Online fishy businesses: Dixit (end of story... for now)

Translation is the new lucrative industry to be in. As long as you're not a translator of course. That's why it attracts numerous leeches or "brokers" who don't contribute to society by adding value but instead figure they'll just get in there and take their piece of the cake, because what else are they going to do? Work? Haha. Develop "skills"? Nonsense.

Sorry, I'm already digressing and I have not even started my post yet. 

Today I would like to advise translation buyers to be cautious when they recruit a new agency. One never really knows who they are dealing with. As I mentioned before, any rate under 10 cents is a good guarantee you will get unprofessional work and clumsy sounding translations.

Dixit is a French company with no background in translation. It is basically one guy who sells bikinis on the side. Not really the kind of guy you should trust with your company's PR and image abroad though. 

Dixit was created in January 2013. Translators are paid 5 cents a word, which is absolutely outrageous: that's twice as low as the minimum wage for a translator. On a pragmatic level, it's like throwing your money out of the window. The quality will be poor and your company's image abroad will suffer from it. You'll most likely have to pay again to retranslate it from scratch.

A brand new company, Dixit are a bit lost in the translation jungle but find convenient solutions to make up for their total lack of experience. In fact they don't even bother recruiting. They just help themselves to a public database (ProZ) of freelance translators. 

Basically you (the translation buyer) could do it yourself  by going on Proz. With the advantage of being sure of the credentials of who you hire. By hiring DIXIT, you are paying them to:

1. find the cheapest (worst) freelancers on the market, 
2. make this needlessly complicated and opaque (untraceable pros)
3. ruin your end product and the industry by lowering standards

While as I said you could select the best yourself via LinkedIn or ProZ.

Here is what their website advertises:

ProZ"Human translation...

With Dixit your translation projects are carried out by professionals worldwide."

Very worring. This badge was bought from the website ProZ and I guess translators should know that it means absolutely nothing anymore. 
So my advice to translation buyers: if you hire the services of an agency, ask for the CV of the translator and get in touch with him or her directly. Ask them how much they get paid, if they are a certified Proz member, check their Proz profile or LinkedIn profile.


Dixit works with professionals in the ProZ.com Network. All our translators are certified, experimented and verified."

This implies that all ProZ certified translators accept to work for them and work for this rate. This is simply NOT the case. Dixit is basically demeaning some industry it doesn't belong to (Dixit belongs to the world of online discount sales, not translation). These guys have made an arrangement with the fishy website owners of ProZ to have access to the database of pros. The reality is they will spam these translators all day long until they find (or don't) someone desperate enough to accept really lousy rates. 

Read this conversation and you'll see that this arrangement was made in the back of the translators community.
But let's go back to the website.
Now quite interestingly here is the only customer testimonial they have on their website: 

Gian Marco G.
Manager of Brazilian Bikini Shop site
"J'utilise Dixit pour traduire mon site e-commerce et je suis extrêmement satisfait du service. C'est simple d'utilisation grâce à leur API et rapide, ce qui me permet de mettre en ligne mes produits dans plusieurs langues en un temps record. La qualité du travail effectué par leurs traducteurs natifs me donne un excellent référencement naturel pour une meilleure visibilité. Rapport qualité/prix imbattable!"

This person speaks like a real salesman (I wonder where that talent comes from?). It doesn't really matter what is being said here, you've guessed it's pretty positive stuff. What matters, though, is who is saying it. I'll tell you right now: it's the owner of DIXIT himself :) (BTW thanks for the translators who discovered this info and generously shared it in this Linkedin discussion forum.)
One may wonder how much credibility this Mister G. has in the translation world. Well the answer is zero ;). He is a complete newbie with no experience or background in languages. His main background is in real estate ventures and brazilian bikini sales, as indicated in this business directory.

SARL Brazilian Bikini Shop Gian Marco Guatteri
75 Chemin des collettes
Cagnes sur mer, 06800 France

And yes, the owner of DIXIT is the same person, according to the local business registry (Entry 91)

Nothing illegal in saying your company is amazing, but it's a bit like getting your mom to correct your school essay. We all know it's just too easy & definitely not appropriate in the world of grown-ups ;)

I don't mean to sadistically pick on Dixit but these elements show how ignorant and unprofessional the venture is.
Here are some final concerns about Dixit and the kind of companies it represents:

  • Dixit's portal is blacklisted by some search engines: 
  • Dixit's total lack of business ethics and casual attitude is very worrying. The association of a very low and "universal" fee of €0.05 per word and the Certified Pro Network logo  implies that such rate is perfectly normal. No it's not. This is a completely unacceptable rate.
  • With their insulting and idiotic concept of "unique price" Dixit spreads their naive commercial views, showing a real outsider's perspective on translation. It makes it sound so simple, and certainly is of great help to their accounts as well as compatible with their cognitive capacities but is as insulting as it is silly...
...since it doesn't take a genius to figure that translation is not a simple job, and that there are as many prices as there are translators and texts out there.

That's it for now but I'm sure there is plenty more to say. The idea of this post comes from a discussion on Linkedin that I thought was really worth sharing with a broader audience. Thanks to all the detective translators with a taste for investigating fishy businesses and speaking out :)

Update 06/01/14

Here is a response from the owner of Dixit, received yesterday by email:


I'am contacting you about the post you did about Dixit.
Thank you to have write an article about Dixt, but many thigs are not true.
I can give you many informations that can help you to do a post closer to the truth than this one.

I'am Guatteri Gian Marco, and yes as you wrote on the post I'am the owner of Brazilian Bikini Shop also.
We never hidden this informations. This information is used as an asset.
You can read an interview I did some times ago: 


I created Dixit with 4 co-founder that are working at full time on dixit from 2 years. I'am not the majority shareholder. I own more or less 20% of Dixit.
The company was created in January, but we was working on it from 2 years ago.

Off course, I'am not working at full time on dixit, I provide my experience as online retailer who need translations, I help them with my experience in international business.

So please review your article:

"Dixit is a French company with no background in translation. It is basically one guy who sells bikinis on the side. Not really the kind of guy you should trust with your company's PR and image abroad though. "

That it is not true, we are 5 share olders, I can send you the proof if you need.

About the quality and the pricing.
Our idea is to pay the translator at the fair price. Our power is to have the translators with us. Without translators dixit can't works...
Before fixing the price of 5 cents of Euro we contacted many translators on Proz, we tested the solution during 2 years with Brazilian Bikini Shop and other small websites.

The result of our study is that the most of professional translators are payed 8 to 12 cents of Euro or more. But more than 30% of the work is administration work.
So the Idea was to reduce the administrations works of the translators and also of the customers. Is what we did and many translators wokring usually at 10 cents are now working on Dixit and they are really happy with the service.
If they are not happy. Dixit can works only if the translators are at our side.
Another advantage for the translator is that there are no unpaid payments and the payments are very fast.

You can see the feedback that the translators let on Proz about Dixit.

But please let me know what it is better ? A translation agency that take 100% of margin over the translator (they buy 5 or 6 and they sell 12 to 15) or Dixit that take only 1 cents ?
Who is better for the translator ?

At the moment no member of Dixit won money with Dixit. We want to build a platform with the fair price for both translator and customer.

In your post you don't say that the 5 cents are Euro = 0,69 USD today.

"Basically you (the translation buyer) could do it yourself  by going on Proz. With the advantage of being sure of the credentials of who you hire. By hiring DIXIT, you are paying "

It is what I was doing for Brazilian Bikini Shop, but belive me, it was a crazy works !  There are 33 languages on brazilian bikini shop, for each translation order there was 33 invoices to pay.
There was more than 100 emails exachanged for each translation projects (because of the 33 languages).
Every months we had to find new translators because somes was stopping (for many human reasons as family, baby, busy, new job, etc...).

I think if you review the article with the informations I give you, it will be really better for your visitors.

I'am available for any question you have about Dixit.
I will tell you the truth.

Thank you

Guatteri Gian Marco

Note: This email was sent via the Contact Form gadget on http://translationethics.blogspot.com.br  

Thank you for this information,

Translation ethics

14/01/2014 End of story (for now):

Email from DIXIT:

"Dear Translation Ethics, 

Regarding the use of the ProZ.com logos on our website, we have their permission to use the logos on our site. 
Our goal in putting the two logos on our platform, was only to show that we work with translators who are members of this network.  
Who then? Name them, privately if you want, so we can verify they exist...

I invite you to have a look at our ProZ Blueboard, where you will see many positive comments left by Proz.com members and members of the Certified Pro Network
To avoid any further confusion about Dixit and the CPN logo, we will remove it because once again, the translators are as important to us as our clients and we take into account your concerns and comments. 

Thank you that's a good start...
The purpose of Dixit is not to hire full-time translators, but to offer them the opportunity to earn extra income.  The projects on the platform are mainly E-commerce product descriptions, relatively easy and fast to translate.  

On ProZ.com, translators are able to set their minimum rate on their account if they do not wish to be contacted by agencies offering a lower price. 

Our pricing policy and low margin is aimed to encourage e-commerce customers, usually using automatic translations, to use translations made by professionals instead. 
According to our market research and also to 8 years experience in e-commerce,  we came to the conclusions that having an e-commerce website translated by professionals improved its image, referencing and increased sales. But unfortunately with a higher cost, the e-retailers could not afford having their sites translated. 
Yes I know, tell me about it... I go to three star restaurants but they have to charge me nothing because otherwise, I could not afford to eat. Ha.

Hoping that these last details will help you change your mind about our company.

Kind regards, 

The Dixit team.

So it looks like Dixit is finally removing this controversial badge. This is a first step towards respect. Another would be to start paying half decent fees to their staff, but that's another story.

I choose to trust Dixit regarding the authorisation by Proz to use the CPN logo. It does seem like a plausible thing, judging by ProZ's COMPLETE SILENCE since the beginning of this story 3 months ago. 

What I personally keep from all this is that Proz is definitely not a recommendable organisation, and I encourage the Members of the Certified ProZ Network to just drop the Z and become their own Certified Pro Network (or join a real association such as ATA, ITI, CiOL, SFT...) and stop fuelling the pockets of these Pro crooks.  Yes it's a harsh word but I guess facts are proving more and more everyday that that's what they have become...

UPDATE NINE MONTHS LATER: September 19th 2014

M. Guatteri apparently realised that business didn't pick up without the CPN ProZ logo. So he sneakily put it back on his website!!! Hoping only clients would notice. Mister Guatteri: you are not ALLOWED to do that, just like you are not allowed to pretend on your own customer satisfaction reviews. I mean, who does that??? People are not complete fools. The community and ProZ told you to take it off months ago. Please go back to the BIKINI industry or go try and play businessman somewhere else. Thanks.