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What is the reason for not enabling WWA, since it is only possible to make positive entries?
Thread poster: Astrid Elke Witte

Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 19:07
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
Oct 7, 2006

I am asking this question out of curiosity. In an attempt to use the feature, I thought I would like to make some positive entries for various colleagues whom I have worked with in the past. I checked all their profiles in turn, however, and not one of them has got the feature enabled!

I particularly do not understand the fear of this feature since I understand that, at the present time, it is only possible to make positive entries, not negative ones.

What, then, is the basis for this extreme aversion? Please satisfy my curiosity.

Astrid

[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2006-10-11 16:43]


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Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:07
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
My take Oct 7, 2006

Hi Astrid,

My guess is that these translators fear that, if they enable the feature, and the rules are at some point changed so that *negative* ratings and comments can also be entered, they will have shot themselves in the foot.

WWA was apparently discussed ad nauseum when it was first introduced, and the predominant reaction seemed at the time to be negative for the reason that I stated. I for one think that enabling dissatisfied outsourcers to enter negative comments on a profile whose primary purpose is to market one's services was and is (to be blunt) a dumb idea. It would be like any advertiser making some percentage of their ad space available to dissatisfied consumers of their product in order to make negative comments. Would Hershey's chocolate allow comments in their ads from people who thought it tasted sour, or that it made them fat? Would BMW allow comments that their cars were overpriced, didn't run properly, and were too costly to repair?

Of course not!

The idea behind the initiative seemed to be to level the playing field between freelancers and outsourcers. The trouble was that, given the disparity in resources between the typical outsourcer and the typical freelancer, the Blue Board feature was something that had already leveled the field and--should this come to pass--enabling outsourcers to enter negative comments on freelancers' profiles really again tilts the balance against the latter.

Do outsourcers/agencies have the right to qualify who they contract with, and not to rehire translators who have produced inferior work?

Of course they do!

And that is why they can ask for resumes, check references, request samples of work or require test translations. That is also why they can choose to terminate a relationship with someone whose work they deem less than satisfactory.

But allowing dissatisfied customers to use our own space to make unflattering comments about our work?

No way!



[Edited at 2006-10-08 00:22]


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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 19:07
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for your detailed viewpoint Oct 7, 2006

Hi Bob,

Thank you for taking the time to explain your point of view at length. Perhaps the project history is indeed enough to enable freelancers to collect compliments on their work. There seems to me to be a lot of overlap.

As I take great care over each translation that I do, I would not be anticipating a list of negative responses from agencies. However, if an agency were to childishly abuse the system, by making a negative comment, after they had been perfectly happy with the translation delivered, just because the translator had justly complained on the Blue Board that they had taken 90 days to pay the invoice instead of the agreed 30 days, then I would assume that Proz would have to have a system in place to deal with such abuse. If necessary, outsourcers abusing the WWA system in this way could be banned from posting jobs or whatever.

Possibly it would be a good idea if this WWA feature were in some way combined with the Project History feature, which is also not used by many people. It is an extension of the project history feature, because either the colleague outsourcing the translation or the one having accepted it and done it can comment, and reciprocally. This would surely assist networking.

As for the rules being changed in future, in order to enable negative comments, perhaps this will never happen. However, if it does, we would have to have the option of disabling the feature as from that point in time.

Astrid

[Edited at 2006-10-08 05:36]


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xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:07
Spanish to English
+ ...
Totally against the WWA Oct 7, 2006

Robert Forstag wrote:

Hi Astrid,

My guess is that these translators fear that, if they enable the feature, and the rules are at some point changed so that *negative* entries can also be entered, that they will have shot themselves in the foot.

WWA was apparently discussed ad nauseum when it was first introduced, and the predominant reaction seemed at the time to be negative for the reason that I stated. I for one think that enabling dissatisfied outsourcers to enter negative comments on a profile whose primary purpose is to market one's services was and is (to be blunt) a dumb idea. It would be like any advertiser making some percentage of their ad space available to dissatisfied consumers of their product in order to make negative comments. Would Hershey's chocolate allow comments in their ads from people who thought it tasted sour, or that it made them fat? Would BMW allow comments that their cars were overpriced, didn't run properly, and were too costly to repair?

Of course not!

The idea behind the idea seemed to be to level the playing field between freelancers and outsourcers. The trouble was that, given the disparity in resources between the typical outsourcer and the typical freelancer, the Blue Board feature was something that had already leveled the field, and (should this come to pass) enabling outsourcers to enter negative comments on freelancers' profiles really again tilts the balance against the latter.

Do outsourcers/agencies have the right to qualify who they contract with, and not to rehire translators who have produced inferior work?

Of course they do!

And that is why they can ask for resumes, check references, request samples of work or require test translations. That is also why they can choose to terminate a working relationship with someone whose work they deem less than satisfactory.

But allowing dissatisfied customers to use our own space to make unflattering comments about our work?

No way!

Bob


Hi Astrid

I agree with Robert. To give you an example of what happened to me once:

A couple of years ago I did a job for a small agency. I delievered on time and there was no complaint about quality, except that they didn't want to pay me for repeated headings (which I cut and paste individually, as I didn't have translation software), but we came to an agreement (what this was I don't know, becuase it was only a matter of a few euros). There was no particular bad feeling in our exchanges, as I was always polite, although I did feel a bit disgusted at their penny pinching (but of course I didn't express that opinion:-)).

They failed to pay me on time (and this being Spain, I allow a generous period of grace, usually 4 weeks). I asked for my money. A number of mails from me went unanswered. I began to suspect they didn't exist, and was uanable to confirm an address for them (which I later discovered was becuase - probably - they were a small agency, maybe just a few freelancers).

I made a BB posting, as on the face of it, they didn't exist as far as I could ascertain, they hadn't paid me, and they hadn't replied to numerous mails.

To my surprise I got very angry calls from them, including a threat of legal action for having made the BB posting. They paid me and I reworded the BB posting to indicate that there had been a 'misunderstanding', which of course there hadn't been.

Had there been a WWA in existence, this agency could have made my name mud. And you can see how unfair that would have been. They were way behind with the payment, they failed to reply to numerous emails....

If I have even a single negative WWA entry it could cause huge difficulties in terms of getting work and might even destroy my possibility for continuing as a translator.

If you have a problem with an electrician, a doctor, an accountant - what do you do? ALL you can realistically do is simply remove your business, UNLESS you decide to take them to court. Can you imagine a world in which every profession had a website where irate customers could give what would only be highly subjective opinions on the quality of the work done for them by someone they contracted for a service?

We wouldn't necessarily know what procedures the contractor applied to selecting the person, whether objective quality standards had been clearly established prior to implementing the job (if it were possible: how could you set an objective standard for a medical consultation?), whether objectively the contractor or the person contracted were legally in the right about whatever issues came up.

The BB only rates payment, which makes it objective, strictly speaking. The WWA rates very subjective issues such as translation quality, personal and professional behaviour, etc. As I mentioned, we wouldn't know the background to the agreement between the job commissioner and the translator. Only a court could actually decide who was in the right and who was wrong, on the basis of having the FULL FACTS before them.

Reading your reply to Robert, I think you still fail to see the principle involved. I have no fear of a negative rating as noone has ever complained to me. What scares me is how subjective a rating could be, and how potentially damaging a subjective rating could be to an innocent translator who is accused and has no opportunity to defend themselves. I know that 'negative' ratings are not allowed, but as I said, it's the principle that bothers me.

If an agency or company has the right procedures in place for contracting translators, they should assume the minimal risk that we all assume when we contract someone to do a job for us ...and then live with the consequences if the outcome is negative. And if the matter is genuinely serious (involving huge damages or losses), the remedy is the one we all have recourse to: the law.



[Edited at 2006-10-07 21:06]

There is further built in subjectivity in the WWA. It could possibly damage relationships between ProZ members and users, as when a colleague asks us to rate them, we may find ourselves having to chose between creating bad feeling (by refusing to rate them becuase we feel we can't) and making what could only be considered an unethical rating.





[Edited at 2006-10-07 21:14]


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Christel Zipfel  Identity Verified
Italy
Member (2004)
Italian to German
+ ...
Good explanation! Oct 7, 2006

Robert Forstag wrote:

Hi Astrid,

My guess is that these translators fear that, if they enable the feature, and the rules are at some point changed so that *negative* entries can also be entered, that they will have shot themselves in the foot.



Bob [/quote]


I for one have one more explanation: I don't certainly fear bad feedback. I think I could get at the most some positive comments from ProZ colleagues, as I never worked for ProZ outsourcers, but I disenabled WWA immediately (as soon as it was possible).
My reason: I am not a newcomer in this profession, I don't believe in this kind of feedback and I don't need this kind of marketing, apart from many other negative repercussions that have been discussed in the megathread when this feature was introduced. That's why I definitively don't like it and will never use it.


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John Jory  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 19:07
Member (2004)
English to German
+ ...
Generating even more inquiries Oct 7, 2006

I am in the lucky position of having to regularly turn down requests from agencies because I simply have no free capacity. Since joining ProZ (and contributing actively in KudoZ) I have already increased my business to 100% (110%??) capacity.
Like Christel, I don't have the slightest reason to fear negative entries.
On the contrary, I fear that several positive remarks might result in even more inquiries, which I would then have to turn down.


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Luisa Ramos, CT  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:07
Member (2004)
English to Spanish
There were problems Oct 8, 2006

I believe there still are some problems with the WWA. Contributors cannot leave their messages. I requested feedback from many of my outsourcerers and they received error messages when attempted to submit it.

I submitted a ticket and was informed that some programming error misdirected the messages, which never reached my WWA.

I have not tried again but I understand there are problems still. Maybe you can ask a moderator.


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Claudia Iglesias  Identity Verified
Chile
Local time: 13:07
Member (2002)
Spanish to French
+ ...
Contact them directly Oct 8, 2006

Hi Astrid

I wanted to update my profile and discovered that someone was waiting for a comment from me about a common project. I never received a notification for that. I suggest that you contact those translators whom you wanted to compliment, they might consider the ability of turning on the WWA.

I fail to understand why this fear too, but last time I said that I was adviced to ask for a translation, so I prefer not to talk about it.

Claudia


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 20:07
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Positive rating could be abused too Oct 8, 2006

We all know that employers are not allowed to put negative remarks into the papers of employers who are changing employers. But employers have developed a very ingenious system of positively ringing phrases that are directly understood by other employers who read the letter of reference.
So I'm sure any such system could be used to signal negative judgement to other outsourcers, even if outspoken criticism were excluded by rule.

Regards
Heinrich


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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 19:07
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Good point Oct 8, 2006

Hi Heinrich,

That is actually a good point. I know what you mean. However, at the moment all WWA entries are vetted before being made public. Do you think this would filter out such cases?

In any case, I do not think freelance translators are in quite the same position as employees. We became freelancers in order to have things the other way about, e.g. to no longer be told, "This is what you will be paid", but to be able to say, "This is the price I am offering". I have so far enjoyed this aspect of being a freelancer very much. We are not helpless employees, and therefore I doubt that anyone would dare to take such liberties with us.

Astrid


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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:07
French to English
Control, trust, cynicism, etc. Oct 8, 2006

Astrid Elke Johnson wrote:

....then I would assume that Proz would have to have a system in place to deal with such abuse. If necessary, outsourcers abusing the WWA system in this way could be banned from posting jobs or whatever.


1. Control. One advantage of being freelance is being in control of all aspects of your business. You would not be in control of this aspect, you would be trusting Proz to correct any 'mistakes' for you.
2. Trust. There seems to be an underlying assumption that, in a "translator's word versus the agency's word" situation, the outsourcer would be 'penalised'. Now, as we know, outsourcers are about to be offered the opportunity to post "premium jobs", for which they will pay. Now, imagine a dispute between you and a premium job poster arises. If the agency provides Proz with more annual revenue than you, well, who can say which side Proz will rule in favour of.... ? All I can say is that, all things being equal, I know who I would rule in favour of

If you really want to know why quite a few people have taken exception, I suggest you read the massive thread on the subject from earlier this year


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Steven Sidore  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 19:07
Member (2003)
German to English
I see the horde as overly pessimistic on this one Oct 8, 2006

I see the majority as being overly pessimistic on this particular issue. It's a tool, like any other. It has a positive side--expanded visibility--and a downside--potential that a disgruntled customer could take out their wrath on you. Nor is anyone forced to used it--although it appears there will be certain penalties for not doing so. Moreover, it may well help build up a premium job system. Given that poor paying jobs is probably the second-biggest complaint on the site (behind only Kudoz abusers), I see the pros outweighing the cons.

Do you refuse to buy from someone on ebay because they have one poor rating and many good ones? I don't.

Cheers,

Steven


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Riccardo Schiaffino  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:07
Member (2003)
English to Italian
+ ...
Reasons why I object (not fear) the WWA Oct 8, 2006

First of all, I think that the original question was badly posed: It should be "why so many translators object to the WWA", or maybe "why so many translators chose not to use the WWA".

"Fear" is a strong word, and in many case it is not the correct one, as it implies a certain state of mind that many of us probably don't have as regards the WWA.

I don't fear the WWA, but I object to it for several reasons, among which:

1) Contractual obligations. The contracts we have we some of our best customers specify that we cannot disclose confidential information, including the fact that we work for them.

2) Privacy of my customers. Even when there is not such a contractual confidentiality obligation, I prefer to protect my customer's privacy, and therefore don't want to post their name where it is available to all and sundry.

3) Desire not to impose on my customers. I'm sure that many of my customers would be willing to give me a rating, if I asked them. But since that would mean registering with ProZ and jumping through a few more loops just to leave a rating, I think that many of them would resent the imposition. I don't know you, but when I find that in order to access a web site I need to register (even for free), I usually don't bother.

4) Difference between a system such as WWA and references. I have asked some of my best customers if they don't mind if I list them as references, and they always agreed - but there is a big difference between being listed as a reference and WWA: in the former case, one's information remains private and is disclosed only to a few selected persons, in the latter is up there for all to see.


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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 19:07
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Concerning the protection of privacy Oct 8, 2006

Hi Riccardo,

I don't quite understand you on the aspect of privacy. If a customer writes up a comment, they choose to have their business association with you made public - otherwise they would not bother. You can invite them to make an entry, but it is their choice whether to do so or not, therefore nothing is being forced upon them.

As for registering with Proz, evidently the system is primarily intended for Prozian colleagues who outsource work to one another from time to time, and also the agencies that are registered with Proz already. However, if your clients are mostly direct clients, then I dare say that a proz.com profile is not of such great relevance to you anyway. Most of my direct clients do not know that Proz exists, and also would not be interested.

Astrid


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Riccardo Schiaffino  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:07
Member (2003)
English to Italian
+ ...
Privacy Oct 8, 2006

Astrid Elke Johnson wrote:

I don't quite understand you on the aspect of privacy. If a customer writes up a comment, they choose to have their business association with you made public - otherwise they would not bother. You can invite them to make an entry, but it is their choice whether to do so or not, therefore nothing is being forced upon them.


That's perfectly true, of course, however, I believe that many would consent to write an entry just to please a preferred vendor... but that they would have rather preserved their privacy.

As for registering with Proz, evidently the system is primarily intended for Prozian colleagues who outsource work to one another from time to time, and also the agencies that are registered with Proz already. However, if your clients are mostly direct clients, then I dare say that a proz.com profile is not of such great relevance to you anyway. Most of my direct clients do not know that Proz exists, and also would not be interested.

Astrid


An agency may be already registered with ProZ... but would all PM at that company know how to log on using that company's profile?

As regards whether a proz.com profile is "of such relevance", I'm not sure what you mean: I devoted quite a bit of work to it, and I take care that it gives a professional image.

But I don't think that the WWA would add anyting to it (quite the contrary, in fact).


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