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Rate discussions not allowed in ProZ forums?
Thread poster: Ana Cuesta

Ana Cuesta  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:00
Member
English to Spanish
Jan 25, 2006

A moderator in Getting Stablished forum has just replied to a post (301024) about going rates as follows:

"What I would prefer, as moderator, is for no rates discussion here. If anyone wants to guide Natalie, can they do it in private please? TIA" and then "... it generally ends in tears when people start to discus rates, so we encourage that to be a private exchange."

Is that ProZ's policy? Maybe a new one? (couldn't find anything to that effect on the forums rules). Thanks for claryfying.


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Angela Arnone  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:00
Member (2004)
Italian to English
+ ...
As I said in that forum Jan 25, 2006

Past experience has made it clear that rates discussion (actual amounts per word is what I mean) has ended in controversy and lengthy, time-consuming argument that leads nowhere except to bad feeling, so I have invited members to discuss their rates in private. Even more so if we consider that rates swing wildly depending on language pairs and specialisations.

So far no one has had a problem with this and I'm astonished that Ana feels it to be a serious enough issue to start a new thread about it. I was happy to explain on the original forum, and I did.

BTW, I don't want to sound rude, but all moderators have names (and feelings!), which are shown on the forum page, so it would have been nice if Ana had said "Angela, the Getting Established Moderator, said ...."

Angela




Ana Cuesta wrote:

A moderator in Getting Stablished forum has just replied to a post (301024) about going rates as follows:

"What I would prefer, as moderator, is for no rates discussion here. If anyone wants to guide Natalie, can they do it in private please? TIA" and then "... it generally ends in tears when people start to discus rates, so we encourage that to be a private exchange."

Is that ProZ's policy? Maybe a new one? (couldn't find anything to that effect on the forums rules). Thanks for claryfying.


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Ana Cuesta  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:00
Member
English to Spanish
TOPIC STARTER
Answering to Angela Jan 25, 2006

Angela Arnone wrote:

Past experience has made it clear that rates discussion (actual amounts per word is what I mean) has ended in controversy and lengthy, time-consuming argument that leads nowhere except to bad feeling, so I have invited members to discuss their rates in private.



I beg to disagree, I think discussing about anything that matters to us, as persons and professionals, is only healthy. Besides, we are all adults and should be free to decide if something is worth discussing or not (as far as we keep to the rules, of course, otherwise we would be free to abide by them or leave the site).


So far no one has had a problem with this and I'm astonished that Ana feels it to be a serious enough issue to start a new thread about it. I was happy to explain on the original forum, and I did.



Well, I did find it serious enough (am I entitled to that, at least?) to be discussed publicly, since your request to refrain from discussion was made publicly and using expressions like "I, as a moderator" and "we", which may led to think that you were expressing ProZ's policy. I Know we Mediterraneans tend to take things personally, but believe me if I say it was nothing like that (and I think my post was impersonal and polite enough, was it not?).


BTW, I don't want to sound rude, but all moderators have names (and feelings!), which are shown on the forum page, so it would have been nice if Ana had said "Angela, the Getting Established Moderator, said ...."

Angela



Sorry if you found it rude, in fact I was trying not to personalize the issue at all. If you had posted that opinion as Angela, I would have had no problem (I would have answered back and that would have been it). But you posted what may be a legitimate but personal (or maybe not? that is what I am trying to clarify) opinion framing it with "I, as a moderator" and "we", which is both what made me feel there was something worth discussing and what made me quote you as a moderator and not as Angela.

I did post in the other forum too just to make you aware of my post here (made in the forum where I feel should be discussed, since its scope was more ample that the particular question that prompted your reply). And I didn't write personally to you first because, again, a) it was nothing personal, b) I think an assertion made in public is best clarified in public.

Thanks,


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Sara Freitas
France
Local time: 07:00
French to English
Issue of discussing rates needs to be clarified Jan 25, 2006

Ana, I have to say that I agree with you completely. After this issue came up a couple of months ago in this very same forum, I read the site rules and Henry's article on the role of moderators thoroughly and the site's stance on discussing rates and the role of moderators in preventing such discussions from taking place still wasn't clear to me. I am waiting for clarification on this issue from Proz site staff (support ticket submitted on January 3).

I think (I hope) that everyone at Proz is aware of how generous the volunteer moderators are with their time. However, as Ana mentioned, we are all adults here and, while rates can be a controversial issue, it is also a vital one to our profession and we should be allowed to give our opinions when a colleague asks for them.

I hope that the site will put forward a clear rule regarding this issue.

Regards,

Sara


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Angela Arnone  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:00
Member (2004)
Italian to English
+ ...
Thanks Sara and Ana, we need this kind of input from members Jan 25, 2006

I'm sure Site Staff will respond.
Thanks also for making it clear that other moderators are steering discussions away from rates. This explains why I said "we", meaning "we, the moderators", as this was not my personal decision, but the expression of a moderator group decision.
My concern was that Ana felt me to be "inventing a rule", when in fact I asked (as a moderator, since it's not something I could ask otherwise) if people would be kind enough not to make public posts about the amounts of money they charge for jobs.
I didn't say it was a "rule".
The need for "written" rules arises as "grey areas" are identified as leading to controversy, which is not always immediately predictable.

Thanks too, to Ana for explaining, but please always mention the name of the moderator - there is nothing "personal" about saying "so and so said such and such" if you back it with the link. Also because moderators may be acting as Forum Mod (which I was in this instance) but they may be simply posting an opinion (which should never be in contrast with site policy, however).
If anything, "depersonalisation" can lead to confusion and misunderstanding (for me anyway, which is what I think happened here), and I always want to take responsability for what I write and say.
Ciao!
Angela

Sara Freitas-Maltaverne wrote:

I hope that the site will put forward a clear rule regarding this issue.

Regards,

Sara





[Edited at 2006-01-25 12:31]


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Sara Freitas
France
Local time: 07:00
French to English
Clarification Jan 25, 2006

Angela Arnone wrote:


Thanks also for making it clear that other moderators are steering discussions away from rates.


Actually, I haven't encountered this in other fora. I didn't mean to give the impression that I had seen other moderators do this. I re-read my post and am not sure how that could have come across. The French forum is one of the only other fora I read regularly and there seems to be no moratorium on discussing rates there. I can't speak for the other fora, though. The incident that led me to read up on the rules and role of moderators was also in the "Getting Established" forum, not another one. Which is logical considering that one of the main issues affecting translators who are getting established is rates.

To use Angela's words, "steering discussions away from rates" is rather vague when people clearly want to know if it is against site rules or not. This puts moderators in what must be an awkward position of closing or not closing a thread deemed to "end in tears" and members in an uncomfortable position of feeling stifled if a thread is closed and they do not feel that the thread has violated site rules.

Thus the need for a clearer stance from the site on this issue, IMO.

I hope, as Angela mentioned, that this will indicate the need for a clearer rule to avoid putting moderators and members in an uncomfortable position in the future.

Voilà.

Sara


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Angela Arnone  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:00
Member (2004)
Italian to English
+ ...
Sorry - I misread your post, Sara Jan 25, 2006

I remember the thread and I remember we disagreed, but I also recall that a new member left the site, because he felt he'd been attacked, which is something I would have liked to avoid. It was his decision but I was sorry he felt the site was so hostile he refused to give us a fair chance.
Just to give some background to this issue.

Anyway, thanks for your input here, as it's "upsetting" (can't think of a better word) when a mod dedicates time to try and keep a forum running smoothly and really with the best intentions, but it's seen as interference or almost "bullying". We're really not like that and we often do feel isolated and "depersonalised" as we are on the receiving end of some very odd comments!
But there have been (a significant number of)incidents where things get blown up out of all proportion and regrettable actions occur (which is why moderators were sought in the first place), so there is a tendency to "stamp on the fire before it turns into a blaze".
Now it's over to the rest of you for your feelings, as I am amenable to all thoughts.
Angela


Sara Freitas-Maltaverne wrote:
Actually, I haven't encountered this in other fora. I didn't mean to give the impression that I had seen other moderators do this. I re-read my post and am not sure how that could have come across. The French forum is one of the only other fora I read regularly and there seems to be no moratorium on discussing rates there. I can't speak for the other fora, though. The incident that led me to read up on the rules and role of moderators was also in the "Getting Established" forum, not another one. Which is logical considering that one of the main issues affecting translators who are getting established is rates.

To use Angela's words, "steering discussions away from rates" is rather vague when people clearly want to know if it is against site rules or not. This puts moderators in what must be an awkward position of closing or not closing a thread deemed to "end in tears" and members in an uncomfortable position of feeling stifled if a thread is closed and they do not feel that the thread has violated site rules.

Thus the need for a clearer stance from the site on this issue, IMO.

I hope, as Angela mentioned, that this will indicate the need for a clearer rule to avoid putting moderators and members in an uncomfortable position in the future.

Voilà.

Sara





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Maria Luisa Duarte  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:00
English to Portuguese
+ ...
we should be allowed to give our opinions Jan 25, 2006

[I think (I hope) that everyone at Proz is aware of how generous the volunteer moderators are with their time. However, as Ana mentioned, we are all adults here and, while rates can be a controversial issue, it is also a vital one to our profession and we should be allowed to give our opinions when a colleague asks for them.

I hope that the site will put forward a clear rule regarding this issue.

Regards,

Sara]

I agree 100% with your statement Sara!

Kind Regards to all!

MLD

[Edited at 2006-01-25 12:50]


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Fred Neild  Identity Verified
English to Spanish
+ ...
Agree with Angela Jan 25, 2006

In this particular case I agree with Angela, and I have already seen other moderators doing this in the Getting Established forum.

Some newbies come by and openly ask what they should charge (providing their actual rates). Clearly setting rates between translators is against Antitrust laws, and Proz.com should clearly state it is against these practices. I can't say, "hey let's charge US$rr", or "you should chargeUS$ff".

Fred


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Sara Freitas
France
Local time: 07:00
French to English
Not to beat a dead horse, but.... Jan 25, 2006

Angela, thank you for stating your openness to opinions on this issue.

Again, I feel that all of this indicates the need for a rule about what is allowed, not allowed and what exactly does it mean when a moderator "steers" or "recommends" something that is not clear-cut in the site rules. I do hope that the site staff is following this thread.

Angela, the thread you mention is a good example of this. You were obviously upset by the turn the thread in question took and felt that the best thing for all was to close it; I was very upset about certain comments made about me personally and I was also upset that the thread was closed as the corresponding thread in the French forum continued for quite some time after the departure of the new member in question and some very useful comments were made.

Don't you feel that a rule would "protect" you as a moderator from such upsetting situations? If there were a rule, you would simply be enforcing it and there would be no reason for anyone to make things personal or to feel uncomfortable. A rule would remove you from the front lines if rates discussions got controversial.

Given that this is the "Getting Established" forum, the issue of rates is bound to come up again and again.

I won't hide the fact that I disagreed with that previous thread being closed at the time and I still strongly disagree with that decision. The situation was not clear-cut, which leaves room for both members and moderators to be upset. However, moderators give their time for free to keep the site on track and I don't feel that they should necessarily be on the front lines when this kind of thing happens. Which is why clarification is needed.

Sara


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Sara Freitas
France
Local time: 07:00
French to English
Does giving one's *opinion* on rates violate any laws? Jan 25, 2006

Fred Neild wrote:

In this particular case I agree with Angela, and I have already seen other moderators doing this in the Getting Established forum.

Some newbies come by and openly ask what they should charge (providing their actual rates). Clearly setting rates between translators is against Antitrust laws, and Proz.com should clearly state it is against these practices. I can't say, "hey let's charge US$rr", or "you should chargeUS$ff".

Fred


One example of a thread that was useful to me in the French forum involved a newbie asking for rates for advertising slogans. I gave an indication of my rates and was then raked over the coals a bit by some more experienced members. Not the most pleasant experience, but ultimately it was encouraging to me to see that more experienced translators were billing 1.5 to 2.5 times my rates and it gave me the kick in the derriere I needed to aim higher and start raising my rates. Bottom line? A heated discussion that was ultimately helpful. Why would we want to restrict this kind of discussion on a site that is often one of the only ways for new freelancers to break out of the isolation they often feel (add to that the taboo on rates in some countries that makes it difficult to raise the issue directly with local colleagues)?

In terms of the legality of recommending rates, I am no expert, but I find it hard to believe that individuals' opinions on a forum (which is different from the site taking an official stance and setting rates) would violate any laws.

Sara


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Angela Arnone  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:00
Member (2004)
Italian to English
+ ...
Absolutely Jan 25, 2006

And you're right about rates being a fundamental issue in Getting Established, although I find there are fewer actual requests like this morning's (how much should I charge?) than might be anticipated.

I know you disagreed and I was sorry we got off on the wrong foot, because basically I understood perfectly where you were going, but a number of issues interwove and it became impossible to see the wood for the trees (or so I felt, but I'm only human!).

If discussing rates means recommending how to calculate, where to look, telling people not to undercharge, then I'm all for it.
I'm not keen on seeing someone saying "you should be charging XXX cents per word". That's what happened to me at the beginning and I was fumbling around wondering where I went wrong (not getting any work) and it was because I had no experience and the rates were quoted by people who do financial statements and can command a very high rate.
That said, I'm the first to say to people "you're not charging enough" or "ask for more, you can always negotiate if you really want the job".
Is this making me look a bit less of an ogre? Hope so

Angela

Sara Freitas-Maltaverne wrote:
A rule would remove you from the front lines if rates discussions got controversial.

Given that this is the "Getting Established" forum, the issue of rates is bound to come up again and again.

I won't hide the fact that I disagreed with that previous thread being closed at the time and I still strongly disagree with that decision. The situation was not clear-cut, which leaves room for both members and moderators to be upset. However, moderators give their time for free to keep the site on track and I don't feel that they should necessarily be on the front lines when this kind of thing happens. Which is why clarification is needed.

Sara


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Ana Cuesta  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:00
Member
English to Spanish
TOPIC STARTER
Not setting rates, just discussing about them Jan 25, 2006

Fred Neild wrote:

In this particular case I agree with Angela, and I have already seen other moderators doing this in the Getting Established forum.

Some newbies come by and openly ask what they should charge (providing their actual rates). Clearly setting rates between translators is against Antitrust laws, and Proz.com should clearly state it is against these practices. I can't say, "hey let's charge US$rr", or "you should chargeUS$ff".

Fred


I personally wouldn't tell anyone what they should charge but what's wrong with telling them what I charge, for example, or having more general (and more useful, IMO) discussions about rates? Aren't my rates publicly visible on my profile? (as an option implemented by the site) Isn't an aggregated statistics of rates split by language pair publicly available on the site? Don't outsources mention prices as they wish every single day in the job board, some even adding "qualifying" comments to them? Sorry but I fail to see how discussing openly about rates is more fixing them that the three examples I've just mentioned. I understand that the site staff may be wary to implement some options that could be seen as price fixing (like setting a minimum rate for the site) but, come on, what fixing power can have personal opinions put through?

I for one would be most happy if ALL mentions to rates were banned from all sections of this site, but unless that happens, I would like to be as free to talk about them as the outsourcer who posts a job stating they have already offers at $0.03 and come here to see if someone quotes them even lower...

Just my opinion, anyway, as usual.


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Fred Neild  Identity Verified
English to Spanish
+ ...
Antitrust Jan 25, 2006

Sara Freitas-Maltaverne wrote:
In terms of the legality of recommending rates, I am no expert, but I find it hard to believe that individuals' opinions on a forum (which is different from the site taking an official stance and setting rates) would violate any laws.

Sara


Hi Sara,

I am no expert either, but I have translated some antitrust policies from companies. Also, the internet is full of info about it, one of many references, http://www.ftc.gov/bc/compguide/illegal.htm.

The thing is you refrain from discussing this because if there is any suspicion of price fixing in Proz.com these threads could be seen as prove. Is it prove? I don't know. I suppose it depends on the lawyer, judge, etc.

In practice, it is recommended to execs not to be seen together (alone) publicly with their competitors (as precaution). This is just an example.

What I am sure of is that telling a colleague how much to charge can be seen as price fixing, so Proz.com should make it clear that it doesn't support this, just as a precaution.

Please do not consider this as legal advice since it is only an opinion.


Fred

[Edited at 2006-01-25 13:37]


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