Room for improvement?

Since the registration deadline for BDÜ’s „Fachliste Technische Dokumentation 2012“ was set for July 7th, now that you’re reading this post it has probably already become clear if the minimum number of entries (400) has been reached and, if so, this year’s directory of technical translators will be published or not.

I signed in for two language combinations (German-Russian and English-Russian) and will probably – if the publication will take place – be invoiced to pay €140 plus VAT (70€ being the price for one language combination). It didn’t take me long to decide to sign in, but, after I discovered a thread on the subject of Fachliste Technische Doku 2012 – lohnt sich ein Eintrag? on the BDÜ forum (you have to be a member to access it), the whole idea made me rather pensive.

Whereas the discussion mainly focused on the results of the poll among the 2011 directory participants* and also on the issue of price, a few other things came to my mind as I was considering the options for my entry online. In the first place, the settings to configure your entry are rather scarce. After I chose my languages and ticked off the boxes for both language directions („Sprachrichtungen“), I was confronted with a list of drop-down menus for all possible topic areas („Fachgebiete) to select 9 fields I consider myself a specialist in, sorted neither alphabetically nor by any at first sight comprehensible order. (What’s the point of separately choosing „Anlagenbau“, „Maschinenbau“ and „Gerätebau“, if you already have „Maschinen-, Anlagen,- Gerätebau (“ as an option?)

Next comes „Unterlagenarten“, the second drop-down menu list. This time it is a clearly alphabetical, but still, rather haphazard and arbitrary compilation of technical document types. I am sorry, but is it really worthwhile to consider fine differences between „Bedienungs-, Montage- und Wartungsanleitungen“ and „Gebrauchsanweisungen“ only or „Bedienerführungen“? Do you happen to know any specialist translators for „Schmierpläne“? And, basically, what’s the point of confining yourself to, say, „Angebote“, „Arbeitsaufträge“, „Aufträge“, etc., if you can choose just „Dokumentation ( in the first drop-down menu („Fachgebiete“)?

But hold on, here comes the third list of 21 (!) drop-down menus. This time you could specify translation memory systems you work with! And there arises the biggest problem of all – who is this directory targeted at? My experience is it is only translation agencies which would be interested in the subject of TM systems. As somebody who works for corporate customers directly, I am skilled and trusted to know my way around technical means and choose whatever works best to produce the result, i.e. the end product in the target language. If you were, say, a photographer, would you have better chances to get a job if you stated you work with Aperture, Lightroom 4.0 or 4.1 and Photoshop CS8 to let your customer dabble with your style and processing workflow? Or, if you were a journalist, would somebody care to know if you’d write this article on a PC or Mac? Does the term interoperability ring no bells for you, provider of technical translations or technical translator, or even a Union (BDÜ) of such? I’m not sure if a typical (direct) customer is well aware of the difference between TM (translation memory) and MT (machine translation) and would choose me to translate her documents based on the long list of reference software programs presented as my valuable assets. In fact, I am rather sure my customers choose me because I am a human translator and, as such, provide quality and service which the existing software still fails to achieve.

And then, I would really like to have my website mentioned in the list instead of, say, my fax number. Unfortunately, I didn’t find any possibility to enter my website or delete the fax number other than use the only available line (limited to 60 symbols!) for extra information and confirm my request in the comment window for the editors.

As regards the discussion on the BDÜ forum, I agree with the statement that „we need to be active on all the marketing channels („möglichst alle Werbekanäle besetzen, d.h. sowohl Print als auch Online“, to quote Mr Baur of BDÜ Weiterbildungs- und Fachverlagsgesellschaft). But the biggest question is: Does BDÜ really market itself online? Google up „Übersetzer englisch deutsch“, „Übersetzer suchen“, „Übersetzerverzeichnis“, whatever other key word you might think worth trying, you won’t find any references to BDÜ and any BDÜ links on the first pages with Google results. Instead, you will find a lot of dubious language services and SEO savvy translation agencies. It may sound cruel but the fact is – to potential customers looking for quality translators, BDÜ is non-existent. Or, to put it more politely and also make a reference to the title of this blog post, the print directory is all very well, but BDÜ should really work on its online visibility. Actually, this is also one of the reasons I write about it in my blog and not on the BDÜ „for members only“ forum. The more backlinks will point to BDÜ, the better the visibility of BDÜ and, hence, the more chances we all have, Fachliste published or not.


* Hier die Ergebnisse dieser Umfrage unter den in die „Fachliste Technische Dokumentation“ eingetragenen Mitgliedern:

Anzahl der Umfrageteilnehmer: 209
Gesamtzahl der in die „Fachliste
Technische Dokumentation 2011“
eingetragenen BDÜ-Mitglieder“: 430
Damit beteiligten sich an der Umfrage 48,6 % der in die Fachliste eingetragenen BDÜ-Mitglieder.

Die Fragen wurden wie folgt beantwortet:

Hat Ihnen die Eintragung in die Fachliste Aufträge gebracht?
9,1 % Ja (19)
15,3 % Weiß nicht (32)
75,6 % Nein (158)


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