Open Panel: Translation and Mediation in Online Knowledge Platforms: Exploring Wikipedia and Beyond

An international conference hosted by the
Centre for Translation and the Department of Translation, Interpreting and Intercultural Studies,
Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong

In collaboration with the
Genealogies of Knowledge Project, University of Manchester, UK

7-9 April 2020



Translation and Mediation in Online Knowledge Platforms: Exploring Wikipedia and Beyond

Convenor: Mark Shuttleworth, Hong Kong Baptist University

The multilingual web-based encyclopedia Wikipedia perfectly exemplifies a new online translation paradigm that has emerged over the last couple of decades: practices of translation are often found inextricably intertwined with other forms of rewriting and mediation, and the presence and origins of translated material in Wikipedia articles are only rarely made explicit by their authors. The platform also embodies a new profile that translators are increasingly assuming in many online settings, involving anonymity, collaboration mixed with self-motivated volunteer action, and a blurring of the distinction between translator and original text creator.

The multilingual Wikipedia is the context in which such features and practices have been most thoroughly investigated. For example, studies have explored the complex processes of multilingual collaboration and negotiation through which knowledge is produced within Wikipedia, as well as the extent to which translation might help maintain the encyclopedia’s Neutral Point of View policy (see Jones 2018 and Shuttleworth 2018). However, the part translation might play within other similar examples of systematic community-based knowledge production in the digital sphere – including other online encyclopedias, special-interest wikis and information repositories – has yet to be examined in any significant detail. Moreover, little attention has thus far been paid to practices and communities operating in and between languages other than English.

The panel therefore welcomes submissions on specific case studies covering any relevant aspect of the topic, such as the following:

  • the novel features and forms of translation practices emerging within online platforms built by communities to facilitate the collaborative production and transnational circulation of knowledge
  • translation as one of a spectrum of multi-, bi- and monolingual online knowledge mediation types in such online spaces
  • the more explicitly collaborative aspects of translation in online knowledge sharing platforms, as revealed, for example, by relevant discussion in Wikipedia’s Talk Pages; how transnational collaborativity and self-motivated action on the part of individual editors interact
  • the relative (in)visibility of translation across a range of multilingual community-produced media, including online encyclopedias, special-interest wikis and other information repositories
  • how translation contributes to the creation of knowledge within such digital environments, including questions of how multilingual communities deal with potentially overlapping or conflicting narratives and knowledge structures



Jones, H. (2018) ‘Wikipedia, Translation, and the Collaborative Production of Spatial Knowledge’, in Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics 38, special issue on Translation and the Production of Knowledge(s), guest-edited by M. Baker, 264-97.

Shuttleworth, M. (2018) ‘Translation and the Production of Knowledge in Wikipedia: Chronicling the Assassination of Boris Nemtsov’, in Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics 38, special issue on Translation and the Production of Knowledge(s), guest-edited by M. Baker, 231-63.


Panel convener

Mark Shuttleworth has been involved in translation studies research and teaching since 1993, at the University of Leeds, Imperial College London, University College London and, most recently, Hong Kong Baptist University. His publications include the Dictionary of Translation Studies, as well as articles on translation technology teaching, metaphor in translation, translation and the web, and Wikipedia translation. The use of digital methodologies in translation studies research is also an interest of his. His monograph on scientific metaphor in translation, Studying Scientific Metaphor in Translation, was published in 2017 and he is currently working on a second edition of the Dictionary.


Submission of Paper Proposals

Submissions should be sent to the panel convenor (Mark Shuttleworth, by 30 September 2019.

Submissions should consist of:

(1) Abstract (300-400 words, including up to 5 bibliographic references).

(2) Contributor’s 150-word (maximum) biodata written in the third person. See examples from a previous event here:

(3) Full affiliation(s)

Notification of acceptance will be sent by 30 October 2019.