This blog post is written in response to the following articles:

  1. Facebook Taps Users to Create Translated Versions of Site” by Michael Arrington, TechCrunch, January 21, 2008
  2. Can Companies Obtain Free Professional Services through Crowdsourcing?” by Adam Wooten,, February 18, 2011
  3. People-powered Translation at Machine Speed” by Jessica Roland, MultiLingual, January 2014

Jessica Roland put it best: Translation Crowdsourcing utilizes “the freedom of the cloud with the collaboration of the crowd,” bringing together a community of volunteer translators at their best. It must be admitted early on, however, that the nature of crowdsourcing has its shadows as well. As Wikipedia and Facebook have testified in the past, unintentional or malicious so-called mistranslations can make a wicked appearance. Translation crowdsourcing is not free either. On the bright side, luckily, with the right management process, technology, and oversight, translation crowdsourcing can result in a high-quality product that does justice for the efforts and knowledge of the community.

So why use it? Mainly, speed. Companies have witnessed high-translation quality, that would have otherwise been accomplished over the course of several months, actually be delivered within a matter of days. Moreover, translation crowdsourcing provides the benefit of immediate access to the most updated technology as well as a very specific brand image and loyalty to and from customers. Facebook, for example, is the best real-world demonstration of this accomplishment, as its global users have joined hand in hand to translate the website into multiple languages, including German, French, and Spanish.

Paid translation crowdsourcing has its power of dynamism and modern humanity. No other translation method would represent the current generation and world we live in better than translation crowdsourcing provided by the people themselves. However, in terms of translation management system, there are quite a few more factors to consider. First, the TMS must be simple, streamlined, and intuitive rather than the complex model that traditional translators use. The design must be able to support a large group of people, particularly because the breath of translation crowdsourcing lies on a community of passionate folks for one subject. Thus, the TMS would not only have an aspect of technical management but also people management.

Translation crowdsourcing is only possible when key factors fall into the right place at the right time. Do we have a “happy crowd” that is willing to pour in the hours and effort? Do we have a passion project that is applicable to this large group? Is the cost entailed straightforward and transparent for the stakeholders? Does it cost less than traditional translation? Do we have a self-explanatory TMS that is capable of streamlining the vast pool of phrases, terms, and expressions provided by multiple generations within the same group of community translators?

When these questions are answered properly and effectively, translation crowdsourcing done right can be a solid game changer.

Categories: Localization

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