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Block jobs below a minimum rate?
Thread poster: Maureen Holm, J.D., LL.M.

Maureen Holm, J.D., LL.M.
United States
Local time: 12:38
German to English
+ ...
May 9, 2003

Again today there was an extensive posting in a good dozen pairs at 0.04 US$ per word for regular commercial work. At least half of these were major language pairs. Having due consideration for the need to afford opportunities to colleagues in countries where four pennies can still be traded for more than their copper content, how do we counteract the downward pressure on rates which the proliferation of such postings exerts except by concerted action? As long as posters can point to other such offers in the marketplace, there\'s an argument that they are competitive. We can boycott, but how low does it have to go before we must seriously consider asking ProZ to block such postings? I invite your thoughts.

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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 18:38
English to German
+ ...
Not an option, really May 9, 2003

Hi Maureen,

The issue of minimum prices has been discussed at great length in these forums - mainly for legal (but also for practical) reasons, ProZ.com is unable to impose a minimum rate.



What you can do not to be notified is to set your rates accordingly.



We (=a number of moderators) are currently working with site staff to restructure the Jobs section.



Ralf


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xxxMarc P  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:38
German to English
+ ...
Question for Ralf May 9, 2003

I know it\'s annoying when a newbie starts a discussion on a subject that has already been discussed ad nauseum. (I\'m talking about myself now, and I consider myself a newbie.) But:



Has any thought been given to tackling the problem from the other end? Why not make an effort to ensure that ProZ really is just for pros? There is no perfect way of achieving this, but by drafting a professional code of conduct which members/participants would be obliged to agree to, the site would move towards being what it is supposed to be - a site for professionals. The fact that it isn\'t is partly (but only partly) ProZ\' own fault: to give two examples, presenting Platinum membership as a form of professional status, and dubious use of, for example, the term \"charter\", are - I\'ll make an effort to be diplomatic here - open to abuse.



It strikes me that some of the customers who are only prepared to pay dumping prices come to ProZ precisely because they know that\'s where they\'ll find a \"hobby translator\" willing to accept them. (I\'m aware of, and appreciate, the \"low-cost country\" argument, but I still think that this statement is generally valid.)



As you know (I\'m saying this with one eye on Jacek\'s latest contribution), I am inclined to be both critical and outspoken, but I\'m trying to be constructive. So please feel free to move this to a more suitable location or to end the discussion altogether if you think it\'s been discussed sufficiently already.



Marc


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 18:38
English to German
+ ...
General agreement - working on details May 9, 2003

Marc,

Nothing annoying at all - in fact, we are tackling the issue from the other end, with the objective being a market (segment) where all participants satisfy certain criteria that would set them apart from what you called \"hobby translators\".



As with every project, the devil is in the detail, particularly given the great variety of different legal and commercial systems involved. I therefore ask for your patience, while we\'re working on this - our first priority was the Blue Board, and we have achieved some important improvements there. The structure of Jobs is next...



Best regards, Ralf


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Maureen Holm, J.D., LL.M.
United States
Local time: 12:38
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
vitality May 9, 2003

I think it\'s great that ProZ is something of an organic sprawl and would not want to see that vitality impaired. The problem with institutionalized merit badges is that they are a distinction prized by no one more than the tenaciously mediocre.

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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 18:38
English to German
+ ...
That's why it takes us time May 10, 2003

Quote:


On 2003-05-09 16:18, MHolm wrote:

I think it\'s great that ProZ is something of an organic sprawl and would not want to see that vitality impaired.



Quite - in fact, that\'s part of the reason why this takes longer than most of us would like it to.



Quote:
The problem with institutionalized merit badges is that they are a distinction prized by no one more than the tenaciously mediocre.



Also agreed - note that the criteria I referred to would not necessarily go into the direction of merit badges.



Best, Ralf

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asknine
Russian to English
learning from eLance.com practices May 10, 2003

eLance, a marketplace for freelancers (other than translators), divides job postings into two categories according to the rank of the vendors. An attempt to post a job offer in the high-rank category will be rejected by the system if the initial compensation offer is less then a predetermined minimum...$250.00 if I\'m not mistaken.

Using this practice on Proz.com would probably not work because we have to deal with the per-unit rates vs. total contract costs. Apparently the editing/proofreading rates are lower than the translation rates, and the rates for terminology extraction are lower than that for proofreading, etc., etc. You would have to create separate categories for all these services... This may make the system cumbersome and confusing.


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xxxMarc P  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:38
German to English
+ ...
Institutionalized merit badges May 10, 2003

Quote:


note that the criteria I referred to would not necessarily go into the direction of merit badges.





Ralf,



I\'m not sure what Maureen meant by \"institutionalized merit badges\" - perhaps she can clarify. At any rate, ProZ does not need to go in that direction: it is already awash with pseudo evidence of merit (competence, professionalism, call it what you will) such as KudoZ and associated rankings, Platinum membership with indication of length held, \"charter\" membership (whatever that is), etc. From discussions I have seen it is clear that many members prize these badges highly, expect them to generate business, and are prepared to defend them - witness the annoyance at the recent introduction of a new advertising feature.



As far as prices are concerned, I question why customers need to set a price at all. When looking for a professional service, I don\'t begin by declaring what I\'m going to pay. Can customers not simply be prohibited from stating the price, on the grounds that the practice is damaging to the professional independence of translators?



The difficulty I constantly find with these discussions is that it is not clear what ProZ really is. Is it a marketplace, or is it a community of professionals?



If it is a marketplace, I am in favour of the greatest possible deregulation, and have no problem with customers stating what they are willing to pay.



If it is a community, then ProZ must consider who it is intended for, and regulate itself accordingly. The idea of a community of professionals lacking any form of regulation may sound attractively liberal, but it is not sustainable over the longer term; the groups which it attracts are mutually incompatible. I suspect that usage of the jobs section and the fora already reflects that. If ProZ continues to try to be all things to all men, I predict that those with a stricter definition of \"professionalism\" will simply migrate when a more suitable alternative appears, such as when ITI sets up its online community. That will only reinforce the reputation ProZ already has in some quarters as a melting-pot for translators who do not \"belong\" anywhere else and negate what I see as a very real value of ProZ, that of providing a common community for the established and the inexperienced.



Marc

(Not impatient, by the way. Waiting for my fellow-translators to stop using Windows is good training in patience. )

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asknine
Russian to English
Proz.com is a community May 11, 2003

[quote]

On 2003-05-10 09:48, MarcPrior wrote:

Quote:


...The difficulty I constantly find with these discussions is that it is not clear what ProZ really is. Is it a marketplace, or is it a community of professionals?...





I\'d say it is a community rather than a regulated marketplace.

The initial purpose of Proz.com was to assist translators overcome terminology hurdles by engaging as many people as possible in a Q&A discussions that would result in a gigantic open dictionary, which professionals can trust. So far the open discussion process has been great and helpful. As to the resulting product, I have very serious reservations about the validity and usefulness of this dictionary. Think about it! The final decision about adding to the KudoZ dictionary is vested in a person who asked for help and is obviously in the dark about the terminology with which he/she needs help in the first place. Ordinarily such a person is under the illusion that he/she is making an informative decision, drawing from a pool of suggestions submitted by people who in many cases are also in the dark about the terminology in question. With this kind of system, it seems unlikely that the asker will pick the right suggestion from the pool, which may or may not have the right answer. Apparently this ill-conceived REGULATION on who and why has a final word on adding to the KudoZ dictionary fails miserably by not producing a quality product that was envisioned by the Proz founding fathers.



Anyhow, my point is... If Proz.com wants to remain a community, it should not impose any regulations on how this community operates, including any restrictions on translators\' rates or a clients\' right to limit the project cost. The only drawback of this approach is that this community will always remain amorphous and amaturish and will eventually force the seasoned professionals to migrate elsewhere (...on this, I have to agree with MarcPrior). Any thoughtful attempt to regulate this community would inevitably result in improved quality of collaborative work this community is trying to offer. It will take a major overhaul to shape this community into a market place. I\'m not sure if anyone here is ready for it.

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