Giving Constructive and Respectful Feedback

Giving Constructive and Respectful Feedback

General Guidelines

TWB’s vision for quality and feedback is community-driven. Our translator community is a global network of like-minded professionals who volunteer their time and skill to further TWB’s mission. You can read more about it here.

Providing constructive feedback on other people’s work is important. As a TWB reviser or reviewer, you have to provide feedback to fellow volunteers, your peers, in a way that appreciates and respects their efforts. A great test to judge if your feedback is appropriate is to imagine how you would feel if you received that same feedback.

We understand that giving and receiving feedback is not easy. Here are some tips to increase the value of your feedback:

  • Provide fact-based and objective feedback.
  • Provide a couple of examples of the errors you spot for each category (see below).
  • Limit your comments to the most important issues. A few examples are enough to give feedback and not discourage the translator. Do not compile "lists of errors”
  • Start and end with positive feedback. This helps translators understand their strengths, and what they need to work on.
  • Use friendly and professional language. Remember that you are addressing fellow translators or future ones. Avoid using upper case for emphasis.

What to look for

There are five error categories to consider when revising. You can read about TWB Quality Categories in this thread.

Constructive Wording and Terminology

The following table gives examples of constructive feedback terminology, as well as terminology to be avoided.

RECOMMENDED AVOID
Inaccurate, incorrect Bad, terrible, weird
Mistranslated, Doesn’t have enough knowledge of the SL/TL
This translator needs more training/growth This is not a translator/a professional
The text is not natural, doesn’t follow the practice of the TL Looks like MT, translated by machine, a machine would’ve done a better job
Needed heavy revision, needed a second reading Fail, failure, sloppy, careless

Constructive feedback example 1:

The translation is accurate and flows naturally. There were a couple of mistakes related to the use of abbreviations (for example, ITS stands for infecciones de transmisión sexual and not enfermedades de transmisión sexual).

Compare to this example of subjective and nonspecific feedback:

Translation was OK, although there were a couple of careless mistakes related to the use of abbreviations.

Constructive feedback example 2:

The translator has mistranslated the text in several instances (see: translated the word devant, in the face of, as avant, before). The translation would have benefitted from a second careful reading to avoid typos such as not (t)he first, annd, etc.

Compare to this example of subjective and nonspecific feedback:

The writer doesn’t appear to understand either the source or the target language and moreover, it’s sloppy work that wasn’t checked thoroughly.

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Hi, i am new here and a few days earlier, i translated a document on Covid-19 Criminalization Survey. I just got the feedback today and the soul-crushing thing is the reviewer completely disregarded my efforts and time dedicated for the project.
Here is his/her feedback: " I rated the translation work, because I had to do the reading. It was BAD. A computer would have done much better. So I did both the translation and the reading. Sorry to say it is not possible to accept this kind of “translators” at TWB."
I know that my translation is not perfect and it definitely needed reviewing, but does this reviewer have to personally attack me like this?
TWB is a online translation platform where people provide their time and translation skill for the good of humanity. Through this platform, translators all over the world, whether professional or amateurs, learn from each other and grow together.
This reviewer completely went against all of that.
I am sorry, i do not mean to play the victim or “crybaby”, but i really need some kind of clarification on this? and advice too if you can.
Thank you very much.

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Hello Thuan and thanks a lot for your message. I agree that we want all feedback to our translators to be constructive and respectful, regardless how they performed in their work. Leaving feedback is a chance to help each other to do better. I agree that in this case, the reviser didn’t use this chance properly. We will follow up and ask to be more considerate next time :slight_smile:
I would also encourage you to deliver translation work only into your native language, unless you are bilingual or nearly native in a second language.
Thank you for being part of our community!

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Thank you very much, Ambra for the support.
I will keep that in mind for the next project.

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Hi Thuan, good morning!

I just wanted to say that you are absolutely right. Feedback is not about demeaning someone else’s work, skills nor character. It is about helping someone else know what they are doing right, and how they can improve.

There’s something I would like to stress here too. Most of us here are volunteers. This means that most of us come here and undertake projects that will be helpful to someone else for free, sometimes for several days. We could be reading, playing games or doing anything else that we enjoy doing in our spare time, something which doesn’t benefit the world in any way; but we are volunteering instead. And what drives us? Goodwill. So, it makes no sense that someone else makes a volunteer feel as bad as Thuan is feeling right now. We are here because we want to help, and that must be cherished. Of course, we will sometimes make mistakes. We are only human. But if we help each other, we can improve. Sometimes, we just need to know how, in what way. That’s where the feedback comes in.

So, Thuan, please don’t let yourself be dispirited. You are valuable to us. And if you are not sure about the best translation for a term, please ask what others think in the discussion thread associated with that project. It will certainly help you.

Have a great day! :slight_smile:

All the best,

Andreia

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Thanks a million for your valuable input, Andreia. I agree that all work has to be treated respectfully and we appreciate all contributions we receive. In this case, the reviser (who is a volunteer as well and is supporting us greatly) didn’t know that anyone except Admins could see the comment, and she will be definitely more constructive in her feedback next time.

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I understand, Ambra. The reviser’s role is very difficult. I undertook several projects lately as a reviser and it is very demanding. We are asked to assess someone’s else work, and sometimes it is a task which requires as much time and effort as the translation itself. That is bound to make someone feel frustration. But it is important that our frustration doesn’t take over our words - and feedback - otherwise, things will get personal.

My guess was that the reviser was a volunteer as well. I didn’t mean to make her feel bad. As I said, I understand how difficult the reviser’s role is. What I meant to say was that it is important that we bear in mind that we are all trying to help, even when we make mistakes. Some volunteers have more experience or specialize in areas which help them in their work, but what drives us all is goodwill.

A way to make this fairer and easier for both translators and revisers would be having more tests in order to become a Verified Translator. For instance, having tests that would allow you to have access to more tasks in specific areas, such as social sciences, education, health or human rights. That is - you would become a Verified Translator in, let’s say, Health, but not in Social Sciences. What do you think about that?

All the best,

Andreia

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Hi Andreia. Great ideas! For now we don’t have a way to divide projects based on the subject areas, just as we don’t have a way to divide projects based on the language variant.

And if I think of the way we work sometimes - under great time pressure and with documents needed as soon as possible - I am not sure we will have the opportunity to be so selective when it comes to level of verification and subject areas. Also because we want to give everyone the opportunity to contribute :slight_smile:

We do stress the importance of respectful feedback and we have a monitoring mechanism to spot that and reach out to the reviser if needed be, to avoid similar situations to happen more than once for the same person.

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Hello everyone :slight_smile:

Please note: I am completely against harsh feedback, and I am sorry that one of the volunteers had to go through this. However, I wanted to say that the revisor’s point may be valid.

The other day, I claimed a revision task, expecting I would just need to proofread it. However, I found myself having to delete full chunks of text, translate them again, and proofread them on top of that.

I appreciate that rating ‘quality’ is rather complex and may vary from person to person. However, just because we are volunteering (or working for free) does not allow us to deliver poor quality work. I believe goodwill is important as long as it does not compromise the quality of the translation.

Let’s keep up the good work!

Kind regards,
M

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Hi Marina :slight_smile:

My point was not that goodwill excuses poor quality work. The point I was trying to make was that a volunteer must be treated with kindness - just like any other person.

As revisers, our role isn’t to pretend that someone delivered a high quality when that is not the case. Also, it’s true that a bad quality translation may cause as much harm as not having a translation at all. Whenever we claim a task here, we must bear in mind that we are also claiming a responsibility.

My point was just that we should strive to give respectful feedback. We can be fair without being harsh to someone who was trying to help. We can assess someone else’s work without being impolite or inconsiderate to them. So, we believe the same thing, we are just saying it with different words.

Also, I’ve come across some revising tasks that fit your description perfectly. But that’s the kind of work we are claiming when we claim a revising task. As I said before, sometimes it is frustrating. And that’s why we should emotionally distance ourselves from the work we are revising before writing a review.

All the best,

Andreia

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Hello Andreia :slight_smile:

Thank you for writing. You have made indeed thoughtful points and I agree that respectful feedback must always prevail, no matter the quality of the translation.

Perhaps as revisors we should lower our expectations and embrace what we get, without judgement.

Best regards,
M

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Good morning, Marina :slight_smile:

Regarding what you mentioned before, about the reviser having a point: in fact, she was trying to bring the matter to the people responsible for that specific project. As Ambra said, the reviser wasn’t aware that the translator was actually going to read the review. She was trying to help TWB, and meant it as a report, not as a personal attack. I just wanted to add this because I don’t the reviser to think that I keep directing veiled attacks at her. My apologies to her if she thought so.

By the way, Marina, I don’t know if you are aware of this, but you can download and have a look at the work you are going to revise before you claim the task. And, once you claim the task and starting working on it, you can ask for more time, if the deadline turns out to be impractical.

And yes, I think that a reviser must master his/her expectations - otherwise he/she may be overpowered by them.

I hope this helps.

All the best,

Andreia

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Hi team :slight_smile:

It’s wonderful to read that we are all on the same page regarding this. As you both very well said, giving and receiving feedback is not easy. At all. :smiley: But from your messages it is clear that were down the right path here with our approach!

Thanks for this, and I hope you have a great week ahead!

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Thank you very much for all your valuable comments, I loved reading your messages.
I think we all agree that the work of the reviser shouldn’t be re-translating a task, so I encourage you to flag it to the PM or here in the forum every time you find you need to re-translate a task you were supposed to revise only.

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Thank you, Ambra :slight_smile: In fact, I’ve recently come across a revision in which I had to re-translate most of the text. I’ll keep your advice in mind.

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I have contributed a little so far. In my first revision task, I had to re-translate almost the whole document. I left constructive feedback for the translator. After reading this post, now I know how to be more constructive. BUT I’ve got some points to make, I’d like all translators to read the followings:

  1. Community guideline: Every translators should thoroughly read their own community’s guideline.

  2. Interpret: Most of the time it’s about interpretation, NOT translation. We, as translators, need to understand that we are conveying life-saving/important messages to humans, think about making it readable to YOURSELF or to your friends and family first. Read it out loud and listen how it sounds to your own ears.

  3. Flow correctly~~: ALWAYS download the source file; rather than going line by line using Kató platform, read the whole document/paragraph in the source file. That is a better way to understand how your input should flow.

  4. Know your audience: Sometimes you are writing for journalists, or other professionals; sometimes your audiences are refugees, or “humans” who, like most of us, have not been fortunate enough to receive primary education — make it readable for them. Be a human, not an academic.

  5. Leave comments: If you are confused, leave comments for the reviser/reviewer. Send email ASAP if you realize that you can’t complete the job.

  6. Become the audience: Put yourself your audience’s shoes; do not show off your linguistic, rather become a member of your audience’s community as if you’re talking to them on the field, NOT at a conference full of academics, poets, and novelists.

  7. Punctuation marks: It is NOT necessary to input the punctuation marks exactly from the source documents, be natural. Sometimes you have to add, sometimes it’s better to avoid. (This mostly happens with regard to “comma.”)

Again, know when to “INTERPRET,” and when NOT to translate. Our contributions are life-saving, informative, and need to be audience friendly.

Like many, I am also a new member, but I’ve been going through the forums and trying to grasp how to make our contributions impactful. I hope these points will help all the translators.

Regards,
Sifat

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Hello Ambra,

What if a reviser finds almost 90% of the document was machine translated or plainly translated with very poor readability, which does not convey the correct messages AT ALL, and the deadline is just a few hours away (given that the revisers have other jobs to do as well)? Should we just notify that the document needs to be re-translate and wait for approval (again, very short deadline)? Or, we leave it for the reviewer to correct almost the whole document?

Please share a link to the revision guide (if there’s any), else, I think, there should be clear and specific guideline for the reviewers as my last revision task was pretty stressful. I was only trying to make the work easier for the reviewer(s) as I am aware that they have to review a lot of documents in a short time and they are ultimately responsible for the quality of the tasks.

Hi Sifat, thank you for your message and also for your suggestions above, they are very interesting.
I recommend that you always flag the problem to the PM as soon as you encounter it. You can write a post in the forum (which is better, because more staff members will see it and you’ll get a quicker reply) or email translators@translatorswithoutborders.org, copying projects@translatorswithoutborders.org

If the deadline is very tight and you have the time, after notifying the PM you can start re-translating the task, if you wish. You can also ask for a deadline extension if you believe is needed to retranslate the text. Our staff will answer as soon as possible but sometimes it can take one working day.

Depending on the project, the revision is the last step and there is no review, so it is important that the revised version you deliver is already good enough to be sent to the partner.

Here you can find some additional info about our policies for working in Kato TM:

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