Pages in topic:   [1 2 3] >
Why are free translation tests tolerated by translators?
Thread poster: JEFHTRA
JEFHTRA  Identity Verified
Cameroon
Local time: 20:13
English to French
+ ...
Aug 1, 2016

While still a translation student, I was eager to take translation tests. I was the one to suggest them to recruiters as I did not have any convincing translation experience besides my short translation internship. After my formal translation training, which included translation exams, I got my first in-house translation job thanks to a test and phone interviews. I was very happy that tests existed; otherwise I would have never got this job. One year later, when I started working as a freelance translator, I was very enthusiastic about taking translation tests. I used to do my best, translating exclusively into my mother tongue, meticulously checking everything: grammar, spelling, terminology, etc. Unfortunately, after sending my sample texts, the few feedbacks received were negative or there was no reply at all. I started questioning translation tests and requiring feedbacks including corrections. Many outsourcers were reluctant, but some of them accepted. When I read my first feedback with corrections, I was shocked! The so-called corrections added mistakes and the style was simply awkward! A funny outsourcer even sent me a so-called selected translator’s text. I recognized full sentences of my sample and noted down many mistakes in this reference translation. The text was also inconsistent, as it was actually a compilation of texts sent by different abused translators. From that day, I no longer I accept free translation tests. Later on, my suspicions were confirmed by a forum: many unscrupulous outsourcers use translation tests to fool translators by compiling their samples and selling them for a 100% profit.

So, why are formally trained translators with many years of experience required to freely translate sample texts in order to be trusted by some outsourcers? How useful are translation schools if any outsourcer has the right to require a free translation? Can patients require free checkups from medical doctors irrespective of all their degrees and years of experience? Do these outsourcers ask for a test-meal at restaurants? Why is this practice, room for scams, tolerated and widespread in the translation industry?

Your opinions, experience and suggestions are welcome.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 01:13
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
They can try Aug 1, 2016

Perhaps some (not all, mind you) outsourcers believe that a translator with years of experience has nothing else to do - aside from managing her/his jackpot lottery win - than sitting around, twiddling thumbs, just waiting for a chance to do some translation tests. This would be a once (or more) in a lifetime chance to see if said translator still knows her/his trade. Being paid for spending time on tests is totally out of the question (due to said lottery win). For this reason - remember, all translators a millionaires - these outsourcers demand free tests. (End of sarcasm.)

The only possible reason why a translator would accept doing unpaid tests is when they're new to the industry or really needing some work. No other reason seems acceptable. As for me, I stopped doing free tests such a long time ago that I can't even remember the last one I did.



[Edited at 2016-08-01 13:31 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Thomas T. Frost  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 01:13
Member (2014)
French to Danish
+ ...
Dealing with it Aug 1, 2016

The way I handle these requests now is to require the agency to order minimum ten times the test word count over the next six months at normal rates (or other services at similar value), and that if that condition is not fulfilled, then the test will have to be paid at normal rate.

That weeds out those who only want backup translators appearing in a database but who have no intention of providing regular work.

I also point out that the test will remain at the back of my work queue until I have a quiet moment. One agency has in fact been waiting for two months for a test under these conditions (which they accepted).

Another agency, which simply needed backup translators for when their regular ones are unavailable, ended up agreeing to something else: start with one or two small translations, and if they aren't happy, they can deduct additional reviewing costs (max. the cost of the translation), and then we end it there.

I'd only do this with agencies with good ratings, in any case.

I no longer accept tests unconditionally. One agency once accepted such a test, only to tell me "yes, you're in our database, but as your rates are in the high end (they're not), there hasn't been any work yet". That was about two years ago.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 20:13
English to Portuguese
+ ...
For the same reason some translators accept demeaning rates Aug 1, 2016

They don't know the translation market, they are jobless, and they want/need to make some money with the skills they (think they) have.

On the other side, the test-requiring translation agency is often jobless too, but they want to feel like they are doing something "useful" toward their goals.

The problem is that these tests are often scored by other translators who are competing for the same fictional job. They want to show two things: a) that they have actually done some work; and b) that they are more skilled than the applicant whose output they are assessing.

As the agency is supposedly ignorant in the language at stake, they can rule as "bad" a pristine translation ruined by an eager reviewer.


Now and then I do evaluate tests, however under certain conditions:
1. I only do it for my regular clients, who have reassurance on my quality standards from their clients' feedback; and
2. I never charge anything for it (I think regular clients deserve some perks), so I'm under no obligation to find flaws where there aren't any, just to show that I read it carefully.

Some tests are ominous, both in size and difficulty. However the smartest client ever, upon selecting a translator for his large web site, sent me samples from five translators, each having translated the same six line text, and asked for my expert opinion.

It was pretty clear-cut. I told him to hire Translator #5, and have Translator #2 proofread it. He said he was paying good rates for translation (and I was a witness to that), but he couldn't afford a second pair of eyes. I told him to hire Translator #5 and ask him/her to be extra careful, because nobody would be proofreading it later. The site came out translated all right!


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Fiona Grace Peterson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 01:13
Member
Italian to English
I don't have a problem with them Aug 1, 2016

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:

They don't know the translation market, they are jobless, and they want/need to make some money with the skills they (think they) have.


Lots of assumptions there.

I don't have a problem with them; that said, I'm not asked to do them very often, as long as they don't exceed 300 words, and the agency seems serious. Given the plethora of translators out there claiming credentials and skills they don't have, a test is an effective way to evaluate a translators skills for a particular job. Sample translations on one's own website, as well as here on Proz, are easy to fake. Granted I could pass a test translation along to a colleague if I wanted to fake that too, but it would be more difficult to do on a long-term basis.

But each to their own


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Maxi Schwarz
Local time: 18:13
German to English
+ ...
to these questions Aug 1, 2016

jeanherv wrote:

So, why are formally trained translators with many years of experience required to freely translate sample texts in order to be trusted by some outsourcers? How useful are translation schools if any outsourcer has the right to require a free translation?

Outsourcers are customers, and customers can't "require" anything, and they also don't have a "right to require" anything. They can try. People can bluster, outwit each other, and do all kinds of dastardly tricks to get what they want, and other people can go along with the game because they are naive or new, or they can decide not to go along with it. Quite a few of us do not go along with it. I don't.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:13
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
I think there are some valid occasions to give our time for free Aug 1, 2016

Thayenga wrote:
The only possible reason why a translator would accept doing unpaid tests is when they're new to the industry or really needing some work. No other reason seems acceptable.

Tests are often used by agencies to test things that we should know how to handle if we're as experienced and specialised as we say we are. An agency should be checking those technical abilities by ordering a small job to start with - paid, of course!

I'd never refer to what I do as "tests", and I'd be very wary of agencies that call them that. But I do think samples are valid in some sectors, for example in literature, poetry, and even in marketing. These are areas where the accurate translation of jargon terminology is not generally an issue, or at least the texts are not jargon-rich. A hundred translations could be different and all could qualify as "accurate", but it's highly likely that only a few would actually suit the purpose 100%. And of those few, if the client or his/her trusted collaborator speaks the target language well, then it's likely that one will be far more to their liking than the other(s). They'll have a particular style in mind and need a sample so that they can choose between equally experienced and skilled translators. In such cases, I'm happy to provide a sample of the text to be translated (or copy-edited, as that's another service I provide). When they choose me, they'll pay for those words then.

My own personal limit is set at an hour of my time; I won't give them more than that. Frankly, some of the agencies that I refuse to work with nowadays will take an hour of your time just in filling out their forms, plus there's the reading, printing, signing and scanning of SLAs and NDAs; then there's their interface to deal with for job acceptance, delivery and invoicing. I rarely even have a PO to read, so I can afford to spend a little time on a sample.

jeanherv wrote:
Can patients require free checkups from medical doctors irrespective of all their degrees and years of experience? Do these outsourcers ask for a test-meal at restaurants?

Many of the restaurants where I live employ someone to explain the menu as it's such a cosmopolitan area. If potential diners don't like the sound of it, they'll go away, without paying. I have also "tested" new dishes for local restaurateurs - for free, of course! I had two kitchen fitters spend their time on an ideal layout for my kitchen, then chose the one I had the most confidence in, even though the other came up with a perfectly workable solution. The same is true of garden landscaping etc. My photo here was taken on the understanding that I'd be presented with a choice of five, and I was free to reject them all and owe nothing if I wasn't happy. These weren't "tests"; they were "examples of their work". It's nothing new or unique. But the idea of an agency carrying out testing as though we're unskilled labourers is certainly abhorrent.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 01:13
English to Croatian
+ ...
Comparison. Aug 1, 2016

Sheila Wilson wrote:
jeanherv wrote:
Can patients require free checkups from medical doctors irrespective of all their degrees and years of experience? Do these outsourcers ask for a test-meal at restaurants?

Many of the restaurants where I live employ someone to explain the menu as it's such a cosmopolitan area. If potential diners don't like the sound of it, they'll go away, without paying. I have also "tested" new dishes for local restaurateurs - for free, of course! I had two kitchen fitters spend their time on an ideal layout for my kitchen, then chose the one I had the most confidence in, even though the other came up with a perfectly workable solution. The same is true of garden landscaping etc. My photo here was taken on the understanding that I'd be presented with a choice of five, and I was free to reject them all and owe nothing if I wasn't happy. These weren't "tests"; they were "examples of their work". It's nothing new or unique. But the idea of an agency carrying out testing as though we're unskilled labourers is certainly abhorrent.


You are really comparing ready-made products or something requiring little time or skill (like taking shots) to creating a translation piece.

Real comparison would be someone doing your hair or nails for free, painting a picture for free, painting your walls/car for free, creating a small software for free (just for you, not already made product) etc just so you can see if you like it or not. Then ask many different hairdressers to do your hair for free, as that would be what these agencies are doing.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 20:13
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Indeed, assumptions Aug 1, 2016

Fiona Grace Peterson wrote:

Lots of assumptions there.

I don't have a problem with them; that said, I'm not asked to do them very often, as long as they don't exceed 300 words, and the agency seems serious. Given the plethora of translators out there claiming credentials and skills they don't have, a test is an effective way to evaluate a translators skills for a particular job. Sample translations on one's own website, as well as here on Proz, are easy to fake. Granted I could pass a test translation along to a colleague if I wanted to fake that too, but it would be more difficult to do on a long-term basis.


Once a local translation agency owner contacted me, out of the blue. He wanted me to review/proofread/fix some technical translation URGENTLY. I was loaded above the lid, so I told him I was not available. He insisted, offered 50% extra, later offered to double it.

I was wasting so much time with him calling me insistently, trying to convince me otherwise, that I gave in. It was some technical text on automotive mechanics (that's why he chose me), and the translation was awful. So I fixed it. Fortunately it's a subject I know inside out, so no research was necessary.

After I delivered, he told me it was HIS test for a translation agency overseas, a huge job about to be assigned. Never heard of him again, no idea on how that turned out. So much on the effectiveness or reliability of translation tests.


You mention "a particular job". If the outsourcer has a particular job, this means that the PM already has someone from the end-client insistently asking when it's gonna be ready. Therefore it is too late to start recruiting, asking for tests, getting them evaluated, etc.


IMO the best recruiting method is referrals. Nowadays every translator should be well networked.

I have got many colleagues into new clients and, likewise, many colleagues have referred me to new clients. Of course, referrals must be responsible. So far, I've never had any complaint on those I recommended, and AFAIK nobody has received complaints from having recommended me.

An important point in networking is that there is NO reciprocity. Any gratitude or retribution is to the network as a whole. If Mary sends me a client, and I send a client to John, we are all even with the network, even if John doesn't send a client to Mary. AMOF it's quite possible that John does not know Mary.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:13
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Rather controversial? :) Aug 1, 2016

Lingua 5B wrote:
You are really comparing ready-made products or something requiring little time or skill (like taking shots) to creating a translation piece.

I have a feeling that a self-employed photographer with a studio to maintain, who spends time setting up lighting, backdrops etc before using years of experience to take the best possible portrait photo would be just a little bit upset at hearing you dismiss the lot as "taking shots". It wasn't a passport photo booth. I think the same applies to the kitchen designers and the landscape gardeners who spend a considerable amount of time on our projects before getting a signature on a contract. But no, it isn't exactly the same as doing a translation of a couple of paragraphs.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Preston Decker  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:13
Member (2013)
Chinese to English
Tolerate? Of course. Take the time to do? Depends Aug 1, 2016

I have no problem with agencies asking me to translate a sample/test, as this is what I would do as well if in their shoes.

Whether or not I comply with their request depends greatly on the situation. I never take tests longer than 300 Chinese characters. I also will not take tests for private individuals. If it looks like an agency really does want my services, and if I've reviewed their master agreement and NDA and found them to be acceptable (important to do, I've had one or two instances in which I took and passed a test only to discover the master agreement was far too oriented towards the agency's interests to be signed), then I'm usually happy to take a test. I also generally tell agencies that I may need a week or two to complete the test, which ensures it doesn't disrupt regular work/my life.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Balasubramaniam L.  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 04:43
Member (2006)
English to Hindi
+ ...
Mixed experience with translation tests Aug 1, 2016

I see them as necessary evils. There have been several occasions when they have led me to long standing collaborations with solid clients, but there have also been innumeral occasions when that was the last I heard of them. In one horrid case, one client used my test translation to acquire a large project, but chose another cheaper translator to acutally do the translation.

I also have many satisfying clients who never took that route to recruit me. They used their first paid job to evaluate me, and then stuck with me through thick and thin all these years.

Nowadays, as my portfolio of clients is quite reassuring, I pick and choose for whom I agree to do the test. A large factor that comes into play is my work load at the time of the test. I of course give first priority to paid work from existing clients, and free test translations come way down the line in my list of priorities.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Laura Kingdon  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 19:13
Member (2015)
French to English
+ ...
Agree Aug 1, 2016

Fiona Grace Peterson wrote:

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:

They don't know the translation market, they are jobless, and they want/need to make some money with the skills they (think they) have.


Lots of assumptions there.

I don't have a problem with them; that said, I'm not asked to do them very often, as long as they don't exceed 300 words, and the agency seems serious. Given the plethora of translators out there claiming credentials and skills they don't have, a test is an effective way to evaluate a translators skills for a particular job. Sample translations on one's own website, as well as here on Proz, are easy to fake. Granted I could pass a test translation along to a colleague if I wanted to fake that too, but it would be more difficult to do on a long-term basis.

But each to their own


This is how I feel as well. I can't blame agencies for wanting concrete proof of my skills since credentials are so easy to fake, and I've had some very lucrative partnerships after taking tests. But the test has to be quite short and it has to fit into my schedule. If they want me to make it a priority, they can pay for it. There also has to be an actual job involved, not just, "We're bidding on this high-volume project..." or "We're expanding our database..." Finally, rates have to be agreed upon before anything else gets done. All this means that while I still do tests in theory, I haven't actually done one in well over a year now.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:13
English to German
+ ...
No free test, no, thank you! Aug 1, 2016

Laura Kingdon wrote:

Fiona Grace Peterson wrote:

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:

They don't know the translation market, they are jobless, and they want/need to make some money with the skills they (think they) have.


Lots of assumptions there.

I don't have a problem with them; that said, I'm not asked to do them very often, as long as they don't exceed 300 words, and the agency seems serious. Given the plethora of translators out there claiming credentials and skills they don't have, a test is an effective way to evaluate a translators skills for a particular job. Sample translations on one's own website, as well as here on Proz, are easy to fake. Granted I could pass a test translation along to a colleague if I wanted to fake that too, but it would be more difficult to do on a long-term basis.

But each to their own


This is how I feel as well. I can't blame agencies for wanting concrete proof of my skills since credentials are so easy to fake, and I've had some very lucrative partnerships after taking tests. But the test has to be quite short and it has to fit into my schedule. If they want me to make it a priority, they can pay for it. There also has to be an actual job involved, not just, "We're bidding on this high-volume project..." or "We're expanding our database..." Finally, rates have to be agreed upon before anything else gets done. All this means that while I still do tests in theory, I haven't actually done one in well over a year now.


So if you find my profile on Proz.com and on an additional website, you think the credentials I list, including feedback and samples, are all easily faked, right? Well, I disagree. It should be pretty obvious that I am who I say I am am and have done what I say I have done. I run a business and have done so for 17 years.

I don't see any point in FREE translations tests, not even for novices. If you are an agency and you ask for free translation tests, you are surely contacting quite a few translators, making them all work for free. Why should anyone want to compete like that? You open yourself up to abuse. There's no guarantee you are going to be chosen, and if the agency didn't want to pay for the test, why do you think they want to pay you a decent rate once they have chosen you? Also, you don't know what the agency has in mind at all. It's a very risky business these days to do free translations. They can be used by scrupulous agencies to get a project and you will never hear from the agency again.

I expect agencies and any other clients to do their due diligence, look for professionals, contact them and, if they still want proof of their skills, ask them to provide a "test" translation - for money. Otherwise, I don't consider them serious and/or professional. And you as a translator should determine the price.


[Edited at 2016-08-01 18:18 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Lincoln Hui  Identity Verified
Hong Kong
Local time: 07:13
Member
Chinese to English
+ ...
I have no problem Aug 1, 2016

But I'm incredibly lazy about them. I have translation tests sitting in the inbox from April that I haven't found the energy to complete. I imagine that I will suddenly receive a burst of motivation if they offered a fee for the test.

As a musician, auditions are an ubiquitous fact of life. Irrespective of your degree or years of experience.


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Pages in topic:   [1 2 3] >


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


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

Why are free translation tests tolerated by translators?

Advanced search







Across v6.3
Translation Toolkit and Sales Potential under One Roof

Apart from features that enable you to translate more efficiently, the new Across Translator Edition v6.3 comprises your crossMarket membership. The new online network for Across users assists you in exploring new sales potential and generating revenue.

More info »
WordFinder
The words you want Anywhere, Anytime

WordFinder is the market's fastest and easiest way of finding the right word, term, translation or synonym in one or more dictionaries. In our assortment you can choose among more than 120 dictionaries in 15 languages from leading publishers.

More info »



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