Nov 2, 2009


It seems even familiar acronyms are now forbidden at PROZ:
Dear Kevin Lossner,
This message is to inform you that your post "RTFM" has been removed from public view because it was not in line with site rule:

Dear Kevin, I have changed the title of your posting.
Thanks for your contributions in DVX Support forum.
Kind regards,

Thanks in advance for your understanding and future cooperation.

Selcuk Akyuz, Moderator
This was in response to my posting a link to the user manual for the DVX Editor version for a user who apparently never thought to look at the program's documentation. At least Selcuk didn't feel obliged to delete the post like Miss Presbyterian Manners might have, but then Turkish manners usually do have better polish than what I see in other places. I suppose my response is
You're welcome and goodbye!
Really. Funnily enough, my use of BOHICA on previous occasions (probably referring to SDL Trados quality and support) never got censored. In any case, with the ProZ Puritan nonsense getting more ridiculous by the week, I am increasingly less inclined to give any help at all to the many clueless beginners there. Recently, a German acquaintance of mine shared his support correspondence after an Indian moderator deleted his post entirely because it linked to a drawing that showed some leg and cleavage. In India I am told that you can be arrested for holding hands in public; many probably remember the scandal over Richard Gere's innocent public kiss. That someone from there is given the ability to impose her backwater standards on the rest of the world I find greatly offensive. Los Angeles is not Calcutta. Shall I return the favor by sending her pictures of cattle being slaughtered? A bit of tolerance, not pandering to the lowest prudish denominator, is called for in international exchanges. Or shall Germany be forbidden to send its new foreign minister Mr. Westerwelle on a mission to Iran because the mullahs there like to hang gays?

I do not consider it professional to pander to the medieval revivalists or those who have never made it past that period culturally. I have seen ProZ job notices looking for translators for adult content. Surely this offends many, and it's not exactly my cup of tea, though I had no problem with translating a text for a gay outcall service that placed a strong emphasis on health and responsibility. I refuse to translate for tobacco companies, and I have a strong personal reaction to the products, which include an allergy and clear memories of the misery of family members dying of lung cancer, but I think it would be overreaching for me to call for such job postings to banned or to curse my colleagues who do that work. And in that spirit, I will repeat my advice to the novice who will probably face many puzzling moments with many software programs - advice which most of us should probably follow more often: read the fucking manual!


  1. Kevin, do you mean you are leaving ProZ, or just the forums?

  2. More narrow in scope. I'm done with the Déjà Vu forum on ProZ. The real action for user exchange for that tool has always been the Yahoogroups forum - even an excellent effort by Atril and Loek van Kooten to establish an alternative could not replace it. Although there are a number of very knowledgeable ProZ users who provide answers there, most of these can be gleaned easily from the dejavu-l archive.

    So given that there are competent others to deal with simple questions and that forum is now polluted by ridiculous censorship politics, and Atril is looking dead to the point where I now hesitate to recommend the product, I will not waste my time in that forum.

    Logically, of course, I should probably blow off any forum with which Miss Manners is involved and a few others, perhaps pack it in entirely with the forums. But there are still a number of reasonable people left there with whom I enjoy the exchange of ideas, and until the Watercooler and other places develop a stronger base of participants I'll probably post a note on ProZ from time to time.

    My profile stays in place - I see no reason to change that. It's a good point of contact for me, and the indexing of it in search engines is quite satisfactory, so it continues to bring in a steady stream of customers whose projects I enjoy. Also, when the staff and mods really piss me off, I simply think of my favorite lines from Kästner:

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

    and I decide to stick around for a while and have some fun.

  3. Kevin! Kevin! Kevin!

    Wie gesagt, wenn sie dich auf die Abschussliste setzt, dann fängt´s an, dass die ModZ dich schikanieren, gefolgt von einem Mob.

    Es gibt keinen Sinn, blöde Leute dort zu helfen. Es gibt genügend Professionellen, die deinen Rat gut schätzen können. Professionelle ziehen Professionelle an. Lass den Sauladen so sein, wie sie ihn haben wollen!

    - Sylvia

  4. To be fair, I think the user in question did not realise that the manual that s/he had downloaded did not in fact explain the Editor version, nor that the Editor version did not do what s/he wanted it to do. Sometimes it is difficult for us old hands to realise how bewildering a new program can be for a total newbie. We KNOW that the answer to the problem is obvious, but THEY don't even realise that there is a question, let alone an answer.

    So pointing him/her to the Editor guide (as you did) is useful and helpful. Whether doing so in "RTFM" mode is helpful is a cultural question. Among old hands in Western culture this has become a known light-hearted abbreviation for the full expletive. You and I know that, but I'm not sure that a newbie in Japan would know that. So perhaps Selcuk's edit of your title was culturally helpful in the circumstances.

    I am not offended by your abbreviation of the expletive, nor even by the full technicolor version you use at the end of your blog post. However, I would not use these terms myself, and I have some sympathy for those from other cultural backgrounds who struggle to read your posts.

    Balancing sensitivity and tolerance is always a tight rope walk, and we all have different styles of acrobatics.

  5. Hello Kevin,

    I hope you don't mind my complete disagreement with your above comment, mainly because I hardly see the connection between being reminded not to use curse words/acronyms in a public forum and all the tolerance/censorship cases you mentioned in India or in other parts of the world.

    In fact, whether that was your intention or not, some of your comparisons/comments sound extremely racist, almost as if the USA or Europe had the monopoly of tolerance, which obviously is not the case.

    About, one thing is to object to the clear censorship you sometimes may find there, mostly related to the site's interests or policies, and another thing is that because **you** think people are stupid you are entitled to use curse words when you "graciously" decide to "help" them.

    Either you think people are stupid and don't help them based on this assumption, or you help them nonetheless but play by the rules of minimum politeness (since you at least seemed to acknowledge that much from the Turkish moderator). Obviously no one is forcing you to help anyone and, least of all, being rude about your help.

    Believe me, I am not a prude and I certainly know how to curse if need be, but I don't think using curse words/acronyms lightly here and there, just because, is a synonym of tolerance or freedom of speech. From what I have read in your original reply, the issue here is your clearly uncalled rudeness (grumpiness?), whether you admit it or not.

    Also, I find rather condescending that, in the process of criticizing fair forum rule application, you disqualify other moderators by making offensive references to them, such as "Miss Presbyterian Manners". Do you really find mature to use a sarcastic nasty nickname whenever referring to someone else who is not here to "defend" her point of view?

    About the drawing reference you mentioned that was "censored", frankly, I saw it, too, and it showed a lot more than just "some leg and cleavage". It was completely out of place, though it was perfect for a porn or, if you will, an "erotic" website, not a translation website.



  6. @Victor: I wasn't actually in "RTFM mode"; the title of the post was meant in more of a joking manner than anything else. Moreover, if you do a forum search on ProZ for RTFM you'll find 124 hits, the last in late September and many from this year. So I think it is fair to say that this acronym is part of the usual discourse at ProZ and no one gets particularly worked up about it. I have seldom understood it to be an insulting usage. As for those of other cultural backgrounds reading my posts, I look at that as an opportunity for them to learn proper idiomatic English, the sort of thing which they might encounter in a translation some day. My acquaintances here in Germany don't water down their expressions when they talk to me, and if I don't follow, I simply ask for an explanation. Most of these people claim to translate out of English, and a bit more familiarity with the range of expression in their source language can surely do no harm.

    @Ivette: Although we disagree often privately and publicly, somehow you always fail to offend me, and you've missed the mark this time again ;-) As I pointed out to Victor, I wasn't actually being grumpy in the ProZ "RTFM post", though I was in fact disappointed that the previous answerers had not directed her to the correct manual, which is only a few pages long and explains everything clearly. Victor is right; the main documentation is not at all helpful for what she needed to do. The Editor manual would orient her quickly and allow her to finish and move on. The other suggestions, while nice, would have burned unnecessary time and not prepared her to deal with a similar task when the demo expires.

    As for the "racist" bit, think what you like. I really don't care. My public and private record tells quite another story, and I'm not about to start worrying about anyone's gross misinterpretations. And MPM can show up here any time she likes and post a comment in defense of her indefensible and ridiculous actions. Unlike that raving nutcase intent on libeling Richard Benham and now apparently me, she's a sober person presumably capable of dialog and debate. I've simply grown tired of using her name her when referring to her silly actions of censorship, and I thought I would do her the favor of not adding yet another of my posts to the Google hits that will show up with her name, because I do not wish her ill, just an acute attack of common sense.

    As for A's pic post, it's not really my taste either, but it's hardly pornographic. I did notice recently that there is an Italian translator who shows full frontal nudity in his/her profile. In fact, it looks like the figure is doing something I would rather not mention on an inanimate object. Apparently that is OK, though I am sure that a good number of ProZ users find it offensive. In churches I used to attend it would probably have the folks in the pews reaching for their guns.

  7. He He: The censorship is not limited to ProZ proper anymore:
    LinkedIn: Professional Translators and Interpreters (

    Hey Uldis,

    I hope you are doing well.

    Your post on LinkedIn was removed since that issue was already brought to Henry's attention. In addition, you have been removed from the group.


    My slightly shortened deleted message (because I just don't have the original one saved, to the

    best of my memory it went like this):
    "I just received communication from a Lithuanian translator about LT>EN translation (about 8 pages)

    from one of my Lithuanian colleagues. The subject is an article by a Lithuanian Professor

    translated into English and scheduled to go to press tomorrow. The client asked my colleague to

    proofread the translation and confessed it was done by a current Proz Lithuanian moderator (the one
    because of which I was kicked out of Proz by H., after telling him what I think of her in a private email to the H himself).

    Here is a single sentence excerpt from the material provided for proof:

    “Such illogical system don't allowed to implement single forestry policy, there is no united planning what disturb to create sustainable recreational system in forests, resolves for town forests designed finances, increase administrative input."

    I have in my possession all 8 pages of this masterpiece. Henry, you are a native speaker of English,

    I would like to provide them you to enjoy, please feel free to ask".

  8. Kevin,

    I am glad you see "no offense" in my comments in general ;-) , mainly because that is never my intention with you (though, according to the Urban Dictionary, we all seem to use the "no offense" phrase/idea to actually offend: ... smile...).

    Anyway, as I have told you before, I actually enjoy, from time to time, "civilized"/fun online debates, no matter how different one's point of view may be.

    But I also just wanted to add that I was not aware that you could actually find so many forum hits in of "RTFM". So I have just sent a support ticket about this, FWIW. I promise to keep you posted about the outcome of this.

    About gross misinterpretations regarding racism, I also wanted to stress that I clearly mentioned that I was not sure that was your intention, since I basically don't know you or your personal views and/or experiences in this respect. Therefore, I am also glad to learn that my doubtful comment about this part was not right.

    And getting back to's censorship, I wonder why some people seem to become so obssessed about this and about this website in general.

    I mean, I can understand the differences of opinion about what one considers censorship (just like what one considers porn), but in some cases I see a bit of excessive negative obssession about this website and even some clear "bullying" attitude towards the website, especially from people who have had some kind of quarrel with the management due to past issues (or even mere differences of points of view).

    Wouldn't the easiest thing be to stop participating for good in that website, remove your profile, forget about Henry and Co. and move on to more positive things?

    I am not sure that showing such an open "bullying" attitude towards this website says anything positive about anyone as a professional.

    (And btw, I know of at least one case of a previous major "anti-Proz" person who not only re-opened his/her profile, but re-paid full membership and became a certified PRO. I also noticed another case of someone who had a major quarrel with Henry and co. in the Spanish forum and now uses a different nickname, after having removed "for good" his/her profile.)

    I guess I consider life way too short to waste it in such petty flame wars (and, again, I hope you don't consider my comments now as flaming, "no offense" meant, he he he).

    Anyway, good night and I hope your doggies are doing great,


  9. Hi all, sorry for how my previous my posting shows, I'm not "Anonymous" and I never was afraid or ashamed to sign any of my postings anywhere with my full name. This is just my mistake first time posting on Kevin's blog - as other posting options didn't seem to work.

    I'm Uldis Liepkalns- for more info please Google " xxxuldis ".

    Thank you,

    Uldis Liepkalns,

  10. @Ivette: Thanks for the goods wishes for the pups. They're all home safe now sleeping on new sheepskin rugs. When Ajax disappeared into the swamps for nearly four hours today, I thought the boars had got him, but in the end all was well.

    With regard to all these words for which I have been censored recently by Astrid, Russell and others, you'll find hundreds of instances in the archives, including recent ones. It has been suggested to me many times in private that I am on a target list for "special scrutiny"; while that may be true, it doesn't particularly concern me, since I have better things to occupy myself with than paranoia, even if someone is "out to get me". I expect consistency and a reasonable effort to avoid excessive hypocrisy. That's all. Probably too much to ask.

    I won't bother to repeat my reasons for sticking around ProZ. I've done that often enough here, in our private correspondence and elsewhere. There are many good aspects to that platform, not the least of which is that I meet many interesting, thoughtful colleagues such as you. But because I don't consider the place a lost cause or a wreck worthy only of demolition, I will continue to engage in constructive criticism in my own way. Part of that is to point out the failures that result in declining customer satisfaction. I know Henry isn't happy about the revenue losses that have come from cancellations by European subscribers concerned about data protection and other issues, and I know he doesn't like to hear about those matters from RL & alia. But those of us who feel a certain stake in the place will continue to bug him about it. Sort of like the "friends don't let friends drive drunk" principle.

  11. Kevin, a couple of comments on your comments:
    "I wasn't actually in "RTFM mode"; the title of the post was meant in more of a joking manner than anything else. "
    Humour in an international context may not always be received as it was intended. When I have used my own brand of British humour in translator forums, I have more than once ended up painstakingly saying:
    T-H-A-T W-A-S A J-O-K-E.

    And in your final comment (to date):
    "Sort of like the "friends don't let friends drive drunk" principle."
    I suspect that the friend in question actually wants to drive drunk and resents any warning that you or I may give. (How about that - not a swear word in sight, but I bet the mods would hang me from the yard arm!)

  12. Dear Kevin,

    I shall correct my German grammatic errors and make my points a bit clearer.

    Was ich meine, ist, wenn sie Dich auf Abschussliste setzen, dann fängt es an, dass die ModZ deine Beiträge mit irgendeinem Grund verstecken. Wenn das Dich nicht abschreckt, dann fängt irgendwann an, dass Leute Dich mobben.

    Meine Frage ist: Wozu denn blöden Leuten helfen? Wir haben es nicht nötig, uns dort als selbslos darzustellen. Diese Leute verdienen es nicht, geholfen zu werden.

    One of my colleagues developped a macros for copy/paste from external sources into CAT or Word files. He posted the link of his macro in ProZ forum and a lot of people were interested, asking how much it costs. It cost nothing. The thread was hidden then.

    Someone started another thread asking that colleague: "You said it was a macro, but the file is an *.exe one. Would you give some tips as to the installation/uninstallation
    procedure, please? And secondly: on your website you say it is not a free application. Would you mind indicating the price?" The thread was immediately hidden.

    I know the macro and I am using it for about a month. It is a great tool. That colleague isn´t selling that macro at all. It is not a free application, but it really costs nothing!

    Why the threads and posts hidden? "Advertisements are prohibited. Paid advertising is available from in designated areas of the site. Unauthorized solicitation, sent via the forums, profile messages or elsewhere, is not allowed. Discussion of sites offering competing services is also prohibited, due to past abuse."

    Isn´t it clear enough? That website is a private owned company with a commercial purpose. It is not a translation association or the like. They expect us translators being stupid and altruistic to them enough to have no opinions and follow everything they design to draw money out of our data and pockets, but we shall not profit from nothing but just being bombardized with low price offerings?

    Kevin, as I said before, we are professional enough and we don´t need such a website. When our name stand in BDÜ catalog, that´s enough. Why shall we support their commercial purposes by our "contributions"? I don´t and I am doing well.

    - Sylvia

  13. @Victor: Yes, even with out swear words, you'd be hung, drawn and quartered, so the odd damn really makes little difference ;-)

    I'm quite aware of the difficulties of humor in an international context, but I assume the risk quite deliberately. I think that if someone in Indonesia or Mali doesn't understand everything I write or is offended, they can say so, and we both might learn something and be able to deal with each other's culture better. Dumbing things down to the lowest common denominator seldom accomplishes anything useful. And these cultural tidbits are important. Only very recently did I understand the fury of a waiter in a restaurant years ago when a friend of mine put her sore, blistered foot up to rest on a plastic chair. I didn't know that, in his culture, exposing the soles of her shoes was a huge insult to him, and unfortunately he never explained, just screamed. I figure one way or another we'll all give someone cause to be offended if they are looking to be in that state, so I'm really not going to worry about it. If they aren't able to discuss the matter in a rational exchange in which I might be persuaded, then I won't concern myself much with their good opinion.

  14. @Uldis:

    Hi Uldis,

    You are not anonymous at all. Most of us know you. You have been doing great things for people at that website, unthanked.

    However, your reward will come later. I believe that reasonable colleagues will come to you for advice and reasonable clients will come to you for good collaboration/collaboration.

    The issues Kevin pointed out about the said website are actually known to many people, even if they have been trying to hide everything from public view and thus create a misperception. We know what a system it is behind the scene - Soviet totalitarian and Argentine junta-like plus American unscruplous.

    Why there are still people willingly doing the unpaid dirty watchdog jobs? Well, they have some illusions. They might believe that they could have more exposure as "professionals." A taste of power, maybe? But they won´t earn any benefit, except a distorted self-esteem.

    Your disclosure of the inside stories is appreciated by most of us. It does professional translator something good to know how cruel the reality behind the scene is.

    Thank you!

    - Sylvia
    P.S. @Kevin, wenn du merkst, dass Leute anfangen, Dich zu mobben, dann ist es das Zeichen, dass diese Schweine intern Dich für "vogelfrei" erklärt haben.

  15. Sylvia, that last post reads a lot like the Ensellin-Baader-Meinhof letters... "Schweine"?? Really???
    Sometimes I'm not sure it's really worth getting that angry about. I also have my doubts about the practice of calling people names that are clearly intended to be derogatory (and I know you would say they are merely descriptive Kevin). It hardly seems like a forward-looking solution, more like a lovers spat IMHO. The problem with blogging this stuff is that it doesn't have much of a shelf-life (luckily you can delete it later) and quickly becomes rather uninteresting. I'd much rather read about translation than the trench warfare of translation communities...
    Don't worry about Mr Westerwelle. In the 1960s (or perhaps earlier) the South African government established the practice of bestowing dignitaries of non-European origin the status of "honorary white" - this enabled, for instance, Maori players to tour SA with the All Blacks rugby team in 1976. I'm sure the Iranian government will find a similarly "amicable" solution.

  16. @Damo: Descriptive? Hardly. That doesn't reflect my personal view of staff or mods however much I might disagree with some policies or individuals. I would say that the vast majority o my interactions with them over about 7 years have been positive. Lately things have taken a few directions I don't approve of, but I don't expect to run across anyone in a Suhle next time I'm in the woods here. And if I do, I'm sure Ajax will lick them clean again.

  17. RTFM? OMG... I think I can remember this abbreviation was used several times in the SDL Trados, DVX and other fora... So why you and why your posts? Kinda strange, imo.

    And thanks to Uldis for posting here too. We are missing you very much (oops, sound like some insanity lol)

  18. @Damo:

    Aha, you read something like the Ensellin-Baader-Meinhof letters out of my passages? I have been "RAFfing myself auf" against dishonest business practices since my youth. But you can be assured that there has never been any incident like theirs in my whole life. In fact, I understand pretty well how those Schweine do their business and how people are attracted to help them to create an illusion of a "community" and voluntarily contribute to the pockets of those Schweine while damaging their own positions as freelance translators. Anyway, people don´t care about what happens to others until they got hurt themselves. Everyone sees only her/his immediate advantages in supporting a system which they actually don´t agree with. However, even when they´ve realized that they got hurt, they wouldn´t be able to communicate their experiences to other people, either, for nobody would care, so long people hope for the advantages they can draw from an injust system.

    Julianne Moore told Sylvester Stallone a joke in "Assasins": . An analogy might be: To stay happily a freelance translator, just stay where you are and keep your mouth shot. So long you don´t endanger their business, they appreciate your "contributions" very much. Even better, when you promote their business for free!

    It´s understandable that Kevin has another perception as I do. He is also careful enough not to hurt their business. The RTFM incident is only to send him a reminder of behaving himself like a "professional good citizen" or there will be some more reprisals. Anyone who sees her/his advantages for now will stay where they are and keep their mouth shut. There are not many places where "so many professional translators" get together to be outsourced after all.

    You see, I like Bertolt Brecht´s insight in the matter very much when he wrote, "Wenn die Haifische Menschen wären,.... Es gäbe natürlich auch Schulen in den großen Kästen. In diesen Schulen würden die Fischlein lernen, wie man in den Rachen der Haifische schwimmt. Sie würden zum Beispiel Geographie bruachen, damit sie die großen Haifische, die faul irgendwo liegen, finden könnten." Freelance translators are just little fisch who learn how to find ever bigger sharks and be "für die Haifische angenehm, indem sie für die Ordnung unter Fischlein sorgen." That´s why freelance translators need such a website like that and take it for a "community" while they know as well that it isn´t at all.

    By the way, there isn´t a problem for Mr. Westerwelle in Iran at all. So long his politics is in favor of theirs, they find an amicable solution for him, no doubt.

    - Sylvia

  19. @Laurent:

    Hallo Laurent!

    Deine Geschichte auf dem "Fischmarkt" ist auch nicht uninteressanter als Uldis. Bei Gelegenheit werde ich mich privat bei Dir melden.

    Ich grüße Dich herzlich und wünsche Dir alles gute!

    - Sylvia


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