With more than 80,000 freelancers onboard, we are ready to make a big step forward and introduce Smartcat Certified. Having this status will increase translators' chances to be hired on the platform. The fun part is that we want you to help us shape the certification process to make it as logical and community-friendly as possible!
Update: I never ever saw this question coming before I received a couple of emails asking it, but no, you will not have to pay anything to obtain the Smartcat Certified status! In this early step, I won't share the exact details of the certification process (I don't know them yet!). Instead, I will try to put forward the motivation, values and principles behind it — so we can then shape it together with you. Then, tell us first of all,
1. Why is certification needed at all?
We have one of the fastest growing translation communities on the web — which is great. But this also makes it harder for translators to get noticed, and for customers to find just the right professional for their jobs. Which is not great. If we lived in a perfectly digital world, we would grade and rank linguists through clever algorithms grading and ranking them by analyzing their previous work. But, rather for better than worse, we do not, so we still have to rely on human judgment and interaction, a lot. By introducing the Smartcat Certified status, we want to reward translators who are willing to invest just a little of their time into letting us know and their peers confirm (more on this later) how awesome they are as professionals. Okay, and
2. What is expected of a Smartcat Certified translator?
A few things:
- Being a confident Smartcat user,
- Translating with adequate quality, and
- Being a visible community member.
Wait a minute,
Why should I "be a confident user"?
As you might know, Smartcat customer projects are executed right on the platform. This makes the workflow easier for everyone, but also requires the user to know certain things about how this is done. That's why we will most likely ask you to pass a simple quiz with basic questions about the platform. But don't worry: You can learn everything you need to know within some 10 minutes by watching or reading a short induction course. Right, and
What the heck is "adequate quality"?
As Gert Van Assche has aptly put it, quality is a rainbow. Sometimes customers need an impeccable copy, at other times they just need to understand what's written, while in yet other cases their expectations lie somewhere in between. That's why we are likely to introduce several Smartcat Certified levels. Think bronze-silver-gold, or budding-experienced-stellar translators. This will ensure that:
- Aspiring translators are not disregarded due to mere lack of experience,
- Veteran translators are not required to engage into bid wars and lower their rates, and
- Customers know what they pay for all the while.
Now, measuring the quality ... Wait, before we get to this, What's the point of being a "visible community member"? We believe that translators shouldn't exist in a vacuum. We even think that many of translators' plights are caused by their being historically invisible. That's why we want every Smartcat Certified translator (or any other translator, for that matter) to have a clear name, story, and a pitch, if you wish. Now, this doesn't mean you have to have a polished (if any) website, be a social networking maniac, or have your name posted on billboards in your hometown. Telling a few words about yourself on our forum and in your Smartcat profile will quite do the trick for starters. Coming back to quality, ... Wait — just one question here:
3. Will I have to do free tests?
Okay, we don't want to make an oath out of this, but
no, you won't have to do free tests.
We know this is a touchy topic, so we will instead request you to provide some sample translations (format and requirements to be determined at a later stage). (Fine print: We still reserve the right to come back to the free-tests topic if the system turns out inviable without them.) Then, without testing,
4. How will you measure quality?
Thank you for asking. That's the fun part. Measuring translation quality is perhaps the most challenging issue in our profession. Some use client feedback for this, others rely on "Linguistic Quality Assessment" units. But in the former case the client is rarely qualified to make such a judgment, while in the latter it requires an arbitrary selection of, er, arbiters, and you may ask, "Who are the judges?" That's not to say that we are leaving out either alternative as an option. But in the beginning at least we will do it in a different way — by letting you decide. That's right, you will be the examiner and the examinee at the same time. Although we won't go into details right now, we can say several requirements this entails:
- Besides submitting your own translation, you will need to grade at least 3 (three) translations of other applicants (anonymously, of course).
- We will use algorithms to make sure that grades given by more proficient translators "weigh" more.
- You will only grade translations in the same pairs and specializations as yours.
This way, the certification system will not rely on any external factors. Rather, it will leave the task of qualifying community members to the community itself. It might be a bold endeavor — but we want to give it a try. Sounds... interesting, I guess. So,
5. What next?
Next, we are asking you to fill a short form to indicate your willingness to become a Smartcat Certified specialist. It contains some basic questions, without any tests or quizzes. Its main purpose is to let us fine-tune the certification system to the response we get — so don't miss the chance to shape it together with us. Then, in a short while (a couple of weeks or so), we will contact you again, this time with concrete instructions and explanations on how (and why) you should proceed further, and what exactly you will get in return. We are looking forward to all your applications. Together, we can make Smartcat Certified great
Convinced? Intrigued? Fill in the application form and stay tuned!