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Applying the Woodstock Principle “Tsk Tsk”
Thread poster: Marina Steinbach

Emma Goldsmith  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:44
Member (2010)
Spanish to English
What is the real topic here? Nov 19, 2011

I'm just wondering what the real topic is here. From the title and most of the discussion, it appears to be the Woodstock Principle.

@ Marina: were you hoping for a discussion on Woodstock or on proofreading?


 

Joshua Pepper  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:44
French to English
+ ...
Wiki doesn't work like that. Nov 19, 2011


So that's used up some of the donation I've just made to Wikipedia's appeal for funds!


The editing is done by volunteers. Rest assured that none of your funds were used up in the process (unless you count perhaps a millionth of a penny of bandwidth).

Apart from that, I am very much on the fence for the graffiti question - it's true that it's just innocent fun, but on the other side it is clearly inappropriate for Wikipedia... I do have a lot of respect for the WikiEditors, and don't like making unnecessary work for them.


 

Charlie Bavington (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:44
French to English
Meanwhile... Nov 19, 2011

Marina Steinbach wrote:

After having done this, I was told that the translation for this weekend was placed otherwise, but that they would need a proofreader on Monday. Would I be available, and if so, what would my rate per hour for proofreading be.

Is this a new method for clients trying to reduce translation costs?


...I would respectfully suggest there is not enough info available to answer the question, which is ambiguous anyway, with any certainty.

Firstly, by "translation costs", do you mean literally the cost of the translation element of the job, or the total cost of producing a translated deliverable, i.e. initial translation + reviewing/proofing (+ anything else?)?

Secondly, the only info you (Marina) know is the rate(s) you charge this client. We, your esteemed readers, do not even know that, and yet in order to determine whether this client in particular and your clients in general are attempting to reduce costs, we would need to know the full costing from "before" (where you do the translation) and "after" (where you do the proofing) picture, as it were.

That said, making the assumption that you view yourself as relatively expensive and towards the higher end of the quality scale, and that "translation costs" refers to the overall cost of producing a translated deliverable, then it has long been suspected that getting good (relatively expensive) reviewers to correct mediocre (cheap) translations is a way of reducing the overall costs. So, "a method for clients...(etc.)"? Certainly. "A new method...."? Almost certainly not. Although it might be new for that particular client of yours.


 

Marina Steinbach  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:44
Member (2011)
English to German
TOPIC STARTER
Hard Data... Nov 19, 2011

Charlie Bavington wrote:

Marina Steinbach wrote:

After having done this, I was told that the translation for this weekend was placed otherwise, but that they would need a proofreader on Monday. Would I be available, and if so, what would my rate per hour for proofreading be.

Is this a new method for clients trying to reduce translation costs?


...I would respectfully suggest there is not enough info available to answer the question, which is ambiguous anyway, with any certainty.

Firstly, by "translation costs", do you mean literally the cost of the translation element of the job, or the total cost of producing a translated deliverable, i.e. initial translation + reviewing/proofing (+ anything else?)?

Secondly, the only info you (Marina) know is the rate(s) you charge this client. We, your esteemed readers, do not even know that, and yet in order to determine whether this client in particular and your clients in general are attempting to reduce costs, we would need to know the full costing from "before" (where you do the translation) and "after" (where you do the proofing) picture, as it were.

That said, making the assumption that you view yourself as relatively expensive and towards the higher end of the quality scale, and that "translation costs" refers to the overall cost of producing a translated deliverable, then it has long been suspected that getting good (relatively expensive) reviewers to correct mediocre (cheap) translations is a way of reducing the overall costs. So, "a method for clients...(etc.)"? Certainly. "A new method...."? Almost certainly not. Although it might be new for that particular client of yours.


I initially wrote what I charge for translations here: http://www.proz.com/forum/business_issues/212411-applying_the_woodstock_principle_“tsk_tsk”.html#1844135

After having read your posting, I am wondering if I really am as cheap as some ProZ colleagues call me.

If I quote 0.12 $ per word for translation, then this sum includes the translation, proofreading and editing, in case the client should require subsequent changes to the text.

I am assuming that some agencies run their text through some kind of “wonder-working translation machine” (or whatever you might want to call it) and afterwards ask translators to proofread this text for e.g. 0.02 $. My work would be the same, but the agency would save 0.10 $ per word. Does this make sense?


 

Mikhail Kropotov  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 08:44
Member (2005)
English to Russian
+ ...
A-ha Nov 19, 2011

Marina Steinbach wrote:
I am assuming that some agencies run their text through some kind of “wonder-working translation machine” (or whatever you might want to call it) and afterwards ask translators to proofread this text for e.g. 0.02 $. My work would be the same, but the agency would save 0.10 $ per word. Does this make sense?


Some probably do. But unless you've seen an actual text, you can't really assume it's MT (Machine Translation). As I said yesterday, from the way you described it, the agency seemed to have found another translator who also accepted the translation job, so they had a choice to make; they decided to have that other candidate do the translation and ask you to proofread (their professional translation) instead. Which very well may be worth 0.02 cents per word, though I believe that rate is on the low side. And then, you're free to accept, up the rate or decline. No harm, no foul.

Had you mentioned anything related to MT in your original post, some of our reactions (mine, for one) would have been different.

And, mind you, it still isn't entirely clear whether MT had anything to do with this client's offer.

[Edited at 2011-11-19 20:40 GMT]


 

Marina Steinbach  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:44
Member (2011)
English to German
TOPIC STARTER
Trustworthy! Nov 19, 2011

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Woodstock_Principle

But seriously folks.
I've just rated this page as trustworthy!

Ty Kendall wrote:
It's now enshrined in cyberspace. Therefore it's official. Now let's try getting it in the OED or the Encyclopedia Britannica


I'll leave this task up to acknowledged experts...



 

Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:44
Hebrew to English
For what it's worth... Nov 19, 2011

I recently encountered a job posting which was classified as "either translation or post-editing" ... as though they hadn't quite made their minds up yet which seemed quite dubious to me. Either a project is translation or it is post-editing. The latter I wouldn't usually accept.

It seemed to me to be a rather cynical ploy of the agency to hedge their bets i.e. if translation quotes came out to be too high they switch to post-editing and demand a much lower rate.

... See more
I recently encountered a job posting which was classified as "either translation or post-editing" ... as though they hadn't quite made their minds up yet which seemed quite dubious to me. Either a project is translation or it is post-editing. The latter I wouldn't usually accept.

It seemed to me to be a rather cynical ploy of the agency to hedge their bets i.e. if translation quotes came out to be too high they switch to post-editing and demand a much lower rate.

So it's perfectly conceivable that what Marina suspects actually occurs/has occurred and in answer to:
Is this a new method for clients trying to reduce translation costs?


I'd have to say definitely maybe.

Although Mikhail also has a point that in this specific case it may/may not be as Marina suspects. (Although if she smells a rat, I'd be inclined to trust her instinct) - people too often ignore their hunches with these things, and since proof is unlikely to be forthcoming (I doubt any agency will admit such a practice) then all we have is our instincts.
Collapse


 

Charlie Bavington (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:44
French to English
Now I understand Nov 19, 2011

Marina Steinbach wrote:

I initially wrote what I charge for translations here: http://www.proz.com/forum/business_issues/212411-applying_the_woodstock_principle_“tsk_tsk”.html#1844135

After having read your posting, I am wondering if I really am as cheap as some ProZ colleagues call me.

If I quote 0.12 $ per word for translation, then this sum includes the translation, proofreading and editing, in case the client should require subsequent changes to the text.


Yeah, I saw that other post, but it was talking about another client, as I understood it, and I'd never assume anyone charged the same rate to two different clients (I know some do, but I don't, so I don't assume).

I chose my words carefully (!), deliberately referring only to your own perception of your rates and how that relates to your interpretation of your client's behaviour. That said, for the removal of doubt, 12 cents does not strike me as being particularly high.


I am assuming that some agencies run their text through some kind of “wonder-working translation machine” (or whatever you might want to call it) and afterwards ask translators to proofread this text for e.g. 0.02 $. My work would be the same, but the agency would save 0.10 $ per word. Does this make sense?

Assuming that whatever I might want to call it is probably machine translation and your putative role would then be post editing, yes it makes sense (in that I understand what you're talking about), yes it would save the client money and, once again, t is not particularly new (except perhaps for your client, who knows) However, that was not how I understood your OP.


 

Marina Steinbach  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:44
Member (2011)
English to German
TOPIC STARTER
How did you understand my OP? Nov 20, 2011

Charlie Bavington wrote:

However, that was not how I understood your OP.


How did you understand my OP?


 

Germaine  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 01:44
English to French
+ ...
I wonder... Nov 20, 2011

Marina Steinbach wrote:
If I quote 0.12 $ per word for translation, then... some agencies run their text through some kind of “wonder-working translation machine”... and afterwards ask translators to proofread this text for e.g. 0.02 $. My work would be the same, but the agency would save 0.10 $ per word. Does this make sense?


Indeed, I consider that proofreading (especially a bad translation) basically implies the "same work" so, why would the rate be 50% ($0.02 vs. the $0.04/word rate that figures on many profiles), 25% (José Henrique) or even 16.7% ($0.02 vs $0.12) of one's regular translation rate? I don't understand.

To me, the ¢/word has to be connected to an hourly "salary" which seems reasonable taking into account your experience and expertise (and your market). For instance, if I can get $30/hour working as a secretary, it won't come to me to sell specialized translation services for $18.75/hour - which would be the case if I was to offer $0.05/word knowing that my average output is 375 words/hour. And I certainly won't sell proofreading for even less for not having to type the full text (which seems to me the only difference between translation and proofreading; tell me if I'm wrong).

I believe that proofreading should always be done for a "connected" hourly rate. This way, there would be no savings for the client in delivering "wonder-translations" since the "same work" would take the same time and therefore, approximate the same price as a quality translation. On the other hand, proofreading quality translations would become efficient and a winning deal for both sides of the invoice.


 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 02:44
English to Portuguese
+ ...
In memoriam
Hourly vs. per word (or anything else) Nov 20, 2011

Germaine wrote:

Marina Steinbach wrote:
If I quote 0.12 $ per word for translation, then... some agencies run their text through some kind of “wonder-working translation machine”... and afterwards ask translators to proofread this text for e.g. 0.02 $. My work would be the same, but the agency would save 0.10 $ per word. Does this make sense?


Indeed, I consider that proofreading (especially a bad translation) basically implies the "same work" so, why would the rate be 50% ($0.02 vs. the $0.04/word rate that figures on many profiles), 25% (José Henrique) or even 16.7% ($0.02 vs $0.12) of one's regular translation rate? I don't understand.

To me, the ¢/word has to be connected to an hourly "salary" which seems reasonable taking into account your experience and expertise (and your market).


What matters at the end of the day is how much money will change hands. These are simply ways to arrive at that sum.

It's worth noting that my 25% of the translation rate for "proofreading", as I make sure to mention in all my requested estimates, applies to competent human translation, otherwise a variable rate will apply, between 25% and 100% of my translation rate. One client ever so far questioned me on what I meant by competent human translation, to which I replied that it would be someone generally as competent as me, such being evidenced by neither of us having any objection whatsoever to swap roles while keeping the same rates for each role. Another point is that I make no difference among reviewing, editing, proofreading, checking, or whatever you want to name it: my mission is to take that translation as much closer to perfection as I can.

Of course it's up to me to calculate a per-word rate that will get me an adequate hourly income. This conversion takes into account my productivity. I try to avoid as much as possible charging by the hour, since the yield is directly influenced by my skill and experience. Let's take DTP for example. I've spent some 25 years mastering PageMaker, I can do anything with it at a speed that baffles any MS Word heavy user. So if I charged by the hour to use PM, I'd be grossly underpaid for all the time I invested into learning to use it efficiently. Conversely, if I were paid by the hour to do the same job using, say, QuarkXpress, the client would be grossly overcharged for the entire job, considering the time I'd spend reading help screens.

On the other hand there are jobs, such as interpreting, where the only sensible way to charge is by the hour, since the interpreter must "be there" for a specific amount of time, doing whatever s/he can do, as needed, and if needed.


 

Charlie Bavington (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:44
French to English
Tricky Q to answer in a way Nov 20, 2011

Marina Steinbach wrote:

Charlie Bavington wrote:

However, that was not how I understood your OP.


How did you understand my OP?

As an impossible-to-answer question (for lack of data, as explained earlier) about whether your client had ultimately selected you to review rather than translate, as originally proposed, in an attempt to save money. Naturally, that could well be the reason, and it could well be the reaon because the client found someone who charges less than you for translation, or it could indeed be because they have decided to give MT a punt (although something in the OP made me think this less likely). There could be other reasons too. We cannot possibly know with any certainty. It's all just assumptions and hypothesising, and hence tangents about how many of us went to Woodstock and whether wikipedia is the appropriate place for supposed hilarity.


 

Paula Borges  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 02:44
Member (2010)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Strategies. Nov 20, 2011

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:

Mikhail Kropotov wrote:
The client still has to find a translator and pay them, don't they? The fact they don't hire *you* to do the translation doesn't reduce their costs - it only reduces the amount of business you stand to gain from them through this particular transaction.


Last week a good translation agency, a relatively recent, yet good client of mine contacted me with a proofreading job. The PM said a prospective new client was not too happy with the translation they had received from another vendor, and would like to have it checked.

I spotted the trick right away. In one of the originals there was a typo, (caps for readability here) "TWETNY thousand" instead of "TWENTY thousand". The translation (into PT) read "TWETNY mil" instead of "VINTE mil". No human translator - no matter how unskilled - would have left TWETNY untranslated, only machine translation would do it.

As a reference, my proofreading rate is 1/4 of my translation rate. So this smart-aleck end-client shot it through Google Translate for free, and then tried to hire a translation agency to fix it at a fraction of the translation price, as "proofreading". To make it stick, they printed out their original, and scanned it into JPEG files, to make it look like docs received on paper. The PM was furious at the attempted scam on her.


It has been happening to me. Sometimes it's machine translation, which I simply don't do. One of my clients even told me the end-client was trying that on them. Other times they ask some intern who studied abroad for a month to do the job. The only way out of it is to point out this wouldn't be "proofreading" and charge more for it.

I often see adverts calling people "with some knowledge in a foreign language to make extra crash translating texts". However, there are no ads calling for proofreaders, if you know what I mean.


 

Marina Steinbach  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:44
Member (2011)
English to German
TOPIC STARTER
And I was just wondering, .... Nov 21, 2011

...why so many of the translators in this thread have no rates listed in their profile.

Germaine wrote:

And I certainly won't sell proofreading for even less for not having to type the full text (which seems to me the only difference between translation and proofreading; tell me if I'm wrong).


I do think that there are a lot of great translators here at ProZ! Therefore, an extra person, who proofreads their work, would not be necessary. It's probably only required to show the client that the text has been double-checked.


 

Russell Jones  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:44
Italian to English
Rates and proofreaders Nov 21, 2011

Marina Steinbach wrote:

...why so many of the translators in this thread have no rates listed in their profile.


My rates are included (for site analysis purposes) but are hidden from public view. I consider them to be confidential business-sensitive information. If I felt it was necessary to publicise them for marketing purposes, I would do so, but I don't.

I do think that there are a lot of great translators here at ProZ! Therefore, an extra person, who proofreads their work, would not be necessary. It's probably only required to show the client that the text has been double-checked.


If you have worked with a good proofreader, as I do with certain agencies, and establish a respectful working relationship, you will understand the benefits. Others can be a pain in the nether regions, particularly those who try to impose their own stylistic preferences or have something to prove to their client.


 
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Applying the Woodstock Principle “Tsk Tsk”

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