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The Myth of the .04 Translator
Thread poster: LegalTransform

LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:56
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Feb 16, 2010

I got a little discouraged last month after viewing the websites of a few local translation “agencies”. Their impressive-looking sites were filled with the usual industry jargon about quality and made claims from “no translation over .10 a word ever” to “we have over 42,000 qualified translators at our disposal”. Yes, there certainly are people who work for

 

Henry Dotterer
Local time: 00:56
SITE FOUNDER
Thanks, Jeff Feb 16, 2010

Thanks for posting this information. Your mom is right.

I am assuming the jobs you posted were real. I would not encourage anyone to do this sort of thing as a ploy.


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:56
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Well done! Feb 16, 2010

Well done Jeff. Thanks a million for sharing the facts.

This should help us all be confident and quote at our regular price, also in Proz.com jobs from now on!! Let's do it folks!

Competition is great and it is good that each of us feels his/her own master in terms of rates, but let's quote at the price each of us considers fair, even if the job posters state a much lower rate proposal.


 

John Rawlins  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:56
Spanish to English
+ ...
Good job Jeff Feb 16, 2010

We can all sleep more easily with these results in mind.

 

Claudia Alvis  Identity Verified
Peru
Local time: 00:56
Member
Spanish
+ ...
Great idea! Feb 16, 2010

Thank you for the time you took to post the job and your findings. It's great to know that so many colleagues still value our profession. By the way, can you email me the name of portal you used.

Regards,

Claudia


 

Mats Wiman  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 06:56
Member (2000)
German to Swedish
+ ...

MODERATOR
BMW & Mercedes do not tremble Feb 16, 2010

out fear that the TATA NANO from India will snatch away their customers because customers prefer a car which costs EUR 1600.

icon_wink.gif


 

Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:56
Member
English to French
An alternative bottom line Feb 16, 2010

.04 translators are not stupid.
They would rather sell their services worth 0.04 (self-perceived or "actual") at 0.20.

I also conclude that 0.04 translators don't exist per se: translation agencies, source of all evil, have fostered and released in the wild this half-human, half-software mutant species [Note: this is a graphic exaggeration]).

To me, it is only fair that the seller tries to sell at the highest price, and the buyer at the lowest. Negociation leads to the "right" price, be it 0.04 or 0.25. The buyer has 0 as the lower limit, the seller has the sky.

To get cheap translations, state that your budget is low, throw in a 700-word free test and demand an early delivery.
Who knows, maybe some of the same people would have responded.

Anyway it is reassuring to see that translators don't offer "megalow" rates if they don't have to. Thank you Jeff, all is not lost.

Philippe


 

Charlie Bavington (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:56
French to English
Websites Feb 16, 2010

Mats Wiman wrote:

BMW & Mercedes do not tremble out of fear that the TATA NANO from India will snatch away their customers because customers prefer a car which costs EUR 1600.

Very, very true. There is room for all levels of service and skill.

Nonetheless (and partly out of michief), the 0.04 translator is something much discussed HERE with specific reference to the jobs posted here. And Jeff posted his experiment elsewhere - we know not where. And, to continue with your analogy, hopefully without stretching it to breaking point, if I posted an advert saying "Wanted: used saloon car for family of four, low mileage, for primarily urban driving" (i.e. something quite specific), I would be offered very different prices on a Tata owners' forum and a BMW owners' forum.

Rightly or wrong, this site is perceived in some quarters as the home of the low-cost provider - probably because of the number of ads stating low prices blah blah blah ad nauseum, so to really prove the point, we need an experiment here. Actually, an experiment run on several sites at once would be the most interesting (and the same jobs can be seen here and elsewhere so would not necessarily arouse suspicion).


 

Libelula09 (X)
Local time: 05:56
English to Spanish
Having posted quite a few jobs on here as an outsourcer... Feb 16, 2010

I have seen a huge variation in rates.

One project, which was for around 10,000 words and was of a technical nature, received quotes ranging from $0.02 to €0.15.

When following up quotes that I have given to potential clients, I have been told on more than one occassion 'We went with the cheapest in the end'.

As long as there are people out there who want cheap translations over quality ones, there will be a market for the lower prices translators.

Such is life.


 

Walter Landesman  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 02:56
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Trying on several sites Feb 16, 2010

Charlie Bavington wrote:

Rightly or wrong, this site is perceived in some quarters as the home of the low-cost provider - probably because of the number of ads stating low prices blah blah blah ad nauseum, so to really prove the point, we need an experiment here. Actually, an experiment run on several sites at once would be the most interesting (and the same jobs can be seen here and elsewhere so would not necessarily arouse suspicion).



When you said "this site" did you mean Proz or the site where the ad was posted?

Anyway, I know Proz is not perceived like that, but I also know other sites for freelancers that really are. One realizes that from the moment that the ad is posted and - not even mentioning a budget or suggested rates - after a few minutes there are dozens of applicants offering to work for USD 0.01-0.03 or even lesss (applications can bee seen by everybody in some sites) and they even get the assignment.

Price over quality can be told by the way those freelance translators write in English or even in Spanish, very poor indeed.

So I agree with your suggestion, Charlie. Actually, many outsources do it.

These past two weeks I have been receiving many notifications on the same job posted in Proz and in 4-6 other sites at the same time. The good news is that sometimes it happens after 24 or more hours of the Proz posting.

Does it mean that applications via this site where above their budget or suggested rate and so they try some place else?


 

Brian Young  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:56
Danish to English
You have a great Mom! Feb 16, 2010

That was a great experiment. Thanks for the effort involved.
My Mom always told me, when I was working hard, that I would get my reward in Heaven. That is way too long for me to wait, and I am not sure I'll even get there. So I just decided that I would rather starve than accept those low rates.


 

Charlie Bavington (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:56
French to English
Since you asked Feb 16, 2010

Walter Landesman wrote:
Charlie Bavington wrote:
Rightly or wrong, this site is perceived in some quarters as the home of the low-cost provider - probably because of the number of ads stating low prices blah blah blah ad nauseum, so to really prove the point, we need an experiment here. Actually, an experiment run on several sites at once would be the most interesting (and the same jobs can be seen here and elsewhere so would not necessarily arouse suspicion).


When you said "this site" did you mean Proz or the site where the ad was posted?

Anyway, I know Proz is not perceived like that,

I meant proz, and I was deliberately careful to state "in some quarters" not universally. I stand by what I said.
but I also know other sites for freelancers that really are.
To be fair, I think it's a common feature of unrestricted sites of a certain size.


So I agree with your suggestion, Charlie. Actually, many outsources do it.
Indeed, although perhaps not in a deliberately controlled and experimental (dare I say "scientific"?) way.

These past two weeks I have been receiving many notifications on the same job posted in Proz and in 4-6 other sites at the same time. The good news is that sometimes it happens after 24 or more hours of the Proz posting.

Does it mean that applications via this site where above their budget or suggested rate and so they try some place else?

That is one explanation, of course. There are others. I've only posted jobs here a couple of times (out of English). At least once, my job appeared elsewhere as a result of dark and mysterious forces that remain a dark mystery to this day (altho I think the job was just illicitly harvested somehow and re-posted). As has already been reported in this thread, I had a wide range of quotes from 0.03 to about 0.12 eurocents, if memory serves.


 

Eleftherios Kritikakis  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:56
Member (2003)
Greek to English
+ ...
Actually Mr. Henry Feb 17, 2010

Many companies around the world and locally do that sort of thing, "testing" the market by asking for prices etc. There's nothing wrong with it and it's called market intelligence.

What you call "ploy" is normal practice for Office Equipment companies, for Building Maintenance companies, for Retailers, and due to the crisis, for pretty much everyone (including of course Insurance Companies that are asked to provide quotes for complicated plans on a daily basis - most of them are fake).

Jeff has the right to conduct his own research by asking for quotes - he's not doing anything wrong - because simply there is no other way to find out!

It's the same thing when you go to ta store and you ASK the price of an item if you buy large quantities. WHY do you think that getting market information is a "ploy"? Is it "ok" when companies and Universities do it on a daily basis for their research needs?
It is "ok" when the media does it on a daily basis to get "unbiased results"?

Furthermore, Jeff clearly says that he did NOT use proz for this research, so it's none of your business.

I'm wondering sometimes why are normal market behaviors discouraged at Proz.com.



[Edited at 2010-02-17 00:38 GMT]


 

Laurent KRAULAND (X)  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 06:56
French to German
+ ...
Actually #2 Feb 17, 2010

First of all, Jeff, thanks for this little experiment. I believe that some other colleagues have done similar ones not too long along, if only to test the reliability of a certain translation portal(*).

Actually, I wonder what can be behind those rather vague offers (eg "a project from English to German" - no indication about format, volume, specialism etc.) which I receive, be it through a portal or via private message. Is there really a job to complete or is the poster just enquiring about current rates?
Or is there, like Charlie evoked it, a deep and dark mystery preventing the outsourcer from saying too much about the job in public (I have heard of translators selling others' work as their own, with the client being unaware of those "secret" dealings).

(*) ETA: with some surprises, ie the translation agency behind the portal has an absolute priority (!?) to quote over freelance translators registered on said portal and paying their fee...

[Edited at 2010-02-17 07:26 GMT]


 

Michele Johnson  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 06:56
German to English
+ ...
Waste of time Feb 17, 2010

Have I understood this correctly? Basically, you wasted the time and effort of more than 60 people who applied for your fake job? Maybe it's just me, but this seems like a major red flag for your potential partners.

 
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