01 luglio 2006

How NOT to translate a website

I would like to share this letter I sent to LifeHacker after TheInquirer definitely p*ssed their italian readers off. Needless to say, I am one of them. But instead of flaming, I decided to cook five rules about the site translation, nach Guy Kawasaki art.

Dear LifeHackers,
few days ago TheInquirer launched some local versions of their website. The italian version is poorly made and time expensive for the readers, expecially for the mandatory redirect to the local version. Most of the italian readers are very upset.
Let's distillate 5 rules regarding how to translate a site.
1) Never translate a news site if you can't keep it updated.
In a news site I like to read the future, not the past. A three days old news is either useless or would already have a dedicated page on Wikipedia.
2) Put on your original site a notice some days before switching.
Something like "If you don't live in Kenya, but the next Monday our page will be displayed in Kiswahili, please contact us".
3) Keep an easy way to come back to the original site.
Yes, to use INQ words, "it has [beep] a few of you multilingual chaps off". And do yourself a favor, correct your RSS feed *before* switching.
4) Put immediately a disclaimer on the local site.
"We're switching! Tell your friends. Send us feedback, etc.": otherwise the reader seems forced to switch. The local site must remain an option (see also:
5) Make your readers feel involved.
Remember, your audience have usually a good english comprehension: why in the world will they switch to a translated version? Getting them involved. Put a "Help us translating" link, build up a wiki, let them contribute with a dedicated page to enhancement of the site.
The Inquirer is a great site anyway, and I like it very much.
Thanks for your concern. And don't switch us to

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