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General strike against TRADOS and other expensive CAT tools
Thread poster: Thomas Johansson

JGV
Local time: 04:02
Arabic to Spanish
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Fight the status quo, not the tool Mar 3, 2011

Neil Coffey wrote:

"striking" over ... what seems for some inexplicable reason to have become an accepted de facto practice of using the CAT tool as an excuse to bludgeon translators into slavery or remove their right to negotiation as businesspeople.



Agreed.

As a CAT tool, Trados may be good, average or bad, depending on your knowledge and needs. Though I admit that I personally prefer other options, I also think it is unwise to pass a general judgement upon it.

Now, from the client side, and as Neil points out, Trados is often used as an imposed, non-negotiable productivity control system. (Which, after all, is what it intends to be.)

What one should reject is not the software itself, but rather the simple-minded conception of all translations being equal or, in other words, the idea that in translation everything boils down to the statistical results produced by the tool of choice of the customer. In a freelancing context, this is wrong. It kills the business relationship and transforms it into an unfair unilateral transaction.

SDL has already embraced most industry standards. If a tm manager is savvy enough to apply huge discounts for fuzzy matches, glossary hits and the like, he/she should also be able to deal with tmx's, xliff's or any other Trados-supported CAT format.

So, in a way, this is about telling the customer that just as he/she is free to use whichever software they deem appropriate, so is the translator. And since the translator is able to ensure data compatibility and usability, imposing the use of a specific piece of software by the customer is just out of the question.


 

esperantisto  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:02
Member (2006)
English to Russian
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My follow-up Mar 3, 2011

EKNXTM wrote:

Please qualify and clarify this statement, it seems a tad specious and perhaps a little fragile. There are many factors interplaying and the sentence submitted by you is reductive.


Well. The fact that you have spent 1 mln pounds per se is interesting but does not convince me that your price is justified (1,000, or 5,000, or 10,000 or whatever), because you may have spent this money for intensive development, thorough testing and so on, but you may have spent it just for luxury furniture in your office. No, I don't care about your furniture, I just point to the fact that your expenditures are not an indicator of usefulness of your product to me, the consumer, they don't tell what I get if I pay the price. That's why I call it irrelevant. Again, the fact that you have written 1 mln lines of code may mean only that you have never heard about refactoring. So, I deem it irrelevant as well.

I wish your success in this market, honestly. Another CAT in the block is good. Hopefully, you'll find more convincing words for consumers.


 

Thomas Johansson  Identity Verified
Peru
Local time: 03:02
English to Swedish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Well Mar 3, 2011

Jabberwock wrote:

Riccardo Schiaffino wrote:
I notice that when an actual CAT developer comes out with hard data on what really is involved in developing a CAT tool, Thomas fails to answer.


Oh, but he does not answer any arguments which contain a bit of substance...



Well, actually, I have been trying to reply to all counter-arguments when I've felt they have substance or are relevant. Also, quite a few times, people have tended to repeat certain issues that I personally have already replied to elsewhere.

As for the specific information provided by EKNXTM regarding their CAT tool, I simply don't think there is much to say right now. However, I think it is great to see that CAT developers/vendors are taking an interest in this issue and I appreciate their willingness to share information.

And since you raise the issue why I haven't replied:
I actually feel there are still many issues here, and given the limited information we have received about their particular product and business, I simply don't feel much in a position to draw any particular conclusion in one direction or the other on the basis of that particular data. (And, no, I am simply not going to rise issues or questions or speculations in a public forum about the private concerns/data of a particular business (or person for that matter), sorry about that.) Suffice it to say that personally I see no difficulty in reconciling EKNXTM's post with my overall position.

[Edited at 2011-03-03 21:35 GMT]


 
Post removed: This post was hidden by a moderator or staff member for the following reason: Empty post.

Thomas Johansson  Identity Verified
Peru
Local time: 03:02
English to Swedish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
starting development projects Mar 5, 2011

Katalin Horvath McClure wrote:

8 years, starting with 3, then 5, now 16 people, with obviously not only wages, benefits and taxes, but also office space, equipment, software expenses involved?

...

He said "We started selling XTM after 5 years development. First five years were R&D."
That means they had 5 years of investment, without any return. This is a very important piece of information, because anybody trying to come up with a business plan would need to have a realistic estimation of the returns (timing and volume), otherwise, no investor in their right mind would throw money at the proposed venture.



Actually, I feel you're sort of overinterpreting the information we have received a little bit here.

What we've been told is that "development started in 2003, our development team was at first 3 people, then in 2005 was up to 6 people". Also, they spent the first 5 years on R&D.

We don't really know if these first 5 years involved any financial investments or if they had any investor backing them up financially.

Many software projects like this simply start up as a shared development project among a group of developers, often already friends, who work on it at the side while getting their income from other full- or part-time work. If it took them 5 years to reach a sellable product, then this is the way I would be most inclined to interpret things in this case.


 

Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:02
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Business sense, please Mar 6, 2011

Thomas Johansson wrote:

Katalin Horvath McClure wrote:

8 years, starting with 3, then 5, now 16 people, with obviously not only wages, benefits and taxes, but also office space, equipment, software expenses involved?

...

He said "We started selling XTM after 5 years development. First five years were R&D."
That means they had 5 years of investment, without any return. This is a very important piece of information, because anybody trying to come up with a business plan would need to have a realistic estimation of the returns (timing and volume), otherwise, no investor in their right mind would throw money at the proposed venture.



Actually, I feel you're sort of overinterpreting the information we have received a little bit here.

What we've been told is that "development started in 2003, our development team was at first 3 people, then in 2005 was up to 6 people". Also, they spent the first 5 years on R&D.

We don't really know if these first 5 years involved any financial investments or if they had any investor backing them up financially.


It doesn't matter who invested. Somebody must have invested into equipment, software, and people invested their time to do this. Without any return, that is what I am saying. It may be a good piece of info for reality check for anybody, who wants to do something similar, don't you think so?

Many software projects like this simply start up as a shared development project among a group of developers, often already friends, who work on it at the side while getting their income from other full- or part-time work. If it took them 5 years to reach a sellable product, then this is the way I would be most inclined to interpret things in this case.


Yes, this is a possibility. That means they invested 5 years of their "at the side" time to do this. At the risk of repeating myself, this is a good piece of info for reality check for anybody, who wants to do something similar, don't you think so?

For example for you, as I remember you said this:

I assume you get a marketable basic CAT tool from about 12 months of work (1 dedicated developer, fulltime or as principal freetime activity combined with part-time work) and then you continuously keep on working on the product to improve it (debugging, new features etc.)

This is the time I assume it would take me, at least.

I.e. we're talking about approx. USD 90,000 per year for development alone, possibly adding a little for occasional assistance/consultancy from other developers on specialized matters.


Are you still confident in this statement of yours?

On another note, would you mind answering the main question I (and others too, I believe) asked you earlier?
Let me repeat it:
What is your plan for your designated date of action?
Are you going to refuse jobs that require the use of one of those CAT-tools that you despise (and therefore don't own, I assume)?
Please clarify.
Thanks
Katalin


 

Thomas Johansson  Identity Verified
Peru
Local time: 03:02
English to Swedish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Absolutely Mar 7, 2011

Katalin Horvath McClure wrote:

For example for you, as I remember you said this:

I assume you get a marketable basic CAT tool from about 12 months of work (1 dedicated developer, fulltime or as principal freetime activity combined with part-time work) and then you continuously keep on working on the product to improve it (debugging, new features etc.)

This is the time I assume it would take me, at least.

I.e. we're talking about approx. USD 90,000 per year for development alone, possibly adding a little for occasional assistance/consultancy from other developers on specialized matters.


Are you still confident in this statement of yours?



Absolutely. But please remember that I was talking about a "basic CAT tool", as I defined this in that particular post. This is on the assumption that the developer knows his stuff well (the language, libraries to be used, etc.) and has some experience of independently designing and developing large applications.

I think I recall seeing somewhere that the founder of OmegaT released his first version after about one year's development. Yep, here it is: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OmegaT .

I notice that he even appears to have rewritten the entire application from C++ to Java during that first year of development.

Also, I held that a more advanced CAT tool - satisfying most common translation needs - would emerge from such a basic CAT tool by time.



On another note, would you mind answering the main question I (and others too, I believe) asked you earlier?
Let me repeat it:
What is your plan for your designated date of action?
Are you going to refuse jobs that require the use of one of those CAT-tools that you despise (and therefore don't own, I assume)?



Great, thanks for asking this! I cannot recall anyone actually having asked this before. Which is sort of strange, because to me it seemed that people just started criticizing things without first making sure they were adequately informed about the actual proposal they were criticizing.

A few points:

(1) I myself don't despise CAT tools, and I really don't think most translators despise any CAT tools. I don't know why you got this impression, because I am pretty certain that I never used any words to this effect. You have your position and it is opposed to mine, that is fine. But there is no need to distort my opinions, ok?

(2) I will probably post a short "proposal" for the date of action soon. In that proposal, you will see suggestions of various ways of participating listed.
One of the ways of participating that I will propose is to not use any of the designated CAT tools for translation jobs on that particular day. That could mean for instance that if you receive a job requiring the use of one of the indicated CAT tools, you let the client know that you won't be able to work on that project on that particular day (but could, perhaps, postpone it to the following day). I add, everyone will need to make case-by-case decisions about these things depending on their own particular circumstances, particular clients, etc.

(3) There will be a few other suggestions as well.
Other suggestions for the actual day would include:
-- trying out alternative solutions (e.g. cheaper or free CAT tools, solutions for converting between file types),
-- sharing such experiences with others,
-- letting translation agencies and end clients know about the strike/action etc.
Suggestions for the preparation of the day will include:
-- translating the proposal (which should be quite short) into other languages
-- spreading the proposal within the translator community at large (forums, mailing lists, web sites etc.)

(4) As you notice, the overall proposal is quite moderate, and the action will be mostly symbolic in nature at this stage.

(5) I think the strike is motivated for most translators, whether they happen to own one of the designated CAT tools or not. That is, shifting the overall focus of our market away from unreasonably expensive tools towards cheaper or even free solutions could be in everybody's interest. In particular, for those who already happen to own one or other of the designated CAT tools, such a shift could mean (i) greater accessibility to a wider range of jobs, (ii) improved ability to purchase a wider range of CAT tools, and (iii) less costly updates and license renewals.

And, as I mentioned in my first reply to you in this thread: I think you should join us too. And I mean that, quite sincerely.

[Edited at 2011-03-07 05:12 GMT]


 

Stanislav Pokorny  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 10:02
English to Czech
+ ...
Still think it's a nonsense Mar 7, 2011

A few comments on this:
Also, I held that a more advanced CAT tool - satisfying most common translation needs - would emerge from such a basic CAT tool by time.

Assumptions, assumptions, and... ehm... assumptions. As the Head of the English and American Department at my Faculty says (in relation to writing essays), "if you ASSUME, you make and ASS of U and ME".

I cannot recall anyone actually having asked this before. Which is sort of strange, because to me it seemed that people just started criticizing things without first making sure they were adequately informed about the actual proposal they were criticizing.

I took my time reading all of your posts very carefully, and I still think that the entire boycott thing is total nonsense.

There will be a few other suggestions as well.
Other suggestions for the actual day would include:
-- trying out alternative solutions (e.g. cheaper or free CAT tools, solutions for converting between file types)

Why on earth would I do that? I have already purchased my tool, so why would I now start using a freeware tool which doesn't meet my requirements? And although some tools offer compatibility with other proprietary CAT formats, every file conversion is potentially dangerous and you may well end up with a client complaining that he/she cannot open the file he/she received from you.
-- sharing such experiences with others,

Experience (or really experiences?) in what?
-- letting translation agencies and end clients know about the strike/action etc.

This may be feasible for somebody who works mostly for direct clients, since direct clients usually don't care. For those of us whose client portfolio consists mainly of agencies, this is hardly feasible as many agencies (and their poor project managers who have little or no influence on the decision-making processes) could understand this as a very personal thing.

Sorry, but I will most definitely not take part in this...

[Upraveno: 2011-03-07 09:30 GMT]


 

Stanislav Pokorny  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 10:02
English to Czech
+ ...
A suggestion for poll Mar 7, 2011

Hello Thomas,
one more thing: did you think about creating a ProZ poll to collect some numbers on how many ProZ members are willing to participate? I think this could be a good idea.


 

Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:02
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
My last post about this nonsense Mar 7, 2011

Thomas,

I am sorry you do not recall that I mentioned the same thing before.
(Perhaps you need a CAT-tool, to remind you? It would be a fuzzy match, though...)

See here:
http://www.proz.com/forum/translator_resources/192449-general_strike_against_trados_and_other_expensiv
... See more
Thomas,

I am sorry you do not recall that I mentioned the same thing before.
(Perhaps you need a CAT-tool, to remind you? It would be a fuzzy match, though...)

See here:
http://www.proz.com/forum/translator_resources/192449-general_strike_against_trados_and_other_expensive_cat_tools-page15.html#1693376

As to your statement about the development cost and blahblah of a "basic CAT-tool", I don't understand how that is even relevant when you are criticizing the price of CAT-tools that are far from being "basic". You are comparing apples to oranges, and that is one of the major points that makes your theory go belly up.

Thomas, you did not answer my question.
I don't care what you propose OTHERS do.
I want you to tell the world, what YOU are going to do that particular day.

I am repeating the question for the third time, and make it really simple:
Question 1. Are you going to refuse to work on a job that requires the use of XYZ tool? YES/NO (Insert the name of whatever tool you are targeting.)
Question 2. Do you own XYZ? YES/NO


You could have 4 combination of answers to these two questions, and here are my responses to each case:

YES+YES: Why did you buy it in the first place, if you think the price is not justified? You already voted with your money, so refusing to use it for one day is hypocrisy. If you regretted buying the tool, don't upgrade it, and get something else. That makes sense, not this.

YES+NO: How can you "refuse" a job that you are not qualified for in the first place? You would HAVE TO decline it, because you would not be able to do it, even if you wanted to. Putting it in any other light is a blatant lie.

NO+YES: Then don't ask others to do it.

NO+NO: If you take a job that requires the tool while you don't have that tool, you are cheating your client.

So, please stop asking me to join this, because my answers to the two questions above could only be one of these four combinations (combinatorics outrule anything else), and therefore I would make a fool of myself.

Since this is my last post, Thomas, I want to clarify a few things.

1. Yes, I am against your idea of this "strike" or "boycott" or "action" or "expensive CAT-tool awareness day" or whatever you want to call it, because it is silly. It does not have a clear purpose, it does not have a clear plan, and it does not have the potential to achieve anything.

2. Yes, I am against overpriced stuff. Whatever the "stuff" is. So I try to buy "stuff" that is cheaper. Sometimes I find that the cheaper "stuff" just does not cut it. I find this true more often with "stuff" that I want to use for a longer time, or for commercial purposes (or with commercial level frequency).
For example, I am on my 4th wafflemaker. The first two were general store-bought waffle irons, under $30. They did not make good waffles, were slow and broke down after a year. The 3rd waffle maker was a more expensive one, it was from a famous brand's "Pro" line of products. I think it was over $100. It made great waffles, and it was fast. But after a year, the thing broke down, literally fell apart, as some internal parts were plastic, and they simply melted. As it turned out, there were thousands of other users who experienced the same problem. After some extensive search, I found the right solution. My current wafflemaker is from the same brand, as No.3, except that this is from the "Commercial" line. It makes the same great waffles as No.3, slightly faster, but this is solid die-cast metal, no plastic parts, not even the hinges, and it works great. It was $270.00. Is it expensive? Maybe. Is it working? Yes. Is it going to work for a long time? I assume yes, as it already worked longer than any of its predecessors, without any sign of trouble, and its construction is much more rugged than the previous, cheaper ones.

3. I acquired my CAT-tools and keep them updated or let them expire based on careful weighing my options in terms of what makes business sense. I know that whatever makes sense for me, may not be the same for others. Every business is different. Some of my tools are purchased, some of them are freeware, and some of them were provided by my clients. I do use my CAT-tools pretty much every day.

4. I would never refuse a job just because it requires using a CAT-tool, if I have the tool, or I can acquire it in a way that makes business sense. Sometimes I use CAT-tools even if it is not required by the client, to ensure better quality.

5. However, I do refuse jobs where the client tries to dictate ridiculous pricing schemes based on their CAT-tool analysis. I do refuse jobs that would require me to work with a TM of unknown quality. I do refuse jobs where using a required CAT-tool would be detrimental to the overall process. Most of the time I do this "refusal" with appropriate explanation, and provide room for renegotiating the terms, as my experience is that clients sometimes don't exactly know the implications of their requests, so a bit of education could go a long way.

And finally, Thomas, I do this EVERY DAY, not just on one particular day of the year, because that's what makes sense to me.

With this, I sign off from this thread.
Katalin

[Edited at 2011-03-07 16:46 GMT]
Collapse


 

Thomas Johansson  Identity Verified
Peru
Local time: 03:02
English to Swedish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
numbers Mar 7, 2011

Stanislav Pokorny wrote:

Hello Thomas,
one more thing: did you think about creating a ProZ poll to collect some numbers on how many ProZ members are willing to participate? I think this could be a good idea.


No, I didn't consider this, as I don't think numbers are very relevant at this stage. Things like this usually start small, and then there is a process from there.


 

Heike Behl, Ph.D.  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:02
Member (2003)
English to German
+ ...
Interesting... Mar 7, 2011

Thomas Johansson wrote:

Stanislav Pokorny wrote:

Hello Thomas,
one more thing: did you think about creating a ProZ poll to collect some numbers on how many ProZ members are willing to participate? I think this could be a good idea.


No, I didn't consider this, as I don't think numbers are very relevant at this stage. Things like this usually start small, and then there is a process from there.


It's really interesting how you characterize anything as "irrelevant" that doesn't fit into your view or doesn't look favorable to you and for your plan - in particular, as this label is attached to anything that might actually have some kind of empirical value instead of all your unsubstantiated assumptions.

What will be completely irrelevant is your "strike". But don't let little details like that deter you from your path to CAT tool "martyrdom".

And BTW, you still haven't answered Katalin's questions. But they're probably irrelevant.

[Edited at 2011-03-07 22:50 GMT]


 

Thomas Johansson  Identity Verified
Peru
Local time: 03:02
English to Swedish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
replies to Katlin Mar 7, 2011

Katalin Horvath McClure wrote:

I want you to tell the world, what YOU are going to do that particular day.



Well, in my specific case, I have Wordfast (the free translator version) and will not use it on the day in question. Also, I will probably advise my clients about the strike. And spend time researching and testing out some of the free tools available.



Why did you buy it in the first place, if you think the price is not justified? You already voted with your money, so refusing to use it for one day is hypocrisy.



Well, in my case, I didn't purchase any CAT tools yet. Though I might have a few times. Including once when I actually bought Trados but realized the pricing was a scam (as it appeared to me) and ended up canceling the purchase.

In any event, I think your argument is quite forced here.

First, there are all sorts of reasons why people buy things without either (i) them necessarily thinking that the price is reasonable or (ii) the price actually being reasonable.

In the case of translators and CAT tools, such reasons may be for instance:
(a) You need the tool for your business.
(b) You believe you need the tool for your business.
(c) You think overall benefits in the end will outweigh the cost.
(d) All the others have the tool.
(e) A particular clients tells you that it is a great tool and you'll get a lot more jobs with the tool.
(f) You're new to the business and everyone at proz.com tells you you need the tool.
etc.

Second, for the reason stated above, buying something is not "voting with one's money", at least not if "voting" means "thinking that the price is reasonable".

Third, "hypocricy" is a very strong word here. There is no moral inconsistency in having a tool and declining or postponing a job requiring that tool.

[Edited at 2011-03-07 21:54 GMT]


 

Thomas Johansson  Identity Verified
Peru
Local time: 03:02
English to Swedish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
??? Mar 7, 2011

Heike Behl, Ph.D. wrote:

Thomas Johansson wrote:

Stanislav Pokorny wrote:

Hello Thomas,
one more thing: did you think about creating a ProZ poll to collect some numbers on how many ProZ members are willing to participate? I think this could be a good idea.


No, I didn't consider this, as I don't think numbers are very relevant at this stage. Things like this usually start small, and then there is a process from there.


It's really interesting how you characterize anything as "irrelevant" that doesn't fit into your view or doesn't look favorable to you and for your plan - in particular, as this label is attached to anything that might actually have some kind of empirical value instead of all your unsubstantiated assumptions.

What will be completely irrelevant is your "strike". But don't let little details like that deter you from your path to CAT tool "martyrdom".

And BTW, you still haven't answered Katalin's questions. But they're probably irrelevant.


Why do you discuss like this, Heike? You hold a PhD and are obviously able to keep a much better level and quality to your posts than this. I have seen that in other posts.

There is no need to say something to the effect that I "characterize anything as irrelevant that happen not to fit into my views or doesn't look favorable to me and me plan". Especially when I expressly gave you my reasons for holding that numbers are not relevant in this particular case: "Things like this usually start small, and then there is a process from there." And then these remarks about "unsubstantiated assumptions", the strike put within quotation marks, "martyrdom", etc. Why do all this? It might be that some people cannot maintain a very high level of discussion, but in your case I have seen much better ability and I feel it is really a pity if you don't try to maintain that. A little bit of basic courtesy and respect for other people's opinions and positions, please.

As for numbers and polls, do as your want. You are free people. I have already stated my opinion that these sorts of things usually start small.


 

Jaroslaw Michalak  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 10:02
Member (2004)
English to Polish
Join exactly what? Mar 7, 2011

Thomas Johansson wrote:

Also, I will probably advise my clients about the strike.



Symbolic, indeed.


 
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