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Psychological and Social Influences in Kudoz
Thread poster: Todd Field

Todd Field  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:13
Member (2003)
Portuguese to English
Mar 31, 2004

I have been participating in Kudoz for several months now and find it a fascinating forum: dynamic and challenging from the answerer's perspective, and an extremely powerful tool from the asker's perspective.

But Kudoz behavior does occasionally stray from pure, unbiased linguistic input. We are human beings, after all.

Take what I call the "lemming effect": several answerers madly type at the same time, submit their input, and come up with what amounts to the exact same response. The person who types the quickest gets an "agree" from a peer. Within moments, the psychological influence of that one "agree" prompts another, and another, and another, until there is a snowball effect. The temptation to hit the "agree" button without thinking is undeniably a strong one.

Then there are the social influences upon Kudoz. Each language pair has its own peer groups, much like a primary school playground. If you are part of the group, you likely to get lots of "agrees" from others in your group, complete with cute little salutations and insider messages. If you are out of the group, you can have the best answer of the bunch but never attract input from peers, simply because you are a social outsider, and are approached with more hesitation.

Then there are the personal vendettas. Participant A gets a flaming "disagree" from participant B. Sometime later, he takes his revenge with a big purple "disagree" and a nasty note on one of participant B's answers. Then the all-out military campaign begins, with each one seeking every possible opportunity to bring the other down. After several months participating I have not only learned who is out to get who in my language pairs, but have even received behind-the-scenes emails about Kudoz questions I have posted, detailing the nature of the ongoing feud and why I should disregard certain input when choosing a winner. Fascinating!

Finally, you've got the individual stereotypes, again much like the classroom playground. There's the 10,000-point bully who must win every question at all costs, the quiet bookworm who gives thoughtful and polite answers and never disagrees with anyone, the class clown who wins tons of points by thoughtlessly answering every question he sees, and even the annoying know-it-all who nitpicks every question with a "neutral" or "disagree" but is never brave enough to answer a question himself. Again, fascinating!

I have no particular suggestion or protest here. All of this was going through my head this morning, and I had some free time, so I felt compelled to write it down. I think the Kudoz community is indeed mesmerizing... you could make a full-length college course out of it! (If anyone ever does, let me know... I'll sign up to be the first student).

Kind regards to all,



Marijke Singer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 16:13
Dutch to English
+ ...
Well put Todd! Mar 31, 2004

I agree totally with your stance and recommend taking this attitude to the whole ProZ thing!

A sense of humour is essential in our (lonely) profession!


Pablo Grosschmid  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:13
English to Spanish
+ ...
Thanks for your thoughts, ... Mar 31, 2004

the advantage of this fascinating KudoZ world is that you can really appraise not only the professional quality of people.


Kim Metzger  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:13
German to English
Psychological and Social Influences in Kudoz Mar 31, 2004

Todd and Monica Field wrote:
I think the Kudoz community is indeed mesmerizing... you could make a full-length college course out of it! (If anyone ever does, let me know... I\'ll sign up to be the first student).

Thanks for bringing up a fascinating topic, Todd. Yes, a college course could be designed around KudoZ and it would be a rich field for research papers, master\'s theses and PhD dissertations. I\'ll see if I can come up with a brief Skinnerian paper on the subject of how behavior is affected by rewards, punishment and positive reinforcement.


Roomy Naqvy  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:43
English to Hindi
+ ...
Brilliant Mar 31, 2004

Brilliant, Todd. You just won a friend in me.


David Meléndez Tormen  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:13
Member (2002)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Great topic Mar 31, 2004

Hello Todd,

This is a fascinating topic indeed. Any KudoZer with a few months of experience can totally identify in their experience the types you mention. I particularly like your descriptive, non judgemental approach... I'm sure that if in the future someone writes a longer and more detailed account under the same spirit it will be a delight to the reader's eye. I think that sooner or later any community reproduce certain underlying social patterns (as W. Golding showed in "Lord of the Flies" with a rather dark inflection) that come from our childhood and being aware of them is a good start to become better members of it.

It's interesting to also see under this light the peer group interaction in the Forums, as a complement with what most of the time can be just glimpsed in the KudoZ scene.

One last loose thought: it's really fascinating to see the impact anonimity has on our behaviour. I remember that a couple of years ago the agree/disagree system didn't exist. Instead, users could rate an answer with a grade (0 to 4, if I remember well), and this grading was anonimous. As a result, sometimes things turned pretty wild in there... like the Original Chaos before Fiat Lux or a sudden blackout in a big metropolis!icon_smile.gif




Kirill Semenov  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:13
Member (2004)
English to Russian
+ ...
At last! Mar 31, 2004

Dear Todd and Monica,

I think you've got the main point: kudoZ area, first of all, is a field of psychological observations. The main trick here is that you have to be part of it to observe it, so self-observation is even most important.

Anyway, kudoZ area and proZ in general is the great area of "field tests" for anyone who is interested in psychology. This is the most `dense' and stressed socializing among professionals which I've ever seen. And I have no doubts that kudoZ is much more than just a professionalism, though the high quality of answers is obviously the base of it. Groups, relationships, likes and dislikes, self-aggrandizement and many other ego-related things -- oh my, that's fascinating!

Thank you very much for bringing up the topic!



Parrot  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:13
Spanish to English
+ ...
Fascinating indeed Mar 31, 2004

The phenomenon has been studied on other sites. Below is a good example:


Ltemes  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:13
English to Spanish
+ ...
You're absolutely right Mar 31, 2004

Hi Todd and Monica, I too joined Kudoz just a few months ago and it has become a topic of almost daily conversation with my husband. I've definitely seen and experienced (from most sides) the behaviors of which you speak, and you certainly have come up with great descriptions for people's behavior. I'm one of those who simply cannot bring herself to give anyone else a Disagree and given that I have, at times, jumped the gun...I have felt the wrath and fury of the linguistic, spelling and syntax gods and goddesses. Nevertheless, I wouldn't change the option of giving a Disagree. I understand sometimes it's just TOO MUCH. And I too can imagine the feuds cooking behind the scenes... In addition to the college course you suggest, one could write entire stories about some of the characters encountered in Kudoz. Which all goes to say, vive la difference! Saludos a todos, Laura


Musab Hayatli
Local time: 16:13
English to Arabic
+ ...
More .... Mar 31, 2004

How about the one when answers are sometimes submitted in what seems to be the same time as the question (less than a minute response) and not always easy questions! That has always puzzled meicon_smile.gif


Patricia Posadas  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:13
Member (2002)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Interesting, indeed Mar 31, 2004

Yes, KudoZ, ProZ, we are a virtual community, and as happens in a community we all behave differently. However different types can be distinguished and Todd outlined some we all know well:-)

After all, why should a virtual community be different from face to face communities? There are people out here in need of communicating, people in need of getting more business, people in need of improving their self-esteem, people whose self-esteem is too high , generous and greedy people, people in search of being comforted or willing to share plenty of good things, ignorants and experts, leaders and servants, really everything.

I remember people being afraid that this at the time new virtual and precarious world (some 15-18 years ago)would be a chamber of horrors. Nobody thinks so any more, we are human beings, we behave as we are ... wherever we go. The guy with a girl's nick probably behaves similarly in face to face life... he probably likes to show he is someone else, not necessarily a woman. And we don't notice even though we have him sitting at our table.

The funny thing is that if we stay long enough each of us is most of all these characters at different times... although we all a have a role that prevails above others.

Anyway, all this proves one thing: the community is well alive!

Something that has surprised me: the differences between the physical image you create in your mind behind the photo or the icon of a colleague (of which I was not aware at all!) and their real image when you meet them... what a shock!

Next Saturday I will be meeting an Argentinian colleague coming from Israel, after some months of sharing work and virtual coffees to stay up late and finish that project we wish to review once again, I have a perfect image of her in my mind although she has no photo or anything:-) I can even imagine her height, her hairstyle... I'm ready for another surprise:-)

Great topic!



Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 16:13
Member (2004)
English to Italian
who cares.... Mar 31, 2004




gianfranco  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:13
Member (2001)
English to Italian
+ ...
We do care Mar 31, 2004

KudoZ is a microcosm mirroring the human society. Fascinating thread!


[Edited at 2004-03-31 22:04]


Uldis Liepkalns  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:13
Member (2003)
English to Latvian
+ ...
Dear Todd and Monica, Mar 31, 2004

you are mostly right, though I have to say that in smaller language groups there are seldom open hostilities, and those who are not very correct, are soon ignored/virtually excluded from that particular community.

And I must confess, the later strengthens my belief in human kindicon_smile.gif



Kim Metzger  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:13
German to English
Cooperative/collaborative learning Apr 1, 2004

Here's an interesting discussion of cooperative/collaborative learning that I think can be applied to KudoZ. What is the goal in KudoZ? To find the best translation for the glossary. What is most in need of improvement? – team-building.

"Cooperative or collaborative learning is a team process where members support and rely on each other to achieve an agreed-upon goal. The classroom is an excellent place to develop team-building skills you will need later in life.
Cooperative/collaborative learning is interactive;
as a team member, you:
• develop and share a common goal
• contribute your understanding of the problem:
questions; insights and solutions
• respond to, and work to understand, others' questions, insights and solutions.
Each member empowers the other to speak and contribute,
and to consider their contributions
• are accountable to others, and they are accountable to you
What makes for a good learning team?
• Diverse skill levels, backgrounds, experience
o Each individual brings strengths to a group
o Learning is positively influenced with a diversity of perspective and experience increasing options for problem solving

• Commitment of each member to a goal that is defined and understood by the group
o Confidential peer ratings are a good way to assess who is and who is not contributing
o Groups have the right to fire a non-cooperative or non-participating member if all remedies have failed.

- Shared operating principles and responsibilities, defined and agreed to by each member. These include:
3. Have discussions and disagreements focus on issues, avoiding personal criticism

[Edited at 2004-04-01 01:40]

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