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A major Agency tries to impose lower rate for post-editing
Thread poster: Luca Tutino

Luca Tutino  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 23:48
Member (2002)
English to Italian
+ ...
May 30, 2011

I have just received a communication from one of the major players on the global translation industry stating that they will not be able to offer post-editing jobs at their earlier rate (about 50% of normal translation rate) and that it will not be possible to continue our collaboration if I will not accept another 11% discount on such rate.

I have replied that I will not be able to accept their post-editing jobs if rates are not increased by at list 50%.

As I wrote in another recent post, according to my experience MT "post-editing" jobs try to pass any supposed advantage of MT to the client or the agency. If, as it usually happens, there was no actual advantage, than the promised discount is expected to come anyway from the translator's free extra work.

I would like to hear comments on this situation, especially from colleagues with post-editing experience.

Luca

[Edited at 2011-05-30 16:35 GMT]


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:48
Member (2008)
Italian to English
In my experience May 30, 2011

Luca Tutino wrote:

I have just received a communication from one of the major players on the global translation industry stating that they will not be able to offer post-editing jobs at their earlier rate (about 50% of normal translation rate) and that it will not be possible to continue our collaboration if I will not accept another 11% discount on such rate.

I have replied that I will not be able to accept their post-editing jobs if rates are not increased by at list 50%.

As I wrote in another recent post, according to my experience MT "post-editing" jobs try to pass any supposed advantage of MT to the client or the agency. If, as it usually happens, there was no actual advantage, than the promised discount is expected to come anyway from the translator's free extra work.

I would like to hear comments on this situation, especially from clients with post-editing experience.

Luca


Ciao Luca -

In my experience post-editing actually means taking a horrible machine translation and transforming it into a good translation. Usually this requires going back to the original text and doing a completely new translation.

This is what has happened to me every time I have (foolishly) accepted to do a "post-editing" job and in general I refuse them unless I am paid the same as I would be for a completely new translation.

In the case of this "major agency" I could suggest you invite them to take a walk over the edge of a cliff.



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Luca Tutino  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 23:48
Member (2002)
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I agree May 30, 2011

Ciao Tom,

Tom in London wrote:
In the case of this "major agency" I could suggest you invite them to take a walk over the edge of a cliff.


Which is about what I think I did

I hoped there would be more reactions like yours here. If this agency dared to write as they did, it looks like they have reason to believe that they will manage...

Luca


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PCovs
Denmark
Local time: 23:48
Member (2003)
English to Danish
+ ...
Many try this approach May 30, 2011

to intimidate the translators into accepting sweatshop rates.

I have heard numerous times things like: if you don't cut your rate to 1/3 of your usual rate (no, not exaggerating here), we are not able to work with you anymore; or: Due to the crisis (which, BTW, never affected my language pair in any way but up) we cannot possibly pay you more than 0% for 100% matches and repetitions, 20% for 75-99% matches, and 50% for 51-74% matches; and so on and so forth.

I have always suggested they go play on the freeway or something, sometimes explaining how it would be meaningless for me to work for them at those rates anyway, since there would not be hours enough in a day to make ends even meet, and sometimes not bothering to say more than a simple: unacceptable, so please delete my details.

Most of those clients have since chosen not to go play on the freeway, and I still work for them. Others are constantly passing jobs to me as if they are completely oblivious of my refusal, and I will make the same old suggestion to them for as long as it takes to make them realise that I mean it.

If there are so many translators out there willing to work for more or less nothing, I don't quite understand why these companies insist on pestering me with their jobs? Just a little something to think about.

Good luck out there


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:48
Member (2008)
Italian to English
This is true May 30, 2011

PCovs wrote:

Most of those clients have since chosen not to go play on the freeway, and I still work for them.


Amazingly perhaps, I have often found that after I have refused to work for a low rate, agencies pay me the rate I want- but maybe that's because from me, they get first-class work.



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matt robinson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:48
Member (2010)
Spanish to English
Brain May 30, 2011

If the job requires a brain, then the body requires food!

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RobinB  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:48
German to English
MT post-editing rates May 30, 2011

must *always* be hourly-based (i.e. effort-based), just like revising human translations, otherwise the editor is subsidising the agency's business. Period

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Peter Shortall  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:48
Member
French to English
+ ...
Turkeys voting for Christmas May 30, 2011

I've a feeling I can guess which agency you're talking about. If I'm right, its business model seems to be centred on squeezing every last penny it can out of both freelancers and its own clients at the expense of everything (and everyone) else. In any case, you have to draw the line somewhere. No one has offered me any post-editing jobs so far, but I've already made up my mind I won't do them as post-editing is just another weapon in the arsenal of corporate translation sweatshops looking for any excuse not to pay decent rates, on top of which I imagine I'd find it less enjoyable than "normal" translation. As more and more translators start accepting these jobs and terms, sooner or later post-editing will begin to replace translation and we'll be doing ourselves out of the living we have now.

The fact that an agency may be large doesn't always mean it offers high standards or remuneration - stick to agencies that offer acceptable terms and avoid the rest. If we all do that, agencies like the one you mention might just become a little less major.

[Edited at 2011-05-30 23:11 GMT]


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Selcuk Akyuz  Identity Verified
Turkey
Local time: 00:48
Member (2006)
English to Turkish
+ ...
Nothing wrong with low rates May 30, 2011

This is a free market and we are free to accept such rates or find new clients. But I am talking about translation, I never accept post-editing jobs.

IMHO, there is nothing wrong in paying peanuts for post-editing jobs. A professional translator and post-editing!? Sorry but it does not make any sense.


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Luca Tutino  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 23:48
Member (2002)
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
What about banning the expression "post-editing" altogether? May 31, 2011

Peter Shortall wrote:
As more and more translators start accepting these jobs and terms, sooner or later post-editing will begin to replace translation and we'll be doing ourselves out of the living we have now.


I do not think this could really happen, the same way as Google translator could not replace the translation business. Discounted MT postediting is such a bad experience for the (good) translator that I am quite sure it will soon be clear that is impossible to get decent level results with such a workflow.

However in the mean time there will might be quite a few colleagues that, in name of open mind-ness to technological developments and eagerness to learn new things, will fall in the trap and give away quite a few days of work for free as I did.

There are colleagues writing around here and on the Web about "Rule Based" and "Statistical" MT, which might lead some of us to think that the technology might soon be mature enough to justify the name of "post-editing". I hope this thread can partially counterbalance those articles and make it clear that in real life "post-editing" is actually just a new trick to squeeze work for free from us.

Also, it would be a good idea to have Proz's Professional guidelines for translation service providers updated again to include a couple of lines about never discounting "MT post-editing" and never accepting shorter deadlines because of "MT pre-translation".

Actually the expression "post-editing" should probably be banned altogether.


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Lincoln Silveira
Brazil
Local time: 18:48
English to Portuguese
+ ...
I'm just so glad... May 31, 2011

... I smelled a big dead rotten rat when I first heard of "post editing" and decided not to take any job of this kind despite all the marketing mumbo jumbo that (I guess we all know which) "major" agency tried to pick me up with.

At the time, my refusal went with something like, look, I deal with extremely complex legal and financial material, and that requires a human brain and soul to sort out.


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:48
Member (2008)
Italian to English
I agree May 31, 2011

Luca Tutino wrote:

Actually the expression "post-editing" should probably be banned altogether.


I agree. NOBODY should accept to do this type of work. Anyone who has will have quickly discovered that it's unrewarding and time-intensive.


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 23:48
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
I do not have time for it May 31, 2011

There are several agencies whose translation jobs I regularly accept. I consistently do not have time for their proofreading, post-editing or whatever they call it.

These are the agencies that either pay a very low rate per word for proofing and editing jobs, or who dictate in advance how much time they will pay for. Usually at an hourly rate way below what I charge my other clients. If they will not pay my rates, then they must find someone else.

In fact if their translation rates are at the low end too, they often go to the back of the queue with all jobs when I am busy.

Busy may also mean tidying my desk, getting some much needed fresh air or cooking supper - I usually have enough translation work. However, there are some clients I make an extra effort for, and some whose jobs I only take on when I really have time to spare.

It is just too bitter to sit slaving for a week at a low rate while you have to turn down better paid jobs.


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:48
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Another word for "post-editing" is "revision" May 31, 2011

Just this moment an agency I've never heard of has contacted me with the following message:

" We would like to offer you a revision job from Italian into English. The document we have is an 80 page manual and quite technical and we would require it by Friday latest. Kindly confirm your rate per word or per page for revision. We look forward for your reply."

My reply:

"Dear XXX, I do not revise the work of other translators. I only do full translations from the original text. Regards, Tom".

I'm guessing that all the technical terminology is completely wrong because they gave the translation to somebody really cheap with no specific knowledge, and that as a result the translation is completely unacceptable.

I would recommend to other colleagues that unless they want to become bored out of their brains, they respond likewise to this type of request.

[Edited at 2011-05-31 09:01 GMT]


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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:48
French to English
That "second pair of eyes" thing May 31, 2011

Tom in London wrote:
"Dear XXX, I do not revise the work of other translators. I only do full translations from the original text. Regards, Tom".

Which is, of course, entirely your prerogative.

Do you, nonetheless, agree or disagree that a second pair of eyes, whether it is called proof(-)reading or revision or review or something else, is generally a good idea if a top-quality translation is the desired end-result?
And that, if so, some poor bugger has to do it?

Tom in London wrote:
I'm guessing that ...[supposition]

I would recommend to other colleagues that unless they want to become bored out of their brains, they respond likewise to this type of request.


I too find revision deathly dull, and do very little. However, given that it's a dirty job but someone's gotta do it, my own advice would be rather to make sure you see the translation before you agree to anything at all. There are oodles of threads on here whining "I agreed to review at review rates and the translation needs to be re-done". A situation easily avoided.

And after all, the agency that got in touch could have been some high-end niche player that pays its translators over 20c a word and only entrusts jobs to recognised experts and just wanted another recognised expert to run an expert eye over it.... Maybe that's not likely for some reason not made clear in the posting, who can tell, who can tell...

Meanwhile, back on post-editing MT, I reckon it saves me about 30% of my time on those (very rare) jobs where it can be used. Other people I know reckon it saves tham no time at all. Some people may enjoy it, so I wouldn't seek to ban it (I don't like to ban things that do no harm other than to those indulging). Not my bag, but live and let live.


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A major Agency tries to impose lower rate for post-editing

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