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User I18N

By nuntius in Meta
Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 01:11:16 PM EST
Tags: Scoop (all tags)

FYI "I18N"=="internationalization"

Here's an idea:
Let each user (optionally) save their country of origin in the user preferences. Then, when they post a comment, their country's flag could be next to their name along with the other basic info.

The advantage of this system is that we'd be able to get a feel for the international nature of k5. I know I'm guilty of often thinking about others as the "average" US citizen. A little reminder here and there might help open some eyes.

Questions which arise: would these little pics stress the server, or would this even be a popular idea?


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Do you want your flag posted?
o Yes! 39%
o No. 23%
o Why bother? 20%
o Can I use Swaziland's flag? 16%

Votes: 232
Results | Other Polls

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User I18N | 53 comments (46 topical, 7 editorial, 0 hidden)
not a bad idea (2.60 / 5) (#1)
by Anonymous 242 on Fri Oct 13, 2000 at 03:10:07 PM EST

This is a somewhat intriguing idea, but it might be more fun to have everyone post in their native language with a link to bablefish or some such to translate it into English for those of us that don't speak whatever the native language might be. That would be fun.

Or maybe I'm just a sick and twisted puppy.

I wonder if anyone would take the time to post in Klingon.

Brrrr! You are a sick and twisted puppy! (3.00 / 1) (#3)
by greyrat on Fri Oct 13, 2000 at 03:16:06 PM EST

I have never been happy with the output of current translators. We have enough communication problems without adding (additional) translation issues. I know using English is presumptuous, but so was using French a few centuries ago.
~ ~ ~
Did I actually read the article? No. No I didn't.
"Watch out for me nobbystyles, Gromit!"

[ Parent ]
Say again? (4.00 / 2) (#10)
by Anonymous 242 on Fri Oct 13, 2000 at 04:28:14 PM EST

I was never lucky with the output of the compilers/translators. We have enough transfer problems without addition of the output (additional) of the translation. I white that with the English, conceited is, but sings so the used Frenchmen at few Frenchman it some centuries ago centuries ago.

Your first sentence makes sense, but the second confuses me.

[ Parent ]

Say again? (none / 0) (#45)
by aphrael on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 11:27:11 PM EST

I was never lucky with the output of the compilers/translators. We have enough transfer problems without addition of the output (additional) of the translation. I white that with the English, conceited is, but sings so the used Frenchmen at few Frenchman it some centuries ago centuries ago.

Your first sentence makes sense, but the second confuses me.

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha :)

[ Parent ]
I like the idea in general (2.20 / 5) (#2)
by greyrat on Fri Oct 13, 2000 at 03:12:37 PM EST

If you're worried about pics slowing down the system, use the three character ISO codes to identify the countries: DEU=Germany, FRA=France, etc.
~ ~ ~
Did I actually read the article? No. No I didn't.
"Watch out for me nobbystyles, Gromit!"

I'd prefer domains... (3.00 / 1) (#15)
by vsync on Fri Oct 13, 2000 at 06:52:55 PM EST

So you'd have .de, .fr, etc. And for those of us in the US, we could put things like .ca.us...

"The problem I had with the story, before I even finished reading, was the copious attribution of thoughts and ideas to vsync. What made it worse was the ones attributed to him were the only ones that made any sense whatsoever."
[ Parent ]
hey (3.57 / 7) (#4)
by sH on Fri Oct 13, 2000 at 03:19:47 PM EST

then we could have an average yearly income, and race, and place of employment, and religion, then we could start a cycle of discrimination and power structure. It'd be just like the real world. We could ban together by nationality or average income and lynch stories by mass dumps organized at the Penguins Chat Thing.

Sorry. I'm kidding. I think it'd be pretty neat. It'd give a bit more of a perspective on why people say things they say. Psychology, et. al.

Opt-out (none / 0) (#52)
by shadowspar on Fri Oct 20, 2000 at 10:46:48 AM EST

OTOH, maybe if someone doesn't want to show the flag of their country, maybe we can give them a pirate flag or something. =)
-- Drink Canada Dry! You might not succeed, but you'll have fun trying.
[ Parent ]

Great idea! (1.33 / 3) (#5)
by cme on Fri Oct 13, 2000 at 03:20:01 PM EST

Nice thought. I'm guilty of that too... I try to use the preview button for it, but I'm sure I don't always catch myself.

You could use the country TLDs if you were worried about grpahics... and it would be good for lynx users. :)

Lynx Use (none / 0) (#51)
by shadowspar on Fri Oct 20, 2000 at 10:42:54 AM EST

Just as easily, one could accomodate both:

<img src="./canada.png" alt="[CA]">
<img src="./russia.png" alt="[RU]">
-- Drink Canada Dry! You might not succeed, but you'll have fun trying.
[ Parent ]
Take it further? (2.00 / 3) (#8)
by molo on Fri Oct 13, 2000 at 03:29:52 PM EST

Interesting idea, but its really the tip of the iceburg. What about full translations of all text strings? You could provide some serious internationalization with that kind of support. Everything except the stories and posts could be translated automaticly, right down to the text above this comment editing box.. "Spamming is not tolerated here." "El spamo no es permisio." (forgive my pathetic attempt at spanish/humor).

The thing is, I don't know how double-byte characters would be handled.

Whenever you walk by a computer and see someone using pico, be kind. Pause for a second and remind yourself that: "There, but for the grace of God, go I." -- Harley Hahn

For what? (none / 0) (#39)
by dabadab on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 05:51:51 AM EST

Why should it be the text strings translated when the stories (the content) is still in English?
These half-hearted translations are just funny/annoying, depending on your mood. Believe me, I have seen it many times on windows boxen (with .hu windows) - 'Do you really want it? Igen/Nem'. Oh, how helpful, you know what can you answer, you just don't know what the question is :)
Real life is overrated.
[ Parent ]
First Post--ed (1.25 / 4) (#9)
by kunsan on Fri Oct 13, 2000 at 03:54:53 PM EST

Ahem... First posted Meta piece that I actually agree with 100%. Someone already jokingly mentioned the possibility of discrimination, but I think this community is both mature and intelligent enough to prevent that from happening. If not, Rusty's Got Root! Plus, I think the benefits of knowing your neighbor a little better outweigh the risks associated with having that info.

With a gun in your mouth, you only speak in vowels -- Fight Club
What about people like me ? (3.66 / 9) (#12)
by hariya on Fri Oct 13, 2000 at 04:47:32 PM EST

I am from India but I live in the US. I am sure there are people in similair situations. For people like me, our background is too complex to be captured in an icon.

multi-nationals (1.50 / 2) (#21)
by erotus on Fri Oct 13, 2000 at 10:31:34 PM EST

I would have to agree with the parent post. There are people in America today who still cling to some of the culture of their homeland but at the same time they are American and feel like they belong in this culture too. I know many who fit this description. I think that have a national flag is a neat idea, however, I know many who would be at odds deciding what flag to choose. Suppose you have an Eygiptian mother and a French father and you yourself was born and raised in the USA. What then? Which flag do you put if you feel you can identify with all three cultures?

[ Parent ]
Don't hinder ideas (3.93 / 15) (#13)
by Lode Runner on Fri Oct 13, 2000 at 04:59:10 PM EST

If I could give this idea a -2 I would.

Identifying the poster's nationality would hinder the discussion of ideas.

Although it would be nice to know more about any given poster as a person, I think that our prejudices about the poster's nationality will intefere with our analysis of the poster's arguments and ideas.

The whole beauty of K5 is that we can disregard borders and all that other stuff when we talk about ideas.

Compare K5 to BBC's "Talking Point". BBC is obsessed with nationality; you must tell them your nationality before you post, and every poster is identified by name and nationality. Is nationality really that important? I don't think it is. Worse, there are many people out there who will give posters high or low ratings solely on the criterion of nationality. It already happens a lot in the various "US versus Canada" discussions.

People get funny when they get nationalistic. When K5 brings in nationality icons people will instantly abuse that system. Imagine the fun the trolls would have...

Usually if nationality is important enough to mention, it'll be mentioned.

It goes both ways (2.00 / 4) (#16)
by Farq Q. Fenderson on Fri Oct 13, 2000 at 07:26:02 PM EST

It works the other way too. I like the idea (esp. if it's optional) since too many people assume that they're talking to Americans. I do it, and I'm *Canadian*. I always feel stupid and prejudiced when I realize that I'm talking to a non-American when I'd assumed they were one.

farq will not be coming back
[ Parent ]
Cognitive Misers (3.00 / 3) (#17)
by Lode Runner on Fri Oct 13, 2000 at 08:28:47 PM EST

I always feel stupid and prejudiced when I realize that I'm talking to a non-American when I'd assumed they were one.

Affixing labels to people won't solve this problem; it'll just make it even worse. The way we solve this problem is to educate ourselves.

Putting up flags that identify people will make us lazier because we won't have to analyze any text to try to determine the poster's nationality.

Some years ago a bunch of psychologists determined that prejudice comes from the human tendency to be cognitive misers. It's much easier on the brain to just shove things into broad categories than to consider each case uniquely. So when people see flags, they'll just think "Hmmm.... another Canadian, I won't bother reading this..." and skip the article, even though it may be very good.

[ Parent ]

you talking about yourself or something? (2.50 / 4) (#18)
by boxed on Fri Oct 13, 2000 at 09:24:38 PM EST

It seems to me like you're talking about yourself more than the average person here. I for one wouldn't place much value in a flag since I am very much aware of the fact that 1) people move around alot and thus change nationality 2) people don't choose their nationality and finally 3) people have a tendancy to react against labels such as nationality making them even more unpredictable than in the ideal world of no borders.

[ Parent ]
i agree (3.00 / 3) (#20)
by Lode Runner on Fri Oct 13, 2000 at 10:10:27 PM EST

You just made several great points for why we shouldn't have flags here. Thank you. I rest my case.

As for prejudice, of course I'm talking about myself. But I'm talking about others too.

Quit stalking me.

[ Parent ]

I don't get it. A joke? (3.14 / 7) (#23)
by Speare on Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 01:00:28 AM EST

Your title is "Don't hinder ideas."

Your first line is, "If I could give this a -2, I would."

What kind of support for 'not hindering ideas' is that?
[ e d @ h a l l e y . c c ]
[ Parent ]

... and I vanish into a puff of pure logic (2.00 / 2) (#26)
by Lode Runner on Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 01:59:09 AM EST

I should've called it "Don't hinder critical thinking"

Presence of flag hinders dicussion of ideas and critical thinking. The Karmawhore in me thought that "Don't Hinder Ideas" was a snazzy title and I ran with it, regardless of its paradoxical nature.

I haven't touched the rating of your comment.

[ Parent ]

It doesn't hinder ideas (1.00 / 2) (#31)
by Nickus on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 07:06:36 AM EST

I don't think that knowing a posters nationality makes it more difficult to stay neutral when you try to analyza someone elses argument. I would say it would help because then you know a little more about them.
Diversity is good but that also means that I have different definitions for things that the average American. Just because we are on the Internet and try to be anonymus doesn't mean we have erased all our differences.
But I can see why the average American don't want us to let us know where he/she comes from ;-).

Due to budget cuts, light at end of tunnel will be out. --Unknown
[ Parent ]
It's all about TLDs (2.25 / 4) (#32)
by Holloway on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 08:36:47 AM EST

Here's my TLD proposal (since rejected by ICANN, those vile bastards)

  • .jew
  • .white
  • .short
  • .poor
  • .doesn't-wash
  • .female
  • .missing-a-finger
  • .prone-to-sleeping

No, wait. Forget all that. If it's internationalisation, or rather nationalisation, that you want to measure then what about a survey - repost a survey - then post the results - then post your analysis of the results. Please.

== Human's wear pants, if they don't wear pants they stand out in a crowd. But if a monkey didn't wear pants it would be anonymous

[ Parent ]

WTF??? (3.75 / 16) (#14)
by Carnage4Life on Fri Oct 13, 2000 at 05:30:41 PM EST

This is a horrible idea. The beauty of web forums is that people are judged by their knowledge and their words and nothing else. Thereis no discrimination because there is no opportunity for it to occur.

If people are so hung up on how international kuro5hin is, then add an option for Nationality in the user profile and display the statistics on the FAQ page.

Qualifying peoples comments with their race, religion and creed (which can be discerned or even worse guessed by their nationality) is an idea that has many pitfalls and almost no benefits that cannot be obtained in another manner.

Wishful thinking (2.50 / 2) (#27)
by kmself on Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 04:17:28 AM EST

Nice ideal. Practice differs.

Karsten M. Self
SCO -- backgrounder on Caldera/SCO vs IBM
Support the EFF!!
There is no K5 cabal.
[ Parent ]

Unnecessary (3.66 / 6) (#19)
by kmself on Fri Oct 13, 2000 at 09:49:28 PM EST

I see this as not necessary, probably unneeded, and something which should be thought through before it's added to the user features of Scoop. There's a lot of user data which might be collected, and quite a bit people might prefer to keep private.

Moreover, you've already got a sig line. If people want to indicate national origin, there could be a simple little "grass roots" drive to start addition nation of origin to your sig. Fait acompli, no feature needed.

Now what's the ISO standard code for Mars?....

Karsten M. Self
SCO -- backgrounder on Caldera/SCO vs IBM
Support the EFF!!
There is no K5 cabal.

Unnecess. a.k.a. "features" (1.00 / 1) (#35)
by Wah on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 11:26:30 PM EST

I think it'd be kinda neat. As far as community building goes, anything that helps to identify individual users and recognize them, would work toward that goal, IMHO. Of course, since it is a feature, a very handy on/off button should be around somewhere. Privacy concerns shouldn't be, since it's all information you provide, not that is collected anonymously.

Fail to Obey?
[ Parent ]
An optional show of patriotism isn't a bad thing. (2.80 / 5) (#22)
by Luke Scharf on Fri Oct 13, 2000 at 11:10:59 PM EST

I don't see anything wrong with an optional show of patriotism in the headers. I'm not about to put a flag next to my name, but some people might find that it's helpful in clarifying their comments without having to type "I'm from ___" every time.

Why not use your sig for that? (3.75 / 8) (#24)
by skim123 on Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 01:03:36 AM EST

If you want to let people know where you're from, why not use your sig? Create a sig that says, "I'm from Insert_Country_Name_Here." No need to have Rusty or others take up their time to do this...

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum

That's what your signature is for (4.18 / 11) (#28)
by chaotic42 on Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 07:40:59 AM EST

Sorry, but this is stupid. Why nationality? Why not include a link so that others can download your favorite song... your favorite movie?

The anonymity of the internet makes us all equal. It's one of the few places where race/religion/ethnicity/etc don't matter. Let's not take that away. If you really want to let everyone know where you're from, ie "I'm from Greenland, everyone else sucks" or something to that effect, put it in a signature.

Which nation? (3.00 / 3) (#29)
by komet on Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 07:59:34 PM EST

First of all, what is being proposed is nationalization, not internationalization (otherwise everyone would have a little U.N. flag next to their post). Second, many people have more than one affiliate nation. One or two they live in, perhaps, along with country of origin, and the several nationalities a person can have. Also, there's race (which one can also have more than one of) and creed (dito). So, bad idea.


If you wawnt to make it compilcated... (1.00 / 1) (#30)
by /ASCII on Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 09:14:15 PM EST

You can make ANYTHING compilcated. One can only be a citizen of one country at the time, unless you have a REALLY good reason. The number of stateless people in the world is also very small.

And for those who cannot make up their minds, there could be a UN, abductee or k5 option.

Anyway, I don't think it's a good idea, but thats because I don't care about other people, not because I find the difficulties monumental.

"The time has come", the Walrus said, "To talk of many things: Of shoes and ships and sealing wax, of cabbages and kings."
[ Parent ]

... (none / 0) (#34)
by Pig Hogger on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 10:32:31 PM EST

The number of stateless people in the world is also very small.
I actually know one... He was born from a German father to a Belgian mother. "Germanness" is defined by the mother, and "Belgiumness" is definded by the father. Since none of those conditions are met, and additionnal SNAFUs occured (the parents separated, and the child went to another country), the kid can't get any citizenship at all.

So he carries a special U.N. passport...

Somewhere in Texas, a village is missing it's idiot
[ Parent ]

Not a good idea! (4.16 / 6) (#36)
by MoxFulder on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 12:59:04 AM EST

I happen to like the fact that, on the Internet, you can't hardly tell anything about a person's "real world" background! It suppresses a lot of the prejudices that would undoubtedly crop up if, say, all the users of Kuro5hin got together in the physical world.

"If good things lasted forever, would we realize how special they are?"
--Calvin and Hobbes

No background knowledge? (1.00 / 1) (#40)
by dabadab on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 06:05:12 AM EST

Well, I DO know a lot about regular poster's background - because they tell it in their posts.
And, I do NOT want fully anonym postings. Knowing the others makes it much easier to understand them, if you know their biases and proficiencies, you can more easily decide how much trust do you give them on a particular topic.
Real life is overrated.
[ Parent ]
If you don't feel like you have a country (2.00 / 2) (#48)
by zanONi on Tue Oct 17, 2000 at 03:59:22 AM EST

Wich country would I chose ?
My Father's, my Mom's, Where I was born, been raised ?

And does it matter somehow ?

I feel like being a citizen in this world. So I'll accept to have the earth icon as a flag in my future comments.
Maybe it's too limited. Maybe I should take a Milky Way icon, or maybe even bigger.

[ Parent ]
+1 But dreadful idea (3.66 / 3) (#37)
by dorsai on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 04:42:17 AM EST

Well, the idea should be aired, and have the stuffing beat out of it publicly. Even if the average k5 reader will probably be able to point out - or at least look up - where my country of origin is, one of the reasons that drew me here is that I people will react to stories based on content and not geopolitical factors

Besides... should I be "Portuguese" or "European Unionist" ? Is a certain reader from the "United States of America" or <state> ? (other models apply, of course) I'd think both, and I will sometimes agree or disagree with something depending on what "hat" I'm wearing at the moment.

Basically it would be limiting... and an outright bad idea any way I can think to look at it.


Dorsai the sigless

Maybe... not likely. (2.00 / 2) (#42)
by fuchikoma on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 01:14:51 PM EST

At first glance, I'd say it's a bad idea because it opens up the doors for an onslaught of flamewars.

On the other hand, I'd go along with it IF there was a generic flag (or set of flags.)
For example:
[You are here]

...or at the very least, make it optional (as if it wouldn't be optional here!)

Interesting idea though.

Which flag? (none / 0) (#46)
by eric.t.f.bat on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 11:36:16 PM EST

I think if there's going to be the option to display a flag next to your comment (which sounds fine to me) then I want this flag to be available as an option.

: Fruitbat, just visiting :

[ Parent ]

I've got too many choices.... (none / 0) (#47)
by Dr Caleb on Tue Oct 17, 2000 at 12:09:29 AM EST

I come from a line of Canadian British loyalists. We fly the Union Jack, the Red Ensign (Canadaian Flag before the Maple Leaf), The Maple Leaf, etc....

Currently, I'm considering flying <a "http://allstates-flag.com/fotw/flags/pirates.html"> this one ...I'd put that beside my name, to prevent any national rivalries from prejudcing my comments ;-)

Vive Le Canada - For Canadians who give a shit about their country.

There is no K5 cabal.
[ Parent ]

Optional AND per-forum (1.00 / 2) (#43)
by Luke Scharf on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 04:22:02 PM EST

Perhaps when an article is submitted, an "international" flag could be set, so scoop can display the Home Country. It would still be an optional setting for each user.

This way, geeks are geeks when we're talking about geek stuff. And when we're talking about national/international issues we can be geeks from America, geeks from England, geeks from India, geeks from China, or geeks from Wherever. :-)

how about multinationalism (none / 0) (#50)
by dammitallgoodnamesgone on Tue Oct 17, 2000 at 08:06:47 AM EST

I was born and brought up in London but I know plenty of people who'd be irritated if you referred to them as English or even British. There are plenty of people who have such messed up ethnicities that the country they were born in is about as far away from their identity as you can get. Surely the flags system is incredibly rigid and relys on ethnic purity, which I'm fairly sure most people think is a bad thing.

[ Parent ]
If you want to see why this is a bad idea... (3.50 / 2) (#44)
by itsbruce on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 06:01:32 PM EST

... just have a look at this petty, nationalistic flamewar and think how much worse it would be with the flags.

Where it is relevant, I have mentioned my nationality - or my politics, or my hair colour or whatever. Where it isn't, I want my words to stand for themselves.


It is impolite to tell a man who is carrying you on his shoulders that his head smells.
Accidental discrimination (2.00 / 1) (#49)
by Merekat on Tue Oct 17, 2000 at 05:34:35 AM EST

Personally, I'm not keen on the idea of identifying nationality. I prefer that people have to concentrate on only my words to form an opinion. If I feel nationality is relevant, *I* will bring it up as I have done in some previous posts.

I also don't want to run the risk of accidentally discriminating against what someone has to say, simply because there is a flag against it. If somebody has a non US flag beside their name, it does not mean they have nothing informed or interesting to say about the presidental elections, for example, but knowing where they are from might make me wonder and I could react to this unconsciously.

If anything, I think this might make k5 feel less of an international community to me as I would be being made aware of something that divides people into groups.
I've always had the greatest respect for other peoples crack-pot beliefs.
- Sam the Eagle, The Muppet Show

An Internationalization Proposal (none / 0) (#53)
by Greener on Fri Oct 20, 2000 at 07:33:23 PM EST

Reading through all the comments on this it seems that there are several opinions given but no solution proposed that cover them all.

Here is an overview of the problems I've seen mentioned in other posts and some possible solutions to them:

  • It was suggested that flag images might be too bandwidth intensive and country TLD could be used instead. Each has advantages and disadvantages.

    I don't know what the current bandwidth usage or capacity is on the K5 servers so I don't know if they could handle sending tiny .png images with each comment. Even if there is the bandwidth to do this now, how well would it scale if we continue the rapid growth we've seen recently. Also most people can probably only match a few flags to the countries they represent and a lot of them look really similar (at least to me). On the plus side, as images they could each have an ALT tag with the name of the country. As for the bandwidth problem, I know K5 has a regional image mirror in Australia. I don't know if there are plans to create more. Any volunteers?

    Using a two character TLD would eliminate any bandwidth problems but they can be just as meaningless as flags to people who don't recognize them. And they can't have ALT tags to explain what they mean.

    Final Call: Can't make one without bandwidth statistics. My preference would be a two character TLD in the top or bottom right corner of the coment header bar. I guess this one is really up to the admins if it ever gets implimented.

  • As for the fear of starting regional flame wars, prejudice, and private data collection I suggest two options. One on the User Preferences page and one the Display Preferences page.
    1: Users don't have to enter their country of they dont want to. Just like they don't need to enter an e-mail address or web page.
    2: Users can have the option to not see user region codes if they don't want to. Ths option already exists with topic images for stories.

  • All I can suggest for readers who don't feel they have a nationality is to make a choice based on personal preference if you can and remember that it isn't manditory.

Now, readers, I leave my proposal in your hands. You can either add suggestions to this proposal or create your own. Just try to be constructive, flames don't help anything.

PS. If I had a Linux box I'd try hacking this into the scoop code up to see how well various solutions look. Unfortunately my current computer situation will not allow this to happen ay time soon and I never could get scoop working under Windows. I've read the code though and it doesn't look like it would be too difficult to impliment.

User I18N | 53 comments (46 topical, 7 editorial, 0 hidden)
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