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Have you ever thought of establishing a minimum fee? It seems there are many very small jobs around. Every job causes some minimum effort for handling and establishing the context, and this effort is not really covered by the per-word fee. A particular example for extra effort are the Twitter postings because of the character limits - often you have to rewrite/rethink the translation to meet the length restriction. I also check the Twitter account in order to get a feeling for the matter in question. On the other hand, the word count is low here and the payout is meager. A minimum fee of, say, $3 (standard) to $5 (pro) for any job would cover that somewhat.

12 comments

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    mirko

    A wonderful and very just idea, but one I sincerely doubt we'll ever see implemented by Gengo...

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    kvstegemann

    Just to follow up a little here:

    I just saw a standard job with just two words in it, so the total reward would be $0.06. Nobody took this job for a while and I wondered why, so I took a closer look. The customer asked to have two words translated. One of those words was "Tip". And the customer furthermore explained that this was meant in imperative mode and should reflect the act of tipping someone, like in a café or so.

    And then the bomb: The customer asked the translator to "please find a synonym that is as short as the original"!!!

    For a three-letter-word!!!

    I probably don't need to explain this to any of the linguists here, but just in case: As far as I know, English is one of the most compact languages. Words and texts in English tend to be shorter than in most other languages I know about, and most definitely my own native language of German is always much more long-winded. And in this particular case, in German there even is no single verb that reflects the act of tipping someone, we normally would say "Trinkgeld geben" ("give a tip").

    The length restriction here was justified with the fact that the word is for a caption of a button or something similar in an app screen. I understand that cases like these need length restrictions, but designing such a button or whatever in an app for a length of three letters, with localisation into other languages in mind, is asking for trouble. And dumping this problem on a translator and asking for a solution for three cents is simply ridiculous.

    If the idea with the minimum fee does not appeal to Gengo, for cases like this maybe there should be something completely different like a "transcreation" job, where the customer understands from the start that translation alone does not do it here and some research and communication with the customer is necessary, and this cannot be compensated with cents.

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    Cecilia

    @kvstegemann Although words in my native language may not be as long as they are in German, they are still on average longer than their English equivalent…something which poses quite a problem for translations with character limits. In my short experience here on Gengo I got several Twitter posts and sometimes the client's request were absurd. I was asked to translate words that we don't usually translate and have a very long equivalents (like "commercio elettronico" instead of "e-commerce") or, vice versa, use English acronyms when we actually use regular words, like "APAC" (Asia-Pacific) which we translate as "Asia Pacifica".

    As for your suggestion, it would be doable…but it would require to educate the clients and, possibly, have a human check the source test in order to insure that the difficulty level is correct. Actually, this type of control should be extended to all kinds of translation requests. Or at least there should be the possibility to flag certain jobs for being wrongly labelled (i.e. a standard job that should be pro or a pro job that should be a transcreation).

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    mirko

    @kvstegemann - The case you mention actually doesn't have much to do with rates, IMO, as that's more in the realm of unreasonable (and unfeasible) requests from a client... Even if a client were willing to pay 10 hours of my time to come up with a 3 characters translation for "tip", I just wouldn't be able to do that, because it's simply impossible...

    Besides, one of the things Gengo (supposedly...) "doesn't support" is the translation of "Texts that require creativity or where brand image is at stake", so that would already rule out transcreation.


    More in general, however, as in most other cases (and I'm not just referring to Gengo), the best solution would be to outright refuse such jobs, in a sort of self regulating behavior, but that's impossible, as in most cases there will always be someone else willing to accept conditions that you consider unacceptable, unfair, demeaning, unreasonable, etc. In the end (and sadly), that's how "the system" works, on Gengo and elsewhere... (e.g. just imagine what would happen if all of the users on Gengo unanimously reached a consensus, deciding not to accept .03 jobs...)

    I also agree with Cecilia about the "human check" thing, but that's another old topic that also concerns several other long-standing issues on this platform...

    Besides, I'm not seeing much reaction from Gengo about our proposals/questions/doubts/concerns these days. Quite the opposite, actually.. (and I'm sure they're still monitoring the fora)

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    kvstegemann

    @Cecilia: I think I know the Twitter posts you are talking about. The client does indeed get a lot of value for the buck or two they have to pay. I think this client, as every other client that imposes character restrictions, has to be aware that they will not receive a 100% accurate translation, since this is simply impossible. If the accurate translation does not fit within the character limit, I leave something out and write something that makes sense and fits in. And that will be what they get. And I think they are happy with that, too.

    Regarding the case I mentioned above, @Mirko, the solution can only be that I talk to the client and ask him if there is a chance to widen the character limit at least a little bit, and then what else besides a translation of "tip" could work here. For example, the German word "Kauf" (purchase) might do it here, it's just one character more and if you widen the button a bit and rewrite the context it might work, but this of course requires some communication between the client and me. And the time I am prepared to spend on a $0.03 job is limited ... With $3.00 it might be different.

    I have had some good communication with several clients lately (about more substantial jobs, though), and this is part of the "educating the client" thing Cecilia mentioned. The client wants a perfect translation, and they have to understand that a perfect translation does not only require that they dump their source text on us and pay their word fees, but also that they provide context, instructions, maybe a glossary, and that they are prepared to answer questions. If they do that, the end result will be much better, and this is in their own best interest, since in most cases they use our translations for making money somehow. That's why it should be possible to make them understand that a minimum fee or a special "transcreation" quality level are justified and make sense.

    Anyway, Mirko, you are right that there are such things as unreasonable requests, and if there are, I have no qualms to simply decline the job or even flag it as exactly that, unreasonable request. And yes, if some other translator picks it up and does the job - probably badly since the client asked the impossible - this is bad for everyone, the client will only be happy until they realize that they did not get what they wanted. Which might be much later because the client does not understand the target language themselves. But still, Gengo or the translator will be blamed for it, because the client simply was not told that this would not work out.

    I have to say that this problem mostly occurs on standard level. On pro level, my experience is that clients are more willing to communicate and my fellow translators are behaving in a more pro-like way, as far as I am able to notice it. It's the same thing everywhere: if you pay more for something, you also appreciate it more. (And if you are paid better, you can put more work and love into it, of course.)

    And yes, Gengo does not seem very communicative to their translators as well.

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    Chris

    I'd love to see higher rates for translations with character limits. This should apply to parts with character limits only, of course, so it would mean to introduce new tags.

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    Shoma

    Hi everyone,

    Shoma from the Translator Operations team here. Megan is out this week but I just wanted to chime in on this discussion.

    Thank you for your thoughts. We appreciate your insights regarding jobs with unreasonable requests and your suggestions on how to deal with them. We recognize that this is an ongoing issue and I'd like you to know where we are on this.

    As @mirko said, jobs that have unreasonable requests should not be picked up and should be flagged. Educating the customer is a key part of the solution, as @Cecilia and @kvstegemann have said, and flagging is one of the ways we can identify these problematic orders. Unfortunately, we can't manually check every order that comes through the door (they are just too many) but with your help we can identify the most serious ones and can work with the customer to set realistic expectations. From a technical standpoint, we are actively working to improve the current flagging system so stay tuned for updates on this!

    Changes may not happen overnight so I thank you for your continued patience. But please be rest assured that we are reading your feedback and taking your thoughts and suggestions into account as we work to improve your translator experience.

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    Alexander

    @Shoma - I hope one the improvements to the current flagging system from a technical standpoint will be that a flagged jobs immediately disappears from the dashboard, until the issue has been solved.

    Also, it would be great if the translator who flagged it would get a "preferred translator" status for that particular job once the issue is solved. Currently, flagging means losing the job, which sometimes is a dilemma.

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    Cecilia

    @Alexander Both your suggestions are great! I've seen a flagged job being refused by one translator after the other, it would be much easier if it was put "on hold" until someone checks the reported issue. And being given the "preferred" status would be a nice way to thank the translator.

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    mirko

    Q.E.D. The minimum fee idea (which, incidentally, was the original topic...) was totally ignored (as expected). As for the "unreasonable requests", once again, it's up to "us" (wow, who'da thunk it...), which in turn means nothing will change, since, as mentioned before, in the endless sea of interchangeable and anonymous "translators", there will always be someone else willing to take on such tasks and work for (less than) peanuts, so no reason for Gengo to actually get involved and take measures...


    Years ago, I contacted support about customers posting dozens, if not hundreds, of very small jobs (even in the 1-3 words range) instead of (reasonably) grouping them, and I was told they would have looked into it and discussed this with their clients, but it still regularly happens, and now we're still here, talking about "educating customers" and somesuch. Even without a human intervention, which Shoma said is not possible, it shouldn't be unfeasible, or unthinkable, to devise an automatic check whereby Gengo's staff is automatically alerted if a customer decides to order X "tiny" jobs, or posts a 1 word job with "instructions" on top of it. This is another long standing issue, and it was never addressed, so...


    In the end, that's what happens in any "unregulated market", where the law of supply and demand rules supreme and trivial details such as fair compensation, working conditions, cost of living, human satisfaction, etc. are dismissed as unnecessary hindrances to the never-ending marvels of capitalism. BTW, this applies to most of the complaints that have been raised by users over the years, and which were never addressed by Gengo. As long as things keep rolling along, and money keeps flowing, why bother? We can freely decide whether to accept or refuse jobs, so that solves everything, doesn't it?

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    Cecilia

    @Mirko I also complained about the multiple tiny jobs problem earlier this year and received the same "We'll tell the client" answer…

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    mirko

    @Cecilia - Yeah, I guess they should change their catchphrase to "Gengo: love it or leave it"...

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