Archive for the ‘internationalization’ Category

Monday, April 20th, 2009

Welcome Catalonians!

This weekend saw a huge surge in registration on, our Catalan-language subsite—fully 1/5 of new members on Saturday.

The surge followed brief coverage on a Catalan news site, complete with a short video about us (see Google translation*). The story even got into the Legacy Library project.**

I hope we can encourage our Catalan visitors to stay, and help improve the site for themselves and others. Catalan has an exceedingly rich literary tradition and no doubt hundreds of thousands of bibliophiles. But you’re not going to find many Catalan books on Amazon and the sites that use it. LibraryThing, with access to over 690 libraries, including a union catalog of Catalonian universities, is an ideal place for Catalan-speakers to assemble, catalog their books and talk about literature.

So, Catalan speakers, apart from a president of LibraryThing who can write in Catalan***, what do you want? Are there any Catalan programmers out there who want to lend a hand in exchange for good will from your compatriots and revenues? (Seriously. We’re never going to get rich off this stuff. But we might get even more interesting.)

*Google does Catalan now? Wonderful.
**Wouldn’t it be great to get the libraries of some famous Catalonians? Searches turned up a handful of printed catalogs in or about Catalan and the closely-related Occitan: 1, 2, 3, 4.
***We do have you surrounded, though. Abby has good French, Chris Italian, Giovanni Spanish and my Latin is decent.

Labels: catalan, internationalization

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2007

International tags and more

We’ve had quite an upswing internationally, particularly among Dutch speakers. Dutch has surpassed French as our second-largest language community. (Next up: the Germans!) So I spent the evening adding some international features.

I’ve added special tag clouds to work pages on our non-English sites (,,, etc.) They show tags used by members of that site, or on books in that language.

It doesn’t always “work” that well. Perhaps half the tags on our non-English sites are still in English, the site tending to appeal to English-language speakers first. But I imagine that will change as the membership broadens, and tools like this make tagging in your own language more attractive.

The example above is from the Dutch site ( work page for Harry Mulisch‘s De ontdekking van de hemel (The Discovery of Heaven), the most popular work on the site. It’s more than half English tags. A more Dutch example would be De kanonnen van Navarone (The guns of Navarone), tagged avontuur (journeys by airplane) and spionage (spinach) alongside thriller and world war two.*

I also added an indication of how many of your linguistic compatriots have the books. Here is the French page for Amélie Nothomb‘s Stupeur et Tremblements (Fear and Trembling)—the fourth-most popular book among French members, but not in the first 10,000 among English-language members. The text is yellow and in English because I just added it, so no kind French user has yet volunteered a translation.

Lastly, I thought I’d announce and explain a feature just before killing it. (As Hegel said, “the owl of Minerva spreads its wings only with the falling of the dusk.”**) That feature is tag-coloring, an experiment that recently went site-wide (with the change in caching systems). The idea was to color personal tags lighter than subject tags, algorithmically at first, with some hand work from the LibraryThing for Libraries program, and then moving to let users weigh in on what was and what wasn’t personal.

I was never convinced either way, but I thought it worth a try. The reaction on Talk has, however, been pretty hostile, not helped by the fact I didn’t talk about it after it went live). I think I agree with the criticism now too. Anyway, chime in there if you like it. Otherwise, it’s going away… Sometimes beta means making mistakes.

*Hey, it’s 3:35am here.

Labels: dutch books, internationalization, tagging