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Published:
2022-06-29 15:05:27 UTC
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Five Things an OTW Volunteer Said

Every month or so the OTW will be doing a Q&A with one of its volunteers about their experiences in the organization. The posts express each volunteer's personal views and do not necessarily reflect the views of the OTW or constitute OTW policy. Today's post is with Rosa, who volunteers as a Translation volunteer for Team Swedish.

How does what you do as a volunteer fit into what the OTW does?

I translate news posts and other types of documentation for the OTW from English to Swedish. That means I help to make the work the OTW does more accessible for people and spread the information about transformative works outside of the English-speaking world. Most Swedes are fluent in English and don’t expect things on the internet to be available in Swedish, but having access to things in your native language still helps create a global community of fans.

What is a typical week like for you as a volunteer?

As a translator, I’m assigned tasks to either translate a document from English to Swedish or to beta an already translated one from one of my teammates. (Team Swedish is a pretty big team for such a small language, and we use a two-beta system, which means every post we put out has been betaed twice.) So when I get a task, I look at it, do a quick time estimate and then make a mental slot in my schedule of when to do it. The deadlines (and possibility for extensions) vary depending on what type of task it is, and how long it is. When I sit down to do the work, it’s very straightforward. The documents we’re assigned are very structured and easy to work with. Hats off to the people doing the prep-work!

A few times per week, I also log onto the OTW chat system to see if a) a tag wrangler has encountered some Swedish tags they need help wrangling (rarely happens, but when it does it’s so much fun!) or b) Staff has an ad hoc translation/update that needs to be done quickly.

I’m also signed up to help out with translating Support tickets and Policy & Abuse tickets, but so far, none have come my way. I have a feeling most Swedes send in their tickets in English.

What made you decide to volunteer?

Not to sound overly dramatic, but in the fall of 2019 I was feeling very adrift and looking for a purpose (as one does, from time to time). I saw a post on Tumblr about the OTW looking for volunteers and thought that this could be a purpose. Giving back to the fannish community could be a purpose!

I’m still so excited I was picked to do this work!

What has been your biggest challenge doing work for the OTW?

...updating the Cheatsheet. No, the Cheatsheet (the team glossary where the language teams decide on how to translate fannish and OTW-related words/terms like ‘ship (verb)’ and ‘ship (noun)’ or ‘anti-circumvention provisions’) is a lifesaver! It is one of those things we translators love to hate, because some words/terms are very hard to translate in ways that make sense. Particularly, legal terms relating to a legal system that may not have an equivalence outside of the country where the law exists.

This does relate to my biggest challenge, though, or what I’ve struggled with the most, and that’s scrutinizing and reevaluating how I use both English and my native Swedish, especially when it comes to where the languages intersect. So many fandom terms only exist in English (for me). I learned these words and terms through English in English spaces, and finding ways to speak about them in Swedish has been difficult at times.

What fannish things do you like to do?

I mostly write and read fanfiction. And talk endlessly with friends who, for some reason, never grow tired of me even though some of us aren’t in the same fandoms anymore. Nothing feeds the plot bunnies as much as bouncing ideas with other fans. I’m very open about my fannish life outside of fandom, which has made me the go-to person for everyone at work when they need to have a fannish moment, even if I don’t have any/limited knowledge of the source material. It’s the best! I’ve learned so much about Star Wars, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Doctor Who, and James Bond over cups of coffee in the breakroom.

I also spend some time making sure the Swedish pages on Wikipedia for the OTW and AO3 are updated. (I still haven’t made a single edit on Fanlore, which I’m greatly ashamed of.)


Now that our volunteer’s said five things about what they do, it’s your turn to ask one more thing! Feel free to ask about their work in the comments. Or if you'd like, you can check out earlier Five Things posts.

The Organization for Transformative Works is the non-profit parent organization of multiple projects including Archive of Our Own, Fanlore, Open Doors, Transformative Works and Cultures, and OTW Legal Advocacy. We are a fan run, entirely donor-supported organization staffed by volunteers. Find out more about us on our website.

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Spotlight on OTW Translation – 140 translators translated over 1,500,000 words in 2,000 documents and 22 languages so far

Why is Translation an important part of the OTW?

Our role in the OTW is to bring official content from the OTW's projects and committees to fans worldwide. We translate news posts, help pages, site content, emails and comments so that people who don't speak English can have access to all the work that the rest of the OTW does.

The OTW is made up of over 500 volunteers from all over the world working in various committees—by necessity, in order to get us all working together, a lot of the OTW's day-to-day work and output is in English. Translation's job is to stay in touch with committees that publish content so that we can get the word out in several other languages, too.

(We don't translate fanworks, by the way! Major kudos to everyone who does, but translation-wise, we have our hands full with official OTW content, including AO3 FAQs and news.)

How many languages can you translate into? How many of you are there?

22 languages—Arabic, Catalan, Chinese, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Hebrew, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Kiswahili, Korean, Polish, Brazilian Portuguese, European Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, and Turkish.

We're 147 volunteers, counting both translators and staff coordinators—translators work in language teams of various sizes, from the huge 17-person German team to our newest team, Kiswahili, with only one translator so far!

What is your favorite part of the work in the Translation committee?

We translate a lot of different things, and we are a very diverse group, so everyone has their own favorites, but a lot of us really like the immediate reward of helping users directly by collaborating with the Abuse and Support teams and answering comments in news posts.

One of the best things about working in Translation is that it's a very fun and lively group, too—with such a huge team, we have just about every fandom and interest covered, so you're just as likely to find people discussing knitting as pole-dancing in our chatrooms, from having feelings about the latest One Piece to meltdowns over Faking It. In our midst we have ficwriters, fanartists, podficcers, fan video makers, fansubbers, gif makers, reccers, meta writers, challenge moderators, and more! (We also talk about translation occasionally.)

If I were interested in the Translation committee, how could I get involved?

Get in touch with us! We're always happy to hear from potential new translators. If you'd like to know more about how we work, you can also check out our page on the OTW website.

World map showing the concentration of OTW Translation members. Countries with more members are shaded darker. Only members who were willing to appear on the map have been included. Map shows nationality or residence status, depending on what each volunteer chose to use. From higher to lower numbers, the countries are: Italy (11), Germany (9), Brazil (5), France (5), Finland (4), Netherlands (4), Spain (4), United States (4), Argentina (3), Belgium (3), Poland (3), Portugal (3), Sweden (3), Switzerland (3), United Kingdom (3), Australia (2), Denmark (2), Egypt (2), Hungary (2), Indonesia (2), Mexico (2), Russian Federation (2), Canada (1), China (1), Costa Rica (1), Czech Republic (1), Kenya (1), Republic of Korea (1), Malaysia (1), Peru (1), Turkey (1) and Viet Nam (1).

Mirrored from an original post made at the OTW News Blog.

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