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A change is gonna come… April 1, 2010

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices, Translation.

Everyone is all atwitter about the changes to the ProZ.com’s job posting system. I’m hoping it isn’t an April Fool’s joke and change is truly coming to the ProZ.com job posting system.

First a little background for those of you who are hearing about this for the first time. On February 23, a small group of freelance translators (mainly based in Italy) created a petition to protest ProZ.com’s job policies. As the linked article explains, “The main point of the petition was to ask Proz to stop allowing outsourcers to set rates in the job posting section of the website, in the belief that this facility (for outsourcers to state the rate offered along with the job) is a fundamental distortion of the client – buyer relationship, a distortion that has contributed, the instigators of the petition claimed, to the continuing downward drive in market rates for professional translation services, and the ensuing race to the bottom.” 844 translators signed in support, but the petition was closed early before more translators had a chance to sign it. However, the ProZ.com staff (and Henry D.) sat up and took notice.

ProZ.com has just announced it will remove the pricing field (client-set fees) from job postings and will be posting information concerning the price of professional translation. There will be other changes as well, as yet to be determined. This is a huge change, but I cannot help but think that the damage has already been done. These controls should have been in place from the very beginning. Hopefully these changes will be the first step in stopping the downward spiral of translation prices.



1. Corinne McKay - April 1, 2010

I think it’s a step in the right direction; but as we’ve mentioned before, the real problem is not that outsourcers offer those rates but that translators accept them. But I agree, anything that prevents people from actually offering 2 cents per word is a good thing.

2. Kevin Lossner - April 3, 2010

I agree more or less with Paula Arturo’s concerns that this will not address the problem in an effective way, but then the problem in this case really isn’t ProZ or the ability of a job poster to offer 1 cent per word. There will be, according to what I have read so far, the ability to state budget ranges, which amounts to the same thing. Also, the real problem is those who accept the rates and behave like sharecroppers.

As for this widely mentioned “downward spiral”, I simply haven’t seen it, nor do the data from the recent BDÜ rate survey support claims of such a decline. Though it is true that a particular ProZ mod in our language pair has “got religion” and advises cutting rates as a so-called business strategy, the skilled professional translators follow another successful path.

Chris Durban - April 6, 2010

Further to Kevin’s comment, the French association SFT will soon publish the results of its 2010 rate survey (over 1000 respondents, the highest ever) and from what I hear these figures do not support a downward spiral either.
It certainly underscores how fragmented information flows and markets are.

3. jillsommer - April 3, 2010

FYI to those of you who don’t know what Kevin is referring to, Paula does a good job explaining her concerns here: http://translationandethics.blogspot.com/2010/04/update-2-prozcom-changes-and-why-im-not.html

4. Corinne McKay - April 5, 2010

Yes, and for what it’s worth, I agree with Kevin. Work has been more up and down for me since the economic crash, but overall I’ve raised my rates and have had fewer problems raising them than in the past. I don’t use ProZ as a source of work, but in general I think that the ‘downward spiral’ is either nonexistent or exists mainly for translators who have always had a hard time making a living.

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