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Test translations & prices
מפרסם התגובה: Elke Fehling

Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
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Local time: 14:54
חבר (2002)
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Controversial statement? Aug 10, 2018

Richard Purdom wrote:

It's perfectly legitimate for an agency to ask us to do tests

Hmmm. IF the resume is not convincing, the translator has no significant experience, no client feedback, no sample translations, no references, then maybe a test is in order, and it may be requested to be completed free of charge.
Otherwise, I would not say it is "perfectly legitimate". Well, of course, it is legitimate in the sense of being legal, and everyone has the option of refusing such tests, especially if the prospective job is in the area of the translator's specialization, proven by resume, experience, samples, etc. - listed above. Thankfully there are agencies that realize that free tests are not the best way of assessing the fit.


Elke Fehling
Annamaria Sondrio
 

Richard Purdom  Identity Verified
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Local time: 19:54
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to test or not to test Aug 10, 2018

Katalin Horváth McClure wrote:


Hmmm. IF the resume is not convincing, the translator has no significant experience, no client feedback, no sample translations, no references, then maybe a test is in order, and it may be requested to be completed free of charge.
Otherwise, I would not say it is "perfectly legitimate". Well, of course, it is legitimate in the sense of being legal, and everyone has the option of refusing such tests, especially if the prospective job is in the area of the translator's specialization, proven by resume, experience, samples, etc. - listed above. Thankfully there are agencies that realize that free tests are not the best way of assessing the fit.


You could also say that a translator who declines to spend 40 mins doing something of no commercial value which could lead to thousands of euros of work:
1) is much too busy anyway
2) is not confident that he or she can do the test translation properly
3) has attitude issues

I work mostly with Dutch and Belgian agencies, and test translations normally come back with useful feedback and offers of work, which is good enough for me.


 

Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
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Local time: 14:54
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Clearly an opportunity for skullduggery Aug 10, 2018

Katalin Horváth McClure wrote:

Elke Fehling wrote:

They also say it's for "their client"


One possible scenario is where the end client requests the agency to provide test translations done by the agency's translators, and they (the end client) assess those samples (oftentimes they don't have in-house experts, they hire someone to do it, that one time).
End client: "OK, we think sample #6 and #15 are the best, let's sign the contract."
Agency: "Hurray, we got the contract! Now let's see which translators are the cheapest, and send them the actual jobs."
In many cases the agency can get away with it, because the end client does not check the quality continuously.
Typical "bait and switch".

I usually ask agencies in such situations what assurance they have that a successful test will result in the actual jobs coming my way at my (previously agreed) rates. In a handful of cases the agencies referred to some legal obligation that they had due to the project being part of a public/government bidding process, but in most cases communication ended abruptly at this point. I guess they did not have a good answer...

If anyone has a good suggestion on how to deal with this situation, I am eager to hear it. Unfortunately, getting paid for the test does not necessarily make a difference. Some agencies are willing to spend money on "client acquisition" up front, which then they recover by using the services of cheaper translators.

Katalin


I had composed a message along these very same lines that disappeared when I tried to post it yesterday afternoon (as a result of a failed wifi connection on my end - I am not alleging any kind of conspiracy).

It would be very naive indeed to think that rates did not factor into the dynamics of such a situation.

The upshot of this is that even if an agency agrees to your rates in advance, there is no guarantee that they won't use this information to "fail" your test, or that they will assign you the job on offer (or any subsequent job) after informing you that you have "passed" the test.

It is also unlikely that, in such a situation, the agency will inform you forthrightly that "we really liked your test translation, but we tested three other translators offering rates between 25% and 75% less than yours, and we decided in the end to go with one of them - even though their performance was not quite as good as yours."

This is another reason to be wary of such requirements.

I also agree with Katalin about the general usefulness of tests to agencies, for reasons stated in my previous post.

[Edited at 2018-08-10 19:12 GMT]


Elke Fehling
 

Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
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Local time: 14:54
חבר (2003)
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There is always an excuse Aug 10, 2018

Katalin Horváth McClure wrote:

Elke Fehling wrote:

They also say it's for "their client"


One possible scenario is where the end client requests the agency to provide test translations done by the agency's translators, and they (the end client) assess those samples (oftentimes they don't have in-house experts, they hire someone to do it, that one time).
End client: "OK, we think sample #6 and #15 are the best, let's sign the contract."
Agency: "Hurray, we got the contract! Now let's see which translators are the cheapest, and send them the actual jobs."
In many cases the agency can get away with it, because the end client does not check the quality continuously.
Typical "bait and switch".

Katalin


Even if the end client did complain in such a situation, the agency could always claim that, regrettably, the translator whose test was chosen turned out to be "unavailable" for the project in question.

And, in a strict technical sense, such a claim would not be false.

[Edited at 2018-08-10 15:53 GMT]


Elke Fehling
 

Elke Fehling  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:54
חבר (2005)
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TOPIC STARTER
Different Experience with Dutch & Beglian agencies Aug 10, 2018

Richard Purdom wrote:

You could also say that a translator who declines to spend 40 mins doing something of no commercial value which could lead to thousands of euros of work:
1) is much too busy anyway
2) is not confident that he or she can do the test translation properly
3) has attitude issues

I work mostly with Dutch and Belgian agencies, and test translations normally come back with useful feedback and offers of work, which is good enough for me.


That's not my experience. I have one single client that now sends me translations after I "passed" their test. Their jobs are usually not well organized and not paid well. This agency has a low priority for me. I usually get very enthusiastic feedback for all my test translations - but no work. So I really have doubts if it is worth the effort.

Another client sent me a paid (!) test translation the other week. They were very happy, the feedback was very interesting and I got another job immediately. And that's how it usually works for me with agencies in the Netherlands and Belgium (!): The send small paid jobs first and then become regular clients.

[Bearbeitet am 2018-08-10 15:05 GMT]


 

Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
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Local time: 14:54
חבר (2002)
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No need for judgements like that Aug 10, 2018

Richard Purdom wrote:

You could also say that a translator who declines to spend 40 mins doing something of no commercial value which could lead to thousands of euros of work:
1) is much too busy anyway
2) is not confident that he or she can do the test translation properly
3) has attitude issues

I work mostly with Dutch and Belgian agencies, and test translations normally come back with useful feedback and offers of work, which is good enough for me.


Well...
"something of no commercial value" - a test required by the end client can have a very high commercial value if it results in a contract for the agency. Let's not forget that.
If I have 40 minutes of free time (or five minutes or whatever), I like to spend it in a meaningful way. Doing a free translation test without any kind of assurance that I will get anything out of it (feedback, future jobs, extra experience) is not something I consider meaningful.
That is why I ask questions and offer alternatives for the agencies to verify my abilities. I also take advantage of my "gut feelings" which is usually helpful.
This is based on my experiences over the years. If you want to call it "attitude", be it.


Josephine Cassar
 

Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
ארצות הברית
Local time: 14:54
חבר (2002)
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@Robert, I actually had a reply like that once Aug 10, 2018

Robert Forstag wrote:

It is also unlikely that, in such a situation, the agency will inform you forthrightly that "we really liked your test translation, but we had three other translators offer rates between 25% and 75% less than yours, and we decided in the end to go with one of them - even though their performance was not quite as good as yours."


Robert, believe it or not, I actually did receive an email like that once, almost word by word.
They wanted me to cut my rates (that they agreed in advance to pay) in half.
Some of these agencies have no concept of ethics and they lie left and right.

That is why in general, I refuse to take free test translations. I accept small jobs at my usual rates, so if an agency wants to test me that way, they can. I don't care if the small job they send is an actual job or one of their standard tests; they pay for it, so they can do whatever they want with it. This way I have my peace of mind.

What I have done in a few cases is to offer the client to deduct the fee of the test from the next job they send my way. (I sent them a discount voucher when they paid my invoice for the test.) I actually had two clients so far agreeing to this, and I did get subsequent jobs from them.

Another problem with test translations is that there is no guarantee on the other side either - over the years I have received (and promptly refused) a few requests from other translators/agency owners to review/edit their test translations that they wanted to submit to win jobs. As I said, ethics seems to be an elastic concept... Sigh...


Elke Fehling
Josephine Cassar
 

Steve R.
ארצות הברית
מרוסית לאנגלית
A test translation is still a translation. Aug 11, 2018

As a freelance translator, I can't grasp how there could be any justification for doing an unpaid test translation. Just because "test" is added to its name, or because it may be part of some invitation to tender, it doesn't alter the fact that it's still a translation. And as a translation, it most certainly does not change the material fact of the engagement between the translator and the requesting agency/client.

So why shouldn't a translator demand compensation for it in every c
... See more
As a freelance translator, I can't grasp how there could be any justification for doing an unpaid test translation. Just because "test" is added to its name, or because it may be part of some invitation to tender, it doesn't alter the fact that it's still a translation. And as a translation, it most certainly does not change the material fact of the engagement between the translator and the requesting agency/client.

So why shouldn't a translator demand compensation for it in every case?

Sorry, but I think doing free work is just as bad as, if not worse than, conceding to work for peanuts.

[Edited at 2018-08-11 08:30 GMT]
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David GAY
 

Teresa Borges
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Local time: 19:54
חבר (2007)
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LOL! Aug 11, 2018

Kay Denney wrote:

Teresa Borges wrote:

My 3 cents

I see you've put your rate up!


 

Elke Fehling  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:54
חבר (2005)
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TOPIC STARTER
Sometimes it's worth the effort just to broaden your view Aug 11, 2018

Katalin Horváth McClure wrote:

Doing a free translation test without any kind of assurance that I will get anything out of it (feedback, future jobs, extra experience) is not something I consider meaningful.
That is why I ask questions and offer alternatives for the agencies to verify my abilities. I also take advantage of my "gut feelings" which is usually helpful.
This is based on my experiences over the years. If you want to call it "attitude", be it.


Well.... A recently did a free test translation for an agency that works with machine translations. They proposed to send me "pretranslated text" and pay me by the hour for correcting the machine translations. I had serious doubts, on many levels. I did the test translation anyway, just out of curiosity. I failed. That was actually the very first time I "failed" a translation test, I usually get very enthusiastic reactions. The potential client sent me the correction of my test and I don't agree with the proofreaders corections or judgement. But I still found the results very valuable:

- I think the client simply didn't like that fact that I argued with him about the way they worked, but that might be pretentious.
- I learned that machine translations might look great on first sight, but that it's misleading, the fine tuning takes a lot longer than re-translating the text from scratch
- I learned a lot about the subject the test translation was about.

I wouldn't do something like that every day. This one time, however, was worth it. I did have the time, I was curious, I didn't expect to "pass" or even get jobs.


José Henrique Lamensdorf
 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
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נזכור
The key point in PEMT Aug 11, 2018

Elke Fehling wrote (JHL's emphasis here):

But I still found the results very valuable:

- I think the client simply didn't like that fact that I argued with him about the way they worked, but that might be pretentious.
- I learned that machine translations might look great on first sight, but that it's misleading, the fine tuning takes a lot longer than re-translating the text from scratch
- I learned a lot about the subject the test translation was about.


After million $$$ and several years were spent in developing free, online, immediate machine translation, unfortunately a number of translation outsourcers peremptorily refuse to admit that there is no reason to justify PEMT being any cheaper than human translation (regardless of CAT tools - they are not the issue here), if human translation quality is required.

After Google Translate asymptotically reached its climax - and that was still deemed unsatisfactory - developers went beyond, and created the "neural" thingamajig. According to my test in EN > PT, this "neural" contrivance is even worse than its predecessor.

The key point here is that these translation outsourcers want human translators to charge significantly less for PEMT than they usually charge for conventional translation from scratch. They obdurately ignore that if MT - being free, immediate, and available online - required less time & effort than conventional translation, ALL translators would be pre-MT'ing their work already, which is not true.

Even if PEMT were viable, it wouldn't justify a discount on translation rates. For a comparison, shooting the original to translate through MT involves less time and effort than, say, doing OCR, which is often necessary and done for free when it is not editable.


 

Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
ארצות הברית
Local time: 14:54
חבר (2002)
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@Elke, yes, I said that, too Aug 11, 2018

Elke Fehling wrote:
Sometimes it's worth the effort just to broaden your view


Which is one of the valid reasons I listed, look:

Katalin Horváth McClure wrote:

...I will get anything out of it (feedback, future jobs, extra experience)


 

Ra in Kim  Identity Verified
דרום-קוריאה
Local time: 03:54
חבר (2018)
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Some PM try to assign their work for free in the name of Test translations Aug 12, 2018

Hope everything is going well.

 

Annett Roessner  Identity Verified
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Local time: 04:54
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400 words is on the longer side Aug 13, 2018

Hi Elke

I personally stick to a maximum of 300 words for a test translation and I always confirm if the agency accepts my rates prior to completing a test translation.

I know a lot of seasoned translators are opposed to these test translations but I personally don’t mind doing them as long as I can be satisfied that it is actually a test and not a free translation that the agency will be paid for. This way I was able to establish relationships with a number of good a
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Hi Elke

I personally stick to a maximum of 300 words for a test translation and I always confirm if the agency accepts my rates prior to completing a test translation.

I know a lot of seasoned translators are opposed to these test translations but I personally don’t mind doing them as long as I can be satisfied that it is actually a test and not a free translation that the agency will be paid for. This way I was able to establish relationships with a number of good agencies who send me work on a regular basis.

So if I was you, I would first confirm with the agency that your rate is acceptable and then have a look at the test to see if this is a genuine test and also tell them you will only translate x amount of words.

Good luck!

Best regards

Annett
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