Game Translation - English, Japanese, Chinese, Dutch and other languages
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"Direct clients of mine include Microsoft, Electronic Arts, SEGA, Codemasters and NCSoft. These companies can't all be wrong about the quality I deliver."

Recent projects

  • Dota 2 (Japanese)
  • Beat Cop (Japanese and Chinese)
  • Motorsport Manager (Dutch)
  • SEGA's official website (Dutch)
  • Multiple AAA titles for Electronic Arts (Dutch)
  • Gremlins Inc. (Japanese and Chinese)
  • Punch Club (Japanese)
  • Arma 3 and Argo (Japanese)
  • Satellite Reign (6 languages)
  • Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games (Dutch)

  • Main Dutch language consultant for Electronic Arts 2010-2017.
  • Translation of all press releases, game packagings and national TV commercials for SEGA.
  • Localization of help files for Valve Corporation.
  • Localization of games for Bohemia Interactive.
  • Localization of games for Charlie Oscar.
  • Translation of all press releases and game manuals for Bigben Interactive (Square Enix/Turtle Beach).
  • Localization of websites, games and Xbox LIVE for Microsoft.
  • Translation of websites, games and national TV commercials for Electronic Arts.
  • Translation of package texts for Nordic Games.
  • Translation of website texts for Codemasters.
  • Translation of all game cards for NCSoft.
Proz.com using quality marks as a political instrument

Proz.com is the de facto network site for translations; a bit like LinkedIn, but then for translators only. To distinguish between good translators and bad translators, Proz uses so-called quality seals: translators whose translations have been peer-reviewed by colleagues can get a special seal of approval, which the site's visitors are told is a seal of quality. This is called the PRO badge, and it's displayed prominently in the translator's profile. Many potential clients filter on this badge when they are looking for quality translators; there's even a special selection box for it in Proz's searching system.

In fact however, the badge is used as a tool to smother all criticism on the site. When you dare say that moderatorship on the forums has become so strict that you can no longer contribute to the forums, the moderators simply remove it. Permanently. Just to settle their personal vendetta of course, as future forum contributions, let alone negative contributions, are no longer to be expected. This besides other measures taken, like a temporary forum ban and the fact that all your postings will be vetted by the moderators before publication for the rest of your life, effectively making it impossible to tell anyone on the forums about what was done to you.

"As you should know, members of the Certified PRO Network are expected to act in a manner consistent with ProZ.com professional guidelines and site rules as an ongoing requirement for participation in the program (this is part of the agreement you signed when your application to the network was accepted). Hence, given your repeated violations of site rules and policies, you are being removed from the ProZ.com Certified PRO Network."

Note how nothing is said about the quality of the peer-reviewed translations. Clearly enough, the seal has nothing to do with that. The mail goes on and lists "all" terrible crimes committed... these are:

1. Rule number 4. Not staying on topic. (Read: mention that blue is a color too in a thread about the color red)
2. Rule number 8. Public discussion of administrator actions. (Read: publicly ask why a certain posting of yours was removed)

That was it. No one got killed, no one was threatened, no one got scolded, no one got personally attacked.

I should add to this that besides the occasional posting that got removed for one reason or another over a period of 10 (!) years ("repeated violations"), no formal warnings were given before this.

Read my lips: no warnings were given or messages were sent. Not a single one. My record was entirely clean. No one ever said: "Do this and this one more time, and we will take your badge." No one ever even said: "Please don't do this and this anymore." Proz.com did not warn. Proz.com did not even ask. Proz.com simply took. You criticize the forum moderators (even without mentioning names), your badge gets removed. You cannot appeal. The measure is permanent and irreversible. There are no official rules outlining which crimes result in badge removal and which not - it is all left to the whims of the moderators. Proz.com admits this themselves. I quote:

"no warning is required"

To show you how Proz.com rolls: a complaint about power abuse of the staff member in question, Lucia Leszinsky, was handled by Lucia Leszinsky herself. Surprisingly, Lucia could not find any fault with the procedure she followed. And to add insult to injury, she added the following site rule I'd like all of you to be very aware of:

"8. Although verified credentials, peer review and other parameters are considered in evaluating prospective participants in the "Certified PRO" program, the right to participate is ultimately granted by--and can be revoked at any time by--ProZ.com's staff."

There you have it. Proz's final argument that concludes everything. The alpha and the omega. The badge has nothing to do with quality. Proz.com can grant and take as she pleases.

It is of course Proz's good right to run their site the way they wish. It is not their right however to mislead visitors and tell them they use quality seals to separate the good from the bad, when in fact they use these very same seals to smother any criticism. Especially not because as the largest translation portal on the net, Proz should realize that whatever decision it takes has a direct influence on the income of the translators affected. You steal my badge, and my 4-year old may have less to eat because potentially ignorant clients think that without that badge, I'm not good enough as a translator.

Being the biggest player on the net also means bearing the responsibility that comes with it. That however has proven to be too much of a task. The seal turns out to be nothing but a stamp of approval from Proz.com for being a good indoctrinated, brainwashed and borged citizen on their site: someone who only sings, claps and dances because of all the great miracles performed by Proz.com's divine staff.

The official story behind the badge sounds fantastic: it is only granted to translators who display a "professional attitude". I don't know about you, but to me "professional attitude" means: only accepting subjects you specialize in, adhering to deadlines given, asking questions to the client whenever ambiguities arise, charging rates that allow you to give an assignment the time it deserves, specializing further whenever you have free time on your hands, et cetera. "Professional attitude" to me does NOT mean ass-kissing the moderators of a forum.

What's left is a bunch of translators who are very good at ass-kissing or prudent enough to stay out of site politics, and an endless stream of wannabe translator newbies: people with seven target languages who can't spell a single word correctly in English, people who ask more than 170 questions about a short text they're supposed to translate, people charging less than 5 USD per hour, all these people are allowed to act as professional translators and sell their services to unsuspecting clients using Proz.com as their venue. These amateurs are cuddled, pampered and supported wherever possible at the cost of professionals who dare mention this. Proz.com's very existence depends on these newbies, because the professionals alone do not generate enough income to keep the site viable.

The Pro in Proz has nothing to do with Professionalism, and everything with Profits. Blinded by the need for more money to keep the site running, Proz has slowly turned into Amateurz. The real professionals have either been gagged, banned or chased away and the wash is getting poorer and poorer.

Therefore after long deliberation, I have just taken the big plunge: after more than 10 years of loyal membership, I have demanded Proz to erase all traces of me on their site, as I no longer want my name associated with their "product" in any way. Proz can only be powerful if I let them be.

I can take this step because my own websites are more professional than Proz.com will ever be, and because I have enough direct clients already. However, I shiver at the incredible power Proz wields over people who are less established.

Last but not least, I challenge Proz to debunk the following statement:
The PRO badge can (and as has been shown: will) be revoked at any time by Proz staff for whatever reason, or even no reason, without any warning or whatsoever about pending removal, no matter the quality of the translations or the business reliability of the badge's wearer. Hence it is rubbish used merely for show, an utterly worthless token that says nothing about the things that really matter: the professional integrity of translators and the quality they deliver.

I look forward to Proz proving the opposite, but am already drinking to my victory, as they will be fighting a lost battle.

Loek van Kooten
Your English/Japanese-Dutch translator

Addendum: Not long after publication of this article, another staff member stepped in, telling me that I can reapply for the PRO badge in a month if I behave well. This while one day before that, the head of the PRO Certified program already told me that the medal was to be removed permanently. Are they panicking? We'll never know.

But as you understand, I had no other choice but to refuse the gesture and stick to my guns. I have therefore asked Proz.com to push through the cancellation of my membership.

Addendum 2: Meanwhile Proz.com does not remove badges from PRO Certified translators who have provenly been using falsified resumes mentioning fictitious grades from fictitious organizations. One critical forum posting is enough to have your badge removed, but false resumes are apparently no problem. Apparently the PRO Certification program is a safe haven for frauds. It is high time Proz.com learns to get its priorities straight.

Addendum 3: I now hear that people who criticized Proz.com on LinkedIn (a completely different venue that has nothing to do with Proz.com) have been put under moderation at the Proz forums. Their tentacles reach far, it seems!

Addendum 4: Translators tell me they have been asked to change their ratings for the payment practices of defaulting translating agencies, apparently because these agencies too are clients of Proz.com, effectively making Proz.com's Blueboard entirely unreliable.

Addendum 5: Proz.com itself states: The level screened for inclusion into the network is not "good" or "elite" but "adequate". In the case of translators, the screening process seeks to establish only that the applicant meets or exceeds certain minimum professional standards in three screening areas: translation ability, business reliability and "citizenship". In the case of companies, two main areas are screened for adequacy: business reliability and "citizenship".

 

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