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Benevolent deception: "The placebo button effect"

Preparing
Submission phase  
Feb 13Feb 27
Hybrid phase  
Feb 27Mar 14
Finals phase  
Mar 19Apr 5

About the Submission phase

During the Submission phase, entries may be submitted in any language pair, per contest restrictions. Contestants are allowed to edit their entries until the end of the Submission phase.

At the end of the Submission phase, all language pairs with submitted entries will be "paused" for review by the contest administrator.

About the Hybrid phase

During the Hybrid phase, individual language pairs can be placed in any of the Submission, Qualification, or Finals phases, depending on how many entries have been submitted.
  • Pairs which received fewer than 3 entries during the Submission phase will likely be placed in an "extended submission" period. If at least 3 entries are eventually submitted, the pair will be moved forward to the Finals phase.
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  • Pairs which received more than 7 entries will likely be placed into the Qualification phase, where site users rate and tag entries in an effort to determine a smaller pool of entries which should move forward into the Finals phase.

About the Finals phase

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At the end of the Finals phase, votes will be tallied by site staff, and winners in each pair will be announced.
Competition in this edition of ProZ.com translation contests is finished. Winners have been announced in 33 language pairs. Click here to view the winners »

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Source text

The following are the source texts for this edition of the ProZ.com translation contests. Contest participants are given the opportunity to submit translations of these texts into the languages of their choice. If three or more translators translate a text into a given language, the contest is "on" in that language pair. To learn more about the source texts, see the "About the source text" section below.
English
– From "The pros and cons of placebo buttons," The Economist
Over the course of many years, without making any great fuss about it, the authorities in New York disabled most of the control buttons that once operated pedestrian-crossing lights in the city. Computerised timers, they had decided, almost always worked better. By 2004, fewer than 750 of 3,250 such buttons remained functional. The city government did not, however, take the disabled buttons away—beckoning countless fingers to futile pressing.

Initially, the buttons survived because of the cost of removing them. But it turned out that even inoperative buttons serve a purpose. Pedestrians who press a button are less likely to cross before the green man appears, says Tal Oron-Gilad of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, in Israel. Having studied behaviour at crossings, she notes that people more readily obey a system which purports to heed their input.

Inoperative buttons produce placebo effects of this sort because people like an impression of control over systems they are using, says Eytan Adar, an expert on human-computer interaction at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Dr Adar notes that his students commonly design software with a clickable “save” button that has no role other than to reassure those users who are unaware that their keystrokes are saved automatically anyway. Think of it, he says, as a touch of benevolent deception to counter the inherent coldness of the machine world.

That is one view. But, at road crossings at least, placebo buttons may also have a darker side. Ralf Risser, head of FACTUM, a Viennese institute that studies psychological factors in traffic systems, reckons that pedestrians’ awareness of their existence, and consequent resentment at the deception, now outweighs the benefits.

About the source text

The source texts for ProZ.com translation contests are typically selected by ProZ.com members with a goal of providing interesting and challenging material that enables top translators to show their talent.

To ensure a fair competition, efforts are made to avoid texts for which published translations exist. If you know of the existence of a published translation of any of these source texts into any language, please notify the site staff with a support request.

The views expressed in these texts should not be considered representative of the views of either ProZ.com staff members or the members of the ProZ.com community who have selected the texts.


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