Google’s Failing Grade – Chrome-based Chinese-to-English Translator

Being listed on Alexa Top 500 means something – or so I figure every time I hear it being used again in an article as a benchmark.

It’s been months, and maybe even a year now, since my last visit to Alexa. The list has certainly evolved and shuffled since my last time seeing it:

There would be no point for my having mentioned Alexa, had it not led to my discovery of two precarious websites resting amongst US-based powerhouse tech companies.

The two sites I notices that stuck out in the top 20 were:
#17:    (Direct url:

What does a Top-ranked Chinese Site look like?

So naturally, I had to explore a bit. I visited Taobao first and noticed (what appeared to me as) a completely jumbled page covered in Chinese writing. Using Google’s Always-Most-Recent Chrome Browser, I accepted when prompted for a Chinese-to-English Page Translator:

During this interaction, I thought to myself, what a wonderful service and technology this has become – And one my children will likely almost-completely take for granted.

Before any translations are accepted (on the Chrome toolbar-dropdown) it looks like this:

After proceeding with the Translate option the page looks like this:

It was hard on the eyes. And for a website globally ranked in the top 20, I questioned why Google’s Chrome-to-Translate technologies wasn’t able to translate a site many consider, “the Amazon of China”.

After Leaving Taobao, I returned to the top rankings list. I found Sina, which is currently ranked at #17. This is when something not-at-all-pretty was uncovered (after again accepting Translate):

I assure you I was set to 100% (default) zoom in my browser settings. Here is a closer look:

Just to be sure, I translated the Japan-based version of Yahoo (aka Yahoo! Japan):

And it looks dramatically better.

The Challenge Exists Especially with Images

I am aware the Chinese language is one of the toughest for any algo to consistantly crack. And it may also have a lot to do with the image-based media displayed throughout such China-based pages.

examples of main slideshow (middle of homepage; taken from

I just wanted to bring this up. And maybe the guys at Google can think further into this problem. It is a pretty big problem when you think into the underlying contexts (in the sense of limiting access to shared information; business politics) and maybe the guys at Google can think into it a bit more.

…or maybe they already have and they “know what they’re doing.”

Note: I left out, which is #11 on the Alexa Global List. So that there would be one high-ranked gem leftover for readers yet to discover.