Suggestions: Discussion threads for real world translations
Many users, including myself, have expressed concern over the often poor quality of the real world translations rated by users as "best". (Here's one recent example: http://duolingo.com/#/comment/186907)
I can understand that it's not a small issue to tackle from Duolingo's point of view, and I'm sure they're working on it.
Perhaps a partial solution would be to link easily accessible discussion threads to each sentence of the translation, like we have for each sentence in the regular lessons. Then there'd be a convenient place to discuss translation nuances, point out mistakes, critique others' translations, ask questions about unfamiliar idioms and help each other understand why one translation is better than another. It might not improve the quality of the final translations, but if people have a place to discuss specific issues it might at least assuage some of the concerns.
I think this could be a lot of fun as well as helpful, since the translations are the most colorful material on the site and I'd find it very interesting to talk about their linguistic quirks with others. I know there's already a comment box in the sidebar for each translation, but this applies to entire articles rather than sentences - and it isn't very prominent and seems to be used very rarely.
What does everyone else think?
It's a good idea. I'm trying to visualize what it would be like. On one hand I can see it as fun -- engaging with other users, discussing grammar, nuances of usage, etc., as you said. On the other hand I can see a nightmare explosion of discussions around what will probably grow to thousands of sentences under translation at any time, so many that they become impossible to track. But I'd like to kick the idea around, develop it, maybe set up a small-scale beta, see how it goes.
My sense is that each target language will need highly skilled, fluent native speakers to do the final work and have final authority over each translation to make them saleable.
I agree that if possible fluent native speakers should review the final translations to be sure there are no egregious errors.
Along the same lines, I'm a beginner and I don't like that duolingo seems to force me to rate a translation before I "complete the challenge." I don't want my vote to predispose a poor translation to be selected. Perhaps I don't understand all the navigation options when I am in the real-world translation section ??