Translators Without Borders and the ProZian community work together in large humanitarian localization project 3

Translators Without Borders is an independent, non-profit association that since 1993 has been providing free, professional translations to humanitarian NGOs, enabling them to spend the saved funds in their field operations.

ProZ.com has been supporting Translators Without Borders both in the screening of their volunteer translators via the ProZ.com screening center and in the posting of translation jobs, but even more important is the contribution of ProZ.com’s community of translators.

Since there is no time for reviewing and no room for errors in the handling of emergencies, Translators Without Borders recruits only experienced and solid professionals able to do a good job each time. Approved applicants are asked to submit one or more test translations within the system.

Since the screening requirements for the Certified PRO Network are similar, members of the CPN are admitted directly as Translators Without Borders translators.

The level of activity has been increasing steadily. Some 40,000 words were posted in January. This number rose to 88,000 words during February and over 235,000 words were posted and accepted by volunteers during the first 24 days of March.

Update on the GoodPlanet project

In the second half of February, the NGO GoodPlanet asked Translators Without Borders for help to localize their new website into as many languages as possible beyond English, French and Spanish (which were already available).

Since then, more than a hundred members of the Certified PRO Network have responded to the call for volunteers, and the localization has been already delivered to the NGO (but not yet released) in eight languages:

Another four languages are close to completion: Arabic, Russian, German and Swedish.

Other groups making progress include Portuguese, Dutch, Indonesian and Chinese, as well as Japanese, Serbian, Macedonian, Hebrew, Croatian, Slovenian, Malayalam, Hindi, Tamil and Latvian, where in most cases a single volunteer is working per language.

GoodPlanet has granted permission to all of the translators who participated in this project to use a part of the translations they performed as sample translations in their portfolios.

In addition, translators who participate in any project handled by Translators Without Borders are kindly invited to enter the relevant projects in the project history section of their ProZ.com profiles and these projects will be validated by Translators Without Borders (send request to http://www.proz.com/profile/1352791 ).

There is still room for translation into additional languages, and some additional volunteers would be more than welcome in several of the pairs where localization is still in progress. Source language is English or French.

Any members of the Certified PRO Network who are willing to collaborate with Translations Without Borders in general, and with GoodPlanet in particular, are welcome to contact Translators Without Borders via their ProZ.com profile at http://www.proz.com/profile/1352791

For those interested in forming part of the Certified PRO Network, please visit http://www.proz.com/cpn

——————————————–

Update, March 30th:

Today the localizations into Russian and German were completed and delivered to GoodPlanet, taking the total of completed languages to 10.

Credit goes to:
* Russian: Natalia Mackevich, Mykhailo Voloshko, Yana Deni, Anna Konar, Valery Kaminski and a translator who asked to remain anonymous.

* German: Sabine Winter who, like Jana Novomeska in Slovak, produced the localization of the whole website into her native language.

——————————————–

Update, April 1st:

Today the localizations into Swedish was completed and delivered to GoodPlanet, taking the total of completed languages to 11 and the total of translated words beyond 100K.

Credit goes to Anna Smith, Christer Heljestrand, Johanna Hongell-Darsee, Victoria Eriksson, and Maria Grahm,

——————————————–

Update, April 5th:

Today the localizations into Arabic and Simplified Chinese were completed and delivered to GoodPlanet, taking the total of completed languages to 13.

Credit goes to:
* Arabic: Said Abouharia, Mohamed Gaafar and Heba Shawky.

* Chinese: David Zhang , Yun Lin and Susan Wang.

——————————————–

Guest blog post: “Don’t lower your rates! There are better ways of getting noticed”, by Véronica Coquard 13

This Translator T.O. guest blogger post is by member Véronica Coquard. Véronica and colleague Cornelia Buttmann-Scholl have released a new bilingual translation-related blog, Vers d’autres horizons… (you’ll find the link in the blogroll on the right as well). The following post about rates, responding to job calls and looking at both sides of the service provider – client equation is reproduced here courtesy of Véronica and Cornelia, and can be seen on Vers d’autres horizons… in both English and French:

—————————————————————————————————————–

(This article began as a post to a colleague on ProZ.com, who wrote:

I am a very experienced translator. In December, due to the loss of a major client, I decided to go Pro in this website. I apply to jobs every single day. At first, I cut my tariff in 25%, now it’s less than half, and yet, nothing.

…Anyone out there is getting jobs through this website that are [sic] fairly paid? Or are you a member for different reason, for the sense of community, etc?

I appreciate the time and effort of mods and Proz people, but I am mostly interested in knowing other members’ experiences!”

…And, thanks to a little encouragement from Jared at ProZ.com, it grew from there.)

As a translator, I have replied to countless jobs, on ProZ.com and elsewhere (well, I suppose I could count them, as I keep a file of them. But I digress). Statistically I only get a positive reply maybe one out of forty times. But recently, I had an experience “on the other side” that will influence my choices in the future.

You see, recently, I was offered a big job by a direct client, who probably sent the tender notice out to a few agencies as well as to me, as I had called on them recently proposing that they compare my services to their current agency. I am not an agency, but a freelancer; but since I was entering into competition with at least one agency, I would have to find two other reliable translators to adapt the text into German and Dutch while I translated it into English. So, putting myself in the position of a project manager, I posted the offer on ProZ.com. By looking at recruitment from the PM’s standpoint, not only did I get a slew of replies; I also learned some valuable lessons that I will be putting to use the next time I reply to a job offer.

First of all, I wasn’t looking for the lowest rates; the most important thing for me was to find someone I could count on doing the job properly and on time. (I, too, have had people insist that I lower my rates, but they can insist all they like; I’m the boss of me.) All of the translators who replied to my offer were within the price range that I had cited, and many were below. I did not reply to the lower bidders, but then I did not really take the price range into consideration. In my offer I had asked my potential partners to align with my middle-of-the-range prices, and the crushing majority did just that (by the way, when I say middle-of-the-range, I am talking about rates that allow one to live an ordinary life in a developed country). However, the list of replies was long, so I had to narrow down the choices. Here is what I did.

ProZ.com offers its job posters the option of gathering replies through an on-line application form. I opted for this choice, and was glad I did. Instead of having to sort through my e-mails for replies, the applications were sorted for me. As their messages came pouring in, those who had followed the instructions were to be found through the link to my offer, neatly stacked up in chronological order and in the category of the language they were offering. Those who had not followed the instructions, who had simply contacted me by e-mail, were not on the list. It would have taken an extra effort on my part to include them, printing out various messages to compare them with those on my handy list. To be perfectly honest, I didn’t make that effort. Now, obviously, not all job posters use this system; as freelancers we are often asked to reply by e-mail or through the on-line forms of various agencies. The key here is to reply using the method requested by the client, which might simply save you from not being included on the list of people considered for the job.

When I followed the link to see the replies, I noticed that the page began with a succinct list of the applicants and their most basic information, such as their avatar and a link to their profile, along with the subject line of their message. Below that, there is a longer version of the list, including the text of their messages and their attachments in the same order. This explains why, when you are writing your message subject to apply for a job on ProZ.com, there is a little note alongside the form to help remind you to write something memorable. I hadn’t realized until that day that the subject line is also the heading of each applicant’s place on the shorter list. What you decide to write in that space really can help you stand out. (I’m the first to admit having produced such boring headings like “FR >EN translations”. I should have realized, and expressed in no uncertain terms, that I’m much more interesting than that!) To begin studying the some fifty applications that I received, I printed out the short (subject-line) list, ticking off people as I went along. So it is important to make your subject line specific and eye-catching, summing up in a few words why you are better than the competition, for this job (I’ll get back to that in a moment).

I had posted the offer in French. Now it may sound rash, but I began by throwing out any replies that were not in French. The lesson is: always reply in the language that the job is posted in. At least half of my applicants replied to me in English, but I wanted to get an idea of their level of French by reading their replies. In my case, I didn’t particularly care to know their level of English, as that’s my part of the job; and I trust that they are good in their respective native languages. Also, I had so many worthy replies in French that I didn’t bother going out of my way to request a French version of the application even from the English-speaking people who sounded quite competent.

After eliminating those who were speaking to me in languages other than French, I narrowed it down to those who had sent a well-written reply, and I must say that a few of them had me balking. You needn’t translate into a language other than your native, but if you are offering language services, you should at least be able to write a decent note in your source language. It’s also worth taking a bit of extra time to polish your message and subject line, running them through spellcheck and proofreading them (and if you’re really bad in your source language, may I somewhat cheekily suggest that you go looking for a job elsewhere). Note that the order of the replies did not really influence me in my choice; this is why I talk about taking a moment to verify your words. After all, the message you send out is the first (and might be the last) sample of your writing that the contractor will have to judge you by. Anyone who sent me a sloppy message (with typos or weirdly cobbled phrasing) was out. Again, I was spoiled for choice, and didn’t have to settle for slackness.

A few of the applicants piqued my interest because in their few short, well-turned sentences, I could detect that they had style. As writers, we must be aware of the powerful choices that we make when using words, although we mustn’t allow ourselves to become overwhelmed with the possibilities. My suggestion would be to tend toward subtle originality. The key word here is subtle: as much as it is important to stand out, don’t go so far as to make yourself ridiculous or even too casual. The “I’m-a-riot-to-work-with” approach might get you attention, but it doesn’t go far in reassuring your client that you are reliable. Likewise, in French we have a formal and informal form of address, and I didn’t much appreciate being addressed in the informal way; it just didn’t seem businesslike. The same goes for those who used smileys; for me, smileys are reserved for friendly exchanges, and not when you are looking to impress. You shouldn’t need them to express your politeness; courtesy and respect for your client should shine through in every aspect of your text.

After these qualities, personalization proved to be a big factor in my decision-making. I was just naturally attracted to the people who had personalized their note. Those who had taken the time to look at my name (and spell it correctly) got points in my book. These were generally the people who understood what I was asking for, and who adapted their message in kind, instead of just copy-pasting a generic “cover letter” blurb (and again, I’ve done this plenty of times).

The smart ones listed any past experience specifically relevant to the job. Again, my priority was to find someone dependable, and it’s just safer to go with someone who has had similar types of experience. I can already hear some of you wondering where you can possibly begin when you’re new to the craft. In a word, the answer is: use your imagination (and read up on ProZ.com forums where there are dozens of ideas for plumping up your experience, such as pro bono work). You must have some kind of professional experience, even if it was prior to translation, and you can expand on that – without exaggerating your qualifications – to make it clear to your potential client that the subject interests you in some way. Be specific.

Likewise, a great many people who replied to me cited experience that had nothing to do with the job I was offering. I did not penalize them for this purposely, but it did leave me feeling a bit chilly toward them. I suppose I got the impression that not only they didn’t have any relevant experience, but that their experience was limited in general, which may or may not be the case. Anyway, the subject of the job you are applying for is the only kind of experience that the client is looking for, so talk about your experiences in that matter, and let the rest of your impressive feats be fascinating surprises for the client perusing your CV.

Most of my better applicants thought to attach a CV, although I hadn’t mentioned it, and, although I didn’t really plan it in advance, I printed out the CVs of my ever-narrowing selection of translators to make my final choice. I didn’t look at the CVs too carefully, but again, I made sure that there was something there that reflected the specialization I was looking for. It might be taking it too far to suggest that you should personalize your CV to every job offer, but it might be worth it to create several CVs, keeping the main points the same while providing more detailed information on the various main specialty fields that you develop for each corresponding CV. This will allow you to choose the CV that is the most appropriate for each job you reply to. The language of your CV, of course, should be the same as for your message.

In the experience that I am recounting, the CVs made for a handy one-page printout upon which I could make notes as I perused profiles and websites (yes, one page is enough to get an idea of your professional history; any more means your client will have to rummage through his or her drawer looking for a stapler, possibly discovering that he or she is out of staples, and putting him or her in a foul mood). By the way, I have also helped recruit team members in my past life as a tourist board director, and the one-page CV seems a universally good idea. Often, when scanning documents to be sent to other decision-makers, HR people will only bother to scan the first page anyway. So shrink it down, folks.

Many of my applicants – and this was especially penalizing for those who didn’t think to include a CV – forgot to sign their messages with their contact information. Occasionally I found myself having to click several times to get that information. So put your contact information all over the place, so that the impatient person looking for it will find it and won’t skip over you to the next person who thought to include theirs.
To contact the translators that I chose, I called them. Now, it’s not very kind of me, but I admit that I hung up when I got an answering machine. In spite of my ruthless eliminating, I still had a lot of competent translators on my list, and I didn’t want to leave a message with one, only to call another and perhaps give the second one a false hope, only to have the first one call me back… You get the picture. Impatience strikes again. I’m not proud of it, but I’m telling you this because I’m sure that the same thing happens to agencies and other clients.

The way it turned out, I had to call several people for the Dutch translation, and I came to the bottom of my narrowed-down pile of CVs; I therefore backtracked and printed out the contact pages of websites advertised on various offers, which proved almost as handy as a CV. It doesn’t hurt to have a website. Again, make sure that your contact information is visible on every page.

So after this experience, as I return to the land of those selling their services, I am sure that from now on I will reply differently to jobs. It’s been an awakening, because when I’m on our side of the line, I am not a lazy, hard-hearted person. However, as soon as I found myself in the position of power, I was struck with a case of the I-can’t-be-bothereds. Your client is probably a good person, but he or she might also come down with that syndrome when reading applications. So make it easy for that person to care about you.

Follow my mantra: I will only reply to offers where I have some kind of relative experience, I will personalize my reply and cite that experience, I will include my contact information and a CV to make it easier for the client to reach me. And I will keep trying, every day that I don’t have work to do!

You see, now, there’s no need to lower your rates!

—————————————————————————————————————–

Thanks to Véronica for this contribution! Looking forward to more insightful posts from Vers d’autres horizons…

Has anyone had similar experiences? Does the way you reply to jobs differ from what you would expect if you were seeking translators?

 

Receive notification of new posts on the Translator T.O. Subscribe by entering your email address on the right side of this page.

Translators be aware: an ongoing scam asks for help using real translators as the “senders” 23

Early this week an ongoing scam using the impersonation of real translators and the emulation of their emails as a point of contact was reported.

This scam appears to take the form of an email “sent” from the real translator to other translators, using the real translator’s name and possibly data to lend credit to the sender, such as links to the translator’s website, etc. The emails appear to the recipient to have been sent from the real translator, with the actual sender’s address (the scammer’s address) “masked” behind this in order to receive any replies.

I copy below the message which has been received by translators using this method:

Hope you get this on time, Am sorry I didn’t inform you about my trip to Spain for a program,I’m presently in Madrid and am having some difficulties here because i misplaced my wallet on my way to the hotel where my money and other valuable things were kept.I want you to assist me with a loan of (2,600 Euro = 3,300 Dollars) to sort-out my hotel bills and to get myself back home.

I have spoken to the embassy here but they are not responding to the matter effectively,I will appreciate whatever you can afford to assist me with,I’ll refund the money back to you as soon as i return,let me know if you can be of any help.I don’t have a phone where i can be reached.

Please let me know immediately if you can be of help to my situation.

The message itself is classically scam; it is the fact that it appears to be from a fellow translator, perhaps even someone you know or have had contact with before, which can disarm the unsuspecting. If you receive a message similar to the one above, or any email that appears out of the ordinary, from an apparent colleague, please proceed with care.

————–
At the same time, be aware that cases of  “email hijacking” can also lead to scam messages like this being sent to your own email contacts (one such case was brought to my attention this week). To protect your email account(s), follow these basic guidelines:

* Use a strong password for your account (consider a mixture of letters (upper and lower-case) and numbers or special characters which is longer than 8 characters.
* Do not use the same password for all of your online accounts.
* Try to avoid sharing your email address on the Internet (the profile email feature is designed to protect against this and avoid the necessity of publishing your address publicly in your profile, for example).
* Use and keep your anti-virus software up to date.
* Make sure your email program or provider has a spam filter, and use it, flagging emails which are spam that are not caught automatically by the filter.
* Never give out your password.

Some highlights in translation for February Reply

It’s time again for the monthly ProZ.com newsletter, on its way to your inbox, and a brief look at some of the translation news and information of interest in February:

What was the biggest translation news story or most interesting piece of information in translation in February for you?

Translators Without Borders recruits ProZ.com Certified PRO members for ambitious localization program 3

For those not already familiar with it, Translators Without Borders is an independent non-profit association established in 1993, dedicated to helping NGOs extend their humanitarian work by providing free, professional translations.

The funds saved through the use of volunteer translations can then be used by the NGOs in the field, enabling them to extend the scope and reach of their humanitarian work. Some of the supported NGOs include Médecins Sans Frontières, Zafèn, Médecins du Monde, Acting for Life, Aide et Action, the Association ASMAE, ATD Fourth World, ATD Fourth World and GoodPlanet.

The core of Translators Without Borders are the about 300 volunteer translators who donate their time, efforts and knowledge to help make the world a better place, together with doctors, nurses and other volunteers working in NGO and humanitarian associations.

Since translations related to humanitarian emergencies leave no time for review (and even less room for error), Translators Without Borders looks exclusively for experienced and solid translators able to do produce strong, professional translations.

Translators willing to volunteer with Translators Without Borders can complete an application and if the application is approved they are required to perform at least a translation test as part of the screening process.

The job interface

ProZ.com has been supporting Translators Without Borders both in the screening of their volunteer translators via the ProZ.com screening center and in the posting of translation jobs.

The current Translators Without Borders jobs interface is extremely efficient. When a job is posted, the system will identify the pool of translators who are approved for the assignment (approved into the system and with the proper language pair and, eventually, field of expertise).

This pool will then be sorted. In the case of Translators Without Borders this sorting is random in nature, because the idea is to balance the load among the volunteers, but in a commercial application other criteria would be followed, according to the preferences of the company acting as platform manager.

The system will then proceed to notify the translators in batches separated by fixed delays. In the case of Translators Without Borders, these are batches of 5 translators each, and there is a 15 minute delay between a batch of notifications and the next but both of these numbers can be controlled.

These notifications include a link to a page dedicated to the job, with optional descriptions of the client, the project and the job, plus the file to be translated and any special instructions provided when posting the job. The translator can review the offered file and all the information and decide to accept it or not.

When one of the notified translators accepts the job, it immediately becomes unavailable to all other translators and no further notifications are sent out.

This interface includes a communications feature for the exchange of messages (with notifications) between the translator and the job poster, and also a feature to deliver the translated file once the job is completed.

A case study: localization of GoodPlanet’s web page

On February 17th, Translators Without Borders was contacted by the NGO GoodPlanet, who requested help in translating their new website into as many languages as possible beyond English, French and Spanish (which were already available).

Since the languages where Translators Without Borders is stronger were not required, a decision was made to contact members of ProZ.com’s Certified PRO Network and to ask them for help, offering to add any volunteer directly to the list of approved Translators Without Borders translators (the Certified PRO Network has a screening process similar to that used by Translators Without Borders).

The results were amazing; 38 translators volunteered and the GoodPlanet website is currently being localized into the following 15 languages: Italian, Portuguese, Arabic, German, Dutch, Romanian, Russian, Indonesian, Polish, Swedish, Turkish, Hungarian, Greek, Slovak and Japanese.

There is room for translation into additional languages. Any Certified PRO members who are willing to collaborate with Translations Without Borders in general, and with GoodPlanet in particular, are welcome to contact Translators Without Borders via their ProZ.com profile at http://www.proz.com/profile/1352791

New feature: Translation feedback area 4

A new site area was started this week, to allow translators to share and discuss short translation texts. The idea is to share translations to get opinions and feedback from colleagues, and of course to have fun.

This feature is open to ProZ.com members. To see more about how it works, check out the scope and submission guidelines.

Protecting yourself from fraud: another recent example 8

Thanks to Neil Payne at Kwintessential for bringing this next case out, in which both translators and agency are affected when the scammer poses as a legitimate, existing company.  I reproduce here a version of the post originally made on Kwintessential’s blog (scroll down for the link to the original posting):

—————————————————————————————————————–

By very good fortune a translation scam using Kwintessential’s name and brand has been exposed by an eagle-eyed translator.

The email was sent to the translator, who shall be called Mr X, requesting information for a large project.

Dear Mr. X

As translation office on the west coast of the US, we are looking for freelance translators in languages: German, French and Spanish.
Our research for translators in the German language has brought up your name again and again. You have been highly recommended by some of our valued customers and colleagues.

We need to request information on your current rates, your fields of expertise (law, merchandising and advertisement needed), words per day translated also a time schedule of your availability for the months of March, April and May 2011.

The project we will be working on, enfolds a value of 80.000 words, was commissioned by a notable US American company.

We will need your documentation not later than March 01.2011.

Best regards,

[Contact information removed from this post]

Emails went back and forth between [the sender] and Mr X with the former potentially placing a large amount of work. It was by good fortune that Mr X was suspicious of the email due to 1) the email being a non-company address (xxxx@aim.com) and 2) the misspelling of Kwintessential. Out of prudency Mr X decided to reply and CC’d our USA office whose address was used in the signature. Our Manager in the USA immediately drew our attention to the matter.

It appears the scam works in the following manner: a translation agency wins a contract to carry out a translation job. In order to increase their profit margins they send emails to freelance translators requesting they take on the assignment. The poor translator naturally feels they are in good hands but will eventually come to realize they will never be paid. The scamming agency therefore makes a 100% mark-up. All the translator can do is come to the real Kwintessential who will obviously have no idea of what has happened.
It is extremely unfortunate that people feel they have to carry out their business without principles and ethics. It is these scammers that give us reputable agencies a bad name. On top of this they are taking advantage of the good will of translators who work extremely hard, are true professionals and do not deserve such treatment.

Thankfully Mr X was clever enough to work out the bad intentions of [the scammer]. We have written to [the scammer] but surprise surprise no reply.

Message of the story for translators is always check the credentials of the agency and ensure 100% they are the real deal.

—————————————————————————————————————–

See the original post at Intercultural Communication and Translation News