That #Linkedinfail Firestorm

For those of you not up on Twitter yet (you sinners) you might be unaware of the #linkedinfailfirestorm‘ concerning the recent survey of translators by LinkedIn about translating the site on an, er, non-monetary basis.

Much debate ensued, and continues, and you can read the opinions of CSA, Matthew Bennett, and Nick Peris for a good take on the various perspectives.

Many questions, and different opinions there. Not much I can add except that a) I don’t think we can conflate all kind of community, volunteer, crowdsourced, user community and such like translation together so easily, a subject I will return to, b) we might consider that the Facebook crowdsourcing translation model should be considered as much, if not more, a part of a user engagement strategy as just a localization one, so the model may not apply depending on your content, market, and branding, and c) this whole episode is as good a case study about change management (or lack of) as any you’ll get in your MBA textbooks.

About all we can agree on now, I think, as I pointed out as a result of the San Mateo Localization UnConference last year and the thoughts of Sun Microsystems, is that this stuff ain’t free in either the short or long run. I’m sure we’ll hear more about this one…

Update: [29-June-2009] The story has also made the New York Times – Translators Wanted at LinkedIn. The Pay? $0 an Hour.

Ultan Ó Broin
Ultan Ó Broin (@localization), is an independent UX consultant. With three decades of UX and L10n experience and outreach, he specializes in helping people ensure their global digital transformation makes sense culturally and also reflects how users behave locally. Any views expressed are his own. Especially the ones you agree with.


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