Corporate Blogging in China – part 1

Where to begin on this topic? The title is intimidating enough, but here goes. I’ve been living the topic this week, so this post will be a multi-part brain dump.
In terms of large numbers, China leads the world in a lot of counts. The landmass is big. The population is big. Growth rates are big. Historical tradition is big. And the number of blogs is reported to be big and getting bigger, but I’ll defer to Sino-net experts on adoption rates and trends.
The big issue is whether any Chinese corporations blog. I’ll duck that issue for now, because I honestly can’t say, but will assume the answer is yes. The question is whether they blog globally, which is going to force me down the rabbit hole of digression to tackle the bigger issue of blog translation, something I’ve been discussing with John Bell at Ogilvy’s Digital Influence Project, and who recently returned from China himself.

I’ll dismiss, right off the top, the notion of machine-translation. Yes, a google on “WordPress Translation” will yield a number of sidebar plug-ins which will accomplish the act, but I will assume they are no better than Babelfish in terms of fluency and accuracy. I’ve tried using machine-translation to read what others are saying about me, in say Italian, and the result is barely understandable.

So, human translation is required and that is easily worked — find someone with the skills and have them monitor the originating blog for updates, perform the translation and post it.

Okay. Where do they post it? In the originating blog, right adjacent or following the originating blog post? In an entirely separate, cloned translation of the originating blog? Now you’re managing two blogs. One owned the originating blogger/bloggers and a second managed by the translator. Do you put a language selector on both so users can self-select the language they want?

Questions. Questions and more questions. What about the comments? Do they get translated? Would I want someone translating my commentary on my behalf, without my permission?

This is the stuff I’m coming out of Beijing wrestling with. My first resolution is to provide global web services from one centrally managed, self-hosted WordPress platform. Where will it be served? Good question — probably in two data centers to provide some mirrored redundancy and content distribution. Where will it be managed? Doesn’t matter. The sysadmin can be anywhere. Is there a Chinese version of WordPress so my China bloggers can easily work the administration dashboard?

This is going to be an interesting challenge over the next few weeks. I need to get one out the door like yesterday so time to write the brief and identify the talent.

Flight is being called, so I need to steel myself for a coma flight to San Fran, then Boston. Weekend in Cotuit decompressing, then off to Raleigh next week.

Stay tuned for more, I’ll try to put something more coherent together on the flight and post from home.

Author: David Churbuck

Cape Codder with an itch to write

0 thoughts on “Corporate Blogging in China – part 1”

  1. My thoughts:

    *Language selector page, going to two content-identical versions of the blog, one in each language
    *Do not translate comments – Chinese comments should be left on the Chinese blog, and vice versa

    This will require more involved back-end work and communication between the Chinese blog team and home blog team, but done properly can be transparent externally between the two languages.

    Having English and Chinese posts on the same page is interesting and worth thought, but my initial impression is not to have the confusion or clutter.

    I look forward to picking your brain!

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