Content translation/Machine Translation/Google Translate

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Machine translation support for Content Translation has now been further extended. In addition to Apertium, LingoCloud, Matxin, Yandex and Youdao, we are now adding Google Translate to the list of machine translation (MT) systems available for users of Content Translation. This will add machine translation support for more than 100 languages, including many new languages which were not served earlier by the existing systems.

Google Translate is provided by Google – a U.S.-based multinational technology company. Various teams inside Wikimedia Foundation and Google have collaborated to work out an agreement that will allow the use of Google Translate without compromising Wikipedia's policy of attribution of rights, privacy of our users, and brand representation. Please find more details of the agreement below and we are happy to hear any questions you may have about this service.

Key features[edit]

  • No personal information is sent to Google Translate. The MT system will be accessed via Google cloud services. Article content (freely licensed) is sent to Google servers from Wikimedia Foundation servers. No direct communication is happening between the user and external services and no personal information (IP, username) is sent to Google servers. The client contacting Google servers is open source and you can check it here. No part of Google's service or code will be part of Wikimedia infrastructure or Content Translation codebase. For more details, see a diagram of the technical setup at the end of the section.
  • Information is returned from Google Translate under a free license. When Google Translate is used, a translated version of Wikipedia content under a free license is obtained. Users can modify it and publish it as part of Wikipedia without conflicts with existing policies. The resulting content translated by Google Translate and the user modifications will be available under the same license that is used for the rest of the articles in Wikipedia.
  • Benefits the wider open source translation community. Translations obtained from Google Translate and user modifications will be publicly available. The post-edited translations are of special interest for the translation research community who can use this resource to create new translation services to support languages for which open source machine translation is not available yet. This will help developers create and improve machine translation systems.
  • Users can disable it. Automatic translation is an optional tool in Content Translation. Users have an option to disable it if they don't find it useful for some reason. Although many Content Translation users have requested for this translation service, each individual user may decide whether they would like to use it or not.

Summary of our agreement with Google[edit]

Google's obligations[edit]

  • Use of their Translation API key at no cost to the Wikimedia Foundation to allow volunteers on Wikimedia sites to translate articles and as many characters as needed.

Wikimedia Foundation's obligations[edit]

  • To provide the volunteer-edited versions of the text translated by the translation tool so that Google can improve their tool
  • No personal data of translators will be shared.
  • Just the original content to translate, its language, and translation target language will be sent in the request to Google.
  • The translations published by translators, with or without the help of machine translation services, will be provided in the form of parallel corpora by the Content Translation APIs. These APIs will be developed incrementally and results will be freely available for everyone, not just Google.

Important notes[edit]

  • All content will remain licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0
  • Google is not requiring any "branding" on Wikimedia Sites outside of listing Google Translate as a translation tool option in the translation interface drop-down menu
  • There is no exchange of personal information of volunteers
  • The agreement is limited to 1 year, at which time we can reevaluate our needs
  • We are free to terminate the agreement for any reason, at any time
  • Agreement is governed by U.S. law

Questions about this service[edit]

We have addressed some immediate questions about Google in this section. This is also available in the Content Translation FAQ page.

What languages are being handled by Google Translate? Are there plans to add more?[edit]

Google Translate can be used to translate into all available languages except English, which is currently not enabled to use machine translation of any kind.

How is using Google Translate different than using Apertium?[edit]

As a user of Content Translation, you will not feel any difference on the translation interface as Google Translate will display the translated content in the same way Apertium currently does for the supported language pairs.

How is machine translation being done if I choose Google Translate?[edit]

Google Translate provides an API key that allows websites and other services to use their translation system. Content Translation also uses that unique API key to access Google Cloud services for Google Translate. When a user starts translating an article, the HTML content of each section of the source article is sent to Google Translate and a translated version is obtained and displayed on the respective translation column of Content Translation. Links and references are adapted as usual and users can modify the content as required.

This process continues for all the sections of the article being translated. For better performance, the translations for consecutive sections are pre-fetched. The user can save the unpublished translation (to work on it again at a later time) or publish the article in the usual manner. The article is published on Wikipedia like any other normal article with appropriate attribution and licenses.

Here’s a diagram of the process.


Google Translate is not based on open source software. Why are we using it?[edit]

Content Translation evolved from a long-standing need to bridge the gap in the amount of content between Wikipedias in different languages. Like all other software used on Wikimedia sites, Content Translation is also open source. In this particular case as well, we are using an open source client to interact with the external service and import freely licensed content in order to help users expand our free knowledge.

To use Google Translate we are not adding any proprietary software in the Content Translation code, or on the Wikimedia websites and servers. The service is free of charge as part of Google’s offering to the Wikimedia Foundation.

Only the freely available Wikipedia article content (in segments) is sent to the Google Translate and the obtained translated content is freely usable on Wikipedia pages. The translated content can be modified by users and this data is also available publicly under a free license through the Content Translation API. This is a valuable resource made available for the community to develop open source translation services for those languages where they don't exist yet.

After studying the implications carefully, we found the fact that the content was stored previously in a closed source service does not limit the freedom of our knowledge or our software in the present or the future. We have taken special care to make sure that the content provided is freely licensed to make sure it complies with Wikipedia policies. This includes a long process for legal and technical evaluation and compliance. The summary of our agreement is also available above.

From user feedback, we have seen that machine translation support is really helpful for users and we want to support all languages in the best way. Guided by the principles of Wikimedia Foundation's resolution to support free and open source software, we will prioritize the integration of open source services whenever they are available for a language. Apertium has been a critical part of Content Translation since its inception, but currently, it only provides machine translations for about 30 of the numerous possible language combination that Wikipedia can support.

Should I be worried about my personal information when using Google Translate?[edit]

Irrespective of the service being used, you can be sure that only Wikipedia content from existing articles is sent and only freely licensed content will be added back to the translation. No personal information is sent and communication with those services happen at the server side, so they are isolated from the user device. Please refer to this diagram for more details.

What if Google Translate is the only machine translation tool available and I don't want to use it?[edit]

Machine Translation is an optional feature in Content Translation that you can easily disable at will. If more machine translation systems are added for your languages, you can choose to enable MT again and select the MT service of your choice.

Will the content translated by Google Translate be free for use in Wikipedia?[edit]

Yes. The content received from Google Translate is otherwise freely available on the web translation platform. Content Translation receives it via an API key to make it seamlessly available on the translation interface. This content can be modified by the users (if necessary) and used in Wikipedia articles under free licenses.

Can this content be used for improving machine translation systems in general?[edit]

Yes. Translations made in Content Translation are saved in our database. This information will be made publicly available for anyone to use as translation examples to improve their translation services (from University research groups, open source projects to commercial companies, anyone!). The content can be accessed via the Content Translation API. Please note, only information related to translated text is publicly available. This includes – source and translated text, source, and target language information and an identifier for the segment of text.

See also[edit]