Crowdsourcing Translations

Explore the most effective techniques for crowdsourcing translations.

Antonis Mylonas avatar
Written by Antonis Mylonas
Updated over a week ago

Crowdsourcing translations is a great way to engage with your community and offer a way for members to contribute to something they love. If you plan to crowdsource translations using Transifex, this guide is for you.

Let’s dive in!

Inviting your community to Transifex

As you start off, you probably have users for your product but no translation community yet. To build out your community, you’ll need to create a project on Transifex, recruit volunteers, and decide who to let into the community.

Creating a project

When you create your project, we suggest you make it public. This lets anyone see that the project exists and request to join the team assigned to the project. However, only people you approve can see the project contents and submit or review translations.

Recruiting users

Once you have a project, you can direct people to it and invite them to help contribute. Our customers have done this in several ways:

  • Emailing their users about the new community translation efforts

  • Sharing on Facebook, Twitter, etc., a link to the project

  • Adding a “Want to see this in your language?” link or call to action inside the product

  • Reaching out to users who have asked about using your service in another language

Deciding who’s on your team

As join requests come in, you’ll have to decide who to let into the team working on your project. Initially, it might make sense to let everyone in so you quickly build up a community. And as time progresses, you can become more selective.

Sometimes, our customers ask volunteers to apply to join the community. They'd ask applicants about their language proficiency, experience with the product, etc. Based on the responses, they'd decide whether to let someone in.

📝 Note: To ensure requests to join your project are genuinely from your community, ask everyone to follow a specific username convention when signing up for a Transifex account. For example, if your company was Dunder Mifflin, have translators sign up as dm_firstnamelastname, e.g., dm_johnsmith.

Contributor License Agreement (CLA)

A CLA is an agreement between your company and the volunteers in your community. Usually, it's about how the work done by the community may be used and who has permission to use it. You can add your own CLA in your team settings and only let people who accept the CLA contribute. It is advisable to seek advice from a legal expert as legal matters can be complicated and sensitive in nature.

Structuring your translation teams

Your crowdsourcing efforts will only be scalable if your community becomes partly self-managed. Think about Wikipedia. Thanks to community admins, Wikipedia doesn’t have to hire a large team to handle edit disputes, block disruptive users, etc. Likewise, having well-structured translation teams lets you delegate some responsibilities to your community members.

Transifex has six user roles: Admin, Project Maintainer, Team Manager, Language Coordinator, Reviewer, and Translator. We suggest you only give Admin, Project Maintainer, and Team Manager roles to people from your company and assign one of the other three roles to members of your community. Here’s one way to use these roles:

  • Translator - Translators have the most basic permissions – they can only submit translations. It’s best to start off any new community member in a translator role. You can always promote them to another position later.

  • Reviewer - Reviewers can both translate and mark a translation as reviewed. Their job is to make sure translations meet certain quality and consistency standards. Look for translators in your community who reach out to ask questions, submit lots of good translations, and make them Reviewers.

  • Language Coordinator - Language Coordinators are primarily responsible for handling team join requests for a particular language and managing who’s involved in that language. When you begin your crowdsourcing efforts, you or someone from your company will most likely be the Language Coordinator. As time progresses, you can make the most trusted members of your community Coordinators and share the burden of the role. They can also answer basic questions from the community and help onboard new translators.

Projects in Transifex are assigned to translation teams. In most cases, you can put all your community translators in a single team and assign all your crowdsourced projects to that team. This way, if you have content in different projects, the same group can work on them all.

Translating and reviewing content

Once your translators have joined Transifex, you can crowdsource translations using the described approach.

Use the translation editor to translate and review strings. A translator submits a translation, and a reviewer then reviews it. Once it’s reviewed, a translator can’t change a translation.

Providing instructions

It’s essential to provide guidelines for your community and have everyone read through the guidelines before they start any work. Otherwise, each translator will do things their way, and your brand will soon sound very different from one language to another (or even from one sentence to the next!).

Guidelines often come in the form of a style guide. In Transifex, you can create style guides to inform translators of your brand's personality, tone, voice, and any other information, such as instructions for written syntax. A style guide can be assigned to multiple projects, or you can create separate style guides for different projects.

And if you don't have a style guide yet, that's okay. Start simple and begin with basic instructions for translators. Check out what Waze, a Transifex customer, did here: 11 Tips for New Translators. The whole idea is to ensure that every translator works in the same direction.

Sharing updates with your community

Communication is vital to the success of any project. And it’s no different when crowdsourcing translations. Announcements and Discussions in Transifex can help you share deadlines and updates with your community.


Announcements are messages sent to everyone involved in a project. They’re helpful for:

  • Telling your translators about new content they can work on.

  • Asking translators to finish translations before an upcoming release.

  • Giving context about content in the project, e.g., a video walkthrough of a new feature.

  • General requests and updates, e.g., letting everyone know their translations are live.


Unlike announcements, discussions are messages sent to everyone in a team or a language within a team. This lets you send a single message to people involved with different projects. Discussions are helpful for:

  • Asking translators for a specific language to finish translations before an upcoming release

  • Talking about how particular terms should be translated

  • General updates, e.g., introducing new members or employees to the team

These are just guidelines. There’s no “right” or “wrong” way to use Announcements and Discussions. Just be sure to communicate early and often!

Recognizing top contributors

When someone translates for you for free, it’s essential to make them feel appreciated. There are many creative – and affordable – ways you can thank them:

  • Send swag such as t-shirts, stickers, water bottles, or notebooks.

  • Invite them to visit the office and meet the team if they’re local.

  • Sponsor a local translator meetup and pay for food and drinks.

  • Include their names in a “special thanks” section of your app or website

If you’re on the Growth plan or higher, we suggest using Reports to see who your most active contributors are.

📝 Note: Recognize your community, but not with money. If you give the community money, people quickly turn into mercenaries.

Keeping your community engaged

In any community, you’ll see some sort of 80/20 rule at play where a small minority (~20%) of the community makes the most (~80%) of the contributions. There isn’t a way around this. Most companies have a small, passionate group of users who will give much to the product out of love. Still, keeping as many of your translators engaged as possible is important.

Here are a few things we’ve seen our customers do:

  • Let translators know when languages are published. It seems minor, but people want to know their efforts were worth it!

  • Host translate-a-thons or “localization sprints”. Our friends at Localization Lab often host several day-long gatherings where translators work together. Sometimes, these sprints are virtual; other times, they’re live gatherings. Either way, it’s a fun way for translators to meet others in the community while making progress on a few projects.


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