Common Sense Advisory survey seems questionable to me-- what are they really after
Thread poster: Joshua Wolfe

Joshua Wolfe  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:48
French to English
+ ...
Jul 20, 2012

A few days ago I got an email from a ProZ advertising partner inviting me to take part in a pricing survey. Many of the questions seemed a bit too specific, e.g.

5. Have any translation agencies ever failed to pay you for jobs completed and invoiced?
If yes, which agencies?

And several other inappropriate questions, e.g., wanting the names of agencies whose rates are too low,
"What do you think is a fair price for a computer-assisted translation tool?", etc.

Has anyone else received this survey email? Does anyone think this is legit, or are you suspicious, too?

Email contains the following URL: to take the survey.


Anne Bohy  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:48
English to French
Got it Jul 20, 2012

Some members of a translators mailing list to which I belong said it was a reputable organization, so I answered. Although I've dealed with bad or low payers already, I was unable to provide the least name... because I tend to reject and forget them as soon as possible.
Anyway, I was very dubious about the interest of such a list (you would need a HUGE lot of answerers to produce significant results).


Jared Tabor
Local time: 23:48
A legitimate research survey Jul 20, 2012

Common Sense Advisory, runs different surveys as part of research on the translation industry. I can confirm that the email was sent on behalf of Common Sense Advisory as an advertising partner.


Attila Piróth  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:48
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Two critical blog posts Jul 20, 2012

Here are two blog posts from two outstanding freelance translators, who voice serious reservations about the impartiality of CSA: Lies, damned lies and CSA data baiting and Did You Hear That? Translation Prices Are Falling!. Enjoy!



Joshua Wolfe  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:48
French to English
+ ...
Even if company is legit, should it be asking these detailed questions Jul 20, 2012

@Attila: Thanks for the links, they answered some of my concerns.

@Everyone (Jared included): what is the point of asking for specific names of problematic agencies? Doesn't this compete with the Blue Board? But without the opportunity for agencies to post their side of what occurred?


LegalTranslatr2  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:48
Portuguese to English
+ ...
They are trying to convince translators and agencies... Jul 20, 2012

...that the sky is falling, MT is coming and we should all lower our rates.

[Edited at 2012-07-20 18:08 GMT]



Local time: 21:48
English to Spanish
+ ...
Any questions, feel free to contact us! Jul 20, 2012

Thank you for your comments! I work with Common Sense Advisory and am happy to answer this and any other questions you may have. Our team is always available and accessible to answer questions from survey participants and the public in general.

In this survey, we asked the question about poor payers and non-payers because we want to provide transparency on this topic for all parties. We have noticed in many other studies that freelancers cite non-payment as a very real issue, but there is very little recourse. Indeed, we have been told that some of the worst payers actually appear in our rankings of the largest translation companies in the world, and are perhaps achieving this accomplishment while not paying the freelancers who enable that revenue. So, we want to shed light on this issue for the industry, in our role as an independent research organization.

We are definitely aware of the blue board and have followed it for many years. In our survey, we would like to give freelancers the option to share their input without having to reveal their names. The question is optional, so no one is even required to provide their name to us unless they wish to. We understand that not every person will be interested in participating -- and in fact, we take this into account when we calculate the response rate needed to produce a valid sample.

Of course, we do collect the names of people who fill out the survey, for two important reasons. First, so that we can send them their complimentary incentive, we need to have their e-mail address. Also, we have to be able to verify and validate the sources, because it's possible that some LSPs that compete with each other could fill out the survey and list a competitor LSP as a poor payer. So, we have to be able to verify that the person is indeed a freelancer and not just an LSP who is trying to manipulate the results. When a source cannot be validated or is questionable in any way (for example, someone who fills out every question the same way), we remove the record from the database.

Regarding some other questions that have come up, here are a few other points that might help provide more insight into this study.

We've done many studies on pricing. Our previous research showed that prices were highly stable in the industry (in 2004 and 2008). In 2010, during the recession, we noticed decreases in prices for most language pairs. This was not really a surprise, because rates in many other industries (not just translation) dropped as well. However, we have heard from many buyers recently that prices are actually going up. We will not know if this is true or not until our present research study is completed.

Also, the survey is just one data source that we use. We have also collected all of the rates listed in ProZ as well as other directories and compiled a comprehensive database. We also receive price lists from buyer organizations and language service providers throughout the course of our daily research. So, we are using not just the survey data, but other data sources as well.

For example, there is a question about the ideal price of a CAT tool. This is simply to get a general range from freelancers of what they feel is a fair price. Obviously, this survey is not specifically about CAT tools, which is why this question is optional. We are not even sure if we will use this data, but given that we have always contended that the costs freelancers are expected to pay for CAT tools are too high, we wanted to get at least a range to see what most freelancers think about this issue. (As someone who was once asked to pay more than a $1000 for a CAT tool to be used on a single freelance translation project that would barely even compensate me for the price of the tool, I am especially interested in seeing the results of this question.)

However, if any question is deemed to be not useful, we simply do not report those findings. Anyone who participates in our survey (or even just clicks on it) is welcome to provide us with that type of feedback. In fact, every survey is fully piloted by multiple people, and we do quite a lot of testing prior to launching any survey.

If there are questions on any one question in particular, or about the study at large feel free to direct them to us. My email is, and our company founder, Don DePalma, is leading the study and can be reached at

Kind regards,
Nataly Kelly


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Common Sense Advisory survey seems questionable to me-- what are they really after

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