Adobe launches translation crowdsourcing in China

Facebook has demonstrated that you can crowdsource translations with high quality and rapid turnaround, leading many other companies to ask how they too can leverage the crowd to translate their content.

Enter Adobe and Lingotek.

Adobe has recently begun leveraging Lingotek’s software platform to enable the crowdsourcing of translations within China. As of now, there are 40 volunteer translators in China translating documentation.

Keeping in mind that this is a new and ongoing effort, I recently conducted a Q&A with Lingotek’s CEO Rob Vandenberg.

Here is the interview:

Q: What incentives did Adobe use to get Chinese users interested in translating content?

Adobe takes a very user-centric approach to volunteer translation. Instead of asking users to translate certain material, Adobe provides the content and tools for users to translate what they are interested in. They went to their user groups, and offered community translation as an opportunity. This allowed them to find people who were already interested in translating – whether because they are a reseller of the software, they want to put Adobe’s name on their résumé, or they are end-users who just want Adobe content in their language.

Q: Does the Lingotek platform stand alone or is it integrated into existing Adobe translation systems?

We have worked with Adobe to provide a number of integration points, including:

  1. Providing an API to allow community members to upload documents from an Adobe Flex application.
  2. Providing a version of our leaderboard that could be placed on the Adobe Groups site, as well as an API to get leaderboard data.
  3. Providing a version of our signup page that could be placed on the Adobe Groups site.

Q: How is quality managed with regard to the volunteers. Even Facebook relies on a vendor to ensure quality.

The primary means of producing quality translations in the Adobe communities is to limit who is allowed to participate. Adobe selects project managers who they can trust, and these people are in charge of determining which translators should be allowed to participate.

Q: Are the project managers Adobe employees in China? And are they effectively the gatekeepers for quality?

As I understand it, there is a Community Manager who is the interface between Adobe and the community, but the project management is all done by community members. The translated content is then given to the community, and they publish it.

In addition, the Lingotek platform allows for a number of tools which not only help translators to work faster, but improve the quality of the translations, including:

  • Shared Translation Memories
  • Translation Voting
  • Notes on each segment
  • Terminology tools

Q: How does Adobe get rapid turnaround using volunteers? Are deadlines used?

The speed of translation is affected most by letting volunteers translate the things that they want to translate. In addition, Adobe brings attention to the project managers and translators who have done the most work.

Q: How does Adobe deal with customers who assume that they should not be required to translate content themselves?

Adobe focuses on the users who are eager to help them to translate. They don’t try to recruit general end-users, and I think that is why they have avoided most of this criticism.

Q: Why is Adobe doing this exactly?

The main driving factor is Adobe’s community users are asking for translated content that isn’t in Adobe’s professional translation pipeline. By using Lingotek’s API’s and translation software and Adobe’s existing community to translate content were making new content available to Adobe users quicker and at a much lower price.

Q: How does Adobe license the Lingotek platform?

Lingotek is licensed on a concurrent user basis. We don’t share pricing information.

Q: Is this limited to only volunteers? That is, will the same platform be used not only for documentation but for product/software loc work?

The Lingotek platform is designed to support many different workflows. Some clients are using their communities to provide the initial translation, and then use internal reviewers to do the final review before publishing. Other clients use a traditional assigned workflow, without using community members.  In Adobe’s case, so far they are only using their community members.

For more information, here’s the Lingotek press release.

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Author: John Yunker

John co-founded Byte Level Research in 2000 and is author of The Web Globalization Report Card. He also co-founder of Ashland Creek Press.

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