Dealing with translation spam
How I respond to “translation spam”, which happens when greasy organizations ask permission to translate your script, extension, plugin, etc.
Can has translation?
As a WordPress plugin developer, I get the occasional email requesting permission to translate one of my plugins into whatever language. The email requests tend to look something like this:
I’m Ralph from Some Hosting Company. We have found your plugin Simple Basic Contact Form at https://perishablepress.com/simple-basic-contact-form/ very interesting and of a significant use for the community. Since I’m of Serbian decent, I’m willing to help people from former Yugoslavia, which now represents six independent countries in Europe, better manage their internet pages by translating your plugin into Serbo-Croatian language. Would that be ok with you?
I hope I’ll hear from you soon.
Many kind regards,
Or something along those lines. If you’ve been involved with WordPress development for any length of time, and have plugins or themes available at WordPress.org, you’re no doubt familiar with this type of request.
Sure, such requests may seem legit on the surface, but after following through on a couple of them, you begin to understand that it’s all just another scheme for the “translator” to get backlinks to their site. Yes of course some translation requests may come from legitimate sources, but in my experience 99% of them are just trying to get some links to their site.
Help to educating the translators
So that’s the context, and after getting so many of these types of “translation requests” over the years, I now reply with a copy of the following template:
Actually, WordPress plugins hosted at the WP Plugin Directory are “open source”, so you can modify them or do whatever you want. Also, many plugins even include translation files to make your job easier, so if you see any plugin with language files and translation-readiness, then you can be double-sure that it is not only absolutely fine to make a translation, but that the plugin author actually encourages it by taking the time to provide translation support. I.e., there is no reason that you or anyone has to send an email “asking” if they can translate a plugin that’s hosted at WordPress.org — just go ahead and rock any translations that you want, it’s “all good” as they say!
You see, even though a translation request seems like the sender wants to do you a favor, they eventually will hit you up for a “credit link” or similar back to their site. This is the whole point of going out of their way to “ask” you for permission; so you are made aware of the “favor” and will feel obliged to reciprocate with a link back to their site. Typically they will indeed send you a translation of your plugin, and along with the request ask for the link back. Bada boom, bada bing. Scam complete.
In my experience legit translators will just send you a copy of the translation files. Then it’s up to you to include any credit link (which I usually do). Besides, anyone working on translating plugins should understand that no permission is required because it’s all open source. Thus, it’s the “asking” for permission that makes it suspicious.
The more you know..
In any case, just wanted to share this experience with anyone else wondering about why they periodically receive translation requests for their scripts/plugins.
My advice? Do a little research on the person sending the request. If they look legit to you, then by all means knock yourself out and accept the free translation.
Otherwise, if it looks like they are affiliated with some greasy company looking for links, then let them know that there is absolutely no need to ask permission to translate WordPress plugins or themes because they are open source. That will deflate their “favor” and free you from any “obligatory” links back to their site. You’re also leaving it open for them to go ahead and send a translation if that’s what they really want to do. Most likely, however, you’ll never hear from them again :)