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Article not accessible any more

From: <mcb@cloanto.com>
Date: Thu, 10 Jun 2004 11:38:21 -0000
Message-ID: <15ACA50185975841BF7EE3B47FACBDA345B108@alpha.cloanto.com>
To: <site-comments@w3.org>
Cc: "Tim Berners-Lee" <timbl@w3.org>


Once upon a time, when "cool" was an epithet of approval, particularly
among the young, indicating trendiness, quality, or appropriateness, it
used to be that "Cool URIs don't change".

Not so any longer, apparently.

Today I went to http://www.w3.org/Provider/Style/URI, and it turns out I
can't access the original paper by Tim Berners-Lee any more. All I am
given access to by your system is a Spanish translation of the same
("Estilo para Hypertextos: Las URI guay no cambian"), which is not what
I needed, or wanted.

The technical reason for this, I discovered, is because Internet
Explorer tags user language preferences using "en-us" by default for
English, whereas your system considers "en", but ignores "en-us". As it
happens that I have Spanish at place five or six of my prioritized
browser language preferences, that must be the only thing your system
found, so it imposed upon me the new Spanish translation at the old URL,
instead of the original which I was used to being able to access even
with this same browser.

IMHO, there are good examples of i18n, and bad ones. The one your system
shows, and which results in this humble expression of frustration of
mine is, please forgive me the expression, a good example of very cheap
i18n, i.e. a show off of what can be done, disrespectfully of user
intention and culture. Even if I had set a preference for another
language over English in my browser, a system should respect my
intention to access the original article, which is not the same as a

I think you can detect a user's favorite languages, and even make more
or less risky assumptions based on domains, or whatever, but you should
only use these to offer a shorter path to a choice, never to actually
impose a choice. For example, the first time I visit Google.com from an
Italian system I am offered their .it site by default, but next to it is
a link which allows me to confirm my original .com site and language
intention, and to have that saved in a cookie. Not only does this
respect the user, but, unlike your system, it does not introduce
"fluctuating" (if not broken) links and inconsistencies between search
engines and actual pages, nor does it suggest adding a possible third
"Hall of flame" story about... itself to the very same article which
promotes URL persistency, which I had tried to access, but without being
able to.

Thanks for listening.


Michael C. Battilana

Received on Thursday, 10 June 2004 07:41:13 UTC

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