back to article Translate my website... bitch

Facebook is headed for a problem. In the wacky innovation-lite and revenue-poor world of web 2.0, you have to be able to show your investors and the hordes of "I want to believe" journalists some sort of growth. Forget profits growth - advertisers just aren't yet hip to your super-awesome targeting kung fu, nor to how you're …


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  1. David Harper

    A quick Sherman

    Is this the first use of the words "circle jerk" in an article in El Reg?

    Hats off to Chris Williams for summarising Web 2.0 so deftly.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Hold On

    Ask a community of Brits to translate into German, French and Spanish.

    There is a flaw in there somewhere.

    As you may hear at a Munich Wurst counter five minu8tes after a british tour bus pulls up.

    Gutten Morgen Herr S H O P K E E P E R, sprechen sie English? H A V E Y O U A N Y S A U S A G E S ?

    Not exactly renound for our acceptance, knowledge and Use of Neighbouring Languages are we!

  3. Anonymous Coward

    Ow, my eyes!

    Chris Williams, you are amanfromMars and I claim my £5.......

  4. Rob McCann


    WOnt be long til were all smiling smugly when FB over valuations come crashing back to earth - i mean - these social sites seem like normal web-evolution to me not the " you MUST be on this site or your life is unfulfilled " im on there but it sucks compared to myspace.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A title is required.


  6. Keith T

    Money for nothing and your Check(oslovakinan) for free

    No pay for that work?

    At least over on Second ( Get-A ) Life you can charge for such services.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Ha ha ha ha ha

    So, in summary:

    They realised that you actually need to pay professional translators actual *money* to do their job.

    But they have no actual money.

    So they need to find native speakers of non-English languages among the userbase, who also regularly use social networking sites (so they know the right terminology to use).

    These are of course the people they want to attract to facebook.

    But they're using other social networking sites in their own language instead.

    Because facebook is not in their language. And they therefore won't know about it.

    Which means facebook will have piss-poor translations.

    Because they won't pay professional translators.

    My head hurts.

  8. Anonymous Coward

    how much per active user?

    Take the value of the company.....

    devide it by the number of active users and how much do you get?

  9. Mike Hunt


    "Circle jerk", "Web 2.0", "Facebook" ... so many new words!

  10. hans



    Das Computermachine ist nicht fuer gefingerpoken und mittengrabben. Ist easy schappen der shpringenverk, blowenfusen unt poppencorken mit spitzensparken. Ist night fuer gewerken bei die Dummkopfen. Das rubbernecken Sichtseeren keepen das cotton-pickenen Hands in die Pockets muss; relaxen und watschen die Blinkenlichten.

  11. Lloyd Kinsella


    I really wish this bubble would burst, social networking sites really aren't all that and I'm a member of three, eventually you've explored everything and poked everyone and then what...all that keeps it going is like this article said, addition of virigin users.

  12. eddiewrenn

    great post

    Cheers Chris Williams, great and insightful post. The Reg has been one of my favourite news sites for three years now (heck, I applied for work experience with you guys two years ago), and it's because of posts like this. Keep up the good work.


  13. Martin Owens

    Heh heh

    Trying to pull a canonical translator out of your arse should be interesting entertainment. The fact is though if your translating for a FOSS project at least you know that your work is your own. This just reeks of a misunderstanding about what a community project really IS. i.e it is not a way to get cheep information workers.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Does the same thing web 1.0 does

    only is more annoying about it. Actually it's more like web 1.0.1 with vast pretensions I expect the whole internet will get better over time so much better in fact this stuff will make you howl with laughter if it doesn't already.

  15. The Avangelist

    User Accounts mean nothing

    Number of registered users means nothing as a statistic in any book.

    The fact is chances are, majority of people who sign up never return or rarely return to the site and log in.

    What would be a far better cross demog, would be Number of registered users with number of repeat visits per week and duration of visit.

    Bet you it is piss poor.

  16. Dave


    I'm tempted to run the site through Babelfish and submit the result. At least it'll produce hilarious translations, especially when re-translating back to English.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    One step at a time

    They'd be better off devoting some time translating Facebook from marketing-speak into English. The help-section is atrocious and they seem determined to call features by unusual names used by no other website ("notes" instead of "blog", etc).

  18. Nick Drew

    So what else is new?

    As soon as MS put a value on Facebook by buying an overpriced* piece of it, Zuckerberg (presumably after prompting by his heavily-invested backers) realised that he needed to find some way to turn this from a college project for spying on your ex girlfriends into an actual business. Y'know, for kids. With money being generated.

    Perhaps it's unfair to say so, but it really looks like he only had one good idea in him, because all his ideas for putting a value on Facebook users have come apart, caught between needing to earn significant revenue, and not pushing away the site's users/ customers who, let's face it, could quite easily move to the next big thing (TM) in Web 2.0, leaving 'bltch' boy sobbing in their wake.

    * - thing is, MS wasn't just pouring money into Facebook with no return. The other side of the deal is that they get to serve ads on Facebook, and so generate money the old fashioned way, with 'traditional' online display ads.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    Hazzaa Chris Williams!

    and a circle jerk it is...

    IT icon because the "Web 2.0" has nothing to do with tech IMO.

  20. mark11727

    I've heard of this book...

    "My hovercraft is full of eels."

  21. Anonymous Coward

    All your poke are belong to us!

    Wow, what a great idea. By getting completely random people with no qualifications to translate their site, they can achieve the accuracy levels of, say, Wikipedia.

    Seriously though, they should have a good look at some of their use of English before they embark on this venture. When I perused it I was delighted to find I could select good looking people and choose to "poke" them, apparently for free. Imagine my disappointment when I found that Facebook and I had entirely different notions of what "poking" meant.

  22. J


    I've seen worse! I actually understood your post. I think. ;-)

    Re: the article

    I've done Braz. Portuguese translations for a couple of GPL'd, smallish projects, and glad to contribute and return the kindness. I would never give my voluntary work to a company, specially something parasitic like Facespace or Mybook or whatever the irritating thing is called.

  23. Dave


    What does ASCII Star-Wars have to do with Facebook translations? ;)


    An article full of wheeze-bang...

    Marketing wheeze, priceless!

  25. Philip
    Thumb Up


    @ Zuckerbook by Mr. Williams. Well done sir - very nicely hand sliced ;)

  26. TeeCee Gold badge

    Not only, but also...

    Not content with getting amateurs with nothing better to do to do their translation for them, they're also going to instigate a quality control process that entails getting amateurs with nothing better to do to vote and comment on the results.

    Anyone wishing to indulge in *the* greatest grammatical pedantry flamefest of all time should get a F***book account now.

  27. Anonymous Coward

    @ Chris Williams

    Pedant here... "An invite-only application encourages..." A grotesque grammatical gaffe of the social networking arena. It's 'invitation-only', Chris.

  28. Anonymous Coward

    FB may have left it a little late... think about non-English speakers, in Russia at least - check out . . .

  29. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Won't fly far

    I'm not on FaceBook or MySpace (but I did get strong-armed into LinkedIn by my boss), but as far as I'm concerned, all these self-centered, gramatically-challenged monkeys who have no doubt that their dribbling is of utmost importance are going to find it quite tedious and irritating to go and translate the self-centered, gramatically-challenged dribblings of others.

    I think that this project will end in a collective throwing up of hands and mutterings of disgust.

    And @hans : that is without doubt the very best pig-German I have ever read. I almost bust a gut on "das cotton-pickenen Hands in die Pockets muss" !!

  30. Keith T

    Bork it!

    There is always the option of running it through the Bork translator on Firefox -- it turns text to that of the Swedish Chef from the Muppets.

    or - "Zeere-a is elveys zee oopshun ooff roonneeng it thruoogh zee Bork trunsletur oon Fureffux -- it toorns text tu thet ooff zee Svedeesh Cheff frum zee Mooppets"

  31. Dan B
    Dead Vulture

    facebook membership $0, look on zuckerbergs face when it folds - priceless

    Great article!

    Maybe im jaded because I KNOW I could have made this web-app in a few days, and be rolling in pound coins. doh. It's not even like he deserves all that money for origonality - he stole the idea from MySpace and just got the userbase because the average net user these days is so fickle about the next big thing.

    The whole sites value is based on it's popularity, but said popularity is perching precariously on a tightrope. What I dont get is that realising there is nowhere left to go with this project, and it has a value of £0 in real currency when all the users flock to the next site, WHEN (not if) this happens - why not just flog the whole company now and buy an island somewhere, let someone else flog the rotting corpse.

    That's what I'd do. And there'd be monkey butlers. (And apple macs would be banished from my island).

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