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Decline in work overall
Thread poster: Helene Olsen Richards

Lucas Peixoto  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 08:59
Member (2009)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
The development of AI is scary Jul 8

Reading some of the replies here makes me a bit scared of the potential consequences the development of AI will have in our market, especially considering I'm new to the profession. However, I did start working with MTPE in addition to traditional translation. While it's not as rewarding, it's not completely bad either. The rates are obviously lower but with practice you can (and should) increase your hourly word output to make up for that a little. Agencies usually encourage you to filter which... See more
Reading some of the replies here makes me a bit scared of the potential consequences the development of AI will have in our market, especially considering I'm new to the profession. However, I did start working with MTPE in addition to traditional translation. While it's not as rewarding, it's not completely bad either. The rates are obviously lower but with practice you can (and should) increase your hourly word output to make up for that a little. Agencies usually encourage you to filter which details from the MT need your attention.

On another issue, my local market has been slow in general, which has an impact on all types of jobs. I'm from Brazil, and there's been a noticeable decrease in the volume of work from Brazilian clients I received in the past year.

I suppose we can only look for new strategies to adapt while also hoping for the economy to pick up some speed.

[Edited at 2019-07-08 12:27 GMT]
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Egmont Schröder  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 11:59
Member (2013)
Chinese to German
+ ...
. Jul 8

The development of AI is scary


It is, and the effect on the translation industry should be our least problem. Think about military drones, public surveillance and this kind... Nobody knows what the outcome will be, humans never faced a being of similar intelligence before.

As linguists we have the "honor" to experience this development first hand.

Here are some good books about this topic:

"Evolution without us" by Jay Tuck describes the dangerous sides of AI.

and

"The zero marginal cost society" by Jeremy Rifkin. It describes the decline of work in an economy driven by AI and robotics. We will all have less work, but the other side is that the prices for goods and services will also fall dramatically and our consumer economy will shift to a share economy.

I didn't read them myself, but these two books are on the top of my list.

I myself had a look at some of these MTs, but they were so bad that I decided it is not worth the effort.

[Bearbeitet am 2019-07-08 20:00 GMT]


 

Helene Olsen Richards  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:59
Member (2006)
English to Norwegian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Update Jul 9

Helene Olsen Richards wrote:

Hi

Has anyone else noticed a general decline in the amount of posted ads and work coming in? I have heard the same from many colleagues/clients.


Just made an update to my post..see what will happen..
..

Thanks for getting engaged. This is — as some have pointed out- not about bragging etc. It’s about gauging the trends in the industry . I personally believe this is all due to MT and crowdsourcing . What needs to happen is that Proz needs to ban clients that have MT jobs and also jobs below a certain rate. It is so true that a lot of clients- even big clients (Top 100 Fortune List) have started lowering their rates. And I don’t believe for a second that rates have been reduced that drastically- so that means they are pocketing more money while we are making less and working harder than ever to make third world rates. It’s crazy. Proz has the ability to do something about this. There also needs to be an escrow account set up for jobs over a certain size- say 5000 words- so that WE- as the translator can SEE that the client has the funds to pay. The amount of scammers and non-payers have been and will continue to be on the rise. This will protect us. No one is doing anything to protect the translators. It’s all about protecting the clients and how to save them money while we are left doing twice the amount of work for a third of the rate we are used to. Payment terms are getting longer. I was just offered 60 words at 0.01 and a 60 day payment term!! 60 days for $6!! The bad thing is that there are people accepting these jobs and contributing to the demise of the industry.
So, my thought is to get a signature campaign going to get Proz to do something before it’s too late. And I will personally approach the CEO of Proz about this, and potentially the ATA. We need someone that will look out for us. Right now there are NO standards. They can do whatever they want. We need to do something now if we are to stand a chance of salvaging our industry.
I contacted the Common Sense Advisory about exactly this and they have been getting concerning messages from LSP’s as well and will start a live survey this Wednesday. I’ve asked the researcher from the Common Sense Advisory if I can post her email so you all can see. So, I will create a signature campaign and I REALLY hope you all will sign and share it where you can. We have to stand up now and in numbers. The more names we can show to Proz the better. Let’s try to change what we can so we all can get normal work again. I would appreciate everyone’s assistance. We need to put things into motion NOW. Time is of the essence. Thank you.

[Edited at 2019-07-09 08:58 GMT]


Jennifer Forbes
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writeaway
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Mair A-W (PhD)
Germany
Local time: 11:59
Member (2016)
German to English
+ ...
agency rates Jul 9

Sheila Wilson wrote:

So DZiW has current experience of those charging rates of $0.10+ being busy. While I was approached by a good client at 5 pm last night with a full day's worth of translation for Monday evening. Problem is, Monday's already booked solid by another client, and the rest of the month I'm busy with a third (on a regular annual project). I thought a 50% hike for Saturday work would put him off but no, €0.18 per word it is. Personally, I'd rather have relaxed today, and I wouldn't have agreed to it for a new client.


Sheila ... is that a direct client rate, or an agency?


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 10:59
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
For an intermediary client Jul 9

Mair A-W (PhD) wrote:
Sheila Wilson wrote:
So DZiW has current experience of those charging rates of $0.10+ being busy. While I was approached by a good client at 5 pm last night with a full day's worth of translation for Monday evening. Problem is, Monday's already booked solid by another client, and the rest of the month I'm busy with a third (on a regular annual project). I thought a 50% hike for Saturday work would put him off but no, €0.18 per word it is. Personally, I'd rather have relaxed today, and I wouldn't have agreed to it for a new client.

Sheila ... is that a direct client rate, or an agency?

That should be an easy question, shouldn't it ? The fact is that I don't often work with translation agencies - just a few boutique ones, but I do work a lot with communications agencies, marketing agencies, website developers, e-commerce platforms, magazine publishers... In most cases, they're acting as intermediaries. As they're also in the "words" business they have lots of contacts, so I work on the basis of delivering translations that I've proofread myself (of course) but I don't guarantee them to be perfect. The "second pair of eyes" is their responsibility, so in that way they're closer to agency clients than direct ones.


Andrew Morris
 

Mair A-W (PhD)
Germany
Local time: 11:59
Member (2016)
German to English
+ ...
thanks Jul 9

Sheila Wilson wrote:

Mair A-W (PhD) wrote:
Sheila Wilson wrote:
So DZiW has current experience of those charging rates of $0.10+ being busy. While I was approached by a good client at 5 pm last night with a full day's worth of translation for Monday evening. Problem is, Monday's already booked solid by another client, and the rest of the month I'm busy with a third (on a regular annual project). I thought a 50% hike for Saturday work would put him off but no, €0.18 per word it is. Personally, I'd rather have relaxed today, and I wouldn't have agreed to it for a new client.

Sheila ... is that a direct client rate, or an agency?

That should be an easy question, shouldn't it ? The fact is that I don't often work with translation agencies - just a few boutique ones, but I do work a lot with communications agencies, marketing agencies, website developers, e-commerce platforms, magazine publishers... In most cases, they're acting as intermediaries. As they're also in the "words" business they have lots of contacts, so I work on the basis of delivering translations that I've proofread myself (of course) but I don't guarantee them to be perfect. The "second pair of eyes" is their responsibility, so in that way they're closer to agency clients than direct ones.


I see

(I asked, of course, because there's a rule of thumb that direct client rates are typically higher than agency rates, a difference that often isn't made clear enough on ProZ, e.g. when looking at the "average" rates.)


 

Jeremy Amos  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:59
German to English
Wishful thinking Jul 9

Helene Olsen Richards wrote:

What needs to happen is that Proz needs to ban clients that have MT jobs and also jobs below a certain rate. It is so true that a lot of clients- even big clients (Top 100 Fortune List) have started lowering their rates.


I fear this is wishful thinking.
If there's a demand for poor-quality MTPE translations and people willing to fulfill that demand, the industry will exist. ProZ didn't create this demand and it isn't dependent on ProZ for its existence.
It's probably inevitable that the extra low-quality segment of the market will expand (largely, but not wholly, at the expense of the higher qualiy segment) with the advent of better MT making it cheaper to produce. In the past, poor quality translation wasn't that much cheaper than decent translation, so it rarely made economically sense to buy it, now it's a lot cheaper, it may make economic sense in some cases.

Helene Olsen Richards wrote:

So, my thought is to get a signature campaign going to get Proz to do something before it’s too late. And I will personally approach the CEO of Proz about this, and potentially the ATA.


The ATA is powerless, as translation is entirely international – if you try to impose minimum prices, standards or anything else in one country, buyers will simply go elseewhere.

This is a fight you can't win. I'm probably a bit longer in the tooth than you, and I've been hearing exactly the same complaints and calls-to-arms since I started in the industry 17 years ago. Nothing will change, because it's not ProZ or any other platform or client that drives the economics of being a translator, it's economics.


Andy Watkinson
Andrew Morris
Dan Lucas
Michele Fauble
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Laura Kingdon
Lisa Grayson
 

Helene Olsen Richards  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:59
Member (2006)
English to Norwegian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Possibly.. my Jul 9

Jeremy Amos wrote:

Helene Olsen Richards wrote:

What needs to happen is that Proz needs to ban clients that have MT jobs and also jobs below a certain rate. It is so true that a lot of clients- even big clients (Top 100 Fortune List) have started lowering their rates.


I fear this is wishful thinking.
If there's a demand for poor-quality MTPE translations and people willing to fulfill that demand, the industry will exist. ProZ didn't create this demand and it isn't dependent on ProZ for its existence.
It's probably inevitable that the extra low-quality segment of the market will expand (largely, but not wholly, at the expense of the higher qualiy segment) with the advent of better MT making it cheaper to produce. In the past, poor quality translation wasn't that much cheaper than decent translation, so it rarely made economically sense to buy it, now it's a lot cheaper, it may make economic sense in some cases.

Helene Olsen Richards wrote:

So, my thought is to get a signature campaign going to get Proz to do something before it’s too late. And I will personally approach the CEO of Proz about this, and potentially the ATA.


The ATA is powerless, as translation is entirely international – if you try to impose minimum prices, standards or anything else in one country, buyers will simply go elseewhere.

This is a fight you can't win. I'm probably a bit longer in the tooth than you, and I've been hearing exactly the same complaints and calls-to-arms since I started in the industry 17 years ago. Nothing will change, because it's not ProZ or any other platform or client that drives the economics of being a translator, it's economics.


I’ve been doing this for over 18 years myself and although you may be right we can’t just lay down and give up without a fight. You never know what will happen. Yes the ATA is indeed useless. But again- you don’t know until you try and I don't know about you, but I would rather give it a try and see if anything can be changed than to just sit and wait for it to die. I’ve never been a “follower” or a sheep as I call it. No one can stop evolution or the fact that MT is there but if Proz bans the posting of MT jobs, it would tale away a large market share for the agencies posting such jobs- they would be forced to go elsewhere to find non- professionals to do it. I got one am not going to sit and wait for my career to slowly die. I want to be proactive and try to male a change. It only takes one person sometimes- you forget the power of people in numbers. When the. Common Sense Advisory is starting to look into it due to LSP’s uttering concerns on our behalf.. well... that should say something.


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 10:59
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
@ Mair and Helene Jul 9

Mair A-W (PhD) wrote:
(I asked, of course, because there's a rule of thumb that direct client rates are typically higher than agency rates, a difference that often isn't made clear enough on ProZ, e.g. when looking at the "average" rates.)

Yes, I understood that. Some truly direct clients can need a lot of hand holding and/or expect the translator to provide the entire service of data extraction, translation, editing, proofreading and reformatting. Of course that needs to be reflected in the rate. My clients -- indirect ones, if you like -- just send a Word file and expect it to be translated. The few that have asked me to get into the area of DTP haven't asked a second time -- I'm a real dunce at anything IT .

Helene Olsen Richards wrote:
It is so true that a lot of clients- even big clients (Top 100 Fortune List) have started lowering their rates. And I don’t believe for a second that rates have been reduced that drastically- so that means they are pocketing more money

"Even big clients"??? They're the worst offenders, IME. Maybe they're the ones who should be banned! They actually have reduced rates to end clients quite a lot -- too much -- but the main reason for our rates being so low is that these behemoths often don't send freelancers the work. They send it to brokers, who send it to brokers -- intermediaries who add nothing but confusion and delay, and cause low rates and ridiculous deadlines. Ban them too!
How about this: 1) All jobs posted on ProZ.com must bear proof of being posted by a direct client or by an agency commissioned by an end client. 2) All those who quote must give proof of doing the work themselves (at least the straight translation part of the job).

If it were workable, it would be great. No long chains: each freelance translator would be dealing directly with the end client or with someone who's in direct contact with them. But of course it isn't workable in the real world.


Kaspars Melkis
Laura Kingdon
 

Kaspars Melkis  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:59
English to Latvian
+ ...
@Jeremy Jul 9

Jeremy Amos wrote:
If there's a demand for poor-quality MTPE translations and people willing to fulfill that demand, the industry will exist. ProZ didn't create this demand and it isn't dependent on ProZ for its existence.


While ProZ cannot control demand, it decided to provide the marketplace for poor-quality MTPE. I think it is a classic case of creating a marketplace for lemons.

The demand for better quality translations is greater than currently the buyer is able to get due to the market dynamics and distortion of information. In most cases MTPE does not provide what the buyers want but as they are unable to evaluate the quality, low price becomes the deciding factor in many purchases.


The ATA is powerless, as translation is entirely international – if you try to impose minimum prices, standards or anything else in one country, buyers will simply go elseewhere.


It might work for some global languages (English, Spanish) but for others it will be very hard or impossible to locate qualified native speakers in other languages willing to lower prices. What is happening now is that translation supply chains are being disrupted and it is becoming much harder to get good quality translations.

This is a fight you can't win. I'm probably a bit longer in the tooth than you, and I've been hearing exactly the same complaints and calls-to-arms since I started in the industry 17 years ago. Nothing will change, because it's not ProZ or any other platform or client that drives the economics of being a translator, it's economics.


I agree that it is not something one can have impact personally and even ProZ would be too small to have impact. However, it is sad that Proz downshifted for short-term profit instead of building the marketplace exclusively for quality translations.

The changes can happen unexpectedly and once the infatuation with AI will be over and MT role will be clearly defined and understood, translators will be again valued. Probably, not like generalists anymore but as domain specialists working together with the whole production team.

I know it is hard to believe but look at what happened with self-driving cars which we were promised to have in 2017 already. Now builders admit that the problem with details is much more complicated than it seemed at the beginning. And translation is much more complicated than getting from point A to point B, therefore expecting a fully functional MT except in trivial cases is naive.


 

Angie Garbarino  Identity Verified
Member (2003)
French to Italian
+ ...
Not yet at least in my pair Jul 9

writeaway wrote:

Formerly serious fields, like legal, have fallen or been pushed off their perch and have now entered the realm of 'anyone can do it' and the rates and job offers have dropped off accordingly.


Mostly Fr to IT.


 

Jocelin Meunier  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 11:59
English to French
Agree with fighting Jul 9

Helene Olsen Richards wrote: We need to do something now if we are to stand a chance of salvaging our industry.


Although things indeed look grim, I think it is a bad idea to simply let it happen. It has only been five years since I started translation, but it was enough to see how bad the conditions are and made me want to act on it pretty soon.
As a matter of fact, some time ago I tried to see if it was possible to establish some sort of international standard to protect translators (and on a larger scale, freelancers). I even contacted the ILO to ask for some guidance but, translation being mostly freelance work, they said it was out of their hands. As for translator associations, all I got from their websites was that it was more about promoting discounts on TAO than actually improving the condition of translators.
I, too, believe that trying to change ProZ isn't the right answer here. After all, they are a company and they're here to make money, so they would never do something that helps translator at their expense. I don't know the right answer, just that it is a problem that can only be dealt with at its roots. That being said, I agree on the fighting and if there is any campaign, don't hesitate to notify me.


Jorge Payan
 

Kaspars Melkis  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:59
English to Latvian
+ ...
@Jocelin Jul 9

Jocelin Meunier wrote:
I, too, believe that trying to change ProZ isn't the right answer here. After all, they are a company and they're here to make money, so they would never do something that helps translator at their expense.


I paid money to ProZ because I thought that they will protect my interests. That's how they make money but the mood here is that ProZ is not even supposed to be on my side. That makes me feel stupid. Maybe you are right. Lately it hasn't been very useful investment anyway. I am sure that I will not renew my membership anymore.


dkfmmuc
 

Andrew Morris
ProZ.com team
What needs changing... Jul 10

Jocelin Meunier wrote:

I, too, believe that trying to change ProZ isn't the right answer here. After all, they are a company and they're here to make money, so they would never do something that helps translator at their expense.


I would just point out that ProZ.com has taken on a whole team of new support staff members in Argentina, whose sole aim is to help members with their profiles and any other queries.

All companies want to make money, but good companies also realise you have to invest to stay in business.

But where you are certainly right is that trying to change ProZ.com is not the answer. As freelancers, it's ourselves we have to change.


Angie Garbarino
 

Anil Gidwani
India
Local time: 16:29
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
Banning or identifying MTPE jobs Jul 10

I think ProZ can indeed take the stand that it is a marketplace for quality translations and either

a) ban MTPE jobs outright, or

b) call for MTPE jobs to be identified as being MTPE, and provide a filter for translators to screen out such jobs from their jobs dashboard.

Is a) possible? Yes, I believe so. Because ProZ does not charge for people to post job ads (correct me if I am wrong). And since job posters are not paying a fee, ProZ can in fact ban MTPE
... See more
I think ProZ can indeed take the stand that it is a marketplace for quality translations and either

a) ban MTPE jobs outright, or

b) call for MTPE jobs to be identified as being MTPE, and provide a filter for translators to screen out such jobs from their jobs dashboard.

Is a) possible? Yes, I believe so. Because ProZ does not charge for people to post job ads (correct me if I am wrong). And since job posters are not paying a fee, ProZ can in fact ban MTPE jobs in the interests of the industry.


[Edited at 2019-07-10 09:06 GMT]
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Helene Olsen Richards
NG Translation
 
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