Indonesia is using online games to understand how citizens use internet slang to complain about government.

The Translator Gator game involves translating government-related phrases from English into six Indonesian languages, with mobile phone credits given as rewards.

But the game is not just for words from dictionaries. Players also have to translate “informal words” like slang, jargon and abbreviations which are frequently used online.

Officials could use this dictionary of translations to improve artificial intelligence to better understand citizens’ complaints on social media and government websites.

Computers find it harder to make sense of slang since there is no dictionary-like reference for them to learn from. In Indonesia, the challenge is bigger because provinces and islands have different languages and dialects.

“On social media, such variations — including jargon — make building a list of keywords more challenging as words, context and, by extension, meaning change from region to region,” writes Pulse Lab Jakarta, the agency behind the project.

Translator Gator

The game has four parts. In the first, people translate phrases from English to Indonesian or a local language like Bahasa Jawa, Sunda, Minang, Bugis or Melayu. Other parts of the game are to check translations submitted by others; suggest synonyms for translations; and classify words and phrases into categories.

Play the game at