Social Translation of Written Material?

A thought about social processes for translation (i18n/l10n) of project web sites, blog/news articles, social web posts, etc. Particularly in the freedom software development community, though more broadly in any international online community.

I have been finding more and more good work in other languages, and wanting to translate it to my language and then publish the translation, for outreach.

Machine translation is a helpful starting point and getting steadily better and easier. As a reader I can now use Firefox's built in translation — hurray! But it is not a full solution: it's not universally discoverable, convenient, available, accurate, linkable; and it provides no way for readers to work together to contribute and save improvements. There is good reason for writers and publishers to be able to host translations that they approve, if they want to.

In one case I translated someone's work first, then emailed the author that I published a translation on my site and they can take it if they want it. When someone asked to translate one of my blog posts I immediately agreed — and then had to quickly choose a licence and state it, and work out how I would host it or link to their version. For a one-off I don't mind how clumsy this process is, but it got me thinking. I want to do this more often. Ideally we could be a bit more organised.

We might have de-facto standard ways to tell the original authors/publisher that I'm interested in providing a translation, or have already made one, and for the originator to receive it and publish it; and tools for contributors to review and edit and share the work, using machine translation for the first pass if they prefer. Something like using community tools for UI-strings translation like Weblate.

There is no need to fully automate the whole cycle. On the publishing side, for example, there are some standards for localising web sites but there is also huge variety in the ways articles are published, and a social system need not be complete and universal in order to be useful.

I suppose there are some sort of tools, communities, processes somewhere — I don't mean commercial standard practices, I mean social processes like in freedom software development — but I haven't heard of these.

Have you?

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