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KudoZ: should "rubbish" help be appreciated?
Thread poster: xxxIanW
xxxIanW
Local time: 08:11
German to English
+ ...
Jul 19, 2006

Recently, a self-confessed “points-grabber” and myself ended up hi-jacking a ProZ forum about the quality of KudoZ questions. For the record, the link is http://www.proz.com/topic/50596?post_id=377796 and my apologies to lux, who started the thread originally before we took it off at a tangent.

KudoZ is my favourite aspect of ProZ.com and I for one believe that if the quality is bad, it is no help at all. Because of this, I have made regular suggestions to improve it. All of these – and many other offerings from like-minded colleagues – have always been met with the same knee-jerk reaction from this “points-grabber”, who told us to “Mind your own business”, “Keep your thoughts to yourselves” (this one from the recent discussion) and other highly constructive comments. The fact that this comes from a moderator, who by definition is there to curb such behaviour, is nothing short of baffling.

My reason for posting this thread is to find out what the general feeling is about this issue and, more specifically, whether there is anyone else other than the aforementioned colleague who feels that – and I quote – “Help should be appreciated, even if it is rubbish”. Are there any other people out there who ask questions just to allow people with too much time on their hands to amass KudoZ points in scores of different languages? And are there any other people out there who do not prefer to be helped by (and to help) people who know what they’re talking about.

Perhaps some of my colleagues on the English-French site will remember tearing their hair out over a colleague who took it upon himself to answer nearly every question although he didn’t even have a basic knowledge of French, meaning that all his answers came straight out of a dictionary – shotgun marriages of feminine nouns with masculine adjectives, woefully misconjugated verbs and similar hair-raising horrors. According to my colleague, we should be thankful for “help” of this calibre! Thankfully, there aren’t many of these left on the German-English site, although there is one who does spring to mind. And the English monolingual site has long since become a joke – and a very bad joke at that.

The aforementioned colleague says “If you ask for help you cannot slap the hand offering help!” – fair enough, but an understanding of the word “help” is vital here. Personally, when I ask for help, it is to pick the brains of colleagues who are more experienced/expert in certain areas, to unravel problems with the source text or to do a bit of brainstorming in public.

I am perfectly capable of looking up words in a dictionary – and this would actually be quicker than going to the trouble of posting a KudoZ question. So why should I be grateful to someone who takes the first dictionary definition they find, context be damned?

If there is anyone else who feels the same way as our point-grabbing friend, then please come out and say so. And if – as I suspect – he is in a minority of one, perhaps we can be spared his “golden rules” from now on.


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Eva Middleton  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:11
German to English
I agree with you, Ian Jul 19, 2006

I wish KudoZ wasn't for points - this should get rid of a whole bunch of problems associated with it.

I complete agree that poor quality answers are worse than no answer at all - they're distracting, make KudoZ look useless, and if an asker is unexperienced they might just end up picking the incompetent point chaser's reply and then even adding it to the glossary.


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nruddy  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 01:11
German to English
No, it should not be appreciated Jul 19, 2006

On occasion I have asked questions (e.g. in the specific area of accounting) in the knowledge that only a handful of people are likely to know the right answer or be able to point me in the right direction. It is disappointing to see how many people who have no idea of the subject suggest something totally inappropriate, e.g. a general language solution to what is essentially a technical term.

Don't get me wrong: I am extremely grateful for the help I get on ProZ when I don't know where else to turn, and sometimes a well-founded suggestion has helped me to find a term. Yet I would appreciate if people who are trying to help with wild guesses desisted from doing so. In many cases it is more a hindrance than a help.


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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:11
French to English
I mostly agree Jul 19, 2006

...although I think I'm probably agreeing with a personal interpretation of your statement along the lines of "kudoz is going downhill", impossible to quantify though that statement is.

Up to a point, I think that human decency obliges us to at least acknowledge help in general, however that does not mean that all specific instances of help should be deemed of equal value - far from it. In short, there is a lot of rubbish in the KOG. Indeed, feeling melodramatic (:-)) a few weeks ago, I posted something along the lines of "Fr-Eng kudoz: R.I.P." Needless to say, things picked up immediately, for about a fortnight, and I felt a fool. It's back on the downhill path now, though.

I wonder, though, whether in fact the situation (in Fr-Eng anyway) is that many of the reliable, thorough, knowledgeable answerers have long since shipped out. I think there has always been a certain amount of crud, but it was outshone by the decent answers. When all there is to see is crud, crud is all you see.


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xxxGlossarist
English to Bengali
Points and Kudoz! Jul 19, 2006

I know professional translators and paid members for five or more years who have left this site only because of this. And Eva's wish would never be implemented. Such suggestions are not new!

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Andy Watkinson
Spain
Local time: 08:11
Member
Catalan to English
+ ...
Short answer....NO Jul 19, 2006

Hi Ian,

I think your quest for someone who thinks like MW is in vain.

In the five years I've been on this site, I've yet to see anyone agree with our moderator's immoderate ramblings on any one of a series of different issues.

We've been told to keep our thoughts to ourselves.
We've been told to mind our own business.
We've been told we have to give thanks to someone for their BS suggestions.

We've even been admonished for saying a simple "Sorry" when disagreeing with someone else's answer.

Now we're told that "Keep your thoughts to yourselves does not mean that you are not entitked (sic) to your opinion or that you are not entitled to air them"

Duhhhhhh......

To paraphrase Peter Cook, "the trouble with the point grabber is that he lacks....everything. You name it. He lacks it".

Saludos,
Andy


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Lesley Clarke  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 01:11
Spanish to English
I like all the help I can Jul 19, 2006

As long as they have at least read the context.

I must admit some answers are so stupid and from people with major qualifications, let alone points.... and sometimes other people see that someone has already answered you and don't bother, but sometimes a guess or even a dictionary definition can be good, we don't all have the same dictionaries, and some of us occasionally just want a hand because the brain has stopped working.

But one of my favourite wrong answers was when I asked for a translation of "lavaderos" and gave a context of them going under a road, and a fellow prozian -with phd and all- came back with "washing-machine". To this day I love the idea of laundries being incorporated into road systems.


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Henry Dotterer
Local time: 02:11
SITE FOUNDER
Not true, Glossarist Jul 19, 2006

Glossarist wrote:

I know professional translators and paid members for five or more years who have left this site only because of this. And Eva's wish would never be implemented. Such suggestions are not new!

Actually, in response to member requests, it is possible to ask a not-for-points questions.


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HarryHedgehog
Germany
Local time: 08:11
German to English
Rubbish is rubbish Jul 19, 2006

I don't know why people insist on contributing answers in languages of which they have cursory knowledge, at best.

Lesley Clarke wrote:
To this day I love the idea of laundries being incorporated into road systems.


Then you should come to Germany - we have "Waschstrassen" everywhere!

Yours,
HH


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Michele Johnson  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 08:11
German to English
+ ...
Agree with Mats in the big picture Jul 19, 2006

Ian Winick wrote:
...

I am perfectly capable of looking up words in a dictionary – and this would actually be quicker than going to the trouble of posting a KudoZ question. So why should I be grateful to someone who takes the first dictionary definition they find, context be damned?

If there is anyone else who feels the same way as our point-grabbing friend, then please come out and say so. And if – as I suspect – he is in a minority of one, perhaps we can be spared his “golden rules” from now on.


OK, I am coming out of the woodwork to agree with Mats *in the big picture*. Ian, I understand your frustration at the occasional "rubbish" answer, but don't you think that through peer review, the system is self-regulating? Anyone who posts such crap in the DE-->EN subcommunity gets hammered with disagrees (at least in my experience). I agree, there are totally unqualified people answering questions. I would be in favor of a more strongly-worded warning to potential answerers, but other than that, what do you want to concretely do about it? (Besides increase awareness with this kind of post, totally appropriate IMO). There is also the occasional jewel, which I really appreciate.

< VENT >
To open up a completely different can of worms, what annoys me much more are the Kudoz *askers* who are so obviously non-native speakers (or at least completely out of their league in the target language), maxing out their daily quota of questions. I realize I'm mixing apples and oranges here, but this is much higher up on my scale of annoyance.
< /VENT >

[Edited at 2006-07-19 16:04]


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Henry Dotterer
Local time: 02:11
SITE FOUNDER
We should be welcoming of contributions, in general Jul 19, 2006

Andy Watkinson wrote:
I think your quest for someone who thinks like MW is in vain.

You are painting an incomplete picture. Mats has also argued (ironically enough, in light of the selected quotes) for tolerance.

Poor answers are one problem, but aggressive behavior towards poor answerers (or those regarded as poor answerers) is another. I think it serves us well to propagate a philosophy that welcomes contributions. It hurts the enviroment, and ultimately--ironically enough--quality, for us to turn a blind eye to the intolerance that sometimes rears its head. We have seem subcommunities deteriorate due to intolerance, and to recover when a welcoming environment has been restored.

I make these comments in principle, and mention Mats only in response. We can discuss positions, but should leave people out of it.


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Eva Middleton  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:11
German to English
Answering not for points Jul 19, 2006

Henry wrote:

Glossarist wrote:

I know professional translators and paid members for five or more years who have left this site only because of this. And Eva's wish would never be implemented. Such suggestions are not new!

Actually, in response to member requests, it is possible to ask a not-for-points questions.


How about making it possible to choose to answer a question without being given points for it? It's not the asking that's the problem...


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xxxCMJ_Trans
Local time: 08:11
French to English
+ ...
ProZ is becoming its own worst enemy Jul 19, 2006

In the couple of years or so I've been involved with ProZ, there have been several exchanges on whether or not to scrap the points system. I have always been in favour of its demise and see no reason to change my views today.

If I choose this as my opening remark, it is because you wouldn't get points grabbers if you didn't have points - QED. And then people would go back to what they used to do, namely contribute an answer with comments that involved some thought and not minding if others came along, picked up the ball and ran with it to end up with the most correct possible answer (often there is no absolute right or wrong).

It's back to what I said in the earlier exchange Ian mentioned: brainstorming used to be the name of the game and I, for one, regret that the move now is towards clans, buddies, personal vendettas (I have found myself in this situation and have even written privately to the perpetuator to no effect - or indeed reply).
I cannot be the only person who doesn't give a damn about points but I do give a damn about people choosing duff answers and their little friends patting them on the backs. Exactly what are they trying to achieve?

As one who dabbles in several language pairs - because at my advanced age I'm been round the block a few times and can more than dabble in these languages - I have to say that not all pairs are the same. There is one, which shall remain nameless, where questions are regularly asked by people not of English mother tongue but for translations into English. Most answers come from other non-English speakers AND these are the answers that get the "agrees". Saw one this morning: no "agrees" but a completely wrong answer happily accepted in record time by the asker, who probably wouldn't recognise a right answer if it sat up and bit him or her.

I agree with Ian that to say "any answer" is worthwhile and we should be grateful is wrong. I do understand that we should all be grateful to those who volunteer their time to try and help. Perhaps that is what was really meant, no more, no less. But I repeat that, if there were no points, the journey there could still be collective and people might not be so ready to quick-flick the pages of their dictionaries, since they would have nothing to "gain".

Well, that's a weight off my mind - and given the heat, a good job, too !
Chris


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Vito Smolej
Germany
Local time: 08:11
Member (2004)
English to Slovenian
+ ...
maybe I'm changing the subject Jul 19, 2006

But looking at the top KudoZer at 37000+ points, I feel sort of out of the line with my meager 130 something points. Or maybe not in the same league.

I am not wondering over the answerer - I'm wondering about askers. In any case the list of top KudoZers should raise anybody's eyebrows: The top KudoZer - 2000+ times more cooperative than me? Gimme a break.

But - as I said - maybe I'm changing the subject.

a constructive regards

Vito


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Marta Fernandez-Suarez  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:11
English to Spanish
not alone in thinking this then Jul 19, 2006

Hi Ian

Same problem with the EN>ES site, aggravated by the fact that all questions should specify the variety of Spanish they need, which would save us all a great deal of time, especially for the asker. There was one answerer that had the habit of answering everything and 80% of times it would be wrong or there would be lots of concordance and grammar mistakes, this person -who now happens to answer less often- was often awarded points automatically because of the number of "agrees", which seemed a bit dodgy to me and I guess to others.

I do not think it wrong to reward somehow those who take pains to suggest the best answer they can, I think a bigger problem arrises from those points awarded automatically because of the number of "agrees". It might be better if only the asker awards points, as "agrees" are not necessarily more reliable than the answers.

Having said all that, it is also for me my favorite part of Proz and hope it does get better.

Regards

Marta

[Edited at 2006-07-19 16:20]

[Edited at 2006-07-19 20:23]


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