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.

By | 2016-10-18T15:51:14+00:00 April 6th, 2005|Freelance Translation|5 Comments

About the Author:

I am Céline Graciet, a freelance English to French translator. Since 2003 I’ve been writing on all sorts of areas linked to translation and the life of a translator.


  1. Korina April 8, 2005 at 9:10 am

    Dear Céline,
    thank you for taking the time and having a closer look at babelport. Since I contributed to site I would like to answer your entry and try to clarify some of the concerns you raised.
    1. I know about the problem caused by the point system of another site. However, we think that contribution to a site like bableport should also be awarded. We would like to build a supportive and informative community of language professionals and hope to be able to avoid bad behaviour.
    2. Our bilateral rating system was introduced to promote transparancy and fairness. This includes, from our point of view, also the rating of language professionals. If you had taken a closer look at the rating system you would have realized that ratings are based on many different aspects of professional cooperation. Agencies / outsourcers are rated according to their project management skills, communication, payment conditions and practices. Freelancers / service providers are rated according to quality, deadline fulfillment and communication. Although payment on the one side and quality on the other are the most important factors for business relationships, we made sure to include other related information as well in order to give a rounded picture of each party.
    3. It is true that online job bidding has lead to low prices and poor quality. At babelport we, therefore, try to educate our members, translators as well as agencies, by providing informative articles about price calculation. An experienced and qualified translator will not quote for a job that offers too low a price and if an outsourcer chooses to cooperate with a freelancers that is willing to work for little money I am sure in the end they will realize that this often results in poor quality. Education of both translators and agencies is the key to solving this problem. Publishing valuable information on babelport together with the bilateral rating system will, in the long-run, lead to improved quality, better prices and more customer satisfaction.
    If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact me or visit where you can also post in our forums. We are very interested in your feedback and hope to be able to start a discussion about any concerns you might have.

  2. céline April 8, 2005 at 9:40 am

    Thanks for these precisions Korina. I still think it’ll be extremely difficult to provide a consistent and fair system of rating by so many different agencies, with different philosophies and practices, on things as subjective as quality and communication.
    As for prices, I don’t understand why Babelport can’t just forbid the posting of jobs under a certain price-level, that you could decide by contacting professionals and having a poll, for example. No amount of education will ever stop a struggling or scared or unconfident translator from selling themselves cheap to undercut competition, and quality is becoming less and less a concern in the market.
    But if you can learn from the mistakes made on other sites, and it looks like you’ve taken them into account, Babelport could indeed become a more friendly and “professional” alternative to what’s already out there.

  3. Christian Hansel April 9, 2005 at 10:43 am

    Dear Céline,
    I am gratefull for any sort of idea exchange and suggestions. shall become a community, and the basics of community are democracy.
    If a majority of users wish and ask for the introduction of a minumum price per word / line / page / hour, then I will of course be happy to sit down and implement an appropriate mechanism.
    Before that, however, there should be found a consensus on such a minimum.
    I would be happy to see you signing up with and starting a discussion on that topic. If you are willing why not write a short introductory article on the pros (and maybe the cons) of such a minimum and I’ll post it on babelport. Then our members could discuss that. And, if an agreement / consensus is found, I will implement it.
    So basically I return the ball to the members 😉
    I have had an email disucssion with Aniello, a member of both proz and babelport. He was too argueing for such an introduction but recommended to wait a little longer.
    I am only waiting for the discussion to start and, as said above, would be happy to implement such a feature. I understand my doing as a service to the translation industry and if the members of this industry wish that feature ….
    Best regards,

  4. céline April 11, 2005 at 8:32 am

    Yoohoo a debate! I’ll take you up on that Christian, but I’m going to have a busy week as I’m moving office on Wednesday, so you might have to be a bit patient with me.

  5. Lingo Pros May 12, 2005 at 2:05 pm

    Dear Chris,
    Regarding your statement:
    “If a majority of users wish and ask for the introduction of a minimum price per word / line / page / hour, then I will of course be happy to sit down and implement an appropriate mechanism. “
    I have to say that it’s going to be the same story as in any other translation portal if you don’t move fast enough to set the rules from the very beginning and STOP the wrong trend right from the start. The professional translator burnt by the silly bidding race, would write to the site staff begging for a minimum price to be set for each language pair, explaining pros and cons in detail, while the cheapies are busy translating for peanuts.
    I’m afraid the ‘majority’ is not always matching ‘the real professional’. Actually after sometime that more know about the site and register, the majority might quite be as the one in other translation portals… and the quality flies out of the window while the site staff are now happy of more so-called ‘translators’ joining in!
    You’ve made a great website. Thumbs up! But in no time, you’ll have many different issues with many users to care about that you won’t be able to “sit down and implement an appropriate mechanism” anymore. It’s time to sit down now and add a feature to the registration process in which the new member-to-be has to indicate what would be a reasonable minimum price for each language pair per word/hour.
    As the first (and so far ONLY) translator registered in your website for Persian<>English pair, I’m ‘the majority’ there. So I’m asking you this on behalf of the whole Babelport Persian Group! 😉
    Lingo Pros

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