I hate locale-specific content

Back in the old days, the Internet was almost exclusively English. Then, it became a more world-wide thing and now, you find content in all languages of the world on the web. That's fine.

Then, some people thought: Hey, wouldn't it be great if we detect your browsers Accept-Language (or your IP) and display content automatically in the language of your choice? Apparently, a lot of people thought the same and now, a lot of sites have such an automatic language-switch now. Of course, your opinion my different, but in my opinion, all of those sites have one thing in common: They all suck. Look at the two screenshots below:

When I go to http://www.msdn.com, the language selection will be set to German and all searches will search German Content. As you see, the German version does not have any results for "ResourcesAttribute", whereas if I manually change the dropdown to United States English, I get 1110 results, with the first one being the correct one directly.

Now, it's easy to point fingers at Microsoft and telling them "You Suck!", but MSDN is not the only site that does it like that, it's just the site where I encounter that regularly. Another well known offender is Google, as Google.com is not English but whatever language you choose. Google is actually even worse. They have domains in pretty much every TLD. So, what do you expect when you go to www.Google.fr or www.Google.es? What I would expect is the French or Spanish Version. What do I get?

A German Version. Ok, fair enough, so you got German UI. But what do I get if I search the web for something, let's say "Euro 2008"?

The first picture was made using German as my default Accept-Language, the second one with Spanish. Note that there is a difference in the search results, and that's what I not only find braindead but also inexcusable. If I go to Google.es and select "Search the Web", then I expect that my results look like the second one, regardless if my Accept-Language is German, Spanish or Swahili.

I find the Google results unusable at times, only to discover that my Language is German and therefore I do not get many good results when searching for Sharepoint-Related articles because frankly, most useful Sharepoint Articles are English and therefore the "English" Google which does not spam the first 10 Pages with useless German results gives a lot better results.

Again, YMMV, but I hate automatic language selection. I want to select my language through the URL and then expect that what I see will always be the same regardless of Accept-Language. Wikipedia does it right: http://de.wikipedia.org and http://en.wikipedia.org are entirely separated and I can be sure that they always behave the same regardless of my browser's language.

Anyway, that was just a long and complicated way of saying: As I reinstalled my operating system a week ago, I still had to change my browsers Accept-Language to get useful content on the Web and that was a good opportunity to rant a bit about sites that believe they do me a favor by displaying content in "my" language.