There are 3 kinds of people....

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2012/07/13 07:01 -04:00, original URI:

The other day when I wrote Deciding how things that we used to suck at should work, I didn't expect the response I received.

One comment from someone named Ice-Wolf:

I would never expect the Euro sign to come after the amount in English.   €12.34 is definitely the expected format.
just like in a German context   I would say the expected should be    "12,34 $" (rather than the actual typed above "12.34 $"
I'd say having it formatted as "Der Preis: $12.34"  would give more of a start... 1,234 dollars? (with the . and the $ in the wrong spot...)

and 19 emails that largely made variations on the same point.

Let me express it a little differently to help explain why I think that the feature is right and those 20 people are missing out on why....

For our current purposes, there are three kinds of people:

Group 1: This group is the people who know no other languages, travel to no other places, and have no commerce involving other regions. They work best with either world, as both look the same.

Group 2: This group is the people who probably know other languages, certainly travel to other places, and have lots of commerce involving other regions. They work best in the old world since they need no assistance in fathoming why decimal points can become commas or periods and why the currency symbol may appear in different places,

Group 3: This group is the people who may know another language, they may have trouble traveling to places abroad because of all the differences, and may occasionally be involved in a little commerce with other regions but who rely on the fact that their credit cards happen to work on the website, and get nervous about whether that purchase cost either $1.35 or $1300 (gratuitious Sharky's Machine reference, sorry!). They appreciate when such worries are assuaged by having most of their own preferences control how things look - such "training wheels" can be vital!

These are extreme group definitions, but everybody will fall in one of them, more or less. They can move between them as they live their lives and learn, but everyone is in one of these places now.

The old world had fewer people who ever moved out of Group 1, because they simply couldn't grok Group 2. So they stayed home.

The new world makes Group 1 to Group 3 migration possible, which means if you are selling stuff you can have more people to buy it!

Most importantly, almost every person in Group 2 (including my 20 responders!) understands Group 3, even if they themselves don't need that kind of assistance.

But almost everyone in Group 3 doesn't get Group 2 at all, initially at least. And for some, maybe always.

This move helps make everything more accessible to others.

And I'm a big fan of improving accessibility.... :-)

Random832 on 13 Jul 2012 1:39 PM:

Maybe the currency symbol also shouldn't be used for group 3 - they might be surprised by it turning out to actually be canadian dollars or mexican pesos... or US dollars, if they're not in the US. Is there support in Windows for ISO currency symbols, or for an unambiguous "out of locale" version like US$, for currency symbols used for more than one currency?

Conrad Frix on 13 Jul 2012 2:54 PM:

There's a fourth group.

Group 4: People who don't belong precisely in any of the above groups but know that locale stuff is often broken so they don't have any expectations. I suspect that includes many people who read this blog.

Alt on 19 Jul 2012 2:51 PM:

Or the 5th group that is a merging of group 1 and 2, because they know enough about the world to not run away from strange symbols, but don't actually require them ever!

Personally I'd love if my system was something like... 1 000.00$ - Just because the spaces make it more clear (to me) than commas(maybe because I grew up with spaces) and I say one thousand dollars, not  dollars one thousand!

Afterall, cents are after the amount for a reason!

Alex Cohn on 20 Jul 2012 5:31 AM:

It's a pity there are no likes in this blog. I would have +'d the comment by Random832. The sign of Mexican peso drove me crazy in the airport Duty Free.

Matthew Slyman on 16 Apr 2013 10:52 PM:

As an English-speaking member of group 2, my personal favorite currency format is like this:

€12.39 EUR

$205.18 MXN

$17.98 CAD

Ice-wolf is right, and the existing localization code is right in my opinion. ON the other hand, where there's any doubt about whether to use dots or commas as group separators (for example, in international documents), I'd suggest using spaces (NBSP) as suggested on Wikipedia. (When I was at high school in England, we were using textbooks by SMP that used a middle dot for a decimal point!)

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