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Translators against Crowdsourcing by Commercial Businesses June 16, 2009

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices.

The translators who are active on Twitter are all atwitter (ok, pissed off) about LinkedIn’s request for translators to translate their site without payment. I’m not as upset as some are. In fact, I think I deleted the e-mail from LinkedIn without even reading it. I’m too busy to deal with that kind of thing right now. I figure I don’t pay to be on LinkedIn, so I certainly don’t expect anything from it. However, that doesn’t mean I am going to help translate the site into other languages.

Crowdsourcing is all the rage right now in this economic downturn. As Bilingual Joe’s Translation Store explains, “It basically involves getting your fans to work for you, for free to improve your bottom line.” Facebook did it, then Google, and now LinkedIn. I’m sure this won’t be the last time. Everyone’s hurting nowadays, and big companies are doing everything they can to save money – at the expense of quality.

I think the main crux behind my fellow translators’ rage is that LinkedIn has always marketed itself as a professional site, but now it is treating its professional members (translators) as non-professionals. As several of my fellow translators have pointed out, LinkedIn isn’t asking its accountants for free accounting services or PR folks to do its market research and publicity work for free. Why then do they think it is ok to ask translators to offer their services for free?

If you would like to join, there is a new LinkedIn group called Translators against Crowdsourcing by Commercial Businesses. I’ve joined it, but I don’t expect to be too active there. Like I said I’m upset by it, but I am not too sure it will change anyone’s mind about crowdsourcing.

Update: Matthew Bennett wrote a very good blog post on the subject today as well entitled LinkedIn Infuriates Professional Translators: 10 Big Questions in which he asks some very good questions.



1. Pat - June 18, 2009

For contractors, consultants, and anyone else who is asked to work for free:

2. Julie McDonough Dolmaya, PhD » Social translation - January 21, 2010

[…] Various translation blogs have discussed the issue, including The Masked Translator and Musings from an Overworked Translator. The posts have been particularly critical of for-profit companies relying on crowdsourcing to […]

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