Joining Guerrilla Translation, a complete guide
- 1 Overview
- 2 What are we looking for in our potential members?
- 3 What should I do before asking to join GT?
- 4 Joining GT: the procedure
- 5 Next Steps
- 6 Remember: Ask lots of questions and have fun!
- 7 Footnotes
Here is our complete guide to our personnel selection requirements, evaluation criteria and what to expect when joining the collective.
What are we looking for in our potential members?
While there are certain qualities and indeed requirements we have in mind, it's difficult to describe "the ideal Guerrilla Translator". Firstly, it would be rare if not impossible for any one person to be “ideal”, and secondly, our needs and dynamic balance as a collective will change over time. In fact, our “ideal” is likely to always be a moving target, depending on who else is working in the collective at any given moment. However, there are some crucial qualities that anyone we consider should have.
Basic criteria for prospective Guerrilla Translators
- Ability to translate (and/or edit) into at least one target language
- Interest in working in a co-operative collective group
- Good skills for working independently and remotely, including time management and 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 and fully share our Goals and Values  .
- 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 over 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- All these cultural requirements are superseded by the lived experience and vibe felt in the team.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.
What about credentials?
We are firmly post-credentialist. What this means is that we value experience, whether it's obtained in an academic setting or hands-on. In fact we think that a combination of both is ideal. We don't like the way that translation is taught in many places and vouch for a style that is more humane and closer in spirit to the feel of the original material. In fact, we often find that joining GT is/can be a de-schooling process for translators.
Beyond translation, it is also a learning process on how to relate, communicate and work together within a Commons. These things are neither easy, nor taught in Western schools, but if you decide to join us you will be fully supported and cared for until you're brought up to speed.
If you have worked hard for your credentials, by all means share them with us and tell us your experiences. If you have been translating for a long time and are self-taught, we want to know about that too. We are always learning from each other in GT and we are all committed to continual growth and improvement, not only in translation, but also in cooperation and all the processes we regularly carry out as part of our work in the collective.
When can I join?
We are very mindful of our Community Rhythms and like to pay special attention to any new members. We are therefore quite selective on whom we choose to train and when we decide to invite them. The Dating Phase is a big investment of time on both sides, so we make decisions based on a number of factors, including target language(s), additional skills and, just as important, vibe.
Regarding "when", we incorporate new members during our Quarterly evaluation. Our governance model specifies that "Typically, an Open Coop following this governance model shouldn't invite more than the equivalent of 25% of its current staff, to give enough attention and support to new members without overlooking ongoing responsibilities" but, in Guerrilla Translation, it was decided to incorporate a maximum of two new members per quarter, regardless of the total number of members to safeguard meaningful relations within the team 
What should I do before asking to join GT?
If you're thinking about joining, we need you to be familiar with our philosophy, procedures and way of working. The best way to start is by reading our Guerrilla Translation Handbook at your own pace and contacting us once you're done. But alas! The Handbook is not finished yet so, for the time being, please take some time to read (if you haven't already) the following articles:
- Punk Elegance: How Guerrilla Translation reimagined itself for Open Cooperativism summarizes our history and our latest objectives and thinking.
- The Open Coop Governance Model in Guerrilla Translation: an Overview is an introduction to our Governance Model.
- To be or not be a Guerrilla Translator describes what you can expect from working with the collective, and what we will expect of you.
- Dating Phase for Transition Translators is an overview of the nine-month training phase for new members.
- Ongoing Evaluation Criteria and Basic Responsibilities is a summary of the mutual responsibilities we undertake ongoing.
- Community Rhythms keep us accountable to each other and are the linchpin of our community.
- Commitment Statement this is the "contract" we sign with each other every three months. Please take a look - if you're willing to join the collective we will expect you to sign it.
While reading, we encourage applicants to take notes and give us feedback in written form, which we will read carefully and assess for compatibility/understanding. To be clear, we don't expect you to internalise or memorize these materials at this stage, but you should be familiar with (and attracted to) our unique way of doing things.
This first contact usually takes place over email or, sometimes, in person. Once we're both on the same page, we will ask you to do a couple of translation (or editing) tests. More on this below.
Joining GT: the procedure
After the initial contact or correspondence, we will already have an idea of your suitability for the collective. At this stage you may be invited for a translation or editing test.
Translation or Editing Test
We will begin by sending you two translation tests that we think are suited to your interests. The requirement here is that you are motivated by the text. If you aren't, we'll try something else, but it's very important to us that you're at least comfortable (and ideally passionate) about what you're translating.
We will then ask you to translate the first 500 words or so following the double paragraph format explained in this section of the Tao of the Guerrilla Translator. 
An editor will review your translation and get back to you with honest, no-bullshit feedback.
Your comprehension, translation and writing skills will be carefully assessed and the editor will send you a revised version of your work with track changes and comments. The editor will give you feedback on how long it took her to correct your work, how hard it was etc. If the editor finds it suitable, you will be invited for an interview.
If for whatever reason your work isn't up to scratch, please read the feedback carefully and, if you want, try again. We can't guarantee a fast turnaround on second tries but we believe that everybody can learn and improve. This is one of the reasons we send two different tests: everybody has bad days sometimes and the varied approach allows us to see your work in diverse settings.
After passing the test one or more persons from the collective will schedule a VOIP interview with you. In the interview we mainly want to get to know you and to answer any questions or doubts. We may also talk about language and your tests, but the main focus will be on your human and cooperative qualities. We don't follow a strict format for the interview, but we will typically ask you about your politics, life experiences, tools, etc. We will take some notes on what you say to share with the rest of the team. We will, in fact, share those notes with you after the call in case you want to add anything.
We will then take a vote and if there is consensus, we'll welcome you to the collective. If there isn't, we'll inform you about it and explain the reasons why (perhaps they can be worked out). We will listen to your feedback and have another vote. If the votes are inconclusive, we will ask you for some time before deciding to apply again. If we feel we're not a good fit, it is better to be straightforward and not set false expectations.
Getting a buddy assigned and first steps
As soon as you enter the collective, you will have one or two persons helping you out in the following roles:
- Your GT Buddy is the person who will teach and take you through all aspects of working on the collective, the tools, our governance model, etc.
- Your Mutual Support Pal is the person who will care about your emotional well being, will check in on you regularly and who is available when you need someone to talk to.
You can read more about these two roles here.
These roles may be fulfilled by the same person or by two people and are valid for three months. As we enter our quarterly evaluation we will discuss whether to continue with the same Buddies and Support Pals or whether to shift around.
Your GT Buddy will then give you logins for our tools, beginning with Slack (for instant messaging) and Loomio (for group discussion and decision making). You can then introduce yourself in our Welcome Loomio thread and get a feel for how we communicate before proceeding to learning about Trello, the tool we use for task management. We have plenty of documentation on tools but, at this stage, it's better to go step by step and get big picture before getting too detail oriented.
Once you've logged in and said hello, your GT Buddy will take you through three very important steps:
- Community Rhythms. You will be shown how to join our daily check in and you will be invited you to one of our bi-weekly calls.
- Commitment Statement. You will need to sign the commitment statement before joining the collective. Read it through and, if you have any doubt or questions, ask your buddy to read it together with you or raise the issue in this Loomio thread.
- Roles/Availability Mapping. You will discuss the things you are interested in learning the most and the Working Circles you will join. You will also determine any "Red Lines" (stuff that's too challenging or which you don't want to do) and give everyone a general idea of your availability during the quarter.
In parallel to this, we will gift you a copy of Richard D. Barttlet's excellent Patterns for Decentralised Organizing. In 2018 collectively decided to adopt all the patterns described in the book. so we buy a copy for all new members. It's a great, lively book and, as you read it, you will recognise how many of the patterns are being applied in GT/GMC.
At this point we will list your name in our new team members page. Feel free to provide us a link to something that reflects you (personal website, Twitter account, LinkedIn… you choose!)
Finishing and publishing your first translation
We always try to make good use of the material chosen for the translation tests, so you will be asked to finish them, working with the same editor, for eventual publishing in our magazine.
Alongside the editor, your GT buddy will walk you through The Tao of the Guerrilla Translator, our guide for Love Work. During this stage you will learn to work with Trello, our task management tool. As soon as any of your translations are published, you will begin accruing Love Credits for eventual paydown.
This marks the beginning of your Nine-month Dating Phase with the collective. Before you move on, we recommend you re-read this article and, then, proceed to read these two entries:
- Dating Phase for Transition Translators will take you over the next nine months, broken down in three stages, including what will be expected of you at each stage and our commitment to you.
- Our entry on Ongoing Evaluation Criteria and Basic Responsibilities. This latter entry is closely tied to our Commitment Statement (more or that below) and describes the ongoing commitments we all undertake once we've become full members. It's a good idea that you read it at this stage to familiarise yourself with our day to day practices.
Remember: Ask lots of questions and have fun!
Maybe the collective seems complex at first: once you get the big picture, however, you might find that it's a lot more streamlined than a traditional enterprise. The big difference is that you both have access and can contribute to all aspects of our Distributed Cooperative Organization. Everything we do, we do ourselves, or in collaboration with other like-minded people and collectives.
With that in mind, please have fun and be creative with all this stuff. We look forward to your input. Whenever you get stuck on anything or aren't sure how to proceed, please ask us. You have a Slack channel for quick questions and doubts and a dedicated Loomio thread for longer questions which may benefit the whole collective. You can find them here:
And, of course, you can always ask your buddy over chat! That is what they are there for.
- Here's some "more", as discussed by the team: We welcome an inclusive representation of class, race, gender identity, sexual orientation, ability, and/or immigration status,as well as antifascist, antinationalist and antiracist folks, climate collapse-resistants, commons participants and advocates, people who bridge inner and "global" or "planet-wide" work, astral travelers ;) and psychonauts.... But seriously we want critical thinkers but not really a home for militant skeptics.
- If you do not identify as such, there is an abundance of collectives you can join, but don't insist in being part of GT or try to date us.
- You can read the reasons behind this decision in this Loomio thread
- The Tao, in fact, will be your full guide to translating, editing and publishing in Guerrilla Translation. You can read it at this stage if you like, but it's not required. We will take you through all of the steps hand-in-hand.