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How to stop vigilante proofreaders
Thread poster: Milos Prudek

Milos Prudek  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 23:08
English to Czech
+ ...
May 13, 2010

"Most of the time, the proofreader wants to prove his/her smartness and may even want to take over the translation job." said Trinh Do in the Proofreader reworded my translation thread. I propose two ideas to fix this issue:

- Before issuing a purchase order for proofreading, client explains to the proofreader that no translation job will be awarded to the proofreader. Client policy should be that all proofreaders are hired as proofreaders for that client, and they are free to work as translators for other companies.

- Only one fifth of the total proofreading will be done. The proofreader and the translator then talk to each other (either privately without the client or "publicly" through the client) and try to agree if the proofreading was fair, and how to proceed with the other four-fifths of the job. If they fail to agree, a different proofreader will be hired. If the second proofreader points mostly the same mistakes as the first one, the proofreaders are right and the proofreading can be finished. If the proofreaders disagree, the situation becomes too complicated to resolve with a simple flowcharticon_smile.gif

I believe that translators should suggest or even insist on these two conditions before any proofreading. What do you think about this idea?


 

Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Cyprus
Local time: 00:08
Turkish to English
+ ...
Not worried May 13, 2010

Milos Prudek wrote:

"Most of the time, the proofreader wants to prove his/her smartness and may even want to take over the translation job." said Trinh Do in the Proofreader reworded my translation thread. I propose two ideas to fix this issue:

- Before issuing a purchase order for proofreading, client explains to the proofreader that no translation job will be awarded to the proofreader. Client policy should be that all proofreaders are hired as proofreaders for that client, and they are free to work as translators for other companies.

- Only one fifth of the total proofreading will be done. The proofreader and the translator then talk to each other (either privately without the client or "publicly" through the client) and try to agree if the proofreading was fair, and how to proceed with the other four-fifths of the job. If they fail to agree, a different proofreader will be hired. If the second proofreader points mostly the same mistakes as the first one, the proofreaders are right and the proofreading can be finished. If the proofreaders disagree, the situation becomes too complicated to resolve with a simple flowcharticon_smile.gif

I believe that translators should suggest or even insist on these two conditions before any proofreading. What do you think about this idea?


As far as I am concerned, once I have submitted my translation to an agency, what they then do with it is their business. If they simply pass it on unaltered to the end client, so be it. If they employ the services of an editor or proofreader, the onus is on them to engage a competent one. If they fail to do so it is their fault and not mine. I do not see what the worry is.


 

Stanislav Pokorny  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 23:08
English to Czech
+ ...
My 2c May 13, 2010

Hi Miloš,
see my opinions below:


- Before issuing a purchase order for proofreading, client explains to the proofreader that no translation job will be awarded to the proofreader. Client policy should be that all proofreaders are hired as proofreaders for that client, and they are free to work as translators for other companies.


Hardly feasible. I am hired for proofreading quite regularly by translation agencies I work for. Your idea suggests that I would have to stop working for these agencies as a translator, or reject any proofreading jobs to avoid this.

- Only one fifth of the total proofreading will be done. The proofreader and the translator then talk to each other (either privately without the client or "publicly" through the client) and try to agree if the proofreading was fair, and how to proceed with the other four-fifths of the job. If they fail to agree, a different proofreader will be hired. If the second proofreader points mostly the same mistakes as the first one, the proofreaders are right and the proofreading can be finished. If the proofreaders disagree, the situation becomes too complicated to resolve with a simple flowcharticon_smile.gif


Sounds nice and fair, but think about the possible consequences in terms of price and time for the client, whether it be a direct client or an agency.

All in all, I do agree with you that some proofreaders may rephrase the original translation just to prove the translator's incompetence. However, both translation and proofreading/revision will always be matters of idiolect, thus strongly subjective.


 

Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 23:08
French to German
+ ...
Have a contract signed... May 13, 2010

Have a negotiated contract signed as per all the steps which constitute the translation. And see how the clients react.

The main root of "proofreading abuse" is to be found with agencies unable/unwilling to accept clear, agreed-upon guidelines for the translation process seen as a whole and then regularly perform their hat trick of heavy (and mostly unjustified) proofreading.

ETA: I do some proofreading and always think that I will given a professionally translated text. Most texts are... and the rest is just silence.

[Edited at 2010-05-13 10:54 GMT]


 

Milos Prudek  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 23:08
English to Czech
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
clients lost unjustly May 13, 2010

Tim Drayton wrote:

As far as I am concerned, once I have submitted my translation to an agency, what they then do with it is their business.


You assume that I meant "agency" when I said "client". Well, I meant direct clients, too. An unjust review can cost you a valuable client.


 

megane_wang  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:08
English to Spanish
+ ...
Not worried either May 13, 2010

I quite agree with Tim.

I don't know how most agencies work, but the ones I know switch roles between translator / editor / proofreader from time to time and always provide the updated materials (i.e. TMs) with the changes done, so everyone is aware of what is going on.

If you have a specific disagreement, why don't you simply contact the PM and tell what has happened? Don't stop by small details. Do it for a real, measurable reason; a small style change may not affect a project, but spotting an ERROR could be important. I have done it a couple of times and never had problems with the PM nor other people involved at all.

There is a point I disagree with you, though: no communication should be done outside the control of the PM. If a PM just decides that the proofreader should better translate instead of you just let it be... results will come out on their own.

Best luck!

Ruth @ MW


 

Krzysztof Kajetanowicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 23:08
English to Polish
+ ...
screenwriter or translator May 13, 2010

I sometimes see my translations with changes either preferential or even from correct to incorrect. I couldn't care less though. The agency doesn't track changes to find out if the proofreader thought I was good. If they do request quality assessment from the proofreader, I can address both the mistakes and the "mistakes" one by one.

My name is not on the final document, is it.

The quality of the final document doesn't concern me in the least, except that if the agency delivers garbage, it'll lose business (or not) - but the agency losing business isn't something I can afford to lose sleep over.

I can understand why a screenwriter would negotiate what changes can be made to their draft and how. I fail to understand why a translator would, for reasons other than silly pride.


/EDIT: things might be different with direct clients, as Milos points out. I wonder however if a direct client is really the problem here.

[Edited at 2010-05-13 11:08 GMT]


 

megane_wang  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:08
English to Spanish
+ ...
Different with a client May 13, 2010

Milos Prudek wrote:

You assume that I meant "agency" when I said "client". Well, I meant direct clients, too. An unjust review can cost you a valuable client.


You are right there. That may happen. But putting so many obstacles to a translation project should not help much to acquire nor to keep customers.

Can you imagine that you buy a car and you are requested to sign a contract that says that you will never ever take it to a cair repair outside the own brand ones?

mmmm.... Don't you think that this would be rather suspicious??

Look: 4 years ago a colleague "stole" 2 of my (end) customers.

Of course, her work was reviewed by other reviewers after that... because the customer did not change their mind regarding "independent" reviews.

Currently I have recovered BOTH customers...icon_razz.gif

Best luck!

Ruth @ MW


 

Milos Prudek  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 23:08
English to Czech
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
price vs quality May 13, 2010

Stanislav Pokorny wrote:
Your idea suggests that I would have to stop working for these agencies as a translator, or reject any proofreading jobs to avoid this.


You are right, I was a bit extreme. The client could say that no job will be awarded as a result of the proofreading. A three month moratorium should be sufficient.


Sounds nice and fair, but think about the possible consequences in terms of price and time for the client, whether it be a direct client or an agency.


The consequence is one-fifth extra fee for proofreading if the second proofreader needs to be hired, i.e. the total proofreading fee is increased by 20%. The time lost negotiating is a day or two when phone or skype chat is used. If this is unacceptable then the client cares much more about price than quality, and hence it is not a client that I wish to have.


 

Milos Prudek  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 23:08
English to Czech
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
invoice cut May 13, 2010

Krzysztof Kajetanowicz wrote:

I sometimes see my translations with changes either preferential or even from correct to incorrect. I couldn't care less though.


And if your translation fee is cut fifty per cent as a result of unjust review, do you still not care? If the agency tells you that they need to halve your fee to recover the cost of redoing the translation where all the changes are rewording with no real merit, do you still not care?


 

Stanislav Pokorny  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 23:08
English to Czech
+ ...
Quality and Business May 13, 2010

The consequence is one-fifth extra fee for proofreading if the second proofreader needs to be hired, i.e. the total proofreading fee is increased by 20%. The time lost negotiating is a day or two when phone or skype chat is used. If this is unacceptable then the client cares much more about price than quality, and hence it is not a client that I wish to have.


It might well be much more than that, depending on the proofreader's/reviewer's rate. Regarding time, this also very much depends on the project size and the quality of the initial translation. You are assuming that you always receive good translations for proofreading, which is – unfortunately enough – not always the case.

Speaking about direct clients, most of those I have are quite quality-aware. But most of them also have tight, though reasonable schedules and budgets.

Well, I may not be a good businessman, but so far I have failed to find a client who is ready to pay € 0.3 per source word and accept 1,000 words per day.


 

Stanislav Pokorny  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 23:08
English to Czech
+ ...
I would care, sometimes May 13, 2010

Milos Prudek wrote:

Krzysztof Kajetanowicz wrote:

I sometimes see my translations with changes either preferential or even from correct to incorrect. I couldn't care less though.


And if your translation fee is cut fifty per cent as a result of unjust review, do you still not care? If the agency tells you that they need to halve your fee to recover the cost of redoing the translation where all the changes are rewording with no real merit, do you still not care?


I would care in case the proofreader finds formal mistakes and mistranslations. I don't care about preferential changes.


 

Krzysztof Kajetanowicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 23:08
English to Polish
+ ...
:) May 13, 2010

Milos Prudek wrote:

Krzysztof Kajetanowicz wrote:

I sometimes see my translations with changes either preferential or even from correct to incorrect. I couldn't care less though.


And if your translation fee is cut fifty per cent as a result of unjust review, do you still not care? If the agency tells you that they need to halve your fee to recover the cost of redoing the translation where all the changes are rewording with no real merit, do you still not care?


Well obviously I would.


 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 23:08
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
It is a free market May 13, 2010

So you are very welcome to make suggestions, but there are thousands of agencies, proofreaders and translators out there. Most of them FREElancers, which means they are free to negotiate any terms they can with each other.

I agree, there are some horrible stories of proofreaders about, and many are certainly true.

However, you cannot regulate the market, for better or worse. If you can do it in one country, agencies will simply send work across the border to another, where they can get what they want at a price they want. Luckily, many clients are actually interested in reasonable quality and will pay for it if they understand what it takes to produce it.

Drop the clients you cannot work with, and do not waste time on them.

You are welcome to warn colleagues - in general terms in the forums, or make entries on the Blue Board about specific outsourcers. This does actually have an effect.
You can also add entries (WWA, Willing to Work Again with ...) on many translators' profiles, and these do not have to be positive, though they must be fair.

Many of the jobs I proofread are only a few pages long, maybe only one. Often the deadlines are tight, so there is no time for dialogues halfway through.
I make sure they are ´fit for purpose´, and send two files back to the client. One is clean and ready for the end client (IMHO), and in the other I mark the changes I have made, typically with the Track Changes or Highlight functions in Word.

Then the translator or anyone along the chain can reject or question my changes if they want to, but they very rarely do. This is normal practice with many clients I know.

Sometimes translators actually ask for their work to be proofread by me, because we work well together.
I do not like the idea of only proofreading, or being banned from proofreading other people's work if you translate. On the contrary, I do both, and both jobs benefit from it.

I learn a lot from proofreading, and as a proofreader I sympathise with the translator, because next day I will be translating myself!

I do believe that most proofreaders (especially those who follow this forum) take their work very seriously. While they must deliver a text that the end client can use, they are translators themselves, and know the issues from both sides.

Don´t assume that they are all unfair, just because you have been unlucky with some of them.


[Edited at 2010-05-13 12:07 GMT]


 

Milos Prudek  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 23:08
English to Czech
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
True May 13, 2010

Christine Andersen wrote:
Don´t assume that they are all unfair, just because you have been unlucky with some of them.


I did not assume that. In fact I met at least one proofreader who was fair, balanced, thorough and just. I do not intend to regulate the market. My post is a suggestion. I liked your reply a lot and I agree with all that you said.


 
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