📊 Language Tags - "Final" Vote

Honestly, you really think that writing German or Dutch in words (as it is with all the other tags) would make it more difficult for users than a flag?
I really think that the question is about the looks. I agree with @paulakreuzer that we should keep a system where all the tag-fonctions work, but if it could work without flags, it would be nicer.
I just wanted to support @Irina_Spitznagel and @Roboe because I think that they are right. Linking languages to countries is really not a good idea because it results in much more problems than you can think (not on this forum, but in general, regarding identities, education, the economy, etc.).
Anyway, I think that we have several options now and people will be able to choose the one that suits them. We may be only 3 to see a problem, but discussion is always good!


First of all, thank you for keeping the tone civil (I am serious) :slight_smile:

Indeed, writing out the languages is just as easy to grasp, but the written word would not stand out as much and would not be spotted as easily/quickly as the flag icons. So yes, for me the visibility thing weighs most here (to be honest, I was never a friend of having flags as tags in the subtitle line as well, I’d be happy if those were replaced by the written out words or the ISO codes that Stefan mentioned above).

I for my part also prefer to keep as much space reserved for the actual topic title than for additions in order to avoid or at least reduce the frequency of two-line titles (I keep running into that issue with my Aachen topic).


Yep, we would have to come up with an emoji shortcode like lang_eu. The tags could be simply the ISO codes.

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The current solution with the flags is ok for me, but I also understand the reasons against it.

So for an alternative solution I would prefer something that is easy to understand for someone who is new to the forum.

The name of the language as tag would be fine IMO, but it should be written in the language it represents (so that it is easy to find your language even if you don’t speak English), e.g.

  • English
  • Español
  • Nederlands
  • Deutsch

I would prefer the name of the language over the ISO code, because it is easier to understand.


Personally I don’t have any issues with using (regional) flags as language symbol, but maybe I’m not representative.
My main criteria for marking threads in certain languages:

  • They should be easily to spot (visually), that’s one argument for a symbol or a short character combination (like ISO language codes in brackets, e.g. [EN] as beginning of the title.
  • All marked threads should be marked consistently, so they can be filtered or sorted automatically.
  • The language tag therefore needs to be consistent, which is probably no problem for English posts; but for all others quite probably multiple forms could come up (e.g. “Spanish” and “Español” or “German”, “Deutsch” or “deutsch”).
  • Users (especially new or sporadic ones) should be able to enter the tag easily; from that pov the best option might again be the ISO code (so easier / better than a flag).

TL;DR: I vote to either continue using flags or 2-digit ISO language codes.


First of all, thank you all for your positive attitude, diverse opinions and constructive ideas. I absolutely love the spirit of this community, :love_letter:

Secondly, :burrito:s are Mexican :mexico:, not Spanish :es:! But again (this is serious, I promise), stereotypes are more commonly linked to regional cultures than to languages.

I also consider the visual “feature” of flags a negative UI design — they attract my attention between other equally-important content or topics (in titles, not so much in tags). So I’d consider it a controversial feature.

On the contrary, the option of ISO icons proposed by @Stefan is different because it’s monochrome, like letters. They would assemble :copyright: and :registered: icons. They are region neutral, visual (although it doesn’t catch your attention badly like colorful emojis) and compact. But they can’t be used in tags.

A nice option for tags could be then using localized names for languages, as @_Chris proposed and Wikimedia uses. Wikimedia is an organization known for its multicultural efforts and positive attitude to diversity. But I’ll probably add a lang: prefix, as in #lang:español, or #lang:dutch or, #lang:euskara, which fit with #dic entries (e.g. #dic:floss) format and make the format mutually coherent, IMO.
This option has a plus too, because with a single CSS rule (a[href^="/tags/lang:"]) the style can be customized for e.g. to change the color of the lang tags or underline them at once.

TL;DR: My preference will be using ISO icons as title prefixes and “#lang:language” as a tags:

(:lang_en:) This is a topic title written in English

lang:english, those, words, are, tags

(:lang_es:) Este es el título de un hilo escrito en español

lang:español, estas, palabras, son, etiquetas


Well I think that is a premise, but:

Without tags you can’t automatically filter topics. And if we use the brackets in the topic title again you can’t even search for topics of a certain language anymore. And even if you include the brackets in the search terms (so it’s 4 “letters”) searching for “[IT]” will still yield no results because the word it is filtered as a common term.

Well for tags the Capitalization won’t be a problem. If a tag exists called “Deutsch” than “deutsch” will automatically be corrected.

This is indeed a downside of the flag tags the way they are now. My preferred solution for this is using language name or iso code in combination with the flag. “Italian :it:” or “IT :it:”. If such a tag exists you’ll only have to enter “it” and it will be suggested.

The current combined use of tags and flags in the topic title is due to the fact that some devices don’t render the flag-tags and I’d consider it an ugly workaround.
Only using tags would be preferable to me as tags can be bulk-changed easily, while topic titles have to be changed manually one by one if you want to change the system (e.g. if discourse introduces ISO icons themselves).

Do you think it could be possible to offer different styles that every user can change in their settings page?
So you could actually choose that lang:english is replaced by whatever option you prefer from the list above? (english, en, :gb:, cheers, :hamburger:, …)?

PS: Actually I found a workaround which works really well: FoxReplace. I’m guessing there are similar addons for other browsers. With this everybody can replace lang:language with whatever they want, be it a combination of letters a symbol or even a blank space so you don’t see language tags at all.
I tested it with tags in the Playground.

PPS: I think since this is the most flexible solution we might not need the poll after all if we get a majority for this right away.

Do you agree with changing the language tags to lang:language (so e.g. lang:italian, lang:english, lang:german) which everyone can change to look however they want with browser addons like FoxReplace?

  • Yes, this is great!
  • No, I prefer another option.
  • I’m not convinced yet. Let’s discuss further.

0 voters

I would still prefer the localized name of the language (lang:deutsch) or the ISO code (lang:DE) instead of lang:german.


What would be the default display for those who do not install the add-on? Just the code?

You could change that too.

Well yes. lang:language is a string of letters that doesn’t come up randomly, so you won’t accidentally replace something else. If e.g. the default would just be the language, then if someone talked about french fries that would be replaced too.

PS: Whether we use lang:German or lang:Deutsch as the standard we can vote on afterwards still.

What I meant is: someone who is new to the forum should see something which is easy to recognize.

The advantage of using “lang:language” is that it is easy to adjust the visual appearance.
But the question is: what will be shown as default to the user?


I guess using the localized name of the language makes most sense.


Thanks to all of you for the good discussion, but a special thanks to @paulakreuzer for all the time you take to find a good solution to something that is already working on the forum! It is nice of you to take this discussion in consideration even if it means more work!


To offer that as a preference, the Discourse engine has to be modded (not ideal, adds complexity for updating). The advantage of the CSS rule above is that it can be applied just like any other forum style and it can be used to add a visual style to language tags that will make them outstand visually a little (e.g. all language tags in blue). That way we won’t lose the visual feature of flags, :slight_smile:


I think it would be perfect if in addition the “lang:” part of the tag could be hidden from view so that only the language (e.g. “Español”) is visible. But I guess this cannot be done with a simple CSS rule?

I really have no idea what solution is causing what problems for programmers.
I just think, that an easy solution would be the best.

Important in my opininon is that the information is given and that it’s easy to see.
Furthermore I would prefer a solution, that is free of biases and possible misunderstanding; so I would rule out flags as well as tiny symbols, especially representing clichés.

For me the concept posted by @Stefan does the trick. It’s simple (in a good way), it is easy to understand for everyone and the symbols stand out enough to present the information at first sight. Visibility might even be enhanced by choosing a bright color for them like bright blue (red or green migt be less visible for people with a red-green colour blindness).
I would not “waste” energy on programming something that is meant to just give some important basic information in such a complex way, that users can choose between various options, unless that’s easy done and will not result in trouble when doing updates to the forum.
But I don’t have to do the programming.

One last thought: Is it really desirable, to offer users the possibiity to choose an option being clicheéd and representing prejudices, that might alienate or hurt other users. At least the moment they are choosing their preferred setting, everyone will be confronted by those clichéd options.


TBH I really don’t get the problem with symbols.
Symbols are used a lot in this world. Especially in places where people speaking different languages come together and all should know what is what.
And they are almost never really representative of everyone they stand for.
The most commonly used symbol for a woman’s restroom is a person wearing a skirt - but many women never wear them.
The symbol for a wet road is a car swirling around leaving impossible skid-marks, although the most common danger posed by a wet road is a prolonged deceleration distance - also the sign is not only supposed to warn car drivers.
I could go on. I don’t think any sign is inclusive to everybody, but they ate used because you get the same info at one glance that otherwize you’d need a word or text in 500+ languages.
I don’t get the critique of using nation-flags for languages if all nations using the same language are at peace and don’t suppress each other.
It would be different if the flag for english was the confederate flag or the flag for german was the nazi flag.


Ok the short poll was clear that this option doesn’t have a majority behind it yet. I changed my mind about it too. What I liked was the flexibility, but tbh the combination of language name + flag (which I prefer) gives the same flexibility.

Some people would argue that this is not the case for some seperatist movements around Europe. They want to be nations and their language is part of their identity. We Austrians might not fully be able to grasp the situation @Roboe mentioned above (although there are minority languages in Austria):

The list of languages of the European Union can give us an idea of the language diversity. If we want to account for all of these languages, the symbols with the two-letter ISO code are still the most neutral option, IMO.