Crowd-sourcing allows 1,000 translators to get in on translation project

By October 12, 2011

Asia (MNN) — It seems unlikely to find 1,000 people in a small, poverty-stricken village in Asia who would even know much about the internet. It seems even more implausible to find 1,000 people who not only have access to and know how to use the internet, but are also believers, and can translate the Word from a main language into their own heart language.

And yet, this is exactly the group The Seed Company found in a new translation launch for a language group of over one million speakers.

"We tested a crowd-sourcing Web site in Asia in a difficult-to-access language group, and over 1,000 mother-tongue translators came to the Webpage and participated in this pilot project to help translate chapters of the Book of Luke into their heart language," says The Seed Company president, Roy Peterson.

Crowd-sourcing is the idea behind the online encyclopedia Wikipedia. It makes Web creation a team effort as people from all over sign onto the site and add their input to provide a whole host of information.

The Seed Company crowd-sourcing site had 1,000 people translating verses of Scripture, but there actually may have been many more participants. The Seed Company took a trip to the small Asian village where the pilot project took place. The village was peppered with small, dirt-floor homes, and the ministry discovered that those doing the translation were typically young people in their early 20s. The translators would head to an internet café to work, but not alone. Much of the time, they had their entire families with them, adding their input as well.

Participants were also able to give feedback on other verses that people had translated and put up, able to compliment them on a job well done or encourage revision.

The technology is revolutionary to the world of Bible translation and is part of what helped The Seed Company earn its Innovation in Mission award this year from Mission Exchange. The potential is astronomical.

"Think back 50 years ago when there was one missionary, all by himself or all by herself, translating, trying to do all 7,000 verses of the New Testament," notes Peterson. "Now picture today, leveraging a crowd-sourcing, Web-based platform and getting 1,000 people, 2,000, or 10,000 from a large people group in Asia, helping to do the New Testament in their heart language."

Right now, The Seed Company is still checking the project over to see if it works well enough to be replicated.

"This project is being consultant-checked right now to look at the accuracy and how well the crowd did," explains Peterson. "If this begins to work, we're going to replicate this and begin to scale it into more and more languages."

The Seed Company is hoping to come to a decision this week. Currently they're looking for another large Asian language to try this new method of translating Scripture.

Pray for this exciting new project. Consider A donation to this project, which has had enormous costs associated with it so far, when you visit

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