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Pennies (3) per word
Thread poster: lenkl

lenkl
Local time: 20:06
French to English
Oct 16, 2003

I know this is the age of globalization and we're all bidding for the same slice of the pie, etc. but I'm wondering whether this site should encourage and abet labor exploitation.
A current posting offers a translating job, from French into US English, at 3 US cents a word. Candidates should preferably be US natives and have expertise in law and patents.
In a bygone era, this type of practice was what gave rise to unions. What can we do today?
I'm prepared to accept that, in Pune or Bangalore, 3 pennies a word amounts to decent pay, even though I don't see why someone with the necessary skills there should not ask for a higher fee. After all, where we are located ultimately doesn't matter.
Extremely low rates cannot but end up causing a decline in the quality of translations, those of us with some expertise and professional standards being gradually replaced by CAT and unskilled workers.
And whenever they’re not sure about something, they’ll always have the option to post a KudoZ question…


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 20:06
English to German
+ ...
This has been discussed in numerous threads Oct 16, 2003

Hi "lenkl" - welcome to ProZ.com.
Given that you're a new member to the site, I'm not sure if you had the opportunity to browse the forums.

The issue you have raised has been discussed in quite a number of threads, from a number of different perspectives. The recent discussion in this thread is probably most topical, since it addresses the concerns of those unwilling to work at these price levels, describes the steps site staff and moderators are working on and also offers an interesting point of view from India.

I know this is the age of globalization and we're all bidding for the same slice of the pie, etc. but I'm wondering whether this site should encourage and abet labor exploitation.

It isn't. Nobody is forced to accept this offer, members have a choice of (i) ignoring the posting, (ii) offering their services at a price they consider to be more appropriate or (iii) to accept the job if they feel the price is acceptable to them.

Extremely low rates cannot but end up causing a decline in the quality of translations, those of us with some expertise and professional standards being gradually replaced by CAT and unskilled workers.

If you're offering a top-quality service, I don't see the threat, TBH. From a personal perspective, I wouldn't consider working for 3 cents a word, but someone who does is certainly no competition. If he/she is, ask yourself if you're selling to the right market segment. Complaining about price pressure due to CAT technology is one thing - I prefer to embrace and leverage it to boost business.

And whenever they’re not sure about something, they’ll always have the option to post a KudoZ question…

Now that is something I'm happy to comment on: I'm very happy to answer KudoZ questions in my field of specialisation, even if this involves adding extensive explanation.

Do you seriously believe that an inexperienced provider who has received good quality answers on, say, 10 very technical queries is going to submit a translation that's superior to the one produced by a translator with a deep understanding of the concepts concerned? No way...

You indicate 25 years' experience in your profile - this means you should be in a perfect position to network with other translators and market your services to end customers who appreciated the value added. Given the progress of technology, this means you will have to constantly reinvent your business - but that's not only true for translation.

Best regards, Ralf


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Narasimhan Raghavan  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:36
English to Tamil
+ ...
Thanks Ralf Oct 17, 2003

The interesting point of view from India made me rush to the concerned thread and I am gratified to note that it was my posting. I read it again and I stand by what I wrote, even after this gap of time. Three cents are equivalent to Rs.1.35 or so in India and I am getting offers of Rs.2.00 in India itself. Hence the proz.com rates are not that attractive, I should say.
Even though English is not my mother tongue, I have had my education in that language only. We are a serious competition for translations into English and to a lesser extent for translations away from English. The foreign languages involved here are German, French, Italian and other European languages as well as Japanese, Chinese etc. But the main thing is, English should either be the target or source language. I do not see many Indians jumping at, say, French to German translation jobs. In my career of more than 25 years, I did only one in that pair. But it was an exception and actually I translated from French into English first and then I was supposed to translate from English into German. The client wanted both. But in the second step, I used the French original for translating into German.
Regards,
Narasimhan Raghavan


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sandhya  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:36
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
very true Oct 17, 2003

hi,

My two bits from India

What Ralf says is very true. Although I live in India, I do not accept 3 cents a word. Often clients argue that I am based in India so I ought to slash the rates, of course I do not, cos I see no logic in doing so.
One must market one's experience, quality and capability to the right market segment, location does not matter. However, the West turning to the East for cheap labour is an old business strategy... nothing one can do there!

While I am not too happy either at the low rates offered by most posters on Proz, one does have the option of saying No. Not easy I know, but then Proz is not the only site where one can find work!

Staying "alive" in any business involves continuous marketing, PR work... and as Ralf said "constant reinvention".... thats the road to continuous success

cheers
sandhya

Ralf Lemster wrote:

Hi "lenkl" - welcome to ProZ.com.
Given that you're a new member to the site, I'm not sure if you had the opportunity to browse the forums.

The issue you have raised has been discussed in quite a number of threads, from a number of different perspectives. The recent discussion in this thread is probably most topical, since it addresses the concerns of those unwilling to work at these price levels, describes the steps site staff and moderators are working on and also offers an interesting point of view from India.

I know this is the age of globalization and we're all bidding for the same slice of the pie, etc. but I'm wondering whether this site should encourage and abet labor exploitation.

It isn't. Nobody is forced to accept this offer, members have a choice of (i) ignoring the posting, (ii) offering their services at a price they consider to be more appropriate or (iii) to accept the job if they feel the price is acceptable to them.

Extremely low rates cannot but end up causing a decline in the quality of translations, those of us with some expertise and professional standards being gradually replaced by CAT and unskilled workers.

If you're offering a top-quality service, I don't see the threat, TBH. From a personal perspective, I wouldn't consider working for 3 cents a word, but someone who does is certainly no competition. If he/she is, ask yourself if you're selling to the right market segment. Complaining about price pressure due to CAT technology is one thing - I prefer to embrace and leverage it to boost business.

And whenever they’re not sure about something, they’ll always have the option to post a KudoZ question…

Now that is something I'm happy to comment on: I'm very happy to answer KudoZ questions in my field of specialisation, even if this involves adding extensive explanation.

Do you seriously believe that an inexperienced provider who has received good quality answers on, say, 10 very technical queries is going to submit a translation that's superior to the one produced by a translator with a deep understanding of the concepts concerned? No way...

You indicate 25 years' experience in your profile - this means you should be in a perfect position to network with other translators and market your services to end customers who appreciated the value added. Given the progress of technology, this means you will have to constantly reinvent your business - but that's not only true for translation.

Best regards, Ralf


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Jackie Bowman

Local time: 15:06
Spanish to English
+ ...
Price per word Oct 17, 2003

Exceptionally good, thoughtful, sober and measured answer from this particular Moderator (with whom I have never had any previous contact). Some people will work for 3 cents a word. Some won’t (I’m one of them). The rest is up to you.

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Sonia Gomes  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 00:36
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Strange but true... Oct 17, 2003

Sometime back a translator from India wrote that for us (translators from India) the low rates are not so detrimental as I dollar or an Euro after conversion is a sizeable amount for us. This could be so. But this applies to better rates for the lower rates are the same as the ones offered here.
But I am amazed at the fact a good many translators from other parts of the world are ready to take up assignments in India at very low rates, at say 3 cents a word, this in my opinion has lowered the rates here in India too.
I hope I have made some sense in what I have been trying to say.

Sonia


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gianfranco  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 17:06
Member (2001)
English to Italian
+ ...
These are not the ProZ.com rates.... Oct 17, 2003

Narasimhan Raghavan wrote:
...Three cents are equivalent to Rs.1.35 or so in India and I am getting offers of Rs.2.00 in India itself. Hence the proz.com rates are not that attractive, I should say.
...


Dear Narasimhan,
I disagree with your wording above. These are NOT the ProZ.com rates, as you put it. The rates are not offered, endorsed or influenced by ProZ.com but they are posted by the outsourcers using the Jobs area.
Also, the site does not take any slice or percentage from anyone, agency or translator. It is just a job board, where demand and offer meet and do business, if they agree on the terms.

You can find similar/higher/lower offers in many other translation sites, other marketplaces as well as in the real (not on-line) world.

Any agency can offer what they like, and any translator can decide, using their "personal business criteria", if they want to accept or not an offer.


The ProZ.com approach to rates

The site does not set, on purpose, any "minimum rate", but there is a rate feature aimed at filtering the lowest rates.
If a translator sets a minimum rate, any offer below its "personal" minimum rate will not be delivered to his/her email inbox.

You can consult the FAQ section for more detailed information,
see: http://www.proz.com/?sp=faq#rates
but I'd like to summarize here some important points:

  • all members can avoid being spammed or annoyed by outragiously low rates just setting a "personal minimum rate"
  • an outsourcer will not receive many offers, or none at all, if their job posting goes largely unnoticed because it falls below most translators' minimum rate
  • all rates entered provide statistics and averages that can be consulted and used as a guideline (note: they are not imposed in any way)
  • for translators not entering any rate, will be automatically applied a filter based on the average minimum rate for that particular language pair.
    If you agree with it you may not enter a minimum rate. If you are not happy with the language pair average minimum, just set your preferred (lower or higher) threshold
  • the personal rates can be shown or hidden, so they will contribute to the average and will work as a personal filter, but are not disclosed in your profile


No single system can be perfect and this particular issue is also very complex indeed, but we believe that these "soft" measures, leaving to all parties complete freedom and providing information and statistics, and filtering some excesses, will help to drive the rates upwards or at least towards a sensible baseline.

Gianfranco



[Edited at 2003-10-17 09:59]


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lenkl
Local time: 20:06
French to English
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Oct 17, 2003

Thanks Ralf and all the others for your thoughtful contributions. I apologize for obviously beating a dead horse and appreciated being referred to interesting earlier discussions. My concern is primarily with the notion of job posting standards. Would someone looking for slave labor be allowed to put a help wanted ad anywhere? By posting offers at low fees, does ProZ send a signal to clients and agencies that they can get the job done on the cheap?
I don’t come to this site to look for work and am far more interested in finding good translators, as well as in sharing views and opinions about our trade. I put in my two-cents worth on KudoZ whenever I can and have enjoyed some of the feedback.
Thanks for being here.


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gianfranco  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 17:06
Member (2001)
English to Italian
+ ...
The market realities cannot be hidden Oct 17, 2003

lenkl wrote:
Thanks Ralf and all the others for your thoughtful contributions. I apologize for obviously beating a dead horse and appreciated being referred to interesting earlier discussions.

No problem. It is good to revamp, every now and then, old issues and try to raise new ideas. Also, some new members are not aware of all features and the thinking behind them.


lenkl wrote:
My concern is primarily with the notion of job posting standards. Would someone looking for slave labor be allowed to put a help wanted ad anywhere? By posting offers at low fees, does ProZ send a signal to clients and agencies that they can get the job done on the cheap?

The problem is that "low rates" cannot be limited or defined using a single figure. What is a low rate is a very personal perception, depending on many factors, personal circumstances, economic environment, etc...

It is exactly to avoid "sending the wrong signals" that the site allows to publish personal "range of rates" and makes available "average rates", but the jobs posted are not filtered on the basis of the rate offered.

We know that this can be seen as a problem, but the problem cannot be swept under the carpet applying a flat lower limit. More subtle action is required, and I believe that freedom of action combined with the sharing of information, in the long term, is the best solution.

Gianfranco


[Edited at 2003-10-17 14:26]


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Mariflor Salas  Identity Verified
Venezuela
Local time: 15:06
English to Spanish
We are our own enemies Oct 17, 2003

Yeap, as long as there are "translators" willing to work for peanuts, there will be "clients" offering slave pays. It's very infuriating to see these job postings offering incredibly low pays, but what is infinitely worse, is to see, a few minutes later, several responses to these so-called "jobs offers."

I'm sorry, but Proz, with all the wonderful things that has brought to the world of translation, has unfortunately become THE site to find cheap labor. But again, it's not Proz's fault. If there were not responses to these ads, rates would be raised and we would all benefit in the long term.

Yes, this subject has been discussed many times, but unfortunately the cheap job offers keep showing up, so does the cheap labor.


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Agua  Identity Verified
Spain
English to Spanish
+ ...
Once more... Oct 17, 2003

msal wrote:

I'm sorry, but Proz, with all the wonderful things that has brought to the world of translation, has unfortunately become THE site to find cheap labor. But again, it's not Proz's fault. If there were not responses to these ads, rates would be raised and we would all benefit in the long term.



Not all replies are from people who ask for the project. I myself have replied to some low offers, explaining why I charge more and stating why it would not be god for their business in the long run to pay cheap for a start...

Good luck,

Mar


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Narasimhan Raghavan  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:36
English to Tamil
+ ...
Sorry Gianfranco, I didn't mean that Oct 17, 2003

When I wrote Proz.com rates, I meant only the rates that are seen in that portal. I know only too well that Proz.com has nothing to do with these rates. I never meant that. Nevertheless, I see that this could be seen to be implied in what I had posted. Once again I apologize. I am leaving the words in the earlier posting as they are, as a reminder to me to be more careful. As they say, it is not enough one is just, one should also appear to be just.
Regards,
N.Raghavan

[Edited at 2003-10-18 01:46]


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Evert DELOOF-SYS  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 20:06
Member
English to Dutch
+ ...
Perception? Oct 17, 2003

msal wrote:

I'm sorry, but Proz, with all the wonderful things that has brought to the world of translation, has unfortunately become THE site to find cheap labor. But again, it's not Proz's fault. If there were not responses to these ads, rates would be raised and we would all benefit in the long term.

Yes, this subject has been discussed many times, but unfortunately the cheap job offers keep showing up, so does the cheap labor.



Couldn't this be related to the fact that ProZ.com is in fact the largest general (i.e. covering most languages and topics) translation site/portal/directory around with most registered members and most job offers (about 45.000 job offers to date)?
Except maybe for one other well-known portal, most job offers I've seen on other translation sites are merely copies of jobs previously posted on ProZ.com.

I'm sure we'd all be very interested to learn if there are general sites where outsourcers only post decently paid jobs in almost all languages (and I'm not referring to specialized lists).

Other than that, ProZ.com policy and views on this delicate and difficult matter have been excellently worded by Ralf and Gianfranco earlier in this thread.
And as you know, we always welcome any viable suggestion that could help boost overall rates!

Take care and have a nice weekend,

Evert


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Mariflor Salas  Identity Verified
Venezuela
Local time: 15:06
English to Spanish
Absolutely Oct 17, 2003

Evert DELOOF-SYS wrote:


Couldn't this be related to the fact that ProZ.com is in fact the largest general (i.e. covering most languages and topics) translation site/portal/directory around with most registered members and most job offers (about 45.000 job offers to date)?


Evert


You bet. That is the reason that makes this site so attractive to bargain hunters. I guess the reasoning is something like "With so many people here, I will surely find a bunch willing to work for peanuts."

The ones willing to work for peanuts do not understand that, even though they may be thinking that today they "won" a client by being cheap, they are only harming themselves and our profession in the long term.


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Lucinda  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:06
Member (2002)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Aquarius has lowered their minimum price per word! Oct 17, 2003

Hi there,

Just my two cents. I just noticed that Aquarius has lowered their minimun rate per word from Euros .07 to .05/word when people quote for jobs. There does seem to be a bit of a trend all over, don't you think.

Many outsourcers start from the beginning saying that people charging above a certain rate should not even bother to apply.

Even though it is frustrating, I guess that all I can do is set a fair price and deliver the best job I can. If for a client the price is more important than quality, then so be it. Then I will have to wait for the next one.

Have a great weekend everyone, well those of you lucky folks who have a free weekend.

Chao!
Lucinda.


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