Cloud, Crowd, and Professional Translators

Cloud, Crowd, and Professional Translators

Stas Kalianov – Localization Manager at Schneider Electric – spoke at the GALA conference in New York in March about the role of translation agencies in software localization, and about who are the most important people in this workflow.

Through a mix of technology, their internal crowd, and professional translators Schneider Electric has achieved a safe and robust process that gives them both lower costs and more user-friendly translations.

Listen below to how they achieved this with the help of Get Localization and how they chose to leave unnecessary steps out of the process (this re-recording of the presentation has been previously published by Stas Kalianov).

Meet Any.DO

Meet Any.DO

This time we’d like to present to you Any.DO, an app that was recently listed by Business Insider as one of the hot apps right now. We talked with Yoni Lindenfeld, Any.DO’s VP of Engineering.

Any.DO Logo + Name





Q1. Tell us about Any.DO!

At Any.DO we focus our efforts on building simple yet effective productivity tools with a big focus on mobile platforms. Our award winning To-Do application was launched in November 2011 and since than has been downloaded by millions of users. The application has been listed as one of the best apps for 2012 by Apple and has been featured a couple of times in Google play. Our vision through our set of products is to help our users get their things done in smart contextual ways. We are building all kinds of smart tools (some of them yet to be released) to make this vision come true.

Q2. Please tell us about yourself.

I am one of the co-founders and the VP of Engineering here at Any.DO. I come from a technological background and take care of the entire development efforts of the company. Our localization process was

first based mostly on professional translators, making it a time consuming and expensive process. I was looking for an alternative service that will allow us to leverage our big community of users to help us localize our products faster, cheaper and to more languages.

Q3. How are you using Get Localization?

We have been using Get Localization for a few months now, and the results are amazing. We already got more than a hundred translators on the system translating our products and adding new languages that weren’t supported yet. We still can’t base our entire localization process on the community but hopefully as more and more translators join we will be less and less dependent on professional translation services.

Q4. Would you have localization tips or best practices that you would
like to share?

Screenshot 2

My biggest tip would be to try and get as many translators to the system as possible – our way to do it is to actively approach our most dedicated users suggesting they become a translator. We also wanted a better way to access our group of translators so we created a Google group for all of them so we can announce new releases of the app that requires translation (this works great – maybe in the future this will be a part of the Get Localization service).






Thanks Yoni for sharing your experiences with Get Localization!

Please check out Any.DO or why not support them by signing up for translations.

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.

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.

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.)

Get Localization is Out of Beta: Covering New Features

First official release of Get Localization is out and now it would be a good time to go through all the new features we’ve cooked up for you.

First to make clear, we haven’t changed our core functionality. We are still free for crowdsourcing but we’ve now added additional options to crowdsource in more professional manner. This means that the basic offering what we’ve will remain free like it has been past year.

But we understand that basic crowdsourcing might not be solution to everyone. It’s a great option for developers to leverage their existing user base by means of engagement.  For example when somebody translates your app, she or he becomes an ambassador for your app in their own country and that is exactly what you want.

However, communities might not be easy to control. Bigger companies typically have deadlines and project plans. It’s hard to estimate when crowd will finish your translation completely. Our solution to this is bounties. You can set bounty for the language and we will make sure it will get translated by promised deadline. We give you recommended bounty amount that is based on your project size but you can set it yourself as well. Translators can choose their work so more than you set, more faster you will get them. All translations are provided by professional translators and they’ve 100% money back guarantee so you can be sure that quality meets your needs. You can also combine bounties with basic crowdsourcing by e.g. translating larger updates with volunteers and use bounties to validate and finish the translations. Bounties are now released and ready to be used.

Second important feature is private projects. We understand that there might be some needs to make translation privately. You can freely grant access for your volunteer or professional translators to your project with our easy-to-use user manager.

Third feature is called Pro Moderation. User quality control in Get Localization works through voting and commenting. This way you can rely on your whole user base in quality issues. In addition to that, you can optionally have our trained staff moderate your public project and select the best crowdsourced translations for your product. Basic fee includes moderation for English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Swedish and Finnish. Moderator is suitable for larger companies to support for example their own community manager.

These features are part of Get Localization Plus Package (29,90€/month). Pro Moderation has an additional fee of 179€/month. All prices are VAT excluded. You can upgrade your existing project to Plus plan from the project settings. New users have an option to select wanted features when they register their project.

As always, we are happy to hear your feedback. Let us know what you think!

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.

October at Get Localization and the world of Crowdsourcing

It has been rather busy at our office during last couple of weeks. Additionally we’ve been busy meeting interesting people at different. Sadly we missed #Pyconfi at Turku last week but I hear it was a great event. We just love Python and Django (that powers Get Localization) and it would have been interesting to see what other people have created using them.

But we went to Slush10 and we are happy to see that localization is something that startups really get. We talked to many people and saw many good presentations. One of the things that got our attention was that many startups mention localization as a necessary step in growth of a service and reaching new markets. We couldn’t agree more on this. Localization is not just something you do after you have grown. For many services the localization is the means for growth (see the story about Runtastic). Web services and especially mobile services are really personal. When you serve people personally you serve them with their own language. Nokia’s EVP Niklas Savander put this  very nicely in an interview yesterday: “Location not just navigation will be big in many markers. ‘we have the availability of locally relevant apps. It doesn’t matter if you have 200,000 applications in Vietnam if they are all in English.'” See the story here.

On other news you may have noticed a story by Talouselämä later on picked up by Arctic Startup on how Nokia is putting more emphasis on crowdsourcing and they have a chief of crowdsourcing. Story by ArcticStartup here and original Talouselämä arctic in Finnish. Article gives you a good insight on how to plan and organize your crowdsourcing project.

Localizing iPhone applications

Translating your iPhone application is becoming more important day by day. US is still the biggest market but others are growing fast. Based on AdMob report, iPhone is growing in Europe and Asia faster than in US. In Japan alone, growth has been 350% from January to November 2009.

iPhone usage, November 2009 (AdMob)
iPhone usage, November 2009 (AdMob)

Currently iPhone is available in 96 countries. Looking the pie on left, about 65% of AdMob (Note! These numbers are based on web usage, not the actual sales) traffic is coming from English speaking countries. Rest 35% is heavily fragmented and basically covers rest of the world. From this you could probably figure out already that you should localize your app at least to French, Germany and possibly Japan. You may even think that it does not make sense to localize at all as those three countries will cover only 13% of the cake. And I would say that you might be right if you think about localization like you do now.

Did you notice those others? Others is the second biggest part of this pie with 17% share. It doesn’t make sense to localize your application to these “others” as it means tens of different languages. It would cost you quite a lot in case you go with that route. Well adding up those 17% with other non-english countries, you end up to 35%. Nice number and in actual devices it means 27 million devices (total 78m). In potential customers it is 27 million potential customers more for your application. Our solution to make this happen with minimal effort and costs is crowdsourcing. It’s really difficult and expensive to handle all of those languages as the market is so highly fragmented with any traditional methods.

Basically by crowdsourcing we mean outsourcing the localization work to your users. With our platform, it is possible just to upload your original English content to our web service and give the link to your users. They will take care of the rest. You just download ready-made translations and compile them into your application or use our API’s to fetch them over the air. Let your users know about the possibility and they will translate if they like your product. Even if the product is commercial, it works (we’ve done it, see the previous posts).

Our goal is to take care of the whole localization process so that we help your users to do translations like they were professionals. Trust your users, they’re using your product which means they trust you. They know how your product works as they are the actual users. Because of that, your community can take care of the translation, validation and even localization testing on your behalf. This also means that you don’t have to guess the languages you translate, your community will translate the languages they need. This is how you turn your translation projects to lean projects.

Try it out at We’ve 30-day free trial included in all our plans.

Crowdsourcing localization

We strongly believe that localization is one key element of successful application or service. Good example is Facebook which basically skyrocketed after providing their service for other languages as well.

I’ve personally crowdsourced successfully my application localizations quite long time already in my hobby projects and saw that for some people, it’s extremely important to have version available in their own language. After turning these hobby projects to business,  supporting multiple languages started to feel difficult and I decided to release commercial version in English only. That was due to the urgent need to turn the application fast to commercial solution. Managing multiple languages, starting from application level support to translations and testing is really time and money consuming process so for small company like us it’s not often even a good solution. It could go once but there’s always next release around the corner so how in earth you are going to support multiple languages in this agile and lean world where you’re suppose to release often, release early.

Well at least that was the situation yesterday. After recognizing this problem, we’ve been working with the solution (actually already from spring ’09). After all, by localizing we can grow our potential market and create more revenues so it’s worth it. We had three requirements for localization system:

  1. It needs to significantly decrease the overhead needed by localization.
  2. Low cost
  3. It needs to natively support the platforms we develop on (specific localization files etc.)

We noticed that there’s no tools for our needs so we started to develop our own. The solution consists of two simple elements:

  1. Location Management System (LMS). Something similar for localization what we have for source code already e.g. SCM.
  2. Crowdsourcing: our users are going to translate our applications. And yes, they are willing to help us. Why? I’ll give an answer in upcoming posts.

This allows us to create separate process for localization which is running concurrently with our development processes. Which is exactly what we need, no more hassle with the strings. I just post the modified or new strings and they get translated.