|One, Two, Many: Customization and User Profiles in Internet Dictionaries
|Recent textbooks in lexicography recommend the use of customization in e-dictionaries whereby users or dictionary-makers specify which information categories should be shown on the screen. In this paper I take a look at some online dictionaries and analyze how they solve the task. A few basic types are recognized, based on the answer to questions such as: are the user profiles specified by the user or by the lexicographer? Is the profile defined in relation to the look-up situation or to the user’s general background and skills? Is the profile fixed or flexible? Must the profile be specified once and for all, before every look-up situation or can it be changed as the user navigates through the dictionary entry? For practical reasons, I confine myself primarily to English and Scandinavian dictionaries.
The analysis formed part of the preparatory phase of the online version of The Danish Dictionary. Four months after the introduction we can now observe from the log files how users manage the various options they are given. The experience so far is that user profiles that require deliberate action from the user are rarely used. The same holds for other kinds of customization such as advanced search possibilities. For the dictionary-maker there is all the more reason to be careful about configuring the default setting.