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Aug 25, 2011

Kicking the habit

My daughter turned 18 yesterday, and I decided to celebrate the occasion in a healthy way by ending another unhealthy relationship: my ProZ membership, which was due for renewal that day. Over the past few years, it has become clear that the relationship with the self-designated leading e-portal for translators was an abusive one.

When Mr. Qaddafi, a junior military officer, staged his coup in Libya some 40+ years ago, things were better at first. Roads were built. Schools. Hospitals. Then the Road to Nowhere with its master plan in the Green Book.

When a Japanese translator and MIT graduate founded ProZ and built it with the help of skilled, enthusiastic professionals and others pleased to have a new communication platform with a bit more to offer than creaky Compuserve, there was a honeymoon period with competent moderation of forums, helpful exchanges of ideas and terminology advice and more. And then, when the Ring of RuleZ was forged and darkness fell on the virtual land, nontranslating nazgul redefined right and wrong and wrote the platform's end as a unique and useful place for professionals.

ProZ has always been an easy "fix" for me. A lot of good colleagues complain that in years of quoting posted jobs there they had no success. I have other beefs with ProZ - mostly bad management. As far as the posted projects are concerned, I probably got 70% or better of those for which I choose to quote and did so at quite reasonable rates. It's all a matter of knowing when to quote and how to game the system. And having qualifications that are in demand. If your tail gets in the way of your typing and you munch peanuts and bananas over the keyboard, even Jeff Gitomer probably can't help you upsell your services.

But those little fixes of money and ego boosts of yet another easy score have stood in the way of more serious development, and like someone with Stockholm Syndrome in a violent relationship, I've found excuses for years now to stick around ProZ long after Henry & Co. applied duct tape to my mouth and required individual approval of any forum contributions I might care to make. I'm in good company there - many of the best moderators from the past have been similarly gagged for a long time, and some have been subject to summary virtual execution. I am talking about some of the most ethical, honest, competent colleagues I know.

So it's time for a bit of methadone (free account status) on the transition to a better life in healthier company. I've found it already, actually, in professional associations like the German BDÜ and private, non-indexed forums with carefully screened professionals like Stridonium. Why would I need the ProZ needle in my arm, to put up with an organization that shows open contempt for paying customers with an opinion as it debases its content for wannabes and Asian sausage shop LSPs? Why continue to host a domain there when the costs are far higher than elsewhere and the service truly sucks? Let it go. Time to kick the habit.

6 comments:

  1. Congratulations! You finally did it! I never understood why you put up with the abuse and even paid for it... Welcome to the world of ProZ unpaid lurkers. Come on in, the water's fine.

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  2. I enjoyed reading your blog, and as it happens, I am still a non-paying Proz member, considering to become a paying member. After reading this, I've started to wonder whether it's really a smart thing to do? Though opinions on forums seem to be quite divided. I just can't make up my mind. A bit more insight into your Proz experience might help.

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  3. I have been a non-paying Proz member for a couple of years, or rather a lurker on the Proz forum, but my recent experience with the "duct tape" after I finally took the courage to post on the board has been more than discouraging. Funny how the latest entry on my blog ends with "So long, Proz". I am not a grouch, but, after my messages were removed from Proz board, thought it was worthwhile to state some facts, even if it is only a small story on my blog: www.tomarenko.de/Blog .
    Thanks for mentioning Stridonium. I will certainly have a look.

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  4. Thank you, Valerij. That is an interesting story about your eBook review and the odd response of ProZ censors to it. Pull one of the RuleZ out of a hat... any one will do. Show trials, anyone?

    Jill, the long accumulation of insults and the fact that the people who once made the environment there worthwhile have mostly long since departed or been purged made the decision easy in the end. Last year I had the excuse that I still needed time to migrate resources on a business domain from my former partnership and that I use the BlueBoard occasionally. But given that the partnership and everything behind it is now dead, I'll just let whatever links there are to content die and rebuild them at my leisure. And Zahlungspraxis is actually more useful for checking out most of my prospects than the BlueBoard ever was. It's free. Or I can shell out the minor fee for the Payment Practices board. It deserves support.

    Anonymous: Just search old posts about ProZ on this blog, and if things aren't clear enough then they never will be. I don't write much about that swamp of mediocrity and newbiedom these days because it's largely a waste of energy and the playground of peanut vendors from Asia and Eastern Europe, but most of the relevant issues are covered in my old notes.

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  5. Thank you for this post! I'm a newly graduated translator and I've always been made to feel like a Proz paid membership is a must! I haven't been convinced and also have been hesitant to pay the $120 fee (times that by approximately 8 to convert it to my local currency) and I expect a lot of ROI for that money. Thanks for the enlightening post- that it may not be all that it's cut out to be!

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  6. Rebekka, ROI isn't really the issue for me. For years I've recovered my membership fee many times over from referrals through the site, though lately the volume of spam from organ grinding agencies looking for new monkeys has in fact risen to ridiculous levels. It's more a matter of respect, ethics and developing better habits. In recent years, the management of ProZ has exhibited what I feel to be considerable contempt for the professional side of translation as well as the legal and ethical niceties of data handling and privacy. One of my friends become absolutely apoplectic when the subject of ProZ and Google Analytics and pay-for-click bait comes up. I don't agree with him on all points, but having had my data swiped twice from the site by various sleazebags, I have had occasion to doubt the site's competence and commitment in matters of security.

    Overall, the things you can do with ProZ you can do better elsewhere and develop better habits while you are at it. And frankly, the place has become deadly dull since the death of competent moderation and qualified feedback there. Just look at any day's latest forum posts and then another day's and tell me if there is any real difference. Different newbies asking the same questions about Trados (because they are too lazy to search the discussion archives) or how to write an invoice. This is not a platform where you will grow much as a professional on such a diet.

    You're much better off joining real organizations of real professionals, networking at trade shows and professional meetings and making more sparing use of the cattle call online portals. There are still some good things to be had from the site, but nothing that justifies supporting a regime with which I have serious disagreements.

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