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The Value of the Blue Board
Thread poster: svenfrade

svenfrade  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 17:30
French to German
+ ...
Nov 22, 2011

I used to think that the Blue Board was a valuable aid for translators to assess the trustworthiness of an outsourcer.

Unfortunately, it seems that I was wrong. I have just noticed that an agency I used to work for which had collected a number of unfavourable ratings since I started working for them has been given five or six excellent ratings within two weeks' time since the beginning of November.

In turn, four very unfavourable ratings have been removed, one of them at least two years old, the other three about a year or at least several months old.

This, in my opinion, totally undermines the value of the BB - which is one of the reasons I pay for membership here. However, some colleagues seem to very reluctant to rate outsourcers or are very quick to remove a negative rating for whatever reason. On the other hand, if people still fall for outsourcers with a very impressive list of 1s and 2s, perhaps the BB isn't very valuable and reliable after all and I should be looking elsewhere for advice...


 

Teymur Suleymanov  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:30
Russian to English
+ ...
BB is not the apanacea from scammers Nov 22, 2011

Let's imagine I own one of those scheme-producing companies, and I have had several bad responses. I could just as easily have asked my bunch of friends to create profiles on PROZ and start making really EXCELLENT feedback that will just drown any negative stuff people have to say.

Easy.

Don't believe everything you see.
There's always another side to it.


 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:30
Spanish to English
+ ...
One person's meat Nov 22, 2011

...is another one's poison.

Some people may take umbrage at what others perceive as a mere oversight, and give an agency a low rating because of some minor misunderstanding, only to remove it when the dispute is settled. Some people see it as a way to put pressure on agencies.

For example, an agency I work with offered me some "urgent" work - but I was too busy, so recommended a colleague. He did the translation and billed them immediately. When they didn't pay him after 30 days he began to get annoyed and started asking them about the payment. What he didn't realise, or hadn't bothered to find out, was that this agency usually pays within the 3 months after delivery. By the time I told him about this modus operandi, there was already a bad dynamic between them. He had posted a low rating on the BB (which he may have later withdrawn, I don't know) and I know that even when desperate for translators they have never offered him any more work since then.

I don't rely on the Board myself much, and only use it to get an idea if the agency/company is more or less bona fide or not.

PS: Maybe the agency in question has got better? You never know, and it can also happen the other way round - my internet provider just changed hands and they now don't answer any queries at all!



[Edited at 2011-11-22 17:20 GMT]


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 16:30
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Hmmm Nov 22, 2011

inkweaver wrote:

some colleagues seem to very reluctant to rate outsourcers or are very quick to remove a negative rating for whatever reason.



What do you think the reason might be?

Personally I'm always very suspicious about outsourcers who have a string of 5s and totally favourable comments. I prefer to see a balance of favourable and less favourable, and a note of honesty in the comments.

There's one agency in particular I'm tracking that seems to have glowing comments posted about it every day. I can't help disbelieving the comments when I read them ! There are just too many.

But I must say that used judiciously, the BB can be a useful tool.

[Edited at 2011-11-22 17:46 GMT]


 

Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 17:30
German to Serbian
+ ...
Intimidation? Nov 22, 2011

Tom in London wrote:
What do you think the reason might be?


Different types of intimidation.

And I agree with you about a "note of honesty" in the comments. Instead of just clear superlatives.


 

philgoddard
United States
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
It's extremely valuable. Nov 22, 2011

For all its shortcomings, BlueBoard is a very useful tool when considering work from new customers.

It can also be a great way of putting pressure on bad payers. One customer of mine kept issuing dire threats of legal action because I wrote on Blue Board that one of my invoices was a YEAR overdue. He complained that other ProZ users were seeing my entry and turning down work.

Eventually he paid up - not because his conscience was troubling him, but because it was damaging his business. He then continued putting pressure on me to remove my entry, but I told him the facts it contained were still true, and suggested that instead of ranting at me, he work on getting good reviews from other translators.


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 16:30
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Indeed Nov 22, 2011

philgoddard wrote:

It can also be a great way of putting pressure on bad payers.


Like all open systems that rely on correct behaviour by users, a certain amount of skill, experience, and scepticism should be exercised by the translator trying to use the BB to ascertain whether or not a particular outsourcer is reliable. Not all that glitters is gold.icon_wink.gif

Certainly, I've had a couple of bad experiences in the past when BB played an essential role in getting me paid.

One particularly bad non-payer ended up paying me in full within a few minutes, when he realised he was about to be blocked from Proz.

Then he asked me to change my negative comment into a positive one, because he had paid !

I considered that to be highly unethical, and changed my previous negative comment to an even worse one.

So all in all, thank you BB and thank you Proz for this very important safety net.

[Edited at 2011-11-22 20:05 GMT]


 

Anton Konashenok  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 17:30
English to Russian
+ ...
Uneven scores may have a specific reason Nov 22, 2011

Some agencies get rated very unevenly. A good example would be any agency that offers lots of work, but at ridiculous rates. A novice would be extremely happy with that, while a seasoned translator would consider it totally unacceptable. An opposite example would be an agency that rewards excellent work generously but is very harsh to unscrupulous contractors.

In fact, I know at least three agencies with uneven scores on Blue Board, all of them quite big. One of them gave me a couple of assignment on decent terms, then started to bombard me with five-page questionnaires and to drive the rates lower... and lower... and lower, until I asked to be removed from their database. Conversely, another one, generally known for low rates, pays me very well because they know they can trust me with complex jobs. I rated the former 2 and the latter 5, but it's my personal experience, and your mileage may vary.

Generally, when I see an agency with very uneven scores, I look at the KudoZ/BrowniZ scores and sometimes also CVs of those who gave the best and worst scores - one can often see a trend.

[Edited at 2011-11-22 21:35 GMT]


 

Cilian O'Tuama  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:30
German to English
+ ...
If you accept what you call "ridiculous rates", you can't blame the agency! Nov 22, 2011

Anton Konashenok wrote:

Some agencies get rated very unevenly. A good example would be any agency that offers lots of work, but at ridiculous rates.


The price is agreed beforehand. If you accept it, and are not happy with it later, you've only yourself to blame. This does not justify a negative BB entry, IMO.
icon_smile.gif


 

Anton Konashenok  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 17:30
English to Russian
+ ...
It's not the rates, it's the dynamics Nov 22, 2011

Cilian, I totally agree with your point - it's the translator who should set the rates, not the agency. However, some agencies, let them rename nameless, first ask you for a quote, accept it gladly, then keep bombarding you with job offers at half the rate you quoted. When you ask them what's wrong, they reply: "Oh, we were just trying to be good to you by offering you more work. And by the way, now were are having a huge contract coming, and we'll certainly be able to pay your real rates, would you be so kind as to fill out this 5-page questionnaire?" You fill it as a gesture of good will and - guess what? - get a lowball offer again.

Someone may even recognize the guys.


 

Cilian O'Tuama  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:30
German to English
+ ...
Outsourcers with a string of 5s Nov 22, 2011

Tom in London wrote:
Personally I'm always very suspicious about outsourcers who have a string of 5s and totally favourable comments. I prefer to see a balance of favourable and less favourable, and a note of honesty in the comments.


We’re one of the outsourcers with a string of 5s.

A couple of years ago someone gave us a BB rating of 1 complaining about this and that. We had absolutely no objection to the negative rating and saw no need to even consider undertaking anything to have it removed from public view because we were able to present our side of the story in the same public view and we felt very strongly that we were in the right.

This rating was subsequently hidden. I’d have preferred had it remained visible, even though I was the accused.

I read somewhere on the site that negative BB entries are hidden/forbidden if the dispute concerns “quality“ issues.

Maybe that’s why there are so many “perfect“ outsourcers.

My impression is that to get a 4+ BB rating these days, all an outsourcer really needs to do is pay on time (and in full, of course). Would a freelancer then give anything lower than a 4?

Please don’t be suspicious of straight 5s! Maybe the outsourcer can’t help it!icon_smile.gif And has simply been fortunate to amass a team of freelancers who deliver affordable quality.

Nowadays we actually discourage BB ratings (and we don’t support WWA either). Although I could imagine both being useful indicators for other freelancers/outsourcers.

A good BB rating to me basically just means freelancers are paid on time (so freelancer should be happy, even if agreed rates are later considered "ridiculous"). It does not say anything about the outsourcer other than he pays on time. Quality doesn’t seem to enter the BB equation. It’s only about punctual payment.

Your views? (I don’t wish to hijack the thread…, it just got me thinking.)
c

edited to add "agreed"

[Edited at 2011-11-22 23:22 GMT]


 

Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 17:30
German to Serbian
+ ...
My view Nov 22, 2011

When it comes to a 5 rating, it's never ONLY about punctual payment, very far from that.

If I find an outsourcer's overall conduct impressive (organization, management, files, etc), I'm going to add a 5 rating.

If the outsourcer pays on time, but I don't like how they converse to me, their tone, or if they are badly organized, technically inept etc, then I'm probably going to refrain from adding any comment at all (I don't need to add a comment about everyone).

If everything is well, but they pay late, I won't go adding the 1 rating straight ahead, but will first try to clear things up with them. If they cooperate (late payers usually don't), then I add the BB entry and get paid quickly (although in some instances it wasn't that quick). In few cases, I was paid just by sending one reminder. Reminders are always a pain, since they have 30 (or 60 days) to prepare the payment, and it's too much if they are late even by one day.

Overall performance is what's evaluated.

[Edited at 2011-11-22 22:55 GMT]


 

Cilian O'Tuama  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:30
German to English
+ ...
True, it is not "only" about punctual payment, but first and foremost. Nov 22, 2011

Lingua 5B wrote:

Overall performance is what's evaluated.


I still maintain that a freelancer who is paid on time will not give a BB rating lower than 4.


 

Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 17:30
German to Serbian
+ ...
A question for everyone Nov 22, 2011

Have you ever had a case of a late payer where other aspects of their conduct were exemplary? Or there was always at least one or two aspects other than payment that were problematic?

 

xxxinge van dri
Local time: 17:30
German to Dutch
+ ...
Yes, I had Nov 23, 2011

Lingua 5B wrote:

Have you ever had a case of a late payer where other aspects of their conduct were exemplary? Or there was always at least one or two aspects other than payment that were problematic?


In two cases at least, both agencies with rows of 1s, in different countries, the companies were real, the PMs/owners skillfull, the project management was exemplary, the contact excellent, the work interesting, the end clients prestigious and there was no problem as far as prices were concerned. But when payment was due, nothing. Company 1 disappeared, company 2 had lots of problems for about year and now seems to become more regular, which cannot yet be seen in the BB (I suppose some of those translators removed their comments, but there were several dozens of them, and others remained).


 
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