone who is resourceful and fast. These attributes simply are not the only desired qualities in a translator.

Were the question presented without the "None of the above" option, I would have to select "Answers to Kudoz questions" as most indicative of a translator's ability. This for several reasons. First, as I've already mentioned, points are often awarded to answerers who are adept at quickly providing correct responses to questions that are not particularly difficult. Second, an answer that is presented with a thoughtful and compelling rationale (which might include a critique of the other answers offered) is often more indicative of the depth of a translator's knowledge and intuitive grasp of his or her languages than the cutting and pasting of a library of references. Third, the very manner in which language is used to defend answers provides a telling indication of the answerer's linguistic ability.

Kudoz point totals cannot be considered a particularly reliable indicator of a translator's skill for the above reasons, and also because of other vagaries concerning the way points are awarded (e.g., points are sometimes awarded to an answer that is not the best among those offered, is the best among a "bad bunch", is the only answer submitted, etc.)

This said, I think it is also fair to conclude that a high Kudoz point total *in conjunction with* the other above-mentioned qualities could be considered presumptive evidence of a translator's general skill level.


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Niina Lahokoski  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 11:58
Member (2008)
English to Finnish
+ ...
None Mar 8, 2006

I agree with the above writers. In addition, the amount of Kudoz questions asked varies very much between different language pairs, so the possibilities to gather points are very different.

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Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:58
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
Taking everything into consideration... Mar 8, 2006

Having drafted this, I looked at the poll thread again and found that some of this has been covered by other posts, particularly the one by Robert, with which I agree.
I have often thought that other polls in this series would have benefited from a “None of the above” option. But this one does have such an option, and yet I think it would be more interesting without it. Most people are bound to think that ways of judging a translator’s other than KudoZ are better; sample translations, personal references from a trusted colleague, and even, within ProZ, sample work stored in a profile (though you can never be sure how much help may have been given with the samples).
In the other categories, I don’t look on this as being just a matter of the number of questions asked and answered or the total of points earned.
Points earned: I think that although an answerer can sometimes gain undeserved points from askers making the wrong choice, or from an answer which, though correctly selected as the best of those given, is still not really right, a large number of points, particularly totals in four or more figures, must be some indication that the points earner is a good translator.
Questions answered: viewed in isolation, without reference to points earned, I think this s less reliable. Anyone can keep on sending in answers to all sorts of questions, regardless of knowledge of the field or language, and build up a big total, without this meaning anything; though in some cases, it may indicate a persistence which is perhaps to be admired. And it should be remembered that people can improve over time; those who start off over-confident and keep on sending in unaccepted answers, can gradually get a truer idea of their own abilities.
Questions asked: these need to be looked at individually. Usually they are questions to which even a good translator cannot be expected to find the answer without help; but sometimes they are a useful indication that the asker is totally out of depth and should not be trying to translate in that field or language pair.
I also agree with Robert that the asked/answered ratio is something worth taking into account.
So I think all can indicate something. Maybe “Other than the above” would be a better way of putting the option rather than “None of…”.


[Edited at 2006-03-08 15:24]


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Mercedes Alonso
Local time: 05:58
English to Spanish
+ ...
Answers Mar 8, 2006

I have to say that I decided to ignore the "none of the above" option, I figured too that is was quite obvious no one is defined by KudoZ or KudoZ points (luckily).
What I asked myself in order to answer was which of the real options I would actually consider if it was the only available information (Yes, I imagined my own poll). The point was actually that points are sometimes awarded in weird ways, while answers show something (even if it's not crucial information on a translator). But mainly I was thinking about hundreds of qualified people who don't answer many questions. Of course they don't have a lot of KudoZ points but maybe they do have one amazingly helpful answer.
Bottomline, I think that if, and only if, KudoZ was the only place where translators worked, their quality would be best defined by their answers, not their points.


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Heidi C  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:58
English to Spanish
+ ...
Wording needed to be a bit more clear... Mar 8, 2006

I assume that the poll refers only to Kudoz as the assessment tool (which the wording of the poll does not leave clear), and maybe that's why there are so many "none of the above" (which was my immediate answer before I thought better about it)

If the poll refers to compared to other aspects (such as reading the translations, qualifications, and other aspects asked in other polls), Kudoz is just one more option and not the best, so the answer would be "none of the above". Probably a lot of "none of the above" come from reading the question like that.

Looking at the poll as just considering Kudoz, I would have to say that a good reflection would be a combination of:

1. reading the translator's kudoz answers, the thought and research or explanations presented, and the quality of the answers (even if they were not awarded points), the reading and interpretation and comments given to the answer...

2. a ratio between answers given and answers selected

3. perhaps also questions asked: a translator that does not ask questions that the answer is found in a general language dictionary or regular specialized dictionary, a translator who does not classify as "pro" a question that can be easily found or that even someone not specialized in the area knows the answer. a translator that does not ask about language problems that can be found in any language learning grammar book or dictionary... (here it's harder, because sometimes an evident solution gets lost in the asker's mind and the help of others makes you say "of course I knew it!") I mean someone who is in the habit of doing these things and most of his/her questions are of this type.

Regarding Kudoz points I agree with Robert:

"Kudoz point totals cannot be considered a particularly reliable indicator of a translator's skill for the above reasons, and also because of other vagaries concerning the way points are awarded (e.g., points are sometimes awarded to an answer that is not the best among those offered, is the best among a "bad bunch", is the only answer submitted, etc.)

This said, I think it is also fair to conclude that a high KudoZ point total *in conjunction with* the other above-mentioned qualities could be considered presumptive evidence of a translator's general skill level."


Heidi


[Edited at 2006-03-08 15:21]


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Marie-Céline GEORG  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 10:58
English to French
+ ...
Kudoz questions answered Mar 8, 2006

Hi all,
Apart from the "none of the above" option, which I decided to dismiss like Mercedes did, I chose the "questions answered" while wondering if it meant the number of answers or their content.
Maybe people chose the "none of the above" options because they were not sure of the meaning of the other options?
The number of answers is not a valid criterion to judge the ability of translators, while the way they answer - accuracy, justification, sources, etc. certainly tells me more about their way of working.


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Kirill Semenov  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 11:58
Member (2004)
English to Russian
+ ...
A missing option: Points (or Answers Selected) per Answers Given Mar 8, 2006

I think this option is missing. If it was present, I would certainly vote for it. I've been using the criterion for quite a long time, and it seems to be the indicator combining both the number of points and the number of answers given. As far as I know, many other proZians use the criterion, too.

The ratio may be calculated in two ways: Points/Answers or Answers Selected/Answer Total. These are slightly different from each other, still I believe they are much better indicators than raw points (depend on how long ago a person have joined Proz and how many time the person spends at KudoZ) or the total number of answers (we all know kudoZ hunters who answer almost every question they see, with only 5% or less of their answers selected).


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:58
Flemish to English
+ ...
Kudoz: A game of semantics Mar 8, 2006

It tells you how well an answerer dominates a certain register, but it does not tell you how profound the knowledge of a language of that answerer is..

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Eva Hadzik
Local time: 10:58
Italian to Polish
+ ...
not earned points Mar 8, 2006

How can I earn KudoZ points if there are not questions in my language pair?
Maybe given answers are closer to any opinion...


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xxxmediamatrix
Local time: 04:58
Spanish to English
+ ...
None of the above Mar 8, 2006

In a word: income.

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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:58
English to Spanish
+ ...
Hard to tell, but... Mar 8, 2006

But I answered "questions asked", the most unpopular answer with the exception of not using Kudoz. Maybe you would have expected me to say "points"?

Of course it is hard to tell, every measure has to be seen in perspective and none are scientific in the least. But I have been able to gain an admiration for some colleagues from the type of questions they ask.

What their questions show is the type of work they are willing to tackle, their competence in doing it and their persistence in not stopping until they find the answer. Their questions also show that they have a good grasp of what they are doing and are confident in their ability. The way they ask the questions and the context they provide show that they are professional and perceptive.

I think this is much the same as in classroom situations where a teacher can often tell which students are the most talented and motivated by the kind of questions they ask.

On the other side of the coin, the way questions are asked can also show up others who are completely clueless.

My own impression is that questions can even show you more about the person than the answers they give.


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Gabriela Wolochwianski
Argentina
Local time: 05:58
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
I couldn't agree more Mar 9, 2006

I agree with Henry. Questions are the best way to assess a translator's ability within the KudoZ system, of course. While many very good translators do not have time to answer questions or earn points, they do usually ask for help from other translators, raising challenging issues, when they cannot solve them by themselves.
On the other hand, some questions show clearly when someone is not experienced enough in a certain field.
Anyway, the KudoZ search database has grown so much that you can practically find anything there, at least in my main language pair.

Interesting poll!

Gabriela Wolochwianski


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