Talk:Universal Language Selector/Compact Language Links

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This is the feedback page for the Compact Language Links feature.

See the Frequently Asked Questions.

All feedback is welcome. You can write in any language.

You don't have to do this, but it will be helpful if you mention the following things:

  • The browser and the operating system you are using, including version numbers.
  • The language of your operating system.
  • The country from which you are reading the site.

See also:

Question about using babel to instruct CLL's behavior.

C933103 (talkcontribs)

I have been trying to use babel to instruct what language should CLL pick, however when I put the babel userbox on my wikimedia homepage, it'd only get transcluded onto wikis that I do not have individual user page, and thus there are multiple wikis that this would not be affected. I tried to use syntax like {{meta::User:C933103/babel}} to manually transclude but that does not work either. Another possibility could be copy the code over in each wiki's userpage but it will be a pain to update everytime across all the different wikis. Is there a easier solution?

Amire80 (talkcontribs)

Sorry, no.

Transclusion across wikis is one of the oldest requested features, and it would be useful for thousands of things, and not only for Babel. Think, for example, of how the code for citation and infobox templates is replicated across a lot of wikis with little variations, which is extremely inefficient. This will be resolved some day, but it's impossible at the moment to say when.

One thing that may be resolved in the nearer future is global preferences. See meta:Community Tech/Global preferences. This will help with setting global language preferences, too.

C933103 (talkcontribs)

That would first require integrating babel selection into user preference in some way that is not currently done and I would like to write a feature request for it but don't know how to..

C933103 (talkcontribs)

And According to, seems like I would have to ask in each individual wiki if I want to request a universal acceptance of enabling certain mediawiki preference for subbing in my babel box on meta so that my language setting can be universally accepted. Would it be possible if CLL developers be able to contact all the wikis for us so that users can stop worrying about that?C933103 (talk) 23:38, 15 November 2017 (UTC)

Amire80 (talkcontribs)

It's definitely on our radar.

The "scary transclusion" technology, which is mentioned in the discussion to which you linked, is a certain way to make transclusion of templates (and other pages) across different wikis possible. It's indeed disabled on all the wikis, and in its current state it will not be enabled because it is to experimental and incomplete. I do hope that some day there will be a stable technology that will allow this. This will be a very big project, which will will involve a lot of discussion across all the communities.

In the meantime, I suggest doing the following things:

  • Make sure that you have a global user page with a valid Babel box.
  • Delete local user pages in wikis where you don't really need them.
  • Copy the Babel box to user pages in wikis where you do need a local user page.
C933103 (talkcontribs)

Is it possible to disable CLL until you're ready?

And it is troublesome to have to manually flip the switch on all wikis too

Amire80 (talkcontribs)

This preference is just as troublesome to change in multiple wikis as any other preference. More importantly, as it is now, CLL is useful for millions of readers for easier navigation between wikis. We see it clearly in the statistics. Disabling it will again make it more complicated for them. So no, this is not a good reason to disable it.

C933103 (talkcontribs)

Other perference would only affect local editing and viewing while CLL affect interwiki behavior.

The "easier navigation" being claimed based on navigation stats was based on the assumption that readers were generally looking for a specific language version when they look at interlanguage link, and the assumption is not necessarily true. As a result, the conclusion is not firmly established.

Reply to "Question about using babel to instruct CLL's behavior."
Pepparkaksgubbe (talkcontribs)

This new idea is strange. Links to lots of languages are hidden away, instead of being shown in the list where they are easily found.

If someone like this idea, let them have it as an option. For all others, including people who are not logged in, the default should be the real, full list of languages for every article, so you can find them. ~~~~

~~~~ (talkcontribs)

I support your remarks for 100%, but is there still hope for a multilingual list as a default choice ?

DigitalHamster (talkcontribs)

Yes, I completely agree. For instance, if you want to see how many languages a page is in, or you want to translate a page and are seeing if it already exists, this setting would make it difficult to check.

Whatamidoing (WMF) (talkcontribs)

I think it's the other way around. Compact Language Links gives you a short list of languages that are most likely to interest you, plus an actual, numeric count of the others. For example, lists nine languages for me and tells me that there are 86 more. I can quickly determine that 9+86=95 (plus the page that I'm on). (where I have CLL turned off) gives me a long list with no count. With CLL, I can tell you that 96 Wikipedias have an article on that subject. Without CLL, I will tell you that the answer is "lots".

If you are translating a page, you've probably been reading in that language, so CLL will put the target language in the short list (not somewhere in the long list of 95 other languages).

Even if it's not in the short list, with CLL, you can search for that language by name and ISO language code just by clicking the button that says "85 more". For example, if you want to know whether that article exists in Finnish, you can find it by searching for fi (language code), Suomi (Finnish name) Finnish (English), ffinneg (Welsh), fiński (Polish), or many other languages.

Without CLL, you have to know that the Finnish word for that language is "Suomi", and you have to scan through about 85% of the long list until you find that word (because the fi language code is alphabetized in the S's). This does not sound like an improvement to me.

DigitalHamster (talkcontribs)

Actually, thinking back on what has been said and seeing other comments, if this list was expandable (just by clicking the "x others" button that is actually a very nice feature

Whatamidoing (WMF) (talkcontribs)

If you haven't used it for a while, then I encourage you to try it out for a few days. There's nothing more effective for discovering its strengths and weaknesses than trying to live with it.

As I said, I've got it turned off at the English Wikipedia, and that's not an accident. I need to do things like open every language's equivalent of the Village Pump (technical) in tabs more often than I need to find articles in languages that I can actually read. It's good for finding languages that I visit often; it's not so great for opening 62 tabs. (Also: Oh, how I miss Linky.)

For power users like us, whether CLL is more efficient or less efficient is a pretty personal thing, based on the kind of work that you personally do. You'll know whether it fits your personal work patterns after interacting with it a few days.

Madglad (talkcontribs)

I really miss an understanding that "power users like us" and registered, experienced user is a very small minority. Wikipedia is an open encyclopedia for everybody, and should work also for ip users in the whole world. CLL should be rolled back, until acceptable algorithms are devoloped. The algoritms take into consideration dialect continua and neighbouring countries. The current algorithm seems to have absolutely no understanding of this.

Whatamidoing (WMF) (talkcontribs)

The current algorithm is based on an internationally recognized database (whose name escapes me at the moment). I believe that the Language team would be perfectly happy to see that database updated to recognize that several Scandinavian languages are divided more by politics and history than by actual linguistic elements. If you've got the data that says, for example, that most Norwegians and Swedes and Danes can read each other's "separate" languages, then I'll find someone who can help you figure out how to propose a correction to the database.

Madglad (talkcontribs)

It seems that the purpose of the mentioned database is not the cover mutually intelligible, but to cover official languages. Mutual intelligibility is not only restricted to Scandinavian languages, see .

Mutual intelligibility is not the only issue. Schools tend to educate also in other important languages in the region, eg. many schools in western Europe teaches German and French etc.

Pepparkaksgubbe (talkcontribs)

Whatamidoing, I am never only interested in just a couple of languages which "most interest" me. I am interested in all languages and in how many languages there are where a subject has an article.

Whatamidoing (WMF) (talkcontribs)

I understand that you are interested in all the languages. Do you think that you are a perfectly typical reader?

Pepparkaksgubbe (talkcontribs)

The typical reader will be interested in different languages for different articles. If you read about a subject endemic to another country, you would probably be interested in seeing the article in that country's language, whether you know the language or not, because it will probably have more images, maps, tables etc. You will not be interested in exactly the same foreign languages in every article you read.

DigitalHamster (talkcontribs)

aues that’s a good point - the list should say what the original language was, and make this appear in the list of top languages anyway

Leofil2 (talkcontribs)

Hem... So Wikipedia does have the answer to what a perfectly typical reader is?

Why doesn't it offer, at least, the option of a list of all available languages? That would be user-friendly for everybody. A list, nothing more, accessible with one click. You choose the pre-digested "my small world as designed by W" selection, or you choose the list. Instead we have a multi-click procedure which allows us to look for nothing but what we already know.

I don't want a Facebook-like Wikipedia that shows me what its algorithm thinks I was made to see. This is the opposite of encyclopedic spirit.

Serendipity, guys, for goodness' sake. Your ULS kills it.

Madglad (talkcontribs)

It is common here in Europe that you learn several languages besides your native language. In Denmark eg often English, German and French. Being native Danish, means that you will also understand Norwegian Bokmål, Norwegian Nynorsk and Swedish. That totals to 6 languages besides Danish. That is perfectly typical.

And: Faroese and Kalaallisut (Greenlandic) have some status as minority languages in Denmark and is relevant to be shown always in dawiki, even though the languages are only understood by a minority of Danish speakers.

People having learned French will possibly also be able to understand some Spanish, possibly also Italian and Portuguese.

Amire80 (talkcontribs)

Faroese and Kalaallisut are supposed to be shown by default. Is there an article that has a corresponding article in Faroese or Kalaallisut, and which doesn't show links to them?

Pepparkaksgubbe (talkcontribs)

They are not shown by default in articles in Swedish, but I'd like to see them when reading about things to do with the Faroe Islands or Greenland. Why do you want to stop me from finding them easily in the extensive language list in the left margin? They do not bother anyone there.

Madglad (talkcontribs)

I guess not. It which just supplementary comment when counting languages. But of course not relevant to which languages, a random Danish person will understand.

Whatamidoing (WMF) (talkcontribs)

I freely grant that some people speak multiple languages. However:

  1. The ability to read and write a given language doesn't make you interested in reading that language's Wikipedia. (See, e.g., the many editors who speak a non-English language natively, but exclusively edit the English Wikipedia.)
  2. The fact that some people can do this does not mean that typical people can do this. IMO it makes more sense for the default to work for the typical reader, rather than the unusually accomplished linguist.
Pepparkaksgubbe (talkcontribs)

How can you be so sure about what the 'typical' person is interested in?

  1. It is not the ability to read and write the language which makes you want to seek out information in that langauge's version of Wikipedia. It is the interest for information. The interest which took you to an encyclopedia in the first place.
  2. Typical people will likely want to find information from any language where something is written on the subject, whether they know the language or not.
Madglad (talkcontribs)

As explained above Danish people will very often understand 7 languages, possibly more, some will understand only 5 or 6, or in rare cases fewer. And yes, the article about for example Stockholm will probably be more elaborate in Swedish than in Danish, thus it would be relevant to read the Swedish article if you want are more thorough covering of the subject. But that is not limited to cities, it's sometimes a little bit random, how well a given subject is covered in a given language. Replace 'Danish' with another Scandinavian language, get the same result.

Why does the WMF enforce this language selector on the Scandinavian Wikipedias, when it is not suitable for use in this region? I think it is not an issue which only relates to Scandinavian languages, but similar issues probably applies to Romanic and Slavic languages. Its the combination of mutual intelligibility combined with the language education in Europe, which makes this solution undesirable. Why is this selector not enforced in dewiki BTW?

To put it short: The algorithms used in this selector is not suitable for use on Northern Germanic languages due to the circumstances in Northern Europe.

DigitalHamster (talkcontribs)

good point actually, and i didn't know that it tells you the number. Nevertheless, the proposed feature makes searching for a language "irrelevant to you" more complicated and cumbersome, and I still think it should be optional for added customisability.

Pepparkaksgubbe (talkcontribs)

This was written by me at ~~~~

Pepparkaksgubbe (talkcontribs)

Why can't I sign my messages here? ~~~~

Amire80 (talkcontribs)

You don't need to sign the messages here, because the signature is automatic :)

Making this feature on by default makes it easier for most people to find and click the languages that they need. This was proven by experimenting with real users during the design stage, and also by the data about clicks that has been collected since the deployment of this feature started in June 2016. As you can see in the data, the number of clicks in all languages went up, and in many languages it more than doubled.

People who prefer to see the full list all the time can turn it off in the preferences.

Pepparkaksgubbe (talkcontribs)

(There is no full automatic signature, since there is no time stamp next to it. Now I see there is another kind of time stamp to the right.)

This feature hides most of the language links, making them harder to find and harder to go to. I don't believe in the proof, it is certainly sqewed because just the changed appearance made people click more, but with this feature it is harder to find the languages you are specifically looking for. The old, full list should be default.

Whatamidoing (WMF) (talkcontribs)

If it was just the changed appearance, then we should see a one-time spike followed by a decline later. I don't think that the data supports that theory; it seems to support a sustained higher level. The fact that it learns the languages you're most likely to visit probably affects this; instead of seeing a list of 100 languages, it shows a short list of the languages that you're most likely to visit.

That said, I've got it turned off on several wikis, because I have an unusual need to get between many dozens of language editions of Wikipedia. But I recognize that my work pattern is a bit different from typical editors. Most editors are only interested in languages that they can understand; they rarely need to leave a message or check a feedback page on wikis that they can't read. I also imagine that one of my colleagues, who can read about 20 languages, would find it a bit limiting. But we're the outliers, and the average editor seems to be better served by a tool that focuses on what you need (and lets you search by name or language code for anything that's not shown).

Madglad (talkcontribs)

This thing doesn't show the languages of our neighbourcountries, that everybody understands.

On the other hand it shows us languages, which may be big on the other side of the world, but languages almost nobody in my country understands.

It's algorithms simply aren't professional, it's data material also not. Please remove it from da-wiki, it's not suitable for our country.

Whatamidoing (WMF) (talkcontribs)

What language do you have your user interface set to (in Special:Preferences)?

Madglad (talkcontribs)

da - dansk (talkcontribs)

The algoritms for language selection are indeed very unprofessional, we se the same problem on swedish wikipedia. It seem to be based on this

list - interlingua is there set as zero speakers in sweden - still it's one of the default langages set on swedish wikipedia - simply because it's in the list.

Bandy Hoppsan (talkcontribs)

I agree, make this optional. And since this is all new, it was implemented just days ago, you can't have statistics for any significant amount of time yet to know wether the spike is a spike or not.

Amire80 (talkcontribs)

@Bandy Hoppsan this was enabled in most languages in June–August 2017, so we do have data about almost languages for more than nine months by now. See Universal Language Selector/Compact Language Links/metrics/data.

Madglad (talkcontribs)

So when neighbouring mutually intelligible are not shown and not easily accessible for the average reader, this is recorded in the statistics as that there is no interest to read the articles in the mutually intelligible neighbour language. Strange logic.

The best way to collect statistics is first turn the system off, collect the statistics, then implement the system (after testing).

Amire80 (talkcontribs)

That's exactly what was done, as you can see on the statistics page. Statistics collection started before the system was deployed.

In June 2016, the number of clicks on the interlanguage links in the Danish Wikipedia out of the number of pageviews was 0.48%. In February 2017 it was 1.84%. Here's the full data:

June July August September October November December January February
0,4801% 0,6607% 0,4995% 0,4867% 0,9838% 0,9653% 2,2078% 1,8352% 1,4091%

The deployment to the Danish Wikipedia was done on July 14. It took a couple of months until the percent actually started growing, but it jumped up in October, and even further in December.

The numbers for most other languages in the same range of pageviews as the Danish Wikipedia have a similar growth trend. Here is Greek, for example:

June July August September October November December January February
0,2812% 0,2803% 0,2444% 0,2914% 0,6072% 0,8320% 1,4014% 1,2741% 0,8271%

(And here is the pageviews data.)

Both the user testing and the subsequent clicks data show that the compact list makes language links more easily accessible for most people. People who find it inconvenient can disable it.

Madglad (talkcontribs)

It might be that there is an increase in interlanguage clicks with fewer languages to select from.


This is not the full statistics. A year is 12 months and a statistic examination should contain data for at least 5 years to make a reliable test in the multinomial distribution of the hypothesis that the increase is due to the new system. Another test that could be interesting to do is the hypothesis that there is seasonal changes, it might be your numbers are just reflecting this. You need a professional educated in statistics at master level. Just looking at some numbers and say "There is a tendency" is somthing we should leave to the tabloid journalism. In other words the claim "the subsequent clicks data show that the compact list makes language links more easily accessible for most people" cannot be scientifically justified.

Most importantly: Your data is lacking info of the decrease (my assumption, for obvious) in clicks on nn, nb and sv from da-wiki, after these languages have been removed.

The claim "People who find it inconvenient can disable it" relies on the false assumption that the majority of readers are experienced, registered users, not ip-readers.

Do you have a link to the full data set, you are using?

Bandy Hoppsan (talkcontribs)

@Amire80, I have been around many language versions and never seen it anywhere until some days ago.

I also like to have different languages for different kinds of articles, if this has to be mandatory (which I still think it shouldn't be). When I write about bandy, I want to have links to Swedish, Finnish, Russian and Norwegian. If I write about Japanese manga, I want to have links to Japanese, English and some other languages. If I write about something in Switzerland, I want to be able to easily compare German, French and Italian. This seems to be impossible with this system, which is one more reason to be against it.

Amire80 (talkcontribs)

@Bandy Hoppsan, I'm not sure why you haven't seen this anywhere until recently. This existed as a beta feature since 2014. It was enabled as a default (non-beta) feature in Wikipedia in all languages except Swedish, Dutch, French, German, and English in August 2016. In February 2017 it was enabled also in French, Dutch, and Swedish. German and English will soon follow.

People who want to always see the long list, can disable the compact list it in the preferences (Appearance -> Languages; Utseende -> Språk).

Madglad (talkcontribs)

"People who want to always see the long list, can disable the compact list it in the preferences" - under the false assumption: All readers are experienced registered users and there er not many ip-readers.

Bandy Hoppsan (talkcontribs)

It should be disabled by default.

Madglad (talkcontribs)

Tell me, if an ip-reader wants to read about the Norwegian city Bergen, there will be a good chance that there will more extensive articles in Norwegian Bokmål (no, which is almost identical to Danish) and Norwegian Nynorsk (nn, which is mutually intelligble with Danish). These languages are not listed. As not logged in I ge