Google Blogoscoped

Monday, March 10, 2008

Tech Czar, Blog Translation Network is a service for tech bloggers which will translate your blog posts into a variety of languages – like Chinese, German, French, Korean, Spanish and more –, with translations to be hosted at their site. The idea is really neat, I think – the service gets content, and you get potentially more readers for your posts. Furthermore, they also offer some monthly payment to the blogger if their traffic is high enough.

I spotted the service at Yahoo employee Jeremy Zawodny’s blog; you will note a header on top using different country flags. Clicking on a flag takes you to translated posts. The translation quality is OK but not perfect, judging from the German sample I checked. The German got the point across with only rare actual errors (though there were some), but the tone wasn’t quite right – it was too distanced, formal, and indirect*. And sometimes word parts were misleadingly linked to a dictionary due to false matches, e.g. the word “link” was a match in “LinkedIn.” All in all, the translations are off to a good start though, and clearly human-made.

Currently, Tech Czar, headed in downtown Los Angeles and in existence for one year, only has three blogs as part of their network (Jeremy’s blog, as well as and Friedbeef’s Tech). You can also apply, if you have a tech blog, though Tech Czar indicates that they are very selective about which blogs they partner with.

Personally, before I would even consider joining it, I would have to be allowed to customize the way I link to them, though – and they tell me this currently isn’t allowed. You need to use the standard header with the standard links and flags as provided by them. As the blogger already has incentive to link to translations of blog posts, I would say it’s of best interest for them to let the blogger decide how to do the linking, allowing integration into a blog’s native design, and native navigation approaches. But, Tech Czar tells me, “There is a substantial cost to translation, as all of our translation is done by human, professional translators ... The only thing we ask in return from our partners is to put the header in place.”

Another hurdle is that the translated articles are accompanied by large animated banners, decreasing the readability of the main text for all those readers who don’t have ad or animation blockers. (Tech Czar says they don’t have any plans to change the animation, unless there is compelling reason to do so, but also say they love to hear suggestions from people as they often make changes to their site.) On that note, how does Tech Czar aim to make revenue, other by ads? They say, “Once we have created the best site possible, we plan to generate revenue by entering into strategic corporate partnerships to offer our members** discounts on everything from phones to computers.”

*If you speak German, you will spot the error in a sentence like: “Tut euch keinen Zwang an, mich zu anzupingen”. Also, the German translations use the very formal “Sie” in many places instead of opting for other solutions, like using a plural.

**Tech Czar differentiates between members (all those who register with the site) and blog partners (the ones writing blogs they translate).


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