denise: Image: Me, facing away from camera, on top of the Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome (Default)
Denise ([staff profile] denise) wrote in [site community profile] dw_biz2012-06-19 09:23 pm

RFC: Specifying languages in profiles: how should we do it?

This entry is being posted on behalf of the programmer who is working on a bug that sprang from a suggestion to make it easy for people to find other people blogging in languages they speak. (They wrote it; I'm just posting it! I don't want to take credit for any of this.) We're looking for some thoughts on our current ideas and want to make sure we aren't missing something super obvious :)

Turning it over now:



Way way back in 2009, it was suggested that we create a way of stating which languages a journal uses. There's obvious advantages to this: it'll make it easier to find non-anglophone areas of Dreamwidth for those as want to, as a first or second or third etc language. This is a feature we're going to implement: what we want to know is how. (For those of you who are interested, there's a fair bit of discussion going on in the Bugzilla comments, but it's all repeated here.)

This post has been separated out into the separate areas that need refinement. In each section we outline our current thoughts: we'd love it if you gave us feedback on them, and we'd love it even more if you came up with an obvious better solution we've not thought of yet. :-)

The areas in question are:
  1. Languages field: usage
  2. Language entry options
  3. What does our standardised list look like?
  4. How do we choose the languages on our standardised list?
  5. How do we organise the list?
  6. Any Other Business


1. Languages field: usage


The original suggestion was for a field allowing people to state which languages they update in. Users are quite likely to enter languages they read in any such field: we need to think about how to handle this.

Options we can think of are:
  1. word the legend very carefully, and accept that the field will sometimes be used inaccurately
  2. provide separate "writes in" and "reads" boxes under an overall "Languages" heading
  3. if we go with 2, optionally include a "reads is the same as writes" (or "writes is the same as reads") tickybox, to reduce work for the user


2. Language entry options


Users will want to enter more than one language; therefore, this needs to be possible.

Ideally we would provide a standardised list so that we did not end up with confusion between "French", "french", "francais", "français" etc all pointing to different places, as they currently do if listed in interests.

However, this means we need to think about how to present this list. Some ideas that have been tossed around so far:
  1. provide check-boxes, possibly making the languages section collapsible. Advantage: easiest to select multiple options. Disadvantage: takes up a lot of use on the Manage Profile page, and will probably be edited much less frequently than e.g. interests or bio.
  2. provide a single drop-down, with the option to "add another" to produce another drop-down.
  3. provide a free-text box that behaves like the "Tags" field in the Create Entries page: it is possible to type in anything that you like, but you will be given suggestions from a standardised list and you'll be able to click "browse" to be shown the full list with check-boxes.
  4. implement one of (1) or (2), and provide a link reading something like "your language not listed?", which will reveal a free-text box for languages not on our standardised list.


Combinations of the above are naturally also possible, and we're very open to better ideas!

3. What does our standardised list look like?


As discussed above, we would like a standardised list. This gives us two problems: what our standard should be.

In comments in [site community profile] dw_suggestions, it was suggested that we use BCP-47 international language tags, wherein, for instance, "en-GB" is British English and "ta-SG" is Singaporean Tamil. It's also possible to specify scripts, allowing people to distinguish whether they're writing ru-Latn (Russian in Latin script) or ru-Cyrl (Russian in Cyrillic script).

Using only the BCP-47 tags is somewhat opaque, but they do allow a way to be very specific -- while also potentially allowing translation.

One possible model would be associating the BCP-47 tag names and the language names or descriptions in a more readable form, i.e. en would be associated with the string "English". (The ideal would be to make these associations such that if translations of Dreamwidth occur, it would be trivial to generate a file of language names in the target language while preserving the associations, e.g. "Anglais" would automatically map to en.)

We also need to consider whether it would be useful to allow people to restrict their searches further. For example, a user searching for "de" (German) would have all results returned, including de-AT (Austrian German), de-CH (Swiss German), de-DE (standard German), de-1996 (German pre-spelling-reform), etc - but do we want to allow these subtags, and therefore allow people to narrow their searches for only people writing in Swiss German?

4. How do we choose the languages on our standardised list?


Of course, the biggie - and the one we'd most like input on - is how to choose the "seed list" languages in the first place. This is the area where - we think - we're most likely to muck up and (at best) create an unhelpful list, so it's where we'd most like your input.

Methods currently under consideration (as ever, please suggest more):
  1. Grab the top 15 countries from Dreamwidth's usage statistics, and use their official languages as the seed list. Short and sweet. Possibly too short; privileges English over native, regional, and indigenous languages in countries that were colonised (New Zealand is the notable exception to this). Would result in ~25 languages on the list.
  2. Grab the top 15 countries from Dreamwidth's usage statistics, and use their official languages and their recognised regional languages as the seed list. This would mean that for, say, the UK, in addition to English there would also be the options Irish, Scottish Gaelic, Ulster Scots, Welsh, Cornish, etc. This list would be much, much longer (probably 50-150 languages on the list).
  3. hold a poll in a [site community profile] dw_news post, and populate the seed list with any language that gets more than n votes (in which case, what should n be?)
  4. what kind of suggestions system should we have for adding new languages to the standard list?
  5. some combination of the above with the top 15 global languages, which, while it adds length, has the advantage that we're not privileging English quite so ridiculously.


5. How do we organise the list?


  • by language tag? i.e. en-GB, en-US, en-CA..?
  • by language name? i.e. English, French, Japanese, Tagalog...?
  • by both? i.e. English (en) --> en-GB/British English, en-CA/Canadian English; French (fr) --> fr-CA/Canadian French, fr-FR...?
  • by country? i.e. Canada: English, French; Singapore: English, Tamil, Chinese, Malay?


6. Any Other Business?


We're sure there's things we're forgetting - these questions are only what's come out of two people thinking about this on-and-off for two days, and more brains is better brains! Please, please let us know what we're missing, and let us know what you think the correct course of action among the options listed above should be.
dragonfly: A large dragonfly drawn on a field of some crop. (crop circle dragonfly)

[personal profile] dragonfly 2012-06-20 02:01 am (UTC)(link)
On the subject of how to choose the seed list languages, I recommend against #4, where you go with the top 15 global languages. While I understand about not wishing to over-privilege English, I think it makes more sense to draw from the most common languages people on DW actually use (whether you determine that by a poll or some other method).

While it may well be that those top 15 global languages intersect nicely with the languages used by DW users, it also might not, so I say go with what's used, not with a Meta-Planet-Earth approach.

(uses crop circle icon to represent extra-terrestrial viewpoint)
ironed_orchid: pin up girl reading kant (Default)

[personal profile] ironed_orchid 2012-06-20 02:22 am (UTC)(link)
I would say that anyone who has ever set up a computer or phone and installed programs on it, has probably been asked to choose from the international language tags at least once.

As long as it's not something you have to select to get your account up and running, it's good to have that level of specificity.
qem_chibati: Coloured picture of Killua from hunter x hunter, with the symbol of Qem in the corner. (A cat made from Q, E, M) (Default)

[personal profile] qem_chibati 2012-06-20 02:42 am (UTC)(link)
With selecting languages, wouldn't it make more sense to use a option similar to filters instead of ticky boxes? Where you can mass select by pressing ctrl or shift, but it doesn't take as much space

Don't do sub languages, and regional languages, unless by popular request. I think it will make this list too long and it won't be used. (there's 350-700 austalian aboriginal language families). I think periodically checking the freetext values is a pain, but highly desirable.

I wouldn't rely on dreamwidth countries of origin, due to the migratory aspect of the world, although I think those languages should be prioritized.there are unlikely to be many people from china, but there are likely to be many whocan read/write in simplified or traditional Chinese.
emceeaich: A close-up of a pair of cats-eye glasses (Default)

[personal profile] emceeaich 2012-06-20 02:51 am (UTC)(link)
Dynamic controls for selecting languages that allow for drilling through regions to languages, i.e. South East Asia > Cambodia > Khmer | French | Cambodian French ?

[personal profile] rho 2012-06-20 03:02 am (UTC)(link)
Have an enormous list of languages. Display the top n. Then have an option for bringing up the full list if your language isn't displayed in the top n. Have the top n determined dynamically by the n languages that have the most users already.

Advantages:
Doesn't really matter what your main seed languages are, as they'll be overwritten by actual use.
Can accommodate and acknowledge a sudden influx of people keeping journals in, eg, Navajo without any administrative insight needed.
Is simple to use for most users, and actually possible to use for everyone.

Disadvantages:
Extra DB load to determine what the top n languages actually are. (Which I don't think would amount to much, but IANA DB engineer).
You'd have to make sure that the enormous list of languages was pretty damn comprehensive, which could be difficult.

[personal profile] delladea 2012-06-20 03:11 am (UTC)(link)
Have an enormous list of languages. Display the top n. Then have an option for bringing up the full list if your language isn't displayed in the top n. Have the top n determined dynamically by the n languages that have the most users already.

+1
montuos: cartoon portrait of myself (Default)

[personal profile] montuos 2012-06-20 03:24 am (UTC)(link)
1. Is it actually necessary to have a "reads" setting? Perhaps I'm being dense here, but when the goal is to find languages written, I can't think of a good reason to record languages read, other than to have an "exclude languages not on my reads-list" search. I think maybe simply labelling it "Posting language" or something like that might suffice.

2. I really like the tag-style entry box idea. Unless you typo egregiously, the search function works really well to pull up anything even remotely similar.

3. I really like the idea of using the BCP-47 tags, as long as they are used in conjunction with actual human-readable language names. The completist data-wrangler in me always desires being able to sort with the highest granularity, although I can see a certain utility in restricting to language families.

4. I think holding a poll would be the best way to find out which languages are preferred and posted in by actual users. And given that English is the world's greatest second language, I think English should simply be assumed to be used, and ignored for purposes of this poll. Maybe take the official languages of the top 15 DW-stats countries plus the top 15 global languages for a ticky-box poll, plus a text box for additional write-in votes?

5. I think it would be a kindness to list languages alphabetically by their names in that language, e.g. English (en), Español (es), Français (fr), etc. (optionally putting language tags after the language names). I acknowledge that it would probably be more of a pain to do it that way, though.

6. It occurs to me that it might be a good idea to take the language from the browser headers and use that as the default unless and until people choose to set their language(s).
montuos: cartoon portrait of myself (Default)

[personal profile] montuos 2012-06-20 03:25 am (UTC)(link)
+1

Good idea!
drunkoffthestars: (Default)

[personal profile] drunkoffthestars 2012-06-20 03:30 am (UTC)(link)
The language option could be something like 'this journal is written in XXX' to make it clear what you're asking for.
pne: A picture of a plush toy, halfway between a duck and a platypus, with a green body and a yellow bill and feet. (Default)

[personal profile] pne 2012-06-20 04:52 am (UTC)(link)
+1
dhobikikutti: earthen diya (Default)

[personal profile] dhobikikutti 2012-06-20 06:29 am (UTC)(link)
Yes, this. Because I always resent the lists that just have English, but but not Indian English.
hagar_972: A woman with her hands on her hips, considering a mechanic's shop. (Default)

[personal profile] hagar_972 2012-06-20 06:41 am (UTC)(link)
This has the potential to be problematic. For example, I never quite know where people are going to categorize my country (Israel), and when you start going by "region" and not merely continent then i'd imagine other people may shift uncomfortably as well.
hagar_972: A woman with her hands on her hips, considering a mechanic's shop. (Default)

[personal profile] hagar_972 2012-06-20 06:59 am (UTC)(link)
1. How about doing it backwards? Have the primary indication be all the languages one uses/is conversant in, with the option to tick (or similarly indicate) languages in which one actively blogs. Languages are a matter of identity, that's why people will always indicate the langauges they speak/are conversant in/are trying to study.

e.g. I rarely blog in Hebrew - but that i'm a (native) Hebrew speaker is important information for potential subscribers, and I know I have a significant readership that showed up at my DW pretty much for these reasons. (Much to my initial surprise, I should say.)

2. I rather prefer option #3, the tag-like one. Inclusive and preserves screen real estate.

3. I would very strongly prefer to not have something like those standardized tags we user-visible as a default. I disagree with the user who says that "anyone who has ever set up a computer or phone and installed programs on it, has probably been asked to choose from the international language tags at least once." I've been the effective first-line PC techie for family and workplaces and I have never seen that list. I wouldn't even reliably recognize Hebrew on it, and I suspect people from other non-Latin-script languages may have similar issues. It also, well, doesn't have a good feel: "We couldn't figure out a human-friendly way to do this, so we went the computer-friendly way."

5. I don't like the idea of anchoring language to country. One problem is Diaspora languages. Think of - oh - Arab diasporas in the US and the EU. Or Jewish diasporas anywhere. And I can think of several others off the top of my head. People would still be using their non-resident-country language, and searching for people based on that language, for identity reasons.

And so long as it's searchable by something easily human-recognizeable. The codes can be there; maybe it's easier for some people to scan for the codes. But coming from non-Latin-script languages, the codes can be... more effortful than this should be, particularly if you're trying to make it homey for non-English speakers.
emceeaich: A close-up of a pair of cats-eye glasses (Default)

[personal profile] emceeaich 2012-06-20 07:22 am (UTC)(link)
Yipe, good point and well put. Thank you.
azurelunatic: A glittery black pin badge with a blue holographic star in the middle. (Default)

[personal profile] azurelunatic 2012-06-20 08:51 am (UTC)(link)
I like this, with a side order of write-in if it's still not listed.

If Very Popular write-ins could be promoted to formal inclusion, this would help mitigate any problems with an insufficiently comprehensive list of languages. The process could be semi-automated to potentially filter out the "Baige" effect (referencing the XKCD color survey where that was one of the most uniquely masculine responses, the other four neither being colors nor appropriate in context, or indeed at all). Having a certain threshold for popularity (especially percentage) could help avoid it becoming a leaky canoe of a labor timesuck.

Top n language determination could be recalcuated something like weekly, I think, which would keep the advantage of checking against actual reality, but remove the potential for real-time calculation overhead.
ratcreature: RatCreature blathers. (talk)

[personal profile] ratcreature 2012-06-20 09:24 am (UTC)(link)
re 1) It could be useful to know for people to comment with the journal owner in a language other than the one the entry is written in. For example I post in English for the benefit of international readers, but my native language is German. That is not readily apparent from my profile, which is focused on content. If another German-speaker who reads English and follows my journal felt more comfortable commenting in German because they spoke that better, they could see that I have no trouble reading that, whereas now they might decide to forgo communicating in a foreign language.
pne: A picture of a plush toy, halfway between a duck and a platypus, with a green body and a yellow bill and feet. (Default)

[personal profile] pne 2012-06-20 09:43 am (UTC)(link)
I like this, with a side order of write-in if it's still not listed.

Agreed - since we can't think of everything people would want to include.

(Such as "country-language" combinations such as the aforementioned "Indian English", which are representable in IETF language tags but as a combination of subtags rather than a single, language subtag.)

filter out the "Baige" effect

This would be necessary, too; I agree - some sort of human filtering and/or consoliation should go on before a write-in is promoted to formal inclusion. Or perhaps even before being displayed, with the write-ins being more like suggestion than something that shows up in search or profile immediately.

FWIW, I’d volunteer to help with the language filtering if such a scheme were implemented.
azurelunatic: A glittery black pin badge with a blue holographic star in the middle. (Default)

[personal profile] azurelunatic 2012-06-20 09:50 am (UTC)(link)
I think a write-in should be able to go on the profile immediately, since it's that person's own profile and it doesn't make any sense to delay it there.

Since there's no need for human review on interest searches, and those are site-wide searchable, I don't see a need to cause any delay before making write-in languages site-wide searchable either.

[personal profile] swaldman 2012-06-20 10:22 am (UTC)(link)
This, but it should also be possible for people to add new languages, because no pre-determined list will ever cover all options.

For instance, the the list in the OP mentioned "recognised regional languages" for the UK and included Scots Gaelic, but did not include Scots. Some say that's simply a dialect of English, some say it's a language, but regardless the point is that some people will want to put languages that we don't anticipate[1], and I think that in the general spirit of DW they should be able to.

As soon as people are allowed to add things, then we get straight back to the issue of how to prevent duplicates. I don't know the solution to that; I suspect there isn't a perfect one, short of asking people to request new languages through a support ticket, but because most users will only ever want to add a new language once I think it's reasonable to ask them to jump through some hoops.


[1] This spawns another question of fictional languages. I'm sure there must be at least one user out there who posts in Klingon or Tolkein Elvish. My gut feeling is "sure, why not?".
pne: A picture of a plush toy, halfway between a duck and a platypus, with a green body and a yellow bill and feet. (Default)

[personal profile] pne 2012-06-20 10:37 am (UTC)(link)
OK, makes sense.

Though I wonder what happens if their write-in gets officialised but differently—either merged with an existing language (say, someone put in “francais” which got merged with “fr – French”), what should happen to their profile? Should it continue showing the write-in (because that’s what they chose) or should it show the “official” version (because that’s what’s easier to search for)?

If the write-in gets officialised as-is, I think there’s no problem.
pne: A picture of a plush toy, halfway between a duck and a platypus, with a green body and a yellow bill and feet. (Default)

[personal profile] pne 2012-06-20 10:39 am (UTC)(link)
I'm sure there must be at least one user out there who posts in Klingon or Tolkein Elvish.

If they went with IETF language tags or something else based on ISO 639, they’re covered: tlh Klingon; sjn Sindarin; qya Quenya :)

But your point still stands, of course; there’s no code (yet?) for Na'vi or Dothraki, for example.

spoken vs. updating languages

[personal profile] tamouse 2012-06-20 10:39 am (UTC)(link)

  1. As I read the original suggestion, this:

    Have a field in which you select the language/s you speak; people speaking the same language can find each other more easily.


    leads me to a different conclusion than this:

    The original suggestion was for a field allowing people to state which languages they update in. Users are quite likely to enter languages they read in any such field: we need to think about how to handle this.


    as it seems the OP was hoping to establish connections, not just with people who update in a particular language, but also speak a language.

    Morphing it into a set of languages one updates is not necessarily a bad thing, but as others pointed out, languages spoken can definitely be an identity-level thing.


  2. It might further aid the OP to have a way of setting what language a post is written in. This might be considered a future enhancement.


  3. I like the idea of presenting the list as an unfolding set of checkboxes; keep it hidden at first, then unfold the more commonly used languages, then further expand to all languages; these should be clearly marked (emulating the cut tag feature would make for a consistent interface across the site).


  4. In addition to the checkbox list, a write-in space should be allowed, as I can see people posting in conlangs, possibly (toki-pona springs to mind as something potential journalists might use). This might be a future enhancement as well.



Re: spoken vs. updating languages (aside, OT)

[personal profile] tamouse 2012-06-20 10:41 am (UTC)(link)
I just noticed the odd way it formatted my ordered list of points there... is it supposed to do that?

[personal profile] swaldman 2012-06-20 10:49 am (UTC)(link)
Even going by continent can get you a few different answers for where Israel is, IME ;-)
kaberett: Overlaid Mars & Venus symbols, with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)

Re: spoken vs. updating languages

[personal profile] kaberett 2012-06-20 11:10 am (UTC)(link)
1. I read it the say I did because of the title of the suggestion, "Specify blogging language in user profile." I'm well aware that languages spoken can be an identity-level thing; this is why I'm so keen for us to have "languages read" as well as "languages written in" (though I'm very open to having the precise wording of that changed!).

2. Mmm. I don't think that's something I'm going to try to shoehorn into this, but will stick it on my List Of Spec/talk to Fu about it/open a bug for it once I've got the first bit done.

Page 1 of 4

<< [1] [2] [3] [4] >>