Harvesting outsourcer e-mail addresses from the Directories
Thread poster: Anil Gidwani

Anil Gidwani  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 12:17
German to English
+ ...
Aug 9, 2008

Does anyone know of any abbreviated procedure for harvesting outsourcer e-mail addresses off the ProZ Directories? Once targeted outsourcers have been identified using the "refine search" feature in ProZ Directories, and their email addresses harvested, customized e-mail marketing using customizable mailing tools becomes a cinch.

I am aware of the painful way: Click on each outsourcer, go to their web-site and copy the e-mail address off their Contact tab.

Using the group mail feature in ProZ is not an alternative, since mails cannot be customized.

Of course, visiting each outsourcer's web site and registering yourself online is one of the best ways to market your services, but sending regular reminders by e-mail is pretty significant too, one would think. That's where a customizable mailing tool provides much power and flexibility.


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KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 06:47
Member (2003)
German to English
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Sounds like premeditated spamming Aug 9, 2008

If you can't be bothered to take a fairly individualized approach to outsourcers of interest, maybe you shouldn't bother them. Looking at the outsourcer's web site might give you important clues about the organization and whether you might want to work with it. For example, if I note than an outsourcer publicly posts rates than are well below what I typically charge an agency, I give a very low priority to responding to an inquiry or proposing cooperation.

I find the idea of "harvesting" large numbers of e-mail addresses for a bulk mailing fairly pointless and somewhat offensive. Certainly a few regular clients out of 100 spam mails can be profitable, but I think your returns will be higher with a more personalized approach that shows greater respect for your potential partner by learning more about the company. It's a normal thing to research companies before applying for "regular" jobs, and I don't see that things should be much different for freelancing as far as the background research is concerned. (Research includes information on a company's payment practices, too!)


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 07:47
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Some pointers Aug 9, 2008

Anil Gidwani wrote:
Does anyone know of any abbreviated procedure for harvesting outsourcer e-mail addresses off the ProZ Directories? ... I am aware of the painful way: Click on each outsourcer, go to their web-site and copy the e-mail address off their Contact tab.


You should ask yourself if sending irrelevant mails will harm your business. If you decide it's okay to send irrelevant mails, then it's easy -- simply use a web site ripper, download all the pages, use a e-mail address extractor, extract all the addresses, and send your message.

If you wish to send only relevant mails (in other words, you don't want to accidently send mails to addresses other than the ones you're really aiming at, then I'm afraid a manual approach is actually best.

Once targeted outsourcers have been identified using the "refine search" feature in ProZ.com Directories,


Can you give me the URL of the page where you start your search? I'm not entirely sure I understand where you'd "refine" your search.

Did you know?

* There are 850 corporate ProZ.com members. To see all of them, visit this URL: http://www.proz.com/?sp=cd&nshow=900&start=1

* ProZ.com pages are indexed by Google. So try this search: http://www.google.com/search?q=site:www.proz.com/profile/%20-freelancer%20+company%20india%20"russian%20to%20english"%20"french%20to%20english"

* It can be annoying to do separate searches for the various subject fields in the outsourcer search. So, edit the URL, like this: http://www.proz.com/index.php3?sp=ai&pair=rus_eng&c=United%20Kingdom

What else can we add to this?

Kevin Lossner wrote:
Looking at the outsourcer's web site might give you important clues about the organization and whether you might want to work with it.


While I have nothing against a bulk mail approach, I do agree with Kevin here. You'll get better mileage in the end if you do this manually. Too many things can go wrong if you do it automatically using some sort of guess approach. If you really don't want to sift through addresses, why not buy an agency list from someone?


[Edited at 2008-08-09 13:13]


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Anil Gidwani  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 12:17
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Harnessing the power of databases Aug 9, 2008

Both Kevin and Samuel have brought up some interesting points. Before I respond, let me clarify that this topic has more to do with bringing in targeted and efficient ways of marketing that harness the power of a database (here the Directories, which are a computer-based database that can be accessed using fairly sophisticated queries based on parameters such as source/target language, field etc.) and less with the untargeted and undesirable activity of spamming, although the term harvesting does have some association with spamming.

I'll break up my arguments over several posts so they are easier to read and digest. Might make the discussion more interactive and interesting too.

To address Kevin's issue, such targeted marketing does not qualify as spamming in my opinion. Spamming is mass emailing to UNKNOWN recipients who may or may not be interested in your pitch/product/service. Here, we are talking about a translation service provider, for example the freelancer, advertising his product to outsourcers known to be consumers of his services, for example a translation agency.

If such mass e-mailing were to be considered spamming, should those who sell lists of translation agencies be banned from selling such lists? No way. They provide a useful service to freelancers.

For that matter, should the Group mail feature available under ProZ Directories be disabled? I dare say not, it serves a valuable purpose in itself.

Mass e-mailing to translation agencies is not spamming, therefore. As many will attest, it does generate good results if the contents delivered are focussed.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 07:47
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
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The definition of spam Aug 9, 2008

Anil Gidwani wrote:
To address Kevin's issue, such targeted marketing does not qualify as spamming in my opinion. Spamming is mass emailing to UNKNOWN recipients who may or may not be interested in your pitch/product/service.


The only definition of spam that is relevant at any time is the one used by your internet service provider, when they decide to close your account.

One thing we should not do is say "this is spam, that is not spam" if we don't define spam first. If the word "spam" becomes just another way to label any kind of bad behaviour (as opposed to nearly identical good behaviour, which is not labelled "spam"), then we might as well call a spade a spade and say "bad behaviour".

In my own country, a single message to a single recipient can legally be classified as spam. Different coutries, organisations etc have different rules and definitions. I wonder what ProZ.com's definition is. Or what ProZ.com's policy on harvesting is. But I don't think we're allowed to discuss ProZ.com policy in this forum.


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Anil Gidwani  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 12:17
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Making targeted searches more efficient Aug 9, 2008

Samuel Murray wrote:

You should ask yourself if sending irrelevant mails will harm your business. If you decide it's okay to send irrelevant mails, then it's easy -- simply use a web site ripper, download all the pages, use a e-mail address extractor, extract all the addresses, and send your message.


You can send very relevant mails to a variety of recipients if you use customizable mailers with placeholders (or 'variables') for customized information. For example, you could write to X different outsourcers you want to work with sending individualized e-mails saying

-----

Dear "PM",

I saw your project listing "Project id" on "project posting date", but could not apply since I was busy with another job. I'd like to have an opportunity to work with your esteemed company, since I feel our synergies match, especially in the following domains.

-----

Here, the entities in brackets "" are variables.

The key point is that you can do such customized mailing only if you have the email addresses of the X recipients to begin with (there are other factors that are important, such as having a well-designed database to begin with).


If you wish to send only relevant mails (in other words, you don't want to accidently send mails to addresses other than the ones you're really aiming at, then I'm afraid a manual approach is actually best.


I'm not so sure. As a matter of fact, once you've got your variables carefully designed and your database well-tuned, automated approaches can work flawlessly, and save you much time that can be spent in enjoying the process of translation itself and growing the business. To ensure there are no accidental emails, you've got to ensure that the data in your database is flawless, though.

A good example of a database that can be effectively used is the one that comes with Translation Office 3000. Explore its "Settings->Advanced->Custom Queries->Export Data", and you'll see what I mean.



Once targeted outsourcers have been identified using the "refine search" feature in ProZ.com Directories,


Can you give me the URL of the page where you start your search? I'm not entirely sure I understand where you'd "refine" your search.


Under Directories->Outsourcers->Search. This brings up the first set of results. A new button "Refine Search" now allows the search to be further focussed by country, keywords etc.

The list of outsourcers obtained in this way is highly focussed. Far more focussed than the lists of translation agencies that one can buy on the Net. I don't think using the latter counts as spam. And ergo, certainly not the former.


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Anil Gidwani  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 12:17
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
And just to put the issue of spamming at rest Aug 9, 2008

From wikipedia:

----------

E-mail spam, also known as unsolicited bulk email (UBE) or unsolicited commercial email (UCE), is the practice of sending unwanted e-mail messages, frequently with commercial content, in large quantities to an indiscriminate set of recipients.

-----------

a) Applications by freelancers to outsourcers are not unwanted
b) The quantities are not inordinately large, especially after refining the search through the Directories
c) The recipients are not indiscriminate, but a set of outsourcers targeted by language pair, country, field and even keyword.

Can we defer any discussion of spamming to some other topic please?


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xxxJPW  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:47
Spanish to English
+ ...
Not so sure about that Aug 9, 2008

Samuel Murray wrote:
In my own country, a single message to a single recipient can legally be classified as spam. Different coutries, organisations etc have different rules and definitions.


That's obviously true, in other words a single message can (or could) constitute an act of 'spam'. The key thing is the intention of the sender: I am sending this unsolicited. You probably only get one unwanted e-mail from a particular person at any given instance, but what about the identical ones he/she/it sends to a thousand + others? That makes the difference.

Without further qualification on the above quoted passage, Samuel, I am afraid your definition might catch all e-mails in the same bracket. So the key word I think is UNSOLICITED.

Having said that, I also think that in the end, the one who decides if an item/items of communication are "spam", at the end of the day is gonna be your own ISP. Indeed. Then they close your account!

If someone started another thread on what constitutes spam, or what they think it constitutes, you'd end up with an interesting discussion no doubt.

Personally, I wouldn't be of the mass-mailing brigade. I prefer the 'manual' or methodical method of doing a bit of homework on each company first, before deciding what to send and to whom.

From a very wet N. Antrim,

regards.


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KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 06:47
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
Spam Aug 9, 2008

Anil Gidwani wrote:
The list of outsourcers obtained in this way is highly focussed. Far more focussed than the lists of translation agencies that one can buy on the Net. I don't think using the latter counts as spam. And ergo, certainly not the former.


Whatever the legal definition of spam may be, repeated unsolicited mail proposing uninteresting "cooperation" is, in my way of looking at things, spam indeed, and the senders are immediately blacklisted. I get garbage like this from all over the world proposing alliances for language pairs that are absolutely uninteresting to me.

Given the geographical disadvantage that you are working with for your language pairs (at least for the target English markets in Europe, US and Australia, though certainly not for India), I think you would probably have more success with European clients who will pay top rates if you take a highly individualized approach to your acquisition and provide a convincing package to sell your qualifications. There is no database in the world whose "power" you can harness that will convince those clients. Be a sharpshooter: choose your targets carefully, learn all you can about them and sell them individually on the idea that you are the best one to provide DE->EN and FR->EN services in your specialty areas.


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Orla Ryan  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 06:47
From the other side of the fence... Aug 9, 2008

Hi Anil,

I work in-house these days and I can tell you for certain that if you were to mass-mail a load of companies, you would just get ignored unless you have a particular skillset that they need. They already have hundreds of DE/FR - EN translators. If you're a native Hindi speaker, perhaps you may get more work with DE/FR to Hindi?

Even I get unsolicited emails and phone calls, even though I don't work directly with translator recruitment (Oh the things I could tell you about that! Some people really don't have a clue).

Translation companies have their own way of qualifying and recruiting linguists and you have to follow their procedures if you stand a chance of getting work. A lot of companies do not want freelancers emailing them out of the blue. For example, some would rather you complete an online form/do a test and take it from there.

I do understand you want to use a faster method than writing to every single company, but think from the customers' perspective. Do they really need another DE-EN translator, for example? Maybe they don't. Maybe they do, if the translator has demonstrated experience in a particular field. I'm sure you know this already To be honest, I would consider your approach to be "spam".

Orla

[Edited at 2008-08-09 18:29]


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 07:47
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Some answers... Aug 9, 2008

Anil Gidwani wrote:
Samuel Murray wrote:
You should ask yourself if sending irrelevant mails will harm your business. If you decide it's okay to send irrelevant mails, then it's easy -- simply use a web site ripper, download all the pages, use a e-mail address extractor, extract all the addresses, and send your message.

You can send very relevant mails to a variety of recipients if you use customizable mailers with placeholders (or 'variables') for customized information.


Yes, but this thread is about harvesting addresses, not about sending mails. I agree fully that mail merges from databases can make e-mails seem very personal and very targeted, but the question you asked (I believe) were about filling that database with addresses in the first place.

Let me illustrate:

If you simply extract all e-mail addresses from a given web page without checking it, you may end up with the address of the web designer, the web host, one or two satisfied clients who posted their references, and perhaps the address of the accounts department. There is no way a mail merge (no matter how clever) will prevent all these irrelevant recipients from being annoyed by your mail.

Even worse, if a company lists more than one PM's address on their web page, your mail will be sent to all of them, and PMs do talk to each other, see. They will notice that they've been had by a mass mailing.

But if you gather the mail addresses personally, you will have the confidence that the database of addresses are very targeted and will benefit most from a mail merge operation like you describe.

I'd like to have an opportunity to work with your esteemed company, since I feel our synergies match, especially in the following domains.


Is this "esteemed company" a cultural thing, perhaps? An attempt at friendly formality? Aren't you afraid that phrases like "esteemed company" and "synergies match" will cause your mail to be caught by the ISP's spam filter?

As a matter of fact, once you've got your variables carefully designed and your database well-tuned, automated approaches can work flawlessly, and save you much time...


Just make sure you don't spend more time fine-tuning your database than it would have taken to just do a manual maildrop using a simple set of variables.

The list of outsourcers obtained in this way is highly focussed. Far more focussed than the lists of translation agencies that one can buy on the Net.


Sure, sure. So what you're really after are ways to make it easier to get to the required information. I think you should accept that this will take some manual work, but I'm sure there are ways to speed things up.

For example, if you click an outsourcer's web site address on his ProZ.com profile, it opens in a new window. Grrrrr. That is sooo annoying. So it would be great to figure out a way to visit those URLs without getting lost in all the open tabs. Well, that's actually easy to solve... simply harvest the URLs beforehand and visit them while ProZ.com is not open in your browser. These URLs are usually the only texts in the profile that start with "http://", so it should be fairly easy to harvest.

And converting a list of outsourcers to a spreadsheet shouldn't bee too difficult either. And as a bonus, ProZ.com adds your search query to the URL of each outsourcer, so if you harvest straight from the HTML source code, you can include the details of the original search query in your local little database.

What I would do, is write a little script thingy that creates a separate folder for each outsourcer, in which all these saved pages are stored. You can then also store all mails and return mails from that outsourcer in the folder, so you have the history of each candidate at your fingertips.

Say, what sort of keywords do you use when doing more specific searches?


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xxxUSER0059  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 08:47
English to Finnish
+ ...
"Spam is that Which We Don't Do" Aug 9, 2008

Chances are that whatever justification someone may think of, it has already been used: http://www.rhyolite.com/anti-spam/that-which-we-dont.html.

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Anil Gidwani  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 12:17
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
The individualized approach Aug 10, 2008

Kevin Lossner wrote:

If you can't be bothered to take a fairly individualized approach to outsourcers of interest, maybe you shouldn't bother them. Looking at the outsourcer's web site might give you important clues about the organization and whether you might want to work with it.


On the other hand, if you can't be bothered with using the search features available in the ProZ directories, you can't be blamed for spending a lot of time going through the list of outsourcers one by one, which amount to 1697 in the DE>EN pair for the Tech>Engineering field alone, as we speak.

For that matter, perhaps the specification of language pair in the ProZ Directories search feature should be made optional. That would present an even larger list of outsourcers to sift through, wouldn't it? Then you could take your time examining each outsourcer's web site to see if they offer jobs in the language pair(s) you work with!


For example, if I note than an outsourcer publicly posts rates than are well below what I typically charge an agency, I give a very low priority to responding to an inquiry or proposing cooperation.


And how many outsourcers post their rates publicly on their site? Your guess is as good as mine (probably better) . A small minority, in my experience, by the way. Besides, being overly concerned about the outsourcer's posted rates (if any) before applying to the outsourcer can be counterproductive.

It is absolutely a fact that the individualized approach has its place. It's not clear that the time to thoroughly check the outsourcer's website is at the time of preliminary application (or subsequent follow-ups in case of no immediate response). It is clear that the time to thoroughly check the website is when deciding to accept a job.

The issue is clearly not whether but when.


[Edited at 2008-08-10 05:04]


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