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Hi,

This is in regards to the newest announcement about the updated deadline extension policy.

Granted I'm probably one of the slower translators, and for short texts with no or little need for research the deadlines are generous, but I don't feel comfortable with having to count if I'm below the limit of 4 deadline extensions per month to decide if I can take on a translation nor do I find that to be an "excessive" amount. Also, while I'm happy to share a reason if I think it's relevant, I think it's a bit silly and patronizing to demand one. Truth be told, I'd have expected the process to be automated rather than made more restrictive.
Overall I'm left with the impression that things are getting more restrictive around here recently, like the example of blocking copy paste for certain collections (temporally?). All of these are measures that hurt the established and the honest translators as well.

Generally speaking, I'm also not convinced that speed is a prime concern for the majority of customers. First of all, Gengo translations are delivered relatively speedy as it is, even with a deadline extension. Even for customer service, it shouldn't really matter if a translation arrives one hour later. And then I've done ten thousands of translations for Gengo, and I can count the situations where speed was a genuine concern on one hand and then only one customer wasn't astute enough to point that out in advance. 

I'm sure Gengo or Lionbridge will have their own data, e. g. from surveys, but I'm not so sure they were necessarily asking the right questions. For example, if you let someone choose what is important to them, speed, quality, etc., obviously many will pick both. But if you give them the option to weigh speed against quality, the answer will be similarly clear and I'm pretty sure quality will suffer if you put more emphasis on speed.
Ask the customer what he wants and he'll choose fast, good and cheap. You'll probably know the saying: Pick two.

 

Now to go out on a limb:

I'm aware Gengo demands that we start translations immediately. In my opinion, that's not a fully realistic expectation.

Gengo makes it clear it's not meant as a primary income source and translators aren't paid for sitting around waiting for jobs by Gengo.
Logically, while still being at the computer, professional translators will have to work on different projects, some with short deadlines of their own. 
It's not a realistic expectation that we either do nothing to be ready for Gengo jobs or that we drop everything else the minute a Gengo job comes in. A transition period of at least 15 minutes would be a reasonable solution in my opinion.
It's also not realistic to expect us to wait for the rare occasion where the stars align, we happen to have nothing to do, a job comes in and we manage to claim it. In my case that would make Gengo unattractive as providing any meaningful part of my income.

 

Edit: To clarify, obviously there are customer service mails that are time critical (as in: every minute counts), but the ones I usually come across aren't, plus they are relatively short, so aren't likely candidates for deadline extensions either way. Just brought that up because I was thinking of examples for translations where time might be an issue.


I'm also aware there's a difference between rules and how they are actually enforced. It seems like Gengo often chooses over the top language to make a point (see also revision requests) in order to encourage or deter certain behavior, here: "Emergency", "extenuating circumstances", "excessive".
So maybe this is much ado about nothing, but I'm still worried about the overall direction things might be heading.

20件のコメント

  • 4
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    Lara Fernandez

    Hi Chris,

    Thanks so much for bringing this up :) 

    Let me first quote from the Translator Agreement, Section 3.d , which every translator agrees to when they sign up with us and is not new, and then elaborate from there:

    d) Do not lock off jobs You must only accept jobs that You can work on straight away. Customers want translations delivered quickly, and when You start a job, no other translator can see or work on it. By starting and not working on a job, You are abusing the Service and translator community. This includes but is not limited to:

    • Letting jobs expire
    • Declining a job after considerable time has passed
    • Submitting incomplete translations, and editing them later

    e) Meet deadlines When considering a job, make sure You have the time, knowledge and skills to complete it by the stated deadline. Do not start a job if You cannot finish it on time. In extenuating circumstances where You cannot complete a job, You must make every effort to cancel it immediately.

     

    As you can see from the Translator Agreement, it doesn't contemplate the possibility of a deadline extension. These were introduced later on by Gengo as a token of good will and understanding that emergencies sometimes come up unexpectedly, and that's part of life. When deadline extensions were introduced, it was always under the premise that the reason for said extension is an absolute emergency (black out, technical issue, family or health emergency, and the like). If you take a look at any comment from Gengo regarding deadline extensions on our Forums, we always made it a point to mention that they should be used only as an absolute last resort. 

    Unfortunately, we failed to word this clearly in our previous Support article and, though we intended to amend it to make this clearer a couple of years ago, it somehow fell through the cracks, and it wasn't until this week that we finally were able to clarify the wording.

    Now that we're clear that deadline extensions were always meant as a last resort, with regards to the 2 points you bring up:

    • Limit of 4 per month
    • Request for a valid reason

    Please do believe me when I say that nothing would make us happier than not having to implement these restrictions. This, however, comes in the context of a thorough investigation around deadline extension requests, which has led us to find that a certain group of translators is using deadline extension requests as their default MO, with some individuals requesting 12+ extensions per month. While we do understand that sometimes life happens, we also in all honesty cannot believe that someone is experiencing extreme emergencies that prevent them from working on such a regular basis (and, if this is indeed happening, there may be other underlying issues that need addressing.) What is currently happening with deadline extension requests is not only unfair to the customer (and the issue of speed versus quality could certainly be discussed separately) but to your fellow translators. 

    As stated above in the quote from the Translator Agreement, part of the requirements that we make from our translators is that they "do not lock off jobs". By picking up a job and holding it significantly longer than its original deadline, because you didn't have enough time to work on it (and especially if you knew you wouldn't have time right from the beginning), you are locking off the job to other translators who perhaps were online at the same time, did have the time, and just weren't fast enough to click. We often see mention of lack of jobs and high competition across language pairs here in the forums and through other types of feedback, and we wholeheartedly understand this is an issue (especially so in some language pairs). Now, of course one solution is to gain more work from clients, and we're always working towards that. But having come to know that there's a certain group of translators abusing the system, it would be very hypocritical of us to allow that to continue without addressing it, as it inevitably impacts the experience of other translators on the platform and their access to work.

    I hope this helps you better understand the original intention behind deadline extensions, and the context in which the current limitations have been put in place :) 

    Thanks,
    Lara

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    Lara Fernandez

    @Chris - While I do see your point -- how often would you actually estimate a scenario like that to occur? Do we think this is really something that will happen 4+ times a month (let's keep in mind that this amounts to at least once a week!)? 

    Please do remember that, at the end of the day, there's a human at the other side, in our Support team. If you don't request deadline extensions on the regular, and usually have valid reasons, I would argue that for a situation like the one we describe above, if you clearly explain the situation to our Support agents, we might be able to grant a deadline extension. It's important to remember that we are going to be looking at track record, patterns, and different cases. If someone is requesting deadlines every week for no sensible reason, then there's a pattern there that needs to be worked out. But if a translator who generally submits their translators on time finds a job that gets hairy as they go, needs some extra time, and is able to communicate this clearly, we could grant the extension. Bottom line here, Chris, is that there's a difference between those who request deadline extensions every week because they're not really considering the alloted deadlines or because they've gotten too used to doing so, and between those who generally make an effort to meet the deadline, but may come across an issue on the occasion. 

    I'd also like to point out that if someone works longer on a collection, they also can't claim other collections in that time, so having a low number of deadline extensions per month is hardly a way to easy money or harming other translators.

    With regards to this point, unfortunately we're seeing abuse of deadline extensions across all kinds of job lengths.

    I understand that 4 extensions a month seems low to you, and your feedback will certainly be passed along. At this point, from Gengo's point of view, and taking into account that the Translator Agreement doesn't contemplate any extensions at all, 4 is very generous :)  

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    Chris

    Sorry to hear that. Maybe this job can still be reassigned to you when support gets back to you? When I come across a big job that expired for the previous translator, I usually reach out to support to check in with the previous translator, and in cases where big jobs I was working on expired, the other translator always agreed for it to be assigned back to me. If I were in a similar situation like you describe, I'd probably leave a short comment before the deadline ends to let others know that you are still working on this and support has been contacted a while ago. 

     

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    Heike S.

    I would be interested in why Gengo updated the deadline extension policy now. Customer complaints?

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    Lara Fernandez

    @carla m. - For the time being, and speaking strictly about abuse of the system in the form of excessive requests of deadline extensions (the topic at hand), the restrictions we've put in place will prevent them from continuing to abuse the system in this manner. In this way, they won't be able to continue to lock jobs by holding them for longer than they should, minimizing the impact this behavior is having today. For regular translators who are not abusing the system, and who don't request deadline extensions just because they can -- then, really, the restrictions mentioned above should not impact your workflow at all :) 

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    Lara Fernandez

    Thanks, Carla! We will continue to closely monitor the requests we receive, and the whole Support team has been briefed so that we can all stay on the same page regarding deadlines. I think at some point, over time, we got too lax with granting the extensions to repeat requesters, and this certainly shouldn't have happened, to begin with. 

    You have an awesome rest of your week too!

    Lara Fernandezにより編集されました
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    Lara Fernandez

    @Chris - Nobody is talking about you "needing to convince" anybody to grant you a deadline, and this needs not be a long back and forth. Simply giving a reason so we understand why you're needing a deadline is quite a basic thing to ask, especially when deadlines are exceptions to the rule and not part of the regular process :) We're not asking you present a signed certificate from your doctor, or elaborate over several paragraphs, but simply mention *why* you're needing a deadline extension (going by the logic that if you do need a deadline extension, there must be a reason for this, and you're not asking "just because".)

    The fact remains that deadline extensions should be used as an absolute last resort. You can, however, choose how you use them, as long as you provide a reason for your requests. However, given that there's a limit of 4 per month, it only makes sense to save them for when you actually need them, hence the "emergency" wording. You may like the wording more or less, but given our exchange I think it's been made very clear that Gengo needs to be quite stern in the communications regarding rules, in order to avoid potential misunderstandings (after all, we're talking about a community of 20k+ translators worldwide, and things like this really shouldn't be left "open to interpretation").

    If you're keen, I'd like to invite you to do a simple exercise during the month of November, and, as you work, keep track of jobs and real life situations where you objectively and absolutely need an extension of the deadline (meaning that without this extension you are certain you will miss the deadline.) This should reflect your actual experience (i.e. please don't come up with examples, but actually log your actual experience during your work in November.) This, again, would likely be extreme situations like your example above or unforeseen circumstances that require you to leave your desk halfway through a job because of something that you urgently need to deal with, which can't wait until after submission. You are more than welcome to email me this exercise at the beginning of December for review, so we can gauge your experience and actual real life examples of situations where you objectively need a deadline extension :) 

    ETA: My apologies for the repeated edits, as I was fixing typos :) End of the day brain!

    Lara Fernandezにより編集されました
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    Lara Fernandez

    @Chris — In case it helps, “Turns out I need more time to finish this translation” is not really a reason :) However “Turns out I need more time to finish this translation BECAUSE it’s a highly specialized text and needs more research / I forgot I had a dr appointment today and I can’t postpone it / I received a call from daycare and I need to go pick up my child earlier than expected” are all very valid reasons why we’d grant an extension. Namely, the question you may want to ask yourself when requesting an extension is “why do I need it?” And if the answer is “I need more time”, then the follow-up question is “why do I need more time?”. You can probably answer this and also communicate it succinctly :)

    Lara Fernandezにより編集されました
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    Chris

    Fair enough! :)

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    Fernando

    Ah well... I just lost a very long job because I never heard back from support even though I contacted them with 40+ minutes notice. Not only was it a very long job but it involved literary terms and actual quotations from literary texts that took me a lot longer for me to do the appropriate research than I initially expected. And I was making sure to take the appropriate time because I'm a preferred translator for that client and they selected me as a preferred translator after having done a similar job for them, where I took the time to make sure to use the appropriate translations for the literary texts and the appropriate grammatical terminology. 

    This is only the second time that I requested a deadline extension in the few years that I've been working for Gengo (the first one I never got a reply but managed to speed things up until I managed to submit the job with 5 minutes left to go, otherwise it would've expired before hearing back from support).

    I just sat and worked for hours and I lost the job having completed about 80% of it. It sure doesn't feel nice, but even that aside, it is a bit worrisome that we translators can get a response for something like an hour's notice, and it is worrisome for several reasons beyond this particular type of cases, I can't see that being a good thing.

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    Fernando

    Hi Chris, and thanks for your feedback. That is precisely what happened (and I add this for future reference and for translators that find themselves in a similar situation in the future) I got contacted about 20 minutes after the job had expired, notifying me that the time extension had been added to the job, but I notified the person from support that the job had already expired and I had lost it and that I couldn't find anything in my workbench and after a few minutes, they replied that the job had been assigned back to me.

    This still bears the question of the issue of not hearing back from support after 1+ hours and as I said, this does not only apply for this particular case but for many other technical issues that might pop up.

    All in all, I'd say this to future translators that find themselves in this situation: Contact support with more than an hour in advance if you need to extend the deadline, because it will probably take at least that amount of time for them to get back to you, but the more time, the better. Granted that as the policy states, you're never guaranteed an extension, but if you do have valid reasons and a strong case, this seems to be the best way to go about it.

    Edit: typos and clarity.

    Fernandoにより編集されました
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    Chris

    In my experience they are usually much faster, but yeah, I'd give it an hour to be sure, two at the weekend or for really big jobs.

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    Chris

    Edit: Well, there was a question, here, as to where to find that article. Seems like the question was deleted but I'll leave the answer in case anyone else needs it.

     

    There should be a symbol of a person with wave symbols around their head in the upper right corner of your translator dashboard, next to your account link. That should lead to all past notifications.

     

     

    Chrisにより編集されました
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    Heike S.

    Hi Chris, that was me, sorry, I found the article and deleted my question. But thank you for the tip, very helpful!

    Heike S.により編集されました
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    carla m.

    "But having come to know that there's a certain group of translators abusing the system, it would be very hypocritical of us to allow that to continue without addressing it, as it inevitably impacts the experience of other translators on the platform and their access to work."

    So are you going to get rid of them? I'm sure there are more than enough translators in each language pair to replace them. Otherwise, anything we read here is useless anyway. Sorry, Lara, I know it's not up to you to decide, but as you say, their behavior impacts the rest of us...

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    carla m.

    We'll see what happens... Thanks Lara, have a good day :-)

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    Chris

    Thanks a lot for your reply, Lara!

    I'd agree that 12+ (as opposed to 4) would be excessive, but I also have to say that this "extreme emergency" thing does rub me the wrong way in general, although I'll obviously have to abide by it. I do often finish with one hour to spare, but I also regularly come close to the deadline and that's not always clear from the start or a first readthrough. It also stands to reason that people aren't eager to throw away work already invested—I know I'm not.
    So if I'm halfway into a 4-hour translation and realize things might get hairy, there are several possibilities:

    I don't decline, but manage to finish the translation with a bit of time to spare after all. Delivery time: 4 hours.
    I rush the translation and hope for the best. (Obviously against the rules, but also obviously a decision that some will make.) Delivery time: 4 hours
    I decline the translation and lose two hours of work. The next translator breezes through the translation in two or three hours. Delivery time: 4-5 hours
    I decline the translation and lose two hours of work. The next translator uses the allocated 4 hours. Delivery time: 6 hours
    I decline the translation and lose two hours of work. The next translator comes across the same problem. Delivery time: ?
    I request a deadline extension of one hour and finish normally. Delivery time: 5 hours.

    Now granted I picked that example to support my point and problems won't often be that burrowed. But while there is no absolute emergency ("black out, technical issue, family or health emergency, and the like"—no offense, but I'll have other problems than some translation job in the latter cases) a deadline extension is by far the most sensible solution in that situation, at least in my opinion.

    I certainly still have a lot to learn as a translator, but I'm reasonably good (at least by Gengo's standards and going by my consistency and quality score, both above 9, knock on wood). Now obviously I'm not prone to notice time problems in other translations, but I regularly notice quality problems, e. g. in edit jobs or rejected collections. Recently, we had a big project that suffered from quality problems as well, which was discussed here as well. I dare say those people did not request deadline extensions. So I'd say quality should be a prime concern, not speed. As for taking on too many translators, Gengo was honest enough to admit that this is partly based on a recent miscalculation on their part.

    I can certainly see how 10 or 12 deadline extensions per month are too much, but 4? Also shouldn't that be a rate (i. e. 4 out of 20 is indeed a lot)? I'd also like to point out that if someone works longer on a collection, they also can't claim other collections in that time, so having a low number of deadline extensions per month is hardly a way to easy money or harming other translators.

    In short: I'd like to lobby to seriously rethink the extension system. In my opinion, deadline extensions can be necessary or sensible even without personal emergencies and I'd like to see that acknowledged. I agree that a limit is necessary, but 4 seems too low to me.

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    Chris

    Well, the example is a special case, but there is a spectrum, here. Like said, I regularly finish close to the deadline, so that would also be a regular worry for me and sadly (luckily) I'm not often confronted with personal emergencies.

    I do realize there are humans at the other side and appreciate the Support team and I appreciate you answering here, but I just feel this is not something that needs to be generously granted or where I need to convince someone in a situation when a deadline is drawing closer.

    "But if a translator who generally submits their translators on time finds a job that gets hairy as they go, needs some extra time, and is able to communicate this clearly, we could grant the extension."
    So can we agree at least that no emergency is needed for a deadline extension and adjust the rules accordingly? Not that I'm having high hopes, here. :)

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    Chris

    @Lara

    "Simply giving a reason so we understand why you're needing a deadline is quite a basic thing to ask."

    As long as that reason hasn't to be a personal emergency, I'm ok with that. Because the most simple and obvious reason is "Turns out I need more time to finish this translation" in so many words, which you might categorize as "just because". 

    I checked my track record for the last months and I happen to reach or stay below (surprise) 4 extensions. Probably few of those were "absolutely" necessary, but I'm sure all of those translations profited from the extension. In the future I'll obviously be more hesitant in that regard.

    Again, I really appreciate you being here for us, but in this case I'm simply not convinced this is a step in the right direction in its current form.

     

     

     

     

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    Lara Fernandez

    @Fernando - Thanks for bringing this up, and glad to hear that the situation was resolved. Our Support team aims to respond to all incoming tickets within 1 hr on average. However, there may be days or times of day when there's less agents online, or when the ones online are busy with a spike of tickets. While they strive to respond to tickets within 60 minutes of reception, since this is a manual process with a human at the other side, there simply are times when this is not possible. As you very well put it, it's always a good idea to contact them with ample time once it becomes clear to you that you will be needing a deadline extension :) 

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