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If you’re not confident in your English but still want to read the New York Times or the Economist and catch up on your sports updates, one of the best ways to stay on top of the news is to visit community-based media sites. Sites such as Facebook, Yeeyan, Hupu, Guokr, and so on, are translated into other languages by everyday Internet users just like you and me.

When these users post translated articles, they are either given credit scores and comments from the website community (or forum), or are incentivized with a reward. This approach to translation, known as crowdsourcing, refers to the practice of outsourcing work as voluntary to a non-specific mass network. This concept was demonstrated by the well-known US IT magazine, Wired Magazine, in 2006. Forms of crowdsourcing exists across many industries and are seen in everyday life on platforms such as Wikipedia and YouTube.

Today, the crowdsourcing translation is on the rise and these types of platforms are springing up like mushrooms throughout the online world. Often times, popular platforms utilize crowdsourced translation without you realizing it. Here are some examples of webpages where crowdsourced translation is used:

Facebook

As early as 2008, the US social networking site Facebook outsourced the translation of many of its web pages to Internet users around the world through a crowdsourcing translation model. It quickly launched more than 60 localized versions, greatly improving its worldwide popularity. The Internet is a global platform, which makes translation a must have for sites of any size. But it takes a lot of effort, time, and money to translate a site into many languages, so allowing users to do the “heavy lifting” is appealing. Even if the translations aren’t top-notch off the bat, they will improve over time if enough people who speak a particular language care enough about the site to fix the quality issues.

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Yeeyan

Founded in 2006, this company was originally a blog of translated technology and entrepreneurial articles. Five years later, it completely transformed into a crowdsourcing translation community for articles and books. Recently the popular book Out of Control: The New Biology of Machines, Social Systems, and the Economic World, by Kevin Kelly was completed by Yeeyan through crowdsourcing translation. This magnum opus has 500,000 words and 700 pages. Through online recruitment, 12 members engaged in various occupations were selected from all over the world to translate the material. They did not know each other, but they worked together, dividing the labor online, and completing the translation in one and a half months. The company has also completed a 500,000-word translation of Steve Jobs: A Biography, in one month in order to ensure that the Chinese version and the English version could be simultaneously released.

365 Translation

365 Translation came online in 2011, mainly providing translation services for domestic foreign groups such as foreign companies in China, financial institutions, government agencies, etc. It features the model of crowdsourcing translation through the Internet platform. Besides its own professional translation team, it also has tens of thousands of part-time translators. 365 Translation provides the latest daily articles from the Financial Times, translating the articles into Chinese every morning. For news translation, promptness is the most important thing. Through crowdsourcing translation, 365 Translation website impresses its readers with its timeliness, providing immediate Financial Times news.

In an era that emphasizes efficiency, the advantages of crowdsourcing translation are obvious: low cost, high efficiency, and utilization of all potential resources. However, there are also some challenges you may face when using the crowdsourced translation model, such as process management, and inconsistent translation quality, which can be affected by using multiple translators. It is, however, without a doubt, that this method of crowdsourcing translation plays a significant role in the translation process, and it is a practice that all localization experts should keep an eye on.

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