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Contradictory Blue Board record
Thread poster: Taija Hyvönen

Taija Hyvönen
Finland
Local time: 16:09
Member (2008)
English to Finnish
+ ...
Mar 7, 2009

How do you react to outsourcers, whose Blue Board record is average, because half of the translators give them 5 and the other half gives 1?

How does it come about that for every second translator the outsourcer is a punctual professional, and for the rest a weasel evading payment?

And last but not least - whether to quote or not...


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 09:09
English to French
+ ...
Bogus BlueBoard record Mar 7, 2009

In my experience, the type of BlueBoard record you are referring to, Taija, is fake. What I mean is that the ratings of 1 should be taken more seriously than the ratings of 5. This often happens because some outsourcers make it mandatory for translators to post ratings of 5 in order to get paid (this it against site rules, but it seems that the rules in question are either not applied consistently or that methods of dealing with such instances need to be better adapted).

It comes down to this: if more than 25% of the ratings in a BB record are ratings of 1, trust those ratings and keep away from that outsourcer. In any case, if there are more than three ratings of one, steer clear. I have learned this the hard way. The outsourcer in question is still getting lots of ratings of 5, and I know several translators who got burnt (she systematically refuses to pay). She has an overall rating of four point something...

Needless to say, I don't rely on the BB to pick and choose outsourcers to work with. The BB now has absolutely no value to me...


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Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 15:09
English to Croatian
+ ...
unbelievable Mar 7, 2009

Viktoria Gimbe wrote:

This often happens because some outsourcers make it mandatory for translators to post ratings of 5 in order to get paid (this it against site rules, but it seems that the rules in question are either not applied consistently or that methods of dealing with such instances need to be better adapted).



Frankly, I'm shocked to hear this. It's outrageous.


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Erik Freitag  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 15:09
Member (2006)
Dutch to German
+ ...
value of BB Mar 7, 2009

Viktoria Gimbe wrote:

Needless to say, I don't rely on the BB to pick and choose outsourcers to work with. The BB now has absolutely no value to me...


Indeed, but I think it's quite safe to rely on the BB to pick and choose outsourcers NOT to work with (and I apply pretty much the same criteria as you do, although perhaps I'm still pickier). So for me, the BB is valuable ...


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 09:09
English to French
+ ...
What I meant to say, but with more words Mar 7, 2009

efreitag wrote:

...it's quite safe to rely on the BB to pick and choose outsourcers NOT to work with


Exactly.


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Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 15:09
French to German
+ ...
Double-check it! Mar 7, 2009

My own experience (it was one case to be precise) is that you cannot rely on only one source of information. Always double-check it elsewhere, be it on other sites or through mailing lists: it can happen that outsourcers with 5's all along the way will make difficulties in paying you.

I cannot confirm directly Viktoria's post about bogus BB entries, but it doesn't seem impossible either.

Laurent K.


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Erik Freitag  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 15:09
Member (2006)
Dutch to German
+ ...
no value? Mar 7, 2009

Viktoria Gimbe wrote:

efreitag wrote:

...it's quite safe to rely on the BB to pick and choose outsourcers NOT to work with


Exactly.


Yes, I thought so.

However, I don't understand why you consider the BB to be of no value then.


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 09:09
English to French
+ ...
Because... Mar 7, 2009

The BlueBoard is supposed to help us to choose which outsourcers we want to work with and which ones we'd rather not work with. The only use I have for it currently is therefore incomplete.

I mentioned above how ratings are not necessarily realistic. The same way positive postings can be bogus, negative postings can also be bogus. I am sure many of us are aware of translators who have provided translations of unacceptable quality, and I do agree that in certain cases, the translator shouldn't be entitled to full payment. However, some rather unprofessional translators decide to bribe outsourcers into paying them, and often, the BlueBoard is the best means for that, for obvious reasons. Translators also abuse the BB.

All this means that, when I see a BlueBoard record with only a few ratings, one of which is a 1 while the rest is 5, I can't decide whether I want to work with that outsourcer or not. In such cases, I decide not to work with the outsourcer, and it isn't because I have decided that they are untrustworthy, but simply because I want to play safe. I am sure I have refrained from working with trustworthy outsourcers on more than one occasion, which is a pity.

In that sense, the BlueBoard is useless to me. However, in cases where the BlueBoard contains a high number of ratings, it can be helpful, to a limited extent, to at least establish untrustworthiness - but the BlueBoard is not sufficient to establish trustworthiness, in my opinion. I think Laurent said it best: the BlueBoard on its own is insufficient, and it always takes extra sources of information and precautionary measures to establish the level of risk in working with a particular outsourcer.

The rare times when I do check the BB, I always click through to each translator profile, and I try to assess the trustworthiness of the translators who worked for that outsourcer to try and figure out if the records are reliable. This is very complicated and often results on my leaving it alone and deciding against working with the outsourcer.


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Ma.Elena Carrión de Medina  Identity Verified
Ecuador
Local time: 08:09
Member (2008)
English to Spanish
+ ...
I do consider the BB valuable.. Mar 7, 2009

...even though I don´t think it is 100% reliable.

The fact that we can check on the record of an agency in order to know if we should trust them or not makes the BB a valuable tool for translators.

Now, that some agencies lie about their practices is true, and that is why I don´t consider the BB a 100% reliable, but I think that´s when we have to make use of our "sixth sense", or we just have to be wise in dealing with agencies so that we avoid being fooled.

If you check on other forum posts about the BB and bad agency practices you will find information about links where you can find out about the reliability of translation agencies. Fortunately, I have not had the need to do that, but as we say in my country "toco madera" (knock on wood.. or something like that).

Let´s hope maybe soon the Proz staff (or maybe a colleague) finds a way to help the BB become +100% reliable!

Have a nice weekend,
Elena


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Erik Freitag  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 15:09
Member (2006)
Dutch to German
+ ...
not useless Mar 7, 2009

Viktoria Gimbe wrote:

All this means that, when I see a BlueBoard record with only a few ratings, one of which is a 1 while the rest is 5, I can't decide whether I want to work with that outsourcer or not. In such cases, I decide not to work with the outsourcer, and it isn't because I have decided that they are untrustworthy, but simply because I want to play safe.


And in exactly that way, the BB is not useless to you: It has helped you to play safe...


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Natalia Elo  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 15:09
Member (2004)
English to Russian
+ ...
My example Mar 7, 2009

Hi Taija,

Taija Salo wrote:

How do you react to outsourcers, whose Blue Board record is average, because half of the translators give them 5 and the other half gives 1?

How does it come about that for every second translator the outsourcer is a punctual professional, and for the rest a weasel evading payment?

And last but not least - whether to quote or not...


For example I had worked for an outsourcer and had been completely satisfied with the payment, so I had posted 5. Later on the outsourcer posted another job under a different name and I had some difficulties to get money from him so I posted 1 at the BB, after which I was paid immediately. My rating then was removed becuase its wording did not match the situation any longer. Though I was encouraged to repost my rating with the different wording I didn't do that, simply becuase I was too busy at the moment and later it didn't feel like an important thing to do.

So, as a result, this particular outsourcer enjoys 5 from me under one of his company names eventhough I will never work for him again.

If you are interested, pls contact me over profile, I'll let you know his name, because he's working with Finnish.

[Edited at 2009-03-07 23:42 GMT]


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 09:09
English to French
+ ...
Still... Mar 7, 2009

efreitag wrote:

...It has helped you to play safe...


And it probably has helped me to stay away from genuine good clients with whom I would have had a fruitful, satisfying working relationship. We'll never know...


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 15:09
English to German
+ ...
Tell us about it Mar 7, 2009

Hi Viktoria and all,

In my experience, the type of BlueBoard record you are referring to, Taija, is fake. What I mean is that the ratings of 1 should be taken more seriously than the ratings of 5.

Agreed - what I would do first is to get in touch with those who posted the 1s.

This often happens because some outsourcers make it mandatory for translators to post ratings of 5 in order to get paid (this it against site rules, but it seems that the rules in question are either not applied consistently or that methods of dealing with such instances need to be better adapted).

Any suggestions?

We would need to monitor all communications going on between that outsourcer and the translators concerned. What's needed is for those affected to come forward, contacting a Blue Board moderator and/or ProZ.com staff with information about the issue.

Just today, I touched base with someone who wanted a "1" entry removed, providing a reason that might have indicated pressure being applied. It turns out that the two parties found common ground, and are sorting out the situation between themselves. Removing the negative entry was a voluntary sign of goodwill. But we also find situations where this was enforced, in which case action is taken against the outsourcer.

Best regards,
Ralf


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Luis Arri Cibils  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:09
Member (2003)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Professional handling of professional tools Mar 7, 2009

Viktoria Gimbe wrote:

efreitag wrote:

...It has helped you to play safe...


And it probably has helped me to stay away from genuine good clients with whom I would have had a fruitful, satisfying working relationship. We'll never know...


Indeed, Viktoria.

About 5 years ago, I received an offer for a project that to do it would have required me to invest 2 or 3 days of my time. I looked at the BB and found that the agency had a single rating, low indeed, and very recent. And the translator who had put that evaluatiuon was relatively well known on the board.

I decided to gamble, anyway, and did the project. I was immediately paid, and the interaction with the agency was extremely pleasant. I reported my information on the BB, rating the agency a 5. I was never asked to do so. Ocassionally I still get assignments from that agency, and I still will rate it as a 5.

I have just looked at them on the BB. I am happy to see that other colleagues have rated them as a 5, several years after my report, and their reports given in different years.

If I see inconsistent gradings, I pay attention to when those ratings were given. Were all the ones and twos given many years ago? May the agency have acquired experience to select translators or working capital to pay their translators without having to wait for their clients' payments? Have they changed accounting practices? Are they consistently getting 5s now? Are all those 5s given within a few months, suggesting agency´s efforts to force up their ratings, or are they distributed in time, suggesting improved practices?

The BB is an outstanding tool, but as all tools for professionals, it must be professionally “used”.

Luis


[Edited at 2009-03-07 23:51 GMT]


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 09:09
English to French
+ ...
We would need to know how ProZ handles such cases Mar 8, 2009

Thanks you, Ralf, for your intervention.

Ralf Lemster wrote:

...Any suggestions?


What I think needs to be done to help make the BlueBoard more reliable is to raise awareness among site users that they are expected to leave BlueBoard ratings and comments that truly reflect their dealings with that particular outsourcer. I can only guess why there are so many site users who get suckered into leaving positive ratings despite their negative opinions. I guess that there is an issue with the fact that ProZ is a venue and not a party to the contracts between outsourcers and translators on this site. This, in turn, makes it much easier for a translator to just give the outsourcer a 5 and recover their money than to involve staff in something that is independent of their dealings. This raises a question: how does ProZ deal with occurrences of bribery, when a translator reports it? If ProZ really does care about this kind of abuse and does its best to eliminate it, then maybe the problem is that this is done behind the scenes (normal practice, to be sure) and therefore, many of us may not trust that ProZ really will help in sorting it all out. Some of us may even believe that, by denouncing this abuse, they are just destroying their only chance to recover the money: giving a rating of 5.

In any case, I find that there is a difference between encouraging site users to use the BB and only post ratings that truly reflect their dealings with a particular outsourcer, and requiring that translators only post truthful ratings or none. In fact, I believe that the translator who posts a 5 only to ensure s/he gets paid is just as guilty of messing up the system that many rely on for important business decisions as the outsourcer who bribes them into it.

I would be interested in getting a summary description of how bribery cases are handled. I am in particular interested in knowing if outsourcers ever got banned from the site, temporarily or permanently, for this. What translators are not as often interested in is when it goes the other way around - the translator uses the BB to get paid for work s/he shouldn't be entitled to get fully paid for. I would also like to know how such cases are handled.

[Edited at 2009-03-08 00:21 GMT]


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