by Julien Gaulon-Brain, Director, Operations, e2f translations, inc.

We recently began testing Facebook as a way to disseminate information more efficiently within a team for a translation project.*

More specifically, we created a private Facebook group for all team members involved in one of the largest English>French translation projects we have taken on so far: 1.2 million words in one month. The team includes translators, reviewers, proofers, and project coordinators–totaling approximately 40 people around the world. Team members are located in our 4 local offices (Mauritius, Madagascar, France, Toulouse) and in home offices.

Other alternatives we contemplated for routine communications were:

  • Emails => Disqualified to avoid exponential numbers of emails, where “Respond to all” would have rapidly spiraled out of control.
  • Skype => Disqualified, as a conversation window with that many people would not allow any message threading.

Several types of posts have emerged so far:

1/ Initial requirements: At project launch, we posted the basic requirements for the project, including a checklist and core skills needed to work successfully on the project. Linguists were encouraged to get in touch with our coordination team for additional training on core skills as needed (e.g. loading multiple translation memories in the software, using the FTP for file transfers, updating the project tracking sheet for status report, using references, etc.).

2/ Daily bulletins: were invaluable in keeping the project on track.

-From our Production lead:

  • Updated translation memory location
  • Major technical changes (translation memory formats)
  • Reminders about glitches in file drop locations, status report tracking sheet updates, etc.

-From our lead reviewer:

  • Linguistic harmonization and preferences
  • Reminders about references priorities and items to pay particular attention to
  • Instruction updates

3/ Linguist questions, answered by other linguists (and/or vetted by our lead reviewer)

4/ Management messages

So far, we have identified some pros and cons (pending an updated analysis during project post-mortem).

Pros:

  • Posts are organized by thread, with the main item visible at the top of each thread and comments/answers visible underneath.
  • Team members were brought on board gradually and could access earlier posts
  • Team member validate that they have read and understood messages and are following the instructions by clicking “Like” (this also allows our project coordination team to specifically follow up with unresponsive team members).
  • Community Linguists are free to ask questions and get answers from other team members.

Cons:

  • Linguists are sometimes not very open to using social networks (at least initially, due to privacy concerns).

Hopefully we can learn more from this initiative once the project is finalized and we receive more user feedback. So far, the results are promising.


*For full disclosure, this is not our first initiative with private Facebook groups. We have been (successfully) using a company-wide private group for approximately a year.