A Few Questions to Ask When Crowdsourcing a Translation

Looking at the ten rules of crowdsourcing identified by Jeff Howe in Crowdsourcing: Why The Power of The Crowd Is Driving The Future of Business, a few questions come to mind:

  1. Pick the right model. Are you trying to create a platform for volunteers to contribute to a worthy cause or are you looking for cheap labor?
  2. Pick the right crowd. Do you think that being bilingual qualifies a person to translate or do you believe that professional translation requires professional translators? How would you feel about surgery done by an amateur surgeon?
  3. Offer the right incentives. Is it right for a venture capital funded company to offer a token payment for professional services? Is there a difference between that and the same token payment offered by a charitable non-profit organization?
  4. Keep the pink slips in the drawer. Can you attract volunteer professionals who will deliver at the same consistently good level you are accustomed to from your paid staff or freelance translators?
  5. The benevolent dictator principle. Can a volunteer community function without a community leader?
  6. Keep it simple and break it down. Can you divide the work into the smallest possible components so that the crowd can divvy up the tasks? Will it work to have a collection of individual sentences translated by different people?
  7. Remember Sturgeon’s Law. According to the science-fiction writer Theodore Sturgeon, 90 percent of everything is crap. Can you achieve the desired quality?
  8. Remember the 10 percent, the antidote to Sturgeon’s Law. Can you identify the best and brightest in the crowd to work on your project?
  9. The community is always right. Who is in control? Is it possible to guide and control an online community?
  10. Ask not what the crowd can do for you, but what you can do for the crowd. Does the project meet the needs of the crowd or rather the needs of the requestor of services? Will the crowd participate if its needs are not met?

Jiri Stejskal

P.S. WordPress is also using the crowdsourcing model to translate its interface .