Crowdsourcing makes a new adept: Lionbridge

Yep. $489 million of revenue a year just isn't enough, LIONBRIDGE is getting into amateurism "crowdsourcing" too... 

Lionbridge is one of these translation mills which don't care much for quality (see this blacklist for further info). This we have established already.
What is new is that they have started seeing opportunities in crowdsourcing (asking random people on the Internet to work for them, for about 10 times less than what a professional would charge). All translation mills have their special way to tell us professionals what they think our work is worth, by telling the crowd that they can be a translator too!
Because after all, we translation agency PMs and CEOs, manage to rule the industry despite the fact we don't speak any foreign languages and have never translated a word! How cool is that? If we can make it and get away with such blatant incompetence, why not you, stranger in the crowd? Together we can make so much cash (well, you'll make some cash, anyway, I'll keep the rest, ha;) 

To learn more about who's behind this fantastic idea, read these informative posts on crowdsourcing all written by the vice-director of Lionbridge, Mrs Martha Crow, who's just OBSESSED by it : http://insights.wired.com/profile/MarthaCrow. That is literally all she's been writing about on her blog for several months, although she as of yet has no readers. Perhaps she should look into other aspects of the business, maybe more fundamental ones, like learning Mandarin.

So if you too think you can be a translator, please visit Lionbridge's website to see what's in store for you. Others, ie translators, don't bother...



"Using our innovative cloud technologies, global program management expertise and our worldwide crowd of more than 100,000 professional cloud workers, we provide integrated solutions that enable clients to successfully market, sell and support their products and services in global markets.
Our unique Global Customer LifecycleSM Framework delivers tangible business benefits for our clients such as:

  • 40% increase in top 10 search result listings
  • 30% increase in global website traffic
  • 35% reduction in global campaign cycle times
  • 20% reduction in global marketing costs
As a result, our clients are growing revenue, enhancing brand loyalty and increasing efficiency across end markets and geographies.
We are proud to work with hundreds of global market leaders including:

Adobe, Canon, Caterpillar, CBS interactive, Cisco, Dell, Eli Lilly, EMC, Expedia, Golden Living, Google, HP, LRN, Microsoft, Motorola, Nokia, Pearson, Pfizer, Philips, Porsche, PTC, RIM, Rolls Royce, Samsung, Skillsoft, Studec, US Department of Justice

Fast Facts

  • Founded: 1996
  • Headquarters: Waltham, Massachusetts, United States
  • Employees: 5,000
  • Locations: Solution Centers in 26 countries
  • Revenue: $489 million (2013)

Why would I join the Smart Crowd?

We offer you the ability to earn money by completing small tasks that you can fit in your schedule. You work for yourself, on as many tasks as you choose, from your own device, wherever, and whenever, you want. Plus you are connected to a global community of workers just like yourself!
Most people join us in the Smart Crowd for the opportunity to supplement their income. There is no long term commitment, simply complete the tasks you signed up for. We have a variety of tasks in data research, data entry, language, testing, and more.

What is the pay like?

We offer a competitive rate per task based on the expected productivity to complete a task. Rates are set for each task, and we pay once per month. We provide further details on this during the sign up process.

Do I have to pay to join, or pay for any fees?

No. There is no sign-up fee, no membership fee, nothing. We simply pay you to complete the tasks as specified.

Wow, that is so exciting. You don't need to pay anything to join the smart crowd. Just give us your time, skills, and energy and we'll give you 3 dollars an hour or something. Happy? Isn't it just awesome? And maybe who knows, you'll get to work for Microsoft or the US Department of Justice (just don't mention it in your CV please).
So, smart kiddo, if you know a foreign language, just join our smart crowd, you'll meet plenty of smart people who know languages and stuff. How about that?

Jokes aside, Lionbridge is now one of those cheap suppliers of translation who quite probably rely on the work of the unqualified/undeclared, which includes:

http://mygengo.com/ (pays 3 cts per word, charges...)
http://www.tolingo.com/ (charges about 20 cts/w, pays...)
http://www.lingotek.com/ (? late/non payer)
(no info yet) 
http://www.onehourtranslation.com/ (pay 3 cents, plus 2 if client is satisfied, charge?)
(no info yet) 
http://www.speaklike.com/ (no info yet)
http://tran.sl (crowd sourced translation engine)
http://dixit.com/  (charge 6cts, pay 5cts)

http://conyac.com/  (pay by points, about 10 Eur/DAY, charge?)
http://lionbridge.com (no info yet)

They have a lot in common, besides being greedy bottom-feeders: all charge about 5-10 cents a word for their "services" and pay the crowd, responsible for 99% of the work, about 1 cent, sometimes up to 5cts a word. 
That is between 10 to 5 times less than what a professional translator charges. The hourly wage is below minimum wage and there is no guarantee that the amateur is a native speaker of the language he/she translate into. 

Therefore there is always the strong possibility that a medical, official, highly technical, confidential document is translated by a completely incompetent passer-by :)

Amonsgt crowdsourcing platforms competing against professionals, by providing work to undeclared and unqualified wannabe translators:



http://www.voices.com/ voice over jobs

Rates there are even worse, being erratic and random. 
A consciencious fraud inspector released in there could cause a stir...

Anyway, welcome to the club Lionbridge!!!
To read all about how excited Lionbridge is about crowdsourcing, visit:




AnSo said...

Hello, I really like your blog and read all your articles. Regarding Lionbridge, you are totally right. However, I am a bit surprised to see Tolingo's name in your list.I have been working for them from time to time since 2010 and if their rate is not high (about 0.075 per source word in my combination), I wouldn't say they are a shame either compared to the current market. However, I have stopped accepting proofreading for them as I have noticed a decrease in quality in the last 2 years.

bastian contreras said...

What always strikes me is how in translation the biggest companies are the least likely to provide good quality.
I have been working for 3 years for a Dutch company which had just been acquired by one of the Big Three (the one ending in "perfect").
In gradually moving from "Dutch Company" to "Part of Multinational group" we dropped the rates paid to translators by half and of course we got more and more serious quality issues.
The company worked on a 2.1 markup model, i.e. PM were requested to pay less than half of what we were getting from the client (and this included TR, RV, PM fee and any kind of overhead).
The owner of the company doesn't have a linguistic education: he is just a businessman who saw money in translation (his declaration) and he sends hilarious monthly newsletters to the staff around the world where his lack of knowledge never fails to be unmasked.

Translationethics said...

@Thanks Anso, and thanks for the info on Tolingo. Interesting to know that for each word they charge to their clients, they pay the translator 7,5 cents (which is better than the others, I grant you that) and keep 12,5 cents. That is a big margin. However, they might provide quality translations.

Translationethics said...

@Bastian: Agreed!! Many TP employees are reporting the exact same, yet it doesn't seem to affect them much. I'd love to read these newsletters someday:)

Katja K. said...

Hi, I'd like to point out that, as far as I know, revenue here means net sales rather than profits. You can see their 2012 figures here, net income just USD 11,3 million: http://www.lionbridge.com/lionbridge-announces-fy-2012-results-with-revenue-of-457-1-million-gaap-eps-of-0-19-and-non-gaap-eps-of-0-46/

They also highlight (at least have done so in public discussion in April 2013 in Finland) that their crowdsourcing work involves work such as translating customer product reviews. I would not want to work on those as a professional translator, although on occasion I have and have been paid my full rate for them. Extremely boring stuff, I can assure you, at least if it's about cosmetics. I'm not interested enough to have a look at the blog, though.

zu. said...

I know what you mean by the one finishing in "perfect". I have seen myself the way translators are treated and also PMs - working 12 hours/day with no overtime compensation and constant pressure to deliver projects that are simply imposible.
Besides, once upon a time they used to hire translators and linguists as PMs but the Managers have recently noticed that educated people prefer to pay some decent rates to translators so they have started to get rid off them and hire instead people with no language education (and not education at all)...

Rina Shirf said...

Hi, sorry, I don't really know where my comment belongs to, as it's my first time in life I'm blogging. I'm a languages consultant working with lawyers. Have never had to use online freelancers before, but really got 'stuck' this week and spent 3 days of finding a decent English/Spanish and English/Portuguese translator. Because I'm a private person, many translators are afraid that I'm a scammer, which I'm not.... but on the other hand, among 50+ of those who responded only ONE did not provide 'googled' translation and another ONE provided slightly edited 'googled' text. The rest were just scammers. So, you guys (translators) are worried about protecting translators, which I understand and respect, but how would you protect private clients from both fraud and insults? Just because I'm on yahoo I'm a scammer? Not fair. Anyways, I'm still in search of PROFESSIONAL translator into Portuguese. My name is Rina Shirf, you may e-mail to me at rinashirf@yahoo.com.
Regards, Rina

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