Guide to Traduwiki
- Why Traduwiki?
- The idea came from a frustration, the frustration that many texts freely available on the Internet are accessible in only one language. Many of them are good, some of them are excellent, but their diffusion is limited either way. The frustration bumps into another fact, that many of us can read a foreign language and translate some texts.
So, just like the peer-to-peer technology or the grid computing principles, the idea became this: a text could be sectioned into small pieces, users would take some of them to translate them in their spare time, and the interesting document will be quickly and correctly translated. Everyone wins in this situation.
- Why not using automatic translators like BabelFish or Google Translate?
- If you have used them, you know they are good to give a general idea of a text but fail to provide an accurate translation. Traduwiki bets on the human knowledge to reach a better quality. The success of Wikipedia and projects of "citizen journalism" showed that user contributions could be significant.
- So what's a wiki translation?
- A wiki translation is a collaborative translation in which anyone, members or anonymous readers, could contribute to the content.
- How does it work?
- Each text is broken down into smaller chunks. To translate a portion of text, just click on the "translation icon" appearing close to the original text in the left column. Traduwiki has deliberately limited the size of text chunks to two phrases, because it's always easier to translate a short text than a lengthy text, and because moderately fluent users will also be able to contribute. A section that has been already translated could be rewritten, and you're welcomed to jump in if you spot a mistyped word or mistranslated term.
- How long will it take to translate a text?
- The more popular a text gets, the more people are collaborating on a translation, the quicker it will be translated. But it depends on the text itself. Long texts obviously take more time to be translated, as very technical ones. As an estimate, it is reasonable to assume that a 300-word text attracting 40 users could be translated in half an hour.
- How could Traduwiki be useful to me?
- Traduwiki was built to answer common scenarios like:
• Read Karl's texts without having to ask him to write in your own language
• Help local physicist Paola reach a broaden audience
• Impress your high-profile teacher by practicing your foreign language
• Understand foreign language better by comparing the original and its translation
• See how many people can help you improve your spoken language
• Review all the texts tagged "Elections 2007"
Traduwiki helps any kind of texts and authors. People here don't translate only for them, they do for their friends, their parents, their neighbors or the unknown guy sitting over there at the cybercafé. They truly understand that the Internet has no geographic boundaries, and that they are contributing to take down its last one, the language barrier.
- What kind of documents could be submitted?
- Pretty much all regular texts. Magazine stories, academic textbooks, essays, poetry, novels, technical papers and more. Documents containing formulas are trickier; they will be integrated later. So will be video subtitles. Traduwiki sticks to its principles, to ease the spread of culture and knowledge on the Internet.
Bear in mind that for now, Traduwiki only texts under an open source license (see them all) or one of the Creative Commons licenses (check them here). Please check you have the rights to distribute a text document before submitting it on the site and if you see some abuse, warn us and we'll delete them from the server.
- Could I contribute to the site even if I can barely understand a foreign language?
- Yes, in some ways. Text chunks are kept small to let you contribute at your level. You can opt for easy-to-translate text chunks. There always are many of them in any text. When you feel more confident in your language level, you could try to translate text chunks that are harder to understand.
There are some other ways to contribute. If you have a blog or are in a social network (i.e. MySpace, Facebook,...), you can talk about Traduwiki. If you know someone good enough to translate a tricky line, you could tip him or her. In the future, Traduwiki will provide other tools to spread the word.
- But is it realistic to rely on amateur translators that can misunderstand the meaning of a text?
- Of course, this situation is possible — as its opposite. There is a couple of reasons to believe the opposite. The first reason directly comes from the wiki tool itself, that is wiki texts are works in progress and anybody can still make changes even if the translation is complete. By keeping translated texts opened to modifications, Traduwiki banks on the people's ability to spot errors, correct them, change mistranslated lines, and enhance the overall quality.
The second reason is that new tools of collaborative work will equip Traduwiki. They are currently in development and will soon be released. For example, a flagging system will warn readers that a text could contain errors. Or another example, a forum system to let users discuss about the meaning of a specific term.
- Will you sell texts?
- Not at all. Texts are free to read, to download, and to distribute as long as you comply with the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike license. For the ads, sorry to say that, Traduwiki is ad-supported. We'll try to keep them as small as possible, but our tiny tiny development team has to eat and pay for the bandwidth.
- What will you do with the translated texts?
- For now, they will be available to download only in the plain text format. Later, they'll be reformatted additional formats like the PDF format and again freely accessible.