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Pitiful-rate job offers on Proz
Thread poster: Simon Bruni

Simon Bruni  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:22
Member (2009)
Spanish to English
Jan 29, 2012

Hello Everyone

I'm sure this issue has been discussed countless times but I feel compelled to bring it up nonetheless. Perhaps if we keep drawing attention to it something might get done. I am talking about the insulting and damaging job offers that (otherwise very useful and positive) sites like this seem to endorse. Last Friday I was disturbed to see an offer for a book translation priced at $1,200 for around 80,000 words (that's $0.02 per word, with no information whatsoever about the content of the book).

I consoled myself with the thought that no one in their right mind would bid for such a job and that the outsourcer would be left wondering what to do. But now I see there are no fewer than 18 quotes. Ugh.

Proz.com is a valuable tool (or rather, a large set of valuable tools), I don't refute that, but providing a platform for this practice seems completely incongruous with its purported ethos. The site actually creates a market for extremely low-paid work which would otherwise not exist.

If our esteemed colleagues at Proz.com are unwilling or (for whatever reason) unable to do anything about this practice, I would urge fellow translators not to quote for these jobs and encourage pricing practices that damage the industry as a whole.

All the best
Simon

[Edited at 2012-01-29 21:48 GMT]


 

Iulia Dromereschi  Identity Verified
Romania
Local time: 00:22
Member (2007)
French to Romanian
+ ...
I agree, but... Jan 29, 2012

Dear Simon,

Though I thoroughly agree with you, you might be surprised to learn that, for younger translator with less experience and/or strong endorsement, such rates might prove superior to what they actually earn in their countries of origin. In Romania, for instance, I am usually paid by page and not by word - a practice I rarely find helpful, but rather controversial.

For now I'm happy to use ProZ as a virtual market to extend my customer pool, in spite of the rates or budgets we're talking about. Perhaps sometime in the future I will be able to shape my own work terms, but until then... even EUR 0.02/word seems a fair deal.


 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 18:22
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Does it really? (create a market for cheap work) Jan 29, 2012

Now and then I get hired by some agency PM who went overboard on the cheap side. They send me whatever their end-client has rejected, and plead if I can 'salvage' any of it to mitigate their inevitable loss. There isn't usually anything to salvage there; the entire job behooves redoing at rates higher than what they initially expected to spend on translation.

Quite frankly, machine translation quality has risen above, or at least very close to the quality level delivered by unpromising wannabes or unskilled amateur translators. So these bottom-feeding outsourcers are simply wasting money on something they can get for free.

Meanwhile these cheap amateurs will have to work long hours and produce tons of translation work to make ends meet. While their quality is bad already, it will deteriorate further at the speed they will be required to do it. If they are smart, they'll either quickly learn to do it better in order to charge more, or find some other endeavor to make a living from.

Whenever I have the time to do so, and I see someone looking for translators in my pair/field for half my rates or less, I advise them to go for free online machine translation. If their end clients blindly accept it, they'll make a higher profit. If they don't, there will be more money left in the budget to afford a pro to redo the job from scratch.

  • What's the point for an outsourcer to get something cheap and bad, when they can get it about as bad absolutely free?
  • What's the point for a translator to charge less than their work is worth in the marketplace, as the time it will take will prevent them from taking average-paid jobs?

This whole situation is bound to disappear as more and more bottom-feeding outsourcers discover that if low quality translation is acceptable, free online machine translation will provide it.


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 23:22
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Don't complain without also offering solutions Jan 29, 2012

Simon Bruni wrote:
If our esteemed colleagues at Proz.com are unwilling or (for whatever reason) unable to do anything about this practice...


You're right, this topic has been discussed to death, but 90% of those who post messages about it do nothing more than complain about it (as one would complain about the weather).

Do you think that there is a solution or solutions to this problem? If so, share it with us.

If not, kindly go to the "Suggestions" forum and add your voice to the suggestion to have a separate "Let's complain about bad weather and low rates" sub-forum (and no, this is not sarcasm).







[Edited at 2012-01-29 13:17 GMT]


 

Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:22
Hebrew to English
The solution is simple Jan 29, 2012

Don't allow job offers to be posted under a certain budgetary threshold.

Would ProZ ever endorse this? No

With this particular job, what worries me (beyond the insulting rate) is this:
But I will pay in a very flexible manner for this project.


....what the hell does that mean?

Alarm bells.


 

Anne Diamantidis  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:22
Member (2007)
English to French
+ ...
As long as... Jan 29, 2012

As long as there are translators accepting low-paid jobs, there will be outsourcers who offer low-paid jobs, it's as plain as that.

Online platforms where translation jobs are posted (ProZ but also LinkedIn, and many other small jobs platforms) are not responsible for this.

Cheers,
Anne


 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 18:22
English to Portuguese
+ ...
It doesn't work Jan 29, 2012

Ty Kendall wrote:
Don't allow job offers to be posted under a certain budgetary threshold.


IMO the poorest of all Proz-like translation portals on the web, ...directory, where all the bottom feeders get together, tried something a while ago. To improve their image of only having US 1-2¢ jobs, they decided that no job offer under EUR 4 cents/word would get published. The result was that most jobs there ever since offer EUR 4 cents/word, some of them mentioning that this rate is subject to further negotiation.

Let them post jobs offering as much - or as little - as they want. The issue is translators not taking them, if the pay is preposterously low. Our market is warped. Imagine this in the classified ads of your local newspaper: We are hiring a Nuclear Physicist having at least 10 years' proven experience in the field. We pay minimum wage, no perks. No wonder if no candidate ever applied. However several translators would reply to an equivalent job in translation.


 

Laurent KRAULAND (X)  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 23:22
French to German
+ ...
Anne and José... Jan 29, 2012

Anne and José nailed the most ugly fact in this whole matter, and it has been known for centuries now.

Namely that there are no wannabe masters without willing slaves.

As per the ProZ.com competitor evoked by José, I can tell you for sure that jobs with rates ranging from $ 0.02 to $ 0.04 (and even lower if you do the math) are still offered on the job board of this portal.

A radical solution would be to remove the jobs section altogether.


 

Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:22
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
The number of bids is not a clear indicator Jan 29, 2012

I consoled myself with the thought that no one in their right mind would bid for such a job and that the outsourcer would be left wondering what to do. But now I see there are no fewer than 18 quotes. Ugh.


It have been repeatedly pointed out on the forums, but let me have another shot at it:
How do you know what price those people quoted for the job? Have you considered that budget info is only visible to paying members, and only to those who chose to see it in their job preference settings? Even if people see the budget, they may still quote a higher price. (Some people have been advocating for doing that, in order to educate these outsourcers.) In other words, the 18 quotes you see may very well be different from what the outsourcer posted as budget. It could be higher, lower, whatever. We don't know.

Katalin


 

Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:22
English to German
+ ...
how low will you go? Jan 29, 2012

Iulia Dromereschi wrote:

... such rates might prove superior to what they actually earn in their countries of origin.
...
For now I'm happy to use ProZ as a virtual market to extend my customer pool, in spite of the rates or budgets we're talking about. Perhaps sometime in the future I will be able to shape my own work terms, but until then... even EUR 0.02/word seems a fair deal.



Earn for what? Cleaning toilets? Or can you actually make more money for that in your country?
Fair to whom? To you or the translation agency who makes a killing off your hard work?
To the other translators who won't compromise their hard work for cheap pay?
How low does it have to go until you say it's not fair?
EUR 0.005/word?
Eur 5.00 per hour?

Sorry, but a job for EUR 0.02/word posted on an American site is not a fair deal. very far from it. It's an extreme insult.


 

Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:22
English to German
+ ...
there are plenty of people working for those rates, I'm sure Jan 29, 2012

Katalin Horvath McClure wrote:

... Even if people see the budget, they may still quote a higher price. (Some people have been advocating for doing that, in order to educate these outsourcers.) In other words, the 18 quotes you see may very well be different from what the outsourcer posted as budget. It could be higher, lower, whatever. We don't know.

Katalin


Katalin,

Why do you think these ever cheaper jobs keep being posted here?
Certainly not because nobody accepts them.

Bernhard


 

Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:22
English to German
+ ...
solutions Jan 29, 2012

Samuel Murray wrote:

Simon Bruni wrote:
If our esteemed colleagues at Proz.com are unwilling or (for whatever reason) unable to do anything about this practice...


You're right, this topic has been discussed to death, but 90% of those who post messages about it do nothing more than complain about it (as one would complain about the weather).

Do you think that there is a solution or solutions to this problem? If so, share it with us.

If not, kindly go to the "Suggestions" forum and add your voice to the suggestion to have a separate "Let's complain about bad weather and low rates" sub-forum (and no, this is not sarcasm). ...



One solution is to educate other translators that these rates are not fair, at least not in certain language directions if not in all, and that their distribution on this, an American website, is very questionable, to say the least.

Changing minds one at a time is still a worthy and ethical practice, not a complaint IMHO.

I for myself will not apply for any such jobs. Nor will I support this practice by being a full member of Proz.com.
I am not going to waste my mind away for peanuts. And neither should anybody who provides quality translations, no matter how new they are to the business.

Bernhard



[Edited at 2012-01-29 16:31 GMT]


 

Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:22
English to German
+ ...
you are right in bringing this up Jan 29, 2012

Simon Bruni wrote:

...
The site actually creates a market for extremely low-paid work which would otherwise not exist.

If our esteemed colleagues at Proz.com are unwilling or (for whatever reason) unable to do anything about this practice, I would urge fellow translators not to quote for these jobs and encourage pricing practices that damage the industry as a whole.

All the best
Simon


Yes, we should address it as long as we are here on Proz.com. Many have left already.
Bernhard


 

Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:22
English to German
+ ...
don't count on it soon Jan 29, 2012

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:

...
This whole situation is bound to disappear as more and more bottom-feeding outsourcers discover that if low quality translation is acceptable, free online machine translation will provide it.


I am afraid it's more complicated than that. The issue is that many good services are rendered at unacceptable rates. As Iulia has pointed out, she seems to think EUR 0.02/word is a fair price.
Bernhard


 

Anne Diamantidis  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:22
Member (2007)
English to French
+ ...
Of course it would Jan 29, 2012

Simon Bruni wrote:

...
The site actually creates a market for extremely low-paid work which would otherwise not exist.


Of course it would otherwise exist - and breaking news: it already does. There are dozens of platforms on the Internet, some bigger than others, where low-rated outsourcers post low-rated jobs.

ProZ does not create that market, again, that market is there, Web-wide, and it exists because there are translators accepting those jobs, so let's not "shoot the messenger".

[Edited at 2012-01-29 15:30 GMT]


 
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