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Submissions/How we gathered up 100+ online translators and maximized their collective power

From Wikimania 2013 • Hong Kong

After careful consideration, the programme committee has decided not to accept the below submission at this time. Thank you to the author(s) for participating in the Wikimania 2013 programme submission, we hope to still see you at Wikimania this August.

Submission no.
Subject no.
Title of the submission
How we gathered up 100 + online translators and maximized their collective power
Type of submission
Author of the submission
Izumi Mihahsi
Country of origin
http://globalvoicesonline.org Global Voices]
E-mail address
Personal homepage or blog

Global Voices is an international community of bloggers who report on blogs and citizen media from around the world. The number of active English-Japanese translator grew explosively from two in 2009 to over one hundred in 2012. In this presentation, we first discuss how to attract translators and welcome them into the community. We then describes tips for maintaining skills of translators and explain essential components of non-stressful and sustainable systems for collaboration.

Detailed proposal

Global Voices is an international community of bloggers who report on blogs and citizen media from around the world, and publishes articles in more than sixty languages. In 2009, its Japanese-English translation was trouble by a shortage of active translators, only three, however, the number grew explosively and reached one hundred in 2012.

Providing applicants with sensitive information before application, point of no return, was the key for the sudden boost of the number. This strategy significantly lowered a sense of resistance. We have set up a trial stage multiple roles: evaluating translation and communication skills and filtering out inappropriate applicants, guiding applications through the protocols for publication of articles, and providing them basic tips for concise translation of news article.

Making most of low tech translators is important for more productivity and diversity. They are not familiar with IT skills and tools such HTML and Wordpress, so we have created a video instruction of Wordpress and with original manual for rewriting HTML documents without changing layouts since understanding HTML is overkill for this task. Progress of translations is managed by Google documents, which is easy to master even for low tech people because it resembles Excel. Usefulness of tools is determined by people who use them, and sophisticated tools are not the best in all the situations.

As the community grow bigger, it became hard for the manager to keep eye on each translation, and low quality articles began to show up. We solved this problem by mutual proofreading on a mailing list. Quality of articles proofread by someone with low translating skills are elevated with experienced members, and proofreaders learn from others' translations.

Collaborating is basically fun but is sometime is the source of stress. In case of Global Voices, communication on the mailing lists and waiting time are two major factors. We tackle first problem by being a role model, sending messages to mailing lists that facilitating fruitful communication, and utilizing personal e-mails before any problem occurs. Irritation with waiting time can be minimised with self-declared deadline.

We always accept new members and the total size is constantly growing. Analyzing how the system works and finding time limiting processes is crucial for keeping a big group running. Improving time limiting processes means making manuals and explain others how to do it. It is important to evaluate efficiency in the long term. Teaching someone certain skills takes time, so you might think "OK, it's faster to do it myself." However, he or she shortly becomes a force.

One of the weak points of volunteer-based activities is the sustainability is highly dependent on its leading figure. Very often valuable activity stops because the person who manages it became busy or got sick. We prevent this from happening by promoting decentralization, creating manuals for every task.

  • WikiCulture and Community
Length of presentation/talk
15 minutes
Language of presentation/talk
Will you attend Wikimania if your submission is not accepted?
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How we gathered up 100 + online translators and maximized their collective power

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