Kudoz: bias to make all questions Pro
Thread poster: Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:13
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Aug 9, 2011

Dear colleagues and nevertheless friends,

Every now and then I see Kudoz questions that can be easily answered by any minimally literate bilingual person. For instance, I would say that a bilingual person would know the words for concepts like "electronic microscope", "leather", "hinge"... and similar things and objects you see in books all over the place or are in contact with during daily life. Yet they are asked as Pro questions, and when you propose that they are made Non-Pro, y
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Dear colleagues and nevertheless friends,

Every now and then I see Kudoz questions that can be easily answered by any minimally literate bilingual person. For instance, I would say that a bilingual person would know the words for concepts like "electronic microscope", "leather", "hinge"... and similar things and objects you see in books all over the place or are in contact with during daily life. Yet they are asked as Pro questions, and when you propose that they are made Non-Pro, you get this popup box:


Non-PRO questions are those that can be answered by any bilingual person without the aid of a dictionary, for instance:
- I love you
- Welcome to Panama
- Since when?
- thermos
- mmm, yummy
- boo!

Detach yourself from your own background/specialisation and think of a - hypothetical - randomly selected bilingual person. Is it likely that this person would be able to produce a good translation of the term or phrase in this question (and in the particular context shown) from the top of his/her head?

Are we to think that the threshold between a Pro and a Non-Pro was based on a detailed study of the average bilingual moron?

Now, honest, the examples shown in this list are clearly biased to make people think that anything beyond the basic vocabulary of a 5 year old is a Pro question, thus reducing the share of Non-Pro questions. Why would it be negative for Proz.com to say that "leather" is a Non-Pro?

I hope you have the answer, since the rationale completely escapes me.

Cheers,
Tomás

(Edited to correct two typos.)

[Edited at 2011-08-09 08:32 GMT]
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Make every question a Pro question Aug 9, 2011

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:

Dear colleagues and nevertheless friends,

Every now and than I see Kudoz questions that can be easily answered by any minimally literate bilingual person. For instance, I would say that a bilingual person would know the words for concepts like "electronic microscope", "leather", "hinge"... and similar things and objects you see in books all over the place or are in contact with during daily life. Yet they are asked as Pro questions, and when you propose that they are made Non-Pro, you get this popup box:


Non-PRO questions are those that can be answered by any bilingual person without the aid of a dictionary, for instance:
- I love you
- Welcome to Panama
- Since when?
- thermos
- mmm, yummy
- boo!

Detach yourself from your own background/specialisation and think of a - hypothetical - randomly selected bilingual person. Is it likely that this person would be able to produce a good translation of the term or phrase in this question (and in the particular context shown) from the top of his/her head?

Are we to think that the threshold between a Pro and a Non-Pro was based on a detailed study of the average bilingual moron?

Now, honest, the examples shown in this list are clearly biased to make people think that anything beyond the basic vocabulary of a 5 year old is a Pro question, thus reducing the share of Non-Pro questions. Why would it be negative for Proz.com to say that "leather" is a Non-Pro?

I hope you have the answer, since the rational completely escapes me.

Cheers,
Tomás


No offense, Tomas, but I think every question asked at KudoZ should be marked Pro, since similar topic keeps popping up now and then which has never led to any conclusions. I believe the idea of KudoZ is to help our colleagues, but at the same time, there are people (not in the language business) who looks up a certain term or phrase and have find the answers on Proz (i.e.KudoZ).
I think of it as this way: we are creating the largest online glossary in multiple languages, and we would find any and most words and phrases which we would usually find in a paper dictionary or other online dictionaries (and needless to say, those dictionaries are compiled by linguists, academics and language professionals like us). And those other resources don't categorize them as Pro or Non-pro, do they? So why create unnecessary hassle by categorizing them?


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:13
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Dictionaries on paper Aug 9, 2011

Yasutomo Kanazawa wrote:
I think of it as this way: we are creating the largest online glossary in multiple languages, and we would find any and most words and phrases which we would usually find in a paper dictionary or other online dictionaries (and needless to say, those dictionaries are compiled by linguists, academics and language professionals like us). And those other resources don't categorize them as Pro or Non-pro, do they? So why create unnecessary hassle by categorizing them?

I hope you are not trying to compare Kudoz with a dictionary made by linguists. To me they are completely different things. Crowdsourced materials may be bulky, but can hardly reach the level of quality of professionally made references.


 

Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:13
English to German
+ ...
In memoriam
The examples were simply poorly chosen Aug 9, 2011

yet they have nothing to do with the vocabulary of a 5-year-old.

Idioms are a bad choice.

Example:

- I love you:
I know about 12 different ways of saying "I love you" in German, depending on who is being addressed. If you happen to say "I love you" to your sister-in-law, your wife's best friend or your little daughter the same way you would address your spouse or lover, you are in big trouble or considered a pervert. Unfortunately dictionaries don't
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yet they have nothing to do with the vocabulary of a 5-year-old.

Idioms are a bad choice.

Example:

- I love you:
I know about 12 different ways of saying "I love you" in German, depending on who is being addressed. If you happen to say "I love you" to your sister-in-law, your wife's best friend or your little daughter the same way you would address your spouse or lover, you are in big trouble or considered a pervert. Unfortunately dictionaries don't take such "degrees" into consideration.

- The same goes for "yummy", which can have all kinds of meanings, from highly sexual to food related.

- "Welcome to Panama": Family members will never greet you the same way as an airline employee does.

- "Since when": I can provide a full kaleidoscope of translations, depending on if this phrase is part of a legal document or is part of an argument between little children.

And so on.

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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 18:13
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Using a dictionary is professional behaviour... Aug 9, 2011

Nicole is absolutely right.

Apart from that aspect, I see the non-pro thing as just another way to make the system complicated.

The level of discussion generated by many 'non-PRO' questions indicates that they are not really simple at all. I am one of those who regularly vote for upgrading to PRO ...

My criterion is: "Could I have answered this question without a dictionary before I started translating professionally? When did I learn the answer?"
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Nicole is absolutely right.

Apart from that aspect, I see the non-pro thing as just another way to make the system complicated.

The level of discussion generated by many 'non-PRO' questions indicates that they are not really simple at all. I am one of those who regularly vote for upgrading to PRO ...

My criterion is: "Could I have answered this question without a dictionary before I started translating professionally? When did I learn the answer?"

I have always been language conscious - my parents discussed languages at meals before I was born and all through my childhood. I was very lucky with my language teachers at school, even the sarcastic Latin teacher... So in all modesty, if I could not answer a question without a dictionary, then many others probably could not either. That brings it within the definition of a PRO question.

The real problem is that many askers reveal that they are not using a dictionary or grammar. But that is professional behaviour, and if the real answer to the KudoZ question is 'check in a dictionary' rather than 'any bilingual knows that straight away', then the question still falls into the PRO category.

I vote for abolishing the non-PRO category altogether.





[Edited at 2011-08-09 12:07 GMT]
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writeaway  Identity Verified
French to English
+ ...
Abolish BOTH categories. Make a question a question without misleading tags Aug 9, 2011

Christine Andersen wrote:

Nicole is absolutely right.

Apart from that aspect, I see the non-pro thing as just another way to make the system complicated.

The level of discussion generated by many 'non-PRO' questions indicates that they are not really simple at all. I am one of those who regularly vote for upgrading to PRO ...




[Edited at 2011-08-09 12:07 GMT]


I vote to abolish pro and non-pro categories. It would remove the rightly or wrongly perceived stigma of 'non-pro' and at the same time, not make basic, simple questions into 'pro', which wouldn't help matters either.
With regard to discussion levels, the amount of discussion on easy (ie non-pro) questions is high simply because an easy question allows lots of people to feel they can have a say (and attempt to answer). There are are usually fewer discussions (and usually fewer attempts to answer) on a question that really is "pro", ie difficult.
Just get rid of 'classifying' questions into two often meaningless and highly disputed categories. That way no more noses will be put out of joint.


 

Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:13
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Howling at the moon Aug 9, 2011

I would argue, along with Tomás, that some distinction between “Pro” and “non-Pro” questions—however imperfectly applied—ought to be retained. Having such a distinction at least allows the possibility that abusers or potential abusers of Kudoz might be given pause at having one of their postings being re-labeled “non-Pro”, and still leaves the door cracked open for more responsible site contributors to call the abusers in other ways (within the limits of the “rules of conduct... See more
I would argue, along with Tomás, that some distinction between “Pro” and “non-Pro” questions—however imperfectly applied—ought to be retained. Having such a distinction at least allows the possibility that abusers or potential abusers of Kudoz might be given pause at having one of their postings being re-labeled “non-Pro”, and still leaves the door cracked open for more responsible site contributors to call the abusers in other ways (within the limits of the “rules of conduct”) on their misuse of the system.

But alas, the whole argument about having or not having a distinction—and, if retaining the distinction, where to draw the line—is really beside the point. Kudoz and the site are what they are as part of a fundamental all-inclusive marketing strategy that will never—be very clear on this: never!—change. Just as Hershey’s depends for an enormous proportion of its revenues on selling its products to the obese, so proz.com is essentially agnostic as to whether those posting Kudoz questions or purchasing memberships really “belong” in an online professional translation community. In fact, the rules of the site are structured deliberately in such a way as to make sure that no one is made to feel that they do not belong.

For those who don’t already get this, let this bracing reminder serve as a wake-up call.

From a member/user perspective, there are positive and negative aspects to such an open model. Each individual has to decide where the balance lies in terms of his or her own priorities.

I myself came to the conclusion some time back that it is simply a waste of time and energy to complain about aspects of the site which are clearly a fundamental part of its nature. Proz.com “is what it is.”

So my own advice to anyone and everyone would be to take what is useful to you—and leave the rest.


[Edited at 2011-08-09 17:30 GMT]
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philgoddard
United States
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
Correct me if I'm wrong, Aug 9, 2011

but I think there has been discussion in the past of "Welcome to Panama" and the like, and ProZ staff declined to change these oddly chosen examples of non-PRO words and phrases. I ignore them, and it seems lots of other people do too.

We're quite rightly not allowed to say: "Stop posting laughably easy questions because you can't be bothered to look in a dictionary," but I think that voting questions non-PRO is an effective way of sending this message.


 

Rachel Fell  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:13
French to English
+ ...
? Aug 9, 2011

"Non-PRO questions are those that can be answered by any bilingual person without the aid of a dictionary..."
It grates, because apart from the fact that they're oddly chosen phrases, "bilingual" shouldn't be there - a bilingual person who's a linguist probably wouldn't need a dictionary for it in the first place; perhaps it should read: "Non-PRO questions are those that can be answered by any linguist without the aid of a dictionary..."...
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"Non-PRO questions are those that can be answered by any bilingual person without the aid of a dictionary..."
It grates, because apart from the fact that they're oddly chosen phrases, "bilingual" shouldn't be there - a bilingual person who's a linguist probably wouldn't need a dictionary for it in the first place; perhaps it should read: "Non-PRO questions are those that can be answered by any linguist without the aid of a dictionary..."
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Jessica Noyes  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:13
Member
Spanish to English
+ ...
I like being able to vote non-Pro Aug 10, 2011

As I work, I am always glad to turn to Kudoz and meet translators who have struggled with the same terms that I do. These words may be in reference books, but the definitions there sometimes don't fit my context. Just as I dislike trolling through a long dictionary description to find the exact match -- including prepositions before and after and such -- (although I do), I have no wish to comb through 200 other random uses on Kudoz of my elusive term, most of which are in said dictionary. I lik... See more
As I work, I am always glad to turn to Kudoz and meet translators who have struggled with the same terms that I do. These words may be in reference books, but the definitions there sometimes don't fit my context. Just as I dislike trolling through a long dictionary description to find the exact match -- including prepositions before and after and such -- (although I do), I have no wish to comb through 200 other random uses on Kudoz of my elusive term, most of which are in said dictionary. I like to know, when I turn to Kudoz, that the listing will consist of puzzling words and exotic acronyms that have challenged my fellow linguists to desperation. I also appreciate the discussions and widely varying points of view.
I have voted non-Pro perhaps three times in as many years, so I am obviously not gung-ho to undercut people who seem to have lost their dictionaries. If I were to see people asking how to say, "Welcome to Hawaii," because they are translating a video game involving a shark hungrily eyeing a chubby tourist, or in some kind of political diatribe on Obama's home state, I wouldn't for a minute call it Non-Pro -- and I like to think that my fellow Prozians wouldn't either.
So my vote would be to keep this option, with all its flaws, open.
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