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Thousands of translators with years of experience working for .01 a word
Thread poster: LegalTransform

LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:07
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Jul 3, 2015

Have the proverbial .01 translators finally arrived?

Although this site has been around for a while, I recently noticed that there are now close to 2,000 people (some with years of translation experience) with videos and customer feedback who are offering to translate between 500-1000 words for $5.00 in 24 hours.

I posted about this before and it used to be a joke and no doubt some of them are just using straight MT, but there do seem to now be some serious people on there with professional translation businesses.

They are actually competing by offering to do more and more words for $5.00 (and all in 24 hours).

Some can be dismissed, but some of them even have advanced language and communication degrees. Of course, they cannot produce the same quality and we can produce way better work, but will customers care at a 90+% discount?

Here's the site (it's safe - I just had to shorten it because I included search parameters):
http://bit.ly/1LIRptV

[Edited at 2015-07-03 23:37 GMT]


 

Ana Carla Guimarães  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 18:07
English to Portuguese
I am shocked!! Jul 3, 2015

I am shocked to see that experienced people are accepting peanuts. To me, these people can´t be professional people. I mean, I chose one person and read his ad. It says:

A XXXXXX (don´t want to mention nationality, as it´s not the case here) native, self-taught English. Teacher, blogger and translator. Excel expert. Can help you in translations, Excel and proofreading.

I tend to believe that a person who didn´t learn a second language at a course or with an experienced teacher, can´t be offering this kind of service professionally. So, this person probably learned English watching movies or reading some books and is trying to make some extra money. In other words, you get what you pay for.

Are you sure there are professional people with 20 years of experience in this site, working for 0.01 a word?


 

LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:07
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Examples Jul 3, 2015

Hi Ana,

I didn't want to point anyone out in particular because you can always pick individuals apart. The first guy is joke because he is using GT (see comments), but right on the first screen there is a German translator with a degree in translation, an agency with 20 years of experience, a young girl offering Spanish with 7 years of experience, people who have translated books and a woman with a communications degree from Italy (her English pronunciation is bad, but she's translating into Italian only - and I'm sure a lot of ProZians have accents when they speak their languages). I just couldn't bear to look any further because it's quite upsetting.

True, a few seem a little weird, but some seem serious.

Again, we know that the quality will suffer, and I know I can produce way better work, but at a 90+% discount, I think people may not really care.

Keep in mind, that the people on this site also offer other services (web design, writing, etc.) for $5.00 so translating is not the only professional being affected by these..... (I don't even know what to call them).

Ana Carla Guimarães wrote:

I tend to believe that a person who didn´t learn a second language at a course or with an experienced teacher, can´t be offering this kind of service professionally. So, this person probably learned English watching movies or reading some books and is trying to make some extra money. In other words, you get what you pay for.

Are you sure there are professional people with 20 years of experience in this site, working for 0.01 a word?




[Edited at 2015-07-03 23:38 GMT]


 

Fabio M. Caldas  Identity Verified
Indonesia
Local time: 14:07
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Marketing? Jul 4, 2015

Would it be acceptable as a marketing strategy?

I have opened a profile in virtually every website to offer my services as a freelancer; websites such as Elance, Freelancer, Fivierr, PPH, etc. I have the same information in all of them directing potential clients to my profile on ProZ, as here I have feedback from my clients and a better built profile (or so I think!).

I know that these websites have a terrible fame as you can see people posting complex specialized translation jobs and offering a budget of 10 USD for the whole assignment - 2k + words, same day turnaround, etc. (just like in ProZ??!).

My proposal with Fivierr, or at least my initial thought, was to be available to potential clients to get in contact and then charge my normal rate after CAT analysis. I'll explain. Until now I had only two people getting in contact through my Fivierr profile, one of them had an assignment of 7k words. After CAT analysis, I could assert the amount of discount I will give for the jobs, let's say 300 words give or take per 5 USD and the rest charged with my normal rate.

So I wrote down my proposal while trying to educate the client on the pros of hiring a professional translator and cons of hiring other people. Well, I didn't get any reply from this individual and I know that this is probably because of the huge price difference between my final proposal and what he see on Fivierr, but it was worth to try.

While contacting job posters, in the case of Elance, Odesk, etc., I avoid low budget ones and individuals, and strive to only target the companies with good payment record and feedback.

This is it, I just want to share my short experience with Fivierr and similar websites. Thoughts?


 

Preston Decker  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:07
Chinese to English
Makes sense Jul 4, 2015

Not exactly breaking news, and I know this has been said many times before here, but 10 USD per thousand words can work quite well without sacrificing too much quality if you're living in a country with a low valued currency. Let's take China as an example: assuming our translator can get through 3000 words a day (not an unreasonable number), 30 USD per day is about 200 RMB, giving him/her 4000 RMB per month for 20 days of working at home a month. 4000 RMB happens to be a fairly respectable starting wage for office jobs in second-third tier cities. Throw in the fact that most of these 5 dollar offers are for 4-500 words (and as Fabio suggests, their rates after the first 400-500 words are probably higher), that a 10 dollar translator might be able to up things to 4000 words when necessary, and that they'd probably be willing to work a few extra days, and I could see 6,000-8,000 RMB as an attainable goal, which is not a bad living.


The good news is that most people intelligent enough to figure out this business model are probably also intelligent enough to eventually figure out that they could be earning 3-5 times this much at higher rates, which is why I'm not too concerned about this--the good ones will eventually migrate out of this rate class, so that the majority of translators on offer will always be either newbies or low-quality. As long as that's the case (and I don't see why this would change) , sites like this will never receive good enough word of mouth to become the go-to site for the majority of clients.

Now I realize most of you are working with European languages, and unless our European translator is an expat living in Thailand, I assume there has to be either a massive drop in quality or a massive hike in the translation rate after the 5 dollar deal is up:
5 dollars for the first 400 words!*

*100 dollars for the second 600; minimum 1000 words.




[Edited at 2015-07-04 05:46 GMT]


 

Joakim Braun  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 09:07
German to Swedish
+ ...
Hm Jul 4, 2015

Ana Carla Guimarães wrote:

I tend to believe that a person who didn´t learn a second language at a course or with an experienced teacher, can´t be offering this kind of service professionally.




Well, you're wrong about that.


 

Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 09:07
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Common practice? Jul 4, 2015

It seems that these peanut jobs tend to strengthen their presense on all LSP-sites. Apparently there must be several customers who don't care about quality - as many assembly instructions prove.icon_biggrin.gif

And this doesn't seem to be the end of it. I just read a job post for proofreading a website. Nothing unusual, you might think. But... the client offers a per word rate and even requests discounts for - take this in! - repetitions and fuzzy matches.

Now, which serious translator would offer discounts for these matches/repetitions when proofreading anything? As I always emphazise in my webinar, never ever accept any CAT tool discounts when proofreading and/or editing any files.

This job post might result in perhaps 2 - 5 working hours at a rate of perhaps 2.00 - 2.50 Euros per hour. After all, repetitions and fuzzy matches of this MT (so the poster admits) don't need to be proofread. A lucrative income for someone residing in China, as Preston stated. The only problem here is that no professional would ignore repetitions and matches, thus offering her/his work for free. So the actual question is, which serious translator and/or revision specialist in the western hemisphere would work for peanuts?


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 09:07
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Test it -- it's a cheap experiment Jul 4, 2015

Jeff Whittaker wrote:
Although [fiverr.com] has been around for a while, I recently noticed that there are now close to 2,000 people (some with years of translation experience) with videos and customer feedback who are offering to translate between 500-1000 words for $5.00 in 24 hours.


I think the problem is that people (both translators and members of the public) don't realise how long it takes to translate 500 words. At the same time, you (translator) can't outprice yourself from the market: if the market is the public (as opposed to business clients), then what you consider fair would will likely be considered excessive by the client. Take your initial post, for example -- for 11c per word it would cost about $20 to translate, which many members of the public would deem excessive, I think.

But, what tickles me is the question about translation quality here. $5 makes for a fairly cheap, repeatable experiment.


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 09:07
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Is bait and switch acceptable for professionals? Jul 4, 2015

Fabio M. Caldas wrote:
So I wrote down my proposal while trying to educate the client on the pros of hiring a professional translator and cons of hiring other people. Well, I didn't get any reply from this individual and I know that this is probably because of the huge price difference between my final proposal and what he see on Fivierr, but it was worth to try.


There is a name for that: bait and switch. It is generally considered unethical. However, I wonder just how many people who offer tasks on fiverr don't actually do just that.


 

LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:07
Russian to English
+ ...
That's MT, almost 100%. They may not even be translators Jul 4, 2015

but some agencies. unless of course they live somewhere where people make $2/day.

Happy Fourth of July—more quality offers, longer deadlines, understanding on the part of the customers, lots of happiness and sun for the summer.


 

Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 15:07
Chinese to English
No need for an experiment Jul 4, 2015

1) It's been done:
https://medium.com/@sachagreif/in-the-past-couple-years-startups-have-started-realizing-that-good-design-can-make-the-difference-2fdeb90d390a
A designer got "designers" advertising on a "we'll do anything for $5" site to design a logo. He got rip-offs and rubbish.

2) It's been done.
We've all seen the work of cheapie translators.

Really, there is no need to keep wondering over and over... the answer is no. Translation cannot be done well for cheap. Not anywhere, not anytime. Not in the developing world, and certainly not in developed countries.


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 09:07
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Testing creators and testing modifiers Jul 4, 2015

Phil Hand wrote:
https://medium.com/@sachagreif/in-the-past-couple-years-startups-have-started-realizing-that-good-design-can-make-the-difference-2fdeb90d390a
A designer got "designers" advertising on a "we'll do anything for $5" site to design a logo. He got rip-offs and rubbish.


Well, it would require a professional logo designer to tell why the submitted logos were rubbish and why the article author's own logo is superior.

He tested three service providers only, and he deliberately gave a very vague brief (and then he complained because the submitters were unable to read his mind). As far as I can tell, didn't receive "rip-offs" -- he did guess that one submitter had ripped off an image, but he did not investigate his suspicions apart from asking the submitter to confirm that it wasn't a rip-off. I'm also not convinced by his reviews of the submissions either, so unless you believe his comments, you can't really say that he received rubbish either.

Besides, testing creators (e.g. logo designers) is rather different from testing modifiers (translators).


[Edited at 2015-07-04 11:28 GMT]


 

Fabio M. Caldas  Identity Verified
Indonesia
Local time: 14:07
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Could you develop more on that Jul 4, 2015

Samuel Murray wrote:

Fabio M. Caldas wrote:
So I wrote down my proposal while trying to educate the client on the pros of hiring a professional translator and cons of hiring other people. Well, I didn't get any reply from this individual and I know that this is probably because of the huge price difference between my final proposal and what he see on Fivierr, but it was worth to try.


There is a name for that: bait and switch. It is generally considered unethical. However, I wonder just how many people who offer tasks on fiverr don't actually do just that.


Hi Samuel,

I appreciate your input. Could you explain more why is that this is generally unethical?

My proposal there is simple as "I will translate English to Portuguese for 5", and that is all. I decided to leave the explanation for those who get in contact. Isn't that the same as saying "I charge 0.12 per word to translate from English to Spanish" and then, after checking your client's proposed assignment, you decide to charge 0.14 because the translation is of technical nature, or you decide to surcharge in reason of the shirt deadline, etc.

I always write, when offering me services, that I'll PROBABLY charge xx.xx USD but this price/rate is subject to checking the file integrally.

Regards


[Edited at 2015-07-04 12:59 GMT]


 

Merab Dekano  Identity Verified
Spain
Member (2014)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Sustainability Jul 4, 2015

I expect clients to be impressed by professional translators’ work, not just pleased.

I am sure some 0.01s are capable of pleasing their clients (not for long). If they are also cable of impressing them, they will necessarily move up the scale and start changing 0.12s.

There is a concept called value-based pricing. It takes cost into account albeit for analysis purposes, not as a yardstick to set the price. It encompasses different variables. What can I do and my competitors cannot? How much will this save, in terms of money, to my customer? I agree, it is difficult to quantify, but it can be done based on some pretty accurate assumptions.

Translator A charges USD 0.01. For 10,000 words (three day work) it’s USD 100. The agency sells the translation to its client at USD 600 and is extremely happy, until it gets the translation back from the client who complains about typos, unnatural language used, a couple of grammatical mistakes, inconsistency in terminology, inappropriate register, one mistranslation and two omissions. The agency complains to the translator and receives as an answer, if any, something like “you paid me USD 100 for a three day work and now you want me to retranslate it again for free”? The agency complains to the editor and gets no answer. The client requests the money back. Finally the agency hires a real pro at USD 0.12 who is subject matter expert and has implacable track record. Complaints from the client eventually subside and the agency keeps USD 600 in its pocket. Now let’s do the math (let’s assume the editor too was paid USD 0.01):

(0.6 x 10,000) – (0.01 x 10,000) – (0.01 x 10,000) - (0.12 x 10,000), which means:
600 – 100 – 100 – 1,200 = -800 (USD 800 of loss)

There is no way this agency hires 0.01 translator any more. Just like there is no chance this client hires this agency ever.

Imagine it was an anticorruption guide for a multinational company. At a normal professional translator’s rate, it would cost USD 1,200 to translate, another USD 600 to edit and proofread. This is USD 1,800 for the finished work or USD 0.18 per word. The agency markets the translation at USD 0.24 per word and is paid USD 2,400. It makes 25% (it makes USD 600 in 4-5 days) of profit and gains a customer who will be delighted. More projects will come.

Companies pay several millions of USD in fines for corrupt practices. Isn’t it worth it to pay USD 2,400 to make sure the guide is accurate, precise and pleasant to read?

Sustainability comes to mind.


[Edited at 2015-07-04 14:16 GMT]


 

LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:07
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
The Curse of Knowledge Jul 4, 2015

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curse_of_knowledge

"...An example of this bias would be of a tailor selling clothes. Because the tailor has made a dress, he is intimately familiar with the quality of the item in craftsmanship, features, and fabric quality. When pricing a dress for sale, however, he needs to take the point of view of an uninformed customer- someone might be walking into the store with no previous knowledge of the owner, dressmaker, or how difficult or easy the item is to make. The tailor, as hard as he might try to take the point of view of the customer, cannot completely separate himself from the knowledge he has of the quality of this dress, and therefore will assume a customer will value and pay much more for the dress than is actually true..."

[Edited at 2015-07-04 16:32 GMT]


 
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