Translation leaderboards are meaningless; here’s how to fix them

Part of my series of answers to frequently asked questions about community participation in localization or translation projects.

I’ve often considered creating a FAQ on this site covering answers to common questions about community-driven localization. Without fail, the most common question I get is, “But if they’re all volunteers, how do you ensure quality?” I can get into the issues with the underlying assumption in that question later. This time around, I’m going to address one of the more common quality control mechanisms for (dare I say it) crowdsourced localization and translation projects: the leaderboard.

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“What do you do for a living?”

My career is non-traditional. By non-traditional I mean that stating my job title does not give anyone the faintest idea of what I actually do (e.g., you say, “Engineer,” everyone gets it). As you can imagine, this has caused me some problems whenever people ask me what I do for a living. I’ve had to practice many 30-second explanations of what I do. Want some examples? Maybe some of you have heard one or two of these at one point:

  • “I help make Firefox available to people all over the world.”
  • “I help global volunteers produce a regionally appropriate version of Firefox for users in their countries.”
  • “Have you heard of localization? It’s the process of taking a product and adapting it to meet the needs of consumers in a particular region of the world. I do that for Firefox.”
  • “I drive a variety of projects that allow Firefox and other Mozilla products to be available in over 90 languages around the world.”
  • “It’s my responsibility to make it easy for global volunteers to adapt Firefox to meet their local needs.”

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