Friendfeed.com has officially launched 6 language versions (News release). As the editor for the Chinese localization, I am especially delighted to see the favorable opinions of the translation from fans’ blogs. Here is one from fairyfish.net. The Chinese translation is simply commented as “clear” and “easy to understand.” For a website interface, I think this alreay means good enough.
Working with friendfeed.com is a unique experience. Usually after I finish a translation job, I am done with it. Very frequently I hear translators complain that their translation jobs are “ruined” by the editors and editors or proofreaders complain that they receive very poorly translated jobs. For certain reasons, translation agencies usually do not allow the translator and the editor to meet. But this project is different. The translator and I have extensive contacts. We discuss and exchange ideas via email and the friendfeed localization room. This free interaction between translators and editors contribute to the success of the project.
The translation agencies always tell the clients to relax about the quality. The process and the experts will guarantee the translation quality, agencies would say. If I were a client, I would never relax until I know who is working on it. Unfortunately, most translation agencies never allow translators to contact the end clients directly for fear that their end clients might be stolen by translators. But this project is different. It is completely open. The translators, the editors, localization project managers and the client representitatives all have free discussions and contacts. There is also a friendfeed localization room. When the translator or editor has a question, they can simply post it to the room, Bret Taylor, a cofounder of friendfeed, will answer it.
Friendfeed.com team also makes the translation open for editing even after it is launched. After I log on, I make changes any time and the changes take effect immediately. I just love this mode of work. Quite often when I visit a site I translated, I would wish I could have another chance to edit the translation. But it is usually impossible.
I do think the work mode of most translation agencies is old fashioned and needs innovation. Unlike other products, translation is ideal for the internet. Sending translation products to every corner of the world via the internet costs nothing, and new web applications can faciliate the translation and editing process. While internet has made it possible for translators to work remotely for anyone anywhere, most translation agencies are still sticking to the old business logics of distrust and protection. Have a look at the website of those famous translation agencies, you will find no difference between them and steelmakers websites, no interaction, few cool stuffs.