7 Keys to a Successful Community Translation Effort

June 19, 2013
4 min read

Companies like Facebook and Twitter rely on their communities to translate their products — and they are seeing great success. Twitter, for instance, has nearly 1 million community translators translating Twitter products into 30+ languages.

You may not have hundreds of millions of users, but the fact is, you don’t need that many to successfully translate your products with your community. Here are 7 things that you can do to make your community translation effort a success.

Make a game or contest out of it

We all like to win. It feels good. So why not start a friendly competition? For instance, create a race between the various teams where the first team to reach 100% completion for a language wins a prize. Or present a list of your top 10 translators by word count each week. People will work hard for that coveted number one spot.

Community translators

Bottom line, a simple reward or bragging rights will provide additional motivation for your translators to translate your product while making the process more fun for everyone.

Remind your translators to translate

Community translators are busy folks. Many have work, school, or other things going on — translation probably isn’t at the top of their minds every day.

A reminder can reengage your existing translators and help get new users involved. Consider DriverPack Solution: they first announced their translation project through Facebook, and about a month later, shared a similar post that served as a reminder to their community.

Driver Pack Solution

The second post was well received with 476 likes, 60 comments, and 75 shares.

Create a forum for your translators

Just as Roman forums served as a gathering place, an online forum gives your translators a common place to talk about translations, provide feedback, and discuss the product. This has several benefits:

  • More collaboration means better translation quality.
  • It strengthens your translator community as members interact with each other.
  • You get an opportunity to know your translators on a more personal level.

Waze is a great example of this. They dedicate a whole section of their forum to localization. It has hundreds of posts and tens of thousands of views.

Localization forum

Acknowledge the contribution of your translators

Your translators are a key part of your company or organization’s success. They are doing you a big favor; make sure they feel valued and know that their efforts are noticed. It could be something as simple as an email or Facebook post thanking them for their contributions.

At Twitter, translators who spent a lot of time helping out and reached certain achievements criteria received a special translator badge on their Twitter profile next to their names. You can provide your translators a similar badge which they can proudly display on their profiles, website, or blog.

Twitter translators badge

Update your translators on translation progress

According to research, of all the events that have the power to excite people and engage them in their work, the single most important is making progress. And from personal experience, we know that to be true. Progress gives you a sense of accomplishment that drives us toward completing our goals. That is why showing translators the progress of their work is critical.

This can be done in different ways through the various channels you use to communicate with translators. One suggestion for Transifex users is the widget you can install on your website that shows the translation progress of each language (click on the Share button of the project overview page to find the link).

Transifex widget

Tap into your translators’ network

Give translators ways to invite their network to help translate your product. It could be a social sharing button where you update your translators or an explicit message asking your translators to tell others about your community project. In general, people are more likely to trust messages or invitations from a friend.

You can also find social sharing buttons on the project overview pages of Transifex:

Social sharing buttons


Having reviewers will ensure that translations meet a specific level of quality and consistency. Reviewers could be professionals, trusted translators from your community (another reason to have a forum!), or people from within your company who speak the language.


We’ve covered 7 things you can do to make your community translation effort a success. At the end of the day, keep these two things in mind:

  1. Create and empower community.
  2. Communicate with your community.

If you have some thoughts or more ideas, share them in the comments below!

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