Monday, June 29, 2009

Don't Bother Making Accessibility a Priority

Translators Scoff at LinkedIn’s Offer of $0 an Hour - "Translators Wanted at LinkedIn. The Pay? $0 an Hour."

In a phone interview, Mr. Irwin said he was surprised that LinkedIn “would have the effrontery to ask for a professional service for free.”

As someone who started on the path as a translator (I later changed my mind, but that's a story for another day), I'm affronted by the sheer wackiness of this. LinkedIn is a supposedly respectable networking site for professional people, and has a user base that extends far beyond English-speaking shores. Yet, in what seems like a half-hearted attempt to make their site more accessible to those who are already paying for the use, they opted for a "wiki-style" translation process, going so far as to contact people who listed their occupation as translators and asking them to "volunteer" for the initiative, which such incentives as "upgraded accounts, and none ('because it's fun')."

Translation is a field that has trouble enough gaining notoriety, but good translators have an acceptable number of well-paying professional opportunities (though too many of them are freelance). Asking a freelancing translator to do what would essentially be a major linguistic overhaul of a professional, well-funded website (if their ad-base and account upgrade fees are any indicator) is a sham.

An aid agency, a shelter, or an otherwise underfunded, understaffed entity could justify it, and would probably be able to find plenty of people willing to help. It just disgusts me that, as Mr Irwin is quoted above, "LinkedIn would have the effrontery to ask for a proffessional service for free."

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