“You no speaky english”

Today is I have some technical pet peeves I want to get off my chest, arse, and other parts of my anatomy.

I’m Canadian and live in France. I speak and read both English and French, but English is my first and preferred language, especially for all things technical. I’ve configured my web browser Firefox (Opera and IE have this facility too) as to which language variants I want. The HTTP/1.1 web protocol as described by RFC 2616 supports the Accept-Language header that the web client software specifies in HTTP requests as to which language the user wants to receive in order of preference.

So !WHY! is it that web sites like Google, YouTube, and many others select a web page language based on the user’s geographical location (determined by country assignments of IP addresses) rather than my personal preferences!?! Especially when there is a protocol mechanism to facilitate language choice! Why should I then have to change the web site preferences and store a language cookie (RFC 2965) to remember that choice, when my web browser keeps telling the web site my preferences as part of each request I make where ever I go!?

Why do web sites insist on pissing users off by making broad assumptions about as simple a thing as preferred language? “Oh! You live in France, you must speak French by choice. We’ll give you the French version of the site.” Bzzzzt! WRONG! Game over! Thanks for playing! Bloody wankers! (I can make similar comments about language selection when installing software, my region is set to France, but I have a UK QWERTY keyboard! What does tell you about me? Grrr.)

My second peeve concerns Contact Us links on web sites, either the lack there of, that they are often buried deep deep in the web site in some obscure corner of a page, the poor choice of options such as no means to make general comments, suggestions, or ideas, or that the page is inaccessible or won’t display at all. I wanted to comment on my language selection peeve to YouTube, but there was no link for comments, just how to complain about copyright, abuse, security, get API information, and the like. Trying some of the alternative choices, like Help Centre, would not even display at all in the browser – as though the web page request was stuck in some sort of redirection loop.

One thing YouTube/Google have done is publish their postal address and phone numbers, so I’ll probably print a hard copy of this rant and mail it to them. If I had a fax (OK, I could use the computer’s fax service I suppose), I might do it that way, but I’d probably find their fax machine connected to an automated telephone system menu that I’d have to navigate first before I could get a carrier tone. Hmm. Maybe if I press zero for an operator and blast the modem tones in their ear. That might give me some small measure of pleasure and assuage my need use a clue bat on someone.