Poland, Warsaw, 1st OTP Translatathon

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Below, you will find a detailed report on a transcribeathon organized in collaboration between OTP volunteers and TEDxWarsaw. If you wish to organize an event like this on your own, see this guide.


Location: Warsaw, LANG Language Training Center (See the virtual tour here)

Date: 11 May 2014 14:00 – 18:00

Goal: Community building through continuous engagement, introducing new people to the OTP, transcription training & transcribing TEDxWarsaw talks




Every attendee needs to have their own laptop, headphones - remind them to take the power cord for their laptop

Good to have:

  1. a power strip, to make sure there are enough sockets for everybody in the room.
  2. a whiteboard to write down information about basics of transcription (21 and 42, aka the magic numbers)
  3. a projector or a TV to show the relevant OTP Learning Series clips


Active OTP translators based in Warsaw notified via OTP Polska group on FB, new recruits gathered from a group of TED and TEDx fans in Poland, newbie translators notified about the event through Amara & a guest from TED :)


Having mentors around was helpful. One experienced person per 3 to 4 people should be perfect. If mentors on-site are not available, perhaps one can organize with other TED translators to participate remotely and set up desktop sharing via GoogleHangout or be available for questions via chat.


It's vital to have a registration form, where you ask for the participants' experience and emails, to be able to follow-up with tutorials, comments and anything else. You can also ask about the languages they want to work on, we had Polish, English and French. Moreover, the registration form gives the event more credibility and people who register are more likely to show up! Just use GoogleDrive Survey tool. Make sure that the time and date of the event, the requirements (laptop and headphones) and the place are restated in the registration form as some people bookmark them to register later or get them as links from friends and may need the details.

Amara accounts

Make sure that the participants register as TED translators via Amara a few days before the event, preferably at the same time as they register for the event itself - so link the OTP Learning Series: How to sign up tutorial in the post about the event.

Focus: transcription or translation?

For a mixed experience group like ours it is best to focus on either transcription or translation. We chose transcription.

If you choose to transcribe, you could contact your local TEDx and propose to work on transcribing talks from their events in exchange for help in finding a venue. If you choose to translate, it may be best to pick TED-Ed talks, they are short and the subtitles need to be compressed a lot, which is a good controlled practice.


Video presentations - How to Transcribe & Compression from OTP Learning Series + Q&A and hours of transcribing together. Remember to show the videos with subtitles!


Four hours with one break and an introduction was good. If the marathon is supposed to be longer, there need to be more activities and breaks, to make it more exciting. Perhaps a short workout with music?


We had a lot of questions about spellcheckers for browsers. It's good to have a list of addons that do that for your language. Additionally, make sure that the participants bookmark colorAmara found here: http://archifabrika.hu/tools/ to prevent basic timing mistakes early.

Talks to work on

Pre-selecting the talks to work on prior is really important to prevent confusion and make task assigning easier - it is crucial to see if they are available on Amara via the TED team (if they aren't use this form to add them). TEDxWarsaw OTP team created a document with all the talks and their status on Amara which can be found here. Feel free to copy for your local TEDxes!

Bonuses and perks

The participants took part in a group photo - it worked so well that our venue (LANG) asked us if they can share it on their FB page with a description of the event!

They had a chance to talk to TEDx Organizers in Warsaw

Got a commemorative 5th anniversary poster from TEDxWarsaw team


Will try to prioritize TEDx tasks started during the event so that the participants get immediate feedback and feel motivated.

The next Translatathon will happen on the 1st of June 2014, in the same venue. We hope to see the same people, and more... since now we cooperate with the venue on the PR campaign :)

The participants get a follow-up email and an invitation to redeem a special registration code to the next TEDx event in Warsaw in two weeks. This builds their motivation and creates a bond between the TEDx team and the translation community. Our TEDx team said: "You are the silent heroes and deserve recognition and thanks" We love you too!


  1. Come in knowing your focus and stating it clearly. I very strongly recommend either translation or transcription. Otherwise it may become chaotic.
  2. Make sure the Internet connection can handle this many participants. At the peak of the event we had to wait for some videos to load. If you predict connection problems you still could organize the event and have translators pre-pick translations, download the files and work offline in for example SubtitleEdit.
  3. It's a marathon, therefore you will need to consider food/water options. This time we brought water and cookies with us, but for longer events it would be good to order a pizza together, so check places which do delivery to your location before or notify participants before that everybody should bring some drinks and snacks.
  4. Having an introduction, even going as far as What is TED, what is TEDx and how did you hear about it is a good idea. Even if people are recruited from TED and TEDx fan pages, they still may need some explanation and it is a good ice-breaker. You can also talk about their motivation, what they hope to learn and the OTP itself (Why I translate TED talks - video)
  5. If you are going to transcribe TEDx talks it would be helpful to invite team members who can talk about it. From our experience with workshops it is always exciting because people are curious what happens backstage :)
  6. Having mentors there to help when necessary is awesome. At least one per five people - the mentors then can walk around and peer over people’s shoulders to make sure that they’re not making big mistakes or mixing up rules. Additionally people loved having real people to learn from as it was more personal and they could be shown everything while working on their own systems and computers.
  7. Making it an event rather than just an informal gathering is exciting for people, it's prestigious and official and people feel they learn even more. It would be cool to give out certificates of attendance next time.
  8. New translators were mixed with more experienced people and it worked great for an event focusing on transcriptions. It may be more difficult for translations, as they require more experience - on the other hand then more experienced translators can be assigned to less experienced ones as mentors.


Thanks go to Magdalena Daniel for handling registration and FB announcements and organizing a really cool OTP anniversary picture challgenge meetup and to Krystian Aparta for helping us popularize the event, awesome on-site support and feedback on the event, which made its way into this report :) and to all the participants, soon to become active contributors and community members! :)