How to Engage User in Crowdsourced Translation


Although it is cool to crowdsource your translation in order to give your product a local flavor, you can do more with your newfound talent than just translate. There are about a zillion ways to boost user engagement in crowdsourced translation.

In this article, we’ll give you six specific ways to engage your users in your crowdsourced translation project. We’ll also break down the process of crowdsourced translation into three easy-to-understand stages.

Pre-translation stage

At the pre-translation stage, the emphasis is on localization and project planning. You have to identify which languages are needed for translation and invest adequate funding and economic resources.

1. Request Your Users to Choose What Language(s) to Translate into

One way to engage your users at this stage is to let them decide what languages to translate your project into. User-generated input is some of the most valuable you will ever get. Your fans and followers have opinions: from the language availability of your product to a desire for localization. In order to hear their voices, you may set up a voting system at your website. This allows you to easily find out what languages your users are speaking and what languages they want to see your product using. Once you’ve received a certain number of votes for a particular language, you know it is time to kickstart a language translation branch.

2. Let Your Users Fund Your Translation Project

In business, money is always the bottom line. If your users are begging for your product in a new language, they need to understand that the translation process is going to cost both time and money. When they do, they’ll be happy to cough up a little something to help the cause along.

One of the easiest ways to increase user engagement in crowdsourced translation at the donation level is by starting a crowdfunding campaign through a company like Kickstarter. These online fundraising websites have been very successful at helping start-up companies get the money they need to complete their translation project. Recently, a French-only franchise game called Mysterious Cities of Gold: Secret Paths launched its crowdfunding project for full localization in English and subtitles in Spanish. They had astonishing results! They more than met their $30,000 goal and raised an additional $15,000 to help complete their translation.


(Mysterious Cities of Gold: Secret Paths: Its crowdfunding page)

 Translation stage

Remember all the money that you just raised with the help of your fans? Now is the time to spend it. The translation stage is where you take your plans, your funds and your users and mix them together until your translation is complete.

 3. Hire (Some of) Your Users to Be Community Manager

In case no one has told you yet, here’s a little hint: A crowdsourced translation project is about as easy as tying your shoes with a crowbar. In order to save yourself the hassle of dealing with every detail and quirk of the translation process, you really need to choose a community manager.

A community manager can help by smoothing out the process of user contribution. While this person has no actual authority over other members, the community manager can rely on his or her recognition in the community to resolve problems. The duties of a community manager consist of approving user registration, implementing community policy as well as settling  dispute.

You can recruit a community manager in a few different ways. Many people promote an already  recognized translator. Not only does this person’s expertise give him an advantage as a community leader, but enormous contributions to the project can turn into the basis of moral authority. Others choose to directly invite users who are already very active in the community and have created personal relationships with other members.

4. Ask Your Users to Translate the Content

Your translation project isn’t going to go very far if you don’t have some translators on board. That’s why you need a good number of your users to have some translating skills. Still, you don’t want just anyone getting their grubby fingers all over your project. Make sure you’ve done your research on the people you add to your translation team. You should also find out the basic demographics of the people who are helping you. How many multilingual users do you have? What languages do they speak? Answering these questions will give you a good idea of how to best manage your user engagement in the crowdsourced translation schedule.

5. Let Your User to Vote for the Best Translation

For even the most devoted fans, it can be difficult to contribute time or money to a large translation project. But, as voters they can contribute to the project with a few simple clicks. By allowing users to vote, you get them engaged without taxing their personal and financial resources. Set up a page displaying all translated strings and ask your volunteers to vote for the most appropriate translation. You may be surprised by the accuracy of your results!

(The voting section of Facebook translation app)

Post-translation stage

Just because the translation is done, doesn’t mean the work is finished. Good user engagement in crowdsourced translation projects means keeping a schedule of continual quality assurance. This “debugging” is necessary to make sure your translated content is up-to-date and accurate. At this stage you should evaluate the translated content continuously and respond to feedback and fix any mistakes.

6. Let Your Users Be Your Reviewers

Your fans and followers are the perfect group of people to review your final translation. With a simple plug-in on your landing page, you can increase user engagement in the crowdsourced translation product by allowing them to make comments as they read or listen. You may even want to install inline review. With inline review, the system can detect the corresponding string of bad translation and send back to re-translation automatically. This dramatically reduces the turnaround time for the review process, and gives you a better product more quickly. You can also allow your users to suggest alternative translation options that may make your translation project more self-maintained.

Support various forms of engagement to leverage your social capital

Now you know how to let your user engage in your crowdsourced translation projects. As we have discussed, your users can engage at the different stages of the project in 6 key roles: initiator, funder, community manager, translator, voter and reviewer. Before you implement a crowdsourced translation project, consider how your users can help on each of these 6 ways.

One final tip about your upcoming community transition: support variable level of engagement. It allows your users to adjust their level of engagement easily. And, the more freedom you give your fans and followers, the more likely  they are to jump in and help.

Have you ever tried one of these crowdsourced translation strategies? We love to hear what you have to say about your experiences with user engagement in crowdsourced translation! Just leave us a comment below.

Stay tuned for upcoming blog posts about the best strategies, tips and practices for crowdsourced translation. We want to help you make your translation project a success!


Feature photo credit: adapted from opensourceway


Patrick Yip

Patrick Yip is the former Head of Marketing at OneSky. Heavily attracted to any brilliant growth strategy, well-crafted content and the idea of making the Internet globally accessible.

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