Yahoo to Translate Flickr Into Non-English Versions Later This Year

[I am CEO of Zooomr]

One of the things that kind of got lost in the big Flickr blow out last week was the reiteration from Flickr Chief Stewart Butterfield that Yahoo would be translating Flickr into other languages some time this year.

Stewart indicated this in this thread here as part of the reasoning for requiring Flickr’s “Old Skool” members to merge their accounts into Yahoo:

“it will be waste of resources to build out old skool sign in functionality in each new language when new language versions come out later this year,”

There was no word on what new languages Flickr will be localizing in.

Previous comments from Stewart on localizing Flickr into non-English languages came about 5 months ago in a thread back at Flickr Central where he said:

“I’m just speculating, but I don’t think Flickr would localize the interface without being prepared to offer customer support in each of the localized languages. Yahoo does operate in many countries/languages ( so it is possible that they could pull it off.”

So obviously within the past five months I would assume that Yahoo has decided to both translate Flickr into additional non-English languages as well as potentially offer support for Flickr in these non-English languages.

More comments about Flickr translating into other languages come from Flickr Co-Founder and Yahoo Exec Caterina Fake in an interview that she gave to the Spanish news site LaFlecha late last year. In this interview Fake mentioned that Yahoo was working on translating Flickr into other non-English languages but suggesting that Spanish would not be one of the first to be translated and that we might expect Asian languages to come first.

” S.R.: Will we have Flickr in another languages soon?

C.F.: We are working on some, yes, but unfortunately for Spain, Asian languages will likely come first.”

Subsequent to that interview, however, Stewart indicated on the Spanish news site that Flickr would be localized in Spanish sometime in 2007.

A recent thread, that has since been locked by Flickr staff, has some fairly vocal Flickr users requesting Spanish translation of the site here. In this thread when accused of having a “narrow mind,” Stewart responded back:

“We’ll see about that!

Localizing is not as simple as changing the captions on a few of the buttons – we intend to have all text everywhere on the site fully translated, all FAQs in each available language, and dedicated community management/customer support in each language. It may seem simple, but it’s not :)”

At Zooomr we are presently translated into 17 different localizations and plan on introducing more language translations with our Mark III release in March.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Notice what Stewart said here: “we intend to have all text everywhere on the site fully translated, all FAQs in each available language, and dedicated community management/customer support in each language.

    Taking a good look around Zoomr and its “translations” we find that:

    1) Random words/phrases on some pages aren’t translated, like “page” or “This photo is public”.

    2) The Learn More pages aren’t translated. At all.

    3) The login page isn’t translated.

    4) The signup page isn’t translated.

    5) The about page isn’t translated.

    6) The ToS and Privacy Policy pages aren’t translated.

    7) Your FAQs aren’t translated (refer to Stewart’s comment above).

    8) Your Motto or Slogan or whatever on the home page isn’t translated (AND it was blatantly stolen from Flickr, like your site name, your urls, and, um, everything else).

    9) Some of your translations appear to be wrong.

    10) You don’t bother changing dates/times into formats appropriate for the language.

    In short, you have a very, very long way to go before you have the site translated. What’s more, referring again to Stewart’s quote above, you don’t appear to have any support whatsoever, not to mention support localized into various languages.

    I trust Flickr will actually get it right before calling the site translated.

    BTW, what’s with the need for a Google Account to post a comment on this site? How hard is it to have a simple email address/password form?

  2. Thomas Hawk says:

    Anonymous, while Zooomr’s translation may still need some minor work, I’d rather have what we have up today than nothing.

    Someday we may have more money budgeted towards professional translation services to supplement the volunteer work of our community.

    Zooomr is just two guys and doesn’t have the deep pockets of Yahoo for professional translation services. We choose rather to rely on the generous volunteer work of our Zooomr community who have stepped up in a big way to do this work. They may not get it perfect but it means a lot to our various communities that we get it pretty close.

    That said, our community has been nothing but supportive of our efforts to localize. It seems almost daily that we in fact get emails from members of our community wanting to translate into even more languages.

    Rather than simply give lip service to a global community of photographers, we’d rather work now to get 95% of the way there. Over time we will get it 100% — but I assure you having what we have is of more value to our community than nothing.

    Localizing was one of the very first things that Zooomr did. Within months of our creation — because we do believe in a world beyond an English only site.

    A Google log on is not required to leave a comment on this site. I do require a captcha to deal with comment spam but you can leave a comment without a Google ID.

  3. Anonymous says:

    The 95% and 5% numbers you gave are interesting. I’d call it more like 40% and 60%, or possibly, generously, 50% and 50%.

    Those are also the numbers Flickr gave for old skool accounts vs. merged accounts. I think we all know what you think of Flickr deciding to go with 95% vs. 100%.

    Why the double standard? Is Zomr’s new motto “Almost, but not quite fully, the 3rd or 4th best way to store, search, sort and share your photos online”?

  4. Thomas Hawk says:


    Your comparison between our deciding to “give” our community a feature, alternative translations at less than 100% perfection, vs. Yahoo’s decision to “take” away a feature makes no sense at all.

    I’m not quite sure I get your analogy between our willingness to offer up translations of languages on Zooomr and Yahoo’s decision to force old skool members to merge their accounts into Yahoo accounts.

    These two issues seem entirely unrelated.

    If you are saying that Yahoo’s approach of providing no alternative language support to Flickr and taking away a feature for 5% of their community is somehow superior to our offering up our best efforts at community based translation then I guess I would just tend to disagree.

    I don’t see any double standard or in fact any connection whatsoever between our providing language support in non-English languages (even if less than 100%) and Yahoo’s decision to force 5% of their members to do something that they don’t want to do.

    I think if you asked our non English speaking users if they would rather have alternative translations (even not at 100%) vs. no translations that they would chose what we have in place today. At least the scope of our international traffic would suggest that.

    I understand that you seem to care a great deal for Yahoo and heck for I’ll I know you even work for Yahoo, but I fail to see how our translating our pages is a bad thing. It seems like you are suggesting that we’d be better off with an English only site.

  5. Terry Semel says:

    for I’ll I know you even work for Yahoo

    Busted! Guess I’ll have to start signing my posts.

    Maybe I’m just old skool, but I think that if you’re going to do something, you should do it right and completely the first time. Especially, especially, especially if you’re going to criticize someone else’s implementation (or lack thereof).

    Don’t you think that if Flickr came out with full, 100% support for 8 languages you’d be on here still shouting the “We have 17!” thing? Hell, when Flickr passes you in language support (again, FULL language support) you’ll be pointing out that you “had it first” or something.

    But that’s in the future — let’s talk about the present. Let’s say a Spanish-only speaker comes to Zoomer, sees the Espanol link, clicks it, and is excited to see the front page, mostly, partially translated for him. Then he clicks on Learn More to learn more about the site. Uh-oh, he can’t read it. So he somehow finds the FAQ — can’t read it. The About page? Can’t read it. Decides to sign up anyway for some reason? Can’t read the page.

    Decides to email you guys for help somehow? You can’t read his email and he can’t read your reply.

    Tell me how that’s better than “no” language support at all?


  6. Anonymous says:

    I don’t think anyone would disagree with “I fail to see how our translating our pages is a bad thing”.

    I think it’s the part where you say

    “At Zooomr we are presently translated into 17 different localizations”

    Instead of

    “At Zooomr we are pushing forwards hard to become completely translated into 17 different localizations as soon as we can”


    “At Zooomr some bits here and there are presently translated into 17 different localizations”

    That people have trouble with.

    The claim that Zooomr *is* translated is provably false, that Zooomr is in the *process* of becoming translated is provably true.

    I think it’s all in the rhetoric.

  7. Jane Duyan says:

    There are translation services that companies offer. Better to rely on them.