Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Dates and numbers

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
WikiProject Manual of Style
WikiProject icon This page falls within the scope of WikiProject Manual of Style, a drive to identify and address contradictions and redundancies, improve language, and coordinate the pages that form the MoS guidelines.

Clarification on DATERET[edit]

A problem has arisen with a conflict between DATETIES and DATERET in a number of Canadian geographic articles. An editor made a consensus decision based on a discussion here and applied it to other articles in the same region. There are two questions

  1. Can consensus override DATERET on an article-by-article basis? If so, can consensus change at a later time and reverse that decision?
  2. Do dates in prose carry more weight than dates in references? My contention is that the tools used for references often apply an ISO 8601 format and sometimes a DMY format automatically and so it may not be valid to assume the editor chose to apply that date, although one edit in particular makes it clear that the editor did choose that date format.

Feel free to ping me if needed. Walter Görlitz (talk) 05:44, 1 April 2015 (UTC)

DATETIES and DATERET do not conflict; DATETIES is an exception to DATERET. DATERET specifically says: "If an article has evolved using predominantly one format, the whole article should conform to it, unless there are reasons for changing it based on strong national ties to the topic or consensus on the article's talk page." However, DATETIES would not require a change to MDY format in this case, as it says: "Articles related to Canada may use either format consistently."
On point 1, local consensus can override DATERET (indeed, it is also explicitly excepted in the above quoted text) and, of course, consensus can change.
On point 2, in general, I would think that dates in body content (prose, lists, etc.) carry more weight than dates in references in determining whether DMY or MDY is the predominant format of a given article because they are more noticeable; changing the format in footnotes is less likely to be controversial than changing the format in the body. sroc 💬 06:22, 1 April 2015 (UTC) [amended 06:26, 1 April 2015 (UTC)]
Certainly an interesting question regarding "date format chosen by the first major contributor in the early stages of an article should continue to be used". I believe the real question whether the first major contributor "choose" the date format or not -- regardless of whether it was in the reference or prose section. For prose we have a fairly good assumption that they chose the format, and for references we cannot be certain if they did or did not. Perhaps they used a tool, but equally as likely, perhaps they didn't use a tool and choose the other. References started becoming more popular around 2006-2009 for city articles and almost always the first time we see a date format is in reference form. That's because specific dates in those articles were almost always only month and year. The article Delta, British Columbia was an example where it evolved with one format and still to this day, no prose date is present in the article. If someone were to add a different date format in the prose now, I don't think it should override nearly a decade of use of the other one in the references. I think the solution is to prioritize the first bullet point in DATERET and to focus on "evolved using predominantly one format, the whole article should conform to it". The issue of first date format should only be applied if the article evolved using both without one clear dominant date format. Mkdwtalk 16:59, 1 April 2015 (UTC)
sroc's comments are somewhat inconsistent. His view that WP:DATETIES overrides WP:DATERET is a questionable view that he has been pushing above at #Military date format in biographical articles. However, he does state that local consensus can override DATERET (which is the general rule and practice). And notes the explicit statement in DATETIES that "[a]rticles related to Canada may use either format consistently." I would further point out that WP:DATEUNIFY (partiallly quoted above) does not require consistency across the different classes of dates, so what ever usage has evolved with your reference dates might not be fully applicable to dates in the text. As to the main point that was raised here: yes, consensus can change, and thus override what ever has evolved. Which is something you should work out at the article's talk page. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:05, 4 April 2015 (UTC)
@J. Johnson: "His view that WP:DATETIES overrides WP:DATERET is a questionable view ..." How so? DATERET explicitly excepts cases where "there are reasons for changing it based on strong national ties" (i.e., where DATETIES applies) as well as for following "consensus on the article's talk page". I am merely reading the guideline. How is this "questionable" or "inconsistent"? sroc 💬 05:14, 5 April 2015 (UTC)
The issue comes down to whether the exceptions to DATERET ("reasons ... based on strong national ties", or "consensus") are permissive, or mandatory. In a prior discussion about this (above, at #Military date format in biographical articles, where "military usage" is based on DATETIES) you said (11:51, 22 Mar) 'But the guideline says "[military articles] use day before month"; it doesn't say "may use" or "sometimes use" ....'
Subsequently you said (18:27, 26 Mar) "My position remains clear: ... Where a topic contains strong national ties ... that will direct whether to use DMY or MDY... thus, DATETIES overrides DATERET." [Emphasis added.]
In your rejection of "may use", and explicit use of "will direct", you are saying that if there is a "strong national tie" then use of the national style is mandatory, irregardless of usage previously established in the article. However, you overlook the "should generally use" qualification of DATETIES, or that in DATERET "strong national ties" does not override "consensus".
You should also bear in mind that the broader guidance of WP:MOS#Retaining the existing variety (MOS:RETAIN) clearly states:

When an English variety's consistent usage has been established in an article, maintain it in the absence of consensus to the contrary. With few exceptions (e.g. when a topic has strong national ties or a term/spelling carries less ambiguity), there is no valid reason for such a change.

It seems clear to me that DATERET is permissive: articles should use an established format, but may use another if there is consensus to do so. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 20:25, 5 April 2015 (UTC).
Both DATETIES and DATERET use "should"; these are, of course, subject to consensus to overlook this guidance in specific instances. DATETIES doesn't make an exception for DATERET. DATERET makes an exception for DATETIES. Simply put, the order of precedence is clear:
  1. If there is consensus to follow a particular format for a specific article, follow that consensus.
  2. DATETIES: articles with strong national ties to an English-speaking country should use the common format for that country (i.e., MDY for US, DMY for US military and the rest of the world, but either MDY or DMY for Canada), except in the case of 1.
  3. DATERET: don't change the date format from DMY to MDY or vice versa, except in the case of 1 or 2.
This is consistent with the text you quoted from RETAIN. sroc 💬 06:07, 6 April 2015 (UTC)
To be clear, I never said that DATETIES and DATERET override local consensus. The issue in the earlier discussion was how to reconcile a conflict between DATETIES and DATERET, and I pointed out that there could not be any such conflict because DATETIES is an explicit exception to DATERET. Another editor argued "Provided an article is consistent in date format usage, there is no good reason to change the date format used"—I pointed out that this disregarded that DATETIES may provide a good reason to change the date format where an article uses a format inconsistent with strong national ties (ignoring consensus, which I believed to be an understood exception but irrelevant to the discussion as between DATETIES and DATERET). Please do not misrepresent my comments or position. sroc 💬 06:18, 6 April 2015 (UTC)
You said that "DATETIES overrides DATERET" without specifying whether that applied to the specific part of DATERET about consensus; please do not fault me for your own lack of clarity.
I would agree with your levels of precedence except for one omission:
  • If an article has evolved using predominantly one format, the whole article should conform to it .... [Per MOS:DATERET.]
There is no requirement that such a predominant format be consistent with strong national ties, therefore the lack of such consistency does not "provide a good reason to change the date format". (More precisely, is not itself a sufficient reason to change.) I note also that such inconsistency is not itself a reason based on strong national ties. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 22:23, 6 April 2015 (UTC)
Actually, in the case of Canada, STRONGNAT/DATETIES is immaterial as both DMY and MDY apply. So the question is a bit deeper than what editors are commenting on here. Walter Görlitz (talk) 03:52, 7 April 2015 (UTC)
Indeed. I believe we have gone from the specific issue that was raised here to the broader applicability of DATETIES and DATERET. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 22:26, 7 April 2015 (UTC)

@J. Johnson: "There is no requirement that such a predominant format be consistent with strong national ties ..." There is no need to re-state the need for consistency in DATETIES as this is already covered in the immediately preceding section, MOS:DATEUNIFY: "Dates in article body text should all use the same format ..." Neither DATETIES nor DATERET is exempt from this basic principle of DATEUNIFY. sroc 💬 04:53, 7 April 2015 (UTC)
  • While these date-format discussions give me a headache, I see the potential for some good here. You two seem close to agreeing on how these policies interact, and the trouble of getting to that point may act as a roadmap for improving the guidelines so others won't be similarly vexed. Can you two work together to propose something? EEng (talk) 22:49, 6 April 2015 (UTC)
You have found me out! I am hoping that we will have convergence, but the basis for our different views needs to be understood before we can resolve it. Everyone please be patient. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 22:29, 7 April 2015 (UTC)
@sroc: I think we agree (and everyone else?) that per WP:DATEUNIFY there should be consistency of date format within each class of dates (text, publication [references], and access/archive) in each article. I think we also agree that an article's date format (possibly differing for each class of dates) may be set by consensus of the involved editors. (Here I note a possible conflict with "strong national ties", to discuss later.)
Our difference is this: does a claim of a strong national tie "provide a good reason to change the date format" (as you said) even though an article has "evolved using predominantly one [presumably different] format" (DATERET}? In other words, must established usage (absent any declared consensus) always yield to a claim of "strong national tie"? ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 22:35, 7 April 2015 (UTC)
@J. Johnson: In the absence of consensus to the contrary, yes, a valid claim of strong national ties provides a valid reason to change the predominant date format in an article. That's what DATERET says: "If an article has evolved using predominantly one format, the whole article should conform to it, unless there are reasons for changing it based on strong national ties to the topic or consensus on the article's talk page." For example, if the article on New Zealand Prime Minister John Key had consistently used the MDY date format since its inception, DATETIES would provide the justification to change it to DMY (in spite of DATERET) unless there was consensus to disregard the guidelines. That's how I read the current guidelines. Do you disagree? sroc 💬 06:19, 8 April 2015 (UTC)
Yes, I disagree. A predominately consistent usage in an article is an implicit consensus of the several editors. It is uncivil and creates ill-will when some editor unilaterally (and sometimes idiosyncratically) makes sweeping changes while waving "DATETIES" as a big stick of justification. I can see DATETIES (or rather, reasons based on it) as a point to raise in a discussion, and as a deciding factor when editors are dead-locked on proper usage, but not as license to run rampant. As I have previously said (5 Apr), I think it is a matter of whether the DATETIES exception is permissive, or mandatory. That is, whether DATERET allows exceptions to established usage, or requires them. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 20:54, 8 April 2015 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────@J. Johnson: Did you mean "... but [not] as license to run rampant"?

[Ooops! Yes, of course.~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk)]

In any case, I believe that the words "unless there are reasons for changing it based on strong national ties" mean, simply, that if "there are reasons for changing it based on strong national ties" (i.e., if DATETIES applies), then DATERET does not apply to counter it; otherwise. (This is all assuming, of course, that the editor is acting in good faith in asserting that DATETIES applies in the particular case.)

I think this is an entirely understandable and legitimate way to read it. In fact, I think it is the only way to read it, and you should not see users invoking DATETIES as "running rampant" unless there is an explicit "consensus on the article's talk page" to keep the existing date format. If it were otherwise, the exception would be in DATETIES instead—"Articles on topics with strong ties to a particular English-speaking country should generally use the more common date format for that nation, unless another date format has already been established in accordance with MOS:DATERET"—but it isn't. sroc 💬 07:20, 9 April 2015 (UTC)

I think sroc's reading is correct. Jc3s5h (talk) 20:30, 9 April 2015 (UTC)
It is a possible reading, but not the only one. And we should consider what reading is most acceptable. E.g., does "strong national ties" give any drive-by editor a right to unilaterally change date formats where explicit consensus is not to be found "on the article's talk page"? Does it count if it is buried deep in the archives? Does the presence of {{mdy}} or {{dmy}} templates indicate explicit consensus? ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:19, 9 April 2015 (UTC)
Archives are still evidence of explicit consensus arrived at on the talk page (it doesn't stop being consensus when archived). Maintenance templates are not a substitute for explicit consensus on the talk page achieved through discussion. sroc 💬 03:21, 10 April 2015 (UTC)
By the way, the use of terms like "drive-by editor" and "unilaterally" betray a failure to assume good faith. Users may make valuable contributions by applying Wikipedia's policies and guidelines (including the MOS) to clean-up articles, even if they are unfamiliar with the subject or do not otherwise edit particular articles. For example, I routinely fix formatting to add missing commas after MDY dates (per MOS:DATEFORMAT) and after city–state or city–country combinations (per MOS:COMMA) as I browse articles I read; this is not vandalism.
If an editor changes an established date format citing DATETIES, assume that they have a good faith reason to believe that it's the right thing to do according to the guideline. If they are mistaken that DATETIES applies (e.g., the subject is Canadian and either DMY or MDY is acceptable, or the subject is US military and DMY is preferred instead of MDY), then revert the edit and explain why. If it is contentious whether DATETIES applies (e.g., it is unclear whether the subject has strong national ties to an English-speaking country), raise the matter on the article's talk page. If there is explicit consensus to use a particular date format for the article, revert the edit and point to the earlier discussion that established consensus (there may be an opportunity to discuss whether consensus has changed). But do not simply revert the change citing DATERET if there is a valid reason to apply DATETIES just because no one has had the presence of mind to do so before. Certainly do not bully or undermine editors who may have been trying to do the right thing (or what they thought was the right thing). sroc 💬 12:59, 10 April 2015 (UTC)
Please note that Accusing others of bad faith is itself a violation of AGF. (See also WP:Assume the assumption of good faith.) Your objection to "drive-by" and "unilaterally" suggests you see those as inherently colored terms, or that I have some cryptic meaning intended. Which are both incorrect, and an assumption of bad faith on your part. The fact is that no one (not even yourself) considers unilateral action itself to "betray a failure to assume good faith." Similarly for "drive-by". These terms are innocent.
The problem with unilateral action is when it contravenes consensus, including those cases where (as you said) "no one has had the presence of mind" (or just not seen the need?) to document it before. This does not have to result from, nor does it "betray", any nefarious intent. It could be nothing more than shear bullheadedness. More commonly the problem stems from editors thinkig it is (as you say) "the right thing to do according to the guideline", but they may also (as you explain) presume upon that, without any inquiry or discussion. For any non-MOS matter such Bold editing could be Reverted, to be followed with Discussion. But date-format discussions all too often get short-circuited into assertions that DATETIES overrides all other considerations (except explicit consensus previously obtained), including established ("evolved") usage.
You state: "Certainly do not bully or undermine editors who may have been trying to do the right thing ...." For sure! Please note that the WP:Civility nutshell says: "Do not ignore the positions and conclusions of your fellow editors", and: "Participate in a respectful and considerate way". I say these include respect for extant work, including established usages, and to not make broad changes unilaterally without the courtesy of discussing it with those who have made major contributions. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:59, 10 April 2015 (UTC)
If I edit an article to add commas after MDY dates, without the matter having ever been discussed on the article's talk page but ensuring consistency with MOS:DATEFORMAT and MOS:COMMA, would you object on the basis that it is against consensus on the article's talk page? I would hope not. Why then treat edits to comply with DATETIES any differently (assuming that there is a valid basis and the matter has not been addressed for that article before)? sroc 💬 10:48, 11 April 2015 (UTC)
Why would you presume to drop-in on an article where you have never made any major contributions and make broad changes of a frequently controversial nature "without the courtesy of discussing it with those who have made major contributions"? Even if we assume that such changes are proper, it is arrogant to do so without any consultation. It assumes as a right or a license what is really only a guideline. Do you assume that other major contributors are so ignorant of the guidelines that only you can set matters right? Why should any such edits not be subject to the R of WP:BRD?
There is a right: it's the B in BRD. I never said that controversial edits are not subject to R—in fact, I wrote: "If they are mistaken that DATETIES applies ... then revert the edit and explain why." Reverting presumes there is a valid justification to oppose the change.
In longer articles with many dates, it may be prudent to make a comment on the talk page, but this is not a strict requirement when the application of DATETIES does not appear controversial; if it really is controversial, someone will revert it. In stubs or short articles with only one or two dates, a switch in date formats when DATETIES obviously applies (say, a short biographical article on a relatively obscure Australian written by a handful of contributors) is unlikely to be controversial—would you call it arrogant to make such a change? sroc 💬 08:14, 12 April 2015 (UTC)
The problem isn't so much where you or anyone else claims a right - which is to say, to claim a moral or legal entitlement - to change a date format, but where editors insist that their changes may not be reverted. That is arrogance, just as it is arrogant to assume that one's own sense of "obvious" (implying that explanation is not necessary) is superior to anyone else's sense of "obvious". If a "handful of contributors" has consistently used any format, then, yes, I would call it arrogant to assume any right to revert their efforts. To simply "make a comment on the talk page" suggests that discussion is not necessary, and implies there is nothing they could say that would change your intention. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 23:17, 13 April 2015 (UTC)

Sroc seems to be taking a wikibreak. To summarize where we have gotten to, sroc seems to allow that Reversion can be applied to "controversial edits", but apparently only where it is mistaken to apply DATETIES, where there is "valid justification to oppose the change." To me this sounds like an attempt to give edits that claim DATETIES an exemption from reversion, which I find arrogant. And there the matter stands, without resolution. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 23:33, 24 April 2015 (UTC)

J. Johnson seems to have misunderstood where I'm coming from. My understanding is that, on Wikipedia, by definition, any edit that is disputed is "controversial" (which is not to say that it is necessarily something likely to provoke a heated argument). Per this policy:

Wikipedia encourages editors to be bold, but while a potentially controversial change may be made to find out whether it is opposed, another editor may revert it. This may be the beginning of a bold, revert, discuss (BRD) cycle. An edit war only arises if the situation develops into a series of back-and-forth reverts.

For example:
  • A stub article on an obscure Australian includes one date and it is in MDY format.
  • An editor notices that dates for articles with strong ties to Australian topics should use DMY format (per MOS:DATETIES) and boldly adjusts the date (the first step in the Wikipedia:BOLD, revert, discuss cycle).
  • Another editor notices the change and can either:
    • leave it, as it is a good sensible change, and it becomes the new consensus; or
    • revert it and discuss why the change is bad on the article's talk page.
But if there's no real reason to keep the MDY format, why should anyone revert it? MOS:DATERET is not a good reason in itself to avoid a change to comply with MOS:DATETIES, so reverting is a bad idea unless there are other good reasons which merit discussion. sroc 💬 18:25, 3 May 2015 (UTC)
The essence of your argument is that DATETIES is superior to DATERET (that the latter "is not a good reason ..."). I say that DATETIES is actually a very weak rationale, which, in regard of reaching consensus, may be used as a tie breaker, but should not be used as a tie maker. That is, if there is no case for changing a date (either MDY or DMY) prior to applying "strong ties", then "strong ties" is an insufficient basis for such a change. What you seem to want is that "bold" edits (e.g., unilateral edits without prior discussion) should be privileged in that DATERET "is not a good reason" for reversion, that the reverting editor has the burden of proving why the "bold" edit is bad. I find such an interpretation unfortunate in that it has caused much acrimony on what should be a petty matter. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 20:19, 4 May 2015 (UTC)
I'm merely reading the wording of DATERET which includes an express exception for DATETIES. I'm not sure what you mean by "DATETIES is actually a very weak rationale"—whether you think that DATETIES shouldn't exist or that you would ignore it at will or what.
Answer me this: in the example in my last comment—where there are strong national ties to an English-speaking country using DMY and an editor changes a solitary date from MDY to DMY format, and there has been no prior discussion of the date format relating to the article at all—would you revert it on the grounds of DATERET? If so, why? sroc 💬 16:33, 5 May 2015 (UTC)
Why not? By the same principle where you Boldly edit why should I not be equally free to Revert? I don't even need to cite DATERET. And if we don't reach consensus on the matter it reverts to the original form, and everyone moves on — right? Well, in your earlier comment you did imply that the reverting editor has the burden of proving "why the change is bad". But I don't agree with that. Why should your edits be "more equal" than mine? ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 22:13, 5 May 2015 (UTC)
JJ, could you answer the question, please? It's fine to talk of the general, but in this case a specific example has been raised and I'm interested in your specific response. Thanks. --Pete (talk) 23:31, 5 May 2015 (UTC)
In the current context (caveat: it's not completely specified!) I would revert. Why? Why do I need any more reason than (channeling sroc's response of 12 Apr) BRD gives me that right? Note that I am not taking any position regarding what date format should be applied; what I would be reverting is not a specific format, but an undiscussed edit. Sroc keeps assuming that one format is better than the other, but I take no stand on that. My argument is that DATETIES does not (and should not) have superiority or privilege over DATERET or BRD. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 23:41, 8 May 2015 (UTC)
WP:DATETIES does in fact override WP:DATERET: "The date format chosen by the first major contributor in the early stages of an article should continue to be used, unless there is reason to change it based on strong national ties to the topic or consensus on the article's talk page." The wording is clear. But even if it wasn't the case, for an Australian subject, Australian editors would prefer International format rather than American format, and your edit war would escalate. And this is the reason we have DATETIES; to prevent disruption. It's one of those conventions developed in actual practice over the years because it works. --Pete (talk) 00:17, 9 May 2015 (UTC)
Thank you, Pete. Furthermore, BRD is not a licence to edit-war. In the above example, where a stub article on an obscure Australian includes one date in MDY format, with no explicit consensus on date format (let's assume the talk page has not yet been created) and an editor boldly changes the date to DMY format (citing MOS:DATETIES in the edit summary), J. Johnson feels justified in reverting the edit, not because the change was wrong ("I am not taking any position regarding what date format should be applied") but because it was not discussed. Most edits do not require prior discussion and a reversion to retain a status quo is not superior to an edit based on Wikipedia policies or guidelines:
  • "BRD is never a reason for reverting. ... BRD is not a valid excuse for reverting good-faith efforts to improve a page simply because you don't like the changes. Don't invoke BRD as your reason for reverting someone else's work or for edit warring: instead, provide a reason that is based on policies, guidelines, or common sense." (WP:BRD-NOT)
  • "Don't revert an edit because it is unnecessary — because it does not improve the article. For a reversion to be appropriate, the reverted edit must actually make the article worse. Wikipedia does not have a bias toward the status quo (except in cases of fully developed disputes, while they are being resolved). In fact, Wikipedia has a bias toward change, as a means of maximizing quality by maximizing participation." (WP:ONLYREVERT)
  • "All edits should be explained (unless the reason for them is obvious) – either by clear edit summaries indicating the reason why the change was made, or by discussion on the article talk page." (WP:EDITCONSENSUS)
Finally, WP:DATETIES is, in fact, an express exception to WP:DATERET. JJ's refusal to accept this is staggering and any attempt to revert changes made on this basis without any other reasoning would disrupt the progress of Wikipedia. If JJ does not accept this now, then I'm afraid this conversation can serve no purpose any more. Goodbye. sroc 💬 06:03, 9 May 2015 (UTC)
"Staggering" may appeal to sroc's sense of melodrama, but I think it is more applicable to his notion that all progress of Wikipedia would be disrupted! if there was any attempt to revert any edit with an edit summary of "per WP:DATETIES". That is the end result of his argument: that by simply shouting "DATETIES" discussion is not necessary, and reversion is precluded. Some of the postulates by which he derives that are faulty, but let's just overlook that lest Wikipedia should falter. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 23:07, 14 May 2015 (UTC)

Arbitrary break[edit]

I see there's been agreement limiting Iran's nuclear ambitions. Any chance of similar progress here? EEng (talk) 21:25, 12 April 2015 (UTC)

As the Tennessee gentleman said: "I begin to doubt.". But as was said in one of my favorite moveis: "we'll keep pumping air." ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 23:23, 13 April 2015 (UTC)
  • (One month later) Just checking in... How's it going? EEng (talk) 05:07, 16 May 2015 (UTC)
@EEng: One wikibreak later and JJ is still ignoring rational arguments and misinterpreting my comments. Done. sroc 💬 07:53, 16 May 2015 (UTC)
The charge of misinterpreting others is serious enough to warrant a response. Your comment was: "any attempt to revert changes made on this basis without any other reasoning would disrupt the progress of Wikipedia" [emphasis added]. Admittedly, you did not say all progress would be disrupted, but that is within the scope of rhetorical dramatization that you have already displayed. Aside from that, and the trivial inversion, my comment is practically a direct quote of your comment, so it is really hard to see there is room for even a sliver of misinterpretation.
Note that I do agree with you in regard of "this conversation can serve no purpose any more." As I am inclined to ignore your syllogistic failures, please feel free to stagger back into space. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 20:11, 16 May 2015 (UTC)
Stating that I had claimed "all progress of Wikipedia would be disrupted!" (your emphasis) whilst accusing me on sensationalism is misrepresentation. I made various rational arguments based on established Wikipedia principles, but you have chosen to ignore or misinterpret them and misrepresent my statements in an attempt to validate your view. There's no point arguing with someone who does not respond to reason. sroc 💬 03:41, 17 May 2015 (UTC)
I am trying to not respond to provocation. Which seems to be the only purpose you have in continuing this conversation. Or are you mainly trying to distract attention from your "disrupt" claim? ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:00, 18 May 2015 (UTC)
  • I'll be asking the Security Council for peacekeeping troops tomorrow morning. EEng (talk) 06:01, 17 May 2015 (UTC) In all seriousness, I wish I felt I could help resolve this, but I don't. Sorry.
Thanks. Tell them to bring lots of foam. And kill the air. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:02, 18 May 2015 (UTC)

Another arbitrary break[edit]

Look, guys (and gals, if any), I haven't been following this, but I really did hope, way back when, that some good would come out of it. But it looks like this has become another impasse. Do you think that it would be worth my time to review the discussion and see if I can help? Or would I just be wasting my time? Please don't say Yes just to flatter me, though I know you're all eager to do that. EEng (talk) 01:33, 19 May 2015 (UTC)

I, too, had hopes some good might result. But I no longer find it worth the hassle. With sroc so wrapped up in "DATETIES uber alles!" that he does not even understand my point (whether that is because I am too dumb to explain, or he is just too deaf to hear, likely makes little difference), and his pushing this alleged misrepresentation, while making various snide remarks, amounts to so much friction that any effort applied here will create more heat than light. This discussion has become a waste of time. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:39, 19 May 2015 (UTC)

@J. Johnson (JJ), I get your point but there is no proposition on how to resolve the issue such as an amendment; such as - changes invoking DATETIES should only be made after comment has been sought and a consensus exists. Cinderella157 (talk) 00:48, 20 May 2015 (UTC)

@J. Johnson: I never said "DATETIES uber alles!" I said DATETIES is an exception to DATERET because that's what DATERET specifically says! And you have yet to respond to all of the Wikipedia principles cited above saying not to revert without a good reason (and which say "it wasn't discussed first" isn't good enough). It may be more useful to discuss potentially contentious cases before implementing them, but you ignore all this to justify reverting even uncontroversial changes you don't disagree with! sroc 💬 02:54, 20 May 2015 (UTC)
You have the right of it, sroc. It's not a matter of personal interpretation of ambiguous wording. DATETIES over-rides DATERET and has done for many years. It's pointless trying to argue that any other interpretation is valid; it isn't. JJ is welcome to discuss changing the wording, but trying to argue that the wording means something it clearly does not is just being disruptive. --Pete (talk) 17:00, 20 May 2015 (UTC)
Cinderella157: it would be premature to propose any changes when some folks here do not see the problem. E.g., Pete suggests that I am "trying to argue that the wording means something it clearly does not". However, that is not correct. Note that there is the "wording" (the text), and there is the interpretation of the text. While I have some quibbles about the interpretation sroc choses, my primary concern is not either of these, but with their use. As commented in the following discussion, I think the intent of DATETIES is to break ties: to resolve matters where editors are unable to reach consensus. However, what I am concerned about is DATETIES being used to make ties – that is, for making changes where there had been no issue or conflict or lack of consensus with the date formatting, which changes no one else is allowed to change "without good reason". My argument has not been about the text itself, but with how it is used. Failure to understand this distinction undercuts any chance of this discussion moving forward. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 22:16, 20 May 2015 (UTC)
You may have a point, though in my innocence I'm seeing it as rather a confected one. If there have been problems in interpretation of this nature, could you please show us a real-world example? Inasmuch as Wikipedia may be described as "real world", of course. --Pete (talk) 18:45, 22 May 2015 (UTC)

DATETIES: Is DMY format now acceptable for the U.S.?[edit]

I ask the following question in consequence of earlier comments (under another section) where it was suggested that usage of the DMY format is increasingly common in the US. The question is the extent of this shift and whether the MDY format remains in use to such a predominant extent or whether it might now be considered that both formats are acceptable, as in the case of Canada? Cinderella157 (talk) 01:52, 11 April 2015 (UTC)

Good question. On one hand I am so immersed in scientific areas where DMY is nearly universal that I can't really assess how far MDY has been supplanted in non-scentific areas. And any poll would strongly reflect how a sample was selected. On the other hand, does it really matter? When writing shortened numeric dates, there is a big difference between 4-11-15 and 11-4-15. But when the month is spelled out (even partially) I think most people have no problem with either Apr. 11 or 11 Apr.
At a somewhat broader level, I wonder whether the "strong national tie" ought to arise from the topic itself — or from the audience most likely to be reading the topic. E.g., should an article on an ancient Chinese history use ancient Chinese dates? Or those familiar to modern English speakers? For local or parochial topics of mainly local interest there is no problem, but what about (say) the first trans-Atlantic telegraph cable? ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 22:16, 11 April 2015 (UTC)
If it is, then the whole issue of DATETIES might well be mute. Cinderella157 (talk) 00:04, 12 April 2015 (UTC)
Well, if anything's patently obvious it's that the DATETIES issue is not mute. EEng (talk) 00:10, 12 April 2015 (UTC)
Just to be perfectly clear: DMY format dates are not acceptable in articles written in American English -- with a limited exception for military topics. DMY format dates are not used with any frequency in mainstream American media, nor are they recommended/endorsed by American English style guides. No, DMY format dates are not an acceptable mainstream alternative practice in American English.
P.S. The abbreviation "U.S." (with periods) is still the preferred form of abbreviation in American English, too. Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 00:41, 12 April 2015 (UTC)
However, some reputable publications are using US, and I perceive a trend toward that usage. Also, statements such as "UK and U.S. officials ..." irritate the sensitive reader.—Finell 03:49, 12 April 2015 (UTC)
@Dirtlawyer1, "acceptable mainstream practice" is established by the mainstream, not by authority, nor by lawyering. One can observe style guides and other official compilations, but they are not the source of what is "mainstream"; they are at best a reflection. At worst, they tend to be conservative and behind any curve of changes. Mainstream changes tend to just happen; they are not organized. But the mainstream in America is always absorbing the influences of the other practices around it, and is not rejecting DMY either. It's recognized as "another style", not American in origin, but acceptable all the same thank you very much. If you think otherwise, I would challenge you to find a story of objection or ire directed against this un-American activity. But really, "mainstream" is "the people", not "officialdom". Evensteven (talk) 20:25, 19 April 2015 (UTC)
Evensteven, please feel free to provide evidence for the DMY in American mainstream practice . . . if you don't trust "conservative" American style guides, please feel free to list all of the major American publications that use DMY dates which you can find. You know, "conservative" publications like The New York Times, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, USA Today, Time magazine, People, Sports Illustrated, The Sporting News, Bon Appetit, The Wine Spectator, The Harvard Law Review . . . Can you name a single major American daily newspaper or weekly/monthly magazine of national circulation -- exclusive of technical journals -- that actually uses DMY dates in publication? Good luck, and be prepared to spend a lot of time searching! And for every example of an American publication that uses DMY which you manage to uncover, I can easily provide the names of 100 publications that use MDY dates with 1/100th the effort: that's what I mean by "mainstream practice." Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 22:33, 19 April 2015 (UTC)
FWIW, I would note that the guideline suggests either format is appropriate for Canada is completely out of touch with reality. DMY hasn't been in common use (or even rare use) in English Canada for decades. And honestly, I don't see evidence that it is becoming prevalent in the US either. So my position is that for general, no, DMY would not be appropriate for American (or Canadian) articles. Resolute 02:46, 12 April 2015 (UTC)
The statement that DMY is not in common use in English Canada for decades is not correct. While Alberta seemingly does use MDY more commonly, and the Canadian media use MDY, there are plenty of examples (not only rare ones) where DMY is used. Service Canada and the Canada Revenue Agency (as one example) use ISO 8601 most of the time, but use DMY for the times they do not. Particularly in the business sector for things like Records of Employment, benefits, and medical reports. XFile and a number of other Canadian tax processes require DMY importing. Citizen and Immigration Canada requests documents be submitted in the ISO 8601 or DMY. In any regard, the only consensus among Canadians is that both are and may be used. Mkdwtalk 04:00, 18 April 2015 (UTC)\
You are overstating things. Most newspapers, magazines and universities use MDY over DMY. No such consensus exists among Canadians. The last time this was discussed, I found exactly two universities using DMY and at least fifty that used MDY, in-line with American scholarly publication guidelines. Similar issue for publications. Walter Görlitz (talk) 06:40, 18 April 2015 (UTC)
I didn't overstate anything and request you retract that statement. I gave two examples of there the MDY format is readily available and in NO way said those were the only places. In fact they were concession examples that I used to show that MDY is widely used in some (never said only or all) highly visible areas. It was a carryover so please read it more carefully before you make baseless accusations. My point was that there are other places where DMY is used and not as "rare". Both date formats can be used. It states so here on the Wikipedia guideline for DATETIES, the article date format by country, but more notably the issue of date format is found in multiple places. Maybe I need to put this more plainly but there is no prohibition on date format over the other in Canada; only preference. Even at the federal and legislative level despite "adoption" of ISO 8601 the dual format system exists even at our government level. There is absolutely no where that it states Canada has one format over the other. Mkdwtalk 07:32, 18 April 2015 (UTC)
I plainly refuse to retract my statement because it's correct.
I'm not stating that it should be changed for Canada, just that most publications and universities use MDY format and it applies to more individuals than government documents. Walter Görlitz (talk) 14:40, 18 April 2015 (UTC)
Cinderella: I could only hope that the ever-going DATETIES arguments would "mute", but not likely. And possibly you meant "moot"? Even so, no such luck. Granting that either format is acceptable leaves lots of room to argue which should be used. [Removed extraneous comment added here by Walter Görlitz.]
On the same basis of "strong national ties", DMY seems as appropriate for scientific topics as military topics. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 03:45, 13 April 2015 (UTC)
Hey, I already made the "mute" joke. Get your own humor! EEng (talk) 03:56, 13 April 2015 (UTC)
There was still some flavor left. :-) ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 22:37, 13 April 2015 (UTC)
The irony is that the error is perhaps not so erroneous, even if technically incorrect. Cinderella157 (talk) 23:30, 13 April 2015 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── My own take on most of these date arguments is that the rule/guide isn't meant to tell you the best date format to use - it is meant as a tie breaker when we have arguments. As mentioned above, the subject of the article can't exclusively decide (eg articles on China should not use the Chinese date format) and you can't tell which readers you have (an American wanting to visit a Chinese city, an Australia looking up a American company for business research, etc). Since the reader could be anybody, the actual format used is irrelevant as long as it can be deciphered: eg, 1 May 2015 or May 1, 2015 or 2015-05-01 (the last not for general prose). But historically we have seen many articles written in, say, 1 May 2015 style and an American will 'correct" the date format. A Brit or an Australian will then "correct" it back and so it goes for a few weeks until some editors leave WP in disgust. By having a tie breaker guideline we can allow the main contributor to choose a style they are comfortable with while still allow a way to choose when opposing parties can not reach a conclusion. I would be very against interpreting the guides as "this type of article MUST use this date format". Best to leave it as a tie breaker, not a straight jacket.  Stepho  talk  00:02, 14 April 2015 (UTC)

I also oppose any interpretation of the date format guidelines as mandating either DMY or MDY. But use as a tie breaker is not optimal, as it encourages arguments, where DATRET and DATETIES are then used as battering rams. I think we need to accept (as Stepho said) that date format is irrelevant as long is it understood. Particularly, that all readers will understand BOTH "11 April" or "April 11", quite aside from their relative prevalence. And that arguing which is more common in any given context is neither relevant nor useful. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 22:55, 24 April 2015 (UTC)
People will argue about it. People will cruse about Wikipedia changing any format for which their are national favorites to their favourite. Rules for how to choose seem to help with this problem. Jc3s5h (talk) 23:35, 24 April 2015 (UTC)
To say that a given rule is to be applied whenever there is a controversy encourages creation of controversy to get the rule applied. We certainly have plenty of editors unilaterally changing date formatting on the sole basis of DATETIES/DATERET, controversy or not. And note the discussion just above, where it is argued (12:39, 10 Apr) that DATETIES is superior to DATERET, and constrains the reversion of "bold" date format edits.
I think we should formulate a new principle: that MDY and DMY are BOTH acceptable (though articles should be consistent in using one or the other), that "national" or other contextual ties are a factor editors should consider, but is not a mandate, and may not be argued except where an existing split in discussion cannot be otherwise resolved. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:29, 25 April 2015 (UTC)
Not seeing a lot of support on this, JJ. I've been observing this area for a decade or so, and I think that where something works in Wikipedia, we shouldn't fix it. People can get seriously attached to trivia like this, and a slight change in wording can be the signal for some earnest editor to bot up thousands of articles to their preferred style before anyone notices.
I travel reasonably frequently, and while DMY is making some inroads into American usage, along with metrics, it isn't a real lot. MDY is probably doing better in the rest of the world than it used to be, mainly due to newspapers choosing to use US news services as feeds and not wanting to employ more people to correct formats. Actually, it's more MD format making headway - MDY doesn't necessarily follow, because when the year is included, there's a disconnect.
When the month is spelt out, either format is acceptable, in my view, and it then remains to minimise discomfort and conflict among editors, which is where WP:DATETIES comes in, and seems to be working reasonably well to reduce disruption. If we were to change that, I'd change it to conform with our usage for currencies and units of measurement. I can't see why we'd use Swiss Francs and metres in an article about Switzerland, but then use American date formats just because some American editor back in the mists of wikitime happened to use whatever they wanted. --Pete (talk) 17:01, 5 May 2015 (UTC)
If there already was a lot of support I wouldn't need to say anything, right? It is when something needs changing, or an idea is new, that support has to be built and mindsets re-oriented. I believe J. S. Mill said someting about all mass beliefs starting as an idea of a single individual. But getting there can be a bit of struggle. E.g.: shit (entropy) can roll down hill all by itself, but getting anything good to the top of a hill takes a lot of pushing.
You express a concern that "a slight change in wording can be the signal for some earnest editor to bot up thousands of articles". My overriding concern is that (except in very limited cases of obvious inconsistency or error) NO date formatting changes should be done unilaterally, and certainly not automatically, without some concurrence of the affected editors. As it is, we have quite a bit of disruption where (as we have been discussing) some editors are emboldened by DATETIES to make changes unilaterally, and then insist that their changes can't be reverted because DATETIES overrides DATERET. If the editors on some article agree (because of "strong ties", or any other reason) to a date format it does not matter what "some American editor back in the mists of wikitime happened to use". That some editors are over emboldened by DATETIES is a cause of disruption that we should fix. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 22:09, 5 May 2015 (UTC)
While I take your philosophical points, I think a fair bit of support for your position would have to be expressed here for a consensus to be perceived and a change implemented. As it stands, WP:DATETIES overrides WP:DATERET. Lao Tzu makes the point that finding the natural order of things is easy; water runs downhill and finds its natural course. It's when something unnatural is inserted - a dam, perhaps - that the natural flow is disturbed. --Pete (talk) 23:27, 5 May 2015 (UTC)
Wikipedia is like the water behind the dam: without standards, etc., it, too, would "naturally" go downhill. Where the standards are ill-formed there tends to be turbulence, even destructive cavitation.
The interpretation of DATETIES as a mandate, and as overriding even BRD, is a serious bit of cavitation. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:34, 9 May 2015 (UTC)
JJ, why do you think we have WP:DATETIES? --Pete (talk) 23:33, 9 May 2015 (UTC)
I believe the intent of having DATETIES is to break ties, to resolve matters where consensus has not been obtained. However, the all too frequent effect is (as I've said) to make ties, where DATETIES is taken (see discussion above) as superior to other principles, and even modifies BRD. On the basis of this interpretation some editors are assuming a right to unilaterally change date formatting. This creates conflict. ~ 23:53, 10 May 2015 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────I agree with:

In any case, I believe that the words "unless there are reasons for changing it based on strong national ties" mean, simply, that if "there are reasons for changing it based on strong national ties" (i.e., if DATETIES applies), then DATERET does not apply to counter it; otherwise. (This is all assuming, of course, that the editor is acting in good faith in asserting that DATETIES applies in the particular case.)

I think this is an entirely understandable and legitimate way to read it. In fact, I think it is the only way to read it, and you should not see users invoking DATETIES as "running rampant" unless there is an explicit "consensus on the article's talk page" to keep the existing date format. If it were otherwise, the exception would be in DATETIES instead—"Articles on topics with strong ties to a particular English-speaking country should generally use the more common date format for that nation, unless another date format has already been established in accordance with MOS:DATERET"—but it isn't. sroc 💬 07:20, 9 April 2015 (UTC)

I think sroc's reading is correct. Jc3s5h (talk) 20:30, 9 April 2015 (UTC)

Iknow23 (talk) 01:47, 11 May 2015 (UTC)

You probably meant to add your comment to the previous discussion. The topic here ws whether DMY format is now acceptable for the U.S. On the pragmatic basis of whether any confusion would ensue, DMY seems quite acceptable. But as your comment reminds us, we have a strong ideological commitment that DMY is not acceptable "for the U.S.", the underlying rationale being a supposed reduction in "disruption". ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 20:18, 16 May 2015 (UTC)


The guideline currently states:

"Integers greater than nine expressible in one or two words may be expressed either in numerals or in words".

Is the spirit of limiting this to one or two words designed to force editors to use numerals for two hundred and fifty and similar numbers? RO(talk) 21:49, 11 May 2015 (UTC)

I believe so. An exception would be if a product or something is specifically spelled out. Not to be a wise ass, but I believe the correct wording for your example is two hundred fifty, like if writing a check.Iknow23 (talk) 03:43, 12 May 2015 (UTC)
Perhaps this is one of many differences between US-UK-AUS English, but I was taught to write "two hundred and fifty". Dondervogel 2 (talk) 06:12, 12 May 2015 (UTC)
I generally spell out numbers up to ten (or at the start of sentences), which is supported by various Australian style guides:
Interestingly, CMOS has a different view: "In nontechnical contexts, Chicago advises spelling out whole numbers from zero through one hundred and certain round multiples of those numbers." sroc 💬 08:13, 12 May 2015 (UTC)

ist Ist 1st or ist Ist I ?[edit]

Closest statement to my question is Ordinals where it talks about Regnal numbers. Previous I've have changed a few instances like "John Ist" to "John 1st". I see now the section says that "John I" should *not* be changed to "John 1". Okay. But what about "Ist" to "1st"? Should I revert my last six changes?

Separately, searching for instances of "The Ist" I found article Alfred_Schlemm#Italy which has in consecutive sections

Ist Fallschirm-Korps (multiple)
IIIrd Fallschirm-Korps
1st Fallschirm-Armee (multiple)

Which style is correct, "Ist" or "1st"? Shenme (talk) 02:40, 14 May 2015 (UTC)

I would think that MOS:IDENTITY applies. What do reliable sources call these entities?
On a somewhat related note, where are you seeing "John Ist" or "John 1st"? Those don't look right and should probably be "John I". – Jonesey95 (talk) 03:27, 14 May 2015 (UTC)

Invitation to comment on VP proposal: Establish WT:MoS as the official site for style Q&A on Wikipedia[edit]

There is now a proposal at the Village Pump that WT:MoS be established as Wikipedia's official page for style Q&A. This would involve actively guiding editors with style questions to WT:MoS and away from other pages. Participation is welcome. Darkfrog24 (talk) 18:14, 14 May 2015 (UTC)

Calibers and spaces between numbers and "mm"[edit]

I have started a discussion over at WikiProject Firearms on how to properly designate cartridges and munitions (40mm versus 40 mm grenade, for example). I'd definitely appreciate some input. Faceless Enemy (talk) 14:22, 17 May 2015 (UTC)

"Eight tenths"and "4/5", not "point eight"[edit]

I don't see anywhere here which says that one must type either of the first two in the subject but not "point eight" as an example. Gamingforfun365 (talk) 01:06, 18 May 2015 (UTC)

In what article has this question arisen? EEng (talk) 01:17, 18 May 2015 (UTC)