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Re: [WAI-IG] Serving my page in the right language

From: Marjolein Katsma <hgnje001@sneakemail.com>
Date: Mon, 22 Mar 2004 12:32:52 +0100
Message-Id: <>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org

At 12:05 2004-03-22, David Dorward wrote:

>On 22 Mar 2004, at 10:25, Marjolein Katsma wrote:
>>Just how do those people even find out there is such a thing as a 
>>language preference?
>If we use the language preferences sent by the user agent to select a 
>default language (and present an obvious option on that page to select 
>other languages):
>* Users who know how to use their software get the language they want and 
>do not have to find their language from the provided options.
>- Benefit

People who know how to use *their* software may not be using *their* 
software but someone else's - and be polite enough to leave its settings 
alone. In fact, in some settings, configuration of the software may be 
impossible because it was set up that way precisely to *prevent* people 
changing the settings. Think of libraries, schools, Internet cafes.
- negative UNLESS a web site provides an option to choose language

>* Users who don't know how to use configure their preference get a 
>sensible default which would probably be their preference if they had 
>actively chosen.
>- Benefit

I have already addressed that in the post you are replying to: many people 
do *not* get a sensible default.

>* Users who don't know how to change their preference AND for whom the 
>default is suboptimal can select a different language from the 
>aforementioned obvious option.
>- Slight negative

Negative - but whether it is "slight" depends on the number of people involved.

>* Users who don't know how to change their preference AND for whom the 
>default is suboptimal AND who fail to noticed the obvious option can 
>almost certainly cope with the default language anyway.
>- Slight negative

Don't agree - your "almost certainly" assumes an amount of fluency in the 
default language that is very often not present.
Where I live, that is not a small minority.

>* Users who don't know about the preference, fail to spot the option to 
>change language, and can't cope with their default are likely to be a very 
>tiny minority.
>- Serious negative, but probably only affecting a number of people that 
>tends towards zero.

Maybe where *you* live, but not where *I* live.

>If we ignore the language preferences sent by the user agent then *all* 
>users must actively identify the option for their language in the list and 
>select it.

Sounds like a good idea - because that way at least people *will* find out 
(you did not address my question which you quoted: Just how do those people 
even find out there is such a thing as a language preference?).

>So, in summary: Using the accept language header removes the need to 
>actively select the language from the great majority of users at the cost 
>of slightly reducing the ease of selecting a different language for the 

I don't agree with your "great majority". A majority, true, but it may not 
be all that great.

>I'm of the opinion that the increased difficulty is minimal and will only 
>effect a small minority of users and thus it is worth paying attention to 
>the accept language header.

See above - I don't agree with "small minority".

>I would like to see some evidence as to how many people would be 
>negatively effected by this (i.e. how many people are ignorant of the 
>language preferences and would set them to something other then the 
>default should that be otherwise) and how much extra difficulty it would 
>cause them to identify the obvious language selection option (this would 
>depend on the specifics of the implementation of that option, which has 
>not yet been discussed in this thread).

I'd also like to see how many people don't know about this setting. I'll 
make a prediction though: a very large majority.

Marjolein Katsma
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Received on Monday, 22 March 2004 06:33:02 UTC

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