The auto-translation feature is an invaluably useful feature in helping citizens in multi-lingual communities understand one another and letting citizens communicate in the language most comfortable - encouraging and welcoming participation by all. In order to activate the auto-translation feature, contact us at support@citizenlab.co for us to enable this feature on your platform. Note that this feature is available for Premium plans only.

The auto-translation feature will appear and can be used on the platform in three ways:

  1. Proposals - A grey "Translate" box underneath the banner

  2. Project ideas & input - A grey "Translate" box underneath the picture

  3. User Comments - "See translation"

What gets translated on the platform, and what doesn't?

Only user-generated comments and ideas (i.e. contributions to a project, proposals) can be translated with the auto-translation feature. However, comments and ideas are only able to be translated when the user writes in their chosen default language on the platform. For instance, if a user’s default language on the platform is English and they write an idea in French, this will not be translated because the Google API is not smart enough to auto-detect what language it should translate from. Rather, it assumes that someone whose default language is English will always write in English. Admin comments and/ updates also do not get translated, despite the "See translation feature".

Similarly, if a project description is written in another language, the auto-translation feature will not be able to translate it. The admin and/or poster will need to manually translate the post to the other languages available on the platform for the translation to appear in the other respective languages.

As shown below for example, if a user is in another language setting (i.e. German / Deutsch) and there is no manual translation of the project description written by the admin, the user will only see the project description in the language you have written it (i.e. English).

Language setting set to German but project description and title remains in English as there's no manual translation by the admin

Can the ideas and comments be translated into any language?

The auto-translation feature can translate into any of the languages made available by the admin on the platform, however, it will only translate according to the language that the user has set as their chosen language (i.e. the language on the top right corner of the platform).

There are no current add-ons available, but a user may install auto translate functionality into their personal browser or device that can make the translations for them.

Note: If a user has entered an idea or comment in a certain language, the language itself cannot be deleted from the platform. This can then only be solved by contacting us at support@citizenlab.co, through our development team.

Can we improve the result of the machine translated ideas and comments?

At the moment, we are unable to improve the result of the auto-translations, as this is done automatically via the Google API. However, you can manually edit and translate an idea into multiple languages. To do this, go to ‘edit idea’ and change the language in the navigation bar toggle. It will show a blank idea form which you can fill in with your own translations. Users viewing the idea in that language will then see your custom translation.


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Do you have any questions or need help? Don't hesitate to send a message to support@citizenlab.co!

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