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Allergic to confidence level 5
Thread poster: Kim Metzger

Kim Metzger  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 12:54
German to English
Sep 1, 2008

Dear ProZians - I'd like to know how you feel about commenting on a person's confidence level in peer comments. I mainly visit the German/English KudoZ pairs, where the use of confidence level 5 is generally frowned on by the community, and it is practically standard practice for members/users to let others know how they feel about excessive confidence. Occasionally, we get visitors from other language pairs, Spanish/Portuguese/English for example, where CL 5 (Highest - I am sure) appears to be quite common and when they enter an answer in our language pairs with CL 5, members/users tend to comment on their choice by entering a neutral comment regarding their confidence level – kind of as a way to try to maintain a healthy community of linguists and preserve the integrity of the language pair.

I have been informed that a neutral peer comment to the effect of "I'm allergic to confidence level 5" is in violation of rule 3.5.

3.5 Peer comments must be purely linguistic. As elsewhere in the site, personal comments are not allowed in peer comments. Notes should be based solely on linguistic evaluation of answers provided. Backing up peer comments with references is encouraged.

I understand that such comments are indeed not purely linguistic, but when the CL was introduced, it was for the purpose of protecting askers from charlatans and confidence tricksters who are not afraid to deliberately mislead the asker and who may be eager to get their answers at the top of the list. In short, it was introduced to add a measure of integrity to the process and prevent askers from being misled. That's also the purpose of the "disagree."

Question: do you think neutral comments on a person's confidence level should be prohibited?


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PAS  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:54
English to Polish
+ ...
Question and comment Sep 1, 2008

No, a neutral should not be prohibited, provided I have reasonable grounds to contest the answer.

But I think that 5 levels is too many. Three or four would be sufficient (wild guess, reasonably sure, dead sure).

I mean, after all, if I answer a question like "I love you", "E flat major" or "equilateral triangle", why shouldn't I dial the maximum confidence level?

Pawel Skalinski


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Jared Tabor
Local time: 14:54
SITE STAFF
Peer comments based on linguistic evaluation Sep 1, 2008

Hello Kim,

As you mention, this type of comment is not purely linguistic. Confidence level represents how certain the answerer feels that their answer is the most helpful. KudoZ rule http://www.proz.com/siterules/kudoz_answ/3.7#3.7 would also apply in this case.

Best regards,

Jared


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Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:54
German to English
Level 5 confidence not always appropriate Sep 1, 2008

Kim Metzger wrote:
Question: do you think neutral comments on a person's confidence level should be prohibited?


I don't see anything wrong with neutral comments on a confidence rating. Each Kudoz section seems to have its own style of answering, and as you point out, a 5 confidence level in the German>English section is a rarity among regular contributors. Apparently some people feel that if a translation can be found in a dictionary, then it must be 100% correct -- and appropriate -- in all contexts, hence the "5" confidence level. I'm very leery of level 5 confidence shown by people working outside their language pairs.


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Myriam Dupouy  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 19:54
English to French
+ ...
Allergic to the disagreeZ... Sep 1, 2008

No, I don't think so...
Most of the time, I use a confidence level 3...
But I also think the best way to "comment" on other people's answers is to use the "agree" bit or well...answer and justify your answer... As you are allergic to confidence level 5, I am allergic to the disagrees and I'm not sure I would feel better if they were pink, purple or yellow...Neutral comments tend to be regarded as disagrees I'm afraid, although they can be pretty useful in some cases. Probably the reason why you've been told off...I mean...Informed...
My peer comments are almost never exclusively linguistic...I just like a human, chatty extra...And I would HATE being "informed" not to do that...

Kindest regards,


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Siegfried Armbruster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 19:54
Member (2004)
English to German
+ ...
"Hypersensitive" might be a better term Sep 1, 2008

Hi Kim, I know absolutely what you mean. However, please look at it from a pure linguistic point of view as described in rule 3.5

3.5 .....Notes should be based solely on linguistic evaluation of answers provided.


I do understand, that a more medical description

Kim Metzger wrote:
"I'm allergic to confidence level 5"


gives the Levites a reason "dir die Leviten zu lesen" as we say in German "

A more neutral statement such as

You entered a confidence level of 5. I am sure you are aware of Rule 3.1 (.......Occasional guessing of translations is acceptable; guessing systematically is not allowed). Unfortunatly based on my knowledge and experience I cannot confirm this confidence level..

might be a better option.

You are just stating a fact,

You entered a confidence level of 5.

quoting a Proz rule,

Rule 3.1 (......Occasional guessing of translations is acceptable; guessing systematically is not allowed).

and acknowledging that your experience and knowledge does not allow you to confirm this confidence level

Unfortunatly, based on my knowledge and experience I cannot confirm this confidence level

I do not see any reason why such a statement should not be allowed, since you are not making any comment on the answerer / his/her experience etc as described in Rule 3.7:

Comments or insinuations concerning an answerer's or asker's experience or profile, his/her decision to post a certain question or answer, grade or close a question in a certain way, make a certain glossary entry, etc., are strictly prohibited

To answer your question, NO I do not think that neutral comments on a person's confidence level should be prohibited. But this is a field were we both might need to learn to comply with PROZs political correctness guidelines.


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Ken Cox  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:54
German to English
+ ...
tit for tat Sep 1, 2008

OK, a comment such as 'I'm allergic to CL 5' is not a linguist comment, no argument there.

However, the CL selected by an answerer is ultimately a subjective judgement and prone to misuse or abuse. After all, who's to say that the answerer isn't fully confident of the correctness of the proposed answer, no matter how questionable it may be? It would be nice if we were all perfectly objective and honest and all had the same understanding of the nuances of the confidence levels, but real life is different.

Unfortunately, 'subjective' peer comments are discouraged or prohibited unless they qualify as lingusitic comments, which means that the only 'linguistic' way to challenge the stated CL of an answer is to demonstrate that the answer is wrong by providing an alternate answer that is evidently better -- an indirect and time-consuming process.

Perhaps the best response to a perceived unwarranted use of CL5 is a disagree with the simple comment 'I don't think the CL is justified by the explanation', especially when answerers provide no substantiation or dubious substantiation. That's 'linguistically' neutral, and IMHO fair: it's your opinion versus mine. If peers can't say 'I don't think so', what defense is there for the right of the answerer to say 'look no further, this is the right answer', which is what CL5 usually communicates?

Further comment: I generally agree with Siegfried's comments (which were not visible when I posted my reply), although I don't think we should start throwing rules at each other (leave that to the moderators).

[Edited at 2008-09-01 21:35]


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Kim Metzger  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 12:54
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
Grade inflation Sep 1, 2008

As I said, the German/English communities do a pretty good job of keeping the CL under control. The problem arises mainly when we are visited by members/users who usually frequent other language pairs where the high 5 is almost the default selection.

I think the Spanish/English community is suffering from grade inflation. I just took another look at the CLs in pro-level Spanish to English and it seems that almost no one uses anything other than 5. A CL 5 is practically the default selection. If you enter a 4 you'll be at the bottom of the list and it will take a lot of "agrees" to move to the top.

Are all these pro-level questions so easy that there can be no doubt about the best answer? If so, why do we also commonly see four or five different answers? Everybody is "Highest, I am sure"? What's wrong with a high 4 if you're not just guessing? Back up your answer with a good explanation and some solid references where appropriate, and let the chips fall where they may. Or maybe no one trusts askers to be smart enough to assess answers in that language pair if the answerer isn't absolutely positive and they have created a monster.

It's almost as though if you don't select 5, your answer will be considered a guess.


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xxxsavaria
Hungary
Local time: 19:54
English to Hungarian
+ ...
I think nobody should use confidence level 5(five)... Sep 1, 2008

unless several well-known websites confirm your proposal.

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Stanislaw Czech, MCIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:54
Member (2006)
English to Polish
+ ...
or dictionaries Sep 1, 2008

savaria wrote:

unless several well-known websites confirm your proposal.


Or even better several well-known dictionaries...

Cheers
S


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Daniela Furini
Italy
Local time: 19:54
English to Italian
+ ...
just an observation Sep 1, 2008

this is not in response to any specific previous post, but just to make an observation or two about the structure of kudoZ

as far as I am concerned, when I make a question that gets quite a few answers, I read very carefully all of them and give as much consideration to those that are at the bottom of the list as to those that are at the top. thus I believe the problem of good answers being pushed to the bottom of the list because of a lower CL is not really a big deal.

generally, moreover, I tend to give less credit to the confidence level, and more credit to whether the answerer a) is a native speaker of the language, and b) is listed as working/specializing in the field.
this is because I know that CL judgements can vary from individual to individual, based on their personality, and while they can be helpful they are not a 100% reliable, or not as reliable as other information on the answerer that are available on the page.


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JaneTranslates  Identity Verified
Puerto Rico
Local time: 13:54
Member (2005)
Spanish to English
+ ...
I had to laugh. Sep 2, 2008

Kim Metzger wrote:

I think the Spanish/English community is suffering from grade inflation. I just took another look at the CLs in pro-level Spanish to English and it seems that almost no one uses anything other than 5. A CL 5 is practically the default selection.


Just the other day I answered a question and realized, too late, that I had accidentally hit a CL of 5 instead of the intended 4. I was so embarrassed that I added a note to apologize!


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RieM  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:54
English to Japanese
+ ...
How about a poll? Sep 2, 2008

Hi,

I just wonder how much CL affects asker's decision-making. As we know, CL is just subjective judgement. Unless it is accompanied by well-founded argument, it has an adverse impact on other participants. An "allergic reaction" is one of the symptoms!

But does asker take CL into account? How much? It seems that it affects other answerers, participants and viewers more than it does askers. I'm curious to know...

Regards,
Rie


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:54
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Grade inflation and allergy to disagrees Sep 2, 2008

Kim Metzger wrote:
I think the Spanish/English community is suffering from grade inflation.


Indeed, the English/Spanish community has some problems in that area. There is always someone (or several people) who replies with a confidence 5. Sometimes a user comes by who needs many disagrees to understand that maybe his/her permanent confidence 5 in all possible topics does not reflect the depth of his/her knowledge.

And of course disagrees create big trouble with many Spanish answerers, and even personal attacks and unkind comments over email. I can't quite grasp why, but it is true.


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Vanda Nissen  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 03:54
Member (2008)
English to Russian
+ ...
how much Sep 2, 2008

Rie Matsuda wrote:


But does asker take CL into account? How much? It seems that it affects other answerers, participants and viewers more than it does askers. I'm curious to know...

Regards,
Rie

Well, sometimes it does because answers with a higher level of confidence tend to appear in front of the ones with a lower level of confidence. I personally think that this rule should be reconsidered. Last week I answered the legal question, and because I found the answer in a very reputable dictionary and checked it on the net afterwards, I chose the 4 th level (ususally I choose 3th), and 10 min later another person, using exactly the same terms just twisting them around, entered the answer but using the 5th level of confidence so his answer appears in front of mine now, and the asker has not made his decision yet, so it would not actually surprise me if the one with the higher CL is going to be preferred.


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