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.

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.

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.
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).
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.
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.

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.

naraht: (Default)

[personal profile] naraht 2012-06-20 11:11 am (UTC)(link)
Just a thought: would it be worth looking at how the AO3 does its language tagging?
pseudomonas: Little Red Dragon with an abacus (geeky)

[personal profile] pseudomonas 2012-06-20 11:32 am (UTC)(link)
This is a bit brainstormy but:

Can we tag posts as they're made, rather than users? So rather than searching for "a user who says they post in Dutch", you search for "a user who has written at least one post tagged as being in Dutch". Sensible provision of defaults should mean that tagging a post as "the same language as my last post" is zero effort, and "the same language as a post I've written recently" should be minimal effort.

on point three - languages should probably be as wide as possible, rather than including large numbers of mutually-intelligible regional variations. I can see why for various reasons people might want that latter info, but I don't think it'll help usability. Possibly allow tagging of variations, but search for them as the more general case.

Please, for the love of all that's holy, avoid conflating languages and countries, *especially* please avoid the use of national flags to indicate languages.

For posts of more than a couple of words, written in a single language, it may well be feasible to automatically identify the language. ISTR there are CPAN modules that do this already.
epershand: Kirk and Spock looking at each other. (Kirk & Spock)

[personal profile] epershand 2012-06-20 05:17 pm (UTC)(link)
I'm thinking a bit about question one. If the goal is to help people find content in their language, maybe this is a setting that should exist on a per-entry basis, with an account-level "default post language" setting. So, for instance, my account could default to English, but if I wrote an entry in Spanish I could toggle just that post over.

To get *super* fancy, maybe the account settings could include both "default language" and "options to include on my Create Entry page". That'd allow one comprehensive set, while making the day-to-day process of language selection for multilingual bloggers much simpler.
redbird: closeup of me drinking tea (Default)

[personal profile] redbird 2012-06-20 05:53 pm (UTC)(link)
From the user viewpoint: if you ask me what language I post in, I'm going to say "English," not "US English." And not just because I'm not thinking in dialect terms, but because it's the wrong level of specificity: there's a bunch of New York in my English, along with some random UK usages I picked up from friends and reading. If I'm looking for things posted in English, I want it to find posts by people who define their English as Canadian or New Zealand or British, not just U.S. English. And if I wanted Spanish, I wouldn't have a preference for Dominican over Castilian or vice versa.
thorfinn: <user name="seedy_girl"> and <user name="thorfinn"> (Default)

Don't have a seed list. And language tag(s) should be available on individual posts/comments

[personal profile] thorfinn 2012-06-21 02:06 am (UTC)(link)
BCP-47 looks like a source that might be about as sane as you can get, and has the benefit that you don't have to try to maintain it yourself, and thereby get it wrong in a whole bunch of exciting and different ways. I'm not 100% sure how the list of sub languages are maintained, e.g. en-GB, en-AU definitely exist, but is en-SG valid and who decides? Those don't appear to be in that list, but I haven't researched how the sub tags work. Oddly en-GB-oed (grandfathered) and en-scouse (redundant) appear to be listed directly...

As far as a "seed list" goes - why? Don't have one. Have the entire BCP-47 list with sub-region tags (displayed as your "both" format above), a text box, and auto-suggest typing or a popup-selection once the typing is enough. Especially if you're doing it on the profile, this is a once off thing being done for each journal. Shortlisting from a large list is inherently ugly, and you don't need to optimise it away because this is essentially a rare operation. Don't fix a problem that isn't a problem. :-)

This thing should apply to individual posts/comments?, to identify the language(s) the post/comment is written in, if desired. After all, most of my journal is in en-AU, but I might want to write in pig-latin or tengwar (is tengwar a script only? I can't find a matching language tag?) for some reason.

On posts (and comments?), yes, you should have an short list - but you can pull that short list directly from the profile of the user doing the posting/commenting, and you know that's a useful shortlist because that particular human picked it.
februaryfour: (Default)

[personal profile] februaryfour 2012-06-22 03:32 am (UTC)(link)
[Deleted for redundant question already asked/answered above in other comments.]
Edited 2012-06-22 03:38 (UTC)
algeh: (hmm)

[personal profile] algeh 2012-07-02 08:57 pm (UTC)(link)
I wonder if language picker page used may also want to suggest based on perceived location as well as top overall languages. I guess I'm envisioning a page that starts something like:

"Pick the language(s) you post and read in. Here are some ways to look for languages:"

[Two columns]

[Left column box] "Here are the top [n] languages currently used on Dreamwidth" [tickybox list follows]

[Right column box] "Based on the country in your Dreamwidth profile, here are the top [n] languages currently used by DW users in your country" [tickybox list follows]

Below that, have options for search (including to get the country by country results for countries other than the one in their profile)/full list/etc to find languages not covered in the two categories above. Between what's commonly used on DW as a whole and what's commonly used in their area, we can minimize how many users need to dig through the larger list and increase the odds that people who want to specify, say, British English will be offered that choice in the shorter tickybox list (since they are more likely to either be in Great Britain or to think to search for languages used in Great Britain as a way of locating it).

However, I have no idea how much more of a backend pain this would turn out to be, and I admit I wouldn't use this feature much since I mostly post in English and usually want to read other English postings.
shoaling_souls: Fish swimming independently but still together in a group (Default)

[personal profile] shoaling_souls 2012-07-02 10:03 pm (UTC)(link)
1. Option two or three. it's useful for people to know what languages they can talk to a person in, not just what languages a person in blogging in. Would be nice if there were privacy settings for this -- I do not list my country publicly, but if I list languages I speak, my country would be more guessable, but I would like for people on my access list to be able to look at my profile and know what languages they can talk to me in.

2-6: no opinion, so long as a person who speaks unusual/rare languages can still pick their languages.
elizabeth_rice: Snoopy typing on his typewriter (Default)

[personal profile] elizabeth_rice 2012-07-24 02:11 am (UTC)(link)
Users already have a field for location on the profile page. So if you wish to add a field for language(s), please don't categorise language according to country and region.