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translator blue board - i wonder if would set up rating of individual translators?
Thread poster: a2ztranslate

a2ztranslate  Identity Verified
New Zealand
Local time: 17:45
English to Japanese
+ ...
Mar 7, 2004

hmm, have been browsing the agency blue board and i think it is great. but i wonder if proz would set up a blue board rating individual translators?? certainly would help me when i am trying to select a translator from a job posting.

or is there one alreayd here that i have missed?

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a2ztranslate  Identity Verified
New Zealand
Local time: 17:45
English to Japanese
+ ...
i get your points Mar 7, 2004

and maybe i was being a bit cheeky. i do understand the logisitics (70,000 translators, but how many actually actively chasing work per language pair i wonder?) but having had a very mixed bag from proZ users (some absolutely fantastic, some downright shocking!) it would be nice to call on a further reference point.

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Claudia Iglesias  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:45
Member (2002)
Spanish to French
+ ...
If you have time Mar 7, 2004

you can ask for references (previous clients).

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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:45
English to German
+ ...
Working on the concept Mar 7, 2004

Hi all,
The basic concept of a rating mechanism that works in the opposite direction has been discussed for quite some time.

Given the "balance of power" that Tayfun alluded to, I don't think reverting the BB concept is going to work. However, that doesn't mean this is completely impossible.

During a recent meeting of moderators, we also discussed this issue. We have a few ideas on how to establish a measure of job satisfaction, but I cannot be more specific at this point, as the concepts covered are still at a very preliminary stage. Bear with us...

Best regards, Ralf

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xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:45
Spanish to English
+ ...
freelancer vs agency Mar 7, 2004

It is important to remember that when a freelancer is chosen over an organisation to do a job, this is usually for particular economic and/or organisational reasons, and therefore, the consequences of that decision must be borne by the contractor.

I believe this may be related to the unfortunate experience you described in relation to format in a previous posting. Ultimately, however, it's a question of you covering all possible angles of risk to you as the buyer and taking - or fighting out - the consequences. In the previous case, I think you would have been fully justified in penalising the translator for not having returned the text in the format in which it was sent. The problem with that particular translator is that when you chose him/her he/she seemed to be - on the face of it - the best person for the job. The outcome was rather unfortunate, as 99 times out of a 100, this simply would not have happened, particularly when the individual seemed to have all the necessary credentials.

In other words, you seemed to have applied all the known criteria, just slipped up on one unfortunate proviso that resulted in the highly unusual situation you described. No translator rating would likley have prevented this from happening.

As others have pointed out, the best screening test would be to have a set of shortlisted translators complete a sample, which need not hold up the selection process unduly. In the case of your formatting issue, you might, with luck, have anticipated this possible misunderstanding prior to handing out the job.

In relation to a translator rating board, I think that rating individual translators would be too subjective, for example I had a slight disagreement on two occasions about payment - in both cases I had not been paid as and when indicated and politely contacted them about it - and either payer may not have a very positive attitude to me by now. For them to have the possibility of slating me in a site like this would be entirely unfair, as I was totally in my rights in claiming payment.

Moreover, a single bad rating could do potentially great damage to a translator in terms of obtaining work (and we are human, after all, and individuals at that, if I break my arm and therefore deliver late, I am at fault but the fact is, as a freelancer my possibilities for obtaining someone else to cover for me are far more limited than an agency's).

If you think about it, what exactly is it that a bad BB rating does? It reduces the interest of translators in working for a particular agency (therefore putting pressure on it to behave) but it DOES NOT affect their source of income, which is another matter entirely. To me that is an enormous distinction that needs to be made between rating agencies and translators.

I find it hard to imagine how a translator rating system would work on this site (in reference to Ralf's comments), so will be very interested to see how this proposal develops (which variables would be rated, and on the basis of what evidence, etc.)

What would be more interesting would be to strongly encourage job posters to provide simple feedback in terms of compliance (e.g. rated in terms of quality and delivery, simple yes/no answers), nothing too complicated that might act as a disincentive. If they were in the least bit discontent, then they could simply refrain from providing feedback.

Finally, I have to say that your postings are very interesting....we rarely hear from people on the other side of the "wordface":)

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Alessandro Potalivo  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:45
Member (2004)
German to Italian
+ ...
Translators' rating: an enlarged reference portfolio Mar 7, 2004

Dear All,

I am a translator and I have run a translation agency for 15 years, therefore I can give you my impressions from both sides, i.e. as a translator working for other agencies, and as am agency owner outsourcing
translation jobs to other translators. is a site for both translators and agencies, and therefore it should serve to both.

As a translator (or better said as an Italian translators' team) I find the site useful, because it allows me to share my experience with other colleagues and bid for new jobs. I have the opportunity to show my competence and my experience thrugh my page, including the portfolio, KudoZ history, etc.

But this is not enough to give to agencies and customers who are looking for a new translator, the information they need to take an informed decision.

Indeed, when I want to find a new translator (acting as an agency)I never know the level and quality of the professionals offering their services.

I try to use the site at best, browsing through the forums and checking what the various professionals say, what their attitudes are. This is very important and it gives you an idea of how people work. You perfectly realize if you are dealing with a professional translator or a translation "amateur" (to be polite). Then, of course I ckeck their pages, and finally I decide if this or that professional is a good collaborator for my agency and I contact them.

I disagree partially when you say that translators are affected economically if graded, while agencies are not: it is always team work leading both parties to success. No agencies will have a long life if they cannot rely on good, professional and reliable translators in the long run. Therefore the BB is a good tool, and any agency will try to keep its record as clean as possible to improve their visibility and attract more translators to work with them.

On the other hand, a BB (or a similar tool) for translators would provide customers and agencies with additional information on the translator, sharing the experience of other agencies and/or customers who have already worked with them. A sort of broad reference, without hurting anybody, but giving a better idea and presentation of the professional.

My personal opinion (to conclude my first posting on a forum)is that translators and agencies should cooperate more closely together, to find a win-win platform that enhances their success, and this should be one of the tasks of


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:45
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Hardly practical Mar 8, 2004

Let's suppose, an agency has found a good freelance translator for a reasonable rate. If they put this person on a BB and advertise his services (telling other agencies, this is the guy to hire), the rates will soon go up or the person will soon find more rewarding jobs than the first agency has to offer.
So it would be unwise to put the name on the list.
Because of that only negative feedback would find its way to the BB. That means, if you search for a good translator, look for one who is not on the list.

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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:45
Flemish to English
+ ...
Credit rating for agencies would be better Mar 8, 2004

Most agencies pay when their customer has paid them or a month after they got paid by their customer. That means that translators give them a free credit. In my opinion an agency or individual calling oneself an agency should have sufficient cash-flow to finance at least one major project.
3/4 of the agencies are not able to do that.
Hence to have some kind of free official credit-rating (included in the Platinum membership) linked to the BB would not be a bad idea. A rating by translators on the BB does not always reflect the situation as it is.
Agencies are not the only source of work, but having to wait for payments is a "tradition" in this profession which is disliked by most translators.
With regard to the rating for translators: one of the major agencies rates its translators according to neutral standards (have them somewhere) and attributes a statistcial value to these standards. Anyone falling below a certain figure/standard goes down on the list of preferred translators and does not get so much work anymore.

[Edited at 2004-03-08 08:20]

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a2ztranslate  Identity Verified
New Zealand
Local time: 17:45
English to Japanese
+ ...
i would disagree with a few posts Mar 8, 2004

firstly, in reply to Heinrich, all of the translators i have found through proz and have added to our pool know that we will recommend them if another client asks us for a recommendation. i think that is fair and also good business from our (agency) point of view; if a translator asks me to provide a reference, and i do, a favour is a favour and most translators recognise that and will help me out too when i am in a bind. so i think that "scratch my back" way of business would actually encourage agencies to post good reviews.

secondly, i would disagree re; payment terms. for example, we pay for translation within 7 days of completion of proofreading/editing. i think it is ridiculous for an agency to say they wont pay until the client pays. some of my projects will tie up a translator for over a month; what then if the client doesnt pay for another 1 or 2 months? if an agency cant manage their cashflow better than that then they shouldnt be in business at all!

finally i think allish raised some very good points. i had not thought about it from the point of restricting ability to earn. i agree that the agency BB does not restrict our ability to earn; whereas a translator BB could wipe out a person's earning ability through one bad posting. i withdraw my original posting categorically and apologise for posting what was essentially a knee jerk reaction (albeit one with an egalitarian motive!)

[Edited at 2004-03-08 09:18]

[Edited at 2004-03-08 09:22]

[Edited at 2004-03-08 09:28]

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Todd Field  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:45
Member (2003)
Portuguese to English
Translator blue board = ultimately problematic Mar 8, 2004

I believe a blue board for individual translators would ultimately create problems since its criteria would be so subjective, as opposed to the agency blue board, which is for the most part objective.

If an agency sends me a purchase order for a job, and then pays me within the agreed terms, they get a positive rating from me. It's that simple.

Translation, however, is not so cut-and-dry. The Kudoz system would not exist if it were a simple process leading to single correct answers. Of course, this is one of the things that makes our profession so fascinating.

For example: if I do an IT job with the Portuguese phrase "projectos implementados em Portugal" and choose to translate it as "projects deployed in Portugal" because this is the appropriate industry jargon, an agency could theoretically come back with the revision of "projects implemented in Portugal" because it: a) is also correct, and b) visually resembles the original source text. In this example the agency could in theory punish me with a negative "translator blue board" rating. The rest of the world would see the damaging evaluation without knowing that it originated from a subjective question of style where many would argue that I was in the right.

I think a2ztranslate raises some very interesting points. The outsourcing process must be complex indeed, considering that each translator has a unique linguistic background, writing style, pricing structure, work habits, and so on. However, I do not believe that a translator blue board is the practical solution for evaluating individual translator performance. Such a system would be, in my opinion, stuck in an eternal gray area.

Agree with Ailish, though... keep the postings coming! It is refreshing to hear from agencies in the Proz forums.

Todd Field

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