RE: Institutionalizing locales? (RE: How to lock a guest account?)

From: Erkki I. Kolehmainen (
Date: Mon Jan 25 2010 - 12:02:28 CST

  • Next message: Asmus Freytag: "Re: Institutionalizing locales? (RE: How to lock a guest account?)"


    I quite understand that you'd personally be both technically and culturally in a position to adjust the behaviour of the system you use. Most users aren't, and they'd be quite confused if they'd be forced to deal with, say, unfamiliar date formats. The values provided in CLDR should be seen as defaults which the users may have a chance to override, depending on the capabilities of the specific operating system. This override, however, is no longer a problem that CLDR could ever address.

    Erkki I. Kolehmainen

    -----Original Message-----
    From: [] On Behalf Of Ed Trager
    Sent: Monday, January 25, 2010 7:08 PM
    To: Unicode Mailing List
    Subject: Re: Institutionalizing locales? (RE: How to lock a guest account?)

    To toss into the fray an idea which undoubtedly has crossed the minds of many readers of this list already, we must first recognize that the idea of a "locale" is really a rather constraining and limiting concept. Too constraining and limited for my taste.

    Just as I do not like to wear a tight-fitting suit with a neck tie that throttles my neck, so also I do not like rigid and inflexible locale mechanisms within operating systems. It's much more comfortable to have loose-fitting clothing, expandable waistlines, and take the tie off altogether.

    A locale, such as a locale in CLDR, is a bundle of data items that are supposed to represent a "concensus" about the most accepted formats. Heh heh. But in many communities, there may not be any true concensus out there in the real "cloud" of the society.

    Societies across the modern world daily become more pluralistic. Achieving absolute concensus may not be compatible with increasing pluralism in our societies.

    As a personal example, here in America the short date format is supposed to be "MM-DD-YYYY" -- and that really drives me up the frickin' wall. I work in a medical research setting, and of course we have collaborators who send us data from all over the world. Can you imagine how many *useless* hours I have spent trying to tease out whether a date is really "DD-MM-YYYY" instead of "MM-DD-YYYY"? So, in all of the applications that I write, everyone is forced to enter dates in the unambiguous ISO "YYYY-MM-DD" format which is neither the American nor the British way. But that only solves the problem in my little corner of the world that I can control. Often when data are exported out of databases and into containers like OpenOffice or Excel, guess what happens? The dates "revert" to "MM-DD-YYYY" format because these programs are using the operating systems defaults. Aarrggh!

    I much prefer the idea of having an OS where I can set the individual parameters of a locale -- and then those settings would actually be respected by software across the board.

    Of course that doesn't really solve CLDR's problem, does it? So, maybe a solution for a data repository like CLDR would be to allow storage of multiple choices per locale for all of those really pesky and hotly-debated data items, like date formats or which day of the week is supposed to be the first day of the week?

    Maybe there needs to be a public voting mechanism where people's votes determine the respective rankings of disputed data items? Maybe CLDR should be like and have little "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" icons that the public can vote on? :-)

    - Ed

    On Mon, Jan 25, 2010 at 9:38 AM, Yury Tarasievich <> wrote:
    > I don't see the purpose of such datasets as some vehicles of
    > consensus. For a sake of argument, there is no metadata, no clear
    > definition of 'community' and even of 'consensus'. Once some cr*p
    > makes it into the dataset, one may argue till all went blue, the crap
    > remains. I went through such motions year or two ago, achieving nil.
    > Now, you tell me you don't have formal authority in Finland. But
    > that's a basis for decision on Finnish dataset, precisely.
    > So, to answer your initial assertion, I wouldn't put it quite like
    > that but, well, yes. Better no entry at all, than an entry poorly
    > prepared, even misleading.
    > On 25.01.2010 12:37, Erkki I. Kolehmainen wrote:
    >> What you seem to be effectively saying is that the users don't need
    >> localized systems. If they do, the user community is the only one to
    >> know what is right for them. CLDR has made a mechanism public that
    >> allows interested parties in any given user community to participate
    >> in the definition process. They should use the opportunity and
    >> conduct an open debate within and outside of the CLDR structure
    >> aiming at a consensus (like we do in Finland where we have NO FORMAL
    >> AUTHORITY but a widely participated and accepted process that leads
    >> to relatively solid data.)
    >> Admittedly, the CLDR Survey Tool doesn't have enough resources to
    >> effectively handle any sizable volume, and something should be done
    >> about it.

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Mon Jan 25 2010 - 12:03:35 CST