W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-html@w3.org > February 2006

Re: hreflang

From: Jukka K. Korpela <jkorpela@cs.tut.fi>
Date: Sat, 4 Feb 2006 19:38:36 +0200 (EET)
To: www-html@w3.org
Message-ID: <Pine.GSO.4.63.0602041801530.12163@korppi.cs.tut.fi>

On Sat, 4 Feb 2006, Laurens Holst wrote:

> Mikko Rantalainen schreef:
- -
>> Accept-Language would be one of the most important features of 
>> an user agent *if* it contained real information. 
> It does.

Pardon? We know that it horrendously often contains _wrong_ information. 
(Or did you mean to write "It is", saying that Accept-Language is etc.?
I see no reason to take away the conditionality.)

> It is frequently used by websites such as hotmail, Google, 
> mozilla-europe.org and other large sites to present the user with a 
> localised version of their website.

Google, for one, is a _bad_ example, since it applies a confused mixture 
of heuristics in deciding on the customization. Many people claim that 
they cannot get to google.com but get thrown to google.de, google.fi, 
etc., according to some guesswork.

Anyway, the sites that utilize language negotiation are a small minority, 
though they contain a few important sites. Consider, for example, the fact 
that there is nothing resembling language negotiation on the European 
Union site, despite the obvious needs - it's often not just a matter of 
serving content in the user's native language but also choosing between 
available versions according to users' _other_ preferences (e.g., between 
French, English, and German, if these are the only options).

However, as Mikko mentioned, the real problem is that user agents do not 
send adequate information. The _only_ way to achieve that is to make user 
agents prompt for language information, i.e. to ask users to specify their 
language preferences, in an easy way, _and_ to make the preferences easily 
changeable (which is important especially on public and classroom 
computers when user ids are not used).

Before this, any improvements to the language negotiation mechanism are 
waste of time.

> Its default value is depending on the browsers locale,

That's a big part of the problem.

> which is pretty 
> accurate as when the browsers locale doesnt match the users, it will be 
> difficult for him to use the browser.

That's not the point. Many people use English-language browsers and 
systems for several reasons - for example, because a browser of their 
choice exists only in an English version, or because its localization
is awful (wrong translations, etc.).

Besides, even if the language of your browser happens to be your native 
language, what about all the _other_ languages you might know? In the WWW 
context, even languages you know just a little are important in the 

Jukka "Yucca" Korpela, http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/
Received on Saturday, 4 February 2006 17:38:46 UTC

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