Friday, February 11, 2011

The female form comes at a cost

#MediaWiki is one of the few applications that is aware that women are addressed in the female form in Slavic languages. When you specify "female" in your preferences, it will provide a user interface that respects the grammatical female form.

For the Russian Wikipedia substantially more people indicated their preference for being addressed as a woman. Given the quality of its localisation the experience must be quite good. At there is documentation on the implementation of sex based discrimination in the user interface.

We are currently at a stage where it is possible to implement [[gender]] in messages. A next stage could be when all messages with [[gender]] in any language can be selected either for implementing or proof reading the messages with a sex determined message. This will make it easier to improve the quality of our localisation.

For MediaWiki projects it would be a good thing when anonymous users have a way to signal their preferred form of address. When the gender based bugs get appropriate attention, it will be obvious that all this will impact the caches.

As there is a considerable push to attract more women to contribute to the Wikimedia projects, the attention given to gender based differentiation is an objective way to gauge to what extend the WMF is willing to put its money where its mouth is.

1 comment:

Bawolff said...

I can't really think of any possible good ui to let anon's specify their gender.

I do think it'd be nice though if people were prompted for their gender during account creation on languages where it matters. (No sense to bother people on en, where most messages are gender neutral, but on languages where the interface is really wrong without a gender specified, people shouldn't have to dig through the prefs to find the setting).