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Google Deprecates Translation API 95

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the no-api-for-you dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Google is to close down its popular Translate application programming interface — along with a host of others — by the end of the year, owing to what it claims is 'extensive abuse' by users of the service, but has thus far declined to provide details or a sensible alternative for users of the API."
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Google Deprecates Translation API

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  • by zero.kalvin (1231372) on Friday May 27, 2011 @03:45PM (#36266480)
    How the hell can you abuse a translating service ? To rickroll people of different cultures ?
    • You can hijack it to transparently translate your own webpages for users without crediting Google, I suppose. If you do it wrong (that is, issuing the request FOR EVERY PAGE VIEW and doing no caching at all) it could definitely be considered abuse.
      • by jDeepbeep (913892)

        You can hijack it to transparently translate your own webpages for users without crediting Google, I suppose. If you do it wrong (that is, issuing the request FOR EVERY PAGE VIEW and doing no caching at all) it could definitely be considered abuse.

        It's not like Google can't limit your requests though. Right?

      • by gmack (197796)

        Most of the Android translation apps are really just a wrapper around Google translate. There are hundreds of the blasted things and they have the audacity to charge you for it when Google is doing most of the work for free. I wouldn't be overly surprised if those apps were a large part of the reason Google is shutting the service down.

    • by jra (5600)

      Presumably, by using it for commercial purposes, in violation of what I assume are the ToS for that service. Just like people who try to use Googlemaps as a realtime dispatching service...

    • Somehow SEO related, SEO truly is the dredge of the internet.
      • Re:Abuse? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Elf Sternberg (13087) on Friday May 27, 2011 @05:02PM (#36267416) Homepage

        SEO abuse is certainly one of them.

        Google has been clamping down on low-quality aggregation sites, as we all know. One way to avoid looking like a low-quality aggregation site is to (a) create a vast farm of low-quality aggregation sites, (b) harvest high-quality articles from other sites, (c) run those articles through Google translate, (d) repost them to your farm. Because they don't look like the originals (being translations) they get around Google's "recognize repeat content" filters. Google uptakes them as original content.

        Delicious has been filled with links to these in recent weeks, mostly because Delicious once had a decently high reputation as a site of quality linkage, and lots of people had trust in it.

    • Re:Abuse? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Bloodwine77 (913355) on Friday May 27, 2011 @03:50PM (#36266542)

      One example is if you are in charge of the company website and the boss tells you, "We need all the pages to be available in espanol, because we're getting more non-English-speaking customers"

      An easy way to accomplish this with minimal work is to output buffer everything, send to a translation service, and then turn around and spit out the translated HTML instead of the original HTML.

      I can't remember which service, Babelfish I think, but you could send all your HTML to them and it was smart enough to not translate HTML tags and only the content itself. Then, they realized that everybody was using them in such a manner so they added a character length limit to translations, I believe.

      You were then faced finding another service, such as Google Translate, or actually set up an official integration with Systran and pay them for translation services.

      I suspect the era of finding workarounds and piggybacking off of free translation services are coming to an end.

    • by Unending (1164935)

      Google translate makes a rather nice proxy if you are behind a filter and don't want to bother with a better proxy.
      It's a commonly known trick, I'm sure Google doesn't appreciate it though.

    • by mcavic (2007672)
      It means too many people are using it for free, and Google is too stingy to allow that.
      • by rjstanford (69735)

        It means too many people are using it for free, and Google is too stingy to allow that.

        And why, exactly, should they?

        • by osu-neko (2604)
          People think Google's business model for everything (except their search engine, which is supported by advertising) should be to run huge expensive server farms for the purpose of giving away stuff for free so that... um... money will rain from the skies or something. Now, granted, to all outward appearances this seems to be their business plan 95% of the time... XD
    • by Anonymous Coward

      How the hell can you abuse a translating service ? To rickroll people of different cultures ?

      Google Translate also provided a TTS (Text To Speech) module that would provide a high quality playback of audio in many languages. This type of a service typically costs many hundreds or thousands of dollars commercially and often requires dedicated servers for concurrency support...or could be leeched from Google for free if you knew the right URLs to hit.

    • More to the point:

      but has thus far declined to provide details or a sensible alternative for users of the API

      Just because they used to offer a free service, and will soon stop doing so, people aren't just offended at that but are also attacking them for not recommending a competitive service? Again, all with absolutely no compensation?

      I know they're doing well, but that doesn't mean we (as a society) should start assuming that they owe us.

      • "They owe us" is practically the Slashdot motto. And Reddit. And a bunch of other places.

        The main thing I've learned in all these years is that no one feels entitled to a comfortable life at the expense of others like a group of nerds.

      • They do owe us. Every bit of their success as a monster advertizing company comes from us using their services (a.k.a. ad bait). To the extent they reduce services, to at least the same extent they should lose revenue. In this case I'd argue that they should lose more than a proportional amount since they have harmed people through encouraging reliance on the service and by shading out and stunting competing translation services. Other free translation services lost a huge amount of traffic because of Googl

        • by Angostura (703910)

          They do owe us. Every bit of their success as a monster advertizing company comes from us using their services (a.k.a. ad bait).

          And you are recompensed in the form of free access to a rather nifty search engine.

    • by Adayse (1983650)

      You can take harvested content, translate it into lots of other languages and present it back to Google. I would imagine that the translation both makes the copying harder to detect and messes with the translation engine itself. There are modules for wordpress that make automatic translation easy to add to any blog so it might be that a decent chunk of the properly tagged translations on the web are automatic Google efforts harmfully feeding back into the algorithm.

    • People aren't necessarily abusing the service. They're abusing Google's generosity.

      Google makes less money from this service than it costs to run.

    • How the hell can you abuse a translating service ? To rickroll people of different cultures ?

      Maybe [youtube.com]

    • by Hadlock (143607)

      Aw, this is a bummer. We had a plugin that would autodetect the language and auto-translate in-game chat in the correct language to each user individually, based on geo-ip data. Since we have a pretty diverse group of players (Finland, Germany, Egypt, Sweden, French-Canadian, American) this can be quite helpful.

    • You can use this to produce spam.
    • by camperslo (704715)

      How the hell can you abuse a translating service ?

      I suppose that if stories here had links that were foreign sources being run through Google, they'd get hit pretty hard. But instead of killing something like that I'd rather see a little header added at the top of the translated page with a "donation to thank Google" button. Disabling that functionality, or things like the "powered by Google" 3rd party OS X translation widget, would feel very much like censorship, and perhaps stir negative feelings towards Google in some..

      If anything, even more capabilit

    • by lulalala (1359891)

      Google Translate was abused several times in Taiwan. The most famous one was during the Asia Games, when one Taiwanese player got disqualified due to the already examined equipment. People used the translation suggestion link to submit false translations. When translating 'Koreans are ****' in Chinese to Korean and back it becomes "Actually we won".

  • translation - (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lead Butthead (321013) on Friday May 27, 2011 @03:50PM (#36266538) Journal

    not profitable.

  • My guess is they haven't figured out how to include ads into the translation services. It may have led to some interesting translations if they did.
  • by paugq (443696) <pgquiles AT elpauer DOT org> on Friday May 27, 2011 @03:50PM (#36266546) Homepage
    Then use Apertium [apertium.org], they also provide an API [apertium.org]
    • I really like the idea of an open source, community content, translation system. Maybe, at some point in the future, Apertium might develop to the point it can be compared with Google Translate. Right now, it is no near.

      Google supports nearly 60 languages, including all the most important languages worldwide. It can usually automatically identify the input language and provide understandable translations in any of the 58 supported languages. Apertium supports a handful of European languages, and canno

    • Then use Apertium [apertium.org], they also provide an API [apertium.org]

      Does not support 3 of the four languages that I am interested in. Google supported them all, plus another two that I occasionally dabble in.

    • by Orffen (1994222)

      Thanks! I noticed Esperanto in there and couldn't resist a Red Dwarf translation.

      "Via patrino elspezis plejparto de ia tempo supre kontra muroj kun maristoj."

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Performing an English -> English translation essentially creates an open proxy. I imagine that accounts for some of the abuse.

  • by TheRealQuestor (1750940) on Friday May 27, 2011 @04:00PM (#36266620)
    that relying on others for anything, ever, is going to come back and bite you in the ass later. Be it cloud, public api, or anything that somebody else controls.
    • by micheas (231635)

      Of course relying on yourself for everything will also bite you in the ass.

      Best course of action, kevlar undies.

      • Of course relying on yourself for everything will also bite you in the ass.

        Best course of action, kevlar undies.

        while true enough I still feel less angry when I screw up then when I rely on somebody and they screw up lol.

    • by hab136 (30884)

      Relying on a freely available service where you have no contract, no SLA, and no bargaining power is a bad idea.

      If you rely on a service, you need a contract to guarantee that service will be available, and that your service provider has a financial interest in making that service available.

    • Absolutely right. I'm a translator. Google Translate can now be set to feed into memoQ, SDL Trados and probably other CAT software automatically. I don't know what the terms of service are on Google Translate but perhaps the 'abuse' they're talking about is partially related to the several hundred times per day that I and many other Trados and memoQ users hit the site via the API for a translation. The irony is, I blow the Google translation out without even reading it about 90% of the time. But since Trado

  • Well I guess gTranslate won't work on my N900 anymore. Can't they stick to limiting API requests?

    • Can't they stick to limiting API requests?

      Exactly what I was thinking. It says they are doing that [google.com] now already though.

      the number of requests you may make per day will be limited and the API will be shut off completely on December 1, 2011

  • Misleading... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Alascom (95042)

    Somewhat misleading. Read Google's actual comments: http://www.google.com/webelements/#!/translate [google.com]

    "For website translations, we encourage you to use the Google Translate Element."
    http://www.google.com/webelements/#!/translate [google.com]

    So its not really gone, just a new way to use it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      That's not at all the same. The old service was an API usable from any program. This new thing is a component that can be used on web sites. You can't use the new component in applications the same way the API could. Google also did the same thing with another service; the search API. They've removed the search API and are calling a custom search box for websites the replacement. No Google, that is not a replacement. They're fools if they think they're fooling anybody.

  • by Short Circuit (52384) <mikemol@gmail.com> on Friday May 27, 2011 @04:17PM (#36266784) Homepage Journal

    "Translation Party" was awesome, and it led me to figure out how to use translation tools reasonably effectively to communicate to people with whom I don't share a common language.

    (Keep re-wording one's English form until it survives a round-trip intact. Won't necessarily work for some languages, but it seemed to produce good results)

  • Honestly I'm having a hard time trusting Google these days as a developer. They have a nasty habit of putting out half-baked stuff, and yanking other, useful stuff without much notice. Like this.

    I don't know that I want to keep following their stuff when they're so damn unreliable about it.

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      Yeah who do they think they are, not giving you everything you want for free?

      • by blair1q (305137)

        Free, as in beer?

        or Free, as in time?

        They are getting paid for my attention, and I am not. That's not "free". The cost of thing they give me is their payment for my attention, and yet it can not be worth what my attention is worth. So I'm still out something uncompensated.

  • Not even getting a sensible alternative to a discontinued free service that has obviously become their right. /sarcasm
  • christ, why google?

    you're willing to drop coin on free browsers and free email, but not translation services? you don't see any leverage here? really?

    how boneheaded

  • What they're doing with search APIs is instructive. Google closed down their SOAP search API years ago. They've deprecated their "AJAX search API" as well; that has two years of life left. There's still a search API for searching your own site: "Google Custom Search". But there's no API for searching other sites.

    Translation is getting the same treatment. Translation will be available for your own site, but there will be no API for using it generally.

    You can see where this is going. Any Google API which

  • Morons. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by unity100 (970058)
    Just make it a paid service. there are A LOT of websites and outfits desperately need such a service. if you dont do it, someone else will. better you at this point.
    • by Hadlock (143607)

      Why don't you just licence the technology from Google and offer this service yourself, then?

  • Seriously. I had just written the automatic string internationalizer last month for a new language & IDE (to be released as FLOSS). You set your locale/language, and the locales/languages you want to support, then as you are coding you can enter a string followed by an 'I' -- then the IDE will automatically build the language table section of the code for you, and depending on the chosen language of the other readers and/or coders they will see the correct text in their language. eg:

    greet' = "Good

    • You set your locale/language, and the locales/languages you want to support, then as you are coding you can enter a string followed by an 'I'

      Sounds like gettext [gnu.org] so far. But:

      the plugin for translations allows different services to be used.

      At this point, I've never seen a translator that produces results substantially better than Engrish [tvtropes.org].

  • I'm actually using the API for a purpose for which I believe it was intended. People who send me messages on my site get the message filtered through the API and if it's in a language other than English, it automatically translates it to English so 1. I can understand it without manually copy/pasting it into Google Translate, 2. cusswords and other abusive language will get translated into English prior to being run through my abuse filter, and 3. it's just awesome to see your messages automatically transl

  • There is an academic statistical machine translation system: http://demo.statmt.org/index.php [statmt.org] This is open source. Help improve it!
  • Well, given that they have an alternate way to use their service (their translate element), how long do you think it's going to take someone to wrap that in a externally accessible api, that opens the code, and clicks the button for us, then processes the resulting text. Screen scraping has been around for a long, long time.
  • These APIs are now deprecated but have no scheduled shutdown date:

    • Wave API
    • Code Search API
    • Diacritize API
    • Feedburner APIs
    • Finance API
    • Power Meter API
    • Sidewiki API

    These APIs will be shut down as per their deprecation policies:

    • Blog Search API
    • Books Data API and Books JavaScript API
    • Image Search API
    • News Search API
    • Patent Search API
    • Safe Browsing API (v1 only)
    • Translate API
    • Transliterate API
    • Video Search API
    • Virtual Keyboard API

    (via http://googlecode.blogspot.com/2011/05/spring-cleaning-for-some-of-our-apis.html [blogspot.com])

  • I use Google Translate on my personal web site for free low quality translations. :)

  • what a shame several people invested our time to build a useful maven plugin using the translate API. http://code.google.com/p/google-api-translate-java-maven-plugin/ [google.com] google should offer a commitment when it publishes an API that way we can decide upfront if we want to risk our free time
  • You mean like the automatic translation of Android app descriptions in the Android Market (done, horribly badly, by Google)? I want my app descriptions in English, not in some horrible literal translation to a language Translate can't handle. Even worse is the translation of web pages going through up to three different translations (ie Hakku Chinese -> Mandarin -> English -> Swedish, or Nynorsk -> Bokmål -> English -> Dutch).

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