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[GOAL] Improve the Wikidata fallback chain
Open, Needs TriagePublic


User story:
As a Wikidata user,
I want to see labels and descriptions in the language that I can best interpret.

Our current fallback chain seems suboptimal from a user perspective.

  1. We have multiple fallback chains that work differently.
  2. From the user perspective the fallback chains do not follow an ideal logic.
  3. Users have to define their preferences in different places.
  4. We do not ideally care for users that are not logged in.
  5. In case the user request cannot be resolved we show no label (even if they exist in other languages, see e.g. T89213).
  6. The current logic seems not intuitive/easily predictable for users and us alike.

Fallback chains:

Babel-defined fallback chain

The Babel fallback chain is mainly used when looking at histories/recent changes/watchlists/diffs (when we format labels in edit summaries) – not when looking at an item directly. The termbox takes the Babel boxes into account for determining which languages to show for labels/descriptions/aliases. We have recently improved this fallback chain but there is still room for further improvements (see e.g. comments in T299904). This is partly due to the diverging original use case for our fallbacks. Also, users currently have to use Babels to define their fallback chain, which is not obvious.

Interface language-defined fallback chain

The fallback chain used when rendering an item view is only based on the interface language and the chain built from that single starting language (please check if we are not mistaken here). This makes some sense because we want to be able to cache the parsed item page content.

Steps to reproduce:




Acceptance criteria:

Open questions:

  • Does it make sense to use Babels as the place for users to define their fallback preferences?
  • Can we make use of browser settings for users without Babels?
  • Do we have alternatives for using our fallback chain (or can we somehow make it more consistent)?

Community communication:

  • We currently do not have the resources to work on this. So this issue is only in the collection phase for now.
  • We will need to plan for broader community input to do this right.

Event Timeline

Thank you @Bugreporter, I added your point to the description. While the whole thing is nothing that we can work on immediately, I believe it will be worthwhile.

Manuel renamed this task from Improve the Wikidata fallback chain to [GOAL] Improve the Wikidata fallback chain.Jul 28 2022, 7:11 PM