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Thoughts on the ProZ.com Certified PRO network? October 7, 2008

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices, Random musings, Translation Sites.

I received the ProZ.com September newsletter this morning announcing something called “the ProZ.com Certified PRO network.”

A new ProZ.com program was announced on International Translation Day last week: the ProZ.com Certified PRO network.

This initiative is intended to provide qualified translators and translation companies with an opportunity to network and collaborate in an environment consisting entirely of screened professionals.

The impetus for the program came from member responses to the July survey on professional differentiation. The concept has been further refined and developed over the past several months by a private group consisting of ProZ.com members and site staff.

An overview was first made available last week. The program is being made open for applications starting today.

To learn more, go to: http://www.proz.com/pro-tag/info

Basically, those accepted into the program earn the “ProZ.com Certified PRO” title and seal, which may optionally be displayed in profile pages and elsewhere on or off the ProZ.com website. I am amazed that it took them this long to realize that most people were unhappy about “professional differentiation.” I’ve been railing about it for years! I’m curious to hear your thoughts on whether or not this is a positive step in the right direction. I’m also looking forward to hearing more about it at the ATA conference. If they can explain how they will accurately determine competence in the source and target languages, research competence, cultural competence, and technical competence as well as business reliability and good citizenship, I may just cave and actually join ProZ. But they will really have to sell it. I’m already overworked without ProZ’s help.

From their site:
Paid membership in ProZ.com (corporate membership for companies, regular membership for freelancers) is required; beyond that, there is no additional charge for participation in the program. Freelancers and companies must endorse the site’s professional guidelines and accept the terms and conditions of program participation to be certified.

If all it is is another title for paid membership, then thanks but no thanks.


1. Sarah Dillon - October 7, 2008

Hi Jill

I’m not sure what I think about this yet either to be honest. I decided to kick off the certification process last week to see what it was about, and so far all I’ve had to do is fill out a few boxes and my application is now ‘under submission’. I’m not sure how much trouble I’m prepared to go to with the whole thing though, so I’ll see what comes up next… (I declined to enter any client references at this stage, for example, so am not sure what impact that will have).

And it’s not that I’m trying to be negative, by the way. It’s just that I’m not at all active on Proz so am not clear on what the benefits might be for me personally… either way, I’ll be following it with interest.

I’m really interested to hear what others have to say about this too.


2. Corinne McKay - October 7, 2008

Hmm, interesting! I think that the key factor is whether this will improve the quality of jobs that the “certified” translators are offered. To me, this is the real issue with ProZ; there are many highly qualified translators registered on the site, but the jobs, if you’re in a common language pair/specialization, still seem to be low quality.

3. Ryan Ginstrom - October 8, 2008


I’m a Japanese to English translator. Probably not as common going between English and one of the major European languages, but the jobs I’ve seen have been jokes. Getting the best pick of those would be like getting first dibs at the pig trough.

4. Sonja - October 8, 2008

I used to be a Proz.com member for many years and left earlier this year. My dissatisfaction with what was happening on the site in general (discussions, member policy and the job section) had been increasing steadily from year to year. After I felt that I had given enough to the community, I realized that I simply had to leave. The site has become more annoying than helpful.

Jobwise, Proz.com has never been the ideal place for me. I don’t remember that I ever “won” a bid that really turned out to be a good deal… actually there were very few bids over the years that I’ve won, maybe 2 or 3. That is really sad and simply not worth the time and money that I’ve put into this place.

I am not sure what plans Proz has with this new PRO network, but I don’t see any value in that. If I want to be among professionals I will join a professional association. If I want a place to find jobs, I will certainly not got to Proz.com.

5. Small Language Pairs of the World, Unite! - October 8, 2008

I translate in a very small language pair and have always found ProZ.com extremely helpful. Mostly for the BlueBoard (a payment practices list) and for the KudoZ feature. KudoZ allows me to ask other professional translators in my very small language pair about words and abbreviations I can’t figure out. And because the language pair is so small, the dictionaries are all pretty worthless when it comes to technical terms and when I’m stumped on a term I usually find it only gets one or two hits on Google if any and none of them good enough to help me figure out what it means. I have gotten some decent jobs through ProZ during the years I have been a member. Usually just big enough to pay for my annual membership. But the real value has been networking with the other active users in my language pair. From them I have found great people to refer jobs to when I’m too busy. And have gotten many (lucrative and enjoyable) referrals from them when they’re too busy. If this new program can make it easier for the serious, professional translators to stand out and recognize each other, it will be great. Because even in a small language pair there are a lot of unqualified people listed on ProZ and participating in its forums, etc. I guess it really depends on language pair. For me, I think it might be really useful.

6. jillsommer - October 8, 2008

Hi Small Language Pairs,

Welcome! You bring up an interesting point. I rely on the ATA’s German Language Division listserv for terminology questions, but if I translated in a small language pair I would probably find ProZ extremely worthwhile for that reason as well. I have only gotten two jobs in eight years through ProZ, but then again I don’t pay for membership. And I agree with you – the ProZ forums are great. Oftentimes my Google searches will find KudoZ discussions about the term I am looking for.

7. Judy Jenner - October 8, 2008

I am very skeptical of Proz. I sometimes use their searches and glossaries, but have never bid on any of their jobs. It seems like a dumping ground for the lowest-paid projects. Yesterday I saw one for technical English->Spanish at “competitive rates” at $0.03 a word. It is becoming quite absurd. There are a lot of very smart people in the network, and it is disappointing that they are accepting these offensive rates. On the other hand, there are lots of folks who post questions who can’t conjugate a verb in either source or target language and appear to be impersonating translators, which brings us to your original topic. 🙂

In general, I think some sort of certification system is needed on most of these sites, but it being Proz, I am hestitant to even spend any time (or money) on it. I barely maintain my profile and don’t feel that Proz is making a substantial positive contribution to the worldwide translation community. On the contrary, I think it is in enabler in worldwide price dumping instead of putting emphasis on quality. I think there’s also a strong need for certification for translation buyers. I agree with Jill that Proz probably just wants to collect some membership fees, and I am pretty sure they are not going to get any $ from me. Looking forward to hearing Sarah’s experiences while going through this certification process.

Just for giggles, I have been running many of the notorious Friday-night posts through the site Payment Practices (run by our colleague Ted Wozniak), and not surprisingly, these agencies don’t have stellar payment histories

8. MT - October 8, 2008

It seems like all these institutions are trying to find ways to separate the wheat from the chaff, but none is really successful.

The ATA in its fairly misguided and bureaucratic certification process is really running a very narrow-scope standardized testing program and a money-making scheme to force greater attendance at conventions (Orlando, here I come) for CE credits. Obviously there is the outward goal of “professionalizing translation,” but with a pass rate of only 20% and with no agency on planet Earth that accepts the exam as evidence of one’s translation qualification, it’s hard to see how they’re achieving that.

ProZ.com seems to be looking for a way to get *real* translators to stand out from the hobbyists so that the quality of translations done through ProZ and the quality of jobs outsourced through ProZ both go up, making it a more reliable resource for translators and translation customers alike. They need to keep membership numbers up to keep their revenue stream alive, and this is one way to do it.

So, the ATA and ProZ kind of have different goals that can’t really be compared to each other–other than the money-making aspect.

I find ProZ worth the annual price JUST for the BlueBoard and the rate comparison features, but I make lots of use of KudoZ for terminological questions, etc., too, so I get a lot of use out of it each year.

By contrast, if we go into a global depression, my ATA membership will be the first thing I give up…

9. Kevin - November 2, 2008

The scheme is a joke. People now place rubbish such as “Proz certified PRO (EN 15038 European Quality Standard for Translation Services)” at the top of their CVs, as if the Proz certification would imply EN 15038 certification.

Meanwhile, the bulk of jobs passed through the Proz.com reverse-auction system are still of the type “Pls tell us your last rate/per source word and we hope the rate will be 0.03 USD/per source word”, and/or posted by outsourcers with bad credit ratings. In other words, jobs by bottom feeders for bottom feeders, certified or not.

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