Reposted with permission from an article published February 18th, 2011 on The Daily Crowdsource as a Crowd Leader article.
The ability to leverage the crowd for your translation projects can not only increase the speed and lower costs, but it can fundamentally shift how your organization approaches and relates to translation in general. Many organizations are starting to have an “ah-ha” moment as they realize that translating their content with new crowd-enabled technologies is now within their reach. Localization initiatives no longer have to consume prohibitive cost or time resources. Let’s look at five ways the crowd is revolutionizing how organizations approach translation projects.
1. The crowd affects what you translate
As I alluded to in my previous post, with new technologies the crowd can participate helping to decide what to translate. In a sense, you give control to your audience, or potential audience, to decide what content they want to consume and in what languages. This creates a sort of “invisible hand” that guides and directs your localization efforts and can lead to some pleasing results.
How does your audience decide? One way is to embed Machine Translation functionality on your site which allows users to see an instant computer-generated translation. You can then track which pages are translated into which languages to see how your content is being consumed. An even better approach is to use technology that allows users to either volunteer to translate the content themselves or to nominate a page for professional translation. This gives you even more direct feedback as to the demand for your content in various languages.
In the old translation model you would have to decide between one language or another and spend significant time and money translating all your content into that language. With crowd-based technologies, these either/or decisions are eliminated. Instead, you may find that your audience wants to consume your content in an entirely different language than you anticipated. Instead of translating your entire site, maybe you have one page of content that is of particular interest to German-speakers while the rest of your content isn’t. As a result, only that page is translated. This type of “micro” translation allows for any piece of content to be translated into any language in a very efficient, almost effortless, manner. You may find an unexpected demand for your content in languages you never anticipated and become exposed to new markets you never thought possible.
2. The crowd affects how you translate
Crowd-based translation technologies change how you translate your content. Machine Translation technology has been around for years and has steadily improved. Google’s translation tool allows any reader to quickly translate your content into any language to get a gist of the content. If they deem your content to be important, they can either volunteer to instantly translate the content themselves or to nominate the content for a professional translation. By allowing your community to volunteer to translate you not only increase your community involvement and affinity, but also may avoid the cost of professional translation in general. With new cloud-based translation technologies a reader can do an aided translation instantly without leaving your site or using any other tools or software.
3. The crowd affects the quality of your translations
Most people assume that professional translations are superior to crowd-based translations. However, studies have shown that’s not necessarily true. Non-professional volunteer translators often have a more in-depth understanding of the subject matter than professionals. They might better understand the subtleties and colloquialisms of the topic. As a result, community translations can be superior to their professional counterparts.
Additional technologies help aid volunteer translators so that certain words and phrases are translated consistently and with a high level of quality. If you are particularly concerned with quality control of crowd-based translations, tracking technologies allow you to monitor translations in real time or hire a professional to monitor quality. As a result you can end up with a professional-quality translation (or better) at a fraction of the price.
4. The crowd affects the speed of translations
In the traditional translation model collaboration was extremely difficult. Multiple versions of documents being emailed back and forth created confusion and often resulted in errors. With crowd-based translation technologies, large groups of people can translate a single piece of content effortlessly. This can be done by the translation tool segmenting the content out into sentence-long chunks and assigning them to the translators. Each sentence is locked while being worked on and then afterwords can be reviewed by other volunteers to ensure quality and accuracy. By segmenting content in this manner, translation times drop dramatically. You also no longer have the time and danger involved in trying to maintain and keep track of multiple versions of a document.
5. The crowd affects the cost of translations
By using either volunteer or non-professional bi-linguals in your translations you can translate content for low to no cost. One study shows that the cost of a paid crowd-based translation project was under $0.03 per word versus the industry average of $0.23 per word. This dramatic cost savings means that localizing content is now a realistic option for even the smallest site owners. Combined with technology that allows content to be translated without leaving the website on which it resides, we are truly on the brink of a revolution that will democratize the translation process and make the ability to translate easily accessible to all.
In summary, by leveraging the crowd, almost every aspect of the translation process is significantly improved. By shifting from a paradigm of the single professional translator to that of the crowd, not only can translations be completed much more quickly and at a dramatically lower cost, but the crowd can actually help make your projects more efficient by deciding what needs to be translated into which languages with minimal oversight. The crowd will truly create a translation revolution.
Language is social. It connects people and ideas. But what happens when it stops connecting, slows down, and goes offline? What happens when your global audience is left in the dark because your translations are stuck in someone’s inbox?
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