Yesterday I heard about an interesting new project called Duolingo.  For some background, see this TEDx Talk by one of the creators, Luis von Ahn.  It is a crowdsourcing approach to language translation, where the users learn a foreign language while translating.  I've signed up but I haven't received an invitation yet to start.  Once I start using it, I will provide updates on its effectiveness.

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I used Duolingo for a few hours on its first day. (I used to TA for Luis, which helps for getting private invites, at least by knowing to sign up immediately.)

I've basically just gone through passing out of German lessons. This basically consists of taking a 20 question test, in which I translate sentences like "The woman drinks with her cat." and pray I don't make typos on three questions and have to start over. Except that all too often I give correct translations, but their checker isn't attuned to the flexibilities of German word ordering, or I use a different word for "chair." They said they'd teach it the distinction between "essen" ("to eat" for humans) and "fressen" ("to eat" for animals) so that their quizzes would stop recommending wrong answers, but I'm skeptical. I did another one just now, and it now seems to accept answers off by one character. I noticed this in a listening exercise not because I made a typo, but because the word for "is" is approximately homonymous with the word for "eats."

Oh, apparently Duolingo has something to do with translating the web, rather than just going through a bunch of German 1-level exercises. Maybe I have to repeat the above for the remaining 45 lessons before I see an option to do that.

Thanks, I signed up. I upvoted, because I honestly don't mind seeing things like this in the discussion section. I wouldn't have seen it otherwise, so I would like to encourage other people to show me things like this as well, or at least not have it be something they are penalized for.

Do many people think that the odd post like this brings negative value to the site? Not "I like this less than more rigorous rationality-relevant posts", but "This makes the site worse"?

(I do think it would be bad for posts like this to get 20+ upvotes, because that might lead to posts like this being all we see, but ratings between 0 and +5 seem fine.)

They say, Wikipedia could be translated from English to Spanish in just 80 hours their way.

I doubt, it would be without major errors.

Never the less, it is a moderately interesting idea.

I doubt, it would be without major errors.

I don't see why it can't be done without major errors. My understanding is that they give the same text to be translated to a large number of users and then use an algorithm to find the most probable translation. Whether there are "major errors" will depend on how well it is implemented.