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Tackling Localization Troubles  (View post)

/pd [PersonRank 10]

Tuesday, March 6, 2007
17 years ago5,601 views

is not XLIFF format an option ?

I have seen some interesting things happen with a couple of packages that use these spec's.

ZZ [PersonRank 3]

17 years ago #

What's ur lil game site. Would u mind sharing it.

JennyPenny [PersonRank 6]

17 years ago #

Philipp, I like your game site! I haven't tried all the games there, but I really like checkers and "I will read your mind" (magic!). Your site's nice 'cause I don't have to log in and wait for all the scripts to load (like at Yahoo! Games).

Helge Olav Helgesen [PersonRank 1]

17 years ago #

I loved your game site. I have no solution to your challenge, but it is an interesting challenge.

Ionut Alex. Chitu [PersonRank 10]

17 years ago #

I hate localized versions, so – no matter what – I want to see a link to the English version.

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

17 years ago #

> What's ur lil game site. Would u mind sharing it.

> I hate localized versions, so – no matter what – I want
> to see a link to the English version.

Yes, I absolutely know what you mean, this is also a great reason for always including an English link. We all know how sometimes, the localized version "lags" behind the translations and offers less features, and you feel like you're missing out when you only see the translations (or that you'll get translations errors). Note though that power users like us, who I think are most likely to demand the "non-lag version", can also set our preferred browser language to English (I always do). So in the model described, you'd instantly get the English version...

Ionut Alex. Chitu [PersonRank 10]

17 years ago #

I mostly hate them because they have errors, they're more difficult to understand/confusing/ambiguos and cause layout problems (they're longer/shorter than expected).

TOMHTML [PersonRank 10]

17 years ago #

If you have different languages for your site, you should have different domain names. = English = French = Spanish

Roger Browne [PersonRank 10]

17 years ago #

There is another solution. It's extremely difficult to do, but it would solve everything if it could be done.

Redesign the games so that they use universal symbols rather than text.

(On reflection, this solution works for humans but doesn't work for the Googlebot and the Adbot. Maybe "white hat cloaking" has its purpose after all?)

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

17 years ago #

> Redesign the games so that they use
> universal symbols rather than text.

Cool suggestion.
I wonder if it's possible to create a "language neutral" fun site that doesn't include a single word. It might be an interesting design challenge.

Ionut Alex. Chitu [PersonRank 10]

17 years ago #

So how would you localize a game like Guess the Place:

where you're supposed to enter the name of a location? You should have translations for all the possible locations.

Or for this game ( where you get an English phrase?

To create a "language neutral" game site you must have "language neutral" games.

Peter (GAR at [PersonRank 0]

17 years ago #

1) GAR means General Answer Researcher
   (at Uclue or anywhere else. It entered the common language, lets keep it)

2) Phillip, you ask lot of the right questions,

   I consider an attempt to solve in a dicussion
a hard way of re-inventing the wheel.

Internationalization , abbreviated as the numeronym i18n (or I18n or I18N)

is a profession – people do it for living

Surely a diletant can do it – but s/he should at least read a book first
or at least ask [on] for someone to list the resources and tutorials.

There is a great GNU resouce gettext (and most linuxes
just made it very efficient bu putting the needed hooks
into the kernel,....

get rid of content negotiation and store every game language under a unique URL

there is a better way, way used by Google Groups

You add hl=de to the URL and page is in german
   hl=cs and it is czech ..

try these in your browser

atd (sorry I mean etc :-)


Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

17 years ago #

> So how would you localize a game like Guess the Place

Ionut, most of the games are specifically not localized, not because I'm not aware of the issue, but because due to a lack of resources (e.g. money to pay game translations, or time to create games) I've decided to just live with this, knowing it will restrict the audience. But if I do new games for the site, I might focus more on graphical implementations...

PeterGAR, your pointers specifically not address the issue I was discussing in my post (or trying to): the mixture of having a website with a "global attention stream" which is yet supposed to be localized – the problem of "personal" vs "shareable". I was not trying to discuss internationalization, nor technical implementations of how to store language strings, or how to localize desktop applications. I was talking about how a developer without a lot of resources can aid the word-of-mouth marketing of their site through a mixed approach of localization and non-localization in a web environment.

Microsoft, who has tons of localization expert offices, specifically sucks at this: I wasted several months last year trying to get German Word work together well with getting help from an English-speaking friend, converting documents on a US-based books website (, not being able to google for menu entries of the software because most help entries describe the English-language menus, a Macro-language that caused a bug *because a syntax command was translated into German behind the scenes*, and so on. In other words, the localization experts failed to satisfyingly solve this conflict between "globalization" and "personalization" for me. *Not* using localized versions of Word ended up as one my top tips when I wrapped up the project and lessons learned < >.

Also, you quote "get rid of content negotiation and store every game language under a unique URL" and then mention storing the pages under unique URLs. But this is precisely what I described as solution in my post... (I'm using htaccess-beautified language URLs instead of visible parameters on by the way, looks nicer than "hl=de").

Dan Tobias [PersonRank 6]

17 years ago #

I've got some notes on multilingual sites and content negotiation here:

I don't know why anybody would think that there's a need for separate domain names for different-language versions of a site. If they're done with country-code domains as suggested above, that would possibly make sense for localized versions for different countries, but that's a different issue from languages. ccTLDs have nothing inherently to do with what language a site is in.

If one does feel the need for different hostnames for the different language versions, then subdomains would make sense, such as Wikipedia does (,, etc.)

Tony Ruscoe [PersonRank 10]

17 years ago #

I could talk about this all day... I've had to consider this exact problem so many times and I've found myself going round in circles, deciding against doing it one way in favor of another way, only to change my mind and decide the other way was best after all... and then change my mind again...!

Personally, I like to see a language selection option on every single page that reloads the current page but displays it in the selected language. Some sites only have a language selection on the home page or always send you back to home page when you change you language. This is obviously bad for the reason that if you send a link to someone else and they want to view it in another language, they could easily get lost and never find that content again.

Storing separate versions of the files in different languages isn't always an option, especially for database driven websites, because if the database structure changes, the language versions will break unless they're localized at the same time as the English (or other original source language) version is released. I've often thought that using the same pages and changing the language on the fly could cause problems for search engines. What if the search engine support sessions and ends up changing the language and indexes your website in the wrong language? Or what if it never finds and indexes your localized versions because it can't switch the language? Having thought about this some more, this probably isn't such an issue, depending on how the language of your content changes and how you recognize what language to return to the user.

When to do content negotiation is tricky. I think that so long as the user always has the option to change the website to whatever language they want, it's probably OK to use content negotiation. However, it would be best to make this decision persistent – probably through use of cookies. And I don't think you should restrict their choice just to their language and English; what if they want to send a link to their French friend? Let them choose the French version if they want.

And here's another question: If you don't have all the content localized, is it better to provide the English content or not offer anything? i.e. Is it better to have a small, incomplete localized version of the website or a complete version that contains a mix of English and localized contents?

How to market the localized versions of your site is a bigger problem. Of course, if you've set it up right, it will show in the search results of the language/country-specific search engines – and hopefully people from those regions will then find your site and post it to the relevant sites.

Other things to consider:

   * Should you really use country-specific domain names if you're only offering language-specific versions of the websites?

   * If you offer region-specific websites, should you offer them in all languages or only the languages used in those regions? For example, a site targeted at Canada might be available in English and French, but should it also be available in Italian, Chinese, Japanese or other languages? Or is it fair to assume that a user in Canada must be able to speak at least English and French fluently?

And there are many more questions like these that don't have answers, so I think I'll stop there! :-)

(Note: I don't actually speak another language though, so my opinions are simply just that!)

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