Feb 2, 2010

Time for a refreshing drink

Visit Watercooler
Quite some time (a year or two) ago, I was invited by an Australian colleague, Andrew Bell, to join a new translators' network he was building. It looked interesting, but at the time it was rather small, and I seldom had the time to do more than drop by and browse a few interesting blog posts. While I was otherwise occupied, the site continued to grow and is now approaching 500 members. I see a lot of respected colleagues whom I have met in the past through the BDÜ or ProZ, typically those with a little more interest in the professional side of the profession. Due to events elsewhere, that growth has accelerated: I think more than 100 serious translators have joined in the last week or two, and last night a German group was formed.

What's the draw? Not the job posts, certainly. There aren't any, though there is a list where one could post opportunities. Nor are there any competitive schemes to earn gold stars for shot-from-the-hip term proposals. The Watercooler is simply an evolving virtual space in which people who are serious about our profession can share experience, advice and fellowship. It's a no-fee members-only site that is not open to the search engines, where matters best discussed among colleagues can stay among colleagues. Altogether a fine thing.

This isn't a "replacement" for the breadth offered at other sites which emphasize other things such as directories to be filtered according to X criteria to find translators willing to work for -Y, terminology resources (not sure how/if this would work on Watercooler) or contests. It's simply a different experience, one which will lack certain useful elements for a raw beginner looking to make his first mistakes, but for mature colleagues who understand the nature of our business and some of the approaches, tools and techniques that are part of it, I think this can have a lot to offer. Check it out.


  1. Here's my virtual scalp (i.e. I clicked your link and signed up to Watercooler).

    Won't send you my physical scalp - it would be well and truly beneath the dignity of those hounds of yours.

  2. Still trying to work out the signal-to-noise ratio at Watercooler.
    The German forum consists of a constant echo of almost identical messages saying "glad we're not the-other-place". May be OK if said once or twice, but it hardly gives a constructive identity, let alone meaningful discussions.
    The left column gives everyday activity details such as who has added whose icon to their profile - but with a membership of 500 or so (and old friends from "the-other-place" constantly stumbling across each other) that gets very repetitive. I can set e-mail notifications to tell me when somebody has posted to a discussion forum, but the messages do not tell me what about, nor do they give any clue at all about the content.
    So we are left with an alternative between a place that has a good structure for discussions except that it does not allow any, and a place that is wide open for discussions but does not seem to have the structure to handle multiple discussion threads in a large and growing community.
    Have I missed something?

  3. @Victor: I think you're seeing a short-term phenomenon here. I agree that the notifications could be a lot more informative. As for all the "glad I'm not in..." noise, that will surely abate soon. It's sort of like keeping the lid on the kettle too long. It boils over a bit but settles down shortly. The growth in the last two to three weeks has been quite considerable and the content not really typical of what was see before the mass "migration". I think the important phase will start after people settle down a bit.

  4. Hmm, well over a hundred messages already in the "Not-The-Other-Place" thread, and counting (except there is no counting function). Seems the Water"COOLER" is overheating (and people in the German group have not found anything else to talk about).

    For the time being I've turned off e-mail notifications for messages posted to a thread (meaningless in their present form).

    However, I'll loiter for a while and see if things improve.


Notice to spammers: your locations are being traced and fed to the recreational target list for my new line of chemical weapon drones :-)