Another question of ethics: Offering free internet research report
Thread poster: Malik Beytek (X)

Malik Beytek (X)
Local time: 23:11
Sep 28, 2006

Yes, another question of ethics, if I may:

What ethical considerations would be relevant to a freelance translator's providing, to translating agency or direct client, a nice little internet research report, in attachment and pertaining to the text in target language that s/he just produced, free of charge?

Insert September 29: A bit of thinking and internet research would appear to indicate that the ethical issue here might pertain to possible unfair competition. Thus, perhaps the main question here is; would offering such an internet research report as above, free of charge, constitute unfair competition?

P.S.:I don't know exactly what I'm leading to; although I could mention a key word or two that seem to be wandering in the back of my mind: symbiosis, internet research and translation.

P.S.2 (December 29): A secondary, long term, system-efficiency question: What if were to develop *internet research report forms / formats* and ask members to use them and copy; and then would have automatic procedures for accumulating those reports to build up publicly available translation resources?

[Edited at 2006-09-29 08:13]


Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:11
German to English
Don't do free work Sep 29, 2006

From time to time I pass along useful references to my clients if it happens to dovetail with a project I'm working on, or if it relates to an ongoing project I may have been involved with in the past. I've even translated very short documents for good clients without charging, if filling out an invoice would take more time than completing the translation.

However ... it would never occur to me to provide the results of non-project related research free of charge. Doubtless many agencies/clients appreciate altruisim, but I'm not really convinced that they reward it with work or even much respect.

You'd be better off spending your time performing work that is remunerated.


Orla Ryan  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:11
Ethics aside... Sep 29, 2006

.... but why work for free?

And what exactly do you mean by an internet search report?
If it is just something along the lines of "I found these terms in Google", then I don't think it is necessary unless you are asked about your choice of terminology.
If the client wants it, OK. But if they haven't asked for it, then why would they want to read a report that they have not asked for?

My 2 cents



Malik Beytek (X)
Local time: 23:11
I imagine it would only be a small increment of work (though I may prove to be wrong) Sep 29, 2006

Your 2 cents are greatly appreciated, Orla Ryan.

My anticipation - and motivation - is precisely that such a simple report, whcih - I hope - I could produce with only a small increment of work, would be wanted by clients and therefore translation agencies so that the agency administrators would be more willing to put up with me(*) - i.e., ceteris paribus.

I even imagine that such a report could induce the client to conclude that some of the sources referred to in the report should also be translated, which would not be an onjectiobale thing to happen, would it?

Meanwhile, a bit after I posted this thread, I decided that I'd go ahead and do this on an experimental basis, and if it turns out along the way that there is something inherently unfair or unethical in this, I'll simply stop that practice.

(*)I'm a little picky about accepting jobs and keep complaining about low rates and all that don't seem amuse the administrators (or maybe owners) of especially larger agencies.


Malik Beytek (X)
Local time: 23:11
It would involve only whatever research already performed to get done the translation job on hand Sep 29, 2006

Kevin Fulton wrote:

" would never occur to me to provide the results of non-project related research free of charge...."

That didn't occur to me either. What I'm proposing would be a simple report on whatever research already done for the translation job on hand. I would naturally stop doing that if it doesn't make life easier for me.


Armorel Young  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:11
German to English
Why? Sep 29, 2006

I'm not really with you. Most clients just want a translated document of reliable and usable quality - they don't want accompanying notes and paperwork; it's precisely that sort of thing that they are paying you to avoid.

Moreover, clients are experts at whatever it is that they do. The thought of presenting them with material of possibly dubious quality gathered from the internet by someone with a less thorough understanding of the intricacies of their work than they have themselves would horrify me. Even when it comes down quite specifically to translating, many clients already have a great deal of experience and have built up a wealth of material in glossaries etc. It seems to me that by demonstrating that you needed to do so much research you are just showing up the gaps in your own knowledge, and that's not something I would want to advertise.

On the whole clients are paying you to do the job so that they don't have to. When I take my car to the garage for a service it may come back with a list of what they have done - which I will cast a very fleeting glance over and put in a drawer. The last thing I want is for the garage to provide me with a detailed report accompanied by photographs, references and explanations - I'm paying them to do the work so that I have time to get on with other things, and I would say that most clients want a similar service from translators.

As for ethics, it's a bit like receiving a free gift when you buy something from a mail order catalogue - there's nothing unethical about it; it's not unfair competition because anyone is free to do it. But we all know there in reality there is no such thing as a free gift, because somewhere along the line we are paying for it.


Malik Beytek (X)
Local time: 23:11
I'll rely on translation office's judgment on how client would receive an internet research report.. Sep 29, 2006

... and I'll summarize the comments here for the benefit of the translation agencies, particularly your comments, Armorel Young, pertaining to how clients would likely view the matter.

At this point I thank you all for your input; further comments, maybe on still other aspects of the topic in this thread, are obviously welcome from all members and users.


Brandis (X)
Local time: 22:11
English to German
+ ...
Send them all a free Christmas card Sep 29, 2006

Hi! there, that is enough coutesy, but why do it for free. This profession has lots of catches and everytime it is a new surprise. So the free stuff. Best Brandis


Local time: 16:11
English to Portuguese
+ ...
How can working harder be unethical? Sep 29, 2006

I think it is not a question of ethics unless you are speaking from some type of ultra-socialistic point of view.

But in agreement with most reponses heretofore given, it may not be in your best interest financially--unless you face fierce competition and this provides an edge. However this idea of yours seems to be important to you, and I am sure you can make it work to your advantage in some form or fashion.


Local time: 22:11
German to English
Time Sep 30, 2006

The time you spend doing an "Internet research report" (whatever that is) could probably be better spent on improving translation skills, becoming more competent in your specialty fields, working with obscure functions of your CAT program etc. There's always something to do, aside from the fact that your "report" would probably only irritate most agencies.


Derek Gill Franßen  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:11
German to English
+ ...
Time and time again... Sep 30, 2006

Dear Amateur9,

I know you didn't ask, and please don't take this the wrong way, but you might consider changing your name to something, well, not so amateur-sounding (if not just changing it to your real name).

I'm not sure I follow you completely, but it seems to me that a “research report” of any length and quality would be a colossal “waste of time.” I pretty much see it like Amorel does: It's not what they are paying you to do, and—most likely—it will just end up in the circular file, i.e., the trash.

In fact, you might be exposing yourself to an unnecessary liability. Coming from an academic setting, I am often appalled at what some refer to as “research:” Google is not “serious” research. This is just the kind of thing that could help prove—in a court of law—that a particular translation was not up to par.

On the other hand, I do something similar. If, for example, a particular term can be translated in various ways, I like to add a short explanation of why I chose the one translation over the other. In such a situation I might include links to the respective searches with Google (to show frequency of use on the Internet), but the explanation rarely exceeds one or two sentences in length.

If you just want to provide your customers with something extra (besides simply providing a translation in the best quality you can—which is difficult enough), I like Brandis's idea. Either way, welcome to the community here on ProZ; I hope (and expect) that you will enjoy your stay. Have a nice weekend!

Best regards,

[Edited at 2006-09-30 11:44]


Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:11
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Added value is not unethical Sep 30, 2006

amateur9 wrote:
...would offering such an internet research report as above, free of charge, constitute unfair competition?

Provinding added value is not unfair competition in my country (don't know about yours, though). But instead of giving it away for free, why not add it as a paid service? Otherwise you might be doing a lot of work for clients who would have been happy without the added value anyway.


Malik Beytek (X)
Local time: 23:11
My next two (or three?) questions (only one on ethical issue) Oct 1, 2006

OK, I think I get the picture on this topic. Once again, thank you all for your comments. In this post I respond to latest comments in general and then mention a few questions that I have in my mind in other matters, some of which I might bring to forums in some form or other.

In connection with the topic of this thread, what I have in mind, in terms of scope and content of what I call "a simple report" on internet research is - I believe- more or less what Derek Gill Franssen says he is adding to some of his translation work. Clients would be paying for it, of course, as they pay for my translation work, and my fee would go up if more clients / agencies prefer to work with me because of my little supplementary report. And I would certainly consider defining a separate product in terms of an internet research report if I feel clients would pay for it separately -- and maybe switch to that from translation work!

Yes, I think we can wrap up this thread, for now at least, till I have a better feeling about the likely outcome of my little experiment with those supplementary reports here in Ankara (so far, not very promising, I should note).

Now, as to other questions, simpler things first:

On one of the questions I have in mind, which Derek caused me to think about, i.e., the one pertaining to changing my username, I have started a thread in " technical support forum", direct link is here:

The question is how to change my username but also make my current username easily known to any viewer of pages in the future, at least for a while after I change my username.

The second question concerns whether I should seek jobs through and, if yes, how should I position myself in this new market? (I joined in part with the anticipation that it would impress agencies here in Ankara, but, so far, that anticipation did not come true.) I'm not sure, however, if this matter, pertaining to my person only, would be an appropriate forum topic. I might add communication about this to my profile or maybe my web site (but first I may need to become better informed about how wants to be linked to from a user's own personal web pages).

The third question is, once again ethical, and it is in general -- as I understand it -- a long standing and controversial issue, pertaining to translating into a language that is not one's mother tounge, or native language, or dominant language - you see I don't even know yet which term to use in this connection, e.g., there is also the term "working language". In particular, my question here would be whether it would be ethical for me to translate from Turkish to English and, if at all, under what conditions? I'm obviously not yet prepared to discuss this issue yet -- I don't even seem to know exatcly what the issue is. (Not to mislead any one; I already do translate into English, because (a) the quality I provide is not really bad and I'm not yet sure which side of this contoversial issue I am taking, (b) I really cannot afford to decline on the basis of direction of translation in addition to declining on the basis of subject or quality of source text (especially so since I get punished for declining), and (c) beyond a point, I let the agency worry about ethical issues, I don't misrepresent myself to the agency -- or any one else who happens to come in contact with me.)

So, why am I mentioning the second and third questions here even though I'm not sure if they would be appropriate forum topics? Because I am asking for opinion here: Would those questions or other questions related to them or aspects to those questions constitute appropriate forum topics? If yes, what related questions or aspects might they be? And, of course, some might wish to post here mentioning forum threads where these or similar issues have already been discussed.

Editing note: Editing consists of inserting this very paragragph only: Derek already saw my post about changing username and provided very useful advice. Again, link here:

[Edited at 2006-10-01 14:15]


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