Isn't the KudoZ system having an unintended effect?
Thread poster: Ben Hickman

Ben Hickman  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 13:49
Dutch to English
Dec 27, 2009

I've read a lot (but not all) of the postings here about KudoZ points, but I haven't seen anyone mention the specific aspect that bothers me most. The Translators & Interpreters directory seems to be based almost entirely on these points, to the extent that a translator who has been awarded points for a question related to a field in which he doesn't claim to be specialized (on his profile page) is listed above another translator with no (or few) points in that field for whom that field is his top specialty. Doesn't that make ProZ less useful to the agency seeking a specific specialist?

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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:49
English to German
+ ...
That's why it is called KudoZ ranking and not the Yellow Pages Dec 27, 2009

What about translators with a background in journalism, advertising and marketing? They probably have been writing about any topic under the sun, and that's their job. If they would list each and every technical field they ever had to research and to write about, their profile page would be about a mile long.

Why should a translator who is highly specialized in a particular field but never bothers to help colleagues have a higher ranking than people who are willing to interrupt their own work to help others?


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Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 13:49
Member
English to French
The point of KudoZ points Dec 27, 2009

Ben Hickman wrote:
...The Translators & Interpreters directory seems to be based almost entirely on these points...
.
The directory is not based on the alphabet or one's own skills: the more KudoZ points you have in a given category, the better your ranking in that category.
There ought to be a correlation between point counts and actual skills, but how loose or tight (or irrelevant) it is is left to the appreciation of peers and customers.

And this is why some people tend to get ballistic about grading, bullying and shouting in the KudoZ section: the more points you get, the more visibility you gain with potential customers. Points actually have a potential to make you win or lose work. We are free to like it or not, and to argue endlessly about the relevance of such rankings.

ProZ' rationale is simple: you want more visibility on our site? Answer more KudoZ questions (and if possible try to give useful answers). However specialised you are on paper or at work, a dummy in law like me who gets points after answering one question may be better ranked than a legal wizard who never answered any.
However, should a prospect contact me for a legal paper only because I have points, be sure that I turn it down and leave it to the "competition". I wouldn't trust a customer who relies only on points to select their translators, without even visiting their profiles.

Philippe


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Gianni Pastore  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 13:49
Member (2007)
English to Italian
Besides Dec 27, 2009

Nicole Schnell wrote:

Why should a translator who is highly specialized in a particular field but never bothers to help colleagues have a higher ranking than people who are willing to interrupt their own work to help others?


Exactly.

Also, if you (Ben) were an agency, who would you probably trust more (al least initially):

- a translator who claims high specialization in the X field but has no kudoz points

or

- a translator who claims high specialization in the same X field as above but also has gotten lots of points (therefore giving you the chance to check at least the quality of his/her answers)?

As I get an idea of who I am talking to by simply checking messages and replies in the forums, Kudoz point are just another (good) way to get visibility in a crowded and competitive place such as Proz.

Regards
G


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 14:49
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
It surprised me once Dec 27, 2009

Not long ago I was searching for a translator in my language combination, who would have more experience in a certain field. I fed the info into the Proz form and to my surprise I was listed as Number One for that speciality (which is not listed in my profile).

Regards
Heinrich


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 09:49
English to Portuguese
+ ...
The naked truth, outsourcers having a keen eye for talent Dec 27, 2009

Philippe Etienne wrote:
However specialised you are on paper or at work, a dummy in law like me who gets points after answering one question may be better ranked than a legal wizard who never answered any.
However, should a prospect contact me for a legal paper only because I have points, be sure that I turn it down and leave it to the "competition". I wouldn't trust a customer who relies only on points to select their translators, without even visiting their profiles.


Some really great translation professionals might not have the time, the patience, nor the desire to seek Kudoz. Some fledgling translators may see hundreds of Kudoz as their only chance to show what they've got, as their list of past accomplishments is still too short to impress any prospect.

IMHO Kudoz is a system Proz has to foster mutual help among translators. Some take these questions as a challenge, so they answer them with the spirit of giving back whatever help they had when they started out in the trade. These would do it even if they didn't get a 'thank you' in return. Others are desperate Kudoz hunters for the reasons above. Between these two groups, there are countless shades of all colors. The red color is peculiar, as it belongs to belligerent individuals who will never admit their answer might have been wrong.

The precedence given by Proz to higher Kudoz holders is just a motivator to keep the system alive. Otherwise, who would bother? The discounts in membership fees? Ditto.

Is it a reliable selection criterion for outsourcers? I wouldn't think so, but I'm not the one who will have to face the consequences of using it as such. Incidentally, the same applies to translation tests. I wouldn't consider them reliable inasmuch I don't know if the resources the candidate used in taking them will be available when they do the actual job.

The reason linking these two issues is that I was given exactly the same translation test by two completely unrelated translation agencies. Maybe you, my esteemed reader, have taken that same test too. It comprises five short texts in different areas. I recall one of them is about swimming pool hardware, a pump.

I failed the first time I took it. One of these five texts was fraught with double or triple spaces after every period, and I failed to remove them. This probably exhausted my 'error quota'. The second time I took it, I passed, however I noticed that whoever scored it was not familiar with technical pump terminology.

Later I discovred that most of that so popular test had been asked and answered on the Kudoz. The most amazing of it is that several askers chose wrong answers!

Anyway, these rather fallible selection criteria seem to be used by some outsourcers, considering the occasional requests I get for 'fixing' translations that should be redone from scratch, after rejection by the end-client. In most such cases the outsourcers involved are puzzled beyond embarrassment, because - as they say - the translator seemed good, s/he was even (entity omitted)-certified!

The bottom line is that a keen eye for real talent is an invaluable tool for professional translation outsourcers. If they lack it, and have to rely on Kudoz count and/or translation tests alone, they deserve what they'll get.


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:49
English to German
+ ...
Quality. Not quantity. Dec 27, 2009

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:

Philippe Etienne wrote:
However specialised you are on paper or at work, a dummy in law like me who gets points after answering one question may be better ranked than a legal wizard who never answered any.
However, should a prospect contact me for a legal paper only because I have points, be sure that I turn it down and leave it to the "competition". I wouldn't trust a customer who relies only on points to select their translators, without even visiting their profiles.


Some really great translation professionals might not have the time, the patience, nor the desire to seek Kudoz. Some fledgling translators may see hundreds of Kudoz as their only chance to show what they've got, as their list of past accomplishments is still too short to impress any prospect.

IMHO Kudoz is a system Proz has to foster mutual help among translators. Some take these questions as a challenge, so they answer them with the spirit of giving back whatever help they had when they started out in the trade. These would do it even if they didn't get a 'thank you' in return. Others are desperate Kudoz hunters for the reasons above. Between these two groups, there are countless shades of all colors. The red color is peculiar, as it belongs to belligerent individuals who will never admit their answer might have been wrong.

The precedence given by Proz to higher Kudoz holders is just a motivator to keep the system alive. Otherwise, who would bother? The discounts in membership fees? Ditto.

Is it a reliable selection criterion for outsourcers? I wouldn't think so, but I'm not the one who will have to face the consequences of using it as such. Incidentally, the same applies to translation tests. I wouldn't consider them reliable inasmuch I don't know if the resources the candidate used in taking them will be available when they do the actual job.

The reason linking these two issues is that I was given exactly the same translation test by two completely unrelated translation agencies. Maybe you, my esteemed reader, have taken that same test too. It comprises five short texts in different areas. I recall one of them is about swimming pool hardware, a pump.

I failed the first time I took it. One of these five texts was fraught with double or triple spaces after every period, and I failed to remove them. This probably exhausted my 'error quota'. The second time I took it, I passed, however I noticed that whoever scored it was not familiar with technical pump terminology.

Later I discovred that most of that so popular test had been asked and answered on the Kudoz. The most amazing of it is that several askers chose wrong answers!

Anyway, these rather fallible selection criteria seem to be used by some outsourcers, considering the occasional requests I get for 'fixing' translations that should be redone from scratch, after rejection by the end-client. In most such cases the outsourcers involved are puzzled beyond embarrassment, because - as they say - the translator seemed good, s/he was even (entity omitted)-certified!

The bottom line is that a keen eye for real talent is an invaluable tool for professional translation outsourcers. If they lack it, and have to rely on Kudoz count and/or translation tests alone, they deserve what they'll get.




I agree with everything of the above. Except one thing: There is no such thing as membership discounts for KudoZ points. Sorry. Please do not confuse KudoZ with Brownies which show your engagement, eg., if you write a forum post or propose a poll topic or similar.

This is crucial.


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jyuan_us  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:49
Member (2005)
English to Chinese
+ ...
I found it good to read your postings, Dec 27, 2009

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:

Philippe Etienne wrote:
However specialised you are on paper or at work, a dummy in law like me who gets points after answering one question may be better ranked than a legal wizard who never answered any.
However, should a prospect contact me for a legal paper only because I have points, be sure that I turn it down and leave it to the "competition". I wouldn't trust a customer who relies only on points to select their translators, without even visiting their profiles.


Some really great translation professionals might not have the time, the patience, nor the desire to seek Kudoz. Some fledgling translators may see hundreds of Kudoz as their only chance to show what they've got, as their list of past accomplishments is still too short to impress any prospect.

IMHO Kudoz is a system Proz has to foster mutual help among translators. Some take these questions as a challenge, so they answer them with the spirit of giving back whatever help they had when they started out in the trade. These would do it even if they didn't get a 'thank you' in return. Others are desperate Kudoz hunters for the reasons above. Between these two groups, there are countless shades of all colors. The red color is peculiar, as it belongs to belligerent individuals who will never admit their answer might have been wrong.

The precedence given by Proz to higher Kudoz holders is just a motivator to keep the system alive. Otherwise, who would bother? The discounts in membership fees? Ditto.

Is it a reliable selection criterion for outsourcers? I wouldn't think so, but I'm not the one who will have to face the consequences of using it as such. Incidentally, the same applies to translation tests. I wouldn't consider them reliable inasmuch I don't know if the resources the candidate used in taking them will be available when they do the actual job.

The reason linking these two issues is that I was given exactly the same translation test by two completely unrelated translation agencies. Maybe you, my esteemed reader, have taken that same test too. It comprises five short texts in different areas. I recall one of them is about swimming pool hardware, a pump.

I failed the first time I took it. One of these five texts was fraught with double or triple spaces after every period, and I failed to remove them. This probably exhausted my 'error quota'. The second time I took it, I passed, however I noticed that whoever scored it was not familiar with technical pump terminology.

Later I discovred that most of that so popular test had been asked and answered on the Kudoz. The most amazing of it is that several askers chose wrong answers!

Anyway, these rather fallible selection criteria seem to be used by some outsourcers, considering the occasional requests I get for 'fixing' translations that should be redone from scratch, after rejection by the end-client. In most such cases the outsourcers involved are puzzled beyond embarrassment, because - as they say - the translator seemed good, s/he was even (entity omitted)-certified!

The bottom line is that a keen eye for real talent is an invaluable tool for professional translation outsourcers. If they lack it, and have to rely on Kudoz count and/or translation tests alone, they deserve what they'll get.



as aways, so convincing.


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Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:49
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
If a specialty is specified for the search, only those show up Dec 27, 2009

Ben Hickman wrote:

I've read a lot (but not all) of the postings here about KudoZ points, but I haven't seen anyone mention the specific aspect that bothers me most. The Translators & Interpreters directory seems to be based almost entirely on these points, to the extent that a translator who has been awarded points for a question related to a field in which he doesn't claim to be specialized (on his profile page) is listed above another translator with no (or few) points in that field for whom that field is his top specialty. Doesn't that make ProZ less useful to the agency seeking a specific specialist?


Hi Ben,
What you describe would not be right, and it would indeed be misleading for anybody looking for specialists.
I remember it was a bug a while ago, maybe when the new directory was introduced (I don't remember exactly when), but it was quickly corrected back then.

So, are you sure the directory works the way you described above? Could you check one more time?
I am pretty sure it should not be that way.
If a translator does not list a certain specialty in his/her profile, then a directory search with that specialty specified would not show him/her at all, even if he/she has the most KudoZ points in that field of specialty.
I just checked, and it does not list me at all in fields that I did not list as my specialty, even though I have more KudoZ points in that field than any of the people who listed that field among their specialties.
I checked both directories, the so called "classic" and the "advanced" as well. Both seem to work correctly.

Katalin

[Edited at 2009-12-27 17:14 GMT]


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Ben Hickman  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 13:49
Dutch to English
TOPIC STARTER
Maybe you are right Dec 27, 2009

Katalin Horvath McClure wrote:

So, are you sure the directory works the way you described above? Could you check one more time?
I am pretty sure it should not be that way.
If a translator does not list a certain specialty in his/her profile, then a directory search with that specialty specified would not show him/her at all, even if he/she has the most KudoZ points in that field of specialty.
I just checked, and it does not list me at all in fields that I did not list as my specialty, even though I have more KudoZ points in that field than any of the people who listed that field among their specialties.
I checked both directories, the so called "classic" and the "advanced" as well. Both seem to work correctly.

Katalin

[Edited at 2009-12-27 17:14 GMT]


Hi Katalin,
Thanks for questioning the validity of my assertion. This problem does seem to have been partially fixed since I last checked. When I search in my pair for a field I am specialized in (using either the classic or advanced directory) I don't find any people listed above me who have only other specialties, excluding the specialty in question. What I do see, however, is people for whom that specialty is only listed under "Also works in" and not under "Specializes in." I also find people who don't provide any specialty information in their visible profile.

Ben


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