Proposal: Ombudsman
Thread poster: CLS Lexi-tech

CLS Lexi-tech
Local time: 21:15
Member (2004)
English to Italian
+ ...
Mar 3, 2002

I am hereby making an official proposal to institute a position of Ombudsman to whom all complaints about personal or public offensive messages from member will be reported, and a decision made about the status of that member.

As a member of this site I trust Henry and Henry\'s judgement implicitly. And I may be even bold enough to say that I have the best interest of the site at heart. I spend and have spent hours on it weekly. Perhaps considering the number of members, the number of forums, the number of questions, we should have one person act as an ombudsman, and examine complaints about conduct of members, and keep them separate from other complaints of a technical, commercial or whatsoever nature.

Who should this person be? I don\'t know. Perhaps a member with experience in this field, perhaps an outsider. I don\'t know.

The tone of exchanges on should be professional and respectful, at all times. Funny, humorous, of course, but, notwithstanding what Lazlo thinks, there is no place for sarcasm or jumping to conclusions. Jumping to conclusions may be fine when you answer a Kudoz question, but not when you attack somebody personally. No need to split the hair in four, as we say in Italian. My freedom of speech is limited by the rights of my fellow citizen (or to be free from harassment, innuendos, accusation and so on and so forth.

Again, I make this proposal to Henry and fellow members, in all earnest, and without prejudice.

paola l m


Margaret Lagoyianni
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:15
English to Greek
+ ...
in support of ombudsman Mar 3, 2002

I am new to proz but fully agree with this proposal. Independent adjudicators would be a great idea. I finf many unsigned comments about some of my bad translations offputting and disheartening.


Vladimir Dubisskiy  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:15
Member (2001)
English to Russian
+ ...
we have Mods and Henry (to add to Paola's sugg.) Mar 3, 2002

The concept is good though I do not think we have to have one person as an Ombudsman to deal with complaints.

We have Moderators - a collective body of professionals which, I am confident, is capable to make a sound judgment and act accordingly, dealing with complaints and maintaining proper onsite order.

Let\'s (for instance) select randomly 4 Mods to serve, say, one month as Ethics Committee. They make a decision, which is to be confirmed by Henry (as a Prez of ProZ). After that the decision is considered effective. If Henry does not confirm - let discuss it with the whole Mods\' gang and then make a decision. We can set relevant deadlines and rules..

How about that?


two2tango  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:15
English to Spanish
+ ...
No bureaucracies, please! Mar 4, 2002

We engineers use to say that when something works you should not change it. I find the site OK and I feel comfortable with the forums, where hot words are sometimes exchanged but then things are settled again.

Maybe we Argentineans are a but anarchic at heart, but I don\'t see the need for creating a bureaucracy in ProZ.

What next? Election campaigns to nominate the ombudsman? For it should be elected in some way... Assemblies to work as legislative branches? Move the decision making to Brussels?

C\'mon, friends, it is just a site for translators, to meet friends and to look for work, and to help each other, and to have fun...



CLS Lexi-tech
Local time: 21:15
Member (2004)
English to Italian
+ ...
no bureaucracy is fine, but mods are already in place Mar 4, 2002

so I find Vladimir\'s idea very good. We already have a moderator in place in each SC and in each Forum and it is not a bureaucracy. It is a minimum of structure required to keep things working. Most lists are moderated, but no list has as many members as For example, in EN>IT subcommunity we have two moderators because sometimes the number of questions and issues get out of hand for just one person. I am sure that two2tango would not call this a bureaucracy.

Since we already have moderators in place, a few of them could rotate the duty of receiving ethics complaints and reviewing them. I am sure that it would make Henry\'s job easier and that it would help keep things run smoothily.

ciao a tutti

paola l m


John Kinory (X)
Local time: 02:15
English to Hebrew
+ ...
As a fellow engineer, I agree with two2tango Mar 4, 2002

But I also agree with Paola that the site already has moderators. A small (!) but not too small (!) commitee of moderators may have a wider perspective than any one moderator, who may be too busy at any gievn time or who may (heaven forfend) have a personal view about one of the parties to a dispute.


Werner George Patels, M.A., C.Tran.(ATIO) (X)
Local time: 21:15
German to English
+ ...
Vladimir is right Mar 4, 2002

ProZ already has a whole bunch of moderators, and rotating them for \"behaviour duty\" is a good idea.

Enforcing the rules of conduct on this site should be given appropriate priority (I know I have been a guilty party myself on some occasions, but mostly in self-defence).

ProZ is a site for translators, and our most important tool is communication. The site definitely needs to improve on that. For example, right now there is no way to find out who the moderator is for any given language pair. There should be a separate directory telling us exactly who is responsible for what, and such a list would have to be kept up-to-date. For example, the moderator of a large subcommunity has gone missing, as it were. No one knows where he is, and no one has heard from him in weeks.

All these \"staff members\" (for lack of a better word) should have clearly defined portfolios and be able to provide members with reliable information, rather than misinformation (as was the case with my premature conclusion based on such misinformation I had received from a moderator).

Furthermore, as regards the forums, members should be able to delete their own postings. Right now we can only edit them. Sometimes we write things in the heat of the moment (or some topic or issue may become obsolete), and we would like to remove them before the whole situation gets out of hand (sometimes editing alone won\'t do the trick). Having this delete feature might just cut down on the workload for the moderators or the \"hall monitors\".

Finally, from now on, any action regarding bad conduct and insults should be swift. Recently, a member was removed for using the f-word and worse things in the KudoZ section. However, it was not until the 4th or 5th incident of this kind that that particular member was removed. If the principle were \"one strike and you\'re out\", we would probably all watch ourselves much better.

Being funny and sarcastic is alright - to some extent. But, overall, sarcasm can be tricky. Most forum postings are in English, and a large percentage of our members do not have English as a first language, so some harmless sarcastic or ironic remark might be misinterpreted and start yet another mudfest. So, if you want to be funny, ironic, sarcastic or make a joke, do so with utmost care and caution, because even if you are a veritable Shakespeare, your readers might still see it differently.


Bertha S. Deffenbaugh  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:15
English to Spanish
+ ...
Congratulations, Two2tango!!! :))))) Mar 4, 2002

You simply took the words out of my mouth. High five! icon_smile.gif

Darn, why is it that there is always somebody who wants to become the ruler? Ha, can you imagine ProZ members raising funds for the election campaign?


Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:15
French to English
Speaking as a moderator... Mar 4, 2002

I have professional experience in ethics and discipline, (and experience in private practice with a firm of lawyers specialising in civil litigation, defending architects, lawyers, accountants etc who had allegedly messed up).

In the first case, there was a system of internal tribunals to which the more serious breaches of the Code of Conduct were referred. As these committees had the power to remove a practising certificate, members sat up an took notice. Without their certificate, they lost their job. They generally played the game and cleaned up their act. This was internal \"policing\" if you like, with complaints being dealt with in-house before being referred \"upstairs\". The committees were made up of people from the \"outside\". Most complaints were sorted out through correspondence and did not even need referring to the committees. This sort of structure is very common within the medical, legal and other similar professions.

This sort of set up is too formal and not appropriate to ProZ. I agree that over-formalising it would be a bad idea. Most of us want to get on with the job of translating and enjoy having a place to throw a few questions about and lend a hand where our own specific expertise comes in.

However, as a moderator, and I know that I am not alone on this one, from time to time - and it is highly exceptional - some do go over the top and refuse to pay attention to warnings. I consider that it is serious when a number of members complain about another member\'s behaviour on site, to the extent that if nothing is done they will call it a day and leave ProZ. However able the member concerned, nothing can excuse persistent abuse of the system, member’s goodwill and the moderators’ patience. (We are all linguists and able to take account of clumsy turns of phrase when someone is expressing themselves in their non-native language. We can also take account of the occasional mistake. We all regret certain of our postings at times!)

The occasional departure from the rules will be understood. A quick message usually suffices. However, it is not always effective. Henry cannot and should not do everything and we moderators are there with a job to do. (We do it for fun, by the way, are unpaid and are not staff members.) We can also make mistakes, believe it or not, moderators are human! I would like to see a panel of moderators who are there to monitor the more serious cases, the ones where the occasional recalcitrant member who makes a mockery of the system continues on regardless.

We moderators communicate through a list. Perhaps we should just use what is already in place and exploit it differently, referring such matters to all for comment. A great way of making sure we are not going mad!

I am not mad about the idea of an outside ombudsman. That\'s getting a bit too heavy for what is a fun site and an exceptional tool. But I do think we need to exercise self-control (not easy) and peer-control (trickier still) so that the value of the ProZ tool can be exploited to the full. I suggest that the moderators be allowed to refer their trickier cases to the moderator list for comment and that be entrenched in the rules of etiquette so that “offenders”, for want of a better word, be aware that the moderator in question is not out on a personal victimization campaign!

[ This Message was edited by: on 2002-03-04 09:51 ]


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