Posted by: patenttranslator | August 2, 2012

What Do Mountaintop Removal Mining and Mass E-Mail Translation Offers Have in Common?

Mountaintop removal mining is by far the most efficient and the cheapest way to mine coal. You could say that it is ingenious engineering at its best. Once the top of the mountain is blasted away with explosives, there is no need to pay miners to dig for coal deep underground because the coal is now easily accessible. The problem is that this kind of coal mining is incredibly destructive. Natural formations and habitats for plants and animals (and humans) that took millions of years to to create the majestic beauty of Appalachian Mountains are destroyed with a single blast, and all that is left are huge, poisonous wounds called “moonscape” because they look almost exactly like the surface of the moon.

Can a culture that blindly destroys environment for all living things in this manner in the name of profit still be called a culture? If you want to call it that, it is a culture that is circling the drain with increasing speed.

Click here for images what is left after mountaintop removal mining.

The most efficient and cheapest way to line up translators available for translation jobs is to send mass e-mails with a job offer or with a request for a price quote to a large number of translators so that whoever responds first with the lowest price quote will get the job. But this kind of “translator mining” also happens to be very destructive.

It is one thing when a customer who is looking for a translator sends the same e-mail to several translators whose websites or profiles came up during a Google search to make them compete against each other. This is healthy competition that should exist in every type of business.

But when a translation agency coordinator keeps sending mass e-mails in this matter and then blissfully places the translation with the cheapest “fast responder”, this efficient and fast coordinator will eventually blast away all goodwill and respect that might have existed on the part of the second, third, fourth. and … nth responders toward the translation agency. The credibility and reputation of the translation agency is blasted away just like mountain tops are blasted away with our highly efficient modern mining methods.

I for one don’t respond to e-mails with translation offers that are sent to multiple recipients, and sometime even to e-mails that are ostensibly addressed to me, if the last time when I tentatively accepted a job offer when I checked my e-mail after only a few minutes, the response was “Sorry, we have already placed the job with another translator”.

This tells me that the agency is not really interested in my education, experience and good name as a translator, since any available warm body will do. If you are not really interested in me as a translator, sorry, I am not really interested in you as a customer. Find yourself another warm body. I will find myself another customer.

I feel the same way not only about translation agencies, but also about a certain type of direct customer. One patent lawyer sent me 4 price quote requests during a period of about a year. It takes time to prepare a price quote, but we translators do it gladly and for free because we need work since we have bills to pay. But when the fourth time around the response from this lawyer was again a glib “Sorry, Steve, we found somebody who would do it cheaper”, I responded by sending him a polite e-mail informing him that in the future I will ignore his requests for price quotes because I will automatically assume that I am not cheap enough for his firm. It did the trick – I never heard from him again.

The good name and reputation of any business is as fragile as the incredibly complicated habitat that ruthless, greedy “entrepreneurs” have been destroying for many years now on top of our green mountains. Once it’s dead, it will stay dead for a long, long time.

It may not be such a good idea to always use the most efficient way to get to your resources as quickly as possible and at the lowest cost, whether you are mining for coal, or for human resources, which may be even less plentiful than fossil fuels.


  1. Like “fracking.” Unfortunately, since the strip miners put grass and trees over the top afterwards, uninformed observers think all is fine. We’re losing the battle here.


  2. I don’t know why, but your comment somehow reminded of the state of our so called democracy.


  3. Very well expressed. For the last couple of years, though keeping up my membership in Proz.Com because of the Blue Board, among other things, I have ceased to reply to outsourcer emails that are not addressed directly to me, and if I receive one addressed to me from a potential new client, when replying with my availability I ask them what rate they pay for the type of translation they are placing and at how many days they pay; a good test of transparency before going any further. I recommend this procedure as I have found some good agencies this way and have surely weeded out some 2nd and 3rd rate ones.


    • What really gets me mad is when I spend a long time and waste a lot of paper and ink preparing a cost and time estimate for translating a dozen patents, and the potential customer does not even have the decency to say thank you for your estimate.

      It seems that common courtesy is another casualty of our modern world, as we can watch it being blasted away along with green mountain tops.


  4. […] Mountaintop removal mining is by far the most efficient and the cheapest way to mine coal. You could say that it is ingenious engineering at its best. Once the top of the mountain is blasted away with explosives, there is no …  […]


  5. I’m amazed you would send 4 quotes to that lawyer, and find each one rejected because he “found someone cheaper,” before you finally cut him off. If I lose a bid due to price, the next time the same requester contacts me, I always remind him that my pricing did not meet his needs last time, and politely ask him if this new project has a large enough budget to afford my services. If he says “yes,” then I’ll prepare a quote. But if he says “nope, same or lower budget than last time,” then I politely decline to bid this time.


  6. I have basically zero self-esteem. I have been suffering from this condition all my life. It is probably too late to try to do anything about it at this point.


    • Steve, you don’t tell us that you have zero self-esteem. There are human resources who even pay and wait to be blasted off the mountaintops. But people, like you, do not need to beg around for jobs. You offer your skills of writing, translation and your people skill.

      You see, people either like your skills and therefore they work with you on long term basis or they just go each time for cheaper ones. That’s why I don’t spend much time for estimates, unless the clients have been working with me for several years. (After all, the clients shall survive, too. Quite in contrary to the cops, a bankrupt client is definitely a bad client.)


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