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It is vital for organizations to implement translation of the best quality if they are going to engage in global business. As the industry changes and evolves, buyers and providers of language services are searching frantically for creative and cost effective ways to address the increasing demand for localized products and services, and one increasingly popular method is crowdsourcing. It is important to understand the potential drawbacks of such a method if an organization plans to invest in it, and the industry and type of documentation are important. The following are some potential challenges to crowdsourced translation.

Technical text can be difficult for the crowd to translate.

There are certain fields and industries that require translators with industry knowledge to be able to translate detailed documents. Without specialized knowledge, it would be difficult to comprehend documents that were originally aimed at experts. Whether the document is a thorough exploration of an esoteric subject that’s aimed at academics or technical manuals aimed at engineers; crowdsourced translations will never be as reliable and professional as translations made by translators who are knowledgeable in the field.

Medical documents and other important types of documents also fall into this category.

There are certain types of translations that must be completely correct or risk causing serious problems. Medical documents are probably the most important examples, with the added risk that mistranslated language can result in direct harm to patients. This type of text requires translators who are highly specialized in the field in question and who are also especially “picky” in matters of the correct translation of words. It is extremely unlikely that translations in such an important field will ever be fully (or partially) crowdsourced – it’s far too risky considering the potential harm it may cause but also the major court cases and compensation claims that have already resulted because of mistakes.

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Funding and a certain level of infrastructure and governance is required.

Community translation has the potential to unlock monolingual content for many users around the world, but unfortunately, it requires funding and infrastructure for it to work. Failure to adequately maintain reliable funding for a centralized system that organizes and vets quality translators and translations is a major difficulty with this kind of system. These kinds of structural drawbacks will ultimately discourage companies and other translation clients to invest in and trust this method of translation.

With the evolution of handheld technology and advancements in communication technology, the ability to effectively crowd source translations is definitely within reach if not already available. The question is what kind of translation types should be catered for by this type of method. It might be better to combine professional, crowdsourced, and machine translation, even within a single document, with different quality control methods for each. It is likely that we will see increased specialization in many different areas rather than having one company solve all of the problems – allowing for increased sophistication and ingenuity to exist alongside good strategies.