Paid translators for emergency cases


SecureDrop being used in high risk contexts needs to be carefully reviewed. Although we’re all highly motivated and dedicated, it is entirely possible that all reviewers for a given language are busy and a few languages are not completely reviewed when the time comes to publish a new SecureDrop release.

It would be useful to identify paid reviewers we could go to in these exceptional cases. I don’t think it would be sustainable to rely on paid translators on a regular basis: we are a lively community of volunteer contributors and it is an essential part of my motivation to participate.

What do you think?

1 Like

We use this approach and have an emergency translation fund for situations in which localization is needed urgently or for rare or small language teams.

Depending on the expected size of updates to source strings in SecureDrop, I think that coordinating translation and review earlier by individually messaging translators and reviewers will suffice in most cases. Having the monetary incentive however can be particularly helpful for contributors who might have difficulty making time for volunteer due to time and financial limitations. It can be a great way to allow someone to contribute, as opposed to looking at it as coaxing someone to contribute through financial incentives.

Regardless of pay we need to identify a larger pool of potential reviewers to contribute to the project for each round of updates so that you don’t have to rely on one or two individuals who may not be available.

1 Like

Do you have previous successful experience with volunteers being paid sometimes? I (maybe incorrectly) assume being a volunteer and receiving monetary compensation from time to time makes someone behave as if they were paid staff. I find it extraordinarily difficult to forget (maybe it’s just me) that I’ll get some money. And I seem myself calculate my hourly rate.

Like this: “Oh, shoot, it’s time to do this for project X, I don’t really have time but… given I was paid $30/h on average for all the work I did (pro-bono or not), if I spend 8 hours on project X this week and not be paid, it will drop to $28/h. But there also is a good chance I’ll get paid $60/h during 24h next month because they have this big release coming up and will need extra paid help so I will actually be up $32/h in the next 30 days. And if I don’t do this pro-bono work, chances are someone else will and I will loose this opportunity.”.

Or maybe I’m thinking about it as a poker player calculating the odds of winning a pot :wink:

1 Like

Do you have recommendations of freelance localizers? There are zillions out there, it is really difficult to sort the good one from the bad ones.

I try to only use individuals that are dedicated volunteers to begin with, as opposed to contracting a professional translator or service. Individuals who have a proven track record of voluntary contributions. Paid work is then more of a show of gratitude for their consistent, quality work than a motivation for them to contribute.

I do think that for some volunteers that we have worked with, the potential for being prioritized for paid work has played a role in their willingness to help with volunteer work. They know that if they are responsive to translation and review needs on unpaid projects and do good work, then when projects are able to pay for work, they will be at the top of the list.

I personally do not see a problem with being motivated by payment, as long as that is not the primary motivation. I would guess that it is the majority of volunteers that are limited by their financial situation. They may love to contribute, but simply cannot make the time to volunteer as they would like because they have to make ends meet. If we, if projects, have the funding to relieve that burden somewhat when there is an identified or urgent need for localization work, then I think it can be positive, though the imagined scenario you give above is giving me some anxiety :sweat_smile:

1 Like

:smiley: sorry about that, it was not my intent. It is good to know a mixture of volunteer and paid work turns out ok in your experience. My imagined scenario is pure fiction and real life experience beats it every day of the week.

As an unpaid volunteer I would be ok with volunteers being paid occasionally, as long as there is transparency on recruitment and payment.

Thanks a thousand time for this precious feedback!

All the more reason to use someone that undermines the chance of that happening.

You can only have an emergency if your regular course of events turned south.

I disagree. All it takes for an emergency to happen is for volunteers to not be available during one release cycle. Even if a project has many volunteers the odds of such an event can never be zero and it does not indicate the regular course of events turned south.