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Plus features: Announcing Blue Board “category ratings” (and more)
Thread poster: Henry Dotterer

Henry Dotterer
Local time: 02:13
SITE FOUNDER
Dec 23, 2016

One of the previously announced benefits of the Plus service package is “Blue Board & job posting enhancements”. We are pleased to announce the three features that referred to.

Feature 1: Blue Board “category ratings”

ProZ.com is proud to announce Blue Board “category ratings”.

In response to member requests, it is now possible for those making Blue Board entries to rate outsourcers, on a scale from 1 to 5, in specific areas. The areas are:

- This outsourcer is easy/enjoyable to work with.
- This outsourcer considers quality in the way they manage projects.
- This outsourcer has straightforward on-boarding and documentation/contracting processes.
- This outsourcer adheres to agreed upon terms.
- This outsourcer has reasonable payment terms.*

* This category is provided for rating on characteristics like time until payment is made, whether or not payment fees are taken out in a way that was not agreed in advance, etc. This field is not intended to be used to rate outsourcers on payment amounts. There is no category for that, since it is assumed that payment amount will have been previously agreed to, to the satisfaction of both parties.

This feature is intended to enable freelancers to form a better picture of outsourcers before beginning to work with them, and also, to provide outsourcers with feedback on how they are perceived by translators that work for them.

All members are able to enter ratings, and to see ratings entered by others, for the outsourcers that they have rated. Plus subscribers are further able to view ratings entered for outsourcers that they have not (yet) worked for.

The new feature is also discussed in a video.

This is a new feature and feedback is requested. If you have a few minutes, please try rating some of the companies you have worked for. (You will need to go to the Blue Board page of a company that you have worked for. If you have made an entry in the past year, you can edit it. Otherwise you can enter a new one.)

We look forward to your suggestions for optimizing this feature, now that it is released.

Feature 2: Verification of business registrations.

Starting in 2017, it will be possible under certain circumstances for Plus subscribers to order verification of job poster and Blue Board company business registrations. This will be released after a new business membership is made available.

Feature 3: Improved Blue Board applications

It has been possible up to now for companies with good Blue Board ratings to describe, on their Blue Board pages, the types of freelancers they are looking for, and for those who meet the criteria to apply. This feature will be modernized and improved in connection with the Plus program, and will be re-released in connection with the new business membership.

=======

The above three features are part of the ongoing rollout of the Plus package. See that page for a brief video discussion of these Blue Board and job posting enhancements.


 

Henry Dotterer
Local time: 02:13
SITE FOUNDER
TOPIC STARTER
Blue Board category ratings FAQ Dec 23, 2016

Will the way that LWA is calculated be changed? Will my Blue Board figure change?

No, ratings will not affect LWA values, as they are two different things. The overall LWA figure -- what we have had up to now -- is an expression of one's likelihood of working again with a given company. That will continue to be what is used throughout the site, and its value will not change.

So what will be done with the new rating figures?

The ratings will be available on the Blue Board page. Figures and comments will be presented by category, and when there is more than one rating for a category, an average figure will be calculated and displayed.

Will the new rating fields be mandatory?

No. LWA will remain the only mandatory field.

Will category ratings be moderated?

Yes, the rules and restrictions of LWA apply, and there will be moderation and dispute resolution, just as there are for LWA entries.

Who will be able to enter ratings?

Any ProZ.com member.

Who will be able to see the rating(s) for a given outsourcer?

Plus subscribers, the outsourcer rated, and anyone who has entered a rating for that outsourcer.

Why not let ratings be seen by all members?

Among other considerations is the fact that moderating ratings will be more demanding than moderating LWA entries, with associated legal obligations. Including this new feature in the Plus package is part of the overall business model settled upon to support this and other programs.

Why is there not a rating category related to payment amount?

Work rates are agreed upon before work starts, so it is assumed that rates have already been found acceptable by anyone who is making an entry. For this reason, whether or not agreed-upon terms have been complied with is deemed to be the more relevant question.


 

Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:13
English to German
+ ...
Additional suggestion Dec 23, 2016

Henry Dotterer wrote:

...

Feature 3: Improved Blue Board applications

It has been possible up to now for companies with good Blue Board ratings to describe, on their Blue Board pages, the types of freelancers they are looking for, and for those who meet the criteria to apply. This feature will be modernized and improved in connection with the Plus program, and will be re-released in connection with the new business membership. ..


These are good features in theory; however I would also ask to consider doing something with regard to minimum standards under which these communications can occur. Because a majority of posters and many direct contacts via the directory, despite the fact that their BB record is a solid 5 or 4.9, demand very low rates. An example is $0.04/source word in my language combination (German-English).

In the past, Proz.com's stance has been not to press for minimum "acceptable" rates - possibly along the minimum or standard rates suggested on the Proz.com translation rates page. However, if the impression persists on this site that it is professional (because of a good BB rating and/or a Certified Pro badge) to pay $0.04 in my language combination, I don't see the point of such companies defining the type of translators they are looking for.
UNless you agree that that's professional behavior, which I am sure you don't.

In other words, I would be happy if there were a (possibly additional) real "premium-translation service section" on this platform where for example agencies that are willing to offer reasonable rates can find and communicate with professional translators who are looking for those agencies.



[Edited at 2016-12-23 19:16 GMT]


 

Henry Dotterer
Local time: 02:13
SITE FOUNDER
TOPIC STARTER
Blue Board bar is held Dec 23, 2016

Bernhard Sulzer wrote:

Henry Dotterer wrote:
Feature 3: Improved Blue Board applications

It has been possible up to now for companies with good Blue Board ratings to describe, on their Blue Board pages, the types of freelancers they are looking for, and for those who meet the criteria to apply. This feature will be modernized and improved in connection with the Plus program, and will be re-released in connection with the new business membership. ..

These are good features in theory


That particular feature already exists, we will be improving it in certain ways made possible by aspects of the Plus rollout and other advancements at ProZ.com and in general.

however I would also ask to consider doing something with regard to minimum standards under which these communications can occur.

Only outsourcers with good Blue Board records may use this feature. And a level of paying membership will be required in connection with the enhancement.

Because a majority of posters and many direct contacts via the directory, despite the fact that their BB record is a solid 5 or 4.9, demand very low rates. An example is $0.04/source word in my language combination (German-English).

As you know, while we do everything we can to give people access to education and a means of boosting their incomes, ProZ.com does not dictate rates, choosing to leave things to you all as members. We don't have any plans to make a major change from that stance in connection with the Plus offering.

In the case of this particular feature, it does work, even if rates are not handled (probably because of the Blue Board requirement.)


 

memond  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:13
Member (2015)
English to French
+ ...
Additional suggestion: normal deadlines Dec 23, 2016

If something could be added for the deadlines, this will be good also. More and more the deadlines imposed by the agencies are ridiculous and start to be a real threat to quality in the translation industry. Seriously, real emergencies occur in hospitals, or when a bomb explodes somewhere, but not in a translation agency, this is ridiculous. For me, extremely short deadlines are nothing more than the reflect of bad management and the incompetence of some PMs who are obviously not real professional and are unable to:
1- Estimate correctly the exact time frame for a translation project (translation and revision included).
2- Negociate with the client the appropriate deadline (which is the primary task of a PM)
3- Have any consideration toward translators (expecting translators to work for 12-16 hours in a row, or spend the night awake because '...it is a very strict deadline...' it is amazingly irrespective. It also shows that the PM has no respect for the quality of the product and the client, you cannot do a good job in a rush and by turning the corners round).


 

Henry Dotterer
Local time: 02:13
SITE FOUNDER
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks, memond. Could that fall under "considers quality"? Dec 23, 2016

memond wrote:

If something could be added for the deadlines, this will be good also. More and more the deadlines imposed by the agencies are ridiculous and start to be a real threat to quality in the translation industry. Seriously, real emergencies occur in hospitals, or when a bomb explodes somewhere, but not in a translation agency, this is ridiculous. For me, extremely short deadlines are nothing more than the reflect of bad management and the incompetence of some PMs who are obviously not real professional and are unable to:
1- Estimate correctly the exact time frame for a translation project (translation and revision included).
2- Negociate with the client the appropriate deadline (which is the primary task of a PM)
3- Have any consideration toward translators (expecting translators to work for 12-16 hours in a row, or spend the night awake because '...it is a very strict deadline...' it is amazingly irrespective. It also shows that the PM has no respect for the quality of the product and the client, you cannot do a good job in a rush and by turning the corners round).

Thanks, memond. We considered that allowing enough time for a job could fall under "considers quality in the way they manage projects." Can you see that? Maybe the wording should be adjusted.


 

memond  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:13
Member (2015)
English to French
+ ...
Definitely Dec 23, 2016

Henry Dotterer wrote:

Thanks, memond. We considered that allowing enough time for a job could fall under "considers quality in the way they manage projects." Can you see that? Maybe the wording should be adjusted.



Definitely, this could be integrated into this section. If you allow me, maybe in the text that will explain this section, I would specify the word 'deadlines' as being an element to evaluate good project management or something like that.


 

Russell Jones  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:13
Italian to English
Term definitions Dec 23, 2016

I would welcome a more detailed explanation of "on-boarding and documentation/contracting processes" as I am not at all clear what is meant. "On-boarding" is a new one on me.

 

Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:13
English to German
+ ...
From my perspective Dec 23, 2016

Henry Dotterer wrote:

Bernhard Sulzer wrote:

Because a majority of posters and many direct contacts via the directory, despite the fact that their BB record is a solid 5 or 4.9, demand very low rates. An example is $0.04/source word in my language combination (German-English).

As you know, while we do everything we can to give people access to education and a means of boosting their incomes, ProZ.com does not dictate rates, choosing to leave things to you all as members. We don't have any plans to make a major change from that stance in connection with the Plus offering.

In the case of this particular feature, it does work, even if rates are not handled (probably because of the Blue Board requirement.)


Just one more thought and I'm not going to go on with this. But please see it from my perspective. Confronted with a daily dose of low rate projects with specific low rate ranges or suggested (= expected) low fees on many job boards, not just this one, and many emails from companies obviously looking for the "best" rates, leaving the rates and demanding of rates all up to the participants, including those agencies that go for bottom rates (many of them featured as Certified Proz), has had a profound effect (IMO) on the prices here. I am not hopeful with regard to securing reasonable projects in the future through such platforms.

Since we have a bidding system, it's very likely that "be cheaper" is IMO the way to get the project. That's just how people compete I would just get rid of the posters' option to propose rates. Maybe that will alleviate the situation a bit. But asking for the "best rate" is a dead giveaway anyway. It seems to work for many outsourcers because they continue to post the same "offers" and, yes, unfortunately, many translators are willingly participating in this system. Education is good but it seems to be losing out when things are basically already dictated by certain agencies and translators.

Now I can't blame Proz.com directly for that because it's the posters and willing translators who engage in such business practices but they are able to do it through this platform (and there are other platforms that work just like it).

But I have long given up competing like that and was hoping that Proz.com would maybe take the initiative to offer a platform section or additional platform that caters to different people. Or let's just talk about it.

Why have I kept talking about this over the years? I feel somewhat affected by what is going on with regard to cheap competition. It doesn't make my life easier.

So while I applaud your initiatives for new features that can help, I am not sure certain things can be changed without changing the whole system.

I'll leave it at that. Thank you for listening Henry.


[Edited at 2016-12-24 01:50 GMT]


 

Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:13
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Agree with Bernhard Dec 24, 2016

Bernhard speaks to a reality all too familiar to many freelancers: In a highly competitive buyers' market, many of us increasingly find ourselves accepting rates that we are less than deliriously happy with.

I certainly do not expect this site to set minimum acceptable rates for either posted jobs or agencies in general. But I see nothing violating proz.com's longstanding devotion to free-market dynamics in drawing special attention to Outsourcers who offer what most experienced translators in a given language pair would consider "reasonable rates."

Inclusion of a statement along the following lines could work:

This agency offers reasonable rates in my language pair, and its manner of negotiating project fees is transparent and expeditious.

[Edited at 2016-12-24 16:51 GMT]


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 08:13
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Excellent rates versus reasonable rates Dec 24, 2016

Robert Forstag wrote:
This agency offers reasonable rates in my language pair...


So, do reasonable rates get 3 out of 5 or 5 out of 5. If 5, what about excellent rates, then?


 

Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:13
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Something like that. Dec 24, 2016

Samuel Murray wrote:

Robert Forstag wrote:
This agency offers reasonable rates in my language pair...


So, do reasonable rates get 3 out of 5 or 5 out of 5. If 5, what about excellent rates, then?


The 1-5 scale would in this case (as in the other sub-categories Henry proposes, if I understand correctly) measure the extent to which one agrees with the proposition in question.

So if I thought an agency's rates were fair and its fee-negotiation practices above board (these variables are in my view inseparable), I would probably give a 4. Some degree of dissatisfaction along these lines might lead me to give a rating of 3 or 2. If I thought, on the other hand, that the agency was truly exceptional in one or both of these facets, I would give a "5".


 

Mirko Mainardi  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 08:13
Member
English to Italian
Subjective Dec 24, 2016

Robert Forstag wrote:

Samuel Murray wrote:

Robert Forstag wrote:
This agency offers reasonable rates in my language pair...


So, do reasonable rates get 3 out of 5 or 5 out of 5. If 5, what about excellent rates, then?


The 1-5 scale would in this case (as in the other sub-categories Henry proposes, if I understand correctly) measure the extent to which one agrees with the proposition in question.

So if I thought an agency's rates were fair and its fee-negotiation practices above board (these variables are in my view inseparable), I would probably give a 4. Some degree of dissatisfaction along these lines might lead me to give a rating of 3 or 2. If I thought, on the other hand, that the agency was truly exceptional in one or both of these facets, I would give a "5".


However, "reasonable" or "competitive" are quite subjective, IMO... also seeing how there evidently are people willing to work at rates as low as $.02/.03 per word, so a "reasonable" from one of them will be quite different from the "reasonable" of someone who's used to charge ten times that figure...

However, ProZ does have a list of "community rates" per language pair (whether you find them reliable/acceptable or not...), so why not use it to make this an objective parameter and create at least a basic distinction between clients/agencies that offer abysmal/low rates (below "standard community rates") and those who offer "so-so"/average/good rates?


 

Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:13
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Tight deadlines are not the problem. Dec 24, 2016

memond wrote:

If something could be added for the deadlines, this will be good also. More and more the deadlines imposed by the agencies are ridiculous and start to be a real threat to quality in the translation industry. Seriously, real emergencies occur in hospitals, or when a bomb explodes somewhere, but not in a translation agency, this is ridiculous. For me, extremely short deadlines are nothing more than the reflect of bad management and the incompetence of some PMs who are obviously not real professional and are unable to:
1- Estimate correctly the exact time frame for a translation project (translation and revision included).
2- Negociate with the client the appropriate deadline (which is the primary task of a PM)
3- Have any consideration toward translators (expecting translators to work for 12-16 hours in a row, or spend the night awake because '...it is a very strict deadline...' it is amazingly irrespective. It also shows that the PM has no respect for the quality of the product and the client, you cannot do a good job in a rush and by turning the corners round).


I have no problem with tight deadlines per se, and I would hasten to point out that these often are dictated in response to real client needs rather than as an arbitrary imposition on the part of the agency.

The problem arises when either the stipulated deadline is simply impossible to meet, or when there is no offer of appropriate consideration to compensate for the added inconvenience involved in handling such projects.

[Edited at 2016-12-25 18:31 GMT]


 

Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:13
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
This would work just fine. Dec 24, 2016

Mirko Mainardi wrote:

Robert Forstag wrote:

Samuel Murray wrote:

Robert Forstag wrote:
This agency offers reasonable rates in my language pair...


So, do reasonable rates get 3 out of 5 or 5 out of 5. If 5, what about excellent rates, then?


The 1-5 scale would in this case (as in the other sub-categories Henry proposes, if I understand correctly) measure the extent to which one agrees with the proposition in question.

So if I thought an agency's rates were fair and its fee-negotiation practices above board (these variables are in my view inseparable), I would probably give a 4. Some degree of dissatisfaction along these lines might lead me to give a rating of 3 or 2. If I thought, on the other hand, that the agency was truly exceptional in one or both of these facets, I would give a "5".


However, "reasonable" or "competitive" are quite subjective, IMO... also seeing how there evidently are people willing to work at rates as low as $.02/.03 per word, so a "reasonable" from one of them will be quite different from the "reasonable" of someone who's used to charge ten times that figure...

However, ProZ does have a list of "community rates" per language pair (whether you find them reliable/acceptable or not...), so why not use it to make this an objective parameter and create at least a basic distinction between clients/agencies that offer abysmal/low rates (below "standard community rates") and those who offer "so-so"/average/good rates?


A further refinement of this idea could be a statement such as:

On a scale of 1 to 5, where do this agency's rates fall in terms of the community rates for your language pair?

The term "community rates" could be hyperlinked to the appropriate proz.com page supplying said information.

[Edited at 2016-12-24 18:04 GMT]


 
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