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Is ProZ becoming a hindrance to translators?
Thread poster: Dave Greatrix

Dave Greatrix  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:28
Dutch to English
+ ...
Jul 6, 2003

When I became a member of ProZ more than two years ago, the membership was around 22,000. It is now around 60,000.

What percentage of the current mebership are charging way below the average rates?

As far as the Dutch > English content is concerned, 15% of the members charge between 0.04 and 0.06 Euro per word, 15% charge between 0.06 and 0.08 Euro, and 50% of members charge below the average of just under 0.12 Euro.

50% of members charge an hourly rate below that of the average of around 37 Euro. Some members work for as low as 13 Euro.

My point is this, it's all about supply and demand.

I for one have experienced a fall in workload, which appears to correspond with the increasing success of ProZ, which incidentally, I support totally.

Would you be able to buy a mini from a Ferrari dealership, or secure the services of a handyman from a firm of master cabinet makers??

I honestly believe that steps should be taken to ensure that ProZ does not become a "bargain basement" for the less discerning clients of which there are more than enough.

I would suggest that ProZ, due to its stature in the current market place, is in a position to set pricing trends.

Aquarius, for example, has a minimum bid price of 0.07.

As I understand it, ProZ was established by translators for translators, and not for clients who want work done "on the cheap".

Any thoughts??



[Edited at 2003-07-06 10:58]

[Edited at 2003-07-06 11:52]


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Marijke Mayer  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 10:28
Dutch to English
+ ...
Quality counts and will prevail Jul 6, 2003

In fact, much as I like ProZ, I have been entertaining thoughts of not renewing my membership. This is contrary to my feelings for fair trade and loyalty, after all, I owe everything to ProZ as it is where I started. Since I now have established my own agency and client base and the overall prices at ProZ have decreased, I nowadays rarely bother to bid on ProZ. Having said that, I feel ProZ still has a little more to offer than other sites. I also feel a lot of 'agencies' are not regular agencies who combine skills to create a quality product, but just people trying to make a fast buck off the backs of others. Likewise for 'translators' that are occasionally sighted on ProZ. However, I'm afraid that the global market will do as it will and that one cannot control it by setting price controls! Unfortunately.

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Eva Blanar  Identity Verified
Hungary
Local time: 10:28
English to Hungarian
+ ...
What about a "stratification"? Jul 6, 2003

The usual solution to the dilemma of avoiding the problem of the "cheapies" is to set a cut-off rate and many sites use this tool (such as Aquarius and the new FairTradeNet). But a floor price is efficient only on a market where demand is abundant. If supply is abundant, but demand is scarce, it might scare away many of the potential clients or, what is worse, they would contact the people individually, through their profile pages, to negotiate a lower price.

My suggestion would be rather to set up certain "strata" for the membership (n a way, instead of the present Platinum - Premium - Normal levels), where the top stratum consists of those translators, who
- are paying members for at least x months,
- have made their rates public,
- and/or these rates are at least USD #/ per word (though setting this level might be a problem, due to the differences by language pairs).
A second stratum might represent the paying members whose rates are below the market average (or some other indicator, such as a set "floor rate") and a third one would be the non-paying members.

Theoretically, it would be of course possible to set up a detailed classification, but I am not sure that the time and energy required for that would be worthwhile. On the other hand, I would put the translation agencies into an entirely different category, based on the pricing issue - the rate they charge is not the rate the translators get. Finally, the freelancers and the agencies already can be separated in the present setup, so each could have their three segments of their own.

The idea behind this is that the public character of the rates would increase transparency, provide information, and all those who are confident about their own capacities and capabilities will strive to get into the top category, where the best paying jobs are available. At the same time, the clients/ agencies who are looking for cheap labour, can get what they want, but in a declared, different segment of the market.

As the ProZ.com site has brilliant solutions in IT management, I am sure they can tackle this problem, but this sudden idea of mine might still need many corrections/ amendments. Would this make sense to you?


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Spencer Allman
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:28
Finnish to English
Low rates Jul 6, 2003

Some joker recently posted a Finnish-English job offering scandalously low rates. I am happy to note that no one has bidded, however.

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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:28
Flemish to English
+ ...
Double Standards Jul 6, 2003

[quote]David Greatrix wrote:

When I became a member of ProZ more than two years ago, the membership was around 22,000. It is now around 60,000.
My point is this, "it's all about supply and demand"
I for one have experienced a fall in workload, which appears to correspond with the increasing success of ProZ, which incidentally, I support totally.
Would you be able to buy a mini from a Ferrari dealership, or secure the services of a handyman from a firm of master cabinet makers??

I honestly believe that steps should be taken to ensure that ProZ does not become a "bargain basement" for the less discerning clients of which there are more than enough.

I would suggest that ProZ, due to its stature in the current market place, is in a position to set pricing trends.

Aquarius, for example, has a minimum bid price of 0.07.

As I understand it, ProZ was established by translators for translators, and not for clients who want work done "on the cheap".

Any thoughts??

-
Proz does not have 60000 members.
The counter may have reached the number 60000, but I wonder how much are left over after cleaning up their database.
Aquarius had 20000 and when they cleaned up, 11.000 were left over.

Proz is a California based company with its servers and most of its staff based in Calfornia.
Since it is U.S.-based, it correctly invokes U.S.anti-trust laws not to set a basic rate and European regulations to charge VAT, although there is no way any European authority can enforce this.

According to Proz 53% of its clientele is based in Europe, but when it comes down to guaranteeing this clientele a minimum rate, they refer to US legislation or invoke the fact that they are "just a (virtual) marketplaces where sellers and buyers meet".
However, but what sellers does the website wants to attract? Apparently according to European legislation a cut-off feature must not be forbidden, since Aquarius has one. So why not apply European legislation with regard to this feature too. Sure, this would drive away those who offer low rates, but is that a problem?

To what extend would simply take the Yellow Pages and contact companies active in the sector of your specialization /interest be a way of finding jobs. This costs time, during which you earn nothing, but on the long term you can end up with a few steady customers paying more.

Recently a Rumanian company was looking for translators at 0.03 eurocent/word. This may be a lot for Rumania, but it is peanuts for Europe. Nobody answered.
If nobody answers, no business for the middle-man (agency)or no translation for the end-user, who needs it to conduct his/her business.
If more translators stick to their guns with regard to minimum rate and payment terms, then postings at a rate of 0.01 or 0.03 eurocent become "good jokes" and vanish
Simply do not react to them and consider them. Consider them belonging to folklore.


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Martine Etienne  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 10:28
Member (2003)
English to French
+ ...
I totally agree with you Jul 6, 2003

I am afraid of the new posts I see now very often :

http://www.proz.com/job/39125
http://www.proz.com/job/39116

But Proz is only a way to get in touch with other translators, share opinions and expertises and sometimes a way to find good relationships with correct agencies. I think it is the way this site must be considered.M oreover, as European, we must never forget that the site is american, so we may pay but must keep respectuous with respect to some subjects. Otherwise, we may go. Either we accept the rules of etiquette, or we go. Quite simple.
Bye


[Edited at 2003-07-06 12:38]


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Dave Greatrix  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:28
Dutch to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Could be interesting ....... Jul 6, 2003

to apply the graph used to display community rates, first to platinum members and then to normal members. The comparison may reveal an interesting result.

Could non-paying members be getting more work from ProZ than paying members?

[Edited at 2003-07-06 12:42]


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Narasimhan Raghavan  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:58
English to Tamil
+ ...
It is poetic justice Jul 6, 2003

All along, the advanced nations have been insisting on free markets and the underdeveloped counties were being forced to accept GATT. Coke and Pepsi have been flooding our local markets with cheap drinks and driving away or acquiring local manufacturing facilities and now especially in India are increasing prices at will, now that there are no worthwhile local competitors. Taking advantage of our cheap labour many entrepreneurs are setting up manufacturing bases in the countries of the third world.
But the same advanced countries are wary of extending GATT to services. No sir, we want your market but we do not want you to export your services, seems to be their motto.
But then there is a thing called Internet, which does away with all the requirements for visas and green cards and what not. The translators from the third world are now coming into their own. If we charge less, it does not mean that our quality is poor. The only governing thing for us is we can afford to charge these low rates and yet live decently as the cost of living is low. For us one Euro is equal to more than fifty rupees but one rupee in India will buy goods and services worth at least 0.10 euro. In actual fact, if we agree to do work for say 0.03 Euros, it is equivalent to 0.3 Euros for an European. Add to this the fact that our quality too is acceptable. This is what I call poetic justice. The IMF, the World Bank etc, by forcing GATT on us did not obviously take this into account. No, I am not fully correct. They did take this into account and hence their opposition to allow export of services. But in the field of translation this could cut no ice. Poetic justice indeed. I for one am very happy about it.


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Ursula Peter-Czichi  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:28
German to English
+ ...
Careful with the "class system" Jul 6, 2003

Eva Blanar wrote:

The idea behind this is that the public character of the rates would increase transparency, provide information, and all those who are confident about their own capacities and capabilities will strive to get into the top category, where the best paying jobs are available. At the same time, the clients/ agencies who are looking for cheap labour, can get what they want, but in a declared, different segment of the market.

As the ProZ.com site has brilliant solutions in IT management, I am sure they can tackle this problem, but this sudden idea of mine might still need many corrections/ amendments. Would this make sense to you?


No, it does not make sense.
Translators are business people. ProZ has commercial interests and so do I.

If exposure on ProZ brings advantages in my particular field of expertise I will gladly pay for it. After all, I get paid for my work too. Currently, there are too few serious job postings in my specialty on ProZ.


To pay or not to pay for a ProZ membership is a business decision. It has nothing to do with the quality of the translations delivered to clients.


I have been in business for quite a few years now. However, discrimination based on time served does not make much sense. Some people are happy to get by on just barely acceptable performance for life. A very new young translator may have just the right spirit, education and business sense for a particular job. Nobody should be misled to believe that you can obtain "professional standing" at a bottom bargain price of $120.


I trust that ProZ owners have more sense than cutting off excellent translators. The job postings would only get worse.


That's what I like most about capitalism: Sooner or later, the people who like to classify so much will get bit in the rear end.

If ProZ does something practical about low-flying sub-sub-contractors I will rejoin as a paying member, otherwise I will not.


Such decisions have nothing to do with the quality of translations nor do they indicate an inferior way of doing business. It is the savvy translator who watches his advertising budget.


This thread bears the question:
Does anyone believe that a good translator is an asset to ProZ?


Ursula


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Eva Blanar  Identity Verified
Hungary
Local time: 10:28
English to Hungarian
+ ...
What I like most about non-paying members... Jul 6, 2003

...is that they are so proud about not paying, while they require, at the same time, an excellent level of service, and that, in the given case, combined with the functions of a watchdog:

Ursula Peter-Czichi wrote:

To pay or not to pay for a ProZ membership is a business decision. It has nothing to do with the quality of the translations delivered to clients.
...
That's what I like most about capitalism: Sooner or later, the people who like to classify so much will get bit in the rear end.
...
If ProZ does something practical about low-flying sub-sub-contractors I will rejoin as a paying member, otherwise I will not.




Please don't misunderstand my words: what I am suggesting is a "classification" if you wish, for the access to and a placement on the market of jobs. Nothing more and nothing less. I intentionally used the word "stratification", because this could be done right away, without "classifying" the members of the community, without completing surveys etc.

As to the reasons: If it is normal that you pay more for a full-page advertisement on the 3rd page of a journal/ magazine than for one on the 24th page in the lower left corner, it shall be normal to establish a special category for those who are trying to get jobs through this site and are ready to pay for the good placement + are ready to disclose their rates (helping the others to get some orientation).

You are absolutely right in saying that a membership level or even a rate has nothing to do with the quality of the translation delivered to the clients. I can only support that: I doubt I could do a much better job for the double or triple or any multiple of the rates I am working for. (By the way, judging by some of the forum postings about rates I would not get into the first stratum anyway, and you won't have too many Hungarians / East Europeans there, I am sure. My clientele is not through ProZ.com either - I come here every day because of the KudoZ.)

But I sincerely believe that such categorisation - or something similar - might be a workable scenario: I don't even say that non-paying members as such shall automatically form that third category, but who on earth shall pick the "assets" from among them? (Who will be the other one to get bit in the rear end?)

Finally, I don't know what you mean by "low flying sub-subcontractors"? If you know about something, why don't you tell about it? Just being miserable shall not be a reason to get fired from the site, I think - and those who charge so low rates might be simply ignorant of what they could actually charge. (As I was, until the first powwow in Hungary.)


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 10:28
English to German
+ ...
Working on it... Jul 6, 2003

To those who have read similar postings before: sorry for repeating myself.

I would just like to point out that site staff and moderators are taking this issue very seriously indeed - here's what I wrote a few days ago in a related thread:

Let me assure you that jobs posted at extremely low prices are a concern to ProZ.com moderators as well as to site staff. Setting a minimum rate is not an option, however - Pepelu explained the principal reason why, but there are also practical considerations: who is to say what is an acceptable rate, and who are we to prevent someone from accepting work at a price that is acceptable to him/her?

A number of moderators has addressed the Jobs Area overall (low-priced offers are one of the issues, but there are others), and is working on a new structure. Our first priority was the Blue Board, and addressing non-paying outsourcers: you may have noted that ProZ.com moderators have taken action against non-payers - at the same time, we're working hard to enhance and improve the data available there. Being able to edit the link between a job and a BB entry (even if the outsourcer deliberately avoids posting under a profile) is one of the results of this process.

The next steps? Can't give you too many details yet (mostly because we're still discussing them), but what we're up to is a market segment with certain requirements for both outsourcers and service providers (including verified IDs and the acceptance of a code of conduct). Not a magic wand creating decent pricing, but certainly a few steps forward toward a more reliable marketplace.

Finally, remember that these things take time - not just because of the programming involved, but also because all those involved outside ProZ.com staff run their own businesses. Thanks for your patience.

Best regards, Ralf Lemster
(Jobs Area Coordinator)


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Edward Vreeburg  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 10:28
Member (2008)
English to Dutch
+ ...
Things are improving Jul 6, 2003

There are 2 things that have improved already it seems:
- the restriction " for platinum until" seems to be working (I'm seriously thinking of upgrading, if only I could get some more descendly paying customers from Proz)

- some rediculously low paying jobs ("scientific calculator at 0,04 or better) have been posted repeatedly by the same company - their deadline was 7/15 last time, so to all my Dutch colleages: DO NOT ACCEPT THEIR RATE !!


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Henry Dotterer
Local time: 17:28
SITE FOUNDER
stratification - a good idea Jul 7, 2003

Eva Blanar wrote:

My suggestion would be rather to set up certain "strata" for the membership (n a way, instead of the present Platinum - Premium - Normal levels)...

Would this make sense to you?


Absolutely. And our stratification will be based on more than rates. Quality is paramount.

Great post, Eva.


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Henry Dotterer
Local time: 17:28
SITE FOUNDER
Thanks, Ralf Jul 7, 2003

Ralf Lemster wrote:

I would just like to point out that site staff and moderators are taking this issue very seriously indeed.


Right.

...what we're up to is a market segment with certain requirements for both outsourcers and service providers (including verified IDs and the acceptance of a code of conduct). Not a magic wand creating decent pricing, but certainly a few steps forward toward a more reliable marketplace.


Right. There won't be any magic wands. But increasingly, ProZ.com will be a place where the best translators experience the best results.

Finally, remember that these things take time - not just because of the programming involved, but also because all those involved outside ProZ.com staff run their own businesses. Thanks for your patience.


Well said, Ralf. Thanks for your leadership in the jobs arena.


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Ursula Peter-Czichi  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:28
German to English
+ ...
Clarification Jul 7, 2003

Eva Blanar wrote:

You are absolutely right in saying that a membership level or even a rate has nothing to do with the quality of the translation delivered to the clients.


I do not question your right to expect more consideration as a paying member. That is not what this thread is about.

Excellent translators will attract excellent clients. The laws of economics will back up that statement.

If the membership level has nothing to do with the quality of translations why would it improve the quality of job offers? It is about money and how to get the most for it.

Since it has now become an issue that seems to pervade every thread:
Personally, I think that every member should pay after an initial period of time. I do not have any problems with that.

Ursula


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