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Crowd-translations (or community translations) revisited January 7, 2007

Posted by globalizer in Danish, Language, Localization, QA, Translation.

Back here I posted about the advantages and drawbacks of using volunteer translators for your projects. I used Netvibes to illustrate some of the potential pitfalls associated with this approach, and I should note that I did send a feedback from the Netvibes web site to make them aware of my posting. I have not heard back, and the Danish translation has not changed – I will be keeping an eye on it to see if they react at all.

I also wanted to add a consideration I neglected to mention in my original post:

Since most Danes know English well enough to be able to use a site like Netvibes in that language (even more true for the segment of the population that is liable to use such a site than for the population in general), I suspect that they will be more intolerant of poor translations than people from countries with lower levels of competency in English. If it’s a choice between having access to a service with some linguistic warts and not being able to use the service, then you are probably not going to complain too much about the warts. If, on the other hand, you have a choice between using an English version and a Danish version with obvious cosmetic problems, I believe a fair number of Danish users will gravitate towards the English version.

That would not be a big deal if it didn’t also result in a more negative perception of the web site and the company behind it. I would love to see some empirical investigation of this question, along the lines of this one from Common Sense Advisory. That survey showed a preference for native language in a number of countries, but to answer my question the following parameters would have to be added:

  • survey a country like Denmark or the Netherlands, where a larger proportion of the population understands English at the level required to be comfortable using web sites in that language
  • ask about translation quality


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