Faces in the Crowd: Translation Crowdsourcing

April 12, 2011 by Alyssa Paris
Category: Crowdsourcing, Localization Tips, Top Ten

Crowdsourcing is hot. And not just in the tech world. The crowd is changing the face of the translation industry with every passing day. There’s even a buzz phrase for it: social localization.

Regina Bustamente from Guideware and Janice Campbell from Adobe recently gave a talk at the Acclaro San Francisco office on tips for making translation crowdsourcing projects successful. Here are a few highlights:

  • Faces in the crowdDepending on the nature of your products (consumer or enterprise, etc.) you are likely to have different user groups. Remember that open-source techies do not share the same skill sets with your followers on Facebook, for example. You will want to make sure and encourage collaboration within the right user group for a particular translation project.
  • Brand evangelists who are in situ (in-country) are among the most appropriate translators for the lingo and product-specific jargon you need translated. They will be more familiar with street speak than you are. Use this to your advantage.
  • Make contributors identify themselves – you don’t want this to be an anonymous collaboration. Identification will create a space of accountability.
  • The crowd will often self-correct and manage vetting and quality assurance (QA) on its own. Users tend to let you know which translations and translators they disapprove of.
  • Since your users are not linguists, you’ll need a different quality model when evaluating content. Remember, these are free translations. Do not compare them to professional quality.   
  • Provide a user-friendly interface that facilitates “rating” translations so that the crowd can give a thumbs up or thumbs down to users’ translations and vet the quality.
  • You may want to develop an algorithm that helps define the quality of translation that you want to ultimately achieve. This can correspond to translations that score two notches above the average rating by your users, for example.
  • Work with a professional translation agency to perform QA of the final translations. A lot of users will enjoy translating the flashy stuff but may take less pleasure in working on legal disclaimers and the small print at the bottom of your web page. You will likely need to partner with a vendor to complete the last 20% of your project.
  • Stay engaged with your community and respond immediately to requests and comments. These are your brand evangelists and your fans. Reward them when possible. Incentivize them to continue to collaborate.
  • Since your users are not employees, some may contribute steadily for three weeks and then drop off the face of the planet. You will always need to have a back-up plan in mind.
  • Provide open-source translation memory (TM) software, such as Lingotech to your translators, but remember that as laymen, they may find the translation tools challenging and cumbersome. Whenever possible, ease the learning curve for them with tutorials. If you have the resources, you can also integrate your own TM tools. Use the highest-rated translations for your vocabulary input. 
  • Once you have honed in on the terminology that your best users employ in-country, repurpose the vocabulary and edit your website, corporate communications and marketing campaigns with these terms. Doing so will improve your international SEO performance.

Photo attribution: Oliver Wilke

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