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Tired of askers not providing context
Thread poster: Fiona Grace Peterson

Fiona Grace Peterson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 05:45
Member
Italian to English
Jun 23, 2009

So I go to look at a question in my language pair today, only to find that for the umpteenth time the asker has provided little/practically no context. To me it just smacks of pure laziness, askers expecting answers to be provided while not going to the effort of giving the context necessary for a helpful answer.

I do realise I'm preaching to the choir, but I feel the situation is becoming intolerable.


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Dr. Andrew Frankland  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:45
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
A simple solution Jun 23, 2009

You're not forced to answer these questions, so what I do with people like this is simply to filter them out so their questions no longer appear. I also filter out those "Kudoz abusers" who ask hundreds and sometimes thousands of questions without once answering a question themselves -- if these people aren't prepared to give context or to help others out then they don't deserve any help from me.

Andy


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 05:45
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Repeat offenders? Jun 23, 2009

Fiona Peterson wrote:
So I go to look at a question in my language pair today, only to find that for the umpteenth time the asker has provided little/practically no context.


I suspect you're not dealing here with repeat offenders, but with new people every time this happens. Now you can look at this negatively but perhaps you should look at it in a positive light -- these are people who will read your answer and then disappear. This is an excellent opportunity to educate them. They are, after all, not repeat offenders who refuse to listen to reason, but simply ignorant folk who don't know any better. So my suggestion to you would be to keep on asking for context. Keep telling folks that you can't answer their question without more information. This forces the asker into re-examining the way he asks questions. It's a service you provide, for a better world.


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:45
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Just ignore those questions Jun 23, 2009

Or, if you feel that you can make a solid contribution to the matter, request more context and only spend time in the question when more context is available.

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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 04:45
Dutch to English
+ ...
Comment removed Jun 23, 2009

Edited ... I was being inexcusably flippant, sorry!

[Edited at 2009-06-23 11:41 GMT]


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Kim Metzger  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 22:45
German to English
Sad state of affairs Jun 23, 2009

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:

Or, if you feel that you can make a solid contribution to the matter, request more context and only spend time in the question when more context is available.


That's the official line and what the powers that be will tell you, citing a rule or two and explaining that KudoZ is a "help system." KudoZ as a resource for professional translators has been abandoned and replaced with "GBK", Glossary Building KudoZ, where context is always provided.

There was a time when these two old rules encouraged people to hope that pro-level KudoZ could really become a reliable resource for professional translators:

2.1 - Use KudoZ to ask for a translation only after you have consulted the KudoZ archives (KudoZ > ProZ.com Term Search from the main menu), dictionaries, search engines and any other commonly available resources that might be helpful. If you find translations elsewhere and still wish to post a KudoZ question, include the information you have found and explain what further information you seek.

2.3 - Sufficient context must be provided with each question. When there is no context, indicate the subject area and type of document. It can be helpful to enter entire sentences or even paragraphs where the term(s) in question occur. Appropriate general and detailed fields indicating the context must be chosen from the dropdown menus. Avoid choosing "Other" when there is a more appropriate field.

And sadly the problem is not confined to new users. The population of repeat offenders is growing by leaps and bounds and little can be done about it, given the site's refusal to address this serious problem.


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Michael GREEN  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 05:45
English to French
Right on, Fiona ! Jun 23, 2009

I share your irritation entirely, and I'm often tempted to "walk on by", as Andrew does: however, Proz is all about helping each other, and if I think I can answer the question, but need more context, I usually just ask for more !

If the asker doesn't respond, I just switch off and leave him/her to their problem.

On the other hand, I certainly agree with Andrew's approach to "eternal askers" : members with "Questions asked: 1000 / questions answered :0" get blacklisted, ie I block them.

I have suggested (unsuccessfully) to the Powers That Be that there might be a "helpfulness index" based on the ratio of "Answered" to "Asked", but maybe that would be too politically incorrect ?


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Yasutomo Kanazawa  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:45
English to Japanese
+ ...
Better than getting context after you post your answer and close the question without grading Jun 23, 2009

I think providing context is important, but I see some veterans, i.e. not newcomers but people in the upper 5 in the directory doing this. First he asks a question, saying that I cannot give you much context or elaborate on this matter. I give an answer based on minimum information given, get 3 agrees from peers, and later, he gives out context, saying that "As you may know, this is an evaluation within XXX" which happens to be a surprise, making my answer useless. I was the only one who submitted an answer, and maybe I could have deleted my answer and suggested a new one based on the latest information, but I didn't, and the question was closed without grading.

I think this strategy is the worst kind among KudoZ askers, which is similar to askers who "abandon" a question keeping it open for months without grading or closing.


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Aniello Scognamiglio  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 05:45
English to German
+ ...
Context = required field! Jun 23, 2009

One possible solution is to implement a required field, a context field that must be filled with the best possible description of the context.

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Ana Irena Hudi
Local time: 05:45
English to Croatian
+ ...
Unless it is all about the newcomers, this is, I agree with a colleague, a sad state of affairs. Jun 23, 2009

Not once had I encountered a question without the proper context provided. And while the newcomers could be forgiven, people who have been members for ages just don't have any excuse - the same applies to those who start a discussion and then just leave it open for months, as yet another colleague had pointed out. I am relatively new to Proz.com but I'm learning as I go, quite quickly and try to stick to the rules.

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Fiona Grace Peterson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 05:45
Member
Italian to English
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you... Jun 23, 2009

... everyone for your kind and insightful posts. I agree that blocking users and education are good solutions in theory; but as to the first, if I truly am committed to helping the community and gaining points by answering KudoZ, then why should I damn that user from the outset? They may ask questions I can answer in the future.

As to the second - education - that's all very well, but constantly saying "provide more context" quite frankly just gets wearing. And why should I as a user educate people in the community who do not respect my work as a member of the same community? To me it feels a little like me runnning down the street in Milan, begging passers-by to pay their taxes...! After all that is what the law says we must do, but not everybody abides by the law....

I just feel very strongly that providing context is a bit of a no-brainer, even for newcomers.

OK, rant over...


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Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 05:45
English to Croatian
+ ...
Context Jun 23, 2009

Fiona Peterson wrote:

To me it just smacks of pure laziness, askers expecting answers to be provided while not going to the effort of giving the context necessary for a helpful answer.



Is it laziness or lack of professionalism, linguistic awareness or simply common sense?

This is how KudoZ questions turn into riddles to be deciphered, instead of being translation issues. The asker is supposed to interact with the community, and not provide some limited and often irrelevant context and then leave it up to peers to give random guesses in the dark of the limited context.

The broader the context, the more accurate the translation will be. I'd go with one paragraph surrounding the term as a minimum. Or, if the asker doesn't want to expose the original content publicly, he or she can describe the content by paraphrasing it.



[Edited at 2009-06-23 16:31 GMT]


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Christina Paiva  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 02:45
Portuguese to English
+ ...
On the other hand ... Jun 23, 2009

There are many aswerers who simply don't bother to read the information provided by the asker. One of the reasons for Kudoz glossary lack of reliability...

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Özden Arıkan  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 05:45
Member
English to Turkish
---- Jun 23, 2009

It wouldn't solve the problem. Subject line is a required field in a forum posting - see mine above

Aniello Scognamiglio wrote:

One possible solution is to implement a required field, a context field that must be filled with the best possible description of the context.



And it wouldn't solve the problem, because I strongly believe that those who don't provide context don't do it out of laziness, disrespect, selfishness... whatever. They do not provide context, because they do not know what context means. Some of them think context is a paragraph to paste from the text, some think asking for context is a form of harassment from the potential answerer, some of them think bad translators would need context. Once, I was scolded by a certified professional that a term would be the same term with or without context, that I was committing this crime of asking context all the time (which makes me a repeat offender, I guess).

Without going into more horror stories as the one above, let me share a joke I had heard from my dad years ago:

-Hello Doctor!
-Hello Patient. So, tell me what problem you are having.
-What? What sort of a doctor are you, if you don't know what problem I am having!!!
-...
-...
-Hmm, I think you're in the wrong place. I recommend you see a vet instead!


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GoodWords  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 22:45
Spanish to English
+ ...
A translator ought to know what “context” is, but apparently many don’t Jun 23, 2009

Özden Arıkan wrote:
And it wouldn't solve the problem, because I strongly believe that those who don't provide context don't do it out of laziness, disrespect, selfishness... whatever. They do not provide context, because they do not know what context means.


Agreed. Too many times (I can think of a particular recent example) a KudoZ query consists of a short, ambiguous, enigmatical, apparently meaningless sentence fragment, and the asker explicitly writes “Sorry, I don’t have any context for this.”

This betrays a sad ignorance of what “context” means. I doubt that a client contacted the asker and said, “I need this five-word phrase translated,” but even if it happened like that, the very circumstance would be a context.


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