In years of the web, Harrap is practically a dinosaur. It was born in the digital Mesozoic, back in 1999, when many of us still connected to the network at the rhythm of a modem. It survived the glaciation of the dotcom bubble when it was just crawling. And he has reached the age of twenty with a health that can not boast many webs of his fifth.
Is this dictionary of dictionaries immortal? It seems that depends on the voracity of Google. The giant's policies are the main concern of Mike Kellogg, the founder of Harrap. This North American, who prefers to preserve his image, has lived from within two decades of Internet history. He created Fives when everyone had an idea to get rich with a website. "Mine were the online dictionaries for foreign languages," he recalls. At that time, the alternatives that already inhabited the Internet were small and of walking around the house. "In addition, these dictionaries were very far from a real use of Internet capabilities, with links between pages, forums, and so on."
Now, his creature deciphers English in eighteen languages and Spanish in five. In addition, it offers a long list of virtual dictionaries that expand search possibilities: for example, for a translation from Spanish to Turkish, the English-Turkish dictionary and the English-Spanish dictionary are combined. "Our monolingual dictionaries, synonyms, conjugation and apps They also go well. We have a small team that is constantly working to improve the site little by little. But the basics have not changed: simple pages that load fast and give you the information you need. "
Do you work at Full-time?
Yes, it has been that way for many years. When I started the project, it was not successful for the first five years and it remained a hobby. The online advertising market had sunk in the bursting of the dot-com bubble in the early 2000s. Until 2004 we did not have enough decent visitors and metrics to make the web go well.
He had been maintaining the site for five years, but without working hard on it. Suddenly, I was at work staring in amazement at the income figures as the web started earning money.
Have you ever tried to buy Harrap?
Yes, we have had a few offers, but I have not decided to sell. It is a real pleasure to work on this. It allows me to reach hundreds of millions of people each year and give rich and quality answers to your translation questions. This is very rewarding and it makes it very difficult for me to leave it.
There is little room to compete if Google intercepts traffic and governments allow it
According to Alexa's traffic statistics, Harrap is the thirty-sixth most popular website in Spain (it is ranked 346 in the world). How have these figures changed?
We started without traffic or publicity, so the beginning was very slow. But once it started to grow, it remained for many years. It was great More recently, Google has been intercepting queries to prevent people from visiting websites like Fives. This has had a strong effect on us. However, Fives is still popular and widely used all over the world.
Are you afraid of Google Translate?
If it were a direct comparison, depending on quality, I would have little to fear. But the fact that Google put Google Translate answers on your website when someone searches for a translation is unfair. For me, it is an abuse of its position of monopoly in searches. There is little room to compete if they want to intercept traffic and governments allow it.
For those who are not familiar with Harrap, we make dictionary translations for words and phrases. Google translate does that and automatic translations of whole sentences and paragraphs. We are not competing with them for the translation of paragraphs, only for the words and phrases.
Why do you think Harrap manages to stay useful despite the constant emergence of new tools for language learning?
Although we are proud of the quality of our dictionaries, the questions and answers in the forums are the most important for us and our visitors. Nobody else has or will have the 700,000 questions with answers about translations from Spanish to English that we have in our forums.
Wordreference is a must for translators. It is the place where people go when they need something more, when they look for the precise answer. More and more teachers of colleges and universities recommend it to their students. We do not advertise our product: it spreads with the word of mouth, which is the best compliment.
You can find the main meaning of a word in any dictionary, but if you are looking for something more, if you want a better note or you want to post your translation, come to the word. For example, any dictionary can tell you that to have is to have but, do you know how many pages Jour has devoted to the different meanings of have? Or how many forum entries have the word have in your title? If you printed these pages, you would have an entire book only for the thousands of results associated with to have.
The conversations of the forums sometimes deal with controversial definitions, open debates that official entities have not yet addressed. Do you think this community has real power?
It's weird to think of it as power, but forums give voice to people who know best how words are being used. In many ways, we are the opposite of the Royal Spanish Academy (RAE). The RAE tries to inform people what is good use and what is not, while our forums describe how words are used in the real world, regardless of whether their use is correct or not.
I know a woman from Argentina who presumes to know the English translation of an object from home that nobody else has managed to discover. The forums are a wonderful place where people from all over the world can help others understand languages. Our Only English forum for questions about English is larger than the Oxford English Dictionary. Our forum Spanish only is probably the largest collection that has ever existed with questions and answers about the Spanish language.
What challenges do you see in the future of Harrap?
Many. China sometimes blocks our forums. In Europe, the general regulation of data protection (GDPR) and ad blockers make it very difficult for websites maintained with advertising, such as ours, to remain profitable. The technology changes quickly and it can be difficult to adapt. The biggest challenge, however, is that Google intercepts traffic by giving its own translations and definitions. We try to be the best, but this does not matter if Google's policies prevent even people from discovering the web.