Will Facebook Own Crowdsourced Translation?

On Tuesday, the Baltimore Sun noted that Facebook has applied for a patent for its crowdsourced translation application. The app, which has been in use since early last year, has helped Facebook quickly and efficiently translate its pages into different languages. Here’s how it works: the application presents text that needs to be translated to users who are able to translate it. Different users’ translations of the same text are then put up against each other, and other members vote on which one of the translations is the most accurate.

TechCrunch’s Jason Kincaid has some concerns about Facebook’s patent application. Many other sites also use crowdsourced translations, and those sites could be in jeopardy if Facebook’s patent is approved. As Kincaid explains,

“Now it’s up to the patent office to decide if the techniques employed by these other sites will represent prior art that would nullify Facebook’s patent. And you can be sure that’s what many people are hoping for — it would be highly frustrating for social networks down the line if they can’t leverage their own communities the way Facebook has.”

Of course, crowdsourced translations may be quick and efficient, but as some bilingual commenters on TechCrunch noted, the quality of the translations is often inconsistent. For example, commenter Viclava wrote that it took about a year before the Spanish version of Facebook was “readable” and relatively free of grammatical errors.

Hopefully, Facebook doesn’t end up owning the patent on crowdsourced translations for social networks. Crowdsourced translations can be a powerful tool to quickly and cheaply translate content into another language, and this is definitely valuable. However, in many cases it’s important that the content be translated flawlessly the first time. If your brand or image depends on a perfect translation, it’s best to go ahead and spring for a professional translation company.

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6 replies
  1. Rick Woyde
    Rick Woyde says:

    The irony of course is that Facebook had their application translated at no or little cost thanks to crowdsourcing and as a result of that experience they now want to profit from that experience by patenting crowdsourcing.

    Since it is such a great idea, I am looking to use crowdsourcing to build my next home, since there will be no labor costs I might as well build a mansion. Ha-ha!

    Let’s hope people realize that participating in crowdsourcing should only be done on behalf of non-profits. At my last company we regularly donated our translation services to support non-profits.

  2. Übersetzung Englisch Deutsch
    Übersetzung Englisch Deutsch says:

    While we’re discussing the Will Facebook Own Crowdsourced Translation? | The Language Blog | Bloglingua.com issue, If a business wants to succeed beyond the domestic, they must invest in a translation service. Translation services have many benefits that can help reach success in the international market. Your assigned translator will be useful in the instances of meetings and other live events.

  3. Übersetzung
    Übersetzung says:

    There are still many complexities involved in translating a webpage using auto translators. This is the main reason why manual translation is preferred . A sentence in one language can have a different meaning if translated automatically.


  4. Übersetzung
    Übersetzung says:

    The question is whether automated translations are good enough and the answer is simple enough. No they are not enough as many a times they interpret wrongly the meaning of a sentence or a paragraph in texts which in turn confuses users of the content.


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