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A concrete suggestion about the Blue Board
Thread poster: Mark Benson
Mark Benson  Identity Verified

English to Swedish
+ ...
Jan 3, 2014

Hi,

It's time to change the Blue Board.

Short background: I decided to work with a high-risk element. This person has been on ProZ for a long time and has a history as a non-payer. I interpreted the Blue Board ratings to have him be one who is now trying to do it right and chanced a collaboration.

Now that I'm starting to find out the full story, it's not pretty. I'm presently informing ProZ that this person is having himself appear on the site with fake contact info and a company name (AB) that's in violation of Swedish law. Hopefully more stuff will be uncovered, not least other payment issues, in order to finally eliminate him.

However, the reason why I decided to work with him is 1) yearly endorsing reviews by another Swedish CPN member and 2) the Blue Board. I'm dealing with 1) privately, so no need to go into that. Now let's look at the Blue Board.

Do I need to say anything more than I have in order to point out that maybe it can be improved? Let's keep that in a separate discussion. I'm now entering into a concrete suggestion of improvement:

1) Poster of review can be anonymous or appear with name and link. It's made clear that you can't review without being a member, that you're not anonymous to staff and that your actual experience with the agency can and will be verified if need be.

2) No review text.

3) No rating.

4) Review consists in whether or not you got paid - yes or no.

5) Secondly, payment can be delayed or on-time.

6) ALL non-payments lead to a non-payment issue in which reviewer and reviewed parties are dealt with by the standard procedure that ProZ has for this.

7) A number can be calculated based on point 5). Point 4) is relevant only to eliminate non-payers.

I would like to see a migration of the pesent BB to this format. I'm not going to argue or discuss. I only want to see what others can think of that's better. It's time that this happens!

All the very best!
Mark

[Edited at 2014-01-03 14:14 GMT]


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Barbara Bonatti Divers  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:25
Member (2013)
English to Italian
I agree Jan 3, 2014

Well done Mark, for finally voicing this widespread concern.

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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 22:25
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Readiness to work again Jan 3, 2014

The BB rating is about your Readiness to work again with this member (Bereitschaft zur weiteren Zusammenarbeit in German). It is not about payment issues, only indirectly.
I agree that BB can and should be improved, the original idea was just answering Yes or No, not the rating 0-5. I never give any other rating than 0 or 5. What would "4" mean? Almost ready wot work again for this member? Almost pregnant? Not quite ready?


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:25
Member (2008)
Italian to English
OK Jan 3, 2014

Mark Benson wrote:

I'm not going to argue or discuss


OK neither am I then !


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:25
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
I have several comments Jan 3, 2014

but I find your own comments:
Mark Benson wrote:
I'm not going to argue or discuss. I only want to see what others can think of that's better. It's time that this happens!

rather off-putting. And getting so vehement about a non-payment issue that the BB clearly warned you of in advance:
I decided to work with a high-risk element. This person has been on ProZ for a long time and has a history as a non-payer

doesn't seem to me to be entirely logical. My sympathies for your problems though.

Certainly there's room for improvement in the BB - that's why it's been discussed several times recently (possibly before you became a member last June) and no doubt will be in the future.


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EvaVer  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:25
Member (2012)
Czech to English
+ ...
There may be... Jan 3, 2014

other issues than non-payment, you know.

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Mark Benson  Identity Verified

English to Swedish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Sheila and others... Jan 3, 2014

Sheila Wilson wrote:

but I find your own comments:
Mark Benson wrote:
I'm not going to argue or discuss. I only want to see what others can think of that's better. It's time that this happens!

rather off-putting. And getting so vehement about a non-payment issue that the BB clearly warned you of in advance:
I decided to work with a high-risk element. This person has been on ProZ for a long time and has a history as a non-payer

doesn't seem to me to be entirely logical. My sympathies for your problems though.

Certainly there's room for improvement in the BB - that's why it's been discussed several times recently (possibly before you became a member last June) and no doubt will be in the future.


Thanks for posting, but as the creator of the topic, I wanted to limit it to the concrete suggestion that I created it to present. I did intend to put off discussion about other things, as they're really secondary if not only rhetorical props, but perhaps that backfired.

I am grateful that you're posting, however, as it's always interesting to take part of your opinions! So I don't want to stop your comments either!

I just wanted to clear this up and hope for your understanding.


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Mark Benson  Identity Verified

English to Swedish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Very good point! Jan 3, 2014

EvaVer wrote:

other issues than non-payment, you know.


That's indeed a valid point. In that case, can my suggestion be considered as a separate function to determine likelihood of payment issues (non-payment or delay)? Either to replace the present BB, or to complement another function where the agency can be reviewed.

About the excellent point you're making, I want to say that the present BB is limited in that it only allows a certain number of words in the review.

Thanks!


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Mark Benson  Identity Verified

English to Swedish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Modification based on feedback Jan 3, 2014

Sheila and Tom didn't seem to like the suggestion. Heinrich and Eva pointed out a couple of things that have made me change the suggestion.

I now realize that it's best to implement my suggestion alongside the existing ratings, which should then be allowed to be longer.

In that case everything is kept as it is, with the suggestion I made added. Let's say that the suggestion I'm making looks like this (roughly):

"This company has made P payments, of which N1 reported delayed. This company has N2 open payment issues of N3 allowed."

It's good for the company if it says (roughly):

"This company has made MANY payments, of which 0 were reported as delayed. The company has 0 payment issues (2 allowed)."

As I've entered into describing, this is a fast and easy to use system, the purpose of which is to reflect the likelihood of encountering payment issues with a company (and not the likelihood of working again, as correctly pointed out by Heinrich).

While there may be other issues than payment issues, and various reasons for not wanting to work with an agency again, as pointed out by Eva, I find it more pragmatic to make a distinction between a 'payment based review' and a 'general LWA review'.

My suggestion is exceedingly simple. It's a very small change that would make a very large difference. It would give a more accurate idea of the 'likelihood of payment issues' (as it were) to expect if working with a company, compared with the present LWA. I'm guessing that this would be a very helpful feature, providing info that many would find useful.

One rating per payment and companies can solicit ratings for their payments. 'Proof' of the payment should be submitted along with the rating, e.g. a reference number, either from PayPal or the bank (in case the rating needs to be substantiated fully at a later time to avoid abuse). One rating in absolute for the general LWA rating (which can be edited or retracted). Many advantages:

- Better general idea of a company's proneness to payment issues than present LWA rating.
- A 'start date' of the rating can be added, e.g. 'payments made since... of which... delayed' and 'x payment issues since' to reflect whether an agency is active paying translators while it is active looking or advertising.
- It's easier to report a payment issue. Non-payments can easily be turned into delayed payments in the system. Rather than disappear upon payment as now.
- Agencies that really care about paying their translators on time will stand out - and we want them to.
- Agencies that have issues with this can easily be reviewed as such. It's easy to either verify or refute such an issue. The involved parties simply make the necessary documentation available, which is normally very easy nowadays. ProZ.com can either handle this with present staff, or take in volunteers as the system is more logical and easier to maintain.
- In case of conflict about the payment issue, an LWA rating can be made to complement the matter, where the company gets a chance to respond.
- Much more!


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 22:25
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
In vain, I'm afraid Jan 3, 2014

Mark Benson wrote:

Sheila and Tom didn't seem to like the suggestion. Heinrich and Eva pointed out a couple of things that have made me change the suggestion.

I now realize that it's best to implement my suggestion alongside the existing ratings, which should then be allowed to be longer.

In that case everything is kept as it is, with the suggestion I made added. Let's say that the suggestion I'm making looks like this (roughly):

"This company has made P payments, of which N1 reported delayed. This company has N2 open payment issues of N3 allowed."

It's good for the company if it says (roughly):

"This company has made MANY payments, of which 0 were reported as delayed. The company has 0 payment issues (2 allowed)."

As I've entered into describing, this is a fast and easy to use system, the purpose of which is to reflect the likelihood of encountering payment issues with a company (and not the likelihood of working again, as correctly pointed out by Heinrich).

While there may be other issues than payment issues, and various reasons for not wanting to work with an agency again, as pointed out by Eva, I find it more pragmatic to make a distinction between a 'payment based review' and a 'general LWA review'.

My suggestion is exceedingly simple. It's a very small change that would make a very large difference. It would give a more accurate idea of the 'likelihood of payment issues' (as it were) to expect if working with a company, compared with the present LWA. I'm guessing that this would be a very helpful feature, providing info that many would find useful.

One rating per payment and companies can solicit ratings for their payments. 'Proof' of the payment should be submitted along with the rating, e.g. a reference number, either from PayPal or the bank (in case the rating needs to be substantiated fully at a later time to avoid abuse). One rating in absolute for the general LWA rating (which can be edited or retracted). Many advantages:

- Better general idea of a company's proneness to payment issues than present LWA rating.
- A 'start date' of the rating can be added, e.g. 'payments made since... of which... delayed' and 'x payment issues since' to reflect whether an agency is active paying translators while it is active looking or advertising.
- It's easier to report a payment issue. Non-payments can easily be turned into delayed payments in the system. Rather than disappear upon payment as now.
- Agencies that really care about paying their translators on time will stand out - and we want them to.
- Agencies that have issues with this can easily be reviewed as such. It's easy to either verify or refute such an issue. The involved parties simply make the necessary documentation available, which is normally very easy nowadays. ProZ.com can either handle this with present staff, or take in volunteers as the system is more logical and easier to maintain.
- In case of conflict about the payment issue, an LWA rating can be made to complement the matter, where the company gets a chance to respond.
- Much more!


If you were a member since years, you would not be so optimistic about suggesting changes. Proz.com's aim is to make money for the owners, and all other things are of secondary importance. A BB that would expose paying company members too openly is not what the owners have in mind.
Payment issues are very sensitive for any business. You just have to be careful with whom you start business. Nobody can take this burden from your shoulders.


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Mark Benson  Identity Verified

English to Swedish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Agreed Jan 3, 2014

Heinrich Pesch wrote:

Mark Benson wrote:

Sheila and Tom didn't seem to like the suggestion. Heinrich and Eva pointed out a couple of things that have made me change the suggestion.

I now realize that it's best to implement my suggestion alongside the existing ratings, which should then be allowed to be longer.

In that case everything is kept as it is, with the suggestion I made added. Let's say that the suggestion I'm making looks like this (roughly):

"This company has made P payments, of which N1 reported delayed. This company has N2 open payment issues of N3 allowed."

It's good for the company if it says (roughly):

"This company has made MANY payments, of which 0 were reported as delayed. The company has 0 payment issues (2 allowed)."

As I've entered into describing, this is a fast and easy to use system, the purpose of which is to reflect the likelihood of encountering payment issues with a company (and not the likelihood of working again, as correctly pointed out by Heinrich).

While there may be other issues than payment issues, and various reasons for not wanting to work with an agency again, as pointed out by Eva, I find it more pragmatic to make a distinction between a 'payment based review' and a 'general LWA review'.

My suggestion is exceedingly simple. It's a very small change that would make a very large difference. It would give a more accurate idea of the 'likelihood of payment issues' (as it were) to expect if working with a company, compared with the present LWA. I'm guessing that this would be a very helpful feature, providing info that many would find useful.

One rating per payment and companies can solicit ratings for their payments. 'Proof' of the payment should be submitted along with the rating, e.g. a reference number, either from PayPal or the bank (in case the rating needs to be substantiated fully at a later time to avoid abuse). One rating in absolute for the general LWA rating (which can be edited or retracted). Many advantages:

- Better general idea of a company's proneness to payment issues than present LWA rating.
- A 'start date' of the rating can be added, e.g. 'payments made since... of which... delayed' and 'x payment issues since' to reflect whether an agency is active paying translators while it is active looking or advertising.
- It's easier to report a payment issue. Non-payments can easily be turned into delayed payments in the system. Rather than disappear upon payment as now.
- Agencies that really care about paying their translators on time will stand out - and we want them to.
- Agencies that have issues with this can easily be reviewed as such. It's easy to either verify or refute such an issue. The involved parties simply make the necessary documentation available, which is normally very easy nowadays. ProZ.com can either handle this with present staff, or take in volunteers as the system is more logical and easier to maintain.
- In case of conflict about the payment issue, an LWA rating can be made to complement the matter, where the company gets a chance to respond.
- Much more!




If you were a member since years, you would not be so optimistic about suggesting changes. Proz.com's aim is to make money for the owners, and all other things are of secondary importance. A BB that would expose paying company members too openly is not what the owners have in mind.
Payment issues are very sensitive for any business. You just have to be careful with whom you start business. Nobody can take this burden from your shoulders.


Heinrich, I follow you on the Forum, quite enjoy reading you and respect your opinion. You are usually right, and this is no exception.

I just want to say that I'm not on some ideological mission here. I do strongly believe, rather, that the difference between payment and non-payment is the difference between life and death for a translator. Hence the question is both pragmatical and fundamental. Less payments mean less investments into ProZ.

In many cases, the membership of one non-paying agency probably means that many translators don't become members. Frankly, in my case I have already decided to donate the amount if I ever get it, but in lots of cases it could be the very difference between getting the membership and not doing so.

And the membership has to be useful too. Even if the community is great, it might be difficult to convince someone to become a member solely based on this. Access to the Blue Board is one of the marketing points of membership. In the case I brought up from my own experience, I have to say I wish I didn't have it. And while I check in from time to time, I don't find it very useful at all. Most seem to find that it leaves something to be desired.

I'm extremely happy to be a part of ProZ, so I should say that straight out as well. The reason I'm presenting this suggestion is simply because I think it's truly worthwhile and thought it might be the suggestion that could work, finally.

I don't know why we presently have the system we have rather than the one I just suggested. There hasn't been a lot of positive opinions about it, so I guess that's all I need to know, and I won't insist on any praise either. Someone else will come up with the improvement that gets made, when that time comes.

You are right about the burden of responsibility I had to choose whom to work with. I put a roof of €x and decided that if the past had to repeat itself (the outsourcer hadn't learned from the past), then this is something that would have to be dealt with sooner or later anyways. I'm not worried about it in any way, I only hope I'll have enough time to put into it. So there - got to say that too.

Cheers and all the best!
Mark

[Edited at 2014-01-03 19:42 GMT]


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:25
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Completely disagree Jan 3, 2014

Mark Benson wrote:
Short background: I decided to work with a high-risk element. This person has been on ProZ for a long time and has a history as a non-payer. I interpreted the Blue Board ratings to have him be one who is now trying to do it right and chanced a collaboration.

I think it was kind of wreckless to work for someone who has one or several bad ratings in the Blueboard, and you clearly put yourself at risk. When you play with fire... you often get burned.

Mark Benson wrote:
1) Poster of review can be anonymous or appear with name and link. It's made clear that you can't review without being a member, that you're not anonymous to staff and that your actual experience with the agency can and will be verified if need be.

I completely, totally, absolutely disagree: when I evaluate some outsourcer who has bad ratings in the Blueboard, I want to be able to form my own opinion of the bad ratings, and to do so I want to be able to see the profiles of the people who gave bad ratings, mostly to know whether they are established, trustworthy people whose word I can reasonably trust.

If you make the opinions anonymous, the Blueboard would be pretty useless to me. How can you imagine that one should trust the opinion of an anonymous profile? It would bear no worth at all. Also, if our name and credibility as freelancers was not at stake, what would keep Proz.com members from carelessly spreading bad ratings and comments?

Personally the Blueboard is very useful already, although we must get used to reading the ratings and comments carefully.


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Mark Benson  Identity Verified

English to Swedish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Totally agree (with you!) Jan 3, 2014

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:

Mark Benson wrote:
Short background: I decided to work with a high-risk element. This person has been on ProZ for a long time and has a history as a non-payer. I interpreted the Blue Board ratings to have him be one who is now trying to do it right and chanced a collaboration.

I think it was kind of wreckless to work for someone who has one or several bad ratings in the Blueboard, and you clearly put yourself at risk. When you play with fire... you often get burned.

Mark Benson wrote:
1) Poster of review can be anonymous or appear with name and link. It's made clear that you can't review without being a member, that you're not anonymous to staff and that your actual experience with the agency can and will be verified if need be.

I completely, totally, absolutely disagree: when I evaluate some outsourcer who has bad ratings in the Blueboard, I want to be able to form my own opinion of the bad ratings, and to do so I want to be able to see the profiles of the people who gave bad ratings, mostly to know whether they are established, trustworthy people whose word I can reasonably trust.

If you make the opinions anonymous, the Blueboard would be pretty useless to me. How can you imagine that one should trust the opinion of an anonymous profile? It would bear no worth at all. Also, if our name and credibility as freelancers was not at stake, what would keep Proz.com members from carelessly spreading bad ratings and comments?

Personally the Blueboard is very useful already, although we must get used to reading the ratings and comments carefully.


Tomás, thanks a lot for posting! You're right.

Just want to point out that the anonymity in my suggestion would only be an option in terms of visibility to the members who had access to these ratings. The rating would still be linked to you, and you would still be required to substantiate any claims. The anonymity wouldn't make any difference, as the rating is only made in testimony as to on-time payment and nothing else. Every entry should be made with a reference no that could be verified if need be, to substantiate the entry (either that payment was made on time, or otherwise). This would be easy today.

And also that I did change the suggestion to contain two different systems: it would be one payment rating and then to keep the LWA that exists today. I have mostly given up on it by now, and I won't pretend that I didn't suspect this to be mostly a matter of time even before I posted, thanks to your (all of you) critical eyes.

Thanks for your comment, you actually reminded me of some good things in the Blue Board.

[Edited at 2014-01-03 20:23 GMT]

[Edited at 2014-01-03 20:24 GMT]


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 18:25
English to Portuguese
+ ...
A couple of older suggestions Jan 3, 2014

Mark, please have a look at these:

http://www.proz.com/forum/prozcom_suggestions/178033-standardize_blue_board_comments-page2.html#1564118

http://www.proz.com/forum/prozcom_job_systems/234718-blue_board_confusion.html#2031106

Perhaps some "rogue" translation agencies would get angry at Proz for exposing their naked truth, but it would certainly contribute to cleanse the translation marketplace.

I can't imagine what Proz could have to lose by getting rid of outsourcers who only thrive on unduly exploiting translators.


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:25
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Two cents more Jan 3, 2014

Mark Benson wrote:
And also that I did change the suggestion to contain two different systems: it would be one payment rating and then to keep the LWA that exists today. I have mostly given up on it by now, and I won't pretend that I didn't suspect this to be mostly a matter of time even before I posted, thanks to your (all of you) critical eyes.

Yes, I see what you mean. However -- and I am only considering my personal wishes here -- when I look at someone's Blueboard record what I want to decide is whether the outsourcer is trouble. The LWA numbers and comments serve me well in this sense. I would not object to have exact information about late payment, although it is also true that late payment is what triggers most bad LWA marks.


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