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Feedback system for rating freelancers
Thread poster: Haluk Levent Aka
Haluk Levent Aka
Local time: 07:16
Japanese to Turkish
+ ...
Apr 2, 2004

Hello all,

I occasionally offer translation jobs at proz. Until today, I didn't have a real trouble. But a freelancer today did not turn in a job, which has to be delivered today, and not responding my emails. This will probably cost me my client.

So I come to think, wouldn't a feedback system for rating freelancer reliability be nice?

Because when you offer a job/project to a freelancer through proz and if you don't get the job back or hear from that professional on deadline, you feel pretty desperate


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Todd Field  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:16
Member (2003)
Portuguese to English
Definitely sympathize Apr 2, 2004

Dear Haluk,

I can understand your frustration. There is really no excuse for missing a deadline. Intentionally not responding after the fact is even worse.

I have only one suggestion: try phoning or faxing your translator if you have not already. Email transmission is a crazy science these days.

Just last week I sent a completed project which took over 24 hours to arrive because my Internet provider (totally unbeknownst to me) was installing a new server. The agency's emails back to me were simultaneously blocked by a fancy new spam filter at the same Internet provider. In other words, a responsible freelancer's worst nightmare: the whole time, I assumed the project had arrived well before our agreed deadline, and the agency simultaneously thought I was ignoring them. There is a slim chance that something like this is going on.

As far as a translator Blue Board, the topic was recently discussed at http://www.proz.com/topic/19108. You might find some interesting insights by browsing the replies.

I hope everything works out for you.

Todd


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Marijke Singer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:16
Dutch to English
+ ...
Rating individual freelance translators Apr 2, 2004

Although I feel for you, I do not think this would be such a good idea.

When an agency is given a negative rating, it is 'impersonal' and only affects those working for the agency and not the agency's customer base. However, if you negatively rate a translator, it becomes personal and also you will be affecting that person's ability to obtain work in the future with dire consequences.

An agency usually has the necessary resources to implement contingency measures of some sort. An individual translator does not. If, for example, the freelance translator is attacked while taking children to school in the morning, there is no way he or she can let the agency know that delivery of the work will be late immediately. It is, in fact, out of his or her hands. It would not really be fair to penalise the translator by giving a negative rating. This may affect his or her total career since a translator's main asset is his or her reputation.


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mbc
Spain
Local time: 05:16
Spanish to English
+ ...
I agree with Marijke Apr 2, 2004

Marijke´s point is an important one. In today´s world, the freelancer is at risk on many different levels and creating a fair rating system would be almost impossible. I know there is at least one outsourcer out there who would give me a scathing rating just because I called and asked for payment, 60, 90, 120 days after delivering the translation.

And yes, the email disaster does happen. What a nightmare!

I hope that the translator in this case responds quickly and I thank Proz for continuing to support both freelancers and outsourcers to the best of their abilities.


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Haluk Levent Aka
Local time: 07:16
Japanese to Turkish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I beg to differ Apr 2, 2004

Todd, Thanks for your message; you got a point there -about emails being delayed and unreliable. I will call the freelancer at a reasonable time -different time zones.

But I got a few things to retort for Marijke:

Thank you for your message but:

Freelancer's being exempt from responsiblity of their delayed job on the grounds that a negative feedback would affect their business is nonsense. Excuse me, but we (yes I am also a freelancer) are in business because we believe we are competent, so competent we can fulfill an assignment that would otherwise given to a company. So basically we are the business. We make every endevaure to look like professionals until we get the assignment. Once we get the assignment and it is time we have to deliver it we suddenly become PERSONS. Comments on our professionalism suddenly becomes PERSONAL. A little biased, aren't we?

If a freelancer has been irresponsible and caused an agency/outsourcer trouble or damage, it is the right of other outsourcers/agencies to know what they are about to deal with.

You'll have the opportunity and right to comment on agency/outsourcer but they are not given the chance of warning eachother. That is not fair.

This place is mostly inhabited by freelancers -after all this is proz, not outsourcaz; I guess that is why there is no feedback/blueboard for rating freelancers.

I will always hessitate to submit projects to Proz. That's for sure.


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Jana Teteris  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:16
Latvian to English
+ ...
I sympathise, but can't see it working Apr 2, 2004

Whilst I do sympathise with you Haluk, I really don't see how a system of rating freelancers could possibly work. The agency blue-board is something else - as this relates to payment practices, but rating freelancers could become deeply personal and (as has been mentioned in a previous post) open to libel.

There might be a whole host of reasons why a freelancer may have missed a deadline and therefore it's best to call the freelancer in the first instance - and only then make assumptions as to his/her professionalism.

I hope things work out in the end!


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 05:16
English to German
+ ...
Not *just* payment practices Apr 2, 2004

Just for clarification...
The agency blue-board is something else - as this relates to payment practices,

...although these play a major role, the BlueBoard ratings not only reflect payment practices.

Best regards, Ralf


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Valeri Serikov  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:16
Member (2003)
English to Russian
+ ...
Freelancer is always responsible Apr 2, 2004

Well, I think that both agencies and freelancers should bear the same responsibility. If a freelancer accepts a job he should get it done! If he does not turn the job in he should be punished for it, no matter whatever the reason for this failure was (well, except force majeure like illness, accident etc). And if he does not succeed in getting more jobs in future it means he is not worth it. I think there should be some kinda BlueBoard for freelancers, too.

I myself asked some colleagues to help me out with a big project (fortunately, ProZ members were the best of'em), and some freelancers from another Russian site did not even bother to run a spellchecker, let alone untranslated sentences and awful style (proper terms can be difficult and this issue was not considered), which cost me sleepless nights!

So, the bottom line again is - freelancer is always responsible.


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Haluk Levent Aka
Local time: 07:16
Japanese to Turkish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Believe me it works. Apr 2, 2004

Jana Teteris wrote:

I sympathise, but can't see it working



That's right. It is very hard to see when looked from a freelancer point of view. Outsource a very important project to me and I assure you I'll make you see it working.

Why is it the common understanding is that BB for translators can be biased? BB for agencies/oursourcers can be equally biased.

I am not saying rating on the quality of the delivered job should be enabled. All I am saying is non-delivery or delay are serious irresponsibilities and objective criteria on the reliability of the translator.


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xxxMarc P  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:16
German to English
+ ...
Possible solution Apr 2, 2004

One possible solution would be to draw particular attention during the "bidding" process and on profiles to translators' membership of a professional association and to the fact that they are bound by the association's code of conduct. A link to the code of practice concerned could be provided.

Should a translator not be a member of a professional association, their bid could be accompanied by a comment to this effect.

Note: the purpose of this arrangement would not be to classify members of an association as "professional" and non-members as "non-professional", but merely to remind potential customers that if a translator is a member of an association, he or she is bound by the association's code of conduct and any grievance can be referred to it.

ProZ has a code of professional guidelines of its own ( http://www.proz.com/?sp=info/&ssp=intro&sssp=guidelines ), but it appears that no effort is made to force members to comply. This is understandable given the scale of the task, which is why it makes sense to leave it to those whose job it is - the professional associations.

Marc


[Edited at 2004-04-02 10:26]


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Vesna Zivcic  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:16
German to Croatian
+ ...
Reliability issue Apr 2, 2004

Haluk Aka wrote:
Because when you offer a job/project to a freelancer through proz and if you don't get the job back or hear from that professional on deadline, you feel pretty desperate


I am curious about the measures you have undertaken to check this person's reliability?

ProZ.com is a venue -both outsourcers and freelancers run business at their own risk.

[Edited at 2004-04-02 10:58]


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Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:16
Member (2004)
English to Italian
couldn't agree more... Apr 2, 2004

Vesna Zivcic wrote:

I am curious about the measures you have undertaken to check this person's reliability?

ProZ.com is a venue -both outsourcers and freelancers run business at their own risk.



You mean you fish somebody out the big Proz.com pond without checking out professionality and reliability first? Then, I'm afraid, you can only blame yourself. And I agree with Marc about selecting a translator belonging to a professional association, who is bound to the association's code of conduct. There are many ways of protecting yourself.

Giovanni


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Jana Teteris  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:16
Latvian to English
+ ...
Buy cheaply, pay dearly Apr 2, 2004

I wholeheartedly agree with Marc and Giovanni.

At the same time, both freelancing and outsourcing are based on a certain degree of trust from both ends - especially when 99% of contact is based on e-mail.

I'm not in any way disputing that a freelancer must assume responsibility, however this is all the more reason why any outsourcer should put some effot into checking a freelancer's past experience, professional credentials etc where possible. Believe me Haluk, I speak from experience on both sides.


p.s. The title of my reply should be taken both literally and figuratively!




[Edited at 2004-04-02 12:52]

[Edited at 2004-04-02 14:15]


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Alaa Zeineldine  Identity Verified
Egypt
Local time: 06:16
Member (2002)
English to Arabic
+ ...
Under New Management! Apr 2, 2004

This is an example of a statement that an individual would be unable to make. The point is that an agency is a company which has different ways for improving its tarnished image, an individual has very little options in these situations.

That does not say that a translator should not be responsible, but the cost of mistakes should be appropriate for the type of entity. The reasonable cost that a translator pays for bad practices is loosing a client -not an insignificant cost to an individual. Other penalties the translator might incur are bad references and loosing payment.

These are reasonable costs that will subject the individual to hardship that may be deserved in some cases, yet does not spell doom for his or her career or livelihood. The translator still has a chance to learn from his mistakes. He will have to work harder to win new clients and must improve his practices to keep them.

It would be unfair to treat the individual as an organization and subject him or her to penalties that are more appropriate for an organization. The organization can correct itself and survive through its resources, but the individual will not have that opportunity. Moreover, if an organization fails altogether, its members can move on, but when a translator's career is destroyed, the outlook will be grim for them and their family.

In summary, accountability is required, but existing mechanisms already make the translator and the agency accountable, each in a way that is appropriate for them.

[Edited at 2004-04-02 12:54]


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xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:16
Spanish to English
+ ...
Throwing the baby out with the bath water? Apr 2, 2004

I agree with Marijke, Madeleine, and Vesna.

The issue of rating translators has been discussed before, and my point is that rating a translator who failed in some way becuase of force majeure is simply cruel and unforgivable, as there is the risk of destroying an innocent translator's best asset - their reputation.

The fact that a translator was unable to deliver or communicate with you may be due to some unforeseen and unavoidable circumstance, and if so, although it obviously causes problems, you AND your client should expect and give the same leeway to each other and the translator. That is a perfectly human thing to do, after all we are not machines, even if our dependence on them is nearly absolute. If I had the same problem, discovered that the translator was innocent, and defended him/her to a client who still bawled me out, on moral and ethical principles alone, I would be happy to offload that client.

Marc's point about professional codes of conduct is a very valid one. From a practical point of view, their interest is in defending the profession as much as their members, so you can count on their impartiality. In the case of a dispute, they could be asked to intervene, for example, if the client unreasonably refused payment.

If, on the other hand, there is no acceptable excuse for a translator failing to deliver, then you have really been led up the garden path and you need to assess the reasons why this has happened (e.g. how careful were you in selecting this translator?). Prevention is always better than cure.

The problem with a rating system is that it would be highly subjective, as ultimately it rates both a translator's reputation and their relations with a client, both which are based on many criteria. I know one agency who would rate me badly becuase I chased up delayed payment (and I usually even allow a generous period of grace), but mostly becuase they failed to respond to one, then another, etc email, so I got worried and posted a BB alert which upset them (bloody cheeky of them if you ask me, I was the one with the right to be upset:-)).

Another problem with a rating system is that it would place INCOMPETENT translators who FAILED to deliver in the same basket as PROFESSIONALS who were simply UNABLE to deliver but whose clients - for whatever reason - weren't willing to listen to reason or who were being unreasonable in their relations with the translator. Highly unfair, don't you think?

I have lived through hair-raising crises with computer failures and failed Internet connections, and believe you me, the agony - which you are obviously feeling yourself - is something I will avoid at all costs.

Please give the translator an opportunity to explain him/herself first. I sincerely hope that you have recived your job and a valid explnantion by now:-)

Finally, I cite below what Todd & Monica Field had to say in the previous posting, very valid comments (as always):

"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."

http://www.proz.com/topic/19108

(By the way, I see that someone in this posting is using my exact words from the previous posting without crediting me. My words are my words - good, bad or indifferent - and are as much a personal part of me as my thoughts, ideas or opinions).


[Edited at 2004-04-02 13:13]

[Edited at 2004-04-02 13:28]

[Edited at 2004-04-02 13:48]


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