Community Lives: The community anchor

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Jeannette Stewart, Jeff Beatty
Multilingual March 2017
Columns and Commentary

When I find myself puzzling over some community issue in the localization world, the first person I turn to for help is Jeff Beatty, head of localization at Mozilla. Beatty is multitalented and has a wealth of experience in a variety of aspects of the language industry. In addition to his experience in the corporate world, he is an adjunct professor at Brigham Young University teaching a course on translation technology. His work as an active volunteer and collaborator in many different translation projects and his fervent advocacy of open source as a force of positive community impact have given him a much-valued and sought-after expertise in community translation. The BBC and The Economist have interviewed him focusing on community localization practices in open source for under-resourced languages. Aside from his professional attainments, Beatty exudes a level of passion in community affairs that is hard to equal....

Community engagement can occupy a lot of the overhead cost for community translation clients. Between sending welcome emails, notifications, encouraging activity, responding to individual questions, training and mentoring newcomers, and giving recognition and clout — all of this can occupy a lot of a client’s time. So much time, in fact, that scaling to involving community translation suppliers in new languages risks failure of the whole program. Invariably, the first line of responsiveness to a scaling issue like this is the assumption that the client needs to hire more people. I would counter that our translation platforms could rise to the challenge of automating some of this overhead to make one client project manager’s impact on the community much greater.

Within the life cycle of a community translation supplier there are various event-driven milestones, such as creating an account in a translation platform and submitting the first translation. Most of the time, either the supplier receives no communication, they receive an automated response confirming that they’ve created an account (nothing more) or the client manager reaches out to say welcome and thank you for the first contribution. None of these currently solve our problem of successfully scaling community engagement for client managers. By automating communication for specific events within a supplier’s participation life cycle and attaching a client project manager’s name to the communication, we’re solving some of this problem. It should be possible to automate communication for most of these events. GitHub does it, why can’t translation platforms?...


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