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Proz-bashing on FB and elsewhere
Thread poster: neilmac

Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:49
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
It's not your perception that matters Apr 25, 2015

Jared Tabor wrote:
Staff and moderators work to uphold the scope and rules in the forums. The scope and rules are not arbitrary. They were built up over time and through experience, and for the vast majority of people who use ProZ.com, they work-- that is, they help to maintain the results-oriented atmosphere that has always been the intention of the forums in such a way that those people can focus on improving their work, expanding their businesses and networking, while having fun.

In essence you're saying "We've got it right".

And yet on this thread you have some of your most active users - i.e. those who get involved, who start or debate discussions, who actually care about things - telling you that you've got it wrong.

What does that tell us about the gap in perception between site staff and users?

Jared, this is not a game of absolutes. ProZ is only one choice among many. If "intrusive moderation" is measured on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the worst, it is pointless to argue that ProZ is only a 7 and therefore isn't really that bad.

The point is another translation-related site with an "intrusive moderation" rating of 6 out of 10 will seem less restrictive, less petty and less controlled than ProZ and that matters to some participants. Often, the ones that care are the more passionate and committed users, the core of any community.

Communities wax and wane as users ebb and flow. Smart communities are responsive and take steps not to provide reasons for users to look elsewhere.

Communities that only think they're smart tell are rigid and users that the community is already as good as it possibly could be.

Dan






[Edited at 2015-04-25 07:16 GMT]


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 10:49
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
As with all online forums... Apr 25, 2015

neilmac wrote:
As I found this morning, any attempt at defending the worth or ProZ.com as an asset quickly garners disagreement and ad hominen attacks.


As with all online forums, the quality of conversation depends a lot on the type of people who post, in what mood they're in, and on what the forum rules are (and how strict the rules are applied). In some FB groups you can have a meaningful discussion if you disagree with most of the people in that group, but in others you can't. The key is to participate ony in the groups that have value for you.


 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 10:49
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
I distinguish between bashing and (constructive) criticism Apr 25, 2015

Andy Watkinson wrote:

"However, Proz-bashers are not usually receptive to reasoned argument."

Sorry Christine, but this is virtually the only statement made so far with which I would have to disagree.

The "usually unreceptive" ones would be the frustrated wannabees seeking Fiona's "magic bullet" - they're probably also baffled as to why their power bracelet doesn't seem to work as promised.



I have been around since the comparatively early days, and I know what CB means. The site has simply outgrown the old atmosphere of everybody knowing everyone else, and has taken some bashing here as well. (I too served briefly as a moderator, so I saw some of what was removed.) It is always debatable how to deal with sheer size when the work is too much for volunteers and the professionals have to take over. It may seem tame by comparison, but it functions in its way.

What annoys me is not robust discussion and constructive suggestions, but mindless bashing.

I stay here, not because I think the site is perfect or ideal, but because I still get a lot out of it, and I have not found any competitors that are convincingly better.

There are far too many frustrated wannabees about who simply repeat superficial fragments of what they have heard without really knowing what they are saying.
'Proz presses rates, Proz is only for the bottom feeders, Proz is just out to get your money, stay away from Proz at all costs...' It is unfortunately all too easy to fire off clichés like that in the social media, where moderators do not exist or do not have time to remove them. Some of it actually amounts to libel.

It is destructive, and it is simply not true when boiled down to that level. However, if posters like that won't spend the time looking into the facts about Proz.com, then they won't read reasoned discussions either.
____________________

Pointing out problems and if possible suggesting ways of solving them - in a robust discussion - is completely different, and long may it continue!


 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 10:49
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Oh no you don't! Apr 25, 2015

Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL wrote:

Now I know who you are... I do agree with you, though...


Ah... but do you really?


 

Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Cyprus
Local time: 11:49
Turkish to English
+ ...
How about this example? Apr 25, 2015

Dan Lucas wrote:

Charlie Bavington wrote:
One reason people criticise this website elsewhere is simply that it's pretty difficult to criticise proz on proz itself. Again, a decision site management is perfectly entitled to make. But I do know that some fairly draconian moderation decisions have driven many people away (sometimes to leave, sometimes just to keep their own counsel).

My knowledge of and participation in ProZ only dates back a year, but what Charlie says rings true. I find ProZ to be a very... what's the word? I almost want to say "prudish" site.

I find moderators quick to act and heavy-handed when they do act, often snuffing out comments that moderators on most other forums would let stand. (And I have some experience here, having been online for nearly 30 years, starting with JANET in the late 1980s and Cix during its heyday in the pre-internet days of the early 1990s.)

One of my posts was deleted because it included the words "I'm somewhat alarmed to find myself partly agreeing with Mr. A ", where Mr. A was another user who - as I verified by email - had taken no offence. Who in their right minds would construe that as offensive anyway? But deleted it was.

I've seen other, equally innocuous messages struck out. In nearly all cases these were posts that the man or woman in the street would not consider to be problematical. Maybe it's because management (New York-based, right?) is a bastion of political correctness. Maybe it's because many moderators are not, as far as I can see, native speakers of English and may be unable to accurately assess tone in written English.

Whatever. Contrary to the stated aims of one of the site staff in a recent post, heavy-handed moderation does not give the impression that ProZ is a professional site for mature people. Heavy-handed moderation gives the impression that ProZ is run by prim busybodies who do not trust their paying users and who would rather drive them away than risk giving offense to some imaginary "sensitive reader".

Allowing only milquetoast discussions is not the way to build an energetic and thriving community. People will go elsewhere to talk and maybe one day elsewhere to pay for access to job listings.

Regards
Dan


I once made a post including the clause: "..., who is presumably fluent and literate in German, ..." and was told to delete the word 'presumably' because I was supposedly implying that this person wasn't fluent and literate in German and, thus, insulting them. This, in my opinion, is nonsense. All I knew about this individual was that he advertised his services as a German to English translator and so I could make the presumption that he must be pretty good at German, but I did not know this for a fact. There is nothing insulting about that. I refused to comply, and the post remained deleted.


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:49
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Mother Apr 25, 2015

I always try to remember what my mother taught me: "if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all".

I do try.



 

Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:49
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
Tone-deaf moderators? Apr 25, 2015

Tim Drayton wrote:
I once made a post including the clause: "..., who is presumably fluent and literate in German, ..." and was told to delete the word 'presumably' because I was supposedly implying that this person wasn't fluent and literate in German and, thus, insulting them.

Hah, interesting but not surprising. I think the evidence increasingly points to moderators who have difficulty reading nuance or, as in this case, read too much into nuance.

Dan


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 10:49
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
On avoiding misunderstanding in forums Apr 25, 2015

Charlie Bavington wrote:
I find moderators quick to act and heavy-handed when they do act, often snuffing out comments that moderators on most other forums would let stand.


And vice versa, unfortunately... they let things stand that I would have expected them to remove within minutes. This just shows that different people (and moderators) think differently about things when they have to make value judgements. And this is normal, and unavoidable.

In the interest of transparency, I would have liked (and have often suggested and seen suggested) that more users be able to see what moderators do, by e.g. making hidden posts hidden only to non-members, or hard hidden only for the two or three days and thereafter soft hidden (i.e. folded in). ProZ.com isn't going to implement such features, but not because it doesn't want to, but simply because development of the forum is currently permanently on hold anyway.

Dan Lucas (not Charlie) wrote:
One of my posts was deleted because it included the words "I'm somewhat alarmed to find myself partly agreeing with Mr. A ", where Mr. A was another user who - as I verified by email - had taken no offence. Who in their right minds would construe that as offensive anyway? But deleted it was.


Deleted or hidden? I would be upset about deleted posts, too, but so far I can remember none of my posts being deleted (unless the entire thread gets deleted). My posts are sometimes hidden, and then I'm given the opportunity to edit them or leave them hidden. But not deleted. Do moderators really delete posts outright?

You ask "who in their right minds would construe that as offensive", but the fact is that it is difficult to determine objectively whether something might offend someone or not, and in online forums it is best policy to be a bit more careful (i.e. to measure with a stricter measure). The moderator makes a judgement about it, and [hopefully] asks the user to edit their post. And there is no reason to refuse to edit it and say what you wanted to say using different words, unless the moderator is asking you to say something that is actually different from what you mean.

The fact that we are an international community with many members speaking "international" English simply adds to the danger that something that is perfectly innocuous in your region may be known to be potentially offensive globally. Personally, I would consider "I'm somewhat alarmed to find myself partly agreeing with Mr. A" either a compliment or an insult, depending on who said it.

... does not give the impression that ProZ is a professional site for mature people.


We are all hopefully "mature people", but the forum remains an internet discussion group, and on internet discussion groups, ordinary social conventions do not always apply, and this can lead to misunderstood intentions more easily than in a real room of people.

Tim Drayton wrote:
I once made a post including the clause: "..., who is presumably fluent and literate in German, ..." and was told to delete the word 'presumably' because I was supposedly implying that this person wasn't fluent and literate in German and, thus, insulting them.


There is the literal meaning of "presumably", which is what you meant in good faith, and then there is the quite commonly occuring pseudo-polite hidden-insult meaning that is often seen on internet forums, which the moderator was concerned about.

You say that you refused to edit out the word, but surely the English language has sufficient ways of saying the same thing that you could have edited it out quite easily if you had wanted to? You simply took offense at the fact that someone else dared take offense at a word that is dear to you.


[Edited at 2015-04-25 13:28 GMT]

[Edited at 2015-04-25 13:28 GMT]


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:49
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Misunderstanding Apr 25, 2015

I am surprised to see so much concern about misunderstanding. Surely misunderstanding/misinterpretation are the very stuff of what we do? Surely we translators, more than anyone else, should know that misunderstanding is an element of communication, and that even in legal texts, ambiguity and misinterpretation are inevitable? Are we really asking for perfect, 100% like-for-like comprehension?

[Edited at 2015-04-25 09:38 GMT]


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 10:49
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
@Jared Apr 25, 2015

Jared Tabor wrote:
The scope and rules are not arbitrary. They were built up over time and through experience...


I appreciate you repeating what you've been told since you started working at ProZ.com since 2007, but the rules are mostly abitrary. The fact that they are arbitrary is not necessarily bad -- a forum does not start its life with no rules and then gradually develop them, after all.

Some of the rules do seem un-community-like. For example, the prohibition against mentioning ProZ.com competitors clearly has a commercial motive and has nothing to do with maintaining a "results-oriented atmosphere that has always been the intention of the forums". The probibition to speak publically about moderator decisions is another problematic rule that serves no purpose other than to protect moderators' feelings (and to prevent them from learning to become better moderators).

Enjoy your weekend.


Same to you.


 

Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:49
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
Yes, that makes perfect sense Apr 25, 2015

Samuel Murray wrote:
There is the literal meaning of "presumably", which is what you meant in good faith, and then there is the quite commonly occuring pseudo-polite hidden-insult meaning that is often seen on internet forums, which the moderator was concerned about.


Right, so the literal meaning is meaningless, but the alleged possible hidden-insult interpretation in some moderator's mind is meaningful...?

Let's see how your comment fares if we process it on the same basis.

First let's delete "literal" from your post, because this word can be used to imply that somebody is deliberately looking only at facts rather than the meaning behind the facts. I'd call that a veiled insult.

"Meaning" is unpleasant as it arbitrarily assigns value to one idea or another, which can result in some ideas being preferred to others, which is prejudical, so I deleted that.

"Presumably" is as you have already noted a nasty word, so that's been taken out. "Good faith" is out, because it implies there are bad faiths, and could be offensive to people of faith somewhere, conceivably.

"Quite" is a word with connotations of damming through faint praise, so I'm removing that. As for "pseudo-polite", that's just an explicit attack, because you're implying non-politeness, so that's gone. "Hidden-insult" likewise. "Seen" is deleted because it's not inclusive of partially sighted people, and we do want this to be an inclusive community.

"Moderator" can be used as a synonym for censorship, so could be offensive - deleted. "Concern" is a word often used to suppress opinions and actions e.g. "we are concerned that the language used could offend others" so again, a controlling and potentially coercive force, so I'm deleting that.

So here is your sentence, sanitised so as avoid potentially offending readers:
Samuel Murray wrote:
There is the x x of x, which is what you x in x, and then there is the x commonly occuring x x x that is often x on internet forums, which the x was x about.

Sure, it's a reductio ad absurdum, but that's the point: it's absurd to censor posts to the extent that the posts raised as examples by myself and Tim are removed.

I reiterate: ProZ's moderation is excessive and intrusive compared to that of other forums. it will do them no good in the long term. One day their metrics will turn down, and there will be much wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Regards
Dan


 

Jacques DP  Identity Verified
Switzerland
Local time: 10:49
Member (2003)
English to French
Not true Apr 25, 2015

Samuel Murray wrote:

The probibition to speak publically about moderator decisions is another problematic rule that serves no purpose other than to protect moderators' feelings



This is a necessary measure to avoid threads to be polluted by meta-talk.
When you are the one complaining, you feel it's very important and interesting to discuss moderation with the moderators in public.
But for the vast majority of people using the website, it's just noise.

Also, without this rule, there can be no effective moderation. If you are free to discuss the moderation in the thread, then the moderator needs to effectively give up on putting order to the thread for the benefit of other users.


 

Jacques DP  Identity Verified
Switzerland
Local time: 10:49
Member (2003)
English to French
What gap? Apr 25, 2015

Dan Lucas wrote:
In essence you're saying "We've got it right".

And yet on this thread you have some of your most active users - i.e. those who get involved, who start or debate discussions, who actually care about things - telling you that you've got it wrong.

What does that tell us about the gap in perception between site staff and users?


There's no gap as far as I'm concerned.
I only have good things to say about ProZ.
Jared's message in this thread is just one more example of the thoughtfulness, care and intelligence that is poured in continuation in this initiative, and contributes to its well-deserved success.
The moderation is excellent as far as I can see, and being very strict about ad hominem seems to be a good principle, if I am to judge on the results.
For one or two persons who will feel censored, there are 1000 persons who will benefit from threads that stay on topic and have an interesting content, instead of degenerating into bitter discussions between people whose feelings have been hurt and feel they need to restore their honor (as we see everywhere else).

Regarding the bashing on FB (which I ignored so far), I think any sucessful initiative will prompt attacks from some people, for various reasons. Sometimes there is a little truth to be found in it, sometimes almost none.

And finally I guess many translators would like ProZ to be entirely and only aimed at making their situation better. But that would make it much less attractive to agencies, and therefore some more neutral platform would emerge and replace ProZ. To remain strong such a plateform needs to be balanced. It needs to offer value to everyone.


[Edited at 2015-04-25 10:32 GMT]


 

Charlie Bavington (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:49
French to English
Edit, and ....Edit? Apr 25, 2015

Samuel Murray wrote:


Charlie Bavington wrote:
....some stuff I didn't say


My posts are sometimes hidden, and then I'm given the opportunity to edit them or leave them hidden. But not deleted. Do moderators really delete posts outright?


Ahoy there Samuel old stick - could you correct your quotes up there please? Not that I particularly object to the content ascribed to me, but it wasn't me what said them things

And... "opportunity to edit" - really? Does that work now? For all Jared's blather about engaging with the site in the event of problems, last time he himself "hid" one of my posts (Feb 19th, 2010), I asked him what specifically was wrong with it, so I could i) not make the same mistake again and ii) see about editing the post (not sure how?) to meet requirements, and received no reply whatsoever. I know I'm not the only one to be treated in this way.

FWIW, although the term the site uses is "hidden", it boils down to deletion in terms of consequences.

Still, the grass is not always greener. It might be noted by the curious that the FB thread(s) that prompted the OP's post show(s) the sort of tendencies that led Juvenal to inquire "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?" (and yes, yes, I had to look up the Latin!). If people preface their remarks with "as an admin of this group, let me tell you this....." you just have to raise an eyebrow and be a bit philosophical about the nature of power, no matter how minor.

I was also a member for a couple of years of another much less public translators' forum. The same attitudes were, in essence, on show there too.

From which I have learned a) that if people create a show, then they typically very much prefer to run it their way no matter what (a trait incidentally I'm sure I would show if I had the gumption to create anything, and which is more by way of an observation than a criticism), and b) that kicking against the founder's vision is usually a waste of time.


[Edited at 2015-04-25 11:57 GMT]


 

Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:49
Member (2004)
English to Italian
No, I don't... Apr 25, 2015

neilmac wrote:

Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL wrote:

Now I know who you are... I do agree with you, though...


Ah... but do you really?


I know your real name, now, but I don't know anything else... not that I want to...


 
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