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Conference reloaded

How can you develop a service without sharing a language with your users?

Holed up in Budapest, my head too messed up to do any proper work (eep! the doom she is a-coming!), I've been listening to danah Boyd's keynote at the blogtalk conference that's just winding up in Vienna.

She touches on the fact that the creators of Orkut don't have the faintest idea what their Portugese or Hindi-speaking users are doing. I'd always vaguely assumed that there would be a fair few Portugese-speakers within the Orkut development team, for instance. But obviously not.

It'd be a nice little project for a journalist or an anthropologist, to work out how much the developers of these sites know about their users.


We're starting to have this problem with PledgeBank. To find out what is going on in other languages on our site, we're using a combination of our human translators translating things for us, and using automated translation services when we don't want to bug them too much.

It's still no where near as good as being able to actually read the language, you can't get a good feel for what somthing is about. One problem we have, for example, is moderation. We remove illegal pledges, but the nuances can be very hard to tell even when a human translator translates a pledge for us.