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Do you think that volunteer translators (often not professional) are taking away the work to the professional translators?

According to the dotSUB Newsletter June 2011: "The phenomena of a crowd or community stepping forward and doing real translation work, often for no direct financial compensation is something that troubles many in the professional translation world. Mostly because they see this activity as work being taken away from legitimate professionals or they see it as a ploy to reduce prices. [... ] June Cohen has said that the volunteer translators in general do better quality work than the many of the paid professionals, who initially did a few translations to seed the project because of their passion for the subject".

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    Jul 7 2011: If you can't beat 'em, join 'em - open communication between the people makes things change in ways that a lot of people don't like.

    Intellectual Property does not sit easily alongside open communication. I expect major conflict over this issue in the very near future..
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    Jul 4 2011: Yes and no.
    It's a trade off.
    Yess.. volunteers covers more ground both in numbers and perspective, but they lack the quality profesional translators are trained for. Clay Shirky explain this in this talk :
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      Jul 4 2011: Not all volunteer translator lack quality, and actually some do their job better than professional ones.
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        Jul 6 2011: some is the operating word here.
        as clay shows with flickr as the test case in his talk, those some will carry the quality of the whole volunteers community and gives a misleading presentation of the quality of the volunteers community.
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    Jul 4 2011: definitely, isn't it obvious? if something is done by the crowd, it would otherwise be not done or done by professionals. we can safely assume that the not done part is less than hundred percent. so yes, volunteer translators surely take some of the business from the pros.

    translators are worried? they can be.

    should we worry? not so much. just as the weaving machine changed who and how makes fabric, new technologies always destroy the old one. (in our case, not destroy, but somewhat shrink). this is called the "creative destruction". progress always comes at the expense of some old processes, as they become obsolete. we want it. we love it.

    beware translators! in a few years or decades, we will have computers that can translate better than you can! so better find yourself a plan B. i've warned you!
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    Jul 4 2011: Good question.
    I think June Cohen nailed it right here:
    "... the volunteer translators in general do better quality work than the many of the paid professionals ... because of their passion for the subject".
    So it's a matter of passion, like so many other things in life.
    And also a time issue, because we are not running against the clock, like a pro.

    On the other hand there is the risk issue.
    What is the impact of a lower quality translation of a TED talk versus the same lower quality translation of a detailed instruction manual for some expensive piece of technology, industrial process, scientific publication or legal document?
    It's obvious that in the second case there is need for a professional translation, to reduce the risk.

    From my experience in information security industry, where a lot of tools and services are free, based mostly on passionate volunteers' activity, this combination is the best possible.

    So, where there's a risk or you're against the clock, use pro translators.
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    Jul 4 2011: No. Its not about volunteer translators taking away professional ones' work, it is about professional ones not joining volunteers.
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    Jul 4 2011: No. No one should get in the way of so much potential good!

    TED is providing a great benefit to anyone who can access the TED talks. We all owe them a debt of gratitude. If I was proficient in more than one language, I would certainly volunteer my time to translate.
    I would hope that no one would get in the way of this great river of knowledge by acting as a dam hoping to save the water or the fees for themselves. One(or a few peoples') person's potential pay cheque should not stand in the way of humanity's progress.

    Some of these talks will enable people to learn how to have water in dry places. Some will teach us better ways to a just society. Some will encourage philanthropy.

    The good of the many outweighs the good of the one: Mr. Spock- Star Trek.
  • Jul 7 2011: People are worried about losing their jobs, their incomes. That's natural. This is not a new question. Translators are asking such a question this time. Hand-weavers asked it when the power loom was invented. (Just an example.) Far closer to home, Free source software *became* significant only through volunteers. People in traditional software companies were worried sick being irrelevant in the market. (Of course, many Free software professionals are paid for their work NOW, but it's still quite easy to find some software here or there that's extremely useful to you, but was made entirely by volunteers.)
    As machine translation technology keeps improving, more and more professional translators will find themselves with fewer and fewer opportunities for work. Will the opportunities disappear entirely? Unlikely: people still want novels and poems translated, because there is a market of people who'd pay money for these goods, and some of this money helps cover the investment made on translations.

    As far as "taking away the work" part goes... I think that's a very narrow-minded attitude. People are worried about their own jobs getting taken away, but they usually do benefit from other volunteers (individuals or companies) in other fields.
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    Jul 4 2011: I asked this because in the last days I've heard the controvery about the excessive use of Google Language Tools by volunteer translators. Personally, I use it only as a tool of support but not to do the whole work.
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      Jul 5 2011: if there is a demand for this skill, science and art, translators are not in danger, are they? i hope you are not suggesting that people don't know what they do.
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      Jul 5 2011: I had once hard time reviewing a TED talk translated mostly with Google Translator.
      The time needed for the review it was almost the same as the one required for translating from scratch.
      Hope this was an accident and will never happen again.

      I'm not sure that translation is an art, but I think it needs intuition and empathy and for the foreseeable future machines will not provide this.
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    Jul 4 2011: How about very near future when machines with artificial intelligence do all of the translations with professionalism and efficiency not less than that of any human being? I just think being translator is not a job, but it's a feature that one can have. Things will always change and soon the time comes when no human translator is needed.
  • Jul 4 2011: No matter this translator is professional or not, the price is high or low, job quality is first priority considered by clients. Personnally, I don't think professional translators should worry your job will be taken away by non-professional translators as long as you constently provide your good service and good quality job to clients.