[Foundation-l] hiding interlanguage links by default is a Bad Idea, part 2

Mark Williamson node.ue at gmail.com
Fri Jun 4 17:51:32 UTC 2010

Aryeh, imagine someone links you to an article on physics at
ka.wikipedia. If there were a link that said "English", you'd know
what that meant, but if there's just a button that says "ენები"
(Georgian for "Languages"), how are you going to know to click that
rather than any of the other words on the page that to you probably
appear little more than gibberish? (assuming you don't read Georgian -
if I'm wrong, substitute it for any language that you don't know)


On Wed, Jun 2, 2010 at 5:09 PM, Aryeh Gregor
<Simetrical+wikilist at gmail.com> wrote:
> On Wed, Jun 2, 2010 at 6:30 PM, Aryeh Gregor
> <Simetrical+wikilist at gmail.com> wrote:
>> On Wed, Jun 2, 2010 at 5:51 PM, Gregory Maxwell <gmaxwell at gmail.com> wrote:
>>> You can attempt a weighted cost comparison:    Num_interwiki_users *
>>> Cost_of_hiding   vs   Everyone_else * Cost_of_clutter.    But even
>>> that will inevitably lead to bad conclusions for some issues because
>>> the costs are usually not linear things:   A tiny benefit to a hundred
>>> million people wouldn't justify making wikipedia very hard to use for
>>> a hundred thousand,  ... because a zillion tiny benefits can often
>>> never really offset a smaller number of big costs.
>> They can't?  Why not?
> . . . well, I can expand on this a bit.  Wikipedia's goals can be
> summarized as "Give people access to free knowledge".  This can be
> measured lots of different ways, of course.  But I see no reason why
> they shouldn't all scale more or less linearly in the number of people
> affected.  If we can get an extra piece of useful information to a
> billion people over the course of a year, why isn't that a billion
> times better on average than getting an extra piece of useful
> information to one person, for any definition of "useful"?  If it
> isn't exactly a billion times, why should we believe that it's less
> than a billion (as you seem to suggest) rather than more?
> Cost-benefit analyses involving death are the same.  People would like
> to claim that lives and money are incommensurable, say, but that's
> patently false.  No one would advocate spending a trillion dollars to
> save one person's life -- if nothing else, you could save many
> people's lives for the same amount.  Even if your only goal is to save
> lives in the short term, a life is worth *at most* X dollars, because
> you can straightforwardly exchange dollars for lives saved.  In
> practice, X is probably less than 1,000 if you spend it right.
> When you deal with everyday situations, then saying "lives and money
> are incommensurable" is a good enough approximation.  It doesn't work
> if you have lots of lives, or lots of money, or ways to exchange lives
> and money that don't come up in everyday situations.
> On Wed, Jun 2, 2010 at 6:28 PM, Noein <pronoein at gmail.com> wrote:
>> When you enter your car and drive to your destination, you make hundreds
>> of gestures but use only once the key, at the beginning.
> And it would be a mistake to omit the keyhole altogether, or to make
> it hard to find if you look.  But there's no need to make it as
> obtrusive and easy to reach as the steering wheel or the pedals.
> Indeed, you shouldn't, because that would take away attention and
> space from things that are more often used.
>> A probable scenario: people reaching wikipedia on a foreign language
>> click just once on the correct language, then may browse hundreds of
>> articles without changing the language again.
> Is this probable?  What are people's reasons for using interlanguage
> links?  How many people miss them now that they're collapsed -- among
> the readership as a whole, not the extremely vocal and committed
> editors who read foundation-l and will find them easily anyway?
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