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

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:29
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Editing jobs are often marked as below 80% Oct 4, 2017

Mirko Mainardi wrote:
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 thought there already was something of that nature available regarding being notified of suitable jobs, but I'm not sure. Maybe it's just Connect jobs or something???

However, I do more editing/proofreading than translating nowadays and unfortunately those jobs are often highlighted by ProZ.com as "below 80%", even when the rate is likely to be perfectly acceptable (not that I'd ever quote a per-word rate for revising an unseen text). It should be something that staff can sort out, but it needs to be borne in mind.


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 22:29
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Bottom shelf vs bottom feeders Oct 4, 2017

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:
Jan Truper wrote:
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.

Bottom-shelf agencies want bottom-shelf translators.


That is true, in the global sense. And I'm glad you use the term "bottom shelf" for the translators, because translators live where they live, and if where they live is "bottom shelf" compared to where Bernhard lives, then that does not make them "bottom feeding" translators.

One thing that makes discussing the problem of downward spiraling rates difficult is the pervasiveness of the belief that live in a global village.

Translators from cheap countries are happy when they can work for high rates for clients from expensive countries, but translators from expensive countries cry foul if they are "forced" to work for clients from cheap countries. It is understandable that translators from expensive countries would be concerned about "downward spiraling rates" if the reason for the spiral is the fact that work in their own countries is getting scarcer.

One way to prevent translators from expensive countries from becoming unhappy about job offers from clients in cheap countries would be to do away with this "global village" concept altogether, and allow agencies and translators to solicit each other only from their own countries. But would mid-range translators also be happy if they are prevented from bidding on jobs posted by clients from even more expensive countries? Would they accept the fact that they are, in fact, guilty of undercutting translators from the more expensive countries?

It is silly to suggest that an agency from a cheap country is acting unethically if he offers a rate that is normal in his own country but "cheap" in the countries of expensive translators.

I made a quick comparison between my country of birth and my country of residence, to see just how wide the wage gap is. The starting [monthly] salary for in-house translators in the Netherlands is €2000. The average salary overall for age 40+ is €3000. The minimum wage is €1500. The median salary is €2800. Now, if you were to earn just €1500 in South Africa, you'd be a top 5% earner. In fact, if you're in South Africa and you earn what a beginner translator earns in the Netherlands, you're a top 1% earner! The median salary in South African is less than €200. So, then, why would it be "unethical" for a South African agency to offer rates that are 1/10th of the rates offered by Dutch agencies, and why would it be "unethical" for a South African translator to accept rates that are 1/10th of the rates accepted by Dutch translators?

The problem, it seems, is not cheap agencies and cheap translators, but expensive ones. If you want to work in the global village, but you're unwilling to accept global village rates, then you're in the wrong village.


 

Lincoln Hui  Identity Verified
Hong Kong
Local time: 05:29
Member
Chinese to English
+ ...
Global business Oct 4, 2017

One way to prevent translators from expensive countries from becoming unhappy about job offers from clients in cheap countries would be to do away with this "global village" concept altogether, and allow agencies and translators to solicit each other only from their own countries. But would mid-range translators also be happy if they are prevented from bidding on jobs posted by clients from even more expensive countries? Would they accept the fact that they are, in fact, guilty of undercutting translators from the more expensive countries?

If I'm unable to work with international clients, I'm dead, literally.

This is also why I can never take seriously anyone who tries to compare the translation business with law. I certainly would not envy any translator who is only licensed to work with clients in the state of Ohio. Nor do I have to maintain an expensive physical office, wear a suit whenever I go to work, and all the other crap that private practice lawyers deal with.

And for eggheads who think translators are the only people who have to deal with certain things, you should try living as a musician.


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:29
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Like Oct 4, 2017

Samuel Murray wrote:
...
...

Great post, Samuel. It's so clear from what you say that there are bound to be problems in this "global village" of ours. The solution to them is not so clear, if indeed there is one. I certainly don't want to be excluded from dealing with foreign clients - Spanish ones rarely agree to pay my rates .

Lincoln Hui wrote:
And for eggheads who think translators are the only people who have to deal with certain things, you should try living as a musician.

Ha, so true! My husband tried that for a while and most of our friends are musicians trying to scratch a living locally. Even the few at the top of the tree here are probably only bringing in the minimum wage, what with last-minute cancellations etc.


 

Mirko Mainardi  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 22:29
Member
English to Italian
Not an issue Oct 4, 2017

Sheila Wilson wrote:

However, I do more editing/proofreading than translating nowadays and unfortunately those jobs are often highlighted by ProZ.com as "below 80%", even when the rate is likely to be perfectly acceptable (not that I'd ever quote a per-word rate for revising an unseen text). It should be something that staff can sort out, but it needs to be borne in mind.


That wouldn't be an issue, since you would set your own "don't-bother-me" rate(s) for the service(s) you provide and the client would enter the rate (or range) they wish to pay for the service they need(...), if that's what they want, therefore the "filtering" would be automatic.


 

Jan Truper  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 22:29
English to German
+ ...
OT Oct 4, 2017

Samuel Murray wrote:

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:
Jan Truper wrote:
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.

Bottom-shelf agencies want bottom-shelf translators.


That is true, in the global sense. And I'm glad you use the term "bottom shelf" for the translators, because translators live where they live, and if where they live is "bottom shelf" compared to where Bernhard lives, then that does not make them "bottom feeding" translators.


Since this is a language-centric forum, please allow me to engage

The word "bottom-shelf" has implications regarding quality, which is not the issue here. I think that "bottom-feeding" is more apt to describe translators that accept low rates (rates being the figurative food in this context).


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 22:29
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Bottom shelf Oct 4, 2017

Jan Truper wrote:
The word "bottom-shelf" has implications regarding quality, which is not the issue here.


Isn't the top shelf where the girlie magazines are, though?


 

Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:29
German to English
Bottom shelf = cheaper Oct 4, 2017

Jan Truper wrote:

The word "bottom-shelf" has implications regarding quality, which is not the issue here. I think that "bottom-feeding" is more apt to describe translators that accept low rates (rates being the figurative food in this context).


I disagree here. Although "bottom shelf" can imply lower quality, as a frequent customer of American grocery stores, I've found that the "no-name" cheaper brands tend to occupy the lower shelves of the rack, whereas the higher profile brands are at eye level or slightly below. The nearby wine shop follows a similar strategy: the more expensive wines occupy the middle shelves, and the cheaper wines are either on the bottom or very top (harder to reach) shelves. In this case, I tend to agree with Samuel's usage.


 

Jan Truper  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 22:29
English to German
+ ...
totally OT and back Oct 4, 2017

Samuel Murray wrote:
Isn't the top shelf where the girlie magazines are, though?




That used to be a common sight, but I haven't seen that sort of store display in ages. I wonder why...
Ethics, maybe?

[Edited at 2017-10-04 15:17 GMT]


 

Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:29
Member (2006)
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Endeavours right here Oct 4, 2017

Maija Cirule wrote:

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]


There's lots of good things a translator can do, such as joining a good group of professionals or a good association.

But my point is that I am talking about changes here on this site - I think we should focus on requesting improvements for translators here, especially since this is the major hub where translation projects are offered and accepted. I hold it plays a big role in our industry and impacts the whole industry. What I am asking for is an exemplary hub where, first and foremost, professional translators are represented and presented well, but, and that's important, a line is clearly drawn when it comes to the unprofessional exchanges between a large number of job posters and translators that are possible, and I am not saying Proz.com is condoning it.
Why not supporting the request to do away with budget postings? Set an example and show that it is the translator who, as the service provider, issues quotes and that the clients (agencies and individuals) need to react to these quotes.
Many argue they are not using the job board but IMO it plays a store front role, even if that is not intended, especially for newbies or others who seek certain advantages and don't realize that what they see is not necessarily a good example for ethical business conduct.
I know that the name itself, the job board, gives the impression that people just post jobs, already ready with all the conditions, incl. payment terms. And that's how it often goes. And that doesn't help. Who knew in the beginning that this set up would make it possible for cheap offers to become the standard?
The store front is important, and it has its repercussions for the back of the house, the directory and the directory search criteria - I hold and have experienced.
It's a store front as far as I am concerned, and not just Proz.com's, but yours, and mine.
Give us no-budget posting and publish more about what a professional "job" entails, thus supporting translators who abide by a code of ethics and are not willing to compromise.
As with everything, these requests need supporters and as many know, it was formally requested years ago.
Just because it didn't work then doesn't mean it can't work now.
And for those of you who say they don't need the job board or don't use it: well, then let's just scrap it. You wouldn't mind, would you?
It would change the dynamics on this site for sure.
And one word to all that seem to do everything they can to shoot down proposals like these? Why?
You do abide by your code of ethics, don't you? Now I am sure no one of you will agree that it's okay to work for 4 or 5 Cents a word or 10 Dollar per hour.
And to those who argue about regional differences. I have made the point earlier that we are indeed on a global market no matter where we are located. You help businesses all over the world to open new markets and make lots of money. So please, just because you live in Romania and help a company from England or Germany break into that market, doesn't mean you have to accept a typical "Romanian wage" for it. That attitude will surely empower local agencies that think they need to get their work for a very small amount of money - compared to what they actually get paid by their client or compared with what large companies who are expanding are willing to pay for top notch work - which is mostly what they want and certainly need to be successful.

So again, YOU are the translator, and you need to be the one deciding what's an adequate price. And if you don't know it, read up on it - there's plenty of information out there.

As far as I am concerned, I would welcome the change and be happy to support Proz.com in that and other efforts to improve our sector for professional translators.


 

Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:29
Member (2006)
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Education alone isn't working well Oct 5, 2017

Sheila Wilson wrote:

If we're to continue with translation being a totally unregulated profession, then educating professional translators and talking about the good practices of the many responsible agencies and respectful clients is a better way than indulging in this continual agency-bashing.


The educating part doesn't seem to work as well as one would hope. As long as it is easy to just accept an offer that is very low without having to think much about it, it will certainly happen often.

And I don't perceive what I am doing as agency bashing. You know I am not including professionally run agencies in my criticism. Just to be clear.


 

Maija Cirule  Identity Verified
Latvia
Local time: 23:29
German to English
+ ...
@ Bernhard Oct 5, 2017

Just now I took a look at ProZ job board and the posting below caught my attention:
Wir haben die Übersetzung eines Patents (Ansprüche) mit einem Umfang von 361 Wörtern aus dem Deutschen ins Englische zu vergeben.
An agency wants 361 words of a patent to be translated within 1 hour. No field of industry or budget are specified, and you know what? This "offer" was posted just 2 hours ago and I see 10 bids already. Do you think that the proposed rates are somewhat ne
... See more
Just now I took a look at ProZ job board and the posting below caught my attention:
Wir haben die Übersetzung eines Patents (Ansprüche) mit einem Umfang von 361 Wörtern aus dem Deutschen ins Englische zu vergeben.
An agency wants 361 words of a patent to be translated within 1 hour. No field of industry or budget are specified, and you know what? This "offer" was posted just 2 hours ago and I see 10 bids already. Do you think that the proposed rates are somewhat near 0.10 Euro per word??
The naked truth: the GERMAN>ENGLISH pair market is oversupplied and neither education nor budget removal will not change this fact.
Collapse


 

Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:29
Member (2006)
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Couple of thoughts Oct 5, 2017

Maija Cirule wrote:

Just now I took a look at ProZ job board and the posting below caught my attention:
Wir haben die Übersetzung eines Patents (Ansprüche) mit einem Umfang von 361 Wörtern aus dem Deutschen ins Englische zu vergeben.
An agency wants 361 words of a patent to be translated within 1 hour. No field of industry or budget are specified, and you know what? This "offer" was posted just 2 hours ago and I see 10 bids already. Do you think that the proposed rates are somewhat near 0.10 Euro per word??
The naked truth: the GERMAN>ENGLISH pair market is oversupplied and neither education nor budget removal will not change this fact.


Hi Maija,

What you reference above is just an example of what should not happen. I am confident that returning the quoting prerogative to the translator will change the dynamics and send a message to those outsourcers who up til now could simply demand what they want and get it. On the other hand, translators are forced to think about their quotes. But even more importantly, it would become much more transparent that Proz. com wants and tries to fully support the way professional translators go about their business and that will IMO enhance the site's image - it's certainly worth a try.

As far as your assessment of my language pair's saturation by translators is concerned, I don't agree. There is a growing need in any language pair for quality service, it's just that it's often very easy for clients as well as translators to get the wrong impression about what an adequate price is and how one should go about paying/getting it. If an environment exists, even if it's not representative of the whole industry, in which it is easy to post and get cheap jobs, it is not in the interest of professionals. Every project that is handled like that is one lost to a pro and anyone who doesn't know any better will think that's the way it goes and will often just become drawn into a cycle of cheap work. If this continues and get bigger and bigger (and it seems it is), eventually, everyone will be affected. The "high quality (translator)" center (as someone else already implied) will not hold. Thus my suggestion for a change.

[Edited at 2017-10-05 22:28 GMT]


 

Gabriele Demuth  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:29
English to German
Yesterday Oct 6, 2017

I took the time to answer a job post here without indication of budget and I got this reply:

"Hi,
I have regular workflow and these 2 files are just current jobs.
I pay $4 per 300 words. If accepted, let me know."

This is when you wish you had known!


 

Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:29
Member (2006)
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Don't want to see it published on the job board Oct 6, 2017

Gabriele Demuth wrote:

I took the time to answer a job post here without indication of budget and I got this reply:

"Hi,
I have regular workflow and these 2 files are just current jobs.
I pay $4 per 300 words. If accepted, let me know."

This is when you wish you had known!


And now you can send them a reply and tell them how ridiculous they are. Point is that they shouldn't have the opportunity to publish that nonsense first on the job board.
Because that would validate it in a sense. We should try to prevent that from happening. My stance.


 
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