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Test turns into a real job with no response
Thread poster: MariusV

MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 02:04
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
Nov 20, 2008

The situation:

An agency (and it seemed they are a serious one, at least, judging from the information I managed to find about them), offered a permanent cooperation for translations. And that usual blahblah, we request you to do a test. I said I do not do any free tests. They convinced me at the end and I took around 4 pages of a test (yes, now anyone can say that I am naive and test cannot exceed a page or max two). I asked about when to expect feedback. They promised "within a couple of days". OK, did the test and sent to them. They confirmed the receipt. Wrote them several emails (in June, in August, in September, in October, in November - some 8 emails in total) - these went like into the water. In the last email asked them to explain the situation and asked to give feedback (even if it is negative), as, otherwise, I will consider this test as a real job and will invoice on the basis of my usual rates. They never reacted. No replies at all. They could, at least, drop a sentence "Sorry that the feedback took us so long - we will solve it" or "Well, the client to which we provided the test did not order the project at us - can we solve it somehow?". But they did not even bother to reply.

I think such an approach of the agency shall be known publicly. And I really guess that they "sold" this "test translation" as a real job to their end client (or even divided the project into "free tests" among several translators). I read proz rules which say that a BB post can be only possible if "I worked for the agency"...And, as far as I understand, a test is only a test (not a real translation project). But, having in mind, that I have NOT received ANY feedback, can it be considered as a real project? If the agency does not value its reputation and behaves like that - let it be known. Of course, it is not the matter of those 4 pages as such and almost half a day of time wasted - it is the matter of principle already...

What do you think?


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 20:04
English to French
+ ...
The purpose of the BlueBoard Nov 20, 2008

It is my understanding that the purpose of the BlueBoard is to warn translators primarily on bad payment practices on behalf of agencies. By extension, I think it is safe to assume that the BlueBoard is a tool intended to be used by translators to protect themselves against non-payment.

If the agency in question realy did disguise a genuine job as a test, as you - and I - suspect, then this in fact is a non-payment issue. If this is the case, then I think the BlueBoard really is the ideal tool to warn others of this bad practice. However, we are more or less in a grey zone here. Can such an issue be considered as a non-payment issue? Can ProZ define, for the purpose of dealings on this site, what the components of a translation test are? I would suggest right away that a test translation implies feedback. If there is no feedback, then there was no test to begin with, and the only category the supposed translation test fits into at that point is a translation job - which, needless to say, has to be paid.

I suggest not to post to the BlueBoard right away, simply to avoid any problems with ProZ. However, I would bring this matter to site staff's attention, and I personally would also appreciate clarifications on the part of site staff in this thread, so we all know what ProZ's position is and how they want to go about eliminating such grey areas. In any case, I would find it unfair if you were given no option whatsoever to deal with this. I personally consider that you did get a contract and you did respect your obligations. Thus, this, to me, is a non-payment issue and you should be allowed to leave BlueBoard feedback.

Um, site staff? What's your take on this?


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Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:04
Partial member (2006)
English to German
+ ...
WARNING (JUST FROM MY EXPERIENCE): JUST DON'T DO TEST TRANSLATIONS Nov 20, 2008

Thank you for your posting.

My advice: DON'T DO TEST TRANSLATIONS.

I did my very last test translation last week.
The free-test job-poster was registered with proz.com (and I am going to check now if they still are ) when he posted a request for test translations on proz.com.

UPDATE: - yep he is still registered - and the website listed on his profile page is a fake - it lists things like "Rate the Game Disney's Hercules when you click on "Rate." Has nothing to do with a translation service.
After I did not get a confirmation when I sent the test translation I started investigating.
That's the part I should have done first.

The agency seemed to be completely new, website couldn't be found (at all then) on the internet, test-job poster's name could not be located on the internet either BUT he IS registered with proz.com as an agency, with name, address, phone number, and non-functioning website.

When I first answered the posting, I did receive 2 emails, second one with the tests, and what seemed odd to me then was that the writer used just one part of his two-part name, the first part with the first e-mail, the second one with the second e-mail, as if he wouldn't be sure what his name really is.

In his request for a test translation, he mentioned the possibility of participating in an ongoing project with 100 000 words. I expressed my interest and he sent me three texts exceeding 200 words each - one of them more than 500 words: a general text, a technical text, and a medical text. Explanation: doing all three test translations would get me more jobs.
And he gave me just 3 days to finish.
The technical text was already absolutely complex - a joke for a FREE test translation.
I finished it first and sent it in.
I later found out that the same technical text was posted as a portfolio (= example of a test translation) on a proz.com user's profile page, going from English into Spanish.
Through the KudoZ system I found out that various translators had worked on the same English text before, into various languages, looking for help with tough terms.

Then I started on the medical text, again just "littered" with special terms (heart catheter). I realized how long it was and stopped after 200 words.
Sent that one in as well and asked for a response, also telling the guy that no professional translator would usually translate more than 200 words as a test translation and that I would not continue unless I receive a response.
No response whatsoever.

I did another test translation for somebody else last week, seemed from a reputable source - no response either - although they did confirm the receipt and promised to reply. Maybe they still will.

To make a long story short: JUST DON'T DO IT!!!
There is no guarantee that you get anything back for your test translation, not in form of money nor future jobs. I would also warn against doing a test translation where you are told that all the test translations will be forwarded to some client who will then evaluate them. Who knows what the criteria are.
Also, do not quote your price or rate for a project before you do a test translation. If you quoted a decent but reasonable rate, your effort will be tossed anyway.
And even if you received feedback, it's either going to be negative or at least critical. Who is going to tell you you are fabulous and then pay a good rate??
If somebody asks for a test translation, tell them you posted examples on your profile page. That's enough.

I hope as many people as possible will read this. Maybe I should start a new thread.

Bernhard


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Yolanda Broad  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:04
Member (2000)
French to English
+ ...
No terms agreed = not a job Nov 20, 2008

You chose to do the unpaid test, knowing that it was a test and unpaid. This means that you were not hired to do a job and therefore cannot bill for the translation you delivered.

The Blue Board is not about payment practices, it's a place with service providers can share their feedback about their experiences with particular outsourcers with whom they had a working ("commissioned") agreement. There is no gray area here.

From the Blue Board rules:

The ProZ.com Blue Board is provided as a resource for referencing outsourcers of translation, interpreting and other language-related work, and for expressing willingness to work again with given outsourcers. Use of the Blue Board for other purposes is not permitted.
http://www.proz.com/siterules/blue_board_bb_blueboard/1#1

Certain conditions must be met before Blue Board entries can be made. Entries concerning willingness to work again with given outsourcers are allowed only when (1) commissioned work has been completed in full and delivered on time, and (2) there have not been complaints related to quality shortly after delivery. Entries may not be made on the basis of negotiations, test translations, or other preliminary or non-commissioned interactions.
http://www.proz.com/siterules/blue_board_bb_blueboard/2#2


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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:04
French to English
Loophole? Nov 20, 2008

The rules are indeed pretty clear.
And not allowing BB entries for test translations does, on the face of it seem reasonable... IF the whole arrangement is a legitimate test.

But situations change, practices arise which perhaps need to be taken into account.

On the face of it, it does seem to be a little naughty to request test translations, some of them of some length, and then provide absolutely no feedback whatsoever. It also seems to be something that happens more and more often. After all, any outsourcer with a mind to could request countless tests from dozens of people, ignore all those except for the one(s) selected and no-one is any the wiser. The outsourcer does not need to engage in any discussion with the rejected translators because he simply ignores them, and the rejected translators (assuming they are just rejected, not actually exploited which undoubtedly does also arise) are left completely in the dark. A completely effortless win-win for the outsourcer, then

One wonders whether a special sub-rule could be created purely for this particular situation. The only rating allowed would be, say, 3, and the only comment would be "test translation submitted and absolutely no (meaningful?) feedback received", and perhaps this would only be allowed say, one month after the event.

I wonder about meaningful - "sorry, you failed the test" is "feedback" but is not hugely helpful, so I think some kind of demonstration that some kind of assessment took place would be needed in order for a test to qualify as a test under the rules as they stand, which is, I guess, the kind of "test" that the rule was designed for.

Just an idea, like. Please don't shoot me.

[Edited at 2008-11-20 22:34 GMT]


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MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 02:04
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I understand, but ... Nov 20, 2008

Dear Yolanda,

I fully understand - rules are rules. Moreover, the legal responsibility that can be caused to proz by "third parties" (i.e. members). That was the main reason I wanted to post a topic instead of a BB. In short (without getting into long philosophies) - does it really mean that:

1) one cannot post a BB if one does not have a PO or a contract as a proof of ordering a PAID WORK? No PO, no contract - and end of the story?
2) if it was a usual test, OK, also understandable - tests are tests, jobs are jobs. BUT WHAT if a test turns to be a real paid job actually. I mean if the "free test" was sold as a job/translation to the end client (moreover, if it is possible to provide a proof of that).

P.S. Do not get me wrong, but I can't help asking a really straightforward question - on whose side is proz? Scams or members?

[Edited at 2008-11-20 23:01 GMT]


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MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 02:04
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
fully agree Nov 20, 2008

Bernhard Sulzer wrote:

Thank you for your posting.

My advice: DON'T DO TEST TRANSLATIONS.

I did my very last test translation last week.
The free-test job-poster was registered with proz.com (and I am going to check now if they still are ) when he posted a request for test translations on proz.com.

UPDATE: - yep he is still registered - and the website listed on his profile page is a fake - it lists things like "Rate the Game Disney's Hercules when you click on "Rate." Has nothing to do with a translation service.
After I did not get a confirmation when I sent the test translation I started investigating.
That's the part I should have done first.

The agency seemed to be completely new, website couldn't be found (at all then) on the internet, test-job poster's name could not be located on the internet either BUT he IS registered with proz.com as an agency, with name, address, phone number, and non-functioning website.

When I first answered the posting, I did receive 2 emails, second one with the tests, and what seemed odd to me then was that the writer used just one part of his two-part name, the first part with the first e-mail, the second one with the second e-mail, as if he wouldn't be sure what his name really is.

In his request for a test translation, he mentioned the possibility of participating in an ongoing project with 100 000 words. I expressed my interest and he sent me three texts exceeding 200 words each - one of them more than 500 words: a general text, a technical text, and a medical text. Explanation: doing all three test translations would get me more jobs.
And he gave me just 3 days to finish.
The technical text was already absolutely complex - a joke for a FREE test translation.
I finished it first and sent it in.
I later found out that the same technical text was posted as a portfolio (= example of a test translation) on a proz.com user's profile page, going from English into Spanish.
Through the KudoZ system I found out that various translators had worked on the same English text before, into various languages, looking for help with tough terms.

Then I started on the medical text, again just "littered" with special terms (heart catheter). I realized how long it was and stopped after 200 words.
Sent that one in as well and asked for a response, also telling the guy that no professional translator would usually translate more than 200 words as a test translation and that I would not continue unless I receive a response.
No response whatsoever.

I did another test translation for somebody else last week, seemed from a reputable source - no response either - although they did confirm the receipt and promised to reply. Maybe they still will.

To make a long story short: JUST DON'T DO IT!!!
There is no guarantee that you get anything back for your test translation, not in form of money nor future jobs. I would also warn against doing a test translation where you are told that all the test translations will be forwarded to some client who will then evaluate them. Who knows what the criteria are.
Also, do not quote your price or rate for a project before you do a test translation. If you quoted a decent but reasonable rate, your effort will be tossed anyway.
And even if you received feedback, it's either going to be negative or at least critical. Who is going to tell you you are fabulous and then pay a good rate??
If somebody asks for a test translation, tell them you posted examples on your profile page. That's enough.

I hope as many people as possible will read this. Maybe I should start a new thread.

Bernhard




Dear Bernhard - I fully agree with you. Tests are nothing bad if they serve the purpose. But the tendency about such negative practices with those "free tests" is getting worse and worse. I do have in mind all those scams. And something should be done about that as it is getting really crazy.


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Yolanda Broad  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:04
Member (2000)
French to English
+ ...
Proof positive needed to post on Blue Board about scam tests Nov 20, 2008

The problem with test translation scams is that it is extremely hard to prove that the test was used by the outsourcer who requested it. (Marius, for instance, has no proof that the lengthy test he got strong-armed into doing was ever used). But it is true that, every once in a great while, somebody does come across their test posted on somebody's Website. In such cases, it is, indeed, possible to post on the Blue Board.

MariusV wrote:

Dear Yolanda,

I fully understand - rules are rules. Moreover, the legal responsibility that can be caused to proz by "third parties" (i.e. members). That was the main reason I wanted to post a topic instead of a BB. In short (without getting into long philosophies) - does it really mean that:

1) one cannot post a BB if one does not have a PO or a contract as a proof of ordering a PAID WORK? No PO, no contract - and end of the story?
2) if it was a usual test, OK, also understandable - tests are tests, jobs are jobs. BUT WHAT if a test turns to be a real paid job actually. I mean if the "free test" was sold as a job/translation to the end client (moreover, if it is possible to provide a proof of that).

P.S. Do not get me wrong, but I can't help asking a really straightforward question - on whose side is proz? Scams or members?

[Edited at 2008-11-20 23:01 GMT]


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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:04
French to English
Not just scams Nov 21, 2008

Yolanda Broad wrote:

The problem with test translation scams is that it is extremely hard to prove that the test was used by the outsourcer who requested it. (Marius, for instance, has no proof that the lengthy test he got strong-armed into doing was ever used).


You are quite correct there. But surely, even if it wasn't a scam, even if it was just plain old fashioned bad manners (unprofessionalism?) that led to Marius being ignored for months on end by the outsourcer, is this not the sort of behaviour that could be remarked upon?
After all, if one wished to be literal, what Marius did was "work", and without wishing to speak for him, my guess is he not very Likely to Work Again for that outsourcer?
Or do we wish to condone the behaviour of asking for tests, and then going incommunicado for the duration?
As I said, surely this is not the sort of "test" for which the rule was designed?

While scams are difficult to prove, a lack of meaningful response is not, irrespective of the reason for there being no response, which does not have to be a scam, it could just be forgetfulness. The impact on the translator is effectively the same, no feedback and no paid work.
If the translator makes a false/mistaken accusation of "no feedback" (with no implication of scam, wrongdoing, or anything naughty - it could equally just be forgetfulness), all the outsourcer has to do is provide the feedback (don't forget, if the accusation is false, this feedback must already exist) to proz, and the BB entry can be removed. Easy. Probably, indeed, much easier to resolve than accusations of non-payment, as all that would be required would be to forward the reviewed translation/email to proz - much eaier than providing evidence of financial transactions.

It does seem to be an increasingly common issue, and one which can equally easily be highlighted, if not actually resolved as such.


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Gerard de Noord  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 01:04
Member (2003)
German to Dutch
+ ...
We're so vulnerable Nov 21, 2008

We're defenseless when crooks like this invade our own website. I do hope you did report this to the Proz.com staff or raised a support question, or whatever it is called. I have a feeling 'members' like these are dealt with behind the screens.

Look at it from the other side. If you need (more) customers, and if you're bound by NDAs not to reveal the names of you current customers, what else can future customers ask for but test translations. I welcome the new certification program at this site but test translations will remain the ultimate proof of our craftsmanship.

Success,
Gerard


Bernhard Sulzer wrote:

Thank you for your posting.

My advice: DON'T DO TEST TRANSLATIONS.

I did my very last test translation last week.
The free-test job-poster was registered with proz.com (and I am going to check now if they still are ) when he posted a request for test translations on proz.com.

UPDATE: - yep he is still registered - and the website listed on his profile page is a fake - it lists things like "Rate the Game Disney's Hercules when you click on "Rate." Has nothing to do with a translation service.
After I did not get a confirmation when I sent the test translation I started investigating.
That's the part I should have done first.

The agency seemed to be completely new, website couldn't be found (at all then) on the internet, test-job poster's name could not be located on the internet either BUT he IS registered with proz.com as an agency, with name, address, phone number, and non-functioning website.

When I first answered the posting, I did receive 2 emails, second one with the tests, and what seemed odd to me then was that the writer used just one part of his two-part name, the first part with the first e-mail, the second one with the second e-mail, as if he wouldn't be sure what his name really is.

In his request for a test translation, he mentioned the possibility of participating in an ongoing project with 100 000 words. I expressed my interest and he sent me three texts exceeding 200 words each - one of them more than 500 words: a general text, a technical text, and a medical text. Explanation: doing all three test translations would get me more jobs.
And he gave me just 3 days to finish.
The technical text was already absolutely complex - a joke for a FREE test translation.
I finished it first and sent it in.
I later found out that the same technical text was posted as a portfolio (= example of a test translation) on a proz.com user's profile page, going from English into Spanish.
Through the KudoZ system I found out that various translators had worked on the same English text before, into various languages, looking for help with tough terms.

Then I started on the medical text, again just "littered" with special terms (heart catheter). I realized how long it was and stopped after 200 words.
Sent that one in as well and asked for a response, also telling the guy that no professional translator would usually translate more than 200 words as a test translation and that I would not continue unless I receive a response.
No response whatsoever.

I did another test translation for somebody else last week, seemed from a reputable source - no response either - although they did confirm the receipt and promised to reply. Maybe they still will.

To make a long story short: JUST DON'T DO IT!!!
There is no guarantee that you get anything back for your test translation, not in form of money nor future jobs. I would also warn against doing a test translation where you are told that all the test translations will be forwarded to some client who will then evaluate them. Who knows what the criteria are.
Also, do not quote your price or rate for a project before you do a test translation. If you quoted a decent but reasonable rate, your effort will be tossed anyway.
And even if you received feedback, it's either going to be negative or at least critical. Who is going to tell you you are fabulous and then pay a good rate??
If somebody asks for a test translation, tell them you posted examples on your profile page. That's enough.

I hope as many people as possible will read this. Maybe I should start a new thread.

Bernhard




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MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 02:04
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Test translations - the ultimate proof of craftsmanship? Nov 21, 2008

I just think the opposite - test translations are proof of nothing. "The first impression" at the very best (if the translator is literate, at least in general, and if it is worth wasting time for further issues). All in all, what can you judge from 1-2 pages of translation, can you know that this was really done by that person, can you really trust the translator on the basis of a test for a project of 50 000 words; or, if the outsourcers are so quality-minded, don't they have their proofers and QA system to "filter" what they get from new translators/applicants? OK, this is a separate topic and there can be various points of view. Let alone, one side is always free to ask for a test, the other is always free to say "go away - I do not want to play".

BUT what about those obvious scams and their practices? I mean those whose "test translations" have nothing to do with real test translations? I think such "practices" should be known to others - this can save a LOT of time and effort to those people who say "yes" to the tests (who do them fairly, expecting cooperation and jobs). Just like BB's "ones" and "fives" save a lot of time, trouble (and money)???

[Edited at 2008-11-21 01:48 GMT]


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MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 02:04
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Dear Yolanda Nov 21, 2008

Let's be formal till the end The purpose of the test translation is to test the skills. Logical. So, if someone wants to evaluate the skills, the feedback can be either "positive" or "negative". But if there is no feedback at all, can it be called a "test translation" (even from the formal side)? And can't there be something like the list of scams whose "test translations" have/had nothing to do with test translations? About the proof - the posters can take a full responsibility for what they post. If all what is posted is true (can be proven by email correspondence, at least).

PLUS. Even if it is possible to provide an obvious proof (even with the link to the website where the "test" is posted), under proz rules it is ONLY allowed to make a BB entry for a PAID JOB ordered, i.e. NOT allowed to make a BB entry for a test translation that was published somewhere and a proof can be provided for that...

[Edited at 2008-11-21 02:04 GMT]


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LittleBalu
Germany
Local time: 01:04
English to German
+ ...
Received the same enquiry Nov 21, 2008

Bernhard Sulzer wrote:

In his request for a test translation, he mentioned the possibility of participating in an ongoing project with 100 000 words.




I received the very same enquiry twice within a matter of minutes but with different URL links (huge project, ongoing collaboration, bla bla). Didn't even bother to respond.


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Vito Smolej
Germany
Local time: 01:04
Member (2004)
English to Slovenian
+ ...
My final way out in this kind of cases Nov 21, 2008

MariusV wrote:

What do you think?



I had my share of this kind of accidents. Eventually (after the initial due-dilligence steps) the best approach, for me at least, turned out to be as follows:

i) assess the damage done ("...how much is it in real money..")
ii) account for it in your mind under "educational expenses"

This way I take out the emotional factor ("...if I could only get those SoBs...") and stop any mouse-in-the-running-mill procedures ("...I'll wait four days and write again...").


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John Rawlins  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 01:04
Spanish to English
+ ...
A short test is fair practice Nov 21, 2008

I believe that asking for a short test is a reasonable business practice by an outsourcer.

I have established good relationships with many excellent clients after completing short tests - and I expect to gain more clients in the same way.

However, a translator must be very discriminating before agreeing to a test. I generally refuse long tests, and tests with deadlines shorter than one week. I also refuse any test from a firm that is not obviously well established - with a professional and informative website. If it is an agency, then a perfect Blueboard rating with plenty of positive comments from reputable ProZ members is an absolute must.

I also expect the prospective client to be friendly and polite. Any hint of a 'take it or leave it' attitude and I bin the email immediately. Life is too short to have to deal with abusive people.




[Edited at 2008-11-21 09:42 GMT]


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