Translating Web Service Online: Who does it the Best?

Lately I’ve been seeing many good examples of web services done in interactive/collaborative ways. On these sites, there is no check-out or check-in of language files. Just text fields for you to inputting translation text data.

To name a few:

So far the most successful and complete translation system of all is LibraryThing, I think.

  • Page-by-page translation as well as “untranslated” list
  • Instead of throwing the whole site’s strings into a pile, priorities are set (for example, they don’t want to have “About” section translated yet)
  • Vote system for each translated string
  • Language zeitgeist and translation page (has a honor roll too) to encourage participation
  • Untranslated text is marked with yellow background color

According to their About Translation page (which has a nice guideline for translators), their translation feature was inspired by BookMooch, Remember The Milk and Google in your Language. I’ve participated in, BookMooch, and LibraryThing online translation, but LibraryThing has the best overall system so far.

LibraryThing Translation for Japanese (screenshot in 2011)

I especially like the page-by-page translation. Much easier than searching for the line # of the original text and guessing what the context is. It will be even better or almost perfect if you can use a link from each available string to see which page it is used.

Having a quick vote system for something that need help from people’s common sense (“Which one sounds right?”) is a pretty good idea. It only takes a second to click “yes” or “no” — much easier than debating over who is right.

But in terms of completeness/quality of the project, Remember The Milk is the best. But it’s not quite fair to compare with others, since RTM now has a Japanese team.

I hope soon we will see non-English sites that have this kind of features too (probably there are some already, I guess I need to wait for them to get translated it into Japanese or English?). sums it up all together (yeah I know I’m partial):

The world is too big a place for WordPress to be English-centric.

Put your service’s name into “WordPress” – do you agree?


One response to “Translating Web Service Online: Who does it the Best?”

  1. Really fantastic article, very useful!

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