The next time people flock to Twitter as part of their strategy to garner local and internationalsupport for their revolution, they may be able to tweet in Indonesian, Russian, and Turkish, thanks to the official opening this week of the Twitter Translation Center to support crowdsourced translation. This public unveiling is also very important to Twitter’s current user base, since more than 70% of its accounts are registered to people outside of the U.S.
Twitter has now joined the ranks of its social media cousins – Facebook, HootSuite, and TweetDeck – to increase multilingual access to its platform through tools designed specifically for volunteer translators. The new collaborative translation program will go a long way in supporting its global initiative to provide local language experiences for its many non-English-tweeting fans. According to the latest figures available on the company’s website (175 million registered users as of September 2010 generating 95 million tweets per day), this means that 122.5 million people use Twitter in countries other than the U.S. The vast majority of these millions are not native English-speakers.
Twitter started issuing invitations in October 2009 for its closed crowd of volunteer translators who focused on French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, and Spanish (see “Twitter Migrates into Multilingual Markets,” Oct09). As the number of volunteers grew to around 2,600 as of September last year, Twitter’s in-house localization team worked with the group to develop and hone its crowdsourced translation platform to include more projects, more languages, and more context. If you’re interested in joining the Twitter Community Translation Program and trying out the new translation platform, just click here.
Organizations may vary in their reasons for engaging a volunteer crowd to translate some or all of their content. In Twitter’s case, it included a commitment to user involvement, a large pool of subject matter experts, budgetary limits, and schedule constraints. There will also be differences in the model implemented to support the crowd. Twitter has chosen to engage in-house translators to moderate and support its translation communities, along with other translators to support its core languages.
Common Sense Advisory recently investigated and test-drove more than 100 implementations of community translation (see “Crowdsourced Translation,” Feb11). Regardless of the motivation for adoption or the models chosen, we found that it definitely requires investment beyond technology to support the translation crowd to ensure its success. Among other things, this means an outlay for recruitment, community moderation, integration into current translation workflow, and the implementation of a system for recognition, reward, or remuneration. Success over the medium-term also requires the translation crowdsourcing initiative to be integrated into an organization’s overall globalization strategy.
Twitter took a conscious step to follow in the steps of Facebook to leverage crowdsourced translation as an enabler for globalization (see “Community Translation Lifts Facebook to Top of Social Networking World,” Aug08). As it is proven to work for more and more organizations across various verticals, community translation will come to be viewed as a required tool to support international revenue growth. It will move from a standalone process to being integrated up and down the global content supply chain. Along the way, it will allow the language crowd to have a real voice in what content, which languages, and the pace organizations will apply to translation and localization.