Growing Pains at BP3

I've been watching Bloggers for Peer-Reviewed Research Reporting and their Research Blogging aggregator with interest since learning about it from Alun Salt last week. I was taken aback by today's announcement from Dave Munger that they are turning down applications "because the blogs aren't written in English." My brain mumbled, "show-stopper." But I read on ...

I understand this problem: "The organization as it stands now simply doesn't possess the language skills to verify that blogs written in other languages are living up to our guidelines." Munger outlines some steps aimed at building community capability for handling non-English content. Since the BP3 model is predicated upon some human evaluation of a blog's "living up to [BP3] guidelines," they'll have to rise to the challenge or go out of business.

Another problem is poorly expressed: "readers might be turned off by a site that includes many posts written in a language they don't understand." How about (and this is clearly what Munger means if you read the whole post): users will need the ability to customize language and script settings. If I may, this will need to apply both to the interface, and to the filtering of content. And please don't bind these choices together! For example, I'd want an English-language interface but content in (at least) English, French, German, Greek, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian and Spanish. This is one of the reasons we chose Plone as the platform for Pleiades: it comes localization-ready out of the box, and with a minimum of work you can manage multilingual content.

If the site hopes to mature beyond Anglophone scientific content, it's going to have to go multilingual. There's a whole world of humanistic scholarship out there just waiting to go digital; and much of it is interestingly more than English.

This reminds me, I need to write a rant about Blogger's recently announced pseudo-support for bidirectional text editing. Hint: I can't embed right-to-left Arabic, Hebrew or Persian in this post, but if I were reset my blog's language settings to one of those languages then I could mix in left-to-right English (or whatever) here. I bet I'd have to manually hack the HTML to mark the "foreign" snippets for language and script per RFC4646 too ...