Rants 20 Sep 2007 22:31:26

Language Detection Done Wrong

Here’s a little rant about a sin of which Google, Microsoft, and MySpace, and many other big names are all guilty: Automatic language detection based on anything except the actual Accept-Language header the browser sends. They instead use IP geolocation or try to guess from you picking the country you are from.

I am Danish, I live in Denmark, and my gateway is indeed in Denmark as well. However, I prefer to read English, and thus I have set my browser’s Accept-Language header to “en, en-gb;q=0.7, en-us;q=0.3“. Problem is that none of the big sites seem to respect that. Google automatically redirects me to the Danish google.dk (which I at least can force back to google.com). Microsoft sites cannot be changed without manually editing the URL to append “mkt=en-us” to the query string.

I could understand geolocation if the browser was not sending a valid Accept-Language, or to supplement and show local news or events, but please honor the nice standard header in all other cases…

Veering from the online track, in the offline world a similar annoyance struck me with Fedora‘s language and locale settings: It seems impossible to have the full Danish keyboard layout with dead keys, while also having all applications, menus, and terminal messages be English, and have the default encoding everywhere be Unicode (UTF-8). If anyone knows how to overcome that particular issue, I’d be happy to hear…

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