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Annoying availability indicator - do we really need it?
Thread poster: Erik Hansson

Erik Hansson  Identity Verified
Member (2002)
+ ...
Feb 23, 2006

Hi all,

I was wondering about the availability indicator: For some of us acting as agencies or working with other colleagues who handle more language combinations, this indicator is really worth nothing.

With the present feature, the indicator simply tells searching clients that the translator (or agency) is too busy to take on jobs - but of course this is not the truth if an agency offers several language combinations.

I think there should be a feature enabling us to switch it to green and it will stay green until we switch it to red. The automatic function from green to grey (or red to grey) is simply annoying.

Frankly spoken, I didn't ask for this indicator and for me it's just an annoying little feature I have to observe now and then in order to switch back from grey to green indication.

Another idea: Maybe it can be possible to switch off this indicator completely with personal settings? That would be even better, but maybe not feasible in terms of programming the system etc.


Erik Hansson ( SFÖ )
Technical translator DE-SV
Hansson Übersetzungen GmbH
Am Birkenwäldchen 38
D-01900 Bretnig-Hauswalde, Germany
Phone +49 - 3 59 52 - 321 07
Fax +49 - 3 59 52 - 322 02
ProZ profile

[Edited at 2006-02-23 21:20]

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Niina Lahokoski  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:18
Member (2008)
English to Finnish
+ ...
Green by default? Feb 23, 2006

I think it might be good, if there was no gray option at all, only green (the default setting) and red.

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Uldis Liepkalns  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:18
Member (2003)
English to Latvian
+ ...
Green by default would be misleading Feb 23, 2006

as there are members/users, who haven't visited ProZ in months or even years.

However, I agree that present indicator is not perfect- as your green runs out in a week and you constantly have to reset it (if you remember). And if you don't remember, you stand a risk of loosing jobs. All is OK with gray, IMHO- as this clearly indicates either that you haven't visited ProZ for some time or don't care and also with red- which you set when you are you are not available.

I'd suggest option to enable to set "green" for a longer period of time (in my case a year would do ).


Niina Lahokoski wrote:

I think it might be good, if there was no gray option at all, only green (the default setting) and red.

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Dyran Altenburg  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:18
English to Spanish
+ ...
e-commerce 101 Feb 23, 2006

Erik Hansson wrote:
I think there should be a feature enabling us to switch it to green and it will stay green until we switch it to red. The automatic function from green to grey (or red to grey) is simply annoying.

I agree.

But what better way to make members/users visit Proz repeatedly and build website traffic? (*)


(*) Not that there's anything wrong with that.

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gianfranco  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:18
Member (2001)
English to Italian
+ ...
Many things could be done... Feb 23, 2006

Uldis Liepkalns wrote:
I'd suggest option to enable to set "green" for a longer period of time (in my case a year would do ).

This feature, as it has been implemented, is IMHO, a lost chance to make something really useful and time saving tool.

It could be improved as follows:

  • adding a flexible period for its setting (NN days) as red or green, the go back to gray

  • adding a number of intermediate degrees of availability, as we are rarely totally busy or totally idle. It could be as simple as 25%, 50%, 75% busy, as well as 0% (green, idle) or 100% (red, busy or not available)

  • adding a space for a short message, shown in our profile next to the icon, to communicate to colleagues or potential customers additional info (I'm on holiday until the 20th August, I'm not available from DD/MM to DD/MM, etc.)

  • creating a calendar ahead for the coming NN days , (15, 30 or even 60 days ahead), so that we could set and show our real degree of availability, and update it as it changes...

  • all the above, optionally, not shown to the general public but only to a selected group of business partners (team members, regular customers, etc.)

  • and much more...

    As it stands now it is next to useless and I'm not bothering to click on it, every now and then. And this is what the majority of members is doing too...
    It says absolutely nothing about our real availability.


    [Modificato alle 2006-02-24 00:04]

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    Jabberwock  Identity Verified
    Local time: 00:18
    Member (2004)
    English to Polish
    No clicking... Feb 23, 2006

    Then make it so that the green timeout period is extended each time the user logs in (without annoying clicking).

    This would both make it less annoying for some people and leave out those who do not visit ProZ.

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    LegalTransform  Identity Verified
    United States
    Local time: 18:18
    Member (2002)
    Spanish to English
    + ...
    Availability Indicator Feb 23, 2006

    The original suggestion was made (see quote box below and this thread: ) after seeing how some agencies/companies were using the job system to find translators in the same language pairs over and over again as a method to save time and see who was available rather than taking the time to contact a number of translators they had either previously approved or who had quoted for previous projects. However, only half of the suggestion was implemented (at least so far).

    I apologize if this has been discussed before, but I had a suggestion regarding a new feature for the Proz job system.

    1) Incorporate some kind of system that would allow Platinum members to display that they are currently available for work (everyday when they log-on to ??)

    2) An outsourcer posts a job (Italian to English for example) and receives 100 bids. They find 20 of the translators acceptable, but only require one translator for this particular job. However, they have the option (checkbox??) to place the other translators into a “preferred translators” file.

    3) Two months later, this same outsourcer again finds a need for an Italian to English translator and posts the job on Proz. However, this time, as soon as they enter the language pair, they are informed that 4 out of the 20 translators they have already approved are currently available for work and the outsourcer is asked if they would they like to contact these translators first (automatically through Proz mail) before placing the job on the Proz system.

    4) Of course, outsourcers could also place translators into their “preferred translators” list via a translator’s profile page.

    5) Outsourcers lists would be private, but translators would have the option to see which outsourcers have “bookmarked” them as well as the option to delete themselves from an outsourcers list of “favorites” if so desired.

    [Edited at 2006-02-23 23:46]

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    Heike Behl, Ph.D.  Identity Verified
    Local time: 15:18
    Member (2003)
    English to German
    + ...
    questionable benefits Feb 24, 2006

    I also have doubts about the usefulness of the indicator.

    If an outsourcer is looking for a translator for a project starting in a couple of days, the indicator of the translator's current status is not exactly helpful. A translator busy now might be fully available then or might be able to shift his/her other projects around, but the outsourcer would not even contact him/her.

    Or the outsourcer would still contact him/her in spite of a red light, knowing very well that the translator might not be 100% busy, not busy by the time the project is actually available, or the deadline is flexible enough to accomodate the translator.

    So, either the translator misses out on a potential new client, or the outsourcer ignores the indicator. In both cases, I don't consider the indicator helpful.

    It might be more useful if combined with more detailed information: 100%/50% etc and busy through... etc. as Gianfranco has suggested.

    But this would make the feature rather complicated and we'd need to remember to adjust the indicator on a daily basis or even more frequently, with every new project we accept. I wouldn't want to bother with something like that.

    Also, if there are more options and varying degrees of "business" available, it's not an easy filterable on/off situation anymore. I think the original idea was to provide a fast and easy way to filter out all translators available. I'm not sure a useful filter is still possible if an outsourcer has to modify a filter to something like this:

    available for at least 20 hours within the next 6 days

    Not to mention that most outsourcers probably don't want to bother with calculations like this either or are even able to calcluate how much actual time a translator would need for the job. We all know that the amount of translated words per day vary from translator to translator, from topic to topic etc.

    For me, the easy and most advantageous "solution" is to keep the indicator green. One click once per week. This, obviously, undermines the purpose of the feature, but I don't want to deter any potential client from contacting me.

    And any feature where it is easier and more advantageous to *not* use it in its intended way could do with some rethinking...

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    Sara Freitas
    Local time: 00:18
    French to English
    I leave mine on green almost all the time Feb 24, 2006

    Why? Because I have found that people have wildly varying ideas of what "immediate" availability and "urgent" jobs entail.

    From the client who wants 15,000 words overnight to the one who calls you in a panic for an "urgent" translation of 5,000 words that they need back in three weeks' pretty much see it all.

    Also, even when busy, I am usually always willing to squeeze in a 300-word press release for someone.

    I wouldn't want to miss out on the second or third type of work because I've put my indicator on red due to a full workload over the coming few days or so.

    A full-fledged on-line availability calendar would solve this, but I prefer to leave the green on for now.

    I agree with those who say they find it a little annoying to have to keep switching it back, though!


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    Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
    Local time: 00:18
    Member (2003)
    Danish to English
    + ...
    I keep mine permanently on red! Feb 24, 2006

    I understand it as indicating 'immediately available' - and I usually have at least a couple of days' work in hand.

    Outsourcers - or some of them - take no notice, and mail me with offers anyway. I don't know whether it discourages others, but the offers I get are often good ones, that I try to take or negotiate about.

    I get as least as many offers as I did a year ago, and if the deadlines are tight I have to say sorry, maybe next time... just as always.

    I don't know if the availability indicator makes any difference at all.

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    Nikki Graham  Identity Verified
    United Kingdom
    Local time: 23:18
    Partial member (2003)
    Spanish to English
    Wish it did make a difference Feb 24, 2006

    It actually annoys me when I have the red light on and a note in my profile stating when I will next be available and I am contacted anyway. It is a waste of the outsourcer's time and mine. I am trying to encourage my regular clients to look at my profile page to see whether I am available or not. I always state when I will be on holiday, etc. I use the red light to indicate that I am not able to accept large projects. If I do have time for "small" things, which usually turn out to be regular jobs on the same subject anyway, I state this quite clearly on my profile page.

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    Steven Sidore  Identity Verified
    Local time: 00:18
    Member (2003)
    German to English
    I like it just the way it is Feb 24, 2006

    I think it's fine just the way it is. It loses all meaning if you allow permanent green (since then there's no way to tell whether a translator is really available or not), and rewards those who visit the site reguarly.

    Mine's been on red for several weeks now due to a big project, but I don't believe it's cost me customers. A number of outsourcers in need of immediate help have contacted me anyway.

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    Erik Hansson  Identity Verified
    Member (2002)
    + ...
    How do you define availability? Feb 24, 2006

    Steven Sidore wrote:

    I think it's fine just the way it is. It loses all meaning if you allow permanent green (since then there's no way to tell whether a translator is really available or not), and rewards those who visit the site reguarly.

    Permanent green (by default) or longer time until it automatically switches from green into grey, e.g. one month, one year would be too long would be a good solution.

    It's all a matter of how we define availability. As somebody already said, I could be available for taking on 2 pages for delivery in 5 days, but not for 50 pages for the next day.

    So I don't think this so called availability indicator gives a clear picture for any outsources wanting to contact us. If I switch to red light, maybe because I have a huge project (but still being able to take minor jobs), I don't think outsources would contact me, assuming I couldn'T take anything. How can they know how much I am still able to take on?

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    diana bb  Identity Verified
    Local time: 01:18
    English to Lithuanian
    + ...
    On Traffic Lights Feb 24, 2006

    Maybe it is of no use to agencies and outsources, but I guess it might be a different case for translators.
    Personally, I find it quite useful (as long as one doesn't forget to set it).



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    Henry Dotterer
    Local time: 18:18
    We'll expand upon the availability functionality Feb 24, 2006

    Some points:
    - Knowing availability is important to many outsourcers.
    - What the current function communicates is whether or not you are available *right now*.
    - Requests coming in do not ask us to do away with the availability indicator - they generally want us to do more with it.

    So we'll improve upon it in a future release.

    As for outsourcers contacting you anyway when you signal "red", we will make it more evident.

    Thanks for the topic!

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