Help Google Improve their Translations

I’ve seen a few posts in the past few days about Google opening up the ability for just about anyone to suggest improvements to their translations. As the dust settles it’s become clear that this seems to be limited to the languages they’ve classified as “BETA” (Chinese, Arabic etc.).

Interestingly enough they seem to be trying to break the content down into Segments the same way a Translation Memory etc. would.

You can see “Suggest a Better Translation” in the bottom left corner of the text bubble that pops up. As you mouse-over content on the page the pop-up will dynamically change to reflect the content you’re over. Translating our site into Chinese seemed to create “neater” segments than translating AlJazeera into English but that could just be a function of using English as a source language.

Will it work?
It’s an interesting tactic but I do wonder how effective it’ll ultimately end up being. I would think that if someone knew a language well enough to recognize that the translation isn’t good then they likely wouldn’t have needed to run it through the Translation engine in the first place. Are they going to get enough people to this feature where they’ll ever see a noticeable usage of it?

Another concern would obviously be the quality of the ‘improvements’ – is Google going to have someone go over each of the recommendations before allowing them into the mix?

I would assume (hope?) that they at least run the suggestion against the existing translation to see if they’re even remotely close to each other (to avoid straight-out vandalism) – but what about people who are more subtle. How hard would it be for a person or people to go through and taint the output for a given site? It’s not uncommon for machine translation to reverse the meaning of a sentence, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone deliberately tried to tweak a translation to distort it’s true meaning – look at all the issues Wikipedia continues to run up against around distortion of entries.

From a liability point of view you also have to wonder – A quick dig on the Google Language Tools shows no signs of any disclaimer or warning that the translations may be incorrect etc. – what happens when someone incorrectly ‘corrects’ a description of medical symptoms or something or similar gravity?

Even with just translation provided ‘as-is’ there is huge opportunity for incorrect information to be passed along, I’m amazed Google’s legal department hasn’t plugged that hole with every T&C & disclaimer available.

Google Docs & Spreadsheets – Now in 14 Languages

Just noticed a “New Features” link on my Google Docs & Spreadsheets dashboard this morning.

Top of the list?

Access Google Docs & Spreadsheets in 14 languages
Now many of our friends around the world may access Google Docs & Spreadsheets in their native languages. We now support: Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional), Dutch, English (UK), English (US), French, German, Italian, Korean, Polish, Portuguese (Brazil), Russian, Spanish and Turkish. In addition, if you’re writing in a language that isn’t listed here, we have an additional 16 languages supported in our spell check to make collaborating around the world easy, simple and fun! Learn more

A little further down the page is:

Document spellcheck in 30+ languages
The document spellchecker is now improved and turbo-charged with more than 30 languages. Click on the drop-down arrow next to the highlighted “Check Spelling” link in the lower right corner of your documents to pick your preferred language from the list, then click on the link to check the spelling.

I’m a big fan of the Docs & Spreadsheets app and am glad to see it’s global reach is expanding a little further… So, anyone want to start a pool on how long it is until they roll-out real-time translation so authors who write in two different languages can work on the same doc at the same time? ;)

Google just doesn’t seem to want to play nice with itself….

I’d love it if someone from Google could provide a rational explanation for this.

The other day I needed to update my AdSense contact email address. I recently got my personal domain accepted into the Google Apps (Beta?) so I could now run all my family accounts on the GMail platform.

Head scratcher #1: You can’t use underscores “_” in email addresses on the Gmail platform. Unfortunately the public address I use has one so I had to change it.

Coincidentally this address was the one I used on AdSense. No problem, emailed Google explained the issue and asked them to forward to my un-underscored address.

Head Scratcher #2: The response I got…

Thanks for your email requesting a change to your AdSense login. When I researched our records, I noticed that your email address at is associated with a Google Account. Unfortunately, I’m not able to update your AdSense login to a Google Account or a Gmail address because our system doesn’t support this type of change at the moment. I sincerely apologize for the trouble this causes you, and I thank you for bearing with us as we work hard to extend this option to AdSense publishers in the future.

I can, however, update your AdSense login to a non-Gmail address or any other address not associated with another Google product. You can simply reply to this email, providing the desired email address in the body of your response, and I’ll take care of your request as soon as I’m able.

I was half temped to respond with a “You’re kidding me right?”.

Can anyone out there even begin to explain this to me?

What the heck are they smoking down in Mountain View?

EDITED TO ADD – Headscratcher #3:

Got a second response. I forgot that at some point I associated my work email with a Google Account too. So not only can AdSense not use any Gmail powered address but they also can’t use any email address that is connected to Google in any way whatsoever. I’ve got one last email that I *think* I haven’t created a Google Account for in the past – if not I guess I’ll have to go create a Yahoo account and go from there. Brilliant.