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Poll: Do you ever use Wikipedia in your work as a translator?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
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Sep 29, 2014

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Do you ever use Wikipedia in your work as a translator?".

This poll was originally submitted by Susana E. Cano Méndez. View the poll results »



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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:16
Spanish to English
+ ...
Yes, among many others Sep 29, 2014

Who wouldn't? I often find the minimum information I need there, which otherwise might be behind a paywall.

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ventnai  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:16
Member
German to English
+ ...
Reliability Sep 29, 2014

Wikipedia is good for science, engineering, business, geogrpahical locations and other things. It is checked by peers. It may become unreliable when you move into the area of religion, ethics, celebrities, politics and similar, but that doesn't generally come into my daily work.

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Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Cyprus
Local time: 19:16
Turkish to English
+ ...
via Google Sep 29, 2014

I typically do a Google search and one of the top hits may well be a Wikipedia article, so I often go there indirectly. As far as possible, I prefer to confirm things from more than one source.

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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 18:16
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Precisely Sep 29, 2014

Tim Drayton wrote:

I typically do a Google search and one of the top hits may well be a Wikipedia article, so I often go there indirectly. As far as possible, I prefer to confirm things from more than one source.


Wikipedia has come a long way since it started.
In my language pairs it is sometimes extremely helpful to look up information in the source and then click English in the list of other languages on the left.

Depending on the subject, the English may be very scanty, or it may contain a lot of useful background and terminology all in one place.

My thanks to Jimmy Wales and all contributors!


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Alberto Montpellier  Identity Verified
Cuba
Member (2014)
English to Spanish
+ ...

MODERATOR
I take it with a grain of salt... Sep 29, 2014

Ian Jones wrote:

Wikipedia is good for science, engineering, business, geogrpahical locations and other things. It is checked by peers. It may become unreliable when you move into the area of religion, ethics, celebrities, politics and similar, but that doesn't generally come into my daily work.


I has proven to be very handy, though. I use it very often to get some background on some subject, before I delve into it. In my target language it has a lot of information.

It's not perfect, but it does the trick generally.


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Jose Arnoldo Rodriguez-Carrington  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 11:16
English to Spanish
+ ...
Why not? Sep 29, 2014

Ian Jones wrote:

Wikipedia is good for science, engineering, business, geogrpahical locations and other things. It is checked by peers. It may become unreliable when you move into the area of religion, ethics, celebrities, politics and similar, but that doesn't generally come into my daily work.


I find Wikipedia extremely helpful. It may not be my number one choice for looking up a term, but it is certainly among the ones I use most frequently. My work is mainly technical, and you can see at a glance if the article is reliable enough by the way it is written, and in the references you frequently find links to other useful resources.


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Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 18:16
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Among other sources Sep 29, 2014

Jose Arnoldo Rodriguez-Carrington wrote:

Ian Jones wrote:

Wikipedia is good for science, engineering, business, geogrpahical locations and other things. It is checked by peers. It may become unreliable when you move into the area of religion, ethics, celebrities, politics and similar, but that doesn't generally come into my daily work.


I find Wikipedia extremely helpful. It may not be my number one choice for looking up a term, but it is certainly among the ones I use most frequently. My work is mainly technical, and you can see at a glance if the article is reliable enough by the way it is written, and in the references you frequently find links to other useful resources.


I agree with José. Wikipedia does come in handy. Yet like all other online sources, it should be taken with a grain of salt.


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:16
Spanish to English
+ ...
Unreliable... Sep 29, 2014

Ian Jones wrote:

Wikipedia is good for science, engineering, business, geogrpahical locations and other things. It is checked by peers. It may become unreliable when you move into the area of religion, ethics, celebrities, politics and similar, but that doesn't generally come into my daily work.


I know what you mean. Just this weekend I came across a page that I would usually take issue with, if I had enough spare time on my hands. It was about some aspect of language use (I don't recall exactly which one, possibly about whether punctuation marks should go inside or outside quotation marks) and whoever wrote it was too insistent about their take on it being "correct", which I feel is never a good position to adopt in such a wide and hotly debated area as English language use (and abuse).


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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 17:16
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Me too, I take it with a grain of salt... Sep 29, 2014

Thayenga wrote:

Jose Arnoldo Rodriguez-Carrington wrote:

Ian Jones wrote:

Wikipedia is good for science, engineering, business, geogrpahical locations and other things. It is checked by peers. It may become unreliable when you move into the area of religion, ethics, celebrities, politics and similar, but that doesn't generally come into my daily work.


I find Wikipedia extremely helpful. It may not be my number one choice for looking up a term, but it is certainly among the ones I use most frequently. My work is mainly technical, and you can see at a glance if the article is reliable enough by the way it is written, and in the references you frequently find links to other useful resources.


I agree with José. Wikipedia does come in handy. Yet like all other online sources, it should be taken with a grain of salt.


... and by the way:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grain_of_salt

[Edited at 2014-09-29 14:59 GMT]


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DianeGM  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:16
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Yes ... Sep 29, 2014

among other things ...

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Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:16
Member
English to French
Anecdote about reliability Sep 29, 2014

I remember that heated debate at the French presidential election in 2007, where both opponents were arguing about the number of nuclear submarines the French navy had (or something of the sort), each one with their own figures.

Supporters of each party made all efforts to change the associated Wikipedia page and insert whatever number their idol had mentioned. Apparently this game went on for quite some time, and I got the feeling that very few people knew where else to search except wikipedia (very (too?) well ranked for all searches from search engines) to get reliable information, including journalists.

However helpful, Wikipedia is certainly NOT an encyclopaedia.

Philippe


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njweatherdon
Canada
Member (2011)
French to English
+ ...
It's good for comparing usage of similar terms. Sometimes the "same" term is used very differently Sep 29, 2014

Sometimes I will use it to compare usage of a word in French and English definitions. Sometimes terminology will seem the same, but when checking Wikipedia entries I find that they are not in fact the same. If I am not sure and do not feel confident after checking dictionaries, then Wikipedia is an excellent source to compare terminology to see if the underlying concept is basically the same. Often, I find that I have a correct translation, but that terms are in fact used for different scope of circumstances/situations.

If I'm unsure after checking Wikipedia, then I search for subject-specific glossaries in the source language and compare to definitions in the target language so see if I basically have the right idea.

A lot of the time in accounting, for example, you get similar-looking terms which actually mean different things in different languages or jurisdictions, so you have to check unless you KNOW or you will make lots of mistakes.


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Julian Holmes  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 02:16
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
Piles of salt Sep 30, 2014

I use Wikipedia to find a 'general consensus' regarding descriptions of certain technology and use of terminology.
Wikipedia is able to exist because of extensive input from a wide range of sources and lots of volunteers, which means that each page or article will be an amalgam or hodge-podge and not written predominantly by a single authority in a lot of cases. But it will give a 'generally accepted' view or angle which is almost close to the truth. Hence my initial statement. Variance in incomplete authorative descriptions is the norm and fundamentally inevitable, which you have to accept - like anything on the Internet.

This applies to translation, too. Give the same source text to ten translators and you will get ten translations basically saying the same thing but varying in style, term usage and accuracy.

What else can you expect when you put a dozen temperamental chefs into the same kitchen, give them the same ingredients and ask them all to cook the main course?


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ventnai  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:16
Member
German to English
+ ...
Clarification Sep 30, 2014

I didn't mean that I use Wikipedia as an only source. I do contrast with other sources on the Internet. But I'm sorry, with science, engineering and similar subjects, it is pretty reliable. It is very easy to dismiss it as is the case with most things these days.

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