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Critical coverage of ProZ.com in Translation Journal
Thread poster: Alison kennedy
Alison kennedy
Local time: 15:30
Italian to English
+ ...
Apr 7, 2002

So who\'s the smart arse and Mr Know-it-All amongst the UK Agencies?

I came across the following \"QUESTION\" in the Translation Journal\'s resident \"Agony\" column hosted by Hans GERMAN and Pierre FRENCH, or whatever their names were.



Those interested read on....



\"Dear Fire Ant & Worker Bee,



I am a translation company owner and recently signed up with Proz.com to get a feel for this market place.



The jobs section is astonishing. How a serious agency (and all the jobs being offered there are by agencies) could put its business in the hands of almost complete strangers is beyond me. Talk about price pressure—\"no more than EUR 0.08/word\" is a common way of offering a job! Yet the bids come flooding in. Another thing that amazes me is how many freelancers offer translation in both directions, multiple language combinations and all subject areas.



But the most incredible thing must be their \"Kudos\" system. Someone posts a question, you answer the question and if you convince the asker you\'re right, they give you a Kudos point. The more Kudos points you\'ve got, the higher up the list you go when bidding for jobs. So, it\'s a meritocratic system—but bizarrely it\'s the least experienced translators who decide who\'s good and who\'s bad. And if you\'ve got a bit of a name in translation circles, you go around bullying inexperienced translators into handing over Kudos points. Some complaints indicate that people have even been putting up questions under invented profiles, then answering themselves and awarding themselves the Kudos points!



The whole system seems designed to propagate bad translations: inexperienced translators asking questions which are answered by not very good translators (not very good because if they were they would be doing well-paid translations rather wasting their time answering silly questions). Would you care to comment?



Laugh or Cry?



A:



Dear Laugh,







ProZ.com\'s downward bidding model is hair-raising, to be sure, but hey, take a look at the traffic. Sites like this flourish because there is demand—a reminder that there is not one translation market, rather a multitude of segments, including those driven by rock-bottom rates and/or lightning turnarounds, with quality a distant third.



Where you place your company on the quality/service spectrum is a personal and professional decision. We are convinced that skilled translators generally rethink their positioning as they gain experience, and shift their focus accordingly

So—is ProZ.com a flawed model? Sure, for those focusing on the quality end of the market. Populated by many inexperienced and/or clueless service providers? Absolutely. But transparent, too, which is all for the better.



Consider: a few serious agencies that do dip in from time to time have been known to blackball translators on the basis of either their questions or—more often—their answers. Seen from this angle, ProZ.com\'s very transparency is fighting the quality fight, albeit in a bizarre, backhanded way.



FA & WB



Interesting reading. Anybody is free to have an opinion or, better, to form it. Mr. Know-it-All-Agency sounds as if he has done a \"quick-see\" and made up his mind. Perhaps he would like to offer his wonderfully high word rates for a few sample or test translations.

He would also have got less up my nose, as it were, if he had summed up enough courage to air his views on THIS SITE, rather than the Translation Journal one.





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Henry Dotterer
Local time: 09:30
SITE FOUNDER
Open Response Apr 8, 2002

I am a fan of the Translation Journal. Therefore, I am disappointed to see this sort of careless (and damaging) coverage of ProZ.com.



The tone of the column in which the exchange appears, \"The Bottom Line\", is, as the use of playful names suggest, somewhat light. Perhaps the authors--Eugene Seidel (Fire Ant) and Chris Durban (Worker Bee)--believe that this gives them license to share their off-the-cuff opinions without thoroughly researching their themes. This certainly appears to have been the case in their recent coverage of ProZ.com.



Apart from the typographical errors (Proz should be \'ProZ.com\' and \'Kudos\' should be \'KudoZ\'), Durban & Seidel\'s item includes a factual error, and, I suspect, a misrepresentation. I would like to respond to these.



Specifically:

- Durban and Seidel refer to a \"downward bidding model.\"



ProZ.com does not utilize a \"downward bidding model\" anymore than it utilizes an \"upward bidding model\". A bid with a high rate is not handled differently than a bid with a low rate. In fact, bids can be entered without specific rates at all. Perhaps Durban & Seidel were misled by the term \"bid\", which, to our fault, may be a misnomer.



- Durban & Seidel say, \"a few serious agencies that do dip in from time to time have been known to blackball translators on the basis of either their questions or—more often—their answers.\"



This is true, and is a valid and intended use of the system. However, it is unlikely that Durban & Seidel would have known this unless they themselves--or agencies with which they are associated--engage in this practice. In that case, I would find the wording used in the article to be somewhat disingenuous.



I do not object to Durban & Seidel\'s contention that ProZ.com is \"populated by many inexperienced... service providers.\" ProZ.com is (for the moment) in many ways akin to a directory, and as such, it can be expected that there are service providers of all stripes contained within. (Fortunately, telling the good from the bad is an art that many good agencies have mastered.)



What I object to is the portrayal of ProZ.com as a place where quality is a \"distant third.\" This statement is completely baseless. As the two authors themselves state, where a service provider positions itself on the quality spectrum is an individual decision.



There are many at ProZ.com who place their highest priority on quality. In fact, Seidel and Durban could learn a thing or two about attention to detail and journalistic rigor from some of the people registered with us.



Henry Dotterer

Founder, ProZ.com


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Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:30
Member (2004)
English to Italian
downward bidding... Apr 9, 2002

Proz does not use downward bidding. This is true. It is also true, nevertheless, that being a site open to everybody (and so the bidding, since $1 or the equivalent in BrowniZ do not really constitute a barrier), it\'s inevitable that it will be visited by professional and beginners, or even unscrupolous individuals. Some outsourcers are aware of this and exploit the situation. If a third country economy dictates that a translator is well paid if he/she charges $0.02/word, than nothing can be done to stop that (apart from imposing a threshold - idea already rejected). So, such criticism does not take into consideration the world\'s economy... There is quality on Proz... you have to look for it!

Having said that, the authors do have a small point: KudoZ sometimes are awarded by unexperienced translators, who are not really in the position to jugde well all the answers. This is a bit of a nonsense, but restricted to a small percentage.



Giovanni

[ This Message was edited by: on 2002-04-09 13:52 ]


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Cynthia Brals-Rud  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:30
English to Spanish
+ ...
And... Apr 17, 2002

as a professional who delivers quality translations, I rather spend some precious free-time minutes helping out a colleague or a beginner than publishing or reading such untruthful texts!



Long live ProZ.com!



My 2 cents.



Cynthia


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 15:30
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
I thought the main theme was a critical review (see Alison) Apr 23, 2002

And I only have this to say (Henry?)



* That the open-endedness of the bidding/rates system has been asking for it. It was bound to fish this type of commentary sooner or later.



* That this isn\'t going to stop me from using proZ in my professional life, especially not after coming out of a successful half-million word team surgery requiring a highly complex terminology data base in which 10 translators and six doctors (including a published cardiologist and a cancer expert) were on-line with each other continuously for 2 weeks in real time, something I wouldn\'t have been able to assemble as cohesively in a normal e-group. This, for me, has been as revolutionary as the virtual imaging techniques that surgeons now employ.

[ This Message was edited by: on 2002-04-23 10:10 ]


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John Kinory
Local time: 14:30
English to Hebrew
+ ...
'Silly' screen names Apr 24, 2002

Quote:


On 2002-04-23 16:14, mayet wrote:

Quote:


On 2002-04-23 15:56, AbacusTrans wrote:

[Ursula, I really don\'t know why you keep disagreeing: you always come back to \"2 languages\", and that\'s exactly what I have been saying all along: 2 active languages is the maximum.



P.S. Can you give us examples of \"silly screen names\"?

[...]





1. I can\'t be bullied into agreement with a very limited view on a complex phenomenon.

2. Silly screen names:

Fire Ant

Worker Bee

MHO







Fire Ant and Worker Bee are the pen names of Chris Durban and someone I can\'t recall for the moment. Chris Durban has done a lot more than you for the professional standing of translators world-wide,

(a) through her excellent column the Onionskin, that for years has been exposing shoddy translations supplied by non-native speakers,

(b) through her client-education book.
[addsig]

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Andrea Bullrich  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:30
Member
English to Spanish
To quote Cecilia... Apr 25, 2002

Quote:


On 2002-04-23 10:08, Parrot wrote:



I thought the main theme was a critical review (see Alison)



And I only have this to say (Henry?)



* That the open-endedness of the bidding/rates system has been asking for it. It was bound to fish this type of commentary sooner or later.



* That this isn\'t going to stop me from using proZ in my professional life, especially not after coming out of a successful half-million word team surgery requiring a highly complex terminology data base in which 10 translators and six doctors (including a published cardiologist and a cancer expert) were on-line with each other continuously for 2 weeks in real time, something I wouldn\'t have been able to assemble as cohesively in a normal e-group. This, for me, has been as revolutionary as the virtual imaging techniques that surgeons now employ.

[ This Message was edited by: on 2002-04-23 10:10 ]





I vote for taking up the critical review again... perhaps in a different thread?



Andrea

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Henry Dotterer
Local time: 09:30
SITE FOUNDER
I have deleted the peripheral discussion on bilingualism Apr 25, 2002

The forums will be effective only if we stay on point, and the eternal \"bilingualism\" debate has no place in this particular thread. Therefore I have deleted all related postings.

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Henry Dotterer
Local time: 09:30
SITE FOUNDER
Further correspondence with Chris Durban Apr 25, 2002

Chris Durban replied to my open email, and I in turn replied to her. Though some of the typographical errors were corrected, she chose to stand by her column.



Gabe Bokor, editor of the Translation Journal, has offered to post my reply in the next issue of the Translation Journal.



--------------------





Dear Henry,



Thanks for taking the time to write. Eugene and I had planned to pen a brief reply to your comments in TJ\'s Letters to the Editor and will probably do so (it is an extremely busy time of year for me, whence my silence to date).



That said, I (Chris


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Jane Lamb-Ruiz  Identity Verified
French to English
+ ...
Blackballing Apr 28, 2002

I would like to know more about this and the way it works. How do agencies do this?





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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 15:30
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Hi Jane, start a new thread, blackballing's a long story Apr 29, 2002

And I\'m sure many people have a lot to say...

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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 15:30
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
External flak is a good indicator, Henry, if you don't mind my saying so Apr 30, 2002

Even without reacting to bad grammar. You\'ve made your point, you\'re getting there. We\'re strong enough to threaten. People are beginning to notice our bad points. I don\'t need to tell you our good points outweigh them. A Force To Be Reckoned With, published in the Translation Journal. (Need I tell you how the real professional world functions?) You were warned proZ was going to be subversive. You\'re taking whole markets away from dictionary publishers (and the Glossary improves every day). It\'s more updated than those of the official Academies (and the updates take place practically the same days as the discoveries). You\'re offering, free of charge, the kind of workplace that PCOs bend over backwards to put together, and that the Barcelona summit would have envied. You\'ve got a directory that ranges from the best, most specialized, to this year\'s rookies, far beyond where the greater part of professional organizations would draw the line, but which counts for what the French would call the generational \"relève\". The Future. And a technology adapted to them. What establishment wouldn\'t feel that a revolution is brewing?



Andrea, I\'d love to oblige with another thread, but the \"virtual O.R.\" is an experience anyone would have discovered had the need arisen. However, by way of conclusion I can assure you that staying on-line in proZ with team members who may be located in 4 or more continents can furnish the same cohesion as though you were in the same room of a conference center with them. We are definitely ready for the big game that our critics say will always escape us - except that we are technologically better-equipped for it. And that, without resorting to the cutthroat competition and professional envy that has traditionally rotted the so-called \"supranational\" set-ups. (We\'re also supranational, and still direct and individual). 30,000+ members, and you know them by name? We\'re a ridiculous success!

[ This Message was edited by: on 2002-04-30 00:31 ]


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Andrea Bullrich  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:30
Member
English to Spanish
To Ceci Apr 30, 2002

Quote:


On 2002-04-30 00:23, Parrot wrote:



Andrea, I\'d love to oblige with another thread, but... (...) We\'re a ridiculous success!

[ This Message was edited by: on 2002-04-30 00:31 ]





No, no, that was not my point... Now that the thread has been edited I feel we\'re safely back on track. BTW, being a surgical resident and watching the experts at the virtual OR was quite an experience, too On a smaller scale, this patient (asker) has also been saved by friendly experts at ungodly hours. I can only agree ProZ is a smashing success, and this is a chance to look our weak points in the face and do all we can to correct them.



Andrea

[ This Message was edited by: on 2002-04-30 01:05 ]

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Werner George Patels, M.A., C.Tran.(ATIO)
Local time: 09:30
German to English
+ ...
There's good and bad in everything Apr 30, 2002

Of course, ProZ, like any other thing in this world, has its shortcomings, but there are also many positive aspects.



As for the downward trend in rates and prices, well, that\'s one reason why I recently posted a message to one of these forums, saying that we should stop discussing this issue: a) it gives other agencies \"stupid\" ideas and b) outsiders may believe that every client found through ProZ is a \"cheap bastard\".



I have found a number of wonderful clients through this site (or, rather, they have found me):



- other professionals who outsource work they can\'t, or don\'t want to, handle



- first-class agencies that pay even more than some of my direct clients



- and direct clients (including, more recently, the Securities and Exchange Commission)



I will admit, however, that everyone\'s experience will be different (no surprise, with approx. 33,000 members right now).


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