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SUGGESTION: Asker should be able to reject answers
Thread poster: Bjørnar Magnussen

Bjørnar Magnussen  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:05
English to Norwegian
+ ...
Sep 23, 2006

As a quite frequent asker and answerer of KudoZ-question, I would be happy to see a new feature introduced: The possibility for the answer to reject KudoZ-answers that he knows are wrong. This should be possible as soon as the answer is posted.

It has occured several times that I have posted a question, gotten a few quick nonsense answers (e.g. machine translation), and then nothing else.

I think the reason is that several good KudoZ-answerers are not replying to e-mail alerts, but answer questions through the feature 'KudoZ' > 'Answer question'. On this page, they see a list over questions with number of answers. If they don't have time to look at all the questions, they often prioritize the ones with fewest answers.

In this way, an early nonsense answer can spoil the chance of getting a decent answer later.

I don't see any reasons why the asker should not be able to reject answers after they are posted and would like to hear other opinions about the matter. Maybe this would lead to a general improvement of the KudoZ-answers as well?



[Edited at 2006-09-23 22:40]


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Krys Williams  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:05
Member (2003)
Polish to English
+ ...
I support this Sep 24, 2006

I have not used Kudoz very much, but have experenced the same frustration a number of times when I have resorted to it. I only consider placing a question on Kudoz after having searched through my own files and glossaries, searched through general and specialist dictionaries, searched extensively on the Web, dug into my theoretical knowledge of the subject, and, since I work in the medical/pharma area, asked my hospital consultant friend for an opinion. In a previous incarnation, I worked as an information specialist and have a qualification in library and information science as well as my biomedical degrees. Therefore, I know how to search the Web, Medline and other resources efficiently. Thus, when I post on Kudoz, it is because I am really, really stuck, whether through my own ignorance/inability to understand or because I cannot find any sensible references to the terminology. So I get a little irate when someone immediately comes in with an answer that is utter nonsense within the specific context of my question, citing a web site that I myself had located after about 5 seconds of searchin and dismissed as irrelevant....

...which brings me to the other head-banging-the-wall experience of Kudoz, when I give as much background as I can, state no further information is available from the materials I have been given, and someone chirps in with a comment that more context is needed - arrrghhh


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Mikhail Kropotov  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 13:05
Member (2005)
English to Russian
+ ...
This feature has been discontinued Sep 24, 2006

Hi guys,

This used to be available and was discontinued in favor of the "note to answerer" feature. I personally thought it made a lot of sense. It allows you to make a note of the fact that you don't support that answerer's point of view. Everyone else should be able to see that note, thus getting a clue.

Respectully yours,
Mike


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:05
English to German
+ ...
Sorry, I do not support this. Sep 24, 2006

This feature was on for a while and made me furious as some askers (newcomers?) felt obligated to reject all answers except the chosen one because they obviously thought they were supposed to do so. This is a slap in the face to all the professional translators who interrupted their work and sacrificed their time to help a colleague. I was glad when this feature got dropped. It contradicts all ethics and rules of professional brainstorming. (I.e. Listen to everything, decide later.)

I am talking about creative answers here, not technical terms. If the asker does not agree with an answer he/she is free to write a note to the answerer and to express his/her disapproval.

Also, I am wondering how any asker who obviously needs help with translating a term is in the position to judge the quality of an answer at this point.

Furthermore, I think that the best KudoZ-answerers pick questions according to their special fields and interests only.

Many answers to one question actually indicate an ambiguous one.


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Bjørnar Magnussen  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:05
English to Norwegian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
"Answer declined" function - a provisional summary Sep 24, 2006

Nicole: Thank you for making me aware of the fact that this feature already has been tried before.

You write that "Many answers to one question actually indicate an ambiguous one." I agree, and therefore I only think that the asker should reject answers that are clearly wrong or out of contexts, since the number of such answers don't give any indication of the ambiguity of the question.

This feature has been discussed before at http://www.proz.com/topic/35130. The arguments given so far concerning an "answer declined" function are as follows:

Against:

1. The function was abused: Some askers used the function aggressively and to show that they are in control.
2. Some answerers felt insulted and avoided posting answers to askers who frequently decline answers.
3. Some askers frequently declined answers without providing any explanation or with the words "does not fit the context", even when context was lacking in the question.
4. We should not suppose that an asker is in the position to judge answers
5. By chosing an answer, the asker automatically declines all other. The function is thus redundant.

For

6. There exist mechanisms to deal with abusive behavour (e.g. contacting moderators)
7. Some think it is more polite to decline an answer (with an appropriate explanation) than just to ignore it (i.e. leave it in silence).
8. Declining an answer (with explanation) can provide a guide for other answerers of this particular question.
9. If used properly, the function could improve the general standard of KudoZ-answers.
10. (My original argument) By declining bad answers, you can signal to some good answerers that are looking at the KudoZ-lists that your points still are "open to grab".

Conclusion:

Based on the discussion above (please let me know about other arguments) it seems that the problem with the "answer declined" function was caused by immature askers and their ability to decline well-founded answers without providing comments.

However, if the ultimate purpose of KudoZ is to help askers to find correct answers, I would say that argument 8. and 10. should weight most heavily.

I would thus proposed to reinstate the function and post "Warning: You should only decline answers that are obviously wrong in the context you have provided in you question." as well as making an explanation obligatory.

Looking forward to hear your thoughts on this.


[Edited at 2006-09-24 07:53]

[Edited at 2006-09-24 07:56]


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Krys Williams  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:05
Member (2003)
Polish to English
+ ...
judging answer quality Sep 24, 2006

Nicole Schnell wrote:

Also, I am wondering how any asker who obviously needs help with translating a term is in the position to judge the quality of an answer at this point.


Hi Nicole,

When I am stuck, it is because the term in the source document is unfamiliar, I cannot find helpful references to it anywhere, and the context in which it appears does not give me sufficient clues to the potential meaning. Once I have a suggestion for that term in English, it is very easy for me to assess whether it makes medical sense or not. I agree that there may be situations of ambiguity, although I would find that worrying in a medical context! For the vast majority of cases, however, familiarity with the subject matter in my own language does enable me to judge the quality of the answers I receive.

[Edited at 2006-09-24 11:00]


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Heidi C  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:05
English to Spanish
+ ...
Improving quality of answers: maybe better need more guidelines? Sep 24, 2006

Bjørnar Magnussen wrote:
...
For
...
7. Some think it is more polite to decline an answer (with an appropriate explanation) than just to ignore it (i.e. leave it in silence).
8. Declining an answer (with explanation) can provide a guide for other answerers of this particular question.
9. If used properly, the function could improve the general standard of KudoZ-answers.
10. (My original argument) By declining bad answers, you can signal to some good answerers that are looking at the KudoZ-lists that your points still are "open to grab".

...

However, if the ultimate purpose of KudoZ is to help askers to find correct answers, I would say that argument 8. and 10. should weight most heavily.


Looking forward to hear your thoughts on this.


[Edited at 2006-09-24 07:53]

[Edited at 2006-09-24 07:56]


I strongly agree that what is needed is something to help askers find correct answers and to improve the quality of the answers received!!!
But I feel it is might be a bit too aggressive to decline bad answers.
On the other hand, it is really frustrating to receive answers that are evidently wild guesses with no comment or explanation.

There SHOULD be some educating going on in order to improve the quality of Kudoz and the answers. Maybe what is really needed is some more guidelines for answering questions.


My sugestions:

1. Kudoz should require that an explanation, definition or examples of use MUST be included with the answer. A simple answer with a smiley face or a comment like "my suggestion", "another option" or "hope this helps" is not enough and should not be accepted.

2. Asker should be encouraged to address comments or questions to the answerers.

3. Asker should receive some sugestions or guidelines on how to phrase a question in order to receive the best answers possible.

I haven't asked too many questions, but I have discovered that I am learning how to phrase my questions in order to get the best possible answers.

The first question I ever asked on Kudoz, I ended up removing it, as I really got no answers that were close to what I needed.

With later questions, I entered into some sort of dialogue with my answerers. I asked for more information from two answerers, got their opinions, and together we ended up with a very good solution to my problem.

Also, I realized as an asker that writing in the context, where it comes from, and what my particular problem is (plus maybe options I already discarded) also helps a lot.

I just think that if answerers get so angry already when they get a disagree or even a neutral, imagine what will happen if their answer is removed¡¡¡

regards,

Heidi



[Edited at 2006-09-25 00:30]


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:05
English to German
+ ...
Targeting questions Sep 24, 2006

Krys Williams wrote:

Once I have a suggestion for that term in English, it is very easy for me to assess whether it makes medical sense or not. I agree that there may be situations of ambiguity, although I would find that worrying in a medical context! For the vast majority of cases, however, familiarity with the subject matter in my own language does enable me to judge the quality of the answers I receive.

[Edited at 2006-09-24 11:00]


Hi Krys,

Thanks for your reply! However, I focused on "creative" answers while leaving technical terms aside. Ambiguity in medical context would be worrisome indeed. In case I am looking for a technical term I usually target my question to members who are specializing in this particular field. This way I can filter unqualified answers - at least to a degree...


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:05
English to German
+ ...
Words over buttons Sep 24, 2006

Bjørnar Magnussen wrote:

I would thus proposed to reinstate the function and post "Warning: You should only decline answers that are obviously wrong in the context you have provided in you question." as well as making an explanation obligatory.


This actually sounds like a good compromise and would avoid abuse.

Thank you for the link, Bjørnar, interesting discussion! Sometimes (rarely) I receive answers that are pretty much off target, to put it mildly. However, I prefer to write a note to the answerer and probably wouldn't use the "decline" button, even if it was available. Writers/translators should be capable to express their disapproval in words - which in return provides a guideline to other colleagues - instead of clicking a button.

You got a point regarding "signaling to some good answerers that are looking at the KudoZ-lists that your points still are 'open to grab'." Still, I am wondering if this wouldn't encourage askers to decline all not quite satisfying posts prematurely, simply to indicate that the question is still "unanswered".

Let's see what colleagues have to say.

Please have a nice Sunday!

Regards,

Nicole


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Jande  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 21:05
Danish to English
+ ...
Disagree Sep 24, 2006

I think it's nonsense about rejecting answers that are so called nonsense because it totally ruins the creative process.

I have twice given nonsensical answers that infact lead the asker to the correct answer.

And in addition if you start with a wrong answer (when a question hasn't be tackled by anyone) other people come in and reject it and then give the asker the correct answer.

Yes I support that you are here to earn money and get the right translations, and just want the "right answer" but I do not believe it is as simple as that.

If you yourself has searched everywhere and can't find the answer, how do you expect someone with less context than you to immediately come up with the correct answer? It may take several iterations and in my experience the iterations are worth it, whether they are wrong or not, because without them you'd never get to the right answer.



[Edited at 2006-09-24 23:55]

[Edited at 2006-09-24 23:55]


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Monika Coulson  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:05
Member (2001)
English to Albanian
+ ...
Difficult to please everyone ;) Sep 25, 2006

When we had the Decline feature in place, I remember that people complained a lot about it. More than often it was abused and people got tired of it. I also see your point Bjørnar; sometimes there are answers that do deserve being declined. However, this is not the norm I think.


Monika


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:05
English to German
+ ...
I love this input, Jande, thank you! Sep 25, 2006

Jande wrote:

I have twice given nonsensical answers that in fact lead the asker to the correct answer.


Thank you Jande! Here is a true story:
Many years ago when mobile phone networks were about to be privatized in Germany, my ad agency was invited to the pitch for this fat account. During brainstorming, my new graphic design intern asked the innocent question: "Was kostet die Einheit?" ("How much is the unit?) He meant: cost per minute. We heard: how much does the reunification (Eastern and Western Germany) cost? However, we based an entire campaign on his remark, won the fattest account in the company's history and won International Awards. Never, ever underestimate out of context suggestions. Listen to everything. Thanks again, Jande!


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B D Finch  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 12:05
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
The value of nonsense Sep 25, 2006

I must admit to sometimes looking at the Kudoz list and going to the open questions with few or no answers logged.

However, when I have more time to spare, I tend to look down the list using the previous question shortcut at the top of each question. I find reading other people's answers interesting and informative and wrong answers, even ones that are complete nonsense, can illustrate how linguistic misunderstandings arise. I've also found that when I've given a wrong answer, getting the feedback is really helpful. Kudoz is not only about getting help on one's project, or winning points, it is also a learning and community resource.

Answers to Kudoz questions do indicate that there is a very wide range of competence among translators (how does that score on the diplomacy index?). I find this quite worrying, especially when people whose knowledge of their target language is extremely poor are getting work and Kudoz points and probably damaging the profession. On the other hand, it does expose those individuals' abilities to the general view and allow comment on their Kudoz contributions. You never know, some might even twig that they should stick to translating into their mother tongue, rather than from it.


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Fan Gao
Australia
Local time: 21:05
Member (2006)
English to Chinese
+ ...
Multiple answers from the same person Sep 25, 2006

What about when one person offers more than one answer? I didn't even realise you could do that.

See: http://www.proz.com/kudoz/1562286

The answers are totally off base and they are just obviously desperate for points...where's the value in that?

Mark


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Sandra Petch
Local time: 12:05
French to English
+ ...
Declining out of politeness Sep 29, 2006

Nicole Schnell wrote:

This feature was on for a while and made me furious as some askers (newcomers?) felt obligated to reject all answers except the chosen one because they obviously thought they were supposed to do so. This is a slap in the face to all the professional translators who interrupted their work and sacrificed their time to help a colleague. I was glad when this feature got dropped. It contradicts all ethics and rules of professional brainstorming. (I.e. Listen to everything, decide later.)





When I posted my very first Kudoz question and it came to choosing an answer, I thought it was POLITE to a) choose an answer then b) individually thank each contributor and explain why I hadn't chosen the answer, using the decline function.
I immediately received an e-mail (surprisingly, from a person who hadn't contributed to my question) telling me off for being so rude!

Somewhat off-topic, I wish people couldn't hide their answer. Someone dashed off an answer to a question I asked a couple of days ago. They gave absolutely no background info (this was a technical term, not at all open to interpretation) and a four confidence rating. Once other translators started giving their well-researched answers, this person hid theirs. Would contributors think twice about dashing off an answer if they knew it would stay on the site?


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