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Can we make an effort to be nice to newcomers?
Thread poster: Christine Andersen

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 10:07
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Jan 9, 2014

I'm addressing this to myself as much as to anyone, but just recently two people have asked for advice on this site, and one said directly that a lot of it came over as hostile, while another has deleted her profile and withdrawn from the site.

What worries me is that none of the answering posts struck me as hostile, although we did write directly what we thought, without packing the punches.

We have once or twice apologised in the Danish forum for sounding abrupt - and Danes are used to it!

Most of the time moderators have done a good job of removing real attacks, and it is no use asking for advice if you can't accept what you are told.

Still, could we please try to read all posts an extra time before submitting them, and make sure we sound friendly to newcomers especially? Add something to soften the blow like
'Maybe you don't expect to hear this, but...'
Or
'I don't want to sound unfriendly...'

Once people are used to the direct tone, I think the discussions on this site are great, precisely because people tell you what they think, and it is often well considered and well explained.

All the same, we (or I myself at least) do get passionate and perhaps impatient. Let's make a special effort to be nice to everyone!

(And if this is the wrong forum, please will a Mod kindly move it to somewhere more appropriate? Thanks!)



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renataof
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:07
English to Portuguese
+ ...
:) Jan 9, 2014

Motion taken

[Edited at 2014-01-09 19:30 GMT]


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Gerard de Noord  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 10:07
Member (2003)
German to Dutch
+ ...
I'm already doing the best I can by not reacting at all Jan 9, 2014

Newcommers with 7 years of professional translation experience, newcommers versed in 7 CAT tools but asking us about discount schemes for fuzzies. Into English translators omitting definite and indefinite articles in their postings. I think we are too kind over here.

Some translators of my generation have never had to touch a CAT tool and have never googled for a translation - and I hope we'll treat them with due respect when fate drives them here - but if someone's profile or posting seems dubious right away, not responding is better than giving the newcommer the impression that he or she can get away with that.

I'm not in any way trying to start a squabble with you, Christine. You're a sweet soul and always have the best intentions.

Cheers,
Gerard


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Elizabeth Tamblin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:07
Member (2012)
French to English
Great thread, Christine! Jan 9, 2014

Regardless of whether someone is a newcomer or not, regardless of the content of the post, I think that replying in any other than a polite and friendly manner reflects very badly on anybody.

The same applies to replies in the Kudoz term question area. I am shocked by some of the responses I've seen over there.


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DLyons  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 09:07
Spanish to English
+ ...
Be friendly to newcomers, of course. Jan 9, 2014

No question about that - we all had to start somewhere.

But I seem to be seeing more people who claim substantial experience which doesn't seem to be supported by the questions they ask. Others who clearly have almost no understanding of the subject matter they are translating. And some whose target language ability seems very limited.

In other words, people who should not be translating whatever it is. In some cases, I don't think they are even aware of this themselves! I'm not saying they always have to be told they aren't up to the job, but inevitably they will be told occasionally, and that's not a bad thing. It should be done as politely as possible.

A problem is that clients quite often are unable to judge the quality of the product they are receiving. This leads to situations like the following (recently posted in another thread):

http://www.tofugu.com/2013/11/13/fake-it-till-you-make-it-how-i-translate-professionally-with-imperfect-japanese/

This relates to translations by an identifiable faculty member in an (identifiable) american university, whose academic disciple isn't languages, who isn't native in either source or target language, who isn't a subject matter expert and who openly calls her (identifiable) client a fool.

That's nothing to do with ProZ as such, but maybe some blunt but polite feeback earlier in her career might have given her pause.


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xxxnrichy
France
Local time: 10:07
French to Dutch
+ ...
Some of these postings Jan 9, 2014

give me the impression that they have been written by content writers or by people of the site staff wanting to trigger a discussion or to increase the number of page views. Especially the "I am so good and want to be a translator", the "I am already excellent why do I need training" and the "I have four native languages" ones. The discrepancy between the education level they pretend to have and their lack of abilities to google for widely available information (e.g. for university programs, EU requirements or translators associations) gives a strange impression.
Translators are always humble people, they know that language learning never ends.

Komkommertijd Gerard.


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 10:07
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Point taken Jan 9, 2014

Thanks Christine!

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EvaVer  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:07
Member (2012)
Czech to English
+ ...
I agree that some Kudoz questions may seem stupid, Jan 10, 2014

but for one thing - are you sure you knew the answer in the first year of your translating? And another thing - sometimes, you are tired, in a hurry, just look at things in a wrong way and get lost in your text - it happened to me and I asked a "stupid" KudoZ question. But OK, I have seen series of questions where the asker successively asked about EVERYTHING in a quite simple paragraph. But I see no point in being harsh to people, answer or not, but why denigrate them? It must be painstaking work for them, they cannot be efficient. If their ability doesn't improve pretty fast, they will have to stop anyway.

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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 10:07
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
How would you define and/or identify a newcomer? Jan 10, 2014

Christine Andersen wrote:
Still, could we please try to ... sound friendly to newcomers especially?


Would you be happy if we classify a "newcomer" to the forums as someone who has not posted more than 10 posts in the past and/or someone whose most recent post was more than 1 year ago and/or who haven't started more than 5 threads?

If we can agree on a definition of a newcomer, then perhaps we can have ProZ.com display the label "newcomer" above the person's picture/avatar when they meet that criteria.

Alternatively, how do you feel about displaying some forum participation statistics about a person above or under their photo, e.g. "fewer than 10 posts", "10-100 posts so far", "100-1000 posts so far", as well as e.g. "previous thread 6 January 2014".

Alternatively, would you be happy if there could be a link underneath everyone's photo that link to a search for all their posts, with the most recent post at the top of the search results? Something like "all posts by user", which will help you see what the person previously posted (including yourself)?


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Texte Style
Local time: 10:07
French to English
I'm nice when they're nice Jan 10, 2014

I agree that we should all be polite to everyone.

Lately I have found newcomers to be aggressive. One accused those who took the trouble to answer their questions of thinking they were "God's gift to translation" which I found particularly offensive.

It was a discussion where the OP was being badly treated by his client and we were telling him that his rate was too low, which he didn't want to hear. One of my answers was blocked (trying to explain that the low rate was part of the problem because the translator was obviously perceived as not being worth much) because the moderator deemed it rude. I amended one sentence that could have been misunderstood and remarked to the moderator that even if you misunderstood my remark it was no way near as rude as what the OP had written, got no reply.

Another posted about twelve questions in one go, several of which were inane, like "how much tax do translators pay?" and "how does kudoz work". I gave a few ironically inane answers like "don't worry the tax office will be happy to fill you in on that" and "there must be some FAQ somewhere, go do your homework" and another translator brushed the questions off.

When their posts are full of things like "Thx 4 yo anx" quite honestly I don't feel like giving them the time of day. Netiquette requires you to soak up the atmosphere of a forum before posting, which this person didn't. If they don't understand that there's a high proportion of "grammar nazis" (including myself, in an attempt at inane irony) round here they perhaps don't have enough understanding of subtleties to translate well.


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 10:07
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
New users are already marked Jan 10, 2014

I don't know what the criteria are, but I can already see a green label under the names of new arrivals when they post in the forums or ask KudoZ questions.

Politeness costs nothing, as I was brought up to believe, so perhaps we should give everyone the benefit of the doubt and be polite anyway?

Like the saying attributed to Voltaire -
"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it"

And icy politeness is often far more effective, in fact, than direct rudeness! Irony does not always come over well in writing, so that allows us at least to err on the side of friendliness, even when dealing with idiots who cannot see the obvious and do not make the effort to think things through...

Being bitchy AND funny is an art. It is all too easy to be plain bitchy unintentionally, and hurt people's feelings. Then they are not receptive to your message, just angry. Besides, as communicators on open forums that the whole world can google, the way we say things will reflect back on ourselves.

@ Gerard: I'm not really a sweet soul, I'm an arrant hypocrite, but hypocrisy and smooth words get you a long way in this world!
As for my good intentions, we all know which road is paved with those...

But whatever your motives, kind words are rarely a mistake!





[Edited at 2014-01-10 11:29 GMT]


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Texte Style
Local time: 10:07
French to English
You may be right! Jan 10, 2014

Christine Andersen wrote:

@ Gerard: I'm not really a sweet soul, I'm an arrant hypocrite, but hypocrisy and smooth words get you a long way in this world!
As for my good intentions, we all know which road is paved with those...

But whatever your motives, kind words are rarely a mistake!





[Edited at 2014-01-10 11:29 GMT]


I'm afraid I'm going to have to disagree with you Christine, you ARE a sweet soul. The fact that you opened this topic is ample proof!

I think when you say something hypocritically, you mean that you remain polite and say "you may be right" when inside you're screaming "that's codswallop"? For me that's Thumper's Mum's philosophy. Thumper being the rabbit in Bambi who says "my Mom told me that if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all" which I try to live up to personally. Once your anger has subsided, "you may be right" becomes less hypocritical, right?

Nobody has ever told me what the road to heaven is paved with, I suppose from lack of experience but I doubt that it's paved with insults and snide remarks!

(I can just hear you answering me that I may be right so I'm saying right now that I do hope that you're not thinking "Texte is really good at writing codswallop")


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Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:07
Member (2004)
English to Italian
I just don't answer... Jan 10, 2014

as simple as that...

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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 09:07
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Thanks, Christine! Jan 10, 2014

That will be my New Year's resolution for 2014, though I believe I always interact with all Prozians (old and new) in a polite and friendly manner. I do agree with Elizabeth that now and then I have been shocked by the way some of the responses were worded and I have filtered some of these people (here I'm not referring to newcomers, unfortunately!).

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Mark Benson  Identity Verified

English to Swedish
+ ...
If it's worth doing... Jan 10, 2014

Samuel raises a valid question. It is of course irrelevant if a poster is new or not.

The problem I saw in one of the cases mentioned was that, while some of the things that were pointed out were true, they weren't solicited.

Another thing is that if there's an arbitrary way of interpreting the topic to benefit the topic starter, then that's the best point of departure when replying.

This means a bunch of messages that there isn't any proper ground for deleting, but that really don't serve any purpose either.

If you get angry or think that something is bad, not replying is the worst thing you can do against it. I find that holds true in every aspect of life.

Here is a link to the site's guiding principles for those who aren't already familiar: http://www.proz.com/about/cornerstones/

[Edited at 2014-01-10 16:40 GMT]


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