What’s cheaper than outsourcing to the developing world*?

Paul Raven @ 22-09-2010

Easy: outsource to the metaverse. Wagner James Au of New World Notes points to a post by software guy Max Klein, who discovered the cheapest way to get native-speaker translation work done is to offer it to Second Life’s polyglot clades of regular residents:

How did I reduce my cost from $9000 to $46? No, I didn’t do it by brainstorming or by being clever – but by a chance discovery as I was reading the BBC news website: I found an article about the second life economy.

Second life is filled with people who want Linden Dollars. They come from all over the world, and for them it’s just a game. They will willingly spend 30 minutes to translate the article for you for 20cents, which is 50 Linden $. For that, they can get accessories, funiture, clothes etc. within the game.

For them it’s easy work that allows them get something from within the game. For me, it’s an insanely cheap native language translation to languages like french, italian, etc.

A chance discovery, a few days getting used to the game, and I saved myself $8950 bucks.

And thanks to Mister Klein, I now have a new idea for how to make my name in the metaverse: I’m gonna start the first virtual union. 😉

More seriously, though, I can see how starting some sort of employment bureau in SL for this sort of work could be a real moneyspinner; where there are savings margins of the scale that Klein is claiming, there’s plenty of space for middlemen. Things have been quiet on the metaverse front, at least as far as meatspace news is concerned, but a goldrush on those low low wages is sure to look very appealing to cash-strapped meatspace businesses…

[ * This title ignores the proposition that SL and other metaverse realities are, in some respects, developing nations themselves… ]

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4 Responses to “What’s cheaper than outsourcing to the developing world*?”

  1. Wolf says:

    “More seriously, though, I can see how starting some sort of employment bureau in SL for this sort of work could be a real moneyspinner;”
    The limitations of the idea lie in the nature of what “this sort of work” can be.
    And since this stuff has gotten much too long I may kindly refer you there:

  2. Steve says:

    Mechanical turk eat your heart out

  3. Nancy Jane Moore says:

    Maybe that’s fine if all you want is a very basic translation — I’m sure these people do better than Babel Fish, which often provides some very entertaining interpretations. But given that good translation requires much more than just substituting word for word — think about idioms and words that don’t translate easily from one language to another — I doubt the guy really got a $9,000 translation job for $46. (How does he know how good a job he got, since he doesn’t speak the language?) Plus if I were working for Linden dollars, I don’t think I’d take the job as seriously as I do when working for US dollars.

  4. Doug Winter says:

    My experience of translation is that QA is the most difficult part – how do you QA it, when you don’t read the language?

    I’ve worked with very cheap translation agencies and expensive professional ones, and if you actually care about the output, the professional agencies are worth every penny. One large job we had that our customer hired a cheap agency for had to be completely redone, at huge cost, because the quality was so poor.