Jay Rowell, director of the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES), is a big Star Trek fan. That made it all the more intriguing when he and his staff discovered that the language translator tool his agency uses for the department website just so happens to have has the unusual option of Klingon. If the office wanted, without spending a dime, visitors to the website could get the opportunity to have all the text translated to Klingon -- with a single click.
"What can it hurt to keep it up there a couple days or a couple weeks?" department spokesman Greg Rivara tells Daily RFT.
So IDES set up the Klingon category in the spring, centered on the hype of the Star Trek" Into Darkness movie.
"It's driving eyeballs to our product, and our product by design is intended to help people," says Rivara. "The more that we can introduce our product to people, the better we can help."
So he and other IDES staff decided to keep the Klingon option, which, Rivara says, will remain available at ides.illinois.gov indefinitely.
"It's going to remain up there for the time being anyway," he says, emphasizing, "it doesn't cost anything."
The bizarre language option is getting attention once again this week, in part, sparked by inquiries from a Chicago Tribune reporter (who, Rivara says, was fielding a complaint from a reader concerned that taxpayer money was being wasted on the gimmick, which it is not).
You can see for yourself at the landing page, which has language options in the upper right-hand corner. Here's some screenshot evidence:
And here's what the site looks like in Klingon:
People can use the website to file unemployment claims, certify unemployment benefits, look for jobs or for employees, and more.
"It really is a great tool for employers and employees," Rivara says.
Users can also translate to Spanish, Polish, Russian and a few other languages.
Rivara says he doesn't know if there are other government websites in the country that have the Klingon option, but he hasn't heard of any.
So far, it's only been a boost -- except for the case of one employer who somehow ended up on the Klingon version of the site and thought the government agency had been hacked, he says.
"We assured her it was fine," he says, adding, "she was not a Star Trek fan."