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Suggestions for general improvements to Proz.com job systems
Thread poster: Todd Field

Todd Field  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:33
Member (2003)
Portuguese to English
Jul 22, 2003

Dear colleagues,

When you look at everything going on at Proz.com, it really is amazing what has been created here. Kudos to the site founders. Very, very impressive.

There is, however, one glaring exception, in my humble opinion: the job posting section. It seems to be a bit of a "dumping ground", i.e. an arena for price wars, a free-for-all where anyone can participate almost without restriction... in summary, a place to find "leftovers" that agencies are not sure how to deal with using their regular outsourcing systems. This is of course just a generalization, but I believe it is a well-founded one.

It is not really the agencies' fault. Rather, it is a result of the system itself within the context of a large global economy where anything is possible. I posted a job once and got bombarded with just about everything you can imagine (see http://www.proz.com/topic/11104).

If the fundamental character of the job section could be changed so as to make it a more useful tool for freelancers and job outsourcers, Proz.com would be a 100% "home run". I firmly believe that, with a little fine-tuning, this site could become the true "go-to" place where qualified agencies could hook up with equally qualified translators on a daily basis to execute large, legitimate, professional projects. I also believe that the overall number of job postings, the average job size, and the average price per word would all increase substantially with some modifications to the system.

How could this be accomplished? I believe one answer lies in more restrictions in the job postings so that illegitimate bids can be filtered out, thus enhancing the experience for the outsourcer and training the agency network to use Proz.com for real jobs that require real translators.

Here is the proposal:

1) Each translator is allowed to choose X number of areas of specialization in their Proz.com profile (say, between 5 and 10) generated from a very detailed list covering every conceivable category and sub-category of subject matter. Likewise, each job poster selects a corresponding category from the same drop-down list when they post a job. Only matching translators may bid on that job, no exceptions.

2) Similar restrictions are generated in the categories of required software, location, and payment method. Translators whose profiles do not match these restrictions are again excluded from bidding.

3) Language categories are likewise fine-tuned throughout the web site (e.g. European versus Brazilian Portuguese) and corresponding restrictions applied.

4) New systems may also be designed to creatively link job postings with the translator database, narrowing the focus from both directions and enhancing the quality of the experience on both sides.

5) Finally, job posters are restricted from posting target per-word prices that do not fall within a certain range of the community's average rates for that language group (for example, starting at the 20th percentile). I realize this is a potentially controversial rule, but I believe a necessary one. Proz.com should foster the use of standard worldwide rates in lieu of encouraging constant discounting.

Over time, I believe we would see positive effects from such modifications to the job system. Rather than having to wade through 50 irrelevant bids to find the 4 or 5 good ones, the outsourcer now has to deal with only a few focused bids. This makes for a more meaningful and productive outsourcing experience, and trains the job poster to come back for more.

Bidders would likewise benefit from the enhancements of such a system. For us freelancers who use Proz.com, wouldn't it be nice to see dozens of job postings appear every day in your language group, with standard payment rates and terms, and just a few competing bids? Wouldn't it also be great to land a quality job or two every week using Proz.com?

Based upon the status quo this may sound far-fetched, but it is a very big world, and the volume of work is definitely out there to be harvested. Not only does it exist, but it recycles itself and even grows with every passing day, week, and month. It just may not be finding its way to Proz.com under the current circumstances.

Thanks for everyone's time in considering these thoughts. I will be interested to hear the input and additional ideas that other freelancers and the Proz.com staff might have to offer on this subject.

Kind regards from Colorado,

Todd Field


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 01:33
English to German
+ ...
Working in that direction Jul 22, 2003

Hi Todd,
Thanks for your valuable input.
Don't know if you noticed a recent thread in this forum where I commented on the work in progress regarding the Jobs Area. I agree that the status quo leaves a lot to be desired, but as I pointed out there, the Blue Board was our first priority.

Regarding your proposals:

1) Each translator is allowed to choose X number of areas of specialization in their Proz.com profile (say, between 5 and 10) generated from a very detailed list covering every conceivable category and sub-category of subject matter. Likewise, each job poster selects a corresponding category from the same drop-down list when they post a job. Only matching translators may bid on that job, no exceptions.

Good point in principle - my concern would be that if you go too far into detail here, you get too many "near misses" and not enough matches.


2) Similar restrictions are generated in the categories of required software, location, and payment method. Translators whose profiles do not match these restrictions are again excluded from bidding.

Definitely.

3) Language categories are likewise fine-tuned throughout the web site (e.g. European versus Brazilian Portuguese) and corresponding restrictions applied.

Possibly - I guess this is something where we would need to sound out opinion among (Platinum) members.

4) New systems may also be designed to creatively link job postings with the translator database, narrowing the focus from both directions and enhancing the quality of the experience on both sides.

Would you have any concrete proposals in that direction?


5) Finally, job posters are restricted from posting target per-word prices that do not fall within a certain range of the community's average rates for that language group (for example, starting at the 20th percentile). I realize this is a potentially controversial rule, but I believe a necessary one. Proz.com should foster the use of standard worldwide rates in lieu of encouraging constant discounting.

This isn't necessarily controversial, but could be subject to a legal challenge. The question I have here is this: what is a standard worldwide rate?

We have discussed the issue of pricing over and over again - I must admit I have yet to see the market that can be price-controlled in an otherwise free environment.

If we get the design right, a reasonable price level should develop as a result of a market structure that's attractive to outsourcers and providers, but not because of an administrative decision.

Thanks for your continued patience while the ProZ.com team gets underway with programming all these ideas that we gather...

Best regards, Ralf

[Edited at 2003-07-22 20:37]


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