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Translation jobs without indication about contents
Thread poster: bohy

bohy  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 18:21
English to French
+ ...
Feb 23, 2008

When I look at jobs posted on Proz, I see quite often some which have no indication of the nature of the text to translate, or very vague, like "technical contents". And yet, translators are asked to quote directly, and usually the price is already capped.
I do not quote on such jobs. But I am curious to know if you do or not, and if yes, what happens when you get the job? Are there cases were you commit to a translation without knowing what it is about?


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Margreet Logmans  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 18:21
English to Dutch
+ ...
Not anymore Feb 23, 2008

I have quoted on such jobs in the past, but these days I have so much work I hardly ever quote on a job unless I'm really, really interested.

When quoting on these kind of jobs, I always commented on the lack of description.
I also added a list of various technical projects I had done in the past and asked for a sample text, the whole text or further information.
I never committed to any job without any of that.

In my experience, these jobs are either rather general texts or very short ones.
I've never had to turn down an assignment like that.

Highly specialised texts are usually given to serious agencies who know better than to post a job like that.

IMHO...


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gianfranco  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 15:21
Member (2001)
English to Italian
+ ...
Incompetent outsourcers Feb 23, 2008

bohy wrote:
When I look at jobs posted on Proz, I see quite often some which have no indication of the nature of the text to translate, or very vague, like "technical contents". And yet, translators are asked to quote directly, ...

In my opinion, these outsourcers or project managers have no idea about what translation is about and I avoid them like the plague.
Note that in the ProZ.com jobs area, the subject is required, these people just don't bother and ignore it.


bohy wrote:
...and usually the price is already capped.

Of course, this is their general approach. Their idea of outsourcing is to shift files from a customer to a translator, looking only at the difference between the rates, but adding very little or no value at all.
Needless to say, this approach usually spells trouble in many other areas...

By the way, this is a gripe of mine. The price of our services should be determined by us, the service providers. An outsourcers should only provide an indication, a suggestion, at the most...
In every transaction, it is always the seller that puts a price tag, not the buyer.


bohy wrote:
...I do not quote on such jobs. But I am curious to know if you do or not, and if yes, what happens when you get the job? Are there cases were you commit to a translation without knowing what it is about?

For a translator who cares about quality, it is essential to know if the subject falls within his/her expertise. I personally, even when the field seems to coincide with my expertise, I confirm that I can take the project, and confirm my initial quote (if I have provided a tentative quote before seeing the files) is always confirmed only after I see the actual files, or a significant sample of them.

bye
Gianfranco




[Edited at 2008-02-23 19:03]


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:21
English to Spanish
+ ...
CONTEXT Feb 23, 2008

This is like askers who post translation questions without CONTEXT. How are we supposed to know what it is all about when we are completely in the dark?

Specific contents should always be indicated in detail, along with origin and destination.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 18:21
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Give your average rate, and state it so Feb 23, 2008

bohy wrote:
And yet, translators are asked to quote directly, and usually the price is already capped.


You are permitted to add a note to the quote, so why not say that the rate quoted is your average rate for such texts, and that you can only bind yourself to an amount once you've seen the text. It is less likely that you'll win the bid, but at least it gives you the opportunity to present yourself to a potential new client.


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bohy  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 18:21
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
What about the experience of those who take these jobs? Feb 23, 2008

Well, I don't plan to quote on those jobs, but I'd like to hear about the experience of those who took such jobs. No bad surprise? For instance, when I read "technical contents" in the description, I don't understand why it's not possible to be more precise. Who takes such jobs, and how do you handle that?

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Russell Jones  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:21
Member (2004)
Italian to English
Connect jobs too Feb 23, 2008

I was sent an e-mail about a Connect job this week; no subject matter, no size, no format, no sample and no deadline.
It is also unclear to what extent these jobs are targeted; has someone personally selected me and do I therefore at least owe them the courtesy of a reply or are they computer generated, with no one to notice whether I reply or not?


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Paul Merriam  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:21
Member (2008)
Russian to English
+ ...
Probably computer generated Feb 23, 2008

Russell Jones wrote:

I was sent an e-mail about a Connect job this week; no subject matter, no size, no format, no sample and no deadline.
It is also unclear to what extent these jobs are targeted; has someone personally selected me and do I therefore at least owe them the courtesy of a reply or are they computer generated, with no one to notice whether I reply or not?


I suspect they're computer generated. I got one last week looking for Thai to English and English to Thai translators. I have no expertise in either combination. I didn't respond.


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 18:21
English to German
+ ...
Connect selection Feb 24, 2008

Hi Russell,

I was sent an e-mail about a Connect job this week; no subject matter, no size, no format, no sample and no deadline.

Like standard job postings, Connect jobs can only be as good as the people posting them. It's important to note, though, that the Connect interface allows to provide a maximum in project-related information, including (but not necessarily) the project files.

It is also unclear to what extent these jobs are targeted; has someone personally selected me and do I therefore at least owe them the courtesy of a reply or are they computer generated, with no one to notice whether I reply or not?

No general answer, I'm afraid: Connect generally allows for a certain level of selection, but this can be based on one or two criteria, with notifications going out to several hundred people. Personally, when I use Connect, I try to narrow down the search to a maximum of ten providers - but then I guess you would realised that when reading the invitation to quote.

Regarding Paul's comment:

I suspect they're computer generated. I got one last week looking for Thai to English and English to Thai translators. I have no expertise in either combination. I didn't respond.

This particular case was a combination of a bug in the system with a lack of details specified by the job poster. Some people decided to contact a Jobs moderator, so we could get it sorted out.

Best regards,
Ralf


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 15:21
English to Portuguese
+ ...
A solution Feb 24, 2008

gianfranco wrote:
By the way, this is a gripe of mine. The price of our services should be determined by us, the service providers. An outsourcers should only provide an indication, a suggestion, at the most...
In every transaction, it is always the seller that puts a price tag, not the buyer.


As Proz is so fond of ingenious e-gizmos on its site (and this is is one of the key aspects of keeping it ahead of the competition), there might be a good solution for this specific price-related role reversal:

There is a database on Proz with average translator rates for most language pairs. Whenever the outsourcer mentions their preset rates for a job, such an e-gizmo could immediately inform, maybe graphically, "this rate is X per cent of the average rate (e.g. 65% is slightly more than half; 100% is right on the average; 120% is 20% above) set by translators for this language pair". It could be a color, a progress bar, a dial, an icon, but it would show it boldly.

Also, on the BlueBoard page for a specific outsourcer, there could be a similar indicator of the average rates offered by them for all language pairs so far, compared to the respective translator-offered averages. This would replace WWA comments like "Timely payers, but extremely low rates" with facts. On a second phase, translators giving WWA feedback could also have a chance to anonymously indicate the language pairs they worked in for that outsourcer and the final rate they received, which would be shown as an average on the corresponding BlueBoard page.

I didn't study the issue thoroughly, wouldn't have the necessary information for that. However it's a matter of business strategy. Who keeps Proz going and growing? Translators or outsourcers? Whoever the winner is, at least here, they should be allowed to set their price.


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 12:21
English to French
+ ...
Why are they allowed to ignore it? Feb 24, 2008

gianfranco wrote:

Note that in the ProZ.com jobs area, the subject is required, these people just don't bother and ignore it.



If the subject is required, why are outsourcers allowed to ignore it? I think it would be very easy to have outsourcers respect at least this requirement (there are several others, too, in my opinion, such as deadline and wordcount). All that would need to be done is to make the field mandatory, so that if they try to post the job and the subject field is not filled in, they get an error message telling them the job cannot be posted unless they fill in the field. That field should contain a list of the different subjects (I would also not allow them to pick general subjects, like "Technical" and such), and if an outsourcer picks "Other", it should also be mandatory to fill out a second field where they can enter a few words to describe the text to be translated.

Also, it is my understanding that job posts are vetted before letting them display on the site. So, why are these incomplete job posts allowed to slip through?

This also bugs me big time. And when this ignorance escalates into Connect jobs, it really becomes a nuisance. I never quote on such jobs, even when it looks like the outsourcer would be willing to pay my rate and set a reasonable deadline. Then again, I haven't quoted on any job here in a long time... But I do sometimes see job postings where I feel like quoting - and am mad because it is only by quoting that I can find out the basic details of the job. Then I decide not to, because these people usually only reply if they are interested in working with me. Waste of time, really. In fact, I think that my never quoting is probably partially based on this lack of information. If job postings were more complete, I probably would quote on some jobs once in a while.

What I don't get is that, other than being rather ignorant of freelancers, these agencies also seem to not realize that they are actually working against themselves when they don't post the basic information. Specialized translators clearly prefer not to quote on incomplete job descriptions, and these agencies probably end up getting too few quotes, and probably end up going with a translator whose work is not as good quality as they were hoping for, because they don't have a big enough pool of quotes to make their choice. This beats me...

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:

Also, on the BlueBoard page for a specific outsourcer, there could be a similar indicator of the average rates offered by them for all language pairs so far, compared to the respective translator-offered averages. This would replace WWA comments like "Timely payers, but extremely low rates" with facts.



Forget it, José - ain't happening anytime soon. I personally would love to be able to see how much an agency pays in average, but then again, I don't think agencies who charge 25 cents per word but pay 2 cents per word would be happy if their clients stumbled upon this information. Their clients probably would have a hard time spotting the value that is worth 23 cents... as do I.

[Edited at 2008-02-24 15:40]


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bohy  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 18:21
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Automatic quoting? Feb 24, 2008

Viktoria Gimbe wrote:

This also bugs me big time. And when this ignorance escalates into Connect jobs, it really becomes a nuisance. I never quote on such jobs, even when it looks like the outsourcer would be willing to pay my rate and set a reasonable deadline. Then again, I haven't quoted on any job here in a long time... But I do sometimes see job postings where I feel like quoting - and am mad because it is only by quoting that I can find out the basic details of the job. Then I decide not to, because these people usually only reply if they are interested in working with me. Waste of time, really. In fact, I think that my never quoting is probably partially based on this lack of information. If job postings were more complete, I probably would quote on some jobs once in a while.



[Edited at 2008-02-24 15:40]


My opinion is the same. But I am also puzzled by something else: there are actually quoters on these jobs. You can see it. However, I did not get any answer from persons accepting such jobs. I doubt they spend much time on Proz... Maybe they even have some kind of automated process to quote... Automated solliciting, automated quoting... is it the future of Proz ? If Proz agrees to tolerate this, there should be at least ways to make this more difficult, or to separate the flows. So that agencies and translators who care about quality (and/or work in a well-targeted area) can work together.


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gianfranco  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 15:21
Member (2001)
English to Italian
+ ...
The subject list may not be applicable, in some cases... Feb 24, 2008

Viktoria Gimbe wrote:
gianfranco wrote:
Note that in the ProZ.com jobs area, the subject is required, these people just don't bother and ignore it.

If the subject is required, why are outsourcers allowed to ignore it?


Hi Viktoria,

I don't know for sure why the design choice has been made and the subject field can be ignored, but my guess is that probably the list of fields offered in the list may not be comprehensive.
This list, I remember, has been prepared pragmatically, just looking at the subjects most frequently requested, but it has no claim to be complete, or scientifically designed.

Anyway, even if it is possible to skip the subject field, any decent outsourcer posting a job should use the body of his message to specify what exactly is required.

The real problem is that some people just don't care, or totally ignore (simple incompetence) the importance of this information to find the best vendor.

Ultimately, this is for me a signal that they don't care much about the quality of the service that they provide to their customer, and I wish them good luck... but... if they are careless with the customer, who pays them, I wonder what they will do to their vendors, who are their creditors.

bye
Gianfranco



[Edited at 2008-02-24 22:21]


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 12:21
English to French
+ ...
This is what worries me, too Feb 25, 2008

gianfranco wrote:

Ultimately, this is for me a signal that they don't care much about the quality of the service that they provide to their customer, and I wish them good luck... but... if they are careless with the customer, who pays them, I wonder what they will do to their vendors, who are their creditors.



Well, I've seen cases where they were indeed careless enough that the end client eventually refused to pay - rightly so - and guess who ended up absorbing the losses? If this happened to me, I would make sure I claim all my dues all the same. Then again, I don't think it will happen anytime soon, because as some people couldn't care less about finding the right vendor, I couldn't care less to quote on jobs I don't even have the most basic details about.

Sadly, there are people desperate enough to keep quoting on such jobs...


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