Big little shame – A story of empowered user experience through localization (EN)

About half a year ago I gave a talk at a WordCamp in my country.

A big fat elephant had been sitting in the middle of the room since WordPress in had existed in our language, and at that WordCamp I pointed right at it.

I demonstrated how terribly frustrating the presence of that elephant was for people who got to sit in its shadow.

I also presented a plan to get the elephant out of the room in orderly fashion, and bring in unicorns instead.

Many people cheered when I had finished the talk. A few said nothing. Nobody argued the beauty of unicorns.

A couple of weeks later I went to Rosetta and proposed the localizing community should retire the elephant soon now.

Then I introduced the unicorns.
Hell broke loose.

Some people argued unicorns didn’t exist (while looking right at them), and what I had presented was unethical.

Others said the elephant had officially been approved to sit in the room, and as long as no official regulation existed to replace that statute, it would be beyond irresponsible to proceed removing an official animal from an official room, and besides, who believed in unicorns anyways.

A couple of people started to cast rocks.
Luckily, I had friends who helped me out.

When the sun finally came out again, we picked up our courage and moved on.

I kept looking after the unicorns.

I read books and articles about elephants and unicorns, and how that elephant possibly had become so official. And how unicorns were becoming official as well—slowly, but steadily.

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There is a filthy big little shame sitting in WordPress’ localized user interfaces, in many languages with grammatical genders: Women are discriminated by default. This talk addresses the need to solve that dilemma—and examples how it possibly can be solved.

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