Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The #Wikimedia #language support dance

The "Universal Language Selector" was removed as a default option from WMF wikis. It is a victim of its success because it is (gasp) actually used. If there is a problem, it is that some people consider that they do not need it, think it ugly.

ULS is needed for:
  • people with dyslexia
  • text in "other" scripts than what is default on a device
  • multi lingual wikis
What this whole fracas shows is a problem with communication. It has not been said that the use of ULS has changed much recently. We know the servers are coping. It follows that improvements can be made while ULS is continued to be in use. This would ensure that at least 7% of our public (the people with dyslexia) can access the knowledge that we want to share with them.

For Wikidata the ULS has been enabled. A switch that allows the default use of ULS was created. Communities can request for ULS to be switched on for them as well.

The people who consider that ULS is not needed for them, should not complain when information does not render properly. A switch that enables/disables ULS gives people the choice to rely on their local resources, it is for them to make sure that their hardware is actually able to cope with all legitimate content.

We could help them by make it easy for people to install fonts locally. It would make the use of web fonts redundant. That is actually the optimal solution  :)
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