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Quo Vadis, Crowdsourcing and Online Collaborative Translation?


Online collaborative translation experienced a meteoric rise in the e first decade of the 20th century thanks to the affordances provided by the Web 2.0. Two distinct models emerged, solicited and unsolicited models. In the first one a company or institutions request the help of volunteer or participants with translation tasks. In unsolicited models, fans, activists or different collectives self-organize to start a translation initiative. These practices quickly attracted the attention of the Language Industry after large corporations implemented crowdsourcing models (Google, Facebook or Twitter). Translation providers and tech companies explored collaborative initiatives in a context of exciting possibilities for growth, while it quickly became a serious cause for concern for professional translators and professional associations such as the International Federation of Translators (FIT) or the American Translators’ Association (ATA). As a rapidly growing phenomenon, Translation Studies scholars were quickly drawn to research this emerging set of phenomena. Initially, the main issues that appeared on Translation Studies literature were related to motivation, epistemological/ conceptual research, ethics, translator visibility, or the description of existing initiatives. The second decade of the 20th century saw the consolidation of these activities through technological developments and innovative workflows and the expansion to non-profit ventures, while new technology-driven models based on collaborative micro-task approaches emerged, such as “paid crowdsourcing”. By 2020, the number of providers offering translations crowdsourcing has been dramatically reduced.  Many start-ups have been absorbed or have disappeared, while non-for-profit models of translation collaboration, such as educational, NGO or activist initiatives continue to grow. This paper offers a critical analysis of the evolution of translation collaboration on the web and potential future directions, as well as a review of existing research trends within Translation Studies. The paper ends with an exploration of potential future research trends and directions in this ever-changing area driven by technological innovation.


translation crowdsourcing, collaborative translation, voluinteer translation, fansubbing, motivation to translate



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