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

David Levy lifeisunfair at gmail.com
Mon Jun 7 22:31:48 UTC 2010

Aryeh Gregor wrote:

> Because evidence is a great thing, but judgment is necessary too.  It
> would be nice if you could do everything strictly based on evidence,
> but real life isn't so simple.

Agreed.  So why are you dismissing people's arguments on the basis
that they stem from such judgement (while simultaneously passing
similar judgement of your own)?  You can't have it both ways.

It's entirely reasonable to vigorously disagree with others'
arguments, of course.  But when the rationale is "they are not backed
by data," it's unreasonable to exempt the user experience team and
yourself from this standard.

> Just because there are complaints about *many* problems, doesn't mean
> there are complaints about *all* problems.  Some problems draw few to
> no complaints, by their nature.

As previously noted, perceived clutter draws complaints.

> If every problem really did trigger complaints, we wouldn't need
> usability studies -- we could find all problems by just looking at
> complaints.  This isn't the case.

We've agreed that such comments mustn't be interpreted as
representative samples, so the value of usability studies is clear.

However, this particular "problem" was identified *not* through such a
study (despite the fact that one was ongoing), but through speculation
stemming from a general design principle of questionable

> There is ample evidence that when users are presented with more
> buttons to click, they take longer to find what they want and make
> more mistakes.

In my observation, a list of twenty interlanguage links is perceived
*not* as twenty separate links, but as one coherent list.  It's
instantly clear that most or all of the labels are written in a
language foreign to the user, and little or no time is spent examining
them individually.

However, I'm not suggesting that my observation is sacrosanct; I
welcome scientific data.

> We can apply this generality to specific cases without having to
> directly check it every time.

Yes, but not when dealing with a materially different entity.

> We don't have the budget to run a usability study on every individual
> possible problem.

Of course not.  But for reasons explained throughout the discussion,
many of us regard this feature as immensely important and feel that it
should not be demoted in the absence of data indicating that the
change is beneficial.

Howie Fung has acknowledged that additional data is needed, and I
applaud this response.

David Levy

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