I am an EN-JP translator. I am not new here, but it has been a long time since I became no longer so active with Gengo. Still, I’m here now and was truly shocked by a recent incident I encountered.
The other day, one of my jobs (#52158769) was rejected based on a demand of a customer (it was the first time for me). But, I can’t figure what I did wrong at all.
As I worked on the job, I noticed there were some points that were incomprehensible due to the lack of context (this happens a lot when you work on business mails). Specifically, I could not figure out the meanings of two words to the very last. I requested the customer to clarify them, but I did not get any response. So, I translated the words into Japanese words that seemed relevant, if only remotely, to other words used in the text or the job directions the customer provided, and I also left a comment on the two words immediately after submitting the job. The customer never contacted me and on the next day abruptly rejected the job on the ground of quality issues. The customer left a comment that “there are factual mistakes” by referring to the two words, and “there are many other cases of this.” The customer also stated “We need a refund for this translation or we will never be using your services again.” On the other hand, the customer did not provide any explanation as to what other mistakes were (I think if they are errors about facts, you should be able to easily identify them). So, I can assume that the customer rejected the job only based on my comments requesting clarification. I believe if my job should be rejected despite all my efforts and time, the customer must at least provide explanations about my requests for clarification and as to why he/she could not respond to them.
The job was reviewed by a Language Specialist, and the Language Specialist supported the demand by giving me a score of 5.26/10.00, marking the above two words as major errors without providing any specific explanation. All reasons the reviewer provided to me was that he/she could not find any reasonable grounds to translate the words in the way I did either from the context or from the comments I left. But, I wouldn’t have requested clarification if I had not been uncertain about them in the first place.
I think that the behavior of the reviewer is problematic. The reviewer even could not provide any idea on what the words are all about. I assume that the reviewer evaluated the job without understanding the meaning of them. Then, how could he/she give me a score that is sufficiently low to deny the reward to which I was entitled otherwise? Actually, I had a eureka moment, and I believe I got it now, but it’s too late now.
By the way, the action I took is the very one provided in the following article:
Before getting started, ask the customer any question you may have.
For very short jobs, the customer might not be able to respond in time. If you think this might be the case, please translate the text using your best judgment and provide a comment explaining the approach you took.
I naturally requested re-review by stating that if payment was denied as a result of review, I should be entitled to be provided with sufficient expiations, and the action I took was the one recommended in the above article. However, the second reviewer supported the first review and additionally marked one word as a minor error by suggesting an alternative word which I believe was a matter of stylistic preference, and does not affect the meaning of the sentence or text. As to the action I took, the reviewer said that I did not choose common words like those you could find in dictionaries; if you used uncommon words, you had to “provide a comment explaining the approach you took” as stated in the above article. Yes, I chose uncommon words, but they are listed in dictionary and seemed at least relevant to other words used in the text or job directions the customer provided.
What I can assume from the above circumstances, if any, is that the reviewer did not judge the job based on the quality of the translation itself, but on alleged procedural mistakes I committed in providing the customer with explanations. I believe that this deviates from the legitimate procedure intended for review. It is also open to arguments: (i) why it is better to use a common word found at the top of dictionary entries than to use a word that seems at least relevant, if only remotely, or (ii) “provide a comment explaining the approach you took” naturally includes a comment that I left. I stated that I was not sure about some words for which I had requested clarification, and I asked the customer to reach out to me if any correction was required.
I also cannot figure why reasonable grounds are necessary in the first place. The context was not sufficient beyond any doubt. The reviewers could have simply excluded the words from the scope of review. The customer rejected the job without responding to my request for clarification. Accepting rejection may encourage this kind of behavior. I don’t think it serves the interest of Gengo.
I also wonder why anyone at Gengo just cannot nicely ask the customer to provide explanations as to why he/she could not respond to my questions and what other mistakes are?
I strongly believe that you are entitled to be provided with reasonable explanations if you are deprived of payment to which you are entitled otherwise. I doubt that they understand that you cannot reject work and deny payment without “reasonable grounds,” which may violate some laws at worst. If not, at the very least, it is ethically questionable. Of course, I don’t seriously consider just losing $32.5 is a graver issue than a significant drop in my score (the latter has lasting impacts). However, you can still claim that you incurred concrete, actual damage when your payment is denied unreasonably. I don’t have any intention to bring the dispute outside Gengo for $32.5. I just want to have reasonable explanations to which I am entitled.