Poland, Warsaw, 1st OTP Translatathon

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

Date: 11 May 2014 14:00 – 18:00

Tools: 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

Atttendees: 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 :)

Mentors Having mentors around was extremely helpful. 1 experienced person per 4-5 can nip wrong strategies in the bud and quickly help with issues. 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.

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 information post about the event.

Registration: 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. Also, 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.

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

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

Format: Video presentations - How to Transcribe & Compression from OTP Learning Series + Q&A and hours of transcribing together.

Duration: Four hours with one break was a good format... if the marathon is supposed to be longer, there need to be more activities and breaks, to make it more exciting.

Software: 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!


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.

Next Translatathon will happen on the 1st of June, in the same place. 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 cool to invite someone from the team to talk about this TEDx and answer questions.
  6. Having mentors there to help when necessary is awesome. It’s probably good to try to have at least one person per three (that was the experience during this translate/transcribeathon, at least). These “mentors” should occasionally walk around and peer over people’s shoulders to make sure that they’re not making huge mistakes :) And help them and make sure they got the rules correctly (e.g. almost everybody thought 42 characters is the max subtitle length, not the max line length)- people loved learning how to do it from an actual person. What would require hours of tutorials/guides took 20 minutes.
  7. one of the people answered their phone and said "can't talk right now, I'm at an adiovisual translation workshop, I'm learning a lot and I'll teach you later." She was a pro translator. This means that making it an event rather than an informal gathering is exciting for people, it's prestigious and official (even though it's just us and YouTube tutorials). Perhaps certificates of attendance would be a good gift?
  8. Newbies were mixed with seasoned people and this was not an issue at all (things may be different if it was about translation, not transcription, which requires much less previous skill/knowledge)


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 :)

Preparations - Timeline