Well, Dina, let us take it point by point:
1. Online translators are thousands, but offline translators are even more. It's not as if the client will not find offline agencies/translators offering lower rates after all (at least offline).
I am more concerned about mirroring what happens in, say, the market in Somalia or Yemen for the Arabic English pairs; now even agencies from Japan seek the low prices offered online by those who still think and impose the enforced rates in their countries.
2. Some translators get jobs ONLY because of their low rates. It's not quality, it's not the perfect output, it's not the perfect deadline, but it's just the low rate they offer.
I do not care about such low-standard translators, or do I even pity them! I do not favor this parasitic rule in particular; why should I pity or even think about low-quality translators!?
3. The large number of translators online causes a major problem in setting rates. Large numbers always lead to high competition. Competitive prices were and are always part of the marketing strategies.
Until when? Until we have 0.0000000000001 USD per word for the sake of 'competition'?
Informing newcomers, as well as currently working translators, outsourcers, agencies, and potential buyers of the regular/average decent, acceptable rate, say 0.07 USD per word, will take the market to a new ZERO point--translators will try to be compititve on the margins of 0.07 USD per word, not 0.00 USD per word!
4. Another part of the marketing strategy is offering lower rates so the translator may market him/herself at least at the beginning. With all the new translators joining the field everyday, you'll almost never be able to avoid that.
I, for one, have never done that
When there is a new average, or even a minimum rate, competition will be focused on Quality. Imagine this:
1. X agency posts a project.
2. X agency receives 100 Quotes, 70 of them offering 0.07 USD, 10 for 0.08 USD, 4 for 0.09 USD, and 16 over 0.10 USD per word.
3. X agency will stop thinking about finding the lowest price possible, and will then re-consider the received 70 0.07/word Quotes based on other factors; i.e. QC, academic background, specialization, experience, or the Offer Package altogether.
Now THIS is a market to work in! -- Newcomers, as well as standard translators, will have equal chances, and only the content of their offered Quote will decide where the Job will go.
5. Setting a minimum should be something done by professional organizations related to translators. Yet, not all translators are members at those professional entities.
I have never used the word 'setting', Dina, but 'informing' translators, agencies, outsourcers, and clients alike of the average decent rate on the internet. Thus, it is in no way compulsory; if you happen to know that, say, 0.10 USD per word is the standard price, and still willing to offer 0e100000 USD per word, then be my guest!
But who would do that? Low-pricing translators are in just to make money regardless of anything else, and higher ZERO point would please them alright!
6. Some translators already established their regular clients by years, rising their rates would cause them to lose those clients and start all over, do you really think they would take similar chances?
Whether they would like to raise their rates or not is their absolute choice. However, beware that even if the client decides to turn him/her away, it is not likely for this client to find lower prices!
7. I know some translators who believe that low rates even have benifits:
a. Getting more clients
True. But a new ZERO point will make those clients think differently in our favor.
b. Not worrying about non-payers (it's not that we'll lose thousands after all, they say)
Not an excuse; many low-payers decide not to pay. This works on all language pairs as well. Also, losing 100 USD is the same as losing 10000 USD--eitherways you have received 0 for translating 100000 words!
c. Avoiding demanding clients (low rates seekers are not ones usually looking for quality, and even then, the translator's first response would be "come on, with that rate I owe you nothing"). That response may cause him/her losing that client, but that low rate will get him/her another easily.
Again you are defending low-quality translators, Dina!
Low-quality translators should think about improving their abilities before ruining the business of high-quality translators!
d. More jobs, that is more work. Which means that if the translator needs a higher income he/she can just seek more jobs which he/she will sure find with that low rate
And exactly how much would one translator handle? 5000 words per day? 10000 words per day? If he/she gets to get them from 10 agencies at 0.10 USD per word or 0.0e10 USD per word, what difference would this make? And in whose favor?
Do you really think that it would be that easy getting over all that?
I have never, am not, and will never think about those.
You even need to bear in mind that most of those translators are just trying to make a living. It's not about professionalism, and it's not about saving the market or serving it. That type of people would never care about affecting OUR income, or OUR chances of getting more jobs as long as they get what is enough. Then why would they go for it? To get more jobs? To get more money? To get more clients? They already have it all, then why to take the chances?
The client should notice that from the offered rates; when the standard rate is 0.07, still there is a translator proposing 0.001 USD per wrod--it would be clear why such an offer exists in the first place. If the client does not care about even having standard-quality, then it is her/his choice.
Let's even say that a minimum rate was assigned upon specific conditions. Let's say that ProZ.com considered that among job posters only here for example, how can you tell for sure that the translator wouldn't go through private and direct e-mails with the agency/client offering lower rates after all?
It is all about their own marketing plans of course, which may include privately contacting clients offering peanuts rates.
Even more, how can you grant those translators rising their rates that their work will not be affected?
The only guarantee is that the entire market is going up in rates, therefore clients will never find any lower price, at least not as easy as they do now, and therefore will keep their long-established cooperation with their current go-to persons.
Until the Egyptian Pound gets a higher price, I believe it's impossible
It has nothing to do about this; the current local translation rates reflect a standard of living that existed about 10 or 20 years ago, which means they have not, and probably will never change.
And, Dina, I am not concerned about offers outside the internet; they would not be affected by anything that happens online--at least in the Arab markets!
alamnesis.com - Expect beyond perfection with the power of Semiology.
[Edited at 2006-08-15 10:01]