https://wiki.proz.com/forum/being_independent/319136-ethics_and_the_translation_sector_no_more_budget_demands_a_new_forum_category_please-page4.html

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Ethics and the translation sector - no more budget demands + a new forum category please!
Thread poster: Bernhard Sulzer

Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:14
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
And, eight years on, what has it accomplished? Oct 2, 2017

Maija Cirule wrote:

In order your fight for ethics be more fruitful, maybe you should join an appropriate group or association.
There is a LinkedIn group for IAPTI. Their statement:
IAPTI was formed on September 30, 2009, with the aim of addressing issues of concern in the translation and interpretation community, such as crowdsourcing, emphasis on price instead of quality, flooding of the translation market with non-professional translators, limitations on the extent to which we can discuss rates and the need for a strong online presence where new translators can be guided by experts that have translators' and interpreters’ interests in mind.
It's free of charge and accessible for all LinkedIn members. Moreover, you can joint the IAPTI organizatiion. Their membership fee is quite affordable.

[Edited at 2017-10-02 02:55 GMT]

[Edited at 2017-10-02 03:58 GMT]

[Edited at 2017-10-02 04:25 GMT]


I remember when the organization was founded.

My question would be what has it accomplished pursuant to its declared goals during the eight years of its existence.


 

Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:14
Member (2006)
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Serious issue Oct 2, 2017

Tom in London wrote:

I thought this was a thread about ethics but it turns out to be just another moanathon about low rates. Yawnzville.


I can't say I appreciate mockery if that's what you intend here. To me,the situation is much more serious and worth discussing. And yes, it is not ethical in my book to demand or to accept rock bottom rates and act like there's nothing wrong with it.


 

Maija Cirule  Identity Verified
Latvia
Local time: 13:14
German to English
+ ...
Truth be told Oct 3, 2017

Robert Forstag wrote:

Maija Cirule wrote:

In order your fight for ethics be more fruitful, maybe you should join an appropriate group or association.
There is a LinkedIn group for IAPTI. Their statement:
IAPTI was formed on September 30, 2009, with the aim of addressing issues of concern in the translation and interpretation community, such as crowdsourcing, emphasis on price instead of quality, flooding of the translation market with non-professional translators, limitations on the extent to which we can discuss rates and the need for a strong online presence where new translators can be guided by experts that have translators' and interpreters’ interests in mind.
It's free of charge and accessible for all LinkedIn members. Moreover, you can joint the IAPTI organizatiion. Their membership fee is quite affordable.

[Edited at 2017-10-02 02:55 GMT]

[Edited at 2017-10-02 03:58 GMT]

[Edited at 2017-10-02 04:25 GMT]


I remember when the organization was founded.

My question would be what has it accomplished pursuant to its declared goals during the eight years of its existence.


I don't know much about the association's accomplishments as I discovered its existence only a couple of months ago but it seems to me that its goals are in line with Bernhard's endeavours.

[Edited at 2017-10-03 05:20 GMT]


 

Gabriele Demuth  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:14
English to German
Indemnity clauses & payment terms Oct 3, 2017

I haven't read the whole thread and I am not sure whether this has been mentioned, but only last week I came across one of the large agencies in this industry via this site who appeared to be interested in my application.

Looking at their terms and conditions, I soon found an indemnity clause asking me to accept unlimited liability for all eventualities, (when generally all companies have a disclaimer in their terms and conditions, to limit their liability) - why are translators acc
... See more
I haven't read the whole thread and I am not sure whether this has been mentioned, but only last week I came across one of the large agencies in this industry via this site who appeared to be interested in my application.

Looking at their terms and conditions, I soon found an indemnity clause asking me to accept unlimited liability for all eventualities, (when generally all companies have a disclaimer in their terms and conditions, to limit their liability) - why are translators accepting such terms?!

Reading on, under payment it was stated that they would *do their best* to pay within 60 days!

I would have liked to work with them, but not under such terms - however, it seems there are plenty of translators who are not bothered by such abusive terms.
Collapse


 

Mirko Mainardi  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 12:14
Member
English to Italian
Pity Oct 3, 2017

Sheila Wilson wrote:

I'm a pragmatist, living in the real world


It's a pity you're dismissing the topic and your interlocutors this way, but so be it.

Just a reminder: http://www.proz.com/about/ipetition/input


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 12:14
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Real price ethics, and... Oct 3, 2017

Bernhard Sulzer wrote:
I challenge ProZ.com to do away once and for all with job posters being able to demand and thus state their budget or rate on the job board. ... With no more budgets or budget ranges stated on this platform, I say Proz.com would send a strong signal, very much in ethical terms.


After this has been implemented, no doubt your next request would be that translators should not be allowed to state their rates on their profile pages. After all, what can be more unethical than translators driving down the price that client may be willing to pay, by publicly stating that they accept low rates?

The only signal that ProZ.com would send if your wish were to come true, is that it is abnormal for people who have a limited budget to buy translation services (i.e. that the only people who are worthy of buying translation services are those who can afford to pay any price).

But I don't quite understand what you mean by "ethics" here. Are you saying that it is unethical for translators to sell their services on a portal that allows clients to state their budget?

FWIW, there are some real ethical problems related to pricing that does need discussing, but they are not relevant to the point you're trying to make. These include:

1. Price fixing (i.e. colluding with competitors about what rates to charge)
2. Price discrimination (i.e. charging different clients different rates for the same product)
3. Predatory pricing (i.e. deliberately charging low rates to push competitors out of the market)

I regularly see #1 and #2 here, but #3 is rare. Undercutting by translators on ProZ.com is usually non-deliberate, or due to ignorance rather than a deliberate decision to undercut.


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:14
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
I'm dismissing nothing Oct 3, 2017

Mirko Mainardi wrote:
It's a pity you're dismissing the topic and your interlocutors this way, but so be it.

Just a reminder: http://www.proz.com/about/ipetition/input

I'll continue to:
- take every opportunity to help other freelancers make the best possible choices for their businesses;
- educate agencies and direct clients wherever and whenever possible (although it's pointless to even reply to some agencies);
- inform ProZ.com via a Support Ticket of each and every violation of the job posting rules I spot.

I remember that petition very well, Mirko. I not only signed it but took an active part in discussions leading up to it, and in those relating to the changes ProZ.com subsequently made to the job posting interface. You'll note that the petition acknowledges that while we were pretty unanimous about the need for change, there was nowhere near agreement on whether the ban on outsourcers mentioning amounts should be total. ProZ.com addressed the matter in what I considered to be a proper manner. And they're always very quick to take down jobs that I report to them as violating the current strict rules.

If you want to reopen the debate officially and there's enough support, then I'll be happy to go along with whatever transpires. But this continual ranting, blaming ProZ.com for everything that's wrong in the world (and it's not just the world of translation, believe me - my brother has been a freelance graphic designer; my son a freelance programmer) is not the way to progress at all, IMO.


 

Maija Cirule  Identity Verified
Latvia
Local time: 13:14
German to English
+ ...
Mirko Oct 3, 2017

The problem most likely is that this topic has been discussed ad nauseam and our colleagues are tired of numberless repetitions and some comments that seem copied and pasted ad infinitum.

 

Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:14
Member (2006)
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Not ad nauseum Oct 3, 2017

Maija Cirule wrote:

The problem most likely is that this topic has been discussed ad nauseam and our colleagues are tired of numberless repetitions and some comments that seem copied and pasted ad infinitum.


I don't mean to discuss anything ad nauseum, at least that's not my intention; I made some suggestions at the beginning and asked for support.
What I see is that many colleagues don't worry about things I obviously worry about and don't seem very supportive. I am not happy about it. I believe if we work together, we could achieve plenty. I thank those colleagues that share some of my concerns and are willing to speak out on it.


 

Jan Truper  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 12:14
English to German
+ ...
... Oct 3, 2017

Chris S wrote:

is a filter to stop low-rate agencies e-mailing me.

It strikes me as a no-brainer.

Sending a request to a 15p translator when you're a 3p agency is a waste of both parties' time.



I would also like to see such a filter; I'm not sure how that could be implemented, though.
Most e-mails I get sent via Proz as well as most job offers on Proz.com are a total waste of time for me, as well.

I generally appreciate Bernhard's fight against low rates, but in contrast to Bernhard, I am grateful if rates are posted -- it's one of the first things I look for in order to save myself time.

Suggestion:
a) job posters should be required to state their minimum offered rates
b) translators should be able to set a rate threshold to only see job offers that fall within their spectrum (for example, a translator could determine to only see jobs starting at $0.10/word)

If the posters were informed of such a system, they would have to think twice about posting bottom-shelf rates, because only bottom-feeding translators would even see such offers.

If there already is such a system in place, please let me know where I can set the threshold


 

Jennifer Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:14
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Defining ethics Oct 3, 2017

The trouble with this thread is that Bernhard hasn't clearly defined what he means by ethics, so it has tended to become a low rates moanathon.
I don't think it's unethical for an agency to state what price it is willing to pay or for a supplier to state the rate he/she is willing to work for. What IS unethical is when a customer fails to keep to the previously established agreement, including paying late, disputing the word count or using some other dodge such as alleging unsubstantiated
... See more
The trouble with this thread is that Bernhard hasn't clearly defined what he means by ethics, so it has tended to become a low rates moanathon.
I don't think it's unethical for an agency to state what price it is willing to pay or for a supplier to state the rate he/she is willing to work for. What IS unethical is when a customer fails to keep to the previously established agreement, including paying late, disputing the word count or using some other dodge such as alleging unsubstantiated "poor quality" to reduce the price long after delivery, making unexplained and unjustified deductions from invoices and, of course, not paying at all.
Price-fixing is also unethical - when buyers collude to fix a price, virtually forcing suppliers to agree to a low price for their goods or services. This can happen between supermarkets and farmers, for example.
Of course we'd all like to deal with ethical customers and let's hope we all behave ethically ourselves, but you can't force people to adopt decent business practices. I don't think stating a low price is unethical in itself. What is your definition of ethics, please, Bernhard?
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Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:14
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
A more elegant solution Oct 3, 2017

Jan Truper wrote:

Chris S wrote:

is a filter to stop low-rate agencies e-mailing me.

It strikes me as a no-brainer.

Sending a request to a 15p translator when you're a 3p agency is a waste of both parties' time.



I would also like to see such a filter; I'm not sure how that could be implemented, though.
Most e-mails I get sent via Proz as well as most job offers on Proz.com are a total waste of time for me, as well.

I generally appreciate Bernhard's fight against low rates, but in contrast to Bernhard, I am grateful if rates are posted -- it's one of the first things I look for in order to save myself time.

Suggestion:
a) job posters should be required to state their minimum offered rates
b) translators should be able to set a rate threshold to only see job offers that fall within their spectrum (for example, a translator could determine to only see jobs starting at $0.10/word)

If the posters were informed of such a system, they would have to think twice about posting bottom-shelf rates, because only bottom-feeding translators would even see such offers.

If there already is such a system in place, please let me know where I can set the threshold


I think that a far more elegant solution would be one that I first advocated at least five years ago: Place NO LIMITS on the rates offered by posters BUT highlight or otherwise flag lowball posts ON THE HOME PAGE.

Doing this would send a clear message to all that the rates on offer in the post are low. Right now, the message re rates falling “below 80%” is coyly hidden toward the bottom of the post.

Doing this would also help people not interested in low offers avoid wasting their time (while Bernhard’s suggestion of banning any mention of rates would lead to only more wasting of translators’ time).


 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 09:14
English to Portuguese
+ ...
In memoriam
That's what they want! Oct 3, 2017

Jan Truper wrote:

Suggestion:
a) job posters should be required to state their minimum offered rates
b) translators should be able to set a rate threshold to only see job offers that fall within their spectrum (for example, a translator could determine to only see jobs starting at $0.10/word)

If the posters were informed of such a system, they would have to think twice about posting bottom-shelf rates, because only bottom-feeding translators would even see such offers.

If there already is such a system in place, please let me know where I can set the threshold


Bottom-shelf agencies want bottom-shelf translators. The only reason that prevents them from delivering the raw output of free Google Translate is that they'll be paying a live human being for the right to BLAME him/her for the end-client's dissatisfaction. They demand native speakers of the target language's country so they can BLAME that nation's schooling system as a whole.

For truly professional translators, it's just a matter of stating their price and terms. If the client wants truly professional translation services, that's what it costs. A truly professional translator will have a sensible pricing system, based on the market value of the service they actually deliver. There ARE a few clients who think this way, of course, largely outnumbered by wise guys who just wanna make a quick buck on translation or anything else that enables them to do so.

I serve a few clients who seek value. They pay fair rates, on fair terms, and rightfully demand the high quality I do my best to deliver all the time, and every time.

Yet they are comparatively so rare that I'm trying to increase the number of these I serve. I've written my manifesto, and placed it at http://www.lamensdorf.com.br/for-agencies.html. Haven't decided yet on how to make my message reach these worthy translation clients.


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 12:14
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
@Bernhard Oct 4, 2017

Bernhard Sulzer wrote:
I don't mean to discuss anything ad nauseum, at least that's not my intention; I made some suggestions at the beginning and asked for support.


You did not make any new suggestions, though.

Except, of course, that an "ethics" forum be created, but you have not made your case for how such a forum would contribute to finding solutions for the problem that you describe. No-one who has since posted replies in this thread have yet figured out how an "ethics" forum should have any effect on the problem of the downward spiraling of rates. You're welcome to clarify.

Essentially, therefore, your proposed solution is to disallow job posters from posting any budget information.

What I see is that many colleagues don't worry about things I obviously worry about and don't seem very supportive.


The fact that we do not support your proposed solution to the problem does not mean that we do not acknowledge the problem and that we are not also very concerned about it. However, the solution you propose is to throw out the baby with the bathwater.

All these objections you see being raised to your proposal are simply that: objections to your specific proposal. We will gladly discuss the problem, but in another thread, as this current thread is specifically about your proposed solution.


 

Mirko Mainardi  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 12:14
Member
English to Italian
An even more elegant(?) solution Oct 4, 2017

Robert Forstag wrote:

I think that a far more elegant solution would be one that I first advocated at least five years ago: Place NO LIMITS on the rates offered by posters BUT highlight or otherwise flag lowball posts ON THE HOME PAGE.

Doing this would send a clear message to all that the rates on offer in the post are low. Right now, the message re rates falling “below 80%” is coyly hidden toward the bottom of the post.

Doing this would also help people not interested in low offers avoid wasting their time (while Bernhard’s suggestion of banning any mention of rates would lead to only more wasting of translators’ time).


Some users don't even visit the home page at all, and I very much doubt ProZ would ever embrace a solution that would/could imply or invite some sort of moral judgment on outsourcers... Besides, the home page would become chronically overcrowded in a matter of minutes if this solution were to be implemented and ALL such posts were to be prominently highlighted there...

Since the main issue most people here seem to have with removing "budget" info is that it would make them lose more time with bottom feeders, then a very simple solution that addresses both that and your filter suggestion at the same time would be to use the budget info as an "internal variable", just for filtering. In other words, no "budget" shown anywhere, but used as a filter for notifications, based on the rates you have set in your profile (whether hidden or visible). That's something ProZ's staff should already know quite well, as TM-Town already does something similar (they called it a "don't-bother-me rate", if I recall correctly).

This way, people who do a lot of bidding and are concerned about "losing time" wouldn't have to face that issue, while nothing would change for those who don't take budgets into consideration when bidding.

I still don't think clients should be setting rates, and that allowing them to do so sends a very wrong message that doesn't really help anyone, but at the very least, this would encourage some people to actually think about the rates they should be asking instead of merely seeing and accepting those set by clients...


 
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