Many web users do not distinguish between these categories. Simple "list-servs" broadcast an email to a (generally anonymous) list of subscribers. If the sender does not include a return email address, the message is anonymous. For this reason, we think of standard list-servs not as communities, but as "anonymities."
A community keeps track of its members. You are required to join to access any forums or mailing lists. Registration is usually free, as they derive their income from advertising on the site. Communities may offer space on the community server for members to have their own personal web pages. They may gather information about members in a database, which then can be searched to locate specific members. Translator communities can collect resumés, native language and language pairs, residency, software tools used, experience, client or peer or employer ratings, performance records, rates per word, etc. More and more global translation is requested, negotiated, conducted, approved, and even payed for over the web. So these translator/localizer communities are growing very fast, with some exceeding 10,000 members (as of February, 2001). With an estimated 300,000 translators worldwide, these communities may include a majority of translators in a few years.
Forums and discussion groups use a web interface. They show "threaded" discussions (emails with responses to that email). They include email addresses for all participants, so you can contact other members of the forum. And they send nothing to your email address (unless you elect such an option). You visit them to see what is happening. The largest provider of forum web sites is eGroups.com, recently purchased by Yahoo. Some sites publish the number of subscribers. Because of the "network effect," sites with the largest number of members are generally the most valuable.
Newsgroups are part of the original Usenet, with recognizable domain names, like sci.lang.translation. They are available via the nntp news protocol (the news server setting in your browser), or through web-based interfaces like deja.com, recently acquired by Google, which has the best multilingual support of any web search engine. Newsgroups may be completely open or moderated. Unmoderated groups are notorious for postings which may be completely off-topic (OT) and add a lot of noise to these important information channels.
Mailing lists are joined by sending an email to the list server from the email account that wants to receive the list. Sometimes a standard instruction must appear in the body of the message - to subscribe, to unsubscribe, or perhaps to subscribe to a once-per-day "digest" of the email messages. A digest reduces the number of emails from dozens or even hundreds per day to a single email with brief summaries (usually the subject line) of each email message.
Most list-servs will send you a required confirmation of the request to join (so that strangers can not join in your name). This confirmation contains detailed instructions on unsubscribing, getting the digest if available, etc. It may also point you to a web site associated with the list. There you can expect to find access to an archive of the lists past messages. If the archive is searchable, you will be able to locate mesages on specific topics or that contain keywords. The list may also offer a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) with tips on how to use the mailing list and its archive.
WebRings are another form of organization, and there are some for translators and localizers. The fundamental idea is somewhat at odds with a rational search for a translation service. WebRings randomly connect one site to two others, with hyperlinks to the next and previous members in the ring. They may also have a random hyperlink to a distant member of the ring, which may contain dozens or hunrdreds of sites. The only valuable way to search a WebRing is to visit it in a list mode, where you can quickly scroll through brief descriptions of the sites. Yahoo has been acquiring many of the most successful webrings.
ProZ.com, about 14,000 members. Uses a PHP web application server and a MySQL database.
translationzone.com, about ?,000 members (sponsored by Trados). Uses an Apple WebObjects database application server. Offers articles and studies on the industry.
transref.org , sponsored originally by Atril, manufacturers of Déjà Vu. Uses Microsoft ASP and Index Server to look for text. No language-pair search.
The American Web Directory is a for-fee listing of translators. Simple cgi scripting is used (unlikely to scale well).
The Manual Forum - forums for translators, techwriters, and DTP specialists
Mailing Lists (List servs)
The Linguist List, sponsored by Eastern Michigan and Wayne State Universities, has an enormous list of mailing lists, and a Multi-List Search Engine that lets you search 80 language-related mailing lists at once!
Lantra-L LANTRA-L is a forum for all aspects of translation and interpretation of natural languages, including, but not restricted to, computer aids for translation and interpretation. Topics which can be discussed are: * translation theory and practice * translation tools * terminology * lexicography * court, conference and community interpreting * intercultural communication * sociolinguistics * psycholinguistics * professional ethics for interpreters and translators * education and training of interpreters and translators etc. To subscribe, send the message SUB LANTRA-L Your Name in the body of your email (the subject line is ignored) to firstname.lastname@example.org. There is an archive and a FAQ.
Trados Users and Translation Industry News by Karin Adamczyk at Yahoo/eGroups
Translator Resumés by Karin Adamczyk at Yahoo/eGroups