Internationalisation... why is it so difficult?



  • We're so globalized that the word globalization isn't hip any more and that there are even trends towards localisation. And still, in 2015, companies cannot handle the simplest of tasks as soon as they have to do stuff for several countries and languages. Like many expats, I'm having annoyances with that every day.

    Exhibit 1: My Lumia 640LTE is totally set to English UK but my country settings to Germany, because some apps (Exhibit 2) depend on that setting to give correct information (instead of giving you the option to choose). Result: on that English speaking phone, I get a "Sorry, Cortana doesn't speak your language yet". If I would set everything to German/Germany or English/US it would work however.

    Exhibit 3: My newest CC is German and I couldn't connect it to my Belgian Paypal-account of 10 years. The only solution according to Paypal: close my account and open a new one. Moving between countries is not supported.

    Exhibit 4: My Origin interface is in English but the content is exclusively German and cannot possibly be changed. While this might look like a minor issue, it isn't the moment you bought a game and only German and - for unclear reasons - French are the possible installation languages.

    Exhibit 5: Mind you: Steam also doesn't allow you to use Paypal is your Steam country isn't the same as your Paypal country.

    Exhibit 6: eBay does allow you to move your account between countries - although it needs manual intervention from their side - but although it has websites in every language, it does not allow you to change the interface language. I'm stuck in a German interface.

    Exhibit 7: Amazon: same story as eBay. Stranger here is the message "this article is not available for users in your country". Go to the Amazon website of another country and you can buy it anyway, you just have to pay extra postage. Apparently, integrating that into one single website is too hard. Hence, I shop on amazon.fr, amazon.co.uk and amazon.de depending on what I need. You aren't surprised I hope to learn that your CC-information is not shared between the three sites, nor that you can see the order status? They work totally independently it seems.

    Exhibit 8: As I was talking about eBay earlier: you'd at least expect the German site to be able to ... display German characters?

    Exhibit 9: My MS Office at work is in English fortunately (shortcuts are different in German!), but we use one Access file (not my fault and one of my projects is to replace that anyway) to keep our working hours. This Oracle-connected monster has spawned a multitude of queries and forms, all using the German "Formulare!" that an English speaking Access does not understand (it expects "Forms!"). With the table missing it refers to, I always have to manually correct the sheet when it returns an error because it can't find my personnel number.

    Exhibit 10: When will Microsoft actually take care of the Excel automation problem? There are quite some scenarios where you could call Excel to create one or another worksheet for you (more regular: for your manager who likes shiny spreadsheets). Excel is probably the most important product Microsoft ever had: it would still be used in a world without Windows. You can use some .NET or insert VBA to make it do stuff for your program, but only if your current culture is set to en-US. If not, you get some very confusing errors. Fortunately there is a work-around

    [code]Function Use-Culture ([System.Globalization.CultureInfo]$Culture,[ScriptBlock]$Script)
    {
    $OldCulture = [System.Threading.Thread]::CurrentThread.CurrentCulture
    Trap {[System.Threading.Thread]::CurrentThread.CurrentCulture = $OldCulture}
    [System.Threading.Thread]::CurrentThread.CurrentCulture = $Culture
    Invoke-Command $Script
    [System.Threading.Thread]::CurrentThread.CurrentCulture = $OldCulture
    }[/code]

    Basically, you're running the current thread in another culture. Works perfectly fine although it has some draw-backs for error-trapping (because all other code becomes a part of this function). This shouldn't be necessary.

    Exhibit 11: In SCOM, Microsoft's monitoring program, I get server errors from all over Europe. Although they have a numeric code and that Microsoft knows perfectly what the translation is for every error, my DCs are reporting me constantly in a mix of English + local language: "The following error has occured: "L'objet n'a pas été trouvé"" Fortunately I understand pretty much every German or Roman language good enough for practical usage, but when Polish or Hungarian errors come through I'm at a loss too (... and then I use the EvenID to figure it out)

    Exhibit ... : OK, I'll stop here. The list goes on and on.


    If you live in a monolingual environment you might not understand the daily annoyance this kind of stuff brings. Or you might argue "then don't move", which is not only the most stupid of arguments, but this kind of stuff also happens within a single country if it is multilingual (some international websites still default to French in BeIgium). Or you might say "well, then learn German", which 1) I do speak fluently and 2) it's not about German: when I move to, say, Croatia next year the problem would just start over. I'm just getting really tired of robots telling me "ASSIMILATE. ASSIMILATE."


    I'd be happy if other people share their frustration about these things here :)


    Edit: Typing errors


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    @YellowOnline said:

    when I move to, say, Croatia next year the problem would just start over

    No, RUN! :stuck_out_tongue:



  • @YellowOnline said:

    Exhibit 7: Amazon: same story as eBay. Stranger here is the message "this article is not available for users in your country". Go to the Amazon website of another country and you can buy it anyway, you just have to pay extra postage. Apparently, integrating that into one single website is too hard. Hence, I shop on amazon.fr, amazon.co.uk and amazon.de depending on what I need. You aren't surprised I hope to learn that your CC-information is not shared between the three sites, nor that you can see the order status? They work totally independently it seems.

    Something kind of similar happened to me a few years ago. Someone in the UK posted an amazon.co.uk link to an ebook that was temporarily free. I tried getting it from there, but it said I couldn't. So I copied the product id and took it to amazon.ca, since I'm in Canada. Again, no dice. Finally, I went to Amazon US and tried the same thing, and it actually worked.

    So in order to "buy" a free ebook, I had to get it from neither its country of origin, nor my own country, but from the US. :wtf:



  • Because it's a lot easier to type i18n.

    <!-- inb4 the bad jokes thread is <arrows> that way -->

    Also you used s instead of z.



  • I run into the software-related issues at times as well. I'm Dutch, in the Netherlands, but prefer to use English as an interface language (because the Dutch translation will probably be shit, especially for commercial products, and if you run into obscure errors the Dutch error messages are ungoogleable). You always end up with an amalgamation of interface languages because the likes of firefox think 'hey, he's from the Netherlands, he'll be wanting Dutch' and I don't notice an american product from an american organization on an american web domain autoselected the dutch download for an english-language user.



  • Exhibit 7 isn't that surprising to be honest, considering data privacy laws.



  • @PleegWat said:

    'hey, he's from the Netherlands, he'll be wanting Dutch'

    Urrgh, every single time Flash wants to update.

    Even if I download the updater from the site in English (no, I still don't want to download McAfee whatnot :fu:), once the updater runs it's in Portuguese. At least Flash is pretty much invisible after that.



  • @JazzyJosh said:

    Exhibit 7 isn't that surprising to be honest, considering data privacy laws.

    Exhibits 3 and 5 may be tax-related.



  • Well, I'd say 5 is consumer protection (someone steals your paypal account and is trying to use it on Steam).

    3 is a little bit :wtf: if you don't have pending transactions.



  • 3, 5, and 7 are almost certainly caused by local laws and regulations. Companies often set up an entity in a country to sell to that country so they don't get in trouble for tax dodging by selling billions of dollars of stuff to German residents from a company in France, paying French taxes.

    It's also easier to spend earnings in Germany if it came from German sales rather than dealing with the situation of accounting for money paid to German employees that came from the earnings of a French company from sales to German people.



  • 3 : it would be because of differences in legislation, but even then there must be better ways to change that than "close/open account". How about a simple "you change country so you have to agree with these new terms"?

    5 : prices are the same within the EU. For the tax on their side, too, there must be more elegant solutions behind-the-scenes.



  • Well, the OP's situation (moving between European countries a lot) is a legal/tax nightmare. A paypal account is a bank account, subject to the laws of the country where it is registered. They probably want you to move the money and tax effects explicitly manually for legal reasons.

    Realize that at the end of the year, he'll probably need to do a separate tax filing for every country where he has lived, worked, or had significant financial ownings. Some of that stuff may be taxed two or more times by different countries, which has to be compensated via deductions.



  • I already commented on 3 and 5 in another post, but concerning 7: the funny thing is that in the end you can do it. You just login to the other website and buy your stuff anyway in country A and ship it to country B. I don't understand why they don't offer a programmed solution: sorting out the accountancy isn't difficult (because the buyer's country of residence is known) and it would be much more user-friendly for the buyer.



  • I mean, moving your own money shouldn't be an issue though.

    TR :wtf: is Paypal acts like a bank but isn't a bank.



  • The day I'll retire, I'll have 9 different pensions from 4 countries :sunny:



  • @PleegWat said:

    A paypal account is a bank account

    No it isn't, unless it's that way overseas for ~reasons~



  • Legal status. If you're in Germany, and buy from amazon.de, you're purchasing in your own country. If you buy from amazon.fr, you're importing from France. If you buy from amazon.co.uk, you're importing from the UK. And in both those cases, it's you importing, not amazon.

    Amazon probably can't sell you from Germany but ship from the UK.



  • @JazzyJosh said:

    @PleegWat said:
    A paypal account is a bank account

    No it isn't, unless it's that way overseas for ~reasons~

    It's been a while since I looked at it in any detail, as it's been ages since I set up my paypal and haven't used it recently. But as I understand it, a payment provider like paypal needs a bank license in order to do its thing.



  • They need a money transfer license. They aren't actually regulated like a bank or credit union is.



  • @YellowOnline said:

    Go to the Amazon website of another country and you can buy it anyway, you just have to pay extra postage. Apparently, integrating that into one single website is too hard. Hence, I shop on amazon.fr, amazon.co.uk and amazon.de depending on what I need. You aren't surprised I hope to learn that your CC-information is not shared between the three sites, nor that you can see the order status? They work totally independently it seems.

    Yeah, I wish they just had an amazon.eu, so I wouldn't discover after buying something that it's 50% cheaper to import from France or Portugal.

    Still, I'm pretty sure country restrictions are 90% responsibility of governments and bureaucracy, corporations usually have no reason to want that.

    Not so with language problems, which are always caused by incompetence or just not giving a fuck. In that respect, as a trilingual user, all I want to say is I SHOULD BE ABLE TO CHANGE THE LANGUAGE OF ANY INTERFACE REGARDLESS OF GLOBAL SETTINGS. Oh and any decent touch keyboard should be able to handle 3 languages at the same time, it's not that hard. Or at least let me disable autocorrect in one tap.

    And no, dear Microsoft, a product in two languages is not two different products, and being able to download language packs are not a "Professional" feature that costs double. Fuck you very much.



  • Pro info, a message from Paypal to me:

    "[...]When you move to another country, you need to close your old PayPal account and create a new account using your new address. As PayPal is country specific and available functionalities can differ from one country to another, you cannot change the country on your PayPal account. Instead you need to open a new PayPal account [...]"

    Funny that they also added...
    "We recommend that you add a credit card that was issued by a bank in the same country as the country on your PayPal account. "
    ... because trying a German CC on a Belgian Paypal account wasn't possible. Hardly just a "recommendation" then :/



  • @PleegWat said:

    the OP's situation (moving between European countries a lot) is a legal/tax nightmare

    If only there was some kind of European Union that could establish some legal standards and solve this problem...



  • It reminds me that I have to find a way with my Lumia (just moved over from a Galaxy) to switch input languages as I use about 4 or 5 languages per day in my SMSes and e-mails. Word prediction is interesting, but only if it's in the language you're currently using of course.



  • That's just because the rest of the world doesn't want to use English.

    Doing it to yourselves...


  • area_deu

    @anonymous234 said:

    I SHOULD BE ABLE TO CHANGE THE LANGUAGE OF ANY INTERFACE REGARDLESS OF GLOBAL SETTINGS

    QFFT



  • @anonymous234 said:

    If only there was some kind of European Union that could establish some legal standards and solve this problem...

    The EU actually fix real problems? :rofl: that's a good one.



  • Unions are really good at taking money though.



  • Well, they do. Compared to 20 years ago moving from one country to another is a lot easier and less bureaucracy. But it can still be improved a lot of course. Also, in these times of anti-EU rhetoric in some countries quickly glances over the channel it is kind of hard to standardise even more, because politicians can't sell it to their electorate.



  • Oh, they've done plenty of good stuff where there's political consensus. Part of the problem is that a lot of stuff still needs to be unanimous, and some practical considerations (like road laws) have too many countries going 'my way or the highway' to be worth spending time on.



  • @JazzyJosh said:

    I mean, moving your own money shouldn't be an issue though.

    PayPal Germany is a different company from PayPal Βelgium. So, it's not as simple as "moving your money", it's two companies that exist under different sets of laws moving money. They would much rather you do that then them.

    As for the "work around" of buying from the Amazon in a different company, once again, now you are the importer and it's your problem. You don't see much of a difference, but they do. If they presented a unified European interface, the company that ran that interface would have a tax nightmare.



  • @xaade said:

    That's just because the rest of the world doesn't want to use English.

    Doing it to yourselves...

    Hey, I'm in favour of having an international language, but let's make it one that doesn't have all the spelling quirks of English.

    I'd sooner have my country switch to Lojban than English.



  • @YellowOnline said:

    Also, in these times of anti-EU rhetoric in some countries quickly glances over the channel



  • If only there was some kind of European Union that could establish some legal standards and solve this problem...

    They're too busy regulating the curvature of bananas.



  • Minimum banana curvature and maximum cucumber curvature laws were scrapped a few years back, if I remember correctly.



  • Hm, google to wikipedia:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commission_Regulation_(EC)_No_2257/94

    At the end of the article, they mention a bunch of stuff got repealed, but not the banana bits.


  • sockdevs

    @marinus said:

    If only there was some kind of European Union that could establish some legal standards and solve this problem...

    They're too busy regulating the curvature of bananas.

    That's a classic the Eurosceptics love to use as an example of interference from Brussels.

    One tiny little problem: the EU standards are identical to the British standards, which are older :laughing:


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @marinus said:

    They're too busy regulating the curvature of bananas.

    Yes, Minister - EuroSausage – [01:10..02:46] 02:46
    — BasilHitsManuel


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    Exhibit 12: Google Play won't let me download the app of a local pizza place because I registered my account back in Europe. :headdesk:



  • Generic problem with EU regulations and member states: Politicians take the praise for things which are seen as positive themselves, but blame the EU for things seen as negative. Even if they are implementing them way stricter than the actual EU directive requires.


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    @PleegWat said:

    Politicians take the praise for things which are seen as positive themselves, but blame the EU for things seen as negative.

    QFFT. The problem isn't the EU, but the fact that all member states' governments use the EU as a scapegoat and tend to pass unpopular laws via the EU to circumvent local parliaments.



  • That's a classic the Eurosceptics love to use as an example of interference from Brussels.

    One tiny little problem: the EU standards are identical to the British standards, which are older

    Stupid rules are stupid rules no matter who is responsible for them. If you copy someone's stupid rule you're still stupid for copying it.


  • sockdevs

    Even better was when there was outrage that the EU was going to mandate the use of safety goggles for children playing conkers. Two reasons this was bullcrap:

    1. Such an EU directive never existed, or was even hinted at
    2. The whole story was spun off from a single headteacher making an off-hand anti-EU joke


  • @RaceProUK said:

    safety goggles for children playing conkers

    Really they probably shouldn't be playing that anyway, it's M rated. Or whatever the European equivalent is.


  • sockdevs

    @marinus said:

    Stupid rules are stupid rules no matter who is responsible for them. If you copy someone's stupid rule you're still stupid for copying it.

    Just did a bit of reading up; those regs only really applied to the highest classification grade of Extra. Class I & II items didn't have to meet anything like as stringent standards. And in the UK, I've never seen anything other than Class I & II.

    Basically, the whole thing is just stupid anti-Euro bullshit perpetuated by the tabloid media.


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    @asdf said:

    QFFT. The problem isn't the EU, but the fact that all member states' governments use the EU as a scapegoat and tend to pass unpopular laws via the EU to circumvent local parliaments.

    These things are funny when you learn the truth behind them. A few years back, the UK motorbike license test changed to include an off-road test before the main on road part, to conform with new EU regulations. One part of the test involves an emergency stop while turning, and before the stop you go through a speed gate which has to record you at at least 50kmph.

    There was a lot of FUD that the reason this part was off road, and thus required massive spending on new test centres across the country, was that the EU mandated the speed to be 50k, which is about 33mph, and thus over the speed limit of most residential roads. The implication was that if we were allowed to reduce the speed requirement to 30mph then the test could be on the road.

    This ignores several important facts:

    • The speed requirement is a minimum. To be sure of not getting a minor, you want to be a bit over it. So with a 30 limit on a 30 road, you'd still probably be speeding
    • The test also involves a slalom, slow ride and other stuff that you really don't want to be doing on public roads.
    • Like lots of these things, the whole change was only ever a suggestion on the EU side, not a binding requirement. More rigour in the license test was probably a rather good thing


  • @Jaloopa said:

    The test also involves a slalom, slow ride and other stuff that you really don't want to be doing on public roads

    The motorcycle road test in New York state requires doing several figure eights. It's done on public roads.



  • You know what's funny is that all of the products you mentioned are American.

    You know what would have solved this problem? If Europe had gotten off its fat hairy ass in the 70s and 80s and, you know, maybe wrote a tiny bit of software for themselves?

    But no, your entire continent was sleeping off a red wine bender and you woke up and suddenly US companies dominated the software industry and you have to deal with all this shit.

    I agree that all your examples are bugs that should be fixed, but I also have to point-out the history of those bugs.



  • @RaceProUK said:

    Even better was when there was outrage that the EU was going to mandate the use of safety goggles for children playing conkers.

    Why that video game in particular?



  • @Jaime said:

    The motorcycle road test in New York state requires doing several figure eights. It's done on public roads.

    Here in Washington State, they use the DMV place's parking lot and set up cones. NY is weird.



  • Well, there's more to why the US dominates the software industry than Europeans being lazy. If only because it is also the biggest monolingual market and they managed to export their language successfully after WW2. In music and films too the US is dominating. Does that mean that Europe is less active? No - just less popular because of the patchwork of languages and legislation. And consumers tend to be lazy (which I illustrate with not wanting to log on to three flavours of Amazon).


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