[Foundation-l] Automatic username transliteration for SUL

Stephanie Erin Daugherty stephanie at sosdg.org
Thu Dec 21 15:46:11 UTC 2006

> Hoi,
> At issue is that the function of NOT seeing the characters, hence the 
> ??????, is a function of your local system. It is easily remedied by 
> installing fonts. These are for the majority of languages available as 
> part of your operating system. Making this a display option will get you 
> into problems too. It would help if we knew what the primary language is 
> of the person involved. That is something that is relatively easy to 
> address as we have to address it in the "Multilingual MediaWiki". Here 
> it is however not compulsory to make this info available.
> I want to repeat my question I posted before: Is this the Wikimedia 
> Foundation that allows people to edit its project anonymously ? Does 
> this whole idea not reek of bad faith ? How hard is it to have people 
> install fonts if they object to having to see ??????
*I* know I need to install fonts for proper multilingual support, but 
doing that doesn't get me multilingual text input, and very, very few 
people who have not already had to deal with such things as input 
methods will know how to input characters in foreign character sets, 
much less know what they are to input them correctly.

So the argument stands that this is as much a technical problem as a 
social one - and yes, the attitude of going against anything you don't 
understand, or inconveniences you slightly is one of our worst examples 
of bad faith - and I venture to say a typical Americanism.

This technical problem is not likely to be confined to en though, it's 
just better managed in cultures that are multilingual, since Wikipedians 
exposed to such cultures are more likely to already have or have been 
exposed to the tools (fonts and input methods) needed to work 
efficiently with foreign character sets, and are more likely to know how 
to use them.

The biggest thing we need to solve IMHO, is making sure that it's 
possible to type usernames, or something corresponding to usernames, 
without needing to have special input methods set up, and without using 
any characters that can't be directly typed on a typical keyboard for 
the language in question. Until a better solution arises, the ability to 
use the numeric userid as a "surrogate" for the username in URLs and 
text entry seems to be the safest bet.


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