Guerrilla Translation Expanded FAQ

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We have divided the FAQ into several sections, starting with a general one which is copied from what we have in the website. The following FAQ sections reproduce the structure of this handbook.

Contents

General

Can I be a Guerrilla Translator?

We're a group of translators, proofreaders and copy editors with a variety of backgrounds. Some of us have a great deal of experience and/or credentials, and others are self-taught, but we're all dedicated to a level of professionalism matching the passion we bring to the selection of material to share. We work hard, but we love what we do.

If you're interested in bringing your talents to our cooperative, our primary requirement is that you are ready to collaborate with us in a thorough and holistic way. You would be willing to follow our onboarding process and basic responsibilities. Although translation and language work are our core endeavors, everyone involved needs to be ready to collaborate beyond translating, taking part in the maintenance and further development of the general cooperative project. If this speaks to you, we invite you to first read this article: To be or not to be a Guerrilla Translator. If that also resonates, please write us a message telling us about yourself, including what types of work you've translated or copyedited, why you're interested in joining us, and what things in particular you'd like to translate. Once we're in contact and mutually interested in proceeding, we'll send you our handbook, and a text to use as a test to evaluate your translation and editing skills.

If you translate with us, your work will be assigned value according to our Governance Model.

If you're not an experienced translator, jump to this answer

Will you voluntarily translate my article, text, book?

The short answer is, probably not. We don't operate as a volunteer group of translators working for any specific cause, nor are we available on demand. Groups like this do exist. Some are comprised of amateur volunteers; sometimes volunteer groups will have a number of people working on a single translation, and some do take on work upon request.

We are a group of professionals that chooses works to translate and share voluntarily, based on our own selection criteria. This helps us build and maintain our knowledge commons of translations, shared via our blogs as a cohesive collection of curated content. It is also central to forming an identity that is set apart from other types of activist translation groups.

However, we have cultivated relationships with specific authors who occasionally approach us with material that will probably interest us, being in line with previous translations we've performed. This is a bit different because in these cases, we will often notice the material as it's published in the source language, and would likely have contacted the authors directly to discuss whether it's available for us to translate — it's a matter of timing who contacts who, in other words. While we do want to maintain a diversity of material and build a large enough variety that there isn't a great deal of repetition of authors, we count on our own active reading and selection process to source this material.

The best thing to do if you're interested in suggesting something for us to consider is to first read our content curation guidelines and see if you believe your text fits in with our stated criteria. After that, if you want to contact us, send us your submission in a message with the header AUTHOR SUGGESTION, and we'll have a look. Alternatively, if you want to employ us for translation/localization work, you're invited to visit this page. Please note that we do have a range of fees depending on the type of organization contracting us. You may be surprised to find that we are very competitive and fair in our pricing structure.

Can I suggest something to be translated?

Absolutely, provided that you first read our content curation guidelines, and evaluate your suggestion by that criteria first. We wrote that document to describe our mission to anyone who shows an interest. A friendly note about reading our guidelines: it will definitely take you a lot less time to read than it will for us to translate anything you may suggest. Let's start out with some common understanding and mutual respect, and take it from there.

Are you anticapitalists, anarchists, degrowthists, communists, activists, revolutionaries, or what?

We're a diverse group with many influences and interests, translating works together under a set of Founding Principles. Guerrilla Translation hopes to resist any easy categorization or ideological reductionism. We aim to embrace diversity, multiculturalism, and even contradiction. The one constant is change — we recognize that there is an urgency to reflect the most currently relevant yet big-picture perspective material that treats the systemic problems creating worldwide instability. There is an essence of revolutionary thought in the work we select, yet we strive to vary the topics, keep our eye on positive solutions, and avoid too much disaster porn and burning garbage bins.

Do you use translation software?

No. Lots of translators were trained in or became accustomed to these tools, but we prefer to be hands-on out of respect for the type of work we translate. There are contexts where we can see the logic or the need for translation software. If you're working on uninspiring material and/or on very tight deadlines, of course you'd want or need to use CAT tools. The trend toward over-dependence on translation software is the result of the perceived need to get work done faster, not better. What we're doing is different because we select material that inspires us, which usually doesn't include corporate annual reports or toaster manuals. When the original author has devoted time and energy to their work, we think the translation deserves the same human devotion. Translators working in our cooperative should agree that this is still a craft best done by human beings, and that the only way to achieve an excellent final result is to stay involved in the process and do the work personally. Our method, using two human brains (a translator and an editor), familiar with the topic and eager to see the work translated, beats any software program any day. The human brain is, perhaps, the most complex structure in the universe, what better tool to perform translation?

Do you translate other language combinations?

The first Guerrilla Translation node was founded in Madrid, Spain, translating to and from Spanish and English. We can also translate from French, Italian, German, Chinese and Gaelic into English, with more source and target languages coming soon. Right now we are a multilingual node, but these may federate into separate groups in the future.

Who chooses the material?

Guerrilla Translators and Editors choose their own material (while remaining open to suggestion). Content curation is an essential part of the Guerrilla Translation philosophy. As critical readers and communicators, we are passionate about the texts, videos and art projects we choose for translation.

What's the difference between Guerrilla Translation and Guerrilla Media Collective?

Once we began to work on projects that also required graphic design and illustration, we recommended some of our colleagues for that work, and helped them form a group similar to Guerrilla Translation, using the same governance model and operating with the same principles. That group is Guerrilla Graphic Collective, dedicated to design, illustration and UX. These two groups work independently in their skilled trades, but there are some interdependencies including communication and project management. All benefits go to the same teams, so we can sustain ourselves and free up time to work for the Commons. We created Guerrilla Media Collective as Andalusian cooperative to act as the umbrella entity and liaison for projects which span multiple disciplines. Guerrilla Media Collective is a Distributed Cooperative Organization, or DisCO. You can read more about DisCOs here.

I like to translate — I mean, I think I'd be pretty good at it, I haven't done much yet but I'd like to get some experience — can I help with your volunteer, crowdsourced translation projects?

Short answer: no, because we don't crowdsource work, nor do we work as volunteers. While we understand and respect the principles and intentions of those who do crowdsourced translations, particularly those involved in activism, we strongly feel that crowdsourced translations fail to meet an adequate standard and miss the opportunity to really engage readers in the target language. Why? Because poor translations are boring at best, and comical at worst. Translation is a craft that requires a level of skill and consistency to achieve a valid representation of the original work. The weakest link in the crowd will inevitably drag the final effort down, too, unless there's a native speaker or truly bilingual person on board who nobly volunteers many, many hours of extra time to go back and fix all the errors. Of course, there may be exceptions to this but for us, it's irrelevant — we don't work this way on principle. We want to preserve the craft and support the craftsperson by creating a working environment that's supportive and sustainable, as well as producing a final result that's exciting and inspiring to read.

I'd like to republish one of your pieces on our website, what do I need to do?

Well, thanks for the compliment! First of all, please get in touch with us, we'd like to say thank you and know more about you and to be certain that we're on the same page in terms of our values and views. If you offer any remuneration for republishing, please also let us know. We offer the authors of the original piece any income from republishing — they can choose to gift it back to us for our pro-bono work or not, but we do want to tell them if there's an amount offered for republished work. Finally, we request that you link back to our page, and retain all of the credits for the text (authorship, translation and editing), the accompanying images, if you choose to use them, and of course please mention our choice of license (PPL).

About GT

Who are you guys, can I see your faces?

You can find current full members in this page and members in training here. Pleased to meet you!

What happened to the other members you use to have?

Some fell out of contact, others didn't maintain the basic commitments they had agreed to when joining the collective, a few didn't get on with us at all! We remain grateful to everyone who has contributed over the years, and we've listed everyone in this page (scroll down to the "Former Contributors to GT" section). While there are provisions in the governance model for older members rejoining, it is the people who have stuck through the years that have remained faithful to GT's original vision and truly enjoy working together as a team. We also totally renewed the collective in 2018 and, learning from past experiences, we implemented a much more thorough onboarding and education process for Guerrilla Translators.

Are you a Platform Cooperative? I see a lot of similar language.

"Yes-and". We define ourselves as an Open Value Cooperative. We consider Open Cooperativism as the radical edge of Platform Cooperatives and we've written about their differences in this article. Basically, while Platform Coops democratize ownership and decision making in the digital economy, Open Coops go further by questioning what good and services coops produced and whether they're commons oriented or not. On this last point, Open Coops arose as a P2P/Commons convergence with the cooperative and Social Solidarity Economy movements.

But we still felt that Open Coops were missing something. Although firmly embedded in the Commons, Open Cooperativism seemed to us incomplete without incorporating two more main ingredients: Open Value Accounting and Feminist Economics. Whereas Open Cooperativism has four non-prescriptive principles (statutory orientation toward the common good, multi constituent nature, active creation of commons and transnational nature), we have taken the premise further, resulting in Open Value Cooperativism — the basic DNA of a DisCO. So, in short, Open Value Cooperativism expands on Open Cooperativism which, in turn, is an extension of Platform Cooperativism. Think of it as a Platform Coop plus-plus. :)

You can read more about Open Value Cooperativism and its Seven Values here.

Becoming a Guerilla Translator

Am I qualified to be a Guerilla Translator?

You tell us. We cover some of our criteria in this earlier answer. To expand on that, we are firmly post-credentialist. This means that we don't care whether you have gotten a translation degree or not. In our experience it is as much as hindrance as an asset. What we do care about is that you have a thorough cultural and technical understanding of the source language(s) you choose to translate and that you can write eloquently and economically in the target language(s). In other words, we expect you to be an experienced translator, no matter how you've gotten there.

But translation is only half of the story. The Guerrilla Media Collective is a radical experiment in cooperativism, and all members are expected to take on a number of responsibilities that you will not find in a traditional coop, much less a "normal" workplace. To see whether you'd be a good fit, please read our To be or not to be a Guerrilla Translator article. Furthermore, there are some basic criteria for prospective Guerrilla Translators, which are reproduced here:

  • Ability to translate and/or edit into at least one target language
  • Interest in working in a cooperative collective group
  • Remote and independent working skills, including time management and consistent communication
  • Excellent communication skills (yes, so important we said it twice)
  • Strong interest in enough of the topics we cover
  • Willingness to seriously learn our procedures, tools, and governance model
  • Willingness to make a commitment to the team
  • We explicitly identify as intersectional feminists, anticapitalists and more . This means we are only comfortable working with peers who identify the same way, and who fully share our Goals and Values [1].
  • We value humour, mutual support and conviviality. Just as importantly, all potential members must unequivocally respect our stated Norms and Boundaries. These things are hard to measure, much less in written form, but we will discuss our feelings about how new members will fit into the team to ensure that GT remains a safe space for all involved.
  • We want to work with people who can speak frankly but respectfully without fear of expressing their emotions or vulnerabilities to others.
  • All these cultural requirements are superseded by the lived experience and vibe felt in the team, ie. what's unwritten, although we have done our best to communicate it here.

So, do you think you'd be a good fit? Then please contact us. Our incorporation of new members is subject to the present needs of the collective and our Federation Protocol. If you choose to contact us, we promise not to waste your time and give you straight answers.

The Open Coop Governance Model

Who came up with the governance model? Is it unique to Guerilla Translation?

Our governance model has its roots in an abandoned model developed by Better Means, a software company. Known as the Open Enterprise Governance Model, you can read the full text here. Although it was a major inspiration, we've radically developed it over the last five years and have now arrived at something much more concordant with our values. We also took a lot of inspiration from Open Value Accounting and other sources listed under the Further Reading section below.

The model seems excessively complicated, can't you make a simpler version?

Some people like to cook from scratch, some go as far as growing their own food. Other people like to shop ready-made, or eat out. It's all good. In our case, we've decided to radically reimagine the way we work and track value. No small thing! Although there are many inspirations, we're not aware of any direct precedents for what we do and how we do it, so we've had to develop a lot of this ourselves.

We also see GT as an educational opportunity in all aspects of being a Distributed Cooperative Organization and Open Value Coop. To have true value sovereignty, you need to be familiar with how the machine works and the parts fit together, otherwise we will always have disadvantages and privileges. Yes, this process takes time, but we put a lot of resources into making sure than everyone can learn at their own pace. Again, it takes a certain type of person and that's who we want to work with.

Can you come talk to my organization/collective about your governance model?

Yes, this falls under the purview of the DisCO Project. We are eager to see other collectives pick up on the practices of Open Value Cooperativism and feel called to offer our knowledge and support. This can go from a simple call to on-site visits and hands-on mentoring (depending on the available resources). Please contact us if you are thinking of incorporating any part of our governance model or way of working.

Working in Guerilla Translation

Is being a Guerilla Translator a full time job? Can I work with you occasionally?

It depends on your circumstances. Our model combines the oft-lauded benefits of freelancing ("organize your own time! work as much or as little as you want!” as if it were that simple) with actual workplace solidarity. To work with us and be paid for your work, we require you to be a committed member.

Being a committed member means upholding our community rhythms and following these basic responsibilities. Times can vary, but in practice this can mean as little as 10-15 minutes a day, while the pro-bono quota is estimated to take two working days every three months. If we have enough productive work to distribute, it can definitely be a full time job (for full members). When going through the Dating Phase more time will be needed. This varies, but you should budget around xxxx hours a week. Also, if you're part of our Start-up phase team, you might work full time, depending on our external funding.

Convivial Tools

My team has developed a great new tool — are you open to trying it out?

For sure! We are specially looking for Free/Libre Open source software tools. These, however, must fit in with the logic of our existing tool system. If your tool can replace any of the existing tools, it should have a similar or superior level of functionality and allow easy migration from the existing tool. Talk to us!

Why do you use proprietary software? Aren't you all about open source and the commons?

We are, but we're not fundamentalists. We're also anticapitalists and yet we use fiat currencies, participate in the market economy, and (mostly) abide by State law. On the issue of software, we want to gradually migrate to a fully free/libre open source system that fits our needs (not the other way around), and we're exploring possibilities with various partners. For now, time and resources have led us to make do with some proprietary tools. More time and resources and dedicated help will increase our chances of being fully OS.

  1. If you do not identify as such, there is an abundance of collectives you can join, but please don't insist on being part of GT or try to date us.