Crowdsourcing: Who Truly Benefits?

It seems that I follow quite the same path as other bloggers about the same issues tackling our industry. Yet, this one to me is the  most troubling simply because out of  MT, TM, and other advances affecting the industry the simple fact of supplying our expertise and ability on a volunteer basis, drives me a little crazy. What drives me crazier still is that here no one questions it. I have researched and read extensively on crowd sourcing, and all I could find was how it benefited the business community by saving them time and money; yet in all the articles I have read they did not mention  how it benefited the  translator . Surely the experience, but what these companies recruit are at some level (not all) specialists in their field , or end users of a product or service (mainly in software and computer applications) that know particularly well on the subject. For this reason, I find that the true winners here are the companies recruiting such volunteers. Yet, the idea behind crowd sourcing is the effort of collaboration and the know how these volunteers have on the subject. There have been two sides to this, because it can have wonderful results or less than average ones too. I found this video on YouTube and found it interesting on the pitfalls of crowd sourcing.

The reasoning behind it is completely understandable. The internet  has  grown at such a rapid rate that the demand for immediate information is key. Part of the reason why most of these machine translation services sprung up as well.  With the number of websites , social media sites, software applications and cellphone apps, there is such a demand for quick information that not even half  of the demand could be translated manually  much less the  information that is passing through our fingertips without us being aware of.  However, because of this as professionals we  should be at an advantage point and we are not.  As businesses  become more global, they  have found a short cut by implementing this idea to cut costs with higher output and immediacy. What was once done by one employee and possibly took  days to complete, they gather a group of people  (through an open call) many of these  volunteers or through a highly reduced rate to translate this information. Since translation is group based, many different ideas are discussed within the group to bring out the best output.  This is where most of these companies benefit from crowd sourcing. Software applications and programs are the first to benefit as  does the end user. There is  something to be noted here, that although crowd sourcing can be beneficial in one area it also depends on the level of collaboration and the level of expertise of the volunteer. (Maybe that is a good business defense).  Social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and Linked in are all using crowd sourcing to translate their sites for free and by many accounts with many disastrous results. Yet, the incentive to reduce costs is the most enticing factor here.

Like MT sites like Google Translate and Yahoo Babel Fish, there are crowd sourcing sites as well.  Sites like  #Translate Answers , Cucumis and  Lang8 are for those who seek a a quick translation to an answer they seek or to perfect a translation they already have. Duolingo  like Lang8 is another site that sells the crowd sourcing idea  in that premise -by using it as a language learning website.

I understand that not everything in life is money but if you ( (as a large corporation) are recruiting your group for the best output of your service or product, then it should be compensated. I do believe in volunteerism but to me I would do that for particular social causes , organizations, and  non-profits  who ultimately are working for a “greater good” and that output is so much better than any other compensation. Organizations like Translators Without Borders is a great example of this. I have actually applied with them to help NGO’s around the world . Yet other organizations such as Global Voices Online and UN Volunteering Service   have used crowd sourcing as well for the same principle.

In conclusion, crowd sourcing as we know it will only continue to grow. As the demand grows, so will the necessity and the immediacy of its information. This idea is only a feasible when there is large collaboration, and someone willingness to help translate . In my opinion, without any incentive  why would any one continue?

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