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Bidding should not be based on price (staff: it is not)
Thread poster: Francis Icaza

Francis Icaza
United States
Local time: 04:22
English to Spanish
+ ...
Aug 2, 2002

A couple of things for clarity:



A. I don’t bid on translation projects. I’m not a translator by trade, I’m an interpreter.



B. I decided some time ago to no longer bid on interpreting jobs with the purpose of winning the bids as part of my intention for doing so.



C. I continue to follow my traditional system for drumming up business, quoting my price for assignments and either getting the business or losing it to a competitor.



D. I have strayed from the procedure in point C few times and I have made the firm commitment to never stray again.



Now, my opinion:



1. This bidding “process” in here is counter-productive and ill serves the needs and the collective futures of linguists. It should be done away with entirely and potential clients should be showered with the résumés of those translators or interpreters who have the experience and expertise to provide professional service based on the requirments of the job. Rates need not be the sole driving force between the client and the provider. By competing based on price and not based on qualifications we are playing into the hands of those who conspire to break the backs of freelance professionals.



2. Our lack of unity on pricing and this bidding system does so much harm that many colleagues are worse off now than they were just last year. The many additional economic quirks of our respective countries are contributing factors to be sure. Nevertheless, in the face of recessions, depressions and IMF concessions, linguists need to counter the economic downturn with a united front, not a crumbled free-for-all.



3. What happens when you bid? The price goes down. It NEVER goes up. Never! What linguists do is an art but we’re not at an art auction where bidding allows lilies and “gordas” to go for astronomical prices. Our system produces results that are diametrically opposed.



4. I have asked myself this question over and over again: Who benefits from this bidding system, this downward trend? It certainly isn\'t language professionals... so, who? Ask yourselves that question and post some of your answers.



In order to maintain some parameters, it is incumbent upon us all to establish and stick to a minimum price for our work, be it translating or interpreting, proofing or editing. As long as there is a bidding “process”, this will not happen. If we allow people to select the “best price” from amongst the professionals in the market, we shall continue this slippery slope toward clinical depression and we’ll be paid poorly for it at the same time.



There are times when vigorous opposition to entrenched bad judgement, custom, market trends and yes, even legislation, becomes indispensable in order to oppose extortion and coercion. These laws are designed to protect us from \"businessmen”, who embark on amassing power and attempting to corner a given market, and who intend to force a consuming public to abide by their rules and meet their revenue goals for them.



This is not the case in our professions where offers received by our colleagues (see http://www.proz.com/?sp=bb/viewtopic&eid_c=21688&post=17199#17199) cannot possibly be protected by said legislation and are unfair regardless of any and all considerations. It is tantamount to slave or indentured labour. All of this, you know better than I do.



I believe it is better to band together, challenge antitrust laws, wilfully and actively invite government scrutiny and get this issue out in the open than to continue down this road.



In short, I feel there must be a consensus on pricing, even if it is by country vs. the web and that the bidding process based on price and not ability should be done away with completely.



BoBL

F


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Henry Dotterer
Local time: 04:22
SITE FOUNDER
moving this topic Aug 2, 2002

- This related to money, and should therefore be posted under \"money matters\" (not \"Spanish\".)

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Henry Dotterer
Local time: 04:22
SITE FOUNDER
I agree that translators must band together Aug 2, 2002

...but do not mislead them for that purpose.



\"Bidding\" at ProZ.com is not \"based on price\". Bids are ordered by merit and membership level, not by price. There is no plot (and no motivation) for any marketplace to drive down profits. Quite the opposite. We get paid by translators.



There is another thing you misunderstand. If you think that price is not one of the things you are competing on in your \"offline\" business, think again. You \"bid\" all the time.



Anyway, banding together is the solution, I agree. Got any ideas that will accomplish that?


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Francis Icaza
United States
Local time: 04:22
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
It's still suicide. Aug 3, 2002

Dear Henry:



Thank you very much for your response.



You state: “...but do not mislead them for that purpose.”



I’m not misleading anyone at all. What I asked and then answered was: What happens when you bid? The price goes down. It NEVER goes up. Never!



You state: \"Bidding\" at ProZ.com is not \"based on price\". Bids are ordered by merit and membership level, not by price”.



Then it should not be a problem to consider eliminating pricing altogether. Let the job poster select his provider based only on merit, membership level and possibly on the contents of his or her résumé. If they can post a job, they can send an email and negotiate price directly with those who meet their qualification standards. If they can then squeeze $0.0035 p/wd., then so be it.



And: “There is no plot (and no motivation) for any marketplace to drive down profits. Quite the opposite. We get paid by translators”.



I don’t understand this remark at all. Why you feel the expression “we get paid by translators” is needed is beyond me so, unless you wish to explain it, I shall just move on.



“There is another thing you misunderstand. If you think that price is not one of the things you are competing on in your \"offline\" business, think again. You \"bid\" all the time”.



Semantics. I receive a RFQ from a potential or existing client and I provide my price. Once provided, very little negotiation can take place. If said client finds lower rates elsewhere, he/she cannot expect to return to me and have me adjust my quote based exclusively on that condition. You run a business and are well aware of overhead costs and their effect on pricing. You call that bidding, I call it quoting a price that as a rule does not change once put in writing. Tomato, to-mah-to.



Henry, you have created a wonderful tool and as these things go, improvements, changes and additions can be made. As has been said, I believe by Ralf Lemster, this is not a democracy. It is a business. These things can be imposed on those who come here to strangle freelance translators and get their work done for next to nothing.



If imposing the above criteria of selection based on, membership level, merit, experience and expertise is not possible, then to make a statement, Proz staff could adjust the necessary portions of the job poster\'s page and not allow jobs to be offered at less than US$0.06 per word (pick a rate if you don’t like this one) for any language pair, under any circumstances.



Regardless of the amount, a minimum price imposed on posters (not on members, mind you) should be accompanied with the corresponding caveats of word count, deadline, subject matter, need for glossary creation, etc., etc. People can’t expect to pay 0.06 p/wd for a one page document, on paediatric infectology, needed for tomorrow at 8. If they do, Proz might be a good spokesperson to set them right.



By telling the would be stranglers that they cannot waltz in and spit on our friends and colleagues we will prove the following:



1. That this is not a site where you can choke the life out of translators.



2. That Proz does not abide, suffer, support, stand by or ignore the sort of disrespect, and profiteering attitudes of some companies and individuals.



3. That Proz does not have a laissez faire attitude in the face of these outrageous abuses.



4. That Proz supports translators (and it most certainly does) and that the support is more than the Pro and Easy section, the Money Matters forum and all the other fine sections to be found here.



5. That Proz objects to and rejects all who would use its site to promote (by commission or ommission) a downward trend such we have seen over the last few years with this collective madness called globalisation.



When it comes to money, I believe attention should be paid as to how we as a community are perceived. We can be branded as a bargain basement location or as a community of professionals who know the value of their work and demand to be duly paid for the quality they provide.



I have watched as the Post Your Rates function has been evolving and I’m quite happy to wait a little longer to see if it does, in fact, promote better pay for my colleagues. These suggestions, once read and pondered carefully, might produce alternatives to a situation that still needs addressing. The last thing we want to fall into is guilt by association.



Respectfully



Francis Icaza


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Henry Dotterer
Local time: 04:22
SITE FOUNDER
I agree with most of what you say Aug 3, 2002

We agree on most points. You propose banding together to resist abuse, and that is what we are trying to encourage.



Yet, whereas you think we are in a position to set minimum rates, I disagree.



My opinion is that fixing rates on translations, without any reference to quality, is like trying to fix rates on bicycles. Can anyone say \"from now on all bicycles must cost more than $50?\" No, that would be ridiculous. You need to know specifics before you can price things. Some bikes are worth $1000, some are worth $10, some old and rusty ones are worth nothing. Same goes for translations.



In other words, before we have recommended rates, we have to have quality metrics. We are working on a quality program now. You\'ll hear about it here. When we have that, we\'ll be able to do more about rates, including setting minimums.



Judging from your profile, you are a qualified and talented person who makes his living from translation. In other words, you are similar to* the type of person for whom we are developing the quality/rates program. Hopefully you\'ll be with us and not against us.



(* I would say you are \"exactly\" the type of person we are crafting the program for, but you are not a platinum member. I don\'t recommend that anyone at ProZ.com work for others for free, neither do I do it myself. I don\'t ask my staff to, either.)


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Francis Icaza
United States
Local time: 04:22
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Pick a title Aug 3, 2002

Henry, you ask: \"Can anyone say \"from now on all bicycles must cost more than $50?\"

No, but then no one owns all the bicycles available. Just as Proz doesn\'t own all the translations available.



Setting minimums sends a message. It is a statement.



You can set a standard and let the buyer evaluate the rest of the elements in order to meet his or her standards. The level of quality really has nothing to do with this matter. My position is simply that, by allowing the posters to impose the rates even occasionally, (and they do, there is no doubt about that) we allow them to dictate far too much. Do you allow would-be platinum members to tell you the price of your membership? Of course not.



On the subject of Platinum membership: I travel extensively and if you look at my posts and answers to questions, you\'ll see there are long periods of absence for me from this site for reasons of work. Some interpreting assignments last more than a month. Not every country I travel to has reasonable, reliable internet services.



\"We are working on a quality program now. You\'ll hear about it here. When we have that, we\'ll be able to do more about rates, including setting minimums.\"



I can wait and see what the results of your efoorts in the area of quality and therefore minimums will be. I commend you on such efforts, because it just tears your heart out to see such things:

http://www.proz.com/?sp=bb/viewtopic&eid_c=21688&post=17199#17199



I am an interpreter, not a translator. I own a company and I can tell you about my business practices and you can corroborate them with members of your site with great ease. I try very hard to practice what I preach, really.



One thing that would make me an overnight member at that Platinum level would be a clear message from Proz that no company or individual can come here and garrot hard working translators and have the Proz company stand by quietly. Even if I am out of the country often and can\'t connect to the net for long periods, that would make it quite worthwhile.



Best regards,



Francis



P.S. What does this mean?

\" I don\'t recommend that anyone at ProZ.com work for others for free, neither do I do it myself. I don\'t ask my staff to, either\".


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Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:22
Partial member (2006)
English to German
+ ...
Another suggestion thirteen years on Aug 26, 2015

Francis Icaza wrote:

Henry, you ask: \"Can anyone say \"from now on all bicycles must cost more than $50?\"

No, but then no one owns all the bicycles available. Just as Proz doesn\'t own all the translations available.



Setting minimums sends a message. It is a statement.



You can set a standard and let the buyer evaluate the rest of the elements in order to meet his or her standards. The level of quality really has nothing to do with this matter. My position is simply that, by allowing the posters to impose the rates even occasionally, (and they do, there is no doubt about that) we allow them to dictate far too much. Do you allow would-be platinum members to tell you the price of your membership? Of course not.


I found that a great point. Since professional translators offer their services at prices that they have worked out with regard to the quality they offer and factors such as complexity of the text, field of expertise, volume, deadline etc., they should be the ones quoting their price to interested buyers first, not the other way round because we have seen what has happened in the 13 years since this post.

Francis Icaza wrote:



On the subject of Platinum membership: I travel extensively and if you look at my posts and answers to questions, you\'ll see there are long periods of absence for me from this site for reasons of work. Some interpreting assignments last more than a month. Not every country I travel to has reasonable, reliable internet services.



\"We are working on a quality program now. You\'ll hear about it here. When we have that, we\'ll be able to do more about rates, including setting minimums.\"



I can wait and see what the results of your efoorts in the area of quality and therefore minimums will be. I commend you on such efforts, because it just tears your heart out to see such things:

http://www.proz.com/?sp=bb/viewtopic&eid_c=21688&post=17199#17199



I am an interpreter, not a translator. I own a company and I can tell you about my business practices and you can corroborate them with members of your site with great ease. I try very hard to practice what I preach, really.



One thing that would make me an overnight member at that Platinum level would be a clear message from Proz that no company or individual can come here and garrot hard working translators and have the Proz company stand by quietly. Even if I am out of the country often and can\'t connect to the net for long periods, that would make it quite worthwhile.



Best regards,


Not only are translators confronted with progressively decreasing "price-offers" by buyers (that's a 180-degrees-wrong concept), but a continuing flow of newcomers to our profession gladly accepts these jobs, at least for a while, until they realize how much they are really exploited and that you can't have a successful and rewarding career providing very sophisticated brain work for such awful money.

My hope of late is that even newbies will wise up and first get some information on what makes a successful translator (there are a lot of good things in the Proz.com wiki articles) and will therefore stay clear from the abyss that the low-rate business niche has become - we shouldn't kid ourselves, but there comes a time (a point of critical mass) where low rate will always mean rubbish and that ship will sink.
Anyone with half a brain can figure out that doing sophisticated work for USD .05/word is a joke.

Professionals will stay clear of that, I do for once.
But the ship doesn't have to sink here if the powers that be decide to send that clear message and change the way Proz.com works. First suggestion: get rid of the job board. Eventually, there will be no need for it anymore anyway.

But it might be too late to send that message. Or maybe the powers that be see it all differently:
Translators will work for USD .01/word after all in the future. Or as low as the offers can go. And they don't think it has any negative impact on Proz.com.

I sure don't believe it.

Suggestion 2: don't allow mass mailings (Proz.com mailing list)- it's just an insult.


Francis Icaza wrote:



Francis



P.S. What does this mean?

\" I don\'t recommend that anyone at ProZ.com work for others for free, neither do I do it myself. I don\'t ask my staff to, either\".


Quality comes at a price, and it always will.



PS: Contacts through the directory search have been moving into the same sad direction.

[Edited at 2015-08-26 15:24 GMT]


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 05:22
English to Portuguese
+ ...
No need for such drastic measures Aug 26, 2015

Bernhard Sulzer wrote:

First suggestion: get rid of the job board. Eventually, there will be no need for it anymore anyway.


Simply forbid job posters to mention how much they would like to pay.

Before my time on Proz, it seems that all bids for a job were made public. This was apparently suppressed.

Since all job posts are vetted by job moderators, they could enforce this rule, send back the job to the poster, requiring them to edit out their 'offer'. Otherwise, moderators could be empowered to do it on their own.

Let translators worldwide develop their own market.

IMHO Proz unintentionally drives rates down by letting offered rates being published, since only the lowest ones actually get published.

Any outsourcer willing to pay, say, closer to 20¢/word will immediately have more applications than they can handle. On the other hand, it is difficult to find sufficiently desperate translators to accept single-digit cents per word rates. So these bottom feeders must post all their jobs all the time, creating a general impression that translation is some very cheap service worldwide.


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Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:22
Partial member (2006)
English to German
+ ...
New approach needed Aug 26, 2015

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:

Bernhard Sulzer wrote:

First suggestion: get rid of the job board. Eventually, there will be no need for it anymore anyway.


Simply forbid job posters to mention how much they would like to pay.

Before my time on Proz, it seems that all bids for a job were made public. This was apparently suppressed.

Since all job posts are vetted by job moderators, they could enforce this rule, send back the job to the poster, requiring them to edit out their 'offer'. Otherwise, moderators could be empowered to do it on their own.

Let translators worldwide develop their own market.

IMHO Proz unintentionally drives rates down by letting offered rates being published, since only the lowest ones actually get published.

Any outsourcer willing to pay, say, closer to 20¢/word will immediately have more applications than they can handle. On the other hand, it is difficult to find sufficiently desperate translators to accept single-digit cents per word rates. So these bottom feeders must post all their jobs all the time, creating a general impression that translation is some very cheap service worldwide.


Hi José,

That was one of the ideas I supported until very recently. But it still means that posters get to define "best rate" ... and will be bombarded by a wide range of offers from translators of all varieties and the tendency will be to first look at the price/press translators on price again or just pick someone very quickly. Without a job board, the client will have to do research and choose from translators. This will hopefully lead him/her first to translators with some decent background and professional practices.

I favor a completely new approach over trying to fix some things by keeping others that didn't work for us in the past. My thoughts.

[Edited at 2015-08-26 16:12 GMT]


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Post removed: This post was hidden by a moderator or staff member for the following reason: Deleted by the poster.

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 10:22
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
@Bernhard Aug 26, 2015

Bernhard Sulzer wrote:
Without a job board, the client will have to do research and choose from translators. This will hopefully lead him/her first to translators with some decent background and professional practices.


No, without a job board, clients will send a generic e-mail to the first ten translators whose profiles match their expectations, after having done a directory search. And if one of the client's expectations is price, then they'll simply ignore translators who don't state a rate or whose stated rate is too high to their liking. They will then select the best translator (according to their impressions) out of those that reply.

I would prefer that it does not come to this, because at this time I can still be fairly certain that if a client contacts me via my profile, then I'm either the only translator they contact, or I'm one of only two or three. If you take away the job board, and force clients to use the directory search and contact translators via their profiles, it'll simply increase the number of e-mails I get with job offers that don't materialise.

And let's be honest -- clients using the directory contact translators based firstly on their KudoZ scores, because that is how translators are ranked in the directory. At least with the jobs board, all translators in the language combination and subject field have an equal opportunity to make a good first impression with the client.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 10:22
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
@José Aug 26, 2015

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:
Before my time on Proz, it seems that all bids for a job were made public. This was apparently suppressed.


I don't recall this ever having been the case, and I've been here since the first year.

Proz unintentionally drives rates down by letting offered rates being published, since only the lowest ones actually get published.


Where... where are they published? AFAIK, job posts are not allowed to contain rate information (and if you see any job post with rate information, you should report it, by clicking the link at the bottom of the job post).


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 05:22
English to Portuguese
+ ...
@Samuel Aug 26, 2015

[quote]Samuel Murray wrote:

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:
Before my time on Proz, it seems that all bids for a job were made public. This was apparently suppressed.


I don't recall this ever having been the case, and I've been here since the first year.[quote]

I only heard about it. Not on my time here.

Proz unintentionally drives rates down by letting offered rates being published, since only the lowest ones actually get published.


Samuel Murray wrote:
Where... where are they published? AFAIK, job posts are not allowed to contain rate information (and if you see any job post with rate information, you should report it, by clicking the link at the bottom of the job post).


Under Budget and payment details: , which I just realized that is only visible to paying members.


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Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:22
Partial member (2006)
English to German
+ ...
My view Aug 26, 2015

Samuel Murray wrote:

Bernhard Sulzer wrote:
Without a job board, the client will have to do research and choose from translators. This will hopefully lead him/her first to translators with some decent background and professional practices.


No, without a job board, clients will send a generic e-mail to the first ten translators whose profiles match their expectations, after having done a directory search. And if one of the client's expectations is price, then they'll simply ignore translators who don't state a rate or whose stated rate is too high to their liking. They will then select the best translator (according to their impressions) out of those that reply.


Whatever a prospective client does upon getting choices of translator profiles (with or without stated minimum or average rates), is to me a much better approach then having unscrupulous outsourcers post jobs with inadequate rates and expectations (best rate/price, long-term opportunity (= cheap), combined with demands for quality based on education, experience, ....). It takes away the blatant bidding on price only that's been going on too long. By making prospective clients look at profiles of real professionals, they will realize that they're either at the portal they want to be or not. But if Proz.com wants to connect serious clients (instead of low-ball outsourcers) with real pros, then it needs some drastic changes. As I said, I don't hold my breath and if it gets much worse, I surely will take my profile and leave.

Samuel Murray wrote:
I would prefer that it does not come to this, because at this time I can still be fairly certain that if a client contacts me via my profile, then I'm either the only translator they contact, or I'm one of only two or three. If you take away the job board, and force clients to use the directory search and contact translators via their profiles, it'll simply increase the number of e-mails I get with job offers that don't materialise.


How do you know that it will simply increase the number of emails? You're not the only one they see in their search. And what if it does? At least they're looking at your profile first and get some kind of impression you want them to have.

Samuel Murray wrote:
And let's be honest -- clients using the directory contact translators based firstly on their KudoZ scores, because that is how translators are ranked in the directory. At least with the jobs board, all translators in the language combination and subject field have an equal opportunity to make a good first impression with the client.


I don't think any good first impression is required for the current job board. The only good impression you can make is to answer a job post with the cheapest possible quote or simply abide by the low price suggested by the poster. My view.

[Edited at 2015-08-26 17:34 GMT]


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Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:22
Partial member (2006)
English to German
+ ...
Read: As low as you can go Aug 26, 2015

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:


Under Budget and payment details: , which I just realized that is only visible to paying members.


If you can read job posts, you can certainly read this:
best price/rate, long-term opportunity, needed tomorrow, payment in 45-60 days, if you don't accept this, don't apply, must have 3 years of experience, translation degree, do a test translation, ....
If you can actually see proposed rates/prices, you don't have to go any further.

It all stands for "as low as you can go." Well, most of it anyway and in that combination.

[Edited at 2015-08-26 18:09 GMT]


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