The URLs generated for some of the questions are ridiculous (e.g. the URL of {~もあり、~もあり} vs {~もあって、~もあって}1), and as such I think kana should be automatically transliterated for them so that there's some semblance of what the question is about. It would be nice if kanji could be handled as well, but it's understandable that it's much trickier to do so.

1 https://japanese.stackexchange.com/questions/781/vs

  • What is identifier? Are you talking about URL? Jun 16, 2011 at 12:03
  • Yes, the last part of the URL after the question number. Jun 16, 2011 at 12:03
  • -1: while I agree that SE should fix that, I disagree that cluttering titles in the meantime is a good solution (cf Tsuyoshi's answer)
    – Dave
    Jun 17, 2011 at 5:13
  • @Dave: I'm not saying that we should put the transliteration in the titles. That would be silly. Jun 19, 2011 at 15:27
  • Sorry if I misunderstood your suggestion and you were only suggesting for SE to do that automatically (but in that case, your title is very ambiguous). But even then, I still do agree with Tsuyoshi: this is essentially an SEO problem for SE that does not really concern us (or at least: that is rather low in the list of features we would benefit from)... I hope you understood my downvote only had to do with the importance I feel should be given to this issue (as is customary on meta), not the validity of your opinion :-)
    – Dave
    Jun 19, 2011 at 15:34
  • "SEO" has negative connotations. SE is not trying to game the system of search engines to artificially increase their search ranking. They are however trying to make each individual question "discoverable", and this is not a bad thing and this word does not have a negative connotation. Jul 29, 2011 at 8:49

3 Answers 3


We now encode titles using UTF-8 for the question and user slug. Let me know if you see anything strange as we are still testing this new feature.


Here is the usual way to encode UTF-8 into URLs from Stack Overflow.

I am pretty sure search engines are smart enough to decode and index this kind of URLs too (would need to test it though).

I would advise against any attempt at automatic transliteration. There are tools like Kakasi, but sometimes they get it wrong, and in those cases would confuse readers.

  • 1
    +1 I know Google can detect and return URLs with "ネコ" in it: inurl:ネコ
    – ento
    Aug 9, 2011 at 16:49
  • The URL encoding needs to be implemented in the SE engine, and since SE engine is written using C#, the PHP solution cannot be used.
    – Lukman
    Aug 12, 2011 at 14:16
  • 1
    I guess there is a way to do the same thing in C# as well :-) Aug 13, 2011 at 2:25

Strictly speaking, the part of the URL you are talking about is not an identifier (that is, it does not identify anything). It is completely ignored by the server. For example, the question 781 can be accessed by any of the following URLs:

This trick is intended to be part of search engine optimization. As you noticed, it is broken for non-Latin script. They can include Japanese text as it is (without transliteration) if they so wish. But I would not care too much about SEO tricks.

Added: I do not know (or care) whether this trick has any effect on search engines. The only thing that I know about the trick is that it is intended to be SEO.

  • 3
    If you look at the Area 51 page for this site, it says "Eventually, 90% of a site's traffic should come from search engines.". So yes, we ("we" meaning "SE") should care about SEO. Jun 16, 2011 at 12:27
  • 1
    @Ignacio: Ok. I have nothing against your caring about SEO, but I won’t care. The admins of the Stack Exchange network should care about it if they want a successful Q&A website on the Japanese language under their administration. Jun 16, 2011 at 12:33
  • Hopefully, this would be fixed sometime in the future, but it definitely hurts us ("us" = the japanese.stackexchange.com community) as long as it doesn't. :(
    – Boaz Yaniv
    Jun 16, 2011 at 21:46
  • I am 100% with @Tsuyoshi on that: sure, lots of casual users of our questions might come from Google, but 1) we can safely predict this is not where most of our potential contributors will come from (99.9% will be one-hitter) 2) this is SE's job to worry about SEO, definitely not ours. While I am happy that our content can be of use for everybody, my main priority is to make content that is useful for the community (anybody that cares to join and participate in any capacity), rather than the wider public (e.g. random googlers attracted through SEO tricks).
    – Dave
    Jun 17, 2011 at 0:22
  • @Dave I don't mean to be rude (really), but I have to disagree with you. While I agree that it is indeed of the utmost importance to keep the level of quality high, the wider public is absolutely essential to our continued viability as a community. So what if 99.9% of visitors are one-hitters (though I'm not sure how accurate that statistic is)? One user out of one thousand being a repeat contributor isn't so bad. Also, it is also not the responsibility of SE's to care that we succeed. It is our community -- we proposed, supported, and run it -- and thus it is our responsibility.
    – rintaun
    Jul 29, 2011 at 2:49
  • It is also important to note that without growth, content will eventually stagnate, users would lose interest, and then they will leave. All the people in this thread (and many others) are the heart of JLU, but we can't have a community without other people, too.
    – rintaun
    Jul 29, 2011 at 2:52
  • @rintaun: no offense taken whatsoever. Meta is meant for debating these issues... This was written a month ago and, with some hindsight, I would soften point 1. above: from SE's perspective, we need a higher page view count and this would help. But I firmly hold onto point 2.: it is 100% SE's job to support UTF-8 in URLs (and not a difficult one at that). We have reported the bug, explained why it is damaging to our site, now there's little else we can do... I don't think starting to write romaji in all titles is a viable or desirable solution.
    – Dave
    Jul 29, 2011 at 2:53
  • @Dave I should learn to look at the dates first. I just saw it at the top of the list and jumped in... otherwise, I would've at least hesitated. However, point taken. I understood Ignacio's comment to mean that kana should be automatically transliterated (hence the comment about kanji being difficult), but supporting UTF8 in URLs would be an equally or perhaps even more acceptable solution.
    – rintaun
    Jul 29, 2011 at 3:02
  • @rintaun: no worries. This question has been repurposed into a more straightforward bug-report here. I invite you to vote it up if you also think this is an issue that needs addressing fast :-)
    – Dave
    Jul 29, 2011 at 6:15
  • "SEO" has negative connotations. SE is not trying to game the system of search engines to artificially increase their search ranking. They are however trying to make each individual question "discoverable", and this is not a bad thing and this word does not have a negative connotation. Jul 29, 2011 at 8:49

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