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What the Translation Journal think of Proz.com
Thread poster: Anette Herbert

Anette Herbert  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:01
English to Swedish
+ ...
Dec 4, 2004

Transparent and at the low quality end of the market? Good and bad. But is this a view shared by many others out there?

I read this article in the Translation Journal with an open mouth, is that how Proz.com is viewed by companies looking for quality?

http://www.accurapid.com/journal/20fawb.htm#pergola

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.


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Andrea Appel
Canada
Local time: 17:01
English to German
+ ...
Disrespect for original poster ! Dec 4, 2004



[Edited at 2004-12-04 22:36]

Very tasteless

[Edited at 2004-12-05 00:25]


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NancyLynn
Canada
Local time: 17:01
Member (2002)
French to English
+ ...

MODERATOR
Misinterpretation ;-) Dec 4, 2004

Hi Andrea,

I, too, was confused when I first read the post by Annette - I wasn`t sure which words were hers and which were quoted from the Translation Journal.

But then I read the link attentively and saw that Annette quoted a question-and-answer post on the Translation Journal site, and was then asking us what we thought of that post.



Nancy


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:01
English to German
+ ...
Different views Dec 4, 2004

Hi Anette,

Transparent and at the low quality end of the market? Good and bad. But is this a view shared by many others out there?

I read this article in the Translation Journal with an open mouth, is that how Proz.com is viewed by companies looking for quality?

Possibly, but the views expressed reveal a lack of information and/or insight. Also, did you notice the date? You're looking at the April 2002 edition - quite a lot has changed on ProZ.com since then.

That said, I wouldn't start to pretend that all is well on the Jobs front - but things have definitely improved, and ProZ.com staff and moderators are working hard to keep the momentum.

What is important to understand when analysing ProZ.com Jobs is that the majority of job assignments are passed through the directory and profiles, rather than via jobs posted.

In summary, ProZ.com is far from being a perfect place - but it's definitely accepted and established.

Best regards,
Ralf

PS Andrea: I'm not sure if you realised that Anette actually re-posted some of the contents of the article she referred to.

PPS Anette: Have a look at the Forum FAQ list for some info on the forum functions, including quoting.


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Anette Herbert  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:01
English to Swedish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Quoting the article Dec 4, 2004

Sorry if it was unclear that I was actually quoting the article, which I read with a gaping mouth, call me naive but my impression of proz.com, and particularly since the very enjoyable and stimulating conference in Oxford, is that it is on the whole a site filled with serious, qualified, clever translators.

However as my first words were:
"I read this article in the Translation Journal with an open mouth, is that how Proz.com is viewed by companies looking for quality?" I thought it was clear that the rest is what I copied from the article.

I was actually a bit shocked (naive?) to read not so much the ousorcer's impression but the reply from this established translation magazine. Inexperienced and clueless translators, I don't think so. Do you? Where do they get this from?

Anette
Fan of proz
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Where the article can be read :http://www.accurapid.com/journal/20fawb.htm#pergola

Quote starts: "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."
End of quote.


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:01
English to German
+ ...
April 2002 vs. November 2004 Dec 4, 2004

Hi Anette,
Sorry if it was unclear that I was actually quoting the article, which I read with a gaping mouth, call me naive but my impression of proz.com, and particularly since the very enjoyable and stimulating conference in Oxford, is that it is on the whole a site filled with serious, qualified, clever translators.

As I said, ProZ.com in November 2004 is not the site that it was two and a half years ago.

I was actually a bit shocked (naive?) to read not so much the ousorcer's impression but the reply from this established translation magazine.


Don't take it at face value. If you look through the Fire Ant & Worker Bee column, you'll see that they take a critical look at industry issues, with a lot of irony (and sometimes a bit of sarcasm) mixed in. Usually a very enjoyable read.

Best regards,
Ralf


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Claudia Iglesias  Identity Verified
Chile
Local time: 17:01
Member (2002)
Spanish to French
+ ...
Dear Anette Dec 4, 2004

1) As Ralf said, the article is old, so it's not about the ProZ you know.

2) You must know that ProZ.com had to ban some members and they became ennemies of ProZ and tried by all means to discredit it, and this was written while a campaign was taking place.

3) I don't take seriously any critics when they are anonymous, but as it's the official answer from an "established translation magazine", I also wonder how they can endorse opinions that might show very personal views.

You say that you are already a ProZ fan, I hope you'll still be, but even if you were a fresh member who didn't know how it is, I'd invite you to discover it and make your own opinion.
Proz.com has grown and has attracted lots of clients and translators, in spite of articles that you can read elsewhere.

Claudia


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Johanna Timm, PhD  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 14:01
Member (2002)
English to German
+ ...
Henry's response Dec 4, 2004

For completeness’ sake, I am quoting here Henry’s answer to the article in question:

"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"



[Edited at 2004-12-04 22:46]


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Andrea Appel
Canada
Local time: 17:01
English to German
+ ...
Dec 4, 2004



[Edited at 2004-12-05 00:23]


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Derek Gill Franßen  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:01
German to English
+ ...
IMHO... Dec 5, 2004

Johanna Timm, PhD wrote:

For completeness’ sake, I am quoting here Henry’s answer to the article in question:

"
here 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"[/quote]

I have to agree with Johanna (and Henry).

I do not take part in bidding for jobs, so I can't say much about what bids are chosen. I do however read the comments in the forums and take an active role in KudoZ: my impression is one of excellent translators taking time out of their busy schedules to help others - a noble cause. Otherwise, I don't notice much 'bullying' going on and the quality of the answers is particularly high (at least in the KudoZ forums in which I take part).

The article quoted is, however, not the first criticism I have read about the job system - I have even read some in these forums (lately). I think everyone is entitled to their own opinion and should be able to express it - as for an official body expressing opinions, it doesn't seem very professional...

Like I said, I don't bid, but I do notice the rates of the jobs offered. They do seem particularly low (one of the reasons I don't take part in the bidding). I suppose that it is not so much the system, but the translators willing to work for those rates and the employers willing to take the risk of receiving low-quality translations.

On the other hand, I agree with Ralf in that not all jobs are awarded through the bidding system and I have also been approached privately by quite a few members expressing interest in my translation services. These jobs have been interesting and were paid relatively 'well'.

On the whole, I am happy to have stumbled across this site and hope that I can add to the existing quality that attracted me in the first place (this year). I pride myself in quality (though no translator is immune to making mistakes) and it seems to me that my peers do the same.

I'll take notice of the criticism as I attempt to improve the quality of my work and indirectly of this site: criticism can sometimes serve as a reminder and help keep things running on the right track.

[Edited at 2004-12-05 10:33]


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xxxIanW
Local time: 23:01
German to English
+ ...
Schopenhauer Dec 5, 2004

Schopenhauer once said that "Books are like a mirror. If an ass looks in, you can't expect an angel to look out."

In the internet age, I think that the same can be said for ProZ as well. If you don't take everything at face value, it is an extremely valuable tool and I for one am very happy that it exists.

All the best


Ian


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Fernando Toledo  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:01
German to Spanish
Better than 2002, but please the improvement should go further! Dec 5, 2004

As Ian says:
If you don't take everything at face value, it is an extremely valuable tool and I for one am very happy that it exists.


I like very much to be part of this community too



Talk about price pressure—"no more than EUR 0.08/word" is a common way of offering a job!


Ralf Lemster wrote: You're looking at the April 2002 edition - quite a lot has changed on ProZ.com since then.


Yes indeed now normally jobs are offer under 0.05 €!

This maybe the only part of Proz.com I disagree.

Henry's response:
ProZ.com does not utilize a "downward bidding model" anymore than it utilizes an "upward bidding model"


Well not direct but in fact it is so.
An example, an agency offers a job. 50 translator makes there biddings. The agency selects one of then, let's assumes they are searching for the appropriated but not for the cheapest. Well, a month later the same agency makes another offer...why? Was the last one not good enough? What should do the other 49 now? Reduce his prices?

1. A good/normal agency needs a team of translators, They cannot be looking for new translators for each work!
2. A agency has a perfectly defined price for a job and for the part corresponding to the translator based in a project management, so why they do not say how much they can pay for the offered job?

The only conclusion is ALL the offered jobs are searching for a cheap translator to improve his gain margin. In my opinion, a offer should only be allowed with a fix price.


Rgds

Toledo



[Edited at 2004-12-05 14:01]


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:01
English to German
+ ...
Of course Dec 5, 2004

Hi Toledo,
I fully agree with the title of your posting - that's precisely what ProZ.com staff and moderators are working on.

Ralf Lemster wrote: You're looking at the April 2002 edition - quite a lot has changed on ProZ.com since then.


Yes indeed now normally jobs are offer under 0.05 €!

If that's the only change you noticed, you must have missed a lot. I understand what you're trying to say, but I must say I'm somewhat disappointed. Let's take Jobs and the BlueBoard, for example: a dedicated team of Jobs moderators devote significant time to checking and vetting jobs, taking action under the ProZ.com Termination Policy if necessary, and generally enhancing transparency.
Being critical is ok, but frankly, focusing on negativity gets us nowhere.

BTW you're focusing on publicly posted jobs only, whereas the larger proportion of jobs is placed directly, through the directory and profiles.

Best regards,
Ralf


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Fernando Toledo  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:01
German to Spanish
Yes, yes Dec 5, 2004

Ralf Lemster wrote:

Hi Toledo,
I fully agree with the title of your posting -
If that's the only change you noticed, you must have missed a lot. ...

Best regards,
Ralf


No!
I have just emphasized the only point with which I am not satisfied, the rest, as I said, I like Proz.com and is now a part of my relation with the rest of the world. And with my critic I only attempt to participate in this improvement.

Rgds



[Edited at 2004-12-05 17:25]


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