Community Wishlist Survey 2023/Reading/Allow user to pin/unpin specific languages

Allow user to pin/unpin specific languages

  • Problem: It can be difficult to quickly find languages relevant to you from the list of language versions. The Compact Language Links feature is supposed to solve this, but ironically it makes it even more difficult so I've disabled it globally. Currently, there are three ways for a user to make specific languages appear in the abbreviated list. All have serious problems:
    • One way is to configure your browser's language preferences. But more often than not, the reason you want to see a page in a certain language isn't necessarily that you comprehend that language; it just means you suspect that language version might have information you're seeking that can be extracted even if you're not fluent in it. Not only that, just because you want to visit certain language versions of WMF projects doesn't mean you want to read other sites in those languages, let alone tell every website you visit that you understand them, which has serious privacy concerns because it enables them to fingerprint you more easily.
    • Another is to list languages in a Babel box on your user page. This has similar problems: The reason you want to read certain language versions isn't necessarily that you understand them, and you have to publicly state your language skills, which is a potential privacy issue.
    • The other is to select a language from the list, which makes it appear in the compact list. But just because you wanted to read one article in a language doesn't mean you might want to read all other articles in that language. The inability to remove languages from the compact list renders it useless.
  • Proposed solution: A "Pin" or "Unpin" button next to each language on the language selection panel. "Unpin" should appear next to not only user-pinned languages but also suggested ones based on geolocation or previous selection.
  • Who would benefit: Readers
  • More comments:
  • Phabricator tickets: T188401 (partial)
  • Proposer: Nardog (talk) 18:42, 23 January 2023 (UTC)[reply]


  • I guess the solution exists, it is Full language list. It used to be a default option and was displayed on the left as a complete alphabetical list of interwikis. You could see at a quick glance whether the article exists in, say, Catalan (if you read something concerning Spain). Now this option is buried in Preferences > Appearance > Languages and unavailable for non-logged in users. Restoring this for all viewers is my fondest hope. — 2dk (talk) 20:04, 23 January 2023 (UTC)[reply]
  • I have just noticed this, having made a related suggestion for Wiktionary. It sounds reasonable, though it is not a problem I have. PJTraill (talk) 00:09, 24 January 2023 (UTC)[reply]
  • Strong support. When I read an article about Italian culture on Chinese Wikipedia, I usually go to Italian Wikipedia and read the Italian article using machine translation because I think Italian Wikipedia may have a better coverage of Italy-related topics, although I can't speak Italian, I can use machine translation to understand the article roughly. But when I go to Italian Wikipedia via Compact Language Links, The "Italian" option is permanently in my compact list, it's useless when I read articles not about Italy. A "Pin" or "Unpin" button would be useful for me. --BlackShadowG (talk) 13:27, 25 January 2023 (UTC)[reply]
  • Just wanted to share some mockups I've made during the process of designing Vector 2022, regarding this user need:
Prototype of pinning the language menu to the sidebar
Language toolbar in Vector 2022
Language link to switch back to French, next to language menu button
more details here: AHollender (WMF) (talk) 20:25, 25 January 2023 (UTC)[reply]
I fail to see how that pertains to "this user need". None of those mockups show pinning or unpinning user-specified languages. Nardog (talk) 06:32, 26 January 2023 (UTC)[reply]
  • Vector 2022 has disabled this option of showing the language links but I think we should pin some specific language links to further reading of the same article in other languages. Thingofme (talk) 13:20, 29 January 2023 (UTC)[reply]
    Vector 2022 hasn't disabled it, it just shows them under a dropdown menu. This proposal isn't about getting them out of the dropdown but about letting the user choose what's at the top of the menu, whether it's inside a dropdown or not. Nardog (talk) 14:27, 29 January 2023 (UTC)[reply]
    This is like selecting language inside the dropdown menu for convenience. Thingofme (talk) 15:17, 18 February 2023 (UTC)[reply]
  • Currently it is already possible to pin languages just by selecting them. The user selections are the top priority used by the language selector to show the "suggested" languages on top. This aligns with a quite natural behaviour, people interested in language X will read contents in such language and it will become easier to find the next time. However, unpinning is not possible today and it may be convenient to add based on the comments above. If I navigated once for curiosity to the Y language, it may not be useful to have it in the "suggested" languages. Having the Y language displayed would cause no harm (the suggested languages are a short list quick to process and other relevant languages the user selects frequently will appear), but having a way to remove it can help people to avoid the surprise of finding an irrelevant suggestion. --Pginer-WMF (talk) 09:50, 6 February 2023 (UTC)[reply]
    Supporting unpin only would mean you'd have to remove it every time you chose a language you wanted to read just one page but not others in, which would not adequately address the wish. Having the Y language displayed DOES cause harm, because it drowns the other languages you actually want to see pinned. Nardog (talk) 11:20, 6 February 2023 (UTC)[reply]
    I “proposed” this in some forum a while ago and was told the same; this is extremely opaque (what we call a “hidden affordance” in design) and therefore extremely user-unfriendly. Tab browsing has existed for more than two decades. When we select a different language we right-click and open in new tab so that we can read both versions and compare them, so our true selections are never registered. When we left-click it’s a mistake. So oftentimes the compact menu registers the exact wrong selections. Al12si (talk) 19:55, 7 February 2023 (UTC)[reply]
    IOW what this wish does is to expose that affordance, making the “existing” feature user-friendly. This wish cannot be compared to the existing behaviour; they are apples and oranges. Al12si (talk) 20:06, 7 February 2023 (UTC)[reply]
    When we left-click it’s a mistake. So oftentimes the compact menu registers the exact wrong selections. Exactly! I had a language I'd never even heard of but misclicked at the top of the list for a long time and finally decided to figure out what the hell was the culprit, and turned the CLS off. Nardog (talk) 00:46, 8 February 2023 (UTC)[reply]