TED Translator Resources: Main guide

From TED Translators Wiki
Revision as of 13:36, 20 March 2015 by Symbolt (talk | contribs) (Amara: Added links to two new Amara tutorials)
Jump to: navigation, search

This article serves as a guide to the core Open Translation Project resources on OTPedia and otherwise, useful for volunteer translators and transcribers from their very first day into their trajectory within the OTP. Below, you will find information on how to join, transcribe and translate, edit this Wiki, how to get support and report issues, how to collaborate with the TEDx community, and how to keep up with OTP news on social media.

Where to start in the OTP?

TED's Open Translation Project is a community of volunteers who translate TED Talks, TED-Ed videos and TEDx Talks into their languages and transcribe TEDx Talks in the original language, to help spread ideas to a global audience. If you're just getting started, check out this page, which explains how the Project works and how to sign up. We recommend that you also watch our series of short tutorials, and then come back here to OTPedia, where you will find multiple other helpful resources.

OTP structure and workflow

This printable cheat sheet contains all of the main OTP subtitling standards for Latin-script languages; click here to adapt it into your own language
Inaugurated in 2009, the Open Translation Project is a global volunteer effort to subtitle TED Talks, TEDx Talks and TED-Ed videos, and enable the inspiring ideas in them to crisscross languages and borders. Every talk is uploaded to the OTP's subtitling partner, Amara, which provides an easy online subtitling interface. TED Talks and TED-Ed videos come ready with transcripts provided by TED, while volunteers may transcribe TEDx talks in their original languages.

Volunteer translators should be fluently bilingual in the source and target languages, and volunteer transcribers should be fluent in the transcription language. Volunteers should be knowledgable of subtitling best practices. All subtitles are reviewed by an experienced volunteer, who has subtitled at least 90 minutes of talk content. Before publication, reviewed translations are approved by a Language Coordinator or TED staff member. Language Coordinators are skilled, experienced volunteers who help develop their language communities.

Volunteers have 30 days to complete each task. At the review or approval stage, the reviewer or Language Coordinator may send the task back to the original contributor, explaining what additional edits are required before the review or approval can be completed. OTP volunteers are required to collaborate while working on a review or approval. To learn more about our rules for collaboration, see this article.


We have a lot of resources for volunteers who wish to learn about transcribing and translating in the OTP. The Open Translation Project section on TED.com and the OTP Learning Series tutorials are a great introduction, but you will want to read the more detailed guides to learn about very useful tips and strategies that will make your volunteer work in the OTP much easier. Below, you will find resources divided into 5 sections: Amara (how to use the Amara subtitling interface), Transcription (how to transcribe TEDx Talks), Translation (how to translate subtitles), Reviewing (how to review subtitles) and Editing OTPedia (how to create new content on our Wiki).


The OTP uses Amara as a subtitling tool. Here are some resources to help you master its easy interface.

Amara tips and guidelines

Image shows the controls box in the Amara interface.
Users can review controls and guidelines right from the subtitling interface

You can review the basic guidelines at any time from the Amara editor, by clicking "TED Guidelines" in the "Keyboard controls" area.

To report a bug on Amara, send an email to TEDsupport@amara.org.

Making sure the video is on the TED team

Amara provides subtitling support for multiple video hosting services, and anyone can add a video to Amara. However, before you start working on a talk, make sure that it was properly added to the official TED team on Amara, by following this guide. Please do not start working on the talk before it has been added to the TED team; otherwise, your work may not get published. If you come across a TEDx talk that has not yet been added to the TED team, you can request that it's added to the right team on Amara by using this form.

Advanced Amara tools

The OTP community also created tools that allow the user to get more information out of Amara or access additional features.

  • Diffing tool – A tool that offers a detailed view of the differences between two versions of the same subtitles, developed by Yasushi Aoki
  • Ictool – A tool that allows you to see the percentage of collaboration of each translator, reviewer and Language Coordinator working on a given task, developed by Yasushi Aoki
  • Post-edited talks – A tool for tracking recent post-edits to English subtitles, developed by Yasushi Aoki
  • Published talks – A tool for tracking recently published translations in your language, developed by Yasushi Aoki


Volunteers subtitle talks using an easy online interface at Amara.org
TED provides captions for TED Talks and TED-Ed videos, while volunteers caption videos in the ever-growing library of 35+ thousand TEDx talks. A transcript allows the talk to be translated into other languages and makes it accessible to Deaf and hard-of-hearing viewers. Thanks to same-language subtitling, even monolingual volunteers can help spread ideas all around the world. Visit the main TED transcription page at TED.com/transcribe.

Here are some resources that can help you in transcribing talks:

Transcribing tips and guidelines

How to find something to transcribe

  • A tutorial on how to find TEDx talks to subtitle
  • Instructions on how to check if the talk was added correctly to Amara
  • Find talks to transcribe in these regularly updated lists of TEDx talks grouped by subject
  • Follow the OTP on Twitter to get updates on TEDx Talks in need of a transcript
  • Find a TEDx event near you and search for their talks on Amara
  • If you find a TEDx talk that has not yet been added to the TED team on Amara, use this form to add it

Getting social with transcripts

See also the More about the OTP section below.


We accept all fluently bilingual volunteers as translators. In our workflow, translations are also reviewed before they are published, and you need more experience before you start reviewing (see the section on reviewing below). In the OTP, you don't only translate from English: there are TEDx talks in many other languages waiting to get transcribed and translated. And don't forget that if you feel confident enough, you can also translate from your first language into English. Even if you're not a native speaker, a native speaker will review or approve your subtitles, and without your help, viewers all over the world who speak English won't be able to learn about the amazing ideas in the talks given in your language. Visit the main TED translation page at TED.com/translate.

Here are some resources that will help you in translating in the OTP:

Translation tips and guidelines

The OTP Learning Series tutorials are a great way to pick up the basics

How to find something to translate

  • Tutorial on how to find videos to subtitle
  • Instructions on how to check if the talk was added correctly to Amara
  • Find TEDx talks to translate in lists of TEDx talks grouped by subject
  • Follow the OTP on Twitter to get updates on TEDx Talks in need of an English translation
  • Find a TEDx event near you and search for their talks on Amara
  • If you find a TEDx talk that has not yet been added to the TED team on Amara, use this form to add it (note that the talk will first need to be transcribed, before it can be translated).

Getting social with translations

See also the Community section below.


As mentors and quality-checkers, reviewers have a very important role. Watch the tutorial on reviewing for useful reviewing tips and strategies

We ask that you transcribe at least 90 minutes of talks before you start reviewing transcripts, and that you translate at least 90 minutes of talks before you start reviewing translations. This will allow you to learn from the edits and comments made by more experienced reviewers, and earn the knowledge necessary to mentor other volunteers and improve their work. It is completely fine if you feel you need to acquire even more experience, or even if you choose not to review at all. If you find your work has been waiting for a review for a long time, you can try reaching out to reviewers you've worked before, via their TED profile or Amara messages, or you can ask for a review in your language's Facebook group (use the main I transcribe TEDx talks and I translate TEDTalks groups if you're looking for help with English transcripts or translations). In order to find something to review, follow the same instructions as when searching for a talk to translate or transcribe, but select the "Review" task in the filter list on Amara.

Here are some resources that will help you in reviewing in the OTP:

Editing OTPedia

OTPedia is a community-created Wiki, and we encourage you to set up an account and start creating content for the OTP community. You can learn the basics of Wiki editing from this guide.

OTPedia in other languages

The links on the left will lead you to sections of OTPedia in other languages. Many language communities have a robust collection of resources specific to their linguistic needs. If you can't find the resources you are looking for in your language, go ahead and create an article, ideally in collaboration with your Language Coordinators and other volunteers who work in your language (whom you can find in your language's group on Facebook). Some language communities have also translated some of the English guides linked to above, which is especially helpful for monolingual transcribing volunteers.

Issues and support

The OTP community is here to help you. Below, you will find suggestions about what to do when you come across an issue.

Language Coordinators

Language Coordinators are skilled, experienced volunteers who help develop their language communities. You can reach out to them with issues of subtitling and translation. Find your Language Coordinators in this list. If you are a Language Coordinator, visit this section, where you can find useful tips and resources.

Facebook groups

Use the main I transcribe TEDx talks and I translate TEDTalks Facebook groups to ask your peers for advice. You can also join the Facebook group created by volunteers working in your language (see the full list here). If you can't find one for your language, consider creating it and share the link with as at translate@ted.com.

Amara issues

Users can find may useful tips in the Amara support section for TED team members
If you find a bug or another issue on Amara, first browse the Amara support section for existing solutions. If you cannot find any, send a bug report to tedsupport@amara.org. Before you submit your bug, please watch this tutorial on writing a good bug report or read this text guide. Remember to include the link to the talk you are referring to and any other information that may help in investigating the issue.

TED OTP support

For issues regarding OTP on TED.com (like crediting errors), please send an email to translate@ted.com. For queries regarding TEDx-OTP collaboration, contact Translation Project-TEDx Liaison Ivana Korom at ivana@ted.com.

How to report a crediting error on TED.com

In some cases, credits for transcripts, translations and reviews on TED.com may be assigned incorrectly. In such cases, please report the issue to translate@ted.com, and include the following information:

  • For TED Talks: link to the talk on TED.com; for TED-Ed and TEDx videos: link to the video on YouTube
  • what your role was in creating the subtitles (are you the transcriber, translator, reviewer or the LC who approved the subtitles)
  • which subtitle language is affected
  • which credit is assigned incorrectly (is it the transcript, translation and / or the review)
  • the TED.com profile links of the volunteers who should be properly credited (note: use the TED.com profile links, not the links to the users' Amara accounts)


Translators at the 2014 TEDActive OTP Workshop; photo: Marla Aufmuth, license: CC BY-NC 2.0

The OTP is a community. This section will help you find ways to reach out to other Open Translation Project volunteers.

Create an OTPedia user page

To help other users find you and reach out to you, set up an OTPedia profile using this guide. By adding tags for things like fields of expertise or your native language, you can signal to the community what you want to be reached about.

Social media

The OTP also has a lively presence on social media.

Facebook groups

Use the main I transcribe TEDx talks and I translate TEDTalks Facebook groups to ask for help or simply discuss things related to subtitling, language and translation. Also, join one of the language-specific Facebook groups. If the Facebook group has not been very active, watch this tutorial for tips on how to revive it. If you can't find a group for your language, consider creating it and share the link with as at translate@ted.com.


On the official OTP Twitter account, you can find subtitling tips, information about TEDx talks which need a transcript or an English translation, as well as cool language and translation related stories.

Some OTP communities also have Twitter accounts in their own language. You can find a list here.

OTP workshops and marathons

Volunteers subtitling talks at the 2014 TEDxKrakow transcribeathon
OTP workshops are gatherings, organized by and for volunteers, which are an excellent way to strengthen the ties in your local OTP community, learn about new strategies and solutions in transcribing and translating, share OTP stories and make life-long friendships. To learn about how to organize an OTP workshop, see the OTP Workshop Kit. And here, you can find some stories about past workshops, written by OTP volunteers.

Marathon events are gatherings where volunteers transcribe, translate or review talks for a few hours, usually organized in collaboration with a TEDx event. To learn how to organize a transcribeathon, translateathon or a reviewathon, see this guide.

OTP and TEDx

The TEDx program supports independent organizers who want to create a TED-like event in their own community. Open Translation Project volunteers and TEDx organizers and team members are two communities who are passionate about TED and united by the common goal of spreading great ideas across the world. As such, OTP and TEDx volunteers often collaborate by forming transcription and translation subteams around a TEDx event, inviting OTP volunteers to attend a TEDx event and possibly promote the OTP from the stage, inviting OTP volunteers to talk about the Open Translation Project at TEDx organizer workshops, helping each other out through the transcription and translation process and organizing transcription and translation marathons.

Here are some resources that may be helpful in getting involved with the TEDx community as an Open Translation Project volunteer:

  • Find a TEDx event near you and contact the organizer
  • Learn how to organize a transcribeathon
  • Read Polish LC Kinga Skorupska's article on the close collaboration between the Polish OTP and TEDx communities

For queries regarding TEDx-OTP collaboration, contact Open Translation Project-TEDx Liaison Ivana Korom at ivana@ted.com. To find out how to transcribe TEDx talks, see this section.

More about the OTP

Below, you can find stories and videos related to the Open Translation Project.

Annual report

Read the annual OTP report on TED.com to find out about the accomplishments of the OTP community in 2014 and some goals for the future.


The TED Blog regularly hosts stories related to the Open Translation Project. You can find links to all these stories here. If you have an idea for an article, please submit it to us at translate@ted.com.

OTP stories

On OTPedia, volunteers share stories about their OTP-related experiences: attending TED and TEDx events, meeting other translators in person, or organizing workshops and subtitling marathons. You can find these wonderful stories here. Go ahead and write your own! This guide to editing OTPedia can help you to get started.

Related videos

Check out the videos in the OTP's official YouTube channel. In addition to the OTP Learning Series tutorials, it contains OTP promos, a series of videos with discussion panels that OTP volunteers participated in at TEDGlobal, and other related media. You can also translate the subtitles for these videos. You will find translation and review tasks by following this link to Amara.

Here, you can also find a list of videos related to TED's Open Translation Project, such as TEDx talks by OTP translators.

Related research

In this article, you can find information on research related to OTP subtitles. Feel free to expand the list!

List of links used in this article

Below, you will find all of the links used throughout this article.



Forms and other documents

OTPedia articles

Social media