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The use of YYYY-MM-DD dates in references is the result of an historical accident. Citation templates originally wikilinked the date field so that readers would see the date styled according to their user preferences; YYYY-MM-DD was the preferred style for the template fields. As early as December 2006, discussion started on removing the links from dates. In September 2008, discussion noted that the multitude of unregistered readers were seeing the YYYY-MM-DD style dates, and consensus was to remove the linking and update the date styles. Citation templates were updated to remove date linking in September and October 2008, leaving all dates to show in YYYY-MM-DD format. There was a lot of discussion, but no consensus. Some templates were updated to force the dates style to MDY, but this was reverted. There was much discussion on fixing citation template dates to match the article style, but ultimately nothing was done.
In January 2009, a request for arbitration was opened involving editors who were delinking dates. A proposal in September 2009 to remove YYYY-MM-DD dates failed. Discussion in March 2012 resulted in no consensus.
- Wikipedia:Date debate
- Wikipedia talk:Citation templates/Archive 4#De-linking dates
- Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style (dates and numbers)/Archive 110#Date auto-formatting and linking post-change discussion.
- Template talk:Cite web/Archive 5#Arbitrary date format change
- Template talk:Cite web/Archive 5
- Wikipedia:Requests for arbitration/Date delinking
- Wikipedia:Mosnum/proposal on YYYY-MM-DD numerical dates
- Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Dates and numbers/Archive 137#Access dates