Stop Trying to Help Me

June 12th, 2010

One of the things that is annoying about living overseas is that when you surf the web, many sites “helpfully” detect your location, and switch you over to a version of the web site native to the country you’re in. For me, that’s Japan. For example, if I go to “,” it’s all in Japanese. I can set the language to English, but for some reason, it won’t allow me to use America as a location–I have to say I am in the UK to get close to the focus on English videos that I want. And that setting will time out, so every week or two I have to re-set the language. Skype is the same way–whenever I visit their site, it’s in Japanese, and I have to reset the language there as well.

While this is all an annoyance (as are most attempts by programmers to be aggressively “helpful”), at least it is correctable–you can always find a way to steer back to a version of the site in your language.

Unless you are at Gizmodo, that is. In the past, they implemented the “we’re going to help you by redirecting you to our Japanese site” protocol, but put little flags at the top of the page that would allow you to navigate back. That worked for a while. But for the past 3-4 days, the flags don’t work. I even directly type in “,” and it still steers me to the Japanese site. Apparently, no one outside the U.S. (or in Japan, at least) is allowed to see what’s on their U.S. site.

The solution is simple: I’m removing them from my bookmarks.

Thanks for being so helpful, Gizmodo!

  1. June 14th, 2010 at 00:13 | #1

    They’re doing it wrong. They’re most likely detecting your location by your IP address which is not a 100% accurate method of detecting you language (although in Japan it’s pretty close). Instead, they should be inspecting the “Accept-Language” header field that’s sent by your browser with every request it makes. You can check if your browser is sending this fielding using the Firebug plugin for Firefox. There are other plugins which allow you to change the language that’s sent in that field, so you can switch languages on the fly.

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