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Allow negative WWA, but visible only to staff and translators, for now
Thread poster: Samuel Murray

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 08:35
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Nov 24, 2015

Hello

We are often told that negative WWAs are currently not allowed, but that it "may be allowed in future". But I think the fact that negative WWAs are not allowed at this time means that ProZ.com can't measure the need for or the potential benefits of allowing negative WWAs. We (or: staff) don't know just how many clients would have given negative WWAs if they had been allowed to do so. In fact, translators themselves remain blissfully unaware of it if disgruntled clients felt sufficiently irked to have given a negative WWA, if it had been allowed.

For these reasons I suggest that negative WWAs be allowed, but that the negative WWA be visible only to the translator, to the client giving it, and to staff. Furthermore, the number of negative WWAs should be visible only to staff and to the translator. I would suggest that in addition to the "Yes" option, there should be the options "Maybe" and "No", along with the usual text entry field. A negative WWA should remain visible to users who are logged in to their own account.

This will give clients who want to give negative reviews at least some outlet for their grievances, to let the translators know just how seriously they take the infraction. It will also enable ProZ.com to see negative WWAs in action, to help evaluate a possible future decision to allow public negative WWAs. In addition, it will help remind translators of how important it is to deliver high quality work, and it will help them know how clients really feel about them.

Your thoughts?

Samuel


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:35
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
I'm all for allowing it Nov 24, 2015

Samuel Murray wrote:
I suggest that negative WWAs be allowed, but that the negative WWA be visible only to the translator, to the client giving it, and to staff. Furthermore, the number of negative WWAs should be visible only to staff and to the translator.

I suppose that could be good as an interim measure, but staff would have to decide what they are going to do with it in the longer term. It seems daft to me to hide it from everyone but the parties involved and staff. The parties would most likely have had at least an exchange of emails if something had gone wrong. But yes, IMHO it would be better than not accepting negative entries at all.
I would suggest that in addition to the "Yes" option, there should be the options "Maybe" and "No", along with the usual text entry field.

Again, I would support that over the current situation. However, I think a star system works so much better, and it's a system that's been widely adopted all over the world for Internet-based reviews. I think it would be far better for the BB too. Particularly if you could give star ratings for individual criteria too. In other words, on the BB a translator might give a 4 for the overall category of "likely to work again", a 5 for "complied with contract" (i.e. they paid what and when they said they would) but a low rating for "rate" or "communication". I'm sure there are better categories but I'd really like to get away from the simple yes/no split into something more meaningful. Things are so rarely that black and white anyway. Putting all the key information in a few words (as we currently have to do) can be a really bad idea, particularly when so many entries/replies are not in the writer's main language.


 

M Pradeep Kumar  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 12:05
Member (2015)
English to Telugu
+ ...
Allow negative WWAs, but have criteria Nov 24, 2015

How about allowing negative WWAs from only the agencies/outsources with a good BB record? Say allowing agencies/outsources who only have a BB score of 4 and above.

That ways, the agencies have to earn their capacity to give negative WWAs.


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 08:35
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
On giving stars for individual aspects Nov 24, 2015

Sheila Wilson wrote:
However, I think a star system works so much better, and it's a system that's been widely adopted all over the world for Internet-based reviews.


No, I would not favour a star system. Why? Because different reviewers interpret the number of stars differently. For example, I might give 4 stars to a translator that I'm very happy with, but 5 stars only to a translators that I'm ecstatic about, whereas someone else might give 5 stars to a translator they are very happy with, but 4 stars if they were slightly unhappy about something. Also, forcing reviewers to rate specific aspects can lead to unnecessary averaging -- I mean, if I have no opinion about "communication" but I'm forced to rate the translator's communication, I might rate it 3 because I find that it's perfectly average, or I might rate 5 because I thought it was perfectly acceptable, whereas in both cases I actually don't have an opinion about it.

No, to me the three options Yes, Maybe and No says enough, along with a short comment box.

In Yes cases, the comment will mostly be a compliment. In Maybe cases, the comment might contain advice to the translator, or a stipulation for working with them again. And in No cases, the comment might say what the translator did wrong that the client considers unforgiveable.


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 08:35
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
@Pradeep Nov 24, 2015

Pradeep Kumar Maheshwarla wrote:
How about allowing negative WWAs from only the agencies/outsources with a good BB record? Say allowing agencies/outsources who only have a BB score of 4 and above. ... That ways, the agencies have to earn their capacity to give negative WWAs.


This is an interesting idea, but unfortunately that would mean that only clients who have BB entries can give negative WWAs.

I think translators of the same language combination are often in a good position (perhaps sometimes even better than agencies) to give negative comments, if they have had a negative experience when outsourcing or working together with a translator, because they can evaluate the quality of the work in the light of their knowledge of that language combination.


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:35
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Not compulsory entries Nov 24, 2015

Samuel Murray wrote:
No, I would not favour a star system. Why? Because different reviewers interpret the number of stars differently. For example, I might give 4 stars to a translator that I'm very happy with, but 5 stars only to a translators that I'm ecstatic about, whereas someone else might give 5 stars to a translator they are very happy with, but 4 stars if they were slightly unhappy about something.

Well, that's what happens with the BB ratings of 1-5 at the moment. Of course stars can't give anything but an indication but it really boils down to the same as the words: 1 = no; 3 = maybe; 5 = yes. We're all used to surveys with 4-5 smileys or 4-5 words (unsatisfied, not very satisfied, fairly...) so we all know how it works.
Also, forcing reviewers to rate specific aspects can lead to unnecessary averaging -- I mean, if I have no opinion about "communication" but I'm forced to rate the translator's communication, I might rate it 3 because I find that it's perfectly average, or I might rate 5 because I thought it was perfectly acceptable, whereas in both cases I actually don't have an opinion about it.

I quite agree - that wouldn't be good. I would see the overall rating as being the only required one, with comments and specific ratings both being optional.


 

M Pradeep Kumar  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 12:05
Member (2015)
English to Telugu
+ ...
On BB as a criterion Nov 24, 2015

Samuel Murray wrote:

This is an interesting idea, but unfortunately that would mean that only clients who have BB entries can give negative WWAs.


Having BB ranking as a criterion for negative WWAs would mean that the negative WWAs are coming from a 'credible source' and one can take the 'risk' of trusting them.

This would also imply that the translators have to be real careful while giving their BB score as that may result in giving the agency a capacity to give negative WWAs.

But the option of allowing negative comments from those who are not on BB, however genuine their concerns be, has enormous scope for misuse/abuse.

Maybe such clients, who are not on BB, can be allowed the limited options of "yes" and "maybe" and they can be disabled from choosing no or from making negative comments.

[Edited at 2015-11-24 18:02 GMT]


 

M.Phili  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 08:35
Member (2013)
Italian to Greek
+ ...
Truth is tricky Nov 24, 2015

Samuel Murray wrote:

I think translators of the same language combination are often in a good position (perhaps sometimes even better than agencies) to give negative comments, if they have had a negative experience when outsourcing or working together with a translator, because they can evaluate the quality of the work in the light of their knowledge of that language combination.



Translators who have had a negative experience with a colleague working in the same language combination might indeed be in the position to provide feedback that can be used to alert potential clients and collaborators BUT: What impedes a translator without a negative and proven experience with a colleague from doing exactly the same? This needs to be carefully monitored to avoid abuse.

I am concerned that this system could induce a tensed environment among colleagues.


[Edited at 2015-11-25 13:50 GMT]


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 08:35
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
No risk of abuse if it's not publicly viewable Nov 24, 2015

Pradeep Kumar Maheshwarla wrote:
The option of allowing negative comments from those who are not on BB, however genuine their concerns be, has enormous scope for misuse/abuse.


Magda Phili wrote:
What impedes a translator without a negative and proven experience with a colleague from [posting a negative WWA]? This needs to be carefully monitored to avoid abuse.


The risk of abuse is only present if the negative WWAs (and/or the number of negative WWAs) are publicly viewable. There is no risk for abuse if only the translator, the client, and staff can see it.

Of course translators can also reply to the WWA (the reply will be visible only to the translator, client and staff), and if the translator claims that he never worked for or with that outsourcer, then he can simply say so in his reply, for staff to see.



[Edited at 2015-11-24 21:41 GMT]


 

Preston Decker  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:35
Chinese to English
Not a good idea Nov 24, 2015

Samuel, Sheila, Pradeep:

I think you're pushing for something very dangerous here. As was pointed out in the other thread on this topic, a single negative review for a translator could have a profound effect on their business and livelihood, while the same does not hold true for agencies. If I leave a bad review for an agency on the Blue Board (which I never have done), the review will only affect the agencies' reputation with translators, NOT WITH THEIR OWN CLIENTS (I sincerely doubt most end-users of translations are aware of Proz.com). On the other hand, agencies ARE OUR CLIENTS, and allowing them to openly critique us would thus create a severe imbalance in power.

How would you ever regulate this? Last week I wrote a very frank email to a agency client regarding their poor business practices. If I had to worry about the agency coming back and posting a negative WWA about me in retaliation I would have thought twice about voicing these concerns. Proz.com would be placed into an impossible situation again and again--even if Proz required proof of a mistranslation to post a negative review, any one of our regular clients could, if they tried hard enough, dig out a mistranslation somewhere in the past to provide as proof of our 'incompetence'. I've edited enough translations by really good translators to know that even the best make an occasional mistake. Proz.com would either have to allow all criticisms of translators to be posted, or spend an enormous amount of time wading through messy disputes.

In a perfect, honest world allowing 'No' WWA entries is a fine idea. However, ours is not a perfect world, and you'd really be opening up a can of worms with this one.

I'd much rather see Proz do away with the WWA altogether than allow for 'No' entries.

(Samuel, I included you here because allowing 'No' WWAs, even as a test, increases the chances that this will become a reality)



[Edited at 2015-11-24 22:39 GMT]

[Edited at 2015-11-24 22:39 GMT]

[Edited at 2015-11-24 23:43 GMT]

[Edited at 2015-11-24 23:44 GMT]

[Edited at 2015-11-25 07:14 GMT]


 

Jessica Noyes  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:35
Spanish to English
+ ...
Lose members Nov 24, 2015

Why would somebody with even one terrible rating want to remain a member of ProZ.com?
I think members would depart from the site in droves.
The only people left would be those with top ratings. Then, although the site would be bankrupt, there would be no more concerns about it being populated with unskilled amateurs.
Then there is the question of whether the low scores would stay up even after the poor translator withdrew.
If agencies and out-sourcers want to rate translators, then they should create their own agency site and set up a Blue Board of sorts there.
WWAs resemble the old-fashioned written recommendations. People who like our work are glad to provide them; those who don't, withhold their opinions. It is the positive ones we provide when seeking contracts. Why anyone would want to submit a negative evaluation to a potential contractor is beyond me.


 

Preston Decker  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:35
Chinese to English
About the WWA Nov 24, 2015

And furthermore, let's call a spade a spade: the WWA is not a reflection of a translator's ability. It's really a strange combination of a translator's likeability, translation ability, and how much the translator cares about the WWA. I have 10 positive entries. If I sent out more requests I could have 30 entries; less and I'd have zero (or seeing as how I generally ask my best clients for WWAs, perhaps I'd have been lucky and gotten a few unsolicited ones?).

This is another reason why a 'No' option is inappropriate--it treats everyone the same, regardless of their attitude towards the WWA. 'Yes' answers will always come largely in response to a WWA request made by the translator, whereas agencies will actively make negative WWA requests for translators they don't like. Translator A could be someone who loves collecting WWA ratings and has 100 'Yes' WWAs vs. 2 'No's. Translator B might only occasionally make WWA requests, and have five 'Yes' ratings but two 'No' ratings. Translator B's business would be affected to a greater degree than Translator A's, which simply wouldn't be fair.

[Edited at 2015-11-24 23:46 GMT]

[Edited at 2015-11-25 00:09 GMT]

[Edited at 2015-11-25 00:10 GMT]


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:35
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
"Carefully monitored," no grazie! Nov 25, 2015

Magda Phili wrote:
This needs to be carefully monitored to avoid abuse. One way to prevent this could be that negative feedback for a translator is given by the outsourcer following a project for which feedback has been given by the translator/editor.

To me, if something has to be "carefully monitored," it is best not to allow it altogether. Who is going to "carefully monitor" the entries? Innocent people will suffer.

I also entirely agree with Preston in his views that allowing negative WWA entries would increase the imbalance of power in the already imbalanced industry of agencies and freelancers. The Blueboard is a way to correct the imbalance and protect translators from sneaky customers. Let us not promote the imbalance again by allowing sneaky customers to strike back when we reveal their ways in the Blueboard.

All in all, I am completely against negative WWA entries.


 

M Pradeep Kumar  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 12:05
Member (2015)
English to Telugu
+ ...
Second thoughts :) Nov 25, 2015

Preston Decker wrote:

If I leave a bad review for an agency on the Blue Board (which I never have done), the review will only affect the agencies' reputation with translators, NOT WITH THEIR OWN CLIENTS (I sincerely doubt most end-users of translations are aware of Proz.com). On the other hand, agencies ARE OUR CLIENTS, and allowing them to openly critique us would thus create a severe imbalance in power.


Preston, you put it very nicely. I see your point. Yes, negative WWAs, though on the face may seem to be a part of fairness, end up conferring extra power to the already powerful.

For instance, some agencies may be tempted to use this feature in persuading you into accepting a low rate or an unrealistic deadline or in preventing you from posting a negative BB entry.

And of course, if agencies are serious about knowing the trustworthiness of translators, then I think the following is a good suggestion.


Jessica Noyes:
If agencies and out-sourcers want to rate translators, then they should create their own agency site and set up a Blue Board of sorts there.


 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 03:35
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Reverse blackmail Nov 25, 2015

There is enough covert blackmail with LWAs on the Blue Board, to the tune of (agency telling translator), "Change that 1 into a 5, delete your comment, and you'll receive your long-outstanding payment next week."

Now let's envision the "reverse blackmail", or "payback" if you prefer:

EVENT 1: Due to a few changes requested after the job was under way, as verbally consented by the PM over Skype (though not documented in writing anywhere), translator delivered on the next morning after the agreed date.

EVENT 2: The client had an in-house reviewer check the entire translation, and s/he found one comma where a semicolon should be, and made umpteen 'personal preference' changes, a couple of them grammatically questionable, as shown by evidence introduced by the translator.

EVENT 3: Client advised that they'd be deducting one-third of the translator's pay - pursuant to their 9-page Vendor Agreement - on account of the translator's mistakes. Translator wrote an assertive e-mail, evidencing that those alleged mistakes were only an excuse to indulge the client's greed.

EVENT 4: Translator's invoice - after some bickering - was paid with a 20% deduction, 35 days after the agreed due date.

EVENT 5: Translator put a LWA=3 on the Blue Board.

So the client feels fully justified in their negative WWA:
Late delivery, bad quality, intolerant to feedback, unfaithful to a signed agreement, and quite revengeful.


 
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