Chris Hansel emailed me last week to let me know of Babelport, a new translation portal of which he is a co-founder. It’s extremely promising, the tone is engaging and friendly and I really like the design (could it be because the colours are similar to my site’s?). The news section is particularly interesting, as well as the articles written by people working in the translation industry. How to prepare yourself for the challenges as a freelance translator, written by Inka-Maria Kunz (who also has a blog), had me nodding in agreement, particularly her conclusion:

Be reliable. Meet delivery dates. Know your capacity and never take on too much. Show a responsible attitude to each contract. Notify your client as soon as a problem arises which might jeopardise delivery or quality. Discuss the problem and agree on a solution. Be communicative, helpful and friendly. Be flexible, within reason. Be discreet. Do not disclose your client’s business to anyone else. Have your work spellchecked before delivery! Never approach your client’s client directly without prior permission. Respond positively to constructive criticism. Be an independent problem solver, spot things like missing pages and don’t pretend that the source text is all right if there is a glaring error. Clients and authors make mistakes and you can actually score brownie points by drawing these to your client’s attention. Notify your regular clients if you intend to be away or unavailable for work. Attend as many seminars and professional development courses as you can.

Now that I’ve had time to look at Babelport, and following a discussion on Transblawg, I can identify three things that bother me about this new site:
– the points system
On other sites, it has meant lots of contributions (you get points for contributing), but of variable quality, and lots of arguments between colleagues. I prefer quality to quantity.
– freelancers’ rating by agencies
When freelancers rate agencies, it is on one criteria: whether they pay or not, which is a straightforward criteria. But how are agencies going to rate quality? Will there be a fair and consistent system? Who will check it?
– bidding system
Making translators bid for projects drives prices down, undermines quality and encourages selection according to price, not according to who’s right for the job.