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

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Comment author: Evan_Gaensbauer 06 March 2018 04:56:55PM 2 points [-]

I've tried to initiate translation projects for EA into non-English languages in the past. I was looking for EAs who were (close to) fluent in a language and local to where outreach would take place. This was a couple years ago. So, the local EA communities outside the English-speaking world were new, small and didn't have enough people to start up their own translation project. Given the arguments in Ben's post, I don't think necessarily much was lost in not having capitalized on the opportunity to translate EA content into other languages as well.

The most successful case of translation of EA content, and moreover, the generation of brand new EA content, outside of English is in Germany. This was started by EAs who were native speakers of German, and the work of their EA Foundation (EAF). Depending on how much one thinks their circumstances could generalize, it might be best for the movement to work with local groups which successfully develop over a few years to generate new content in other languages. This content could be specialized in its messaging to the culture.

Comment author: vollmer 10 March 2018 03:51:02PM *  4 points [-]

Based on EAF's experience in Germany and Switzerland, I strongly agree with Ben's main points in the post. In the early days we made several mistakes that could have been prevented fairly easily. In particular, it seems hard to correct the perception that EA is not just about donating (to GiveWell top charities). It also remains very difficult to counter the impression that EA is mainly the practical implementation of Singer's views; e.g. Singer's views on infanticide get quoted in many media articles about EA.

Some of the challenges that might have led to this:

  • DGB and Singer's EA book were translated to German, but much of the more advanced content is only available in English.
  • Quickly translating English content is easy. However, it takes much more time to ensure high quality both in terms of language and framings/nuance, and it's even more challenging to keep these translations up to date. See the "fidelity model" blog post referenced above for more discussion of this.
  • The media frequently interview members of the community. Community members are more or less up to date with recent EA publications and would explain EA well, but the media very proactively ask about charitable donations and related issues. It takes a lot of active effort and experience with media interviews to counter this pigeonholing, which is hard to do without much practice. I personally find it pretty hard to give good guidance on this.

So as a conclusion, I think the expansion to Germany, Switzerland, and Austria could have gone much better still, and while I agree it could be the deemed most successful case of translation of EA content, I think it was worse than what we should be aiming for.

Comment author: Evan_Gaensbauer 10 March 2018 06:42:03PM 1 point [-]

That's really great feedback. Thanks.