Mobile and translation skills top oDesk employment report

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Luca Tutino  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 22:37
Member (2002)
English to Italian
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Apparent irrelevance of oDesk for the professional translation market Jan 7, 2011

Following this note I have visited oDesk, and I noticed that there it is normal to propose jobs for 15,000 words with a budget of $150...

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Simone Linke  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 04:37
Member (2009)
English to German
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Yes Jan 7, 2011

And it's common that these jobs get filled - mostly by unskilled non-natives or native part-time non-translators, so this news flash is rather bad news.

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Wulf-Dieter Krüger  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:37
English to German
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Well Jan 9, 2011

For sure there are situations when and where a translator should refuse translating a text - if he/she does not understand the source.
Unfortunately I have had the displeasure to check/edit such translations.

In this context, however, it is irrelevant of speaking about native/non-native translators, bearing in mind what quality some source texts are, written by natives - where in the final result the translation is classified as 'better than the original'.

The rationale of 'a translator should only translate into his/her native language' does not hold for people who, due to career development, have become bilingual in particular fields. I rather see it as an academia snobism.

The issue is, why do such jobs get filled?
It begins with the pervert thinking, that, if I as a translator invest in CAD-tools, clients (agencies or others) should / expect to profit from such an investment.

These investments are costly, if you buy them legally, and the quality of these CAD-tools is questionable, so is the licensing policy of some of these companies (like e.g. the market leader), when for example you computer crashes, perhaps even because of legal software, when you cannot 'return' a licence.
The quality of such software is also very questionable, when tranaslators have to book/should participate in special seminars (on-line perhaps) and pay for them because these companies produced a software that is not intuitive enough to work with it without any hick-ups - in other words, the tool is so wieldy that it naturally opens the window for after sales business disguised as 'become cerified as a xyz professional' with the sole purpose of further diminishing the translators' earnings.

How many words does a translator have to translate to get a reasonable RoI on machine and software to earn a living?
Some colleagues in some countries in this global market do not have much of a choice, do they?

The issue are, I believe, rather the agecies and the end-clients not appreciating what translation actually means, because they haven't got a clue, sending questionable (as to quality of text and format) sources to be translated, believing they could be translated faster than it took to create the source, particularly when, in the worst scenario, the translator struggles to understand the source language wise, struggles with the source format (e.g. getting a PDF instead of the original Word.doc) that in the extreme even crashes the PC, and thus with the CAD.

Agencies compete against one another through price and try to pay translators a pittance and some of these agencies are run by business people only who think in terms of margins and mark-ups, in terms of cash-flow, profit and RoI, and turnaround.

Such agencies should be weeded out by translators themselves, by not accepting jobs at irresponsible deadlines / rates.
Yet, as I said before, will some translators be able to afford this.

However, I believe ProzCom might have to play a role in this, by not accepting job postings below reasonable rates that do not enable a translator to maintain his/her equipment (hard- & software) well and feed him/her well.


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Luca Tutino  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 22:37
Member (2002)
English to Italian
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Much simpler: oDesk is just not part of the translation market and cannot measure any trends in it Jan 9, 2011

There are hundreds of forums devoted to free translations of TV programs, manuals and so on: they are just not part of the translation market in the same way as a sailing club is not part of the shipping and transportation market, and my garage bric-a-brac is not part of the furniture industry even if I happen to sell or barter a home made table. The same apply also to most non specialized online freelance job e-markets, which might work fine for other fields but do not work properly in ours.

The reason is simple: what we do is actually pure intellectual work, and people lacking the education necessary to be a professional translator usually also misses the education to understand what being a professional translator is about. So they think that the only prerequisite is a (natural) brain.

@Wulf-Dieter: I guess you are talking of CAT-tools, not CAD right? Well, you what you say is partially true, but CAT is an other problem entirely, and has very little to do with oDesk. CAT or not, commercial non professional translations are usually even worse than Google machine translations, because on top of all the faults MT they require more management and more time, often arrive late, are incomplete and more unpredictable and inconsistent etc. etc.

@Simone: Even if oDesk has nothing to do with translation market, its report is apparently marking a generic increasing interest in international transactions, which might eventually reflect positively on our market. In my experience this factor is already partially balancing the persistent low economy tide.

[Edited at 2011-01-09 13:49 GMT]


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Wulf-Dieter Krüger  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:37
English to German
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Of course Jan 9, 2011

I meant CAT

The issue is not oDesk, but how come that below survival rate jobs get filled.

CAT-tools have their role in that.

Just look at the hype being used to flog various overpriced software.


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Simone Linke  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 04:37
Member (2009)
English to German
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Not really Jan 9, 2011

Wulf-Dieter Krüger wrote:

I meant CAT

The issue is not oDesk, but how come that below survival rate jobs get filled.

CAT-tools have their role in that.

Just look at the hype being used to flog various overpriced software.


I agree with your point only partially. I've been a member of oDesk for a while and I've had a close eye on the translation market there for my language pair (occasionally I also take a look at the other offers).

So, what you say might be true for Proz or similar portals or agencies in general. CATs certainly do play their part. But most job offers on oDesk do not ask for CAT tools. In fact, most customers there don't even seem to know what that is. And many "translators" there don't talk about CAT skills in their profiles either.

The reason why these job offers are so low on oDesk is simply the fact that the buyers have absolutely no understanding and/or respect for the translation market. They consider translators as mere secretaries who type their text, not much brain work involved, and who don't need to be skilled - after all, you only need a dictionary to be a translator, right?!

And the people filling those jobs are (in most cases) exactly those types of people: folks who think, "hey, I learned English at school - I can make some money translating" or those folks from "poor" countries who don't care much about quality or standards and who are thus very fast and very content with $0.01/word.

@Luca: Based on my experience, I'm afraid - in this case - there's not an increase in interest in translations per se but rather the growing realization that employers can save lots of money by using such portals filled with people who don't need to pay their bills with translations and who are thus very cheap. Also, the type of translation jobs there don't usually come from large corporations or similar but rather from people with (open-source) software, low-quality ebooks, consumer Websites or similar. Basically, people who seem to think "uhm, ok, I don't want to invest into translations but if I can access a foreign market for a few bucks extra, then I'll sure give it a try."

The only thing we currently can't measure is how many oDesk employers will never hire a translator on oDesk again because of the bad experience they had with the end result... now THAT would be an interesting number.


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Rani Haerani
Indonesia
Local time: 10:37
German to Indonesian
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I was there Jan 9, 2011

and worried about the rate

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matt_odesk
Local time: 19:37
oDesk translation Jan 12, 2011

Hi all -

I run Marketplace Operations for oDesk and saw this thread. As several of you point out, there's a wide range of price points on oDesk, which is probably a better indicator of the quality level required or inexperience of the purchaser of translation services than an indictment of oDesk's translation work as a whole. If you look at the jobs posted by more experienced buyers on oDesk, you'll see rates that are more in line with what you are accustomed to.

I think it's also important to point out that while some jobs may not be a fit for the Proz crowd, there are certainly long-term, exciting opportunities with enterprise customers. As an example, oDesk has partnered with one of the most innovative internet technology companies in the world to build a freelance translator model to meet their core translation needs. We are supporting 15 locales today and will be expanding this year, so keep an eye out for our postings.

We're eager to make oDesk an even more attractive place for freelance translators to find and conduct work. If any of you are interested in giving us advice on things you think we should do to become a better and more successful part of translation freelancing, we're all ears.

I'd be interested in speaking with you directly if you're interested -- please feel free to contact me.


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Soonthon LUPKITARO(Ph.D.)  Identity Verified
Thailand
Local time: 10:37
Member (2004)
English to Thai
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Apparent irrelevance of oDesk for the professional translation market? Jan 18, 2011

Luca Tutino wrote:

Following this note I have visited oDesk, and I noticed that there it is normal to propose jobs for 15,000 words with a budget of $150...

My recent job is localizing of a new MS Office package. My impression is that both translation and mobile (computing) command attractiveness to young employees, though. I am too old to move for mobile job now.

Soonthon Lupkitaro


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Wulf-Dieter Krüger  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:37
English to German
+ ...
Apparent irrelevance of oDesk for the professional translation market? Jan 18, 2011

Soonthon LUPKITARO(Ph.D.) wrote:

Luca Tutino wrote:

Following this note I have visited oDesk, and I noticed that there it is normal to propose jobs for 15,000 words with a budget of $150...

My recent job is localizing of a new MS Office package. My impression is that both translation and mobile (computing) command attractiveness to young employees, though. I am too old to move for mobile job now.

Soonthon Lupkitaro



I truely believe that this is not an issue of age, but security.

It may also have to do with reliability of your ISP and thus with security as well.

Mobile/cloud computing is just another form of monopolising and entrapping users like it is being tried with licensing CAT, like for example you have to beg them for a new license after your computer has crashed and you could not return your license before to re-use it on your new installation. They might be wondering why I do not update with them any more. But they lost my trust - buggy software, rather untransparent update infos, exploitive prices and licensing.

In mobile/cloud computing the software is not on your machine anymore. You depend on them and their prices and their availability to use their buggy software.
You've already learnt to distrust them having bought their software learning how buggy it is, how wieldy it is, how crash-proof it is, how much you have to concentrate on their software rather than on the translation, by them informing you that your version of their §$@ software will nor work under a new operating system.

Why would/should you then trust them to work on their cloud translatiing some confidential matter of your client?

I would not!


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