Well say I have a website example.com - it allows people (writers) to post their own content which they can link to later for readers: example.com/my-blog-title would be such a link.

Now in the process of internationalization the interface is adapted to the users (readers + writers) preferred language. This setting can be chosen done -when a reader is logged in- at their profile page (thus not having the limit to one device upon loggin in at another device the settings is correct).

Further if a language is chosen the url is changed to reflect that. This is done for SEO purposes: example.com/en-us.

Thus if a writer has his language set to french the url to his content would be example.com/fr-fr/my-blog-title. And if he changes his interface to english the content would still be there, also under example.com/en-us/my-blog-title. (I now realize blog seems to imply text, but it's important to remember that the content is always visible in any language - it's the interface that changes).

However this creates a weird situation, where (say) a reader has set his language to English. yet a reader is directly linking his post example.com/fr-fr/my-blog-title, what should then happen?

  1. Redirect url to example.com/en-en/my-blog-title - but this might be confusing to readers that the urls don't match?
  2. Ignore the language from the URL and use user's prefered language instead - but then the same url links to different languages, and what happens on links inside that page?
  3. Ignore the user's prefered language and use the exact url. - But then the website might confuse readers as they can no longer find their familiar buttons when they don't understand the language.

What is the generally accepted solution for this?

  • What do you mean with "the content is always visible in any language"? Is it available in all languages that the user can set on their profile page or only in one language?
    – Nash
    Jan 16, 2021 at 16:19
  • The content is not limited to the writer's personal language. So yes it is available in all languages the user can set on their profile page.
    – paul23
    Jan 16, 2021 at 16:24

3 Answers 3


You are trying to combine both the language of the interface and the path to an author's page in the URL. They are two separate things, and simply create confusion when combined.

If the entire site were translated, then yes the language in URL makes sense.
You're better of simply placing the preferred language in a cookie, and making it invisible to the user. This is exactly the kind of thing cookies are great for.

You could also do what medium.com does. Articles that are not related to blog posts have the language in the URL, such as this...


Whereas articles by bloggers have the bloggers name as part of the domain name, like this...


Alternately, you could just have the blogger's name be part of the URL and not the host name. But then make sure you don't let anyone have the user name that matches a language to avoid ambiguity.

That said, blogger name as part of (virtual) host name makes a lot of sense.

  • Not having the language in the URL should be better for SEO also - if the exactly same content is visible in all languages (some kind of image blog?), no point spreading the search engine points across multiple URLs.
    – jpa
    Jan 17, 2021 at 6:26
  • 1
    Cookie? Not all users accept cookies (particularly given their nefarious uses). Wouldn't Accept-Language be better (perhaps with cookie backup if available)? Jan 17, 2021 at 10:49
  • @TobySpeight the question is whether your target group more knows how to switch their browsers language setting or more is accepting Cookies. But I guess you could use a combination. Jan 18, 2021 at 1:12
  • Don't browsers normally pick that up from LANG environment variable? Even if some browsers need manual configuration, surely users get asked on first use, rather than having to take action on every site they visit? Jan 18, 2021 at 7:53

I like how google translate does it in Chrome. It alerts the user in a minimal disturbing way that the page she is viewing does not match with her language setting. The user can then choose to translate that page or read the original.

You could build something similar. Ask the user if she wants to be redirected to the English version (i.e. their preferred language) or if she wants to stay and read the article in the french version (i.e. the original version).

google translate asking if page should be translated

  • This is however not trivial in practice. When on a french page all urls are changed to correspond to the french follow up (again, for seo). Now what happens for such links? - Should they see the same landing pop up? Implicitly go back to the user's main languages on those links?
    – paul23
    Jan 16, 2021 at 16:22
  • 1
    You could think about adding that as a setting to your profile page. "Always translate to my preferred language", "Never translate pages", "Ask me every time" (default).
    – Nash
    Jan 16, 2021 at 16:30

I think the solution is to separate the create / editing url from the reading url, actually there's no reason to keep them together.

Almost all online catalog's sites act in this way, when entering the page to insert the catalog and set the options, the user can choose the language. But for viewing/reading the catalog online, it shows the original url plus the user name and the catalog name.

In your case it would be:

  • Editing page: example.com/fr (or example.com/uk, or example.com/es, etc)

  • Reading page: example.com/username/my-blog-title

Example: publitas.com

  • 1
    Well that would work if we can get all our "writer" to manually provide the correct url. We depend mostly (about 60%) on visitors who are there due to a writer providing the url to the users directly. And those writers aren't really computer literate: so they just copy the address bar and post it in their whatsapp groups etc.
    – paul23
    Jan 16, 2021 at 18:00
  • –copy the address bar and post it in their whatsapp– exactly what I do with the Publitas catalogs! Today nobody uses memory to remember an url
    – Danielillo
    Jan 16, 2021 at 18:02
  • Once the catalog is edited, there is a share button, where you can copy the url or share it directly
    – Danielillo
    Jan 16, 2021 at 18:07
  • Yes but then the writer will copy their language settings as well (part of the url, this is due to SEO constraints, as well as design that writing can be done in-place instead of on a different edit page).
    – paul23
    Jan 16, 2021 at 18:07
  • It's an example, I recommend you take a tour on that site as a user, it's quite well resolved and is in uk, fr, it, es & de. And nobody is obliged to memorize anything 😁
    – Danielillo
    Jan 16, 2021 at 18:10

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