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Bikeshedding simple translations

I'm talking about this article in particular: http://www.duolingo.com/translation/5146c790be26414eec8487717f60c4ef. Although the phenomenon might be wider.

It seems to me that as predicted by Parkinson's Law (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parkinson%27s_law_of_triviality), the simpler sentences often gets the worst translations. People want to put their own spin into the translations by making trivial edits, occasionally for the worse.

Consider the title sentence in the article: "Ob das was bringt?"

At the moment, it has been edited 35 times, with around 18 unique translations; after filtering the obviously awful translations, we're left with 11 possible translations. What's funny is that the exact sentence of the title is repeated in the body, with different set of translations, apparently many people see it fit that the exact same sentence in the title and the body be translated differently.

<pre>number of times edited in title | number of times edited in body | translation 2 5 Does it bring anything? 1 Does this bring something? 1 1 Let's see what happens 1 What does that achieve? 1 What does that change? 6 1 What will it bring? 1 3 What will this bring? 1 What will this entail? 3 6 Will it achieve anything? 2 Will it bring anything? 10 5 Will it do any good? 1 Will that bring anything? 1 Will this bring any benefit? 1 1 Will this bring something? 1 Will this do any good? 1 Would it do any good? Clunky, incorrect punctuation/capitalization, or just plain wrong -1 If it brings something? -2 If that brings something? -1 If this bring something? -1 On account of that, what should one bring? -2 If that one gets what? -1 the what -1 whatever that brings -1 whether what that brings -1 whether what does that bring ? -1 What does this achieve ? -1 if what brings -1 Or it brings what? </pre>

Is there anything that can be done to discourage bikeshedding?

October 15, 2013



I think that articles should have a "due date". This article is just in translation "limbo". People can repeatedly come back to it and make changes, and it's just getting nowhere.

Those articles with a sooner due date could be placed at the top of the Immersion page and get translated and posted quicker to whatever site they came from, so that there wouldn't be much of a chance for this "bikeshedding" to start. If, however, the original owner does not accept the translation or take any further action with it, then Duolingo could still remove it and store it somewhere in case somebody does end up claiming it.


It's a 7 month old article that's still getting new translators since it's suggested to me by Duolingo for "Real world practice". I could understand getting suggested with articles that are already mostly translated to reduce the difficulty for those who just started learning how to translate, but past a certain point suggesting old articles to new translators would just invite bikeshedding.

I also like a "due date" idea, these sort of very old articles whose sentences already has a very large number of good translations ought to be locked from receiving any new translations and enter a voting only period.


I like the idea of a voting only period for articles that have lots and lots of translations. I think people want to have their name listed as the translator, so they make pointless changes like capitalization or punctuation. to "have the last word"

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