Surviving crowdsourcing


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Community, collaborative, social. Will the language industry survive crowdsourcing?
Presentation for the XXXIV IALB-ASTTI Conference "The World in Crisis – And the Language Industry?"
Geneva, 13-14 November 2009

Published in: Education, Business, Technology
  • Great paper Luigi! Is it possible to get a printable copy? I would like to have a bunch of PhD students in translation read that paper in a class where I will lecture, but it's pretty cumbersome to read on slideshare.
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  • My dangerous idea is that crowdsourcing could be accomplished by a lottery. See my Knol article entitled: Keystroke Lotteries: Typing for Tickets:
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Surviving crowdsourcing

  1. 1. Community, collaborative, social: will the language industry survive crowdsourcing? Luigi Muzii
  2. 2. Thinking <ul><li>We cannot solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them. </li></ul>
  3. 3. Reminds you of anything?
  4. 4. The approach to crises <ul><li>Conservative </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Typical of the language services industry </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Any change is a major change </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Cut cost and reduce staff </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Do more with less </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Innovative </li></ul><ul><ul><li>In products </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Translation is a cost </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>VAS </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>In processes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Standards and interchange to build productive solutions </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Specialized communities </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Made simpler, lean, and parallel </li></ul></ul></ul>
  5. 5. GILT industry mantra <ul><li>Cheaper, Faster, Better </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Doing more with less costs more </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Technology to increase volume and speed </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Not enough good people in translation </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Poor or no quality increase </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Customer satisfaction decrease </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Translation industry axioms <ul><li>Quality </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Fewer translators produce more consistent output </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Assets </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Are TM’s and glossaries assets? Have they ever been? Will they? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Assets carry some value </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>How can TM’s and glossaries be priced? Are they? </li></ul></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Main concerns <ul><li>LSP’s </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Ongoing commoditization </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>More free translation </li></ul></ul><ul><li>ATA’s* </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Global outsourcing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Crowdsourcing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Economic downturn </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Certification by other entities </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Machine translation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Increased competition for revenue streams </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>International expansion </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Licensure </li></ul></ul>* ATA Board’s globalization threats reported in the ATA Chronicle issue of June, 2009 by President Jiri Stejskal
  8. 8. Vendor management <ul><li>The largest cost budget item </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Hundreds or thousands of vendors </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Technology & staff </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Vendor quality assessment </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Several vendor manager </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Rotation for healthy relationships </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  9. 9. Crowdsourcing <ul><li>The act of taking a task traditionally performed by an employee or contractor, and outsourcing it to an undefined, generally large group of people or community in the form of an open call. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Jeff Howe </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The Rise of Crowdsourcing, June 2006 </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. Crowdsourcing in a nutshell <ul><li>The (latent) wisdom of (online) crowds </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Only the best professionals are supposed to answer call and team up </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>A passionate and motivated force of volunteers is needed </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The work is not supposed to be done for free </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  11. 11. The crowdsourcing process in eight steps Image by Daren C. Brabham
  12. 12. Reasons for crowdsourcing <ul><li>To reach totally new markets </li></ul><ul><li>To better serve markets that are currently under-served </li></ul><ul><li>To increase the value of global brands by further engaging users </li></ul>
  13. 13. Famous crowdsourcers
  14. 14. Typical practice Customer MLV SLV 1 Language 1, region 1 TSP n Language n , region n SLV n Language n , region n TSP 1 Language n , region n TSP n Language 1, region 1 TSP 1 Language 1, region 1
  15. 15. Community, crowdsourced, and collaborative translation (CT3) <ul><li>CT3 projects typically done on purpose-built software </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Developing those systems is expensive </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Effort could not be worth the investment </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Community (social) translation not the same as crowdsourced translation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Non-profit translations </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Made for the benefit of everyone </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  16. 16. The problem with translators <ul><li>Building a software infrastructure vs. paying translators </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The translators’ skills are not worth spending </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Amateurs collaborate to avoid “weird” translations </li></ul></ul></ul>
  17. 17. Crowdsourced translation <ul><li>Multiple people in a collaborative workspace </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Writing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Supply content to be translated </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Terminology </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Provide a terminology list up front </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Translation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Stay involved in community interaction </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Communicate everything upwards </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Monitor progress </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Review/Editing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Leverage group voting mechanisms for accuracy </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Recognize and reward achievement </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  18. 18. The end of TEP & fordism <ul><li>Reduce, reuse, recycle </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Reduce overhead </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Eliminate duplicate and unproductive work </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reuse terminology and translation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Centralized TM’s and dictionaries </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Recycle TM matches </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Machine translation </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Time adds up </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Micro chunks </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Efficient workload </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Negligible individual time </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>No need for reviewers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>X-checks to deliver high-quality translations </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>No further “improvements” </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  19. 19. Crowdsourcing vs. Machine Translation according to Mojofiti <ul><li>Crowdsourcing </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Advantages </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Free, abundance of knowledgeable human translators, 100% accurate translations, demonstrates an openness to the public </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Disadvantages </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Security measures must be in place, content accuracy reviews (especially from a cultural perspective), no full-time “staff” to count on </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Machine Translation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Advantages </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Fast time to market, machine translation servers can be used for a variety of applications, flexibility to change content as often as you wish </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Disadvantages </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Generally very costly (based on the number of “language pairs” and sometimes overall use), machine translations often leave out cultural references, evolving industry – no machine translation service has been able to promise 100% accurate translations, yet. </li></ul></ul></ul>
  20. 20. The perfect translation team <ul><li>Experts and fellow translators coordinated by a project manager for information transfer </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Error prevention </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Doing right the first time every time </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Education and training play different roles in a translator’s profile </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Dissociate domain-specific knowledge from language skills and productivity skills </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  21. 21. Concurrent Translation
  22. 22. Community Review
  23. 23. Quality
  24. 24. Issues <ul><li>Crowdsourcing initiatives can be dangerous when cost is volume based </li></ul><ul><li>Tools for creating and updating content </li></ul><ul><ul><li>One-fits-all internationalization strategy </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Trust and authoritativeness of translators </li></ul><ul><li>Searchability and accessibility of reference material </li></ul><ul><li>Bootstrapping and incentives to participation </li></ul><ul><li>Ownership of material </li></ul><ul><li>Compensation </li></ul>
  25. 25. Pays…
  26. 26. Money matters <ul><li>Gresham's law </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Bad money drives out good </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>If translators are paid low it is hard to get qualified people </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>LSP’s share the same pool of resources </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Testing freelancers is expensive and not reliable </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Better to just do small test project </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Shorten production and industry chains </li></ul>
  27. 27. The rise of “ freeconomics ” <ul><li>In a competitive market, price falls to the marginal cost </li></ul><ul><ul><li>In the translation industry, unit cost is close to zero and will continue to decline </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Freemium </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Some software and related services, some content </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Free to users of basic versions </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Cross-subsidy </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Give away services to one customer while selling to another </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Treat them as if they were free </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Attention and reputation economy </li></ul>
  28. 28. What is your dangerous idea? <ul><li>The history of science is replete with discoveries that were considered socially, morally, or emotionally dangerous in their time. </li></ul>
  29. 29. Thank you <ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>Skype: luigimuzii </li></ul><ul><li>Blog: </li></ul><ul><li>Twitter: </li></ul>