ProZ guide for translators who are just getting started
Thread poster: Marcelo Silveyra

Marcelo Silveyra
United States
Local time: 04:18
Member (2007)
German to English
+ ...
Sep 5, 2007

Hi all,

The other day, I was thinking about suggesting a ProZ official guide to KudoZ in order to help people who are new to the system find their way around and hopefully contribute to more responsible (perhaps even ethical) behavior, but then I actually gave the idea some thought and realized that the guide would go by largely unheeded. However, this did spawn a different idea:

I've often read posts by people complaining that "newbies" are making prices sink because of either insecurity or just plain lack of information. Now, there are a lot of issues having to do with getting started, and I'm fully conscious of that, but I was thinking that this is something we could actually do something about: If people don't like it when new translators "mess up the prices" while finding out how the translation world works, or when new translators do unethical stuff that the rest of us pays for, one way to help solve the problem would be to create a short guide for new translators.

My basic idea is to compile a series of basic articles and turn them into a guide or FAQ, if you will. Now, having 100,000 articles would obviously scare any poor soul away, so perhaps voting for the best article on each subject would contribute to keeping the aforementioned FAQ small.

For those wondering if this is actually worth the trouble, let me mention a few things that I was thinking about while coming up with this idea:

1) I remember filling out some "contractor information" form for an American translation agency that had posted a job offer on ProZ. Now, that obviously isn't very shocking, but this of the required fields made one choose between a few options that went something like

"I realize that outsourcing is making prices lower all over the world and that I have to adapt if I expect to continue in this business"

"I realize that I have to offer competitive prices if I expect to be able to work with an agency and receive large volumes of work"

etc. In other words, the same idea (we're gonna pay you peanuts) in different words. Now, to a somewhat experienced translator, this might simply be a turn-off, but to someone who's still wet behind the ears (like the Little Translator who is making the rounds in our forums) it might be a panic factor.

2) Informing translators about their value as "native speakers" is extremely important. Skilled labor is outsourced to China (just an example) because the Chinese can do exactly the same work with the same quality level. But the Chinese are not native English, Spanish, or German speakers, for instance, so outsourcing translations into those languages doesn't quite work out. Agencies in this and other outsourcing-destination countries would have us believe otherwise. But if we don't tell new translators about this, they might be scared into lowering prices to ridiculous amounts.

3) If nothing else, I'm sure most of us would have liked to have a helping hand when we started out.

I could go on, but I think at this point it's a better idea to see what other people think about a "ProZ Guide for the New Translator."


Lüder Meyer  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:18
Member (2007)
Spanish to German
+ ...
great idea! Sep 5, 2007

Hi Marcelo,

Thanks for this idea, I think that it's really great. Allthough I was not completely new to the world of translation when I joined, I would definitely have appreciated a "helping hand", as you call it. There is lots of stuff hidden in the article knowledge base and the forums, but it would be way easier having it all at one click.

All the best,


Jenny Duthie  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:18
French to English
guide for new translators Sep 5, 2007

Hello Marcelo

as a relatively new translator I agree this would be very helpful and as Luder says it would be good to have the info all in 1 click (well, a summary anyway) rather than having to trawl through all of the forums for info for new translators.

Please keep us posted on this!!




Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:18
Italian to English
+ ...
Good idea Sep 5, 2007

Another suggestion along the same lines was the "sticky topics" of repeatedly asked questions. Implementing the two together might help avoid the endless rounds of "newbie - help!" threads (I'm constantly impressed at how many people take the trouble to answer - I have neither the time nor the patience!)

Then again, it might not... perhaps staff could implement a system whereby every time someone tries to start a thread with the word "new" in the title they are automatically directed to the guide for newbies?

It might be irritating to someone wanting to point our attention to a "great new translators' software package", but I think we'd learn to work our way round it.


Ivette Camargo López  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:18
English to Spanish
+ ...
Maybe speak to Samuel Murray about your idea Sep 5, 2007

Hola Marcelo,

A while back, Samuel Murray suggested something more or less similar to what you are suggesting now, though I believe what he proposed was a Wiki based on all the articles and forum posts from

But, to be honest, I don't know if his project developed or not.

Here is his original suggestion:

Maybe you can get in touch with him and work out something together. Of course, this is just a suggestion and maybe you had something different in mind.




Henry Dotterer
Local time: 07:18
Yes - contact Samuel Sep 5, 2007

Great suggestion. Samuel's wiki project is on, and the group working on that would definitely be the ones to contact to pursue this. Try Samuel via


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