Guest post: Expanding the translation industry through crowdfunding with the Win-Win Project Reply

Today’s guest post author is Reginaldo Francisco, a professional translator working in English and Italian into Portuguese, working primarily in the literary field as well as with texts pertaining to quality management, compliance, people management and technology. He has a bachelor’s degree in translation from the São Paulo State University (UNESP) and a master’s in translation studies from the Federal University at Santa Catarina (UFSC), in Brazil. As a ProZ.com professional trainer, Reginaldo teaches courses and gives lectures on the translation industry, mainly on the use CAT tools. He is, in conjunction with Claudia Zavaglia, co-author of the book Parece mas não é: as armadilhas da tradução do italiano para o português (in English: It seems to be but isn’t: Traps in Italian-to-Portuguese translation).


Reginaldo Francisco, founder of the Win-Win Project

Back in October, Pieter Beens published a post here in ProZ.com’s blog about five examples of crowdfunding initiatives related to the translation industry. Now I am going to talk about a project he did not mention — indeed, he could hardly have known about it as it had been launched only a few days earlier — which has everything to do with crowdfunding and translation: the Win-Win Project.

Pieter explains that “crowdfunding websites act as a platform where innovators meet ‘backers’ – people who have the money and will to invest in innovations.” To talk about Win-Win, however, I would rather quote the definition found at Wikipedia: “the practice of funding a project or venture by raising monetary contributions from a large number of people […]. Crowdfunding is a form of alternative finance, which has emerged outside of the traditional financial system.”

In fact, the Win-Win Project is all about crowdfunding and translation, since its aim is precisely to create a crowdfunding platform specifically for translations. The motivation behind it is to be an alternative solution to some unpleasant — often unfair — aspects of the existing translation industry. As I already discussed here, individuals in general can’t afford professional translation services on their own, so they are stuck with options like machine or amateur translations. Professional translators, in turn, can only work for those who can pay their price, i.e., mostly companies, often translating materials that are not that interesting (manuals, contracts and the like) and often under pressure from their clients to do more in less time for lower pay.

If we think about the huge amount of information available nowadays on the Internet, it is easy to conclude that most of this content remains available only in one language and thus inaccessible to those who don’t understand it. Thousands of people would like to gain access to articles, papers, blog posts, news items, reports and other texts in their own language, but they can’t afford to pay for quality, professional translations. So everybody loses — professional translators included.

What Win-Win Project highlights, however, is that, even if people can’t afford translations individually, together they can! And that’s what we want to make possible through Win-Win: a crowdfunding platform to enable people to easily join together to pay for the kind of quality translations that only professional, human translators can provide. The process is simple, explained in four steps in our introductory video:

  1. A translation project for a text available online is created on the Win-Win site by someone who would like to see it translated. The project creator gives the website address of the text and indicates the amount he/she can contribute to pay for the translation. Win-Win then contacts the content owner for consent; if approved, the project is announced, indicating the contribution from the project creator and calling for other people to contribute.
  2. Those interested in getting the content translated can contribute to its funding with any amount they choose. The content owner, the project creator and the contributors can all promote the project through social media or other means to find more potential contributors, and the website where the original text is located can also provide a link to the project at Win-Win.
  3. When the amount raised is enough to fairly compensate his/her work, an experienced, professional translator takes on the project and produces a high-quality translation of the text. Win-Win will maintain a directory of professional translators with experience and proven competence who will be allowed to take on projects involving their language pairs.
  4. Once the translation is completed, it is published on Win-Win site, along with a link to the original content in the source language. The translator receives the amount raised from contributions, and the content owner can put a link on the original site pointing to the translation.

So does this mean that people pay only what they can afford to, and yet translators are well-paid? Exactly! It harnesses the kind of magic that Internet connecting power has made possible through crowdfunding. It’s a real win-win situation for everybody:

  • translators are well-paid for their service and have the freedom to select projects of their interest, according to their availability and specialties;
  • the broader translator community gains more visibility as Win-Win projects highlight the value of human, professional translation;
  • contributors get precise, high-quality translations while paying much less than if each of them had to pay the total sum of a professional translator’s service;
  • the owner of the original content has it published in other languages, and the Win-Win translation project promotion can attract more visitors to his/her site;
  • Internet users in general gain access to more content in their languages, which helps spread ideas and knowledge through a more multilingual web.

But the Win-Win Project is about crowdfunding in another sense as well: to become a reality, setting up the Win-Win platform also depends on the success of this crowdfunding campaign. We need to raise the amount necessary to pay for the system development, website design and other expenses to get Win-Win up and running, and no other funding strategy could better match the project spirit than crowdfunding. But we now have very little time left, until December 15, to achieve our campaign goal (BRL 65,000 — roughly USD 17,500); otherwise, Win-Win will remain only an idea, at least for the time being.

Since translators are the ones who will benefit most from the new market niche that Win-Win proposes, I hope many of you reading this now will be interested in learning more about it and contributing to make it real. It is possible to contribute from anywhere in the world using PayPal. In addition, you can also help by spreading the word about Win-Win to all your contacts — the campaign, including the videos in it, are available in English, Spanish and Portuguese, so you can share it with anyone who can understand one of those languages!

The stakes are high — expanding the translation market, democratizing access to quality translation, building a more multilingual Internet. But together we’re a crowd! Help make it all possible!

winwinproject


I hope you enjoyed this post, and thanks to Reginaldo for sharing it with us! See a related guest post on crowdfunding initiatives in the translation industry here: 5 exciting examples of crowdfunding for translation

Questions? Comments? Feedback can be posted in the comments section below or via Twitter @ProZcom

Guest post: 5 exciting examples of crowdfunding for translation 2

In addition to his work as a freelance translator and copywriter working in English to Dutch, Pieter Beens is also an active blogger and a ProZ.com professional trainer.  In this guest post, Pieter sheds some light on a few interesting crowdfunding initiatives pertaining to the language industry.


Pieter_BeensThe translation industry is full of innovative technologies and groundbreaking trends, like the logic that CAT tools improve our efficiency and the introduction of translation engines. A new and innovative trend that has emerged outside our industry is the idea of crowdfunding. Crowdfunding websites act as a platform where innovators meet “backers” – people who have the money and will to invest in innovations. In the translation industry, innovations have traditionally been backed by investments from outside the industry, e.g. companies developing CAT tools and related software have not traditionally asked translators for funding. With the rise of crowdfunding projects however, an approach between innovators and backers seemed to be developing within the industry. In this blog post I share 5 interesting examples of crowdfunding initiatives taking place in the translation industry.

Slate Desktop™ – Funding a translation engine
slate-desktopThe most important and groundbreaking current crowdfunding project for translators is Slate Desktop™. This project is already under development and therefore crowdfunding is not necessarily to gain money, but to get some insight as to the support from industry professionals for this initiative. Slate Desktop™ is a piece of software that uses your own translation memories for machine translation. The software requires big TMs (preferably more than 100,000 segments) to learn your tone and style. Once it analyses the content of the TM, you can connect the software to any major CAT tool and use it to machine translate your texts.

This project was developed by industry professionals and has some major benefits. I wrote an analysis on some advantages and drawbacks of Slate Desktop™ at http://www.vertaalt.nu/blog/slate-desktop-opportunities-and-threats/. You may also be interested in reading about some of the practical aspects of Slate Desktop™ in Emma Goldsmith‘s blog post, “Slate and big TMs: the perfect combination?“.

The campaign currently needs only 10% in 10 days, so hurry up and join the forces. People who back now will receive a 40% discount on the purchase price now and a perpetual 40% discount on future upgrades.

Learning language on the loo
It’s not a secret that we need to have a shorter or longer break every now and then. Visiting a toilet is a great idea to get some rest and do some necessary things. People who cannot miss an email can take their tablets with them, but if you want to learn a second language the project “Language and educational books on tissue paper” can be helpful. The people behind this project are looking for funds to produce toilet paper with educational books and languages. Great if you want to unite the useful and the pleasant. The project still needs some backers: it has currently only raised 55 USD from the total 90k they need.

Crowdfunding game and book translations
When you search Kickstarter or Indiegogo for translation projects, you can find a multitude of book translation projects. People either don’t know where to get their books translated or simply want to know whether there is a market for their favorite book in their native language. That principle applies to game localization as well. Square Enix, a Japanese developer of computer games, is looking at opportunities to make fans of the games funders for localization projects. That’s an interesting development and many fans will certainly back localization projects for their favorite games. One benefit is that developers and book fans will spend the money for a quality translation/localization instead of looking for the cheapest translator or for fans who don’t master a language but who like to be part of the localization team. So crowdfunding this way offers some options for professional translators as well.

learnlanguageLearning a language by playing
Another crowdfunding initiative to teach languages was the project “Learn Spanish OR Japanese by Playing a Game”. This project was funded by 133% and has already been developed. In order to play, users need to scan a playing card with their mobile phone. The smartphone then shows a video with a native speaker saying a certain phrase. If the translation is unclear, users can tap a button to see the information they need. During the game, the players help each other speak Spanish or Japanese, using only phrases in the respective language. They can also use sounds or gestures. After a phrase is learned, it is placed in the middle of the table and made available for a “challenge round”. In this round players challenge each other to independently generate the phrase. The Spanish version is for sale here.

Saving a language
An entirely different type of project is “Help Save the Haida Language”. This is a personal project to save Xaayda Kil, a language that is spoken by a select group of inhabitants of Canada. As the organizer of the crowdfunding campaign puts it: “The language is a Canadian cultural treasure, and it is in danger.” Xaayda Kil is spoken fluently by only a few dozen people, many of whom are in their 70s and 80s. The project is meant to get funding for local organizations that are trying to save the language. This initiative may only be relevant for a small group, but it is important from a cultural perspective. The success of the campaign (it was 275% funded) makes it clear that there is even a perspective for endangered languages.


You can find Pieter on the web at Vertaalt.nu, and on Twitter @vertaaltnu

For a list of on-demand training sessions offered by Pieter on ProZ.com, visit: http://www.proz.com/translator-training/trainers/1273/courses

As always, questions, feedback and suggestions for future posts can be posted in the comments section below or via Twitter @ProZcom