Hacker News new | comments | show | ask | jobs | submit login
Tell HN: English isn't your native language? Get inside.
18 points by olalonde 2917 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 23 comments
I've just launched iRosetta ( http://www.irosetta.com/ ), a StackExchange powered Q&A site for everything related to language. I'm struggling to get a few key early adopters and thought some hackers here might be interested as most of you are already familiar with the StackOverflow system.

In a nutshell, if you're not sure about a particular translation or have a question about grammar, just ask your question there. If you're a seasoned linguist, get involved and answer some questions!

PS: Suggestions on getting this community off the ground are welcome.

I'm not a StackOverflow user but I assume the askers and responders are almost all professional developers.

Your site is bound to attract "amateurs" who are just learning languages for disparate reasons. Nothing wrong with that, but a better analog to StackOverflow would be a forum embedded in a website for professional translators and the people who hire them. IIRC http://proz.com does have a simple forum for that but it's not very good.

I'd volunteer to answer questions on Portuguese, but there are none right now. I might check a few more times later. But that's just because I saw it here on HN and would be glad to help you getting it off the ground. Otherwise I wouldn't bother -- unless it was part of a professional translation site and participation had a positive effect on my chance of getting translation jobs.

Thanks for your feedback. However, I'm not sure why this site would be more likely to attract "amateurs" than StackOverflow. StackOverflow is not part of a freelancer marketplace either (the career site was only added very recently) and yet manages to get quality content. Thanks for your insight nonetheless, I will consider integrating the Q&A part with a "marketplace" in a second phase.

OK, I didn't express myself well. Let me try again.

I didn't mean that StackOverflow is like it is because of the career site. I don't know why it became successful. My main point is that people ask stuff there because it actually helps them do their job. This means:

1) Vague, badly written questions and do-my-homework requests are frowned upon. 2) It's a service that people would potentially pay for.

In contrast, on places like Yahoo Answers people ask all sorts of random questions and get an accordingly wide range of answers.

It might be that regardless of the professional nature, programming provides a higher barrier of entry than language study.

That's why I thought it would be good to market it to translators.

"programming provides a higher barrier of entry than language study". As a professional programmer, I never really realized this but now that you mention it, it totally makes sense. In that perspective, iRosetta is more likely to attract "amateurs". I'll try to come up with a strategy to market it to pros ;)

stackoverflow framework needs a subscription model and not just a notification service for answers on your questions.

Any chance to "subscribe" to a certain language? Not sure when somebody will ask something about Romanian, but I'd like to be able to answer even if it's after 6 month.

It's a StackExchange site so just like any others, you can subscribe to a tag. Since most people are kind enough to either tag their posts as the language, you can do just that. E.g: http://www.irosetta.com/feeds/tag/polish

There's a great website I use for getting my head around Polish (a neverending headache-inducing joyful task), and it seems to cater for pretty much well any language people are interested in:


The forum interface sucks, and there's definitely a market for this kind of thing with a decent UI like the SE stack.

Good luck, and maybe see you on iRosetta!

WordReference does have a ton of valuable content and a vibrant community but as you mentioned, the user experience isn't that great. Thanks for the encouragement ;)

The irritating thing is that it took me months to find WordReference, as it seems like Google really struggles with decently indexing some language sites. To be honest, I can only speak for Polish as it's the sole focus of my foreign language studies, but it's been a nightmare to find more than a handful of decent resources online.

If you want to bring more users to the site, I'm not sure if it'd be worth experimenting with adwords. Throw, say, a few dollars a day at adverts that target phrases like "Why does French..." or "How do I say in German" and so on. It might bring enough users to give the site critical mass.

I'll run a test campaign and see if it is effective. Thanks for the keyword suggestions.

Rosetta is a trademark and they might come after you if you managed to get this off ground. Just a word of warning...

That sucks but thanks for pointing out. I didn't know it was possible to trademark an Ancient Egyptian artifact :( I'll try to see if I really am infringing the trademark.

I wasn't aware that it was an Ancient Egyptian artifact. And the trademark was actually Rosatta Stone as errnatX stated.

Nonetheless, if it reminds me another, possibly direct competitor of yours, it can't be a good think, can it?

This was one of my first thoughts.

Although the brand name is actually Rosetta Stone - so they might not be able to make it stick.

Actually doesn't matter if the names are not exactly the same (try opening a department store called "Waltmart") they can make it stick if they can convince a judge that someone else is trading off their reputation. That's not difficult to do if both entities are in similar businesses.

Does it matter that the trademark is based on something that precedes the company? I vaguely recall hearing that a trademark is hard to defend if it becomes part of the common language.

Yes it does have some bearing and I think it's reasonable to suggest that "rosetta" is part of the common language especially in the context of translation. I recall that Microsoft has had problems defending "Windows", even though it's a registered trademark. I'm not a lawyer, but my understanding is that the main consideration is whether someone could be seen as "passing off" their work under the name of a competitor. The courts won't allow me to exploit your reputation to sell my products.


Might be better to separate by language? At first sight I was put off because I saw Spanish and whatnot. Only by chance I also discovered a question about English.

You may want to consider playing with other color schemes. IMHO, the current palette makes the site look a little dated.

hey there -- you've developed a really useful tool and I can see myself using this in the future all the time for helping learn languages... BUT I really think you need categorization by language for this to really take off. Otherwise great concept and implementation, hope it takes off!

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | DMCA | Apply to YC | Contact