Terminology work and crowdsourcing


crowdsourcing and terminology

“Terminology work and crowdsourcing. Coming to Terms with the Crowd” is an article by Barbara Inge Karsch that I found in the recently published Handbook of Terminology edited by Hendrik J. Kockaert and Frieda Steurs, and now gives me the opportunity to introduce this hot topic that has been the talk of the town of Terminology in recent times.

There have been some people against crowdsourcing mainly because of confidentiality reasons, but the truth is, or at least I personally see it that way, that crowdsourcing is here to stay for a long while. After all, as Barbara mentions in her article, terminology work has never been a “solidary undertaking”. It has always been accompanied and influenced by others fields (Terminology has always been known as an interdisciplinary field).

How does it work? It would take an article like Barbara’s to explain the detailed process but it has as its core activity identifying and garnering the enthusiasm of the crowd that will help in the process of terminology work. Finding the right crowd, as she puts it, is key, but it is equally challenging to keep it motivated in the long-term. And you also need to invest in a good tool that will help you keep the communication going and to gather the data effectively. This is actually a great advantage for computer companies that usually have the infrastructure available.

For many organizations, and as with any large terminological project, money is always an issue. However, more and more companies and organizations are seeing it as an investment in the form of a better reputation (by offering better products and services through improved terminology) and money saving in the long term.

Back to the crowd, there are some tasks that can be assigned to it, depending if it’s an open or a closed (sort of pre-screened) crowd and others need to be left to the terminologist or the subject matter specialist (or other team members, as appropriate). A crowd may suggest, review, and research terms, and even review termbase entries by “voting, sharing knowledge, or providing feedback”. Tasks such as processing feedback would obviously be a task for the terminologist who decides what stays and what is not relevant.

I’ll stop here and leave you wanting for more: for my future interview which I am sure will be quite enjoyable to many of us. Stay tuned!


Terminology work and crowdsourcing. Coming to Terms with the Crowd” by Barbara Inge Karsch in Handbook of Terminology edited by Hendrik J. Kockaert and Frieda Steurs. John Benjamins Publishing Company (pp.291-303).

Picture source here.

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