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Are we undoing what trade unions used 150 years to achieve?
Thread poster: Carole Muller
Carole Muller
Denmark
Local time: 23:19
English to French
+ ...
Dec 13, 2001

Dear All (concerned translators)

... and Dear Henry,



My posting here is: is it normal that somebody in country x, of the EU is offering through proz a job that pays 5-8 USD/hour and due to this is BELOW the legal hourly minimum in that country for unskilled manpower as enforced by trade unions and elevated into a law.



I know it\'s feasible through the bidding. I\'m just asking is it normal that proz works as a platform whereby I (me, personally) am selected by a company in country X (and my own company is registered in the same country) and we both know, the client and I that nobody in country X will ever work for that amount, not even a starving unskilled manpoer, because s/he will get the same or more in welfare benefits.



That\'s where I say we have sunk too low!!! Either the company is expecting me to forward the work to some underpaid person or they think I am not entitled to welfare benefits, which we all are in the EU. So?



Dear Henry, with all respects, you replied to a case of \"free answers\" and Kudoz questions by suggesting to edit preferences. Well, the option to edit preferences in the Kudoz section to receive only \"pro\" question is a nice intention but....the road to hell is also paved with good intentions.



I see quite a number of problems,they are serious and -with all respect- they won\'t go away just by editing preferences:



1.Anyone can register as a \"pro\", even my non English-speaking neighbour\' s daughter next door finishing high school and preparing her homework.



2.Anyone can register as a \"pro\" and maintain and have several identities and profiles-as a pro- and play a pro to pro game, Kudoz points or not.



3.An agency can register as a \"pro\" and have in-house staff go over bulk translations done at 0.02 cents (and still going done)then have X-in house translator do any kind of job as though X would be an omniscient computerises resource-assisted by the vast proz for free network, it will make agency Z deliver work that the \"pro\"s of proz member could have done, just here it went to 0.02 cts translator.



4. An example: I received an offer for a highly complex translation and a large project. It is a direct offer, but it seems I was found/selected through the proz pages. The rates offered to me for this difficult project, where each single word is highly specialised terminology are equivalent to an hourly salary that is 75 % percent of the legal minimum wage for UNSKILLED MANUAL WORKERS in THE COUNTRY WHEREFROM THE OFFER ORIGINATES. All together I calculted there are about 150 to 200 hours involved. In case the project truly requires 200 hours and not 150, the hourly wage drops to BELOW 50 % of the LEGAL MINIMUM WAGE in THAT COUNTRY.



More interesting, more universal: it drops to 8 dollars an hour, for a month work.



Further: it drops to BELOW THE UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS OF SKILLED WORKERS INTHAT COUNTRY.



Now, I do have these questions to all, but I\'d say also to Henry:



1. Is it okay that proz is used as a forum to offer work below the legal minimum wage in application in the country wherefrom the offer originates?



2. To those that will say, maybe if you\'re relocated in a cheap environment: the language pair involves an \"exotic\" language which is not normally spoken outside of thie region wherefrom the offer originates.



3. ...but I notice most questions in this \"language pair\" originate from translators located far away from the region who are \"doing\" this language. Only when you check their profile they are: not professional translators with a degreee, not professionals with another degree, but they have (select): a mother/a father/spent few years in childhood/come over for vacations/dictionaires/a love for \"words\"/etc..only problem is when you see the ype of questions asked by them. They are in the \"edit your preferences category of pros\" but they cannot manage without the lifeline to proz. And even then, you end up feeling that inspite of proz the translation might be really, really peculiar.



4. Why are (3) interesting? Because if I feel that working for 50 % of the minimum salary wage is degrading my profession and professional and societal or political ethics(i.e. we did not study 5,6 or 7 years at university to cash a pay check below what trade unions have achieved for the unskilled manpower).... the translation will surely have to look for a translator under (3).



5. Will the client be happy, when all technical components have been translated as one big patchwork blanket made up of benevolent assistance? I mean, if the client wanted a free translation, wouldn\'t they post a free translation request on proz?



6. Does the client have to go to an agency and pay the agency 5 or 6 times what I\'ll get to get a free translation (assuming the end product is made by benevolent proz contribution)



7. Is the offer I got from an agency, hiding under a proz membership posing as freelancer (that\'s how the person introduced himself)?



8. Is the offer from a freelancer taking his/her cut?



ANSWER: nobody will know, because under proz.com anyone can register as a freelancer /a company and NOT BE REGISTERED AT ALL/ BE IN ANOTHER COUNTRY (you can do anything with email headings nowadays, don\'t go by the mail message file)/NOT PAY VAT NOR TAXES /OFFER PRICES THAT ARE UNLAWFULL INTHAT COUNTRY



Therefore in my modest view, we translators (some of us, count me in) at proz.com have a problem, although proz.com as such may not have one.


[addsig]


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Werner George Patels, M.A., C.Tran.(ATIO)
Local time: 17:19
German to English
+ ...
Kudos again, Carole Dec 14, 2001

Fully agree with your arguments. Each day, the situation is getting more ridiculous. Frankly, I don\'t understand why this site is still called Pro? As someone else stated today, only 5% of those registered here are true professionals.



It\'s like \"Groundhog Day\" - the events keep repeating themselves: one ProZ moderator (like every day), who is incapable of doing his/her own translations, is posting several KudoZ questions (\"outside one\'s expertise\" - and I thought moderators had to be \"shining examples\" of professional translators); rates are falling and falling and falling ...; more and more anonymous profiles, posters, etc; known \"con-artists\" are still allowed to post jobs that will end in disaster for those that landed the job (again, today, an agency known to most insiders of the translation industry and ProZ for its illegal and fraudulent practices was allowed to post a call for CVs - AGAIN). And the list goes on.



Henry, if you wanted to have a site that is a hodgepodge of people dabbling in languages without having a spark of professionalism, then please say so in the mission statement. The name of this site is ProZ and there are several references to \"professionals\". So, please, can we turn this into a site for the professionals only, instead of just paying lip-service all the time?



You know me, Henry, I\'ll praise the site when praise is due, but I won\'t close my eyes to glaring shortcomings and incidents of abuse either.



And I know you, Henry, and I know that you mean well and you have my full support. I hope that the changes you are about to introduce will do the trick.



But what I would like to see is a detailed breakdown of a) the number of ProZ members with verified accreditations and b) the number of ProZ members with (recognized) T&I degrees. Once we have those numbers, we\'ll know more, and I am sure that Carole and many others will agree.

[ This Message was edited by: on 2001-12-14 01:46 ]


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Henry Dotterer
Local time: 17:19
SITE FOUNDER
response to Werner: The strategy is *open meritocracy* Dec 14, 2001

Raising the bar for participation in ProZ.com as a whole, and in job bidding and KudoZ specifically, is an ongoing mission.



To say that 95% of those registered at ProZ.com are not professional strikes me as an overstatement. But it is true that only a small percentage are truly good.



The problem is telling the two apart at the point of registration. We don\'t have an easy way to do it.



So my strategy is \"open meritocracy.\" We allow anyone with an email address to register, and then we give everyone ways to prove themselves to be among the good ones.



Based on the feedback I am getting from outsourcers, certain indicators--kudoz points, accreditations, membership level, completed jobs, more detailed profiles--are making it easier to tell the truly good translators apart from the rest.



Other facts suggest the meritocratic approach works.



For example, a KudoZ search in one of the larger language pairs (English - Spanish or English - Italian) on \"pro\"-level medical questions shows that the level of discourse is quite respectable. I conclude that the level of quality is rising over time (contrary to \"good-old-days\" arguments bemoaning ProZ.com\'s supposed progression from a small cadre of enthusiasts to an open and standards-less mob--such emails started to arrive around month three!)



It should not be surprising to anyone that bad translators do not have a good time here, and lose interest over time. Some good ones leave too, but most stay.



In the end, ProZ.com is subject to the same economic and competitive forces that exist offline. Predictions of doom-and-gloom overstate the impact of the Internet.; this is just another means of communicating.


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Henry Dotterer
Local time: 17:19
SITE FOUNDER
Response to Carole Dec 14, 2001

I am responding because you wrote \"Dear Henry\"...but you cover a lot of ground, and I must say I am struggling to ascertain what it is you would like me to answer...so I will address the bits and pieces where you ask a specific question.



You ask \"Is it okay that proz is used as a forum to offer work below the legal minimum wage in application in the country wherefrom the offer originates?\"



No, that is not OK. In fact, I assume that such a practice would be illegal, depending on the country of origin. If you are aware of such a posting, you might consider reporting it to the appropriate authorities in those nations, and notifying us at the smae time. We can not and do not vet postings...but we would try to remove any posting that violates a law as quickly as we can.



You ask \"Is the offer I got from an agency, hiding under a proz membership posing as freelancer (that\'s how the person introduced himself)?\"



I don\'t know who you have corresponded with, and I don\'t know whether they are an agency or a freelancer. If this is a concern of yours, you should ask that party.



But it is not clear to me why anyone would \'hide\' under a ProZ.com membership. WHat would be gained in this case?



You ask \"Is the offer from a freelancer taking his/her cut?\"



Again, I have no idea.



You seem to have a fundamental misunderstanding of the role of this site. We provide here a venue for people to meet and do business. We do not get involved in the transactions, we do not qualify people, etc. Think of ProZ.com as a glorified directory.



You say, \"we translators (some of us, count me in) at proz.com have a problem, although proz.com as such may not have one.\"



Lets put it this way: when you are considering working with someone you have met offline, there are certain steps you take to determine how desirable a business partner that person will be: you may need to qualify the person\'s abilities, you may ask for references, you might enter into a contract, you will almost certainly ask a few questions.



You should do all the same things when you meet a person here.



As for whether or not ProZ.com has \"a problem\", ProZ.com is a business serving and making a living from its users...so we may make available to you, sometimes at a fee, always optionally, certain tools--identity verification, native speaker certification, etc.--that make it easier for you to do things like determine the desirability of a business partner.



But make no mistake, the responsibility is yours.


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Werner George Patels, M.A., C.Tran.(ATIO)
Local time: 17:19
German to English
+ ...
Thank you Dec 14, 2001

Quote:


On 2001-12-14 03:08, Henry wrote:





To say that 95% of those registered at ProZ.com are not professional strikes me as an overstatement. But it is true that only a small percentage are truly good.



[...]



In the end, ProZ.com is subject to the same economic and competitive forces that exist offline. Predictions of doom-and-gloom overstate the impact of the Internet.; this is just another means of communicating.





I have to disagree on the last point, though: ProZ is different from the offline, real world: the real world of translation IS, in fact, driven by \"real world\" qualifications such as T&I degrees and accreditation. And these factors also come into play on the Internet; it is only here at ProZ (given the enormous number of members who do not have these qualifications) that these essential requirements are constantly being downplayed, rejected and belittled (even by some ProZ moderators, who really should know better).



Allow me to speak frankly now: 99.9% of my professional life is \"happening\" outside of ProZ and all other online services of this kind because, as a professional who fits the above profile (T&I, etc.), these online sites have nothing substantial to add. ProZ is a fun and interesting place, and KudoZ can be a nice game too, but business-wise, I\'d rather rely on those clients that come to me through the ATIO directory, for example.



All I am saying is that I would like to see ProZ reach those same heights because I do believe in you guys and because I am convinced that, once you are there, you could do an even better job than ATIO et al.



But I still would like to see a breakdown of the number or percentage of members with verified accreditations.



Maybe 95% is an overblown number, but it\'s probably not too far off.

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Henry Dotterer
Local time: 17:19
SITE FOUNDER
Number of reported and verified credentials: 11,969 + 926 Dec 14, 2001

Quote:


...I still would like to see a breakdown of the number or percentage of members with verified accreditations.





11969 reported credentials, 926 verified.

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xxxwilliamson
Local time: 23:19
Dutch to English
+ ...
Translator? Dec 14, 2001

Begin



If



1. Graduate at a T.I (preferably member of CIUTI)

2. Certified

3.Bilingual native

then Translate



Else



Do not translate



GO TO



Become a freelance I.T.pro. It earns about 100.000$/year.



END.



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Egmont
Spain
Local time: 23:19
Afrikaans to Spanish
+ ...
GLOBALIZATION Dec 14, 2001

Globalization is the explanation for this bad situation.

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Carole Muller
Denmark
Local time: 23:19
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
a market place or a cyberfactory? Dec 14, 2001

Dear all,



Thank you for taking part in this debate and thank you Henry for your anwers. However I fail to see the economic logic-if there is one-and without one this excellent idea behind proz will of it\'s own and on it\'s own deviate into a cyberfactory.



All your arguments are good and valid, if only they applied to the settings and were not wishful thinking-with all respect-we all make mistakes, and sometimes big too, and we all have to help each other help from them and patch the leaks that my grow into floods.



Proz is a great place to meet other translators and my hunch is, it should stick to that and that only and provide tools, forums to meet colleagues etc.. somthing of great value, which I (am sure others too) are prepared to pay for.



But to turn proz into a wild auction is an enormous mistake, because the auction mechanism as it is designed at proz (and believe me it can be designed VERY differently) can be brought to work MUCH better and to the benefit of PAYING proz members as well as to the benefit of PAYING clients).



NUMBERS:there are, as far as I remember 2,300 conference interpreters (who truly are conference interpreters)in the world. The proz site boasts of 26,000 translators, and I\'m sure more are coming every day. The problem with proz is the auction mechanism. Whether clients place a call for a job or not, the auction mechanism provides clients (agencies and other clients) with a powerful argument back in the agency\'s backoffice to keep wages of in-house translators DOWN (see what you would get as a free lance on the market) and to increase their profits by delocalising translation jobs from the geographical space where they should be worked out to some location where somebody, whose credentials we perfectly know cannot be checked, offers 2 cents per word.



Ultimately I find that it brings discredit to us all, and also to the site for promoting unfair competition. You may invoke the market mechanism. but in terms of economic theory the liberal mechanism invoked was defined by 18th century philophers and thinkers who rarely were on a market place themselves and who defined some principles according to some observations that later were shown scientifically by rational economists using maths to prove (1) their fallacies and (2) their inadequacies.



Hence we have controlling, governing and rule emitting bodies to look out after us...IN THE REAL world.



BUT IN CYBERWORLD, there are almost no legislations. It\'a wild place-where dignital signatures are only beginning to emerge- and for a vast number of reasons, dignital signatures are not 100% the trustworthy solution to all ailments. There are on the cybermarket no rules, no frames, no human interaction, all of which the \"market\" and the \"market mechanism\" are subject to.



In the REAL WORLD; ia thief steals an apple from a market, the police catch him and cut his hand of/kill him/Send im to jail, whatever merchants have prior to setting up their shop VOTED for and MANDATED their environment to do for them.



In the REAL WORDL: you can check a company by going there. I n CYBERWORDL there is even a frequent phenomenon of Identity Theft. Type in \"Identity Theft\" in Google and read or go to my site (I apologise for it not being updated for a very long time) www.europeinsight.com select Entrepreneur resources and read the different articles regarding Spyware, Identity theft etc...



In general and as a response to your arguments, this is the discourse car manufacturers could have chosen to hold: we design and construct a car, up to you to drive it well, look out for other drivers, the traffic in general, the weather conditions, the terrain etc... However it seems choosing another outlook at their clients needs is highly profitable, the car industry is thriving. The outlook is based on road safety, a comfortable cabin, a prestigious brand image reflecting on the client, all these combine to give real added value to the client and THUS THEY JUSTIGY KEEPING OR INCREASING PRICES, becaue cars unlike many items such as computers, electronics, etc.. all benefit from rationalised production processes, cheaper electromic components, but MANAGE TO KEEP PRICE LEVELS.



Likewise one can choose to design a web market place that will grow and grow until it becomes too disparate to keep the core and the core exits to another place where the framing better serves their need to display QUALITY. Then, what remains will still be profitable and make up a critical mass that may be a public for marketing products and translation tools, and some agencies will still look for 0.02 cts translators, this market will allways exist. Or one can choose to design a place to which serves the profession by keeping standards and in support of a high quality/price mix.



It\'s all in the branding and in the image and in the design to attract the clientele (the site\'s clientele) namely translators and agencies that match each other. Here we have too many kinds of translators and to few kinds of agencies.



Numbers are probably the explanation. Many agencies of one kind (and few of another) find some translators of one kind, while many translators of many kinds are not matched.



I\'d be curious- not as your client Henry- but as an economist specialised in strategu and how to implement objectives in a way that does not backlash- to know what is the volume of translations actually traded through this marketplace: what is the turnover in dollars that proz attracted to the site for bidding and out of this volume what is the percentage that went to a proz translator-accredited or not.



Surely, it\'s not really something to post and I don\'t mean to pry into your business, the answer is purely rethoric because: this volume is truly an indicator of what role proz plays as a MARKETPLACE for MATCHING TRANSLATORS AND AGENCIES.



I believe proz can be used as a MARKETPLACE to trade other goods than translatios, for instance software and as I said above manyof us might be interested in sticking around such a place to keep up on developments that are accelerating, fragmented, split over domains and spread across the world and the languages.



Now to invoke the \"market mechanism and market forces\" is a truism and is simply not true-from an econonmic analyst\'s point of view. since we economists know to what extent the most \"liberal\" regions if you take their statements are restrictive and controlling when it comes to their policies. The US for one, known to be invoking the market mechanism in POLITICAL writings (blabla for voters and journalists) is known to and shown to exert extremely protectionisitic policies when it comes to anything that may be imported into the territory and harm its domestic producers. Typically examples in the economic literature illustrate this with cases from the agriculture and food industry, the car industry, electronics etc....



Apart from the known dual identidy liberal discourse/factual deeds there are very concrete reasons for applying regulations, and these reasons have throughout history been a concern to professions and inspird them to act:

-The image of the profession

-The homogeinity of the product delivered by any professional member to keep the image up

-The high quality level to attract new clients

-The application of price rules between members of the trade to avoid price wars



etc....



a concrete example being that since antiquity (the time of city states)and again during the development of cities in the Middle ages, one would find entire streets of shops of the same trade regrouped there.



Not as our modern mind -impregnated by the dual political discourse/factual deeds-would think to keep prices down for the customer.



..no! To keep prices UP and prevent price wars by keeping an eya on each other. Go and talk the shop keepers in the bazaars in the Middle-East they are real friends and help one another if one has problems. It is known as a special characteristic of the bazaar of Damascus that almost nobody there ever encounters bakruptcy, because his fellow shopkeepers help him financially. For this reason any merchant from the bazaa of Damascus always in Syrian and abroad enjoyed good relations and had an apriori high credit with banks.



Therefore Henry to invoke the marchet mechanism when one does not know how it functions- it does not have an implicit one way function, it is intricate, subject to psychology and to values that only can be measured by methods belonging more to ethnology than to mathematics-is really just to avoid the problem, which is that proz and it\'s auction mechanism can be greatly improved.



Provided there\'s a will to do so there\'s always a solution. In this case I pesonally do see MANY different and interesting solutions. But the ultimate result of continuing on this track is that in the end it will be a looser\'s game. There are loosers in the short run, another category in the intermediate run and another category in the long run. Ultimately all are loosers, the problem is that not everybody can see that.



Just as Cassandra was endowed with far-sightedness and the skill to make prophecies, the gods positioned her as a human and not as a deity able to serve humanity with this gift, by attributing to these prohecies that nobody will believe her.



being the daughter of the King of Troya, she foresaw the end of Troya by conmanship, but the Troyans did not believe her.



Here the problem is similar in that some of us see through the fog and onto where the road leads on the other side of the fog, and the others don\'t. The problem is, it is the majority that does not see things coming in time and will have to cope with the problems when they cannot be controlled.



Henry, I guess you must be able to read from my postings that I am writing in support of the site and that-based on my quite lengthy and varied carrier as an economist- I do see things that can be done much, much better to the benefir of site owners, professional translators, clients (and okay,why not be grand, agencies too).



The thing is: do we want to act or do we want to cope later on?
[addsig]


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Telesforo Fernandez
Local time: 03:49
English to Spanish
+ ...
excellent elucidation, Carole Dec 14, 2001

Hello Carole,



I am zapped by this excellent exposition of the sentiments and anxieties of a well meaning translator and I am sure that many translators must be holding similar sentiments up their chests.



I had seldom seen, on these forum pages, such an erudite and forceful exposition. You have snatched the words from my mouth or better still you said what I wanted to say but did not know how to say it.



Yours is like \" all you wanted to know about cybertranslations, but were afraid to ask\".



Well meaning people must remember that these are not pedantic translators who do not understand what lies behind the lines.



If the real world is full of danger, the cyber world can still be more sinister and devastating.



As you have rightly said, we want the site to grow and in turn help the community of translators. And complete trasnparency alone can achieve this.

Thanks again,

Telesforo



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Werner George Patels, M.A., C.Tran.(ATIO)
Local time: 17:19
German to English
+ ...
Credentials Dec 14, 2001

So, the percentage is even lower than 5%. Interesting. Thank you.

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Carole Muller
Denmark
Local time: 23:19
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
...about the typos Dec 14, 2001

Thank you, Telesforo, so much for your kind support and to others who have written to me,



I apologise to all for my typos, writing from an expensive connection (not my usual)and from my laptop,where the keyboard has an electronic defect (and after the guarantee period of course) making the cursor suddenly jump back in the text and write from in the middle of a word.



So for the coming weeks,I \'ll end writing with a lot of typos when writing online or responding to online forums.



Therefore, thank you all, for being able to decipher my messages anyway...but then you are keen-eyed and experienced translators (!!!!!)
[addsig]


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Henry Dotterer
Local time: 17:19
SITE FOUNDER
Percent of community with credentials Dec 14, 2001

There are 11969 reported credentials, 926 verified.





Werner said: \\\"So, the percentage is even lower than 5%. Interesting. Thank you.\\\"





To be fair, we are only able to verify a small percentage of credentials. Not every authority gives us a convenient way to verify credentials.





Also, there are excellent translators who have not earned credentials. Some people do not even have access to good credentialing programs (ie. Thai translators, etc.)





Personally, I would like to see more credentialing, and more cooperation when it comes to verification. If you agree, let your local association know your feelings: they should offer their testing programs far and wide, and not require yearly membership fees for keeping the credentials valid.


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Werner George Patels, M.A., C.Tran.(ATIO)
Local time: 17:19
German to English
+ ...
This is where ProZ could play a vital role Dec 14, 2001

I have suggested this before (as have others): ProZ should fill the void and provide \"accreditation\" of some sort to those that have no access to the traditional channels of accreditation - but I am not just referring to PNS, but to actual \"ProZ accreditation\" for translators (ie, translation test, 2-3 graders, peer review, etc.).



As I said, I see great things in the future of ProZ, but it must be done right.


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Maya Jurt  Identity Verified
Switzerland
Local time: 23:19
Member (2002)
French to German
+ ...
Dog eats dog Dec 14, 2001

I do agree with almost everything that Carole wrote. I disagree with Werner George insistence of accreditation and diplomas which may or may not be proof of the translator\'s qualification. And I am glad that Henry does not want to create a meritocracy which, in my opinion, ressembles furiously a \"accredito-diplomatitisocracy\". But I am biased. I don\'t have a translator\'s diploma, only experience.



Cyberworld and globalization are a reality. We have to live with it. It has its good sides and its bad ones. I am rather happy that a translator from Bolivia or India is able to compete with me. I am ready to lower my rates but he should be ready to upgrade his.



The problem at proZ, and not only at proZ, but in business in general, is that dog eats dog. I know that and I live with it. It\'s a slow going if you don\'t want to join the crowd. However, at the end, if you are convinced of your competencies and strive to work with human beings, you get a lot of work for a decent price. Moreover, you gain recognition.



I would like to share with you the remarks of a new client, aquired through bidding against 25 much lower bids(not at proZ). He wrote me a few days ago:



\"I chose you because you were the only one to take a moment to look at what the job entailed and I respect your decision

of what it will cost. ...\"

\"...As soon as we finish the German site

I want to deviate a bit and build with you (

additional cost of course and not part of the original agreed amount) a data base of answers in German to commonly asked questions. Then we will proceed to the French site.

Thanks for trusting me ... one can feel that you are not in business in the States which has become real dog eat dog...\"



The subject is something I like, the company can be trusted, it pays a good rate (you know know my usual rate for international projects) and I will have fun and get more work.



There are a lot of competent translators on proZ and quite a few human beings among them. If we would think in terms of professionality and decency and solidarity instead of quick bucks, we would gain recognition and clients.



I believe that is one of the things Carole would like to achieve. But can we trust each other?



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