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Number of gender options should correspond to respective localization's requirements
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Description

There are currently three gender options: Gender-unknown, gender-female, and gender-male. This is a case of an English bias. It reflects the usage of the English localization, which really offers three different gendered forms. Many other localizations offer only two different gendered forms, or none. In those localizations, at least one of the three options does not have any effect to the users (while in that localization). This is bad UI design.

An ideal solution to this issue would be a localization-specific setting where translators would set the number of gender options so it corresponds to the respective localization's requirements. In accordance to this setting, users would always be offered the right number of choices of the currently active localization (or at least of the current wiki’s default localization).

Localizations that offer only two different gendered forms include the French, German, Russian or Spanish localizations. In these localizations, users should only be offered two gender options instead of three. Localizations that do not offer any gendered forms at all include the Chinese or Japanese localizations. In these localizations, users should be offered no gender options at all instead of three.

On top of offering superfluous options that do not have any effect, the current situation may have yet another adverse effect: If the messages are blindly translated from English instead of reflecting the respective localization, users may be mislead into believing that they have options that do not exist. Until recently, the German localization of the gender-unknown message promised users that they could choose not to disclose their gender and instead be referred to in a gender-neutral form, when in fact they were simply referred to in the masculine form. The French and Spanish localizations of the gender-unknown message promise users that they would be referred to in a gender-neutral form 'whenever possible', when in fact they are simply referred to in the masculine form. Of course, this can be improved by making the respective translations reflect the actual usage. But even then, users are still offered superfluous options that do not have any effect.

This issue is related to, but different from T61643. This issue is about reducing the number of gender options so it better reflects the actual current usage of the respective localizations, whereas that other issue is about increasing the number of gender options so some localizations might potentially be expanded in the future.

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Restricted Application added a subscriber: Aklapper. · View Herald TranscriptSep 29 2015, 2:31 PM

There are currently three gender options: Gender-unknown, gender-female, and gender-male.

...which probably translates to they, she, and he.

Many other localizations offer only two different gendered forms, or none. In those localizations, at least one of the three options does not have any effect to the users (while in that localization). This is bad UI design.

As https://de.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Wikipedia:Fragen_zur_Wikipedia&oldid=146543186#Form_der_Anrede:_.C2.ABder_Benutzer.C2.BB.2C_.C2.ABdie_Benutzerin.C2.BB_oder_.C2.ABder_Benutzer.C2.BB implies, there are some situations where at least German differentiates though the first and third option have the same wording.

Which does not mean that there are no languages where no such differentiation ever takes place. :)

[...] there are some situations where at least German differentiates though the first and third option have the same wording.

That is correct. 98 % of all messages in the German localization that use the magic word GENDER only provide two different forms, but there are a few messages that really provide three different forms. This continues to be very bad UI design: The user is given choice where one of the three options does not normally have any effect to the users.

I have searched https://translatewiki.net/w/i.php?title=Special:SearchTranslations&query=GENDER&language=de&limit=500 and grepped the results in order to find messages that provide two or three different forms. I have found only 5 messages that provide three different forms, all of which can be considered glitches in the translation:

  • The message MediaWiki:Bs-email-greeting-receiver/de offers the following three forms: «Hallo Herr/Frau/∅ {username}». This is an oddball because «Herr/Frau» is an honorific form of address, but users are normally addressed in the familiar form. It departs from the more common translation «Hallo {username}» for no reason. I have found the more common translation in 6 messages.
  • 4 messages such as MediaWiki:Flow-notification-mention/de offer the following three forms: «seine/ihre/die Bearbeitung». This departs from the more common translation «seine/ihre Bearbeitung» for no reason. I have found the more common translation in 14 messages.

For the sake of UI consistency, the more common translation should be used throughout. The 5 messages of the German localization that use three different forms introduce an inconsistency to the user experience because the same text is more commonly translated with only two different forms.

Following up on my last post: Providing a localization-specific setting where translators would set the number of gender options so it corresponds to the respective localization's requirements has yet another benefit: It prevents novice translators from introducing inconsistencies when they are translating directly from English.

jeblad added a subscriber: jeblad.EditedNov 25 2016, 3:05 PM

One possibility would be to have number of arguments map to a list of genders in each position, but that would make it necessary for the translators to learn those mappings. That is also bad ui.

Danish has two forms, but dialects can have up to three forms. Gender in Danish and Swedish says some dialects of Swedish and Danish can have one form, but I don't know about any such dialect. Norwegian has three forms in both written forms, Bokmål and Nynorsk, but some dialects and also the unofficial written form Riksmål has two forms.

As a minimum the map should be defined as one of (grammatical gender)

  • masculine–feminine
  • masculine–feminine–neuter
  • animate–inanimate
  • common–neuter

Other maps can/should be defined explicitly.

MediaWiki's 3 options are expected to already cover this goal, so this is just a duplicate of T61643.

Restricted Application removed a subscriber: Liuxinyu970226. · View Herald TranscriptMar 14 2017, 3:43 PM