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

Tim Landscheidt tim at tim-landscheidt.de
Sun Jun 6 18:59:32 UTC 2010

Aryeh Gregor <Simetrical+wikilist at gmail.com> wrote:

> [...]
> Data is important.  It's also not always possible to gather.  When
> multiple things are competing for attention, you can make one or the
> other more prominent, and it will get correspondingly more clicks.
> But it's up to your judgment to assess whether that's a good thing or
> a bad thing: are more people finding what they actually want, or are
> people being distracted from what they actually want?  If we have more
> clicks on interlanguage links and less on other interface elements, is
> that good or bad?  If we wanted to maximize clicks on interlanguage
> links, we could always put them above the article text, so you have to
> scroll through them to get to the article text . . . but that's
> obviously ridiculous.

> As Greg said above, data is important, but it can be hard to apply
> correctly.  Sometimes you really have to use judgment.  But we could
> still use more data -- for instance, why do people usually click
> interlanguage links?  Do they usually understand the language they're
> reading the article in, or not?  We could have a little
> multiple-choice question that pops up a small percentage of the time
> when people click on an interlanguage link.

> My suspicion is that a long list is not ideal.  Yes, people will see
> it for what it is and they'll be able to find their language easily
> enough if they look.  But it's distracting, and it's not obvious
> without (in some cases) a lot of scrolling whether there's anything
> below it.  If we could use some heuristic to pick a few languages to
> display, with a prominent "More" link at the bottom, I suspect that
> would be superior.

> But first we should gather data on click rates for the list fully
> expanded and unexpanded.  Per-page click rates are important here --
> many articles have no interlanguage links, so will obviously pull down
> the average click rate despite being unaffected by the change.  What's
> the trend like as articles have more interlanguage links?  How many
> more interlanguage clicks are there for articles in twenty languages
> as opposed to five?  Can we plot that?  For each wiki separately, for
> preference?

> All this data gathering takes manpower to do, of course.  Maybe the
> usability team doesn't have the manpower.  If so, does anyone
> qualified volunteer?  If not, we have to make decisions without data
> -- and that doesn't automatically mean "keep the status quo", nor
> "change it back if people complain loudly".  It means someone who
> happens to be in charge of making the decision needs to make a
> judgment call, based on all the evidence they have available.
> [...]

But why base only the decision for interlanguage links on
"click data"? A rough estimate would say that the "Edit"
button is used by far less than 1% as well. (Not to speak of
"View history" or the various fundraiser banners.) Yet, the
original grant explicitly stated as a *goal* to ease the
edit process.

  So there is not only "evidence" to consider, but also
"policy". We do want to emphasize: "Everyone can edit!", so
we put an "Edit" button up there, even if it might disturb
someone's mind with "clutter". Do we want to advertize:
"This article is available in 100+ languages!", so someone
when reading another article without that long list will
think about translating this article to his mother tongue?
Or maybe just say: "Awesome!"


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