Recently Talk Digger has been featured by a big Japanese blog named 100shiki and Internet.com Japan. It brought a lot of new users into the system. However, most of these users were not creating their profiles or they were not searching using English words. Most of them were interacting with the system in Japanese.
Talk Digger’s demography
In fact, many non-occidental people are using the system (around 50%): Japanese, Chinese, Middle East people, Taiwanese, Russian, etc.
I had to make sure that they could interact with Talk Digger in their own language without being frustrated by bugs related to their language characters.
Handling well the UTF-8 charset
I have done what I should have done before: making sure that all the characters manipulated by the system are encoded in UTF-8. What it means? That all the underlying systems had the UTf-8 charset as default, that all the functions I developed were manipulating UTF-8, that all the URLs I was playing with (Ajax) were also encoded in UTF-8, that all the data I had in the database was in UTF-8, etc, etc, etc. I would say that 90% of the system was right, but the remaining 10% was frustrating the user experience.
So I took the bull by the horns and I fixed everything.
Now you should be able to write anything, anywhere, in any language, and the system should support it without any problems.
You should be able to use a non-alphanumeric username, you should be able to write your password in Chinese, you should be able to search conversations, comments, etc. in Japanese or Russian, etc.
The next step
Seeing that about 50% of Talk Digger users are non-occidental people told me that I had to do something about it. It was the first step, now the next step is to create a multi-language version of the service. That way, even if a user doesn’t speak English, he will be able to interact with the interface in his own language.
Please, report any bugs that you encounter related to that issue as soon as possible. Everything should work just fine, but we never know.