Multilingual sites: ask for preferred language at registration


(Quim Gil) #1

Thank you very much for the feature allowing users selecting their preferred locale. Very helpful for communities living multilingual realities!

Have you considered to allow users to define their preferred locale at registration time? This is the point of time when it makes more sense for a user to make that choice in order to discover the new community in their preferred language.

Offering selection of locale in the registration form would solve two related problems:

  • Discobot would send users its first message in their preferred language already. That makes Discobot cooler and easier to be understood by everyone. Currently there is no workaround for this, Discobot’s first message will arrive in the default language always.
  • Discovering the possibility of changing your locale takes a certain skill, especially when you are a new user, perhaps using a complex interface for the first time, perhaps in a language you are not very fluent. Users need to know that such feature exists and can be found in almost the very last corner of their user settings. This can be solved socially by adding the note in the welcoming topic, but it is suboptimal for various reasons.

Selection of a preferred language is basically a one-time choice. Registration is the right time for it. Implementation of this feature is probably not that complex?

Is there any way to let language selector display 'English' instead of 'en'?
(Sam Saffron) #2

Sure we are open to a community pr in this area, need to see mockups first, optional default off


How about something like this?

I feel like we need a better copy for the instructions. IMO it shouldn’t exceed the width of the selectbox, but I couldn’t come up with a shorter one. Any ideas?

(Quim Gil) #4

“Language: English” is quite self-explanatory. What about just removing the instructions?

(Sam Saffron) #5

I feel like this is a tad too late, what if categories allowed you to set locale in category settings?

Then when anon clicks on a topic or category in such a locale the interface could switch locales and clicking register would already be in the correct locale which could be carried over

(Quim Gil) #6

Why the registration form is too late? If the user reached that form is because they could find their way in the default language of the forum, which would appear as default also in the form (i.e. Russian if the default is Russian, not English).

I guess we have two fundamental types of potential multilingual Discourse sites

  1. Support forums and similar international services or communities where you might find users from everywhere. Many unrelated languages can be expected, English acts as lingua franca, most users don’t know many of the languages.
  2. Multilingual communities sharing territory or cultural background. 2-3 related languages can be expected, English might not be one of them, and most users can probably read all of them and speak/write at least one.

In the first case different languages will be probably structured and separate. Switching locales for anonymous users and proceeding with @sam’s idea might work well.

However, in the second case things may (and frequently do) get quite mixed, and frictions are not uncommon. Imagine forums combining Russian-Ukranian, Bosnian-Croatian-Serbian…, Finnish-Swedish, Catalan-Spanish, Arabic-French… Anonymous users could be changing locales click after click. There administrators might prefer to avoid tying categories or topics to languages altogether, because that promotes some kind of segregation. Imagine a proud Ukranian speaker that, after reading the last topic in Russian, is offered Russian registration in a (maybe proud) Ukranian community.

If you have any friends from these regions in Facebook, go visit their walls and you’ll see. I bet it can be the same for i.e. Hebrew/English.

To make it even funnier, it is not uncommon that users reading, say, Catalan/Spanish with native fluency still prefer English UI because they are used to it. Therefore, you may have communities producing no English content but still having users who will choose the English locale.

(Gerhard Schlager) #7

There is already a site setting (set locale from accept language header) which uses the browser’s Accept-Language HTTP header for anonymous users. I guess this could be used to set the initial value for the locale on the registration form and it might already set the locale during signup.

You can find out more about this feature in Variable default interface language for new users. If I remember correctly there were some issues with caching.

(Sam Saffron) #8

There is a VERY strong order of operations problem here.

Yes I want to correct and improve this stuff but:

  • This MUST happen first, Is there any way to let language selector display 'English' instead of 'en'? I find it odd to even be talking about this stuff without this in place.

  • I feel like in many communities the category based “language” selection both solves a big problem with signup and leaves users with less choice which is great.

  • Involving Discobot in a multi lingual interface forum where people generally speak multiple language is a great way of introducing the concept of preference.

  • Whatever solution we come up with for signup should be more inline with what facebook do. Cause plenty of people on the planet have no idea what the glyphs “Language” mean. So how are they expected to even fill out the form.

(Simon Cossar) #9

Facebook sets their login form from the accept language headers. You have to clear your browser’s cookies to see it. A big difference between facebook and Discourse is that facebook doesn’t display content to anonymous users, so they only have to deal with the login page.

(Sam Saffron) #10

Sorry, was a bit vague there.

I meant that a combo box is kind of weak on the signup page. Instead a footer on the login modal that displays a list of languages (spelled in the actual language) is the way to go.

It does beg the question about how someone is going to even select “Sign Up” when they have no idea what those glyphs mean, which is why I am so uneasy about this.

(Jeff Atwood) #11

I think automagically inferring language from the browser’s language setting is always preferable to what @quimgil proposed, above, and we do support that via an experimental :man_scientist: site setting, set locale from set language header

It utterly destroys anon caching though which is why it is such a dangerous setting and not enabled by default.

So maybe this request only matters in the very narrow case of people who are multi-lingual, and hitting websites broadly available in multiple languages, who say

Oh my browser says I am in France but I speak French, English, German, and Chinese and right now I prefer to use Chinese on this particular website.

Furthermore, the “explicit language set per category” thing is also extremely strong, and matches the topic @erlend_sh already set up about localizing Discourse for multi-language sites.

(Simon Cossar) #12

Maybe the anonymous cache key could be set differently for forums that require login to view content. It would require having login_required and possibly supported_locales available as Global Settings. It could be useful for customer support forums.

(Sam Saffron) #13

Anon cache can add another header to its cache key, its quite a straightforward change.

(Jeff Atwood) #19

Getting real tired of the off-topic posts here and I will be deleting aggressively. So before posting any more replies, re-read the title and first post and ask yourself, “Am I sure I am posting something that is actually what this topic is about?”