Decentralized Publishing

This guide explains the circumstances in which a post can be published first on a Lingua site and then translated for Global Voices in English, as well as the policy regarding this process.

Please note that this is a different process from Lingua Content, in which Lingua sites are allowed to publish their own content, requiring no translation into English.


In decentralized publishing, we publish posts in a non-English language before they are translated, sub-edited and published on Global Voices in English. It started in 2010, as a resolution of the Global Voices Summit in Santiago.

This process boosts the ability of contributors who lack English skills to participate in Global Voices and helps editors to recruit more volunteers and improve coverage in general.


All non-English stories must be thoroughly edited by a newsroom editor before they are published to ensure they meet GV standards for writing and reporting.

decentralized publishing

Since these original stories are often published without being sub-edited, special care should be taken to make sure the language is clear and the story includes as much context as possible, keeping in mind that they will be translated into multiple languages and that many Lingua sites have readership across a number of countries.

The goal is that when the English translation reaches sub-editing, no major changes are necessary. This preserves the integrity of the translation and prevents post-publication edits to the original story.


Once the story is published on the Lingua site, work should begin on its translation. Posts must be translated into English as soon as possible and preferably immediately after publication on the Lingua site:

  • For breaking news, translations must be published within 48 hours.
  • For other current affairs posts, translations must be published within a week.
  • Ever-green type features can be published with flexibility.

It is preferred that the post be translated to English and submitted to the sub-editing process before the original post is translated into another non-English language. This is to prevent having to make multiple edits across Lingua sites in case major changes are found necessary during sub-editing. However, because of time and resource constraints, this sometimes isn’t possible. In any case, the final newsroom edited version will be considered the preferred version to be submitted for Lingua (non-English language) translation.

If the newsroom editor decides to wait for the English translation and sub-editing, they will need to copy the text of the post from the Lingua dashboard and paste it into a blank post on the English site, so that it can be translated and sub-edited. It can then be assigned to a volunteer translator (see Simultaneous publication on Lingua site and English site below for technical details).

Building a translation team

It is the responsibility of the newsroom editor, not Lingua, to facilitate the translation into English. If decentralized publishing is something that the editor plans to do often, he or she should build and maintain a team of Lingua into English translators.

For decentralized publishing to work, it is essential that newsroom editors have a good relationship with the relevant Translation Manager.

For support, editors can turn to Lingua Coordinator Gabriela Garcia Calderon, who introduces “into English” translators to newsroom editors, or Lingua Director Mohamed ElGohary.


Any relevant corrections, deletions or additions to an English translation of an original non-English-language story (such as missing context, attributions or factual corrections) should be made in the original story as well.

The original author should be included in the discussion of these changes as much as possible, and any post-publication changes should be reported to Lingua through the Edit Request Form so that all translations are also updated.

Changes to headlines, excerpts and certain stylistic elements in the English translation do not have to be reflected in the original story post-publication unless it is a matter of factual accuracy, given that different languages have different conventions.

Very complicated or controversial stories, or those that have not been thoroughly edited, should wait for the English translation to be sub-edited before publication on the Lingua site to avoid having to make changes to the original post-publication.

Suggested workflows

Below are two suggested workflows for decentralized publishing. Editors can and should adapt it depending on the realities of their community of contributors and the specifics of the story at hand.

Publication first on Lingua site

  1. A story is pitched, written, edited and published first on a Lingua site.
  2. Then, the story is translated into English using the “fetch” feature.
  3. The English translation is sub-edited.
  4. The English translation is published. Any major changes are reflected back in the original story.

This approach works well for breaking or time-sensitive stories, when waiting for translation and sub-editing would damage the story's news value.

Simultaneous publication on Lingua site and English site

  1. A story is pitched and written first on a Lingua site.
  2. The draft text is copied and pasted into a post on the English site.
  3. The draft text is translated into English.
  4. The English translation is sub-edited. Any major changes are reflected back in the original story.
  5. The original story is published on the Lingua site.
  6. The English translation is linked to the original story using the “fetch” feature and published.

This approach works well for stories that aren't particularly time-sensitive.

Thinking about starting decentralized publishing?

Ask these questions first:

  • Does the newsroom have the language capacity to assess and edit stories in the non-English language? The newsroom editor must feel comfortable and confident editing in the non-English language.
  • What is the existing relationship between the Lingua and newsroom editors? For decentralized publishing to work, there should be a good collaborative relationship between the two.
  • Are translators and authors all in one joint group for communication or separate groups? Good communication and team-building are essential! But they also require care. Though decentralized publishing relies on friendly collaboration between Lingua and the newsroom, the lines between the two should remain clear, and expectations among volunteers should be managed appropriately according to their interests. All original content and its accompanying translation into English must go through the newsroom editor, while translation of stories from English into non-English languages is the responsibility of the Translation Manager.