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October "Feature in Focus": the outsourcer Blue Board
Thread poster: Henry Dotterer

Henry Dotterer
Local time: 13:46
SITE FOUNDER
Oct 29, 2004

ProZ.com staffers often hear members say that they are not aware of all the things available to them at ProZ.com. Therefore, in order to help members get the most out of the site, we have decided to put focus on one site feature each month, both in the newsletter and here in the forums. We'll explain that feature and give tips for using it to maximum advantage... and then we'll ask members to post their own tips or requests.

This month's "feature in focus" is the outsourcer Blue Board.

To get to the Blue Board, click on "Jobs" in the menu at the top of the site, and then "Blue Board". [Jobs > Blue Board] You can also access the Blue Board using this URL:
http://proz.com/bb (Notice how easy it is to remember!)

What is the Blue Board? We'll explain in a roundabout way. First of all, any ProZ.com member can enter a number from 1 to 5 corresponding to his or her likelihood of working again with a given outsourcer (ie. client or translation company/agency). By way of explanation, the member can also enter a line of text along with the number. In response, the outsourcer may enter a line of text of his/her/its own. The Blue Board is the complete, searchable database of the records containing entries and replies, along with outsourcer coordinates.

Over time, records have been collected for many outsourcers (4567 of them, half with entries.) In fact, the Blue Board is the largest built-from-scratch database of translation outsourcers in the world. What makes it most unique are the "likelihood of working again" entries from ProZ.com members--and the fact that you may know those members, or can contact them easily.

What does this mean to you? If you are a translator, you can use the Blue Board to help manage risk whenever you evaluate new clients. If you are an outsourcer, and your translators tend to work with you on an ongoing basis, this fact will be reflected in the Blue Board. The greatest beneficiaries of the Blue Board are popular outsourcers.

Any ProZ.com member can use the Blue Board to make, request or review entries. Platinum members have unlimited access to all records, and non-platinum members can buy permanent access to records one at a time, at a cost of 50 browniz or 50 US cents. (All members start with 300 browniz, so you can buy access to 6 records without doing a thing. You also earn 50 browniz for making an entry for an outsourcer for which you have worked--so if you contribute actively, you may effectively enjoy free access.)

Many members have commented on just how valuable a resource the Blue Board has been. To make a habit of using it, just remember the URL! http://proz.com/bb

Got a Blue Board tip or request? Share it in this thread!

Note: The purpose of this thread is to share tips, tricks and requests related to the Blue Board. Please add yours! Because this thread will be referenced as a form of site documentation for members, we would ask you to focus strictly on this topic. Posts that stray have been removed.


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Jane Lamb-Ruiz  Identity Verified
French to English
+ ...
Focus good idea; but suggestions Oct 29, 2004

Hello Henry

I think focusing on one area every month is a great idea. Re the Blue Board though. There are many entries of agencies with no evaluation. Couldn't the ones with no evaluation be taken out? In other words, not have "empty" shells. The Blue Board is great but there are so many agencies with no information, one wonders if they even exist.

Thanx
Jane

PS Maybe the FOCUS ON x, design-wise, could be a little blinking icon. That way it would stand out better.

[Edited at 2004-10-29 19:57]


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Henry Dotterer
Local time: 13:46
SITE FOUNDER
TOPIC STARTER
Those are created by members requesting entries Oct 29, 2004

Jane Lamb-Ruiz wrote:

There are many entries of agencies with no evaluation. Couldn't the ones with no evaluation be taken out? In other words, not have "empty" shells.


Thanks for the feedback. Members are given the option of entering details of an outsourcer, asking other members who have worked for them to make entries. So the blanks you refer to (which account or 49%, or about half of all outsourcers) are really sitting there waiting for entries. So we would not want to remove them.

Maybe we could implement a search option that would cause only outsourcers with entries are shown? Would that address the inconvenience?


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xxxBrandis
Local time: 18:46
English to German
+ ...
do we have solutions for this Oct 29, 2004

Hi ! Henry, that just might solve many puzzles. Many things in this site are like "Godgiven" . The solution might be to become more subjective first and objective later. Translation is a Art science and non-technical. If a solution can be found for this - like sozio-technical - (due to community principle), well earlier it used to be technosocial later it would be ........ I am sure this can be a better solution for many. During my tenure with Proz.com, I have found only positive things sofar. If this can be improved in a manner that many or all find the same feeling for this site, it would certainly be great, just do it. But in our personal frames, we are all sooo different. we might smile and say good luck or wishes, but the question is not solved. I think you and your colleagues have taken up the impossible, to mix cultures and bring them to community way of thinking. Hats off. I personally find Proz.com the best there is for translators. I am personally for it - that we should give a separate place for abusive outsourcers, this is my singled out opinion, as it hurts most when one does intellectual work. I have personally have probably seen a multitude in projects area, my freedome was to reject when things do not fit me, just like do a favour and win a long-term friendship with the client, I see this is the freedom Proz is offering to a singled out translator and I find it very positive towards many translating cultures. I know you will find a solution that fits most. Just do it. For me personally proz.com is a very good computer based human interface to voice oneself to the world. I must say I do like the yellow and green screens.
Rgds,
Brandis

[Edited at 2004-10-30 19:28]


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:46
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Can't Oct 29, 2004

Jane Lamb-Ruiz wrote:

There are many entries of agencies with no evaluation. Couldn't the ones with no evaluation be taken out? In other words, not have "empty" shells. The Blue Board is great but there are so many agencies with no information, one wonders if they even exist.


AFAIK, the BB is meant to be a comprehensive reference on outsourcers. Note that care is also taken about correctness of entries and contact data -- that by itself is useful information. Some of these entries were created on reports of non-payment (possible oversights) that were conveniently paid up as soon as the mail went out that they were on the BB at all. But this should not be interpreted to mean that being there is a kind of "first warning" -- I understand all job posters can (and should) come in as a matter of system, and the data on their subsequent job postings is screened to keep track of possible multiple identities, "umbrella" identities, or entry duplications.

[Edited at 2004-10-30 13:11]


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Claudia Iglesias  Identity Verified
Chile
Local time: 14:46
Member (2002)
Spanish to French
+ ...
Comments, tips, suggestions Oct 30, 2004

I’d like to see (but I don’t know whether it’s the right place for it) a description of the job done by Job Moderators, what do they do when a new outsourcer posts a job, when they are contacted for non payment cases. It might be the opportunity to put under light their efforts for defending victims (that are more often in the translator side than the outsourcer’s) and everything they do, because it does represent a good amount of work.

Recently I could read in a translator’s list exactly the following:

“I can tell you that XXX’s agency is on Proz's Blue Board. Although no one has rated it yet, I can only tell you that Proz's rules are very strict and that wrongdoers are clearly marked on that website.”

I was surprised of the way it was said. Everything is true:
- The agency is registered at the BB
- It has no record
- Proz.com rules are strict
- I suppose that with “wrongdoers are clearly marked on that website” he was thinking of outsourcers with low records.
But as it was said, somebody who didn’t know the BB and how it works could understand that this empty entry meant that the agency was a reliable outsourcer. In fact an empty entry doesn’t mean anything else that some day somebody wanted to know whether a colleague had worked for them.

My personal tip for using the BB would be to check the translator who made the entry. Of course we cannot know everybody, but empty profiles do not inspire trust. VIDed members have at least a known identity, even when it’s not visible for everybody.
My second tip would be: even when in need of work, eager of working, don't do it when too many other translators have had bad experiences.

I have had discussions with other members about making entries for single and short jobs. Some members think that we should not make an entry for only one experience. I think that if I have one bad experience I’m going to say it, so if I have a good one I must say it too. And my entry only shows that: one experience, at that moment, like a picture.
For instance I had a good experience with an agency that later became a bad payer. The problem was not that I made an entry for a short job, the problem is that there’s one piece of information missing in the BB: the size or the number of jobs.
Saying: “I’ve been working for X for 3 years” or “I did a short job of 4,000 words” doesn’t have the same weight, does it? But everybody doesn’t write this information, so it should be compulsory.

I do agree with the sentence “The greatest beneficiaries of the Blue Board are popular outsourcers”, and what gives the BB the weight that it has is that it’s being built in a very professional manner. We are all building it, we must also take care of it.

Claudia

[Edited at 2004-10-30 15:07]


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Kathy Saranpa  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 19:46
Member (2003)
Swedish to English
+ ...
Blue board works well / Just a couple of things Oct 30, 2004

First to respond to "empty" entries: because this site is relatively new, we have to do the groundwork to bring it to a more mature state. I don't think there is any getting around "empty" ratings or small statistical samples. But as time goes on, the ratings will more accurately reflect the quality of the agency or outsourcer as employer.

I have had one minor "encounter" with an outsourcer because I didn't know how the BlueBoard ratings worked. Because she offered me more work at a rate lower than I was willing to accept, I rated her "1" -- not likely to ever work for again. She got very upset with me and flamed me. (This was after scolding me for not sending her the work when promised -- I had sent it early but she hadn't checked both of her e-mail addresses!) There should be better explanation of the ratings for "newbies."


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Fernando Toledo  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 18:46
Member (2005)
German to Spanish
It is possible to import ratings? Oct 30, 2004

..well Proz.com, for me the best transaltor community, is not the only player in this market, could be possible to import the ratings made by other list [edited]?

...just a suggestion

Toledo


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 19:46
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
I don't like the feature of creating empty entries Oct 31, 2004

An empty entry could give the impression that something is wrong with this particular outsourcer. But to my mind the creation of an empty entry does not work, as nobody notices it when it is created. So nobody who has done work with this outsourcer will go and rate it.
It's different with the lists on Yahoo. I regularly view the postings for the German market and give my response for mentioned outsourcers I have worked for, as do the other list members. But I never have got any notice about a new entry to the Blue Board, so I have never given my ratings. It's simply too tiresome to view all empty ratings and look, if some of them relates to an outsourcer known to me. So these entries stay empty.
Or am I missing something?

Regards

Heinrich


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Eva Blanar  Identity Verified
Hungary
Local time: 18:46
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Empty shells - and how to fill them Oct 31, 2004

Heinrich is right about the inconvenience and time consumption of going to see if a certain agency I work for is on the BB - it seems that many people take the trouble only when they are upset about the agency.

On the other hand, on your profile page (Settings - e-mail preferences - other notifications), by checking the respective box we can get notification on any new requests for rating: this makes it easier. (I just switched this facility back, myself.)

Also, I think that BB ratings could entitle to a couple of browniz, as an incentive (much more than forum postings): the system is sufficiently regulated to prevent abuses (as opposed to fora, BTW) - you can only rate agencies you worked for, your name is shown, the agency can respond. And then, with time, empty shells will really be a good warning for those who consult the BB to find out about a new outsourcer. So, I'd rather keep them - or possibly move them into a separate category.


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Yolanda Broad  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:46
Member (2000)
French to English
+ ...
I am so glad Tayfun has requested a feature to easily search BB! Oct 31, 2004

While we do have a very nice "search" tool (it will pull up file titles based on any sequential string of letters in a title), it would be wonderful to be able to pull up all files with an initial cluster of letters, rather than just searching for one file after another via the "search" tool.

Yolanda Broad


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davidgreen
German to English
rating an agency based on rate they offer Nov 1, 2004

Just a thought, but I just saw several postings for an agency I've worked with that were all extremely positive. The one negative posting was about rate and it detracted from the otherwise perfect score. I don't think it's really a valid argument against an agency if you accept a rate that doesn't make you happy and I'm not sure it helps a translator decide whether or not to work for someone, considering that rates are agreed in advance.
One other thing I've seen that doesn't seem too helpful is rating an agency with a "1" and the only comment written by way of explanation is "...". Perhaps people should be required (by the proz.com system) to post an explanation of at least a few words for both positive and negative ratings, in order to at least qualify the posting.
By the way, the Blue Board such as it is has been extremely helpful for me in both screening out certain agencies and establishing trust with good one prior to a first job. Is there any way to cut and paste similar boards from similar sites into proz?


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xxxdgtech
Local time: 20:46
English to Hebrew
The Blue Board should be more balanced towards agencies Nov 1, 2004

I am aware that a review system for translation agencies is needed. Especially since there are some dishonnest people and agencies out there, and even more so since many translators do business on the Internet where a verbal commitment and (virtual) handshake are all the collateral that is provided.

But is the Blue Board perhaps one-sided and biased in the favor of freelancers and somewhat against the agencies? Let me explain what I mean. First of all, the translator comment is displayed prominently, whereas the agency comment (which is limited to only a few words) is displayed at the bottom. Secondly, there is no review system for translators. And let me further explain. Anyone can join PROZ and PROZ does not offer any screening. The result is that there are some inferior and subpar translators on PROZ. There are also some dishonnest translators who promise a deadline and miss it. A balanced Blue Board should also protect agencies against these translators. If a translator is no good and several agencies report this, or if a translator is dishonnest and several agencies report this, then maybe other agencies would avoid using these people.

My suggestions therefore are either to build more balance into the BB by providing a review system for translators as well, or at least to provide balance in the agency response--the same number of words and displayed together with the translator comments. OR, another suggestion would be to just publish the non-payers, agencies which are crooked and who never pay. This would protect the translators against the real danger in this business. Late payer, low payers, etc. these are subjective issues and perhaps could be left out.

Finally I would like to offer my compliments to Henry who has built an amazing community in PROZ. Henry, I hope to meet you in the near future.

David Grunwald


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Henry Dotterer
Local time: 13:46
SITE FOUNDER
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks, David Nov 1, 2004

Thanks for your ideas and the compliment, David.

Moving the outsourcer reply up to the summary box as well, for parity, sounds fair. As for the idea of a translator Blue Board, the idea is coming up more and more... but let's keep this thread focused on the outsourcer Blue Board.

Thanks!


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 18:46
English to German
+ ...
Checks and balances built-in already Nov 1, 2004

David,
May I suggest to take a look at the BB FAQ?

There are also some dishonnest translators who promise a deadline and miss it. A balanced Blue Board should also protect agencies against these translators.


See FAQ BB #2:

2. What are the conditions for making an entry concerning your likelihood of working again with an outsourcer?

You may only make entries for clients with whom you have worked on a project and to whom you have delivered work on time and without complaints related to quality. You may not make entries solely on the basis of negotations or other preliminary interactions.

If you have worked on a project with a client but were late or otherwise negligent in delivering work, you may not make an entry for that client. The Blue Board should also not be used to threaten outsourcers.


If you feel that an entry was made in contravention of these rules, contact a Jobs moderator. (Note that we will ask outsourcers to substantiate quality issues raised: this should have happened within a reasonable period of time after delivery.)

Best regards,
Ralf

[Edited at 2004-11-01 13:44]


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