tinker on

dreaming up a web that works.

Tag: human translation

You matter to people across the world. Let it show on your Domain Dashboard.

by Anjali Gupta

In the real world, an address in Manhattan or Mumbai is valued at a premium to most places on Earth because it allows access – to people, to opportunities, to information.

On the WWW, every web address or domain is theoretically created equal. Information is power – can be reached, accessed, shared, criticized, glorified by anyone from any corner of the world. But this power is limited to those who speak your language. [Read: The next Internet revolution will not be in English]

You may have built a great application or game, or written a superb article on an interesting topic but your domain’s reach or “social score” is limited despite your best intentions, and the best intentions of your loyal users.

You think only giants like Facebook or LinkedIn have successfully tapped the enthusiasm of their users and translated themselves into other languages. But hey, you are a big guy – in the eyes of the person who may live halfway around the world but still cares deeply about your content or product. For that user and his social network your offering matters despite its language.

Our data shows that the actual size of the user community matters less. Translation happens because a few people care to push it along and make it happen! They care to request for it, or correct it, or even sponsor it in a small way.

If your domain has quality content and a few bilingual followers then you can start tapping into their intentions and gradually translate some of the articles into requested languages.

The key for you – the domain owner, is to uncover demand dynamically and create an ecosystem that allows translation to match demand. It should be a win-win. Contributors get social reward and recognition and you get human translated (hence readable) content.

This was the vision that shaped Dubzer’s Domain Dashboard for Translation.

Take a look at the dashboard for Mashable.com on Dubzer to see it in action.

I want my own translation dashboard. Want should I do?

  1. Add a few articles from your domain to Dubzer to auto-create your dashboard. In some cases, our users may have already added one of your articles and you will see it when you add one.
  2. Share the dashboard link on your website with online visitors, especially those that come from another country, or those that have made requests for translation.

To get things rolling quickly, you can announce a prize or a social reward – something that’s affordable to you and valued intangibly by your users. Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook offered a translator badge on the profile. Be creative. It all depends on who you are.  There are no rules – a contributor badge, a meeting with you, a custom T-shirt, a conference pass, or a gift certificate. You can even sponsor a cash prize to the top contributors based on your budget.  Just drop us an e-mail with the text and creative; we’ll announce your prize on your dashboard and help you connect with the winners once the translation completes. We’ll also alert other freelance and language enthusiasts about your Dashboard.

Don’t forget – your domain matters to people across the world, and will matter more once you embrace their language.  Let your domain dashboard show your intentions!

Awaiting your ideas to help us improve.

Dubzer, Microsoft and Google are asking the same question. How will translation become ubiquitous? (Part 1)

by Santosh

Thinking about how much content is created every day on the Web just makes our heads spin. Just getting a small portion of this content to another language ought to be valuable for some users. There is evidence to suggest that this might be true. However, evidence also tells us that the web is just as local as it is global.

We’re not the only ones who have been thinking about this problem. Dubzer was originally inspired by an old interview of Google co-founder Larry Page talking to a classroom of graduate students. Larry was very candid. He believed that there was a lot of information that is not available in the user’s language. He also said that the problem remains unsolved by purely machines.  The human part of translation cannot be ignored and we got thinking – may be a startup can approach it from the human side and find a solution. That thought in 2009 inspired the creation of Dubzer.

Along with Dubzer, Microsoft Research and Google have attempted various solutions to the same problem. They have learned similar lessons as we have, that mirroring content to create copies in another language alone is not enough.

Well, at least no one can fault us for not thinking big!

So what makes us different? In many ways we do operate a lot like a research lab. We embrace failure and focus on maximizing our understanding of how natural languages and the web interact. That is probably where the similarity ends.

We firmly believe in the power of natural selection and the ability of markets to self-select solutions. This is why we decided from day one that Dubzer was to be a product startup. If Dubzer cannot create sustainability, it probably does not deserve to be around. After all, a problem delayed is a problem denied.

We believe that content-owners, application developers are not going to solve this problem by themselves. For them, the economics of internationalizing content is a significant barrier. This is where we depart significantly from Google’s and Microsoft’s approach to influencing the Wikipedia / Wikimedia sphere to translate itself.

To help understand this better, have a look at how Facebook, Twitter, TED and Mozilla Firefox have managed to internationalize themselves. Since they lie in the intersection of popularity on the web and an international audience, they have been extremely successful in recruiting bilingual users and translators to help them cross over the language barrier. After all, a small percentage of several million is a significant number to create value through translation.

What we gather from these examples and from our own iterations/data is that given the right tools and the right incentives, online users are able to successfully surmount the language barrier.

How do we make this force available to the several million content creators who are online today? The key to solving this larger puzzle is to open up the constraints and connect the incentives. Over the next few months, we intend to answer this very question.

“If language had been the creation not of poetry but of logic, we should only have one.” – Friedrich Hebbel.