While some of the claims Babylon makes are over the top (for example they offer the English-Italian Oxford Paravia Concise dictionary - a decent dictionary, but far from "[...] the most authoritative and comprehensive Italian-English dictionary" they claim: several more comprehensive and authoritative English-Italian dictionaries are available, some of them even with free online versions), I found their software fairly useful, especially if you need to query several different references at the same time.
Now Babylon wants to enter the online human translation field. I received an e-mail inviting me to apply on line.
Unlike those of many translation companies, the application form takes only a few minutes to complete. However, I noticed three potential issues:
- Among the required fields were Gender and Year of Birth,
- There is no field to enter your rates, and
- While the "Basic Agreement to Terms of Conduct and Terms of Conditions" are short and clear, they include one I would want to negotiate before accepting: "If you have returned an incomplete or low quality work, your payment might be withhold or/and reduced" (sorry, but "low quality work" according to whom, and verified in what manner?)
I'm posting here some of the additional information Ms. Ron sent me, with her permission:
- What is this all about?
We envision the Online Human Translation Service as a web site that allows customers to place projects to be translated, and translators to pick those jobs that suit into their daily workflow.
- When will it happen?
A limited test version should be online within three to four weeks and we are aiming to have the official version ready by the end of May.
- What about the rates?
We are still trying to figure out the most suitable rates that a) will allow qualified translators to get a fair payment, b) will allow us to offer competitive prices and c) will make this enterprise profitable to Babylon.
Since Ursula Ron clearly said they are looking of experienced translators, I urge her to let the translators set their own rates.
I have some misgivings, since this could turn out as yet another site offering cheap translations. Still, the declared interest in experienced professionals is an encouraging sign.