As part of its community translation research program, TAUS talked to Linden Lab's Localization Director Danica Brinton. Her first five months among the 40 million residents of the online virtual world have been an "eye-opener" on translation crowd-sourcing.
What is special about localizing an online community?
Second Life is a massive social network shared by community players (we call them residents) who are extremely passionate about their product.
Close to 70% of the monthly population of 900,000 users are non-English native speakers. They want to make SL easier for anyone to join, so they have a vested interest in improving this world. They are natural ‘crowd-sourcers'.
So far, we've had community submissions of the entire xml of our client for German, French, Japanese, Simplified Chinese, Turkish, Polish, Danish, Hungarian, Czech, Korean, Brazilian Portuguese.
The first submissions came completely organically without any programs organized on our behalf. Realizing the level of enthusiasm, we are now organizing programs for localization where we give our users what we need translated. The process is working really well: the users follow our processes and submit within the timeframe that we need. And the quality is outstanding.
For our users, localizing the client, the website, wiki help pages, Knowledge Base articles and other SL strings and files is just another open source challenge.
All translation must legally be performed for free, but we acknowledge those who help by publishing in-world announcements, keeping "translator of the month" leaderboards, and spotlighting the highest contributors in our official SL blog and forums. We also hope to make community translation part of the Linden Lab Award program.
Ultimately the strongest motivation for our translators is the sheer pleasure of making SL a better place and being able to share it with others who speak the same language.
What kind of translator and translation volumes do you deal with?
So far we have created a community of 132 people involved in localization. Localization projects vary from localizing the client, the KB articles, our web strings and our Wiki Help pages. The volume that the community is translating varies from a dozen to 30,000 words of our .xml client strings, 250-1,500 words in KB articles or Wiki Help pages.
The community has organized themselves into translators and editors. Every translation now receives 2 editorial passes. We are planning to introduce voting mechanisms to the editorial process in January.
Our community is also testing the work once it is live, and compiling an internationalization test plan. Once this is in place, the community will help us test both English and localized versions.
Are terminology decisions a problem?
The residents work together on terminology, and it takes multiple cycles of discussion and coordination.
A lot of SL language itself is rather challenging, and many of our software features are unique to SL. Damage Combat, for example, refers to "combat which involves damage". Openspaces is a land-ownership term (also known as low prim, which itself is an adjective given to regions that support 3750 primitives). Anyone who has a background in online gaming will be familiar with this kind of term creation.
With the help of the community. we have developed a glossary of around 800 regularly used terms in French and German, and also a style guide for German translation. The community is developing style guides and glossaries currently for French, Danish, Polish, Simplified Chinese, Turkish and Hungarian.