Giving Back – Get Localization and Plan

Giving Back – Get Localization and Plan

Today we would like to tell you about a client that is especially dear to us. Since 2011 Plan Finland has been using Get Localization to coordinate their voluntary translation work. We actually started our relationship by offering them a slightly different service, but soon discovered together with the folks at Plan that the best solution for them is to use Get Localization to coordinate all translation activities of their volunteer translators.

But enough from me, now I’ll give the word to Plan Finland’s Lotta Kallio:

Plan Finland

Q1. Tell us about Plan!

Plan is an international development organization promoting children’s rights.  Plan has been operating in Finland since 1998. Plan International was founded in 1937. Today, around 30,000 people in Finland support our work. Plan is the largest organization practicing child sponsorship in Finland. Plan has no religious or political affiliations. Plan International works in 69 countries and runs development programs in 50 countries. There are fundraising national offices in 22 countries. In Plan’s world, human rights are respected and children realize their full potential as members of society. In addition to development projects and child sponsorship in developing countries, we also work on a national level in Finland, focus on corporate partnerships, advocacy work and communication.

Q2. Please tell us about yourself.

My name is Lotta Kallio and I work as a Sponsorship communications coordinator here at Plan Finland. I oversee the correspondence between our Finnish sponsors and sponsored children around the world. I also coordinate our office and translation volunteer workers.

Q3. How are you using Get Localization?

I’ve found that Get Localization is a very effective way to coordinate translation work to our volunteers. Documents are mainly Plan’s reports of sponsored children’s communities, overviews, annual reports, area updates etc. and the translation languages are English and Finnish at the moment. Get Localization provides a great way for our volunteers to do work from home, it’s easy to access and user friendly. Also, the translation memory is a great feature when the documents have similarities in structure. Loading the documents is simple to and from the program.

Q4. Do you have translation tips or best practices you would like to share with other NGOs?

Our volunteers have been very pleased with this program. Because the documents are “cut” in smaller fragments, a person can translate a few lines at the time so there’s no pressure of having to translate a whole document in a certain timeframe. I’ve found that this encourages our volunteers to do more translation work than via e-mail.

We want to thank Lotta for taking the time to inform our readers about Plan and their experiences with Get Localization! It’s our pleasure to help.

To all our readers, please check out the Plan website. Maybe it could be something for you too? If you want to know about other ways the localization and translation industry is giving back to society, you can check out Translators Without Borders.

Slush Feelings

We had a couple of hectic days of Slush last week. Once again, it was a great experience. Big thanks to the folks at Startup Sauna, Aaltoes and everybody else who was involved in the organization of the event! There was a lot more of everything than in the previous year: more visitors, more start-ups, the Jolla launch and more publicity for the whole event.

One thing that surprised me (positively!) was how much more knowledgeable the start-ups were about localization this year. Last year many companies hadn’t thought about localization at all, but this year that was the other way around. Most people we talked to were already doing something or seriously considering it. All services were available in English, but many were also starting out with at least languages of the nearby markets. Great to hear!

That is not only good news for localization services like ours, but also for the development companies themselves. Localization is not something you shouldn’t start doing before your application or service has been around for a couple of years. No, it’s something you can start doing from the beginning, or that you should at least take into account straight from the start, when you start producing code for your application.

By the way: If you are wondering, why the conference is called ‘Slush’, do check out this weather prognosis for Finnish cities from a week ago. Not much sun there!

Weather Forecast For This Week: Slush

We are looking forward to an exciting week, not least due to Slush on Wednesday and Thursday (Nov 21-22) in Helsinki. Last year we had a booth of our own but decided this year to concentrate more on listening to the great speakers (missed them completely last year) and just mingling.

We met some really great people and heard of many fascinating projects at Slush 2011. One of the best things was the positive atmosphere of the whole event and determination that people showed regarding their projects. By now, many of the businesses and ideas from then have developed and grown (yes, we too :)), others might have evolved into something completely different.

Looking forward to even more good stuff this year. See you there!

Localization With Crowd And Professionals

Earlier we elaborated a bit on crowdsourcing as a method of quality control. But that’s not the only step the crowd can perform in localization. Here are a couple of thoughts around why you might want to go with another combination of professional and crowdsourced work:

Crowdsourced Translation And Professional Editing

Typical reasons to engage the crowd for  the translation part might be for example:

  • Target language doesn’t yet have an established terminology and you want to know what kind of terminology people actually use in their everyday life when using your product.
  • Your application has a large and active user base and you know they want to help you with your product.
  • You want to engage your users and have them develop the product with you.
With an active and large crowd you are able to produce large amounts of text in a short time. You might easily get several people  working on one language at the same time, continually improving each others texts and producing new translations.
You can also let the crowd agree on translations for new terms and concepts, so that you can be sure the application will speak the users’ language. This does not mean that a professional translator could not capture those terms, but  the professional translator might not represent the target group geographically or demographically, which might lead to something else than the desired tone.
Reasons for still giving editing to professional linguists in the same project might be:
  • You want to be as sure as possible that e.g. all grammatical and punctuation errors are gone.
  • You might have defined some style guidelines (maybe even a style guide) and want to check that the translations adhere to these.
  • Your crowd is not big enough or you don’t know it well enough yet, so that you would feel comfortable relying completely on the quality of their output.

How do I know if a combination of crowdsourced translation and professional editing fits my localization needs? First you should ask yourself if you want to crowdsource. That decision should be determined e.g. by your revenue model, user base and content type. If the answer is yes, then take a look at the above listed reasons for having professionals give a finishing touch. If one or more of them apply to you, adding that phase is worth considering.

Simple But Yet So Difficult To Translate: Placeholders In Software

I do some translating myself too. Already quite a long while ago I translated texts for a web application running on a small company’s website and came across a placeholder that didn’t have much information attached to it. I could see the placeholder’s name and the sentence it was embedded in. For that particular application, the placeholder name usually revealed what it was about. What I assumed it to be was the name of the user’s company/product. That made the sentence a bit difficult to translate due to Finnish grammatics, but I managed to build a somewhat natural sentence out of it anyway.

A while after that I browsed to the web site and saw what my translations looked like. Awful. The sentence structure was in some cases clumsy, in some cases the meaning was simply wrong. The placeholder didn’t stand for the user’s company/product, but for the website/service where it was used. And based on earlier translations in the translation memory I wasn’t the only translator who had been mistaken.

After that I sent an email to my contact person at one of the many agencies between me and the end client, and pointed this out. What happened? Nothing. The translations are still there. (But you shouldn’t really blame the project manager, as he was probably constantly swamped with email. Localization project managers usually are.)

What did I learn from this? Well, first of all it is critical to include enough information about placeholders for the translators. Even if they would be experienced users of the application, it might not become clear to them what different placeholders mean. Secondly, it’s important to have a translation process that supports communication and updates even after the initial translation has been finished. Communication has to be so easy that important issues aren’t left lying around even by mistake.

10 Practical Tips For Social Media Engagement

Crowdsourcing is a community effort. It should be a win-win process that leaves everybody satisfied: you with the results and the other participants with the experience they’ve had. Here are a few tips on what you can do to make your crowdsourced project a success with the help of social media.

  1. Define your crowd, know who and what you are looking for. If you are looking for people in some specific geographic or language area, or demographic, make sure those people notice you.
  2. Get publicity! Share information about the project on your Facebook page, in your user forum and tweet about it. Tell about it to your friends and colleagues, anybody who is affiliated with you or your software. And also do encourage your users and translators to do the same. Have them share their translation progress and invite their friends to work with them.
  3. But: don’t push too much promotion into the same channels. If you flood everybody’s Twitter timeline by looking for translators 40 times a day, you’ll probably just end up unfollowed or blocked – or both. Do remember common social media courtesy!
  4. Give your project an appealing flair in the working environment of the contributors. Make sure it has nice descriptions and graphics. That will make it even nicer to start working on it, and will be an advertisement for your project.
  5. Could you reward your translators in some way? That is not something you must do, but will be a nice bonus for the people. (And you have to motivate them somehow.) It can be a free license, maybe a giveaway of some sort or a mention in the credits or promotion in your community. Only your imagination is the limit. Think about what you would think as rewarding for participation, and you have a good indicator of what might do the trick for others too. Of course, already sheer participation might be rewarding.
  6. Check-up on your project regularly so that you can reply to any questions from the crowd. Don’t let the work of your community be stuck anywhere.
  7. Respond to feedback. Remember not only to be there when someone loves your project, but also when someone is critical. If you handle the situation well, you might even turn critics into promoters.
  8. Remember communication at all times! Tell the community how the work is progressing, thank them for their efforts, do pep talks, whatever feels natural for you. Through your own engagement you show that your project is important!
  9. Allow enough time when working with a bit more unusual languages or other groups.  For example, it might not be a wise bet to expect that you gather a crowd for Hausa translations over night and have your task ready instantly, unless you know your crowd very well and have engaged them already before the start of project.
  10. Add descriptions to your translatable texts, or at least to the difficult ones. Some texts are self-evident, for example ‘Save’ mostly doesn’t need much explanation to it. But then again there are a lot of strings that might not open up to translators that easily, even if it’s the clearest thing in the world to yourself. (Ok, the last tip doesn’t have anything to do with social media, but it’s a useful point to remember when crowdsourcing localization.)

Leap of Faith: Translation Quality Control

Leap outtake - Boy
(Photo by Joe Green)

Quality control is an integral part of software localization work. That sounds self-evident, right? Like something that has to be there, because you don’t want to end up on a list like this. But the big question is how (and of course, how much).

The common approach to quality control in localization has traditionally been translating-editing-proofreading (in industry jargon simply TEP). This process consists of two or more professionals, one who translates the text and the other who proofreads it. This often contains a lot of sending files back and forth and some discussions, maybe even arguments, about terminology or grammar. As with all human processes, the end results depend on the individuals involved, but basically traditional TEP offers a good chance of getting good quality results.

But does this great process happen in real translation life? Sure, but all too often you might not want to allocate enough budget to have two professionals on board and you skip the proofreading step. Or you think you don’t have enough time and skip the proofreading step. Or you buy the whole process from someone who says “all translations are proofread by a second professional”, but who still skips the proofreading step. So you end up with a translation that your translation subcontractor (who you found on the Internet without being able to check the references) says is OK, but you have no chance of checking if it really is. Unless you want to pay more and send it to a second vendor for review. Which not only costs money, but also takes time. And if you don’t have a nice budget in your hands, you are probably bound to skip localization testing too. Which means the quality of that single professional is what your end-users will see, be it good or bad.

It is easy to see that localization quality has risks attached to it. We haven’t even discussed style issues yet: good grammar and fabulous Shakespearian wordings might still not cut it, if the software doesn’t speak the kind of language expected by the buyers.

The end-users are of course the ones who should be happy with the localized texts. What if they would be the one who helped you in quality assurance? Heck, if you have a nice app with loyal users, there’s a fair chance they’d love your software even more having been allowed to participate in the process.