Public glossaries: why should we participate?
Thread poster: Dr. Matthias Schauen

Dr. Matthias Schauen  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 19:14
Member
English to German
Dec 3, 2008

After the start of the GBK system (Introductory thread by site staff ), and after immediately jumping in to contribute, I stopped to think whether I really should participate; and this turned into the general question whether it makes sense businesswise for translators to make their specialist knowledge freely available.

To me, the new GBK system is totally different from the traditional KudoZ system. Helping others with terminology problems in the traditional system makes sense in a number of ways: it increases my exposure to colleagues, increases my exposure to customers (via KudoZ), and, most importantly, it’s a true community system. I know that the people I helped there will also seriously try to help me when I post a question there. The KOG that results from this system is not a good, usable, glossary, but that’s just fine:

Public glossaries do make sense for our customers: they help in creating consistent translations, and might even help translators produce acceptable translations in fields they are not really qualified for.
Particularly for specialist translators, who often are not language professionals specializing in a topic, but professionals in their specialty focusing on language work, this makes much less sense. Their specialist knowledge is their biggest asset. My terminology knowledge – and my ability to do sound research for unknown terminology – is a unique selling point. Why would I want to give away part of my biggest asset, and lower the need of customers for my services? For the chance of 4 KudoZ points per term? Not a win-win situation for me.

Am I outing myself as unusually selfish and uncooperative by writing this post, and/or do others have the same thoughts? Maybe translators with a language degree and translators with a specialist degree have different views on the subject? What do you think?


(I wasn't sure whether to start this thread in some Proz.com-specific forum or here. I hope that here's the best place.)


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Enrique
Local time: 14:14
SITE STAFF
To share or not to share? Dec 3, 2008

Great discussion issue! Below mi personal opinion:

All of the great things available at ProZ.com can only exist because of our worldwide community of professionals who choose to cooperate for mutual benefit, but of course this is a personal choice.

Participation in the GBK program is likely to provide opportunities for networking and for showing and sharing expertise. Whether or not this outweighs the disadvantage of helping potential competitors is for each user to decide.

Regards,
Enrique


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Gianni Pastore  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 19:14
Member (2007)
English to Italian
Good point, but... Dec 3, 2008

... I believe that access to free and somewhat complete glossaries is not enough for anyone to compete with skills I have mastered in more than 20 years of hands-on fiddling with audio/music stuff. One thing is to know how to translate a word, another one is to know when to use a word rather than another. No glossary can teach you that, imho. Think about a dictionary with all the existing words in the world: does that makes you a good literature translator? Of course not.

Gianni


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liz askew  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:14
Member (2007)
French to English
+ ...
Knowledge is for sharing Dec 3, 2008

Certainly a good subject to post here.

Everybody is entitled to choose whether to participate or not in the glossary building exercise.

Personally I shall continue to help out colleagues working in the same fields as me, and when I can will contribute to this new glossary

As another colleague has pointed out, it takes more than just looking up terms in a glossary to be a good translator; it takes years of experience and hard slog! I don't think you can ever put a price on that.

Good luck!

Liz Askew

p.s. I meant to say....it would be a good idea to edit and tidy up the ProZ glossary too!

[Edited at 2008-12-03 17:26 GMT]


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FarkasAndras
Local time: 19:14
English to Hungarian
+ ...
- Dec 3, 2008

liz askew wrote:

p.s. I meant to say....it would be a good idea to edit and tidy up the ProZ glossary too!


Well, making it properly usable would be a start.
Every site/organization/person who assembles glossaries seems to think people will want to use it through their own web UI, which is more often than not horrible (and don't even get me started on those who publish glossaries in a table in pdf).

One expects a site for translators to know that translators use more than one resource at a time and like to pool them if possible, and not punish them with an interface like this...
How hard would it be to introduce a feature that generates a tab delimited txt out of a selected kudoz open glossary? You could paste that into excel or any other spreadsheet or word processor program, import it into any terminology management software under the sun etc.
Or just implement an option to display the whole table on one page and make sure it can be correctly copied and pasted.


As to the original question, I am one of those who get a warm and fuzzy feeling from cooperative online projects. Anonymous fellow users on the net have helped me so much that I tend to share my own stuff too. The Internet has done as much or more for sharing knowledge as the printing press and spreading knowledge is a cause worth supporting.
That's the general attitude... I'm not sure I would, say, share ALL of my glossaries, so I do understand where OP is coming from. I would not share all my TM's with just anyone, that's for sure.


I do admit I don't see how or why the GBK idea would be better than any number of alternate possibilites. Superficially, it sounds like a hugely inefficient system that is bound to fail (ie. not grow to be large enough to be significantly more useful than the multitude of other terminology resources on the net.)
I could see the point of pooling other glossaries (including glossaries coming from members who would be invited to upload their own resources), reviewing/correcting/expanding all the terms in them and presentig the whole thing in an easy to use format (tab delimited txt, anyone?). Obviously, referencing the original source and whether or not the term was reviewed and confirmed by a proz user would be a must.
Approaching a couple of hundred people/institutions that have glossaries on the net and asking them to throw them in the mix/give permission for their use would kick start it and probably make it the single largest terminology resource available. Just go through the entries in the terminology resource recommendation thread and try to get all the interesting ones.
If a word table/excel table/tab delimited txt could be easily uploaded, I'm sure many colleagues would chip in.



If this project won't even be pooled with kudoz and won't facilitate offline use, I think my time and everyone else's time could be put to better use.

[Edited at 2008-12-03 18:43 GMT]


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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 18:14
Dutch to English
+ ...
No, call me selfish too ... Dec 3, 2008

Dr. Matthias Schauen wrote:

Am I outing myself as unusually selfish and uncooperative by writing this post, and/or do others have the same thoughts? Maybe translators with a language degree and translators with a specialist degree have different views on the subject? What do you think?


Makes no business sense to me either, for much the same reasons as you've mentioned and I doubt very much that I'll be contributing. I appreciate what Enrique says about the possible networking benefits but I'm not convinced, yet at any rate.

I feel I 'contribute' to the community in other ways - sometimes through these forums - and often help other translators behind the scenes with legal terminology and general legal issues (collection problems, etc), as long as they do not abuse the situation as one or two have done in the past, but I have to draw the line at this. My know-how doesn't come quite that cheap.


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Trans-Marie
Local time: 18:14
English to German
+ ...
Knowledge - our best asset indeed Dec 3, 2008

I agree with you two, Matthias and Lawyer Linguist. It is not a good idea to give away your specialist knowledge for the world to see. I can’t think of the appropriate English idiom but in German you would say you are cutting off the (tree’s) branch your are sitting on. But where do you see the difference between the usual Kudoz and this in relation to this particular issue? Kudoz is public as well after all.

However, the knowledge we acquired we obtained from someone, somewhere. Maybe we paid for it and worked for it – may be not. I used Kudoz in the past to get help and I have been grateful for it. That is why I feel I have to contribute as well. It would not be right to just take and not give anything back. But the issue you mentioned really bothers me.


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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 18:14
Dutch to English
+ ...
Response Dec 4, 2008

LegalTrans_ wrote:

But where do you see the difference between the usual Kudoz and this in relation to this particular issue? Kudoz is public as well after all.



Actually, I've stopped actively participating (answering) in Kudoz too - for what must be a good eighteen months ago now - for this very reason, among others. My questions answered far outweigh those asked so I've more than 'repaid any debt' in that department.

The unfortunate fact is there are very few people I can ask specifically when it comes to legal terminology and I prefer to do my own independent research. Those I can bounce ideas off either do not participate in Kudoz (for similar reasons to my own) or do not even belong to Proz. We consult with each other behind the scenes.

Maybe I'll be convinced by comments made here, things I may not even have thought about, as with not participating in Kudoz anyhow I've admittedly not given the ins-and-outs of this new concept much thought, but as things presently stand I'm just not keen on the concept itself.

Have a nice day
Debs

PS: I think the EN idiom you might be looking for is "cutting off the hand that feeds you"



[Edited at 2008-12-04 08:35 GMT]


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xxxhazmatgerman
Local time: 19:14
English to German
Seconding Schauen POV Dec 4, 2008

Am entirely in agreement with arguments proposed by Schauen, LegalTrans and Lawyer-Linguist and have drawn the same conclusion.
Actively implementing all past suggestions for improving present KudoZ might give quicker and larger networking collective useability.
Best


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Trans-Marie
Local time: 18:14
English to German
+ ...
Have a nice day too! Dec 4, 2008

: - )

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Caryl Swift  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 19:14
Polish to English
+ ...
Re. branches - slightly off topic - dear moderator, please forgive me, Dec 4, 2008

Dr. Schauen, I'm so sorry about doing this to your thread, but couldn't see any other way of going about it. My apologies and my thanks for raising an interesting point.

I'm sitting on the fence (as opposed to the branch )about the entire scheme at the moment, having been very irritated by the language pair aspect. But that's another story and I certainly don't want to run the risk of perpetrating a double hijacking...

@ LegalTrans - there's an English phrase that's almost exactly the same:

To saw off the branch one's sitting on

http://tinyurl.com/5jq9hb
http://tinyurl.com/6grebd

My apologies for going off topic - please don't shoot me!

Best wishes,
Caryl


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:14
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Unreliable glossaries Dec 7, 2008

Gianni Pastore wrote:

... I believe that access to free and somewhat complete glossaries is not enough for anyone to compete with skills I have mastered in more than 20 years of hands-on fiddling with audio/music stuff. One thing is to know how to translate a word, another one is to know when to use a word rather than another. No glossary can teach you that, imho. Think about a dictionary with all the existing words in the world: does that makes you a good literature translator? Of course not.

Gianni


I strongly agree with Gianni. I have, on occasion, been asked to use glossaries that had simply been compiled by other translators and were riddled with mistakes. I regard glossaries as optional. Sometimes useful, often misleading.


[Edited at 2008-12-07 18:31 GMT]


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juvera  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:14
English to Hungarian
+ ...
I am not worried! Dec 11, 2008

Enrique wrote:
Great discussion issue! Below mi personal opinion:

All of the great things available at ProZ.com can only exist because of our worldwide community of professionals who choose to cooperate for mutual benefit, but of course this is a personal choice.

Participation in the GBK program is likely to provide opportunities for networking and for showing and sharing expertise. Whether or not this outweighs the disadvantage of helping potential competitors is for each user to decide.

Regards,
Enrique


Let's look at the picture from a different angle.
At the moment there are about three GBKs per day for a particular language pair. That makes 23-25 questions a week, in a variety of subjects. In other words the grand total is 1300 words per year! Increasing this number greatly would be pointless, because less and less questions would get attention.

In any case, the answer to these questions are usually to be found in a decent dictionary for at least 50% of the time.

My specialities come up approximately three times in a month. I would be quite willing to answer these 30-40 questions a year, but what is the point?

Who needs a disjointed glossary, increasing by a couple of thousand random words a year? Do I want to spend my time networking about issues conjured up for such a purpose? Who needs these answers?

The difference between the GBK and the present KudoZ questions is, that the KudoZ question is asked by somebody genuinely wanting to know the answer. Often wanting to know a series of answers in a particular topic, which is important enough for somebody to pay for having it translated.

Anyway, as I said, I am not worried. I am not exactly bled dry of my expertise. The really odd things I know, which may not be common knowledge, therefore would enrich this odd glossary, usually I am not eligible to divulge.

[Edited at 2008-12-11 00:14 GMT]


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