How do you react to proofreading requests from competitors?
Thread poster: Astrid Elke Witte

Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 07:12
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
Sep 16, 2010

Example 1:
You have a speciality in a niche market. An extremely small agency starts up in business in your locality, aspiring to specialise in this same niche market. The proprietor of it approaches you with a short text containing all the key terms used in that specialist niche market, together with a translation of it, and asks you to "proofread" the translation, thus giving away to them all the key terminology, and at that for a rate of just above half your minimum rate.

Example 2:
You specialise in translations in a particular language pair and field. You are a native speaker of the target language.
You are approached by a "colleague" who is the native speaker of the source language, but, due to a lack of work in the opposite language pair, has taken up translating in your language pair. They ask how economically you could proofread their translation. What do you do?

[Edited at 2010-09-16 17:25 GMT]

[Edited at 2010-09-16 17:26 GMT]


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:12
English to Spanish
+ ...
What I would do... Sep 16, 2010

Send 'em packing.

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Roy OConnor
Local time: 07:12
Member (2009)
German to English
Politely refuse.. Sep 16, 2010

... otherwise you are sawing off the branch you are sitting on!

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Siegfried Armbruster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 07:12
Member (2004)
English to German
+ ...
Sorry, what is the issue here? Sep 16, 2010

Scenario1
a) a few key terms don't make a translator a specialist
b) every so called translator can just ask Kudoz questions and every specialist is more than willing to help this "pro" colleague. And don't forget - criticizing anybody who asks questions outside his/her specialty is forbidden by the Proz.com rules (changed on moderator's request).

Scenario2
a) being native in a language does not mean you understand the topic (see scenario1)
b) what is the difference if you are asked by a colleague you know or by a translation agency with the same request. I do not see a difference.


What I don't understand is why you would give something away for half your minimum rate, seems your minimum rate is only half of what you state, otherwise you would not do it.

IMO translating is a team approach, it just depends on the individual to decide wether to take a job or not. Teaming up with others (different language pair, e. g. the reverse language pair you offer, or agencies who work in your niche market) might both result in more work for you.

Being over protective might result in being left behind.



[Edited at 2010-09-16 21:07 GMT]


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:12
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Agree fully Sep 16, 2010

Siegfried Armbruster wrote:
What I don't understand is why you would give something away for half your minimum rate


Whatever you think about "helping the competition" (and I don't really see it as a great threat, personally, for the reasons Siegfried gave), how can you do anything at all for half your minimum rate?

Has the word "minimum" lost its original meaning somewhere along the line?


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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 07:12
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Clarification about the minimum rate Sep 16, 2010

The price that the enquirer proposed was just over half of what is generally regarded in this locality as the minimum rate.

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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:12
French to English
Low barriers to entry, then? Sep 16, 2010

Astrid Elke Johnson wrote:

a short text containing all the key terms used in that specialist niche market,

Well, first you could say that if that is all it takes to get into that niche, barriers to entry are very low and you are unlikely to be able to protect it forever from all comers.

Or you could say that there is more to translation than plug-n-play of key terms, you do actually need to understand the content which, it is hoped, requires decent background knowledge, experience, etc. and so one short document is no special help in makiing this person into a competitor. Or alternatively it's a rubbish niche and any fool with a glossary can produce decent enough work, in which case see above.

In any event, I can't see the problem. Take it or leave it, just like any job.

Example 2:
(blah)


I accept or decline work on the basis of my availability, the rate, the weather, whether I feel like it or not .... half the time I have no idea who/what the ultimate source is. I could have been doing scenario 2 for years and I wouldn't know and I don't care. Except I'd be unlikely to do anything for half the going rate.


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Pablo Bouvier  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:12
German to Spanish
+ ...
How do you react to proofreading requests from competitors? Sep 16, 2010

Astrid Elke Johnson wrote:

Example 1:
You have a speciality in a niche market. An extremely small agency starts up in business in your locality, aspiring to specialise in this same niche market. The proprietor of it approaches you with a short text containing all the key terms used in that specialist niche market, together with a translation of it, and asks you to "proofread" the translation, thus giving away to them all the key terminology, and at that for a rate of just above half your minimum rate.

Example 2:
You specialise in translations in a particular language pair and field. You are a native speaker of the target language.
You are approached by a "colleague" who is the native speaker of the source language, but, due to a lack of work in the opposite language pair, has taken up translating in your language pair. They ask how economically you could proofread their translation. What do you do?

[Edited at 2010-09-16 17:25 GMT]

[Edited at 2010-09-16 17:26 GMT]


I would be subtle....


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:12
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
"I'm sorry I cannot help!" Sep 16, 2010

"I'm too busy at the moment!"

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Pablo Bouvier  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:12
German to Spanish
+ ...
I'm sorry I cannot help! Sep 16, 2010

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:

"I'm too busy at the moment!"

and sottovoce: and in any other...
Subtle...

[Edited at 2010-09-16 20:56 GMT]


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Claire Cox
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:12
French to English
+ ...
Use it to your advantage Sep 16, 2010

I had a similar instance a while ago where I was asked to proof-read a translation in one of my specialist fields, done by a translator purporting to be an expert in the field. I quoted my standard hourly rate, which was accepted (I certainly wouldn't have done it for less!) and duly corrected the translation. It soon became apparent that whilst the style of the target text was fluent and obviously native standard, the translator obviously had no real understanding of the field and as a result had mistranslated or translated literaly in many places. I offered the agency a very brief assessment of the translation along with the revised text - and as a result I've ended up getting a lot more work (at my normal rate) from that particular agency.

To sum up, use the situation to your advantage - if they are not prepared to pay your rates, don't even go there.


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jyuan_us  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:12
Member (2005)
English to Chinese
+ ...
In that case, this is a rate issue Sep 17, 2010

Astrid Elke Johnson wrote:

The price that the enquirer proposed was just over half of what is generally regarded in this locality as the minimum rate.


other than an issue of competition.

[Edited at 2010-09-17 00:46 GMT]


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Mariela Diaz-Butler
United States
Local time: 01:12
English to Spanish
+ ...
A business is a business Sep 17, 2010

The only objectionable thing I see here is that the price offered is too low. If the price doesn't suit you, you can explain that there's a minimum fee and you'd be happy to work at your usual rate for proofreading jobs, and they can take it or leave it. That's the crux of the matter here. It shouldn't matter whether the person requesting the job is a "competitor" or not: as long as they are willing to pay your price, they are just another client.

And like someone else said, a few key terms that you help them with will not make them experts on your niche. But, if they want the service, they have to be willing to pay the market price.

Cheers!
Mariela


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