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Blue Board on Translators, how about that?
Thread poster: Jennifer Brinckmann

Jennifer Brinckmann  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 15:31
English to Spanish
Mar 13, 2005

Dear fellow (wannabe) agencies,

Business has been good... so good that I am thinking about "leaving" the freelance world in order to establish a formal translation agency... at last.

So here I am sitting, wondering which translators I should pick.

I have already worked with some colleagues, but the work was not very satisfying (yes, I paid in full, nonetheless).

Now I am wondering if there is such a thing as a Blue Board on translators. One where us agencies can see how a translator has been rated by other companies.

This is not about money... agencies are rated on payment (mostly). This is about quality.

Does anybody now if there is such a service out there. Or would Proz.cm be willing to start one?

Any comments would be great.

Best regards,

Jennifer
http://www.brinckmann-intl.com/


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GoodWords  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 15:31
Spanish to English
+ ...
Past discussions Mar 13, 2005

Anyone contributing to this thread might be interested to first read past discussions in which the topic has been raised.

http://www.proz.com/post/195455
http://www.proz.com/post/179390
http://www.proz.com/topic/19988
http://www.proz.com/post/44638
http://www.proz.com/topic/1963


[Edited at 2005-03-13 01:13]


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Claudia Iglesias  Identity Verified
Chile
Local time: 16:31
Member (2002)
Spanish to French
+ ...
Other solutions than BB for translators Mar 13, 2005

Hi Jennifer

As it seems that such service doesn't exist and that you might need your translators before it's created, I have a couple of suggestions.

First, you can ask for recommendations and investigate them.
Secondly you can hire a revisor to check a test done by several translators. The revisor would be somebody with a really good CV and recommendations too.

Third,I would focus on quality first, but then on other factors. I've seen people who refuse to work in teams, for instance, and it was really a big problem.

Good luck

Claudia


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CPTrans
United States
Local time: 15:31
English to Danish
+ ...
welcome to the club Mar 13, 2005

Hi and welcome in the big world
I know it is a nightmare out there often you get people who has about 6 weeks of education and consider themselves as translators.
Both ATA and some of the other places, is so easy to get into that it is not worth it, (i might hurt someone by saying this) when we request, reference we do not use ATA, due to the simple reason, they know it is easy for a new bee to pass the test, but still are you getting the same result as from a 10 year old vet. I don’t think so.
What we do: We don’t accept translator with under 10 years of experience. We need 3 references and they have to be active reference, we don’t mind if it is an agency, we are not here to hurt the business but to educate people to become better. And the last part, we like to use people who has focus on one major subject instead of multiple, how can you keep your self updated, if not how can you be a good translator. Remember we are artist, who is creating a picture to perfection, so others can admire our skills and our solution.


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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 22:31
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
Ask at the relevant professional translators' organisation Mar 13, 2005

Hi Jennifer,

I don't know which would be the relevant professional translators' organisation in Mexico, but, if you have one, or if there is one somewhere that covers the main language pairs you are interested in, you could enquire if they have a list of translators, for example, who have passed their qualifications.

I am a member of the Institute of Linguists, UK, and they have a list of translators, which is available to anybody who enquires. I had to pass their exam, the Diploma in Translation, before being added to the list in the language pair in which I passed the exam. This might therefore be a way of finding translators with the right qualifications, who are bound by the rules of their organisation to produce translations of a certain standard.


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Harry Bornemann  Identity Verified
Mexico
English to German
+ ...
Nice Idea Mar 13, 2005

Jennifer Brinckmann wrote:
...This is not about money... This is about quality.

When implementing it, don't forget to add the topic and the rate for the translation, and the name of the reviewer, since those are important factors for the assessed quality.

And to make it even more helpful you could add the volume, timeframe and client's rate for the project, to help remember whether the project paid off and why your agency was chosen..



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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:31
Flemish to English
+ ...
SQI: Service Quality Indicator Mar 13, 2005

If you add to Harry's remarks a kind of SQI :

I used to work for a big agency.
To evaluate their translators, this agency used a kind of S.Q.I.:
They evaluated the work of the translator based upon standards such as as : delivery on time, number of false interpretations of the source text, number of "calques" or copying a word
in the target-language which sounds the same in the source-language, but has a different meaning, give the inverse meaning, syntax, typos, omissions, grammatical errors, errors against vocabulary or using a different terminology as their customer...
All more or less neutral standards, not just impressions of a reviewer. They accorded marks of importance to each of these standards and made a weighed avarage of the mistakes. If you had less than a certain mark, you went down on the list of preferred translators. You had to deliver quality every time, not just pass an exam of school or translator association, which is a proof of delivery of quality at a certain moment i.e.at the time of the examination.
Nobody is perfect and makes at least one mistake once and a while. The positive thing was that this agency gave feedback about your mistakes based upon grammar, syntax and semantics. They also clearly defined what they expected of the translator with regard to make-up of the text etc.
You had a kind of framework agreement, which outlined the collaboration criteria and they paid like clockwork.



[Edited at 2005-03-13 09:56]


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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 22:31
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
Quality every time Mar 13, 2005

"You had to deliver quality every time, not just pass an exam of school or translator association, which is a proof of delivery of quality at a certain moment i.e.at the time of the examination."

It depends on the standards of the professional organisation concerned, of course, but with the Institute of Linguists, you promise to deliver quality to your customers every time. As for "just passing an exam", they design their exams so that they cannot just be passed by a stroke of luck. They are extremely demanding, and can only be passed in the first place by sufficiently experienced translators.

The IOL's "Conditions of Membership" include the condition "Practitioners shall at all times strive to provide work of high quality and maintain such high quality in all their work."


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Cristóbal del Río Faura  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 22:31
English to Spanish
+ ...
Trial and error Mar 13, 2005

This is the only effective approach I have found to now. It means investing some time and money, but this is normal in any business, I think. I am not actually an agency, but I created a small team of translators who help me where needed with my direct clients.

On the other hand, I don’t like to make free translation tests, and I don’t ask potential translators to do these, the same way I don’t ask a new dentist for a free test visit.

You assign the potential translator a small paid translation, making sure you will have time enough to review and edit in case of any problems. This small assignment will give you an idea of the quality of his work, his working method, availability, on-time delivery, general attitude, etc. in a real life situation. If his work is really bad, pay and forget him. It may be that his work is not so good to your standards, but you “feel” – your experience counts here – he can do better. If this is the case, give him feedback on his work and then a second small assignment will confirm his competence or not.

As for claimed experience, qualifications, references, memberships and the like, don’t give room to surprises. These may be an indication, but never an assurance, and you have to read CVs between lines. Eventually, the only thing that counts is “real life”.

Regards,
Cr


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:31
Flemish to English
+ ...
Different incentive. Mar 13, 2005

The incentive to obtain certification and working for that agency are slightly different: In the framework-agreement, they specified that they could claim compensation (meaning that you had to lower your rates)from the service-provider if the translation that did not meet their well-defined standards. This meant that if your translation was not up to the required measurable level, you lost money and your ranking on their list of favorite translators went down.




[Edited at 2005-03-13 12:22]


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Marijke Singer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:31
Dutch to English
+ ...
Business risk Mar 13, 2005

Cristóbal del Río Faura wrote:

This is the only effective approach I have found to now. It means investing some time and money, but this is normal in any business, I think. I am not actually an agency, but I created a small team of translators who help me where needed with my direct clients.

On the other hand, I don’t like to make free translation tests, and I don’t ask potential translators to do these, the same way I don’t ask a new dentist for a free test visit.

You assign the potential translator a small paid translation, making sure you will have time enough to review and edit in case of any problems. This small assignment will give you an idea of the quality of his work, his working method, availability, on-time delivery, general attitude, etc. in a real life situation. If his work is really bad, pay and forget him. It may be that his work is not so good to your standards, but you “feel” – your experience counts here – he can do better. If this is the case, give him feedback on his work and then a second small assignment will confirm his competence or not.

As for claimed experience, qualifications, references, memberships and the like, don’t give room to surprises. These may be an indication, but never an assurance, and you have to read CVs between lines. Eventually, the only thing that counts is “real life”.

Regards,
Cr


Cristóbal is right and this method is the only way! Apart from anything, translators have off days, agencies change the goal posts halfway through projects and a million more subjective criteria would apply. I don't think you could ever come up with a fair set of criteria to assess translator quality. The reason why the agency blue board works is because it is based on one single physical criterion: have they paid?

If you run a business, you should also expect to have to make investments for which you will not immediately see the benefits. Why worry so much, they are tax deductable anyway.


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 22:31
English to German
+ ...
Slight correction, if I may... Mar 13, 2005

Hi Marijke,
The reason why the agency blue board works is because it is based on one single physical criterion: have they paid?

Note that we deliberately stopped using the term "agency", as the Blue Board covers all types of outsourcers, including freelancers 'farming out' work, as well as some end customers.

Also, the very essence of the Blue Board is that it is not just another payment practices list. True, payment will generally play a major role in defining one's likelihood of working again (the definition of the numerical entry), but there are other factors, too.

Best regards,
Ralf


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Gareth McMillan  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:31
German to English
+ ...
Pity........... Mar 13, 2005

....if I'd matched you qualification criteria, I would have offered to correct your grammar for you foc, but alas, I've only been in the business a few years.
Seriously tho'- how can you tell if ten years experience has been cumulative or merely a dull repetition of the first year?
And of course, I could supply you with three glowing references, but how do you know they'll be genuine?


CPTrans wrote:

Hi and welcome in the big world
I know it is a nightmare out there often you get people who has about 6 weeks of education and consider themselves as translators.
Both ATA and some of the other places, is so easy to get into that it is not worth it, (i might hurt someone by saying this) when we request, reference we do not use ATA, due to the simple reason, they know it is easy for a new bee to pass the test, but still are you getting the same result as from a 10 year old vet. I don’t think so.
What we do: We don’t accept translator with under 10 years of experience. We need 3 references and they have to be active reference, we don’t mind if it is an agency, we are not here to hurt the business but to educate people to become better. And the last part, we like to use people who has focus on one major subject instead of multiple, how can you keep your self updated, if not how can you be a good translator. Remember we are artist, who is creating a picture to perfection, so others can admire our skills and our solution.


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xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 22:31
Spanish to English
+ ...
trial and error Mar 13, 2005

Cristóbal del Río Faura wrote:


TRIAL AND ERROR



I agree. You select your translators on the basis of objective criteria and then 'test' them, over time and in the broadest sense of the word (one job after another). Once you locate the few that really come up with the goods, you hold on to them. This takes time, but it's objective from your own perspective.

I personally don't think I would rely on the subjective comments of others (as in a BB) to build up a team. That's as unreliable as relying on qualifications and declared experience - these do not guarantee a good translator.

As Harry B pointed out also, be prepared to pay for translators. If you offer poor rates you will automatically fail to attract the better translators.


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Jennifer Brinckmann  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 15:31
English to Spanish
TOPIC STARTER
Interesting Mar 14, 2005

I thank you all for your comments. It has been insightful.

GoodWords, thanks for the links to other similar topics... and here I thought I was being creative and innovative HAhaha.

Thanks Claudia... I never thought any translator would refuse working in teams, I guess that is another consideration for the future.

CPTrans, thanks for the suggestion on hiring translators, I will look into it.

Astrid, the translation organizations are so disorganized in Mexico that it is not worth looking into them. I guess I will have to rely on referrals from other translations instead. And honestly, you can promise a lot, but how would the organization know if your are if you keep it.

Ok Harry, you got a point. In the end, I guess it is about money. But rather in the sense of trying to not waste mine. =)

Cristóbal (tocayo de mi niño), thanks a lot. I was actually trying to avoid the "samples" (paid or unpaid) because I hated them so much myself. I know my strengths and weaknesses, but it seems, other people don't.

So, Ailish, that makes three that agree, so I guess that is what I will do.

Wish me luck, for I will need... and let the Force be with you, as well. ;=)

Thank you again, all of you.

Jennifer
http://www.brinckmann-intl.com/


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