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Off topic: Work for Free? Artists say NO to Google
Thread poster: LegalTranslatr2

Ivette Camargo López  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:45
English to Spanish
+ ...
@ Chris Jun 17, 2009

Textklick wrote:

I see the whole discussion as being about major commercial operations seeking freebies, be they Google, LinkedIn or for that matter BA. Denigrating the worth of of the profession in our case.

So to answer your question, I see it as being general rather than selective.


Hey Chris,

We definitely agree on the rejection of anything that denigrates our profession, so, if that is the point of the discussion, this will always get my support (for obvious reasons).:-)

However, I am still not sure I see the difference between Proz.com asking for free translations of any contents of their website and LinkedIn (or Google) doing the same.

Unfortunately, I cannot access any more the said survey from LinkedIn where the polemic translation request choice was included, to leave here a quote and analyze how denigrating it was.

But like in the case of Proz.com, where a good number of features are offered for free to non-paying members, in LinkedIn you also have a good number of features offered for free to its non-paying members.

So the concept of "free" not only applies in terms of crowdsourcing work, but also in terms of certain customer services.

For instance, I have made some interesting sporadic contacts through LinkedIn (and I say sporadic because I don't take full advantage of the free services or, furthermore, of the paying services they offer), and I have found this website useful enough to maintain one of my main online professional profiles there, just like the one I keep here in Proz.com.

Sure, I prefer Proz.com in terms of paying membership because it is, like you rightly said, specialized in what I do for a living, but that does not make Proz.com any less commercial, though maybe not as commercially "major" as Google or LinkedIn. Still, Proz.com keeps growing and I don't think we necessarily have a clear idea about how "major" or "minor" Proz.com may be in terms of its commercial might. But, AFAIK, Proz.com does not have any major investors involved, like Google, though I am not sure if SDL has something to do here in Proz.com, investmentwise.

But let's say I decided to do crowdsourcing translations for LinkedIn: I would certainly expect something in return for me, at least in terms of visibility of my profile or access to specific business networks/profiles or anything like that, just like I would in the case of Proz.com (which I already commented), which could make the free work worth it. It would be perfectly legitimate in both cases, or not?

[For the record, I have only done free translations in the case of an NGO-like company and for some family/friends who needed my help.]

(Still)icon_confused.gif (Ivette)


 

Niraja Nanjundan (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:15
German to English
So, how does LinkedIn benefit translators? Jun 17, 2009

Textklick wrote:

The fact that the site is now available in e.g. Chinese is of direct benefit to those valiant souls who helped out with the localisation, which is fine for them.

Any benefit to pro bono translators would not exist in the case of what LinkedIn had in mind.



Although I get your point, I do see a parallel with the localisation of ProZ.com. There are a lot of translators with profiles on LinkedIn now, and I believe some of them have even been contacted by clients through that portal. Wouldn't a Chinese translator registered with LinkedIn also benefit if the site were localised into Chinese? I'm not saying it should be done for free, but I see no difference between translating LinkedIn for free and doing the same for ProZ.com.

[Edited at 2009-06-17 12:52 GMT]

Edited after seeing Ivette's post: I'm basically saying the same thing as Ivette.

[Edited at 2009-06-17 12:54 GMT]


 

Textklick  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:45
German to English
+ ...
Same journalist, same principle, different story! Jun 29, 2009

Although I get the point that some make about a parallel with the localisation of Proz, I still beg to differ in the context of what I have said earlier in this thread. After all, where was the fuss when assistance was requested for voluntary localisation of this site?

Once Matthew had got his groups of 'refuseniks' rolling on LinkedIn, I took a long shot and wrote to the NYT writer who wrote the piece quoted by Jeff at the top of this thread.

To my surprise, he got in touch and we had a long chat on Skype, as he subsequently did with Matthew. We both kept him fed with updates on Matthew's LinkedIn group (which has now reached some 300 translators).

I also provided him with detailed information on Proz, pointing out the differences and exactly how Proz was, by default , the leading targeted site for professionals.
Today, this article in the NYT does, I think, come out in favour of our profession and leaves a bit of 'crowd-sourced' egg on the face of LinkedIn.

http://tinyurl.com/mvutbr

It is significant that the three translators he quotes in his article are Prozians. It is also significant that this all 'snowballed ' from a Twitter 'Hashtag' marked #Linkedinfail, which further fellow Prozian Céline Graciet http://www.nakedtranslations.com/ had posted. Web 2.0 seems to be working!

So many thanks to Jeff for starting this thread, to Céline and particularly to Matthew for starting his group on LinkedIn!icon_smile.gif

Chris

[Edited at 2009-06-29 13:49 GMT]


 

Rod Walters  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 10:45
Japanese to English
Humour Jun 29, 2009

“I didn’t feel cheapened or exploited at all when they asked,” said Erika Baker, of North Somerset, England. “I just thought, ‘Wow what an opportunity.’ ” A translator for more than 15 years, Ms. Baker said that she had rarely been credited as she would be on the LinkedIn project and that she was certain it would bring in paying work.

“These are new ways of marketing, and the Internet is really the way to go,” Ms. Baker said.


I don't know if Ms. Baker actually exists or not, but what she says amuses me a lot.

I've been a translator going on 13 years, which is less than Ms. Baker, but I don't recall ever having had any anxiety over "bringing in paying work". Work has always paid. Ms. Baker nicely succeeds in giving the impression that most of her translation career has been pro bono. Doing free work in the hope that paid work will follow is like going fishing and putting yourself on the hook.

"Ms. Baker said that she had rarely been credited". That's right, that's the deal. But generally one charges enough to buy beer to cry into over one's continuing anonymity.

The last bit is best though, and that's what really makes me wonder if Ms. Baker is real. “These are new ways of marketing, and the Internet is really the way to go”. She makes it sound as if the Internet has just arrived in North Somerset.


 

Erika Baker  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
English to German
Yes I'm real and I support LinkedIn Jun 29, 2009

Mr Walters
you only need to google to verify that I'm real. In Somerset at least, that has been possible for a while now.

Maybe you work in a different field than I do, but I rarely find that companies credit me publicly with my translations. Very few publicise my name or offer a backlink to my website - all things that LinkedIn are willing to negotiate.

Whenever I have been publicly credited as the translator of a text, I have generally had an immediate increase in traffic on my website.
I first discovered this when I did voluntary translations for the charity sector, and each time it has resulted in more paid work than the free translation "cost" me. Voluntary work has been an extremely successul marketing tool for me.

I would not work for free for Google, but LinkedIn is a completely different organisation. The networks reach out to professionals in all sectors of industry and commerce and therefore to just the kind of people who may need translators, now or in the future.

If this project comes off, the quality of my work would be obvious to everyone and a proper back-link to my website would enable potential direct clients to find me quickly. I don't really see how this can be viewed as anything other than a useful marketing tool.

Of course, if you never have to do any marketing, this won't be for you. Count yourself lucky that your clients never run out of money, go bust, change their company profile, suddenly cut down on their translations or employ someone in-house.
My commercial world is a little more volatile than that.


 

Ivette Camargo López  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:45
English to Spanish
+ ...
@ Chris: agree to disagree Jun 29, 2009

Hi again, Chris,

It's interesting to read that you actually had a chat with a NYT journalist about this topic, though in my humble (?) opinion (even though I don't have the "authority" of a NYT journalisticon_wink.gif ) the article pretty much stays on the surface, because I believe in the Internet there may be other examples of crowdsourcing translations in which the line between "for profit"/"not-for-profit" is rather shaky, so I still see no point in targeting any translator's rage only against commercial websites such as LinkedIn or Google, but not against other commercial websites such as Proz.com.

I also wanted to comment that it seems I am not the only one who has interpreted here in the Proz.com forums (even before this LinkedIn fuss) that voluntary localization of Proz.com is similar to what some of these major commercial websites are now asking as well. For example, see another similar recent thread at:

http://www.proz.com/forum/lighter_side_of_trans_interp/102769-facebook_asks_users_to_translate_new_version_for_free.html

But in my opinion, this (free localization) does not diminish at all the value I personally give Proz.com as a useful and practical website for translators.

In fact, another reason why I consider Proz.com a website worth paying for or in which every professional translator should at least maintain a profile is because here you are still able to freely discuss in the forums things like these voluntary/free/crowdsourcing translations
(for example, as early as 2002 at
http://www.proz.com/forum/prozcom:_translator_coop/3472-world_wide_lexicon_seeking_volunteer_translators.html ,
or last year at
http://www.proz.com/forum/prozcom:_translator_coop/110918-prozcom_to_offer_connect_platform_for_use_in_100+_language_project.html#903746 ):

On the other hand,

Textklick wrote:

After all, where was the fuss when assistance was requested for voluntary localisation of this site?


There may not have been any fuss among Proz.com forum participants when Proz.com requested any voluntary localization, not only because of the reasons already commented in this thread, but also because maybe this concept of voluntary "crowdsourcing" was not as clear back when Proz.com first requested this kind of voluntary work.

But also because, of course, the big, obvious difference is that, since Proz.com is clearly a translation-related website, here it may not be as difficult (or as "scandalous") to find volunteers for free translation, since inexperienced or experienced-but-not-as-busy or just plain unemployed translators may clearly see this free translation work as an opportunity to market/acquire experience themselves in one of the biggest (if not "the" biggest) translation portals of the world.

However, it would be at least fair to note that, in the case of some forum threads where volunteers were called by Proz.com for the voluntary localization work, some of those volunteers (at least in the English-Spanish pair) have, to date, expressed major public disagreement with Proz.com (probably in part because of some of the voluntary/crowdsourcing work Proz.com requests, not only localization, but also moderators) and are no longer an active user/member (paying/not paying) of the website (see, for example, http://www.proz.com/forum/prozcom:_translator_coop/2565-what_about_the_lousy_translations_on_proz.html ).

Furthermore, there are even those who view Kudoz as an indirect way of obtaining "free" translations (see, for example,
http://www.proz.com/forum/kudoz/19459-why_are_we_doing_free_translations.html ).

In short, Chris, the way I see it, no problem to agree to disagree, but the perspective of Proz.com as a commercial site using crowdsourcing tactics as well can obviously change according to one's own "logic".:-)

Cheers,

Ivette


 

Textklick  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:45
German to English
+ ...
Agree Jun 29, 2009

Hi Ivette,

I guess you are right and I kind of 'hi-jacked' this thread (although it was the same journalist who wrote both articles under discussion). Clearly I should have opened another one or tacked it onto to one of those you mention that is still open. Time constraints...

Shame you didn't point me there before.

What's done is done, a point has been made for better or for worse (I think for better) and over 300 translators did, after all, sign up here: http://www.linkedin.com/groups?about=&gid=2032092&trk=anet_ug_grppro

Cheers
Chris


 

Rod Walters  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 10:45
Japanese to English
I see Jun 29, 2009

Hi Erika,

Thanks for responding and filling in the blanks. The background of your situation is not adequately portrayed in the article, which makes it difficult for somebody who works in a different milieu to see the grounds for your thinking.

I am vulnerable to all of those factors you mention at the end, so I do have to market like anybody else. But I still wonder about the marketing advantage of working unpaid but acknowledged for LinkedIn. Are you not concerned that many others will start offering you a similar 'deal'?


 

Erika Baker  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
English to German
LinkedIn Jun 30, 2009

Hi Rod

Well, others might want to offer me a similar deal, but I am under no obligation to accept it.

I sometimes get the impression that we translators aren't as confident as we should be and that we don't see ourselves as equal negotiating partners in any work agreement we accept.

LinkedIn sent a survey that was, admittedly, a little amateurish and betrayed a lack of understanding of how translation works, how professional we are etc. There was a slight element of "you guys might just want to quickly write this in another language for fun" about it.
But the rest looked interesting enough, and so I filled in the survey specifying under which conditions I would be able to talk to them about work. Not to DO the work, but to start negotiating terms.

I also spoke to them direct and explained why I thought I might consider it and what they would have to offer in return. It was clear that they hadn't really thought it all through yet, but that they were more than willing to consider. It seemed to me that I had succeeded in moving the conversation from a slightly cheap survey to a professional level.

If this continues, and if we can come to an agreement I am happy with, I will consider working for them, based on my own marketing strategy and the potential economic benefits I foresee.
A professional agreement would include volumes, priority of paying customers, i.e. a certain flexibility regarding deadlines, kind of credit, links back to my LinkedIn profile, active co-operation with other translators, creation of a proper terminology database to ensure consistency of style and terminology and a truly professional translation etc.

Until a final agreement is reached, no-one is committed to anything, and if I felt that I had misjudged LinkedIn and the negotiations weren't progressing on a professional level, I would simply withdraw.

So if later another organization came up offering me the same deal, I would assess its potential in exactly the same manner. Would they provide me with the same access to a huge potential base of direct clients, for example etc etc.

I don’t make a habit of working for free, I do have a family to support. I am not a low-cost translator, I am not a doormat. I look for creative ways of marketing myself to an ever broadening and anonymous market and I do look for ways of standing out. There are many many excellent English into German translators, this is a hugely competitive field.

Like ProZ, LinkedIn is a platform for reaching out to the real clients. I would no more expect potential direct clients who see my work on LinkedIn to ask me for free translations than I would expect a ProZ outsourcer to do the same. I most certainly would not expect LinkedIn to publicize that they did not pay for the work. That’s part of the private negotiations between client and service provider.

I believe the LinkedIn approach might work for me. If it doesn’t, I’ll change tack. In any case, I shall evaluate the next marketing opportunity on its own merit as and when it arises.


 

Textklick  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:45
German to English
+ ...
ATA response Jul 1, 2009

The opinion of the President of the American Translators Association on the LinkedIn issue can be read here: http://www.atanet.org/pressroom/linkedIn_letter_2009.pdf

Best
Chris


 

Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:45
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
What are the legal implications? Jul 1, 2009

Has anyone considered the legal implications of the use of "volunteers" to work for commercial enterprises?

I am curious to know how this fits with the US Labor Laws, for example the FLSA.
http://www.dol.gov/elaws/esa/flsa/docs/volunteers.asp

The third paragraph on this page starts like this:
Under the FLSA, employees may not volunteer services to for-profit private sector employers.


I am not a lawyer nor a legal expert, I was just wondering whether the nature of the work (it is developing a product for a company: a localized version of the website which is the business itself) and the fact that it is compensated in some way (even if it is in-kind) and that the "volunteers" would essentially replace/displace "employees" or contract workers (the work would otherwise be done by them) would make such arrangements to be non-compliant with the current labor regulations.

Any thoughts on this?

Katalin

[Edited at 2009-07-01 19:35 GMT]


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:45
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
The LinkedIn matter - Commented in BusinessWeek Jul 3, 2009

LinkedIn's approach and the ATA's response to it are mentioned in this BusinessWeek article: http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/jul2009/tc2009071_384108.htm

Oh. Now LinkedIn apparently says that "Our intention was to survey our members to see what level of interest there was", not to ask for free work. People will never cease to amaze me. Why can't people simply apologize when they made a mistake? They always find some way of twisting their own words to sound right and nice! :-/


 
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