Twitter’s multilingual error page

I’m not sure if Twitter has officially retired the “Fail Whale” landing page that we all grew accustomed to over the years.

But I recently came across a Twitter error page that did not include the whale, though did include a number of languages.

The page defaults to the user’s browser language, so I initially saw an error page in English.

Clicking on the language links in the footer quickly changes the language of the error page.

Shown here is German.

I’m assuming that English is the fallback language for instances in which the user’s browser is set to an unsupported languages (such as Swedish).

Over the past two years I’ve seen an increasing number of companies localize their error pages.

These details really matter.

Social Aggregation Case Study: KPMG@Davos

In my last post I noted how Cisco has created the social aggregation page: Social@Cisco. This page is simply a global template that allows Cisco to plug in different local feeds for different markets.

I should also note that KPGM has created an event-specific page specifically for the World Economic Forum: KPMG@Davos.

The page blends together feeds and languages and it allows you to drill down by theme or keyword. What I most like is the real-time aggregation of all feeds.

Social aggregation is a hot topic across many of the companies I’ve spoken with lately and for good reason. By unlocking the content within these feeds and presenting them to users — ideally grouped by language and/or country — you create a much more engaging (and local) experience.


Twitter launches translation crowdsourcing, again

Twitter went live with its newly updated translation center today. This is the second iteration of the platform; it first launched in October 2009, but was closed less than a year after for an overhaul.

I gave it a quick tour. A number of people were complaining (via Twitter naturally) about the slowness of the site. But it was fast enough on my end.

There are nine target languages as of today (six of which are already live). The three new languages are Indonesian, Russian, and Turkish. It’s fascinating to see Indonesian and Turkish as part of this first batch of languages — ahead of, say, Dutch or Swedish. Twitter is simply going where the users are — and Twitter is HUGE in Indonesia and Turkey.

Also, not surprisingly, Chinese is NOT on the list of target languages.

Overall, I liked the new design. The language translation interface is similar in many ways to Facebook’s UI. But what I found most intriguing (see above) as how the home page segments the text strings by platform (Android,, iPhone) as well as audience and content type (Business, Open Source, and Help).

If you’re wondering why text strings are handled differently than iPhone text strings, consider the platforms. On a PC, you have a good deal more real estate to work with. On a mobile device, you may only have a fraction of that real estate, which would require a much-shorter text string. So you could have the same message translated differently depending on the target device or application.

Finally, I thought I’d share the “opt in” text that Twitter presents potential volunteer translators. I like the fact that Twitter is up front with users in that they are giving away their time and text for free. Though I’m not sure how Twitter plans to enforce the confidentiality rule:

  • Since you’ll be helping out Twitter (thanks again!) we want to let you know our ground rules. Please read the full agreement below before continuing. Here are some of the things you can expect to see:
  • We may show you confidential, yet to be released products or features and you must be willing to keep those secret.
  • You’ll be volunteering to help out Twitter and will not be paid.
  • Twitter owns the rights to the translations you provide. You are giving them to us so that we can use them however we want. Among other things, Twitter plans to share the translations with the Twitter development community. We want to help make all of the other great Twitter apps, not just, available in your language.

Now that Twitter has its new platform, will it match the record set by Facebook awhile back — translating 70 languages in less than 18 months?