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country select list

 
 
dorayme
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      12-24-2005
In article <doguge$quq$(E-Mail Removed)>,
"Leszek" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:

> Is it possible to make a select lst of all countries in the world?


You mean there may be an irreducible indeterminacy to it? No
possible list could be the truer or more complete than all other
possible lists (not counting itself)?

Interesting idea...
 
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Jukka K. Korpela
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      12-24-2005
Jose <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:

> What could a not-nice user do to a drop-down list?


Download a copy of your HTML document, edit the select element, and use the
modified document to submit data that crashes your form handler, if it is not
prepared to literally anything. The user could be a cracker, or even just a
naive user who tries to create a "customized" form.

> A drop down list is also one way of enforcing spelling.


It moves the problem to variation in country names to the user.

> How would you
> otherwise deal with creative spelers?


Your form handler can accept whatever you wish to make it accept. This could
be just country names in a fixed list, if you like. Actually most people
probably know how to spell the name of their country.

--
Yucca, http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/
Pages about Web authoring: http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/www.html


 
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dorayme
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      12-24-2005
In article <(E-Mail Removed)>,
Rob McAninch <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:

> I question the usefulness of such drop down lists. Most people know
> what country they live in and can type it much faster than scrolling
> a list (or typing to get the list closer to the choice you need).


Good point. it is helpful mostly to those who want to lie about
their country and can't spell...
 
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Ed
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      12-24-2005
Jukka K. Korpela wrote:
> Ed <ex@directory> wrote:
>
>
>>A drop down down list does force a certain level of consistency in the
>>answers

>
>
> Only if users are nice. They should not be expected to be.
>
>
>>and makes counting the replies relatively straightforward if
>>that is the intention.

>
>
> This is actually a _risk_ in a drop down list: it makes you think you can
> avoid checking the incoming data in the form handler. It then becomes
> vulnerable to even the most trivial attacks.
>
>
>>Once you start asking people what country they live in, or come from,
>>you can end up with all sorts of problems. For example, try asking
>>someone born anywhere in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and
>>Northern Ireland (that is the official name). You could then get replies
>>ranging through:
>>
>>England
>>Northern Ireland
>>Scotland
>>Wales
>>Isle of Man
>>UK
>>Great Britain
>>Britain

>
>
> Right. So accept them all, or accept just one and link to a document that
> lists the countries as you see it.
>
> If you use a drop down list, how is the British user expected to guess
> whether whether he should look for his country under "E", "B", "G", or "U"
> (or something else) in a list of two hundred countries?
>
>
>>Republic of Ireland
>>(Or is it Eire, or Ireland, but without the North!!)

>
>
> Well, according to official EU policy, even the _full_ name (long name,
> diplomatic protocol name) of the country is "Ireland". I guess that's because
> the Irish government wants it that way.
>


I dispute most of the comments/replies that you have made here. But it
would be way off-topic to discuss further in this forum.

But the earlier advice was excellent i.e. the webmaster must ask the
RIGHT question.

So, in the case that the OP presented, the question might be 'From the
drop down list, please select the option that *** best *** describes
your place of birth'. Or something along those lines. I don't want to
argue further on the exact phraseology. What is important, is that the
webmaster strives to get the information that (s)he REALLY wants.

And possibly the list should also include the option 'Other' or some
such equivalent for people who cannot make a choice from the list that
is offered.

Yours truly,
Ed
Republic Of Ireland

 
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Jose
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      12-24-2005
> Download a copy of your HTML document, edit the select element, and use the
> modified document to submit data that crashes your form handler


This user could not do the same with a non-drop-down input method? Or
is it the assumption that a drop-down entry method would not be checked
as rigourously that you are on about?

>>A drop down list is also one way of enforcing spelling.

>
> It moves the problem to variation in country names to the user.


.... who can handle it more easily than the computer? Or maybe not.

> [to handle creative spelling] Your form handler can accept
> whatever you wish to make it accept. This could
> be just country names in a fixed list, if you like.


But when a variant is rejected, the user should clearly be told why, or
they will get frustrated. A drop-down list makes that implicit.

My frustration (as a user) with such lists is when they are used for
something like time and date (which is much easier to type than to
select six items from six drop down lists), and when the lists are
"almost big enough" (such as a "time" list that shows ten elements when
there are twelve hours and makes you scroll for the rest.)

I'm not defending drop-downs because I like them, I'm being a bit of a
devil's advocate so I can learn a bit more.

Jose
--
You can choose whom to befriend, but you cannot choose whom to love.
for Email, make the obvious change in the address.
 
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Jukka K. Korpela
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      12-24-2005
Jose <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:

>> Download a copy of your HTML document, edit the select element, and use
>> the modified document to submit data that crashes your form handler

>
> This user could not do the same with a non-drop-down input method?


Of course. The drop-down method just creates a common illusion among authors
that it guarantees something, so that no check of input data is needed.

> But when a variant is rejected, the user should clearly be told why, or
> they will get frustrated.


You can make it as clear as you like. I would say that saying "Your input
'...' was not recognized as a country name. Please select a country name or
two-letter country code from the list at ..." would be enough.

> My frustration (as a user) with such lists is when they are used for
> something like time and date (which is much easier to type than to
> select six items from six drop down lists), and when the lists are
> "almost big enough" (such as a "time" list that shows ten elements when
> there are twelve hours and makes you scroll for the rest.)


They are indeed common examples of poor use of drop-down lists. But a very
long list of countries belongs to that set, not the relatively small set of
good uses of drop-down lists in HTML documents.

--
Yucca, http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/
Pages about Web authoring: http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/www.html


 
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Jukka K. Korpela
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      12-24-2005
Ed <ex@directory> wrote:

> I dispute most of the comments/replies that you have made here.


The Usenet way of saying that your opponent is right is to quote him
comprehensively and present no argument against any item.

> But it
> would be way off-topic to discuss further in this forum.


This is about which constructs should be used in HTML, so if _that_ is off-
topic to you, maybe you should find yourself another forum.

> But the earlier advice was excellent i.e. the webmaster must ask the
> RIGHT question.


Excuse me while I yawn.

> So, in the case that the OP presented, the question might be 'From the
> drop down list, please select the option that *** best *** describes
> your place of birth'.


You are making the issue just more difficult that way. To begin with, how
does a list drop down in a speech browser, and exactly where do HTML
specifications say that a particular kind of <select> element _must_ be
implemented as a drop down list?

Asking about place of birth is pointless if you are interested - hopefully
for some legitimate reason - about the country of birth, which is an
_official_ matter (and may actually deviate from the country of the physical
birth). There's no reason to make the text any more complicated than
"Country of birth". (If that's what you are asking. In the EU, you would need
very special reasons for asking such things. Check the data protection
directive and the national law that implements it.)

--
Yucca, http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/
Pages about Web authoring: http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/www.html


 
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Jose
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      12-24-2005
>>> But when a variant is rejected, the user should clearly be told why, or
>>> they will get frustrated.

>
> You can make it as clear as you like. I would say that saying "Your input
> '...' was not recognized as a country name. Please select a country name or
> two-letter country code from the list at ..." would be enough.


Well, then you are giving a list, but AFTER a failed attempt. Further,
you are making the user go elsewhere for that list, wondering if when he
comes back his partly filled-in form will be erased or not (browser and
settings dependent, no?). As a user, I'd rather have a drop-down which
allows typing (and fills in as I go) in circumstances where an exact
match is required. I am given the list from which I must match up
front, and my job as a user is easy.

I would like the most common three or four countries to be at the top
though, as well as in their proper place alphabetcally.

As for what should be recognized as a country - if you "recognize
everything" then the problem in data analysis comes later, but it is the
same problem, and the one person best able to sort the ambiguity is long
gone.

Jose
--
You can choose whom to befriend, but you cannot choose whom to love.
for Email, make the obvious change in the address.
 
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dorayme
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      12-26-2005
In article <Xns97369E9D865A5jkorpelacstutfi@193.229.4.246>,
"Jukka K. Korpela" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:

> > I dispute most of the comments/replies that you have made here.

>
> The Usenet way of saying that your opponent is right is to quote him
> comprehensively and present no argument against any item.


There is no argument for this and it is not prima facie true.
Much more plausible is that the person who claims to dispute you
is either incapable of giving the arguments or can't be bothered.
I want that you should think about everything you say in 2006 and
be totally accurate. I don't want to see any more debating
points. Irrelevencies, yes. Lowly debating points, no.
 
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Rob McAninch
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      12-27-2005
Jose>:
>>>> But when a variant is rejected, the user should clearly be told why,
>>>> or they will get frustrated.

>>
>>
>> You can make it as clear as you like. I would say that saying "Your input
>> '...' was not recognized as a country name. Please select a country
>> name or two-letter country code from the list at ..." would be enough.

>
>
> Well, then you are giving a list, but AFTER a failed attempt.


Why a failed attempt? If you have you done your work a list like:

England
Northern Ireland
Scotland
Wales
Isle of Man
UK
Great Britain
Britain

Will get distilled to usable information, if you are shipping then
be sure you get something your shipper accepts as deliverable. If
you are just wanting someone's generally geographic location then
lump it all into UK, Europe, Eurasia, or whatever you want to deal with.

> Further,
> you are making the user go elsewhere for that list, wondering if when he
> comes back his partly filled-in form will be erased or not (browser and
> settings dependent, no?).


If the person didn't type something I could transform into a
deliverable address (which would be displayed for confirmation) then
I might consider a drop down list to provide the 'near' matches.
Mapquest.com does a similar thing, if I type in only a city I get a
list of links to choose from.

> As a user, I'd rather have a drop-down which
> allows typing (and fills in as I go) in circumstances where an exact
> match is required. I am given the list from which I must match up
> front, and my job as a user is easy.


Generally an exact match shouldn't be _required_, or at any rate it
can't be *expected* since you have to validate everything on the
server anyhow. I might expect you to choose a country name from a
drop down list but if I only verify that it is a string of letters
and spaces I might get 'foo bar' submitted. How useful is that?


> I would like the most common three or four countries to be at the top
> though, as well as in their proper place alphabetcally.


Actually, that annoys me. And how do you decide what's common,
perhaps demographics if you're selling a product, but if you sell
international those four at the top just annoy other potential
customers.

> As for what should be recognized as a country - if you "recognize
> everything" then the problem in data analysis comes later, but it is the
> same problem, and the one person best able to sort the ambiguity is long
> gone.


You have to validate the data whether it comes from a drop down list
or is typed in. And this validation should be the same for either
method since your HTML form may not be what is actually submitting
the data to your server.

The question is what is easier for the majority of users. I've
watched a number of less experienced web users and most scroll the
list. They don't know the shortcuts of tapping the first letter (and
even if they do, that list from earlier should point out why a drop
down list may not be the best choice.)

--
Rob McAninch
http://rock13.com
 
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