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Online Courses - Idea
Thread poster: Henry Hinds

Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:22
English to Spanish
+ ...
Jul 26, 2008

I think it is easy to identify two main problems that people here have when asking Kudoz questions, being:


A decent grasp of both of these areas would seem to be fundamental to being sucessful as a translator, yet it appears that many people have not yet mastered them, and some are almost totally clueless.

SO, my proposal would be that some kind of an online course could be developed to provide skills in these areas. It could be a free course, a pay course or a combination of both; maybe a brief outline for free and a complete course for pay. Individual profiles could also contain a "certification" showing that the person has passed the course.

Now, the reaction I would expect is: "Wow, Henry, that's brilliant, why don't you run with it?" Sorry, folks, this Henry is not a professor. As much as I would like to, I am 100% self-taught with no academic experience in the field, and all I have is all locked in indecipherable code. So I would leave the task to others, perhaps site staff or others who could be hired who would have broad experience in designing courses and academic experience in translation as an organized discipline.

Of course I would be quite willing to help out with what I can.

What do the rest of you think?


Deborah do Carmo  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:22
Dutch to English
+ ...
IMO Jul 26, 2008

To be honest, the first thought that comes to mind reading this is that if people have not yet mastered - or worse, are clueless with regard to - these basic and essential skills, what are they doing masquerading as translators here in the first place?

Your intentions are laudable Henry, but this is supposedly a site for *professional* translators. Those who are student members are - or should already be - receiving that training from their respective educational institutions.

I suppose there is possibly scope for an advanced course of sorts, perhaps in specific areas (legal, financial, medical etc) - after all, one can always learn from others, improve and be interested in branching out - but I'm not in favour of any basic skills course on a professional site that would amount to spoon-feeding. There's enough of that going on as it is.

Have a good weekend

[Edited at 2008-07-26 16:20]


savaria (X)
Local time: 13:22
English to Hungarian
+ ...
I would be happy to take part in FREE online translation-related courses... Jul 26, 2008

...especially if it would be mentioned in our profile,just like offline congresses and ProZ conferences are already mentioned in the profile of those people who attended them.And of course if their timing would be adjusted according to the timing of CET.

[Módosítva: 2008-07-26 16:27]


Local time: 07:22
Spanish to English
Those who need it wouldn't attend Jul 26, 2008

While an on-line course for Kudoz might help, it is highly doubtful that those who need it most (i.e. those who are unable to read the FAQs) would attend.
Perhaps a better idea would be preventing those just entering the site for the first time from posting questions for a reasonable period (during which they could learn about how Kudoz works). For me thirty days is reasonable, but there could surely be no objection to a shorter, more liberal waiting period, say 7-15 days. Isn't in reasonable to expect folks to educate themselves about how something works (possibly by participating in the posting of answers) then by wasting everybody's time for words found in common dictionaries or misclassified questions?
This would not apply to paid members.


Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:22
English to Spanish
+ ...
Professionals and many others Jul 26, 2008

The site includes some consummate professionals as we well know; many others who are not so consummate and at times quite clueless, plus students and others who "aspire" with or without basis, to become translators. Many are called but not so many are chosen. Some have grave deficiencies in language knowledge, a problem only they can remedy with great effort if they are willing. Some are just "masquerading" and deluding themselves as well as others.

However, my own point of view and I am am sure's too, is that all are welcome. Many do not meet professional standards. For those who have promise, a practical educational opportunity could not be called "spoon feeding". Did you and I go to the university to be "spoon fed"? We went there to learn how to think, how to fish. And that is my idea, to teach them how to fish.

"Spoon feeding" is feeding them the answer every time they ask a question. Teaching them to fish is giving them access to the tools and saying, "now you can find the answer yourself".

I would also like to have reactions from those who have a formal education in translation in countries where it is readily available. Were such practical tools covered in your education or not? I would suspect "not" in many cases.

I believe that anything we can do to elevate our profession elevates us all.


Kim Metzger  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:22
German to English
"Ungood askers" Jul 26, 2008

Sounds like something for the Translation Article Knowledgebase , Henry. I think it would be a great idea for some real pros to get together and prepare an article dealing with this vital subject. It appears that bad askers (or in Orwell's Newspeak: ungood askers) are starting to outnumber real colleagues in need of help with tough translation problems.

In my pairs (German/English) we have several ungood askers. They typically

1. Ask for translation of a term with little or no context
2. Ask question without doing basic research
3. Enter source term without special characters (accent marks, umlauts, etc) – forcing others to clean it up for the glossary
4. Ask question without classifying is properly – Other, Other – forcing others to clean it up
5. Do not respond to requests for context – complain that answerers are supposed to be providing answers, not causing problems
6. Close question as soon as first answer comes in – comment: looks good
7. Fail to understand that actual human professionals are providing the help voluntarily and not providing a service to which the asker is entitled

I have proposed something like this before, and I also proposed that "ungood askers" be required to pass a test before being allowed to continue using KudoZ. This would mean giving the community the power to identify the abusers. The abuser would be referred to an article on asking KudoZ questions, pass a test and then be allowed to continue using KudoZ as long as he or she respects the community of translators.


mediamatrix (X)
Local time: 09:22
Spanish to English
+ ...
People in glasshouses ... Jul 26, 2008

In terms of professionalism and savoir-faire, I can see precious little difference between clueless askers who provide no context and experienced answerers who write nothing more than "Ya!" oricon_smile.gif in support of their answer.

The same goes for those who give their answers grade 5 confidence a mere 30 seconds after complaining to the asker that there is not enough context to permit any sensible answer to be provided. If you're guessing the context then you are necessarily also guessing the answer!



Gerard de Noord  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:22
Member (2003)
German to Dutch
+ ...
Who can ask questions? Jul 26, 2008

I’m in favour of Henry's proposal, but I remember vaguely that Henry D once told us that has one or more long-term contracts with external sites where people can ask questions to us pros. I’m not sure who can ask KudoZ questions - maybe they’re not colleagues - and how many information the interface they use can pass on to



Juliana Brown  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:22
Member (2007)
Spanish to English
+ ...
The other option Jul 27, 2008

mediamatrix wrote:

In terms of professionalism and savoir-faire, I can see precious little difference between clueless askers who provide no context and experienced answerers who write nothing more than "Ya!" oricon_smile.gif in support of their answer.


I agree, but sometimesicon_smile.gif is a more diplomatic response than "the question is ridiculous and the asker should be ashamed to ask this, so I am not wasting my time providing proof that vaca means cow or some such..." which one may be thinking in one's evil mind.

Henry, I too think that you are a generous soul and after my knee-jerk reaction- how dare people appear on this site without the sense G-d gave a goat and expect spoon feeding- I must say, one never knows why and how people got into this line of work and maybe, just maybe, it will set them on the right path. Can we call lesson number one "Try to look is up first yourself"?


Ritu Bhanot  Identity Verified
Member (2006)
French to Hindi
+ ...
Kudoz in Hindi Jul 27, 2008

Well, at least the questions in other languages are interesting. Sometimes I go through them because I learn a lot like that and it's never boring.

But I don't know how you'd react if you got questions like the ones that we have been getting in the English - Hindi or Hindi - English pairs.

I have been watching this trend for several years now and recently it became really ridiculous with someone, who registered in July 2008, asking 17 questions... and it was evident that that person didn't know much English and as he was asking people to translate such simple sentences to Hindi, you can do little but wonder if he knew any Hindi!!!

It was simply ridiculous.

The said person has a student account on proz (not a paid member) and his profile shows that he is into (or studying) English to Hindi translations. But I'd say that he has to learn these languages before he can actually translate. So what are we doing? and what is the point of such questions on the site?

Of course, the questions were non-pro so according to staff it wouldn't have any effect on ratings etc. but that is besides the point. It is not just about points and rankings.

And if there are no real questions in this combination then let it be so.

You are lucky. At least people have real queries.

Sorry, if someone thinks that I am just complaining and am not nice etc. because I complain about some poor person who doesn't know the languages he's learning to translate... I'd be glad to teach him the languages (of course, he'll have to pay for it). But I think it'll take him several years before he can actually translate.

Otherwise, it will be like the person who translated "hair-shirt" (remember the contest) as "wife finds someone's hair on husband's shirt" concepticon_wink.gif
Believe me, it's true. It's not just for kudoz that one has to do some research.


Heidi C  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:22
English to Spanish
+ ...
What about learning how to answer? Jul 27, 2008

mediamatrix wrote:

In terms of professionalism and savoir-faire, I can see precious little difference between clueless askers who provide no context and experienced answerers who write nothing more than "Ya!" oricon_smile.gif in support of their answer.

Actually, I think that a greater problem than the "ungood askers" (loved the term), which one can always just decide not to respond to, is the amount of answers that are nothing more than wild guesses. Lately I have even seen answers from people who do not even list one of the languages as one of their pairs!!!

There is no point in providing an answer with absolutely no comment, explanation or anything else. How can the asker decide with no additional information to base a decision on?

I believe than an answer (unless responding to something that could be found in any dictionary) should explain why this is a good choice: give a definition, an explanation, a context, an example, a source...

And an "agree" should be an informed vote, just as people should not be afraid of including "disagrees" (or at least a "neutral") when it is more than evident that the proposed response is mistaken or makes no sense...


Vito Smolej
Local time: 13:22
Member (2004)
English to Slovenian
+ ...
KudoZ examples would be an excellent teaching material Jul 27, 2008

SO, my proposal would be that some kind of an online course could be developed to provide skills in these areas.

The best teaching material would be the examples. And I guess there's enough of them. Good and bad. And, yes, it is a good and worthy idea.




savaria (X)
Local time: 13:22
English to Hungarian
+ ...
I fully support the idea!!! Jul 27, 2008

I would really support the idea of introducing online courses into this site -not language courses though,but professional,so translation-related ones - and these courses should be free and they should be open and accessible for all,no matter if member,partial member or not member,but only registered- like I am.

I would really be interested in any of such courses,especially if the completion would be followed by some kind of test,and if the person passed the test,the system should place a short notice in his/her profile that he/she took part on this and that course,and he/she passed it (maybe it could also be mentioned that with such and such result).It could be a great testimony also to the outsorcerers about the fact that the given translator/interpreter is not only a virtual account registered by a robot,and what is more,it would also serve as a proof that the person has really achieved a certain level of acquisition in the given language pair.

So I fully SUPPORT the idea and I am absolutely FOR it!

And,what is more,it could also be a third way of getting ticked in the profile(ID verification),besides the options of paying money orattending powwows.I mean,if somebody passed a test on an issue about which he/she has learnt here,then I think that would really worth a tick into his profile,testifying that he/she took part in the course,and passed the online test on it(this online test should contain both multiple choice questions and questions that need writing,and this test should not be corrected by a machine,but by the ProZ staff. I for example,would never pay for membership(I know that it is a professional investment,but it is simply too expensive for me),nor for the ID verification(because I have once been cheated by one such bank transactions -with 10.000 €s),after having payed 10 €s to a bank account,but this could be a free option,not necessitating personal meeting.

[Módosítva: 2008-07-27 16:03]


Elena Pérez  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:22
English to Spanish
+ ...
Ungood answerers Jul 28, 2008

Juliana Starkman wrote:
I agree, but sometimesicon_smile.gif is a more diplomatic response than "the question is ridiculous and the asker should be ashamed to ask this, so I am not wasting my time providing proof that vaca means cow or some such..." which one may be thinking in one's evil mind.

And why should we be diplomatic with such askers? In my opinion, they don't deserve any help at all. Anyway, I think that there are many people who answer in the same way to well-formulated questions including enough context.


Milena Bosco (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:22
English to Italian
+ ...
"You gotta be a natural" :) Jul 28, 2008

Henry, I think you answered the viability of specific courses in your post.

I would call what most people do in this web site a "lack of awareness".

1a) often I read obvious questions, some of which you find an answer for on a dictionary in two minutes;
1b) if you need to ask ten questions regarding a certain translation you obviously got a job for which you are not qualified;
2) often the context is missing;
3) often people who answer guess;
4) I see many people having no clue of what research is: here I think 80% of translators think that research=google...If you do not know what you are doing, and you have a certain prejudice you will find 1000 google hits that confirm that prejudice; in my mind the age BG (Before Google) was more productive quality wise;
5) the asker (very often) picks the most preposterous answer, sometimes I think (better:hope) that it is not the one he's going to use for the client.
6) when it is time to be strict (eg. wrong medical translation that could cause severe health consequences) no one is.

The "awareness" cannot be thaught. It's in your nature. Either you have it or you don't. There is no academic course that can show a translator the path to follow, and if there were to be one in my modest opinion it would be a math course.

There are many translators but few of them are good ones. "I every now and then dance in the living room pretending I am Madonna but I am not and I will never be" says Joan Cusack's character in "Working Girl". Many are dancing in the living room at

[Modificato alle 2008-07-28 18:53]

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