Multilingual Dialogue on the Web

I’ve been working on a user forum for my company. The solution we’re using has built in translations of the interface, but the translation of the user-generated content is necessarily a completely separate project.

I haven’t seen many other sites translate it either. Judging from the forums I’ve used, it’s because this tech is beyond the current scope of most forums’ capabilities. But happily there are a few neat things being done these days, such as Ted Talks allowing open translation of their talks and Meedan enabling multi-lingual dialogue.

The Meedan article is especially interesting. They use automatic machine translation on every comment, and allow open editing by translators. It’s my hope that this kind of crowd sourcing and  good machine translation can out-pace the compartmentalization of the internet caused by language barriers.

Such implementations are not free or easy to implement, even if you’re leveraging the crowd. But English is not going to remain the common language of the internet forever. Does the possibility of three or four different internets worry you? Have you seen other websites out there handling this well? I bet that someone, somewhere, is hard at work on an open-source project to solve this problem.