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Off topic: Ethics - Test Translations and KudoZ
Thread poster: Hilary Davies Shelby

Hilary Davies Shelby
United States
Local time: 16:04
German to English
Dec 12, 2003

Hi all!
Playing Devil's advocate here a bit today. Recently I noticed a couple of questions on the KudoZ board on a topic I was familiar with, so of course I dived in. I later realised that the questions related to a test translation for a job which was posted on the job board last week and which I was also going for. Now, I don't mind in the least that I helped this person out, but I wouldn't have thought to do the same, as I believe that test translations are supposed to be all your own work. What do you think? Its certainly resourceful - but is it ethical?

Hilary


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Susana Galilea  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:04
English to Spanish
+ ...
Last I checked... Dec 12, 2003

Hello Hilary,

Last I checked, Proz rules and regulations stipulated that no questions from translation tests related to the job area should be posted in the Kudoz section. I am curious as to whether that rule has changed since.

Regards,

Susana Galilea
Accredited Translator, EUTI
sgalilea@ispwest.com
www.accentonspanish.com


[Edited at 2003-12-12 20:57]


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Paulo Celestino Guimaraes  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:04
Member (2001)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Test Translation & Proz rules and regulations Dec 12, 2003

Yes, I am also curious since this has happened over and over in the past.
Cheers, Paulo

Susana Galilea wrote:

Hello Hilary,

Last I checked, Proz rules and regulations stipulated that no questions from test translations should be posted in the Kudoz section. I am curious as to whether that rule has changed since.

Regards,

Susana Galilea
Accredited Translator, EUTI
sgalilea@ispwest.com
www.accentonspanish.com


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Deborah Shannon  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:04
Member (2002)
German to English
Test translation or translation test? Dec 12, 2003

I don't understand the reason for that rule. To me there is a world of difference between a classroom translation test aka examination and a real-world test translation.

Hilary Davies wrote:

I believe that test translations are supposed to be all your own work. What do you think? Its certainly resourceful - but is it ethical?



A translation test in exam conditions does have to be all your own work. Sometimes examining bodies go to ridiculous lengths to ensure a level playing field, e.g. I gather that competitive examinations take place at the European Union where people are not even allowed to use dictionaries!

But test translations are a demonstration of my best work, and just as importantly the way I work. I simply treat them as "ordinary" jobs. As a freelancer my next job always depends on doing the present job as well as I possibly can, so effectively every job is a test translation.

I don't see any ethical problem with using whatever resources you'd normally use.
What puts a test translation in a different ethical category from any other job you deliver?


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ntext  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:04
Member
German to English
+ ...
It's all relative Dec 12, 2003

I'm unaware whether it's in keeping with ProZ rules and regulations. But I don't consider it unethical per se. A test translation is a simulated mini-job, and the translator should be able to use the same resources she would use on a regular job.

It's certainly no more unethical than when I win a ProZ job — and then turn around and post a dozen terms from this job on KudoZ to be answered by the colleagues I just outbid.

[Edited at 2003-12-12 20:56]


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Romuald Pawlikowski  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:04
Member (2004)
English to Polish
+ ...
Test translations are to show your competence... Dec 12, 2003

at your typical working environment. Not in a class/examination room.

Deborah Shannon wrote:

I don't see any ethical problem with using whatever resources you'd normally use.
What puts a test translation in a different ethical category from any other job you deliver?



I strongly agree with Deborah. I just do not see a reason not to use ProZ KudoZ as one of many resources that may help to deliver a quality translation. You may as well try to do a test translation without dictionaries...

Romuald

[Edited at 2003-12-12 20:36]

[Edited at 2003-12-14 19:29]


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Gareth McMillan  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:04
German to English
+ ...
ethics- professionalism Dec 13, 2003

I recall reading a short time ago (not on this site) a raging argument about professionalism in the translating business. One of the arguments was that there are too many "amateurs" about, and that the "pros" should rise as one and cleanse the "profession" of unqualified interlopers. The gains in respect for the business would be obvious. (OK, I am paraphrasing, but I think the meaning is clear enough).

I am one of these unqualified interlopers. I have no translation qualification whatsoever. I am an English native speaker, have an engineering related degree and about 25 years experience as a freelance engineer in UK and in DE. I speak and read fluently in German and only translate De> Eng.

To me Professionalism and ethics go hand in hand, "qualified" or not, but I am frankly amazed at the unprofessional attitudes often displayed on this site.

If someone were to join an engineering project after demonstrating their ability through a display of someone else's work, they would expose themselves as frauds within hours of commencing on the project, and have nowhere to hide.

If, say, a competent translator uses the Kudos system because they're stuck (and we ALL get stuck, sometimes) that's OK and we should all do our best to help out.

But if someone blatantly incompetent, in way over their head, or an arrogant non-native speaker who refuses to see the reality of their ability level, picks the brains and goodwill not to mention precious time of other people to present work which isn't "theirs" as proof of "their" ability, then for me it STINKS. It is unprofessionl and therefore unethical and I fail to see how this can be condoned by anyone who considers themselves professional.


It is no wonder to me that the translation "profession" is held in pretty low regard by the outside world (who is their judge- they have to read the stuff).

It seems to me as a relative outsider that this business has become a free-for-all and the methods of getting on board utterly unscrupulous.


I have seen it first hand for myself now- and apart from anything else- I don't like being used.


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Ildiko Santana  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:04
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...

MODERATOR
Ethics and professionalism Dec 13, 2003

Gareth McMillan wrote:

... To me Professionalism and ethics go hand in hand, "qualified" or not, but I am frankly amazed at the unprofessional attitudes often displayed on this site.

... If, say, a competent translator uses the Kudos system because they're stuck (and we ALL get stuck, sometimes) that's OK and we should all do our best to help out.

But if someone blatantly incompetent, in way over their head, or an arrogant non-native speaker who refuses to see the reality of their ability level, picks the brains and goodwill not to mention precious time of other people to present work which isn't "theirs" as proof of "their" ability, then for me it STINKS....


Well put, Gareth. I couldn't have said it better.
What's more saddening than the fact that these things happen all the time is the number of "colleagues" that see no problem with it..


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Heike Behl, Ph.D.  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:04
Member (2003)
English to German
+ ...
it depends... Dec 13, 2003

If I were outsourcing a translation job, I would trust a translator's work more if I knew that he/she would use (and know how to use efficiently) every available source there is to ensure that the translation is correct. Asking kudoz questions whether for a test translation or the "real" thing shows me that instead of trusting a - maybe incorrect - gut feeling or making up something, the translator has the good sense to ask in case of doubt.

It would put me off, though, if the questions asked demonstrate a basic ignorance in the topic for which expertise was an explicit prerequisite. I probably would't answer them.

I once was asked to help someone out who's computer had broken down and do a test translation for this person. That's what I consider unethical and I didn't do it.


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Gareth McMillan  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:04
German to English
+ ...
For Dec 13, 2003

ildiko wrote:

What's more saddening than the fact that these things happen all the time is the number of "colleagues" that see no problem with it..


You should have written that in BLOCK CAPITALS. I think it's a wider problem. There are too many people nowadays who just don't want to/ can't see the fine line between basic honesty and pride in their own efforts and slumming it on the backs of other people. This is not just ethics- it's about human morality which they are handing down to their own kids.
How would this forum read in 20 years time, I wonder. Or will the question even come up?

[Edited at 2003-12-13 11:05]


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Desi_vdb
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:04
Dutch to English
+ ...
low regard translation profession Dec 13, 2003

Gareth McMillan wrote:
It is no wonder to me that the translation "profession" is held in pretty low regard by the outside world (who is their judge- they have to read the stuff).


This is an interesting point. But I think that the low regard for the translation profession is mainly due to the fact that it is on the dead end of the money making line. As far as the business people can see, it doesn't make any direct profits, so it is held in low regard.

The same goes for technical support. Every end user knows this to be important, but if you work in it, you can see that you get less paid than the marketing people, and that you don't get any bonuses whatsoever.

I have experience in both, and I think this is a very unprofessional attitude, but unfortunately this attitude is sustained by management people all over the world. And in my opinion it is even worse in the translating business, because they have no idea that it IS a profession you have to study and train for. When I worked for a big international company, they just asked people from France to translate a document into french, and people from Germany to translate it in German. This was a technical company and the translators were technicians! Needless to say that the resulting texts were of a bad quality!


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xxxMarc P  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:04
German to English
+ ...
Ethics - professionalism Dec 13, 2003

Gareth,

Well said. It's also worth pointing out that the whole concept of professional ethics is under attack. In fact, simply using the word "professional" may attract criticism; anyone who translates for a living, it seems, has the right to call themselves a "professional".

I certainly don't wish to criticize ProZ and hope that this won't be taken as criticism, but it must be appreciated that participation in the site is open to everyone, and in fact - and more importantly - that the site policy is not tolerant of challenges to the professional status of other members. ProZ is not, therefore, to my mind a professional venue. It isn't an "unprofessional" one either: I prefer to think of it as a resource, a marketplace (for some people), etc.

As for qualifications, they are no "proof" of professionalism either. (I have a language B.A. and a postgrad translation diploma, so I don't have an axe to grind.) Professionalism begins as you rightly say with ethics.

Marc


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Deborah Shannon  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:04
Member (2002)
German to English
Exactly, it's a matter of personal conscience Dec 13, 2003

Heike Behl, Ph.D. wrote:
It would put me off, though, if the questions asked demonstrate a basic ignorance in the topic for which expertise was an explicit prerequisite. I probably would't answer them.

I once was asked to help someone out who's computer had broken down and do a test translation for this person. That's what I consider unethical and I didn't do it.


Living proof that morality is not on the way out yet!

I agree with Heike's approach of deciding whether or not to help based on your own principles.

It helps to start from a basic assumption of good faith, too. I seem to recall that's another of the Kudoz guidelines.


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xxxtazdog
Spain
Local time: 23:04
Spanish to English
+ ...
about ethics... Dec 13, 2003

I have to agree with those who don't like seeing Kudoz used for questions from a test translation. To my way of thinking, a test translation is not only to verify your translation skills but also your knowledge of the particular subject matter. In most of the cases I've seen where questions were posted from a test translation, the posters were way over their heads and should never have taken on a test in that particular subject in the first place. If they can't do a 300-word test without posting several questions, how on earth would they expect to actually do a real job in that same subject?

Of course, their lack of familiarity with the subject also means that they are often clueless when it comes to selecting an answer. Case in point: I was given a short job several weeks ago by one of my regular agencies, who told me it was from a potential new client who was using it as a test translation for choosing an agency. There was one term I hadn't run across before, and it took me quite a while to find the exact translation for it, although I eventually Googled my way to it. Much to my surprise, the same term was posted a few days later. I said nothing, but watched the question with great interest. Only two answers were proposed (both wrong). When selecting one of them, the translator freely admitted (after the fact) that it was a test and the subject was really outside of his areas of expertise.

To me, that's what's really wrong here: taking on work that you are not capable of doing.


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Dorene Cornwell  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:04
Russian to English
+ ...
KudoZ and test translations Dec 14, 2003

I have been of two minds about this question ever since I noticed some questions from a test translation I saw.

On one hand, I see no reason not to use KudoZ for test translations the same way one does for other work. I think it might even be useful when dealing with language highly specific to certain contexts where there might or might not be an up-to-date glossary anywhere else with the precise term needed.

On the other hand, using KudoZ for test translations is dangerous the same way using KudoZ for any other circumstance is dangerous: KudoZ postings sometimes do not result in correct answers.

My particular beef is getting lectured about English usage by people who have just posted and selected answers that are complete gibberish in English. But even that is a minefield, since there are several flavors of English with their own peculiar usages too.

As for helping people who have "outbid" one, I probably do not WANT all the assignments that come through the door. It often costs purchasers as much for extensive editting as to buy good translations in the first place, and I am pretty sure most of them can figure out how to optimize their own resources.

[Edited at 2003-12-16 01:06]


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