Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Great Translation Experiment

The community translation experiment has been running for a few days, and we can already reflect on the experience.

First of all, big thanks to anybody who decided to participate. Over 260 people joined the collective effort so far, and you can imagine that it can boost our confidence in the power and health of the truck simulator fan community when we see so many people trying to actively help.

What we are going through is not only a technical experiment, but to a large extent also a social experiment. We certainly did not expect the massive flow of input from the Turkish fans. We were surprised to see so much difference in activity between neighbor countries, like between our own Czech Republic or Slovakia. We did not expect people to try to "help" and use Google Translate to contaminate the effort with nonsense translations. We did not expect people to start competing translation of the same language if a translation sub-project was already under way. So in a lot of ways, we have learned a lot not only about quirks of the GetLocalization system and user interface, and about regional variety of the fan community, but also about people's behavior in general.

As for various smaller and bigger problems... some things could have been expected, but we really did not anticipate many of the problems. The GetLocalization system has potential to be a great tool, but there are still some teething problems to overcome, and the technical issues influenced the cooperation a lot.

It would be great if there was some support for moderating the translation rather than having it running as complete anarchy. It would also be preferably if we had initially control over which languages are allowed for translation, as in many cases two parallel sub-projects were started and lots of effort was spent twice. It would be useful to be able to send messages to individual translators, to have notice-boards or communication channels for individual languages... The feature wish-list that we communicated to GetLocalization guys is very long. For technical reasons, in the end we had no other choice but to merge the competing same-language sub-projects and rely on the voting system to let the best translations rise to the top. We couldn't just "kill" any of the competing sub-projects to have all the effort in them go to vain, we don't understand the languages enough to be the judges.

We are far from done. Maybe fatigue is already setting in, perhaps many of you were sorry to see the little flame wars between over-competitive translators, but please bear with us. Things are still settling down in many languages, but it's not over. In fact (to a large extent thanks to intelligent discussions among and with you) we'll be throwing in a wave of updated texts soon so some of the terms will have to be re-translated. We also need to come up with a way to visualize the results for you, probably through sets of screenshots in each language, so that you have feedback on problems. In many cases, words or sentences are too long and don't fit into the designated areas, so a lot of polishing is still ahead of us.

We are sure that the team at GetLocalization will continue to improve their system, and we'll use the lessons learned from Trucks & Trailers if we decide to involve the community again in translation of Euro Truck Simulator 2.