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Good ratings in Blue Board not so reliable?
Thread poster: xxxtr.
xxxtr.
Local time: 06:58
English to Italian
Jul 4, 2005

Hello,
I have come across this issue twice in recent weeks. Agencies that have good to great ratings in the Blue Board section and turn out to be the kind who disappear after your "test" translation (which has happened more often with agencies contacted via the Job system, but were not rated in the BB). By disappear I mean literally no longer reply even about the test itself. Not an entirely legitimate negative response. Just nothing, zero, after promises of "we'll get back to you by next week". After taking the time to actually provide a translation that in most cases is not even short, this is very disappointing, and in some cases outright suspicious. Especially when I only see a string of 5 and 4 stars and "excellent to work with!".

I'm sure everyone has different experiences and I don't mean to generalise. But to me, the BB is basically the main reason I purchased a Platinum subscription, and I would have hoped the ratings and comments were reliable enough to provide a good starting point, a way to screen potential contacts. If I end up having to ignore the ratings then what good is the BB to me?

Another frustrating thing is that when this kind of thing happens, I cannot even comment about it in the BB because it's not about a job relationship. Also, I understand discussion on specific agencies is forbidden in the forums, so that makes it even more difficult to find accurate information and/or warn others.

Has anyone had similar experiences? Should I just consider those I had so far as unlucky, and keep using the BB as reference?


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 06:58
English to German
+ ...
Look at the members who posted entries Jul 4, 2005

Hi traweb,
The numerical LWA (=likelihood of working again) is just one indicator. Although the accompanying comments (if any) may give you more information, it may be a good idea to check the profiles of those who posted an entry, and perhaps to contact them in order to obtain more background info.


Best regards,
Ralf


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xxxtr.
Local time: 06:58
English to Italian
TOPIC STARTER
a question of trust? Jul 4, 2005

Hi Ralf,

thanks for the suggestion, but I would really prefer to avoid bothering individuals who posted their comments on the BB. After all, if I trust their rating, there's no reason to contact them, and if I have reasons not to trust it, well... even more so! It wouldn't make much sense to email them asking "did you really mean what you wrote", would it?
And I'm not even saying that I necessarily mistrust individual comments as such, they may have had positive experiences only while I had negative ones, or maybe had contacts with different people from the same agency, I don't know. But all I have is those comments, I can't second-guess people from the data on their profile or worse, assume they're lying. My guess is perhaps only the people with positive experiences tend to post about them.
I'm just a bit frustrated at this discrepancy. I do hope it's only an occasional stroke of bad luck, but I would really appreciate hearing from other users.
Thanks again.


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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 06:58
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
Very tricky business to use the Blue Board Jul 4, 2005

Hi Traweb,

It's a very tricky business to use the Blue Board altogether. Sometimes, for example, an agency pays for the first translation and then does not bother to pay for all the subsequent ones. If you have meantime recommended them on the Blue Board, and they have replied and said "Thank you", then you cannot change your entry.

Anyway, I cannot use the Blue Board to give honest comments, for the simple reason that I have to pay my rent. I have several customers whose payment practices are absolutely awful, but I accept work from them during periods when work is slack, and at least they then owe me some money, but trying to squeeze it out of them, in some cases, takes weeks of strenuous effort. If I then complain on the Blue Board, and give them a 1, then maybe they will not pay any more of the outstanding invoices at all. They are invariably in a different country, so I cannot pursue them for the money.

And if they do pay eventually, so that I may want work from them during slack periods, so that I am owed something later, if I grade them a 3 or less on the Blue Board they may not give me any more work when work is slack in the future. It is all extremely difficult.

Astrid


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Sylvain Leray  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:58
Member (2003)
German to French
!! Jul 4, 2005

Astrid Elke Johnson wrote:

Anyway, I cannot use the Blue Board to give honest comments, for the simple reason that I have to pay my rent. I have several customers whose payment practices are absolutely awful, but I accept work from them during periods when work is slack, and at least they then owe me some money, but trying to squeeze it out of them, in some cases, takes weeks of strenuous effort. If I then complain on the Blue Board, and give them a 1, then maybe they will not pay any more of the outstanding invoices at all. They are invariably in a different country, so I cannot pursue them for the money.



I really don't understand your point of view.
If they are bad payers, 1) don't work for them anymore and 2) give your opinion in the BB. As simple as that. You have better things to do than to run after your money.
I'm really aghast by your comment...


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Russell Gillis  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:58
Spanish to English
Honesty is the best policy Jul 4, 2005

I am very concerned about the statement "I cannot use the Blue Board to give honest comments". Although I can understand the underlying reasons, we still need to be honest in our ratings.

With one particular agency, they took quite some time to pay me, and only after a couple of reminders. I subsequently gave them a 3 rating on the Blue Board, explaining the facts and nothing else (i.e. no angry comments). I figured that might be the last I would hear from them, but within a week they were offering me another project. I accepted the project, but with a promise from them to pay more promptly.

I think that it is this kind of fear to post ratings that emboldens the bad payers, and does nothing to help the next translator down the line.


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Sven Petersson  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 06:58
English to Swedish
+ ...
Mea culpa Jul 4, 2005

The Blue Board was created on my suggestion. I envisaged a VERY SIMPLE system, but failed catastrophically in my endeavours to convince ProZ.com to keep it SIMPLE and FUNCTIONAL.

The original concept was:

A simple binary choice: Yes, I would work for this agency again / No, I would not work for this agency again.
No space for any comments by the translator, thus avoiding the risk of upsetting any agency, and consequential libel suits!
No space for any comments by the agency.
Translator updateable, enabling the Blue Board to reflect current status.

The original concept was based on very simple ideas:

A solid string of “Yes” would have been a positive indicator.
A solid string of “No” would have been a negative indicator.
Details about reasons for “No” were to be dealt with in private communications between translators.

What we now have is a system that is worse than no system, sort of a safety line that breaks under less than a man's weight.

The agency mafia quickly discovered how to work the system:
1. Hand out a small job to a new translator and pay for it double-quick.
2. Encourage the translator to make a Blue Board entry.
3. Enter “Thank you very much!” as response to the “Yes”, and block thereby any further entries from the translator.
4. Give the translator a big job and neglect paying for it.
5. Start from “1” with another translator.

I apologise humbly for having failed to convince ProZ.com to keep it SIMPLE and FUNCTIONAL.


[Edited at 2005-07-04 13:21]


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Anne Lee  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:58
Member (2003)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Still a good tool Jul 4, 2005

The BlueBoard is still a good tool, though. I agree with what's been said before,namely that it would be useful to change an entry after submitting a good rating and finding the agency wanting at a later stage. I wish I could change my positive rating for an agency that has been very slow in paying after the first couple of jobs; I also found it on a different list of bad payers and now feel guilty about 'luring' translators into working for it. Another agency became more unscrupulous after a change of management. But a word of caution about tests: Years ago, I carried out many a test, investing a lot of my time and being distraught at not getting a reply. But I learned that agencies are sometimes asked to submit tests 'by 3 different translators' when quoting for a job and some agencies don't feel a need to let the translator know about the feedback when they don't get the contract. I am not so keen on tests now, unless there is a real prospect of a job at the end.

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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:58
Flemish to English
+ ...
Take an average. Jul 4, 2005

One good recommendation simply is not enough.
As a rule, I only want to work for agencies, who had a minimum of 5 positive recommendations, with a score of 4.5 on an average.
As for the comments of agencies: I have been browsing through the BB. Sometimes, the only comment on a complaint is : "bad translation", without mentioning any specification of the translator's mistakes. A too general excuse to withold payment due.


[Edited at 2005-07-04 13:48]


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Giuliana Buscaglione  Identity Verified
Austria
Local time: 06:58
Member (2001)
German to Italian
+ ...
Changing LWAs (Likeliwood of Working Again) Jul 4, 2005

Hi Anne Lee,


I wish I could change my positive rating for an agency that has been very slow in paying after the first couple of jobs; I also found it on a different list of bad payers and now feel guilty about 'luring' translators into working for it. Another agency became more unscrupulous after a change of management.


You can do it yourself, as long as the outsoucer hasn't responded to your entry. In case the outsourcer has, please contact a Jobs moderator or coordinator.

Giuliana


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Trudy Peters  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:58
German to English
+ ...
LWA Jul 4, 2005

Slightly off-topic: I find LWA funny! Of course, I want to work again, just not for that particular outsourcer!

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Elena Pavan  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:58
Member (2005)
French to Italian
+ ...
What did you do before? Jul 4, 2005

Hello!
I have been working as a freelance translator. I don't know how you did, but when I started my activity I just took the yellow pages and I started writing to all the translation agencies I found and when I got a job, nobody could tell me if the agency was going to pay or not. You have to take the risk. So, I consider the BB as a step forward. When I contact or am contacted by a new agency, I can check the BB record. My final decision doesn't depend on it, but I can probably get an idea and then I decide and I take the risk... exactly as I did before.
I still consider BB as a good help and a interesting idea!


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xxxtr.
Local time: 06:58
English to Italian
TOPIC STARTER
Sven Jul 4, 2005

Hi Sven,

no need of an apology

I haven't used the BB enough to judge overall, I am only a bit more skeptical about relying on it at the moment, after a few instances where the ratings did not reflect my own experience. It could only be me, of course. Or only those agencies in particular. I'll give it a try again before drawing any conclusions, but I was surprised to notice that kind of contrast.

Sven Petersson wrote:

The Blue Board was created on my suggestion. I envisaged a VERY SIMPLE system, but failed catastrophically in my endeavours to convince ProZ.com to keep it SIMPLE and FUNCTIONAL.

The original concept was:

A simple binary choice: Yes, I would work for this agency again / No, I would not work for this agency again.
No space for any comments by the translator, thus avoiding the risk of upsetting any agency, and consequential libel suits!
No space for any comments by the agency.
Translator updateable, enabling the Blue Board to reflect current status.


That does sound like a good idea.

Is it so unlikely that original concept can be implemented at this stage?


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Sven Petersson  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 06:58
English to Swedish
+ ...
Dear Giuliana, Jul 4, 2005

Dear Giuliana,

There are fundamental flaws in the system (see above!). One does not deal with fundamental flaws by exception handling (="contact a Jobs moderator or coordinator"), but by removing the flaws!

If it is easy to make an entry and complicated to modify an entry the system will, per definition, always yield a biased result.

The Blue Board is currently worse than worthless; it's dangerous.

Until its fundamental flaws are removed I can but encourage my fellow translators to refrain from using it.


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xxxtr.
Local time: 06:58
English to Italian
TOPIC STARTER
to Elena Jul 4, 2005

Elena Pavan wrote:

Hello!
I have been working as a freelance translator. I don't know how you did, but when I started my activity I just took the yellow pages and I started writing to all the translation agencies I found and when I got a job, nobody could tell me if the agency was going to pay or not. You have to take the risk. So, I consider the BB as a step forward. When I contact or am contacted by a new agency, I can check the BB record. My final decision doesn't depend on it, but I can probably get an idea and then I decide and I take the risk... exactly as I did before.
I still consider BB as a good help and a interesting idea!


Hi Elena,
don't get me wrong, I'm not saying there should be "no risk" at all, of course the proof is in the pudding as they say, and I take it for granted that the ultimate test is based on personal experience and interaction. In fact, I haven't even used the BB so much so far because I rely on my own contacts and do my own searches, and have my own initial "screening" methods to know if I'm interested in a particular agency or not. The size, the location, the kind of fields they work on, the information they make available on their website, etc.

But since the BB exists, and it is supposed to be an extra useful resource, and most of all since it is not free but paid for by subscribers, well I do expect some degree of reliability for it to be useful. If I start to doubt its reliability, then I might as well not use it at all!

I do want to use it, I've paid for it and I think it is a good idea in principle. I just don't know how to reconcile the inconsistencies. I can only hope they're a rare occurrence.

The reliable agencies I worked with have good ratings, so that's not a problem. The problem is, there tends to be a scarcity of bad ratings. Maybe for the reasons Astrid said. I can understand her point of view, even if of course it shouldn't be like that and everyone should leave comments about bad experiences, even more so than about good ones. But if people have that kind of hesitation, wouldn't it be best to find a way to take that into account and maybe work around it?


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