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Andrew Morris of the ProZ.com team is airing personal views on a variety of subjects (Staff: 'yes')
Thread poster: Fiona Grace Peterson

Andrew Morris
ProZ.com team
My (almost) final words in this thread Apr 22

@Andy

Ok, let me just clarify four points here, as I have no wish to pour further fuel on the flames. I will keep my answers simple.

1. As far as I am aware, ProZ.com is an organic company within changing times. Its mission is also evolving. And its "public" goes way beyond the regulars on this forum. Henry appointed me with a specific role and I have been doing it for all of three weeks. As to whether it is a clear failure, time will tell. You are of course welcome to
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@Andy

Ok, let me just clarify four points here, as I have no wish to pour further fuel on the flames. I will keep my answers simple.

1. As far as I am aware, ProZ.com is an organic company within changing times. Its mission is also evolving. And its "public" goes way beyond the regulars on this forum. Henry appointed me with a specific role and I have been doing it for all of three weeks. As to whether it is a clear failure, time will tell. You are of course welcome to your opinion but without knowing my terms of reference, or knowing the scope of what I am working on beyond these few threads, you cannot possibly make a balanced judgement. If part of that role, for example, were to disrupt things a little and expose a culture of aggression within this forum, then it has been a raging success.

2. It is not childish to suggest that we as adults are responsible for our choices. In my view, it is childish to voluntarily seek out content and then complain about it. If you entered a bookshop, with thousands of options on offer, picked out one book then told me how little you liked that book and what it stood for, I think any reasonable adult would say "Well read something else then". You may disagree profoundly, but that gets to the heart, for me, of an equally profound debate about whether we are agents or victims in our own lives.

3. When someone says "You shouldn't write as a staff member" and then another one says "Or as a freelancer" (effectively the only two options available), then yes, that is an attempt to censor. A failed attempt, but an attempt nevertheless.

4. You write well, I'll give you that, especially at the end of your piece. But I was not making a basic error. I never said the client does not count. That is a gross misrepresentation. I said that "on this particular issue", as to whether I should post in an official or freelance capacity, I will await instructions from ProZ.com

And only ProZ.com.

Have a good day.
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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 02:33
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
@Andrew (and site staff) Apr 22

Andrew Morris wrote:
3. When someone says "You shouldn't write as a staff member"...


When someone says "you shouldn't write as a staff member", then you ask yourself "what do they mean by 'staff member'?".

On these forums, whenever someone posts a message and their identity is indicated as "staff member" (instead of translator), it is assumed (by us) that their message carries with it a certain authority. The problem is that you're supposed to send messages that aren't intended as messages with that kind of authority. The problem does not lie with you, but with the design or representation of your role.

When Drew or Jason or Jared or María posts on the forum, and they are identified as "site staff", then we don't think of their post as Drew's post, Jason's post, Jared's post or María's post, but as "site staff's post". We assume that when Drew says something as "site staff", then Jared (as "site staff") is in agreement with it. We acknowledge that Jared and María are two different people with two different personalities etc., but when either of them post on the forums as "site staff", we regard what they say with equal authority.

Users of the forum do not regard site staff as their peers, but your role requires you to interact with us as a peer. Therefore ProZ.com should replace or supplement your label "site staff" with something which indicates that although you are operating in an official capacity, you are trying to do so by being "one of us".

How do we know, if you were to post as "site staff" and state an opinion, that that is your opinion only, and not the opinion of "site staff"? And how do we know if such an opinion is your actual opinion and not just a made-up opinion for the sake of eliciting debate? It just confuses things. This role needs a rethink.


Tom in London
Tanja Oresnik
Darius Sciuka
Sheila Wilson
Susan Madden
Jennifer White
Kay Denney
 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 02:33
Member (2018)
French to English
mixing causes Apr 22

I fully agree with Fiona and Samuel. There needs to be some clarification. Yes, when a staff member posts, we take what they say to be representative of Proz policy, and up to now this is what their posts have been limited to. To my knowledge they have never acted to promote their own translation businesses and I'm not aware of any of them having another role in the translation profession.

You may not think you are promoting your own business, Andrew, but you definitely are. I was n
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I fully agree with Fiona and Samuel. There needs to be some clarification. Yes, when a staff member posts, we take what they say to be representative of Proz policy, and up to now this is what their posts have been limited to. To my knowledge they have never acted to promote their own translation businesses and I'm not aware of any of them having another role in the translation profession.

You may not think you are promoting your own business, Andrew, but you definitely are. I was not aware of your existence before you started posting as a Proz staff member, I don't remember you posting anything in your own name. However, in the not slamming doors thread you describe your business practice and show that being polite proved to be an excellent strategy. You also mentioned that you worked with museums. As a translator specialising in art and history, a polite agency owner working with museums is of great interest to me. You have appreciated posts of mine, it would be very easy for me to send you my CV and you could very well think, ah yes, I like her, why not send her the next press release for the museum. That means you would benefit from your position as a site staff member to recruit translators for your private business, which would be unfair to other agencies in need of decent translators specialising in art history. It's rather frustrating for me too in fact.

May I mention how we deal with such issues in the NGO I volunteer for? When working to support the people who come to us with a problem, volunteers are not allowed to express their own opinions or publicise anything they do outside of the NGO. Some of us do paid work that is very similar to the volunteer work. Those who do, are not allowed ever to mention this. If it is necessary to refer someone to a professional, you're expected to just give the link to the website listing all such professionals rather than the name and number of someone you know via the NGO.

If I'm supporting someone and I think they might benefit from my personal experience, I'm not allowed to say "I had that problem and I solved it by...". I can however reframe my experience by saying "Many people have that problem. Some of them have solved it by..." without it being a lie in any way because I'm not the only one to have used my particular solution.

The NGO created a FB group a while back. I wanted to help out on it, but I was concerned because I use my private account to publish stuff about causes I feel passionate about. The people I support don't need to know about any of that. They might disagree violently with me, and that could compromise the outcome of my attempts to provide them with support. So I created a separate account. There is no link between "Kay NGOname" and my personal account. I don't ever disclose my surname in my volunteer capacity, so it would take quite some sleuthing to uncover my dual FB accounts.
(You're not supposed to have more than one account, so I have to open FB with my private account on Chrome and the NGO account on Firefox.)

[Edited at 2019-04-22 12:39 GMT]
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Fiona Grace Peterson
Helen Shiner
Rachel Waddington
Jane F
writeaway
Philip Lees
Natasha Ziada
 

Andrew Morris
ProZ.com team
Clarification Apr 22

Fair enough, Samuel and Kay. I think the original point is a good one and your observations are welcome. There is ambiguity. My role within ProZ.com is not quite the same as Drew or Jared, and it has caused confusion. So let's clear it up asap. Jared is on the case. Henry is also aware.

The point about benefiting is well argued. If that was seen as a clear conflict of interest, I'd be happy to confine my posts to social media. Although it might be said we are all networking here, a
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Fair enough, Samuel and Kay. I think the original point is a good one and your observations are welcome. There is ambiguity. My role within ProZ.com is not quite the same as Drew or Jared, and it has caused confusion. So let's clear it up asap. Jared is on the case. Henry is also aware.

The point about benefiting is well argued. If that was seen as a clear conflict of interest, I'd be happy to confine my posts to social media. Although it might be said we are all networking here, and all advertising our skills (or lack of them) through the way we post. I know now for example that you translate in the same areas in which I work, so we could also, in theory, argue that you have subtly showcased your skills knowing my status. However, unlike you, I don't see that as a problem for either of us: quite the opposite.

Still, food for thought and thanks for taking the time.


***

Now indulge me for a second and imagine if you will, the following fictional exchange, conducted via email:

"Hey Andrew,
A few colleagues and I are slightly concerned by the fact that you are a freelancer, and yet working for ProZ.com and posting as 'site staff'. The little green legend next to your name suggests an official capacity, whereas it is clear you are posting about your personal experience as a freelance translator.
Grateful if you could clarify that for us.
Cheers
Fiona."

"Hey Fiona,
OMG I hadn't seen it in that light. You're absolutely right. I'll talk to Jared and we'll get it sorted asap.
Have a nice day
Andrew"

Surreal, huh? Beyond the bounds of possibility, clearly. Almost laughably improbable that the original problem could have been dealt with so calmly and maturely.

But stop for a minute (that's a minute and a second of your time I've taken up) and ask just why, in a context like this forum, that scenario seems quite so absurd?

And when you find the answer, you will have learned, just as I have, a little bit more about what is being done here in this thread, why it is being done, and how we are going about it.

Just my two cents... as a temporary member of staff this time.
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John Fossey  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 20:33
Member (2008)
French to English
+ ...
Speaking on behalf of site staff Apr 22

Samuel Murray wrote:

On these forums, whenever someone posts a message and their identity is indicated as "staff member" (instead of translator), it is assumed (by us) that their message carries with it a certain authority. The problem is that you're supposed to send messages that aren't intended as messages with that kind of authority. The problem does not lie with you, but with the design or representation of your role.

When Drew or Jason or Jared or María posts on the forum, and they are identified as "site staff", then we don't think of their post as Drew's post, Jason's post, Jared's post or María's post, but as "site staff's post". We assume that when Drew says something as "site staff", then Jared (as "site staff") is in agreement with it. We acknowledge that Jared and María are two different people with two different personalities etc., but when either of them post on the forums as "site staff", we regard what they say with equal authority.

Users of the forum do not regard site staff as their peers, but your role requires you to interact with us as a peer. Therefore ProZ.com should replace or supplement your label "site staff" with something which indicates that although you are operating in an official capacity, you are trying to do so by being "one of us".

How do we know, if you were to post as "site staff" and state an opinion, that that is your opinion only, and not the opinion of "site staff"? And how do we know if such an opinion is your actual opinion and not just a made-up opinion for the sake of eliciting debate? It just confuses things. This role needs a rethink.


If site staff do not want Andrew's posts to be viewed as speaking on their behalf, then his posts should have a disclaimer (as is done in many publications) along the lines of: "The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or view of site staff." Without such a disclaimer readers have to assume that any one site staff member is speaking on behalf of the others and that you would get the same opinion expressed by another staff member if you were communicating with them.


Andrew Morris
 

Andrew Morris
ProZ.com team
Excellent... Apr 22

...and easily actionable point, John. I will happily copy and paste that sentence into every future post, whether as 'site staff' or as me, (pending decision from ProZ.com)

 

Fiona Grace Peterson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 02:33
Member
Italian to English
TOPIC STARTER
Email exchange Apr 22

Andrew Morris wrote:

Now indulge me for a second and imagine if you will, the following fictional exchange, conducted via email:

"Hey Andrew,
A few colleagues and I are slightly concerned by the fact that you are a freelancer, and yet working for ProZ.com and posting as 'site staff'. The little green legend next to your name suggests an official capacity, whereas it is clear you are posting about your personal experience as a freelance translator.
Grateful if you could clarify that for us.
Cheers
Fiona."



I resent being attributed an email exchange that never took place. What's more, one that completely distorts the point of my original post.
Oh, but of course, it's a fictional exchange. Silly me.

Why the need to bring in this "fictional" email exchange? What does it add to the discussion? The only "laughable" thing is the fact that you felt the need to fabricate it. If I had wanted to write to you in private I would have. Everything I wanted to say I said in my original post.

Good to see you Standing Out here too.

[Edited at 2019-04-22 13:18 GMT]


mughwI
writeaway
Yvonne Gallagher
Jennifer White
Matthias Eng
Katalin Horváth McClure
Andy Watkinson
 

Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
My 2p Apr 22

Fiona Grace Peterson wrote:
Curious to know what others think.

To be honest, I don’t give a monkey’s about this point of order.

What I would say, though, is that this forum is dominated by a fairly small number of people, some of them remarkably abrasive, paranoid and all-round negative, and it would be nice if that were to change.

Parachuting in an agent provocateur behaving in much the same way has not been the ideal solution, and I understand that some feathers have been ruffled, including mine, but the problem remains.

This place is not always a pleasant place to be. Which is down to us, the users.

So I, for one, plan to be a little more careful in my future posts. I would encourage others to do the same. I also suggest that ProZ changes its approach and simply makes the moderators more active.

The forum and KudoZ are a fantastic resource if we can get them working properly.


Sheila Wilson
Andrew Morris
Teresa Borges
Jean Dimitriadis
Melanie Meyer
Matthias Eng
Jo Macdonald
 

Andrew Morris
ProZ.com team
A simple question Apr 22

Fiona, so why didn't you email me, rather than playing to the gallery?

That's my whole point.


 

Lincoln Hui  Identity Verified
Hong Kong
Local time: 09:33
Member
Chinese to English
+ ...
Mmm. Apr 22

"Hey Fiona,
OMG I hadn't seen it in that light. You're absolutely right. I'll talk to Jared and we'll get it sorted asap.
Have a nice day
Andrew"

I'm sure that's exactly what would have happened.


Robert Forstag
Natasha Ziada
Tanya Quintieri
CEngelhardt
 

Andrew Morris
ProZ.com team
Agent provocateur Apr 22

Hi again Chris

My first post announced the existence of a Facebook group. Nothing more.

My second post (perhaps ill-advised so early on), raised a question about the tone of the forum, not a million miles from what you have said here. In fact, not even a single mile.

My third post explored whether mindset plays a role in freelance success.

My fourth was but an anecdote about a problematic client situation that turned out happily.

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Hi again Chris

My first post announced the existence of a Facebook group. Nothing more.

My second post (perhaps ill-advised so early on), raised a question about the tone of the forum, not a million miles from what you have said here. In fact, not even a single mile.

My third post explored whether mindset plays a role in freelance success.

My fourth was but an anecdote about a problematic client situation that turned out happily.

1, 3 and 4 were certainly not designed to provoke. And even 2 set out to provoke nothing more than reflection.

Sure, I rose to the bait at times in the comments, as I discovered for myself the playful tone of this august gathering, but three of my original posts can hardly be said to contain inflammatory material, by any stretch of the imagination.

But by and large, I agree with your other points, and would echo the one about domination. Even in my relatively short experience here, that has become amply apparent.
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DZiW
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
Overreaction fuss Apr 22

Reading the topic and Rule#8 I can't help wondering
(1) Are paying members eligible to instruct mods and admins?
(2) There're many co/moderators who successfully combine freelance and administration work at the specialized forum, so?
(3) If I use a King/Queen/President/Pontifex picture as my avatar, will some consider my statements as if from the corresponding person t
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Reading the topic and Rule#8 I can't help wondering
(1) Are paying members eligible to instruct mods and admins?
(2) There're many co/moderators who successfully combine freelance and administration work at the specialized forum, so?
(3) If I use a King/Queen/President/Pontifex picture as my avatar, will some consider my statements as if from the corresponding person too?
(4) Are there're really so many anxious people with much spare time to watch who is talking instead of what's being said?

I seem to remember Henry sharing his ideas and opinions...
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Andrew Morris
Elizabeth Tamblin
 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:33
Member (2008)
Italian to English
What to do about it Apr 22

My suggestion:

As signs say at the zoo "Do not feed this animal".

The best way to terminate unacceptable behaviour is: do not respond to it. Do not participate in any discussions whose only intention is to provoke.

To keep these discussions professional and prevent them from becoming like Twitter, I would suggest that everyone concerned should know when NOT to participate in them - whether or not staff members are involved.

That is my last pos
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My suggestion:

As signs say at the zoo "Do not feed this animal".

The best way to terminate unacceptable behaviour is: do not respond to it. Do not participate in any discussions whose only intention is to provoke.

To keep these discussions professional and prevent them from becoming like Twitter, I would suggest that everyone concerned should know when NOT to participate in them - whether or not staff members are involved.

That is my last post in this thread.

[Edited at 2019-04-22 13:56 GMT]
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Kevin Fulton
Ph_B
 

Andrew Morris
ProZ.com team
Love that advice Apr 22

@Tom, I agree with every word of that. That must be a first.

 

Elizabeth Tamblin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:33
Member (2012)
French to English
:) Apr 22

Andrew Morris wrote:

@Tom, I agree with every word of that. That must be a first.


Yes, but maybe change it to "don't feed the trolls".


Andrew Morris
 
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