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What information does my localiser or localizer need?

I’ve written about setting expectations with service providers and I’ve explained what your editor needs to know here, and transcribers here – now it’s the turn of localisation services (or localization providers).

What is localisation / localization?

I have talked about what localisation is in this article, and about careers in the area here.

In brief, localisation involves turning one variant of a language into another variant of that language. For example, text written in Portugal might be localised for Brazilian Portuguese, text published in France localised into Canadian French. In my case, I work from US (or other non-UK) English into UK English.

Some quick characteristics of localisation:

  • It’s not just a question of changing spellings, although that’s obviously important – grammar and particularly punctuation can be very different in US and UK English.
  • While -z- spellings are “allowed” in the Oxford variety of English, I have to be careful not to use this style, as my clients like to see the text “looking British”, even if they’re not expert in what that means, and that means -s- spellings all round!
  • Sometimes quite complicated cultural issues need to be unpicked and changed – for example references to sports that are very common in the US, even in metaphors, often don’t translate well for British readers.
  • These cultural differences can be even more wide-ranging: for example, I have been asked to localise for “all parts of the English-speaking world” and therefore having to use pretty bland and universal terms and references.
  • Sometimes the original text has errors and I might need to alert the client to those.
  • You have to be open to using lots of different systems for this work: I might be presented with a document in Word, Excel, output from a translation tool in weird columns, or translation software.
  • You have to be aware, like translators, that there is sometimes only a small amount of space for the text – the localised text might need to conform to a particular character length or space, and that can be difficult as UK words are often longer than their US counterparts.
  • You have to be aware of what NOT to localise, e.g. the US Department of Defense would be spelled like that, as would the World Health Organization, because those are their official titles.
  • Really, you have to be experienced in the other culture and language as well as your own: I got into this because I used to work for the UK office of an American company, so was used to the differences between the languages and had written business communications in both variants.
  • Like translators, you should never localise out of your mother tongue into the other variant, unless you are truly bilingual.

Who needs localisation?

All of my localisation work comes through third-party agencies rather than directly. These will be translation or editing agencies which have clients around the world. Therefore all the advice I have given about agencies in my original article applies here, too.

Sometimes, localisation is combined with another skill such as editing or keyword insertion for SEO (search engine optimisation) purposes. Clients should expect to pay extra for combined services, as they involve the service provider concentrating on more than one service. Not everyone can offer this, either!

What does your localiser need to know in advance?

Your localization service provider will need to know in advance:

  • How big is the project (word count)?
  • Which language variant is it from / to (this means they can let you know if they don’t offer that language pair)?
  • What format is the work in (Word, Excel, a file to open in a standard translation software programme / in a web-bases proprietary or general programme)?
  • What is the topic (I once worked on a football (soccer) game’s text and spent a lot of time looking things up and asking people questions …)?
  • Is this just localisation or do you need editing services or another service like keyword insertion?
  • Are there special conditions, for example, needing to fit the text to a particular length?
  • The usual information on when the text will be ready and the deadline

 

If you work for an agency, you also need to provide this information, to be fair on the localiser

  • Is the job a quotation or a guaranteed job?
  • When you will know whether you have succeeded in getting the job

… and then let the localiser know whether or not you have succeeded in getting the job, so they can stop saving space in their schedule for it.

Why does my localizer need all this information?

Your localiser needs this information because without it they can’t give you an accurate and fair price and turnaround quotation.

For example, if you contact me to say you have 10,000 words of localisation to be done and you think it’s in a Word document …

  • If it turns out to be in proprietary software that I need to learn, I will need to put aside a few hours (at least) to learn how to use the software
  • If the text needs to be edited as well as localised, that’s two processes, will take me longer, and will cost more

The more information that you can give your localiser / localizer before they quote for you, the more accurate their quotation will be, and the more likely they are to be able to do the job once they’ve committed to it initially.


In this article, I’ve discussed what information your localiser or localization service needs before they can prepare a quotation and let you know if they can do a job. I’ve also probably annoyed you with my inconsistent spellings – but short of writing two entirely differently worded articles for US and UK searchers, this is what I have to do to be found by people who might find this article useful!

I hope you’ve found this useful – do hit the share buttons or comment if you have!

Other useful articles on this blog

Setting expectations with your service provider

Working with an editor 1: Asking for a quote

Working with an editor 2: Negotiating and booking in

What information does my transcriber need?

What is localisation?

Careers in localisation

 

 
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Posted by on November 16, 2017 in Business, Localisation

 

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What information does my transcriber need?

A few weeks ago, I wrote about setting expectations with service providers and how to make sure you’re giving the person who will potentially be working for you the information they need to be able to quote for you and do the work. I promised then to add some detail about particular kinds of work that I do and what I or another person will need in order to quote and book you in. I’ve already covered what your editor needs to know here, so let’s look at transcribers.

What is transcription?

I’ve covered this in more detail in this article, but basically transcription means taking words that have been spoken and recorded on some kind of audio file and turning them into words typed on a page via a word processor. You can use transcription for many things: here are some examples of the kinds of people I’ve worked with.

  • A journalist who has interviewed a celebrity and needs to write an article based on the words on the tape
  • A journalist who has set a tape running while two people talk and wants an exact record of that conversation
  • A student who has interviewed people about their topic and needs it turned into text to study
  • An academic doing a long series of interviews for a book without the time to type them all out
  • A psychology student who has taped some practice therapy sessions and needs to analyse them
  • A student who has taped their lectures and needs to have them in writing
  • A ghostwriter who is producing a book and needs their subject’s voice captured accurately from their interviews in order to write “their” book
  • A member of the public recording their parent’s memories to turn into a printed memoir
  • A blogger who does podcast interviews and wants to produce extra content for their subscribers in the form of transcripts
  • A marketing company who has recorded people being interviewed about a product they’ve tried and needs to provide quotations and feedback to their client
  • A marketing company who has recorded interviews with a client from which to produce content for their marketing materials
  • A financial company that does monthly dial-in phone calls and needs a record of what they and their clients said
  • A translation company hired to produce a printed record of an entire conference

Other common transcription tasks which I don’t provide myself:

  • Medical transcription – typing up dictated letters from consultants, etc.
  • Legal transcription – typing up records of interviews with defendants, etc.

What does your transcriber need to know in advance?

So there are lots of reasons to use a transcriber: what do they need to know before they can give you a quotation (if you’re a new client) or book you in:

  • How long is your audio file (in minutes)? This is really important for setting expectations. It takes me an average of three hours to transcribe one hour of audio. And I’m quite fast. This can change dramatically (I’ve written about that here).
  • Have you got the audio ready to send over to me now?
  • What is your deadline (see the first point. I have to have enough time to a) type it up at approx. three hours per hour of audio b) take rest breaks, eat and sleep. Yes, a nine-hour tape will theoretically take me 27 hours to type up, but I won’t be doing that continuously!)?
  • How many people are speaking on the tape?
  • What is the format of the recorded session (e.g. is it an interview with questions from the audience at the end, a focus group, your own thoughts spoken into a microphone)?
  • What is the general topic of the session (very important if it’s medical or legal, as some people (e.g. me) don’t have the specialist training to work on such topics)?
  • Is there any content that might offend or upset the transcriber (some agencies won’t deal with swear words, apparently; some people don’t like drunk people talking about drugs; I like to be warned of any descriptions of violence or cruelty and might turn extreme content down)
  • Are the speakers native English speakers (I specialise in non-native English speakers; some people don’t have experience working with accents and potentially non-standard English)?
  • What type of transcription do you require – verbatim, tidied, rewritten (see my post about this here)
  • Do you require the transcriber to type the transcription into a template? If so please provide a copy.
  • What time-stamping do you require (see below)?

Time-stamping

This is a big topic as it can really alter the amount of time it takes to complete a transcription. Time-stamping means inserting the time into the document at prescribed intervals. It helps you to find places in the tape or reference particular parts of the tape easily.

If you need a note of the time entered every 10 or 5 minutes, that can be done without interrupting the flow. That’s why I include these options in my basic pricing, for example.

Other options include time-stamping:

  • Every time the interviewer asks a question
  • Every time someone new starts speaking
  • Every few sentences
  • Every time someone starts a new sentence
  • Every time someone starts a new clause or part of a sentence

For the last three, it’s vital to explain what you mean and give examples, so that your transcriber produces exactly what you want. If you want to have this extra level of time-stamping, be aware that this will add a lot of time to the process (it’s hard to do it automatically, especially if there’s a template to enter the information into) and will therefore add to the cost.

I work for an agency and we are doing a quotation for a client

This is often the case and that’s fine: you just need to find out all this information from your client in advance. I will ask you to do that anyway, so if you come fully equipped, that process can be done sooner.

Note that all the extra information I discussed for agencies in my original post apply here.

  • Let me know this is a quotation not a guaranteed job
  • Get the information from your potential client in advance
  • Let me know when you will know whether you have succeeded in getting the job
  • Let me know whether or not you have succeeded in getting the job

I already work with this transcriber: what do they need to know about my project?

You might already work with a transcriber, in which case you will have their pricing and terms already. However, when someone emails me to let me know they have a job for me, I still need to know the basics:

  • How long is the file (in minutes)?
  • Do you have it ready now?
  • When do you need the transcription back from me?
  • Is anything different from usual (tape quality, number of interviewees?)

Why does my transcriber need all this information?

Your transcriber needs this information because without it they can’t give you an accurate and fair price and turnaround quotation.

For example, if you contact me to say you have about an hour of tape that you need time-stamping, I am likely to reserve a three-to-four hour slot in my schedule and quote you my basic price band for a customer of your type.

  • If it turns out to be a legal transcription, I can’t do it.
  • If it turns out to be 90 minutes, that’s an extra 1.5 hours of working time for me
  • If it turns out that you need time-stamping every sentence, that will add about an hour to the time

This is why I ask for all this information up front. The more you give me initially, the more accurately I can let you know a) whether I can do it, b) how much it will cost, c) how long it will take. If you don’t give me this information until a long way down the process, in an extreme case I will have to cancel the job and leave you looking for someone else.


In this article, I’ve discussed what information your transcriber needs before they can prepare a quotation and let you know if they can do a job. Miss out information at this stage, or provide inaccurate information, and you may be disappointed.

I hope you’ve found this useful – do hit the share buttons or comment if you have!

Other useful articles on this blog

Setting expectations with your service provider

Working with an editor 1: Asking for a quote

Working with an editor 2: Negotiating and booking in

How long does transcription take?

What are the types of transcription?

Recording and sending audio files for researchers and journalists

 

 
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Posted by on November 8, 2017 in Business, Transcription

 

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How do I set expectations with my professional services provider?

When you’re hiring a professional services provider, you need to set expectations for your project before you even agree the contract. If you don’t agree the terms and conditions and specific requirements upfront, in the worst case, you might find that your project is cancelled before it starts, or you may get a result which doesn’t match your expectations.

In this article, I’ll share a few points to consider and ways to make sure that you have a good start to your relationship with your service provider and a good experience (for both of you) throughout the project.

I’m addressing this issue as a provider of editing, proofreading, transcription and localisation services, but I’d welcome comments from service providers in other fields, too.

In this article, I pay specific attention to people who work at agencies which work as a middle-provider between the client and the professional services provider. All of the points apply to agencies, too – some of them are specific to agencies and I highlight when that is the case.

Think about what you want before you seek a service provider

Before advertising, searching boards or doing a Google search, think very carefully about what you’re looking for and the kind of person you’re looking for. Write down the parameters of what you want, in detail. This can include, but not be limited to:

  • The scale of the work – whether that’s in words to be translated, minutes of tape to be transcribed, number of receipts and invoices to go to a book-keeper. This must be honest and measured, not a guess. Typically, you will underestimate what you need to be done. It’s a good idea to check it.
  • The deadline for the work – both your ultimate deadline and one for your service provider which will enable you to ask questions or make the changes that might arise. For example, I recommend a Master’s student keeps at least 24 hours aside for checking my suggested corrections. Bear in mind that you will need to interact with whatever is provided to you in some way (for example, following up unclear names on a transcription; answering an accountant’s queries on your plastic bag full of receipts). Note, if the deadline is “two weeks from when I finish writing the book” be clear about when you intend to do that!
  • The details of the work – this is one you need to think really carefully about, and not make any assumptions. Does your manuscript have to be in US English or fit a particular journal’s article submission requirements? Do you require your transcription to be time-stamped every minute?
  • Get a sample of the work ready – an extract from your document, part of the tape you want transcribed, a scan of what your receipts are like.
  • If you are working at an agency and preparing to tender for a job for a third-party client, try your best to gather this information from them in advance.

Note: a good service provider will know about this stuff and is likely to ask you about it. But it’s best to be prepared and to provide this information up-front when you’re looking for someone to do the work for you.

Provide potential service providers with full information

However you contact potential service providers, do give them all the information you worked out above. They will need it in order to be able to assess the project, give you a fair quotation and let you know whether they can fit it in. If you give them all the information at the start, it will:

  • Save time as they won’t need to ask for any further information.
  • Lead to a fair price (fair to you and the service provider) because it’s based on the full parameters.
  • Lead to an achievable turnaround time which is not going to slip – if you change the parameters or explain the project in full once the work is underway, it may take the provider longer to do it.

This is such an important point that I’m going to put it in bold: If you’re working at an agency and this is an enquiry to allow you to bid for a project yourselves, please inform the service provider when you make the initial enquiry. Most people will still give you the information you need, but promising a project you haven’t yet got yourself isn’t very kind or transparent, and multiple examples are likely to put people off working with you.

Answer any questions from the service provider as fully as you can

If your potential service provider comes back to you with questions of their own, or with a questionnaire to fill in, make sure that you answer it as fully as possible. Explain your terms in detail. For example:

  • What you call “line-editing” or “proper time stamping” can mean many things to many different people. Explain exactly what you mean.
  • One person’s “flexible deadline” is another person’s “one more job I can’t fit in in the time”. Be clear on dates and times.

If you don’t understand what the service provider is asking you, ask them to explain rather than making an assumption or ignoring the question. We all have jargon we think is clear, and I’m always happy to explain a term a potential client is unfamiliar with.

Set expectations on the process and be fair and transparent

You can find information on booking in an editor and handling the process in this article and my advice here is basically the same:

  • Tell the service provider you’re negotiating with when you expect to make your decision.
  • Don’t play multiple service providers off against each other: examine each offering on its own merits but don’t try to start a bidding war.
  • Tell all of the service providers when you’ve made your decision, even the ones you don’t offer it to.

If you are working for an agency, it’s really important to:

  • Tell the service provider when you expect the client to make their decision.
  • If your agency gets the job, tell the service provider who will be doing the work and inform anyone else you were talking to who you haven’t chosen to work with.
  • If your agency doesn’t get the job, still inform the service provider(s) you’ve been discussing it with.

Typically, your potential service provider(s) will be holding open a slot in their schedule for your project, in case you assign it to them. So it’s only fair to make sure that you tell them when they’ve haven’t got the job, as well as when they have. Otherwise, they may continue holding the spot open, turning down other enquiries in the meantime.

Once the project is confirmed and underway

You may need to do contracts, either from your end or the service provider’s end, at this point.

  • Make sure everything you’ve discussed and agreed matches the contract.
  • Do not change anything once the project is agreed, if you can possibly help it (I do understand that agencies’ clients can add demands; if this happens, consult with the service provider and get back to the client with any changes in deadline).
  • Accept that any changes you do make will affect the deadline.
  • Understand that the service provider has set aside a time slot for you. This means
    • you must deliver the project to the service provider when you said you would.
    • if you increase the parameters of the work, the service provider might not actually be able to complete the job if it goes outside the amount of time they’ve set aside for it.

If you follow these guidelines, I think you will have a higher rate of success in interacting with professional service providers and engaging their services, and everybody will have a fairer and smoother time.


Thank you for reading this article on setting expectations with service providers. Please do share and comment if you have found this useful, or share other hints and tips. I will put together specific guidelines for dealing with transcribers and localisers soon.

Other useful articles from this blog

Working with an editor 1: Asking for a quote

Working with an editor 2: Negotiating and booking in

What does my transcriber need to know?

What information does my localiser need?

 
2 Comments

Posted by on October 26, 2017 in Business, Copyediting

 

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How do customers get in touch?

How do customers get in touch?

How do your customers get in touch with you? What should you do to help them get in contact? Where should you be visible and how are people likely to message you? You might be surprised …

Be where your customers are

There’s a good general rule that you should be where your customers are. That means physically as well as virtually.

  • If people buy your type of thing at craft fairs and in shops, go to craft fairs and establish a presence in a few shops (many crafty shops will rent shelf space and/or take a commission. Take advice from other crafters on tips for choosing fairs – I have no idea about this myself)
  • If your clients hang out in Pinterest or Instagram, make sure you have an account there, you use it on-brand and wisely, and you put your contact details on your profile
  • Most people will do a web search when they’re looking for what you sell or provide – make sure you have a website, even if it’s just a landing page with contact, product and service details.
  • I strongly suggest you add a contact form to your website. Most blogging platforms and website services like WordPress will have contact form templates for you to use.
  • Many people will look on Facebook so make sure you have a Facebook page even if you don’t interact with it very much.
  • If you have a Twitter profile, again, get those contact details on it.
  • If you can’t help someone, try to pass them to someone who can.

How do customers contact me?

I’ve been observing how people have contacted me about genuine paid work opportunities over the past few months. Here are the ways they’ve done it:

  • Contact form on my website – this is the main way in which people contact me. It comes straight through to my email, with the person’s email, so I can reply straight back to them
  • Email – my email address is on my website, so I assume people pick it up from there, if they’re not a recommendation who has been given my email address by someone else
  • Twitter – a public @ message – so make sure your Twitter account is open and allows messages
  • Facebook – a question on my business page – make sure you enable alerts so you can see when these come through to you!
  • Facebook – a Facebook Messenger request – these can get lost in “Other” messages – check that folder regularly
  • Twitter – a direct message. This can only be sent by someone you mutually follow on Twitter but they still happen – watch out for alerts
  • Phone – I have a dedicated mobile phone with its number on my website. I receive very few phone calls and because I leave my phone on voicemail most of the time (because I do a lot of work where I really have to concentrate), people who leave messages tend to email me as well anyway.

Other ways people might contact you:

  • At networking events
  • Through any messaging facilities on other social media sites
  • By text message

The golden rules of social media contact

I’ve covered this in depth in an article about reciprocity but in general:

  • Always respond to people who contact you – it’s only polite
  • Take the conversation out of the public eye if it’s about prices and services
  • Always be super-polite, even if it seems like someone is trying to get at you
  • Do set expectations – if you’re not going to work weekends / late nights, maybe don’t reply to messages so quickly at the weekend or late at night, to set an expectation of office hours only (be prepared to make exceptions for a real jewel of a prospect, however!)

Summary: make yourself as available as you can; you never know where that lead will come from

Create yourself a website with a contact form as well as a list of contact details

Establish a presence on the very popular social media sites

Establish a presence on any social media sites that are relevant to your area of work

Always answer queries, taking them privately as soon as you can

Set expectations

If you can’t do a job for someone, try to recommend someone who can


In this article I’ve reminded you to keep as many avenues open as possible for people to contact you, and to follow that up by being responsive.

Other relevant articles on this blog

Reciprocity and social media

Coopetition versus competition

 

 
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Posted by on August 9, 2017 in Business, Social media

 

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How do I deal with spam comments on my blog 3: How do I prevent spam comments from being posted on my blog?

How do I deal with spam comments on my blog 3: How do I prevent spam comments from being posted on my blog?

In this article you’re going to learn some general tips for avoiding getting spam comments on your blog. Hopefully you’ve already read Article 1 in the series and understand what spam comments are and why you should stop them, and you’ve looked at some examples of spam and learned how to tell a spam comment from a real comment in Article 2.

How do I stop spam getting published in my blog comments?

There are two ways to stop spam appearing in your blog comments, and you do need to use them together to be completely effective:

  1. Make sure your blogging software’s spam filter is turned on to its highest level
  2. Make sure you moderate comments before displaying them

There are of course variations within both of these, so I’ll talk about them one by one.

Setting up your spam filter

This is general information, and I don’t have access to all of the blogging platforms, but most platforms (WordPress, Blogger, etc.) will have spam filter in place already. This will stop anything hugely obvious, like millions of links in a comment or keywords that we can all think of that we see a lot in spam emails, etc.

Often, you can set the level of spam filtering or what gets done with the spam comments.

For example, in WordPress.com, I can choose to set these options:

  • Either the worst and most persistent spam is silently discarded OR all spam is put into the spam review folder so I can review it
  • I can list keywords which I want to always make a comment go into spam (I haven’t bothered with this as my spam is very varied!)
  • I can select how many links need to be in a comment before it automatically goes into the spam folder (I allow up to two, allowing people to share information, their own book review, etc. without being penalised

How do I select the spam filter options for my blog?

In WordPress, I find the spam filter options in Settings – Discussion.

All blogging platforms will have some kind of Settings area where you can find this information. If you use another platform than WordPress.com, maybe you’d like to add a comment detailing where to find the spam filters in your platform, and I’ll add that information to this article.

Moderating comments

It’s essential to set up some sort of moderation on comments that people try to place on your blog. Although blogging platforms’ spam filters are pretty good, they won’t catch everything, particularly those cleverer ones disguised as praise with only one (or no) links that we saw last time.

When you decide to moderate comments, it means that when someone types a comment on your blog, you will receive an email with that comment, which you can then accept, delete or mark as spam. You click a link in the email, decide what you want to do with the comment, and your blogging platform will display it, delete it or note that the person is spamming (I use delete for an accidental spam or the odd duplicated comment).

There are options here, too, the most common being:

  • Moderate every single comment that is made on your blog
  • Moderate just the first comment from a particular commenter (usually defined by their email address) – each subsequent comment by someone whose first comment you’ve approved will be approved automatically

I have chosen the second option, because most spam is automated, so there’s little danger that you’ll accept someone’s comment and then find them spamming you all over the place.

I do have all comments emailed to me anyway, to make sure that I see and can respond to them, but moderating just the first one means I don’t have to click through and accept, delete or mark as spam every time I receive a comment from someone who’s commented previously.

How do I choose which comments to moderate?

In WordPress, comment moderation is in the same place as the spam filtering options: Settings – Discussion. In other platforms, look for Discussion or Comments in the Settings (again, please share where this is on your platform if you don’t use WordPress.

How do I check for comments that aren’t spam?

Occasionally, your blogging platform will get all over-excited and mark something as spam that isn’t spam. Maybe it contains a keyword it doesn’t like, or maybe it’s got more than the number of links you usually allow – but for innocent reasons.

Each blogging platform has a place to view comments which will include your spam queue, spam folder, etc. I just pop there and have a look every so often – you can mark a legitimate comment as not spam and it will show on your article.


This article has given some general information about how best to prevent spam comments from making their way onto your blog.

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed this article. Do post any questions or comments below; your comments may affect the content of my next article!

Other relevant posts on this blog

How do I deal with spam comments on my blog 1: Why do people spam my blog and why should I stop them?

How do I deal with spam comments on my blog 2: How do I tell if a comment is spam?

Reciprocity and Social Media – how to negotiate social media kindly and politely

How to maintain a good online reputation – my hints and tips

10 reasons to start a blog – why you should do it now!

10 reasons NOT to write a blog – and why you should stop and think, at least!

Top 10 blogging sins – avoid these if you can!

Scheduling blog posts and keeping going – scheduling the posts and the writing of them

How do I keep people engaged with my blog? – comments and reciprocity

 
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Posted by on July 13, 2017 in Blogging, Business

 

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How do I deal with spam comments on my blog 2: How do I tell if a comment is spam?

How do I deal with spam comments on my blog 2: How do I tell if a comment is spam?

In the second in my series of articles about spam comments on blogs, I’m going to help you to learn how to decide whether a comment is spam (so should be deleted) or legitimate. I started this series by writing about what spam comments are and why you should stop them, and if you’re new to the topic, you might want to go back and look at that post first.

So, let’s have a look at some spam. I’m gong to start with the easy-to-spot ones and then move on to some more ambiguous ones.

In each example, I’ve included a screen shot of the comment, with its origin on the left, the “comment” in the middle and the title of the bog post it refers to on the right. Some details have been blurred out.

Obvious spam that has no place in your comments

This first category shouldn’t even get through to your comments to review if you’ve set up or got any sort of spam protection. There’s no way could mistake these for legitimate comments:

A sales word repeated over and over again and also a particularly common spam term:

… and one with some random information on buying sports gear on a post about small businesses.

Here’s another one which is talking about factory shops and comes from a URL about running shoes (remember how those spammers want to get the URLs  of the companies they’re working for all over the Internet? Nothing to do with Word documents!

So those are quite easy, and they’re also the ones you won’t see so often, as spam filters will catch them.

Spam comments pretending to be praise

This is a kind of post that often sneaks through. Be wary of over-the-top praise with no proper mention of what it’s praising. And look at where it comes from and the links:

So, this one is extremely vague and general – why would anyone legitimate post this? Also look at the commenter “Name” – “online shopping”. It looks like praise but that’s just to fool the spam filters (notice there is no URL placed within the comment, again to skip past the spam filter):

what about this one? How nice – they found my post on Word documents to be wonderful. But again, no detail about what they found wonderful, and look at the commenter’s “Name” on the left. Enough said.

I get this one ALL the time, mentioning they have bookmarked it. But from someone with a kind of name whose website is called that? (I’m not even typing the word here; who knows what that will attract!

This last one is a clever one but I get the “famous” comment all the time; also the not knowing how they got there. The URL was VERY dodgy on this one, too.

Note that quite often these comments have a spelling mistake or weird phrase. From having accidentally let these through in the past, I’m fairly convinced that they act as a kind of highlight to let other spammers know this particular blog is not well protected and they can get their spam onto it. It’s so easy to set up an automated search and comment!

Spam comments asking questions

This kind of comment is even more difficult to work out – because we all like to interact with our readers and answer their questions! Well, I get these sort of comments all the time, and again, check the URLs and commenter “Names” and you’ll get a good idea of what you’re looking at.

OK, this might nearly catch me out. Except no one has ever asked me legitimately how to find my email subscription or my RSS feed. If you know what those are, you will find them on the site. So this is a real red flag … but the URL should be, anyway. All sorts of people do comment, but this looks like a sales site or a lure to something worse to me:

And the classic “off topic” – this again shrieks spam to me after years of seeing them – plus it’s our spacey friend again from above!

By all means, answer legitimate, specific questions in comments – ones that relate to the post they’re commenting on, for example. But these two examples are absolute classics and should go straight into spam.

Semi-legitimate comments with a spammy purpose

This last category I usually give the benefit of the doubt and mark as Trash rather than Spam. After all, it’s common knowledge that a good way to get blog followers for our own sites is to comment on other people’s blog posts, and of course we will then include our own.

It’s worth noting here, too, that I’m all about cooperation and coopetition with colleagues in the editing, transcription and localisation business, however, I’m not particularly keen (that’s an understatement) on people commenting about how their service is cheaper and better than mine!

Thanks, but no thanks, and into the Trash it goes!

This article has given you some examples of spam, ranging from the obvious to the not-so-obvious, and has hopefully helped you to distinguish spam comments from legitimate ones (for examples of legitimate comments, just take a look at the ones on my previous article, or, in time, this one!). I hope you feel more equipped to tell if a blog comment is spam now!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this article. Do post any questions or comments below; your comments may affect the content of my next article!

Other relevant posts on this blog

How do I deal with spam comments on my blog 1: Why do people spam my blog and why should I stop them?

Reciprocity and Social Media – how to negotiate social media kindly and politely

How to maintain a good online reputation – my hints and tips

10 reasons to start a blog – why you should do it now!

10 reasons NOT to write a blog – and why you should stop and think, at least!

Top 10 blogging sins – avoid these if you can!

Scheduling blog posts and keeping going – scheduling the posts and the writing of them

How do I keep people engaged with my blog? – comments and reciprocity

 
5 Comments

Posted by on June 29, 2017 in Blogging, Business

 

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How do I deal with spam comments on my blog 1: Why do people spam my blog and why should I stop them?

How do I deal with spam comments on my blog 1: Why do people spam my blog and why should I stop them?

After writing about keeping people engaged with our blogs last week, I started thinking about those people we DON’T want to engage with – spammers. In the first part of this series I’ll talk about why people might spam comment on a blog and why we shouldn’t allow them to. I’ll move on to discuss how to identify a spam comment, and then how to deal with them.

What is a spam comment on a blog?

A spam comment is a comment that isn’t relevant to the blog post it’s commenting on and is placed simply to encourage people to click through to the website the spammer is promoting. At its “best”, this is used to promote a website, usually by a third party, but at worst, it could link to a dodgy site that could contain malware or viruses.

Why do people submit spam comments to blogs?

Like those spammers who send out emails to millions of people asking them for their bank account details, knowing that a very small proportion will fall for the trick, spammers (in person or using software) try to place their website URL on people’s blogs assuming that a) a certain proportion of blog owners will let these through, and b) a certain proportion of those blogs’ readers will click on the link and go through to the website they are promoting.

In addition, search engines such as Google reward a website having links on other, reputable websites, and this includes accepted comments on blog posts. This is why people like me recommend that you engage with other RELEVANT blogs to get your URL out there. However, this is not the same as spamming blogs just to get your URL mentioned on them.

There’s a sort of continuum here, going from well-meaning and unintentional to malevolent

  • Someone trying to get their own URL out there by commenting fairly randomly on other people’s blog posts. They have typically read the post and are an individual trying to apply advice but getting it a bit wrong (“I loved this piece on how to cook spaghetti. I write about car insurance, do follow me back”)
  • Someone trying to get their own URL out there by commenting on a rival’s blog post to try to attract their custom away (note: I’m big on cooperation and coopetition, not so keen on, “This post on plagiarism is great. We can write people’s essays for them at [URL]”)
  • Someone working on their client’s SEO who has promised them “x back-links on reputable websites” (This post is great I will subscribe to your blog [URL for real estate in Texas]”)
  • Someone doing the above but using software to blitz hundreds of websites with the same message
  • Someone trying to tempt readers into clicking on a link which will allow them to download malware / viruses into the reader’s computer

Why should I exclude spam comments from my blog posts?

At best, allowing spam comments on your blog posts just looks bad. If I see a blog post that has some legitimate comments and a lot of spammy stuff from companies that have nothing to do with the blog, I will think the blog owner doesn’t take much notice or their blog or curate it carefully.

At medium, you are helping companies to promote themselves and their clients by using your blog inappropriately, so encouraging not-ideal business practices. Yes, this will happen anyway, but why should we help them?

At worst, you could be exposing your blog readers to malevolent and dangerous websites: by allowing a comment to go live, you’re condoning its existence in the eyes of some of your readers, so they may feel safe to click on that URL and end up viewing a porn site or finding themselves with a virus problem.

What can I do to stop spam comments on my blog?

I’m going to write about this in detail another time (and I’ll make sure to link to it here). In summary:

Be vigilant.

This means …

  • Setting up alerts so you see and check each and every comment that is posted on your blog
  • Using blogging software with good spam filters
  • Moderating all or first-by-this-person comments personally
  • Checking for and suppressing spam comments

I hope you’ve enjoyed this introductory article. Do post any questions or comments below; your comments may affect the content of my next article!

Other relevant posts on this blog

Reciprocity and Social Media – how to negotiate social media kindly and politely

How to maintain a good online reputation – my hints and tips

10 reasons to start a blog – why you should do it now!

10 reasons NOT to write a blog – and why you should stop and think, at least!

Top 10 blogging sins – avoid these if you can!

Scheduling blog posts and keeping going – scheduling the posts and the writing of them

How do I keep people engaged with my blog? – comments and reciprocity

 
30 Comments

Posted by on June 7, 2017 in Blogging, Business

 

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How do I keep people engaged with my blog?

How do I keep people engaged with my blog?

I’ve been thinking about how I engage with other people’s blogs recently, and why I stop reading them, or choose particular ones to cull when I feel like I have too much to read. Here I share a couple of top two tips for engagement – and the top reason I personally disengage from blogs.

Blogging is (usually) social

Blogging is in the main a social activity. If you don’t want people to read your words, you’re more likely to write them in a journal or in a document stored privately, aren’t you?

And you’re going to want feedback from people – your readers. You might look at your statistics and know that people are reading your words, but you also want comments, other people’s words, saying they hear you, they agree, maybe they respectfully disagree, but they’re engaging with you.

Edited to add: It’s been pointed out to me that some people do (and it’s of course completely their right to do this) use their blog as a kind of diary, a point of self-reflection, but choose to place that online rather than privately.  That’s obviously completely fair enough. But such blogs don’t tend to call for answers, ask questions, look overtly for back-up or seek to engage in the way I’m talking about. If you do seek to engage, it’s good to engage back. If you don’t choose to, that’s fine, as long as it’s an active choice and you realise that might put off some readers if you were hoping to engage them. I hope that’s clearer and more inclusive now.

Business blogging is social

I read a lot of book review blogs and a lot of editing and business blogs, too. Blogging isn’t only social for the nice person sharing review of books – it’s a way for businesses, large and small, to engage. I’m thrilled when the how-to articles on this blog get liked and commented on – often many years after I first posted them. Sometimes it’s just to say thank you, sometimes to ask a question, but I always appreciate the effort that someone’s gone to to click and type.

I also like commenting on people’s blogs if I can contribute something, whether that’s a word of appreciation, a “me, too” or an answer to a question posed in the article.

Engage with your commenters

The number one reason why I disengage from a blog (after the blogger ceasing to write it and finding offensive content) is when the blogger doesn’t respond to comments. I’m not talking not responding to a few here and there, or taking a while to respond, but when a blogger either only responds to one or two obviously favoured commenters, or just none at all. Ever.

Respond to comments with a comment

So I’d suggest that if you want to maintain engagement with your readers and stop your blog leaking readers, you should consider replying to your comments, even if only with a thank you or a few words. It makes the commenter feel read, feel appreciated, feel like they’re being talked to, and builds reciprocity and connections. Going by my sample of one, they’re more likely to stick with your blog and read it through thick and thin, engage with it and share it. And that’s what we want, isn’t it?

Consider adding a like button to your comments

I’ve previously explained how to do this for WordPress.com – you can easily add a “Like” button to your comments, so you can like someone’s comment and they can like your response. I love this – it’s a great short-cut if you don’t have time to reply to a comment right now, and for the original commenter to acknowledge that they’ve seen your reply to them.

Nobody’s perfect and nobody should feel they have to be

I’ll hold my hands up now and say that I know I have not personally responded in full to every single “Thank you, you saved my document” post on this blog. I do try to Like such comments now I have my Like buttons, and if someone asks me a question, I’ll always answer it to the best of my ability, as for clarification or say I’m going to leave it up there because I don’t know the answer but someone else might.

If you dig around on this blog, you will find comments that haven’t been answered (please don’t, though – I have admitted it!) but in the main I like and reply.

Obviously, people go away, people get ill, people have scheduled times away from their blog – and sometimes schedule posts to publish in the meantime. And you don’t always want to advertise you’re away, right? But the bloggers I love will explain this, maybe afterwards: “I’ve been away and I’ll catch up with your comments now I’m back; sorry if I miss any”. Others do talk about a gap in advance, and of course that’s all fine and understandable. No one should be chained to their blog – but if you allow comments, it’s my personal opinion that you should respond to those comments if you can.

What do you think?

If you comment on blog posts, do you expect a reply or acknowledgement? Do you reply to people’s comments on your blog? What’s the top reason you turn away from reading a blog? I’d really like to know!

Other relevant posts on this blog

Reciprocity and Social Media – how to negotiate social media kindly and politely

How to maintain a good online reputation – my hints and tips

10 reasons to start a blog – why you should do it now!

10 reasons NOT to write a blog – and why you should stop and think, at least!

Top 10 blogging sins – avoid these if you can!

Scheduling blog posts and keeping going – scheduling the posts and the writing of them

 
35 Comments

Posted by on June 1, 2017 in Blogging, Business

 

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What are the types of transcription?

What are the types of transcription?

There are many different types of transcription, and when you work as a transcriber, you might be asked to do any or all of them. Later in your transcription career, you may choose to specialise in one, and this can be useful for your career. It’s important to know about the kinds of transcription so that you can provide the best possible transcript for your client – if it’s important to them to include everything everyone says and you do an intelligent transcription, your transcription might not even be any use to them!

The different kinds of transcription

These are the main types of transcription. Be careful, however: some clients might describe these different types in different ways, using different language or explaining what they want rather than using a particular term.

Phonetic / linguistic transcription 

Phonetic or linguistic transcription is a highly specialised form of transcription which records not only the words used but the tone taken by the speakers and the exact overlap when two people speak. It is used when the client need to record what is said and how it’s said, because they need to analyse speech acts by a speaker or the exact nature of the interaction between two or more people.

I have encountered this kind of transcription being requested by linguists or clinical psychologists. In fact, I’ve also seen it in books and academic works about speech and interaction.

In phonetic transcription, you record the pronunciation of the words and the rise and fall of the sentence, overlapping utterances, etc., using specialised notation. Linguistic transcription does everything except the phonetic aspect.

For both kinds of highly specialised transcription (which is so highly specialised that I don’t offer it), you will be expected to use a range of symbols and probably a special template.

Time and pricing This is the most time-consuming type of transcription by far – expect to take twice as long as your normal speed, if not more. However, as a highly specialised type of work, the rate per audio minute is higher.

Video / descriptive transcription / captioning

If you’re doing video transcription of a film which is not simply of one or two people speaking, you may be asked to provide descriptive information or take down the text that appears on the screen. The purpose can be either to provide captions on the film in the same language, or to provide a script for translators to translate into another language.

This can involve two different aspects:

  1. Recording the wording in any information that appears on the screen: this could be marketing information, information about the speaker’s job and company, wording on diagrams, etc. This is usually requested when you’re producing text that will be translated.
  2. Recording the movements of people and other noises than speech, e.g. slamming doors, a car pulling up outside. This will usually be requested when your client is captioning the film.

Captioning itself is a specialised art and I refer any true captioning jobs over to a friend and colleague who is experienced with it.

Time and pricing: This again is specialised work and takes extra time to do; for example, the words on the screen might appear at the same time a voiceover is saying something else, so you might need to go over the same tape twice. Therefore there’s an argument that you can charge a little more. Captioning is a specialised art and commands higher rates, but you really need to know what you’re doing.

Verbatim transcription

When we do a verbatim transcription, we record every single the speakers say, but using standard typing and symbols.

This is used by, for example, legal clients, researchers and marketing companies and anyone who wants to get the full flavour of how the person was speaking. Many of my ghost-writing clients also want verbatim transcription so that they can catch the exact way the subject speaks and capture that to write their book to sound as if it’s written by the subject.

Time and pricing: I use standard pricing for these three kinds of transcription from here onwards, as they actually take around the same length of time to do: the time typing errs and ums and repetitions can be used up by thinking about how to rewrite someone’s words!

Edited transcription

An edited transcription is a slightly tidied up version of a verbatim transcription. It is usually requested by general interviewers and journalists, and also some academic researchers and writers. Ghost-writers might ask for a small amount of editing just to limit the number of ums they have to remove before they can write up their book.

So the editing can have various levels, but usually means removing ums, ers, and repetitions, as well as any “speech tics” such as repeatedly adding “you know” or “d’you know what I mean”.

You do the editing as you type, as it would be far too time-consuming to type out a verbatim transcription and then go back and edit it. Once you’re used to it, it’s quite quick and easy to do.

Intelligent / smoothed transcription

In this type of transcription, you will typically turn non-standard or non-native English into standard English. You are likely to be altering grammar and even wording, as well as doing the activities involved in an edited transcription.

I have two types of client who ask for this kind of transcription:

  1. Companies that produce conference or meeting reports – they want standard English throughout, and any speaker who is a non-native English speaker or even one that is a native English speaker but has a very idiosyncratic way of speaking will be smoothed out and standardised.
  2. Marketing companies that are doing research on a client’s product with its customers, for example. All they want is what the client thinks, straight and simple, to report back to their client, and may well ask me for an intelligent transcription.

Time and pricing: This is quite a specialised variety of transcription, as you need to be very confident in your own ability to write a good, grammatical sentence, to understand what someone has said and rephrase it. As a by-product of the kind of speaker whose words you are smoothing out, you need to be good at understanding non-native English accents. Not everyone is skilled at this, but if you are, it’s really fun to do, as it involves more thought than the other standard varieties of transcription. It does take a little longer than verbatim and edited transcription if the speaker is hard to understand, and I may charge a little more on that basis.

How do I find out what type of transcription my client wants?

If a client wants captioning or linguistic transcription, they will usually know this and provide templates and instructions: they will also check you know how to do this (don’t try to guess if you don’t have any training in this: it won’t work and it will end in tears!) and might give you a test.

To find out whether my client wants verbatim, edited or intelligent transcription, I include this question in my initial questions to the client:

“Do you want the transcription to have a complete record of all ums and ers / to be tidied up of ums and ers and repetitions / to be tidied into standard English and complete sentences where possible?”

This will usually get them to confirm what they want, even if they don’t use the specific terminology.


This article has explained what the types of transcription are and when they might be used, as well as examples of what they look like and some information on their particular challenges. You now know about linguistic transcription, film transcription and captioning, verbatim, edited and intelligent transcription.

If you’ve found this article useful, please do comment below – I always love to hear from my readers! There are sharing buttons there, too, so you can share this on whatever social media platforms you use. Thank you!

Other useful articles on this blog

How do you start a career in transcription? – are you suited for it?

The professional transcriber – the technology you need

10 top tips for transcribers – what every new transcriber needs to know

Why do you need human transcribers, anyway? – I explain why!

Keyboards, ergonomics and RSI – the risks and keeping safe

Transcribing multiple voices – hints to make it easier

Why do transcribers charge by the audio minute? – explains it all

How long does transcription take?

My book, Quick Guide to your Career in Transcription is available in print and online

 
7 Comments

Posted by on March 22, 2017 in Business, Transcription, Word

 

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What is verbatim transcription?

What is verbatim transcription?

Transcription clients often want different levels of detail and accuracy in their transcriptions. They sometimes ask for a verbatim transcription. This article explains what verbatim transcription is.

What is verbatim transcription?

The dictionary definition of verbatim is “In exactly the same words as were used originally” (Concise Oxford Dictionary) and this really explains what verbatim transcription is.

In verbatim transcription, the transcriber types out EXACTLY what is said, including any pauses, mistakes, repetitions, stumbles, fillers (er, um, you know what I mean) – everything.

Why would a client request verbatim transcription?

The three reasons I find for a client requesting a verbatim transcription are:

  • A researcher looking at the way people talk about a particular subject might need to know exactly what was said and how it was said
  • A market research company might need to drill down to the specific way in which people talk about their product, including stumbling over the product name or searching for ways to describe it
  • A legal transcription will usually need to be a highly accurate description of what was said and how

How is verbatim transcription different from other kinds of transcription?

Verbatim description is quite different from other kinds of transcription. A journalist interviewing a subject, someone doing general research or a company producing conference reports will not want every single false start, um and er recorded. They might even need you to smooth out the transcription for them so that it reads more clearly.

Here are the main types of transcription in order of their accuracy or match to what was actually said, going from most exact match to loosest match.

  • phonetic / linguistic transcription – this is a very specialised form of transcription used by, for example, linguists or clinical psychologists. In phonetic transcription, you would record the pronunciation of the words and the rise and fall of the sentence, overlapping utterances, etc., using specialised notation. Linguistic transcription does everything except the phonetic aspect.
  • verbatim transcription – as discussed above, this records everything the speakers say, but using standard typing and symbols.
  • edited transcription – this can have various levels, but usually means removing ums, ers, and repetitions, as well as any “speech tics” such as repeatedly adding “you know” or “d’you know what I mean” as you type.
  • intelligent / smoothed transcription – in this type of transcription, you will typically turn non-standard or non-native English into standard English, altering grammar and even wording as well as doing the activities involved in an edited transcription.

All of these can be complicated and take extra time and effort, and you may find that you’re better at one kind than another. Personally, I really enjoy doing Intelligent Transcription, but do all of the types except the highly specialised Phonetic/Linguistic Transcription.

How do I know if my client requires verbatim transcription?

Many clients will tell you up-front if they require verbatim transcription. If they don’t specify, then do ask. I have a standard set of questions I ask all new clients to get their preferences – this includes asking if they want me to transcribe the recording absolutely accurately, or smooth out the ums and ers, etc.

More to come! Watch this space for more details on the types of transcription, with examples!


This article has explained what verbatim transcription is and why you might be asked to do it.

If you’ve found this article useful, please do comment below – I always love to hear from my readers! There are sharing buttons there, too, so you can share this on whatever social media platforms you use. Thank you!

Other useful articles on this blog

How do you start a career in transcription? – are you suited for it?

The professional transcriber – the technology you need

10 top tips for transcribers – what every new transcriber needs to know

Why do you need human transcribers, anyway? – I explain why!

Keyboards, ergonomics and RSI – the risks and keeping safe

Transcribing multiple voices – hints to make it easier

Why do transcribers charge by the audio minute? – explains it all

How long does transcription take?

My book, Quick Guide to your Career in Transcription is available in print and online

 
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Posted by on March 8, 2017 in Business, Transcription, Word

 

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