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An open volunteer-based project to translate OpenIDEO and take it beyond the English speaking world. (UPDATED!)

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This project might represent a lot of work, but we've seen many successes over the Web as volunteers help sites go global.

For example, the TED Open Translation Project brought TEDTalks beyond the English-speaking world by offering subtitles, time-coded transcripts and the ability for any talk to be translated by volunteers worldwide. The project launched with 300 translations in 40 languages, and 200 volunteer translators. Now it reached more than 6000 translators, with over 21k translations in 81 languages.

What if we did the same with OpenIDEO?
With all the tools now available on the Web ( Google Translate, dotSUB, Worldwide Lexicon -a site that supports collaborative translation, etc.), OpenIDEO can tap into its powerfully multilingual community to take its content (and thus the social impact) beyond the English-speaking world.

We could build a "sub-community" of volunteer OI Translators, that could help translating the main component of the website. To start small, we could target 1 or 2 of the most spoken languages worldwide (French, Spanish?), preferably with no special characters (to make it technically easier). In the long run, if the experiment works, we could unfold this to more languages.

The project would require a person from OpenIDEO identifying the elements to translate (especially the recurring ones). There should be some sort of a participatory system for people to translate.

Translators can be rewarded with OpenIDEO Badges.

For example, I have contributed to translating the mobile Ushahidi platform into French. All what the Ushahidi people did was creating a Google Docs with the terms / phrases in English they needed to be translated. They sent the link with a shout-out on Twitter. And people were able to add their translations in the Google Docs. I believe it was pretty successful (and fast).

Let's see how it works
I am conducting a little experiment to  (1) identify recurrent terms and phrases on the OI website (things like "Add your concept" "Add your inspiration", instead of a full challenge brief), then (2) put them on a Google Doc table and (3) share it on OI for people to enter their translations. I was thinking five languages, and about a 100+ items to translate. You can check the progress here:

The objectives of this prototype are to:

  1. Validate the main underlying hypothesis in this concept: that OI can count on the volunteer efforts of the community to translate the platform.
  2. Test what languages that we can reasonably target via the community.

(Many many thanks to the very first OpenTRANSLATE volunteers  Arjan, Anne-Laure, Carlos, AviAna C.Ana S.Anne,  Adriana  and Tomoya (who isn't on OpenIDEO... yet).

What kind of social impact does this concept achieve?

Expanding the reach of OpenIDEO beyond the English-speaking world.

What skills are required to take this concept forward?

Many volunteers translators, a passionate coordinator that has to be the interface with the translator community and the OI developers.

How do you envision this concept being supported financially?

Some cost would have to be underwritten by IDEO (esp. additional staff member if needed), but would mostly be free (volunteer-based project + ideally an opensource web-based translation tool).

Virtual Team:

Arjan Tupan, Anne-Laure Fayard, Carlos Perez, Avi Solomon, Ana Correia de Barros, Ana Cecilia Santos, Anne Kjaer Riechert, Adriana Olmos, Tomoya Yamamoto (offline friend)

Evaluation results

18 evaluations so far

1. Does this concept increase social impact?

Absolutely! This idea will drive social change - 66.7%

It’s a good start – some impact is likely to be achieved - 33.3%

No – increasing impact is not the main focus of this idea - 0%

2. Does this idea inspire *you* to take action?

Sure does – I’m itching to get started turning this idea into impact - 33.3%

Possibly – I’d need to know more to make a decision about how to get involved - 44.4%

No thanks – it’s an interesting idea, but it would be best taken forward by someone else - 22.2%

3. Does this concept help the OpenIDEO community connect and collaborate together?

Yes – it does a brilliant job of enhancing our community connections and might even reach out to external partners - 72.2%

Maybe – it may drive increased collaboration but the concept would need to be further developed first - 27.8%

No – it doesn’t help our community connect or collaborate better - 0%

4. How easy would it be to try prototyping or experimenting with this idea?

Easy – I could have an early prototype running in a few hours - 27.8%

There’s potential but it would take some planning and coordination to make it work - 44.4%

Not really easy – this idea would take considerable resources and planning to get it off the ground - 27.8%

5. Does this concept clearly outline how it will be funded?

Yes, this idea clearly explains funding sources - 44.4%

Sort of – we’d probably still need to think more about how this idea would get funded - 38.9%

No, this idea doesn’t really explain where funding for implementation would come from - 16.7%


Join the conversation:

Photo of DeletedUser


Mother tongue is spanish, I can help there

Photo of Sarah Fathallah

Muchas gracias, Carlos :)

Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard

mother tongue is French. would be happy to help although I know you can do it too but you might need some help...

Photo of Sarah Fathallah

Hey Anne-Laure! Great, any help would be greatly appreciate, merci beaucoup :)
This is what I'm talking about in this concept, I'm so confident an open invitation to translate OI would get a very good (if not overwhelming) community response.

Photo of Sarah Fathallah

Carlos, Anne-Laure: I've put together a list of recurrent terms and phrases on the OI website as a first experiment of how the volunteer translation of the site could work. I would highly appreciate you guys helping me with French and Spanish if you have some time available: (Thanks to Arjan for the first stap in Dutch!).

Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard

Hi Sarah, I've started and will try to finish soon. Harder to do than I thought... :-)

Photo of Sarah Fathallah

Hi Anne-Laure! What you've done is terrific, thanks so much for helping out!

Photo of Arjan Tupan

Anne-Laure, it is sometimes quite complex, no? Some of these terms are very standard web-terms, but I decided a long time ago to keep all my apps in English mainly. Also the likes of FB etcetera. If I'd had used the Dutch version of these, some of them would have been easier to translate.

Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard

It is indeed... and exactly for the reason you mentioned, such as sign in, or sign out... Then in France, some people would translate "email" but this is only a few people, or some administration... Also some of the French translations for "challenges" would have a competitive connotation that I thought was not great. Hence I chose to keep "challenge" which can be used in French, or use "projet" (project).
In a nutshell: an interesting experience that reminded me of the complexities of translation.

Photo of DeletedUser


Just began, will finish latter, but will finish ; )

Photo of Sarah Fathallah

Thanks a heap Carlos!

Photo of Sarah Fathallah

Arjan, I personally have a consistent problem trying to translate the word "Featured" in English. Can't find anything literal in any other language :/
Oh, and also OI-specific terms, like Design Quotient, etc.

Photo of Arjan Tupan

Yes! Featured is a horrible one. It should be banned :) As for translating into Dutch, there's always a choice of keeping the English. Something like Design Quotient is one of these things. And there is the question of names. Design Quotient could be seen as a name. Question then is, do you translate that.
Funny sidenote: in Latvian names are transcribed phonetically. Like Džūlija Robertsa...

Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard

will also finish in the next few days... I agree "featured" is a difficult one. Design quotient is hard too. maybe we could leave it as it is. I sometime find that some translations sound weird like "mel" for email in French... an option could be to have "design quotient" and then in parenthesis a literal translation.

Photo of Sarah Fathallah

Hi Carlos! Do you want to have your voice featured in the OpenIDEO presentation video? Join in the SoundCloud group and record yourself saying a single line... or all the lines...

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