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Will work for food...
Thread poster: Andreas Kobell

Andreas Kobell  Identity Verified
Germany
Member (2006)
English to German
+ ...
Jun 20, 2006

Hi all,

need to hear someone elses' opinion about a job post I checked out for my language pair (English/German) a few minutes ago.

A company posted a software translation, 2,000 words for a luxurious maximum budget of 40 Euro. Right, 40 Euro, like in forty. For the fun of it, I calculated the Euro / word ratio and had a good laugh.

I was kind of enjoying myself, when I scrolled down to the bottom of the page and stopped dead cold. In my view, that offer was just a bad joke, but as I'm writing this, there have already been three quotes received for that job.

Now I wonder what made those colleages accept these conditions and take on a job, they will need at least 5 or 6 hours to complete. I leave it up to you to calculate the hourly rate for it...

Are those guys really desperate to pay their bills, no matter what? Is it just a money kind of thing, or is there something else looming behind?

If you take a minute and think about it, what would the world look like without translators and interpreters? What about globalization, what about politics, TV, movies, your favourite TV series etc? If it was not for people like us, all those very important company CEOs would have great troubles opening up a new subsidiary in another country they actually know very little about, least of it the language spoken there. Or politicians having to discuss some urgent crisis about who knows what. I remember our good old Chancellor Mr. Kohl whose skills in other languages, especially English were a constant source of amusement.

My point is, most of us have studied hard to achieve a certain level of proficiency in what we do, whether we are translators or interpreters. We invested time and spent money to become what we are: language professionals, highly qualified and well prepared to deal with all sorts of complicated terminology in our field of expertise.

Most of us have spent some years at university and achieved some sort of degree there. Just like, let's say lawyers, scientists or teachers. This is not a McJob, what we are doing is high quality work and our clients can rightfully expect no less.

Harry Potter for example would be playing Quidditch only in the the English speaking world and far from being that kind of stunning phenomenon it became with the help of hundreds of our fellow translators.

I have the feeling that at times members of our profession tend to sell their services at less than fair value. But the offer I mentioned above strikes me to be rather an insult than normal business practice. IMHO, this is like working for food. Have we sunk that low...?


I apologize if this comes across rather unstructured and sounds angry - which I am. Also, it's rather late and I'm dead tired, but I had to vent my anger and I would really appreciate to hear your opinion if you feel like it.

Have a good night and a great day.

Thanks,
Andreas


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Juan Jacob  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 01:14
French to Spanish
+ ...
Right. Jun 20, 2006

"Contact a Job Moderator.
ProZ can't fix minimum rates."
That's what you'll get from ProZ.
And a lot of comments from translators.


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Andreas Kobell  Identity Verified
Germany
Member (2006)
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
We are all masters of our universe... Jun 20, 2006

Juan Jacob wrote:

"Contact a Job Moderator.
ProZ can't fix minimum rates."
That's what you'll get from ProZ.
And a lot of comments from translators.




Hi Juan,

Thanks for your reply and I'm sure you are right. There will be that sort of feedback from ProZ and other translators. However, I'm not complaining about agencies or whoever posting these types of jobs. He, this is a free world and everyone's free to accept or decline these rates.

I just wonder, is it that translators or interpreters quoting for those jobs have such low self esteem to sell themselves at such rates?

Cheers,
Andreas


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Johan Jongman  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 08:14
English to Dutch
+ ...
Quote Jun 21, 2006

Andreas Kobell wrote:

I was kind of enjoying myself, when I scrolled down to the bottom of the page and stopped dead cold. In my view, that offer was just a bad joke, but as I'm writing this, there have already been three quotes received for that job.


It doesn't mean that those quotes are serious ones. Sometimes I'll reply to that kind of posting saying "I'll be happy to do that job for you for 400 euros"...


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JaneTranslates  Identity Verified
Puerto Rico
Local time: 02:14
Member (2005)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Save us from ourselves! (Not!) Jun 21, 2006

Juan Jacob wrote:

"Contact a Job Moderator.
ProZ can't fix minimum rates."
That's what you'll get from ProZ.
And a lot of comments from translators.



I sympathize, but I don't want ProZ to take on the job of saving us from ourselves.

Translators, respect yourselves. No outsourcer or agency can exploit you without your cooperation.

As to those who work for slave wages--that's their choice. I don't walk in their shoes and won't judge them. Those 40 euros may literally be eating money for some.



[Edited at 2006-06-21 00:40]


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Trudy Peters  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:14
German to English
+ ...
Agree with Johan Jun 21, 2006

Most "bids" are probably not bids at all. Either the respondents offer their own price or express their outrage at the price offered.

This has been discussed dozens of times. Don't get all bent out of shape, folks! Just ignore these postings.

My two cents' worth.


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texjax DDS PhD  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:14
Member (2006)
English to Italian
+ ...
too bad it's not my combination!... Jun 21, 2006

...and now I need 40 Euro of Pepto-Bismol...!

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Francesca Verd  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:14
English to Catalan
+ ...
Are you sure? Jun 21, 2006

[quote]Trudy Peters wrote:

Most "bids" are probably not bids at all. Either the respondents offer their own price or express their outrage at the price offered.

http://www.proz.com/siterules/jobs_answ/2.1#2.1

If you have a look at the rules for answering to postings, you'll see that it is prohibited to respond "just to make a commentary on the posting".


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Henry Dotterer
Local time: 02:14
SITE FOUNDER
Please spread word about the rate calculator Jun 21, 2006

Hi all,

Our new rate calculator is intended to get people thinking about word rates as they pertain to income level, in light of certain factors that should not be fogotten (costs, holidays, etc.)

Please have a look and pass the link along if you think it may be useful:

http://www.proz.com/ratecalculator

When postings like this come up in the future, I will be delighted if people call attention to this calculator.


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 02:14
English to French
+ ...
Beginners? Jun 21, 2006

I think that people who reply to such postings are either from countries where - sadly - these are standard rates, or they are beginners and think that as beginners, to compensate for lack of experience, they should charge less. Anybody who gets enough work for 20 hours and more per week would ignore these postings.

I have proposed several times for ProZ to prohibit the displaying of proposed rates in job postings, as it should be up to the service provider to first propose a rate, and I bet we would propose rates that would be higher than the ones offered in most postings. Not enough people manifested interest in this potential solution, and it was disregarded.

I will now propose another one. Please, when you reply to this thread, do comment on this proposal in order to make this thread constructive. We always come here to vent, but nothing tangible ever comes out of it. Let's make a difference.

As ProZ keeps track of average rates for specific language pairs, they could set up a reminder that would display on the quoting page, right next to where you enter the rate you accept to do the job for. It could read somewhere along the lines of: "Please be aware that the rate per word you specified is 6 cents below the average market rate for this language pair". I would put this warning in a contrasting colour to make sure it will be read. This would also help newbies who don't know yet how much they should charge, it would guide them towards sound rates.

Let's see if any of you think this is a good idea...


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Vladimir Dubisskiy  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:14
English to Russian
+ ...
just guessing Jun 21, 2006

But what if someone can spend one hour doing it. So 40 Euro/hr - well, not too bad, eh?

I know that some people claim even 3000 words/hour turnaround...


Andreas Kobell wrote:

...they will need at least 5 or 6 hours to complete.


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Jonathan Faydi  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 08:14
Dutch to French
+ ...
Come back on earth... Jun 21, 2006

In some countries 40 Euros is about the average monthly salary... So earning it within one day is not so bad at all for some translators.

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Ritu Bhanot  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 08:14
Member (2006)
French to Hindi
+ ...
Great Idea Jun 21, 2006

set up a reminder that would display on the quoting page, right next to where you enter the rate you accept to do the job for. It could read somewhere along the lines of: "Please be aware that the rate per word you specified is 6 cents below the average market rate for this language pair".


I think this is a good idea... And it's not only the fact that beginners charge less to compensate for experience. I remember well, about ten years ago when I started as a translator I didn't know the prevailing market rates (like many other beginners) and agreed to whatever was offered, simply because I didn't know. And if you go deeper into the reason why people don't know is that no experienced translator is willing to share the details regarding rates. And often when they share, they give a rate which is often so high that the beginner is at a disadvantage. I agree that there is competition but this practice is one that goes on to really decrease the prevailing market rates. The budding translator tries a couple of times and then sees that his rates (as advised by the senior colleague) are not accepted and then agrees to work at whatever price is offered to him/ her... and it often takes years before one realises that these rates are not the right ones!!!

The day some of us stop misleading people... the rates issue will no more be an issue... I suffered for a couple of years because of this so now whenever a budding translator comes to me, I tell that person the correct prevailing market rate (to the best of my knowledge and that the lowest rate I would work for. Of course, I take a risk in this as the other person might compete with me over some project and quote a rate lower than mine. But then this person knows that I wouldn't work for something so low for a one project thing (my lowest rate is only for the clients who give me a lot of work) so this helps stabilize the market for me (to some extent)...

Maybe I'm wrong but then this openness seems a good practice to stabilize rates to some extent... I learnt things the hard way and probably made things difficult for other translators (though I was lucky enough and was offered the higher rates by the clients) so I try in my own small way to make things change.

Sincerely,

Ritu Bhanot


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HarryHedgehog
Germany
Local time: 08:14
German to English
You get what you pay for... Jun 21, 2006

I wouldn't get my nose too out of joint at stuff like this, Andreas. There will always be first-time translation customers who have no idea of the required skill level and time involved to produce quality translations, and likewise there will always be people willing to submit bids for ridiculously low sums, for example, because they are

a) starving language students who've heard rumors about this lucrative translation gig and figure it can't be all that hard ("look at the garbage this guy produced - I'm sure I can do better"), and it must beat waiting tables

b) total novices who are willing to take a stab at a job after taking a couple semesters at Goethe Institut, because they mistake that piece of faux parchment they get that confirms their course attendance for a certification of their language proficiency*

c) mediocre translators who can't build a base of satisfied customers through repeat business or word of mouth, because they repeatedly fail to produce the required quality, and therefore have to submit bids for a pittance just to get any work at all*

* b) and c) will often have "Platinum member at Proz.com" as their sole qualification (aside from the revered Goethe Institut certificate, of course)

In the above cases, the result will likely be of poor quality (perhaps accompanied by a slew of questions on the kudoz board). But hopefully the translation customers will learn their lesson the next time around, and not become a laughing stock in the meantime (see www.engrish.com for examples of the latter). In the end, there's just no substitute for qualified translators (who are preferably native in the language into which they translate).

[Edited at 2006-06-21 11:09]


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paulagoes  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:14
English to Portuguese
+ ...
This is a really good idea Jun 21, 2006

[quote]Viktoria Gimbe wrote:

As ProZ keeps track of average rates for specific language pairs, they could set up a reminder that would display on the quoting page, right next to where you enter the rate you accept to do the job for.

**
I am a newbie myself and I do tend to accept jobs for experience (but then they will be absolutely genuine charitable projects, such as the Million Artists, which I would do free of charge).

However, not always I am sure about the rates I should charge when a proper job comes, and how to vary them according to the various variants, such as deadline and subject. A reminder of rates in the language pairs would be a really good addition to the site, specially if it would also consider the country where the translators live in.

Have a good day
Paula


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