Right, fairly solid arguments, just a few points to comment on:
I can imagine the "uncommidified" corner can only exist in some areas, such as ads copy
A few more areas than that, namely the technical, financial and legal. Translation as an industry is still growing with global trade, so some addressable demand for non-commodity translation should be around for at least the foreseeable future.
Buyers come to the site with a mental model.
If I can communicate to them that (a) You only pay the translator directly or (b) you pay a posting fee and the translator directly (as per a job board) then I'd probably be able to clear up the confusion a bit.
I'm just in two minds now over the model.
To fill up the marketplace? It will attract the crappies, cheapest, most unreliable types.
In this model, where agencies pay but freelancers/buyers don't, there is a conflict of interest if the agencies work with crappy translators. Which many do, after presenting top translators' CVs and qualifications. Remember though that I'm only approving accounts for verifiably experienced translators. So the crappies don't get through. It's not a problem to fill the supply side. For agencies to be high quality I'd need to see ISO certification (I know, I know, but it's a start) and check their reputation from various sources. There are also national/international translation agency associations with codes of conduct. That kind of thing.
Agencies are expected to support their own competition in the race to the bottom? o_O
Fun point, but I don't see it playing out like that, given the above. If they want another source of leads and some simple placement tools for languages they can't cover (at that particular moment), a cheap subscription wouldn't be an unreasonable purchase. To my mind, at least. Presumably they'd be confident enough in their services to put their own USP forward in their proposals. They can truly take the leg-work out of a large translation project for buyers, at a cost.
The issue is [...] that the value is not demonstrated.
Yep. For sure. After a reply or two more I'll post my checklist for the new main landing page. Perhaps see if it makes sense to you.