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Partial endorsement of Guidelines
Thread poster: Samuel Murray

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 23:12
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Oct 19, 2008

G'day everyone

I can see the value of having Professional Guidelines and endorsing them. However, I cannot endorse then as-is. I agree with most of them, but I don't want to bind myself to things that I disagree with or regard as trivial. It would be nice if I could say "I endorse them, except for...".

So here's an idea for enabling partial endorsement. In such a partial endorsement, the translator writes on his proile page (in the endorsement section) which parts of the guidelines he disagrees with, and why.

I suggest that partial endorsement is given the same value as full endorsement (in other words, it is not a lesser endorsement).

This may also be an opportunity for translators to qualify their endorsement of some of the guidelines that are poorly written and/or ambiguous.

There are currently over 6000 ProZians who have endorsed the guidelines as-is. I wonder how many of them have endorsed it without a second thought, not thinking clearly about the consequences of their endorsement. Well, I would love to join in, but ... I can't at the moment.

A partial endorsement (i.e. a qualified endorsement) would give me the opportunity to show that I agree with the principles of the Guidelines as much as everyone else does.

Your thoughts?

==

[Edited: removed comment that may be construed as implying that some of those 6000+ ProZians are dishonest.]

[Edited at 2008-10-19 15:15]


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solange trad
Portuguese
+ ...
"Endorse" Oct 19, 2008

Hi Samuel,

Interesting question.

Here's what I think:

- "To endorse" does not mean "to follow when doing work" it means that the person approves of the guidelines. This difference in meaning means that the person implies they follow the guidelines but is not being "dishonest" as he is not saying outright that he actually follows them when working.

- The idea of a "partial endorsement" does not make sense. it makes more sense to either endorse or not endorse. So, if you do not want to endorse, you could indicate a set of professional guidelines which you do follow.

- As I understand it, whether a person indicates endorsement of a set of guidelines, it is a marketing technique, aimed at gaining the trust of the client who can use this information to hire or not hire the translator.

A mention of a "partial endorsement" might confuse the client. I would say it is more useful for the client to se a list of professional guidelines which you do follow, rather than a mention of what you do not agree with in an existing set of guidelines.

If you do not find a suitable set of guidelines already written, why not write your own, and show that to the client. That way you are showing the client what you do agree with, not what you don't. You could also choose to use another term in your own marketing text, other than endorse, to show your potential clients that you stand out from others in your field.

The Proz profile of the person who is looking for work is a business person's profile, and any business could be accused of being dishonest in the way they market themselves. The business of selling is all about using language to persuade the target market they are hearing something different from what they are hearing (For example an international hamburger chain could say that they "endorse" healthy eating but that does not mean that their product is healthy. At the same time, psycologically the client might think they are indeed eating something healthy because of the way it has been sold).







-


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Tina Vonhof  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 15:12
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
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Can't have your cake and eat it Oct 19, 2008

You don't say which points you disagree with but I think you can't have your cake and eat it. You either endorse them in full or you don't. If people could pick and choose from the guidelines - and different people might pick different things - the guidelines would become meaningless.

I have just read them again. Some are indeed more important than others and some may never happen to me, but on the whole these are 'rules' that I, and I believe most translators, live by anyway.

However, if you have reservations about specific points, why not bring them up for discussion. Maybe some are open to misinterpretation or misunderstanding and that would need to be straightened out.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 23:12
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
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A different discussion Oct 19, 2008

Tina Vonhof wrote:
You don't say which points you disagree with... why not bring them up for discussion. Maybe some are open to misinterpretation or misunderstanding and that would need to be straightened out.


I specifically did not mention any because this topic has been discussed before. However, I'll gladly restate my position, in another subforum more suited for such a discussion.

The problem with professional guidelines is that it gives the disgruntled client only additional ammunition, without giving anything to the translator. As a professional I have no problem providing such guarantees (or ammunition, if you will) if I believe they are standard to the industry. The ProZ.com guidelines contain superfluous items and badly worded items and items that apply only to certain circumstances.

If people could pick and choose from the guidelines - and different people might pick different things - the guidelines would become meaningless.


Only if what they pick and choose are not known or not generally accessible. My point is to give translators that opportunity but at the same time make sure that if translators do choose to endorse only partially, that their partial endorsement is very obvious and their reasons are not vague or hidden.


[Edited at 2008-10-19 16:26]


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:12
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Proz's Guidelines... just daily work really! Oct 19, 2008

To me, endorsing the guidelines had no second thought. I already acted that way (in all the Guidelines) before these Guidelines existed. So endorsing them does not change anything in my work.

What part of the Guidelines do you think would raise a second thought?

Maybe "accept only assignments that they have the knowledge, resources and time to do well" is one that could be discussed: when we start in this profession, we don't always know enough about gearboxes to translate about them without research; but we do have the ability to research with enough time and deliver a good job. Is this one of the areas you mean?


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 23:12
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
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A different discussion also Oct 19, 2008

Tomás Cano Binder wrote:
What part of the Guidelines do you think would raise a second thought?


If you think a discussion of my proposal above can only be meaningful if accompanied by a discussion of which items we agree or disagree with, then (a) do a forum search for previous discussions on this matter or (b) say so, and I'll open a new discussion about it in the appropriate forum.

The point is that the Guidelines are unlikely to change soon, because then all those 6000+ translators will have to be contacted to re-endorse it.


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Uldis Liepkalns  Identity Verified
Latvia
Local time: 00:12
Member (2003)
English to Latvian
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Re: Partial endorsement of Guidelines Oct 19, 2008

Hi Samuel,

reading this Subject I remembered Russian proverb on being "slightly" (or "a little bit") pregnant

Uldis

[Rediģēts plkst. 2008-10-19 16:45]


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 23:12
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Slightly pregnant Oct 19, 2008

Uldis Liepkalns wrote:
Reading this Subject I remembered the Russian proverb on being "slightly" (or "a little bit") pregnant.


Sure, but the Guidelines is not a simple, singular statement. It is a whole collection of statements, and overall they are ageeable (in the literal sense). But they are poorly written. They were dreamt up by someone, and now they turn some of us who are professionals into unprofessionals with the click of a button.

It is not because I am partially professional that I want to endorse the Guidelines partially -- indeed it is because I'm fully professional that I want to do so. And that is also why the partial endorsement should have the same value as the full endorsement.

I can see how partial endorsement with full value can be abused, and that is why I'm asking also that translators who do a partial endorsement also say so clearly and give reasons clearly. I'm not asking for a system whereby a translator can simply choose any 7 out of 10 points and have himself considered professional.

The ideal would be to rewrite and overhaul that piece of cr... erm, document, but that isn't going to happen, so let's think of ways to use the Guidelines to our benefit.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 23:12
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
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Comment on solange trad Oct 19, 2008

solange trad wrote:
- "To endorse" does not mean "to follow when doing work" it means that the person approves of the guidelines. This difference in meaning means that the person implies they follow the guidelines but is not being "dishonest" as he is not saying outright that he actually follows them when working.


I understand what you're saying, but I suspect most clients and many of the 6000+ translators do not interpret the endorsement that way. Your argument is simply your way of justifying your endorsement to yourself. If you endorse guidelines, you're noit simply saying "I think these are good but I don't necessarily follow it". No, when you endorse guidelines, you're saying "I believe this is true and I believe that I and all others like me should follow it".

- The idea of a "partial endorsement" does not make sense. it makes more sense to either endorse or not endorse.


If the Guidelines had said "translators agree to wait 90 days for payment", I'm sure you would not have endorsed it. This may sound silly but it shows how a single statement can make an entire set of statements unendorseable. Even if you agreed wholeheartedly with everything else in the Guidelines, but could not honestly accept his one little item, then you would not be able to endorse "the entire Guidelines".

- As I understand it, whether a person indicates endorsement of a set of guidelines, it is a marketing technique, aimed at gaining the trust of the client who can use this information to hire or not hire the translator.


I agree completely -- it is a marketing gimmick. But that doesn't change the fact that it is an endorsement. A translator's word is his word, even if he does speak it for marketing purposes only.

If you do not find a suitable set of guidelines already written, why not write your own, and show that to the client.


That is not what this is about. This proposal is not about just any set of guidelines, but about ProZ.com's own arbitrary set of Guidelines. Here's why:

You can act professionally and pay the full ProZ.com membership fee, but unless you endorse those particular set of Guidelines, you are already excluded from certain features of this site. Endorsing some other set of guidelines will not give you access to those features.


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Vito Smolej
Germany
Local time: 23:12
Member (2004)
English to Slovenian
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How to bootstrap it Oct 19, 2008

I understand Sam's hesitation to get specific on points of disagreement as well as his point as regards the "take it or leave it" attitude.

I suppose the Guidelines were written by ProZ' founding father(s) . I really can't remember any discussion on the subject. So it's more like "for the people", and less "by the people". However, I don't think there's been too much or too little said. I cant read very well between the lines anyhow. Room to improve? There's always room for amendments (I assume).

Full disclosure: I have endorsed the guidelines.

[urejeno ob 2008-10-19 19:26]


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:12
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
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The lame and the liar Oct 19, 2008

solange trad wrote:
- As I understand it, whether a person indicates endorsement of a set of guidelines, it is a marketing technique, aimed at gaining the trust of the client who can use this information to hire or not hire the translator.


Yes, but as we say in Spain: "It's easier to catch a liar than a lame". A customer might believe he can trust the professionality of a newly acquired translator, but the truth will come to the surface rather quickly.

It's the same as declaring false credentials or memberships, declaring experience in some software, or saying that you are native in the language when you only have a parent in that language and you've never lived in your "native" country. All this can, and will, be easily detected by the customer or his end customers.


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:12
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
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The Guidelines are just the basics of our profession! Oct 19, 2008

Samuel Murray wrote:
You can act professionally and pay the full ProZ.com membership fee, but unless you endorse those particular set of Guidelines, you are already excluded from certain features of this site. Endorsing some other set of guidelines will not give you access to those features.


But Samuel... can you tell us which of the Guidelines are NOT in line with acting professionally in our profession? Isn't the contents and spirit of the Guidelines what defines good ethics and reasonable dealings with customers in our trade?

I still don't get your point my friend! I'm sorry: I'm the kind of person who learns by examples. What Guideline do you think is incompatible with a professional attitude in our trade, or misleading for that matter?


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:12
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
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Professional attitude is the same in every trade Oct 19, 2008

Let's think of a... er... hm... chartered accountant for instance. Let's say we want to hire a chartered accountant for our business. Don't we expect that our accountant belongs to the kind of people who?

- represent their credentials, capabilities and experiences honestly
- answer, courteously, inquiries related to services, fees and available equipment,
- accept only assignments that they have the knowledge, resources and time to do well
- disclose, prior to accepting any assignment, any biases that may have relevance
- agree, before work starts, what is to be delivered, as well as how, when, and who will bear any delivery cost
- agree, before work starts, on payment amount, timing and currency, and who will bear any payment cost

- treat all sensitive information as confidential, and take steps to protect that confidentiality
- take any and all steps necessary to ensure consistent delivery of work of a high professional standard
- accept responsibility for the quality of work they deliver, even when that work has been subcontracted
- do not attempt to change, after work has begun, agreed-upon terms (except by mutual consultation)
- do everything possible to meet agreed-upon terms, even when unforeseen problems are encountered

- do not directly contact end clients, or subcontractors, without permission
- attempt to resolve disputes directly among parties involved
- strive to continually improve their own skills
- do not unjustly criticize other professionals or their work
- capitalize on opportunities to further the industry as a whole
- do not engage in conduct or communication unbecoming of a professional

Honestly Samuel. This is what you would reasonably expect if you desired to hire the services of an accountant, lawyer, doctor, plumber, office assistant, software developer, sales person,... anybody! Wouldn't you expect all these things from anyone you hired for any need?

I assume you would expect these things from someone you hired. How come our trade should be any different?


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Giles Watson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 23:12
Italian to English
Changing guidelines Oct 19, 2008

Samuel Murray wrote:

G'day everyone

I can see the value of having Professional Guidelines and endorsing them. However, I cannot endorse then as-is. I agree with most of them, but I don't want to bind myself to things that I disagree with or regard as trivial. It would be nice if I could say "I endorse them, except for...".



Hi Samuel,

The guidelines are an integral part of the Certified Pro programme, which seems perfectly reasonable, and as a subscriber to that programme, I have endorsed them.
On the other hand, I agree with you that they should not be viewed as graven in stone. From past experience of Proz, though, I am confident that members and will be able to fine-tune the guidelines and continue to update them in line with changing circumstances.



The problem with professional guidelines is that it gives the disgruntled client only additional ammunition, without giving anything to the translator.



Clients can lose their gruntle for all sorts of reasons, sometimes in good faith, sometimes not. And they certainly don't need professional guidelines to justify non-payment if they don't want to settle our invoices



As a professional I have no problem providing such guarantees (or ammunition, if you will) if I believe they are standard to the industry. The ProZ.com guidelines contain superfluous items and badly worded items and items that apply only to certain circumstances.



You make a valid point. Why don't you tell us what modifications you would like to see? I don't think there are many technical problems about contacting 6,000 guideline endorsers to vote on proposals you or anyone else might have.

Frankly, I would be more concerned if the guidelines were assumed to be immutable.

Giles


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 23:12
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
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That is not relevant here Oct 19, 2008

Tomás Cano Binder wrote:
But Samuel... can you tell us which of the Guidelines are NOT in line with acting professionally in our profession?


The points of the Guidelines that I disagree with may not be the same points that someone else may not agree with. So it has no relevance to this discussion. You can't judge my proposal as valid or invalid based only on the fact that you are convinced or unconvinced of the merit of my own disagreement with the Guidelines.


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