Community translation; crowdsourced quality, or cheap and nasty?

CrowdsourceAnyone who has started shopping around for translation services is likely to have encountered crowdsourcing as an option: a new approach that has come about largely as a result of the internet. Best described as obtaining labour from a large number of people, usually for free or almost-free, it is an idea with obvious attractions. Wikipedia’s community-based information service is an obvious success story, and those in favour of the method say that crowdsourcing is a little like peer review, insofar as a large number of operators will effectively police each other’s accuracy, and ultimately get the best result. If you are sourcing from a good crowd, you are likely to have some very proficient speakers of the target language in there, and maybe even some truly bilingual people, so you could assume that the cream will rise to the top.

But in the bearpit that the internet can be, it is more often the case that he who shouts loudest will best be heard, and so the most obvious answer will always gain more traction than something more refined. A true native speaker will be keenly aware of nuances in tone and language; they will know that a professional services agency should speak differently from an all-night venue advertising Happy Hour. An enthusiastic amateur, however, will most likely be taking a baldly literal approach, using the most basic tools that the target language offers (to them).

There are more arguments, both for and against crowdsourced translations, and no doubt there are companies and individuals who are happy to go down this route. And there are wannabe translators and hobby linguists who will take up the opportunities offered with relish. But is it worth the risk?

In the role where your translation choices have a financial impact, it can be easy to start by looking only at cost, and not at value; the appeal of getting something for nothing can be too much to resist. Are your customer communications worth nothing at all? As you would expect, the language specialists at Yestrans believe passionately that communication should be fluent, natural and personal.

We want to understand how you talk to your customers, and we want to address them the same way in other languages. For them, we want to be reliable, consistent and reassuring. For our clients, we want to be professional, trustworthy and collaborative. You don’t get that from a crowd!

Advertisements