Sprechen Sie Twitter?

Team taps into crowdsourcing for tool translations

By Jessica Greene
|  Friday, Oct 9, 2009  |  Updated 9:30 AM CDT
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Mom always told you to be a leader, not a follower, but that was well before Twitter came along.

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The world is getting smaller, thanks again to Twitter.

As it is now, the viral social-networking tool used for everything from charity fundraising to celebrity gossip is only available in English and Japanese.

Twitter co-founder Biz Stone announced Thursday that the service is becoming more international.

We are inviting a small group of people to become volunteer translators at first. As more folks volunteer, the translation suggestions should accumulate faster and we'll have enough material to respond by making Twitter available not only in English and Japanese but also French, Italian, German, and Spanish. We will distribute the translations to Twitter platform developers, making it easier for them to offer multiple language support as well.

Roughly translated, that means they won't actually be turning the tweets into 140-character foreign language revelations like "Je mange du fromage," but making the services like the site instructions available in more languages using the mass audience of users -- something known as crowdsourcing. That's the same approach that resulted in protocols like @mentions and retweets. International twitterati tech geeks will now be able to help the company's five-person team at the San Francisco headquarters expand the genius tool.

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