Online translation platforms and automatic tests
Thread poster: Julia Stepanchuk

Julia Stepanchuk  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 11:03
English to Russian
+ ...
Oct 26, 2015

My question is both about this particular situation and, more generally, about a certain type of situations.

Recently I applied for a job here on ProZ, which was described as a specific project in my language pair (English-Russian). I got contacted by an agency and asked to register on their online platform and complete a test. This is not the first time I applied for what was described as a concrete job and got a general offer to register for an online platform, and I'm still not sure how to handle these situations. However, this time I was asked to register so that they could evaluate me for this particular project, and I decided to give it a try.

After completing the standard registration procedure, I get to a testing page. Turns out, before I get to translate a test sample evalutated by humans, I have to do a short automatic test which is computer evaluated. It is a standard multiple-choice test, where I have to choose one correct translation of a short phrase into my native language. I start the test and quickly realise that the proposed answers are not quite right. I mean, some were obviously wrong for test purposes, but even among the more "native" ones, the majority were either oddly constructed, a bit weird, or non-idiomatic. In two instances, I would say that none of the proposed translations sounded correct, so I ended up choosing the version which seemed to me "less incorrect".

Well, as a result I failed the test (it had to be 100% correct). There is no possibility to review it or retake it immediately. This is a short test obviously designed to weed out people who are definitely non-native or have a very poor command of their own language. Since I'm a well educated native speaker, this makes me feel decidedly stupid.icon_redface.gif

As I see it, I could:
1. Write to the agency and draw their attention to the quaity of the test. However, I'm not sure it would be appropriate. I never worked with this agency before and I don't know how well established their online platform is or how many translators have already passed this test in my pair.

OR

2. Simply let it drop, especially since now I'm not at all sure whether they genuinely have a concrete job to offer or simply seek to expand their translators' database.

However, I also have a more general question. What do you do when you apply for a specific job and instead get an offer to register for an online platform? Do you answer them at all, disregard them, or go for it? How do you handle a need to do another round of testing, even if you already: sent your CV/sent a link to your ProZ portfolio/did their sample test?
Most importantly, do these offers actually translate into real life jobs with reasonable payment?


 

Kristina Cosumano  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 08:03
Member (2015)
German to English
Sounds familiar Oct 26, 2015

The test you describe sounds very much like the one that Gengo uses to pass/fail applicants. I wonder if your agency is using Gengo's tests for their own candidates?

 

Andrea Halbritter  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 08:03
Member (2014)
French to German
+ ...
Get more informed Oct 26, 2015

Hi!

I know what company you are speaking about although I did not have to do the test as they have none for my language combination.

In order to decide if all that is worth the hazzle for you, you might want to have a look at the things you have to agree with concerning invoices, translations rejected by the final customer etc. ...

Andrea

[Modifié le 2015-10-26 12:46 GMT]

[Modifié le 2015-10-26 12:46 GMT]


 

Jo Macdonald  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:03
Member (2005)
Italian to English
+ ...
Do you really want to work with a client like that? Oct 26, 2015

Hi Julia,
For me, when I get contacted by a potential client it's not just the client who's evaluating me; first and foremost it's me who's deciding if I want to work with them.

If the first thing a potential client asks is for me to work for free (do an unpaid test) I can be pretty sure they're not going to make the grade, but just in case I'll give them a nice answer such as "Thanks for getting in touch. No problem doing a test if it's paid work, otherwise you can find many examples of my work here (link to samples)."

This sorts out the good apples from the bad, as a good potential client who really wants to work with me will probably agree to pay the small fee for the test, or just decide to send a small job to start relations and that the test isn't really that important after all.

Same thing goes if I'm asked to join someone's club (database).
Before taking the time to add my name to an online list I'll ask to read a contract they may wish me to sign after registering and try to come to an agreement on rates, otherwise it's just a waste of everyone's time.

If the potential client had agreed to pay me for the time to translate the test they wanted done, if there are no "sell your soul to this devil" clauses in their contract and they agree to my rates, in the case you mentioned above I'd probably fail them due to the low standard of their machine translation test unless they have a sense of humor.
icon_wink.gif

Unless you really want to work with people like this who probably consider translators to be cogs of a machine I would eliminate them asap from the equation by refusing to do free tests, proposing high rates and asking to read their contract which 9 times out of 10 will be "so full of unconscionable clauses there's not enough room left on the page for me to sign it mate...."


 

Álvaro Espantaleón Moreno  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:03
Member (2015)
English to Spanish
Forget it Oct 26, 2015

If that is the agency I think it is, they pay $.03 per source word and they won't assign you any jobs, instead you will have to be logged in into their system constantly refreshing the jobs panel until you manage to catch one. Only recommended to students.

 

Andrea Halbritter  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 08:03
Member (2014)
French to German
+ ...
Quite good rates Oct 26, 2015

No, their rates are quite good...

 

Álvaro Espantaleón Moreno  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:03
Member (2015)
English to Spanish
?? Oct 26, 2015

Andrea Halbritter wrote:

No, their rates are quite good...


We don't know what agency has the OP been involved with.


 

Soonthon LUPKITARO(Ph.D.)  Identity Verified
Thailand
Local time: 13:03
Member (2004)
English to Thai
+ ...
This very manner Oct 26, 2015

Jo Macdonald wrote:

If the first thing a potential client asks is for me to work for free (do an unpaid test) I can be pretty sure they're not going to make the grade, but just in case I'll give them a nice answer such as "Thanks for getting in touch. No problem doing a test if it's paid work, otherwise you can find many examples of my work here (link to samples)."


I always apply this manner since trial translation is nothing but to ignore translators' professionalism.

Soonthon L.


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:03
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
No... Oct 26, 2015

Julia Stepanchuk wrote:
This is a short test obviously designed to weed out people who are definitely non-native or have a very poor command of their own language. Since I'm a well educated native speaker, this makes me feel decidedly stupid.icon_redface.gif

that shouldn't make you feel stupid. You'd only be stupid if you wasted any more time on it.


 

Gabriele Demuth  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:03
Member (2014)
English to German
To do with subtitling? Oct 26, 2015

I did or tried to do a test for a media company. There were three multiple choice tests that consisted mainly of phrases that lacked any context. In my opinion often several answers could have been chosen depending on context - I found it impossible to pass and gave up.

However, over the following weeks I received several mass e-mails from them asking me to complete the test, which makes me think that I wasn't the only one who found this puzzling and somehow I have a feeling that they wouldn't have paid much either.


 

Michael Newton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:03
Member (2003)
Japanese to English
+ ...
On-line tests Oct 26, 2015

Had I encountered the problems while taking the test, I would have stopped immediately and exited the site.
Besides dodgy platforms for potential customers is the problem of the agency refusing to tell you why you failed the test. This recently happened to me. I suspect that the text I translated was a job masquerading as a "test". This is totally unprofessional as the translator has spent much time filling out application forms and NDAs. I would be glad to reveal the name of the agency if you contact me.


 

Maxi Schwarz
Local time: 01:03
German to English
+ ...
Answer Oct 26, 2015

"What do you do when you apply for a specific job and instead get an offer to register for an online platform? "

Technically I don't apply for any job. I respond to requests for a specific job. If the client who made the request then turns around and wants me to register, do tests and so on, I think I'd drop it on the spot. Or you could calculate how much time it will take you to do all these things and propose how much you would charge for your time.


 

Kirsten Bodart  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:03
Dutch to English
+ ...
Ahem, weed out non-natives Nov 2, 2015

I received that email from that same customer now, so the devil on my shoulder told me to do it, if only to take a look at how terrible it was. The questions into English had several possibilities that could work in different contexts (how are you to know which one works best?). The questions asked in English for translation into Dutch also contained ill-constructed phrases (newspaper headlines, Twitter hashtags etc.).

It didn't pay to be too clued up in your native language either, definitely. I was fortunate I couldn't submit the first test due to a server glitch, so I could take two more, which gave me a nice variety of questions. In one instance, all the answers were wrongly spelled, in a second instance the set of answers contained two right ones, a third set contained a skewed translation and another which wasn't necessarily right, a fourth set contained a term that wasn't the preferred one, and then there was one where the 'right' (?) translation was one that didn't take into account the nuance in the English and another option in the list which did have the right nuance had an incorrect verb. All but the first of these featured in the last test, which I failedicon_biggrin.gif, and the thing only contained 5 questions.

The devil on my shoulder couldn't resist either to take screenshots and send them an email detailing why all these things were wrong, that the test could use a proofreader (or post-editor, I suspect) and why taking timed tests (I kid you not) does not weed out the bad from the good.

I'll be interested to see if they reply.


 

Gabriele Demuth  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:03
Member (2014)
English to German
I can never resist multiple choice tests Nov 2, 2015

I am not sure what it is, but I just have to try ...icon_smile.gif

 

Kirsten Bodart  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:03
Dutch to English
+ ...
Me too! Nov 3, 2015

I can't remember when it started, but for as long as I can remember, I've found multiple choice tests and surveys such great fun! Unless they are serious and they deduct points for wrong answers, of course...

 


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