Saturday, May 02, 2009

Cross-language use of the Web; users behaviours and attitudes

Berendt & Kralisch (2009) A user-centric approach to identifying best deployment strategies for language tools: the impact of content and access language on Web user behaviour and attitudes

The results indicate that non-English languages are under-represented on the Web and that this is partly due to content-creation, link-setting and link-following behavoiur. User satisfaction is influenced both by the cognitive effort of searching and the availability of alternative information in that language.

Cost=time+cognitive effort

Not only capacities to access the site but also opportunities to access it, thus language is only one factor.
  • Language can be expected to not only influence the total amount of information available to Web users, but also how information sources (i.e. Websites) are linked among each other and therefore how easy/likely it is to find and access a certain Web site.
  • Bharat et al. and Halavis are first indicators of the potential impact of language: Website in different languages are less connected than sites in the same language (note: studied data aggregated on the national level and therefore only limited insight into the role of language.
"Web sites are, in most cases more likely to link to another site hosted in the same country than to cross national borders. When they do cross national borders, they are more likely to lead to pages hosted in the United States than to pages anywhere else in the world." (Halavais, A, 2000, p. 7)

Behavioural aspects of information seeking:
  1. Users' information seeking behaviour,
  2. information and information flow on the Web,
Attitudinal aspects of information seeking:
  1. "usefulness", i.e. the language related value of information decreases as more information is offered in that language on the Web. "..value perceptions are also determined by topic; thus a large amount of content on a topic in a native language may also reduce the value of content on that topic in other languages.

  2. "ease of use", i.e. the cost of language processing during information seeking can be expected to affect attitudes in Web search.
Results on behavioural aspects

  1. Non-English languages are under-represented on the Web in terms of the amount of content supplied.
  2. Search engines do not register all pages linking to the site, and many links known to the search engine were not used. This indicates that non-English language s are under-represented on the Web in terms of the links that content creators set to content in those languages.
  3. Users have a clear preference to navigate in their native language when it is available via a link, but if that is not available they accept the necessity to navigate in English.
  4. This all means: behavioural tendencies both of content providers and of content users lead to mutually reinforcing under-representation of non-English languages. Compared to the respective market size or available options, there is less content in these languages, this content is linked to less and the links are followed less often.
Results on Attitudinal stuff:
  1. A complex interplay of English language skills, the perceived saved effort of using native-language content, the perceived overall supply in that language on the Web, and satisfaction:

  2. People who are proficient in English often prefer to navigate in English (even if offered content is their own language) and are more scrutinised of the quality of Web content. Do not care much about whether sites make efforts to provide them with content in their own languages.

  3. People who are not so proficient in English do perceive the (real) scarcity of information in their native language and are highly appreciative of content in this language.
This means that content and search-tool designers should not draw simplistic conclusions based on behaviour alone, because this is not a reliable indicator of attitudes and preferences. In the absence of links and/or content in their native languages, users will acquiesce to English-language content. However, their preference will persist.

Berendt, B., & Kralisch, A. (2009). A user-centric approach to identifying best deployment strategies for language tools: the impact of content and access language on Web user behaviour and attitudes. Inf. Retr., 12(3), 380-399.

HALAVAIS, A. (2000). National Borders on the World Wide Web.New Media Society, 2 (1), 7-28. doi: 10.1177/14614440022225689.

Bharat, K., Chang, B., Henzinger, M. R., and Ruhl, M. 2001. Who Links to Whom: Mining Linkage between Web Sites. In Proceedings of the 2001 IEEE international Conference on Data Mining (November 29 - December 02, 2001). N. Cercone, T. Y. Lin, and X. Wu, Eds. ICDM. IEEE Computer Society, Washington, DC, 51-58.

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