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Poll: How much of your translation-related research involves Wikipedia?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 08:57
SITE STAFF
May 21

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "How much of your translation-related research involves Wikipedia?".

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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 16:57
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Other (not much) May 21

I’ve used Wikipedia on rare occasions and always indirectly meaning that I use it not as a reliable source but as a finder of reliable sources…

 

Angus Stewart  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 16:57
Member (2011)
French to English
+ ...
None May 21

When I was studying for my degree in translation, the lecturers taught us that wikipedia was an unreliable source for use in relation to serious research and accordingly I have steered clear of using it for professional purposes.

 

Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
Come a long way May 21

Angus Stewart wrote:

When I was studying for my degree in translation, the lecturers taught us that wikipedia was an unreliable source for use in relation to serious research and accordingly I have steered clear of using it for professional purposes.


But how long ago was that? Things move fast in cyberspace.

And anyway, how much in-depth research should a professional translator need to make? Very little surely.

I use Wikipedia all the time, mainly because it's the first hit in a Google search. If I'm not 100% happy with what it says, then I seek confirmation elsewhere. It's a very handy resource.


 

DZiW
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
The rule of thumb to remedy evils May 21

I always check several independent sources and one of them might be wiki.

However, as an ex-translator of wiki, I know that hassles made the source over-edited and unreliable, let alone many clients didn't like wiki references.


 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 17:57
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Less that 25% May 21

I too was told that Wikipedia is not a reliable resource.

These days I find the main reason for that is that it simply does not contain everything I might want to know. Some of the articles are still quite scanty, and may be one-sided.

As a first port of call, however, it can be useful, and it sometimes produces search terms to carry on with. I check with other sources, and occasionally peek at the history of an entry to see how it has been changed. That may be interesting, or may simply show minor tidying up and reformulation.

As a generalist, I find I do need to do a fair amount of research for some of my jobs. Wikipedia is excellent for statistics about towns and maps of regions when tourist texts go beyond menus and museum opening hours.

I prefer it to Facebook any day!


 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:57
Spanish to English
+ ...
Not a lot May 21

I don't really take note of the number of times a search result appears on Wikipedia, or any other site for that matter. The main thing for me is to find what I'm looking for as quickly as possible and get the job done. I use my own experience and personal criteria to decide whether the result is valid or not. However, I value Wikipedia as a resource and have donated to it on a couple of occasions.

 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:57
Spanish to English
+ ...
Like button not working? May 21

Chris S wrote:

But how long ago was that? Things move fast in cyberspace.

And anyway, how much in-depth research should a professional translator need to make? Very little surely.

I use Wikipedia all the time, mainly because it's the first hit in a Google search. If I'm not 100% happy with what it says, then I seek confirmation elsewhere. It's a very handy resource.


Same here.
I tried to use the "Like" button to upvote Chris' comment, but it doesn't seem to be working. Don't tell me this is for paying members only? If so, I'll wait until they provide a "meh" button as well... icon_smile.gif


 

Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:57
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Maybe 2% May 21

I have nothing against Wikipedia and I consult it often for other reasons, but not so much when I'm translating.
My research typically consists of looking up documents or articles, either cited in the text or on the same subject, to fill myself in on the subject matter.



[Edited at 2018-05-21 10:24 GMT]


 

Justin Peterson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:57
Member (2007)
Spanish to English
People love to hate it ... but it's quite good May 21

Wikipedia. The page people love to complain about ... and then use.

True, if you are looking for highly specialized or arcane information, it can be weak.

But, for major concepts and issues and subjects, it is (now), generally, quite good, and can be a very valuable resource.

As with many things in translation, you do need to be able to sense when your source is insufficient, and that you need to keep digging.


 

Gianluca Marras  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 17:57
Member (2008)
English to Italian
I don't know May 21

I don't know...
really


 

Kristina Cosumano  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 17:57
Member (2015)
German to English
Enough to be grateful it exists May 21

Wikipedia is an excellent source for finding the names of things and people that you may not easily find in a dictionary, online or otherwise, in another language. Common names of plants, for example. Particular breeds of animals. Geographical locations (names of counties or federal states as they are to be rendered in the target language). Or people from, say, Russia, with names spelled differently in different languages (for example, the composer Schostakowitsch in a German text will need to be rendered Shostakovich for the English translation). If the entry is linked to an entry in the language you need, it can save one a great deal of time.

 

Axelle H.  Identity Verified
Member (2017)
English to French
+ ...
Idem May 21

Kristina Cosumano wrote:

Wikipedia is an excellent source for finding the names of things and people that you may not easily find in a dictionary, online or otherwise, in another language. Common names of plants, for example. Particular breeds of animals. Geographical locations (names of counties or federal states as they are to be rendered in the target language).


I used it when I have to translate the name of countries or states I don't even know they exist or where they are !


 

Mario Freitas  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 12:57
Member (2014)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
My guess is less than 25% May 21

I have a few researching standards in Google, which give me the expected results. I'll usually click on the occurrences that seem to be related to my context, in the order they appear. So, my use of Wikipedia is proportional to the number of times it shows up in the first pages and seems to be related to my context.
I never open the Wikipedia site first to do these researches.
As to the "not a reliable source" tag, it actually existed for a long time, spread by skeptical people who never believed information posted by regular people (not academics) could ever be reliable. Nowadays, only the academics still repeat that jargon, and they are certainly not reliable themselves. Wikipedia is not for the academics. It's for the other 99% of the population. But these people only see their own 1% world. I wonder why there are still people who listen to them.

[Edited at 2018-05-21 14:41 GMT]


 

Marcus Malabad  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 17:57
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
yes but May 22

These days it's a good initial source of information. I use it for initial research on history, literature, languages, engineering and science (biology, chem, phys). If supplemented with investigations elsewhere, you can save yourself a lot of time. There are often excellent reference links appended at the end (sources/references you wouldn't have found quickly otherwise). These have often led to me books, authors and research material from and by experts in the field. Dismissing Wikipedia as unreliable would've been ok a few years ago but not anymore....with a caveat: always confirm by going to other sources. I consult encyclopedias, company/client websites and dictionaries afterwards for confirmation. Two things I find especially beneficial: reading articles on arcane specialist fields, you can often learn the correct terminology, register and syntax used in particular areas, as well as variants of a term used in different countries and times.

 
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