Anonymity vs. credit for your work
Thread poster: KMPrice

KMPrice  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 00:42
French to English
Oct 21, 2013

I am in a quandary, and would really appreciate the input and advice of Proz.com members.

I have been freelancing almost exclusively for the same agency for 10 years. About a year ago, something came up which had me mentioning that in Microsoft Word, when you hover over my comments and edits in a document (Track changes On), My name comes up. The owner of the agency was surprised, and has since requested that Their name be shown on all edits, requiring me to go into Word's preferences, and change the user information, whenever i'm on an editing job for them (this of course screws up my name on outgoing emails in Entourage, but c'est la vie).

This of course leaves me with Zero proof that the work is mine.

Is this normal practice? Would you go along with it?


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Valery Shapovalenko  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 10:42
English to Russian
+ ...
You have two options Oct 21, 2013

One - leave the status quo as it is. Second - let them (agency) do their job and clean up your name and replace with whatever they want it (and violate your intellectual rights). The latter are secured by a number of european laws (take a tour and see) and nobody can force you to deny your property, though it is 'so intangible' - what your translation is.

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nordiste  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 09:42
English to French
+ ...
employee vs freelancer Oct 21, 2013

You work on YOUR computer with YOUR software, so it normal that your information comes up as the person who did the comments or updated the TM or whatever.

Your are not an employee, you are a freelancer responsible for your own work. If you make a mistake or they dont't like some comments, the agency will blame you, not the agency's owner.

I would not accept such a request.

Imagine when every agency comes with the same request... you cannot waste you time to switch from one name to another. And if you fail to do the change (emergency deadline) you could end with a complete mix-up between agencies.

As for the proof I suppose that you save the documents you edited before sending them, so it is not really an issue here. And I suppose also that the end client does not receive the version with all comments but a final documents.


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Carl Carter
Germany
Local time: 09:42
German to English
Stick to your own initials Oct 21, 2013

Hi Karen,

I agree with the other respondents - don't change your initials. If the agency wants their own name or initials in the comments, then it's their job to change them accordingly (which probably means creating new comments on a PC of their own, copying your remarks into those and then deleting your own comments). You're not an employee of theirs, but an external freelancer, so you are perfectly entitled to use your own initials in comments when you edit texts for them.

What a strange request on the agency's part! They obviously want to save themselves some work and time. They want you to make it look as though the text has been edited by the agency, yet you aren't officially part of their firm - you're not on their payroll.

On the other hand, I guess you might consider "helping them out" for a fee as what they want you to do is really an extra service - it involves re-configuring Word on your own PC before and after you edit the file in question. But do you really want to anonymise your own work?

Regards

Carl




[Edited at 2013-10-21 10:10 GMT]


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Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 09:42
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Standard practice Oct 21, 2013

Karen Michelle Price wrote:

I am in a quandary, and would really appreciate the input and advice of Proz.com members.

I have been freelancing almost exclusively for the same agency for 10 years. About a year ago, something came up which had me mentioning that in Microsoft Word, when you hover over my comments and edits in a document (Track changes On), My name comes up. The owner of the agency was surprised, and has since requested that Their name be shown on all edits, requiring me to go into Word's preferences, and change the user information, whenever i'm on an editing job for them (this of course screws up my name on outgoing emails in Entourage, but c'est la vie).

This of course leaves me with Zero proof that the work is mine.

Is this normal practice? Would you go along with it?





Hi Karen,

the standard practice is to include the name of the person who has edited something and who is, therefore, responsible for the changes, in this case you.

You might want to point this out to your client. The responsibility for the correctness of the translation and its revision lies with the "author". This also applies in case of an error. Do you believe that your client would want to be held liable for any error (and the resulting consequences) in the final translation without the legal option to turn back to you as the editor?

I'm not sure if there are any rules explicitely governing the editor's /proofreader's "copyright" in standard translations. However, you, as the editor/proofreader, hold title to your changes and can therefore be held liable for anything resulting from or out of a mistake, which can be quite severe in case of translations of operating or assembly manuals.

In case your client insists on this practice, you might consider entering a clause into your contract that stipulates that you cannot be held liable for any mistakes and the consequences resulting from it, simply because you are not the official authour of the document and/or its revision results.

Regarding your question, I've never had any client ask me to change the track changes from my to their name, and I don't think I would agree to it simply because I am proud of my work and will take full responsibility for any mistakes (hoping, though, that there aren't any.


If you like - and do have that extra time which should be reflected in your rates -, you can save your changes in your name to your hard drive or external had drive before you enter the agency's name. And while you're changing the name from yours to theirs, take a screenshot of it as proof that the work was in fact done by you.

But quite frankly, I wouldn't do it or apply a 10% surcharge for this additional work.

[Edited at 2013-10-21 08:26 GMT]


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Jane F
France
Local time: 09:42
Member (2012)
French to English
Why would an agency make a request like that? Oct 21, 2013

I'm guessing that the agency prefers your editing work to remain anonymous because they are worried that the end client might see your name and try to contact you directly, thereby cutting out the agency.

But if at the beginning of your relationship with the agency you signed a confidentiality contract to the effect that you promise not to enter into direct contact with the end client, surely that is enough in terms of confidentiality and anonymity.

I agree with the comments made by Nordiste, the work you do, on your computer, is YOUR work and there's no reason why you should go along with their request.


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xxxnrichy
France
Local time: 09:42
French to Dutch
+ ...
Related problem Oct 21, 2013

One of my agencies asked me why I came up in the TM under different names. They suspected me to subcontract to other people. I worked only with Wordfast, and the TMs are in text only, and well organized. The answer was that I work with different computers, one being under my name, the other computer used for redundancy reasons was called PC 2, the preceding computer (now dead) had a different name, same for my mother's computer, etc. I think that we as freelancers should be aware that this can be a problem, especially in a competetive climate. The proofreader can see who was the translator, both in the TM and in Word and in Acrobat's comments. Same for the end clients. I got the idea that maybe we should chose to use our first name only. But finally I decided that I have nothing to hide and left it as it was. And I agree with Nordiste, this would be too much hassle. As for credits, I know that I won't have any, as soon as the work is paid the client is owner (and can resell it).

[Edited at 2013-10-21 09:06 GMT]


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 09:42
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Don't change it Oct 21, 2013

Some years ago, when I worked on a previous computer, an agency asked me to change settings in Word. The computer showed some default code, and they actually wanted to keep track of who had done what, for all the reasons others have given above.

I reset it to show Christine A.

This did not affect my e-mails, only my 'signature' in tracked changes and possibly Trados TMs, but it was some years ago and guaranteed to be on a different setup.

I would keep things as they are.

I would also be wary of working almost exclusively for a single client, but that is a completely different discussion.


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LEXpert  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:42
Member (2008)
Croatian to English
+ ...
The agency's real fear Oct 21, 2013

Jane F wrote:
I'm guessing that the agency prefers your editing work to remain anonymous because they are worried that the end client might see your name and try to contact you directly, thereby cutting out the agency.


How likely is that, though? There's only a very limited benefit in poaching a translator after the translation is done. Most end clients don't spend enough on translation to make it worthwhile to go through the trouble of poaching translators, or their translation needs are so extensive that they have no capability or desire to manage multiple individual translators and editors in various languages. That's why they hire an agency in the first place.

An agency's real fear isn't translators getting poached - it's translators poaching customers (although I suspect that this too happens a lot less often than one might think), since it's harder than it looks.

If I were an end client, and a sub-subcontractor contacted me to circumvent both my and their own agreements with my contractor, my first question would be to ask if they would so easily break any agreements they might make with me.


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John Holland  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 09:42
Member (2012)
French to English
Compromise? Oct 21, 2013

Perhaps you could change the "name" field in MS Word to read "[Your Name] proofreading for [Company Name]" when working with documents for this company.

It's a true statement which gives both parties an acknowledgement.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 09:42
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Your edits would not result in credit for you anyway Oct 21, 2013

Karen Michelle Price wrote:
Anonymity vs. credit for your work


Even if you submit your edited versions with Tracked Changes enabled and your user ID in all of the edits, your name will not appear in final file that is published or printed or sent or whatever, so you're not really losing out on any credit that you would otherwise have obtained. If the agency delivers your edited file to the final client, the client may see your name, but they won't contact you personally, even if they could figure out what your contact details are, and they're not going to give you credit in the publication just because your name is in the Tracked Changes.

This, then, is not about anonimity or credit for your work, but about making it simpler for the agency to present a unified, professional image towards their clients, by not sending them files that contain left-over meta data from their freelancers' computers.


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Orrin Cummins  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 16:42
Japanese to English
+ ...
True, but Oct 21, 2013

Samuel Murray wrote:

Karen Michelle Price wrote:
Anonymity vs. credit for your work


This, then, is not about anonimity or credit for your work, but about making it simpler for the agency to present a unified, professional image towards their clients, by not sending them files that contain left-over meta data from their freelancers' computers.





This statement is true, but it also makes clear that the party who benefits from these changes is the agency, not the translator. Thus, the agency should be the one to make such changes if they deem them necessary.


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Marie-Helene Dubois  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 09:42
Member (2011)
Spanish to English
+ ...
I'm with Samuel Oct 21, 2013

in that I don't think this is a "credit for your work" situation. You won't get credit for your work anyway. What I would object to in this case is the additional non-translation work being asked of me, if I'm being asked to do it for free. I don't think I would object to the client per se but I would communicate to them that I will charge any formatting work, including changing the format of comments, at my standard hourly rate.

You'd be amazed at how quickly agencies suddenly figure out that they can do it themselves when faced with a potential additional charge.


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Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 09:42
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Additional charges Oct 21, 2013

Marie-Helene Dubois wrote:

in that I don't think this is a "credit for your work" situation. You won't get credit for your work anyway. What I would object to in this case is the additional non-translation work being asked of me, if I'm being asked to do it for free. I don't think I would object to the client per se but I would communicate to them that I will charge any formatting work, including changing the format of comments, at my standard hourly rate.

You'd be amazed at how quickly agencies suddenly figure out that they can do it themselves when faced with a potential additional charge.


Indeed, when an agency is asked to pay extra for any additional services, it is amazing how quickly these additional services are no longer required. On the contrary, their clients will have to pay for each additional service, and paying the full rate.


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:42
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Same here Oct 21, 2013

Christine Andersen wrote:

Some years ago, when I worked on a previous computer, an agency asked me to change settings in Word. The computer showed some default code, and they actually wanted to keep track of who had done what, for all the reasons others have given above.

I reset it to show Christine A.

This did not affect my e-mails, only my 'signature' in tracked changes and possibly Trados TMs, but it was some years ago and guaranteed to be on a different setup.

I would keep things as they are.

I would also be wary of working almost exclusively for a single client, but that is a completely different discussion.

I first set mine up as Sheila Wilson, then changed it to Sheila W as there are times when it's better to be identifiable to only those you know personally rather than to Joe Public.

Personally, I would need a very large payment to entice me to play about with that particular setting. It can be very, very difficult to remember to change it back again afterwards: out of sight, out of mind. How much would it hurt you to send the next client's text labelled with the other agency's name? At the very least it would be highly embarrassing.

(Off topic: I agree that if you aren't working for 3 or 4 clients, at the very least, in any month, then you're in a very shaky position. Of course, if this is your only client then you'll probably have to agree to their demands, whatever they are.)


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