The Worldwide Lexicon Project (www.worldwidelexicon.org) is an open source translation project I’ve worked on for many years. We’re pleased to announce that ETel is one of our first testers. WWL is an experiment in collaborative translation. If you speak other languages, you can help make ETel and other sites accessible in your language. Here’s how it works:
WWL watches participating sites for new articles, currently via RSS, other options coming soon
The site directs its own readers, some of whom are bilingual, to WWL to contribute translations
Readers go to WWL to view and edit translations (over 60 languages are currently supported).
The translations are re-published via HTML and RSS (so you can import a translated version of ETel directly into your site.
The demo, currently at demo.worldwidelexicon.org, is pretty basic. To view or contribute translations just scroll down to ETel, and then click on the two letter language code for the language you want to read or translate to. Then you’ll see a list of articles (if the title is blue, nobody has contributed a translation yet). At the bottom of the site’s headlines, you’ll see a RSS feed that contains the translations to that language.
We’re planning lots of additional features (read on to learn more)
SHORTCUT: if you’re going to be contributing translations to ETEL on a regular basis, you can use this shortcut (http://worldwidelexicon.elevatedrails.com/feeds/5/translations/es), just replace ES with the two or three letter language code for your language or dialect. URLs will change, so watch the WWL site for updates.
We are developing the WWL system into a full workflow management and peer review system for website translation, and will be publishing this as an open source package (in Ruby on Rails). Our goal is to make this process a default option in most publishing systems and web services in 1-2 years. The translation tools will work with any site or service that can import and export RSS, and will enable developers to integrate collaborative translation into a wide range of products.
Among the features we are developing are:
* Standard user access and editorial control features : so site owners can allow/disallow edits and manage the volunteer translators from the top down.
* Work unit tracking features : so site owners can work out commercial incentives for readers to contribute translations (e.g. reader X does 20 translations, website pays him on the side for work contributed; offers free subscriptions; etc).
* Randomized peer review to score translation quality and to prioritize which documents should be processed first.
* Create translation communities around any subject, website or language/dialect (you can see an early version of this at groups.worldwidelexicon.org)
* Option to add any URL to the translation queue (e.g. you see an interesting text, and can flag it to call attention to other volunteers).
Our vision for WWL is to make this approach ubiquitous, and by doing so, to organize people to break down the language barrier on the web. Collaborative systems like Wikipedia have shown that people are willing to contribute time and knowledge to worthwhile projects. I think it’s likely that WWL will attract people who are passionate about a topic and willing to contribute their time to make that knowledge accessible to people who speak their language. If nothing else, it will be interesting to see how this evolves over the next year or so.