A Translations "stock" Exchange?
Thread poster: Pompeo Lattanzi

Pompeo Lattanzi
Italy
Local time: 15:21
English to Italian
+ ...
Jun 18, 2014

Looking just now through ProZ.com's jobs on offer I noticed a particular job which quoted a rather low tariff for a rather technical type of translation. In spite of this, 19 quotes had already been submitted.
True, there is no obligation to quote in the specified bracket; true, nobody should be told what price to quote. However it struck me that the actual price quoted by each candidate would be essential info for the rest of us.
In a stock exchange the price quoted for the transfer of shares cannot be secret (well, let's say most of the time...) as this would give unfair advantage to some actors. The "free market" relies on (near) perfect information being available to all. Secrecy about the translation fees only gives an advantage to those who offer the jobs. Quoting becomes a sort of reverse auction where the "winner" is whoever quotes the lowest.

I'm starting to think that sites such as ProZ.com could give an excellent service to the translators' community. In fact, just like a stock exchange, for most purposes it would be sufficient to publish minimum, maximum and median fees, by language pair of course.
Am I barking up the wrong tree, do you think?


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:21
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Some first thoughts Jun 18, 2014

Pompeo Lattanzi wrote:
I'm starting to think that sites such as ProZ.com could give an excellent service to the translators' community. In fact, just like a stock exchange, for most purposes it would be sufficient to publish minimum, maximum and median fees, by language pair of course.

Do you mean similar to this: http://search.proz.com/?sp=pfe/rates

Quoting becomes a sort of reverse auction where the "winner" is whoever quotes the lowest.

Actually, we hear from ProZ.com staff and from several trusted outsourcers here that this is simply not the case. Of course there are some posters who only look at the price. But very many discount both the cheapest and the most expensive, and then choose the best (in terms of expected quality) from the rest.
Looking just now through ProZ.com's jobs on offer I noticed a particular job which quoted a rather low tariff for a rather technical type of translation. In spite of this, 19 quotes had already been submitted.

Some of them may well not have been quotes at all, plus some were probably quoting above the outsourcer's budget, as you suggested. Every now and again when I have a spare moment and/or I'm sufficiently outraged, I'll reply by telling the poster what I think the job is worth and why. I doubt it does much good but nothing ventured nothing gained. Anyway, I'm never looking to be awarded the job, just to educate/let off steam.

Edited to correct typos - time to clean the coffee dregs out of the keyboard, I think.

[Edited at 2014-06-18 14:01 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Pompeo Lattanzi
Italy
Local time: 15:21
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Do you mean similar to this: http://search.proz.com/?sp=pfe/rates Jun 18, 2014

Along those lines, but drastically different.
Those reported are the quotes translators SAY they request.
Based on my very limited knowledge, at least for my pair, those rates are fictional.
I meant the ACTUAL rates quoted.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:21
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Translation rates Jun 18, 2014

Back when I joined ProZ in 2000, you used to be able to see all the bids (complete quote with names, texts and prices).

What happened was that someone bid 0.14, then someone bid 0.135, then someone bid 0.08, then someone bid .06... It was a disaster. Low bidders received nasty e-mails and comments from others. Under the current system, people can still bid low, but they would not be doing so based on what other people are doing.

A petition was started and ProZ removed this information. You can probably find threads and threads about it from the early 2000s.

There have been A LOT of changes made to ProZ over the past 14 years. Perhaps a history page/wiki with a timeline of events would be helpful.


Pompeo Lattanzi wrote:

Looking just now through ProZ.com's jobs on offer I noticed a particular job which quoted a rather low tariff for a rather technical type of translation. In spite of this, 19 quotes had already been submitted.
True, there is no obligation to quote in the specified bracket; true, nobody should be told what price to quote. However it struck me that the actual price quoted by each candidate would be essential info for the rest of us.
In a stock exchange the price quoted for the transfer of shares cannot be secret (well, let's say most of the time...) as this would give unfair advantage to some actors. The "free market" relies on (near) perfect information being available to all. Secrecy about the translation fees only gives an advantage to those who offer the jobs. Quoting becomes a sort of reverse auction where the "winner" is whoever quotes the lowest.

I'm starting to think that sites such as ProZ.com could give an excellent service to the translators' community. In fact, just like a stock exchange, for most purposes it would be sufficient to publish minimum, maximum and median fees, by language pair of course.
Am I barking up the wrong tree, do you think?


[Edited at 2014-06-18 14:48 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Pompeo Lattanzi
Italy
Local time: 15:21
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Ah, yes... Jun 18, 2014

[quote]Jeff Whittaker wrote:

What happened was that someone bid 0.14, then someone bid 0.135, then someone bid 0.08, then someone bid .06... It was a disaster. Low bidders received nasty e-mails and comments from others. Under the current system, people can still bid low, but they would not be doing so based on what other people are doing.

A petition was started and ProZ removed this information. You can probably find threads and threads about it from the early 2000s. [end quote]

I see now. I guess whatever the system somebody will always try and abuse it...
Maybe it is better this way, at least one is not exposed to the hard feelings of somebody who feels his/her rates are too low.
Thanks for enlightening me as to past history. You reminded me of somebody (more intelligent than me) who said something like: "If you don't know history, you are bound to repeat its mistakes".


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Alex Lago  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 15:21
Member (2009)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Maybe Jun 19, 2014

Actually I think that would be a good idea and in order to avoid problems I think Proz could implement it like this:

Bids are not visible, however once a job has closed the different bids become visible, but with no link to a user or name, just the amounts of the bids. This could be stored in a database by Proz which could then be analyzed over time. The database could provide all the details for the job except for the posters and the bidders data.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:21
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Downward spiral Jun 19, 2014

Alex Lago wrote:
Bids are not visible, however once a job has closed the different bids become visible, but with no link to a user or name, just the amounts of the bids. This could be stored in a database by Proz which could then be analyzed over time. The database could provide all the details for the job except for the posters and the bidders data.

And everyone who didn't get the job will suppose it was because they didn't bid lower than the lowest bid recorded; so they'll bid lower next time.

Who exactly is going to win from that?


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Little Woods  Identity Verified
Vietnam
Member
English to Vietnamese
Just my thought even though it may be futile Jul 8, 2014

Proz bidding system can set a mimimum rate (community rate) for clients and freelancers who bid so that when they enter the bidding rate, if it is too low, the system won't accept it. The minimum will be the same for the client and the freelancer, that way we remind both the clients and translators about healthy rates in general. I believe Proz have rules like minimum rate but they dont have any discipline to strengthen it. I dont think that general rules about minimum rates without enforcement could be effective, just like any rules in real life.

Direct link Reply with quote
 

564354352  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 15:21
Danish to English
+ ...
Futile exercise Jul 8, 2014

What would be the point in knowing what others bid? This is a terrible slope to get onto - thinking that you should adjust the value of your own work according to what others charge. That is a very weird way of going about deciding what you want to earn and what you believe your work is worth.

I have almost given up on getting work via ProZ.com. I have had plenty of contact emails from hopeful (!) clients who claim to have looked at my profile, which clearly states my rates, which I do not consider negotiable. The vast majority immediately come back and ask me for a lower rate and then the contact quickly fizzles out. I have no problem with that, I understand that agencies work to strict budgets that are based on them getting a piece of the end client's cake, but it doesn't make me think that I am charging too much. I still have to make a decent living off my work, and I am not prepared to lower my rates just because 'we are getting much lower offers from other translators'. Good for them - maybe others can make a decent living off those lower rates, but that has nothing to do with me. I am not here to 'fit in with the rest', I only come here because I run a business, I offer a product/service that comes at a price, and if outsourcers can't afford that, that's the end of the story.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Orrin Cummins  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 23:21
Japanese to English
+ ...
Just my opinion, but... Jul 8, 2014

If you are having to bid for jobs in the first place, the battle is already lost.

Direct link Reply with quote
 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 15:21
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Not necessarily Jul 8, 2014

Orrin Cummins wrote:

If you are having to bid for jobs in the first place, the battle is already lost.


I admit it is a long while since I have bid for a job, but I look at them, and people who have not been around so long do need to look for work.

In my language pairs I have seen really good clients posting jobs too. One at least has posted a couple of times when he has offered the job to me - and presumably others he regularly works with - and none of us have time. I know he is far more interested in quality and timely delivery than penny-pinching.

I recognise the names of others who post jobs. I have dropped one or two, and shudder occasionally at the rates, but on other occasions I would seriously bid if I had time to take the job on!

Truly pathetic offers ARE flagged:
The budget entered for this job is below the rates charged by at least 80% of ProZ.com members for this pair and currency.

The last I saw was probably below the rates charged by 99% in my language pair ...

I too would like to see some statistics on higher rates as well, but it is difficult to do without the median and average gradually becoming a ceiling that it is hard to get above - and that is NOT the intention!


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Pompeo Lattanzi
Italy
Local time: 15:21
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
You are probably right... Jul 8, 2014

Orrin Cummins wrote:

If you are having to bid for jobs in the first place, the battle is already lost.


... but how do you start getting jobs otherwise? In my experience only troubles come to you without having to look for them.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Orrin Cummins  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 23:21
Japanese to English
+ ...
... Jul 8, 2014

Christine Andersen wrote:

In my language pairs I have seen really good clients posting jobs too.


You have mentioned on several occasions that your particular language pair is a relatively tight-knit community. I guess we can say that the pair makes a big difference. But I think that the environment that a bidding system creates is not really in the best interest of translators.

Anyways, the only way to escape the bidding wars is to specialize heavily. If you can fill a niche that only a handful of people in the world can fill, there will be no bidding. Christine, I believe that you may be experiencing some of this effect due to the small number of proficient translators in your language pair.

In some saturated language pairs, translators must really make an effort to somehow distance themselves from the pack. This can only be accomplished in a few ways:

1. Work hard to develop highly specialized knowledge, termbases, etc. that no one else has

2. Attempt to lower your rates farther than the competition is willing to go

3. Develop a strong online identity with positive feedback from past clients, blogs, websites, etc.


Now, which one of these three can you directly relate to the bidding process?

We should all be putting our best efforts into the other two.


Direct link Reply with quote
 


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:


You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

A Translations "stock" Exchange?

Advanced search







memoQ translator pro
Kilgray's memoQ is the world's fastest developing integrated localization & translation environment rendering you more productive and efficient.

With our advanced file filters, unlimited language and advanced file support, memoQ translator pro has been designed for translators and reviewers who work on their own, with other translators or in team-based translation projects.

More info »
TM-Town
Manage your TMs and Terms ... and boost your translation business

Are you ready for something fresh in the industry? TM-Town is a unique new site for you -- the freelance translator -- to store, manage and share translation memories (TMs) and glossaries...and potentially meet new clients on the basis of your prior work.

More info »



Forums
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search