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Translators Against Crowdsourcing

LinkedIn annoys professional translators

Seems designers are not the only ones upset over being asked to work for free.

LinkedIn – the professional networking site with 41 million members where relationships matter – has today managed to mightily annoy professional translators who use the site by asking them if they would like to translate the LinkedIn site in exchange for a LinkedIn badge or because it’s fun.

Does this sound familiar?

put me in touch with a professional, English and German-speaking painter and decorator with 15 years of experience, who will strip the old wallpaper off all rooms of a house consisting of 20 apartments and offices and will then paint each room, preferably each in a different colour, naturally by tomorrow afternoon, and FOR FREE, I will be pleased, on satisfactory completion of the work, to translate the term LinkedIn into a language of my choice.

Translators have responded by not only creating a dedicated group on LinkedIn, Translators against Crowdsourcing by Commercial Businesses, but by flooding twitter too. They have also asked to become a part of the NO!SPEC Campaign.

You can read all about it at MatthewBennett /blog.

Artists say no too: Use Their Work Free? Artists Say No to Google – NYTimes.com

A thank you goes to Tom’s Cano Binder and Matthew Bennett for the heads up.

Translators, welcome to the NO!SPEC Campaign!

AIGA & NO!SPEC: It’s all About Education

The spec watch is finally over

Back in February we had the Forbes Says Designers are Snooty fiasco.

During it all, we received this good news:

Debbie Millman has now been asked by AIGA to chair a task force in an effort to understand the various sentiments about this practice in both the design community and the broader creative community, and report back to the National Board our findings and potential recommendations at the National Board retreat in April, and to share these findings at the Leadership Retreat in June.

Since then, there were concerns about the outcome: Would AIGA soften their stance on working spec, or would they stand firm?

Knowing that I had concerns (it’s what I do), Debbie Millman emailed, ‘have you seen this?’

AIGA’s official position on spec work:

AIGA, the professional association for design, believes that professional designers should be compensated fairly for the value of their work and should negotiate the ownership or use rights of their intellectual and creative property through an engagement with clients.

AIGA acknowledges that speculative work occurs among clients and designers. Instead of working speculatively, AIGA strongly encourages designers to enter into projects with full engagement to continue to show the value of their creative endeavor. Designers and clients should be aware of all potential risks before entering into speculative work.

AIGA is committed to informing designers, students, educators, clients and the general public on the risks of compromising the design process though information, materials and services that can help in forging a healthy working relationship between designers and their clients.

When I asked Debbie where they aim to go next with the spec campaign, she replied, ‘As far as where we go next–we will be in Portland Oregon next week for the AIGA leadership retreat where we will roll it out to all of the local chapters and leaders.’

THEN THE WORLD!
: )

Fabulous :-D

And btw Debbie. Congratulations on taking over as the The National President of AIGA on July 1. We all need you in that position, for sure.

Comments on Spec Work and Crowdsourcing

From the previous post, CreativePro: Spec Work and Crowdsourcing, I thought I’d grab a few of the opinions from the comments.

Shale Grant said: Thanks for your constant and steadfast guard over working on spec. I’ve done both (have my own design firm and have submitted to Crowdspring and frankly no one’s forcing the designers to submit. Some can handle it – some (apparently) cannot. If you don’t like it, don’t do the work on spec! Simple!

If I were a prospective client, I’d think you’re coming across as a whiner. Under the aegis of not giving the client the best they can get, I feel like you haven’t really understood what Crowdspring actually does for the client (they have a chance to answer any questions a designer wishes to ask, not to mention have to fill out a rationale anyway)- only weighing in on how it affects YOU, which makes me think you’re really not in it for the client’s best interest – or for that matter superlative design.

I think you just want to whine in order to justify your client inevitably overpaying for design by you. Face it: it’s the way things are. Either swim or get out of the way.

Several designers posted their opinions to dear Shale Grant, so please take the time to read them.

There is one comment in particular I’d like to share here.

Steve Douglas: Shale, I see spec and design contests as an industry issue – relevant to designers, buyers of design and yes, design firms.

The argument “well, some people do it, and they’re not being forced to” has no bearing on whether anything is good, effective or productive. It’s actually a classic case of the bandwagon or “Argumentum ad populum” logical fallacy – “the mere fact that a belief is widely held is not necessarily a guarantee that the belief is correct”. Lots of people smoke, nobody’s forcing them to, but no-one would use that argument as being illustrative that smoking isn’t harmful to the individual or society itself. The numbers of people participating on spec is, to be blunt, irrelevant.

I’m not sure why expressing a view that YOU should get paid for YOUR work is whining, but no mind. When talking to other designers who participate in spec, let me say this – to a person, they’d ALL prefer to be paid for their work. They’d rather get paid for EVERY contest or spec offering they enter. None of them, and I do mean NONE, actually WANT to give their time or talents away for free. They participate for a myriad of reasons, ranging from desperation to not being aware of alternatives, to the honest belief that they will somehow manage to make a decent living with design contest winnings (most find out rather quickly that they won’t). Unless you are the lone ‘professional’ designer who prefers not getting paid for your services, we probably agree on that one basic premise. Accordingly, I’m not sure how my stance could be determined as “whining”.

In terms of Crowdspring, I don’t want to dwell too long on them specifically, but as you brought them to the table – their website is 100% set up for the abuse of designers, many times as the hands of small business people who aren’t even aware they’re taking liberties. I don’t give a tinker’s toss about how much Crowdspring charges – that’s never been an issue of mine – my issue had always been that designers are exploited on sites like Crowdspring (and being exploited voluntarily has no bearing on whether something is exploitative or not), often by clients hoping to get ‘more for less’ while actually running a very high risk of obtaining inferior design work. Or worse. The vast majority of work on Crowdspring is, to be charitable, amateur (shouldn’t be surprising – design by amateurs is one of Crowdspring’s selling points to attract, well, amateur designers). By the way, this isn’t my opinion, but the published opinion of people who’ve reviewed CS services POSITIVELY on their blogs after running contests. The amount of copied art and stock artwork (submitted as logos) is astonishing. Again, don’t take MY word for this. Read Crowdspring’s own forums for complaints by designers who are otherwise quite happy tinkering around on the so-called “community”.

In terms of what Crowdspring does and the client-designer interaction, I must disagree. Pretty strongly too. The ‘buyers’ NEVER listen to the designer’s suggestions, even when told that what they’ve requested isn’t going to work (especially from a technical POV). All communication is FROM the buyer to the designer, never the other way around. Whatever communication from the designers to the client is usually the “yes sir, no sir – I await your next command, sir” variety. When utilizing people who are supposedly knowledgeable in their craft, the buyers never utilize that portion of the designers’ skillset. Their knowledge and/or experience. It’s akin to me taking my car to a mechanic and ignoring them completely when they tell me my wheels are going to fall off. And that, by the way, is if the ‘buyers’ communicate at all. Read the Crowdspring forum and read how designers carp that the lack of communication is a real hindrance to many contests. The management of Crowdspring have even taken to encouraging communication, suggesting that active participation means more entries. There’s lots more issues we could discuss, but rather than turn this into a Crowdspring-bashing thread, let’s leave it for another day.

In terms of my personal motivations, I’ve always been pretty pragmatic when it comes to business, so If I honestly believed that a service like Crowdspring was good for designers, good for clients, good for the industry (and profitable to boot) I’d be busy setting up my own logo design platform rather than blathering on some blog. I run a small design shop (and have so since 1996), staffed by people who have extensive backgrounds in design and online marketing, so converting my custom shop to a so-called design “crowdsourcing” platform would be a relatively easy transition. Accordingly, “if I were only weighing in on how it affects (ME)” and thought spec sites were a step forward, I’d have launched a logo design contest site years ago, and rather than debating with you on a blog, I’d be inviting you to come work on my site, supplying my ‘buyers’ with your artwork, for free. Which, apparently, you’d be quite happy to do.

Alas, I DO believe that spec sites like Crowdspring are exploitative, harmful for designers and a second-rate solution for clients. I also have to live with myself and would never expect you (or any other designer for that matter) to work for me without payment. Old school? Maybe. A Dinosaur? Perhaps. Whiner? Hardly. Continuing on my personal angle, I’d also like to point out that not once have I EVER suggested that people hire my firm rather than employ Crowdspring or another spec solution. Rather, I’ve suggested that spec contests are not terribly effective (my blog contains a myriad of evidence) and that design buyers have a ton of OTHER alternatives, ranging from small design shops to independent freelancers. As there’s nothing in your comment to indicate that I’m incorrect, I’ll stick by that stance.

I notice you close with the old “evolve or die” (or in your case, “swim or get our of the way”) chestnut. Not the first time anyone who’s been online for a while has heard that. Remember spam e-mail? When it first hit the scene back in the mid-nineties, the exact same rationale and arguments were used by the Direct Marketing associations. People complaining about spam were called dinosaurs. The JHD (Just Hit Delete) folks told those of us who hated our e-mail accounts being saturated with porn and pharma junk that we were “whining”, and trying to stand in the way of people getting “great money saving offers”. Spam e-mail was actually defended as being a positive thing for people getting it, as well as the small companies who couldn’t afford traditional advertising, who had started using it to deliver their message. Fast forward 15 years and spam e-mail accounts for over 80% of ALL Internet traffic, costs the world-wide economy billions and is a major headache for anyone trying to do anything online, from sending pics of the grand kids to parents, to running an online shopping business. This idea that all business models made possible by technology are positive is rubbish. Use of technology is what you “can do”. That needs to be tempered by what you “should do”. In terms of your comment “it’s the way things are”, and continuing with our analogy, the same can be said of spam. Are we better off because of it? Hardly.

Shale, thank you for posting your opinion.

And Steve, once again, thank you for taking the time to share your experience and views.

Cat

CreativePro: Spec Work and Crowdsourcing

Spec Work and Crowdsourcing, when will they ever learn?

Pamela Pfiffner, writer and founding editor of CreativePro.com, recently put together a timely article for designers: Spec Work and Crowdsourcing: Gambles that Don’t Pay Off.

The economy’s in the toilet and you’re hungry for jobs, so you’re working on spec or posting designs to sites like CrowdSpring. It’s understandable. The problem is, spec and crowdsourcing can lower your value and hourly rates so far that minimum wage looks like a fat paycheck. Here’s what to do instead.

Quoted in the article are two eloquent fighters against all things spec: Steve Douglas and Jeff Fisher.

Steve Douglas of The Logo Factory: “According to [CrowdSpring’s] home page, designers have submitted over 219,000 entries” as of this April 2009. “If we average each entry out to an hour’s worth of a designer’s time, and that’s a hugely underrated figure, that equates to 25 years of unpaid designer labor.”

Jeff Fisher of Jeff Fisher LogoMotives: “The only thing worse than a potential client who does not value the efforts of a professional graphic designer is a designer who doesn’t appreciate the value of their own time and work.”

I know you can read the article for yourself (and I hope you do). But the reason I’m placing their quotes here is because of their tireless fight against spec work.

That’s right. Crusades may come and go, but the real heroes are those who fight the long fight.

So THANK YOU Steve, Jeff, Pamela, Terri and everyone else out there who continues to say NO to spec.

The Logo Factor: Why you should crowdsource your logo

If you’ve been keeping up with the comments on David Airey’s post, Forbes calls designers snooty, you couldn’t possibly have missed the excellent points made by Steve Douglas from The Logo Factory.

Steve has long been on top of the spec issue with significant posts such as Logo Design Contest Copycats, Why logo contests don’t work and Logo Design Contests. Fun and all.

During the Forbes conversation, Steve came out with Design is a “snooty” business: Forbes.

And now he’s gone one further with Why you should crowdsource your logo.

First-rate Steve. As usual.

Forbes Says Designers are Snooty

Two weeks ago, Christopher Steiner, a senior reporter with Forbes Magazine, sent me an email with FORBES MAGAZINE QUERY!!! in the subject line.

After a back and forth with Christopher, interviews were set up with top designers in the industry. Busy designers, who agreed to take time out of their workload to talk via phone with Christopher.

Designers such as…

The fabulous Debbie Millman of Sterling Brands, Design Matters (Voice of America), author of How To Think Like A Great Graphic Designer and Essential Principles of Graphic Design, and board member of the National AIGA.

Also included was popular logo designer Jeff Fisher of Jeff Fisher LogoMotives, bLog-oMotives, author of The Savvy Designer’s Guide to Success and Identity Crisis!, as well as member of the HOW Magazine Editorial Advisory Board, UCDA Designer Magazine Editorial Advisory Board, and HOW Design Conference Advisory Council.

The first interviews were missed. The second missed too. With no explanation. No email of apology from Christopher.

The next thing we know, Christopher’s article ad is out with this charming blurb in bold…

Xxxx aims to slash the cost of graphic design work–and democratize a snooty business.

Way to go Forbes.

This is not a well researched, balanced article. It’s an ad for yet another bottom feeder in the design industry. That, and a testament to Christopher’s professionalism. And Forbes, well… what does it say about Forbes?

David Airey was the first to post opinions with Forbes calls designers snooty. Design Observer’s Observed section sported a blurb, as did SpeakUp’s Quipsologies. Swiss Miss then came in with Forbes calls designers snooty. Steph Doyle posted about the subject with Forbes Promotes Graphic Design Kitsch. Brian Yerks came out with one of his own. As did Steve from the LogoFactory, with Design is a “snooty” business: Forbes. Then Jeff Andrews posted Forbes Magazine: Graphic Design is a Snooty Business. The design forums are debating this subject as we speak.

UPDATE: Debbie Millman has now been asked by AIGA to ‘chair a task force in an effort to understand the various sentiments about this practice in both the design community and the broader creative community, and report back to the National Board our findings and potential recommendations at the National Board retreat in April, and to share these findings at the Leadership Retreat in June.’

If anyone would like to contact Deb about this matter, follow this link to AIGA’s discussion on spec.

This morning Terri Stone, editor in chief at CreativePro.com, requested an interview on the subject of working spec. Knowing Terri as I do, it’s sure to be a professional, well researched article.

Aquent, 99Designs and the Design Industry

Mark Rushworth just contacted us about a post he’s written, Aquent Vs the Design Industry.

Seems Aquent thought it was a good idea to post a contest at 99Designs. Hmmm…

How could a company such as Aquent (connected to the AIGA), be so out of touch with the design industry? If they didn’t want to take on board what AIGA had to say (and seems they didn’t), then all they had to do was google 99Designs and read a few of the opinions out there from established designers. Right?

Please check it out as it is interesting reading…

Qbn: aquent site redesign-spec work
Aquents blog: Design Contests: Betrayal of Everything We Stand For?
Aquents Facebook: Redesign Aquent’s Homepage

From Aquent: First of all, I view this as an experiment. What can we get if we take this approach? We could get a bunch of junk, which would reinforce the idea that you can’t get good design this way. Maybe we’ll get something good. Maybe someone who wouldn’t otherwise have the chance to show their stuff will get noticed. Who knows?

Well, I guess they know now.

NO!SPEC Posters: Poster by Jeremy Yamaguchi

Finally, I give you Spectors Beware! by Jeremy Yamaguchi from Zero Designs. Thanks Jeremy! (and apologies for my tardiness…)

Spectors Beware!

Jeremy’s poster can be downloaded here.

As before, check out posters by Dagmar Jeffrey, Jerett Patterson, George Gruel, Chad Behnke, Jeff Andrews, Rob Gough and Von Glitschka.

The NO!SPEC posters are 300 dpi, CMYK and/or spot color, PDF printable on A4 and Letter.

If you are interested in contributing a poster design for usage in promoting NO!SPEC just contact us for the logo files. Note: It might take us a little while to get them up, but get them up we will.

420 Design Blog on Design Contests

Design contests don’t bring the best of anything.

From Angie: Just under a week ago I received an email from an employee from what I presume is Lord & Taylor’s PR firm telling me (albeit not personally as it was clearly a mass email) all about Lord & Taylor’s contest and that I might be interested The terms go on and in fact, strip away any copyrights from not only the winning entrant, but ALL entrants:

From Lord & Taylor’s: All submissions of photos, artists’ entries and other materials and elements of this contest are the property of Lord & Taylor and its affiliates and will not be returned to the participants.

From Angie: If for some awful reason you enter the contest, the artwork doesn’t even belong to you anymore – even if you don’t win! This is WRONG. In a real world situation where a company has sought out a design firm, only the finished work is what the company ends up owning. The sketches and thrown out ideas are still the property of the designers. This is the way it should always be.

She has a good point there. And more. For the full story, go to Angie’s Design contests don’t bring the best of anything.