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https://www.duolingo.com/AdamJacobs2

Duolingo Translation Trolls

Recently I've started translating some documents in the immersion section of Duolingo and have been rather disappointed due to what I call a "translation troll".

I translated about 20 sentences of a document, the next day I have an alert that almost all of my translations have been edited. I think no biggie, this is how the community works, everyone pitches in and helps out, right? Nope.

The sentences that were modified only had a word or two changed(i.e. dropping or adding the word "the") or changing the sentence so it "sounded" better for English(not necessarily the correct translation). It was quite obvious the person was not reading the untranslated document while doing the edit, just changing things here and there to get points. In other words this person was just proof reading English, not even checking if the translation was correct.

Moreover, not only did this person make only these minor changes, my translation was voted DOWN!?! IMHO the vote down is reserved for things that are improperly translated, simple grammatical and punctuational errors(in English) are not enough to warrant a vote down on my part. After all we are learning a foreign language here and the point is to convey meaning. Voting someone's translation down just because you don't like the way it's worded is not helping the Duolingo community.

Furthermore, this "troll" didn't even bother translating one untranslated sentence of the document! I checked this persons profile and activity - any translation I found they made was an edit of a previous translation in the same manor described above!

Kind of ruined the immersion section for me.

Sorry to rant but maybe someone else has had the same experience.

4 years ago

50 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/kradeka

It seems to me like a good translation is one that reads well in English - I don't think we're after purely literal translations. If that's what the person was doing, then that should be OK. But I agree that you shouldn't be downrated for that - you've already done the heavy lifting by putting it into English in the first place. I've started to put comments in whenever I make similar changes so that the person whose translation being edited can see my reasoning about, for example, why I've moved a clause to a different part of the sentence where it fits better in standard English. And I don't downrate for that - I edit and share credit.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/rrlear
rrlear
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I agree kradeka. Sometimes I feel bad getting any credit if I'm just changing an obvious typo in their work. Almost wish that there was a button to flag the change as being very minor.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/saschambaer
saschambaer
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Yes, sharing credit is where it's at. If I edit something credits are shared. The other guy already did all the work, they better get the votes for it too.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Dr.Beez
Dr.Beez
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I completely agree, kradeka. I often make such "housekeeping" edits (sharing credit), in addition to working untranslated sections. I'd hate to think someone views these efforts as "trolling." Save the literalism for the exercises on the skill tree. In Immersion, natural language should be the goal.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Aileme
Aileme
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If someone really moves the translation away from the original text without need and is giving tons of downvotes for inserted commas or such, you should report them.

I have been lucky so far, I only got one downvote from someone who merely restructured a sentence - and even that annoyed me.

Don't let the troll spoil it for you!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/orangeant86
orangeant86
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In this case it does appear to be the person editing the translation who is giving the downvote, but that is not always the case. You can't actually see who is downvoting you.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/MJBS
MJBS
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I've had similar experiences - you'll no doubt soon have the pleasure of coming across the trolls who only translate titles or headings of articles just to get points and don't bother translating any of the substantive text. There are also people who put the text through Google Translate and correct your translation to one which makes no sense whatsoever which they have got from GT. A bit sad really in my opinion, as it defeats the whole object of the immersion section, but there you go.

I looked this up when it first happened to me and one suggestion was to translate older articles which those people are less likely to target. The downside of that however is that fewer people review the older articles to give you the upvotes you need to advance to the next tier. It would be good if the powers that be could be could introduce something where your translations only counted if you translated, say, at least 50% of the article or something like that to stop this kind of abuse.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Ski_Racer

I will sometimes only translate headings because I don't yet have the skills to translate most of the sentences. I think it's better if I give a correct translation on a heading, rather than an incorrect translation on a paragraph.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/2prices

Congratulations for having the courage to try and translate the headings. I don't think anyone here is talking about someone who is translating at their skill level. I believe they are talking about those people who are translating using DuoBot or sites like Google Translate. They see Duolingo as a game rather than a website for learning a language. I gave up on the Immersion section for a while because of people giving me downvotes when I knew my translation was perfectly fine the way it was written. I will go back to Immersion, because I believe this is how Duolingo keeps their site funded, and no one (except maybe Rosetta Stone) wants to see Duolingo go away, but I have to say I was extremely discouraged for a while when translating. Here's the way I look at it now, there are people on here who want to play and people who want to learn. I, personally, want to learn and refuse to let the "players" discourage me any longer. So, back to immersion I will go!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/MJBS
MJBS
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Yes - what 2prices says. In the language I translate from (Spanish), there are some people who are at, say, tier 25 yet, when you check what they have translated, it seems only ever to be headings and titles. Whilst I have nothing against you doing so if you think you don't have the proficiency to try the substantive text, I would encourage you to give it a go as you will hopefully improve by reading / seeing the amendments and comments that the more honourable of us will no doubt leave for you. I would encourage everyone to leave a comment as to why they have made an amendment and if you think you are at risk of getting into an edit war then walk away, as there are sadly people out there who will take umbrage and then go around down voting you just for the sake of it.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Ebrill_April

I know how you feel, and it actually happened to me today too. I spent hours translating a long text and had three lines of it downvoted. Two lines weren't even given an alternative translation, and the one translation that was edited was given a literal translation. I wouldn't have minded someone changing my translation normally, but the literal translation has a completely different meaning in English and thus makes no sense in the given context =_= .

There is actually an option you can click to share credit with the other translator when you edit their stuff, which I always click, but I think this should be mandatory unless you can give a good enough reason why you deserve all the credit. People should also be forced to leave a comment when they downvote stuff. I actually knew a girl on here who admitted to me that she would sometimes downvote people just for changing her translation.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/TuesdayFortnite

(newbie warning!) oh, how do you do that? (give credit to the original translator) I've tried editing a couple of things, but finding a lot of the immersion stuff to be a bit 'trial and error' to working out what you are supposed to do and how. (I did have a wander for a help file but didn't find anything useful). I've worked out how to edit, and how to add a comment on somebody else's translation (after I corrected a completely minor spelling mistake - hte to the - but didn't see how I could not 'take' credit for that. for the record I wouldn't dream of downvote-ing a translation unless it was utter gibberish!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Ebrill_April

Hi. :D I've only figured it out recently myself recently. You need to be on the "translate" option for this to work. Click on the grey text and a box will appear asking if you want to thumb up or down the translation of that line. If you click the "edit" button, you will be allowed to change it and an extra option will appear saying underneath saying, "share credit". :)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/AdamJacobs2

Thanks to all for your kind words and suggestions! I'm sure I'll give the immersion section another try at some point, although I hope there will be some modifications to the system. Document translation is how Duolingo makes ends meet when it comes down to it. If there are people making improper translations and ruining it for the people that are really trying then changes have to be made to eliminate this sort of situation and allow the community to grow stronger.

Maybe something like being forced to leave a comment on a down vote like April_Showers suggested would be a good start. Another thing I think might work would be the inability to down vote or edit translations until reaching tier level 2 and/or after translating a certain number of untranslated sentences. I mean, really, how can you say a translated sentence is incorrect if you can't even translate one yourself?

As for right now I'm going back to the learning tree for a while, due mainly to the fact that my positive vote percentage is below 80 after this "troll" incident making it much more difficult to reach tier 2.

Despite all of this ranting I've got nothing but love for Duolingo, I've learned far more of a foreign language in 37 days with Duolingo than I did in 4 years of high school French! I can now speak with my Brazilian in-laws! Thank you Duolingo and the Duolingo community!(except the trolls)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/hburdon

The knowledge of language is why you came here in the first place, and the knowledge of language, a result of comprehending, researching and translating articles in Immersion, will stay with you regardless of how many downvotes you receive. Just something to keep in mind next time your translation is stupidly mutilated. ;)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jorma1998b

I agree with you. I had a similar experience translating from eng to spanish. I decided it's not for me. Some changes need to be made if we want to enhance the system and get people engaged and expanding the quality and volume of material translated.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/tariqnisarahmed

Good way to improve your percentage is to go right back into Immersion. :) If one troll is to blame for your senseless downvotes, writing abuse@ may also address the problem.

But do more immersion and good luck to you!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Jack.Elliot
Jack.Elliot
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That so really sad..... Please report this to the staff ... The staff are very good and will react positive if this is as you say then it will be dealt will very swiftly..

Even in doubt ... report .. and let everybody know

it will not help your feelings but I can understand your feelings .... and donate some Lingots .. I do hope that there is a nice solution ... all the best Jack

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Adina_atl

I have changed small things in translations, reworking it to make it sound more natural in English. But I try to always upvote it first and then share credit afterwards. I also usually only do this when it's a single sentence in the middle of an otherwise untranslated block that I'm working on (I tend to translate entire paragraphs or sections of an article at a minimum).

One of the things I don't entirely understand is what happens on the "proofread" tab. If I correct a typo on the proofread tab, does that give me credit as the translator? I don't want it to, which is why I seldom proofread unless I've translated an entire article, but I wonder. It would be nice if it didn't, because it gets on my nerves (as a sometimes editor) to leave a typo when it would be so easy to fix it.

My solution on the edit wars is to translate "boring" things. I translated a bit of a Wikipedia article on the Avengers and every sentence has been edited. I translated an entire article on Logorri, a Spanish military officer in 1808, and last I looked not a single sentence had been touched. Or reviewed, alas. History and news gets a lot less attention from trolls than popular culture. And I like history.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Luscinda
Luscinda
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Adina, you'll have a better chance of getting your history articles checked if you start following some people who like the same sort of articles as you. If you see people who are translating the same sort of material, follow them. When you start to get some following you in return, they will see the articles you are working on in your stream and with luck someone will come and join you. It is very frustrating when you spend hours on something you like and three or four weeks later no one else has looked at it.

I think the other tip is that if you are hoping for some feedback, don't complete the article - leave a bit for someone else. People may have unticked the box for viewing completed articles because they don't want to see a huge list of pieces where there is nothing left to translate. ~That has been my experience anyway, the one you complete by yourself will be the one that gets completely ignored.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/hburdon

Following people is an excellent idea. I have found a couple of people that I really get on well with, Immersion-wise. We try to make the translations as good as possible, sometimes changing single words and punctuation marks, but we know that it's done in pursuit of perfection, not for points. We leave sometimes very extensive comments, and instead of editing wars we have discussions in activity streams. It's really worthwhile.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Adina_atl

Good advice. Thank you.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Ynhockey
Ynhockey
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I completely agree that sentences with small problems should never be downvoted, and credit should always be shared with the previous author in such cases.

However, in my very limited immersion experience, most sentences I've rated were written in poor English. It's not quite clear to me whether the original translator was not a native English speaker, or was just making literal translations, but clearly many translators on Duolingo (who translate into English) either have very poor English or don't put any effort into their translations. I think one of the reasons is that many French-to-English translators, for example, come from the French side and are not fluent in English. In other words, there is another side to the coin.

Another common problem I've noticed is that people translate things that they have no understanding of, and this makes for amusing errors. For example, I've had an "edit war" with someone who kept insisting on translating "Canadiens de Montreal" as "Montreal Canadians", because that is the literal translation, even though the correct one (in the context of ice hockey/the NHL) is "Montreal Canadiens". I always try to leave detailed comments in such cases, but this does not always help.

In short, my recommendation is: translate only if you're fluent in the destination language, this is much more important than understanding the source language. Next, try to familiarize yourself a little with the topic, otherwise you will almost certainly make some awkward and often incorrect translations.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jeanprendiville

I think "translate only if you're fluent in the destination language" is a bit harsh. The reality is that if your first language is, let us say Greek, it is almost impossible to find an online course as good as Dulingo offering Greek to German etc. So you are stuck with working through English. One reason why I never use "wrong" is an image in my head of a Japanese student, struggling to learn French through English, We English speakers are spoilt for choice.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Ynhockey
Ynhockey
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This is really a philosophical debate: are we translating only to improve our language skills, or to also have quality translations, contribute to the world and help Duolingo maintain its business model? If we're just translating for ourselves, then there's no problem to have many poor translations: we learn through mistakes and it's perfectly fine.

However, if the goal is to have quality translations, then it's best that at the very least, the translator has good command of English. I would also not recommend starting translating when you're not at least halfway through the language tree, or ideally even 100%, but that's just me and I have no problem with others translating when they've just started learning the language.

By the way, I hate to sound like an a-hole again, but as someone who learned English as my 3rd language (technically 5th but 3rd of the ones I am currently fluent in), I will recommend to anyone not fluent in English to learn English first, and then anything else. Without English it's very hard to get around the Internet, and after having acquired command of the language, your opportunities online will shoot through the roof.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jeanprendiville

I think you misunderstand me. I am not suggesting you accept poor translations. Of course make any improvements that you deem necessary but give people the benefit of the doubt, a wrong may be doing someone an injustice and they may simply walk away.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Ynhockey
Ynhockey
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I completely agree that rejecting translations, in general, is a bad thing. Just saying that translators not fluent in English should be considerate and if possible, focus on English first.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/AliceMarie

I was totally frustrated when I started immersion, too. Got down voted on a few things where one word was changed to a synonym, or something else really small. Then again, I got a nasty-gram from someone who objected by my small edit (not a down vote) of one of his sentences.

My belief is that since Duolingo is funding itself and giving us this great learning tool for free because of the translations provided by us learners, we should all be grateful when someone improves a translation.

I think part of the problem is that people think if a sentence if passable, it's good enough and you should just leave them alone. Personally, I don't want to give Duolingo "C" work if I can help it. I want all of my translations (eventually) to be "A" quality. If a translation is really improved, we can learn from it. If not, the discussion tab is a great place to start a dialog. (You can make sure the other person sees your thoughtful comment/critique/question by putting "See discussion tab" in your editing comment.)

It can also be hard for people to get the fact that a literal translation is not the best translation. Languages are full of idioms and standard ways of phrasing things, and I think part of the skill to be acquired is getting a comfort level with where one should depart from an exact translation so the text will sound right in the target language.

Anyway, don't give up. My love of immersion comes and goes, but I am finding that it's becoming more fun as my vocabulary and grammar improve. I'm sure you will find it so as well.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jorma1998b

The point I make is how to improve the system. I think we need to refine the process by which the task is accomplished. The current situation causes confusion, redundancy of efforts, unnecessary conflict and competition to do something that should be easier. The notion of immersion is cool and enticing, but the practice is discouraging. So, maybe if we put together a short training program and certify translators, which will do it in their native language, this could work. Also, organize teams that tackle specific projects, depending on level of difficulty and also availability of participants. Perhaps we indicate our areas of expertise-interest in which we want to help translate. Even thinking on the target reader is important: it's not the same translate to the hispanic population in America than to Mexicans or spaniards or southamericans.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/AliceMarie

These are some great ideas! What if "translation" became a module, and you had to pass that module before you could translate? The module could cover all the things we've been complaining about, like inappropriate down votes, leaving comments, etc. It could also give instruction on how to upload articles and other things that can be hard to find, like exactly how to translate a title from a foreign language into your current one. (I'm a little shaky on that anyway.) I wonder if the incubator process could be used to create such a module?

AND. What if you had to purchase that module/lesson with, say, 50 or 100 lingots? That would ensure that people who got to immersion understood the standard practices of the community and also that they had spent some amount of time working their trees. Plus, after a while, you have to hunt for things to spend your lingots on, and this would be a great place to spend them.

And I love, love, love the idea of working in teams. That might take longer to develop, since I think it would need more infrastructure changes than just creating another lesson, but still good. And it's possible that could be started without special help from Duolingo. Just find three or four like minded people, including at least one native speaker of each language, and coordinate through the activity wall and/or discussion tab.

Since Duolingo is set up like a game, adding a team component (especially where your team can "win" only after actually finishing an article), would be a great addition. One great place to start teams would be a big clean-up of all those articles that are 80% translated.

Have a few lingots, for being part of the solution!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jorma1998b

You're very kind!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/lexxybooty

Yep this happened to me, and then I cussed out the person who did it, and then my comment was deleted. Anyways, the person would change one word of mine to an exact synonym of it.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/-HKBK-
-HKBK-
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Recently I have had a similar problem in the Portuguese immersion section (perhaps the same troll?!). I had spent quite a long time translating the second part of an unfinished translation, and within 3 hours, a lot of my sentences had been ´edited´.

Like you said, my first thought was, OK, perhaps somebody thinks there is a better way to put it in English. But what the ´editor´had done was only add or take away an extra space that I had missed before or after a bracket/or a dash sign, or changed random words for exact synoymns (while vs whilst) etc.

They had also changed the spellings of some words into US English (centre- center). I am British so GB english is what I always use, and from what I can see, GB English is now just as accepted on Duolingo as US English and, even if US is still more popular, GB certainly should be downvoted. It really annoyed me. Then I had a look at the first half of the translated text, and realised the same ´editor´ had ´edited´many of the other translations from other people. I haven´t bothered going back since.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Dr.Beez
Dr.Beez
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This is a common experience for anyone who has spent any considerable time editing Wikipedia articles. Perhaps Duolingo needs to take a similar approach to "edit wars," with protected and semi-protected statuses which limit who can edit contentious articles. While there's no ideal solution, this policy seems to work fairly well there.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/SimoneHopkins

Rant on, brother! I've had similar experiences. I try to remember that my primary purpose is learning, but the trolls annoy. And down votes: I think they should not be used on anyone who is making a good faith effort, it's just bad manners. Keep translating, you're doing it for you.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jeanprendiville

Can someone please tell me why sometimes a translation has "two versions" and when you click you get one version and only the name of the person who did the second version? Another question:what is the function of the abuse button?

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Adina_atl

The abuse button is supposed to for reporting spam and inappropriate material. If someone changed your translation into an ad for Viagra or a link to pornography, that's when you should report it as abuse. Or if the other person "translated" a neutral article about a group of people into a racist/sexist/classist/homophobic rant against that group or another, or against another translator. Even more "subtle" insertions of the translator's biases should probably be reported as abuse, i.e. if "food aid recipients" is translated as "welfare queens" or "religious traditionalists" is translated as "religious nutjobs." (The reverse, removing the derogatory language of the original, is another question, but it's probably not abuse. But definitely something to address in Discussion for the article.)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Luscinda
Luscinda
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All the porn related stuff is uploaded to the site by the duobot!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Adina_atl

I meant if someone "translates" an article on Spanish history (or other nonsexual material) into a link to a porn site. I'm not sure what you're supposed to do if the original article is pornography--I would find another article, because I know I don't have the vocabulary for that in Spanish! :)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagidrop

Eww.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/tariqnisarahmed

Duobot is a user name, right? (Experiencing a Tron moment)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Luscinda
Luscinda
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It's Duolingo's own username!!! And it's a bit of creep. Best avoided.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jeanprendiville

I think I have discovered why one version disappears. If two people translate the same sentence at the same time, one of the versions can disappear. Anyone else had this experience?

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/hburdon

No. Actually, I once translated something at the same time as another person, and when I clicked "Submit", my version appeared above theirs, as if I had edited their (equally good) translation for no reason. Had to go and apologize!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Ski_Racer

I've had numerous experiences where people edit my translations and don't change them at all. For example, I edited something to "The Little Seagull and the Cat That Taught Her to Fly," and someone edited it to "The Little Seagull and the Cat That Taught Her to Fly." Why do they do this? It seems like a waste of time.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jeanprendiville

Before voting up a sentence I always check to see how much the last translator has added to the previous version. It would be a help if there was some way of knowing that the last translator was sharing with the previous version.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Amy-schultz

Agreed! At times, I put a note in the comment section when I "shared credit"...especially when I only added a period or changed a minor thing. I've had a couple people say the appreciate the note!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/orangeant86
orangeant86
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That's a great idea!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/aliqot
aliqot
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I'm starting to do that as well. It does annoy me when I cannot see any improvement when some edits my translations. I find I'm checking my work for typos now. Late night on iPad can lead to a few.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagidrop

Sometimes I translate something untranslated and it turns out someone else was at the exact same time as me, or vice versa. So the exact same thing is posted twice. Also I have clicked things and accidentally saved when it needed no edit, so maybe it was just a accident, although I see that a lot on immersion...

4 years ago