вторник, августа 15, 2006

A message I just sent via dictionary.reference.com's feedback form:


I would like to report a problem with the configuration of the software running on dictionary.reference.com that makes it harder for some people (including me) to use your service.

The problem is that the web server doesn't specify the character encoding of the documents it serves to the user's web browser. While it is generally okay for someone in North America, it causes problem for anyone whose OS is configured for a different locale than Western.

In case of a Russian locale, for instance, it results in accented characters in French loans and in pronunciation guides to be replaced with a random Cyrillic character, rendering the word partially unreadable. The user will have to go to the "View -> Character Encoding" menu in their browser and choose "Western (ISO-8859-1)" to make the page display correctly -- every time a new word is looked up! What's worse, many users not even know to do that, and will think that dictionary.reference.com contains factual errors.

What has to be done to fix the problem is a really simple change to the configuration of the web server; I will not go into the technical details here, but here's an excellent link that explains it in detail: http://www.htmlhelp.com/tools/validator/charset.html

I hope my report helps make your service more useful for your international customers.

Anton Gavrilov

What do you think, will they listen? Will they fix it or yawn and hit Delete?
Is there something I could improve in the letter to make sure it reaches the right person and helps them make the right decision?