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Let's improve ProZ.com! (Three things I would do to improve ProZ.com if I were in charge.)
Thread poster: Henry Dotterer

Henry Dotterer
Local time: 09:11
SITE FOUNDER
Sep 18, 2006

Dear members,

In recent weeks, ProZ.com has come under criticism from valued members and site users.

In the interest of better serving you as a community, we hereby give you the reigns: if you were in charge of ProZ.com for a week, what three concrete actions would you take?

Once we have heard from a sufficient number of members (initially) and site users (thereafter), we will compile the results, publish an action plan, and implement.

Thanks in advance for your participation!

Ground rules for this topic:

1. Members only (for a while)

After a period in which suggestions were taken from members only, we now open the topic up for input from any site user.

2. One post per member.

We'd like to get input from many different people, so please make your three suggestions in just one post and then let others have the floor. If you have never before posted, please consider posting in this thread! (If you want to change something after you have posted, feel free to edit.)

3. 250 words or less.

Please try to list your top three actions in 250 or fewer words. Make sure your action items are concise, concrete things that we can act on.

I look forward to your suggestions. Thanks in advance!

Henry (218 words)


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gianfranco  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 12:11
Member (2001)
English to Italian
+ ...
Extend VID and a ProZ.com Code of Conduct Sep 18, 2006

1.VID

I would welcome a campaign to expand the number of members with Verified Identity (VID) up to the limit of making it almost a strict requirement to do business in ProZ.com.
An equivalent VID scheme would be also useful for outsourcers and companies, to demonstrate that their business entity is registered and legitimate.



2.CODE OF CONDUCT

I would welcome a Code of Conduct (CC), in two versions, one for outsourcers and one for translators, made available and signed voluntarily (accepted online by VID members and VID businesses) to publicly announce their acceptance and willingness to comply with the basic rules of an ethical workplace.

All members with the CC logo would earn the trust of their business partners but, in case of documented breaches or in case of a single very severe breach of the rules, they would lose the privilege to sport this logo or even be expelled from the site, according to the specific case.

The result would be to create an atmosphere of trust when dealing will CC colleagues or CC companies and the CC logo would become a visible sign of being trustfully and reliable (or the logo would disappear).
I would put in evidence the date when the CC started for each member and the longer they participate the higher would become the trust they have demonstrated to deserve.


Gianfranco
(2 suggestions, 232 words)




[Edited at 2006-09-18 08:10]


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Ruben Berrozpe  Identity Verified
English to Spanish
My three cents (plus a prologue) Sep 18, 2006

Prologue:
Follow Toledo's advice and provide a satisfactory response to that matter ASAP.

1:
Come up-front with ProZ.com plans to accomodate outsourcers and freelancers in the same space, and what's this change going to mean for the freelancers - particularly for paying members. If there is a business/community model change in the works, members should be conscientiously informed about it, after all we're stakeholders of this site (we used to think the most important ones too). Please don't repeat the mistakes of the WWA case.

2:
Raise the bar of the "professional" image of the site by seriously limiting the ability to modify the contents of the site by members with:
- non-VIDed profiles
- empty profiles
- freelancer profiles with "n" working languages and "m" native languages
- members in breach of ProZ's clearly defined code of conduct (outsourcers posting jobs damaging to the image of the site, identity fraudsters, etc.)

3:
Reflect upon the compatibility between your business model and the extensive use of volunteer work. Please note that volunteers work for no money, but expect intangible benefits stem from it to them or their community as a result. It may be that the opposite perception is now widespread in some sub-communities of the site, and I believe it to be largely the result of point 1.

Thanks.

Rb

(221 words)



[Edited at 2006-09-18 09:30]


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Marie-Céline GEORG  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 15:11
English to French
+ ...
Job posting rules Sep 18, 2006

Hi,
Two suggestions concerning jobs... maybe I'll have a third idea later.

1) I would set rules in order to improve the wording of jobs postings so that at least the title is clear (same principle as forum rules: "german to french" = bad, "12300 words industrial press user manual = good") and make sure that the offer contains all necessary information (field, volume, etc.).

2) create a new category for agencies who are not posting a real job but looking for freelancers in general or make the "potential job" category visible in the start page table (e.g. background color).

Marie-Céline


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Nikki Graham  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:11
Partial member (2003)
Spanish to English
My immediate three Sep 18, 2006

Given that I know my colleagues will mention other points for me:

1. I would allow users (i.e. non-paying members) to be able to comment in this thread. We all know that many people have recently cancelled their platinum membership and it is important to hear their views.

2. More open communication between staff and members/users. There are still far too many things that we just stumble across without being properly informed. I suggested a "communications page" here:

http://www.proz.com/topic/52982

3. I would reconsider the community manager's job description, especially with regards to "enforcing" rules in the forums.


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Balaban Cerit  Identity Verified
Turkey
Local time: 17:11
English to Turkish
+ ...
My suggestions (plus a note) Sep 18, 2006

My suggestions may not be most vital for ensuring a healthy on-line community - as some other posts focus on - but these are important for me.

1) More past jobs could be seen when browsing past jobs and the restrictions on contact information would be lifted.

Currently the system doesn’t show outsourcer contact information in closed ads when the job is more than 30 days old. I don’t remember seeing any such restriction when I first joined Proz.

I continuously bookmark job ads and I want to apply to some of these outsourcers. This is necessary since the Application system under the Jobs menu is insufficient.

Some outsourcers might have requested these restrictions in order to limit excessive freelancer applications. But determined people can’t be deterred – there are other lists they can find. Anyway, I send applications only to outsourcers who have explicitly requested applications on their web sites – why should I pay the price? In any case, other outsourcers can filter out such e-mails.

2) Text ads would be much more noticeable and users would be given alternative options to place ads on the site. I wouldn't mind paying more for more noticeable ads.

Currently text ads are displayed below the quick links section - it's too far below the screen. Previously their position was much higher.

3) Users would be able to see the IP and date data of clicks, if any, on their (text) ads, in order to judge the effectiveness of ads.

Thanks.

------------------
Note:

Hi Henry, considering your notes in subsequent posts that you want ideas regarding the big picture, I want to add a few notes. I tried but I'm afraid I can't shorten my suggestions above any more - I need these features in my daily life and I feel the need to justify them, since I haven't written them anywhere else.

I second Gianfranco's motion for expanded VID and Code of Conduct. This will help to create "an atmosphere of trust".

I agree with Sara's model as a controlled marketplace for higher quality versus a more unconstrained community space. This model also could help in controlling future growth of the site and in making Proz more effective in redefining standards in the translation industry.

I second Sara's suggestion of "customer education from the site as an authoritative source" in addition to knowledgebase articles.

IMHO, I believe the "member" concept as well as the rights of members is a delicate matter. Non-members actively contributing to the site should have a say in related issues - I believe that discrimination between "members" and "non-members" in this respect would harm the "community spirit" and that would be the worst thing to happen to Proz, since its biggest strength is the "community". So it would be beneficial to use a new motto instead of "it is the members who make this site possible" - I suggest something that puts the emphasis on the "community".

[Edited at 2006-09-18 14:42]


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Claudia Alvis  Identity Verified
Peru
Local time: 09:11
Partial member
Spanish
+ ...
Bookmark tab Sep 18, 2006

Mine:

1. A bookmark tab. A separate page where we can add our bookmarks from all over the site. Sometimes I find a particular thread very useful and I want to keep track of it without actually having to keep track of the emails. It would be very helpful if we could just bookmark not only threads or posts, but articles, KudoZ questions, members, jobs, etc. in the same space.

2. Target audience field for askers (KudoZ). At least for those languages spoken in several countries. In the Spanish community we always have this discussion: members that post their questions and don't indicate what their target audience is.

3. Someone suggested this a couple of weeks ago. A 'Reviews area' where we can review books, software, dictionaries, services, etc. With ratings, price ranges, stores that carry the item, etc.

Claudia


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Michele Johnson  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 15:11
German to English
+ ...
More financial transparency Sep 18, 2006

1) Henry, you often point out that this is a commercial venture. As a paying member and hence a sort of "shareholder," I'd be very interested in knowing more about how my fees are being spent. How efficiently are revenues being used? What percentage goes to overhead? How much is earmarked for programming/development? This kind of transparency would be very useful to me in deciding whether to renew my paid membership.

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xxxPaul Roige
Spain
Local time: 15:11
English to Spanish
+ ...
Aside: topic visibility and continuity Sep 18, 2006

Hi,
I reckon this is not just another topic. It is the mother of all topics. Crunch time.
Therefore, could it be possible, or feasible, to lift this topic up to the very top of the list of recent forum topics and leave it there for an extended time?
Highlighting it would be helpful too, or even selecting a new location on Proz's homepage.
It could also become a fixed homepage feature. This way, all (short, right to the point) suggestions or claims regarding Proz would be easier to locate by members, moderators, and management alike.

Also, it would need a change of title. I find a title like HELP US IMPROVE, HAVE YOUR SAY, LET'S BUILD PROZ, etc, would be more appropriate than "If you were Henry". This is just a tad too personal...

Also, ex-paying members should be allowed IMO. Just think of it as former students of a university or school. It would be a win-win move for ProZ.com. They've been part of it, they always belong, grudgingly as it may be. And they might want to come back if this goes well.
Thanks
Paul

[Edited at 2006-09-18 18:07]


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French Foodie  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:11
French to English
+ ...
Give non-paying members a voice Sep 18, 2006

[quote]Nikki Graham wrote:

1. I would allow users (i.e. non-paying members) to be able to comment in this thread. We all know that many people have recently cancelled their platinum membership and it is important to hear their views.


I couldn't agree with Nikki more. Why not give them a voice - find out why they did not renew their membership, or what what kinds of changes would encourage them to pay for membership. I happen to be a paying member, but if I were not, being excluded from such important aspects of the site would not encourage me to join, it would just make me angry.


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Henry Dotterer
Local time: 09:11
SITE FOUNDER
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks, Nikki and Mara, but this thread is about making sure our current members are happy Sep 18, 2006

Mara Bertelsen wrote:
I couldn't agree with Nikki more. Why not give them a voice - find out why they did not renew their membership, or what what kinds of changes would encourage them to pay for membership. I happen to be a paying member, but if I were not, being excluded from such important aspects of the site would not encourage me to join, it would just make me angry.

Thanks, Mara, but I am not thinking about sales here. We do care about non-members and their opinions. In fact, usually when we solicit input, we solicit it from everyone.

But this thread is about making sure that our current members are happy. That is my top priority right now.

I would ask others to respect the right of members to enjoy a preferential voice in this case. After all, it is our members who make the site possible.


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Henry Dotterer
Local time: 09:11
SITE FOUNDER
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks, Paul Sep 18, 2006

Argonauta wrote:
Also, it would need a change of title. I find a title like HELP US IMPROVE, HAVE YOUR SAY, LET'S BUILD PROZ, etc, would be more appropriate than "If you were Henry". This is just a tad too personal...

Edited. Thanks!


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Aurora Humarán  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 11:11
English to Spanish
+ ...
OK! Let's improve ProZ.com! Sep 18, 2006

Henry wrote:
After all, it is our members who make the site possible.


Let me disagree here, Henry. I am a heavy kudoZ asker and trust me, there are many users helping in the KudoZ arena. Aren't they making the site possible, also? What about their contributions in the fora, in the Glosspost section?

Here goes my wish list:


1) Members and users should be included in this thread. I understand users do not receive the same benefits members receive, that is more than fair (e.g. fewer kudoz questions per day). But if the spirit of this thread is to read the ProZian community freely express, then members and users need to have a voice in this topic. Expressing here is not a benefit for the users: the more voices are heard, the more we all benefit.

2) I am working on a proposal where I will request that all job bids be read by a moderator or by site staff, before they reach our screens.

3) I would reconsider certain actions that have been taken recently and which are against freedom of speech. Well intended and respectful freedom of speech, if I may add.

Thanks for listening.

Au

Edited to add: "before they reach our screens."


[Edited at 2006-09-18 11:06]


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