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Aug 25, 2010

Преступление и наказание (and amnesty!)

The networks of Thought Police at ProZ are active again. Those who hold theories about the fondness of the company's management for using resources in countries with a strong tradition of totalitarianism may be on to something. It is seldom possible to have a reasonable discussion on the ProZ forums; where the silly RuleZ made for kindergarten don't stifle discussion from the outset, moderators with cultural or linguistic handicaps that render them incapable of understanding the discussions or the vocabulary used properly make up their own RuleZ. As usual, the interesting discussions are continued in other media, such as Facebook, Stridonium, blogs, etc. ProZ is essentially dead as a forum of exchange for serious colleagues, or at best critically ill.

The latest escapade began with a thread complaining about SDL's latest pathetic "amnesty" program for translators who have committed the crime of not upgrading to SDL Trados Studio 2009. For those who are actually interested in the upgrade, the dollars involved made a lot of sense, but as usual the ham-handed clowns who dream up SDL marketing campaigns under the influence of God-knows-what botched what could have been a nice campaign by using that ugly word "amnesty" again. Some of you may recall the last idiotic amnesty campaign before old Trados licenses of those not taking the bait would be sentenced to upgrade death. This historic blunder comes up frequently in private correspondence with a very decent, competent chap at SDL, who agrees (perhaps not just to placate me) that it was a pretty bone-headed campaign. So he goes on vacation and they do it again. Maybe he just decided to leave town before the turds hit the turbine again.

If anyone wants to see Soviet-style moderation at work, have a look at the thread. Before it was locked by the moderator, there were nine posts hidden or deleted with flimsy excuses. What sort of posts were removed? A few samples are given below. The original post looked like this:


The first response to be censored was this:

The second response was censored while the one above it was not originally. The "warning message" received was as follows:
This message is to inform you that your post "Just another reason not to bother with Trados at all", http://www.proz.com/post/1568902 , is hidden from public view, but is editable and visible to you. You are kindly requested to edit along the lines indicated below, so it can be made visible.

Please edit your post to avoid such terms as \"rubbish\". Thank you.

Thank you in advance for your understanding and future cooperation.
Later, another moderator approved the censored post and censored the one above it. A voice of reason was heard shortly afterward, when Antonin wrote:

indignation
14:22

I received the "amnesty" e-mail as well, and was not really surprised or annoyed so much as some people on this forum. I think it is a clumsy marketing feature, and SDL's campaigns trying to persuade me to buy I have already bought are pathetic, but why should I lose my temper over such trifles? 

On the other hand, what does annoy me a lot is the fact that several contributions from those who felt bad about that e-mail, were hidden by the moderators on very dubious grounds indeed. I can say that because I received them by e-mail so I could read them anyway

I really dislike this approach of the moderators, and it is a matter of principle. No bad language was used and I have seen much stronger stuff on this forum in the past.
This, too, was censored. Thou shalt not question moderators in public. For shame!

Today there were punishments aplenty for criminal violations of RuleZ and criticism of the deep pockets at SDL which H & Co. like to keep their hands in. All of it really silly and unnecessary. There were no personal attacks involved, no over-the-top language or anything of the sort. Once again ProZ has succeeded in making the management and moderators look stupid. Perhaps they felt that the marketing geniuses at SDL needed company.

9 comments:

  1. All e-mails from SDL always go straight into my spam folder, so I didn't know about that amnesty campaign. SDL Trados 2007 was one of the worst purchases I ever made, so no amnesty for me, thank you.

    As for ProZ RuleZ: Today I had to explain to a moderator (from a former Soviet republic) that "EU" is not an agency but a political union of countries. Then she allowed me to mention it in my posts.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Dear Kevin,

    You know what? Even Fyodor Mikhaylovich Dostoyevsky needed "amnesty" when he was exiled to Siberia for 4 years instead of being executed by a death squad.

    I can understand ProZ's policy well. It's about their survival as a translation portal. Their income depends on advertisements. SDL is one of their main sponsors. They don't want people displease "big spenders."

    It's all right that way. He who needs to be there for marketing undures their power exercises upon him. We don't. Just watch, remembering how it started with Nazi system and ended. People are not stupid at all.

    Stay being an inglourious basterd!

    Cheers,
    Wenjer

    ReplyDelete
  3. Too funny -- and sad, actually. Just another reason we don't really participate in Proz discussions; we just do so once in a blue moon. We agree -- there are other places to have great discussions, such as this blog. And good thing we have never worked with SDL/Trados at all; we are DVX girls! And Kevin, hehehe, you need to watch your language! "Rubbish"? That is terribly offensive; we won't be able to sleep tonight! :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. I noticed a while ago that the thrust of a lot of moderating on ProZ.com sought to avoid sensitive subjects (somewhat comprehensible) but also to tone down any criticism of outsourcers (no matter how small or disreputable) and large advertisers (for obvious reasons). This is slightly outrageous, considering that my membership fee and that of other thousands of translators probably outweighs the importance of revenue from even SDL's ads. In any case, this "amnesty" case is a typical example of the result: the completely paranoid censoring of even the lightest jabs at the large LSPs that inhabit our ecosystem in a website at least partially funded (and, thanks to crowdsourcing, maintained by the collaboration and content provided for free) by freelance members.

    ReplyDelete
  5. @J&D: Me watch my language? Aside from the fact that I seldom do, I wasn't even part of that forum thread. All the stuff I posted here was captured by someone else and sent to me. I did have a look at the thread, write a private note to an SDL employee telling him what I thought of that silliness (the old "amnesty" campaign gets brought up often as an example of bottom-of-the-barrel marketing) and the compose this post.

    If the ProZ screw-up hadn't been brought to my attention I would likely not have noticed. Most of the really useful peer discussion happens elsewhere now and has since Henry decided he couldn't deal with criticism any more and drove the old moderator team to the exits. No matter. It's his yard; he can unzip and water it however he pleases and needn't mind what the neighbors think :-) And if the performance of the moderators makes that yard smell like no one has cleaned up after the mutt for a while, the finicky ones among us will just have to watch our step, won't we?

    ReplyDelete
  6. I had a personal record of four comments censored in this single thread, by three different moderators, Mother Teresa included, for use of words as innocuous as "clowns", "crap" (in the sense of hogwash, not faecal matter, of course!) and another for rather facetiously pointing out they'd been inconsistent and missed one instance of "clowns" in my first post. It was hilarious, actually, watching the almighty ProZ machine scramble to protect its main sponsor's interests.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Zdravstvyute !
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    Pomogite pozhalyusta ((

    ReplyDelete
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