Volunteers Need the Right Tools to Crowdsource Translations

Okay, let’s see. Machine translation is done by a machine. Professional translation is done by professional translators. Crowdsourced translation is done by…a crowd? A crowd of what? Where did it come from, and how can it translate a website or mobile app?

The term “crowdsource” is sometimes confusing but it’s akin to “engaged volunteer”. Interested participants can volunteer their time and expertise on various projects, whether its web translation or science or, well, here’s a list. Internet giants like Foursquare & Path use crowdsourcing to translate their web and mobile applications, as well as IMVU and Cloudflare, because it’s a great way to engage their bilingual users, while expanding into new markets.

Better Tools = Better Translation Quality

A common misconception is that crowdsourced translations are lower quality than professional, and yes, sometimes that’s true. But an engaged crowd of users who love your product can often richly contribute to translation. Not to mention, you can’t expect great translations if you aren’t giving your volunteers the right tools. After all, Cloudflare didn’t translate its web application into 14 languages in 3 days by asking volunteer translators to use difficult, out-of-date translation software, or worse – by handing them text out of context. 

Smartling’s Crowd Dashboard

Smartling’s translation management system solves these issues, by providing software to recruit, train, and engage volunteer translators to participate in your translation project. Using our tools to crowdsource translation, volunteers can view:

  • Completed translations
  • Strings available for translation
  • Percentage complete

Volunteers can also:

  • search for specific URLs
  • translate content in context via the translation interface
  • view most active volunteers via the Top Translators leaderboard
  • view logged in volunteers (bolded on the leaderboard)

These features make the translation process manageable – for both project owners and volunteers. Quality is dramatically improved with Smartling’s contextual interface but, as compared to translating strings out of context, you can keep concerns at bay with extra layers of review. Smartling’s flexible translation workflow lets you customize the review process with any combination of professional translators, trusted internal sources, or even a dedicated volunteer.

Crowdsourcing Fun

When you’ve got the right tools in place, you’ll find that volunteers find the process to be – dare we say it – fun. For a product or service they love, they’re happy to bring it to their own languages, but you need to keep the process simple to keep them happy (and translating).

Plus, happy volunteers are chatty volunteers:

Хе-хе, благодаря Артему Жукову Path полностью переведен на русский!twitpic.com/9879s1

— Leonid Efremov (@leonid_efremov) April 10, 2012

(Translation: Hehe, Path is completely translated to Russian thanks to Artem Zhukov.)

About Team Smartling

Smartling is a software company with the mission to make the world’s content multilingual.