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3 ideas: (1) differentiate easy/pro (2) give new members fair chance (3) random ordering of answers
Thread poster: Dipl.-Kfm. Bernhard Aicher MBA

Dipl.-Kfm. Bernhard Aicher MBA  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:20
Member
English to German
+ ...
May 14, 2003

Only simpletons would believe that most members of the Proz-community are merely high-mindedly motivated to answer KudoZ-questions. There is obviously another motivation factor at play, i.e. the accumulation of KudoZ-points.



It is well-known that boasting many good and correct answers will help to attract attention, to improve one’s reputation as a translator/agency and, last but not least, that a high position in the KudoZ-ranking will catch the eye of potential customers.



I myself for example get a nice part of my turnover from the fact that I am relatively high ranked in the KudoZ-system.



Unfortunately, I have now observed that some fellow translators have specialized in answering only very easy questions in order to reap the benefits without investing too much input. In such cases it is most frequently a matter of seconds because easy questions send numerous fellowtranslators into a wild scramble over easy points. I don’t think that somebody who translates “I love you” should be rewarded with the same points as a translator who researches for 20 or 120 minutes to find a solution.



Of course there are also upright Proz.com-members who have proven their magnanimity by specializing in answering mainly difficult questions. I wonder however, how long they will maintain their approach given the very opportunistic behaviour of others.



The third adaptive behaviour which is detrimental to the quality of the KudoZ-system is reflected in the strategy to stick one’s oar into virtually every question, hoping that this will either sometimes lead to a couple of points (many a mickle makes a muckle) or that the proposal will then remain the only one which would force the asker to reward the only answerer – in extreme cases even against his will (Please grade your answers Mr. Negligent!!).



All that without even mentioning the not infrequent strategy of discrediting fellow-translators in order to improve one’s own position and to get the wanted points banking on the asker’s ignorance



The good functioning of the Proz-idea – which was implemented for the benefit of us all - seems in my opinion to be endangered by the observable uncontrolled spread of KudoZ-system abuse by opportunists. This threatens the quality level of KudoZ-answers, which in turn could lead to a falling membership fees revenue and to a further deterioration in the ProZ.com service quality level in a vicious downward spiral. I also wonder how potential customers having a closer look at the KudoZ-answers would perceive the quality of Proz.com-members if the deteriorating trend in the quality of answers continues.



For these reasons I would like to make three suggestions for a reform of the KudoZ-system:



FIRST SUGGESTION:



I suggest further to differentiate the difficulty-level categorization that currently only distinguishes between Pro and Easy.



This should be done by establishing a system that not only allows all Proz-members to peer-grade an answer (agree – neutral – disagree) but also allows to assess the difficulty-level.



The arithmetic mean value of these opinions should then be used as a factor for the calculation of the awarded points on the basis of the current 4 points (or 5, which would make the calculation explained below easier). If for example on a difficulty level scale ranging from 1 to 5 the arithmetic mean of difficulty level of opinions is 4 (=80 %), 3.2 points should be awarded. If someone translates “I love you” and the average of difficulty-level opinions is 1, the answerer should get 20 % x 4 = 0.8 points. I think that under such a system the asker’s opinion should be granted a particular weighting (e. g. 30 % of the weighting). If no translator assesses the difficulty of a given question automatically 4 (or 5 points) should be awarded to the answerer. I don’t think that this case would ever arise, because it is a lot of fun to assess the difficulty level.



Such a difficulty-level assessment system could also be linked to BrowniZ.





SECOND PROPOSAL: To prevent that new members feel frustrated by the high numbers of points on the accounts of KudoZ-leaders they should be given a fair chance to climb in the ranking in order to become more visible and to get the attention of potential customers. If in 5 years you were a newcomer contemplating a Platinum-membership, would you pay the membership fee if number 95 in the ranking has 3,600 points on his account?



The current KudoZ-system could be improved by implementation of a periodical cancellation of earned points (as it is the case in the tennis world). Such a system should lead to a rising membership-fees income and in turn to a better Proz-service level which in the end would be to our mutual benefit.



THIRD SUGGESTION:



Abolition of the “first come first served” system. In other words: the translation proposals should not be listed by time but by a random generator.



A translator wanting to propose an answer is under extreme time pressure because he has to be first in case that another translator intends to make an identical proposal. Everybody knows that in the case of identical answers the first answerer will get the points. Yesterday I saw 7 nearly identical answers within 2 minutes – I was the last



Greetings to all.

Bernhard



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gianfranco  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 17:20
Member (2001)
English to Italian
+ ...
Thank you for your analysis May 14, 2003

Excellent!



You may not be surprised to know that all these aspects are well known and have been already discussed in their many facets, advantages and disavantages.



What may surprise you is that the site and the programmers are NOW at work to redress all the issues that you have described so clearly.



A little patience, and everybody will see the result of many suggestions like yours by many ProZ members and site moderators.



Thank you

Gianfranco





[ This Message was edited by: gianfranco on 2003-05-14 15:10]


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Mats Wiman  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 21:20
Member (2000)
German to Swedish
+ ...

MODERATOR
Super proposals! May 14, 2003

As I already said in the German Forum:



Very good suggestions, that I will start discussing in moderator and staff circles.



BR



Mats J C Wiman

Übersetzer/Translator/Traducteur/Traductor > swe

http://www.MatsWiman.com

http://www.Deutsch-Schwedisch.com

http://www.proz.com/translator/1749 Deu>swe Proz.com moderator

eMail: MatsWiman@swipnet.se

Träsk 201

SE-872 97 Skog

Tel : +46-612-54112

Fax : +46-612-54181

Mobile: +46-70-5769797



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Henry Dotterer
Local time: 15:20
SITE FOUNDER
Three outstanding proposals May 14, 2003

Excellent analysis and suggestions, Bernhard. You have introduced some slight twists to ideas we are now pursuing.



Here, numbered according to your suggestions, are some things we are planning:



(1) Fundamental differentiation between \"easy\" and \"pro\"; use of answerer feedback in distinguishing between them



(2) A change that will reward long-time point earners, and open up room for new answerers



(3) Changes to reduce the advantage enjoyed by the first answer



Thanks for your input... and watch this space!


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Alan Johnson  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:20
German to English
first answerer May 14, 2003

I think that \"dis-advantaging\" the first answerer will lead to problems of its own. All other things being equal, the first on the list will be awarded the KudoZ. If the list of answers is randomised answerer 5 (temporally) may be awarded the points instead of answerer 1. This will not please many people. We see it every day; often the only decider is speed of answering.



Regards



Alan


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William Stein  Identity Verified
Costa Rica
Local time: 13:20
French to English
+ ...
What is an easy question? May 14, 2003

There is no objective way to categorize easy vs. difficult questions. In general, an \"easy\" question is that one answered by one\'s rival, while one\'s own answers are always incredibly elegant and a-propos.

Is a \"difficult\" question one that involves a technical term that can simply be looked up in a technical dictionary (which might as well be done by a robot) or is it a deceptively simple question that requires human intelligence and expertise: analysis in context, mastery of syntax, a feel for the language, etc.?

I must admit, I\'m baffled by the concerns underlying these criticisms, all of which seem completely baseless to me:

- there are too many questions

-> What does it matter how many questions there are? The more the merrier. It offers more opportunities to participate. How could it possibly \"discourage people from participating?\" That argument makes no sense at all

- askers are making answerers sacrifice their valuable time

-> Nobody has to answer any questions at all, it\'s stricly voluntary

-> Askers should never ask questions about terms already in the glossary

-> The glossaries are anything but infallible and meaning differs from context to context

The truth of the matter is that answerers should not be considered as \"exploiters of the system\", since most of them are professionals who are quite busy with their own translations and take time out to answer KudoZ questions just for fun. There is no reason to try to impose a set of arbitrary bureaucratic restrictions, that\'s just like trying to limit free trade: it doesn\'t work and reduces the overall productivity of the system.

The real issues to be concerned about, in my opinion, are the ones nobody even touched on:

1) Agencies exploiting the system to get free translations, sentence after sentence

2) The quality of answers: References and some line of argumentation should always be provided. If the answerer does not deign to give any support other than \"I\'m a great expert!\" or something along those lines, then the \"first-in-line\" factor should be discounted completely and the answerer should be able to choose a more helpful answer that comes later.


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Sheila Hardie  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:20
Member
Catalan to English
+ ...
I agree with you, William May 14, 2003

[quote]

On 2003-05-14 16:41, WMStein wrote:

There is no objective way to categorize easy vs. difficult questions. In general, an \"easy\" question is that one answered by one\'s rival, while one\'s own answers are always incredibly elegant and a-propos.

Is a \"difficult\" question one that involves a technical term that can simply be looked up in a technical dictionary (which might as well be done by a robot) or is it a deceptively simple question that requires human intelligence and expertise: analysis in context, mastery of syntax, a feel for the language, etc.?



I know that there are some pretty obvious cases of words we could classify as \'easy\' - \'oui\' ,\'non\', le chat\' ,\'the tomato is red\' and other such delights. But beyond that...I mean a word or expression that appears perfectly simple to one person might seem extremely complicated to another. What criteria should, or can, be used to judge (objectively) whether a word/phrase is easy/difficult? I\'d be interested to hear other people\'s views on this.



Sheila



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jerrie  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:20
German to English
+ ...
In a nutshell! May 14, 2003

I think William\'s and Sheila\'s views sum up my own opinions in a nut shell.

I wonder if there is some way of filtering all questions via/through the glossary before they are actually posted/sent to ProZ members to answer.

This would eliminate a lot of the \'ultra easy\'/irritating questions, but the asker would still get their answer.

The first come first served may not always seem fair, but if answers are positioned randomly, don\'t you think this will lead to more complaints than the present system? Sometimes time is the only way to decide/peer grade.



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Hermeneutica  Identity Verified
Switzerland
Local time: 21:20
Dutch to English
+ ...
Not to mention copying ... May 14, 2003

Alan,



I agree with you. Furthermore, with the \"random\" effect, there is no safeguard against someone copying the first correct answer and submitting it as his/her own in the hope it will come up trumps. Now, at least, when several people arrive at the same correct answer at the same time, which is logically quite possible, the asker has the option to give it to the first to pass the post, omnibus paribus, or to choose the most differentiated answer out of the repeats.



My 2 observations [a new currency for ProZland]



Dee



Quote:


On 2003-05-14 16:40, ajohnson wrote:

I think that \"dis-advantaging\" the first answerer will lead to problems of its own. All other things being equal, the first on the list will be awarded the KudoZ. If the list of answers is randomised answerer 5 (temporally) may be awarded the points instead of answerer 1. This will not please many people. We see it every day; often the only decider is speed of answering.



Regards



Alan



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Hermeneutica  Identity Verified
Switzerland
Local time: 21:20
Dutch to English
+ ...
The survey I was too late for and questions ... May 14, 2003

Hi Henry,



on Friday, or over the weekend, Marcus Malabad sent me a notification of the survey, and when I got home and wanted to fill it in, it had gone. Since then we have mailed back and forth two or three times and we are not understanding each other, I think, maybe we need a translator!!



Anyway, here is my concern. It seems to me, if I understood Marcus correctly, that there is a proposal to let people who answer lots of questions have *fewer* asking rights. The more questions you answer, the fewer questions you are allowed to ask.



If this is really so, first I find it perverse, and as not all human beings are masochists, I am sure it would lead directly to people not answering questions, because why do I want to answer other people\'s questions if the day I need to ask something I will not be allowed to because I answer too many questions? This would lead to the KudoZ system grinding to a halt and all of the economic potential discerned by Bernhard to take a nosedive.



Could you enlighten me about how this notion is supposed to work? Again, I apologize, I have not seen the actual survey and am speaking merely from what I think I understood from the exchange with Marcus.



Thanks indeed for taking the time to look at this whole issue.



Dee



Quote:


On 2003-05-14 15:25, Henry wrote:

Excellent analysis and suggestions, Bernhard. You have introduced some slight twists to ideas we are now pursuing.



Here, numbered according to your suggestions, are some things we are planning:



(1) Fundamental differentiation between \"easy\" and \"pro\"; use of answerer feedback in distinguishing between them



(2) A change that will reward long-time point earners, and open up room for new answerers



(3) Changes to reduce the advantage enjoyed by the first answer



Thanks for your input... and watch this space!



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Henry Dotterer
Local time: 15:20
SITE FOUNDER
Frequent answerers will of course not be put at a disadvantage May 14, 2003

Quote:


It seems to me, if I understood Marcus correctly, that there is a proposal to let people who answer lots of questions have *fewer* asking rights. The more questions you answer, the fewer questions you are allowed to ask.



If this is really so, first I find it perverse





No, you have misunderstood. That would be perverse! If there is ever a difference, and we are not sure there will be, frequent answerers will have more rights, not fewer.



Henry

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Dipl.-Kfm. Bernhard Aicher MBA  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:20
Member
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
In most cases one may rely on the average opinion. May 14, 2003

Quote:


On 2003-05-14 16:41, WMStein wrote:

There is no objective way to categorize easy vs. difficult questions. In general, an \"easy\" question is that one answered by one\'s rival, while one\'s own answers are always incredibly elegant and a-propos.

Is a \"difficult\" question one that involves a technical term that can simply be looked up in a technical dictionary (which might as well be done by a robot) or is it a deceptively simple question that requires human intelligence and expertise: analysis in context, mastery of syntax, a feel for the language, etc.?





Is the current reward system more objective than the proposed system which would be based on many opinions?





[ This Message was edited by: B.Aicher on 2003-05-15 12:26]

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Hermeneutica  Identity Verified
Switzerland
Local time: 21:20
Dutch to English
+ ...
Why is une rose a rose? May 14, 2003

William,



Because I am a native speaker ... or the simplest dictionary could tell you.

Why is it \"he doesn\'t\" and not \"he don\'t\"? Yeah, you can explain in what circumstances the latter may be used, but for the correctness of the former, I really don\'t want to have to quote chapter and verse. And many, too many questions are, basically, as basic as that.



BTW the answerer already does have the option you address ... if you look at the criteria for the number of points to be awarded, if someone comes later and explains the thing much more thoroughly, and the asker feels that was helpful, the points can/do go to the later answerer. This is something I have suffered, boohoohoo, myself from on many an occasion when I have merely given the right answer quick and dirty and gone back to my work, just to help the person out, and then the points went to someone else who later elaborated on it. The asker could choose: do I give the points to DeeFirstCome for her correct, no frills answer, or to the 20thWithHindsight who explained it all meticulously? Either is legitimate in my view; depends on what the asker really needs.



Cheers



Dee



Quote:




2) The quality of answers: References and some line of argumentation should always be provided. If the answerer does not deign to give any support other than \"I\'m a great expert!\" or something along those lines, then the \"first-in-line\" factor should be discounted completely and the answerer should be able to choose a more helpful answer that comes later.



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William Stein  Identity Verified
Costa Rica
Local time: 13:20
French to English
+ ...
How much explanation is required? May 14, 2003

It\'s true that some very simple answers are self-explanatory. In a lot of cases, however, the asker is fully aware of the choice of terms but is trying to understand the concept better in order to choose which alternative is appropriate. For example, yesterday I asked about \"délibération\" in a very specific context and somebody answered \"deliberation\" with no explanation at all. Now why hadn\'t I thought of that? I don\'t mean to be sarcastic, but an explanation is really important in such cases.

I think KudoZ should be used to help translators learn more about their fields of specialization, too, and that\'s another way in which explanations can help.It\'s obviously impossible to separate an understanding of a text from the translation of a text. All this \"I\'m no expert but this is what the dictionary says\" stuff is not my idea of responsible translation. We should do enough research to have at least a basic understanding of what we\'re translating or we\'re sure to make horrible mistakes.

The other side of the coin is that askers should be required to give a minimum of context (at least the whole sentence and preferably the whole paragraph) to allow for a meaningful translation.

[ This Message was edited by: WMStein on 2003-05-14 22:30]


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Catherine GUILLIAUMET  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:20
English to French
+ ...
The context : a very good point May 14, 2003

William, you are right on this aspect.

We need context to understand and translate. How many askers just give you the word they need to be translated and expect you\'ll make miracles ? I don\'t know exactly, but they are close to be the majority. This is ridiculous !

So, you are right on this point.

As for explanations : Generally, I reply only to medical questions, and I try to explain why this word and not that one in French, for instance. Though, sometimes, it may happen that I\' can\'t give any other explanation than \"it\'s the way we say it\". Of course, in some circumstances, I can\'t quote my (very long) years of studies/practice, and/or all the books I\'ve read when I was a student, and/or all the courses I\'ve attended to, and/or all the thousands of pages I\'ve translated during these last 22 years )) The problem is : where are the limits to an explanation ?

Quote:


All this \"I\'m no expert but this is what the dictionary says\" stuff is not my idea of responsible translation. We should do enough research to have at least a basic understanding of what we\'re translating or we\'re sure to make horrible mistakes.

The other side of the coins is that askers should be required to give a minimum of context (at least the whole sentence and preferably the whole paragraph) to allow for a meaningful translation.


[addsig]

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