Scrimping with Crowdsourced Translation Will Alienate Your Market
Have you ever noticed how inaccurate the translations on Facebook and Twitter are? You don’t need perfect translations when reading status updates. On the other hand, the stakes are higher when you are marketing your product to international markets. This is where crowdsourced translation falls short.
What Is Crowdsourced Translation?
About a decade ago, the word “crowdsourcing” came into vogue to describe harnessing the power of huge Internet user communities to complete large tasks. The most popular crowdsourcing project is Wikipedia.
In recent years, the idea of crowdsourcing has been applied to translation. Heavy hitters in the tech industry have crowdsourced their translations using various apps. For example, Facebook gets users involved through the Translate Facebook App, where members can earn virtual badges for their work.
Of course, most of us do not have the clout of Facebook to draw on to attract a translation community. Seeing a hole in the market, many self-service crowdsourcing companies have popped up to address the translation needs of small businesses that want to go international.
What Makes Crowdsourced Translation such an Attractive Option?
The two biggest reasons companies turn to crowdsourced translation for their translation needs are speed and cost. If you choose one of the crowdsourcing services, you do not have to hire any workers, but you get a large, inexpensive labor force.
Also, since there are so many people working on different parts of your project at the same time, the turnaround time is short.
Another benefit is that you have access to the foreign markets where you want to expand. This means your potential clients are performing the translations for you.
Why You Need to Do Better
Why would you ever choose any other method for translating your website and marketing materials into other languages as you grow your enterprise?
Let’s get back to our example in the introductory paragraph. Facebook, one of the most popular websites in the world, is using crowdsourcing, and their results are far from perfect.
According to a study from Carnegie Mellon University, here are the main limitations of crowdsourcing translation:
- Low Quality: The quality of the translation is low because for most languages the available translators are non-linguist bilingual speakers. In other words, just speaking two different languages isn’t always enough to get the translation just right.
- Scarcity of translators: If you are looking to break into a market with a low presence on the Internet, you are unlikely to find many bilingual speakers to help with translation. And, when you cannot get multiple translations, it is hard to perform quality assurance.
- Expenses: Crowdsourced translation is popular because it is considered inexpensive, but the costs can add up when you hire a firm to crowdsource for you. They need to pay their workers and get their cut. Even if the work is free, the infrastructure to get started isn’t.
- Technical text is difficult: If you want detailed documents to be translated in your highly-technical field, you will need translators with specific knowledge of your industry. Otherwise, the translation of your technical manuals may come out sounding like a 3-year-old trying to explain how an engine works.
- Inconsistencies: When mapping one language to another, there are often several ways to interpret the same sentence. When you crowdsource, you get different interpretations, which leads to an inconsistent translation.
According to Slator, the already crowded crowdsourcing market for translation is starting to implode as clients discover the translations do not scale to their needs as well as expected.
Lastly, if you are trying to convince consumers in foreign markets to buy your products, you do not want to come across sounding like a “Nigerian prince” spam email. You want your marketing materials to sound like they were produced by someone who speaks in the native tongue.
What Are the Alternatives to Crowdsourced Translation?
There are several translation alternatives available for businesses who are serious about providing their customers with quality content in their native language.
However, the important content of a business—this includes brochures, technical documentation, websites, etc.—should be translated using a provider of professional translation services.
Why is that? Professional translators have professional tools at their disposal. In addition to having a deep linguistic understanding of both the source language and the target language, professionals use high-tech translation software. This boosts accuracy, consistency, and speed.
With a professional translation service like Accelingo, you get a team of professional translators who are experienced with helping growing businesses expand internationally. We know the technical lingo in your future market. CSOFT identifies this knowledge as crucial for accurate translation.
Finally, professional translators adhere to a code of ethics designed to protect your organization. The translator will never disclose your confidential or proprietary information to third parties. Our translators also sign a non-disclosure agreement.
When you want to localize your content to a new market, it pays to get the translations right the first time. You cannot afford to alienate your customer base with awkward translations from crowdsourced non-professional bilingual hobbyists.