Pages in topic:   [1 2] >
Translator education: a possible solution to despicable job offers
Thread poster: José Henrique Lamensdorf

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 23:29
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Aug 15, 2014

I've seen forum threads over and over again urging Proz to find one way or another to curb abusively low paying jobs or other attempts bordering on slavery.

Of course, Proz cannot take the burden of unilaterally screening out these legitimate work offers, in spite of their terms and conditions boldly showing contempt for the entire translating profession. What could be their parameters for screening?

Well, so far the only parameter Proz could find was to place a warning - when it's the case - that the rates offered there are below those demanded by 80% of all Prozians. Yet this doesn't seem to work. Apparently newbies, non-paying Proz users, cannot see the rates or the warning itself.

So we see jobs demanding high skills, expensive software, and lightning-fast delivery, offering 1¢/word, payment in 60 days after month end, getting dozens of bids, to the seasoned professional translators' dismay. Other translation outsourcers see this too, so they feel entitled to lower the rates they offer, and enhance their profits. In a nutshell, things go spiraling down, and complaints are frequent.

Looking for the root cause, it may be because newcomers to the industry - no matter how qualified - get the impression that these extremely low rates are what the market actually pays, the standard.

To leave no doubt about what I am referring to, the pick of the day is this one below, sent via the Proz internal e-mail system, at 04:18 AM my time (GMT -3). According to the sender's web site, that agency is in the USA; according to their IP it was sent from Moldova. (I've seen plenty of equivalent offers actually published on the Proz job board.)

Hello,

We have a divorce contract to be translated into English, see
details below:

Source language: Portuguese
Target language: English Word count: 500 words
Source format: PDF
Delivery format: MS Word
Payment: $27 by PayPal, 30 days from invoice.
Deadline: in the next 5-6 hours please.

Please advise availability and I shall send you the file.

Many thanks,
XXXX


My reply was short and simple, no greeting, no courtesies, no signature other than the automatic one:
The two acceptable words on this job are: PDF and MS Word.
Everything else in your offer is insulting.


Yet a newbie could find that interesting, Wow! FIVE cents per word!!! And payment in ONLY 30 days!!! ... though it's a rush job in the ungodly hours before daybreak, and the distant future payment is via PayPal (hefty fees).

So my suggestion is:

Logged-in members (to preclude foul play) would have a button available on every job offer published on Proz, which they could click to say "I consider this job offer despicable"[/i, confirmation required. After a certain number of such clicks is reached, say 5 or 10, a warning would appear to all visitors (including free users) on the job post saying, [i]This job offer has been considered despicable by XX translators.

Of course, there is the accountability issue: A link there would lead to a list of the profiles of the translators who said so. Therefore any abusively picky translator, e.g. despising an EUR 12¢ job COD, would get branded as such.

This would enable newbies and cheap mongers to actually see what other translators consider inadequate T&Cs in specific language pairs, thereby getting a more realistic view of the market.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Josephine Cassar  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:29
Member (2012)
Italian to English
+ ...
Proz. advises you on rates Aug 15, 2014

But Josè ProZ. tells you that this is a rate which is far below what should be offered and accepted on jobs which are posted, but not in emails you receive. I see many translation jobs with very poor rates, and, unfortunately, someone does them for peanuts. I get really angry when I lose such a job but someone else accepts such low rates as the ones you mentioned, but I am not prepared to work and accept responsibility for peanuts, either.

Direct link Reply with quote
 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 23:29
English to Portuguese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Clarification Aug 15, 2014

I used that e-mail because it was a very concise picture of what I see using the entire job offer standard post, however I meant the posts published on the Proz job board.

Josephine, IMHO you didn't "lose" such a job, because quite often these people would leave it untranslated (or use machine translation gibberish) if they knew how much translation work actually costs.

Every day I get direct requests for estimates - via my web site - from people that:
- saw a video on YouTube, liked it, but they don't understand the language, so they want it subtitled;
- were recommended/given a(n e-) book, but can't read it in the original language;
- bought some imported gizmo and can't understand the (often thick) instruction manual.

I have to explain them that film producers/distributors/broadcasters pulverize the translation & subtitling costs among thousands of spectators, so nobody notices them. Book publishers do the same over thousands of copies. Equipment manufacturers too; in most cases the individually translated manual will cost more than the unit itself.

Yet some newbie translators may be led to believe (by such job offers) that translation work compensation is akin to shoe shining, burger-flipping, or whatever menial work they can think of.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:29
Member (2004)
English to Italian
the only solution... Aug 15, 2014

is to close the job board... Outsourcers can contact the translators directly, via their profile. I don't care if this is time-consuming for the outsourcers. It's their job.

Direct link Reply with quote
 

Orrin Cummins  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 10:29
Japanese to English
+ ...
Yes Aug 15, 2014

Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL wrote:

is to close the job board... Outsourcers can contact the translators directly, via their profile. I don't care if this is time-consuming for the outsourcers. It's their job.


It is difficult to argue that the blind auctioning of jobs benefits anyone other than the outsourcer.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:29
Member (2004)
English to Italian
yes #2... Aug 15, 2014

Orrin Cummins wrote:

It is difficult to argue that the blind auctioning of jobs benefits anyone other than the outsourcer.


same with online translation platforms... no benefit for the translator... only for the agency... nothing infuriates me more that that...


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Navarut Y.  Identity Verified
Thailand
Local time: 08:29
Member (2014)
English to Thai
Totally agree Aug 15, 2014

I agree with you, José. I know that several new translators offer very low rate because they do not know the proper minimum rate. However, there are some translators who cut their price by half even if they know the proper minimum rate. This make me sad and I do not want to complete with them. Some clients prefer very low rate and I will not apply for their job if I could know that.

Direct link Reply with quote
 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:29
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
"non-paying Proz users, cannot see the rates or the warning itself" Aug 15, 2014

That hadn't occurred to me. So, you and I can see the rate and the warning; but those who really need the warning can't see it. Hmm!

I supported the move towards hiding the client's budget (aka their "rate") in most cases because I was convinced it was discouraging bids above that rate, and probably even encouraging bids lower than the one on offer. But you're right - everyone needs to see the warning, newbies much more than the rest of us.

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:
So my suggestion is:

Logged-in members (to preclude foul play) would have a button available on every job offer published on Proz, which they could click to say "I consider this job offer despicable"[/i, confirmation required. After a certain number of such clicks is reached, say 5 or 10, a warning would appear to all visitors (including free users) on the job post saying, [i]This job offer has been considered despicable by XX translators.

I think that's somewhere to start, José, but I don't think it could work quite like that. It would need to be something more formalised. I suppose the button could say "the budget stated for this job is less than half my normal rate" - something like that. I would certainly be able to click on that for the one you received today, José. What a cheek, especially at that time of day (for you, if not for the client)! But anything that relies on a value judgement is just too woolly - people will be pressing "Despicable!!!" for any number of reasons, relevant and totally irrelevant - and that won't be what ProZ.com will want.

But surely it will be simpler to make sure everyone sees the current message, even if they don't act on it. IMO, it should be both strengthened and made much more visible, but it's at least something, and ProZ.com have already agreed to it.


A general question that I keep meaning to ask: what do others have against a system where you:-
a) don't know the client's budget (unless you're a paying member AND you request the ability to see it); and
b) have no idea what others are quoting?
It's come up again here in relation to the job board. How does that differ from the million and one calls for tender in the business world? I agree that the impression I've got from my brief contact with sites where you're presented with both the client's budget and others' bids is totally negative. But it isn't like that here, especially now that registered users don't get to see the budget.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:29
Member (2004)
English to Italian
the problem... Aug 15, 2014

systems that encourage bidding wars (or reverse auctions) should be made illegal, imo. It's degrading for our profession and give a false impression of what the rates really are. Yes, seeing the same low rates day in and day out will convince many that they are the norm. They are not. Business transactions should be private, not public. I don't see why clients should have an easy life, lazily posting their requests on the platform, at the detriment of an entire profession. Let's ban it. ProZ is great for many other things. But the job board and the KudoZ point-based system should be deleted from the face of the earth...

Direct link Reply with quote
 

Orrin Cummins  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 10:29
Japanese to English
+ ...
Well... Aug 15, 2014

Sheila Wilson wrote:

How does that differ from the million and one calls for tender in the business world?


When I needed my guitar re-bridged, I didn't post an offer on some website and get luthiers falling all over themselves to submit rock-bottom quotes to win the job. I had to look online at several different places, feel them out based on their websites and pricing, then choose one based on my own judgement.

When my fence was damaged by a hurricane, I had to go through a similar process. It took time and effort on my part to find the right company, I wasn't just able to cast my line out and sit back to see what I could get to take the bait.

ProZ already provides an efficient (although somewhat flawed by its reliance on the KudoZ system) way for outsourcers to find qualified translators--it's called a directory search. So with just a little effort on their part, outsourcers can easily see a list of potential translators for any language pair.

The question then becomes: what is the point of a bidding system? Who does it benefit, exactly? The translators who are chained to their computer, spamming F5 on the Job Board so that they can be one of the first to get a bid in for a newly posted job? Does it benefit those who live in countries where the cost of living allows them to bid 0.02 USD per word and still live a moderately comfortable existence?

Or perhaps it benefits the job poster the most of all, as they can now rest assured that droves of "professionals" willing to work for almost nothing will soon be throwing themselves at the poster's feet, begging for the honor of slaving to meet a fourteen-hour deadline.

Indeed, who benefits from these systems? This is the real question we must answer to arrive at the truth.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 23:29
English to Portuguese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
You have a point there Aug 15, 2014

Sheila Wilson wrote:

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:
So my suggestion is:

Logged-in members (to preclude foul play) would have a button available on every job offer published on Proz, which they could click to say "I consider this job offer despicable"[/i, confirmation required. After a certain number of such clicks is reached, say 5 or 10, a warning would appear to all visitors (including free users) on the job post saying, [i]This job offer has been considered despicable by XX translators.

I think that's somewhere to start, José, but I don't think it could work quite like that. It would need to be something more formalised. I suppose the button could say "the budget stated for this job is less than half my normal rate" - something like that. I would certainly be able to click on that for the one you received today, José. What a cheek, especially at that time of day (for you, if not for the client)! But anything that relies on a value judgement is just too woolly - people will be pressing "Despicable!!!" for any number of reasons, relevant and totally irrelevant - and that won't be what ProZ.com will want.


Half one's rates is a good indicator, though I won't lower my rate beyond 35% if a client gives me an almost unlimited deadline, like, I'll pay you as soon as you deliver, but no need to rush; if you can get it done any time this year, it's okay.

However an extreme rush job at barely normal rates, yet the payment term being 60 days after month end is also an insult, taking a translator for a bank. If they can't afford it for some reasonable time, just don't do it!

Sheila Wilson wrote:
A general question that I keep meaning to ask: what do others have against a system where you:-
a) don't know the client's budget (unless you're a paying member AND you request the ability to see it); and
b) have no idea what others are quoting?
It's come up again here in relation to the job board. How does that differ from the million and one calls for tender in the business world? I agree that the impression I've got from my brief contact with sites where you're presented with both the client's budget and others' bids is totally negative. But it isn't like that here, especially now that registered users don't get to see the budget.


The entire problem stems from the translation buyer setting the price and often sticking to it fiercely.

If I intend to buy a car, I'll define my budget, and check what do cars cost in the marketplace, to find one affordable. If the funds I have to buy are comparable to some bottom-feeding agencies, my decision may be that I'll ride a bus, however I won't be seen at the wheel of a '75 AMC Gremlin! Yet I won't pester Lexus dealers demanding a brand new car for $5K.

My experience shows that I'm still serving all the translation clients who began by asking me how much I charge. All those who cajoled me into accepting their rates turned into one-night stands; I don't take these any more.

By branding bottom feeders as "nightclub wolves in search for a one-nightie" via the "despicable" voting system, translators on the lookout for lasting (business) relationships will avoid getting started with them.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:29
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
But this is the business world Aug 15, 2014

Orrin Cummins wrote:
When I needed my guitar re-bridged, I didn't post an offer on some website and get luthiers falling all over themselves to submit rock-bottom quotes to win the job. I had to look online at several different places, feel them out based on their websites and pricing, then choose one based on my own judgement.

When my fence was damaged by a hurricane, I had to go through a similar process. It took time and effort on my part to find the right company, I wasn't just able to cast my line out and sit back to see what I could get to take the bait.

I understand those examples and the one that José gives about cars. I wouldn't expect anything different as an individual. But our business is company to company and in that world, AFAIK, it's perfectly normal to issue a call for tenders. It's done for everything, up to the most enormous civil engineering jobs etc. Of course, they need to be sealed, not like the "beat my bid" system used on some sites. I can assure you that my quote of €0.12pw or €30ph has been accepted on many occasions by discerning posters. Even though 75% of jobs on the board get my immediate "X" and probably 75% of my quotes don't get accepted. I don't really see it as a bid at all - it's a quote.

ProZ already provides an efficient (although somewhat flawed by its reliance on the KudoZ system) way for outsourcers to find qualified translators--it's called a directory search. So with just a little effort on their part, outsourcers can easily see a list of potential translators for any language pair.

I wouldn't want to see that disappear, but are the jobs necessarily any better? I get good jobs that way but I get absolutely ridiculous demands (like the one José mentioned) that way, too. Is there really that much difference?



By the way, and totally off topic, there's a pro musician in my town who's also a luthier and will replace most of the frets on a guitar for around €100 - and most of his clients are fellow pros (including my husband) so it isn't a "quick 'n' dirty" job. PM me if interested as it might combine nicely with a holiday.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:29
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Then let's get the budget removed altogether Aug 15, 2014

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:
The entire problem stems from the translation buyer setting the price and often sticking to it fiercely.


[/quote]My experience shows that I'm still serving all the translation clients who began by asking me how much I charge. All those who cajoled me into accepting their rates turned into one-night stands; I don't take these any more.[/quote]
I'd be very happy to vote for a total ban on buyers naming a price at all. Personally, I think I could sniff out the budget pretty accurately in most cases, anyway. They do tend to have a certain unsavoury "niff" about them even before you get to the figures in B+W.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Luca Tutino  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 03:29
Member (2002)
English to Italian
+ ...
This was our original request that ProZ did not want to implement Aug 16, 2014

Sheila Wilson wrote:
Then let's get the budget removed altogether


The rock bottom rationale of the bidding system, and also of letting the clients declare their budgets, is that in this way there should be more client requests on ProZ - I guess. I still do not agree with it, and would like to remove any visibility of budget info for anybody.

But if that is still not possible, then José's proposal might be helpful, and I would second it.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Madeleine Chevassus  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 03:29
Member (2010)
English to French
a suggestion.. Aug 16, 2014

Hi all,

Why not open a new Proz forum specialized for ridiculous job offers: very low rates, impossible rushs and also what I call "blind" offers: the outsourcer gives only a name but no country, no address, no website etc. Well noway to be a minimum confident. Proz allows that.

We should have the right to give the name of these outsourcers, otherwise the forum would have no effect.

__________________________________________________

This method is already in place on a similar translation portal.

There is also an Unacceptable Translation Rates Naming & Shaming Group on LinkedIn.

Madeleine

[Edited at 2014-08-16 21:31 GMT]

[Edited at 2014-08-17 12:29 GMT]

[Edited at 2014-08-17 12:29 GMT]


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


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


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

Translator education: a possible solution to despicable job offers

Advanced search






CafeTran Espresso
You've never met a CAT tool this clever!

Translate faster & easier, using a sophisticated CAT tool built by a translator / developer. Accept jobs from clients who use SDL Trados, MemoQ, Wordfast & major CAT tools. Download and start using CafeTran Espresso -- for free

More info »
Wordfast Pro
Translation Memory Software for Any Platform

Exclusive discount for ProZ.com users! Save over 13% when purchasing Wordfast Pro through ProZ.com. Wordfast is the world's #1 provider of platform-independent Translation Memory software. Consistently ranked the most user-friendly and highest value

More info »



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