Stellar Transformations – A Case Study in the Repercussions of Translation Poaching

Hey guys, a lot of you are or were ST fans, so I wanted to share this post I made on reddit not long ago with you, as this is something near and dear to my heart. Alas, it seems ST will be looking for a translator yet again…which is why provoked my (very wordy) post. Anyhow, just wanted to share. I try to avoid posting this sort of soapboxy stuff, but this is really, really close to the heart for me…

EDIT – Thanks for all the kind words, guys. Just to clarify though, this hasn’t been a problem for me, and you guys here at WW have been awesome (seriously), and I am incredibly thankful for having you all. This is more directed towards what I’ve seen on other sites, esp. w/regards to the game of ST football 🙁

127 thoughts on “Stellar Transformations – A Case Study in the Repercussions of Translation Poaching” - NO SPOILERS

  1. Hey, Ren, you convinced me to tell you, thanks for everything and I love you (in the most platonic way possible, sorry its not you its me). I may continue my silent reading way, however, this time I wholeheartedly thank you for the countless hours you’ve spent on CD, because boy did I binge that shit. You’re Amazing and be careful while you move 😀

  2. I’m a new reader here and I enjoy CD and ST story the most because it’s somewhat realistic except, of course, about magic and powers. Come to think of it. Those people who are berating the translators are somewhat alike with those ordinary people in CD and ST – disdains the MC!

    I suggest that you don’t focus your attention to the likes of them instead focus your energy on those people who admires your work. Anyway, I’m one of the admirers of your work. Thank you very much. And thank you also to the original author of the story.

    Your post on reddit is like wuxia (Minus Martial Arts and Sorcery). You should give it a title just for kicks.

  3. My views on this particular “issue” is that it was not initially meant to be poaching at all, as thunder specifically asked to work together on the project with Nightbreeze, because he also liked the novel and wanted to help in the translation effort.

    I think anyone that read what is posted on nightbreeze’s blog can tell that the translation is of fairly high quality.
    Sure, it is slow, and it would take multiple years to get towards the end, and as a reader, it always sucks to not be able to know what’s next, when you are enjoying the story.
    But at least, the quality makes it easier to accept (it’s not raw google translation, like some other sites, or full of grammatical errors and typing mistakes).

    What I really hate about the whole issue is the attitude of nightbreeze, disregarding the work of others as of lesser value, or even having no value at all, dropping the whole project just because the other translator (lesser quality, but faster release) added a donation button and working on translating chapters from where it was left off.
    If you went his way, it would mean that you have no right to be rewarded for your translations if you don’t do it from chapter 1, no matter if there were already more than a hundred chapter already with a more than decent translation.

    I get that having someone else take some of your audience sucks, especially when part of the people that went away come back only with bad attitude and veiled insults (well, the insults where already there for “not being fast enough” for them to begin with).
    But when you end up insulting your whole audience, as well as stopping all of your projects all together, the only thing you are doing is shutting yourself down, as well as making all of the people that stuck with you feel disappointed to have tried to give you thanks and feel stupid for having stuck with you in the first place.
    It also means that in your future projects, you can’t be trusted to see anything to the end, meaning that many people will not even bother reading what you translate next.

    All in all, we lost a good translator for a lot of wrong reasons.
    If you don’t want to work together with you, that’s fine, but can you really complain about them still picking it up?
    I do understand wanting to work on something you like from start to end, it really feels nice, but is it worth it to regard others as garbage and insult everyone?

  4. Many thanks to all the translators for doing a great job translating awesome novels and investing time so that, us, readers can enjoy these awesome novels. My heartfelt gratitude to all of you awesome translators. Hope you won’t get burnout and stay healthy as always. Beware of trolls~

  5. Lol… Ah, on the link you provided to World of Watermelons, what Stunned_Stunner said to James was hilarious.

    Ren, what you translators do for us readers is a great service that can’t be repaid. Every time a series I love gets stalled/stopped entirely because the TL quits/hiatus because of the ingrates with far to much free time to write hateful comments… Well, I wish I could be as eloquent as Stunned_Stunner was, but I can’t. Just know that that is .01% of the readership out there, while 95% are silent readers like myself, and the rest are the kind of readers the rest of us should be. Thanks for all of your great work Ren, & to all the other LN/WN/Manga/Manhwa/Manhua/Anime TLer’s & other staff out there that do great works for us that can’t.

  6. Wow… I was wondering why ST wasn’t getting updated… no wonder. Looks like I’ll have to learn Chinese if I ever want to know what happens next <_<
    This is why I never comment on anything; positive or negative

    And the only reason I registered here was just to say that I like your attitude, Ren. Both in regards to translating and (not) poaching.
    Thanks for your hard work 🙂

    Although, I am a bit saddened to hear that you will not be picking up ST. Ever since you mentioned it in that old post, I was hoping you'd pick it up once you were done with CD. Oh well…

  7. Wow, Wuxia World really is amazing with all of the dedicated translators translating complex Chinese characters. Thanks for all of the great work you guys do. It’s a shame that ST has such a bad history. Hopefully Ren’s post will make rude commenters think about the many holes that translators have to dig through in order to deliver content, and make those commenters think twice before posting something.

  8. Hi Ren, it is good that you have raised this, to start discussion about the issue of ungratefulness and lack of patience of leechers (readers), and the lack of decency and collaboration of poacher translators towards other translators .

    I too desire for all the novels that I read to be translated in high frequency, say few chapters daily like CD MGA etc, I just love to immerse myself in every story and wanting to know what’s going to happen next. BUT, I acknowledge the fact that doing the translation is tasking and at the same time, a HUMAN BEING is behind it- meaning they have life other than doing translation. So I want to share my DEEPEST ADMIRATION AND GRATITUDE for your dedication in spending time “digging a hole” ? despite experiencing other events in your lives.

    Also my answer to my “black hole” of desire of reading LNs read other novels, I mean you might discover something new and good to read. I recently discovered NOVELUPDATES.COM, there I discovered other translated works, which is awesome. I think this can be a good central community of all translators and readers too.

    So with the poachers, are they really poachers with bad intentions? I really don’t know but I guess, they should be decent enough to inform the previous translators which will help with the consistency of the translation especially the terms being used. Furthermore, collaboration among translators can even make sure that the LNs won’t suddenly be dropped. Also, this can even improve the tranlations and at the same time have a more solid community of translators. If this vicious cycle can’t be resolved then we might not even be able to read some of the novels to its end.

    Lastly, I hope despite all this current drama, all translators can take positive energy from the number views and positive comments they are getting, as they say, “only give time to people to people that matters to you”, and I think those are the people who supports you despite the lack of translations or whatever reasons there maybe.

    PS: wow this is a first for me, but I can’t help but share my 2 cents.

    1. Hi5 mate! I share the same sentiments as you. I’m just so grateful that there are awesome ppl out there who are willing to bring this exciting novels to us.

      I still remember that I found our about wuxia/xianxia novel thru reading Legendary Moonlight Sculptor, a Korean vrmmo light novel. I asked for suggestions on new light novels to read and some one recommended me to read Stellar Transformations! It was my first ever Chinese translated novel.
      After reading finish he man’s translation of ST, I discovered the whole new world of wuxia novels! It has been such an exciting experience for me!
      Just wanted to share.

    2. Collaboration doesn’t always mean faster translations so I can understand why some translators don’t want to collaborate.

      When a single person is translating by themselves they can decide on what terminology they will use, what to transliterate, and keep the language and grammar structure consistent throughout their work fairly easily. When you have 2 or more translators this all becomes either a negotiation or a giant mess.

      As a result editors and translation checking are then often required. But editors who can read both languages are as rare as translators and typically this means one of the translators involved gets stuck editing someone else’s work instead of translating. It also means the translation can also be he held up if a team is waiting for a translator to finish a chapter.

      A classic example of this is LMS which spent something like 8 months on hiatus with numerous chapters ready because a translator translated half a chapter, then quit without telling their team. The team waited for months before releasing their chapters expecting that translator to finish the one they had started. Eventually they dropped the project.

      A raft of other translators have been having major issues due to lack of translation checkers or editors too. Several I read have recently released huge backlogs of unedited translations simply to appease their leechers.

      Another common problem is people volunteering to translate, then producing a translation highly inconsistent with the current translation, then immediately quitting. This means the original translator spends a lot of time editing the work, discussing with the new translator what terminology will be used etc.
      then suddenly after all that work are right back where they started.

      I wouldn’t blame any translator who has dealt with these sort of issues for not wanting to collaborate with unknown translators. And these reasons are why some groups are quite vocal about not requiring “assistance” as this help, in their experience, has created more work rather than less work.

      1. Right, these are some of the major reasons why I never collaborate. There are some people I would consider making exceptions for, but most of those people like to work alone as well xD

  9. What led me to CD was Stellar transformation. I was looking for something else to read and I found it but I feel really bad that this is happening to ST right now. I am really happy that the guys on this site are … For the most part nice and ready to attack those who aren’t. I have seen the attack b4, it’s quite horrid. Anyways, I just hope people realize that the translators are bot beings from another world with superhuman mental capacity and endurance.
    Thanks Ren, hope u enjoy ur Viet vac.

  10. I’m one of ST fans and it makes me sad seeing what happened to ST now. Wuxiaworld should never have dropped ST, you guys have big enough ‘fanbase’ here that will read anything you guys translate even if some other poacher translator stole one of your projects.

  11. I agree. I’ve always hated how people whine about the speed, especially when they do nothing to help. Like they are somehow doing you a favor by reading your hard work for free….really? And if you did donate, that still doesn’t give you the right to complain. Unless you’re personally donating $100++ a day consistently for a long time…. Then we need to have a different talk, lol.
    I have to say though, I’ve always been even more disgusted by the groups or individuals that bite on the provocation and try to steal the project. And for what? A pack of wolves that will turn on you as soon as you have a real life problem or need a small break?

    I have always felt that if you really like a project, you should speak with the person currently doing it. Try to work with them. If they would like to have an extra hand, great. Keep in mind though, it’s still their project. And sometimes you might have to “give them face” in regards to choices on the project.
    On the reverse side. If they want to continue on their own, then find your own goddam project. There are possible projects all over the place. Granted it’s a bit like mining for gold. You’re probably going to find a lot of iron ore before you find any gold/silver/precious gems. But it will be YOUR GOLD and you can then choose to work on it as you see fit. Whether you work on your own or accept help in the future if it’s offered, just like the other person.
    The main thing really is, why the hell make an enemy over a project, or some small minded whiny children, when you can make a friend or at least an acquaintance that could be helpful in the future?

    I could go on, but I think I’ll stop there. *shrug*

  12. This happens with LN and mangas all the time it seems. As someone that donates every now and then… it is really frustrating to put some money towards a new translator (since the last one gave it up or slowed to an unbearable degree) and then they translate 4-10 chapters and just take your money and run. I understand its a donation and you have no obligations to return anything for it… but honestly you suck. I haven’t seen it much in the LN community as I have seen it in the manga community.

  13. It was an interesting read. The sad thing is, it should be common sense that you shouldn’t pester anyone undertaking a laborious task of which you have no part. People have become conditioned to act first without thinking at all. When the consequences of their actions bear fruit, it’s usually too late.

    People need to exercise that filter called their brain and ask themselves before they post:
    1) am I adding to the discussion in a positive manner?
    2) am I acknowledging the efforts of someone else?
    3) how will people feel after this post?
    4) will I regret posting this later?

  14. Well RIP Stellar Transformations!
    Luckily I decided to MTL it early on when he man dropped it. I tried to follow up with Rylain and then Thunder but its all so disjointed since there is no obvious right or wrong in translation…
    Well I hope my Almight Sovereign Ren sama (and hairy feetness) will pick up and the mighty work of retranslating ST too. This is just a faint hope of I mine. Reality won’t be kind wnought to fulfil this wish… I will just have to rely on MTL for ST

  15. I kind of felt like making a thank you post every chapter would be kind of repetitive and effortless, but reading up on the post, I guess I was wrong. I’ll try to start saying thanks on every chapter I read, starting now.

    Thanks for your translations, Ren!

    1. Hey, it’s not necessary, and that’s not the point; again, the post was really directed more towards people who were just being asshats. Maybe instead of ‘be nice to your translators’, I should’ve put ‘don’t be a jerk to your translators’ xD

      1. Wasn’t there something on the rant from five months ago where you were explaining that translators can’t see the happy expressions people make when they see a new chapter? So they don’t get that reward of grateful smiles that people who volunteer for free out in their communities would see?

        1. Yes, this is true! Even more so for smaller translators though; you guys give me huge amounts of love as it is, and I think the same is true for all WW translators! 🙂

  16. Hi Ren. (did i get your name right?) Im a new member, probably about 2 weeks old at most. I’ve been silent all these while, just reading to myself. Throughout these 2 weeks, I binged CD, ATG, MGA, ISSTH and ST(had to follow the hopping of sites for this one) and i love it all. Everyday, im checking for new updates, everyday seeing a new update, everyday enjoying the little wonderful reading time i can scrape out of my lifestyle. I just read what you posted on reddit a few minutes ago, and decided i cannot stay silent, just this time. ST is amazing, truly. the countless sleepless days and nights i had, just to binge up to the latest chapter was enjoyable. Too enjoyable. ST deserves a stable translator. ST is too good to be thrown around like this.What got me subscribed to this web was CD, truly amazing, but when i read ST, it totally topped my novel charts. I cannot stand to watch ST be thrown around like this anymore. Its too sad. Ren, i implore you(in the deepest sense of the word) to hopefully take up ST if its possible. A chapter a week, or even two weeks is fine, as long as its stable, and knowing you, the word “stable” doesnt even begin to describe how consistent your work is. I appreciate everything youve done, i thank you for allowing me the most joyous sleepless nights ive ever had, and that you’ll keep up the good work. Much love, from one of but your many followers.

    1. Hey Nikfhm, thanks for being a fan! I think a number of good translators are interested in ST now, and I have my hands full with the move for the upcoming future anyhow. Hopefully, ST will be resurrected; I hold an abiding love for it as well!

  17. Hello venerable translators-dono =) I fell head over heels indulging in xianxia novels and I am really sad about Stellar Transformation lacking translators. I can only do pin yin does am not qualified at all to translate but I hope I can speed up the recruiting process. Is it possible to set up a small recruitment project here at wuxiaworld so fans of Stellar transformation could donate or contribute to the hiring of a new translator. Like setting a target of 300$ and using it to help the new translator to kick start with some motivation and love for Stellar Transformation… Please please do consider it…. beloved translators-dono

      1. Omg I didn’t notice that….. There wasn’t a direct post I think…. I couldn’t find it >,<

        p.s. You're so cool, replying to everyone like this…. thần ban phước cho

  18. In my mind a good translator simply is someone who takes pride in their work and has open communication with their readers. As stated translating can be thankless and hard work and to have people poach a project out from under you can be lame.

    That said I can understand reader frustration with translators. The vast majority of projects are left unfinished and usually end with little to no warning about when or why they’re stopping. Burn out with this stuff is clearly high so it’s understandable but that doesn’t make it any less frustrating.

    I just wish there was less ego and more honesty involved in some of these projects. Cooperation between translators seems like it could go a long way in resolving a lot of issues. It’s one of the reasons I really enjoy this site. Feels like a community of translators working together to put out great work. I like that even more than the fast translations.

  19. I’ll be honest: I never really planned to make an account or comment. It was a bit of a hassle, and I felt like I had better things to do – of course, I never really considered it from the translators point of view, which was in hindsight, both callous and hypocritical of me; as an artist, I know the joy of someone commenting on your work and the disappointment that comes from a lack of reaction; I’m even familiar with the depression and burning hate from someone who rages on your work.
    Knowing this, I feel bad that I never felt the need to comment or say thank you before – I suppose it was simply because I felt that translating was a different kind of work, or maybe I felt that the efforts involved was less than what I do, but that’s hubris on my part, so again, apologies. In any case, different viewpoints aside, it still doesn’t excuse the fact that I’ve neglected simple courtesy and respect by declining to comment my thanks before, and I intend to correct that by giving my thanks as much as possible with every XianXia story I follow from hereon. You may not have been intending to, but you’ve convinced me of doing so anyway, Rem.

    Anyway, I suppose now is as good a time to start:

    Thank you all for the time and effort you’ve spent on producing these high-quality translations, they are truly a service to us all!

  20. Oh dear, the manners of some people…

    Quite frankly, the readers complaining about slow translations are staring a gift horse in the mouth! I bet the majority of the readers don’t spend a dime to reap the benefits of what all the hard-working translators post freely online… To then get upset when the pace slows down? Ridiculous…

    That said, I too know the frustration, or perhaps the sorrow, when one of your favorite stories being dropped but as far as I’m concerned such situations should leave the reader with the following options: contribute (either financially or by ASKING to help), shut up and wait, or learn Chinese. How come common decency has no place online?

    Finally, a big “Hurrah!” for Wuxiaworld – you all do amazing work and I hope my fellow readers and I will continue to treat you with the respect and gratitude you deserve!

  21. Thank you very much for translating, I understand that it is a very tiring job and I think all of here at WW feel really grateful to all the translators 😀

  22. This was a really interesting read, Ren. I never thought about these things before and I’m glad you brought it to our attention. I’ve been in the position of being the guy doing all the work for free in an online project, and I feel like it’s too easy to forget on the internet that when you demand progress, you are demanding it from a real life human being on the other side of the screen. Would [you] demand your mother or sister to translate something for you? Of course not. So why is it okay to yell at strangers for the same thing? Obviously it’s not! I feel like that is easy to forget or ignore.

    People need to realize we’re all real life people and we have feelings that get hurt when people post “This was crap” “Not good enough” “Why didn’t you post this yet?” It sucks. It hurts your feelings. Even if you’re an Internet Tough Guy who’s used to dealing with it, after day in and day out of taking shit from random internet people it takes its toll. Like you said, digging holes isn’t fun.

    Thank you for all your hard work, Ren, FBT, and every other translator out there.

  23. While I am sad that you won’t pick up Stellar Transformations I understand. I want to add that I am thankful to all the translators that work on the stories I get to read for free, and though it oftens sucks to be stuck on a cliffhanger chapter for a week, I don’t complain because I realize the translators have lives to lead and I am benefiting from their hard work by being able to read interesting stories for free

  24. I Really do feel bad for all this hate, im a leecher and i sometimes i’m one of the worst, i do forget to say thx (if i ever think about it, i just want to be one of the first posting a comment if not o well maybe next time XD) and do want a faster pace (even if i just don’t post a thing), i do feel bad that sometimes i actually agreewith the readers that says that they want a faster pace.

    But i do understand that behind this LN there’s a person that have a life, a family, maybe is studying or working, or has an annoying cough cough lovely girlfriend and can’t keep up the pace…, and we all leecher should feel well that at least this novel that we love is been translated by someone because if you have a few years (like me) reading, you have found out that the LN that you love is been left behind (drooped ) and it never ever get or will get a new translator that’s willing to take it where it was left.

    So i would love to say thx to all those amazing translator that are willing to keep working for us leechers; Ren and wuxiaworld group, FBT, Gravity group (btth i meant GGP, taffy, leo -do you have enough milk tea?- O.O you are just to many i will take like an hour to say thx to you all, but i do appreciate your work, realllyyyy!!!), Ryu (aboukkeennn!!!! XD), Alyschu and her sla.. cough cough ve cough cough group, deathblade & madam deathblade, snowtime group (wow so many LN im reading), Bagel-san, Void group, Click click (o.O it’s a group?) Neotranslation (jigglypuff??) and there are just to many LN that i love and read and so many people translating, editing, cleaning, taking the trash out, bringing something to drink (uhmmm im getting out of course here… ) all those nice and beautiful people.

    I’m really in debt with all of you thanx a lot and keep digging XD! (i’ll hope that someday i will be able to help you all in someway)

  25. Honestly I think cookies to all you bothered to read the rant, many a leacher would just ignore it, that said I completely agree with it, though like others I’m sure my actions or lack of at times don’t support that.

    The most ideal thing for me as a leacher would of be if all these projects ran like Word Master currently does a group of translators working together translating editing and everything else keeping the quality fairly standardised while nominating chapters they intend to work on seperately resulting in a lot more chapters for us leachers over all.

    Though I also read plenty of things that might only get a release once a month or every few months, it doesn’t change my level of gratitude though it might effect my memory of past chapter events 🙂 not so bad with Japanese material I’ve been exposing myself to it for many many years that even though I can’t speak read or write it, all 3 aspects feel as natural to me as if it was in English. Chinese and Korean are harder, especially with names of people and in xianxia all of terms on acupuncture points etc. This is basically the only complaint I have on “slow” releases, one that my own memory is the real issue.

    This website is like a small paradise for me, every novel I have started I love, and this somewhat unfortunately includes ST. Since I only found this website around April or May this year I haven’t followed the novel since its early days and have only seen it hosted on here and only now learn of what sounds like its ill-fated future as such I call it unfortunate that ST is one of the novels I’m reading. It was the first I started reading after being reference when I was reading Xian Ni. Since then I also read CD ATG and MGA to the point I check several times a day for more chapters. As I love each of them I would honestly be devastated if they lost their translator due to idiots running their mouths when they can’t and don’t contribute anything productive to the releases.
    Negative comments on releases should be limited to the events of the chapter and never on the translators lack of effort in bringing faster releases. I think the next words would be as kryptonite to any translators reading this, so advise you look away 🙂 I’m not responsible for any translators that may die upon reading it!

    Many of the novels here are hitting 2000 chapters total and often have 2000 words or more a chapter when released, so that means a translator releasing chapters totalling over 4000000 words by the time they finished the novel. Its an insane amount of work and effort and nothing but gratitude and praise should be given to the translators and their teams who put that effort in and get the work done.

    To RWX, Flowerbridgetoo, and Alyschu and everyone else that works hard to bring us more to read, thank you!

    1. I forgot something and was too slow to update my first comment.

      In regards to poaching I can understand your viewpoint to some extent. Normally people go to work and get paid to do a job, regardless of if they enjoy it or not, regardless of if there are other things they would rather do, ultimately its necessary to be able to live in the modern world.
      Translating is different at least at this level where its not your job. You don’t get paid, but you work hard, the only thing you can get of it is sharing it with others and you do it because its something you enjoyed and you believe others will as well. Normally would watch shows like Lost, 24 and others and discuss amongst friends family and work collegues.
      By translating you get to join a much bigger community of people who share your interests, and everyone loves being able to talk about the things they enjoy. However since you put so much effort in, just Like if you cooked a big meal for a family/friends a few words of thanks and a little praise go a long way in helping you feel it was worth the effort.

      Now if instead of praise and thanks you get nothing but complaints of course anyone would wonder why they bothered. As for people undermining your efforts and translating to prove they can do it better or faster or whatever, the vast majority of sites I visit are constantly recruiting more staff and you can never have too many translators. I can think of at least a 10 series of the top of my head where the translators are looking for help in translating it. Most are students and either their English or the novels original language will hinder them providing translations they are satisfied with.

      Us leachers can merely give thanks, encouragement and respect, it is after all the limits of our ability to help. Translators also need to give respect and if a series is struggling offer the translators and teams working on it some help I believe most would readily accept instead of competing in something that has no real rewards.

      Of course all this is just the words of a leacher

  26. This post made me realize that I really should thank the translator and other people (author and other things)
    So, Thank you Ren for translating CD. Was going to wait till the last chapter to register, but meh that is too far away.

  27. First i want to say soryy for every translation that i read without typing even a thank you hiks 🙁
    While its indeed easy to do, but i am rather forgot easily after read the chapter, feeeling too happy and excited make me so.
    Sooo, #bow ” #dogeza, thank you all of u translator who keep digging by your own will, may heaven help you in reality and in the understanding of profound law of digging hole !

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