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Staff: Can you do something about the ubiquitous big recruitments for small jobs?
Thread poster: Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 18:30
English to Polish
+ ...
Mar 30, 2016

First off, I realize you probably can't, and even if you could, then you'd probably have little reason to do so as someone who runs the place as opposed to getting involved on one side or the other. Still, I thought this was worth asking since there's always a way to add a message or warning here or there, put in a link to a how-to guide, one can always do something.

See, the problem is that there very rarely seem to be any serious jobs out there in the job-posting system (including Connect). Not only are the posters almost invariably asking to be given a special deal (like they deserve it for just simply showing up and/or being who they are), the size of the job often tends to be in the range that calls for a fixed minimum fee, and/or the deadline is of the kind that commands a rush fee.

… Either of which folks don't want to pay, naturally. So they're looking for someone to jump through all the hoops to translate something like 50-300 words at the usual per-word rate and/or someone to translate whatever it is within several hours without charging them for the rush.

I normally ignore those ads, but it's getting to the point where it's difficult to avoid getting frustrated by just simply seeing those things all over the place.

It simply seems to be a horrible waste that those guys apparently have learned to use the system for some sort of a game where they throw an $30 bone to watch serious '(dear) linguists' write serious replies and act like it's a serious recruitment process and a job worth competing for. Because the bidding and the sifting through the bids is half the fun (if not 90%) to some people, I guess.

Could you perhaps develop some sort of an info campaign — an infographic maybe, with some text speaking in favour of better practices — to encourage your corporate members to take a more serious attitude and stop that game of 50 bids for an $30 job that should cost $60 but it still not worth jumping through the hoops anyway? (Let alone in a country with higher costs of living and/or income tax.)

Taking even 10 minutes each from something to the tune of five dozen people means 10 hours of community time wasted on the silly little bidding game. There are better ways to invest that time, or energy.

The no. 1 issue is that almost everybody seems to only be here for a bargain price or rebate, leaving almost no-one for a non-discounted transaction; and no. 2 is all the prodigious time wasting with huge bids for small jobs. The rest is context information.


 

Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:30
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
A matter of branding Mar 30, 2016

I support Lukasz's suggestion.

As has been thoroughly discussed before, even the larger jobs posted often propose rates that are little short of insulting, so the problem with the Jobs Board is of a much broader nature than Lukasz is indicating here.

Whenever this issue has come up before (i.e., and representatives of proz.com have deigned to respond) this site has always taken refuge in the defense of the blind forces of the free market. Such a defense cannot be dismissed out of hand, given the fact that the posts offering what many translators would consider insulting fees and rates still manage to attract a lot of bids, even when the total money at stake is as low as 20 bucks or so. I imagine that, in many instances, the rabid enthusiasm noted by Lukasz has less to do with the pittance offered for a small job than with chasing the mirage of future more lucrative work.

To be fair, proz.com did introduce a notation regarding low-budget offers several years ago, which was a step in the right direction. Unfortunately, one actually has to open the posting in question to see the low fee being offered and the accompanying fine-print notation. This rather coy disclosure allows outsourcers to post jobs involving fees that are very low without having any immediate accountability. The fact that (at least in some pairs) a very large proportion of such postings on the Jobs Board involve such low offers has created something of a "negative brand" for that forum in the minds of many experienced translators. In other words, prominent associations with the proz.com Jobs Board among this particular group are likely be thoughts such as "cheap-o offers," "not worth my time," "bargain basement," "penny a word," "outrageous," "insulting," etc.

Sure, there are exceptions. Just like you might find new designer clothing in a Salvation Army Thrift Store - if, that is, you visit the store frequently enough and make it a habit to search diligently through all the racks.

This doesn't change the fact that the "brand" of the Salvation Army Thrift Store is different from that of, say, Macy's or Nordstrom.

And I'm sure that the Salvation Army is just fine with that....

[Edited at 2016-03-30 14:57 GMT]


 

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 18:30
English to Polish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
... Mar 30, 2016

Yes, Robert, branding, thank you. There must be something that sends the wrong kind of message — as in not attracts the wrong people but just invites anyone to lose touch with reality and do ridiculous thinks like hosting a whole big tender for a dozen bucks (or quid).

Whether fees and deadlines are sufficient or however attractive or unattractive offers are is one thing, but what's really troubling is the apparent disconnected from reality + freeriding. Everybody (and his dog) counts on special favours above and beyond what everybody else is getting, and one simply can't do business that way, nor is it sensible to play the whole bureaucratic game for the price of a burger, but they obviously don't see it that way. I thought something could be done to make them see or rather some kind of shock reaction to make them admit they see it and get real.


 

Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:30
English to German
+ ...
Crash and burn Mar 30, 2016

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz wrote:

Yes, Robert, branding, thank you. There must be something that sends the wrong kind of message — as in not attracts the wrong people but just invites anyone to lose touch with reality and do ridiculous thinks like hosting a whole big tender for a dozen bucks (or quid).


I had some thoughts on that and then a discussion with colleagues here:
http://www.proz.com/forum/business_issues/299110-with_whom_i_identify_as_a_pro_on_prozcom_and_why_there_is_a_general_problem.html

But let me say this. I believe the lower these offers go on the job board, the fewer serious and desperate people will hopefully accept them because it just doesn't make any sense. Who is going to do those jobs then and what kind of results are being produced? So, the lower, the better, maybe. Crash and burn.


 

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 18:30
English to Polish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I'm worried because Mar 30, 2016

Bernhard Sulzer wrote:

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz wrote:

Yes, Robert, branding, thank you. There must be something that sends the wrong kind of message — as in not attracts the wrong people but just invites anyone to lose touch with reality and do ridiculous thinks like hosting a whole big tender for a dozen bucks (or quid).


I had some thoughts on that and then a discussion with colleagues here:
http://www.proz.com/forum/business_issues/299110-with_whom_i_identify_as_a_pro_on_prozcom_and_why_there_is_a_general_problem.html

But let me say this. I believe the lower these offers go on the job board, the fewer serious and desperate people will hopefully accept them because it just doesn't make any sense. Who is going to do those jobs then and what kind of results are being produced? So, the lower, the better, maybe. Crash and burn.



I'm worried because in the macroscale of the entire 'industry' this means resources are wasted, as agencies can't or won't manage efficiently on the one side, and on the other side translators and their capacity remain unused. And an awful lot of time and energy is wasted on writing and responding to RFPs for the price of a hamburger, which obviously has nothing to do with efficient resource management.


 

Achmad Fuad Lubis  Identity Verified
Indonesia
Local time: 23:30
Member (2015)
English to Indonesian
+ ...
<b>Why not a petition as done before ?</b> Mar 31, 2016

What our fellow translator Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewics brought up initially was to explore a means to improve our ProzCom Job System to minimize the disproportionate bidding made possible presently by the system which seems to us to be a waste of time and energy, and may result in a “bargain basement” situation which professional translators hate to happen. Now, since we are supposed to be a community in which an intense and efficient communication between outsourcers and service providers will result in win-win condition in a translation industry, we are expected to play our active role to improve the system collectively. And within ProZcom, this is not without a precedence as back on March 3, 2010, a petition was submitted by fellow translators based in Italy which was followed up by ProZcom supporting staff (reference link: http://www.proz.com/about/ipetition/input). The aspiration then was mainly to improve the system that would discourage the outsourcers to “dictate” the rates and instead to facilitate the service providers to offer the rates for their services in a way that is both competitive and fitting to the particular project. So, if in this instance we collectively could formulate a good petition we could be a step closer to a desirable bidding system serving both the outsourcers and the service providers. So why not a petition ?

 

Edward Vreeburg  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 18:30
Member (2008)
English to Dutch
+ ...
...if there is even a job.... Mar 31, 2016

...and not just a ghost bid to get CV's and info about possible clients....

I mean that's what a lot of larger agencies do in times when they don't have any actual jobs to begin with... they need to keep their inhouse staff busy...

---
Ed


 

Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:30
English to German
+ ...
No bidding, please Mar 31, 2016

Achmad Fuad Lubis wrote:

What our fellow translator Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewics brought up initially was to explore a means to improve our ProzCom Job System to minimize the disproportionate bidding made possible presently by the system which seems to us to be a waste of time and energy, and may result in a “bargain basement” situation which professional translators hate to happen. Now, since we are supposed to be a community in which an intense and efficient communication between outsourcers and service providers will result in win-win condition in a translation industry, we are expected to play our active role to improve the system collectively. And within ProZcom, this is not without a precedence as back on March 3, 2010, a petition was submitted by fellow translators based in Italy which was followed up by ProZcom supporting staff (reference link: http://www.proz.com/about/ipetition/input). The aspiration then was mainly to improve the system that would discourage the outsourcers to “dictate” the rates and instead to facilitate the service providers to offer the rates for their services in a way that is both competitive and fitting to the particular project. So, if in this instance we collectively could formulate a good petition we could be a step closer to a desirable bidding system serving both the outsourcers and the service providers. So why not a petition ?


Hi Achmad.

As far as I am concerned, I would request to do away with the bidding system altogether. I see no good purpose in it. I would accept a platform where I can just advertise my services and through which prospective clients can "find" me, based on certain criteria.


 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 18:30
Member (Apr 2018)
French to English
yup Mar 31, 2016

Bernhard Sulzer wrote:

As far as I am concerned, I would request to do away with the bidding system altogether. I see no good purpose in it. I would accept a platform where I can just advertise my services and through which prospective clients can "find" me, based on certain criteria.


Yup. Bidding only drives prices down.


 

Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 18:30
German to Serbian
+ ...
20 word job. Mar 31, 2016

"We have a 20 word job, please send us your CV". Why do you require my CV for a 20 word job that you will pay 5 euros? CVs are considered for big projects/tenders or full-time jobs.

I fix all this by setting my minimum project rate.

There is this one agency that were sort of OK when I first started working for them. It was mostly 2k-10k word jobs that they were sending. Then all of a sudden they kept sending jobs worth something like €12. After they have sent 3-4 such jobs in a row, I asked them not to send me jobs below my minimum charge. However, they still kept sending them (each time a new name, a new PM). I probably had to repeat the request 10 times but it still kept going on and on (like they were ignoring what I repeated 10 times).


 

philgoddard
United States
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
Just ignore them! Mar 31, 2016

In my experience, replying to ProZ ads almost never results in a job or even a reply, probably because they go for the cheapest bidder. But I get lots of work from my profile.

If I were a job provider, I wouldn't advertise on ProZ. I'd find the right people by searching for them.


 

Jared Tabor
Local time: 13:30
SITE STAFF
Improving information available to translation buyers is a good idea Mar 31, 2016

Hi all,

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz wrote:

Could you perhaps develop some sort of an info campaign — an infographic maybe, with some text speaking in favour of better practices — to encourage your corporate members to take a more serious attitude and stop that game of 50 bids for an $30 job that should cost $60 but it still not worth jumping through the hoops anyway? (Let alone in a country with higher costs of living and/or income tax.)


I think practicing, professional translators might be in a better position to put that sort of information together, don't you? I would support any initiative geared toward providing well-formulated information/education to those seeking high-quality human translations, if this improves the chances of matching them with good translators.

At the moment, the job posting form links to a wiki article, Determining what service you need and what it will cost. I don't know if a first step towards what you propose could be improving that article, or maybe building a new, more comprehensive one, but anyone can start or add to the articles in the wiki.

A couple of things I would recommend keeping in mind around the subject:

The majority of work passed through ProZ.com does not go through the job posting system, but through the directory and direct contact through profiles.
Care should be taken in characterizing work that is passed through any channel on the site (and elsewhere, I suppose); job postings are more visible than when clients contact translators directly, and the job postings that some find the least desirable are also the ones which receive the most publicity, which tends to skew perception, but this is cannot necessarily be backed up by actual numbers. In terms of rates alone, for example, only 8.5% of all the jobs posted in March had any kind of budget information in them.


Jared


 

Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:30
English to German
+ ...
I also suggest changes to the directory Mar 31, 2016

Jared Tabor wrote:
...

The majority of work passed through ProZ.com does not go through the job posting system, but through the directory and direct contact through profiles.


At least as far as the directory search is concerned, outsourcers are able to tick the check box next to translators they get through their search, or a "check all" check box to then send a bulk email to as many as 100 recipients (is that the current number?). The outsourcers can simply state their conditions/demands in such bulk emails and again wait for the cheapest bidder without ever visiting any profile page. I believe this situation should be rectified as well. Maybe institute a restriction on how many translators can be checked/emailed.
Currently, the job board and the directory email choice both seem to support mainly the bidding-on-price system which isn't in the interest of professional translators. Just my thoughts.

[Edited at 2016-03-31 19:39 GMT][Edited at 2016-04-01 06:29 GMT]


 

Alistair Gainey  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:30
Member (2009)
Russian to English
A small point Apr 1, 2016

The directory (and the rest of the site) would be slightly more user-friendly if the language option was at the top (where there's tons of space for it), rather than right at the bottom where people might have to scroll down to see it.

 

Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:30
Member (2004)
English to Italian
yes, but... Apr 1, 2016

Jared Tabor wrote:

I would support any initiative geared toward providing well-formulated information/education to those seeking high-quality human translations, if this improves the chances of matching them with good translators.


nearly stopped reading there... but I didn't... icon_smile.gif


The majority of work passed through ProZ.com does not go through the job posting system, but through the directory and direct contact through profiles.


Indeed, but, unfortunately, the "visible" ones are usually an insult to professional translators and ProZ has now gained the unfortunate reputation of a site for bottom feeders... in turn, this has put off many of us, who now refuse to be associated with the site and have stopped the membership... probably you get plenty of "turn over", so you are not concerned, but I was wondering if you are concerned with your site's reputation? I don't think so, since you are not doing much to stop the trend...


 
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