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What to do about Kudoz 'tourists'?
Thread poster: lexical
lexical  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 09:27
Portuguese to English
Aug 16, 2008

We've all seen Kudoz 'tourists' - your language pair (let's say for the sake of argument that it's Portuguese>English) is invaded by a points-seeker whose mother tongue (again purely for the sake of argument) is Greek or Hungarian, and whose stabs at answers reveal that their knowledge of the source or target language (or both) is lamentable, if not almost non-existent. This might not matter except that inexperienced askers could be led astray (several examples of that in my pair this week alone).

As somebody who doesn't feel an uncontrollable urge to intervene from a position of total ignorance in the Latvian-Tibetan Kudoz pair (if there is such a thing), I do wonder what motivates these people.

In all the years I have been associated with Proz.com, I have limited my answers to Kudoz questions where I was 100% sure I knew what I was talking about. I believe that askers have the right to expect reliable answers from answerers who are experienced in the language pair and field, not wild stabs in the dark. This is (or should be) a serious professional activity in which experienced translators put their knowledge at the service of colleagues, not a TV game show or pub quiz where you "might as well have a shot because you might win the points".

Some people might say that an answerer from a totally alien language pair might just know the right answer where others don't, but after many years I have yet to see any evidence of that. I think there is a strong argument for limiting answers to Kudoz questions to those members whose profiles declare that language combination.

Please forgive this rant - I don't actually think anything will be done about this, but it's probably time we had a new rant.


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Ken Cox  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:27
German to English
+ ...
it's a free country and all that... Aug 16, 2008

Restricting answerers to specific stated language qualifications would only encourage 'tourists' and the like to forge their credentials (which is probably happening already), and based on past history I can't see the powers that be at Proz.com agreeing to such a suggestion.

IMO the only thing you can do is provide good answers and agree with good answers provided by others, disagree with absurd answers (stating the reason), and just grin and bear it when an asker selects an inappropriate answer. It's usually not the end of the world...

[Edited at 2008-08-16 20:23]

[Edited at 2008-08-16 20:24]

[Edited at 2008-08-16 20:24]

[Edited at 2008-08-16 20:27]


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Jana Zajicova  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Member (2007)
English to Czech
+ ...
Hm... Aug 16, 2008

I plead guilty. I've got points in English-Slovak, Slovak-English, Polish-German, German-Italian. Well, I wasn't exactly guessing but the fun element was definitely there in some cases.

I wonder why it should disturb anyone, though. As long as answerers do not misrepresent their competence by systematically choosing inappropriately high confidence levels, everything is fine in my opinion. Instead of introducing restrictions on language pairs, I would not permit closing of questions within, say, 24 hours after posting them. And askers would not be allowed to stop tracking their questions during the same period. This way, they would make informed decisions when adding a glossary entry, taking in account the opinions of the community, not just the first guess that happened to appear.

[Edited at 2008-08-16 21:34]


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KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 08:27
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
Doesn't bother me greatly Aug 16, 2008

I've seen some rather appropriate suggestions in my language pair from one colleague who seems not to work with German. If someone wants to stick his/her neck out let them. If they stick it too far out... chop away.

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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:27
English to Spanish
+ ...
Asker Beware Aug 16, 2008

Every asker should know that answers are not to be taken on faith alone. They are a starting point from which the asker should then do his/her own research to determine the best solution for the context, which askers often fail to properly provide. That is the advice I give for my own answers that are offered in good faith and only when I am reasonably sure they can be helpful, but they should not be merely accepted just because I would appear to have high credibility. After all, I could be and often am missing some of the CONTEXT.

Very off-base answers from those purporting expertise in the languages involved can also be found. There is also de "disagree" function for that, and too many of those will soon dissuade the inept.

So everyone has to come to their own conclusions. That is part of being a professional.


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James McVay  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:27
Russian to English
+ ...
Not a huge problem (IMHO) Aug 16, 2008

I agree with pretty much all of the comments to this post. I have to admit, however, that I rarely see problems of the type that people complaining about answerers raise in my language pairs.

When I encounter a problem I need help with and post a question of my own, I'm grateful for help from anybody. I check the answers carefully, and I don't have a problem weeding out the ones that miss the target.

Because I ask questions, I feel an obligation to "give back" to the community. However, I don't stray from my language pairs when answering KudoZ questions, partly because I lack professional competence in other languages, but mainly because of a lack of time. I only answer questions concerning translation into my native language, and in so doing I try to bring a native's perspective to bear, so occasionally I will comment when an answer sounds unidiomatic or awkward in English. I therefore feel that I might occasionally be of some help with translation problems in other language pairs. But I'm finding less and less time to to solve other peoples' problems -- and I don't mean that in a bad way. As my transition from working for others to working for myself advances, I just have less time to read the questions and think about them.


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Yaotl Altan  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 02:27
Member (2006)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Disagree button Aug 16, 2008

Right, the disagree button is helpful to show our position on the matter. How? Pressing it. When a user collects many disagrees, he/she will be linked to useless answers.

[Edited at 2008-08-16 23:56]


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xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 09:27
Spanish to English
+ ...
Not much to do ... Aug 17, 2008

lexical wrote:

We've all seen Kudoz 'tourists' - your language pair (let's say for the sake of argument that it's Portuguese>English) is invaded by a points-seeker whose mother tongue (again purely for the sake of argument) is Greek or Hungarian, and whose stabs at answers reveal that their knowledge of the source or target language (or both) is lamentable, if not almost non-existent. This might not matter except that inexperienced askers could be led astray (several examples of that in my pair this week alone).



Indeed there's a "Creek" speaker who claims to translate to English, I only came across this person becuase they were kindly contributing to a KudoZ question. There is a language called Creek (in the USA, total number of speakers around 4000), but this person's profile leads one to understand that he/she means Greek ....

I understand the irritation, I barely answer Qs anymore, they all irritate me, almost without exception: the "inexperienced" askers (cos at the end if the day they are probably bottoming out the market and selling themselves cheap, and can largely do so becuase their level of potential error is reduced by 90% by picking brains in ProZ - why can't they go off and get "trained"?), the "cynical" askers (series of context-less Qs slammed in after another ad nauseum, sometimes the same "ProZ member" taking up the best part of the opening tag in my language pairs in ProZ), the "barefaced" askers (haven't a clue what they are even asking, as proven by the answers they choose).

[Edited at 2008-08-17 01:40]


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Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:27
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Well, there are a few things to do Aug 17, 2008

Since the initial posting (at least in the title) asked what to do, here are a few ideas:

1. When you see a useless answer, do use the disagree button, and let the answerer know why (in a civilized fashion, otherwise the comment will be removed and there goes the chance to get your message through).

2. When a question is posted from language A to language B, all answers should offer a translation of the asked term in language B. Anything else, such as explanations about the source term either in the source language, or in a third language, if relevant, can only be posted as a "reference" and not as an answer. If you see someone posting such reference-type contributions as regular answers, you can guide them to the Reference function. Remember, the "Reference" function is new, so there may be people not used to it yet. I think it won't take long before the people you were referring to will stop posting their Google search results as answers, and instead, post them as references, or will stop posting them altogether if their only goal was point-hunting (References don't get points). If you still see people systematically using the answer field for posting references, you can call it to the attention of the Moderator.

3. When you ask a question, at the bottom of the question form there is a section where you can mark you question "targeted". You can specify what level you prefer for the language pair and the field, and you can also limit answering to paid members. What this does is limits the notification emails to those people that you specify, so those that do not meet your preference, don't get an email. They can still see the question if they browse the KudoZ list. If they open the question, there will be a sign that says something like: "you are not qualified to answer, but you may, if you decide to do so". So, it is not a real block, but at least it is shown pretty clearly that the asker has a preference for people Working/native etc. in the given language. I think selecting the "member" option will cause a real block.

4. See KudoZ Rule # 3.1: Systematic guessing is not allowed. That means that people who are clearly just taking stabs at questions outside of their language pairs and expertise, in a fashion that cannot be seen as "occasional", are in violation of the rules. If you see this happening, please call it to the attention of the Moderator.

So, I think there are a few things that can be done.

[Módosítva: 2008-08-17 02:32]


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writeaway  Identity Verified
French to English
+ ...
Omnipresence on Kudoz can create a false aura of credibility and reliability Aug 17, 2008

Katalin Horvath McClure wrote:


4. See KudoZ Rule # 3.1: Systematic guessing is not allowed. That means that people who are clearly just taking stabs at questions outside of their language pairs and expertise, in a fashion that cannot be seen as "occasional", are in violation of the rules. If you see this happening, please call it to the attention of the Moderator.
.



But "occasional guessing is allowed". Unfortunately as with so many of the rules, interpretation is wide open and will depend entirely on who is 'interpreting' the difference between 'occasional' and 'systematic' and who they are interpreting in favour of/against. Consistency in application and/or non-applicaiton of all rules would be a tremendous improvement.

The problem with site tourism is that some people spend lots of time 'touring' the site and by showing up day in/day out with answers, some askers and peers start to assimilate 'familiarity' with 'reliability' and actually give peer agrees to totally nonsensical answers. It seems that you can gain credibility just by putting in regular appearances on Kudoz questions. (This seems to be the case in general on Kudoz, not just for site tourists). On the other side of the coin, many people seem to rely heavily on these questions to get through jobs they apparently aren't able to do (often the same questions are asked on other help sites as well) and consequently aren't in a good position to distinguish a good/correct answer from a poor/incorrect one. Peers who also don't know but who are keen to be seen backing 'winners' start backing these regular tourists and lo and behold, credibility is created and askers are often lured into picking totally off the wall answers.
Naturally these tourists amass lots of those coveted Kudoz points. The upshot-Kudoz points and rankings are less and less of an indication of 'reliability' and the silly answers appear all over Google, which discredits all those who are on the site.
What can be done? Virtually nothing. Disagrees, with explanations, are often answered with personal insults. However a reply in kind will only result in problems for those who disagree, not for the poor, 'victimised' answerer. Rule 3.7: you cannot question their right to answer. That basically cancels out any effectiveness of rule 3.1. Some people have been basking in the glory of site tourism for years and rule 3.7 makes them virtually unstoppable.
So all we can do it rant about this problem because there is indeed very little anyone can do.



[Edited at 2008-08-17 13:31]


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Jana Zajicova  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Member (2007)
English to Czech
+ ...
Rankings Aug 17, 2008

writeaway wrote:
Persistent, systematic KudoZ tourism often pays off with high rankings in the pointZ

Could you explain how it is supposed to work?
If an outsourcer uses the directory to find translators working in English-Czech, my position in the ranking will be solely determined by my English-Czech points. The total number of points is a supplementary criterion used when two or more translators have an equal number of points. Am I wrong?


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writeaway  Identity Verified
French to English
+ ...
I removed that title Aug 17, 2008

Jana Zajicova wrote:

writeaway wrote:
Persistent, systematic KudoZ tourism often pays off with high rankings in the pointZ

Could you explain how it is supposed to work?
If an outsourcer uses the directory to find translators working in English-Czech, my position in the ranking will be solely determined by my English-Czech points. The total number of points is a supplementary criterion used when two or more translators have an equal number of points. Am I wrong?


I think a Moderator should answer this. But if someone is looking for an English-Czech translator, wouldn't your ranking there be what they want to see? I don't think overall rankings matter much when people are looking for translators in a specific pair.


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Jana Bedanova  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 09:28
Member (2008)
Czech to English
+ ...
Disagree with lexical Aug 17, 2008

Hi Lexical,

I'm guilty of "KudoZ tourism" too and I'm not ashamed of it. Czech is my native language, but I spent the past five years writing academic papers in English. I definitely do not claim to have my English on the same level as my Czech, but the truth is that at the moment I use it more often at the moment. I believe that I am able to provide competent answers to questions from my non-native language pairs. (I do it time to time with Sp>En, Port>En, Fr>En). HOWEVER, I always set the confidence level quite low unless I feel I'm 120% sure as I do understand the severity of the sin of misleading others and the risk of KudoZ' loss of credibility.

As Jana mentioned before, when an outsourcer is targetting specific languages, your points from other language-pairs won't come up. They are basically irrelevant. So, point hunting in this sense leads you nowhere anyway.

So, why do I do it? I guess it's a mixture of both - willingness to help others and spend my time on it when I'm not so busy and also the challenge of testing myself as I am an enthusiastic linguist. I am also planning to start translating from the above mentioned languages into my own (in the future), so I sort of look at them as my semi-working languages already.

I do agree with what many said before me that there is an instrument for stopping the incompetent "tourists" and letting others know whom they should be beware of. Simply disagree, comment, provide your own adequate translation.Sooner or later people will know who is just playing it and who does and who does not systematically provide good answers.

Jana


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Christel Zipfel  Identity Verified
Member (2004)
Italian to German
+ ...
How true! Aug 17, 2008

writeaway wrote:

The problem with site tourism is that some people spend lots of time 'touring' the site and by showing up day in/day out with answers, some askers and peers start to assimilate 'familiarity' with 'reliability' and actually give peer agrees to totally nonsensical answers. It seems that you can gain credibility just by putting in regular appearances on Kudoz questions. (This seems to be the case in general on Kudoz, not just for site tourists).


I'd like to add that some of those "tourists" (i.e. that answer in each and every language they hardly know) on top tend to answer 90% of all the questions in these languages, no matter which is the subject. Useless to say, they don't have a clue of anything, but as you say, by their omnipresence they get "familiar" and thus *look* reliable, alas! That must be the reason why even the most senseless answer still gets some peer agree or - still worse - ends up in the glossary.

I would not mind too much if one answers in 20 languages, as any asker, IF translating in a language he/she knows well enough, is (or at least, should be) able to distinguish the purely linguistic issue of an answer from the technical one. I find it simply annoying, most of the time. In a few cases, even if the language quality is not perfect, maybe there could be some excellent idea/knowledge behind that would help to find the right answer anyway. The real - and big - problem arises if one of such omnipresent answerers IS actually taken seriously as he/she has got familiar to askers/peers and hence seems to be trustworthy, albeit being completely incompetent, even if he/she pretends to be specialized/working in the maximum number of fields allowed by ProZ.

There isn't anything we can do about but bear them, shake our head and give them the disagrees they deserve, can't we? Actually, I've never seen anyone invoking rule 3.1 in those cases.

Unfortunately, however, the credibility of KudoZ is heavily undermined by such (few) people. They jump on every question answering the first thing that comes to their mind - tourists anyway:-)

[Bearbeitet am 2008-08-17 22:03]


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languagerescue
United States
Local time: 03:28
English to French
+ ...
I totally agree with you!!! Aug 17, 2008

lexical wrote:

We've all seen Kudoz 'tourists' - your language pair (let's say for the sake of argument that it's Portuguese>English) is invaded by a points-seeker whose mother tongue (again purely for the sake of argument) is Greek or Hungarian, and whose stabs at answers reveal that their knowledge of the source or target language (or both) is lamentable, if not almost non-existent. This might not matter except that inexperienced askers could be led astray (several examples of that in my pair this week alone).

As somebody who doesn't feel an uncontrollable urge to intervene from a position of total ignorance in the Latvian-Tibetan Kudoz pair (if there is such a thing), I do wonder what motivates these people.

In all the years I have been associated with Proz.com, I have limited my answers to Kudoz questions where I was 100% sure I knew what I was talking about. I believe that askers have the right to expect reliable answers from answerers who are experienced in the language pair and field, not wild stabs in the dark. This is (or should be) a serious professional activity in which experienced translators put their knowledge at the service of colleagues, not a TV game show or pub quiz where you "might as well have a shot because you might win the points".

Some people might say that an answerer from a totally alien language pair might just know the right answer where others don't, but after many years I have yet to see any evidence of that. I think there is a strong argument for limiting answers to Kudoz questions to those members whose profiles declare that language combination.

Please forgive this rant - I don't actually think anything will be done about this, but it's probably time we had a new rant.


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