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Helping or enabling?
Thread poster: Robert Forstag
Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:52
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Jun 6, 2016

Question:

When individuals continually post Kudoz queries, and often accompany these queries by suggestions of their own that reveal not only blatant cluelessness as to the terms in question, but a general ignorance as to the fundamentals of the target language, do they really merit the assistance of qualified professionals?

Clarification:

There is no implication here that such parties do not have the right to post their terms on Kudoz. I am instead approaching the question from the point of view of qualified language professionals who see such queries and contemplate whether or not to provide help to said individuals.

This question has arisen as a result of a recent series of postings in my main language pair from two different individuals.


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Tina Vonhof  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 04:52
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
No Jun 6, 2016

No, I don't think they merit the time and efforts of serious language professionals but usually it is not difficult to distinguish those questions from the serious ones and just put them aside. Answering them is indeed enabling and it would be more helpful to suggest ways to find the answer and suggest attending a webinar on internet searching.


[Edited at 2016-06-06 15:23 GMT]


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KirstenL
Norway
Spanish to Danish
+ ...
Probably not. Jun 6, 2016

But as long as we have a point system, the situation will persist, I think. Easy questions, easy points.

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Fiona Grace Peterson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 12:52
Member
Italian to English
It all depends on how you look at it Jun 6, 2016

Proz has changed over the years, I'm sure you don't need me to tell you that. Kudoz used to be the "last resort", where professional translators would come to ask for help with tough terms after having exhausted all other options.

Not any more. In my pair at least, I see people who boast years of translation experience, yet come asking for help with terms that could be solved by performing a simple Google search. Often they fail to provide even the minimum of context, despite repeated pleas to the contrary. And people will help them. Over and over.

Of course you could take the cynical approach, do the simple Google search on their behalf, Pass Go and collect your $200, a.k.a KudoZ Points. Since these are one way of working onesself up in visibility terms here on Proz, in the KudoZ Ranking, it's "easy money" if you have nothing better to do, or are feeling particularly altruistic.

You could say that we are helping people who shouldn't be translating in the first place. That's one way of looking at it. Or you could flip the coin and say that since these people are producing shoddy texts, we could help them make their output just a little bit better.

I should also add that good KudoZ answers are a good way of showing off how we work as translators. There are no stupid questions, as the saying goes, only stupid answers. So by providing a solid, reasoned answer with good references is always going to be in your own best interests, however lax the asker has been.

One thing is for sure... there have been many posts like yours, and all have fallen on deaf ears. Proz has no interest in clipping the wings of these repeat offenders, since it isn't really in its own best interests.



[Edited at 2016-06-06 16:13 GMT]


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Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:52
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
A shift in perception Jun 6, 2016

Fiona Grace Peterson wrote:

Of course you could take the cynical approach, do the simple Google search on their behalf, Pass Go and collect your $200, a.k.a KudoZ Points. Since these are one way of working oneself up in visibility terms here on Proz, in the KudoZ Ranking, it's "easy money" if you have nothing better to do, or are feeling particularly altruistic.

You could say that we are helping people who shouldn't be translating in the first place. That's one way of looking at it.


I can appreciate both positions. Yet another approach would be a kind of agnosticism that simply disregards the question of a poster's competence or helpworthiness, and simply treats each post as an equally legitimate language challenge. It seems that there are Kudoz participants (including very qualified translators) who take this view.


I should also add that good KudoZ answers are a good way of showing off how we work as translators. There are no stupid questions, as the saying goes, only stupid answers. So by providing a solid, reasoned answer with good references is always going to be in your own best interests, however lax the asker has been.


True enough. This has been my own approach (minus, for the most part, extensive efforts to provide solidly researched and reasoned answers). I think that there is also something to be said for giving new posters the benefit of the doubt. But when a pattern of excessive dependence and rank incompetence is evident, it seems appropriate to draw the line.


One thing is for sure... there have been many posts like yours, and all have fallen on deaf ears. Proz has no interest in clipping the wings of these repeat offenders, since it isn't really in its own best interests.


I accept this as a given, and my intention was not to direct yet another appeal to staff to impose limits. Instead, I wanted to elicit responses of Kudoz participants like yourself to this apparently widespread phenomenon.

[Edited at 2016-06-06 16:31 GMT]


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:52
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
I wonder if we're doing more harm than good Jun 6, 2016

Robert Forstag wrote:
When individuals continually post Kudoz queries, and often accompany these queries by suggestions of their own that reveal not only blatant cluelessness as to the terms in question, but a general ignorance as to the fundamentals of the target language, do they really merit the assistance of qualified professionals?

There have been some in the monolingual English section lately that have been quite worrying. Non-natives apparently proofreading English target texts that have been translated by other non-natives. So it's a case of "Which is the best word to use out of A, B and C?" when the entire sentence is fatally flawed. I've responded to a couple but it's clear that we're just helping them to muddle along doing a job that they are totally incapable of doing. They should be handing it back, but it's difficult to say anything to that effect with the present KudoZ rules. Maybe that particular sentence will read reasonably naturally with our help, but what's the point of that when it's so obvious that the final text is going to be ****? I suspect that all we're doing is bolstering their confidence, as they know they have a fall-back. And they probably blame us when the client complains.


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Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:52
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Indeed Jun 6, 2016

Sheila Wilson wrote:
There have been some in the monolingual English section lately that have been quite worrying. Non-natives apparently proofreading English target texts that have been translated by other non-natives. So it's a case of "Which is the best word to use out of A, B and C?" when the entire sentence is fatally flawed. I've responded to a couple but it's clear that we're just helping them to muddle along doing a job that they are totally incapable of doing.


This neatly summarizes the absurdity of providing assistance to such people. There is also the implicit question of how competent such askers are to recognize and choose the best response offered to each of their queries, which in turn leads one to wonder what the points garnered from such exercises in disaster relief are really worth....


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Yakov Katsman  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:52
Member (2016)
English to Russian
Abuse Jun 6, 2016

The same happens in my language pair.
Typically such translator posting series of questions:
- without proper context
- without looking first in dictionary
- without Internet search
- without own suggestion

Another interesting thing - they often select wrong answer!

I do not think they learning anything from Kudos help.

We often complain about rates going lower and lower - but we are helping such translators who otherwise will not be unable do do such jobs.

[Edited at 2016-06-06 17:12 GMT]


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Catherine De Crignis  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 12:52
Member (2012)
English to French
+ ...
No point helping Jun 6, 2016

Fiona Grace Peterson wrote:
You could say that we are helping people who shouldn't be translating in the first place. That's one way of looking at it.


[Edited at 2016-06-06 16:13 GMT]


This is precisely why I gave up partaking.


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Anton Konashenok  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 12:52
English to Russian
+ ...
Not in this case Jun 6, 2016

Yes, this is a fairly frequent situation, and I will not give an answer if the question is clearly clueless or betrays a total ignorance of the subject. In fact, I put about a dozen translators on ignore in KudoZ settings precisely for asking numerous clueless or ignorant questions and/or choosing wrong answers even when they have been clearly proven wrong in the discussion and comments.

I also decided to stop giving answers to non-native speakers of the target language unless I know them to be reasonable and diligent (from prior KudoZ discussions, etc.)


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inesec  Identity Verified
Latvia
Member (2014)
German to English
+ ...
You are right Jun 6, 2016

Yakov Katsman wrote:

The same happens in my language pair.
Typically such translator posting series of questions:
- without proper context
- without looking first in dictionary
- without Internet search
- without own suggestion

Another interesting thing - they often select wrong answer!

I do not think they learning anything from Kudos help.

We often complain about rates going lower and lower - but we are helping such translators who otherwise will not be unable do do such jobs.

[Edited at 2016-06-06 17:12 GMT]


I came to the same conclusion several months ago and stopped my participation in KudoZ activities. KudoZ in its current form in most cases helps to distribute wrong terms over the internet. Besides, I don't like to be taken for a ride. Of course, that's just my two cents.


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DZiW
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
Those who can and want--help, others--pass by Jun 7, 2016

Why do parents still help children to learn doing something?
Why do people still help others who even don't ask for help?
Why do novice translators take jobs they can’t afford, yet try?
Why do assumed experts put their pride over other people?
. . .
Why bother at all?
IMO


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Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:52
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
@DZiW Jun 7, 2016

The issue here is not a distinction between a general disposition to help or withhold help, but rather one of indiscriminately lavishing one's help on persons who clearly demonstrate over time not only rank incompetence, but also a lack of commitment to attaining the basic skills that would give them a modicum of credibility as professional translators.

In the end, it is a matter of choosing whether or not to help those who show a fundamental disrespect for the profession of translation.


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Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:52
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
Not just translation Jun 7, 2016

Robert Forstag wrote:
...choosing whether or not to help those who show a fundamental disrespect for the profession of translation.

I suspect that these people would take the same approach in any other profession. Many seem to want the quick buck, the easy solution, the shortcut that gets them home earlier. That's not how competence is built or reinforced.

Dan


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:52
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
I see them on Trip Advisor, too Jun 7, 2016

Dan Lucas wrote:
I suspect that these people would take the same approach in any other profession. Many seem to want the quick buck, the easy solution, the shortcut that gets them home earlier.

Some people refuse to think for themselves at all. I'm a "Destination Expert" for my home town, a tourist resort, and I really like helping people get the most from their holiday here. I know I make a real difference to some people, helping them to book the right hotel if they have mobility issues, finding something obscure like a birthday cake for a kid, etc. But others just post "What's the weather going to be like at Christmas?" as though (a) statistics aren't available just by Googling, and (b) I'm clairvoyant! Or unanswerable questions like "Are the Canaries nice?" with no clues as to their definition of "nice"!

In short, time-wasters are everywhere. But decent people far outnumber them.


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