Discussion in 'CastingWords' started by EllieFS, May 29, 2013.
Same here. CW is a great company.
I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree, because I don't think it's actually possible for someone to be more wrong in a single post.
Have a nice day, if that's possible!
I couldn't agree more. They reward good work by good workers. That's all you can ask for.
That they seriously rustle the jimmies of folks who don't care to read or follow their guidelines is a bonus!
Here is where you are wrong.. they aggravate those of us that have been transcribing since before you learned how to walk. My bet is you couldn't qualify for a real transcription company ie Speechink etc
Just so you know, I have seen your comment, it just isn't worthy of a reply from me. I am quite sure that I can out transcribe you any given day.
That is a pretty great perk.
I actually have to say I've had a pretty fair time with CastingWords. There are a few things that they mark me on that I do admit, ah, ok, I could have done that better. (For instance the last 2 transcripts had multiple places where the speaker used the phrase "kind of" and I didn't edit them out & now that I looked back at it after their corrections, I see I should have. Didn't realize how many times the speaker slipped that in there. - to be honest, the speaker backtracked, stuttered & repeated words every other sentence so there was a lot of editing I did & I'm not surprised I missed out on that one instance of filler words that I didn't clue in on.) I still got an 8.
There was one instance months ago when I was given a 7...when I looked at the final edit of the transcript, the ONLY change that had been made was to change it from "OK" to "Okay" which is the OPPOSITE of how CW wants it...and I sent them feedback on it & CW said I was correct & changed the grade and sent me the extra bonus.
Dancingfingers, I hear your anger and frustration, but you know what? Forget it.
Remember, you're the pro here. They're not. Therefore, you don't have to explain yourself to them, any more than an astrophysics professor has to explain himself to a high school dropout. Keep transcribing for other requesters like I have, make the big bucks, and leave the sycophants to Casting Words and its crappy audio clips and stress-inducing bonus system.
In fact, be grateful for their slobbering devotion to CW. Remember: it keeps their grubby, little mitts off the other requesters that sometimes pay double or triple what CW pays, actually show gratitude for work well done, and don't put you through the ringer with poor audio and nitpicky approvers.
I'm glad that worked out for you. That's one of the reasons CW is a great company, they want good work top to bottom because it benefits them as much as it does us, and that OK/Okay editor error may have slipped past if not for you telling them about it. Something like that not getting caught could hurt their business and they appreciate transcribers speaking up.
There was one evening in December of 2011 where I had some transcriptions rejected with a grade 4 that were good quality work. I opened a support ticket with CW and heard back about 16 minutes later that there was an error in their system and that it was being worked on. Not long after that I had all my rejections reversed and CW handed out grade 9 bonuses to everyone affected regardless of quality of work. That was a nice little surprise because one transcript had a base pay of $2.13. The bonus ended up being $4.26. They really are a great requester who treat their hard workers well.
OK. This is an old thread, but I am going to weigh in. I have done work for Castingwords for over a year now. Before I made it up to a 92, then started to get nitpicked and couldn't seem to get anything right. As I was transcribing for other companies, I just stopped doing CW hits for about six months. My score was down to 83. I started doing them again, then back in ernest, sometimes doing 80 minutes a day. I got many "excellent transcript" ratings, and was auto accept for quite a while. I got as high a 90 this round, then, about three weeks ago, it started again. I have been eating, sleeping, and breathing transcription for about three years now, and I am very confident in my abilities. I spent 4 hours on a $5 hit today, and my score was dropped to an 80 from an 83. Adios Castingwords. I have messaged, and it is like a brickwall. Weird.
OK. I must add this update. I got an email this morning saying that my grade on the job yesterday was an error ( I think it was a 4), and that it would be moved up to an 8. Also, I got a $4 bonus in my Amazon account this morning. My PPT has been moved back to 83 from an 80. So I am back in business, but I am definitely slowing way down on these for a while until I figure out what is wrong.
Are there any clues in the final edits, or are they not visible yet?
I find it very odd that there is such apparent variety of what I'll call "customer service" experiences with CW, when we're only talking about a couple of guys that do it (support, rather than grading/approvals). At least, after over 1,500 jobs I've yet to speak to anyone besides Mike and Nathan.
I recently started doing transcription, last week. I've done a few little jobs for Castingwords and was searching for something to confirm my suspicions, when I found this forum. I've handed in some letter perfect small transcription jobs. These were arbitrarily marked up with gratuitous sentence breaks, some of which didn't qualify as complete sentences, by the time the grader got finished. One job required tons of research for names of foreign locations and tribes, but the bonus was cut back by 5 cents, due to some editor deciding to break three sentences out into individual paragraphs. These folks aren't to be believed.
My background is 26 years as a Senior Technical Writer / Editor. Although I'm new to transcribing, I'm not new to editing, grammar, spelling and punctuation. I can read a style guide and have written a few.
I find their graders' attitudes sophomoric and condescending. I find their pay to be crap compared to Speechink or any other real transcription firm. I think the graders have a vested interest in keeping the newbies down, so that the slim pickings of higher paying HITs can be available for the people who have stayed the course by slogging through hundreds of transcriptions.
In a few days, I'm going for my Speechink qualification. I'm doing this work to support myself and can't imagine grovelling for chump change, while taking their graders' contradictory opinions to heart. They are inconsistent. It's a damned if you do and damned if you don't sort of thing. It would take a crystal ball to determine what might be objectionable. The style guide is overblown in some ways and inadequate in others.
It's been very eye opening thus far. I'm very glad that I also sell stuff on eBay and Etsy, because I can make some actual money selling crafts while I launch my transcription endeavors. I plan to hook up with some real transcription companies, for which efforts will be appreciated and compensated.
One of the signs of a professional transcription company is that they have a digital audio technician and know how to enhance an audio file and process it through a noise filter. Castingwords does not. This is admitted to in their information to prospective clients.
One last thing, tonight I checked a couple of the Castingwords HITs, and you could not hear the audio at all, except as an occasional whisper, even with the volume up all the way. I can't believe they actually posted those HITs. Have they no shame?
I believe it's an online submission system, and the jobs are automatically posted once the audio has been split up. They rely on worker/turker reports of bad audio; there is an option for "bad audio" and "no/silent audio" (paraphrasing) when you return jobs. I returned a job for silent audio recently, and it did not reappear.
Thanks for responding about that HIT. I listened to it first and didn't accept it. I'm trying to keep my "Returned Hits" number down, so I didn't accept it just to return it. In the furture, I'll send them a message via the "Contact the Requester" link. I still find it rather surprising that they don't review the quality of jobs before posting them. It seems that their rates should be higher for the very difficult ones with audio problems. Oh, well.
Technically they are, but again they operate an honour system in that area, relying on customers to opt for the more expensive "difficult audio" transcription service. I think CW have said in the past that they would like workers to contact them if they feel audio should be upgraded to difficult audio.
As for returned HITs, CW's workshop system (workshop.castingwords.com, which pays weekly via PayPal), does not publically track statistics on that. I've returned dozens and it makes no difference as far as I'm aware. Some requesters might factor return rates on MTurk, but I abandoned MTurk as soon as CW's workshop opened, since I'm in the UK and it's the only way I can get paid in real money.
Regarding your remarks about biased graders, I can't speak for other graders but this really falls into the conspiracy theory category, since it's impossible to prove.
I generally only grade when I'm super bored, since the pay is minimal, but I don't pay much attention to who I'm grading or how high up the ranks they are. I try to give useful feedback, and the only times I'll admit to getting a bit snotty is when a transcript is awful and I feel like my time is being wasted.
Good transcripts are easy to grade, and don't require much feedback, if any. Easy grading jobs are what I like. Bad transcripts take some time to compose feedback, although depending on my mood I might just roll my eyes and return it.
Yes, I certainly could mark people down deliberately to make their ascension slower, and there's really no way for me to prove I don't.
However, think about how many turkers there are. It would take serious effort for my downgrading to make any difference to the system as a whole. If the system is as broken as has been suggested, a large number of the graders would have to be doing it.
If that's the case, the question of whether or not you can reach the top of the system becomes largely about chance. The chances of me, by chance, getting to the top of the system (which I did, and protip: it takes a long time) with all of these bad graders out there are pretty small.
Also, even if you do get to the top of the system, how do you stay there? With so many bad graders, eventually one is going to give you a terrible grade just because and suddenly you can't do expedited jobs any more.
It is true that by the time you get to the top of the system you're largely being automatically graded, but there is still a percentage of your transcripts that are human-graded, and eventually, one of them will get you.
I've been doing expedited jobs since March, and have only been knocked down once, by an approver who due to a system glitch shouldn't even have had access to approval jobs. Email to support, it was fixed and I was back.
Even if you accept the idea that graders deliberately downgrade people to narrow the field of transcribers to compete with for the high-paying jobs, there's much less incentive these days to do that.
Since a few months ago no-one can have more than 3 or 4 expedited jobs in their queue, so even though you're up against others in the rush when jobs get posted, there are a lot more “chunks” to go around. It used to be that when a job got posted someone could quickly grab all 10-15 chunks (speaking as one such "someone"), but that's impossible now.
To summarise: meh. Yes, I totally could be doing exactly what you and others have described, and the experiences which have prompted these posts all sound pretty annoying. My views are based on my experiences also.
But if the system were as broken as has been suggested, eventually the high-level transcribers (furthermore, transcribers of any type) would all be eliminated by bad graders, retaliating against each other or the system. It is so much easier to knock a person out of the top bracket than it is for that person to get there.
If graders want you to fail, no transcriber is safe. Expedited jobs still generally disappear within a minute of being posted, so I propose that this is not the case.
Edit: CleoScribes, I realize you're talking about specific graders rather than the whole system, I just decided to respond to the topic for no particular reason so my diatribe isn't aimed at you!
Hi electricaltill - Thanks for your thoughtful reply. Great post, although I only quoted the last bit to save space. The points you made have helped my mood. I makes sense. Your right about the system being huge. I've actually found a couple of transcription companies off of MTurk that I'm going to pursue. I really want to get into legal transcription. I like that a lot and would like to do entire jobs instead of just small bits and pieces of stuff. It would take quite a while to get to being able to take the long audio jobs from CastingWords.
I've managed to find a few transcription HITs from individuals on MTurk, and they went very well. It was actually fun! For me it's a matter of survival, so I really have to get some pay going on ASAP. I'm sure not going to make ends meet doing small HITs. I think I'd rather put some effort into doing the SpeechInk test, since it looks like they pay a bit more. My plan for the weekend is to print style guides and try the SpeechInk test.
I guess my rant has a lot to do with the frustration I'm feeling about how arbitrary CWs reviews seem to be. I never suspected that it could be such a drawn out ordeal to get to the good HITs. Right now I just don't have the time to invest in such a circuitous endeavor.
CastingWords doesn't post HITs longer than 21 minutes, not that I've seen anyway. Most HITs are between 1-21 minutes. Very few are 21 minutes though. Most are 1-8, with a few at 12-13 and very, very few at 21.
Pay is low for new transcribers because they are new and not likely to produce good work right off the bat, so they are limited to "regular" audio jobs that don't have a guaranteed turnaround time. CW charges less for them because CW doesn't owe the customer any money if the work doesn't get done.
Some HITs also pay low if they are brand new, but will accumulate a "premium" reward if they hang around too long. They can get up to 195% at times. I never do HITs that don't have a 195% premium unless I'm desperate to avoid good-paying but crappy quality HITs.
Once you've submitted a fair amount of high quality work, your PPT score will rise and you'll be able to do "express" HITs which have to be finished within seven days or CW owes their customer a refund. The difference in pay is substantial. A regular 21 minute hit even with a 195% premium only pays $3.48 (not including the bonus). A 21 minute "express" HIT can go for up to $6.14 base pay. A perfect grade on that HIT will nab you $18.42 total for what should be 1.5 to 2 hours of work.
It's not Wall Street, but I don't think it's crap either.
I assure you the bonuses are not a scam. You'll get good bonuses if you submit great work. I've been working for CastingWords on and off for six years and I've never been jerked around on a bonus. There was a bug or malfunction on their servers one evening a while back where people were getting work rejected automatically -- no pay at all. CW could have done anything they wanted to screw people over. They could have taken the work we did and never paid us for it. Instead they ran the HITs through their system again a second time and approved all of them with grade 9s no matter how good or bad the work was, and they did that for everybody that was affected.
You probably missed more than just one word, but they only noted that one mistake in the feedback. You'll have to create an account on their worker site and look at how your transcript was edited to see all of the possible problems: https://workers.castingwords.com/
I strongly urge you to do that. It could be something easy to fix like breaking paragraphs into a smaller size, using a different speaker label, etc. Any change they make, you'll see it there on the feedback page.
CW doesn't promise people anything, the bonus depends on the quality of your work. It kind of sounds like you're expecting grade 9s and getting 7s. If you're getting 7s then you're probably missing things that are listed in the Style Guide. I know there's a lot of stuff there. It takes time to learn it all, but CW will definitely ding you for missing things that are in that guide. They expect transcribers to know that guide and to follow it.
There are people with a good track record of work that get put on auto-approval lists where their work isn't even graded and initially checked, it's automatically accepted and paid for. CW wouldn't do that if they were trying to squeeze transcribers. I'm on the auto-approval list for grade 8, so 98% of the work I submit I get paid for at that grade no matter what I give them. If I wanted to sit on here and transcribe for eight hours a day, five days a week as if I were a full-time employee, they'd pay me for it and do so automatically.
I can't do that, though. I used to like discovering all sorts of interesting new things listening to these interviews and podcasts early on, but now it all just bores me to tears. I have to quit after 2.5 to 3.5 hours or I'll go nuts. But even so, here's my last six days of work to show you that CW isn't screwing people:
Oct 19: $14.27 (1 hour 49 minutes)
Oct 23: $25.33 (3:39)
Oct 24: $14.32 (1:33)
Oct 25: $27.23 (3:29)
Oct 26: $26.18 (2:30)
Oct 27: $21.00 (2:28)
Some people take this as insulting and condescending, but it all boils down to you and I. If we do good work, we get decent pay. It's OK for new transcribers to submit kind of shoddy work and get grade 7s at first because it takes time to learn what CastingWords wants from us. We can't memorize the Style Guide in a day. The best thing you can do (or could have done before you started burning bridges -- emailing any employer and telling them that they suck is inadvisable) is review your work after it has been edited to see what mistakes you're making, so that you won't make them anymore.
We get out of this what we put in. I've put in roughly 103 hours worth of grade 8 work this year and gotten back $748. That's close to minimum wage and sure as heck beats digging ditches if you ask me.
I just did two 11 minute HITs for CastingWords. Took 81 minutes total and paid $16.15 total.
I'm sorry that you didn't have a good experience with them, but that's on you. Running to every CW thread and whining isn't going to change anything.