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

Re: hreflang

From: Jukka K. Korpela <jkorpela@cs.tut.fi>
Date: Sun, 5 Feb 2006 11:03:59 +0200 (EET)
To: www-html@w3.org
Message-ID: <Pine.GSO.4.63.0602051042440.18921@korppi.cs.tut.fi>

On Sat, 4 Feb 2006, Laurens Holst wrote:

> Jukka K. Korpela 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.)
> I dont see how it contains wrong information.

Sorry, but you didn't answer my question. Anyway, we know that the
Accept-Language header very often contains wrong information, since it 
tends to reflect browser defaults, not user choices. The defaults might be 
completely absurd, like en-US as the only language set, therefore 
informing that US English is the _only_ language that the user understands 
at all.

> Ok, Google was a bad example, youre the fourth telling me that now.

It was your _best_ example in the sense that Google is used more than the 
other examples combined, and Google _could_ in fact make a lot of use 
about language preferences: in its own interface (which exists in many 
languages, though partly in very poor translations), in restricting 
searches to certain languages, in recommendation automatic translations, 
etc. A typical "multilingual" site is just a collection of pages in two or 
a few languages, and content negotiation would just speed things up.

> Ive just set my 
> accept-language to Japanese and browsed around a few sites, and found that 
> www.nero.com also uses the information.

Really? I just visited http://www.nero.com on a browser with some language 
preferences that do not include English at all, and yet the site presents 
itself to me in English, with no indication of any kind of an error.
It's surely better than the usual "Not Accepted" error message, which adds 
insult to injury, but neither is it the way language negotiation is 
supposed to work. Adding Japanese to the preferences does not help - 
unless I make it the _first_ in the list. No, this is _not_ how HTTP 
language negotiation is supposed to be used!

> The thing is, because there are a few important sites among them, that 
> ensures that the language information isnt entirely *wrong*.

Configuring your browser to send your language preferences isn't wrong, of 
course (even if you don't configure your full preferences - but saying 
that you only know English when you in fact know other languages as well 
might well be worse than not saying anything).

Sending wrong preferences without even asking the user is entirely wrong.

> Saying that there are sites which do not use the language negotiation 
> capabilities doesnt really matter. But maybe someone ought to inform them of 
> the possibility.

If they understood the issue, they would probably answer something like 
the following: Yes, we could make the EU site send different language 
versions according to Accept-Language. But then millions of people who 
speak English very poorly, or who speak French or German or Slovak much 
better than English, would always get the English version. Yes, we could 
include links to different versions, but people might not notice them. 
They'd just consume the English versions if they know any English at all.
(This isn't quite what _I_ would respond, but it's a reasonable position.)

> No-one said that making the preferences easily changeable wasnt important.

Getting them right upon starting to use a browser is _far_ more important.

>>> Its default value is depending on the browsers locale,
>> That's a big part of the problem.
> I really dont see how.

Try reading my explanation in my previous message. Your comments indicate 
that you missed it completely.

> What you are looking for is a higher level of detail. What are *all* the 
> languages that the user knows, and to what extent.

_That_ is what HTTP language negotiation is about, at the user end.
If you didn't see this, you have missed the point. It's not a "higher
level of detail" but the essence.

> There are 
> millions visiting and using that service on a daily basis.

Are you saying that a million flies can't be wrong?

Jukka "Yucca" Korpela, http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/
Received on Sunday, 5 February 2006 09:04:49 UTC

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