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Scam or trend? March 28, 2011

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

Usually I automatically delete e-mails like the one below after reading the subject line or at most the first line, but one of my friends forwarded it to me with a snarky comment that made me giggle this morning: “Can you count the typos/misspellings in this email???? Don’t think any of us will be going out of business anytime soon.” She was also wondering if it was the latest scam or the latest trend.

Become translator on TextMaster now and get extra 10% commission

Hello,We are very pleased to announce the opening of TextMaster, the first plateform [sic] dedicated to creating, translating and proofreading text. TextMaster is a service putting clients with specific needs in contact with writting [sic] specialists.

As a translator, we invite you to join our professionnal [sic] community for free and earn money with your talent! By subscribing now, you’ll get an extra 10% commission for life!

Sign up now and get the extra 10% commission by clicking here: SIGN UP

See you soon,

TextMaster’s team

Also, while responding to her e-mail, in which she mentioned an e-mail last week from “TextKing”, it occurred to me that the two might originate from the same person. So what say you, fellow readers, scam or misguided attempt to fill a market niche that simply doesn’t exist? After all, a 10% commission of 0 is still 0!



1. Tim Kaney - March 28, 2011

This is crazy! We will forward this on to our following translators, etc. Thanks!

2. Nathalie reis - March 28, 2011

I would say it’s a spam. Perhaps it’s me, but 10% of what?

3. Silvina Jover-Cirillo - March 28, 2011

I got that one, too. It doesn’t look like a scam; just a very bad business plan.

4. christinedurban - March 28, 2011

It’s all-around cluelessness, I figure.
FWIW, I interviewed a principal at TextKing for the latest Fire Ant & Worker Bee column in Translation Journal [http://translationjournal.net/journal/56fawb.htm] and the person exists, the entity exists. Very pleasant lady, actually. But utterly unaware of the issues where translation is concerned.
I think the point here is that folks who have made money being “online marketing experts” are trying to shift over, willy-nilly, into other areas, on the assumption that their “e-model” can apply everywhere. Alas it doesn’t where translation is concerned.
The most useful “lesson” for translators might be “hmmm, how can I (perhaps) integrate some of this upbeat, endlessly cheerful service approach into what I do while remaining credible.” (Hint: correct spelling might be a partial deal-clincher :-))

5. patenttranslator - March 28, 2011

There is a thin line between love and hate (just asked any divorced person) and between a bad business plan and a scam.

For example, I have been deleting for more than a month e-mails offering something called White Smoke from my mailbox, sometime more than one a day. The About Translation has a review of this software. I am sure that this is a “tool” that I need about as much as I need a hole in my head. Yet, every day I have to delete another message.

These people must be really desperate for sales. If they have to clutter my and your e-mail box with junk mail day after day, my conclusion is that what they are selling is probably junk too.

So many people are trying to make a quick buck out of poor translators these days!

Oh tempora, oh mores!

WHL - March 28, 2011

Steve, you might have noticed this article at http://blog.ueber-setzen.com/2010/petition-an-proz-com/ that was posted last February.

There is a thin line, indeed. Some people believe that, when ProZ.com could turn from a small community of translators to a money making translation portal, why not they could try a similar way and desperate translators may fall into the scheme.

A (bad) business plan or a scam? Established ones would take it for the latter. However, it is a “trend,” too. “Network, community, member and team or the simulation of a participation community,” aren´t they inspiring and motivating with so many dazzling events?

6. Melissa - March 28, 2011

I vote for scam. It’s just my gut feeling based on all the typos.

7. Mago - March 28, 2011

Are you sure that the market niche “dirt cheap with execrable quality” doesn’t exist? Think of translated product manuals with laughably bad translations, for example.

8. patenttranslator - March 28, 2011


The whole concept of Proz inevitably leads to one result and one result only: legions of translators fighting over scraps of translation work thrown by customers (often fly-by-nigh operators) to poor souls who charge rock bottom prices. There is a good buck to be made in that racket, but not by the translators.

You have to reverse the rules of the game: make the customers come to you as an independent translator who does not need a broker. But that takes a lot of thinking and a lot of work of the kind that most translators are just not interested in.

They prefer to keep fighting like dogs over scraps at Proz and signing petitions protesting low rates and poor working conditions.

Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t understand this kind of thinking.

Things like that make me thing of my favorite passage from Also Sprach Zarathustra, in which Zarathustra said to a man near a town called Bunte Kuh:

“Fool, if you see something that you cannot change, leave it!”

WHL - March 29, 2011


We recognized the scheme or similar ones as a “trend” because we know that there bucks to be made in that racket with/by, but not for translators. And that’s why some others try to set up something alike and are recognized as “bad business plans” or simply “scams.”

The reverse rule works essentially better. However, it functions only for those ones who flies like Jonathan Seegull, not for those fighting over scraps on the shore.

Angela - March 31, 2011


Your comment (number 8) expressed perfectly how I feel about Proz. May I copy this to my facebook profile notes? Of course I would give credit where credit is due and link to your blog.

Angela - March 31, 2011

Oops, that should have read “comment number 8”. Stupid smileys!

9. Sophia OZOG - March 30, 2011

Hello everyone! Thanks Jill for this new and interesting article. I checked out the French version of TextMaster and the front page was full of typos and syntax errors… Sounds very unprofessional indeed. I guess those guys don’t know what they’re talking about as they can’t even get their own website translated properly… The whole thing speaks for itself… Looks like a fancy which will probably fool some translators. I totally agree with Steve: having clients come to you directly is the good way to go for me too. Even if it’s a lot harder to achieve, it’s also much more exciting!

10. patenttranslator - March 30, 2011


Jonathan Livingston Eagle …, man, that’s like 1972. All I remember is an image of a seagull and the ocean shore, you would have to explain what you mean. Most people reading this are probably not old enough to understand what you are saying with that image.


So many companies seem to be coming up with new translation memory tools, writing tools, grammar tools and such ….. and most of it is probably garbage.

I keep receiving junk mail offers from them and the fact that I have to keep deleting this junk mail every day got me so mad that I wrote a blog about it yesterday.

I find that blogging has a very therapeutic effect on me.

11. Sophia OZOG - March 30, 2011

@ Steve: have you tried sending these emails back to these companies? I often do that hitting the “reply” button of my email box, works like a charm and pisses them off too, lol.

12. patenttranslator - March 30, 2011


But then they know that they have an e-mail address that works, right?

13. Sophia OZOG - March 30, 2011

@ Steve: yes but they probably already know that if they didn’t get any falure delivery message from your inbox. If they flood your mailbox, you can also flood theirs. You can also set up a specific filter on your mailbox that will take these specific emails right into your spamfolder or trash. I use Gmail and there’s a specific tool that enables me to do that. That’s really helpful.

14. patenttranslator - March 30, 2011

OK, I get it.

I am generally against the death penalty, but I think that it is one option that should be seriously considered for spammers.

15. Kevin Lossner - March 31, 2011

Yes, Steve. Death penalty gets my enthusiastic vote in this case. I like that reply button strategy, but I think the return should be with interest, like 10 replies for every unsolicited message. Look out, WhitePuff!

16. patenttranslator - March 31, 2011


Yes, feel free to use my comment any way you want.
And a link to my blog is always appreciated.

17. WHL - April 1, 2011

Yeah, Steve, I always forget that I am not the youngest one any longer. “Jonathan Livingston Seagull” or “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” is unfamiliar to the youth today.

Well, but anyone who is interested in such stuffs can check up at YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3o6tgZ6v16k).

As to the image, that lonely bird learns how to fly by reflecting on life, instead of fighting over scraps like others. Jonathan Seagull reaches the height of being. Some translators reach the same height, too. I´ve found some of them among those who keep themselves away from the “trend.”

18. patenttranslator - April 1, 2011


Forty years ago, the purpose of life was finding your true self. It was all about freedom, or at least that’s what we were told in books and films.

Nobody talks about stupid things like that any more.
It’s all about money, money, money now.

It probably always was about money, but at least back when we were young, we had the images of ocean waves,soaring skies and brave little birds doing their own thing.

That is so seventies now.

19. WHL - April 2, 2011

Ah, “It’s all about money, money, money now.” This reminds me of Liza Minelli and Joel Grey in a show in “Cabaret.” (Again, it is of the 70s – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I8P80A8vy9I)

Yes, it is indeed always about money and…, of course, power. There was a great Aprilscherz at GTS Blog yesterday. It reads “Apple buys SDL to create new language division.” And this joke is about money and power. (http://blog.gts-translation.com/2011/04/01/apple-buys-sdl-to-create-new-language-division/)

But we, little birds of the 70s, have earned our freedom, somehow. We should be glad to be able to keep our stupid things for the rest of our life.

Cheers! I just want to say that I appreciate what you comment and write here and there, including in your blog. I appreciate as well writings of Jill, Kevin and some others very much. You guys help translation colleagues a lot with your insights in our trade. Thank you!

20. patenttranslator - April 2, 2011

Every time when I see a picture of Steve Jobs, I keep wondering whether there could be a causal relationship between unbridled greed and pancreatic cancer.

But compared to pharmaceutical companies, Apple is not really very greedy of course.

I read in the papers that a company called K-pharmaceuticals raised the price of a drug that helps to prevent premature births from 10 dollars to 1,500 dollars per one pill once its patent was approved, which gave the company a monopoly in the market. Just imagine that a translator could charge 30 dollars per word if he could raise the price from 20 cents 150 times. Translators cannot do that because they have to compete in the real market, but drug companies do this all the time because their
racket is protected by the government.

After the company was thrashed in the media, it lowered the price. It now only costs seven hundred and fifty dollars per pill.

I wonder whether the CEO of the company, no doubt a good Christian, knows about the possibility of a causal relationship between this type of greed and horrible and fatal diseases, not to mention eternal damnation if you actually believe what the Bible says.

Your money or your born and unborn children’s life! should be the new motto of American drug companies.

21. Shadab - April 11, 2011

ah.. I think its a trend going on .. Its only this company i have received mail but another as well http://tradoweb.com/cl/progetti.php who would like to market themselves with another marketing strategy. Please read more about this on link mention above.

22. Shadab - April 11, 2011

Sorry.. wrong link mention. here is right one.


23. Maksym Kozub - April 14, 2011

The first TextKing message, dated March 9, said “This e-mail is for translators. You are receiving this e-mail because you are
registered on the American Translators Association website”. The second message started with “This e-mail is for translators” – nothing about the ATA anymore. Maybe somebody from the ATA contacted that TextKing lady and forced her to remove stop metioning the Association in those stupid e-mails. At least the Association had every reason to do it. Look, reading the first message, somebody might think that TextKing has some sort of a legitimate arrangement with the ATA etc., which is not the case (hopefully :)).

Jill (@bonnjill) - April 14, 2011

That is exactly what happened, Maksym. ATA told her to knock it off.

24. Peter - April 20, 2011

Hello, this is Peter from Tradoweb.com
Thanks to Shadab for mentioning our website. Hopefully we will be better than the company mentioned in the article 🙂
I think in this moment of financial crisis many translation companies are trying to figure out how to survive. Clients do not pay our invoices and work is day by day less and everyone is asking for cheaper translations. We are trying a new strategy: there is not fixed cheap price, there is no ‘auction’ on who is the lowest, but our client gets quotes directly from the translators and he chooses who to take. We as agency take the payment in advance and assist both and guarantee for the payment. We will see if it works… 🙂

25. Arni - March 18, 2018

Text ma2ster employs a complicated scam. You test repeatedly over a months or a year, then you are approved, then you do some jobs but they do not pay under 100 euros or whatever it is for your currency. So your money is still held and you are obligated to continue working. Then a huge job with a very short deadline appears — your chance to recoup! But after a week or so, TxtM says your work is subpar (but you were approved so many times) and won’t pay. And your earlier jobs were not good enough either so that money is gone, too.
They also have a strange way of counting words that cuts the count by half! Their rates are very low to begin with.

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