A few weeks ago we stated that customer-powered support doesn’t work. And while we believe that specific form of crowdsourcing is deeply flawed, we do think that crowdsourcing absolutely can be a powerful tool (in case you hadn’t noticed, UserVoice is a tool for crowdsourcing feedback).

We’ve taken our experience in crowdsourcing to heart with our latest step in translating UserVoice. We already offer a number of translations our product: currently 15. But – and we’re very flattered that this is the case – we are constantly being asked to translate our product into someone else’s mother tongue. Sadly, we don’t always have the bandwidth internally to do this. The people who ask for this often offer to do it themselves, but sending non-developers into our code is inhumane for both parties involved.

We’re proud to introduce translate.uservoice.com – a tool for the crowd to collaborate on translating UserVoice into whatever languages they choose.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Head to translate.uservoice.com
  2. Choose the language you’d like to translate (or add a new one!)
  3. Choose the part of UserVoice you’d like to translate (front-end, Admin Console, etc)
  4. Translate as much or as little as you’d like, or review existing changes
  5. Submit your translations!

It’s easy to do contribute a little or a lot, and the wisdom of the crowd ensures that the quality stays high (if you don’t like how something is translated, you can change it).

So why does this sort of crowdsourcing work?

three hands on top of each otherCrowdsourcing is about leveraging the wisdom of the crowd – their collective knowledge – to do something that would be challenging for a single person or small group. However, in our opinion, there is another element that must be present – crowdsourcing must help the group at large, not just one person or entity. “At the core of it all is trust and tapping into the ‘brain’ with the intention of producing things that benefit *everyone* — NOT with the intention of using and misusing others”, as Maria Ogneva described it. That’s why customer-powered support fails – the benefits fall unfairly upon the company while the work and uncertainty fall on the customers.

Few software companies are expected or able to support more than the basic set of translations, and so people who speak languages outside of this “basic set” are often willing to contribute to the cause. But it’s unfair to expect them to dig around in code or translate the entirety of an interface. Allowing these people to easily donate small bits of their time and language expertise towards a complete translation means that everybody wins. They only do as much work as they want, they get a better-translated version of our product, and we appeal to more potential customers (plus we’ll be tracking our top contributors and sending them special gifts).

We <3 crowdsourcing.

Hands photo courtesy of Anna Borska