The Usability team discussed this issue at length this afternoon. We
listened closely to the feedback and have come up with solution which we
hope will work for everyone. It's not a perfect solution, but we think
it's a reasonable compromise.
First, some background on the problem we're addressing and the design
principle that we used. Every situation is unique, but in the case of
the interwikilinks, we believe the sheer number of language links,
especially within the context of an information-heavy page, makes users
"numb" to the list. When people see large collections of things, they
tend to group them all together as one object and not identify the
individual parts that make the whole. As the number of items in the list
decreases the likelihood of a person identifying the individual items
increases. This is similar to how viewing a traffic jam appears as a
long line of generic vehicles, while seeing just a few cars driving down
the road might be comprehended in more granular detail (a motorcycle, a
truck and a sports car). While we did not explicitly test for this
during our usability studies (e.g., it wasn't included as a major design
question), we did exercise judgement in identifying this as a problem,
based partly on the applying the above design principle to the site,
partly on the data.
Regarding the data behind the decision. First, let me apologize for the
tardiness. The engineer who implemented the clicktracking of the left
nav recently returned from vacation, so you can probably imagine how
things might be a little difficult to find after being away for a
while. Please see  for more details, but a quick summary is that we
measured the click behavior for two groups of English Wikipedia users,
Monobook and Vector (Vector users are primarily those who participated
in the beta). Of Monobook and Vector users, 0.95% and 0.28% clicked on
the language links (out of 126,180 and 180,873 total clicks),
respectively. We felt that fewer than 1% of Monobook clicks was a
reasonable threshold for hiding the Language links, especially when
taken in the context of the above design principle and the
implementation (state persists after expanding).
We do, however, recognize the concern that was voiced by a number of our
community members. When the language links are in a collapsed state
however, there is not enough information to explain what the list will
be if you were to expand it. In all likelihood, we won't be able to get
the verbiage to the point where it's sufficiently descriptive of the
inter-language links. A list of languages is probably more effective as
it *shows* the user that there are other languages available (rather
than *telling* the user via a "Language", "In other languages" etc.
link). However, exposing all of the languages can potentially be just
as ineffectual as showing none of them.
A more effective approach would be to balance the two, by showing just
enough links to clearly illustrate the meaning of the list. So our
proposal is to show a list of, say, 5 languages with a "more" link. We
think that a list of 5 languages should be sufficient to communicate to
the user that there are other language versions available. If the
language they want is not on the list, they may click "more" to see the
There are numerous ways we can populate the list of 5. The simplest way
is to populate based on the current order, but we can also do it based
on size of the wiki, browser language, geo IP, etc. Our proposal is to
go with something simple for now, and then continue to explore options
for greater customization.
We hope this compromise addresses the most pressing concerns that have
been raised. I will update the page on the usability wiki with the
above information . Please direct discussion/feedback to that page.
Thank you for your input.
Howie, on behalf of the User Experience Team at WMF
On 6/4/10 3:21 PM, Platonides wrote:
Aryeh Gregor wrote:
Now, mind you, I don't necessary support
getting rid of the
interlanguage links. I'm mostly objecting to the reasoning being
brought forward for that point, which seems to be mostly:
* Some unknown number of users might somehow end up at a wiki they
don't understand and not be able to find the wiki they really want.
Maybe. Except we have no data to suggest that this happens with
non-negligible frequency. The evidence apparently indicates that few
people use the interlanguage links.
* Lots of people have complained, therefore it must be a bad change.
* Interface clutter isn't important anyway.
The last two arguments are completely wrongheaded. The first might or
might not have merit -- but no one has even attempted to propose what
evidence we could gather to check it (I think). Most of the people
making the first argument seem to assume without question that there
*must* be a lot of people using the interlanguage links for this, or
at least a significant number. This is not the way to conduct an
It was requested somewhere on this thread to publish the data of the
interwiki usage before CollapsibleNav and after.
The difference should give an estimate of people which would have used
it but was unable to find it out (as opposed to those who found it but
needed an extra click for that).
Since I was asked "how would I search now?" when showing the new look, I
can understand that people don't find the interwikis, which are less
prominent than the search bar! How many? I don't have enough data. I
consider James and Casey reports quite important, since they will be
people actually reaching us, which reports are a tiny percentage of
affected people (even from the community, but specially from the large
In the absence of further data, the only real
argument I saw for
restoring the interlanguage links by default is to show how
international Wikipedia is and raise awareness about how many other
languages are supported. In this case they aren't actually meant to
be clicked on, so a low click rate isn't a problem. They're more of
an advertisement. This is a fairly reasonable argument -- the huge
size of the language list is a plus, not a minus, from this
perspective. I don't know if it outweighs concerns about clutter,
That's an interesting point. I was also wondering how it related to the
accuracy perception. A fluent wikipedian probably consider an topic
better (or improvable) if it has many interwikis. Or many FAs. As
opposed to an interwikiless article, which is deemed of poor quality.
These are probably automatisms we aren't aware of, so I don't see how it
could be measured.
Sort of tangentially, ... am I really the only
one that frequently
uses the Wikipedia inter-language links as a big translating
Add me to the list of people which hover the interwikis to find out a
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