Sep 16, 2009

Curiouser and curiouser

The ProZ censors are at it again, and to be quite honest, I can't see what for. Today I received the following message for a post made some time ago, which was purged today:

Dear Kevin Lossner,

This message is to inform you that your post "Really?" has been removed from public view because it was not in line with site rule

Site users are expected to treat each other with courtesy, whether posting publicly or making direct contact.

Thank you in advance for your understanding and future cooperation.

Jared moderator.

Since there was no link given I had no idea what the allegedly objectionable content was, so I filed a support request to ask. Jared kindly responded and copied the text out along with the following message:

Text of removed post
Dear Kevin,

I'll copy the text of the post below. Note that, in the case of removed posts, no links are sent since the posts are no longer visible.


Samuel Murray wrote:
Exactly. That is why the system isn't a quoting system -- it's a bidding system. But someone at thought that "bid" had a bad ring to it, so they called it a quoting system.
Is this firm knowledge or speculation? Doesn't sound bad to me either way. In an RFP, which in a sense is what many of the job posts could be considered, the terms "proposal", "bid" and "quote/"quotation" are really equivalent, and I think my friends on the big island off the coast of France are fond of "tender" as well. (That might come from all the tenderizing that is said to have gone on in the public schools in days presumably past.)

As you know, some people claim that these job posts are like slavery and ought to be banned from ProZ. I vehemently disagree. I think we should encourage slavery in the profession and therefore I herewith propose to Henry and the staff of ProZ that programming resources be dedicated to creating slave auctions. We won't need dental X-rays and beefcake photos of those up for sale - a summary of their qualifications and a commitment for a unit of capacity within a specific timeframe is all that would be needed. (Sorry, this is only part-time slavery... those who want it full time will have to look for a day job.) Outsourcers could then bid - quite publicly - for the advertised capacity for a specific translator. Those on the block could even specify the starting bid level to make it "fair" :-) Whatchy'all think?


Member services and support

The "rule" allegedly violated reads as follows:
Mutual respect, professionalism and fair play are expected. Site users are expected to treat each other with courtesy, whether posting publicly or making direct contact, and are advised to act under the assumption of good faith. Harassment of, or attacks on, individuals or groups, of any form, as well as discouragement of another's use of the site, will not be tolerated. No action aimed at gaining unfair advantage in KudoZ, the directory or elsewhere, whether taken alone or as a group, will be tolerated.
Perhaps I'm merely getting old and senile, but I fail to see the connection here. But as Barney Frank would say, trying to have a conversation with some people is like trying to talk to a dining room table. Jared is a nice fellow, but I think he's off in the Twilight Zone here with his RuleZ.

I was actually serious with the slave auction proposal in any case. I think it would be fun, and it would be revealing in a lot of ways. I remember years ago too that this used to be a popular fund-raising method for churches and youth clubs in the California town where I grew up. The other good thing about this proposal is that the bidding structure would move prices up and reveal to some of the bottom feeders what others are willing to pay. Instead we have the usual system where hungry translators in some language pairs compete to see who can work for the fewest calories per day. Better to be open about that slavery thing, because real slave labor has more value than what many ProZ outsourcers are willing to pay.


  1. Curiouser and curiouser but not unpredictable. This is the direction in which ProZ has been moving for years. Unfortunately, because the posts are hidden for ridiculous reasons, many people aren't aware of this or simply don't care. And many people that used to add so much to the site are no longer active members/users/whatever. The censorship is actually the reason I canceled my membership before it expired. I'm still a user because I find the forums extremely useful. I honestly don't think this course will change.

  2. "The ProZ censors are at it again, and to be quite honest, I can't see what for."

    In the days of yore, perceived 'errors of judgement' were pointed out in public, and served as a useful reminder about Site RuleZ (as a paying customer of ProZ, I prefer to view the latter as 'guidelines').

    In the meantime however, considered, constructive and polite site moderation seems to have leant more and more in the direction of 'policing' and this by those whose qualification to intervene seems questionable at best.

    A prime example of an embarrassing site-level cock-up is to be seen here:

    Digging deeper into the entertaining content of that forum, we discover that it contains a link to the Contest RuleZ, which state: " Speculation on entries is not allowed. It is against the rules to speculate as to who may have submitted a given entry."

    Thought police?

    I wondered what was meant by 'speculate' in this context. How do they intend to gain knowledge of my 'speculation'? The words spectograph and speculum sprang to mind but nervous - indeed horrified - I refrained from giving the matter further consideration.

    My membership renewal is presently under review, as is that of others.

  3. @Chris:
    I saw you thinking a prohibited thought.
    Listen for the knock on the door.

    And as for Kevin ... ;-} ;-} ;-}

    (BTW: my "membership renewal review" back in the summer drew a negative conclusion).


  5. Re:

    I'd be willing to bet that that topic will be censored or closed within the next 8 hours.

  6. @Michele: Very likely you're right. But at several levels I think the response to foolishness like this was summarized well by Erich Kästner:

    Ja, die Bösen und Beschränkten sind die Meisten und die Stärkern aber spiel nicht den Gekränkten. Bleib am Leben, sie zu ärgern!

    Actually, I would take issue with the part about them being "stronger". To me they are intellectually and ethically weak, and their strength in other areas has strict limits.

  7. @Michele: done, the thread has been locked by JT on 06:06 PM CEDT.

  8. @Laurent: you forgot to note that the thread has also neen removed from the "Most Recent Posts" page. It's an obvious attempt to bury the whole matter. I particularly liked the lame citation of yet another "rule" with the comment by Jared that "clarification regarding site rules or rules enforcement actions should also be directed through the support system". Now if one does that the answers are not available for the benefit of others and a higher level of "crime" can most likely be expected. How terribly unproductive.

    I really do get the impression lately that some ProZ staff and mods have reverted to kindergarten.

  9. @Kevin: I noticed that it was hard to find (hehe!) and I thought it would have gone down in the list as a result of huge amounts of new posts in other topics... Thanks for letting me know about this "Beerdigung" feature I was unaware of :-O

  10. @Laurent: Everything is time-sorted. Jared's post was at 18:06 (my time). I just scanned down the recent post list and noticed the gap.

    These days things don't move off the page that quickly. A year ago a thread without additions would quickly get buried two or three pages back in less than a day, because the forum discussions were so active. Now it reminds me a bit of a ghost town. I suppose we should post a note somewhere requesting the last member to leave to turn out the lights :-)

  11. Hi Kevin,

    It is probably Jared´s intention to have less traffic at ProZ fora. The postings of those watchdogs are enough to maintain those fora "alive." The rest of us translators makes only trouble and hard work for the staff. They don´t need heavy traffic. They make money otherwise.

    - Sylvia

  12. By the way, Kevin, they definitely don´t need any smart guys like you being at theirs, believe me. What they need are ever more innocent/naive users/members who provide their data for sale or for money-making per click.

  13. FWIW, I have just submitted a "Support ticket" with some of my misgivings about the develompents at ProZ.
    I wonder whether I will get any meaningful reply.

  14. @Victor: Good for you, I'd love to hear the response. A simple forum search for "rule" yields plenty of other postings about site rule clarifications, none of which got closed.

  15. FWIW, I have been "reinstalled" in my rights as a paying member upon my request. I'd like to know which answer will be given to Victor's support request and will not hesitate to send similar ones should the occasion arise :)

  16. @Laurent: I missed something. A friend e-mailed me last night to say you were "back", but I didn't know you were gone. What happened?

  17. @Kevin: I assume this friend could be A.... A pity you don't read French but I can give you the details (write to office at krauland dot biz or to kraulandconsulting at me dot com. I can also explain the whereabouts in publi (ie on this blog) if you wish.

  18. Wow. What's happening to Proz is simply fascinating. Thanks for making this public... I hardly go nowadays. I think it's clear why not...


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