Things you didn’t realize were on the ICANN site: Part 4

by Kieren McCarthy on May 11, 2009

One of the most consistent complaints we hear from the community is the lack of ICANN materials – reports, announcements, webpages and so on – in languages other than English.

We have been working hard on this for nearly two years and ICANN now has a translation manager as well as a decent size budget and much better internal systems for putting things through translation. The amount of translation we do (and interpretation at meetings) has jumped and we are doing it at lower cost and with greater accuracy than ever before.

But we recognize that this is only a partial solution. The ICANN website is the main entry point to the organization and it remains defiantly English. While we translate more documents than every before, only a tiny proportion of our webpages are in other languages, making it hard for community members to find those translated documents and to keep up to date with ICANN and its work.

We are working hard on fixing this. One of the biggest issues is the development of a content management system that enables us to link the same information in different languages. A second is the fact that ICANN’s main website has many thousands of pages and so we could spend hundreds of thousands of dollars translating webpages that hardly anyone ever reads. And tied in with that, a third issue is the fact that as ICANN staff we are acutely aware that expenditure of the community’s money needs to be justified, either from direct community input or in clear improvements to participation.

Community requests

So we have come up with a system to tackle the second and third issues while we work on the technology to fix the first, and that is: community-led translation requests.

At the bottom of every page on the ICANN website you should see a ten-language lines of words, the first being “Translate” in English. If you click on your language’s version of “translate” a box will pop up that will ask you in that language if you wish to request that the page you were on be translated. If you click through, we as staff are notified that someone has requested that particular page be translated into that particular language.

We can then use the clear community demand for particular pages to translate information as it is requested by the community.

We have tested the system with multiple people and multiple computers running multiple operating systems through multiple browsers so we are pretty confident that unless someone goes to great lengths that every request we receive for a particular page comes from a different individual. The system should also work across the board, no matter what computer or software you are using.

And the winner is…

We put this system up without announcing it or telling anyone three weeks ago and have already been amazed at the response – 1,182 requests so far across all languages, the biggest single page and language being 165 Chinese requests for the front page.

Responding to this, we have already send the first webpage for translation – the UDRP webpage at The front page will take longer as we need to devise the best way to keep it constantly up-to-date but we have heard from you loud and clear and are working on it as we speak.

And before you ask – yes, we are aware of the irony of only having this blog post in English. A proper announcement in the 10 languages is in the offing.

So there you go – thing’s you didn’t realize were on the ICANN website: a community-led translation priority tool done through two simple clicks.

Previous things you didn’t realize

Part 3: Scorecard
Part 2: IDN Glossary
Part 1: Virtual Bookshelf

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Kelechi Okorie 05.14.09 at 4:16 pm

So good to know that one is available. Way to go guys. However, endeavour to see that you have translators for African languages, including languages spoken by Nigerian which is the most populous black nation on earth.

Beer 05.27.09 at 7:28 am

English should be the only language. If you can’t speak it, then take your selfless existence elsewhere.

Kieren McCarthy 05.27.09 at 2:32 pm

So that’s one vote for the 510 living languages in Nigeria, and one vote for using just a single language (also the official language of Nigeria).

Thanks for your feedback but I think we’ll stick with the ten languages that covers over 90 percent of people online.


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