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Can you really trust the Blue Board records? Guess not?
Thread poster: Anna Valjakka

Anna Valjakka  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 08:04
Member (2016)
French to Finnish
+ ...
Jul 27, 2016

All I see is 4.7's and full fivers even for agencies that have been blacklisted (for example here: http://translationethics.blogspot.fi/p/blog-page.html )

Everyone's just giving out 4s and 5s in order to get good feedback in return or something?
I'm relatively new and I haven't given many BB entries but one agency asked me to give them full points in exchange for an immediate payment...


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Thomas T. Frost  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 07:04
Member (2014)
French to Danish
+ ...
No, I see variation Jul 27, 2016

What you report sounds like a coincidence. I've seen totals vary between 3 and 5. Lower than 3 would be extremely rare.

If anyone asks you to put something specific on the Blue Board in exchange for something, you should report it to Proz support immediately, as it is against the rules.

I've used the whole range when reporting, but one does get unpleasant reactions for the lower values. It's possible some translators don't have the backbone to do that.

But you can't control how translators use the BB, so you do need to take it with a grain of salt, and you may also need to take into account that translators in different countries may have different expectations for agency behaviour and thus rate the same behaviour differently.


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finnword1
United States
Local time: 01:04
English to Finnish
+ ...
I don't Jul 27, 2016

I have seen a translation company "earning" 20 "fives" on a single day. I would like a ProzCom moderator to speculate on how that happens. Also, I was impressed by seeing that the company had a total of 257 LWA's. I am not going to name the company here, but in case that you do not believe me, you can send me an e-mail, and I will tell you. Could it be that the company actually improves its "grade point average" by purchasing fives from their translators. After all, money talks.

[Edited at 2016-07-27 21:53 GMT]

[Edited at 2016-07-27 21:54 GMT]

[Edited at 2016-07-27 22:11 GMT]


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Helena Chavarria  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:04
Member (2011)
Spanish to English
+ ...
I'm getting very wary of the Blue Board Jul 27, 2016

Taking advantage of this thread I would like to read your comments about something that happened to me a few weeks ago.

I was contacted by an outsourcer and he accepted my terms and conditions and sent me a translation to be delivered the following day.

It goes without saying that before accepting the assignment I had checked the Blue Board; 11 people have given it a 5, though the first person only gave it a 1.

Everything went smoothly and I delivered the translation and, because it was the end of the month, a few days later I sent the invoice.

That is when things started to go wrong. On the Monday the client sent me an email telling me that the end client 'was not satisfied at all' with my work and that two translators had confirmed it was 'rather weak quality'. I felt awful, especially since I have translated hundreds of thousands of words of similar text (legal) and nobody has ever complained; in fact, if I ever receive feedback, it's to praise my work, not criticise it.

I compared my translation with the reviewer's version and there was hardly any difference between them, though I preferred mine! I wrote back to the outsourcer to apologise but I told him that there was nothing wrong with my translation and that it was the first time someone had complained about one of my legal translations.

I don't know whether or not I'll get paid but if I don't, I won't be able to post a comment on the Blue Board because the outsourcer could say I was the one at fault.

Now I've had time to calm down, I've started to think that this could be a new way of not paying: an outsourcer contacts a translator and they reach an agreement. However, once the translation has been delivered, the outsourcer claims that it is sub-standard and either tries to get a discount or tells you that unless you give them a 5 on the Blue Board, they won't pay you.

Something else I've experienced is when an agency asks me to give them a 5, telling me they'll give me a positive WWA in return. I always ignore those kind of messages. I only ever leave comments on the Blue Board when it's me who wants to let everyone know the outsourcer is either great or awful, and I only ever give a 5 or a 1.


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Michael Newton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:04
Member (2003)
Japanese to English
+ ...
Blue board records Jul 27, 2016

Unfortunately "invoice tinkering" based on "errors" is a business model for some agencies and is an attempt to avoid paying the full amount.

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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 02:04
English to Portuguese
+ ...
You have to read between the lines in the Blue Board Jul 27, 2016

I learned a few tricks, for instance...

  • Plenty of entries, but NO (or just one or two) Pro-Tags among them = low rates.

  • Plenty of 5s, but the outsourcer is located in a low-rates zone (india, China, etc.), and all these 5s are from people in that same area of the globe = low rates.

  • Too many entries, over 100 = too large agency, often negotiates BB entry-for-payment after it's due.

  • Many bad ratings and "spurts" of a series of 5s in the same week = a rotten apple that, when their average is about to go below a certain magic level, they ask feedback from all their quickly-paid one-night stands. They cheat translators on BIG jobs.

  • Revengeful PMs/owners = when you see that low scores always get an obnoxiously irate reply from the agency, watch out!

  • Check the wording on payment. "Prompt" and "timely" payment means they paid on the date agreed, even if it is forcefully 60 days after month end. Quick and fast payment means that they are not trying to improve their cash flow at your expense.



For the record, once I worked for a client who had only one BB entry, and it was a "1". They became one of my best clients ever, I worked for them almost two years, and would do it any time they needed my services again. They were NOT a translation agency. They knew of Proz, but had only visited it a couple of times.

Apparently once they had assigned a job to a translator, who left on vacation and relayed it lock, stock, and barrel to some understudy who did a terrible job for them, beyond salvage. They couldn't use it, that wannabe was not skilled to fix it, so they refused to pay a stand-in they had not selected themselves for work that was utterly worthless. They had to hire someone else to start anew. That's how they got that undeserved "1", and didn't even know about it! I was the one who pointed it out to them.

[Edited at 2016-07-27 23:36 GMT]


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Soonthon LUPKITARO(Ph.D.)  Identity Verified
Thailand
Local time: 12:04
Partial member (2004)
English to Thai
+ ...
In former days Jul 27, 2016

Helena Chavarria wrote:

Taking advantage of this thread I would like to read your comments about something that happened to me a few weeks ago.

I was contacted by an outsourcer and he accepted my terms and conditions and sent me a translation to be delivered the following day.

It goes without saying that before accepting the assignment I had checked the Blue Board; 11 people have given it a 5, though the first person only gave it a 1.



In earlier days of Proz.com, Blue Board entries were straightforward. Now I feel entries are relatively positive i.e. bad entries are not easily permitted while good entries are welcome.

Soonthon L.


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Sabine Winter  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:04
Member (2007)
English to German
+ ...
Agree with Thomas and José Jul 28, 2016

They should pay you for services received not for receiving a positive/full points entry on the Blue Board. Definitely report it to ProZ Support. While this seems to have become more or less common practice for some agencies (though I've never been approached with such a request but some Blue Board entries kind of suggest that this is the case), it is against the rules and just not right.
If they prove to be a reliable outsourcer over time, they can get their full points.


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Laura Kingdon  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 01:04
Member (2015)
French to English
+ ...
I trust them to some extent Jul 28, 2016

I tend to trust bad ratings but am wary of good ones. If an agency has more than one very low rating, I won't work with them, and I think the board is quite useful in that way. However, all fours and fives doesn't necessarily mean anything.

I would also not assume anything about rates from Blue Board ratings unless posters specifically mention it, but you have to negotiate that part for yourself anyway before starting work, so it's less of an issue to me. I mostly look for signs of poor treatment of translators and/or delayed/non-payment. If I don't see any, I'm willing to at least respond to an agency's email.


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Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 07:04
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Take it with a grain of salt Jul 28, 2016

Although I do check the BB from time to time, I also cross-check some of the entries made by translators to see if they had received a positive entry from the outsourcer on or around that same date. If so, then their entry is not being considerate at all, even though it might have been justified by years of positive experience with that agency. (I'll scratch your back, if you scratch mine system.)

The Blue Board is (or should be) only one avenue to obtain information about an agency or end client. It's a little difficult to walk on one leg only, so why rely only on one source when it comes to customers?


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Angela Rimmer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:04
Member (2014)
German to English
+ ...
Agree with Laura and José Jul 28, 2016

Laura Kingdon wrote:

I tend to trust bad ratings but am wary of good ones. If an agency has more than one very low rating, I won't work with them, and I think the board is quite useful in that way. However, all fours and fives doesn't necessarily mean anything.

I would also not assume anything about rates from Blue Board ratings unless posters specifically mention it, but you have to negotiate that part for yourself anyway before starting work, so it's less of an issue to me. I mostly look for signs of poor treatment of translators and/or delayed/non-payment. If I don't see any, I'm willing to at least respond to an agency's email.


My approach is the same. Low ratings are always a bad sign, high ratings are less trustworthy. I take the translators' comments with a pinch of salt, too. It's hard, without knowing the particulars and without hearing both sides, to know why they are giving a bad rating. And I also tend to ignore comments about rates (even comments like the agency pays good rates) because who knows what the translator is basing that on. If their absolute minimum acceptable rate is way below my own, then their idea of "good rates" may also be well below my own.

José's comments about specific wording are useful.

[Edited at 2016-07-28 08:09 GMT]


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 07:04
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
The BB is a blunt instrument - read the comments carefully Jul 28, 2016

Some comments are more positive than others.

In principle, only the very best agencies should get 5, and the average ones should get 4, or 3 if the only thing in their favour is that they pay on time.
In practice, however, it pulls their average down and they look bad if you give them less than 5, because everyone else gives them 5. The answer to 'Would you work for the agency again' is an unqualified 'yes' or 'no', with all cases of 'perhaps' registered as 'yes'.

I think you can use the BB to check whether you are likely to get paid, but don't rely on it after that. A 5 rating without a comment may be one of those 'you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours' agreements.
Some translators actually try to reveal a little more in their comments. You can sometimes see really warm appreciation as opposed to polite clichés. Those are worth thinking about.

I had a mail correspondence with an agency because I gave them a 3, and in the end I agreed to a 4, but considered whether I should report this to site staff or not. (I probably should - it is expressly against the rules.)
My point was that I was quite happy to translate for them with my own CAT tool, but they had their own CAT for some projects, and they paid very low rates for a long and complicated QA procedure. They did not like my comment, but had to live with it. They were professional and helpful with translation, but their CAT was a pain, and I simply could not understand their QA system, quite apart from the ridiculously low rate they paid for it.
They always paid on time, but it takes more than that IMHO to make a really top-rate agency.


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Yasutomo Kanazawa  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:04
Member (2005)
English to Japanese
+ ...
One more trick I would like to add Jul 28, 2016

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:

I learned a few tricks, for instance...

  • Plenty of entries, but NO (or just one or two) Pro-Tags among them = low rates.

  • Plenty of 5s, but the outsourcer is located in a low-rates zone (india, China, etc.), and all these 5s are from people in that same area of the globe = low rates.

  • Too many entries, over 100 = too large agency, often negotiates BB entry-for-payment after it's due.

  • Many bad ratings and "spurts" of a series of 5s in the same week = a rotten apple that, when their average is about to go below a certain magic level, they ask feedback from all their quickly-paid one-night stands. They cheat translators on BIG jobs.

  • Revengeful PMs/owners = when you see that low scores always get an obnoxiously irate reply from the agency, watch out!

  • Check the wording on payment. "Prompt" and "timely" payment means they paid on the date agreed, even if it is forcefully 60 days after month end. Quick and fast payment means that they are not trying to improve their cash flow at your expense.



For the record, once I worked for a client who had only one BB entry, and it was a "1". They became one of my best clients ever, I worked for them almost two years, and would do it any time they needed my services again. They were NOT a translation agency. They knew of Proz, but had only visited it a couple of times.

Apparently once they had assigned a job to a translator, who left on vacation and relayed it lock, stock, and barrel to some understudy who did a terrible job for them, beyond salvage. They couldn't use it, that wannabe was not skilled to fix it, so they refused to pay a stand-in they had not selected themselves for work that was utterly worthless. They had to hire someone else to start anew. That's how they got that undeserved "1", and didn't even know about it! I was the one who pointed it out to them.

[Edited at 2016-07-27 23:36 GMT]


There's one more trick I would like to add to Jose's tips.

Watch out for agencies/clients with no Blueboard records for more than a year.
Of course, if the agency/client has all "1"s and "2"s with the last entry being in 2012 or 2014, that's out of the question. But even if they have all "5"s, say only four or five "5"s but the last entry was in Nov. 2013 or May 2014, be wary to work with those kind of agencies. Their financial situation may have deteriorated over the past few years, and there may have been entries made during the blank period but were rejected by site staff due to false claims by clients of substandard or low quality work and was not able to make it to the entries by translators.


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Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 07:04
English to Croatian
+ ...
Some points... Jul 28, 2016

Yes and no, but you always have to accept some degree of risk.

Without me opening a new thread about this, can somebody please tell me how to approach clients with no records whatsoever, in the following situation: the client is a ProZ member for many years (say 3-4+ years), has a professional-looking website, but no BB records at all and they offer you a project. What would you do? Would you make inquires about this before accepting a project? For instance: does your lack of BB records mean you have a low project flow or you just don't work with freelancers much?

I am not sure how to approach this one, so I would appreciate a piece of advice.

In regards with other points mentioned, I agree with others in this thread. I did have good/excellent experiences with clients with many 5s and a few 1s, I did have bad experiences with the same kind of clients. I had bad experiences with all 5s clients. So any combination comes into play, that's why a risk is always there.


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esperantisto  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:04
Member (2006)
English to Russian
+ ...
I wonder… Jul 28, 2016

What is this discussion about really? It is in the FAQ: How reliable is the Blue Board?

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