Weighing the pros and cons of localizing: To crowdsource or not to crowdsource?
CROWDSOURCING is, perhaps, one of the key pillars of the open source movement, which thrives on community and the belief that better products and services can be built when the community gets involved. Even developers of proprietary software are beginning to understand and embrace the value of crowdsourcing.
But let’s be realistic – even with the virtues of crowdsourcing, there are limitations to this activity, and the wisdom of the crowds is not always the best thing to turn to.
Localization is one aspect in software development that might be a grey area when it comes to crowdsourcing. On one hand, you get the benefits of actual local experience when seeking out crowd contributions. On the other, you might not get enough expertise, especially when it comes to translating concepts.
Pros of crowdsourcing
Cost (it’s usually free). It seems pretty obvious that crowdsourcing frees companies of costs that come with certified localization. You can provide translators with incentive for being part of a crowdsourced effort, as participants tend to translate only when it’s convenient for them.
Wisdom of the crowds. “Two heads are better than one”, they say. With more people helping you, you can access more information. The more inputs available, the better chances will be at coming up with the best localization work.
— Waters Corporation (@WatersCorp) August 11, 2016
Faster work turnaround. If your content is simple enough, crowdsourcing can give you faster work turnaround since more people contribute to your project. However, this also depends on the availability of capable translators who can localize your content.
Cons of Crowdsourcing
Participants’ lack of skill. One of the disadvantages of crowdsourcing localization is the potential lack of qualification among participants. Some of them may be familiar with the languages, but do not have the training to work with specialized types of content – for example, legal documents or scientific jargon.
Quality control. In some cases, translated content is reviewed if a number of contributors say it is wrong. This can lead to low-quality work which could cause more problems in the long run. Perhaps a good solution is to allot different tasks to both professionals and non-pro bilinguals.
Pros of Certified Translation
Assurance of quality. This is the biggest advantage of turning to professionals for localizing any software development work. Since certified translators are experts in localizing content – as in, they actually do this for a living – you’re assured of the quality of the output. This will especially impact content that has regulatory or legal bearing in your target markets.
Y'know how when launching a product, you should probably google the name, in case it doesn't quite localise… pic.twitter.com/lNPkzgSy98
— Roger Hart (@RMH40) August 9, 2016
Opportunity for partnerships. In most cases, software developers who work with teams of certified translators also get the benefit of cross-marketing, which can help in penetrating local markets when the need arises. This means getting that much-needed word-of-mouth marketing, which can be particularly helpful for a development team just starting out.
Cons of Certified Translation
Availability of experts. If you’re looking to localize in a language or country that doesn’t have many professionals, you could run into a wall. However, this should not be a problem for a company with years of experience in localization, as it will have already built up a worldwide network of translators.
Cost. Of course, professional translation does come with a price tag. Perhaps for non-profit projects, a crowdsourced approach will be adequate. However, launching a big project aimed at a B2B crowd, for example, will require more investment to ensure quality of the product and content.
Crowdsourcing can work in certain contexts, especially when the content is simple enough to be localized. This can be valuable for businesses with budgetary concerns. It encourages social and community engagement, and it can help boost a startup’s visibility.
However, engaging the services of certified translators might be the best approach if you intend to ensure quality. You also get the benefit of working with seasoned professionals who know a bit more about the local market, which can get you started in outreach.
It is best to weigh the pros and cons, and do your homework. In the end, it’s still about reaching out to your customers in the most effective way.
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