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July 10, 2009

Crowdsourcing controversy

I totally agree with ATA... Translators are not valued enough as professionals sometimes. See the latest ATA bulletin and press release:
LinkedIn recently emailed a "customer survey" to translators registered with its social networking site. From the survey's second question, it was clear that the "survey" was an attempt to identify anyone who would be interested in translating LinkedIn texts for free -- or as survey stated it -- "for fun."

The concept of volunteers participating in this kind of group project is called "crowdsourcing." You may have read that Wikipedia and Facebook have also localized their websites with similar projects.

Many ATA members are happy to donate time and expertise to charities and non-profit institutions, and ATA actively promotes contributions to deserving pro bono projects. But LinkedIn is a for-profit company. One can only assume that the company employs programmers, marketers, accountants, and legal advisers whom they pay professional rates.

The company's wish to have career linguists work without pay and yet pay other professionals says a lot about the value accorded professional translation by LinkedIn's management.

ATA has registered a strong protest against this treatment with LinkedIn's Chief Executive Officer. A press release from ATA also noted LinkedIn's apparent disregard for the very professionalism the site claims to represent.

Read ATA's press release and President Jiri Stejskal's letter to LinkedIn CEO.

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