Pages in topic:   [1 2] >
The value of ProZ.com verification of our qualifications
Thread poster: B D Finch

B D Finch  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 22:18
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Dec 5

I’ve been meaning for some time to share the following exchange about the status of verification by ProZ of members qualifications. I was very far from satisfied with the reply received, which basically amounts to saying that ProZ will continue to verify “qualifications” of sub GCE O level standard and thus make their holders appear to be qualified translators when they are nothing of the sort. In fact, following the same logic, I could claim the qualification “Pure Mathematics (University of London)” on the basis of my (not very good) O-level maths certificate, which was issued by the University of London examination board.

Here's an example of the status of one of the qualifications verified by ProZ (the ones listed below as "French to English (ALLIANCE FRANCAISE, verified)" and "“English to French (ALLIANCE FRANCAISE, verified)"):

http://www.profession-traducteur.net/categories/categories.htm
"En France, il a longtemps existé un diplôme de traducteur commercial désormais tombé en désuétude. Il s'agissait de valider chez les postulants une vague compétence de traduction dans le domaine économico-commercial et de définir un " titre " permettant de singulariser les assistants commerciaux soucieux de valoriser leurs aptitudes linguistiques.

“Le traducteur commercial a disparu avec la mise en place de formations et de diplômes nationaux de traducteurs."

In September 2018 I raised a support request to query the following qualifications listed on the profile of somebody who had just offered me some work for peanuts:
“French to English (ALLIANCE FRANCAISE, verified)
German to English (GOETHE-INSTITUT, Pitman Examination Institute )
Spanish to English (Pitman Examination Institute )
English to French (ALLIANCE FRANCAISE, verified)
English to German (GOETHE-INSTITUT, Pitman Examination Institute )
Spanish to English (Independent studies.)
English (Pitman Examination Institute)

”Problem: Neither the Alliance Française nor Pitman does either tuition or examinations in translation. I suspect that neither does the Goethe Institute. The Alliance Française only does French monolingual exams and Pitman only does English monolingual. So, how has ProZ verified qualifications that don't even exist? If XXX. really has passed any exams organised by these institutions, then it is still misleading for ProZ to claim to verify them without stating what exams they are. For example, the Alliance Française prepares students for the DELF and DALF exams and may provide examination centres. However, it is not the examining body for either certificate and neither of them is a translation qual.”

Moderator’s Reply:
“First of all I see that the credential from Goethe Institute and Pitman has not been verified and you may check this in the profile of the user.

”In regards of the credential from Alliance Française, the user XXX. indeed provided an official “Diplome de traducteur commercial” from this institution in language pairs indicated in her credential section.

”Credentials are verified on ProZ.com by reporting the language pair or language and reporting the institution that issued a credential.”

Me:
“Thank you for clarifying that "In regards of [sic] the credential from Alliance Française, the user XXX. indeed provided an official “Diplome de traducteur commercial” from this institution in language pairs indicated in her credential section."

”However, the “Diplome de traducteur commercial” was not a professional level translator qualification. It is no longer awarded, which would explain why there is no mention of it (or any other translation courses or diplomas) on the Alliance Française website. It was, according to the ref. below, a very low level diploma aimed at clerical assistants and PAs. It is certainly very misleading for ProZ to verify that a person has a professional qualification as a French to English and English to French translator without even naming the diploma concerned and, even worse, when it is not a proper professional level qualification. In fact, in my opinion, it amounts to ProZ colluding in misrepresentation. …"

I then provided the reference to illustrate the value of that qualification.

Moderator’s Reply:
“Please note that credentials at ProZ.com are degrees, certificates or diplomas issued by formal institutions upon completion of a translation or language course, or passing a language or translation-related test.

“The user “XXX” provided a translation-related document (diploma) which is confirmed. Moreover, it has been issued by Alliance Française. Even if this diploma lever is not active at the moment the credential is valid and the proof has been provided by the user.

“In regards of the name of the credential, the current credential verification system includes only the name of the institution that issued a credential. However, I have added your suggestion to mentioned credential names also to our list of ideas and suggestions for site improvement, to be evaluated for possible future implementation. At the moment the credential section is not allowing to add long credential names.”


[Edited at 2018-12-05 15:34 GMT]


Yolanda Broad
 

Fiona Grace Peterson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 22:18
Member
Italian to English
Thank you for raising this Dec 5

Thank you for raising this issue. It wasn't something I'd paid any attention to, admittedly, but the response you received suggests that it is not a priority for the site. There is always going to be an element of "buyer beware" when trusting anything a person chooses to include in their profile; it just seems a pity that Proz does not seem interested in acting as a gatekeeper with regard to this issue. Although given certain behaviours now allowed on the site that in the past would have been unthinkable, we should probably not be too surprised.

Yolanda Broad
writeaway
Joe France
 

B D Finch  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 22:18
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Not just about gatekeeping Dec 5

Fiona Grace Peterson wrote:
There is always going to be an element of "buyer beware" when trusting anything a person chooses to include in their profile; it just seems a pity that Proz does not seem interested in acting as a gatekeeper with regard to this issue.


There are obvious limits to what one should expect ProZ to do to prevent people including possibly misleading or false information in their profile. What I find absolutely unacceptable is for ProZ to mark pseudo credentials as "verified" without either revealing what those certificates actually are and/or setting a minimum level to prevent people pretending that such low-level certificates are professional qualifications.

I don't know whether there is any legal duty of care to translation clients visiting the site, but I do think this is a breach of an ethical duty of care.

[Edited at 2018-12-05 17:55 GMT]


 

Mirko Mainardi  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 22:18
Member
English to Italian
Ok, but... Dec 5

B D Finch wrote:

What I find absolutely unacceptable is for ProZ to mark pseudo credentials as "verified" without either revealing what those certificates actually are and/or setting a minimum level to prevent people pretending that such low-level certificates are professional qualifications.


How high do you set the bar? And, speaking of "credentials", I would venture to guess me and you are both familiar with something called "Certified PRO"? Do you consider it a "professional qualification"?


 

B D Finch  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 22:18
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
@Mirko Mainardi Dec 5

Mirko Mainardi wrote:
How high do you set the bar? And, speaking of "credentials", I would venture to guess me and you are both familiar with something called "Certified PRO"? Do you consider it a "professional qualification"?


I think the bar should be at least at first degree level. No, I don't consider "Certified PRO" status to be a "professional qualification". It's a nice idea, but the system breaks down once a few people get through who aren't really competent and who then certify their friends or people they mistakenly consider to be professional standard. Real professional qualifications, like ATA and CIoL diplomas, involve rigorous exams and there's no comparison between those qualifications and "Certified PRO" status.

[Edited at 2018-12-05 19:24 GMT]

[Edited at 2018-12-05 19:24 GMT]


Paul Malone
Christine Andersen
 

Fiona Grace Peterson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 22:18
Member
Italian to English
I see where you're coming from, but... Dec 5

While I understand your indignation, and feel that it's justified to a point, we sadly live in a day and age where unscrupulous and unqualified people will do anything to make themselves out to be someone they're not. If I really wanted to, I suppose I could get someone out there to photoshop me a PhD in Nursing from Yale or another prestigious university... I could submit it to Proz, and it would probably pass their vetting process even if this was limited to higher education credentials, because I very much doubt that the site would contact Yale to see if I actually ever went there.

To be honest it's a site feature I've never taken much notice of because I've been too busy working and running my business. Who we are as professionals goes much further than what we declare on an online profile, and I can't help thinking that people who declare minor qualifications or pass themselves off as something they're not probably are not going to get very far professionally. Like people who post forty queries a day or simple questions on Kudoz because they can't be bothered to do any research - what kind of a professional life are they setting up for themselves? But even if that's their thing, what difference does it make to me? I have the qualifications I have worked for, and it shows in the work I produce for clients.

i don't want to condone the practices you are describing. But I think the system, like any, has its limits, and as professionals we should be setting our sights further ahead.


Lincoln Hui
Gareth Callagy
Victoria Britten
writeaway
Luciana Trevisi
 

DZiW
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
apparent appeal -vs- operating efficiency Dec 5

It's fancy there're several jack-in-the-box topics regarding 'more true[r]' professionals at ProZ.

Any modern client [or employer] requires just two qualities:
(1) problem-solving and (2) carrying profits
While some relevant certificates and valid diplomas might prove it wasn't a wasted effort and one could have learned* the ropes and now he is capable to win, they often are NO GUARANTEE for many reasons--from diploma mills to professional deformations and career changes. Therefore, the only real unbiased criterion is... good results in the field, of course.

Considering the fact ProZ does check provided credentials per se, I see such claims not so much relevant to ProZ, institutions, standards, or valuation committees, as the free* market free* competition ranting and lamenting. I don't mind letting off steam or rambling, yet it's not even a question, because there're always different ratings for better countries, better specialists, better uni's, better rates, better specializations. better conditions, and so on. Well, what of that, I wonder? So many interesting subjects, but no need to cry in vain for the market will work it out. Sure, arranging your own game rules--Oops!--ratings may put you at the top, but still it would be the same 'They or Us'.

As for the entry barriers, nowadays it takes just a PC and the internet connection to start translation/interpreting/agency/education/biz/fraud/you name it , However even at ProZ I met a lot of decent specialists who don't have a degree in translation but can do much better than some 'cum laude' graduates from the world-famous uni's--because of the skills and exp, so what? No diff. Or you really think clients are that silly, no?

If the things were different, I would support your approach to rate valid and relevant credentials, but not a mere diploma caste witch-hunting, which is neither ethical, nor professional--nor asked for. Frankly, I met no clients who would prefer a 'Have a verified PhD in the field' checkbox.

IMO


 

Mirko Mainardi  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 22:18
Member
English to Italian
Professional associations Dec 5

B D Finch wrote:

I think the bar should be at least at first degree level. No, I don't consider "Certified PRO" status to be a "professional qualification". It's a nice idea, but the system breaks down once a few people get through who aren't really competent and who then certify their friends or people they mistakenly consider to be professional standard.


I agree, in part. But, for instance, many professional associations base membership prerequisites on formal education OR experience (or a mix of both), so much so that you might be eligible to become a qualified member even if you have no degree at all...

After a recent course I took on ISO 17100:2015 and an exchange with its organizer, who was part of it, I discovered their committee had a hard time with this topic as well, so basically, that equates to opening several cans of worms at the same time...

But yes, a profession that is left prey to the fabled (and sometimes still revered) "free market" in a globalized market without any kind of rule or barrier is probably kind of pining for the fjords...

And no, if someone is wondering, I don't mean to reopen the same old never-ending discussion with more or less scathing remarks about who is more or less successful at doing what, at what rates and why. That was just a general consideration, irrespective of pairs and specializations (which are quite often overlooked), specific national regulations, etc.

[Edited at 2018-12-05 20:42 GMT]


 

Lincoln Hui  Identity Verified
Hong Kong
Local time: 05:18
Member
Chinese to English
+ ...
Qualifications and pieces of paper Dec 5

By the time I started my postgraduate certificate in translation I had been good enough to teach it for years. Actually, the instructor for Chinese to English was so bad, I would refuse to teach him. I learned a thing or two about translation theory, but very little that would affect my everyday work.

I should also say that your complaint about the qualification not being a "translation" qualification is really either splitting hairs, or setting up goalposts where nobody is looking for them. I'm not sure there are any institutions offering Swahili to Serbian translation diplomas. Can a fluent Serbian speaker with translation experience (say English to Serbian) not claim monolingual study in Swahili as their qualification for Swahili to Serbian?

Is my JLPT N1 a qualification or not? I went into the test having studied for exactly 0 minutes and scored in the 99th percentile. It's really no different from TOEFL or IELTS in that any competent speaker of the language should be able to just sit down and basically score close to full marks. A passing grade in that exam represents, at best, middle-school level proficiency. But taking the exam is also a requirement for graduation for Japanese majors at some universities, and apparently the pass rate is around 30-35%, somehow.

Qualifications are meant to fool people who don't know anything about them. As often as not the people who have them know full well how worthless they are, whether it was a course, an exam or even a degree. I have seen choral conducting Master's students and graduates in the average state school many times, and I know first-hand how utterly meaningless the degree is.

[Edited at 2018-12-05 20:36 GMT]


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 22:18
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
The problem lies with the design of the reporting feature Dec 6

B D Finch wrote:
In September 2018 I raised a support request to query the following qualifications listed on the profile of somebody who had just offered me some work for peanuts:
French to English (ALLIANCE FRANCAISE, verified)
German to English (GOETHE-INSTITUT, Pitman Examination Institute )
Spanish to English (Pitman Examination Institute )
English to French (ALLIANCE FRANCAISE, verified)
English to German (GOETHE-INSTITUT, Pitman Examination Institute )
Spanish to English (Independent studies.)
English (Pitman Examination Institute)


Staff's reply makes it clear what the problem is:

”Credentials are verified on ProZ.com by reporting the language pair or language and reporting the institution that issued a credential.”


The problem is that you can't report credentials on your ProZ.com profile without tying them to a language combination that you specifically offer as a service via ProZ.com. This means that if a credential is for "French" only, but you only offer "English to French" as a service (and not "French monolingual"), then you have really no other way of reporting the credential on your profile page except to tie it to your "English to French" service.

I understand that this is not a simple thing to fix for ProZ.com, since the credential reporting system is integrated with its directory search feature, so redesigning one would mean overhauling the other.

In addition, since it is impossible for Staff to know the ins and outs of all credentials systems in the world, they "verify" it simply by evaluating whether the credential appears to have been issued to the member (and not whether the credential is actually a credential for that particular service i.e. language combination).

I think that ProZ.com should distinguish on the profile and in directory searches between 4 types of credentials, namely a) non-language practice credentials (e.g. medical degree), b) language practice credentials (e.g. editing diploma), c) language proficiency credentials (confirming monolingual skill in a language), and d) language combination credentials (e.g. translator association accreditation following a written exam).

In my case, for example, I have a translation diploma (3 years' full-time study at a tertiary institution). Staff saw fit to list my diploma as a "verified" credential for my one language combination but not for the other. The diploma confirms that I had obtained a "National Diploma" (which a bit of googling will tell you is a 3-year qualification), but does not say for how long I studied translation, what my main subjects were, or which language combinations it is for. Although I had to pass exams translating in both language combinations, it is not specifically a credential for specific language combinations.

Staff's reply: “In regards of the name of the credential, the current credential verification system includes only the name of the institution that issued a credential.


That is partly true. You can select the institution from a dropdown list or you can type in the name yourself. There may be guidelines for Staff members on how to format the credential's description. I also remember having been told that there is a length restriction, so if there is no short way to state name of the issuing institution, then there may be no room left for the name of the actual qualification.

The way that this person's credentials are described makes be suspect that this is how the translator herself typed in the credential names, based on the examples in the dropdown list. It is odd that the institute's full name is written in all capital letters (but then, in the dropdown list, all institute names are written in all capital letters, since they are all acronyms). The fact that there is a superfluous space after "Institute " may also indicate that this was typed by the member herself.

In my case, the credential does not mention the institution. It mentions the name of the qualification in an abbreviated form which some older in-country readers may be able to understand. The important word in my credential is "verified" -- as long as my credential is "verified", I will come up in a directory search for translators with a "verified" credential, and I'm confident that few clients will check which credential I actually have.



[Edited at 2018-12-06 10:18 GMT]


 

Jean Dimitriadis  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 22:18
Member (2015)
English to French
+ ...
@Samuel Dec 6

Just tried this. You CAN define a single language (not a language pair) in your profile, and add monolingual credentials to it, so your suggestion is already implemented (new language/language pair appears after hitting "Update list of credential language pairs".)

Adding a single language makes sense for monolingual proofreading services as well.


 

DZiW
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
"odd man out" problem scope Dec 6

Problems + Intentions + Resources = Solutions
While there're occasional attempts to involve ProZ in financial, legal, ethical, middleman, arbitration, escrow, translation, certification, and other issues, it's still a world's largest growing community of translators--a neutral meeting place for independent businesspersons to behave and do their biz properly.

In this view all the endeavors to separate somehow better from worse are but a partial approach with pre-biased criteria. It can easily come to absurdity, demanding 'more verifiable and more valid' proofs on proofs campaigns. Hardly ever all people will be absolutely equal, but who will be the objective judge? The tree is timely known by its fresh fruit, unless grafted.


 

B D Finch  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 22:18
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
What's important about credentials and marking them as "verified"? Dec 6

Samuel Murray wrote:
In addition, since it is impossible for Staff to know the ins and outs of all credentials systems in the world, they "verify" it simply by evaluating whether the credential appears to have been issued to the member (and not whether the credential is actually a credential for that particular service i.e. language combination).

That's a very important point and it is, indeed, impossible, particularly when a certificate might be in a script that the staff can't read. However, by only checking the name of the institution and not displaying the title of the certificate or diploma, the system is open to abuse. E.g. how it could make my GCE O Level Maths look like a degree in Pure Mathematics from the University of London.

Samuel Murray wrote:
In my case, for example, I have a translation diploma (3 years' full-time study at a tertiary institution). Staff saw fit to list my diploma as a "verified" credential for my one language combination but not for the other. The diploma confirms that I had obtained a "National Diploma" (which a bit of googling will tell you is a 3-year qualification), but does not say for how long I studied translation, what my main subjects were, or which language combinations it is for. Although I had to pass exams translating in both language combinations, it is not specifically a credential for specific language combinations.

Does it matter how long one has studied translation or where?

I'll tell you a secret: I studied translation for a year, at an evening class, one night a week, after my day job as a housing association Development Officer. Of the 13 or 14 people in the class all but me and one other (who I think dropped out) had degrees in French from British universities. My own degree was in Sociology, my research subject was Historical Geography and I had a post grad diploma in Housing Studies (so, no French or English there). I think that only about a third of the class, if that, passed the CIoL Diploma in Translation: more or less the overall 30% pass level for those exams.

On the other hand, in spite of not having passed my French A Level, I read Sartre in French for my Philosophy class at Art College (dropped out after two terms), continued reading books in French over the years, participated in the French degree conversation classes at university (just for my own interest), went to evening classes at the Institut Français over a number of years (mainly on French film and literature) and went to evening classes to obtain a DALF (Diplôme approfondi de langue française), before deciding to study translation with a view to a career change. So, I really couldn't say how long I studied either French or translation and never studied either full-time or at university (unless one counts those, rather mediocre, French conversation classes at uni).

What matters is the level one has attained. I'm sure that anyone who has achieved a post-grad qualification in translation will, after a few years' work as a translator, have a higher level of competence than they had at the time they took their exams. However, their qualification does provide evidence to a client that they have at least achieved a certain professional level. That said, there are some very good translators who don't have any recognised qualification and who, therefore, need to provide other evidence of their competence to potential clients.

Samuel Murray wrote:
In my case, the credential does not mention the institution. It mentions the name of the qualification in an abbreviated form which some older in-country readers may be able to understand. The important word in my credential is "verified" -- as long as my credential is "verified", I will come up in a directory search for translators with a "verified" credential, and I'm confident that few clients will check which credential I actually have.

That "verified" bit, and how misleading it can be, is the problem, particularly as so many translation clients cannot judge the quality of the work they pay for. ProZ shouldn't set itself up as providing what looks like quality control, unless and until it has a better system than the current one.

[Edited at 2018-12-06 11:46 GMT]

[Edited at 2018-12-06 11:56 GMT]


 

Jean Dimitriadis  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 22:18
Member (2015)
English to French
+ ...
On topic Dec 6

I agree with B D Finch that the title or degree of the certificate or diploma should be mentioned, at least to make a clear distinction between university studies (BA, MA, PhD, etc.) and other credentials.

Here is the ProZ FAQ on credentials: https://www.proz.com/?sp=faq&faq_tree_id=695#695

11.1 - What is a “credential”?

Credentials at ProZ.com are degrees, certificates or diplomas issued by formal institutions upon completion of a translation or language course, or passing a language or translation-related test. These institutions may include educational institutions (universities or schools, for example) or translator organizations (ATA, for example), among others.

Seen elsewhere:

By default, credentials are only listed, not verified.

The definition is quite broad, I guess it could even encompass the Alliance Française certification.

Because the scope is so wide, it is important to help distinguish between the various types of credentials.

---

FRANCE

I just took a look at the French credentials available in the drop-down menu.

Alliance Française is one of the available choices, among the names of various universities that offer translation-related studies.

What I find more surprising still is the listing of “DALF”.

Now, unless mistaken, DALF is NOT an entity, but the name of a diploma. More specifically, it stands for Diplôme Approfondi de Langue Française: it is a certification of French-language abilities for non-native speakers administered by France’s Centre international d’études pédagogiques on behalf of the country’s Ministry of Education.

This is not a translation diploma, just a language certification meant for non-native speakers (it certifies a C2 language level), usually required for attending a French university.

Again, under the wide definition of “what is a credential”, DALF could still be considered a “credential”, but then, at this point, why not list French high schools? …

[Edited at 2018-12-06 12:25 GMT]


 

B D Finch  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 22:18
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
DALF Dec 6

Jean Dimitriadis wrote:
What I find more surprising still is the listing of “DALF”.
...
Again, under the wide definition of “what is a credential”, DALF could still be considered a “credential”, but then, at this point, why not list French high schools? …

[Edited at 2018-12-06 12:25 GMT]


I disagree about the value of the DALF for the following reasons:

1) It is a valid demonstration of a good knowledge of the source language;
2) Amazing though it may seem, you can get a BA in French from a British university by sitting exams on French literature that you answer in English, leading many students to read the literature concerned in English translations!icon_frown.gif So, something that demonstrates a knowledge of the French language might be a useful addition to a British BA in French.


 
Pages in topic:   [1 2] >


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:


You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

The value of ProZ.com verification of our qualifications

Advanced search







Déjà Vu X3
Try it, Love it

Find out why Déjà Vu is today the most flexible, customizable and user-friendly tool on the market. See the brand new features in action: *Completely redesigned user interface *Live Preview *Inline spell checking *Inline

More info »
SDL Trados Studio 2019 Freelance
The leading translation software used by over 250,000 translators.

SDL Trados Studio 2019 has evolved to bring translators a brand new experience. Designed with user experience at its core, Studio 2019 transforms how new users get up and running, helps experienced users make the most of the powerful features, ensures new

More info »



Forums
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search