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Sunday, September 25, 2011

"Crowdsourcing" means translators will work for free

The history of the localization industry in the internet era has been the story of the race to free translation. This may be good for business, but linguists have always been aware that the expensive tools offered to them are designed to reduce what they have to be paid.

This started with expensive TM tools that had the dual effect of costing a fortune up front and then discounting repetitions--the grid of which gets tighter and tighter for the linguist with each year.

Now we have crowdsourcing, the holy grail of the industry, where linguists log on to a system (creating "systems" is another holy grail) and work for a vastly discounted rate--or even for free--to complete work in record time.

There's hardly a localization firm out there that has not contemplated a future where it gets to charge big bucks to its clients, but then gets all the work done for practically nothing by Wikipedia-style editors who, for some reason, want to do it for free.

All of this was brought to mind by this interesting thread on Slashdot: Steam Translation Community Slaving Away

It is interesting to note that the open source community supports this sort of model as being compatible with the development of community driven software such as Linux.

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