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Publishing end clients on your website...
Thread poster: AnnikaLight

AnnikaLight  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 00:51
English to German
Sep 22, 2006

Hello, everyone,

I know this has been discussed before, but for some reason, I am unable to find any references on this topic in the ProZ forums.

I recently came across a colleague's website - a translator I work with on a regular basis through a translation agency. (I usually proofread his translations).

This translator listed (on his own website) all the end clients he's worked for; that is to say: jobs he got through the agency, jobs that I proofread.

Now, that list is long and impressive (many well-known brand names), and I know, for a fact, that some of those clients are not direct clients, but "end clients".

Question: Is it legal/ethical to list clients you have worked for through translation agencies on your website?

I don't believe it is (legal/ethical), however, this is not the first time, I've seen a "public display" like this.

Your opinions would be greatly appreciated.

Regards,

Annika


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Jerónimo Fernández  Identity Verified
English to Spanish
+ ...
My opinion Sep 22, 2006

Hi Annika,

I've seen some colleagues' websites that say something like "Clients we have worked for, either directly or through agencies", and then they mention the names.

I reckon this approach is more honest than simply saying "Clients" (and then write the big names).

Regards,
Jerónimo


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Tina Vonhof  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 16:51
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Not ethical Sep 22, 2006

I'm not sure whether it is illegal but I don't think it is ethical. Usually in the contract or PO from the translation agency there is a clause about confidentiality. Even if not, I think it should be assumed that any information from or about the client is to be treated as confidential. Certified translators have to adhere to the code of ethics of their organization, which always contains a confidentiality clause. The 'real' client in this case is the translation agency and even they should be asked for permission to be listed on this person's website.

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AnnikaLight  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 00:51
English to German
TOPIC STARTER
"Real client" is the agency Sep 22, 2006

Tina Vonhof wrote:
The 'real' client in this case is the translation agency and even they should be asked for permission to be listed on this person's website.


Hi Tina,

Thanks for your quick response. I completely agree with you on this!


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AnnikaLight  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 00:51
English to German
TOPIC STARTER
Directly or through agencies Sep 22, 2006

Jerónimo Fernández wrote:
I've seen some colleagues' websites that say something like "Clients we have worked for, either directly or through agencies", and then they mention the names.

I reckon this approach is more honest than simply saying "Clients" (and then write the big names).


Hi Jerónimo,

I appreciate your reply. Actually, my colleague wrote something similiar to what you suggest: "A list of my end clients"....

I am not certain, though, if it's okay to phrase it like that. There are still confidentialty issues, in my mind.


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Stephanie Wloch  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 00:51
Member (2003)
Dutch to German
Without asking: not even direct clients Sep 22, 2006

Hi Annika!
I think it is really sneaky to adorn oneself with borrowed plumes if
if the agency lands a job. I appreciate that work and do not want to mix up competences here. But why do they do that anyway? I have listed some past projects I have done for direct clients AND for agencies. But there is actually no need to reveal a name of a client. Some agencies contact me because they have seen the projects in my profile, but I have never been asked something like:
"What was your end client for the pregnancy test?"

I would never name direct clients without asking, of course not. Besides from being ethical I would feel more comfortable if the direct client really likes the idea of being mentioned as a reference because he appreciated my translation.
By the way: I am not impressed by long lists with well known brand names. Why should I without testmonial?
I think a short list with not so well known names but difficult projects would be far more impressive and meaningful.
Regards
Steffi

[Edited at 2006-09-22 21:05]


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AnnikaLight  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 00:51
English to German
TOPIC STARTER
Agree with you, Steffi Sep 22, 2006

By the way: I am not impressed by long lists with well known brand names. Why should I without testmonial?
I think a short list with not so well known names but difficult projects would be far more impressive and meaningful.


Hi Steffi,

Thanks for your response. I completely agree with you on everything you said.

A long list of client "brand" names doesn't impress me either, knowing that those translators likely got the jobs through agencies (as you pointed out). However, a potential client might be "impressed".

I feel an approach like this (listing end clients) harms those colleagues who adhere to their confidentiality agreements.

Somewhat depressing...


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Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:51
Member
English to French
Brand names do give an idea of what you do Sep 22, 2006

even if you didn't directly work for the actual end customers.

I list on my proz.com profile some meaningful brand names, but I don't think it "impresses" anybody.
For instance, everybody calling themselves IT translators have worked on Microsoft projects. And Bill is probably too busy to reply to any request about whether or not one should state his company's name in one's profile. Same for En-Fr translators in the energy field: they have all worked for the public provider EDF.

It only gives a hint as to what you do for a living. As for confidentiality or ethics issues, don't make me laugh. I am sure 90% of all translation agencies have handled one day or the other a HP press release. Any translator who states HP in their past assignments won't unveil any state secret.

Most of my customers have seen my Proz profile and not one of them argued about my stating whatever name.

In my opinion, boasting such past assignments is far less harmful than translators claiming to translate any subject matter into any language.

Enjoy your weekend,
Philippe

[Edited at 2006-09-22 22:26]


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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:51
French to English
Expertise? Sep 22, 2006

Surely the purpose of listing the "end clients" is to announce (approximately, and possibly in a lazy way, admittedly) those fields or subject areas in which you claim some expertise?

Obviously, when it comes to "proving it" to a potential client, you will have problems owing to confidentiality, but surely the same applies whether I put "BMW" or "automobile production" on my website (let's assume I don't go so far as to use BMW's logo).

The fact that I didn't get BMW as a direct client is surely not relevant since:
a) I may simply prefer to let agencies deal with all the hassle getting projects, and
b) many, many larger companies simply won't deal direct with individual translators anyway - their policy is to use agencies, for obvious reasons.
None of which is any reflection on my aptitude and expertise in car-related translation.

Assuming that I am being honest about who my end clients are, and assuming I don't breach trademarks etc. (see logo comment above), I don't see why it would be illegal or unethical, especially if I've had more than one assignment and as such can assume that the end client is happy with my quality. If I simply state, in effect, "I have done translations for BMW", I'm not sure how that breaches confidentiality. The confid. agreements I've signed all refer to the content, not the fact that the job exists per se.

Note that I'm playing devil's advocate to an extent here; on my own website, I prefer to describe my fields of expertise, not simply list end clients. But that's simply because, like others on this thread, I don't find client lists that impressive. Plus it's true that, even if I feel it wouldn't strictly breach confidentiality if I did list clients, I feel that not doing so shows much more discretion.

(Er, note too that BMW is just an example that is quick to type; I have not, in fact, worked for BMW either directly or indirectly!!)

However, one last point that does interest me is why are you so concerned about what another translator has put on their website? You are quite obviously not thinking about following his example, so why bother about it?


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AnnikaLight  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 00:51
English to German
TOPIC STARTER
Good points, Charlie Sep 23, 2006

Charlie Bavington wrote:

Surely the purpose of listing the "end clients" is to announce (approximately, and possibly in a lazy way, admittedly) those fields or subject areas in which you claim some expertise?


Hi Charlie,

Thanks for responding. Yes, it's about expertise - but more than that, it's about saying, "Hey, look at those NAMES! Surely, if I have big names on my list, you MUST believe, I'm good."


Obviously, when it comes to "proving it" to a potential client, you will have problems owing to confidentiality, but surely the same applies whether I put "BMW" or "automobile production" on my website (let's assume I don't go so far as to use BMW's logo).


Yes, "proving it" would be hard. However, I presume most potential clients won't ask a translator for any proof. And if someone pops up, wanting proof, the translator could still decline the job for "other reasons" and wiggle his way out of it...


The fact that I didn't get BMW as a direct client is surely not relevant since:
a) I may simply prefer to let agencies deal with all the hassle getting projects, and
b) many, many larger companies simply won't deal direct with individual translators anyway - their policy is to use agencies, for obvious reasons.
None of which is any reflection on my aptitude and expertise in car-related translation.


Spoken like a true translator. I know this, you know this, most of US, here, know this. But I don't think clients think that way. In fact, I believe that very few people are familiar with the translation process. So, if I don't list the big names on my website (and, yes, I *have* indeed translated for "big names" via agencies), that must mean, I don't *have* any to show. I believe this to be the thought process of the average potential client.

Assuming that I am being honest about who my end clients are, and assuming I don't breach trademarks etc. (see logo comment above), I don't see why it would be illegal or unethical, especially if I've had more than one assignment and as such can assume that the end client is happy with my quality.


Hmm. But I'd still have to ask the agency that gave me the job, right? Somehow, I don't think that most agencies would approve if I plastered the name of their clients on my website. Sure, the end client might be happy with the quality of my work - but he/she/the company doesn't even know I exist. I am the "unkown typist" in the background...

If I simply state, in effect, "I have done translations for BMW", I'm not sure how that breaches confidentiality. The confid. agreements I've signed all refer to the content, not the fact that the job exists per se.


That is a very important issue! I'd love to have more input on this. What do the confidentiality agreements refer to? The content? The name of the client? If they do refer to content only, can I risk annoying "my" translation agency by putting *their* client names on my website?

Note that I'm playing devil's advocate to an extent here; on my own website, I prefer to describe my fields of expertise, not simply list end clients. But that's simply because, like others on this thread, I don't find client lists that impressive. Plus it's true that, even if I feel it wouldn't strictly breach confidentiality if I did list clients, I feel that not doing so shows much more discretion.


Agreed


However, one last point that does interest me is why are you so concerned about what another translator has put on their website? You are quite obviously not thinking about following his example, so why bother about it?


No, I'm not thinking about following this example. But I sometimes wish I could list "my" end clients. People do like to see "big names" - that's a fact. From a marketing point of view, the translators who do list the "big names" are better off, I think.

Think about it: Who sounds more "marketable" - a translator who's translated for BMW (by the way, I haven't translated for BMW either ) or a translator who writes, "Did some automotive texts"?

BMW wins - hands down. And I think we should look at this through clients' eyes, i.e. people, who are not familiar with the translation process. Which potential client is going to say, "Oh, well, she doesn't have any great names on her list of references, but I'm guessing she's working for agencies anyway, and that's where all her "expertise" comes from."

No. I don't think that's the way clients think. Clients end up with big agencies because those agencies DO display big names on their site.

So, to cut a long story short: Anyone who does so, has an advantage over those who are too "ethical" to do it...

It's kind of depressing....

[Edited at 2006-09-23 00:07]


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Dyran Altenburg  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:51
English to Spanish
+ ...
Listing previous jobs Sep 23, 2006

Annika Neudecker wrote:
No. I don't think that's the way clients think. Clients end up with big agencies because those agencies DO display big names on their site.


That might be true for agencies, but in the case of translators, it has been my experience that potential clients respond favorably to suitably worded accomplishments, even if you never mention brand names/companies:

Type of job: Editing, proofreading, creation of comprehensive glossary
Volume: 250,000 words
Description: Training manuals
Target audience: Automotive engineers
End client: Fortune 500 German company, manufacturer of luxury cars and motorcycles

--
Dyran


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Fan Gao
Australia
Local time: 08:51
Member (2006)
English to Chinese
+ ...
The big name isn't the whole picture... Sep 23, 2006

Hi Annika,

Personally I don't see the point of listing top, world famous brands. OK, it might look impressive but what does it really tell people? Charlie earlier mentioned BMW so we'll use them as an example. If I was to list BMW as an end or even direct client, does that mean I know the automobile industry inside out? Does that make me a specialist in car mechanics?

I think it's OK to list a big name but at the same time you should specify exactly what area you translated a project for them in. People see BMW and they think cars but it could be you worked on their advertising, an employee questionnaire, a manual for staff procedures or customer service, it could even be that you translated the menu for their staff restaurant:)

In my opinion if you're going to list anything then list quotes from satisfied clients, be it agencies or direct clients. As long as they're true and can be substantiated then I don't see anything illegal or unethical about that. We have a page on our website of quotes from clients and even though they may be short one liners, I think they carry alot more weight than a long list of top brand names.

Best wishes,
Mark


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Ritu Bhanot  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 00:51
Member (2006)
French to Hindi
+ ...
End Clients Sep 23, 2006

Well, I have a small list of end clients on my site but obviously I'll not post names of my major direct clients over there (for the same reason why many agencies ask us to sign NDAs).

And most of the end (i.e. direct) clients that are in the list are those who have either asked to be there or approved of it. One of my clients actually asked me if I could add their organization in the list (they are into online selling)... I was hesitant but well... I have good relations with them and have done some assignments with them and they always pay on time so I felt sort of obliged to put their name in the list (though I didn't want to do that. )

Still there's one direct client for whom I've done a lot of work and it'd be really good for me to have them on the list but they told me to contact the HR department etc... so... they are not there in the list.

Anyways, it's basically a marketing and advertising strategy that works both ways. And it is actually up to the translator and other concerned parties to decide if they want to do this or not. If the other parties don't mind it and the translator has actually worked with the clients (easy to prove with the Invoices etc.) then I don't think there is any other issue. And of course, no translator would actually break an agreement just for publicity (and these agreements are timebound... most agreements are valid for one year after which one can actually go on to contact the end-client if one wishes).

For me it's a simple matter of advertising and marketing and if the client does not have any objections then... well, it's a matter between those parties and I've no part whatsoever in this... I'm a competitor and a colleague so...


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Elizabeth Sánchez León  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:51
English to Spanish
+ ...
It depends... Sep 23, 2006

Annika Neudecker wrote:


If I simply state, in effect, "I have done translations for BMW", I'm not sure how that breaches confidentiality. The confid. agreements I've signed all refer to the content, not the fact that the job exists per se.


That is a very important issue! I'd love to have more input on this. What do the confidentiality agreements refer to? The content? The name of the client? If they do refer to content only, can I risk annoying "my" translation agency by putting *their* client names on my website?




I think this is a very interesting point. I think almost all agreements say "all information regarding client, etc.". If the names of the agency's clients are published it would be ok depending on how the contract is interpreted.

But I'm completely sure that publishing the name of the agency's clients ***AND*** the name of the agency is a breach of any agreement and also unethical.


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AnnikaLight  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 00:51
English to German
TOPIC STARTER
Emphasis is on "end client names" not "direct client names" Sep 23, 2006


I think it's OK to list a big name but at the same time you should specify exactly what area you translated a project for them in. People see BMW and they think cars but it could be you worked on their advertising, an employee questionnaire, a manual for staff procedures or customer service, it could even be that you translated the menu for their staff restaurant.


Hi Mark,

Thanks for your reply. I believe that people see a correlation between the translator and the "big name". If the translator translates for BMW, he/she must be "good". At this point, the potential client probably doesn't really care if the translator's a tech geek or the person who translated the text on the toilet paper roll. It's name recognition that counts.

Wondering about the translator's expertise, in my opinion, is step 2. The client might think, "Okay, this translator looks like he/she can get big clients, so let's see what kind of subject areas he's an expert in."

The translator has overcome the first hurdle: drawing attention. Listing "big names" is like writing a good cover letter. It draws people in and makes them hang around on your website a bit longer.

In my opinion if you're going to list anything then list quotes from satisfied clients, be it agencies or direct clients. .


Yes, I fully agree with you. But I am not talking about direct clients (who have been asked for permission if they want to be mentioned on the translators' site) or agencies. I am talking about "end clients" the translator has worked for VIA an agency. That's a completely different scenario.

As long as they're true and can be substantiated then I don't see anything illegal or unethical about that. .


It is illegal and unethical if you have signed an NDA (which most translators do when signing up for agency work). If the NDA states that no information whatsoever is to be released about the client, publishing the client's name on the website may be illegal and unethical.

We have a page on our website of quotes from clients and even though they may be short one liners, I think they carry alot more weight than a long list of top brand names.


I think so, too I'm just trying to look at this from the client's perspective. The client who is trying to find the "best translator" and might confuse "best" with "big brand name recognition" - after all, BMW wouldn't hire just "anyone". (By the way, this is not *my* opinion. This may be what potential clients, who are unfamiliar with the translation process, think.)

Kind regards,

Annika

[Edited at 2006-09-23 19:07]


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