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Requests by clients to edit/delete a BB entry should be banned
Thread poster: Alexey Ivanov

Alexey Ivanov  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 18:06
English to Russian
Oct 25, 2012

About 4 years ago after signing the NDA and the Terms and Conditions in which nothing was mentioned of their "special" terms of payment and of which they made a great fuss Company N commissioned a small translation job worth about GBP 50 which I did and sent them the invoice. Receiving no payment in 30 days I sent them a reminder, then another one. After that they replied that their policy is to pay by a bank transfer sums not less than, if I remember right, GBP 400. To forestall any questions: there were no complaints about the quality or delay or anything else whatsoever. Having waited several months for new jobs enabling me to accumulate that sum of their minimal amount I sent them a message asking for payment to which I got no reply. After that I just posted a non-payment report on the BB. Nobody gave a damn and I received no feedback on my non-payment report, and only after 2 years I got a request from their new manager to remove my post from the BB. When I explained the reason why I have no intention of doing that, the manager asserted that my invoice was long settled. After I sent them a copy of my invoice they apologized and made the payment after I had issued them a new invoice and asked me to remove my post. I told them I will not do that and will just state that "The invoice was voluntarily settled after 3 years" which is nothing but the truth. Now visiting their page on the BB I again see a request to delete/edit the post. I have no intention of doing that remembering the time and effort spent on getting the paltry sum of 50 pounds after 3 years. I believe once posted any report on the BB positive or negative should not be either deleted or edited, otherwise we shall end with BB as only a means of getting paid for your job which, I believe, is not its sole purpose, the other not less important purpose being protection of our community as a whole against unscrupulous clients. Unfortunately some non-paying clients contact the translator and promise payment on the condition of removing or editing the BB post. And often the translator gives in.

[Edited at 2012-10-25 13:02 GMT]

[Edited at 2012-10-25 13:05 GMT]


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Walter Landesman  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 12:06
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
You did right. Oct 25, 2012

What you did was the right thing to do. Stick to it!

I wish everybody did the same when in similar situation.


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John Fossey  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 10:06
Member (2008)
French to English
Already prohibited Oct 25, 2012

It's already prohibited. Rule #8 reads:

Attempting to influence another's use of the Blue Board is prohibited. Exerting pressure on someone to change a Blue Board entry or reply, or to make a new entry or reply of a specific nature, is forbidden. (Inviting service providers or outsourcers to make entries or replies is acceptable, as long as there is no attempt to influence the content of those postings.)

Staff asked me once to change a non-payment report once payment was received, but that didn't stop me from reporting the circumstances (late, problems) under which payment was finally received.

[Edited at 2012-10-25 13:12 GMT]


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svenfrade  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 16:06
French to German
+ ...
Seconded Oct 25, 2012

I totally agree with you, Alexey, since deleting BB entries defeats the purpose of the BB IMHO. At least I think that the purpose of the BB is to enable translators to form an opion on a potential business partner, but how are we supposed to do that if we do not get to see the big picture which should, of course, include any past ratings and reasons.

I have seen a similar thing happen with an outsourcer I worked with a few years ago. It is a rather long story which I don't want to repeat here, but after I had posted a less than favourable entry (for good reasons, not only payment-related) he started to receive quite a few 1 and 2 ratings. Then, after a few months, they had miraculously disappeared and with all those 1 and 2 ratings removed, the overall rating improved from a 3.7 to a 4.9 rating. Makes you wonder, doesn't it?


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svenfrade  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 16:06
French to German
+ ...
What about rule #10? Oct 25, 2012

According to rule #10

"Blue Board records will remain in place for at least six months following any form of outsourcing activity. ProZ.com will consider requests from outsourcers to have certain contact details removed from the Blue Board when specific reasons are given. However, in most cases, such requests will not be considered until at least six months have passed after the date of last known outsourcing activity."

What is the point of having BB record remaining in place for six months only?


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Silvia Barra  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 16:06
English to Italian
+ ...
Similar situation Oct 25, 2012

Last year I had some problems with an agency. After many months, e-mails. letters, phone calls, they paid me only a part of my invoice telling that there was a quality problem.
In the meanwhile I put on their BB a negative rate.
Many months after, some manager of this company called me making a lot of fuss about crisis, new future projects ready for me and so on and requesting me (in a very direct way) to change my BB rate on ProZ, since the issue was fixed.
I did so still putting an average rate (not 5!) and putting the comment that there had been some problems that was finally solved. I also thought that I would never worked again for them after their behaviour and after many hundreds of thousands of translated words for them. I was sure they would never call me anymore.

Of course, they never called/contacted me anymore, it was only a way to have their BB rate a bit better.

But I agree with you, this kind of requests should be banned and signaled by ProZ (maybe a note: "XXX requested n translators to change their rate after the solving of the problem").
And you did the right thing.

Silvia


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Alexey Ivanov  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 18:06
English to Russian
TOPIC STARTER
Existence of the rule does not help much Oct 25, 2012

John Fossey wrote:

It's already prohibited. Rule #8 reads:

Attempting to influence another's use of the Blue Board is prohibited. Exerting pressure on someone to change a Blue Board entry or reply, or to make a new entry or reply of a specific nature, is forbidden. (Inviting service providers or outsourcers to make entries or replies is acceptable, as long as there is no attempt to influence the content of those postings.)

Staff asked me once to change a non-payment report once payment was received, but that didn't stop me from reporting the circumstances (late, problems) under which payment was finally received.

[Edited at 2012-10-25 13:12 GMT]


Hello John,
This rule is not much help in practical terms as we still continue receiveing such requests either from clients or from staff the latter is still more surprizing: it leaves the impression that the staff does not want too many negative ratings for the outsourcers. Maybe they don't want to make outsourcers unhappy and want to hold on to their business. And in any case this rule is unenforceable.


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 16:06
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Submit a support request and send copies of mails to staff Oct 25, 2012

Naturally, mails between translators and outsourcers are private, but if an outsourcer is violating the rules by attempting to influence an entry on the Blue Board, I think staff should be notified.

Otherwise it is far to easy for non-payers to pressurise translators who just want to be paid without more hassle.

Of course, the Blue Board is worthless if only the top ratings stay in place.


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Stefano Papaleo  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 16:06
Member (2005)
English to Italian
+ ...
Clients asking such things should be banned, not the requests ;) Oct 25, 2012

Hello,

I keep reading posts like yours and still wonder why scuh an important feature (for both freelancers and outsourcers!) as the BB does not receive the attention it deserves from THE STAFF.

If scores are somehow doctored, watered down, messed with – call it as you like it – what's the point of having a BB in the first place?

The rules are clear and every entry is vetted by the staff so... I'm still wondering what is going sideways here.... Outsourcers asking to change your score should simply be banned for life. PERIOD!

Unless the low score is falsely assigned (and there's a rule for that), I see no reason to change it. The score relates to the opinion of the translator AT THE TIME he/she entered it concerning the LWA (which may even be unrelated to payment issue). There is a DATE.

Being paid is important but if you are paid 4 or 5 months later (or even more) it is not much different than not being paid at all. Try & do that in your everyday life and see what happens....

Tthe image of the outsourcer is compromised, like it or not. If one breaks one's bones and then recovers after some months it doesn't change the fact that they broke their bones, does it??? We're glad you've recovered and feel better now dear but X rays will show your fracture... and so should the BB!

The whole thing should be structured like this:

The translator assigns a score and writes a comment.

Then the outcourcer can reply.

So far so good...

What's missing is the reply to the outsourcer's reply, which, may be the translator explaining that the problem has been solved or that it wasn't or that they would not want to work again anyway or whatever AND there should be an option for the translator to assign A NEW SCORE in the light of the new developments (and a reply to it from the outsourcer if you like...). The old score should remain, if you get an F in March and an A in June the F stays... it doesn't magically disappear, does it??

The technical effort to do this is... a joke and the benefit to the community would be quite good, wouldn't it?

More transparency, more honesty. If the bad boys are kicked out, so be it, we won't be crying. You have to weed out the foul players, even if they pay their fees... because if you don't, dear ProZ, others will leave and there are more translators/interpreters than agencies out there so.... it's math 101.

Happy BBing


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 15:06
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Poster should have the last word Oct 26, 2012

Stefano Papaleo wrote:
The whole thing should be structured like this:

The translator assigns a score and writes a comment.

Then the outcourcer can reply.

So far so good...

What's missing is the reply to the outsourcer's reply, which, may be the translator explaining that the problem has been solved or that it wasn't or that they would not want to work again anyway or whatever AND there should be an option for the translator to assign A NEW SCORE in the light of the new developments (and a reply to it from the outsourcer if you like...). The old score should remain, if you get an F in March and an A in June the F stays... it doesn't magically disappear, does it??

It's always struck me as odd that the outsourcer has the last word; and that the only way we get to show what happened with the passage of time (which is extremely helpful information for others) is to edit the posting we made previously. Perhaps in theory we could add to the entry but there are only a very small number of words allowed so in practice it would normally take a re-write - then you've lost the thread and you end up with illogical 'replies' that were posted before the entry.

If Stefano's proposal is too much of a change (and I can see problems with averages, etc.), why not just warn us to be careful when we're posting an entry, and make the rating field uneditable? In the rare cases where we feel we've made a mistake, we could post a support ticket. But that final 'follow-up' field is, IMHO, absolutely essential. Under a separate date, we could show in words that, although we've given the outsourcer a very low rating, we were now (marginally) happier as we'd received payment.

That rule #8 is sensible; now let's have some functionality that encourages it to work. Stefano's heading sums it up:
Clients asking such things should be banned, not the requests


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Stefano Papaleo  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 16:06
Member (2005)
English to Italian
+ ...
Easy does it Oct 26, 2012

Sheila Wilson wrote:

It's always struck me as odd that the outsourcer has the last word; and that the only way we get to show what happened with the passage of time (which is extremely helpful information for others) is to edit the posting we made previously. Perhaps in theory we could add to the entry but there are only a very small number of words allowed so in practice it would normally take a re-write - then you've lost the thread and you end up with illogical 'replies' that were posted before the entry.


My point exactly. The system should be quite easy (parenthes indicate optional items):

ENTRY
OUTOURCERS'S COMMENT
(REPLY TO COMMENT + OPTIONAL NEW SCORE)
(NEW OUTSOURCER'S COMMENT)


This way one can follow the thread. No worries, it won't turn itself into a forum-like discussion since this feature won't be used that often, only in cases of low scores, overdue payment and the like and the staff can always intervene. It's only plain text so no big load on the database and any good developer can set it up blindfolded.


If Stefano's proposal is too much of a change (and I can see problems with averages, etc.),


I beg to differ.... those are not PROBLEMS, those are actually SOLUTIONS. Averages should reflect reality, be reliable;) Of course, if outourcer A has an avg of 5 because they deserver it and outsourcer B has an avg of 5 because a couple of 2s suddenly became 5s well.... how can we tell good from bad??

why not just warn us to be careful when we're posting an entry, and make the rating field uneditable? In the rare cases where we feel we've made a mistake, we could post a support ticket. But that final 'follow-up' field is, IMHO, absolutely essential. Under a separate date, we could show in words that, although we've given the outsourcer a very low rating, we were now (marginally) happier as we'd received payment.


Exactly. Plus, clear instructions/warnings should always be there... I consider it a given.

Thanks for liking my proposal.

Have a nice weekend you all!


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John Fossey  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 10:06
Member (2008)
French to English
Subjective vs. objective rating Oct 26, 2012

The main problem I see with the BB is that it's subjective - the rating and comments are based on how posters feel that day (angry? intimidated?).

What I wish is that the BB, which is probably the most widely used reference of its sort in the industry, would adopt an objective criterion (days paid late), similar to that of paymentpractices.net, where you simply enter the date payment was due and the date payment was actually received, and the software calculates a rating based on hard data. This need not be the only rating, but it would be useful as being factual and uniform.


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Angie Garbarino  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:06
Member (2003)
French to Italian
+ ...
It is by default :) Oct 26, 2012

Alexey Ivanov wrote:
Now visiting their page on the BB I again see a request to delete/edit the post.


Hello, I think you have misunderstood here, everyone who post a comment in the BB of a given outsourcer can see his/her own comment with the predefined "edit/delete", when there is no reply from the outsourcer.

This is not a request from the client it is an option of the site by default

Kindest regards

Angie


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Alexey Ivanov  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 18:06
English to Russian
TOPIC STARTER
Maybe Oct 26, 2012

Angie Garbarino wrote:

Alexey Ivanov wrote:
Now visiting their page on the BB I again see a request to delete/edit the post.


Hello, I think you have misunderstood here, everyone who post a comment in the BB of a given outsourcer can see his/her own comment with the predefined "edit/delete", when there is no reply from the outsourcer.

This is not a request from the client it is an option of the site by default

Kindest regards

Angie


Angie, I might have misunderstood that taking it for a request from the client, but:
1. Even this is somewhat strange. Why should I be requested to edit/delete my comment (or, in your words, given such an option) by the staff, if there's no response from the client? This should be an option by default, without making it available so explicitly? Such form of making the option available makes one wonder about the reasons of the site staff.
2. I actually received a request from the client's manager to delete/edit my entry when they paid my invoice 3 years late. So, what I said does not invalidate my post.


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Angie Garbarino  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:06
Member (2003)
French to Italian
+ ...
Sure, sure Oct 26, 2012

Alexey Ivanov wrote:
2. I actually received a request from the client's manager to delete/edit my entry when they paid my invoice 3 years late. So, what I said does not invalidate my post.


I have understood and you are totally right and your post is totally legit.

I just wanted to let you know that we must not confuse the request sent directly by a client with the edit/delete by deafult

Nothing more than this:)

[Edited at 2012-10-26 17:46 GMT]


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