From Meta, a Wikimedia project coordination wiki

No portal

I have a sinking feeling that a Web portal, any Web portal, is annoying useless anti-user Web design. Why do we have one? Politics of the meek? Here's the solution:

  1. Default to the most common language--English, or the language we have most articles in--English, or if we can, detect the browser's default language and serve that language version.
  2. If the user choses a different language, take them to it and save the choice in a cookie for ever.

It is that simple. That's what we should be working on.

Any portal is going to be an embarrassment that no designing can fix, because it is just in the way. So remove it (as soon as we get a persistent language choice cookie working). A portal just doesn't do anything remotely useful enough to warrant serving it to everyone who goes to our main domain name, ever. I'm quite serious and I'm only saying this because it is a simple fact that no amount of designing can "fix" or change. Portals are an embarrassingly annoying waste of users' attention, every time they type our primary domain name into their browser. No, we cannot expect anyone to type a language code first. We should remove the portal, plain and simple, provide language choices in left sidebar, remember user's choice with a cookie, and let everyone in all languages use to go directly to the language version they were most recently on. That's simple. That's smart interface design that just works. No fuss. Who can help us do the auto browser language detection and persistent language choice cookie? (We already have a cookie in the current portal that remembers the Search language choice, but only for a lame 24 hours; so I know we can do a cookie, although I don't know how and it should be long term, not a lame 24 hours.)

Maybe I'm wrong; maybe it is best the way Wikipedia is doing it. But I don't think so. We never had a Web portal at WT and didn't need one. Why do we need this suddenly? What does it do for our users that they want done and are not simply annoyed by? Please comment. Thanks! --Rogerhc (talk) 22:54, 21 March 2013 (UTC)

Sorry, but I do not wish to direct international people to only the English Wikivoyage, but let them decide which language they want to visit if I direct them to This portal is working fine, and if you do not see any use for it: please do not use it, but let others do as it is useful for the worldwide human beings which also may be not experienced with English as language. Romaine (talk) 00:45, 22 March 2013 (UTC)
I think that use case is imaginary. How many websites do that? Are they all broken? --Rogerhc (talk) 01:07, 22 March 2013 (UTC)
Do you have any idea how that could be implemented? I suppose it should be filed as a bug on Bugzilla so the developers can implement this (if/when there is sufficient consensus). Not everyone uses cookies, so it might be inconvenient for them. I think Commons has a script to get the browser's language setting, which may be helpful if you decide to do that kind of thing. πr2 (t • c) 02:37, 22 March 2013 (UTC)
I think that redirecting people to one single project could look like some sort of an obligatory step for them (it makes me think on airport controls), which I think is not necessarily the best perception one wants to have for a new project. Does one? Soljaguar (talk) 08:38, 22 March 2013 (UTC)
I really can understand your points Roger that this practice seems outdated and anti-user: there are very few websites outside of the WMF sphere that use such a system and it can slow things down. I do know however that, were the default page set to something other than English I'd probably find that annoying and I can imagine that this would be the case for speakers of other languages. The only alternative I can think of is having 1 main page - ie one page with content in many different languages (with an emphasis on the most popular) although that would also no doubt come with a series of problems! I might have a go at it later and show you the results. --Nicholasjf21 (talk) 11:43, 22 March 2013 (UTC)
I understand your argument, Roger, but I think that a redirect to English Wikivoyage is unfair. Let's choose a simple, unobtrusive layout for the portal page, and leave it in peace. Some people may use it, others will go directly to individual languages. --Atsirlin (talk) 18:43, 22 March 2013 (UTC)
Unfair? Is that why we did this? Does throwing up multilingual "portals" in front of Wikimedia sites make it fair that English is the common language on the Internet? Hm. Does it make us look like politically correct geese and add an extra page to figure out and click on to get to our site? Well, it does at the moment. I was annoyed the first time, more than a year ago, when I found a "portal" in front of But Wikipedia is "not my wiki." I let it go. It is still there and annoying. But on Wikivoyage? Hm, who did this, anyway? What WV community consensus was achieved before throwing a "portal" up in front of our site? We are a travel guide in 11 languages, not an apology for the common language on the Internet. Our left sidebar links to our multiplicity of languages already, and our new Main Page bottom has an "Other Projects" icon tray already. People really don't want an extra page to digest. Fair doesn't enter the equation, they just want a travel guide already. Awesome, it has language links in the sidebar. How easy is that? Awesome, it remembered my language choice (wait.. we haven't implemented that yet, have we? Let's do--who can do this language cookie?). (See next section.) --Rogerhc (talk) 21:12, 22 March 2013 (UTC)

I have changed my mind. I went to Chinese WT and asked myself if a newcomer who does not read Chinese could easily find the language links down page in the left sidebar. No, he couldn't. If the language links were at top right, where people will look for them on such a page, yes. But they are alas not there. We should fix that on WV first—see #Universal Language Selector, below. --Rogerhc (talk) 04:02, 23 March 2013 (UTC)

As a disclaimer, I am a native English speaker however I do understand why we should not want to give undue prominence to the English language. Nevertheless, I believe the existing wikitravel portal page is a much more compelling entrance to the site than the wikivoyage portal that (frankly) looks like a low quality intranet site. Since we are trying to establish this site as the leading travel resource on the internet, can we please use the Wikipedia convention of English as the default? As an IT professional, I do see this as a big issue (although not a critical issue) for site adoption. --Andrewssi2 (talk) 14:25, 24 March 2013 (UTC)

If doing away with a portal, which I'm not convinced is the right solution, we would need a much more prominent notice on the individual main pages showing that we provide travel information in many languages. Our defining goal is to provide an open-content travel guide to the world in your own language. English is our biggest language version, in no small part because it is the so-called global lingua franca, but it should be as obvious as possible to German speakers (just one example) that they can get (and contribute!) great information in their own language too. --Peter Talk 19:22, 25 March 2013 (UTC)

Language cookie

I'd like to build consensus for a Bug request to have a "language cookie" implemented on that would remember, for both anonymous and logged in users, the language version of Wikivoyage they were last on and redirect them to it instead of displaying the "portal" the next time they go to or The portal has no functionality that the Main Pages lack and is therefore irrelevant (see section above). This cookie would make it easier for repeat visitors to Wikivoyage to got to the language version of their choice, by anticipating that it is most often the one they were on last time and taking them to it. Simple, really. Please comment. Thx --Rogerhc (talk) 21:18, 22 March 2013 (UTC)

It could be very simple if for registered and logged in users that cookie is linked to his/her preferences. However, for an anonymous visitor can be very annoying if the cookie recognises a region and redirects or uses the language of that geographical region instead of the preferred or wished language. I think of Google as example. If I'm logged in, the system shows a search engine in Spanish according to my account preferences but the text on it is shown in German and the results are mostly located through the German search engine when I am located in Germany. So, I still have to make a couple clicks here and there to get to the English version and its results (even if the menus and other texts are still shown in German or Spanish)! If there was a portal where I could choose my preferred search engine, that'd be simply great! And yes, I know there are some tricks to get to the version I want a little more directly, but the same idea applies there: I still have to find a way to go around the (for me) annoying mix of languages to get to my preferred search engine instead of having a simple page with all accurate options. Cheers! Soljaguar (talk) 23:20, 22 March 2013 (UTC)
You are right. Let's not do this cookie. At least not unless we get the language selection links into an obvious place at page top right where people will look for it. The language links down the left sidebar are just not obvious enough when you are on a Wikivoygae page in a language you don't know. --Rogerhc (talk) 04:08, 23 March 2013 (UTC)
The language drop down from the top on meta works great, I think. Why can't we use something like that? --Inas (talk) 09:25, 23 March 2013 (UTC)
That's brilliant! Why didn't I think of that. Yes, that is what we should do instead of a portal. Of course, it would not offer to change the site's navigational language in our case, it would offer to take you to whatever language version of Wikivoyage you want (we have 11 to choose from at the moment). And it's a page top right interface item right where anyone can easily find it. Excellent! Checking Special:Version I see that it is, I think, mw:Extension:UniversalLanguageSelector. I want it yesterday already! Do any of us have any experience configuring this? It should be on all language versions of Wikivoyage so that no user gets stranded on a language version lacking it. Once we have UniversalLanguageSelector working, then we can revisit loosing the portal. --Rogerhc (talk) 21:59, 23 March 2013 (UTC)

Extension Universal Language Selector, if configured wisely, may be the language version switcher that simply works for Wikivoyage in any language, no "portal" needed. Who knows more about this? Who can help us figure out how to configure it? I'd like to have a test area in which to install and configure this, and let everyone kick the tires and make suggestions, before we push it out to all Wikivoyage language versions. Do we have a Wikivoyage test wiki we could install it on? --Rogerhc (talk) 22:05, 23 March 2013 (UTC)

I want an easy to find languages switching icon at page top where most people will look for it, (like at top of this Meta page) that would do the following:
  • Offer language choices of all the Wikivoyage language versions, and take you to that language version when you click on that choice.
Useful additional information might be shown on this Universal Language Selector language choices drop down pagelet, such as:
  • How many articles exist in that language version.
  • A link to that versions Main Page.
  • If the equivalent page to the one you are currently on _exists_ in a given language version, a link to that page. That page wont necessarily have the same name, eg Rome (en.voy) -> Roma (it.voy). If it _does not exist,_ a note indicating that.
Those would be the core functions we want for WV I think. Universal Language Selector has other functionality that I think we would not want, such as changing the interface language. On Meta that functionality makes sense because Meta tries to be one multilingual wiki. But at WV (and WP) we use separate wikis for each language. So we would keep that functionality turned off, I think, on WV wikis. Keep it simple so people can use it without thinking about it.
Might Stephan's new locdb (new "Page information" link, in Tools, in left sidebar on WV) be useful as part of extension Universal Language Selector, to provide the page counts and equivalent page names?
Could we do that with Universal Language Selector? --Rogerhc (talk) 19:53, 25 March 2013 (UTC)
I don't think that's what the Universal Language Selector is for. I think that the ULS is intended for multilingual projects, where people would like to switch languages (e.g., Wikidata and Meta-Wiki). You might be able to get it to do something like that. πr2 (t • c) 16:26, 28 March 2013 (UTC)