Real world translations
Please do keep in mind that not everyone is familiar with some of these topics (music, race driving) and this makes the translation process very difficult. I also don't really understand how I can rate a translation. Yet I recently had no choice to do translations and than rate them.
I feel uncomfortable translating something I don't really understand (I have to peek for the meaning of the words ever so often.) Considering the level I am currently at (15) and the depth of the article I am asked to translate, how much of the result is guess work is self-explanatory. I'd love to contribute to real world translation, but I wish I could be given tasks based on my ability.
The translations can be the best learning experience if you take the time to look at the other translations and process what you like/don't like about them. You know what good English will sound like so part of the rating is seeing if something sounds awkward or not, then seeing how another person phrased it in a way that's not awkward. Going past your comfort level, failing, and then reflecting is the best way to learn.
The rating of other translations is part of the policy. I am uncomfortable with this, also. However, carry this in mind: Assume that you are rating the efforts of your peers, and they are rating yours. And, the ultimate purpose is to provide accurate translations for content on the web. As for the topics, Spanish is Spanish, and it is all learning. How they say stuff in racing or whatever may improve how you say stuff in your favorite subjects. Best wishes.
I agree with the value of doing translations and that, since I am a native speaker of English, I can comment on a translation in terms of the English phrasing. What has been uncomfortable is that a) the information parts of lessons seems to have decreased; b) there are issues such as when do you need a 'a' or a 'se' , etc., and c) the translations were forced on us and I still don't know what constitutes a lesson. As a student and also a computer scientist, I would like to know [more about] the duolingo algorithm for a best translation. Is any human oversight involved? It may be that some translations should trigger action by a Spanish speaker.