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How many KudoZ questions about a translation job are decent?
Thread poster: Paula Tizzano Fernández

Paula Tizzano Fernández  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:14
English to Spanish
+ ...
Aug 29, 2008

Sometimes I see that some people submit an astounding amount of questions referred to the same text or material. In some cases, they include the paragraphs as context, but then you see that almost every sentence in the paragraph has been submitted separately as a KudoZ question. (I am not talking about non-professional KudoZ questions, but to those posted by translators who are actually doing a job and getting paid for it.) Or sometimes you get more than ten questions a day for several days concerning the same job.

So you see things like this:

"english phrase or term: protein reaction kinetics
"Context:
"Protein reaction kinetics in aqueous solution at room temperature are often simplified by the thermal averaging of conformational substates. These substates exhibit widely varying reaction rates that are usually exposed by trapping in a glass at low temperature".

Then two minutes later, another question comes up in your mailbox:

"english phrase or term: aqueous solution".
Same context.

And then:
"english phrase or term: simplified by the thermal averaging".

And one minute later:
"english phrase or term: conformational substates".

You get the impression that the translator has been lucky enough to get an assignment about which he doesn´t have a clue, and then he or she gets the job done through KudoZ.
I am new at ProZ, and try to contribute whenever a term is in my field, but I find this a bit surprising coming from other professional translators. I'm not talking about a specific colleague, please, but as I observed this several times during August (I've become a member in August), I wanted to comment on it.

I know that few translators are expected to decline a job if it's not in their field, and doing one's best finding suitable glossaries or resources is part of the professional challenge. In this way we broaden our knowledge and get experience.

Again, there is a reasonable amount of tough sentences in which you value the assistance of colleagues or maybe just want to see if they have interpreted the sentence as you did, to be double sure.

But is it not abusive to make other colleagues translate for free a considerable amount of a professional work that you've taken and you can't do on your own? Sometimes I find questions which could have been perfectly answered... with a simple dictionary! (Not an "in-this-context" question but the search for the general denotation of a term).

At the same time, a professional translator who posts an immense amount of questions about the same text is not gaining a good reputation among his or her peers (in terms of referrals, I mean). But is it ethically okay?

Which is the limit between "reasonable cooperation for free" and "getting other people do your job in your stead"? Does KudoZ admit an unlimited amount of questions about a same text? How do translators react at this?

Of course, we all have the option of ignoring the question, as I suppose most translators do in these cases, but I still want to know other people's opinions and comments.

Thank you.


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xxxJPW  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:14
Spanish to English
+ ...
Valid question Aug 29, 2008

Hello Paula,

I think you'll find that people who play that game are just too lazy, incompetent (or any other adjective you think appropriate to insert) to do the research for themselves. Give a man a fish and he'll eat for today. Show him how to fish and he'll eat forever. That sort of thing.

You may have opened a big can of worms there. Perfect for fishing BTW.


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Patricia Rosas  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:14
Spanish to English
+ ...
filter the person Aug 29, 2008

Paula,

Welcome to ProZ! This sort of behavior grates on my nerves, too, but I simply go to the dashboard and filter that person out, so that I no longer get mails for his/her posts. I find that is the simplest solution to what otherwise can be a big annoyance (over something that really is very petty and probably none of my business anyway )

Best,
Patricia


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Suzette Martin-Johnson
Canada
Member (2007)
French to English
+ ...
Depends - very complex issue Aug 29, 2008

This is a judgment call - I know there've been a lot of debates about it. Sometimes people are taking advantage - they have taken on a job they can't handle. If the person doing this translation is in the middle of a 30,000 word job then I guess it's ok. If it's a short job then perhaps he just wasn't qualified to take it on. It's hard to tell.

However, as an in-house translator other translators would come to me with whole sentences that had them frazzled and I would do the same thing. Many of them had 10 or more years of full-time experience. Some were close to retirement. Other jobs called for help from a native speaker or subject area specialist rather than a translator.

I've always maintained that freelancing is very isolated and that proz should provide a safe place where we can seek assistance from our peers - I guess we just have to exercise individual judgment about who we respond to. Remember that some persons may not have daily contact with translators they know personally. I also think it's important to admit if a sentence has us stumped. No man is an island and it is so much better to seek a second or third pair of eyes than to submit a fuzzy translation to an unsuspecting client because of misplaced pride...I have discovered the hard way that humility is a very important trait of a faithful translator.

I think it has also been suggested by a learned proz user in a previous post that we can look at the ratio of questions asked by a user to questions they have answered. If the person never bothers to answer others' questions, it gives reason for pause.

Hope this helps!


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Elizabeth Ardans  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 00:14
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
I was about to ask the same thing... Aug 29, 2008

As I just noticed someone asked 15 questions (probably for the same text) in 2 hours! (And at least several more yesterday, if I'm not mistaken, and probably the day before). Isn't thre a daily/weekly limit?

Cheers!


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Nesrin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:14
English to Arabic
+ ...
It's annoying, but... Aug 29, 2008

... there is no rule to stop people from posting several terms from the same sentence/ paragraph.

Also, to reply to your original question "How many KudoZ questions about a translation job are decent?" - the answer is clearly: it depends on the size of the job. Only the asker knows if the 10 questions s/he posted come from a 1-page document or a 100-page document.

Some askers prefer to complete the job to the best of their abilities, and THEN post all their doubts on Kudoz at once, giving the impression that they're abusing Kudoz, when in fact they could just as well have spread the questions out over several days.


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Paula Tizzano Fernández  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:14
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
An array of solutions and views Aug 29, 2008

Thank you, all.
I see that I can dashboard someone. I didn't know this worked as a filter, and I will take it into account for many purposes. Filters are very useful not only to veto, but also to organize things.

I agree very strongly with islander1974; ours is an isolated profession and cooperative spaces must be treasured by us all. Also, feedback and help from trusted colleagues is absolutely necessary in our work.
The rule of checking who is a helper deserving being helped sounds very reasonable to me. As well as the attitude of double-checking when in doubt, and leave false or petty prides aside.

As for Nesrin's suggestions about a whole bunch of questions referred to a finished draft in process of finalization, I think this is to be expected as a reasonable approach (I would do precisely this in a similar position), but it is not definitely the case in the examples I have referred to. Just as Elizabeth noticed, the questions I have in mind all belong to same paragraphs, they come up constantly and during two or three days, and this suggests not a final compilation of doubts but a... well... what I have already said, gosh.

The important information I got from you is that KudoZ does not exercise a discretional power of limitation about excessive questions or it doesn't diplomatically suggest translators to select among their questions the most pertinent for submission. This is what I wanted to know so as to get acquainted with the spirit of KudoZ. So the regulation comes from the potential answerers themselves.

But then, if anyone wants to express disagreement about excessive questioning (this I wonder), he or she must do it by private ProZ mail to the asker, as KudoZ rules only allow to post answers to the specific terms, and they do not allow commenting on the askers attitude. Or do they in this case? If an annoyed translator posted a reference comment saying "I think your questions are excessive, please be more selective about your doubts, as this is your twentieth question in two hours, and I get the feeling that you are submitting every sentence in your paragraphs", this would be censored by KudoZ moderators, isn´t it? (It's not that I plan to post a comment like this. I am trying to see how the regulation mechanisms work here. In fact, I have sent answers to many of these questions, trying to show my best trusting and understanding nature, but I start to wonder when my mail box receives a machine-gun rattling of questions all about the same text and from the same asker, all morning...)

Thank you! I have learned many things today.


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Amy Duncan  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 00:14
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Agree with islander Aug 29, 2008

I know what it looks like when someone asks a zillion questions, but considering the overall picture of what ProZ is and what it does, I'd rather not judge. There could be any number of reasons why a person does this, not necessarily because he or she is lazy or incompetent. And even if he/she is, is that really my business?

I have seen the opinion voiced on these forums that before asking for help, the translator should exhaust all possible resources to find the answer. OK, in an ideal world this may be true, but when you're on a tight deadline and you suddenly run across something that has you absolutely baffled, even though you've taken some steps to find a solution (although perhaps not exhaustive steps), it's good, comforting and supportive to know that there are lots of colleagues out there who may know the answer off the top of their heads and can't wait to give you a hand, even on the weekends!

My gratitude for KudoZ is unbounded, and I have learned a great deal from my colleagues about a variety of subjects.

Amy


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xxxUSER0059  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 06:14
English to Finnish
+ ...
Put a price on answers, and simsalabim, they will be appreciated Aug 29, 2008

Paula Tizzano wrote:

Does KudoZ admit an unlimited amount of questions about a same text? How do translators react at this?


Every time something valuable is given away for free, there will be abuse. Probably the only fix is to convert KudoZ into a marketplace, where answers are shown only after a small fee has been paid to the respondent.

Not a good idea, I hear you say? Then enjoy the status quo.


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 23:14
English to French
+ ...
As many as needed Aug 29, 2008

I have to say that, even though I very seldom use KudoZ (and have recently decided to stop using it altogether for reasons I will not go into here), I do sometimes work on largish documents that contain a smallish section on a very specific scientific subject, which I admit I am not perfectly versed in. Happens to all of us, I imagine - the typical example is a video game manual that comes with a legal disclaimer section, which should normally be translated by a legal translator, but won't be, because an agency will not hire a separate translator for those six paragraphs.

So, I think it is sometimes normal that a person needs to ask many KudoZ questions over a short timespan, and this in no way indicates incompetence. However, when you take a close look at the questions asked, you can relatively easily tell if they are questions from a person who doesn't care to open a dictionary or contact the client and wants others to do her job, or if it comes from someone who is having genuine difficulties with the section she is translating.

I would be entirely against any measure taken against such "aggressors". I know I have been one of them before. I have asked four questions in quick succession about the same subject. But I am not ashamed - the terms were tough and couldn't be found in specialist dictionaries.

What I don't like about the example in the initial post to this thread is one question in particular: aqueous solution is just ridiculously easy to find in most dictionaries, including those on the Web, and I wouldn't be surprised if it was already present in the KOG. I wouldn't say I have a problem with the set of questions or that I would judge the asker (the other questions are reasonably difficult) but this one question doesn't seem justified, in my opinion.

[Edited at 2008-08-29 17:17]


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KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 04:14
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
Aqueous solution ??!!! Aug 29, 2008

Viktoria Gimbe wrote:
What I don't like about the example in the initial post to this thread is one question in particular: aqueous solution is just ridiculously easy to find in most dictionaries, including those on the Web, and I wouldn't be surprised if it was already present in the KOG.



How funny. I was just as irritated with the same example. Anyone who has to ask for help on such a simple terms had better be good at waiting tables or cleaning toilets. I see questions of similar caliber often enough that I only bother to look at the KudoZ lists every week or two. Most of the entries seem legitimate though, and I think we all have better things to do than worry about the borderline cases and how to judge them. If I see something not worthy of an answer I just ignore it.


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:14
English to Spanish
+ ...
Best Solution Aug 29, 2008

There is a place where you can opt out of e-mails for questions being posted. I did that a long time ago, there were far too many. Plus, all I have to do is sign on and look at the list and see if there is anything there I want to answer. I'd suggest that.

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Eleftherios Kritikakis  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:14
Member (2003)
Greek to English
+ ...
Is this still a business or a happy-go-lucky club? Aug 29, 2008

BUSINESS 101

The translator charges the client so that he will research and then translate. If the material is difficult, translators usually charge more (because they say that "it requires research").

The Translator pays for dictionaries and some times for other resources, with the exception of material already published on the internet.

Therefore, Kudoz questions and answers should be CHARGED. The person submitting a question should pay, and the person answering the question (with relevant documentation etc), should be paid.

This way, professionals will be motivated to actually answering those questions... and amateurs will know that they wil have to pay to finish a translation for which they have no clue...

Henry, what kind of joint are you running here? Free Walmart?



PS. Proz could keep a commission. The person submitting a question pays $5, the person answering the question received $4, and Proz keeps $1. This way, Proz will be motivated to also create nice glossaries etc.
Imagine... in slow periods, translators who answer questions will be making good money (50 questions per day would be $200).>/b> This is common practice in many professional industries... except ours, of course...



[Edited at 2008-08-29 20:10]


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Francesca Battaglia
Italy
Local time: 05:14
Member (2007)
English to Italian
+ ...
experience to share Aug 29, 2008

I agree with most replies but I really don't feel comfortable with the idea of paying for submitting kudoz. First of all, if I was just approaching this site, I would immediately think that it's another way of sucking money..We are all professionals (or students), some have more experience and some are trying to get some. I arrived here quite a long time ago and I was struck by how nice some colleagues were to me, giving me advices and suggestions, being this in kudoz or in forums or privately. If this site was thought to create a multilanguage, intercultural platform, where professionals could share experiences, opinions and lots of information, well, why should we have to pay to do it?
If this was supposed to be free, it has to be free!
We are already paying for so many things, we have bills, taxes, CAT tools, not to mention computers, dictionaries, etc....
Several times I've been struggling with a translation, so hard, so technical, that I just wanted to get through it! And then, only at the end of it, I realized that I had many words or expressions that needed extra research and the deadline was so close. Does this mean I wasn't able to do a good translation? Of course not.
Plus, how many times do we have technical questions where you have to choose among 3-4-5 different answers, sometimes very different from each other. Here you have to read and check and evaluate which one COULD be the right one. Isn't this another form of research? Of course I need time to pick the correct answer and I need time to be sure that the answer fits my text.

When I see a user posting many, many kudoz from the same text, I am still free to decide whether to give my contribution or not. If I feel that the user is just looking for some free translation, I do not help him/her..

So, the same doubt may be raised for the "trial translations" in job offers..Sometimes you have the impression that the poster is just looking for some free translation..Job is posted with trial text and immediately closed..Isn't this suspicious??

Personally, I do refuse jobs that I don't feel prepared to do.


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 23:14
English to French
+ ...
Against paying and getting paid Aug 29, 2008

Let's make something clear: KudoZ is not a service offered to the general population to get free translation services. It is rather a favour exchange system for colleagues to give each other a hand with tough or ambiguous terms. I don't see myself charging my neighbour if I let him park in my driveway for five minutes to drop off something. I also don't see myself charging money for replying to e-mail from a colleague asking how to do something very specific in Trados. Also, I don't see anybody charging me because they lent me a shovel when shops were out of stock (this really happened this past winter). It's called a favour. Favours are free. We give them willingly, without asking for anything in return. What isn't free is a professional service. I think it's time we made a distinction between the two...

In my opinion, if people seem to see KudoZ as a service that may eventually cost money, it is because ProZ has in the past made the big mistake of inviting the general population to use it. The tagline was something along the lines of "Have professional translators help you find the right translation for that tough term." What kind of a message does that send off? Are we still wondering why people abuse of KudoZ with "I love you"-flavour questions?

[Edited at 2008-08-29 22:04]


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