ProZPro & Con
A ProZ.com member posted a copy of your recent coverage of ProZ.com, which had appeared in your column "the Bottom Line." Following, please find the open reply that I posted.
I feel compelled to defend the hard-earned reputation of my service and those who use it. I believe that some modification to your column, or posting of my reply, would be appropriate.
I also invite each of you to register with ProZ.com and look around a bit. I think your opinions might change.
I am a fan of the Translation Journal. Therefore, I am disappointed to see this sort of careless (and damaging) coverage of ProZ.com.
The tone of the column in which the exchange appears, "The Bottom Line," is, as the use of playful names suggest, somewhat light. Perhaps the authorsEugene Seidel (Fire Ant) and Chris Durban (Worker Bee)believe that this gives them license to share their off-the-cuff opinions without thoroughly researching their themes. This certainly appears to have been the case in their recent coverage of ProZ.com.
Apart from the typographical errors (Proz should be 'ProZ.com' and 'Kudos' should be 'KudoZ'), Durban & Seidel's item includes a factual error, and, I suspect, a misrepresentation. I would like to respond to these.
- Durban and Seidel refer to a "downward bidding model."
ProZ.com does not utilize a "downward bidding model" anymore than it utilizes an "upward bidding model". A bid with a high rate is not handled differently than a bid with a low rate. In fact, bids can be entered without specific rates at all. Perhaps Durban & Seidel were misled by the term "bid", which, to our fault, may be a misnomer.
- Durban & Seidel say, "a few serious agencies that do dip in from time to time have been known to blackball translators on the basis of either their questions or-more often-their answers."
This is true, and is a valid and intended use of the system. However, it is unlikely that Durban & Seidel would have known this unless they themselvesor agencies with which they are associated withengage in this practice. In that case, I would find the wording used in the article to be somewhat disingenuous.
I do not object to Durban & Seidel's contention that ProZ.com is "populated by many inexperienced... service providers." ProZ.com is (for the moment) in many ways akin to a directory, and as such, it can be expected that there are service providers of all stripes contained within. (Fortunately, telling the good from the bad is an art that many good agencies have mastered.)
What I object to is the portrayal of ProZ.com as a place where quality is a "distant third." This statement is completely baseless. As the two authors themselves state, where a service provider positions itself on the quality spectrum is an individual decision.
There are many at ProZ.com who place their highest priority on quality. In fact, Seidel and Durban could learn a thing or two about attention to detail and journalistic rigor from some of the people registered with us.
Fire Ant & Worker Bee reply:
One of the beauties of the internet is transparency. We join Henry Dotterer
in urging anyone interested to visit the ProZ.com site and make up their
For the record: FA&WB would not have responded as they did
without tracking exchanges on ProZ.com for several weeks; likewise, neither
of us has any link to any translation company or agency whatsoever. We did
contact a few for an opinion before writing our replyjournalistic rigor
We stand by our comments. The friendly exchanges and enthusiasm
found on ProZ.com have their appeal in a solitary world, and the site may
be useful as one of several marketing tools for translators in LLDs or
working out of markets that are geographically remote from their clients.
But for seriously lucrative contracts... don't hold your breath.
High-paying clients simply don't do their shopping here, and the
reason is equally simple: scattershot quality. Which means that
as translators gain experience and market savvy, and hone their translating
skills, it is only natural that they move on or at the very least broaden
the scope of their practice to include other options. FA&WB would naturally be
happy to tackle any questions theyand othersmay have on precisely how
to make that move.
Fire Ant& Worker Bee
Thank you for that informative and enjoyable article on ProZ.com.
Indeed, ProZ, in my view, has been instrumental in driving down rates over the last year or so. But things like that don't come as a shock to me anymore: just take a look at the "translators" signed up with ProZ. Most of them have no qualifications at all (I call them "self-anointed translators" or "interlopers"), and one of them, living and working in the U.S., offers her services for US$1.25 per page (!), just to cite one hair-raising example.
I fully disagree with ProZ philosophy: the only qualification you need to become a "ProZ translator" is a valid e-mail address (that's all you need to sign up); KudoZ, according to the site owner and other staff members, is supposed to be a substitute for real-world qualifications such as T&I degree or accreditation; real professionals are constantly harassed by the self-anointed ones and, eventually, driven out.
I have heard from two leading translators' associations by now that they disapprove of their members' joining ProZ, because, according to these associations, ProZ is not a professional environment and under their rules of ethics and conduct, their members should not advertise their services on such a site.
Now, take a look at the KudoZ system and the "KudoZ Leaders" ("Hall of Shame" ;-)): those people collecting thousands of KudoZ points cannot possibly be spending too much time doing actual translations (one long-time member of ProZ even admitted that he spends at least 2 hours a day answering KudoZ questions). In addition, these people spend most of their time answering questions in language pairs that are not theirs to begin with: if you get stuck on an English term and need confirmation and/or clarification, would you not want an English native speaker to help you out, instead of a Swedish or Portuguese native speaker? Sadly, many of the askers are totally clueless, often awarding points to wrong answers.
KudoZ has become a free translation service for "translators" who don't know what they are doing: they post entire sentences or paragraphs, one by one, expecting others to do their work for free. Even sadder is the fact that there are always way too many ProZ members rushing to answer such questionsbecause they are "addicted" to the game of KudoZ (and that's what it is, a game!).
In my book, ProZ has done a lot of damage to the translation industry (decline in professional standards, free-fall of rates, etc.), and professionals (real professionals, that is) should stay away from ProZ.
Werner George Patels
Congratulations to Andrei Gerasimov for his article "Marketing your translation services." I am trying to become a freelance translator (English-Spanish), and your words were really useful to me. Thank you.
Mexico City, Mexico
This is in reference to the article-"Cultural Elements
in Translation" by C. Thriveni.
Alhough I have Indian roots, I was very much surprised
to know that there were so many cultural barriers.
Translation becomes diffcult in such situations. In
translating a culture-rich text to an alien language,
the translator has to make sure that the reader is not
at a loss. Footnotes and references make the reader
lose interest. In spite of all distractions, an
individual still likes to explore different
cultures. Translations help stimulate interests in different cultures.
I enjoyed reading the article.