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Testimonials for translators (instead of Blue Board)
Thread poster: Samuel Murray

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 20:51
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Aug 3, 2005

Re: "What do you do when a Proz member (plat) doesn't deliver a translation?"
http://www.proz.com/topic/35277.

I suggest you create a Testimonials page (or section) on members' profile pages where other Proz members can write praise for them. This can fill a small bit of the gap left by the absence of a Blue Board for Bad Translators. What I suggest is this:

Translator B did some work for translator A, and A is impressed by the quality etc. A then visits B's Testimonial page and writes a testimonial (praise). The testimonial is not posted immediately, but B is informed by e-mail that there are pending testimonials on his profile. He reads the testimonial, and if he likes it, he accepts it, and it gets posted on his Testimonial page. Next the testimonial is a a link to A's profile, so that readers can check who gave the testimonial.

Actually, I would prefer a system in which all testimonials (both positive and negative) are posted, and then translators can write a comment on that testimonial to explain if it was negative, but I guess this idea will not fly with Proz leadership, and so I rather propose the above self-moderated praise-only system.


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xxxsarahl
Local time: 11:51
English to French
+ ...
We already have a star system Aug 3, 2005

Very few outsourcers seem to use it though. I don't know if they're even aware of it.
A star would probably be better than the usual spiel, more visual and straight to the point.

FWIW

Sarah


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Sonja Tomaskovic  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 20:51
English to German
+ ...
Good idea Aug 3, 2005

I like Samuel's idea.

Sarah, how can outsourcerer award stars to translators? I've been on this site for some time but all I can remember are the stars that some translators earned for jobs assigned directly by Proz and - as I understand - they no longer exist.

Sonja


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Rahi Moosavi  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 14:51
Member (2004)
Farsi (Persian) to English
+ ...
Downside Aug 3, 2005

This is a very good idea but it may have a down side to it. Wouldn't it encourage other translators in the same language pair to fish for new clients and jeopardize the original translator's position by following the comments? One solution could be that outsourcers and clients leave anonymous comments...

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Anabel Martínez  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:51
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Good suggestion; some improvements Aug 3, 2005

I think the idea is really good; however, I'm not so sure about the comments being anonymous. It's true that it could lead to "fishing" for other translators' clients, but we should also make sure that no translator enters a false comment via another profile or things like that (like I've heard it happened in Kudoz).

Any ideas on how to prevent that from happening?


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Steffen Pollex  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:51
English to German
+ ...
This is no good idea at all Aug 3, 2005

I am not aware to what extent other Proz members do´outsource translations to each other. To me this does not happen very often.

But even if you or others are more actively using this opportunity - would it be worth (and really SOOOO interesting) to read about the details of privately exchanged job between each other in a manner like:

"He forgot a comma" or "he did not do a spellcheck" and "this is why he is no good translator"?

What hampers you as the outsourcer to tell your colleague who failed to deliver (may be only once) in a private Email, without slandering her/his reputation in public? It is a private issue between the two of you.

I think this is a totally different story from agencies that frequently show a negative attidude or conduct to numerous freelancers they are engaging.

The Blue Board for agencies - YES!!!

A Blue Board for outsourcers to comment onm Proz members - OK with me.

A "Blue Board" for Proz members to comment on each other - NO WAY!!!!

I fear very much the outcome would be a bulk of personal remarks (positive or negative) based on personal negative or positive attitude or relationship, with virtually no value added to the site. The same as we sometimes see it in the forums where, in most cases - thank God - it is admitted by the moderators and, largely, appropriate measures are taken - even if not always they seem justified. You can't fit all, at least.

[Edited at 2005-08-03 11:32]


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Mónica Machado
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:51
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Why not using translation organizations to track that Aug 3, 2005

Hi Steffen,

I quite agree with you.

Maybe most people don't know they can report bad translation practices by a specific translator to translation organizations that translator is member of. Upon receiving well-documented proof and a bit of research, those organizations can tell the translator he/she no longer can be part of the organization.

For translators not registered with any professional organization this does not work, but would anyone seeking responsibility assign a job to a person one does not know anything about? At least, if am a member of a professional organization, my clients know they can report any bad practices I might have to that professional body.

Of course, by translation organizations I mean any professional body that only accepts people after testing/doing some research on them. I don't mean PROZ and similar sites where any person can comment anyone. I really hate the anonymous concept and this will damage PROZ image a lot in the long run. Specially when I can have a PROZ page full of details (name, address, etc.) and still be a fake Well, yes... is there anybody in PROZ checking we (registered members) are not a fake? Apart from those who have already sent they diplomas to PROZ for confirmation, all others (me included) can be a fake. So PROZ is a great place to exchange ideas and contacts, but is it, at the moment, synonym of reliability?

Professional organizations are a great way to track bad practices by fellow members and those organizations do have procedures to deal with complaints - so they don't accept any comments without investigating first. This might be a solution for people assigning jobs to others.

My two cents
Mónica


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María Leonor Acevedo-Miranda  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:51
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Are you out of your mind? Aug 3, 2005

Is this some kind of CIA?

And I quote:

The Blue Board for agencies - YES!!!

A Blue Board for outsourcers to comment onm Proz members - OK with me.

A "Blue Board" for Proz members to comment on each other - NO WAY!


Are we colleagues or are we secret spies on each other work???? If if you don't trust a colleAgue you don't send him/her work. PERIOD!


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Sara Freitas
France
Local time: 20:51
French to English
Thank you for finally bringing this back to basic business sense.... Aug 3, 2005

María Leonor Acevedo-Miranda wrote:

If if you don't trust a colleAgue you don't send him/her work. PERIOD!



Absolutely! Following the other thread on ProZ members who let outsourcers down and the issue of accountability:

The outsourcer is accountable to the end client and should not take on or outsource jobs unless he is sure that he can meet the requirements of the project (deadlines, quality, etc.). The outsourcer has *a lot* of power in ensuring this happens (working with trusted, previously vetted contractors, setting appropriate rates and deadliens, having a backup plan in the event of a problem, etc.). On the other hand, contractors have relatively little control over whether they actually ever get paid (of course they can ensure a signed PO is provided, and that terms are clear before starting work, checking BB and payment practices lists, etc.). Therefore, an objective BB for outsourcers is a handy tool for contractors and one that can be based on objective information such as payment deadlines, etc.

For contractors who let their outsourcers down, there is *direct and immediate* accountability: they lose the opportunity to ever work with that outsourcer again.

Outsourcers often mismanage projects and then look for someone to blame...the contractor. Giving angry outsourcers a forum for this would be a big mistake, IMO, because it fails to take into account the responsibility of the outsourcer in appropriately choosing and assigning work.

As an outsourcer myeself, if a project doesn't go as well as I expect, the first person I look to is myself. Did I give clear enough instructions? Did I understand the customer's needs completely? Did I choose the best person for the job? Did I leave time for my plan B in case plan A fails? Etc. I do not feel the need to publicly blacklist the translator *I chose* to work with (after all, wouldn't that also be publicizing my own crappy project management skills?).

As a contractor, I have been shocked to receive offers from outsourcers or fellow members who don't know me, have never worked with me and want me to do big jobs on tight deadlines (usually for peanuts, I might add). This is precisely the type of situation that results in angry outsourcers looking for a scapegoat when their project fails...

So a contractor BB on Proz? No way.

Regards,

Sara


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 20:51
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Danger of fishing exists elsewhere as well Aug 3, 2005

Rahi Moosavi wrote:
Wouldn't it encourage other translators in the same language pair to fish for new clients and jeopardize the original translator's position by following the comments?


True, if the testimonials were posted by clients. But I think this is a risk the translator must weigh for himself. If he is paranoid about this, then he should simply deny the testimonial and write a nice thank-you letter to the client directly.

Good translators are not easy to find, and if a client took the time to write a testimonial, it's not likely that they'll fall for another translator's fishing, or what do you think?


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 20:51
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Have option to delete or deny testimonials Aug 3, 2005

Steffen Pollex wrote:
But even if you or others are more actively using this opportunity - would it be worth to read about the details of privately exchanged job between each other in a manner like:

"He forgot a comma" or "he did not do a spellcheck" and "this is why he is no good translator"?


Pithy comments like these will tell me more about the outsourcer...

But this is why I said that translators must have the option of denying the testimonial. Alternatively, in a more aggresive system, there can be the option to reject it but then a little comment appears on that page saying "Testimonial by X denied/deleted" so that visitors can see that comments were made but not posted.

What hampers you as the outsourcer to tell your colleague who failed to deliver (may be only once) in a private Email, without slandering her/his reputation in public?


Well, actually, I have already had e-mails from Proz members complaining to me about other Proz members even though I've never dealt with either of the two.

Doing this could be termed "abuse" of the system and outsourcers/clients could be encouraged to report breaches.

I fear very much the outcome would be a bulk of personal remarks...


Yes, but I knew that when I proposed the system.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 20:51
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Professional organisations are not useful for this Aug 3, 2005

Mónica Machado wrote:
Maybe most people don't know they can report bad translation practices by a specific translator to translation organizations that translator is member of. Upon receiving well-documented proof and a bit of research, those organizations can tell the translator he/she no longer can be part of the organization.


I wonder how many translator associations can actually afford to do this type of thing.

An example (somewhat off-topic, perhaps): I used to be a member of the South African Translators' Institute, but I'm not longer a member -- not because I've been kicked out but partly because I *can't* be kicked out. Theoretically, one of the aims of the institute is to vet translators and to take disciplinary action... but this doesn't happen in practice. The institute has an accreditation examination which tests how well a translator translates, but it does not test how well a translator runs his business.

So I ask again, how many translator associations do you know of with operational disciplinary processes? And how many of these associations "blacklist" that translator so that he can't simply join another association?

Besides, actions taken by such associations are likely to be in response to very grave misconduct only and not for relatively minor transgressions such as having missed a single deadline (I'm not saying that missing a deadline is minor, but I'm saying that a single mishap is not proof of gross incompetence).


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Mónica Machado
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:51
English to Portuguese
+ ...
translation organizations Aug 3, 2005

Hi Samuel,

I don't know how many translation organizations ban translators for misconduct, but at least the single chance of being banned will make people aware of they conduct.

I just pointed this out, because the idea of being judged by any person accessing Proz is quite frightening. I think this sort of thing should be done by professional institutions only.

It might be difficult to be banned from those professional bodies, but if you are a physician it will be difficult to ban you from your professional organization too. That's normal. You have to have proofs and have to show them.

Having this sort of classification system in PROZ will be ridiculous because anyone can say good things or bad things without a single proof. As I say, a site that accepts many anonymous people cannot be reliable for this sort of translator classifications.

But at the end, the result of this conversation/debate will show the direction PROZ is taking.

Regards,
Mónica






[Edited at 2005-08-03 21:25]


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Heike Behl, Ph.D.  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:51
Member (2003)
English to German
+ ...
open to manipulation Aug 3, 2005

Samuel Murray wrote:

Re: "What do you do when a Proz member (plat) doesn't deliver a translation?"
http://www.proz.com/topic/35277.

I suggest you create a Testimonials page (or section) on members' profile pages where other Proz members can write praise for them. This can fill a small bit of the gap left by the absence of a Blue Board for Bad Translators.
ctually, I would prefer a system in which all testimonials (both positive and negative) are posted, and then translators can write a comment on that testimonial to explain if it was negative, but I guess this idea will not fly with Proz leadership, and so I rather propose the above self-moderated praise-only system.
[/quote]

As you said in the beginning, you would like to see a tool that allows negative feedback on Bad Translators.
But if anyone has the option to delete negative testimonials - what good does it do? Nobody would leave a negative comment out there for everybody else to read.

It's good to be able to respond to testimonials, but not to pick and chose which you want to accept.

Personally, I'm not in favor of such a system. How easy is it of a couple of people to agree to write great testimonials for each other? We've seen it happen with agencies on the BB; chances are it would happen with translators as well.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 20:51
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
More possible answers to comments Aug 3, 2005

Mónica Machado wrote:
I just pointed this out, because the idea of being judged by any person accessing Proz is quite frightening. I think this sort of thing should be done by professional institutions only.


I hear what you're saying, Mónica. However, professional organisations judge their members on things like having them do a test or demanding to see certificates and diplomas. They rarely judge on business-in-practice matters.

Having this sort of classification system in PROZ will be ridiculous because anyone can say good things or bad things without a single proof.


I wonder if the same can't be said of any BB or PP list. Still, PP lists are generally considered useful by their users even if it can be rigged.

Heike Behl wrote:
As you said in the beginning, you would like to see a tool that allows negative feedback on Bad Translators. ... But if anyone has the option to delete negative testimonials - what good does it do?


Being able to delete negative or untrue feedback is an easy way for Proz staff to let the members to their own censoring, otherwise Proz staff would be inundated by requests to delete or change the wording of posts. It's not a perfect system -- I'm being pragmatic here, trying to find the optimal midway between something that's useful and something that's manageable.

How easy is it of a couple of people to agree to write great testimonials for each other? We've seen it happen with agencies on the BB...


Of course it would happen, yes. But visitors can use their judgement and check who gave the testimonials. And if you reserve this feature (or parts of it) for Platinum members, you'll weed many of the anticipated false registrations for testimonial purposes.

The current BB still exists and is still a popular and *useful* resource, even though it can be rigged.


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