Power to the People: Twitter Launches Dutch and Indonesian Translations with Community Model

For a self-congratulating start to the month, Twitter posted that they have just launched their product in two new languages: Dutch and Indonesian. Twitter is now available in 11 different languages, with plans to add Malay and Filipino to that list. But more than anything, Twitter seems to be excited about its model for adding new languages: selecting volunteer translators in an effort to build the product by reaching out to the Twitter community.

Of course, Twitter announced that they were going to take this community approach six months ago when they launched the Translation Center. It’s always exciting to see when a company follows through on the new methods they announce to their followers. Twitter seems to be committed not only to their volunteer translation model, but also to keeping us informed about how it’s going.

The most important thing about this translation project seems to be that it’s growing. Twitter’s blog post pointed out that the company now has over 200,000 translators, a number that is still on the rise. Even the way they have phrased their announcement speaks to the company’s outlook. That is, the post ended by talking about its plans for Filipino and Malay versions of the site and stating, “If you speak one of these (or other) languages, visit our Translation Center to contribute to Twitter’s localization efforts.” Plain and simple, Twitter is looking for volunteers. And this post wasn’t to a specific target audience — anyone who reads what’s new with Twitter is invited to help translate if they have the relevant skills.

Another neat thing about the Twitter translation model is that the company is really able to show off what their website can do. Essentially, Twitter is using Twitter to help speed along its translation process. For example, you can look at a public Twitter list of translators and language moderators at @translator/moderators. Also, by joining the Translation Center you get to join a community of translators and interact with other people who are interested in making Twitter available in as many ways as possible. By fostering these communities of translators, Twitter is imitating one of the biggest functions of its micro-blogging world: fostering communities of people with similar interests.

Would you volunteer to translate for Twitter?