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Mar 14, 2009

Would you like a date with that translation?

In its effort to generate more revenue, ProZ.com is now navigating treacherous waters infested with Google ads. Many members have expressed concerns both publicly and privately about the display of ads offering sexy ladies looking for love, treatments for urinary problems, etc. Here's an example of Google offering Ukrainian girls for sale on a page announcing the new ProZ office in the Ukraine:



I presume these ladies are not staff members :-)

While ProZ staff are apparently beavering away blocking various unsavory ads, more crop up like mushrooms after a warm fall rain. I'm sure the revenue from this source is very attractive, but I really don't think it's worth the image damage. I've seen similar nonsense on other sites that have opened the door to uncontrolled ad placement, and my dislike of what I saw led me to reject the possibility of any such thing on a site I control. Any advertisement or promotional links that appear here are there because I know and like the product(s) concerned.

I do hope ProZ gets the Google ad fiasco sorted out. This is just another one of a number of incidents recently (gold stars, anyone?) that some feel are trivializing the site and possibly hurting the reputation of translators associated with it. I'm not sure I would go so far as to agree with the latter statement as it affects individual translators in a personal way, but to the extent that the site appears unserious in its structure and content (and certainly, Google ads offering sex do not make a positive impression on a professional translator's site), the interests of the sites clients - the paying members - are indeed harmed.

4 comments:

  1. The development of ProZ.com is an interesting socio-economic case study of business growth dynamics.
    First, an innnovative person (Henry) comes up with a good business idea and a way to give this idea popular appeal. Initially, the business gets started on a shoestring out of a (literal or figurative) garage.
    Then, the idea gets propagated by viral advertising, and the business grows.
    As the business grows, structures become necessary, and the viral idea is strong enough to get most structures established and enforced by volunteers.
    The business grows still further, and it becomes necessary to take on paid full-time staff to handle some of the services and structures.
    As the business continues to grow, conflicting priorities start to arise between the full-time staff and the volunteers.
    More full-time staff are taken on to handle this, and they have got to be paid.
    The increasing financial commitment means that "revenue streams" become increasingly important. These revenue streams start to alienate some of the volunteer community, and this creates even more work for the full-time paid staff.
    I suppose the next logical step would be for the number of paid staff to increase and the informal volunteer spirit among the customers to decrease. The emphasis thus shifts from "How can we get people together?" to "What can we sell and at what price?"

    Perhaps somebody can remind me - what is the PRODUCT that this company markets?

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  2. I am not a proz fan, and I see what you mean, but even if there is no product, there are clearly services, and these are: allow people to do networking, to exchange opinions and to quote for a job (in exchange of a small amount of money) and to enable translation companies to look for translators (they pay for that). Enough to remain a service provider in the IT-sector, even if there is some income from advertisements. And advertisements will stay low because translators are not a good public for clicking on links.

    Other social websites (and proz is a social website) do the same thing: they never guarantee that people will find a job or can sell their house, but they offer just a tool to do social networking, including some refined viral mechanisms.

    One of the problems of social websites is that people get bored, or that they discover that they spend lots of time for few results. That's why the organizing company regularly has to invent a way for retaining attention. From the moment that there is a game, for instance, you can draw the conclusion that the public is getting less interested and that the "click rate" or the "number of page views" is going down.

    Proz is a business and is managed as a business, sure they know what they are doin.

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  3. I agree that displaying non-translation ads is not a good decision, though I don't see them as a paying member.

    By the way several months before the announcement of PRO-program I suggested smth like that in the Russian forum and my colleagues just laughed at the absurdity of my suggestion. But the ProZ staff listened to it or I just tuned in to their thoughts wave-length :)

    Though I meant smth different. I started a topic in which I asked whether it was reasonable to have any certificate (I have none so far - I am a technician, linguist and teacher). So I said it could be great if ProZ had the authority to issue such certificates. If the certification was paid it could be beneficial for both users and owners.

    So, if it was a bad idea, sorry! However, in fact, I don't think the staff listened to my idea in the first place.

    Good Luck!
    Mykhailo

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  4. I remember back in 1998 or 1999 somebody posted a query in USENET (unfortunately I can't find it) asking what people thought about the name Proz as a site for translators.

    I distinctly remember mentioning the connotation that it made me think of was that of prostitutes.

    Where I come from, proz is a slang term for prostitute. Pronunciation is proz with a short O.

    How ironic that years later, after building a massive site, that connotation has come home to roost via computer selected ads.

    Very unfortunate. I hope they manage to overcome it. I'm sure they will.

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