Archive for the ‘catalan’ Category

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

Reviews in many languages

I’ve added a bunch of features around the language that members write reviews in.

Reviews by language. The result is to make LibraryThing more attractive for non-English users—they now get reviews in their own language by default. A few languages, especially our Dutch, French and German sites, already have a decent number of reviews, and this should make it more fun for all non-English users to review books.

For the English-only members, the feature is mostly negative—it’s now easy to screen out the clutter of reviews in languages you don’t understand.

Most popular works have reviews in other languages. Something like the Da Vinci Code has reviews in thirteen languages, including twelve in Dutch, three in Swedish, two in Catalan and one in Greek! (“Un dels millors llibres que he llegit mai”, “Το λάτρεψα”—maybe it’s better in translation!)

Reviews uClassified: Most reviews have already been assigned to a language. Rather than use the default language in LibraryThing profiles, which turns out to be very, very weakly related to the language members write their reviews in, I took advantage of the excellent language classification service offered by uClassify ( uClassify runs a Bayesian filter on a piece of text and sends back a list of languages, and confidence scores.

It isn’t perfect, but it’s pretty good. Only very high scores were accepted as definitive. Short reviews weren’t sent for the same. As a result, about 1/8 of LibraryThing’s 730,267 reviews remain as “not set.”

Feature changes. A bunch.

  • You can now edit your reviews language everywhere you can edit or enter a review.
  • Your library statistics page (link) now shows how many reviews you’ve written in every language. Mostly importantly this shows the number of reviews that haven’t been assigned to a language.
  • For reviews going forward your default language is set on your account page.
  • The catalog now has a “Reviews language” field and a special search for all your reviews in a given language (eg., reviews in English, language not set). These links are available from your stats page).
  • You can Power Edit review languages, and when you’re looking at all your reviews in a language, if it differs from your default language, you will get a link to make all unset reviews be in your default language. For example, here are all your unset reviews (link).

Statistics. The numbers turned out something like this.

English/Unset: 650,988
Dutch: 8,636
French: 4,666
German: 4,651
Spanish: 4,463
Italian: 2,876
Swedish: 2,329
Danish: 1,587
Norwegian: 1,231
Portuguese: 1,098
Finnish: 662
Catalan: 443

To be done, talked about. As usual, there’s more to do. So far, there’s no good list of recent or top reviews by language. Come to discuss it on Talk and suggest other improvements.

Labels: book reviews, catalan, french, german, greek, languages, new feature, new features

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