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Chrome added an annoying translation feature (user.wordpress.com)
76 points by hanifbbz on June 15, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 68 comments

To those people who don't browse the internet in multiple languages, allow me to elaborate.

With the new translate popup, you have to acknowledge it before you can continue typing. This means always having to press escape or cancel randomly when browsing the majority of webpages you visit.

Worse, the popup only shows after the page is fully loaded, so if you are browsing a page that is slow to load for whatever reason, you're sure to get interrupted in the middle of whatever you are doing, and if you were typing something, you aren't anymore because you just lost focus.

Now imagine this behavior on nearly every webpage.

My options are to disable the translate feature, which I use quite a bit, or to just put up with a crappy user experience, which is what I've been doing.

If you live in an English speaking country and only visit the occasional foreign website, you're likely never to notice this problem.

What I don't understand is, why doesn't the "never translate pages in language X" option solve you problem?

My own experience is that I often read pages in a couple of languages which I understand well (and don't want auto-translated, so I put those languages on the don't-translate list) and occasionally come across a page that seems interesting in a language what I don't understand (and then the offer to translate is helpful).

People are often reluctant to execute UI to permanently remember choices because they want to preserve the option to choose in the future.

For example, say I have a workable command of French, but want the ability to translate French in the future in case I don't understand a particular paragraph. So I put up with the annoying dialog over and over because I'm afraid to not have it when I want it.

Always/never UI is almost always a design failure IMO.

Another example is the intent chooser in Android. I put up with the dialog that asks whether I want to use Gallery or G+ photos because I fear not being able to choose in the future when I have some other viewer I want to use, or when there is some particular feature of G+ that I learn about and want to use.

In many cases this isn't rational if you think it through. There is probably some UI to reset the intent option somewhere, and finding it then is probably less time overall than dealing with this dialog over and over. But you don't think that through in the moment, you get slightly frustrated, press "not now" again, and get on with whatever you were trying to do.

You can always re-enable the translation popup through the page's context menu. It has an entry for "Translate to English" (or whatever your preferred language is) right there.

The problem is that a "permanent" decision has to be made before the user has the option to discover how to make it less permanent.

When it comes to UI issues, the existence of a solution with enough poking around is rarely a solution at all. The problem is that the UI is creating a conflict for the user at the beginning; being able to resolve a conflict is far worse than never creating the conflict at all.

>When it comes to UI issues, the existence of a solution with enough poking around is rarely a solution at all

I have heard this pithily articulated in human factors as "if the user can't find it, the function's not there".

Because I use the translate feature all the time! I don't want it gone!

Here's a simple example for you:

Bob lives in Norway, but doesn't know perfect Norwegian.

He likes that google chrome/translate helps him read Norwegian webpages.

Bob is always losing focus on his cursor because of the translate feature, it's even bothering him on websites in his native language due to all of the region based advertising.

You're telling Bob that he should disable the option to translate Norwegian web pages, even though he reads them daily, and doesn't speak the language.

Now do you see the problem?

To be perfectly clear, this was not a problem when the translate option showed at the top of the page, but is a problem with the new "pop-up" style they are using which steals focus from the user.

Why wouldn't he tick the always translate this language? I feel like it's very uncommon that someone would like a language translated half of the time.

I'm Dutch myself, so I have English and Dutch never translated. And everytime I'm on a webpage with another language I like that I can ask Google to translate it for me and remember it for that language.

If it translate all the time, then you never get to read the original language and never get better at it. Many people (including me) intentionally browse in foreign language to exercise it while reading news and blogs. If the text gets too difficult I may need help, otherwise I want to keep it as it is.

Plus automatically translated texts are often pain to read. The translation is good enough to help you decipher meaning, but not good enough to make a real text.

Then why is it so onerous to tick the 'never translate this language' option and then simply right click and click 'translate' when it's needed....

I can myself relate to the use case and understand why the not-so-discoverable context menu isn't a solution. We are making changes to the UX that I hope will provide a better solution (see my other comment)

As a non-Dane living in Denmark, I prefer pages to start out in Danish, and then to be able to click "translate" if I'm not able to successfully read it. I don't want to never translate Danish, but I also don't want it to translate right up front before I try to read it. Starting out in Danish and then having a little icon where I can click on a case-by-case basis to translate it is exactly the functionality I want, which is how it has worked so far.

Totally agree. If Chrome was used by a small group of people it wouldn't matter, but for a browser with world domination ambitions it's just wrong to miss a big user base. Arond 10% of the world population are immigrants and a bigger group are language learners. Chrome annoys both.

The quality of translation is atrocious, so you use it as a last resort if you stumble upon some word/phrase you don't know.

(Most language pairs are much much worse than the high profile ones like german->english - try swedish->polish or something)

It doesn't matter how common it is.

You never steal focus from the user, unless you're designing a system to purposefully interrupt someone.

exactly. Now that the browsers have built-in popup blockers why should they show a popup of their own? It's like police selling weeds! WRONG! :-D

Because once one selects "never translate pages in language X", there's no easy way to translate a page in language X.

This is explained in the article.

Yes there is! It's always in the context menu of the page, right next to "View Source."

An unfortunate trend.

Chrome / Chromium have introduced a few non-optional changes recently that seem to have been implemented by North Americans / native English speakers / ex-or-current Microsoft windows users. Any or all of which are annoying for non-North Americans or people that don't use Microsoft Windows.

Two that spring to mind - clicking in the URL bar now selects the entire contents. It now has the dubious honour of being the only text entry box in any GNU/Linux application to work that way.

Similarly, dragging the scrollbar now has a snap-back feature if you move the mouse more than about 40px from the scrollbar 'region'. Again, the only application on any GNU/Linux DE that abuses the scrollbar in this fashion.

Requests by non-MS-Windows users to make these configurable settings, and/or respect OS defaults, are met with disdain.

Both issues are valid. Have you tried filing a bug? It's interesting that Google doesn't put a high priority on Linux boxes even though both of their operating systems (ChromeBook and Androids) are based on Linux kernel

Bugs exist, and are well populated (though I suspect many disgruntled users don't manage to track these things down to the code.google tracker).

The bug threads contain a predictable mix of well-reasoned, thoughtful explanations of the problem, polite requests for fixes, impolite and exasperated complaints, and developer responses ranging from 'you're wrong to want the earlier / native OS behaviour' to 'we won't fix it, for reasons'.

Snap-back bug 377191 [1] morphed into 377919 [2]. I'm pretty sure the non-intuitive 'snapback' name is an unfortunate and doubtless unintended example of making it harder for users to find, and report their preferences.

Looking at those two bug reports, there's at least another half dozen issue #'s that have been merged into these.

MS-Windows-like single-click to select the URL (rather than using the mouse as a pointer to position the cursor, as GNU/Linux users seem to be familiar with) bug reports date back a long time [3] with hints that not all the developers agree with the behaviour change (or the refusal to make it an option). Again, it's the kind of thing that people continue to identify and complain about elsewhere, for example on the Google product forums [4].

Just as with this one-time-offer-only, auto-translate pop-up bug -- I really dislike the allegedly modern behaviour of reducing configuration options inside software, while your shipped configuration annoys an ever-increasing section of your user base.

The alleged benefit of satisfying the handful of people who are easily bewildered by Settings dialogs is simply perverse.


[1] https://code.google.com/p/chromium/issues/detail?id=377191

[2] https://code.google.com/p/chromium/issues/detail?id=337919

[3] https://code.google.com/p/chromium/issues/detail?id=26140

[4] https://productforums.google.com/forum/#!topic/chrome/AZt9L9...

It's clippy again! Silently stealing the focus, moving things, and being "completely" helpful is so familiar behavior... It's only missing the avatar.

Also, Google keeps translating my queries into my native language. If I search for some English term, odds are I want English pages back. But no, Google disagrees (even when I search for a definition).

google.com/ncr and you have generic Google without country redirect, it prefers returning English results

The author is spot on, it is annoying.

As opposed to the author though, I believe yet another setting is not needed: the translation tool is readily available as an icon in the address bar, so if I want to use that nice translation tool, I can easily just click this icon.

It would also be nice if this were a standard option and not just one that appears randomly when the auto-detect succeeds.

Yeah, I really miss this one. Sometimes auto-detect just fails. I had to install another extension (also from google) to fix it. But why load another extension into memory for that?

The translate feature is always available via the context menu even if the auto-detection fails to deliver.

I'm Kenji Baheux on the Chrome team and have been overseeing this feature with our UX team.

Please accept my apologies for the trouble. We've been listening and are making the following changes:

1. we won't show the infobubble and rely on the omnibox icon if the focus is on an editable field. https://crbug.com/313100 (fixed in M36)

2. the infobubble will stop stealing the focus: you will be able to type, perform shortcuts, scroll the page and so on. https://crbug.com/378643

3. we are experimenting with the idea of never showing the infobubble again and solely rely on the omnibox icon as soon as we observe more than X negative actions within a given timeframe T (starting with X=2; T=24h) https://crbug.com/379035

4. A few other adjustments around the "translated" infobubble (e.g. will not be shown for automatic translation, will not show up if the "translating" infobubble has been dismissed). https://crbug.com/319628

I'm eager to hear additional feedback and would appreciate if you could play with the feature in Canary as we land the different changes.

I'll take a look at each comments and reply with specific answers where relevant.

Oh for the record, I'm French and my Japanese is better than my English ;) Merci d'avance!

What happened to the mantra "Never get in the way". Focus stealing spits in the face of everyone who worked so hard to make chrome silently updated like it does.

Guess those have left Google long time ago! ;)

Recently Google has added a built-in translation feature to Chrome that has some usability issues. Since these issues haven’t been fixed in the past couple of releases, they might be here to stay.

Built-in Google Translate was added in Chrome 4.1 in 2010:


The feature's not new but it was redesigned relatively recently. Previously it had showed a notification bar, not that popup dialog.

Old UI: http://docs.oseems.com/_media/general/application/chrome/chr...

New UI: https://user.files.wordpress.com/2014/06/screenshot-6.png

In my opinion, new version is prettier, but more annoying as it partially obscures webpage content.

Here is an example of an unexpected Google Translate behaviors. I don't recall seeing these behaviors on this page before this week. http://imgur.com/0xPSsfn

This report generation tool is displaying names of locations located in the Netherlands, so Chrome suggests translating the page from Dutch to English.

I addition, it displays a dialog box asking if there is a better translation of the label for the 'Download CSV' button.

One solution would be to use the meta notranslate tag:


and that is one reason people should be able to use Google Translate as a last resort! ;)

This would annoy me to no end if it impacted me to any degree.

Another annoying feature (new, I think) is auto zooming new tabs/windows I open if I had been zoomed in on the previous page. It doesn't seem like it can be turned off.

Also, asking permission to view in full screen is kind of annoying. But an immediately following popup with "www.youtube.com is now full screen" is just obnoxious. We also probably shouldn't begin desensitizing users to clicking "Allow" in non-security situations.

The zoom feature seems to be site-wide. i.e. if you have two tabs from the same site, they have the same zoom level. It's a little unexpected.

The full-screen popup is also very annoying. +1

This brings up a more general question: why have things pop-up to the top of the screen where it has to push the screen down slightly after versus having it pop to the bottom where it wouldn't be a problem? Do users not see things on the bottom? My memory is that Firefox uses bottom bars a fair amount like for searching in a page but chrome only does for file downloads.

Although the change from a top bar to a full-on pop-up box likely had to do with visibility, the biggest problem is that it now steals focus from the user.

I don't care where the option is on the screen as long as it's not randomly taking my cursor away from the webpage I'm trying to use.

I wonder if it's all parts of the US that don't know foreign languages. I went to highschool in Texas and we all had foreign languages since grade 6. Most of us can at least read spanish. My friends that went to a local private school were usually fluent in two other languages. I myself am fluent in Spanish and can read/write Latin/Greek.

Never bring reason or facts to block a good America bashing/stereotyping. It ruins the game for everyone.

Those aren't facts, they're anecdotes. Facts are things like "Just 18 percent of Americans report speaking a language other than English. That's far short of Europe, where 53 percent of citizens speak more than one language." [1]

[1] http://www.ed.gov/news/speeches/education-and-language-gap-s...

Compare the language prevalence of the US, geography wise, to Europe and perhaps you'll understand the disparity. You basically have to learn multiple languages to some degree in Europe. In the US you can travel larger distances than all of Europe and speak only one language. Additionally, with English being one of the common business languages, you find that many non-English speaking countries learn English. Americans don't need to learn English (well, some might). Should they learn another language or three, of course. Is it necessary for everyday life? No. Most Americans have never left their country and likely never will. The extent of their driving can get them places that speak Spanish and French (maybe Portuguese if they REALLY drive).

I get it, Americans are fun to bash for numerous reasons, but it really annoys me when the bashing is not thought through enough to be valid.

I understand the reasons behind the disparity - and I'd say geography has little to do with it; most people in Europe learn English has a second language, not whatever language their neighbours speak. In fact, if anything we avoid learning their language, since we're at war with each other every half a century.

But understanding the reasons doesn't make invalid. If anything, it makes it more valid, since the reason we all learn English as a second language is because the Americans pushed for it, from Hollywood to the Internet. It's not like English was the natural default; my mother was still taught French. It wasn't until a few decades ago that English became the only thing we must absolutely learn.

In any case, I meant only what I wrote; that Americans don't know second languages is a fact. Whether that's cause for bashing was not part of my post.

Speaking of weird Google UI. I got an odd G+ share thing over my movie selections today with no close button http://imgur.com/lhXgt9z

temporary glitch I imagine

work of art! :)

If I ever want to translate a page to another language, I know how to. So please don't ask me more than once - and let me dismiss it forever.

If I ever want to use anything else than google.com to search, even though I am in another country, I know how to change it. So please don't ask me more than once - and let me dismiss it forever. STOP ASKING ME!

I hate it when the software becomes some sort of big brother or parent. Trust the user and respect their choices, even if you're designing software for young kids! :D

Android chrome. Settings \ content settings \ translate - turn off

Desktop chrome. Settings \ advanced \ languages \ unchecked offer to translate

Can one translate a page after turning off this feature in Chrome Android?

Only by going through Google translate web page. This disables the popup to turn it on

I am not surprised. I tried to add some additional languages to Google (web) preferences to the "Skip translations for" but then the primary language for everything Google was changed to one of my additional languages. I had to go back and change it to default single language.

And that happened in a released product. Not sure if Chrome engineers bother to test the product thoroughly now that they have such a quick unobtrusive update system. Updates are bad. They are the reason for the demise of Windows. They ease mistakes for sloppy people.

According to http://crbug.com/237522 the second time you click 'No' it should offer you a 'Never translate this language' option.

Edit: it's under the 'Options' button of the translate popup.

Though he mentions also that he wants to sometimes use the feature, rather than having to deal with the everytime/never options.

Chrome has a good flow for this already if you want sometimes-translation. If the feature is bothering you,

1. Never translate this language

2. When you want a page translated, click the Translation icon in the URL bar and choose to translate.

I've been seeing that for ages and I'm not a Chrome user. It could be disabled last I checked...

Obviously you are not a Chrome user. It's possible to avoid this dialog. However it is quite annoying over a long usage period. And that's where you don't feel the pain ;)

This feature is very well designed and the author of this post did not have anything better to write.

The primary point of the complaint is that feature is obtrusive to the extent it's annoying - it displays some uncalled popup.

If an active suggestion (feature advertisement) is necessary, a single once-in-lifetime "hey, here's a way to translate the page - click this icon if you want to do so [ uh, okay, got it, now stop bugging me ]" (with clicking outside treated as "probably didn't read - remind later again") would be a much better approach.

How many languages are the webpages you visit written in as to make this feature so annoying?

English, for one.

I'm unsure what point you try to argue here. The author of that post explained what is wrong with the feature. You provided zero arguments against that. Saying 'Nope, you are wrong' is not really helpful.

For me this feature is highly annoying and utterly broken. I agree with the author and think his points were well made .

Say, I have basic understanding of Japanese language. I will want assistance in many cases, but I can find my way across basic navigation and in some cases can get a grasp of what's written by glancing (i.e. without fighting translation artifacts).

What I don't want is a popup slamming into my face on every single Japanese page visit (or even refresh). I'm not shy with my browser (huh), and I will surely ask for help when I want it.

The issue is, if I would click "never translate from Japanese" - the icon in address bar would never appear anymore - the feature will be lost. It wouldn't be an issue if there'd be at least an option "don't suggest to translate, but keep the opportunity".

I can assure you that this feature is the reason why I don't use Chrome as my main browser.

Just disable it in Settings.

Apparently, he just downloaded another browser.

and he's not the only one. apparently other people got bothered by sudden UX degrade in Chrome. Apparently the frequent release cycles made Chrome developers sloppy because the expense of making mistakes seems lees than what they are.

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