Translations Becoming a TED translator » Working with other translators

Collaboration is key to the success of any open-source project, and the TED Open Translation Project is no different. We recognize, however, that different translators -- and different language communities -- have very different work styles. They work alone, in pairs and in groups; online and off-line; at different speeds and at different times of day.

Because of this, we've intentionally taken a light-handed approach when it comes to how language communities can organize and operate themselves. We want to give you the freedom to figure out what works best for you -- which isn't to say we won't be here to help!

When you sign up to translate, we'll try to connect you with others who are also translating in your language. In some cases, self-organized communities have already emerged to support each other and ensure quality. You can find other translators in your language by visiting the Our languages page and clicking on your language in the list. All translators who have completed a talk will be listed. You can also connect with other translators on our wiki and Facebook group, I Translate TED Talks.

Reviewers and translators

To ensure quality, we require a second pair of eyes on all translations. So after a talk is translated, it’s assigned for review. The translator and reviewer are expected to connect individually to confer and collaborate. You can find each other on the “Translations” page of your TED member profile, and contact each other through the built-in email system. (This system cloaks your actual email address, to protect your privacy.)

The purpose of the review process is to catch any errors in a translation, and also to provide a sounding board for improving style or interpretation. If you’re reviewing someone’s work, you should look for typos, punctuation errors and mistranslations. You can also provide input on style, or on the translation of jargon, slang or industry-specific terms.

Reviewers are expected to contact the translator and confer over any changes made. For a successful collaboration, we recommend that you:

  • Be clear in your direction and feedback.
  • Tread lightly; don’t make changes just for the sake of making changes.
  • Be courteous and gentle with your suggestions. Remember that everyone working on the Open Translation Project is a volunteer, who has invested considerable time and energy in their translations. Always direct your critiques at the work, and not the person.
  • Remember that languages differ widely around the world. Idioms, slang and technical terms can vary place-to-place. You may be accustomed to different phrasing than your translation partner; your goal as a team is to choose words and phrases that can be most universally understood among all dialects of your language.
  • Be cooperative, and find a way to resolve disputes. Some disagreement is inevitable and healthy in the editing/reviewing process. But we expect that you’ll be able to resolve disagreements among yourselves. If you absolutely cannot resolve a dispute, please contact us.

In rare cases, you may need to alert us to a real problem. If you notice that:

  • A translator lacks the skills to fluently translate a TEDTalk
  • A translator is purposely abusing their role to misrepresent a speaker’s ideas

... please contact us immediately at translate@ted.com with the word “ALERT” in the Subject line.

Translations and the TEDx program

In 2009, we launched a program allowing people around the world to host their own TED-inspired events. The program is called TEDx, where x = independently organized events. Many of the TEDx organizers also participate in the Open Translation Project, creating subtitles for the talks they plan to show at their event. More about TEDx »