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New Poll - Paying Translators
This week's poll was suggested by feral claws. Should we or should we not pay translators? Obviously it's not a white and black matter, but it's hard to quantify the shades of gray into a poll, so I just left them out.

You can submit poll ideas here

Previous Poll Results:
Question: Other than synopsis, summary, or plot, what is the main factor that determines which new series to read?
The cover (or first page) - votes: 466 (9.6%)
Art and character design - votes: 1434 (29.4%)
Mangaka (author and artist) - votes: 299 (6.1%)
General popularity - votes: 85 (1.7%)
Genres and categories - votes: 1421 (29.1%)
Ratings, reviews, or recommendations from others - votes: 513 (10.5%)
Whether the series is complete or not - votes: 294 (6%)
The scanlation group - votes: 41 (0.8%)
I come to MU and see a new series on the release page, so I decide to try it - votes: 98 (2%)
I just read random series - votes: 227 (4.7%)
There were 4878 total votes.
The poll ended: September 22nd 2017

Art and genres almost tied! That was pretty close!
Posted by lambchopsil on September 23rd 6:39am Comments ( 37 )  [ View ]  [ Add ]

» MinatoAce on September 23rd, 2017, 12:10am

Still, why no in-between option. LoL
I choose No, it's volunteer work! Labor of love or not at all, but a tone down in-between option would be better I think.


» calstine on September 23rd, 2017, 1:12am

I don't even need a middle-of-the-road option for this one, because my answer is: No. The already murky legal waters surrounding manga scanlation will go off the deep end into 100% illegality once we start paying people for freelance scanlations. The odd donation to cover server costs or to buy the special edition of a tanko or somesuch is one thing, but regularly paying people for their hobby? Heck, no. In that case it'd make more sense to pay more money to professional publishers and have them increase their series/genre range, instead of paying random people and groups on the internet who may vanish without prior notice or not deliver appropriate quality for the price.


» kihi on September 23rd, 2017, 1:42am

Would it be scanlation anymore though?
That already cross the grey area since in this case profit is involved.


» VawX on September 23rd, 2017, 3:24am

I like how the option is just the complete and no in between.

Scanlation by itself is already in grey area and if you throw payment to access, it's just wrong. Nowadays there are more and more groups that ask for donation for buying raw and server, that's fine, but there are also group that even open Patreon and ask money for commission, that's just too far.


» Jelise on September 24th, 2017, 7:53pm

Actually, there is no gray area when it comes to scanlations. The main problem with scanlations is the distribution of translated and edited materials without explicit permission from the owner of said materials. However, if anyone wanted to hire a translator so as to obtain a translated work for their own personal use without permission, it's perfectly legal.


» GGpX on September 23rd, 2017, 5:13am

I voted no, however I have zero issues with scanlators hiring translators to work on specific projects. I've done it myself numerous times.

If there's a specific series you're absolutely dying to do, but can't find anyone to translate it, you'll be stuck for a long time. But if you happen to find someone who's willing to translate it for a certain price and you're okay with that price, I don't have any issue with it.


» cmertb on September 23rd, 2017, 6:53am

Commissions are fine, paying translators is fine, let's just not mix it all up with scanlation. Scanlation is assumed to be volunteer work. But there is a parallel black market that has no name, but is mistakenly referred to as "scanlation", that lives by different rules.


» Reyalsdog on September 23rd, 2017, 7:42am

Seeing how most scanlators can't translate, edit, clean, or even simple things like saving scans into png properly or at all, I wouldn't pay them even a cent. Donations is one thing, paying for work is entirely another and most of them don't deserve any amount of money at all.


» Animechic420 on September 23rd, 2017, 9:37am

Exactly. eyes


» Calamansi on September 23rd, 2017, 8:47am

I think calstine was pretty spot on. Although it's not easy to do so in the light of aggregator sites making money off of volunteer work anyways, I voted no. I always thought the goal of scanlation was to make manga series the scanlators love more accessible to people who otherwise wouldn't have a chance to enjoy them. Growing up in a small Alaskan town, I didn't know manga were actually sold in certain bookstores in the United States until I moved to Texas. I'm really grateful for the opportunity to read gems like Kanata Kara before that time. I fear a scanlation culture that revolves around money would corrupt the passion that goes into it, and we'd see less diversity in series being scanlated and lower quality releases in interest of time.


» Animechic420 on September 23rd, 2017, 9:37am

Let's put it like this: If scanlation group were good at translating, then yes. BUT! If their translations are straight garbage, then no. There are WAY too many groups that don't proofread their works and it all comes out as unreadable trash. mad

What they need to do is learn to edit their shit if they want money.


» SinsI on September 23rd, 2017, 5:45pm

What I think is necessary is the culture of reciprocating for enjoying scanlations - to not just be a leecher, but to contribute something back instead.
If you have the skills, it can be your volunteer work - but if you don't, donating or commissioning scanlation of the works you liked should be just as welcome.
And since vast majority don't have those skills (if you know Japanese, do you really need scanlations?), translators accepting money are just as necessary.


» Akatsubaki on September 24th, 2017, 6:10pm

I'm more surprised to the fact that 49% voted Yes. They absolutely have no idea what scanlation is about. Are majority of these people who voted Yes, scanlations can ask for donations but No, I didn't donate money (I wish I could)? Hmm.


» SinsI on September 25th, 2017, 1:01am

It's just that lack of translators is such a big problem, as those who actually know Japanese don't really need scanlations - so very few of them volunteer for the job.
I have hundreds of series I liked that are sitting in my reading list with no new releases for years - and those series were pretty popular, but no one picked up the mantle after the original scanlators retired.

> They absolutely have no idea what scanlation is about.
Nothing is wrong if the fan outsources part of the job to a professional - it is still scanlation as long as it is distributed free of charge and unlicensed.


» Akatsubaki on September 25th, 2017, 8:53am

If a fan paid for a professional translator for his/her personal use then it's fine. But most of the translators who contributed in scanlations are nonprofessionals. Some cases, they just want to improve their japanese while translating from media (manga) they like. When they are paid, the commisioner would expect good translation quality. Within so few JPTLs in scanlations, how many of them worth to be paid for their work? How many series they can handle? Are scan groups going to ask donation to pay the tls? What I was trying to say with my earlier comment, most people who voted yes, translator should be paid won't spend money to pay the translators. It's okay for scanlation to ask donations, it's okay for translator to be paid, but they couldn't/won't spend any money for those things.

May be in the next poll try to ask, are You willing to pay the translator for theirwork?


» SinsI on September 25th, 2017, 1:42pm

> Some cases, they just want to improve their japanese while translating from media (manga) they like
Or they are fans that grew desperate enough due to lack of translators to pick up Japanese themselves.


» cmertb on September 25th, 2017, 9:01am

Nothing is wrong if the fan outsources part of the job to a professional - it is still scanlation as long as it is distributed free of charge and unlicensed.

No, it isn't scanlation anymore. It is not a part of traditional scanlation culture, to phrase it closer to the original question. Scanlation culture assumes all team members are volunteers. We simply need a different term for this phenomenon.

Also, as a minor quibble, translations are not outsourced to professionals. The vast majority of those who take money for translating manga for scanlation purposes are amateurs just like those who do it for free. Often it's the same person, doing certain projects for free and then getting paid for others.


» SinsI on September 25th, 2017, 11:38am

If you receive money for your work - you are a professional and not an amateur, no matter your level.


» cmertb on September 25th, 2017, 5:15pm

If you get paid a fraction of what actual pros are paid, then you're no pro.


» SinsI on September 25th, 2017, 9:56pm

Your price level has nothing to do with you being a pro - making a living out of it is the only thing that matters.


» cmertb on September 26th, 2017, 8:02am

I've yet to see anyone who makes a living from tling for scanlation. The going rate is peanuts. So, no pros.

Paid tls aren't common, but they have been more common than you think. It's a matter of hanging out with the right groups to have opportunities come across. I haven't done it myself, but I have hooked up other tlers with those willing to pay them when I was more active in scanlation. And yes, there were some very much not fringe groups that I know used to pay tlers because their whole business model relied on speed. I haven't been keeping up lately, but I suspect that there's even more paid translation going on these days.

In my own experience, I had no problems finding people to sponsor raws, and I have been offered unsolicited "donations" just to scanlate something faster. The thing is, leechers would be wiling to pay for specific projects that they personally care about -- I don't know what exactly you tried, but my guess is that you offered people to sponsor any project from your list without making sure that you're reaching the fans of that particular manga.


» Gradonil_Ral on September 25th, 2017, 10:46am

While I understand paying a top-notch translator for a project you really wanna do, but are unable to find anybody decent to translate for free, I'm against the idea that all translations should be paid for.

However, I wouldn't mind if a group took on a sponsored project, but all positions should be paid for their work then.


» MangaWrym on September 25th, 2017, 5:28pm

As someone who's just barely starting to dip their feet into translating from JP->EN, I would not want to be paid for my noob translations lol.

On the other hand, while I wouldn't mind getting paid, but money isn't the reason why I'm learning to translate. I like reading the native language, and like the story/artwork/characters enough to want to spread the love to other people who might not have the resources to learn the language themselves.

Also, I think there is a big difference here if the native work is already available online for free, then TLs of it should not cost any money at all. On the other hand if the native work is only available through purchase, then it's up to the fans if they want to donate to scanlations groups AND BUY THE ORIGINAL WORK TO SUPPORT THE AUTHOR, or support it in some other way ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.


» gwkimmy on September 25th, 2017, 9:30pm

In several of the groups I follow there are members who are actually part of official translating licenses of other manga, so I kind of find it funny lol. many of them have since retired because of the demands of the job, however sad

I see several people who live abroad in japan commission scanlations to the community and i see nothing wrong. As long as people don't individually charge for scanlations then I don't see how the culture has changed that much. I'd say aggregator sites have made the largest cultural shift out of anything in scanlation


» Kalendel on September 26th, 2017, 3:50am

I'd actually like to know where all these paid translators are... been scanlating 10 years, never came across anyone offering to pay me (or other JPN translators) to translate something. I think this is actually very uncommon, outside of a few fringe groups that actively raise money/charge to pay translators. (If you consider the going rate of $1/page, you're looking at $150-200/volume... generally not feasible for a single fan to sponsor, unless they've got a nice job with plenty of cash to burn.)

Back when I was working at The End, we tested out asking fans to sponsor translations -- the fans could pick any of the ~400 dropped/incomplete projects to sponsor its completion. We had a few translators sign up for a pay of $0.5/page. Then we asked a fan to sponsor half the cost, and if that happened, we'd crowdsource the rest. So figure if the manga had 100 pgs left to translate, it'd cost $50, and the sponsor would need to pony up $25 of that (crowdsource the rest ala kickstarter). Zero takers after a couple months, so I ended the experiment. Most people aren't willing/able to pay translators even a small amount, let alone a reasonable rate for full volumes.

There are plenty of amateur translators out there who'd love paid jobs (even at a low rate, at all skill levels), but there really aren't that many opportunities. Hell, I'd have happily taken a couple jobs to help defray the cost of buying manga to scan =P

Oh, and I see nothing wrong with this, btw. As long as the scanlation is released free to the public, having fans who want to see it done sponsor for any part of it (trans, edits, etc) is fine to me. The exception is threatening to drop a project unless peeps pay for it, thereby forcing readers to sponsor it (not really free at that point).


» SinsI on September 26th, 2017, 10:00pm

Web novel sites like WuxiaWorld demonstrate that there are plenty of people willing to sponsor chapters - as long as you market and price it right.
I.e. instead of "pay me nothing, I release nothing" they go with "pay me nothing, I release 5 chapters a week, and for each extra 40$ I'd release an extra chapter" - and they end up releasing 3 times that due to all the sponsors.
Oh, and web novel chapters take around 6- 8 times longer than the typical 16-20-page manga chapters to translate, so you end up looking at equivalent of 25 cents per manga page for the sponsored extra pages, thus your "$0.5/page" translators are not under - but overpriced, especially if you consider that manga is, usually, much easier to translate.

Hentai scanlators also have no problem finding people willing to commission one-shot releases from them.

So figure if the manga had 100 pgs left to translate, it'd cost $50, and the sponsor would need to pony up $25 of that

Let me guess - most of those incomplete mangas had a few tankoubons missing, right? And they were dropped quite long ago - so most of their fans already forgot about them?
Now, just what could be wrong with that? roll

Scanlate something high-rated and ongoing, like Kingdom - and you'll have no problem gathering $750 over ~40 chapters (that you can donate to your nearest cancer foundation) without any explicit promises...


» calstine on September 27th, 2017, 10:44am

Quote from Kalendel
Oh, and I see nothing wrong with this, btw. As long as the scanlation is released free to the public, having fans who want to see it done sponsor for any part of it (trans, edits, etc) is fine to me. The exception is threatening to drop a project unless peeps pay for it, thereby forcing readers to sponsor it (not really free at that point).

Actually, I've seen that happen. Won't name the group(s), but I've encountered people saying, "No one's paying for this manga, so we're dropping it," or "Since we couldn't reach the goal on this series, chapters will be coming out very slowly, fyi." And then said series either gets dropped completely or chapters come out at the rate of 1-2 per year.

And what, really, is the point of getting people to pay freelancers to scanlate popular series? In the end, popular series get licensed, get good anime adaptations, etc., so you can either buy the official volumes or just watch the anime on Crunchyroll/Amazon Strike...with the money that you'd be paying the freelancers. I thought the point of scanlation was to bring series that aren't popular/considered western-market-suitable enough to be licensed to an audience that doesn't know Japanese. If everyone is going to just fund popular series, then, well, that's the end of scanlation as we know it, and we'll have on our hands a black market trade in scanlations of popular series...making it indistinguishable from typical publication, but with added illegality that will have a backlash not just on them, but on traditional non-profit scanlation groups.

Also, I don't get how the results of the previous polls and this one match up. The majority think donating to scanlators is wrong or say they can't/won't do it, then turn around and say it's A-okay to have a "scanlation culture of paid translation"? It doesn't make sense...


» cmertb on September 27th, 2017, 12:44pm

Quote from calstine
Also, I don't get how the results of the previous polls and this one match up. The majority think donating to scanlators is wrong or say they can't/won't do it, then turn around and say it's A-okay to have a "scanlation culture of paid translation"? It doesn't make sense...

I don't know which poll you're referring to, but I think the majority clearly stated they think it's okay to donate to scanlators. Those who say they can't/won't, choose that answer because they're cheap or destitute, not because they think it's wrong. So all the polls are consistent with each other.


» Kalendel on September 27th, 2017, 4:21pm

Ah, didn't mean to step on a land mine here. I don't work on popular stuff, so I don't know how those groups operate (speed groups, groups that do licensed series, etc.).

I more meant, if you've got a fan (or small group of fans) that want to sponsor the whole project in advance, pay to buy the tank to scan, pay for trans, even pay for edits if required -- and then release it for free -- totally fine in my mind. Might not be any other way to get it done, if it's an obscure title. But I can see how that doesn't work cleanly in the case of long, popular, or ongoing series...

Having a constant "donate" button up, or persistently asking for cash isn't the same thing. I'm talking about having a steady person to fund it, who wants to, not requiring that funding comes in along the way. And preferably planning it all and securing funds before the project starts.

Gradonil and GGpX said it with a far less word salad than me.

Anyway -.-; I'm starting to get that a lot of the groups that do popular stuff operate way differently, and I've simply been spared that knowledge because I ignore that stuff.

@Sinsi: The experiment at The End likely failed because the series weren't popular, and most quite old; one of the rules for that group essentially prohibits long series. I know series with a decent fan base can easily raise cash when needed -- I twice successfully raised funds to import volumes for some longer series I was working on -- so I was thinking the experiment had a chance. But no surprise, the short (1-3 volume) series didn't have the same pull to draw in sponsors to commission translations.


» SinsI on September 27th, 2017, 7:37pm

No, it is because you:
1) didn't demonstrate your ability/quality of work
2) didn't create new fans for the series, but were just trying to take money from the existing fans
3) didn't post your offer in places where existing fans of the series gather
4) were asking for a very big amount up front

If you were to scanlate and release at least a few chapters first, and were gathering (small!) donations for the next ones - you wouldn't be facing zero offers.

If there really was a fan that was willing to pay a lot to scanlate some older series - why should he hire you, and why didn't he hire someone else - long ago?
Hell, he might even publish it through his own site and recoup some of his expenses through donations and ads!


» Kalendel on September 28th, 2017, 3:56am

Wow, I don't have that mentality. Releasing a few chapters and *then* asking for cash (i.e., milking fans) is not the same thing as having someone offer up front to cover the cost of the entire trans so the project can just get done. I'm not cool with starting something without the means (volunteers, or funds) to finish the project. And again, I'm talking about short projects.

I think we're talking about very different things, apples and oranges. A culture of pay-to-release on long/popular series vs. a way for a single fan with cash to get short obscure series actually done.

There's a clear distinction to me, at least smile I have zero interest in most of the stuff you're talking about, though I'm now understanding that it's not an uncommon mentality...


» SinsI on September 29th, 2017, 3:16am

Just put yourself in the shoes of that someone who you are asking the money from and answer - would you be willing to hire such a freelancer, who is extremely picky with what to translate, who hasn't shown his portfolio or his dedication to that work? Who can guarantee that he would finish it with decent quality and in a timely manner (if at all)?
That's exactly why releasing first a few chapters on your own and asking for only a small amount from each fan is a must - at the worst the fans can consider it their payment for the work you've already done, even if you disappear afterward.


» svines85 on September 26th, 2017, 9:28am

Yes, specifically in regards to the prevalence of paid "scanlation" efforts (I'm phrasing it like this, just for this point, because many of the outfits will only do it that wanna pay 'em to translate, you've gotta pay 'em to typeset it too, = more money), cmertb is absolutely right. And yeah, I'd just assume it's the sites you're on, how hard you're looking for it, etc., etc., but I see paid efforts, and their advertising for such, each and every day, and not just from one or two outfits. And yes, have sent many, many people down the road with a list of links in their hand as to who they could approach about taking their money since, well, that's what they wanted and were asking about. Lots of them out there.


» EternalNightmare on September 27th, 2017, 6:00am

If enuff mony get involved then theres going to be enuff mony in it for someone to take legal action for that mony which will potentially be a problem for the whole community. Also asking if translators being paid for their work make it sound like what they are doing is nothing illegal at all. The sentiment seem more like we are already doing something illegal so we might as well make some money of it.


» svines85 on September 27th, 2017, 9:33am

Quote from EternalNightmare
If enuff mony get involved then theres going to be enuff mony in it for someone to take legal action for that mony which will potentially be a problem for the whole community.

Yup, this is really the overall bottom line on the last few polls we've had involving money and scalations, and exactly what goes through my mind every time I see the worst of them (saw one just a few minutes ago)......openly huckstering for pay for chapters. It's like, my God, are you trying to get your door kicked in? D:


» cmertb on September 28th, 2017, 7:54am

It's not a matter of mentality, but of practicality. It's pretty much the only way to reach the fans of that particular series. If you don't release something from that series, you can't communicate with them.


» mysstris on September 29th, 2017, 11:41pm

No i don't believe in it for various reasons but there is one big one. Not going to bother saying it since it's not going to stop those who ask for money or have a donation button nor is it going to stop those who have the money to spare and give. And if anyone is going to force it by threatening to drop a project, honestly it's not worth it then. Personally don't think a lot of series aren't worth forking cash over for. There are a hand full of series that I enjoy and recently the series I follow end up being licensed and released for publication eventually. There are a few smart series I wish would be published since I'd love to purchase for my humble little library but if it doesn't happen, it is what it is unfortunately. Fingers crossed for the day they get that licensing deal.


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