Indicate a user's preferred language(s)


Since iNaturalist is an international project with a global user base, communication between users would be improved if it was more transparent which language users speak or prefer. Sometimes when leaving comments for misidentified organisms on other continents, it’s not clear what language I should be using to inform the uploader. Sometimes this can be inferred by the language in one’s profile page, but many users have no text on their profiles, and others may be fluent in multiple languages. Assuming one doesn’t understand English may lead to awkward communication attempts: while I have rudimentary Spanish skills for instance, much of my translingual communication is based on Google Translate, which is not always reliable, and knowing that a user speaks English would circumvent this. Somewhat similar to the Babel template on Wikipedia, I envision a series of coded icons that can be added to a profile page (and maybe even next to usernames and thumbnails on observations & comments) that display a user’s language proficiency (e.g. “Native/Fluent in Spanish”, “proficient in English and German”). and that is automatically translated into all languages on iNaturalist. Setting these languages could be a step in account registration (“Indicate your language skills and preferences to help users from around the world communicate with you”) and also be managed in Account Settings.

Website: names of countries & languages shown on website

There’s nothing stopping folks from including this information in their profile right now if interested. The language infoboxes on WP user pages are also optional.

I’d personally be more interested in development time spent on a built-in translate feature for comments than standardizing a section for language preferences in user profiles (though not mutually exclusive ideas of course!).

Translation option for comments?
split this topic #3

A post was merged into an existing topic: Translation option for comments?


I didn’t mean to derail by semi-proposing another feature request, so I split off comment translation into its own topic: Translation option for comments?


Yes, but if someone wrote “I am fluent in Korean and Russian”, on their profile page in Korean or Russian, I (an English speaker lacking Korean and Russian comprehension) wouldn’t readily know that unless it was auto-translated to English.

A built-in translation feature might be nice, but if it relies on often-clunky machine translation, knowing a user’s language base in advance would obviate the need.

Translation option for comments?

So, rather something like this on the right (or more stylized):

(“iNat user settings” being the person viewing the page.)
(also excuse any poor Italian translations ;)


@ bouteloua Exactly! And maybe a star or bold text indicating one’s most preferred language to communicate. And maybe a simplified version could be displayed next to a username in Observations, or appear when the mouse is hovered over their username.


Preferred language plus other fluency could be useful. I do a ton of IDs throughout Central and South America. I generally comment in Spanish unless there’s reason to believe that the observer (or an identifier) speaks English (even then I often manually type in both languages - normally not really exact translations of each segment as they may be partially addressed to different individuals). My Portuguese isn’t good enough for sentences, though, so if I’m doing anything in Brazil, I currently search profile pages and other observations beforehand. If I can be a bit lazy and just type in English and have good communication, I’d just as soon do that.

Probably a way this could be implemented is by an added section of account settings. New users could be prompted to make a selection upon account creation, and maybe existing users would receive some sort of notification asking to update their Preferred Languages section. That would probably make rendering it fairly easy as it probably wouldn’t be all that difficult to put some data to display text from Person A’s preferred language(s) into the language that Person B has already selected for viewing the site (even if it’s as simple as just the name of the language as opposed to “I speak Spanish”).