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

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:28
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Bottom Oct 7, 2017

Jan Truper wrote:

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


I suspect you mean "bottom-drawer".


 

Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:28
Member (2004)
English to Italian
Agree... Oct 7, 2017

Bernhard Sulzer wrote:

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.


It doesn't work that way. I gives the wrong impression/idea. We set the rates. And I don't care if people lose 5 minutes quoting... it's part of our job...


 

Mirko Mainardi  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 23:28
Member
English to Italian
Amen Oct 10, 2017

Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL wrote:

Bernhard Sulzer wrote:

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.


It doesn't work that way. I gives the wrong impression/idea. We set the rates. And I don't care if people lose 5 minutes quoting... it's part of our job...


Amen to that, brother.


 

Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:28
German to English
Nonsense Oct 11, 2017

Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL wrote:

Bernhard Sulzer wrote:

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.


It doesn't work that way. I gives the wrong impression/idea. We set the rates. And I don't care if people lose 5 minutes quoting... it's part of our job...


Well, the market has a lot of say in "setting" the rates, so how about people worry about not looking to Internet job portals (at least those specializing in their own field) to look for work: Any one of us is almost never going to be the most qualified or the cheapest translator whenever we put ourselves in a position where a huge number of readily visible and available freelancers are fighting for a very limited number of jobs.

Who cares if they state rates or not? The job board is a terrible place to look for work. Fighting about mentioning rates or not is like fighting about the importance of wearing a life vest when jumping into shark-infested waters. I understand the point being made here, but I don't understand the importance being assigned to it.

And the job board is a microscopically tiny fleck in the translation universe: I would be shocked if thousands of euros worth of German>English jobs show up on the job board in an average week.


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:28
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Every time Oct 11, 2017

Periodically I am contacted by an Italian translating agency with which I haven't worked before, expressing enthusiasm and interest about me, holding out the prospect of exciting collaborations to come, and asking me to give them my rate.

Every time I do this they disappear. My rate is significantly below the average rates paid to translators in other language pairs, and I have not increased it since 2012.

It happened just yesterday and I expect it will happen again, s
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Periodically I am contacted by an Italian translating agency with which I haven't worked before, expressing enthusiasm and interest about me, holding out the prospect of exciting collaborations to come, and asking me to give them my rate.

Every time I do this they disappear. My rate is significantly below the average rates paid to translators in other language pairs, and I have not increased it since 2012.

It happened just yesterday and I expect it will happen again, soon.

Apparently there are lots of translators in my language pair who believe in working longer hours for less money. I don't. I believe in working better, to a high standard, for a rate that comes as close as possible to the European average, producing accurate professional translations free of errors that are ready for publication, for a board meeting, an international conference, to go live on a website, for tenders to be invited, etc.

I'm always able to find clients who want that and are willing to pay for it.

Let's uphold the dignity and professionalism of what we do.

[Edited at 2017-10-11 09:03 GMT]
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Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
Yes, but... Oct 11, 2017

Michael Wetzel wrote:

Who cares if they state rates or not? The job board is a terrible place to look for work. Fighting about mentioning rates or not is like fighting about the importance of wearing a life vest when jumping into shark-infested waters. I understand the point being made here, but I don't understand the importance being assigned to it.

And the job board is a microscopically tiny fleck in the translation universe


I agree, but there probably is a trickle-down (up?) effect.

Even half-decent agencies will turn to ProZ in an emergency, see stupid-low rates, think they'll have a bit of that, use it to undercut other agencies when bidding for work from government and blue-chip customers who then get used to paying less, pulling down rates in general.

Remember too that not everyone is good enough to charge premium rates for premium quality even where they are available...


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:28
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Eureka Oct 11, 2017

Chris S wrote:

Remember too that not everyone is good enough to charge premium rates for premium quality even where they are available...


Eureka! You've got it! That's what I do !

(and isn't that what we should all be doing - leaving the others to manage with Google Translate/DeepL/whatever and no translator at all)?

[Edited at 2017-10-11 09:59 GMT]


 

Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:28
Member (2004)
English to Italian
Matter of principle Oct 11, 2017

Michael Wetzel wrote:

Who cares if they state rates or not?


I do... as far as your "nonsense" remark is concerned, it might be to you... I still have principles, a concept which you seem to ignore... horses for courses...


 

Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:28
German to English
Sorry about the nonsense Oct 11, 2017

I don't know why I wrote that and I apologize, I would actually like to see us worry less about other people's principles and ethics. I said your principles are "nonsense," but that's not what I think. What I think is that they aren't going to help a lot of people that probably need help.

An Internet job board is one of the best approximations of a perfect (transparent) market around, i.e., it it is a horrible place for freelancers to look for work.

I think it is impor
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I don't know why I wrote that and I apologize, I would actually like to see us worry less about other people's principles and ethics. I said your principles are "nonsense," but that's not what I think. What I think is that they aren't going to help a lot of people that probably need help.

An Internet job board is one of the best approximations of a perfect (transparent) market around, i.e., it it is a horrible place for freelancers to look for work.

I think it is important for new translators to understand this big principle and not get lost in the details: If you choose to try to sell your time in an extremely competitive market where you have no good way to distinguish yourself from a very large number of other available freelancers, then you will usually be faced with bad working conditions (not just rates). The translator or the client may name a rate or they may negotiate them together, but in the end the available relevant competition is generally what decides who gets paid how much.

And maybe there is a trickle-down/trickle-up effect at work. I haven't seen it yet, but that doesn't mean it won't be coming to get me tomorrow. Still, trying to change human nature or basic economic mechanisms seems like a very bad way to deal with this danger. The only thing to do would be to keep fleeing into the smaller and smaller markets that haven't been hit by it yet and then retire or die in a timely manner.
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Olga Koepping  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:28
Member (2008)
German to English
+ ...
late to the party, but great discussion Oct 11, 2017

I'm just going back to what Dan said a while back:

"... because the flow of information in this market is so poor (by which I mean that there is little transparency in pricing) I believe there is a place for people like Bernhard who are trying to educate newcomers about what constitutes an acceptable rate.

That's what I think the crux of the matter is. It's simply a pity that there are people out there providing acceptable quality translations but earning a rate that i
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I'm just going back to what Dan said a while back:

"... because the flow of information in this market is so poor (by which I mean that there is little transparency in pricing) I believe there is a place for people like Bernhard who are trying to educate newcomers about what constitutes an acceptable rate.

That's what I think the crux of the matter is. It's simply a pity that there are people out there providing acceptable quality translations but earning a rate that is below subistence level for it. In terms of what to "do" about it, I'm with Michael, there are no ready solutions. I don't think removing agencies' ability to quote their desired (mandatory) rate will soolve the problem. It would perhaps expose the agencies to a broader view of the market from high to low, as they would receive quotes that are at least double what they had in mind.
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Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:28
Member (2006)
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for the kudos but ... Oct 20, 2017

Olga Koepping wrote:
.... In terms of what to "do" about it, I'm with Michael, there are no ready solutions. I don't think removing agencies' ability to quote their desired (mandatory) rate will soolve the problem. It would perhaps expose the agencies to a broader view of the market from high to low, as they would receive quotes that are at least double what they had in mind.


Because you see no ready solutions doesn't mean we have to just sit quiet and agree to everything. How do you know that removing agencies' ability to quote their desired (mandatory) rate wouldn't solve some of the problem?
I pointed out earlier that taking that step would be a clear signal and demonstrate what Proz.com stands for and whom it supports and how this whole business of quoting should really work. By guessing and stating a change won't help, you are surely defending the status quo. Most people visiting the site must think demanding a low price is just the correct and fabulous way of approaching a translator. Is that really in your interest? Maybe, but not in mine. It's all about the principle of the matter too.

[Edited at 2017-10-21 00:03 GMT]

PS: Nothing wrong with requesting changes. Although we had no participation here from staff, I am glad we can discuss the situation.

[Edited at 2017-10-21 02:31 GMT]


 

Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:28
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
@Bernhard Oct 22, 2017

After rethinking this whole matter (and perhaps influenced also by my disappointment over how the discussion on a couple of concurrent threads has gone) I think your suggested approach may be in order.

Prohibiting the entry of budget information would of course not eliminate the problem of low rates, but it would force the offending agencies to communicate their rate expectations INDIVIDUALLY to bidders rather than as an a priori expectation.

So, in practical ter
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After rethinking this whole matter (and perhaps influenced also by my disappointment over how the discussion on a couple of concurrent threads has gone) I think your suggested approach may be in order.

Prohibiting the entry of budget information would of course not eliminate the problem of low rates, but it would force the offending agencies to communicate their rate expectations INDIVIDUALLY to bidders rather than as an a priori expectation.

So, in practical terms, if a translator bids $0.12/word for a given job and receives a response along the lines of, ״Thanks so much for your bid, but our budget allows maximum payment of $0.05/word,” he or she can then personally respond to the outsourcer regarding such a proposal.

Would such a change waste the time of a lot of bidders? In a way yes, but we are talking minimal time, and there would be the concomitant benefit of lowballing outsourcers being taken to task by translators offended by obscenely low rates.

I am not sure why this site would have a problem with such an approach. It seems entirely consistent with its time-honored tenet of allowing markets to freely operate.


[Edited at 2017-10-22 14:00 GMT]
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