Learning how to use our website

If you’ve come to our website before but got confused about how to use it, or if one of your friends would like some guidance in their first steps with us, our team put together three short videos explaining core features to new-comers: register, find a text, translate.

Please, let us know if you find them clear enough, and whether we should make more! Hey, we’re working on a Chinese version too.


Find a text


On gamification – pozible campaign

This post comes as part of a reflexive series accompanying our first crowd-funding campaign. Please visit pozible.com/marcopoloproject

We’re proposing to ‘gamify’ the Marco Polo Project. ‘Gamify’ simply means that an activity is made more like a game by changing the process design, in order to increase engagement – and enjoyment – by the participants. To put it simply, if it’s fun, people will more willingly do it.

This proposal responds to one particular difficulty which feedback from users has outlined:

  •  On the one end, we’ve had consistent positive feedback on our selection from readers – the material we select is rich, diverse, and stimulating.
  • On the other end, we’ve had consistent negative feedback on our selection from potential translators – that our texts are long and difficult.

But of course, translators are also readers – and pieces using under 1000 characters are rarely rich and stimulating. Beside, learners tend to underestimate their own competence – but can work on difficult and complex material when they gain the confidence.

So our proposal to gamify the translation process is a way to address this difficulty: re-design our interface in a way that will encourage our translators to get over the hump, and tackle writing they find long and difficult. Compensate the perceived difficulty of the contents by interface  usability.

Partly, this means eliminating any frustration around inadequate design – all the little bugs that make users’ life that much more difficult. But it also means developing new features that allows translators to better measure progress – as progress tracking has been shown to be the key factor in motivation.

This will occur at two levels.

We will increase user motivation by better measuring the progress of each translation:

  • We will insert a progress bar, indicating the percentage of the text left to translate.
  • We will insert a lateral colour bar indicating  the translation status of each paragraph.
  • We will allow users to validate a translation paragraph by paragraph, breaking down the daunting task of translating a full text into smaller, manageable sub-components.

We will increase user motivation by better measuring personal progress on the website:

  • We will create a personalised profile page where translators can see the list of all their interaction with the website.
  • We will develop a points and badge system, introducing an element of competition, and allowing them to gain motivation by working towards a ‘badge’.
  • The proposed system will reward various users for different types of interaction – submitting, translating, reviewing, or contributing to forums.

We believe that these changes will radically improve the user experience, leading to better learning outcomes for translators, as well as more translations completed – and therefore more material available for readers.

I wish to acknowledge the contribution of the gamification course on coursera.org (https://www.coursera.org/course/gamification) by Kevin Werbach, and would strongly encourage everyone to have a look.

Reporting flowchart

Here is a module we don’t have yet, but would like to develop: a feature allowing our users to report inappropriate contents, and a process to have it reviewed by editors – offering initial submitters and translators a chance to defend it.

Note: the process as it is described here could become a loop, until original submitters or translators accept to leave the text aside. It could be proposed (and indicated in emails) that text is automatically discarded after two loops.

Submission flowchart

At present, when users submit a text to us, they fill in a ‘wordpress form’, and the information they fill in is sent to our corporate inbox. Someone from the team needs to manually update the contents onto the website.

We would like to develop a module that makes this process automatic. Here is a flowchart for the process as we would like to implement it.

Fine touching the website

This week-end is our board meeting, which was also the deadline for developing a fully-functional website.  Two days to go, and there are still a few features missing. But overall, the bulk of it is done. I’ve just spent an hour fine-tuning the widget order, finishing the Q&As, and reposting texts from our prototype.

Is it because I am the ‘manual’ type? I actually like this fidgeting, and hands-on step by step improvement – I was reflecting upon this: is it a ‘waste of time’? Superficially, yes, but there’s something beautifully meditative about it – like raking stones in a Japanese garden. And I believe that, somehow, creativity comes from these low pressure periods of repetitive work, or going over and over the same piece. Mmmm, now I’m thinking, maybe that’s my classical music training speaking.