Twitter’s foreign language release follows Facebook‘s initiative, which has been an example of “community-based” localization, but that has also been plagued by errors in translation, misinterpretations with some unfavourable comments from some Facebook communities (Italian in particular).
Well, Twitter’s Spanish interface begins with a typo on the front page, right up the little bird where “esta pasando” (is happening) has the accent missing over the está….. just click on the above CNET link to check (or change you language setting to Spanish in Twitter). Another one appears when accessing the application from a 3rd-party site with Twithis.
Still, not bad for the cost of it. This brings up the question again about the usefulness of crowdsourcing or community-based translation for brands and how to best apply it. It also brings up the question about how much “bad” translation users can put up with for the purpose of usefulness.
There are companies which are undertaking a very professional approach to crowdsourcing (see Adobe’s efforts, providing even a structure for the Adobe user community). Many are seeing the hype as an opportunity to get localization for free.
Our position at Pangeanic is that whilst crowdsourcing is very good, particularly for under-funded open source projects, it is only complementary to professional efforts when it comes to trusting brand image in a foreign language. Crowdsourcing may be a way of obtaining documentation translated that would otherwise not be translated, and translated by enthusiasts in the field as long as the translated content is not urgent and has a team leader looking after terminology coherence and all the typical issues an experienced project manager might look after.
Other alternatives, such as (statistical) machine-translation with human post-editing can also be considered when time is essential, as long as a proper development within a particular field (or preferably a client-specific development) is in place.