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

Simone Linke  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 07:55
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Who's pressuring you? Feb 22, 2011

Who exactly is it that's pressuring you? Is it the software? Is it the software vendor? Or is it the agency/client?

I don't feel pressured by SDL, and while Trados is attempting to harass me quite often, I still don't feel pressured by my software either.

Also, did you even take a look at Samuel's link about software costs?
How high do you think are the development costs for CATs? Don't these developers deserve to make a living as well?

Also, here's a
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Who exactly is it that's pressuring you? Is it the software? Is it the software vendor? Or is it the agency/client?

I don't feel pressured by SDL, and while Trados is attempting to harass me quite often, I still don't feel pressured by my software either.

Also, did you even take a look at Samuel's link about software costs?
How high do you think are the development costs for CATs? Don't these developers deserve to make a living as well?

Also, here's a thought: we always complain about rates getting cheaper and cheaper, about things being automated, about quality suffering from price pressure.

Hmm.. what do you think a software provider put under pressure by clients on strike would do? Outsource? Let students create some lines of code for free? Re-use existing lines of code without proofing them? Skip the final check of the finished product to save a few bucks?

Wait a minute. That sounds quite familiar now... oh, if I only knew what kind of profession this is reminding me of...


Seriously, why don't you (we) focus our dispersed power on self-proclaimed premium language agencies that deliver shitty quality and do nothing but harm to the translation industry as a whole?
Why don't you (we) begin to make it clear to agencies that we won't be put into a corner again and again, that we will decide what's good for our business, that we need to make a living as well?

Now, I can hear the naysayers already.. "oh but there's nothing we can do, we will simply lose clients" and so on. Why do you think it will be any easier for you if you focus your strike on another target? Why waste your power on a useless fight if you can tackle the source of the problems directly?
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Thomas Johansson  Identity Verified
Peru
Local time: 00:55
English to Swedish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
yaya Feb 22, 2011

Simone Linke wrote:

Who exactly is it that's pressuring you?



Look, first, the pressure is on all of us. Most of us are aware of it. If you happen to be not, please read through this discussion.



Also, did you even take a look at Samuel's link about software costs?



Yes, did you? What do you make out of it? How much did for instance Trados cost to develop according to that link? And how much does it tell us that it should cost?



How high do you think are the development costs for CATs?



I don't know, but I think it could be interesting to know.



Don't these developers deserve to make a living as well?



Yes, thinking about it, I think you are right: they deserve to live.



Also, here's a thought: we always complain about rates getting cheaper and cheaper, about things being automated, about quality suffering from price pressure.



Yes, many people do that.



Hmm.. what do you think a software provider put under pressure by clients on strike would do?



I don't know. Do you?



Seriously, why don't you (we) focus our dispersed power on self-proclaimed premium language agencies that deliver shitty quality and do nothing but harm to the translation industry as a whole?



That seems like another issue. Why don't you post a separate thread about it.



Why don't you (we) begin to make it clear to agencies that we won't be put into a corner again and again, that we will decide what's good for our business, that we need to make a living as well?



Now, isn't that exactly one aspect of what this issue is all about? I thought so at least.


 

Åsa Campbell  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 15:25
Member
English to Swedish
Free market Feb 22, 2011

With the risk of being bombarded with replies...

I really do not understand this discussion. It is a free market, no one is forcing anybody to buy anything. We are all independent businesses that compete for the jobs available. How you compete and what you do to increase your business is your decision.

I have chosen to invest in several CAT tools as I believe they make me more competitive and improve my productivity. For the same reason I also recently invested in a top
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With the risk of being bombarded with replies...

I really do not understand this discussion. It is a free market, no one is forcing anybody to buy anything. We are all independent businesses that compete for the jobs available. How you compete and what you do to increase your business is your decision.

I have chosen to invest in several CAT tools as I believe they make me more competitive and improve my productivity. For the same reason I also recently invested in a top of the range computer with a large screen. I run a business and need to invest in it or eventually loose out to the competition.

What kind of CAT tool I choose is based on market demands, it is not forced on me by the software vendors. It is however a fact that Trados is very often required, which is why I invested in it. As for the price I do not actually think it is expensive, but if you do there are alternatives that are cheaper or even free.

I have no intentions to boycot any of the CAT tool vendors as their software is valuable to me and in my opinion good value for money.

As for the agencies "forcing" you to use a certain tool, again it is a free market, you don't have to work with these agencies. Compare this to other type of businesses, if you want to get into shipping you will need trucks, if you have a client that needs to transport cold food you will need a truck with refrigeration. If you choose not to invest in this type of truck you will not get the business - your choice!

Asa
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Laurent KRAULAND (X)  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 07:55
French to German
+ ...
Comparisons... Feb 22, 2011

Åsa Campbell wrote:
As for the agencies "forcing" you to use a certain tool, again it is a free market, you don't have to work with these agencies. Compare this to other type of businesses, if you want to get into shipping you will need trucks, if you have a client that needs to transport cold food you will need a truck with refrigeration. If you choose not to invest in this type of truck you will not get the business - your choice!

Asa


However, no-one will ever force anybody to buy a Mercedes Benz truck over a Volvo or even a Kenworth one. Or to equip your US-made truck with a Caterpillar engine rather than with a Cummins one. Any goods transport company is indeed free to invest in the truck brand they wish to; this is what technical specifications sheets are here for.

Furthermore, and if one needs only 170 HP under the hood, it is unlikely that the purchasing decision will favour a truck with 320 HP "just for the sake of prestige" - and the opposite is also true (one does not buy a less powerful truck "just for the sake of saving money".)

And to finish, trucks are highly-customisable products, which is probably one of the things we cannot say about CAT tools.

If we want to be objective as per CAT tools the way carriers are about trucks, we need an independent benchmarking review of the tools currently available on the market.

[Edited at 2011-02-22 07:25 GMT]


 

Erik Freitag  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 07:55
Member (2006)
Dutch to German
+ ...
Trados is much too cheap Feb 22, 2011

Simone Linke wrote:

Hmm.. what do you think a software provider put under pressure by clients on strike would do? Outsource? Let students create some lines of code for free? Re-use existing lines of code without proofing them? Skip the final check of the finished product to save a few bucks?



Hm, I think they might already be doing all this. That might explain the quality of the software.

Seriously, I'd rather pay a price three times as high as it is now and get a product with less bugs and inconsistencies.

[Bearbeitet am 2011-02-22 06:25 GMT]


 

Simone Linke  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 07:55
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Some answers Feb 22, 2011

Thomas Johansson wrote:

Simone Linke wrote:

Who exactly is it that's pressuring you?



Look, first, the pressure is on all of us. Most of us are aware of it. If you happen to be not, please read through this discussion.

I have followed this thread right from the start. And as far as I can tell, there are many people in here who do not feel they are under pressure from software or CATs. Otherwise, you wouldn't have 9 pages of discussion and people asking you what you are trying to prove/achieve. And as I said, the pressure is not on me. Not from the CATs - which is what you are trying to boycott.



Also, did you even take a look at Samuel's link about software costs?


Thomas Johansson wrote:
Yes, did you? What do you make out of it? How much did for instance Trados cost to develop according to that link? And how much does it tell us that it should cost?

Yes, I did. And I assume it costs a couple of millions. The exact number is unknown to me because I don't know how many lines of code Trados has, how many of them have been reused or copied from other sources, etc. However, according to another source, WordPress, for example, would cost around $500,000 to re-create (without relying on open source or any other money-savers). I'm inclined to say that Trados is a little more complex than WordPress. And then there are upgrades, new versions, Trados support (whatever good or bad one may think about it - it does exist and it does cost money). And so on. As efreitag has already said, the price is rather reasonable and probably too cheap. And yes, I, too, would pay a few bucks more if it meant the program was less error-prone.




How high do you think are the development costs for CATs?


Thomas Johansson wrote:
I don't know, but I think it could be interesting to know.


So, you're calling for a strike against overpriced CATs but you have no idea how much it actually costs to make them? Interesting...



Hmm.. what do you think a software provider put under pressure by clients on strike would do?


Thomas Johansson wrote:
I don't know. Do you?


Yup, see my last post.



Seriously, why don't you (we) focus our dispersed power on self-proclaimed premium language agencies that deliver shitty quality and do nothing but harm to the translation industry as a whole?


Thomas Johansson wrote:
That seems like another issue. Why don't you post a separate thread about it.


It is not another issue. It's the core of the whole problem. If all agencies would have reasonable price calculations, would deliver the quality they promise to deliver, would make sure that the reputation of the translation industry is not put at risk by hiring unskilled non-natives whose translated manuals are good for nothing but a laugh, etc. etc. etc. - then you wouldn't be offered low rates in the first place. You could afford to buy Trados if you had to. Or you could simply say no.

Again: it's not the software that's putting pressure on you. It's the agency. The software is nothing but a lifeless bunch of lines of code.


Why don't you (we) begin to make it clear to agencies that we won't be put into a corner again and again, that we will decide what's good for our business, that we need to make a living as well?


Thomas Johansson wrote:
Now, isn't that exactly one aspect of what this issue is all about? I thought so at least.

You said quite the opposite in your very previous quote. So, what now? Are agencies another issue or are they what this issue is all about?


 

Laurent KRAULAND (X)  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 07:55
French to German
+ ...
We have the perfect example in this thread Feb 22, 2011

Simone Linke wrote:

Seriously, why don't you (we) focus our dispersed power on self-proclaimed premium language agencies that deliver shitty quality and do nothing but harm to the translation industry as a whole?


Thomas Johansson wrote:
That seems like another issue. Why don't you post a separate thread about it.


Simone Linke wrote:
It is not another issue. It's the core of the whole problem. If all agencies would have reasonable price calculations, would deliver the quality they promise to deliver, would make sure that the reputation of the translation industry is not put at risk by hiring unskilled non-natives whose translated manuals are good for nothing but a laugh, etc. etc. etc. - then you wouldn't be offered low rates in the first place. You could afford to buy Trados if you had to. Or you could simply say no.

Again: it's not the software that's putting pressure on you. It's the agency. The software is nothing but a lifeless bunch of lines of code.


We have the perfect example in this thread: see Paula's posts about the practices of some agencies that turn into CAT vendors.


[Edited at 2011-02-22 09:10 GMT]


 

Mykhailo Voloshko  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 08:55
Member (2008)
English to Russian
+ ...
free CATs are dangerous Feb 22, 2011

Would you like a free license for an expensive CAT-tool?

Nowadays, more and more agencies are willing to provide you with a free license for an expensive server-based/online CAT-tool. Great?

In a way, yes. But note that in such cases you will not be able to keep the results of your work and/or use your own additional resources within the project, except those assigned by the project manager.

There's always free cheese in a mouse trap.


 

Lutz Molderings  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 07:55
German to English
+ ...
exactly Feb 22, 2011

Åsa Campbell wrote:

With the risk of being bombarded with replies...

I really do not understand this discussion. It is a free market, no one is forcing anybody to buy anything. We are all independent businesses that compete for the jobs available. How you compete and what you do to increase your business is your decision.

Asa


Exactly!
This is ridiculous.
If you buy a VW you can't use spare parts from Renault.
If you buy a CAT tool there MIGHT be some limitations as to which agencies you can work with.

Don't be such crybabies.


 

Paula Borges  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 02:55
Member (2010)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Exactly Feb 22, 2011

Laurent KRAULAND wrote:

We have the perfect example in this thread: see Paula's posts about the practices of some agencies that turn into CAT vendors.


[Edited at 2011-02-22 09:10 GMT]


Exactly, I don't know why people are ignoring that. I certainly couldn't when I came across it.

It isn't about a strike or a boycott, but a good discussion on the subject. I think some people are misunderstanding the issue and turning into a CAT x no CAT issue.

Even the 'free market' is regulated against monopoly, overpricing, marketing practices that aren't transparent enough.

Why are agencies selling the tools themselves offering 'discounts'? Obviously, because they're getting something out of that, and using your work relationship to pressure you into buying it. In many countries it's not even legal to market a product that way.

People are also forgetting not everyone needs Trados, and that the files can be compatible. They shouldn't be asking me what tool I have, they should be asking me: can you open this file?

Let's not forget something that has already been mentioned, they do not offer prices for developing countries and regardless of currency differences the price stays the same. In fact, it's even higher here because of higher taxes. We're talking about a place in which these investments are not deductible, with no tax exemption for translators (who pay 12%-17% on every invoice), where the cost of everything is much higher, including computers and Internet connection. Translators are also forced to pay accountants, which is a good sum every month and the cost of education is high, student loans hard to get. Considering that purchasing this program is generally an entire month of a translator's income here, would you suggest that he/she doesn't pay the rent to invest in it?

These costs have very different weights to different people.

As any other business, we try to save money unless something is absolutely necessary. And let's face it, paying a lot more for Trados (which is hard to learn and has lots of bugs now as someone pointed out) is not something everybody NEEDS to do.

As for agencies acting like vendors what I've seen was very serious. People who never dreamt of being translators or students were being lied to and promised lots of work. They do not get any work. They put ads on newspapers and try to recruit people to "be translators". It's so well arranged they only mention the tool on the third day of "training" for the job. Random people who don't know anything about the translation business are being taken advantage of, for being desperate and UNEMPLOYED - does that seem ok?

Some would say the main company is not the one doing it - but they're certainly aware of it. And to make it worse, we've actually discovered this company is an official representative. That's all I can say.

[Edited at 2011-02-22 13:03 GMT]


 

Paula Borges  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 02:55
Member (2010)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Another example Feb 22, 2011

An agency contacted me saying they wanted to start working with me, and since they were close by we've scheduled a meeting. As soon as I got there, they spent two hours talking about how great this tool is and how much work I'd get with it and wanted me to leave a check right away. They could have send me an email saying they only work with people who have this specific tool, but they wouldn't have had two hours in person to try and convince me to buy it right away.

The point here
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An agency contacted me saying they wanted to start working with me, and since they were close by we've scheduled a meeting. As soon as I got there, they spent two hours talking about how great this tool is and how much work I'd get with it and wanted me to leave a check right away. They could have send me an email saying they only work with people who have this specific tool, but they wouldn't have had two hours in person to try and convince me to buy it right away.

The point here is: should agencies get commission for selling tools? are they transparent about the fact they're profitting from it (oh you're lucky we got some extra licenses and you can get one for cheap...) doesn't the pre-established work relationship there cloud one's decision? are those acceptable marketing practices? have we all had the chance to try all tools before we purchased ours?

Some of us happen to think that's not all that great or simply feel prefer different tools.

I could be wrong but one of my clients tells me that in very large products he has translators using Trados, Wordfast and other tools and they generally have no problem using each other's memories.

[Edited at 2011-02-22 13:05 GMT]
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Simone Linke  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 07:55
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Devil's advocate Feb 22, 2011

Sorry, I just have to play devil's advocate here. Let me add though that I fully understand your frustration about the fact that the price of the CAT isn't adjusted to your market.
And as I already said, I'm against dubious agencies, and I'm fully with you on this one as well..

BUT:
You're basically saying, hey, I live in a country where the price for this software is much too high.

Well...
I live in a country where the rate some people in Brazil (for
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Sorry, I just have to play devil's advocate here. Let me add though that I fully understand your frustration about the fact that the price of the CAT isn't adjusted to your market.
And as I already said, I'm against dubious agencies, and I'm fully with you on this one as well..

BUT:
You're basically saying, hey, I live in a country where the price for this software is much too high.

Well...
I live in a country where the rate some people in Brazil (for example) offer per word is much too low to make a living. And yet, I have to compete with you guys in this international market.

How about: certain CAT tools are offered cheaper in certain countries, but in exchange, translators in these countries are forbidden from accepting jobs from agencies outside of their country?

Would that solution make you happy?
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Laurent KRAULAND (X)  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 07:55
French to German
+ ...
File formats Feb 22, 2011

Paula Borges wrote:
(.../...)

I could be wrong but one of my clients tells me that in very large products he has translators using Trados, Wordfast and other tools and they generally have no problem using each other's memories.


The problem is, in fact, that nearly every software publisher develops proprietary formats. Take those away and see what happens, I say (but then the brands in themselves would have less to no value).

If everybody were to use solely LISA's standardised formats from this minute on, how many people would complain?

[Edited at 2011-02-22 13:30 GMT]


 

Adam Łobatiuk  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 07:55
Member (2009)
English to Polish
+ ...
@Paula Feb 22, 2011

Paula Borges wrote:
Let's not forget something that has already been mentioned, they do not offer prices for developing countries and regardless of currency differences the price stays the same. In fact, it's even higher here because of higher taxes. We're talking about a place in which these investments are not deductible, with no tax exemption for translators (who pay 12%-17% on every invoice), where the cost of everything is much higher, including computers and Internet connection. Translators are also forced to pay accountants, which is a good sum every month and the cost of education is high, student loans hard to get. Considering that purchasing this program is generally an entire month of a translator's income here, would you suggest that he/she doesn't pay the rent to invest in it?


Hi Paula,

I have no idea what life in Brazil is like, but here are some thoughts.

According to this page: http://guides.gottrouble.com/Common_Small_Business_Tax_Deductions_Brazil_IN-r1259807-Brazil_IN.html, sofware is deductible for small businesses. So are accounting fees. Maybe you should consider changing the legal status of your business? By the way, 12%-17% is low. We have 18%.

If the cost of Trados equals a Brazilian translator's monthly income, then it is certainly high. However, the prices of the Polish SDL Trados distributor are much lower than those on SLD's website, and so they probably are in Brazil. The local cost of Trados in Poland is slightly below the official average monthly income (not translators').

If companies push Trados promising work, and then don't give you any, that's wrong. If they don't promise, but say Trados will help you get more work, then they are right, at least in my experience. No local or international client has ever asked me about any other commercial tool, except maybe for SDLX, which is part of the Trados package anyway.


 

Paula Borges  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 02:55
Member (2010)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Brazil Feb 22, 2011

I think it's hard to explain the level of bureaucracy in Brazil in a way that people can understand - given how confusing and absurd it can be.

First of all, you have to be a proper registered business to even work as a translator, otherwise you have no work. There is no changing legal status, either you have a company or you cannot work legally. This entails many taxes, that vary according to the city, state, and federal ones too. I am aware that VAT in Europe is high, but at least
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I think it's hard to explain the level of bureaucracy in Brazil in a way that people can understand - given how confusing and absurd it can be.

First of all, you have to be a proper registered business to even work as a translator, otherwise you have no work. There is no changing legal status, either you have a company or you cannot work legally. This entails many taxes, that vary according to the city, state, and federal ones too. I am aware that VAT in Europe is high, but at least in the UK there is a threshold. The country is extremely high taxed and cost of living is high. Most of us have to work 4 days-a week just to pay for Internet connection, an entire month's worth of work also goes into getting a new computer and so on. Technology products are taxed even more, especially when imported, which is the case for software.

The prices for Trados aren't lower in Brazil, as far as I know. Last time someone offered me the software, it was even more expensive than it was Europe - that tends to be the case for EVERY technology related product here. Just to give you a rough idea: if we were working for the local minimum wage, it would be 3 month's worth of work or more. Good thing translators can make more than that, but it's still very high. Other tools (especially the ones that offer a discount for developing areas) can be much cheaper. When I bought mine, a few years ago, it was actually about 9 x cheaper!

Then there's the currency factor, as the prices are generally set in US dollars. If anyone wants to buy it, the time would be now.

They might say accounting or business expenses are deductible - but that never happens. It's very complicated, and the software developer would have to be a local registered business, to begin with, which they are not. If you're really lucky you can deduct some of that - but you'll never see 100% of what you invested back, best case scenario maybe 10%, I suppose. But even attempting that requires this tax model that is way too complicated and generally more costly, so most people would opt for a simplified registration that does not allow these deductions.

But we're not sticking to the point - it almost sounds as if you're trying to convince me to buy THIS specific tool, as if I'm not allowed to choose any other?




[Edited at 2011-02-22 14:35 GMT]

[Edited at 2011-02-22 14:38 GMT]
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