ThomasSittler comments on Why not to rush to translate effective altruism into other languages - Effective Altruism Forum

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Comment author: ThomasSittler 05 March 2018 11:15:34AM *  7 points [-]

I agree, and this is a mistake I've made in the past in a big way, especially around 2015 when I was enthusiastically promoting mass outreach with low-fidelity translations.

Here's an additional data point, which is more about the mechanics of translation itself rather than the broader strategy of delaying outreach, but does tend to support the views defended in this post: I've found that writing articles in French about EA from scratch results in much better text than translating from English. The translated stuff always feels a bit alien and uncool. (And this is for what I believe were high-quality translations, with less-than-stellar translations, the results could be outright disastrous.)

Comment author: RyanCarey 05 March 2018 12:08:49PM 6 points [-]

Is it still alien and uncool if you look at an article as a whole and just rewrite it from scratch in French, rather than translating each line? (Kind-of like if I lose my copy of an essay and then rewrite the same ideas in new prose.)

Comment author: ThomasSittler 05 March 2018 09:27:40PM *  2 points [-]

It's a spectrum, but the further away from translation and the more towards "presenting standalone idea" the better in my experience. So taking the high-level ideas and broad structure of an article can be fine. However, even without translating, the temptation can be strong to excessively lean on the original text, it has to be actively resisted.

Two examples: completely written from scratch, and loosely inspired by an existing article.

Comment author: Evan_Gaensbauer 06 March 2018 05:23:36PM 1 point [-]

The EA Handbook you put together included essays originally published as blog posts by individual EA community members in English. There's no reason there couldn't be an EA Handbook for original content generated in and for other languages. There's probably enough content in German to produce a "German EA Handbook". I'm not confident there is enough original EA content in other languages such that a corresponding EA handbook could be produced.

Comment author: ThomasSittler 05 March 2018 09:41:04PM *  1 point [-]

Can whoever downvoted this say why so I can improve? Anonymously if you want.

Comment author: Evan_Gaensbauer 06 March 2018 05:29:48PM 2 points [-]

If you don't give feedback, here's a tip for how I figure why I might have been downvoted when it's not at first clear to me why. I read my comment again, and imagine from a perspective of someone in EA very different from me. Other people's perceptions and intuitions of how our words come across on the internet can be very different from our own. I often notice things in my own comments after the fact as a result. The part of your comment which stood out to me with the typical tone on the EA Forum was referring to some earnest translation effort as "alien and uncool". For various reasons, I can imagine someone seeing arguments from coolness are bad or inappropriate for the EA Forum, although I assume ostensibly you weren't that serious about the comment.