Why Language Translation Crowdsourcing is Not a Good Idea!

By Atlas LS

For those of you that don’t know, (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Buyub6vIG3Q) crowdsourcing is the process of outsourcing tasks to a large, loosely defined community through an open call.

Language Translation Crowdsourcing

Commonly, crowdsourcing calls are performed online through social networking sites such as crowdspring.com, bootb.com or elance.com. The members of a “crowd” answer an open call request to work on a project. The individuals within the crowd are responsible for collaborating with one another to complete the project. The crowd size varies and the individuals within the crowd may or may not know the other members they are working with.

In many cases, crowdsourcing projects can be a low-cost and effective method for various tasks that require many man-hours with very defined and easily achievable goals. But in some cases including crowdsourcing language translations, crowdsourcing just doesn’t cut it.

The problem that is seen when crowdsourcing a translation projects is the fact that languages vary greatly from region to region. Even English in the United States has subtle, but notable differences in different regions. The same holds true for virtually every spoken language in the world.

One primary example of where crowdsourcing language translations have failed deals with the king of social networking; Facebook.

Facebook has been aggressively expanding all over the world and requires thousands of man-hours to translate their site into dozens of languages. Instead of hiring a professional language translation firm to manage the quality of translations, Facebook has looked to their user base to have them crowdsource the translation of the site for free.

So how did it go? Well, according to this (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/24205912/ns/technology_and_science-internet/MSNBC article) that spoke to Ana B. Torres, a professional translator, she said the Spanish translation version of Facebook was “extremely poor” with “outrageous spelling mistakes”.

Others have stated that while translated material on Facebook is decent, other material is sloppy and haphazardly put together. Therefore, it would seem that Facebook’s crowdsourcing suffers from the lack of professional translators. In addition, an overall lack of quality control that often arises from crowdsourced projects.

That’s why language translation crowdsourcing projects really never turn out well. Language translation projects that are crowdsourced are frequently full of unqualified amateurs that don’t understand the language and don’t have much of an incentive to produce a quality product. That is why a professional linguist is critical to any project. Feel free to contact Atlas Language Services, Inc. for your next professional translation project.


Atlas Language Services, Inc., a Chicago based Language Service Provider specializing in language interpretation (spoken), translation (written), globalization, localization and conference interpretation and simultaneous conference equipment rentals and sales.

With over 20 years of industry experience in the legal, medical, corporate, pharmaceutical, engineering and conference interpretation fields as well as expertise in written translations for advertising, marketing, promotions, sales, human resources, publications and technical research material, you can be assured that Atlas can handle all your language needs, not just domestically but worldwide.

Atlas Language Services, Inc. is an A+ rated business by the Better Business Bureau as well as a corporate member of: American Translators Association; Association of Language Companies; Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce; Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce; Midwest Association of Translators & Interpreters; Meeting Planners International; and the Illinois Paralegal Association.

Atlas Language Services, Inc. can be reached at 888-816-0577 / 312-372-1600 / 815-479-1600 or online at http://www.AtlasLS.com.

Kevin McQuire is the President/CEO.