Sunday, March 11th, 2007

Better internationalization

Important! We know that most non-English speakers are not listed under their language. Until translation was added, all members were counted under, and a majority of non-English-language visitors still come through the English-language site. You can always come through any site, but if you speak a language besides English, go ahead and edit your profile to indicate what that is. You’ll improve the site for yourself and for others.

As many of you know, LibraryThing is now available in more than a dozen languages, from German to Welsh (complete list). The core of this effort was effected by LibraryThing’s members, who have translated our 1,500+ snippets in a wiki-like manner. (The work has been shared on the larger sites; the Welsh translation is largely the work of a single, heroic user, Dogfael!)

Translation is great—a triumph of passionate users run amock—but it isn’t enough. So today I’m unwrapping a bunch of features aimed at “localization,” giving members data on the trends in their language community, and giving them tools to find and connect with their linguistic brethren.

  • Language-specific Zeitgeist pages. The Zeitgeist tab now includes a “by language” sub-tab, taking you to stats and trends for German, French, Dutch and the other languages. For some the top ones, the statistics are already interesting. For Lithuanian and it’s one member, not so much!
  • Language-specific Groups pages. The Groups tab now includes a “Language groups” sub-tab, for all the Groups in French, Spanish, Latin, etc.
  • Language groups. Groups can now belong to up to two languages—quite a few are already bilingual. Abby went ahead through the existing groups and did some spot assignments, but may have missed some. If they’re yours, you can edit your group to change the language. If they’re not, and they’re not changing, send us a note and we’ll see what we can do.

These are hardly the last changes. I am part-way through refinements to Talk that take languages into account. John is working on language-specific book and library links on work pages. And there are search problems, untranslateable “snippets” and other issues that need work. But we’ve made some progress. In a little time and with your help, LibraryThing will be as fun and compelling in Estonian as it is in English.

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