Twitter to Crowdsource Translations

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Twitter is quickly becoming an international phenomenon, as its role in uprisings throughout the Middle East illustrates. However, so far Twitter is only offered in 7 languages:  English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, and Spanish.

To help make the service available in more languages as quickly as possible, Twitter just launched a new “Translation Center” where users can help translate the product into their own local languages.

Here’s how it works: Volunteers sign in to Twitter, then go to Twitter’s Translation Center to select a language they are fluent in. They can suggest translations for different phrases from the Twitter home page,  Welcome Email, Terms of Service, etc. or vote on translations that others have already suggested. Twitter chooses the best translations for each phrase based on recommendations from the community.

Currently, the Translation Center is open to translators who speak French, German, Italian, Japanese Korean and Spanish, to help improve the quality of the existing translations. It is also open to users who are fluent in Indonesian, Turkish and Russian, as these languages are up next on Twitter’s agenda. New languages will be added periodically.

On its blog, Twitter notes that:

“ Crowdsourcing translations isn’t new for us. Since October, 2009, we’ve counted on Twitter users to volunteer as translators and help us localize Twitter. For this launch, we created a completely new system, based on feedback from translators, to improve the translation experience.”

This new system makes it easier for Twitter users to volunteer and to translate in their spare time, which will hopefully increase participation and the speed that new languages can be released. Crowdsourced translation has both advantages and disadvantages, but it’s heartening to see Twitter making translation more of  a priority.

If you’re on Twitter and interested in its translation efforts, you can also follow the Translation Center at @Translator.