Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style (dates and numbers)/Archive 114

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What we have here, is a “failure to communicate”

We need to get more editors on the same page. Whenever a bot is let loose, editors who haven’t participated in any of the discussions here (over the last two years) come here and don’t understand any of the technical issues. The first step is for every editor who is weighing in on the issue of date linking and autoformatting to be sure they understand the details of what is really going on with this technology. So…

They can now be directed to Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style (dates and numbers)/Why dates should not be linked. {now at Wikipedia:Manual of Style (dates and numbers)/Why dates should not be linked}

WP:Why dates should not be linked

By the way, if you agree with that essay, please help out to improve it. If you disagree with it, please make your own essay as to why date linking and autoformatting is a good idea.

Greg L (talk) 22:44, 26 October 2008 (UTC)

I agree with the overall conclusion, but not the strong ties to national topic reasoning. I wrote my own essay quite some time go about the flawed design process of date autoformatting. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 22:53, 26 October 2008 (UTC)
(Small suggestion: move the essay to the WP: space at the same name, so that it's talk page can be used to comment on it.) --MASEM 22:55, 26 October 2008 (UTC)
  • BTW, I can’t figure out how to get that page’s talk page going. All I did was douche the article in my attempt. Greg L (talk) 23:15, 26 October 2008 (UTC)
Fixed, if that's what you wanted. Garion96 (talk) 23:19, 26 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Thank you very much Garion96. That’s what we needed to implement Gerry’s objective. Happy editing. Greg L (talk) 00:06, 27 October 2008 (UTC)

Per WP:Wikipedia essays, the essay should be moved to your own personal space, since it expresses your personal views, rather than "consensus amongst the broad community of Wikipedia editors". The maligning of the date pages, in particular, does not represent WP policy. Jheald (talk) 23:25, 26 October 2008 (UTC)

  • No. If WP:Wikipedia essays really says that, then real practice ignores it so that article needs to be updated. Have you seen the WP:Drop the stick essay that has been used for a long time on Wikipedia? It is in article space. Further, that rule makes no sense at all and is schizophrenic in its logic and reasoning. An essay, by definition is:

…a page containing the advice or opinions of one or more Wikipedia contributors. Essays may represent widespread norms or minority viewpoints, and they may be heeded or not based upon your judgement and discretion.

There doesn’t have to be a “consensus” view to have an essay. That’s just absurd. That’s why they’re called “essays.” Furthermore, the point of the essay is to try to develop a consensus as there currently is a serious lack of it here.

Now, I could have put that essay in user space if I wanted to have it pretty much as I see fit. But I elected to put in into article space, and, as I stated in my above posting alert: “By the way, if you agree with that essay, please help out to improve it.” It is an essay for those who share the viewpoint the essay conveys. If you disagree, then, like I also said, make your own essay; the proper response to “bad speech” is “better speech.” And if you put your essay into your user space, it will be all yours. And if you put it into article space, it will be subject to revision by others.

And finally, the purpose of this essay is to educate editors who are new to this debate on the technical goings-on with date linking and autoformatting. It is more than some silly essay on how childish editors should stop acting like children. Greg L (talk) 23:50, 26 October 2008 (UTC)

P.S. After my knee-jerk reaction to your post, I actually read WP:Wikipedia essays. It itself, is an essay. Further, it is in article space. And finally, the essay in question largely conveys facts and points editors in certain directions in a “did you know this”-type fashion. To the extent that it conveys “opinion”, those opinions are shared by a sufficient number of other editors here on Talk:MOSNUM that it clearly falls under the article space of the MOSNUM family of articles. Double “no”. Greg L (talk) 00:27, 27 October 2008 (UTC)

    • I don't give a damn about autoformatting, one way or the other. Actually, it's probably a good thing if it no longer exists. But the trashing of date pages as "trivia articles" that "will only bore our readers" is completely out of order. I for one am very appreciative of the work that many many editors have put in creating and raising these pages to what they now are, and I do not think WP official space is an appropriate place to piss all over what they have done. Jheald (talk) 00:40, 27 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Stop exaggerating and get a grip on yourself. The date/trivia articles aren’t being “pissed on”, as you put it. The issue is not whether or not the trivia articles have socially redeeming value and should be available on Wikipedia. The issue is simply whether or not they are sufficiently germane and topical enough in articles to merit being routinely linked to in common uses like birth dates. It’s a legitimate discussion and there is an increasing consensus in the community is that they should not be linked to. That these articles are linked to via a method that also produces autoformatting that only registered editors can see and which often thoroughly screws up articles for normal I.P. users, makes this discussion quite important. Greg L (talk) 00:50, 27 October 2008 (UTC)
  • There is an RfC still open up-page which clearly shows no consensus at all to de-link birth dates and death dates. Characterising these pages as "trivia articles" is misleading, POV and offensive -- as is the whole tone of the last section which relates to them. Cut it, rewrite it, or userfy it - otherwise it goes up for XfD. Jheald (talk) 01:08, 27 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Earth calling Jheald. That’s the purpose of the essay: to work towards building a better consensus on all maters pertaining to date links. So… you want to make my speech—in an essay of all things—comply with your wishes (“Cut it, rewrite it”) or you will seek to have it censored. Wikipedia doesn’t work that way and the notion that some editor would even think that way truly disgusts me. Last time I checked, Wikipedia doesn’t operate the way Communist China tries to make the Internet work for their citizens. As I said before, the proper response to bad speech is better speech. Try reflecting on what that concept means. If you can’t abide by that simple principle, go cool off and come back when you’re in a better mood.

    So you consider my calling the trivia articles “trivia articles” to be “offensive” to you. OMG! Does the essay also threaten the harmony and social order of the collective? Guess what? Whether it’s in user space or article space, it takes up the same exact amount of hard drive space. The only difference is that in article space, it’s open for others to contribute to. And that’s exactly why it’s there. I created Sewer cover in front of Greg L’s house as an essay in my user space because it was a humorous thing and I wanted it written a certain way. The Why dates should not be linked is in article space so other editors like Tony, Ohconfucius, and Gerry Ashton can participate and make it better.

    Further, I moved it from WT:MOSNUM space to WP:MOSNUM space per Gerry Ashton’s Masem’s suggestion (see his 22:55, 26 October 2008 post) because he thought it would be better if there was an associated talk page where editors can discuss matters. Are you afraid like-minded editors will share ideas in a market place where ideas are shared? Or maybe, the essay will influence others and build a consensus that isn’t to your liking (*sound of audience gasp*). Or perhaps too, you fear having it in article space somehow ennobles it with an implied stature you’d prefer it not have? Because you disagree with the message and find it’s message “offensive”? You want it to go away or somehow be diminished. Your bias is clear. Your tactics here are beneath contempt. Go write your own essay or make better arguments here if you want to influence others’ thinking; that’s how others go about it. Greg L (talk) 02:27, 27 October 2008 (UTC)

  • Thank you Xenocidic. I’ve revised (again), my link notice above. Happy editing. Greg L (talk) 02:48, 27 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Actually, it was MASEM who suggested moving Greg L's essay so it would have a talk page, but due to the way his or her post was indented, it sort of merged into my post. It does not matter; I also thought the essay should have a talk page. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 03:26, 27 October 2008 (UTC)]
  • Ahhh. Now fixed. Thank you for your support, Gerry. Greg L (talk) 03:30, 27 October 2008 (UTC)
  • I'd be out of a job if all engineers could write as well as that. Thanks, Greg! Tony (talk) 10:54, 27 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Those few kind words made the effort (and the associated frustration) well worth it. I appreciate it. And, you’re welcome. 14:32, 27 October 2008 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Greg L (talkcontribs)

People should stop opposing delinking. It is minor and inconsequential.

People should stop opposing delinking. It is minor and inconsequential. Lets move on. Lightmouse (talk) 16:16, 25 October 2008 (UTC)

  • Indeed. Embracing just a 10% dose of Wikipedia:Don't-give-a-f*ckism helps me better deal with the goings-on here. That article is a reminder to observe the two golden rules of life: 1) Don’t sweat the small shit. 2) Everything is small shit. Greg L (talk) 18:09, 25 October 2008 (UTC)
Says you. I won't go in to why (there's already plenty of that elsewhere in the archives here and on this very page), but I disagree completely with date unlinking like this. To whomever had this idea: it was terrible and I fail to see the point in it. —Locke Coletc 19:27, 25 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Because sound technical writing practices dictates that links should be topical and germane to the article they’re in. They should anticipate what the readership visiting any given article would be interested in further exploring. The date articles that are linked to are nothing more than lists of randomly chosen trivia that rarely has a thing to do with what subject matter of an article. Too few readers actually bother to read them. If you don’t yet understand this point, try reading these dozen trivia articles, top to bottom, with no skimming: January 1, January 2, July 15, July 16, September 22, September 23, 1925, 1933, 1955, 1965, and 1987. No, seriously. Read all twelve. All of them. Tough, ain’t it? Come on… you didn’t read them. Go ahead… try.

    Furthermore, there were some stupid autoformatting going on where only registered editors could see *pretty* dates like 6 July 2005—the vast  majority of our readership (I.P. users) would see the raw date formats such as 2005-07-06. In other words, it was unwise to have done autoformatting and its associated linking in the first place. Greg L (talk) 20:14, 25 October 2008 (UTC)

    So instead of consistently formatted dates, now we have articles with a mish-mash of date formats (often times in the same paragraph and sometimes even the same sentence). How is this an improvement? Wouldn't it have made more sense to get the date format for IP users changed to something everyone could agree upon? Or better yet, if linking is really your primary concern, come up with a different syntax for date handling that allows dates to be autoformatted and yet remain unlinked. Instead a few people here have seemingly decided their way is the best way and made this a crusade. I really hope this reaches the ArbCom so those involved can be told that making wide sweeping changes without vast community consensus (especially changes which will be visible to our readership) should require the highest involvement of the community. —Locke Coletc 23:15, 25 October 2008 (UTC)
People here have tried for years to get the developers to implement non-linking date autoformatting, to no avail. The devs are either uninterested, or actively resistant. It is not going to happen. Setting a default date format for users who haven't set the preference would fix half of the problem, but would still leave ugly and stupid links scattered through all our articles. Better to rip out date links for now. If unlinked date formatting with a suitable default is implemented later, it will have a new syntax anyway so there is little to be gained by keeping the current broken date links in the meantime.--Srleffler (talk) 05:19, 26 October 2008 (UTC)

Um, no. Nothing that impacts large numbers of articles on Wikipedia is “minor and inconsequential” – least of all when it lacks consensus. The simple fact is that date autoformatting was deprecated, and with little opposition once the reasons for it were explained. Since DA is embedded in the link coding and editors cannot remedy that, the only way to remove DAs is to delink dates. The problem is that there has never been any consensus for “de-linking on sight” (or by bot) of linked dates in general, much less “years in XXXX”.

Deprecation”, by the way, means “no longer using, but leaving the extant coding in place” – not “removal with extreme prejudice”. I hate to say, “I told you so,” but as I pointed out in August, mass removal (by whatever means) of existing DAs would prove highly disruptive. Those who preferred to be rid of them ASAP wikiwide have pursued their agenda and reaped their due reward, so I have no sympathy for them regarding the tremendous amount of time they’re having to waste defending their position. I will note, though, that I proposed in that posting a far less disruptive approach, which remains a practical option, although it won’t achieve the “ASAP” removal that some here so dearly desire.

As for the “historical years”, again, there is no consensus for their removal at all; this isn’t a function of DA. Their removal is due entirely to the prejudice against this type of linking by some of the same folks, who feel that the product is unencyclopedic and useless. Whether one agrees or disagrees with this position, it is the sole reason for their being delinked at this time. The solution to the uproar over delinking DAs – and, separately, historical year linking – is, of course, to find a consensual path forward … not telling others to “just get over it”. After all, without consensus-seeking, it’s just as fair to proclaim, “People should stop delinking existing DAs. It is minor and inconsequential.”. Askari Mark (Talk) 20:31, 25 October 2008 (UTC)

  • Well said Askari Mark. So what do we do to clearly identify a consensus? If there was ever anything that is the subject of dispute, it is when one tries to identify when a proper and true “consensus” has been arrived at. I guarantee you, that some editor who is willing to don orange robes and set himself alight over this issue, will set the bar much higher than does the middle-of-the-road editors.

    Trying to settle upon any course of action on Wikipedia is damned tough because it has no elected representatives. Further, even if 50 editors weighed in here, any decision that lets a bot loose is guaranteed to result in editors coming here wondering why they weren’t consulted on the matter. As a result of this phenomenon, all decision making on Wikipedia tends to be neutered down. For example, it took three years to get Wikipedia to stop being all alone in its use of “256 kibibytes” of memory when everyone else inhabiting this pale blue dot uses and understands “256 kilobytes”. Three years. That was a Wikipedia:Use common sense sorta issue but change doesn’t come about easily here. Maybe it sometimes takes being WP:BOLD to get anything done. I truly don’t know what is the best tact to take here. Greg L (talk) 21:01, 25 October 2008 (UTC)

    IMHO, a change like this is worthy of notice in Mediawiki:Sitenotice for at least a week (preferably a month). You need lots of input, not just MoS regulars, for something like this. —Locke Coletc 23:19, 25 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Locke Cole, in response to your 23:15, 25 October post: Yes, it would have been better to have a simple set of rules governing the choice of date format to use in articles. I had proposed a simple one: Use Euro-style dates (6 September 2008) for most articles but use U.S.-style dates if the article is about or is closely associated with the U.S. (and a handful of U.S. territories that would have been listed). But I lost.

    As for a date format that works for I.P. users, we don’t have those parser functions available for use in templates. At least not yet.

    Note that I am an American. But I am also an R&D engineer and I have noooo problem looking at dates in either format. I’m all about writing to produce the least confusion for the greatest portion of our readership. So an article on Chicago should say “January 20, 1985” (which it does) whereas an article on International System of Units should say “1 August 1793” (which it doesn’t;  it uses American-style formatting and they’re all linked!). Don’t blame me. Greg L (talk) 00:13, 26 October 2008 (UTC)

    P.S. I have my date preferences turned to "none". Every editor should set theirs the same way, otherwise, we aren’t seeing what I.P. users see. Greg L (talk) 00:16, 26 October 2008 (UTC)

  • What makes me gobsmacked is why the order of month–day or day–month should matter to anyone. In all English-speaking countries, both are used (the US military, for example, uses day–month, Canada uses both, many newspapers elsewhere use US format despite the predominant use of international). Why do you care so much about it when you readily accept "colour/color" and "travelling/traveling"? It's a mystery. Those who moan on and on about the dispensing with date autoformatting seem to believe that it's quite OK for our readers to be exposed to both types of this binary system (just as for what is essentially our binary spelling system). Please take the emotion out and give that in-house indulgence a rest. We have much more important business to get on with. I ask all responsible editors here to assist in the task of removing date autoformatting. As for the linking of trivial date fragments, far better solutions to the provision of gateways into year pages et al. have been provided on this page. They should be embraced and the year-page crowd should spend its efforts improving woefully bad year-pages, not shoring up millions of unused pathways to those pages. Tony (talk) 01:26, 26 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Do you read English newspapers? Um ... please have a look. Tony (talk) 01:54, 26 October 2008 (UTC)
  • No, I don't read the papers, in most cases they are a waste of wood but I will take a special trip to the newsagent to see. If I want to know the date I go to the clock in the bottom right of my screen where Microsoft tells me it is currently 26 October 2008. I guess their 'regional' setting option is there for a reason. Nimbus (Cumulus nimbus floats by) 02:12, 26 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Actually only irresponsible editors would continue to delink dates while there's an obvious lack of consensus. Such editors should be taken to task for their behavior IMO, up to and including blocking for obvious and continued disruption and violations of WP:POINT. Continuing to remove date links only makes the situation all the more urgent for those opposed to such delinking and creates entirely unnecessary drama (especially considering that such date links are, essentially, harmless; the wiki has somehow managed to avoid collapse while having date links all these years, why the sudden urgency to remove them as fast as possible?). —Locke Coletc 09:02, 26 October 2008 (UTC)
  • And your sideline sniping at people who actively work to improve WP is not irresponsible? Let me think about that for a moment. You should be ashamed of yourself, calling for the blocking of those who shoulder the work (unlike you); your view of the situation appears to be based on utter ignorance of the long long debate that has gone on here and ended in consensus in August. You're a Johnny-come-lately, perhaps, who's upset at having missed the debate—sorry, but that's just too bad. Maybe you'd like to bone up on the four information and consensus pages linked to at the bottom of this page. Tony (talk) 00:42, 27 October 2008 (UTC)

[Unindent] Greg, I believe we do have consensus on deprecating DA – or perhaps more accurately, further use of DA (not its removal). Rarely have I seen as many editors come to MOSNUM (or any other policy/guideline talk page) originally in opposition and change their mind once the issue was clearly explained to them. Normally, opinions are locked in and loaded, the trenches grow fuller, and the bombardments more intensive. It’s quite understandable that editors would like to be able to read articles in their preferred format, but the argument that it leaves a mess for non-editors – those whom we write here for – was pretty cinching. I think most editors who were involved in the debates appreciate (or came to appreciate) that it would be preferable for something to be written by the developers to enable this without the use of links. There were several threads posted about this issue in the VPP and I know the members of the more active WPs were aware of it, so I think it’s fair to say that there is consensus for the deprecation of DA.

The problem now being encountered is the one I foretold would happen. First, DA is intimately tied to wikilinking. It’s all well and good to say wikilink only where necessary and useful, but there’s a broad range of opinion on what “necessary and useful” really means; wanton – and particularly semi-/fully automatic removal of links – tramples on these viewpoints indiscriminately and most particularly affronts those who didn’t participate in the discussions because, well, they rarely or never do until something impacts them directly. Each one then demands an accounting and explanation/cajoling/convincing, which even the most ardent advocate of delinking dates has no doubt wearied of by now. In effect, these “delinking activists” have decided to “be bold”, forgetting that that approach works best on the small scale of an individual article, but not on the larger scale of a wikicommunity.

To get past this brouhaha, I think what should be done is something along the lines of what I proposed in August. To wit, pursue the broadest consensus on what to do about delinking DAs; I think Locke Cole’s suggestion that it be advertised via Mediawiki:Sitenotice is excellent advice since it wraps it all up in one intense episode and then we can all get back to using a larger portion of our wikitime in constructive editing. (However, here I would insist that “year in XXXX” be explicitly excluded, for the reasons I outlined to Nimbus above.) This proposal should first describe the consensus for deprecating continued use of DAs and why it was justified (telling the story one more time instead of hundreds of times), and offer two options for community comment approval: a) active removal of existing date links by manual, semi- or fully automated means; or b) permit the editors to decide on the fate of these links on the articles they are active in on the respective talk pages. (Of course, if one of these editors wants to be bold on that particular article, they can, but if protested must then abide by the talk page result.) Is this latter option quick and efficient? No, not at all. But what it does take into account is the variable range of tolerance for change among people in general, and the distaste by the majority for diktats by “outside experts” that meddle in their workspace. I think you’ll find that most of these “involved editors” will opt for removal, albeit not as fast as others would like; the advantage is that these editors will then “own” the decision as much as those who have already wrestled it into existence here at MOSNUM.

As for Tony’s wistful cry for a standard date format, … something about “If wishes were horses…” goes here. Choosing one over the other means selecting a winner and a loser … and, naturally, as in locking pages being edit-warred over, the winner will be the “wrong one”. As for myself, I’d settle for all the formats being consistent within each article. That would be major progress over what we have now. Askari Mark (Talk) 03:41, 26 October 2008 (UTC)

Which "Tony" is this? I think you'd better strike out your accusation, which is in total opposition to my view. "wanton – and particularly semi-/fully automatic removal of links – tramples on these viewpoints indiscriminately and most particularly affronts those who didn’t participate in the discussions"—you make it sound like having lewd, animalistic sex on a busy street; but this is more like hard work, requiring the exercise of fine judgements in some cases as to which format is most appropriate. The simple rebuttal is that from many thousands of date audits, only a handle of editors have complained, and most of them have been easily won over when it's explained. There's one of those on my talk page from a few days ago. You appear to be overstating the opposition, which, to my eyes, is coming mostly from IT-trained editors, who tend not to balance functionality over disadvantage in the way that normal people do. That accounts for the concentration of loud complainants and the silent agreement/support by the vast majority of users (let alone readers). Tony (talk) 08:58, 26 October 2008 (UTC)
Tony, I’m sorry you mistakenly took my “wistful” note as an insult; actually, I was agreeing with you. I’m completely comfortable with the international format and have always preferred it. However, on Wikipedia, it’s not what I want – or what you want – but rather what the community wants. Askari Mark (Talk) 22:11, 26 October 2008 (UTC)
Hear hear. If more participants here took such a reasonable approach, I would be more willing to discuss the issue. What I will note is that a blue-linked date doesn't really detract from the article, since there is no chance of the reader being fooled into thinking that the link is relevant to anything but the date itself. I'd also note that article-consistent date formats are double-plus-good, regardless of the status of DA itself, and year linking should be subject to editorial discretion, especially for historical years. Franamax (talk) 04:21, 26 October 2008 (UTC)
Franamax, if you'd engaged with the long debates about the matter, you'd be better informed as to the disadvantages of DA. Tony (talk) 08:58, 26 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Thank you Askari Mark, for your careful analysis of the current situation we find ourselves in. I think your above observations best sum up the views “middle-of-the-road” editors who have seen all the evidence. Maybe you and Tony can suggest at a way to move forward. Greg L (talk) 04:55, 26 October 2008 (UTC)
  • I think Askari already provided a reasonable suggestion of the way forward: advertise on the site notice before continuing with date delinking. Get widespread community support, then go to work on this (massive) undertaking. Specifically, we should decide on a few options, create a poll, and advertise that on the site notice (or alternately the watchlist notice). I see the options as really being: 1) Deprecate linked dates (with the understanding that removal will be gradual, done during the course of regular editing, not via bots). 2) Eliminate/forbid linked dates (this is (1), but with approval for bots to remove the links immediately). 3) Deprecate linked dates and request that the developers provide a method for formatting dates using some alternate wiki markup/syntax (presumably if this got enough support from the community the devs might feel compelled to make this a priority). 4) Maintain the original status quo, allow linked dates, etc. If there's additional options, feel free to list them (or your modifications). Once we have a list of options we can move forward with a wider community poll/discussion. —Locke Coletc 09:02, 26 October 2008 (UTC)
  • A key thing to remember is that there is a trick or two that we can link to full dates without invoking date autoformatting - it would require a bot assistance. Just as the DA implemenetation by mediawiki is convolutes linking and date autoformatting, the arguments on this issue are also convoluted, and sometimes the fact that we can separate the two issues (the dissadvangates of non-reg/non-pref users for DA, and the overlinking due to dates) needs to be stated as well as another option. --MASEM 09:12, 26 October 2008 (UTC)

Um, the reluctance of people to go down that path just might have to do with their feeling that the issue has been discussed to death on this page over the past two years, and resolved. You're flogging a dead horse. Tony (talk) 09:09, 26 October 2008 (UTC)

I don't see anyone else who read the discussion saying it was resolved. And I don't see an explicit consensus, except for date autoformating. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 09:46, 26 October 2008 (UTC)

Date delinking is by definition, minor and inconsequential, it makes no sense to object to such edits. Lightmouse (talk) 10:28, 26 October 2008 (UTC)

OK, I'll bite. If date delinking is, indeed, "minor and inconsequential", it makes no sense to object to such links. — Bellhalla (talk) 12:49, 26 October 2008 (UTC)

er ... Lightmouse is quoting an administrator who recently berated him/her for making "extremely minor, inconsequential edits" (ie date-unlinking edits). Sssoul (talk) 12:56, 26 October 2008 (UTC)

Yup, and it seems like an abuse of admin tools, frankly. The reasons provided are thin and contradictory, and the users involved have seemed to pop up out of nowhere. It's really odd. Tony (talk) 15:02, 26 October 2008 (UTC)

I don't know why some editors who are still discussing this issue, and doing so as if it were a major step back. This debate is not only going round in circles, but I object to editors who are starting 'name-calling'. Specifically, I take issue with "only irresponsible editors would continue to delink dates while there's an obvious lack of consensus. Such editors should be taken to task" – are delinking editors really being irresponsible or just being bold? I defy anyone to to defend why the tons of date links in each article in this category should not be de-linked forthwith. It would be blindingly obvious to all, except those not possessed of it among us, that it's just applying a tiny dose of common sense. Before DA was deprecated, the MOS already said that dates should be linked to only if it enhances the understanding of the article. So even before deprecation, there was little reason for these links to exist. Now that DA nonsense is gone, I say good riddance to these links. Ohconfucius (talk) 14:18, 26 October 2008 (UTC)

Yes, the following editors say that date delinking is minor and inconsequential

  • Martinp23
  • Tombomp
  • xeno

Lightmouse (talk) 17:08, 26 October 2008 (UTC)

I don't really have a solid position on whether or not it should be done - what I know is that delinking dates is minor and inconsequential and should not be the sole purpose of your AWB edits. Don't conflate an AWB misuse issue with a MOSNUM debate. The shaky consensus of delinking dates is another matter altogether, and a can of worms I have no desire to eat from. –xeno (talk) 17:58, 26 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Agree, by Greg L. Minor an inconsequential. I think (my opinion; don’t shoot me) that Wikipedians’ reaction has more to do with the perceived insult of “trespassing” where uninvited. De-linking improves Wikipedia for regular I.P. readers and increases the value of the remaining links. Greg L (talk) 18:01, 26 October 2008 (UTC)
    Not really.
    • Delinking makes very little difference to IP readers, since they don't run into the problems that autoformatting produces; it would be a relatively minor benefit to them to make date formats uniform within an article, but this can be done without delinking, and delinking will not produce uniformity - it will merely expose inconsistency.
    • One thing that this long discussion has made clear is that there is no consensus on which date links have value. Tony thinks none do; I value a minority; some editors think almost every year link has value as context. In the absence of consensus, we should, as often, leave well enough alone.
    How about it? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:15, 26 October 2008 (UTC)

Lightmouse should stop insisting on delinking. It is minor and inconsequential.

Delinking dates is not the sole purpose of my edits. Lets all be clear, linking of dates was implemented without consensus and was a big mistake. It is only now that delinking is accepted that we are cleaning up the mess on Wikipedia. Not one pro-linking editor has told me that they run a bot to clean up the many easily fixable but common date errors such as [[December 12|12 December]] and [[12 December]] [[1995 in aviation]]. Not one. All talk about how great date linking is, no action to make it work. Lightmouse (talk) 18:22, 26 October 2008 (UTC)

We are not interested in motive; we are not ArbCom. But this is an unfortunate combination of falsehoods: linking of dates and autoformatting was indeed accepted by consensus as a technical fix to a behavioral problem. It was, I agree, the wrong solution; it would have been better to have treated it as we have since treated spelling differences: by agreeing to differ.
The road forward now, however, is not another technical fix, imposed while ignoring the functions of linking in individual articles. It is a behavioral solution: again, leave well enough alone, and talk to editors on talk pages, and see if you can persuade them to delink. We have the arguments for that; if WP:Autoformatting does not persuade editors to delink, we should again agree to differ.
It is bad practice to treat everything as a nail because you happen to have a hammer. It is the same bad practice to run a bot because you can. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:34, 26 October 2008 (UTC)
And it's good practice to hammer in nails when it makes a product. I'm sure Lightmouse has no intention of pursuing your ridulous demand that editors at each article be "persuaded" to delink: they don't own the article (nor does Lightmouse, but he at least is improving a major fault in our articles). Tony (talk) 00:38, 27 October 2008 (UTC)
Tony may well be right that Lightmouse has no intention of accomplishing his ends by gathering consensus at the various pages. This would be regrettable, and would suggest recourse to dispute resolution.
But this is not a major flaw; indeed, in many articles linked dates are harmless: they have none of the flaws of WP:Autoformatting lists. All that needs is an article with one or two dates, after 1752, in positions (like the birth-death list in the lead) where the inconsistency between British and American formats on final punctuation does not arise. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 15:05, 27 October 2008 (UTC)

Please give a reference to the consensus for linking. Lightmouse (talk) 18:37, 26 October 2008 (UTC)

It was proposed, and immediately accepted, by Tim Starling in 2003; see archive 6 of this page. It was still consensus in April 2007 (sufficiently so that no-one, in a long discussion on dates and how they should be linked, suggested that it might be changed); see Archive D4. That's more consensus than any poll is ever likely to be. Consensus has changed since. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:13, 26 October 2008 (UTC)
O come now, that's the least convincing case I've heard for this C-word. Tony (talk) 00:22, 27 October 2008 (UTC)
Why thank you; that is to say that a rule which has been on a guideline page for four years and was demonstrably non-controversial during that period was never consensus. Will you hold to that postion the next time some of the hare-brained notions that infest MOS are challenged by a mere speaker of English? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 14:52, 27 October 2008 (UTC)

Just to add a voice to the debate: Because of the serious problems with linked/autoformatted dates, I feel that full linked dates should be delinked on sight. The best option is to do so with a bot that is set up to make all dates in an article use a consistent format. Linked years before 1900 should probably be reviewed by a human. The vast majority of them are linked in error, but in rare cases it may be beneficial to put an article's topic into historical context.--Srleffler (talk) 03:01, 27 October 2008 (UTC)

What serious problem are you speaking of? And why is unlinking the dates and removing the autoformatting as it currently exists the better choice when there are other ways forward? —Locke Coletc 05:26, 27 October 2008 (UTC)
Please make a proposal; we could use one. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 14:53, 27 October 2008 (UTC)
Proposal made below, please chime in if you have anything else. =) —Locke Coletc 02:26, 30 October 2008 (UTC)
The problems with linked dates have been well discussed here and elsewhere. If you're participating in this discussion you should really already know what they are. The worst problem in my opinion is that they have caused date formatting for readers to be inconsistent, by obscuring the true date format from the editors who would otherwise be likely to fix format problems. Delinking dates is a first step to beginning to clean up the mess. Editors won't fix what they can't see. Almost as bad is the fact that linked dates clutter articles with worthless links such as March 20 and 2008. Links to dates without years, and to year articles are almost never appropriate, especially for years in the 20th century and later. If you want to propose another way forward, great, but be aware that ways forward that involve getting the developers to change the software have not proven successful.--Srleffler (talk) 16:40, 27 October 2008 (UTC)
Wouldn't a better fix be to make date formatting work for non-logged in users (IP editors)? I'd agree that the links themselves aren't quite so important (though I prefer to have SOME dates linked, just not ALL dates linked), but the formatting is something we should work on getting fixed and kept. —Locke Coletc 02:26, 30 October 2008 (UTC)

Help with terminology

Can anyone explain to me whether something can be simultaneously:

  • minor and inconsequential
  • controversial
  • too important to build into 'general fixes' of AWB

It seems to me that people are mangling the english language by saying that date delinking fulfils all three bullets. Lightmouse (talk) 12:46, 27 October 2008 (UTC)

As I've said to you above, you need to stop conflating an MOS debate with an AWB misuse issue. Suggestions on how to properly work in these minor/inconsequential delinking edits have been given on your talk page - simply ensure that you enable RegEx typo fixing and skip when no typo is fixed. This also means you actually have to check every edit, which provides the added benefit of lowering your false positive rate. As to why delinking can't be built into general fixes: because there is no way for AWB to tell when a date link is provided for context vs. when it was provided for autoformatting. –xeno (talk) 12:51, 27 October 2008 (UTC)
If I understand much of the previous commentary, the explanation you seek lies within context and scope. Few would argue that the removal of date links in any given article is not "minor and inconsequential", while the act of doing so on a broader scope can very well be "important and controversial". By way of an illustrative example : cutting down any given tree in a forest is minor and inconsequential, but cutting down every tree in the forest is important and controversial. I cannot speak to the AWB issue directly (I have never used AWB and have no experience with it) but it is fairly clear that even the most minor sort of edit becomes a big deal when it is performed many thousands of times. Shereth 13:56, 27 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Are you implying that DA and date-linking is like the trees in a forest? If so, I believe you and I are on completely different planets, so th speak. For me, one date-linked page is like one plastic bottle left to litter a beautiful beach. We should pick up and dispose of all the plastic bottles, and restore the beauty of our beach. Cleaning up is important and should not be controversial at all. Ohconfucius (talk) 15:21, 27 October 2008 (UTC)
  • LM asked for an example where something could be considered "inconsequential" yet "important" at the same time; I provided one. Your example serves equally well. I am neither advocating nor opposing the delinking of dates. I am merely interested in seeing a solution develop out of community consensus rather than a few interested editors, given the scope of the work being proposed. Cleaning up is important and should not be controversial, but it has generated controversy nonetheless and the question of whether or not this is beneficial cleanup of litter or harmful razing of trees is one the community should answer. Shereth 15:26, 27 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Thanks for the clarification. Ohconfucius (talk) 16:08, 27 October 2008 (UTC)

No. The whole purpose of AWB is that it allows many small edits to be made. The 'minor and inconsequential' rule serves to avoid server burden for edits that are hardly noticeable, such as removing double spaces. It was not put in place to permit those with coercive power to censor pro-MOS edits that they don't want done. You suggest that autoformatting links are trees in a forest, well, the MOS says those trees need chopping down. You can't have an MOS that can't be implemented. Lightmouse (talk) 14:19, 27 October 2008 (UTC)

the MOS says those trees need chopping down. No, it doesn't; this is not The Most Important Thing. The marginal benefits involved in removing many (not all) date-links do not justify thoughtless and uncivil mass editing; the equivalent of a forest-fire. If someone is editing an article anyway, I would encourage xim to trim overlinking while xe are about it, and that is what is this guideline is supposed to produce. No more; that's why it's a guideline. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 14:47, 27 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Then how about thoughtful and civil mass delinking? By my reckoning, lists are responsible for more than 50% of the date links within wikipedia. By selectively culling date links in articles like I have done in Category:Lists of television series episodes, I believe I am are carefully, selectively, thoughtfully clearing the dead wood so that trees may be seen and appreciated for their true beauty. BTW, these hundreds of edits I have now performed have caused no more than 2 editors to complain, and only about the wrong destination date format - pretty trivial, if you ask me. Ohconfucius (talk) 02:17, 29 October 2008 (UTC)
Date links themselves are of marginal and rare benefit. At least some classes of date links are suitable for mass-removal with little human oversight. Links such as March 20, and links to years since 1900 are almost entirely inappropriate. Cases where those links would be justified are so exceedingly rare that I doubt they justify the great increase in effort required to do manual link removal rather than automating it.--Srleffler (talk) 17:22, 28 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Real guidelines express what any random dozen Wikipedians may be expected to say on a given issue. They exist because the majority of the dozen will need to explain themselves to the dissentient minority and the newbies, and they are tired of repeating themselves; so the majority bungs down what they agree on in Wikipedia space, and work on making it clearer over time. Therefore they don't need "enforcement", much less an enforcer; the real rule rests in the general consensus, and another random dozen Wikipedians will support it when necessary. The phrasing in Wikipedia space is an approximation of this, stuck together with Scotch tape and piano wire; just as WP:PRO says.
  • What rule about date linking has that degree of support is unclear; the stream of complaints out of the wordwork casts doubt that any statement short of not too many links would. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 01:05, 28 October 2008 (UTC)
  • And how long, exactly, is a piece of string? Your prescription is far too vague to be of use in a guideline. If the above approach is adopted, we enter into a very subjective realm with little or no clarity. I don't think anybody is suggesting banning all links to date/year articles any more. I believe most people seem to accept that some small number of date/year links may be valid in certain biographical and historical articles, and it has been actively proposed that these dates should be piped or displayed differently. We need not get into circuitous debate if we can just agree on that. The reason no-body has come up with a 'how', yet appears to be because most who favour retaining some sort of linking are resistant to anything but a direct wiki-link to the date and year article, without piping and without the use of templates. This is not about scotch tape any more... Ohconfucius (talk) 02:37, 28 October 2008 (UTC)
    • If there is no consensus on a clear line, we must be vague - or, what is often preferable, say nothing. Doing otherwise involves both bullying and scotch tape; some editors may prefer that, but I don't. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 02:52, 28 October 2008 (UTC)
    • Vague is as good as useless. You seem to be implying that the existence of rules equates to bullying. I see a consensus, but with isolated pockets of resistance. Having clear rules in such a context cannot be considered bullying, surely. Ohconfucius (talk) 02:56, 28 October 2008 (UTC)
      • Vague is as good as useless. Not among civilized editors, who can take a hint. But that is the case for silence. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 03:15, 28 October 2008 (UTC)
If there is no consensus - and in the sense I have outlined there is none here - then any definite rule will be opposed by many editors. A rule so opposed cannot be imposed without bullying. I have said no more. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 03:10, 28 October 2008 (UTC)

Val and delimitnum.

I've improved {{delimitnum}} a bit. It now supports the most numbers it can and a lot more leading 0s. See [1] for details. It is still subject to the rounding problems and ending 0s however.Headbomb {ταλκWP Physics: PotW} 18:16, 29 October 2008 (UTC)

  • Thank you very much Headbomb. I’ve got a stupefyingly huge proof page here at User:Greg L/Delimitnum sandbox. Due to the maddening math-based technique we have to resort to, this sandbox throws a variety of mathematical challenges at {{delimitnum}}.

    The long-term solution is to induce a charitable developer to give us a half-hour of his time and give us a character-counting parser function. Then people like you and SkyLined could go ape-shit and make these templates bug-free with a quarter of the effort. Do you know any such developer whom I can throw myself at his feet as he sits on his programmer’s throne in judgement of my non-programmer’s soul? Greg L (talk) 01:18, 30 October 2008 (UTC)

Greg, if I knew where to go, this thing would've been settled a long while ago. Well a long while ago being somewhere between now and March 2008 'cause I didn't know anything about template and template writing back in March. Well I still don't know that much about them, but you don't need to know a lot to write templates. Headbomb {ταλκκοντριβςWP Physics} 04:35, 30 October 2008 (UTC)
  • All I have to do is write some Excel macros now and then to remind myself that my strong suite isn’t programming. Greg L (talk) 06:45, 30 October 2008 (UTC)

Proposal to strengthen the watery proscription of year–month–day numerical dates

A user has brought to my attention this little mess, in which the numerical dates (1) jostle with the numerical publication numbers, (2) are probably not comprehensible by most of our readers (is "1943-09-08" September 8 or August 9? It's made harder by the non-linear US medium–small–large date format (month–day–year) as a reference point for many readers.), and (3) are inconsistent with the US format used elsewhere in the main text.

Currently, MOSNUM says this:

YYYY-MM-DD style dates (1976-05-31) are uncommon in English prose, and are generally not used in Wikipedia. However, they may be useful in long lists and tables for conciseness and ease of comparison. Because some perceive dates in that style to be in conformance with the current ISO 8601 standard, that format should never be used for a date that is not in the (proleptic) Gregorian calendar, nor for any year outside the range 1583 through 9999.

What the hell is "ease of comparison"? No one has ever explained that bit.

I propose that this be strengthened thus:

YYYY-MM-DD style dates Wholly numerical dates such as "1976-05-31" are uncommon in English prose, and are generally not used in Wikipedia the main text of Wikipedia articles. However, they may be useful in long lists and tables for conciseness and ease of comparison. Because some perceive dates in that style to be in conformance with the current ISO 8601 standard, that format should never be used for a date that is not in the (proleptic) Gregorian calendar, nor for any year outside the range 1583 through 9999. In tables in which there is a shortage of space, three-character abbreviations of the months may be used in the order that is consistent with the prevailing date format in the main text (e.g., "Aug. 5, 1961" or "5 Aug. 1961").

I'd rather ban them in all tables, but that might be going too far. Tony (talk) 02:17, 27 October 2008 (UTC)

I see no reason to use them in tables when it seems to be ok to use "12 Nov 2008" or "Nov. 12, 2008" which is exactly one or two characters longer than "2008-11-12" but reads much easier. ISO should only be used in references and that until we work out how to replace DA. --MASEM 02:24, 27 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Agree with Tony. Greg L (talk) 02:29, 27 October 2008 (UTC)


Your rewrite of the ISO 8601 part, in my view, changes the meaning. Before, the date 1582-10-14 was totally unacceptable for any purpose and could be changed on sight, because it is in the YYYY-MM-DD format and the year was less than 1583. The new statement says the ISO 8601 standard should never be used for years outside the 1583-9999, so it might be ok to use the format so long as it was not accompanied by a statement that it conforms to the ISO 8601 standard. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 02:29, 27 October 2008 (UTC)
The "ease of comparison" bit is straightforward and should be retained. Basically, the yyyy-mm-dd sequence is hierarchical, inspectable and sortable. It's more easy to see that 04 comes before 05 than to see that Apr comes before May. Franamax (talk) 03:53, 27 October 2008 (UTC)
The "sort" template deals with this. eg sort|2008-11-12|Nov. 12, 2008. --MASEM 04:07, 27 October 2008 (UTC)
The documentation for the sort template is horrible, and in my book, a template is no better than its documentation. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 04:14, 27 October 2008 (UTC)
It's pretty straight forward: two parameters, first is the sort key, second is the displayed text. It basically expands to a bit of display:none CSS for the sort key. The template doc can be fixed but I've used the sort template with iso dates as the sortkey but normal dates for songs (see, for example List of songs in Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock) --MASEM 04:18, 27 October 2008 (UTC)
Masem, I've checked that article and I find no instances of {{sort}} - perhaps you subst'd the instances? I do see the sort technique though (rather clunky) and I see another template now {{dts}}, so that's good to know.
More worryingly, even though I figured there was a way and I'm somewhat used to the wiki-hunt, how was I supposed to know about those templates? I naturally checked at Help:Table, which leads to Help:Sorting and both are Meta pages and seem to contain no links to the en:wiki sorting templates. So not only is the template docs not so good, I can't even find a way to get where I'm supposed to be confused! Asking the average editor to figure all this stuff out whilst forbidding the simple yyyy-mm-dd format so they can get their table to work at all just seems a bit much. I dunno, was there some obvious clue I should have picked up on? I'm not that swift sometimes... Franamax (talk) 05:30, 27 October 2008 (UTC)
That's a notable, but fixable problem, if we decide to completely rid ourselves of ISO-type dates in the article body; both sort (which is general purpose for any sortable key, so those lists use for "the"-less sorting, the dates as given are effective what it would expand out to) and dts help achieve this for the only place where ISO dates (outside of the ISO date article itself) are left being used. These do need to be discused in at least the help for sortable tables, but that's easily fixed. --MASEM 05:43, 27 October 2008 (UTC)
It's time to call this hyperbole that's been repeated here way too many times. The assertion that YYYY-MM-DD formated dates such as 1943-09-08 "are probably not comprehensible by most of our readers" is unreferenced, weasel worded, and just plain insulting to the reader's intelligence. Can anyone furnish reliable sources that show that "most" of any group similar to the users of the English WP: (Internet-using, English-literate, and globally distributed) have problems understanding that numbers are normally written most significant digit first? LeadSongDog (talk) 04:43, 27 October 2008 (UTC)
I personally have no problem at all, when I see a leading year, I switch over to hierarchical mode, so I would read the above as Sep. 8, 1943. However, I'm Canadian, so I'm used to seeing multiple date formats, maybe that's not a universal experience? Certainly 02/03/04 can be ambiguous, but to me the leading four-digit year in dashed YMD notation is not confusing. (And *ahem*, that's where linked day articles can make things very clear - but I digress :) Franamax (talk) 05:02, 27 October 2008 (UTC)
  • It’s not that they can’t be understood. They’re just not normally written that way so they are less intuitive and takes more effort to read. People read by looking at words. That’s why “July 4, 2001” is much easier for Americans than parsing out 2001-07-04. The latter is ugly to boot. What Tony proposed is simple common sense. Greg L (talk) 04:54, 27 October 2008 (UTC)
  • I think we need to sort out date autoformatting before we start banning certain date formats entirely as seems to be the proposal here. Strongest possible oppose to this proposal. —Locke Coletc 04:59, 27 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Now that we're down the road of more than one acceptable date format (Int and Amer), I'm going to start pushing for yyyy-mm-dd format for all China-related articles. No more Mr Nice Guy ;-) Ohconfucius (talk) 07:46, 27 October 2008 (UTC)

I don't know how you could get anything but 8 June 2004 out of 2004-06-08: for those used to month-day-year, the year is just moved in front and the rest is as usual; for those used to the logic of little to big, this is just as logical only in reverse. But I can't speak for everyone on this. The point is though that this format is uncommon in English ... how they do it in Chinese doesn't matter since this is the English WP. ISO dates serve no purpose here on WP. There are templates to deal with sorting (if they are unfindable, make them findable) and there are three-letter abbreviations to save space. I strongly support Tony's proposal—in fact I'd be happy to make it an all-out ban. JIMp talk·cont 09:08, 27 October 2008 (UTC)

Rejoinders from Tony:

  • Gerry, I was going to ask you to suggest a rewording of the last sentence in the proposal, given your note above; but other suggestions here may have superseded that. Are you in agreement with the reworded proposal?
  • I'm an experienced reader/editor, but I still have to dwell on these numerical dates to mouth out in words the month and the day. I guess it's confusing that throughout the English-speaking world we use both month–day and day–month order, which is just fine when the month is spelled out. But as Americans who travel to the UK or Australia soon discover, 2/5/08 means May 2, 2008, not February 5, 2008. It's just asking for trouble on an international site not to spell out the month. We need dates to be simple and explicit on WP. This numerical gobbledygook should be flushed down the pan for the sake of our readers.
  • I see much to commend Masem's point that a three-character abbreviation of month is just fine for saving space in tables. I'm going to be bold and change the proposal to this effect.
  • Franamax, I don't see why "04" and "05" has any advantage over "Apr" and "May", since every English-speaker is adept with the sequence of months (as with the days of the week). The problem is readily identifying which of the digits is the month and not the day (emphasis on readily—we can all stare at it like a chess puzzle and work it out, but I suspect many of our readers simply glaze over when they see dates that look like telephone numbers.
  • Locke Cole, this is quite a separate issue from DA, of course. Tony (talk) 10:24, 27 October 2008 (UTC).

Please compare these three examples of lists starting with dates, from the "mess" I linked to at the top of this section. Feel free to comment below. Tony (talk) 10:47, 27 October 2008 (UTC)

Example A: numerical dates:

Example B: dates with abbreviated months:

Example C: full dates in a standard WP format:


Comment—Yes, the numericals in A are the neatest visually and are compact, but the abbreviated version is almost as neat and compact. These examples do show the full dates in C in the poorest possible light, and I think they work best in most contexts. But a bit of deft formatting can improve their look—I'd be inclined to put the full dates last, in parentheses, like this:

After all, the names of the Acts are what should come first—they're a much better point of departure than the exact date of passage. Tony (talk) 10:47, 27 October 2008 (UTC)

Tony, I don't necessarily disagree with any of your above, except the bit about the chess puzzle. YYYY-MM-DD is really not all that puzzling. In fact, here in Canada at least, where we're headed to one-day financial clearing, cheques now have that same format (sans dashes) Image:CanadianChequeSample.png. Now it's true that Americans still measure in cubits, but I don't see a huge stretch to accomodate three rather than two date formats, namely "dd Mon yyyy", "Mon dd, yyyy" and "yyyy-mm-dd" (and expansion of "Mon" to "Month", since someone will always want September 11, 1918 rather than 11 Sep 1918). The YMD usage should be discouraged in articles, but not forbidden in tables where it can be used to good effect and by it's own context in the column solve the chess puzzle anyway. Franamax (talk) 10:58, 27 October 2008 (UTC)
And my pick for conciseness and readability, unfortunately, is your first set of examples. :( Franamax (talk) 10:58, 27 October 2008 (UTC)
I'm not sure how many e/c's I've fallen behind now - anyway, look at your Example A: there's a good temporal layout which is intuitive and obvious for any reader, by the very nature of the progression of dates. Of course, this would only be applicable when the editor wished to demonstrate a temporal progression of events, but I think example A makes that progression most easily clear. Franamax (talk) 11:06, 27 October 2008 (UTC)
Not intuitive for every reader, experto crede; and B and C are less clear only for those readers who have trouble with the months of the year. This is not the Simple English Wikipedia. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 16:11, 27 October 2008 (UTC)
Of course it's not a separate issue from date auto formatting, because if DA worked as expected for all users (logged in or not) then the matter of what date format to allow/disallow within articles would be a moot point. So please get back to helping resolve DA rather than plowing ahead with other changes. —Locke Coletc 13:25, 27 October 2008 (UTC)

I oppose a ban on ISO compliance within Wikipdedia. It seems to me that Wikipedia and international standards should be friends by default, not enemies. I will support a ban on using ISO format for non-ISO dates (the Gregorian problem referred to by Gerry Ashton). As much as I respect Tony on many issues, I think he is wrong to ban them. I wonder what the citation people think. I think MOS guidance should have a 'clear and present problem' test and this would fail such a test, I think. Lightmouse (talk) 13:19, 27 October 2008 (UTC)

  • I like option B. It’s very human-friendly, and it’s compact enough for this backwater use. To me, it is a superior trade off. I haven’t thoroughly looked over the ISO standard, but I’m quite sure they weren’t suggesting that all-numeric dates should be the preferred way for dates to be written out for humans to read in body text. I’m confident the point of the standard was to bring order (standardization) to those instances where all-numeric dates are normally used. You see all-numeric dates in computer databases, on blue prints (technical drawings), tables of data, etc. I’ve seen some editors get awfully enamored with ISO dates and defend them for use in body-text like “after the 1941-12-07 attack on Pearl Harbor”. That’s not what they’re for. Greg L (talk) 16:01, 27 October 2008 (UTC)
  • I'm indifferent whether all-numeric dates are declared contrary to this guideline, and our "blessing" is transferred to three-letter abbreviations. If three-letter abbreviations are adopted, we should decide whether or not a period is to be used after the abbreviation. As an aside, I was watching the World Series, and I noticed an advertisement displayed on the wall behind the batter (it was actually added in the television production process; the real wall is a green screen. The ad was for some product or movie due out in December, and the date was formatted something like "12.15.2008". (I'm certain periods were used as separators, I'm not sure which date in December the thing is becomming available). So apparently even mass-marketers are willing to believe Americans have some flexibility reading date formats. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 18:16, 27 October 2008 (UTC)
Interesting, Gerry. I think it's foolish of the advertising company: I'd ditch the year (it's obvious) and say "out December 15", or if desperate for space, "out Dec. 15". From a communications standpoint, the format they used was a big mistake. Tony (talk) 01:16, 28 October 2008 (UTC)
  • OK, I have a suggestion on whether the abbreviated months should have periods or not. I note that my local paper, which probably follows one of the major U.S. newspaper style guides (NY or Chicago), handles it this way: When someone writes a letter to the editor, they will insert a parenthetical pointing to which issue the reader is referring to. So you see text like this:

I see from your Sunday article (“Americans shit their pants when they see metric stuff,” Sept. 28), that you left no stone unturned…

Again, note that this is being used in a parenthetical, which simulates the back-water nature of publication citations. Note that the paper also uses flex, three-to-four-letter abbreviations and periods. This allows months like June to be written out. Thus, I believe the progression goes as follows: Jan. Feb. Mar. April May June Jul. Aug. Sept. Oct. Nov. Dec. It abandons the rigid, three-letter-only notion in order to make it more human-friendly. Greg L (talk) 19:53, 27 October 2008 (UTC)
If we write April in full, would we not also write March in full? –xeno (talk) 20:16, 27 October 2008 (UTC)
  • I’m not sure about the exact practices of the newspaper. I’ve written a number of letters to the editor (go figure) and have them archived. So I know for a fact about some of them. They might indeed spell out March. I am assuming that they follow an industry-standard practice and I would recommend that we simply adopt that practice since I can see what the goal is and it makes sense. I happen to have the phone number of the gal at the paper who calls to confirm whether it was really me who sent in the letters. I think I’ll call her and ask her how the progression goes. Greg L (talk) 21:31, 27 October 2008 (UTC)

If the only concern is reducing the amount of space taken up by months, we could achieve the goal nearly as well by allowing short months (e.g. June) to be written in full. However, if all abbreviations are exactly three letters, tables can be formatted with fixed-width fonts to force all the elements of the date to align vertically. I suppose exactly how the editor envisions the reader will use the table will determine whether the improved alignment is worth tolerating the ugly fixed-width fonts. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 20:38, 27 October 2008 (UTC)

  • Addressing Xeno and Gerry: For tables, where exact fit and alignment are important, I don’t see any reason at all why we can’t have three-letter abbreviations. For sidebars and citations, and similar non-body-text uses where tight fit isn’t a consideration, I would suggest flexible abbreviations like newspapers use for parenthetical use when citing a specific edition. I just got off the phone with the editor of our local paper. They use the Associated Press manual of style. He said all U.S. newspapers follow the AP guideline so this abbreviation method is consistently used across the country. It is as follows:
  • Jan.
  • Feb.
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • Aug.
  • Sept.
  • Oct.
  • Nov.
  • Dec.
Greg L (talk) 21:46, 27 October 2008 (UTC)

Thus, we have…

Example D: Associated Press-style abbreviated months:

Greg L (talk) 21:52, 27 October 2008 (UTC)

  • Now that we have the above AP-style abbreviated month progression captured above, wouldn’t it be good to capture this information in MOSNUM? I’d offer to do it, but I’m a hundred times more familiar with Talk:MOSNUM than MOSNUM itself; I’d probably put it in the wrong spot. Greg L (talk) 00:11, 28 October 2008 (UTC)
    • Does it serve any purpose? Month abbreviations are well known, and anybody who wants can reconstruct them as easily as we constructed them. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 00:56, 28 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Maybe they are well known to you, but I doubt that one editor in ten here can properly write down the AP version of the month abbreviations without looking. Greg L (talk) 01:06, 28 October 2008 (UTC)
    • Is there any profit to the encyclopedia to insisting on March and April over Mar. and Apr.? Would there be any to insisting on the other way around? If not, let us abstain. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 01:09, 28 October 2008 (UTC)
  • It’s so abbreviations here don’t somehow look awkward. I’ve always wondered why my casual attempts at monthly abbreviations looked odd. I’d try Jan. Feb. Mar. Apr. Jul. Sep. and they’d look *funny*. Then I’d try four-character abbreviations and they’d look odd. It’s because newspapers (and probably many magazines too) observe a specific practice where they have variable number of characters. The benefit to Wikipedia is a style that looks natural and reads fluidly. I would simply propose that when there are tight space considerations and a particular need for columns to line up, three-letter abbreviations are fine. If it is in main body text, spell out the name of the month. If it is side-bars, citations, and other such uses, follow the AP’s flexible-character abbreviations observed by every subscribing English-language newspaper in the world. Why is there any controversy to this?

    Maybe the AP-style monthly abbreviations are well known to you, but I doubt that one editor in ten here can properly write down all twelve months without looking at the above list and without error. After all, the editor of a major city newspaper had to go to his AP handbook to provide them to me without error. Besides, MOSNUM isn’t only for über-experienced editors like you; it is here to help editors with minimal editing experience (which is why many would come here in the first place). I’m curious why you would even question the value of memorializing the abbreviations here. Wikipedia is authored largely by novices. The Associated Press is populated by writers, all of whom have journalism degrees and they saw fit to put it into their manual of style. Greg L (talk) 01:24, 28 October 2008 (UTC)

    • The AP stylebook is intended for reporters: writers who are in a hurry, and whose stories will not be revised after publication, usually in a matter of hours. We have more lesiure.
    • We also have a Manual of Style which is now infinitely less comprehensible than the AP 's, because we have crammed more into it than our organization can make clear. The solution to that is to be more hesitant about cramming even more into it.
    • Our MoS was never intended to cover all the topics of any stylebook; it was intended to say what was necessary for our purposes: stuff they omitted, matters related to wiki format, content rules needed because anybody can edit us (like ENGVAR), decisions where stylebooks disagree (including agreements that we may differ from article to article), and those purely stylistic points which are most important to us and so worth spending space and complexity on. . Septentrionalis PMAnderson 03:05, 28 October 2008 (UTC)

Common Use doesn't make it right It's common-use in US English prose to call Eastern Time: EST even though that's not correct (in other words NY time gets called EST even in the summer). Therefore the argument that common-use in US English prose should determine Wikipedia convention is a weak argument in comparison to the unamibugauce ISO standard (even for non-traveled US citizens). The idea that anyone could get Aug 9th out of 1943-09-08 is unlikelyhood piled on top of unlikelyhood. I agree with that statement that it's "insulting to the reader's intelligence" to think they can't understand 1943-09-08. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Zaurus (talkcontribs) 02:20, 28 October 2008 (UTC)

People who proclaim that "no-one could possibly misunderstand what I meant" should at least learn how to spell first. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 03:05, 28 October 2008 (UTC)
Agreed, as far as I know, no dating system in the world has ever used YYYY-DD-MM. Short of spelling out the month, it's the most disambiguous way to give a date. –xeno (talk) 14:18, 29 October 2008 (UTC)
  • The harm, in posting a list of AP-style month abbreviations here is… what? Greg L (talk) 03:25, 28 October 2008 (UTC)
    • Every additional sentence makes it that much more difficult to find stuff, and that much easier for eyes to glaze over. Small harm, but so is the benefit. It's laudable of you to dig this up; but think of it from the next reader's point of view, when this is just another bit of clutter. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 03:34, 28 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Maybe I'm wrong, but I think newspapers hardly ever publish tables containing month names (or numbers) where it would be nice to have them align vertically. Wikipedia is more likely to do so. So while the newspaper could confine itself to two sets of month names (full and abbreviated), we would need three (full, AP abbreviations, and three-letter abbreviations). I would prefer to stay with just two sets, full and three-letter abbreviations, even if the latter don't read quite as smoothly. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 03:34, 28 October 2008 (UTC)
    • Not that much more smoothly; most users will be seeing proportional font. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 03:36, 28 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Another point against ISO-like formats is : Won't someone thing of the children?? Seriously, if we're trying to write a work that is accessable across as much regional variances and ages as possible, I will tell you that the ISO-like format is not something that a grade schooler will be able to recognize, but I know in the US that the months of the year are pre-school if not earlier (and I presume in the EU and other parts of the world, taught in DD MMM YYYY format). I have no problem if ISO is used in wikicode, but presented work should avoid this format save for discussions of what the ISO format is. --MASEM 14:30, 29 October 2008 (UTC)
    • Masem, I think your heart's in the right place thinking about the kids. But think of the favor we'd be doing them to teach them the more efficient standard, so they wouldn't have to guess the meaning of 11-9-2001. I would add that my two kids don't have a problem with yyyy-mm-dd. And I think if Wikipedia were to adopt this formatting, it would expose it more to kids, giving them a head-start with the more efficient standard. It should especially be easy for US kids, cause they already use mm/dd, so it's just switching the year to the front. As for the EU, I think they often use dd-mm-yyyy, as mmm is language specific.--Zaurus (talk) 04:59, 30 October 2008 (UTC)

Exception

Any such re-writing needs to allow for the fact that templates like {{Start date}} and {{Birth date}} have parenthetical YYYY-MM-DD format dates, hidden by CSS (and thus visible to people with CSS unavailable or disabled as, say, 31 May 1975 (1975-05-31)) in order to output the ISO-format dates required in microformats. Andy Mabbett (User:Pigsonthewing); Andy's talk; Andy's edits 11:27, 27 October 2008 (UTC)

Note that the {{TL:Birth date}} provides a date in the format required by HCard. That relies on vCard, RFC 2426, which is intended for directory, "white-pages" information, as would be found on a business card. Thus it is only intended for living people, or people who have died recently. Using it to describe people who have been dead for millenia can be expected to cause trouble, and sure enough, it does. The vCard spec relies on RFC 2426 to define some of the terms it uses, and in RFC 2426 we find " 'date', 'time', and 'date-time': Each of these value types is based on a subset of the definitions in ISO 8601 standard." This means that it is wrong to use {{Birth date}} (and most likely, any of its cousins} for any person who's birth date is written in any calendar other than the Gregorian calendar. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 23:17, 27 October 2008 (UTC)
hCard is based on vCard, but is used for more than just "white pages" info, and hCards are legitimately used for more than living (or still-warm) people. The issue of pre-Gregorian hCard dates (which I raised on 19 April 2007) remains to be resolved (the microformat community is notoriously and lamentably slow in such matters). While your latter point may arguably be valid, it has no bearing on the point I made. Andy Mabbett (User:Pigsonthewing); Andy's talk; Andy's edits 23:29, 27 October 2008 (UTC)
If there is to be an exception, my post has bearing on how the exception is worded. The exception might or might not use the phrase "ISO 8601". The exception might recklessly claim that the format YYYY-MM-DD is permitted for invisible machine-readable purposes, but Wikipedia specifically rejects any implication that ISO 8601 applies, and makes no statement about what calendar the date is written in. Or the exception might say these microformats are OK so long as the year is greater than or equal to 1583, or 1753, but is forbidden for earlier years. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 23:42, 27 October 2008 (UTC)
The use of abbreviated month names in tables has to my mind some limited merit, but considerable associated complication. Because most editors will not take the trouble to memorize the list of approved abbreviations and their punctuation a (semi-)automated spelling repair would have to be implemented to catch all the variations and bring them into conformance. Should US/international variants also apply, then that automation will need to be sensitive to the choice of variant that is adopted for each article in question. The usual argument for the US style "Jan 1, 2000" (that it avoids starting sentences with a numeral) does not apply in tables. I see no merit in using the abbreviations in citation/cite template inputs or outputs. These should be done with outputs fully spelled out (should that be the ongoing consensus) and with inputs in any unambiguous form that parses correctly. I agree with Gerry that the misapplication of the term ISO 8601 to describe simple YYYY-MM-DD form is problematic, particularly for historic dates and for timezone sensitive articles, such as those dealing with aviation events. We should explicitly distinguish the form YYYY-MM-DD from the ISO 8601 standard.LeadSongDog (talk) 17:54, 29 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Rant time: I’m not saying that only abbreviated months should be used and that all-numeric dates should not be used; each has its place. I’m just saying that abbreviated months have their uses, and when they are used, they should be properly written. There is far too much tendency from certain elements here to semi-invent special formats for use here on Wikipedia, or to adopt some cockamamie standard (like all-numeric dates) just because it has been anointed by ISO, BIPM, or whomever. The ISO only standardized how numeric dates should be formatted; it didn’t suggest they should be used in normal prose. Newspapers do too use abbreviated months. And that’s why the Associated Press, whose practices are observed by all newspapers throughout the English-speaking world, has a guideline governing how to write them. It’s a logical system, is what we are used to reading, and is what we subliminally recognize as looking right. Short of some use like cramming abbreviations into a super-tight chart or some other unusual situation like that, you never abbreviate all the months names into either fixed three or four-letter groups. The proper abbreviations are as follows:
  • Jan.
  • Feb.
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • Aug.
  • Sept.
  • Oct.
  • Nov.
  • Dec.
It is not Apr., Jun., and Sep. Nor is it “Sept. Octo. and Nove” (only “Sept.”). Proper practice is to use variable-length abbreviations. Further, I utterly reject any argument that there is “too little room on MOSNUM for this list,” or that it “lengthens MOSNUM to the point where readers can no longer find what they need,” or that the “AP has professional writers with journalism degrees who are so damn busy that they need such a guideline but Wikipedians have more time and they don’t need such a guideline”; those arguments are totally absurd. Beyond absurd.
What we’ve got here are some editors who are far too damn pushy and are blocking common-sense adoptions of simple guidelines that enjoy world-wide recognition. Some editors here behave as if MOSNUM and WT:MOSNUM are some sort of private reserve for them to make their personal and indelible imprint upon. What I really think is that some editors here have been doing things a certain (wrong) way, that they A) are completely convinced their way is logical and best, and B) don’t want to see their work eventually changed in any way. It’s not that I’m suggesting some editors here lack bad faith; I just think they are so biased on this issue, that they are desperately resorting to arguments that are utterly fallacious. That’s my opinion… so shoot me. We are not going to be inventing new home-grown conventions for abbreviating months in citations, sidebars, and parentheticals. What’s with this tendency on MOSNUM that it enables editors to come here and push through practices (like “256 kibibytes”) that no one else in the real world observes on this pale blue dot? It’s time to stop pushing through guidelines—home-grown in some cases—just because someone thinks they’ve figured out a *better way to a brighter and more logical future* or are misinterpreting what some standards organization is really trying to accomplish.
After I get this simple damned list of how to abbreviate the months on MOSNUM, I’m going to stop wasting oodles of time fighting every common-sense minor point. Instead, I intend to focus on fixing the very underpinnings of how MOSNUM functions, arrives at a consensus (or not), identifies when a consensus has truly been reached, resolves conflict (which is pretty much all that occurs here), and avoids making half-baked decisions. Right now, this place is broken beyond all recognition, requires that editors invest far too much time arguing, and it gives far too much weight to the editor who shouts loudest, longest, and is most willing to push the boundaries of edit warring. Greg L (talk) 18:20, 29 October 2008 (UTC)
Time for decaf;/? I've said before, this is the wrong venue for discussion of what constitutes consensus. That's Wikipedia talk:Consensus (which desperately needs fixing). If fixed there, it'll spill over here. Some samples from todays news here, here, here, here and here make it pretty clear there is zero consistency of date style in the real world press, whatever the AP stylebook says. Articles even use different styles in their RSS dateline from the displayed dateline ensuring that aggregators like google news get something different. 18:48, 29 October 2008 (UTC)LeadSongDog (talk)
  • Disagree: A prohibition against YYYY-MM-DD is ridiculous considering how fractured actual real-world usage is. Trust me, I check expiry dates on Canadian pharmaceuticals, and on a regular basis manufacturers don't even use the same format from one lot to another! Also, if people stop fighting to delink dates (why delink first use of a date??), there won't be a problem with ambiguity (even ambiguity with a sensible format to it), because explanation will be a click away! Why do we have pages for those dates anyway if we aren't going to link to them? ps: There seriously needs to be less bitterness on this page too. It was a terrible read.  ;_; - BalthCat (talk) 22:58, 29 October 2008 (UTC)
  • I don't follow your reasoning. How can the pharmaceutical situation be an argument for allowing numerical date formats? It just goes to show that using month names is much better. As for using explanatory links, that poses major WP:1.0 problems. -- Jao (talk) 23:16, 29 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Who the hell is proposing to completely abolish YYYY-MM-DD? It has its place. All I had proposed is to adopt the nice, smooth AP method of abbreviating months when one needs abbreviated months. This isn’t rocket science here. Greg L (talk) 01:40, 30 October 2008 (UTC)
  • LeadSongDog. I looked at your list of examples in your 18:48, 29 October 2008 post, above. They didn’t demonstrate that there are different ways the world press abbreviates the names of months. One spelled it out in full. One used all-numeric, and three spelled it “Oct.” (although Reuters left off the period). I am not taking a position on whether dates should be spelled out or in all-numeric or abbreviated. I have a very narrow, focused objective: for those uses where dates should be abbreviated, and where they don’t have to fit into ridiculously tight spaces like in tabular charts, then follow the A.P. method. That’s all. I’m waiting for a better argument than “a list of twelve months takes up too much room on MOSNUM.” Cow pancakes. And, your comment about decaf was amazing prescient; I happen to have accidentally made a double-strong cup of coffee only a half hour before that post. Greg L (talk) 03:11, 30 October 2008 (UTC)
Guess I was too vague. this AP story uses "Aug. 28" in the text and "Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2008" in a photo caption. this Bloomberg story uses "Oct. 29" in the dateline and "October 29, 2008 13:29 EDT " in the article's Last updated, while showing "Updated: New York, Oct 30 18:26" on the page banner. this Guardian story shows "Monday October 27 2008 " on the dateline while the page has "Oct 28 2008" in the Related information list. this Radio Netherlands story uses "29-10-2008" in the dateline and "28 August" in the Imported violence box. This Reuters Africa story uses "Wed 29 Oct 2008, 21:02 GMT" on the upper dateline, "Oct 29" on the lower dateline, and "Thu 30 Oct 08 | 22:24 GMT" at the masthead. Among them we have inversions of sequence, variant punctuation, variation of whether to state the time zone,, and variation of whether to state the day. Clearly they are not all following one style. Hope you enjoyed the buzz;/) LeadSongDog (talk) 22:44, 30 October 2008 (UTC)

Shuffling to WT:Date linking

OK, let's combine this with my suggestion above and take this topic to a separate page. Further discussion will be at WT:Date linking. (Just let me set this up...) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Kotniski (talkcontribs) 13:55, 30 October 2008 (UTC)

Reverted per WP:BRD, please gather consensus before shuffling the discussion (I disagree, it'll only serve to stifle it as people won't have the new page on their watchlist - might as well keep the battleground here so that it can be archived properly into the archives of this page). –xeno (talk) 14:09, 30 October 2008 (UTC)

Sigh. Whatever. But I"m sure many people have taken this page off their watchlists due to the absurd amounts of traffic generated by one or two marginal issues like this one. People who really consider this an important issue could watch the other page, and that would allow people who don't care about date linking to come back here and talk about other, perhaps even more important things.--Kotniski (talk) 14:15, 30 October 2008 (UTC)

I don't think it's worthwhile to have the discussions scattered over many different pages. Let's keep it here, archive it here, and future generations will know where to look for the great Wikipedia Date Delinking Debate. –xeno (talk) 14:17, 30 October 2008 (UTC)

Oh Great and Merciful Developer… hear our wishes

Would some developer please checkout Bugzilla 13025 as well as 15677? We beseech thee to hear our wishes. Why have you forsaken us for six long months? We ask not that thee create an entire magic word. We understand now that our earlier requests were… immodest. We humbly request only that you bless us with a character-counting parser function. Without such a parser function, the fields of our current number delimiting templates are bare. Our eyes thirst for nice functioning templates that have no bugs. Our midwives weep. We beseech thee to give us but a half-hour of your time to give us the tools so that we can fish the templates and feed our articles. Greg L (talk) 23:55, 30 October 2008 (UTC)

Ramen. Headbomb {ταλκκοντριβςWP Physics} 04:24, 31 October 2008 (UTC)

Date linking redux

After skimming the archives linked to from WP:MOSNUM and noting that the "overwhelming consensus" was achieved via a straw poll consisting of about a dozen unique editors, I really think we need to step back, stop unlinking dates en mass, and really work towards something that will be more agreeable to all involved.

I've asked a dev how long it might take to fix date autoformatting so it applies to anonymous/IP editors. I'm also prepared to work on this myself (I'm somewhat familiar with MediaWiki and have done PHP work before). But we need to agree on what exactly it is we want as an alternative to linked dates. Do we want a new syntax for dates? Do we want the dates to be formatted to one specific format for all IP visitors? Or maybe we should have a way to specify a format on each page (with a default being used on pages that don't explicitly state which format they want)? Are there other concerns we should consider?

This is a much better solution than simply unlinking dates and being generally disruptive. The only other alternative I think is to open a straw poll on whether or not to unlink dates and post a notice in MediaWiki:Watchlist-details. —Locke Coletc 01:08, 30 October 2008 (UTC)

  • (*Must be too much caffeine in me still.*)  What is clear here is that there can be no such thing as a consensus on Wikipedia if there is one single editor who disagrees with the decision. Decision making doesn’t work here on MOSNUM—and probably anywhere else on Wikipedia. I asked a developer to make a magic word to delimit long, scientific notation numbers six months ago. See the above thread. Has the magic word been made yet? Noooo. Has the simple parser function it relies on been made yet. Noooooo.  Has a developer bothered to write “Boo” in response to our “knock knocks”? Nooooo. Has a developer even acknowledged whether I exist and exhale carbon dioxide? Hell no. Don’t hold your breath for a developer to descend on feathered wings to the accompaniment of heavenly voices who is going to solve this for us anytime soon. Just loose the links; they screw up formatting for I.P. users and not a damned editor here is willing to read even a dozen of those articles they link to. Greg L (talk) 01:34, 30 October 2008 (UTC)
    • If it were just me opposing this you'd have a point. But it's not. There are a number of people opposed to this (on this very page, not to mention the archives where random editors seem to have turned up (and subsequently left, likely due to the attitudes of certain proponents of this change)), and it should be obvious that something like this is going to require slightly more than twelve unique editors to go around changing this on the entire wiki. Or maybe that's not obvious, in which case, my apologies. At any rate, I've offered to work on this on my own time. The current devs of MediaWiki also do so on their own time (and do so without compensation, well, except for Brion anyways). Now what needs to happen is a sane sensible discussion about what is needed (besides massive unlinking which is highly inappropriate given the amount of backlash about this). I'm generally only concerned with the autoformatting of dates (though I believe some date links would also be appropriate; I oppose removing all date links entirely, but I also don't think every single date should be linked (but they should be formatted)). So a helpful reply here might be going over what you'd like to see done, development-wise, to address date formatting. —Locke Coletc 01:58, 30 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Please don’t attempt to buttress your message by pointing out how many others feel as you. Do I really have to cite some world history where lots of people were solidly behind some thoroughly dreadful ideas? Stupidity in numbers is not a new concept to humanity and Wikipedia is far from immune to this phenomenon. I think most of what is going on here is editors A) are used to blue dates and don’t like change, and B) don’t realize how thoroughly lousy of an idea it was to have made autoformatting in the first place. One editor was so use to the “blue” of date linking, he proposed simply using color as a way to highlight dates again. Talk about not being able to handle change…

    As to the rest of your objective, I rather agree with you and would like to have parser functions that knew what country the requesting reader was from. But I don’t see the imperative with trying to get autoformatting working. Were it me, I could think of much better uses for such a parser function. In fact, I see this perceived imperative to get date autoformatting working as emblematic of how decision making here on MOSNUM is brain-damaged beyond all recognition. I don’t mind looking at U.S.-formatted dates nor Euro-formatted dates one twit. Neither style bothers me. But I also know that not all readers of Wikipedia (readers, not editors), feel this way. Americans are a rather sheltered lot (big ponds of water on both sides, you see), and they’ve not been exposed to a variety of date formats. I simply think that we should have Euro-formatted dates for most articles and have American-style dates in articles closely associated with America. And be done with it.  Much too much argument and calories burned feeding pissed-off neurons has been devoted here to this trivial issue. Greg L (talk) 02:49, 30 October 2008 (UTC)

  • P.S. Question: Just how long do you think it will reasonably take (really, really) to make a parser function and template (or magic word), that would know from what country a requesting reader hailed from and which could look to a lookup chart and categorize them into camps, like America/Europe or America/Commonwealth? Greg L (talk) 02:59, 30 October 2008 (UTC)
  • While you may disagree with the various people who support date formatting/linking, to ignore them out of hand simply because you think they're "wrong" isn't how things work here. Anyways.. to your question: unfortunately I don't think we'll be getting a function can change the page based on the incoming readers nationality. MediaWiki (and Wikipedia in particular) uses a cache for pages to minimize server strain. Pages are rendered once then stored to be quickly fed to readers as needed. Only when a page is edited is the page re-rendered (or when a template used on the page is changed, etc). So changing it for each reader would break that (we could use Javascript perhaps, but that's messy and some people have an aversion to pages using Javascript). My suggestion would be to agree on a default date format, then provide a function that allows that to be overridden on a page by page basis. The priority for settings would go something like this: 1) logged in user preference would override page preference, 2) page preference would override default, 3) default. The last two would apply to logged out/anon/IP editors, the first would apply to people like you and I. Would this work as an alternative to detecting the readers date format? —Locke Coletc 03:15, 30 October 2008 (UTC)
  • I don't know who or where the "number of people opposed to this" are. There's a lot of hot air here. I've delinked probably a thousand articles, and how many complaints have I had? Well, I am pleased to inform you I have had exactly two. Two individuals who asked me to pay greater attention to the date format. Ohconfucius (talk) 04:58, 30 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Personal complaints directed at your talk page? Yes, two seems like a believable number. Then you look at this page and the archives and note that the number of people complaining exceeds the number of people who supported this proposal when it was taken to a straw poll (that magic number appears to have been twelve). I think it's clear in that case that there's no consensus for this and we should work on something that will be more agreeable (fixing the issues presented by those who support this change, mainly that date autoformatting doesn't work for logged out users). —Locke Coletc 13:30, 30 October 2008 (UTC)
  • And this is because links to trivia that no one reads is unwise, and autoformatting that only benefits registered editors but screws it up for everyone else is unwise. Solution? Get rid of the autoformatting. And as long as the autoformatting is removed properly,  it’s a job well done. If there is anyone who still thinks linking to these trivia articles is a good thing, they should first read Wikipedia:Why dates should not be linked, and then go earn themselves a Sewer Cover Barnstar here. Greg L (talk) 06:40, 30 October 2008 (UTC)
  • So you know for a fact that nobody reads these "trivia" pages? You've seen the server logs and/or have some method of determining the kind of traffic these pages get? And you think there's no possible technical solution to the dates presented to unregistered/IP users? No way to turn on autoformatting for them so dates appear consistent throughout the article? Can you be any more arrogant in making all these assumptions? —Locke Coletc 13:30, 30 October 2008 (UTC)

Having just moved the IEC trolling discussion to a separate page, I'm tempted to do the same with the date linking discussions. Not that I want to censor them, but I don't see why this talk page has to endure so much traffic over what is a comparatively minor issue out of all the many it covers. Anyway linking is relevant to other guideline pages, not just this one, so it makes sense to have a separate page for discussion of that topic. Any objections?--Kotniski (talk) 10:49, 30 October 2008 (UTC)

So you want to shuffle these discussions from one obscure page to yet another obscure page that nobody watches and get even less attention (when the goal should be the opposite)? Are you serious? —Locke Coletc 13:30, 30 October 2008 (UTC)
So you asked if there were any objections, and receiving one objection, you went ahead and moved the discussion anyway? Reverted. –xeno (talk) 14:06, 30 October 2008 (UTC)
I think it's better off here, for now. Hopefully, it can soon be archived. --Dweller (talk) 14:12, 30 October 2008 (UTC)
  • “You've seen the server logs and/or have some method of determining the kind of traffic these pages get?” Locke Cole: To the extent that these trivia articles get any traffic at all is because so many dates link to those articles and we continually get new readers who are clueless as to what the links take them to. Few readers actually read these things. How do I know? Let me know when you’ve actually read the twelve on WP:Why dates should not be linked. Be honest though, I don’t think it is humanly possible to actually read twelve whole such articles. And even if you manage to actually succeed at that endeavor (“I did it and survived! That wasn’t so bad.”), that fact would come up a tad short of demonstrating that dates ought to be routinely linking to; these trivia articles—particularly the day-of-the-year ones like October 30—are rarely any more germane and topical to the subject matter than some horoscope. Greg L (talk) 20:56, 30 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Werdna, a dev on MediaWiki responded here to some questions I had about date autoformatting and the possibility of an extension to add an XML style tag to format dates. As to your questions/response: Again, how do you know these things? How do you know they only get traffic because of just the date links? Why do you think new readers would be at all confused about clicking on a date link and being taken to an article with information on that specific date when every other article link functions the same way (taking you to something relevant to the linked text)? You point to your very unscientific (and unconvincing) personal evidence that nobody reads them, but do you stop to think that they're less intended to be literal articles (read top to bottom) and more to be an interesting collection of events on a specific date? Anyone who seriously reads them (like a book and not like a list) has other issues to deal with. So, now that we have a dev stating that the changes people want would be easy enough to implement, can we please stop with the delinking until we've sorted out how to move forward? —Locke Coletc 23:11, 31 October 2008 (UTC)

Footnote following "Dates ... should not be linked, unless there is a reason to do so."

Hello.

I spotted this clause with its footnote that unhelpfully does not point to any particular section on this page and I'm breaking out in a rash at the thought of reading all the gumpf up there.

The current wording is unhelpful and the footnote even less so.

I suggest the unhelpful footnote is discarded, which will allow users to argue "reason to do so" at the talk page of the individual article if they believe there's a specific need for a specific instance.

How does that sound? --Dweller (talk) 13:14, 30 October 2008 (UTC)

I also like someone's suggestion above that "the first date in an article should be linked" - this also helps to alleviate the worry that date articles will eventually be orphaned. –xeno (talk) 13:36, 30 October 2008 (UTC)
Sounds a bit artificial, confusing to editors who don't know the rule - and orphaning is a non-problem since date articles are themselves massively interlinked.--Kotniski (talk) 13:47, 30 October 2008 (UTC)
See WP:Walled garden and the definition of isolated article at WP:O – we don't just want articles not to be orphaned, we want them to be reachable by a finite number of clicks from the Main Page. Personally I'd say "by a finite number of clicks from any other article", but maybe that's just me. -- Army1987 (t — c) 10:08, 1 November 2008 (UTC)
(ec) The footnote could certainly go AFAIC. And after these eons of discussions we must be in a position to say at least something more specific than "unless there is a reason". I propose adding (after the quoted clause) a sentence like "Date items are normally linked within articles on date- and year- related subjects." (wording to be improved). --Kotniski (talk) 13:42, 30 October 2008 (UTC)
This should also resolve the orphaning issue.--Kotniski (talk) 13:44, 30 October 2008 (UTC)

Before this becomes complicated, can I suggest that in this thread, we stick to the question: Can we just drop the footnote? I'll create a new section below for the wording of the main text. --Dweller (talk) 13:47, 30 October 2008 (UTC)

Agreed - drop the footnote. It's unhelpful and strange. –xeno (talk) 13:52, 30 October 2008 (UTC)
I agree: the time has come to remove this troublesome footnote, which is out of keeping with the register of a style guide (points to localised squabbles and reduces the authority of MOSNUM). Yes, we definitely need to write in an exception for chronological pages themselves; and any fear of orphanage should be allayed by the opportunity to insert into the "See also" section of an article dates that are deemed by a contributor to be especially important, explicated by a piped phrase: that is a gateway to all sibline year articles. Editors are much less likely to question this than the formulaic blueing of chronological items in the body of the prose.
There is nothing special about "the first date in an article", and allowing it to be blued will open the floodgates for visitors and newbies to blue all dates/years. We do not want a return to that. 13:52, 30 October 2008 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Tony1 (talkcontribs)

OK, footnote's gone. I don't think it was that controversial - more tricky is agreeing any change to the text that preceded it, and I've left that. See below. --Dweller (talk) 13:57, 30 October 2008 (UTC)

Excellent! --HJensen, talk 22:32, 30 October 2008 (UTC)

Text of: "Dates ... should not be linked, unless there is a reason to do so."

Kotnitski has suggested in the previous section that this text be reworded. Can we discuss this here, to leave the previous section for discussing the footnote? --Dweller (talk) 13:50, 30 October 2008 (UTC)

Dweller, just be bold and put the silly footnote out of its misery now. Tony (talk) 13:53, 30 October 2008 (UTC)

Gone. Let's discuss the remaining text now.

I think that the existing text is slightly vague. I'd be happier with its tone if the word "specific" was in it, clearly showing that exceptions are not the rule.

How about:

should not be linked unless there are specific reasons to do so.

Thoughts? --Dweller (talk) 14:25, 30 October 2008 (UTC)

Nice and succinct, but it would be nice to add a couple examples of a specific reason... –xeno (talk) 14:48, 30 October 2008 (UTC)

Try:

...for example, dates with articles, like September 11th 2001. Even then, linking of irrelevancies to the article is inappropriate, for example, linking a sporting event to the notable date that it happened to take place on.

? --Dweller (talk) 15:00, 30 October 2008 (UTC)

Don't understand - the date in your example doesn't have an article, the article is about the attacks. Or do you mean in contexts like: "...he noted that Al-Qaeda was responsible for September 11 and...", where the date has come to signify other events?--[[--Kotniski (talk) 16:28, 30 October 2008 (UTC)
An example of a date worth linking to is February 30, 1712. Note the colon, which defeats date autoformatting. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 16:31, 30 October 2008 (UTC)
<ec> To be honest, I really struggled to think of an example of when it would be justified to link a date. Please do suggest an improvement! If it was down to me, I'd have left it as per my first suggestion, without an example. Following the ec, I see the suggestion of Gerry, which is nice and quirky. --Dweller (talk) 16:35, 30 October 2008 (UTC)
I see in fact that this matter is already addressed quite satisfactorily at WP:CONTEXT (there is also a section at WP:MOSLINK, but that doesn't say any more than this page does). So I suggest wording like the following: "Dates (years,....) are not normally linked, except in articles on specifically date-related topics. For more information about circumstances in which it is appropriate to link dates, see WP:CONTEXT#Dates." Then at least any further debate on this topic could be kept in one place (i.e. there).--Kotniski (talk) 17:01, 30 October 2008 (UTC)
Not a bad idea, but I don't really see consensus for the recent changes there, either.... — Arthur Rubin (talk) 19:56, 30 October 2008 (UTC)

Sorry to break in, but I actually think the wording as it is does a good job. It tells that dates should not be linked, and if they should, editors should agree on a good rationale for linking. I think the current formulation conveys that idea fine. I don't think examples are needed. We don't provide examples for when a policy guideline should not be followed (but just says it shouldn't when common sense and the occasional exception will improve the article). --HJensen, talk 22:40, 30 October 2008 (UTC)

OK, but if the same issue is addressed in two (or even more) different guidelines, then they should either say the same thing or (preferably) have all the information in one place and summaries with links to it in the other places. --Kotniski (talk) 07:07, 31 October 2008 (UTC)
maybe just a sidelight here (sorry) but this part of WP:CONTEXT#Dates is pretty confusing/misleading:
"If an explicit link is provided, preferably in the lead, it alone can be the gateway for the reader to access the available sibling articles for other years (e.g., [[1998 in South African sport|1998]]) ..."
why is it suggesting providing "explicit" year-in-X links and then giving an "aliased" year-in-X link as an example? to me "explicit" means "not aliased". Sssoul (talk) 07:35, 31 October 2008 (UTC)
I think this matter would be best discussed over there. I'm going to add a link to that section from this MoS page.--Kotniski (talk) 08:40, 31 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Wikipedia:Manual_of_Style_(links)#Piped_links says: "Avoid piping links from "year" to "year something" or "something year" (e.g., [[1991 in music|1991]]) in the main prose of an article in most cases. Use an explicit cross-reference, e.g., ''(see [[1991 in music]])'', if it is appropriate to link a year to such an article at all. However, piped links may be useful:
  • in places where compact presentation is important (some tables, infoboxes and lists); and
  • in the main prose of articles in which such links are used heavily, as is often the case with sports biographies that link to numerous season articles."

MOSLINK also says: "It is possible to "pipe-link" words that are not exactly the same as the linked article title—for example, [[Henry II of England|Henry II]]. However, ensure that it is still clear what the link refers to without having to follow the link."

I believe that the way around this is to insert into the "See also" section at the bottom of the main text an explicit link to one or two of the most most important year-in-X pages for the topic; this is ideal for providing a gateway to all of their sibling year-in-X pages. The horrid likelihood we must all face is that readers almost certainly ignore links that look as though they lead to the same trivial, irrelevant solitary year facts that they've learnt to ignore over the years. I would like to remove the third bullet from the first quote above. Tony (talk) 12:10, 1 November 2008 (UTC)

yeah, that third bullet contradicts what it says at WP:CONTEXT#Dates about "multiple [year-in-X] links throughout the article [being] unnecessary"; it ought to be removed. adding something about piping plain-year links to highlight their relevance - Other notable events of 1955, for example - seems like it would be a lot more pertinent. Sssoul (talk) 12:28, 1 November 2008 (UTC)
Links in "See also" sections should never be piped, as they are supposed to just suggest the reader that other related articles exist, so they should use the real title. If it is not obvious what the article at the other end of the link 1955 is about, the fault is of the article's title, not of the unpiped link. Personally, I'd move an "article" like 1955 to List of 1955 events, and make 1955 a proper article, like 1345 – or redirect it to the decade (e.g. 1950s) in the case of a year for which writing such an article is unfeasible. -- Army1987 (t — c) 13:11, 1 November 2008 (UTC)
Yes, I thought this a while ago until someone (Sssoul, was it?) suggested the "See also" solution with pipe. I think the example was * [[1998|Other notable events in 1998]], which might beckon the readers in more effectively than just the blue year under "See also". Same for year-in-X links in "See also": [[1998 in South African sport|Other notable events in South African sport in 1998]]. It doesn't have to be piped, but allowing piping for such links leaves open the option of more reader-friendly items, where the editors can think of them. There was a good deal of angst to the overall solution when raised above (or is it archived now?), but I suspect most of this came from those who were letting off steam about the removal of date autoformatting and chronological links in general. I'm keen for selective, explicit gateways to chrnological pages, bolstered by my belief that its' really hard to get readers to click on anything, especially 1998 and the like. Tony (talk) 13:21, 1 November 2008 (UTC)
IMO, the title of an article should be the most likely caption for a link to it, plus optionally a disambiguator in parentheses. If you think that a link like 1998 is not useful, why keep that article there, rather than moving it to List of 1998 events, where it belongs? -- Army1987 (t — c) 13:32, 1 November 2008 (UTC)
renaming pages "like 1955 to List of 1955 events" is a great idea; and if/when that's done, links to those pages should be kept explicit, just like year-in-X links should be kept explicit. meanwhile, my main point was that that third bulleted item at Wikipedia:Manual_of_Style_(links)#Piped_links that Tony1 pointed out above really needs to go. the suggestion about piping bare-year links to make their relevance explicit was just a sidelight; and even if that's against some immutable rule about "see also" sections, it would still make sense to pipe them in the body of the article, footnotes, etc: "For more context see [[1955|Other notable events of 1955]]." unless/until all those Events-in-Year pages are renamed, that is. Sssoul (talk) 14:05, 1 November 2008 (UTC)
Excellent and most logical suggestion. Maybe I'll start first? Ohconfucius (talk) 14:30, 1 November 2008 (UTC)
But deciding whether to link or not an article should be based on the potential of the article, not on its current status. Otherwise, there would be bots going around removing all red links they encounter (as red links are of no use whatsoever to readers who aren't also editors), and there would be no suggestions against the avoidance of linking redirects with possibilities (see the sentence immediately after the bulleted list in MOS:LINK#Piped links, and elsewhere).
If someone makes 1955 a redirect to 1950s (or an article like 1345), links such as 1955 will immediately stop being useless. (I'm not advocating linking years everywhere, only when they are particularly relevant to the context of the article.) So there is no hurry to change [[1955]] to [[1955|Other notable events of 1955]], IMO. (If you do need something more explicit for "See also" sections, I'd suggest "* 1955, for other notable events of that years", which is the style I'd normally suggest when the relevance of any link in the list isn't obvious. But, IMO, it's better to fix year articles than links to them.) -- Army1987 (t — c) 16:25, 1 November 2008 (UTC)
overlinking and remnants of autoformatting means bare-date links currently appear to be meaningless. that's the reason i see for making the relevance of date links explicit, when they are indeed relevant. that could be done by renaming the articles, as you suggest, or by piping the links with an explicit statement of their relevance.
i don't get why redirecting 1955 to 1950s would be desireable; if a link to 1950s is appropriate, an explicit link to 1950s should be used.
meanwhile, though, weren't we discussing Wikipedia:Manual_of_Style_(links)#Piped_links? Tony1 is right that that third bullet should be removed. Sssoul (talk) 16:41, 1 November 2008 (UTC)
What would be appropriate for 1955 would be an article, like the one for 1345; but, until such an article is created, a redirect to 1950s is a much better placeholder than the current 1955 article. Read both articles, and decide which one would give more historic context to someone reading them. -- Army1987 (t — c) 16:47, 1 November 2008 (UTC)
yes, a link like "For more context see: The 1950s" is probably better for most purposes than "For more context see: Other 1955 events". but i don't agree with the idea of making a link to 1950s look like a link to 1955, either through redirects or any other form of disguise. if a link to 1955 is of no value in a given article, it should be unlinked; if a link to 1950s would be valuable, it should be an explicit link. Sssoul (talk) 16:59, 1 November 2008 (UTC)
But I'm not suggesting either [[1950s|1995]] or a redirect as a definitive solution. I'm suggesting a redirect from 1955 to 1950s as a temporary placeholder until a more specific article, like 1345, is written. -- Army1987 (t — c) 18:23, 1 November 2008 (UTC)
i understand - and disagree. my view is that if a link to 1955 isn't useful in a given article it should be unlinked (or be replaced by an explicit useful link), not "temporarily redirected" to another page. Sssoul (talk) 18:35, 1 November 2008 (UTC)

← So, we should remove all red links, all links to redirects with possibilities, and possibly even all links to very short stubs or very bad articles, until a decent article is written at the link target. Or is there any reason why years should be treated differently? -- Army1987 (t — c) 20:50, 1 November 2008 (UTC)

smile: 1955 isn't a red link or a "redirect with possibilities", and if it isn't useful/relevant to an article it should be unlinked just like other links that aren't useful/relevant. WP:MOS_(links)#Overlinking_and_underlinking seems quite clear about that, and it treats low-value year links the same as other low-value links. and if a link *is* useful/relevant, it should be explicit, not "disguised" as in your [[1950s|1955]] example. by "temporary redirects".
meanwhile, can we get back to the subject of how to phrase "Dates ... should not be linked, unless there is a reason to do so"? thanks Sssoul (talk) 21:43, 1 November 2008 (UTC)
I'll quit this discussion as it's obvious nobody agrees with me, but I just wanted to point out that I didn't actually argue for [[1950s|1955]]. -- Army1987 (t — c) 02:12, 2 November 2008 (UTC)

Date links and date pages

Since several editors are out unlinking dates, the topic of the date pages (January 1, etc.) needs to be addressed. The date pages have a particular formatting layout that should be maintained regardless of whatever consensus is reached on unlinking dates. I have seen a few (not many) instances of unlinking (usually script-assisted) of years in the date articles. These articles should be explicitly excluded from this practice - if not, a real mess could be made of things. If there is widespread feeling that these items should be unlinked, it should be brought up and discussed at WP:DAYS because it might require an overall layout change to the date pages in order that the pages 1.) are updated across the board and 2.) are kept in a format that maintains the utility of the pages. -- Mufka (u) (t) (c) 01:39, 1 November 2008 (UTC)

Can you be explicit about which sets of articles? Timelines, for example, could do with a guideline about the formatting of non-linked month–day items when they head each item in a sequential list (I'd go for bold). Tony (talk) 04:16, 1 November 2008 (UTC)
My mistake, I thought saying January 1, etc. was sufficient. I mean January 1 through December 31 only. The days of the year. -- Mufka (u) (t) (c) 13:46, 1 November 2008 (UTC)
I'm certainly in favour of writing in an exemption for the linking of chronological items within articles on explicitly chronological topics, such as January 22, 1970s, 19th century, 2002; but not, of course, for the date autoformatting/linking of full dmy/mdy items (which confuses the issue for the readers). The fact that dm/md items are autoformatted for logged in, preferenced Wikipedians is irrelevant: the reason for square-bracketing them is to link to sibling articles. Does anyone else agree? If there's a general feeling that this might be acceptable, we could raise it at MOSLINK. Tony (talk) 13:57, 1 November 2008 (UTC)

Unnecessary vagueness

Shortcut:

The last example in the table is an example of a misplaced modifier not unnecessary vagueness. (dogs with unbreakable parts vs. toys with unbreakable parts) Since the error was obvious, and I'm good at tables; I'll go ahead and remove it for now. If you have any objections, please change it back.--Hamster2.0 (talk) 18:10, 2 November 2008 (UTC)

We have an assortment of toys for physically active dogs with unbreakable parts.
We have an assortment of toys with unbreakable parts for physically active dogs.

PS: In case you want to put it back after a couple of edits without a "roll back," just paste this before the end of the table (aka. the |} symbol.)--Hamster2.0 (talk) 18:24, 2 November 2008 (UTC)
We have an assortment of toys for physically active dogs with unbreakable parts.
We have an assortment of toys with unbreakable parts for physically active dogs.

No consensus for mass unlinking of dates

I have been watching the debate for some time, not intervening because it seemed to be a pointless argument. But then I came across this edit [2], part of a mass unlinking to January 2. It seems to me that the so-called policy is now actively damaging the encyclopedia; whether or not there was a consensus to discourage further linking of dates is one thing, but it seems clear to me from the debates that there is no consensus to prohibit any links to dates or to remove all existing links. Breaking historical redirects without going to WP:RfD is just one example of the damage being done.--Rumping (talk) 18:59, 2 November 2008 (UTC)

  • What's so special about January 2? The dates should all be delinked. ;-) Ohconfucius (talk) 01:41, 3 November 2008 (UTC)
I'm sorry, that edit was my fault. I was undoing the backlinks via Twinkle to get a list for AWB, and trying to not to touch any article that actually related to useful dates (the actual articles for September or July 5, for example). I must have missed this one. My sincerest apologies. NuclearWarfare contact meMy work 22:04, 2 November 2008 (UTC)
Errors happen (I make them too—date auditing requires skill and judgement in some cases, and there are very occasionally slips on the wrong button); but that doesn't prove this specious and unsupported argument that cleansing this sorry function from WP is damaging it. Quite the opposite: DA and the linking of date fragments have both done significant damage for our readers, and need to be addressed as promptly as possible, not left to mar the project for years by some ultraconservative, anti-bold don't-rock-my-boat knee-jerk reaction. Please stop churning—it's not going to change anything and is wasting all our time. Tony (talk) 01:01, 3 November 2008 (UTC)
I agree. I wouldn't put it as forcefully as Tony does, but in my opinion (which I developed after reading around the issue a while ago), there is a good argument for mass delinking to avoid the mess seen by unregistered readers, and then rebuilding of any collateral damage. Though given the connotations of that phrase, "collateral damage" might not be the best phrase to use. The specific mistake pointed out above is just that - a mistake. Carcharoth (talk) 05:26, 3 November 2008 (UTC)
I still don't understand the "significant damage" though. Headings are bold, dates are blue. How does this impair the ability of our readers to navigate the articles? All wikilinks are optional - they're there so that if you want to explore a topic further, you can do it, presto. If you don't want to explore, don't click on it. In the case of year links, there are any number of reasons one may wish to click - in-line - to see what else happened in the same year as Apple introduced the Lisa, both in computing and in the world at large. The current structure of our year articles isn't particularly helpful here, focussing as they do on exhaustive lists of births and deaths - but that's a problem with our year articles, not the incoming links.
day-month linking is a little different, since apparently it is causing a problem with editors missing incompatible formats in-article (I wouldn't know, I purposely never set a date preference). Even here though, we're missing an opportunity. The top of each [[Month Day]] article could have a little message about how if you sign up for an account, you can have dates displayed in your preferred format. With one link to an explanatory page that would casually mention the other benefits of an account. Like having a watchlist, and how much we like helping everybody to edit here.
My main problem with this mass action though, is that it doesn't have to be done in a way that is solely destructive to embedded data. Why can't a neutral template be substituted instead? Let's say {{mmmdd}}, which would simply deliver its input? There's no expansion problem there, no expensive parser function, and it would be easy (and dev-independent) to add a class to make the wikilinks non-blue. And it would keep our ability to make future improvements, and the learn-by-see editors would find it easy to copy. There are lots of ways to go other than "I hate this and I want it gone now" - combined with "I'll use a script to do it, someone else can fix the mistakes". We've been down this path before, have we not? Franamax (talk) 07:09, 3 November 2008 (UTC)
It's the learn-by-see editors that are the problem - they will waste their time and intellectual energy using a template that serves no purpose. Honestly, WE DON'T NEED THIS - no-one would even be suggesting it if we hadn't previously had the autoformatting idiocy in place. Templates should be used to make things easier for editors by saving them from writing complex formatting or repeated text or whatever, not to complicate their lives just to preserve "embedded data" for some unspecified future purpose. If we wanted to mark such data, we wouldn't be starting with dates, which are 99.9% recognizable anyway.--Kotniski (talk) 08:54, 3 November 2008 (UTC)
That's glossing over a few of the points I just tried to convey. A simple template requires no great intellectual effort, thus none is wasted. Metadata that "serves no purpose" is only revealed to serve a purpose when someone figures out what purpose it can serve. And the template can begin neutral but can be made to serve a valuable purpose - it can be used for date autoformatting! Two very simple dev changes would be needed to make it happen: add a magic word for default formatting; and add cookie capability for IP users, so that the average reader could set a preference for their own PC. There are lots of ways to go, but "idiocy", "knee-jerk", "churning", "wasting all our time" - why don't we just MfD this talk page then? Doesn't seem to be much talking going on, though I've yet to see the consensus for mass de-linking. Franamax (talk) 09:12, 3 November 2008 (UTC)
Well, any template like this is an unnatural and time-wasting distraction for people who just want to write stuff. Date autoformatting is a totally valueless purpose, as has been pointed out many times. The only purpose I can see is that people might write scripts for extracting information from Wikipedia automatically (text mining and the like) - but (a) we don't do that with any other kinds of information, so why for dates? (b) dates are pretty much recognizable anyway, so why are people making such a fuss about marking them up and not asking for any other types of information to be marked up? The consensus is referred to via a footnote on this MoS page and anywhere else it's mentioned, so you don't have to look far. Stand back from this and you'll see what a pointless issue to keep raising and re-raising - I can only assume people are making the false deduction "there was a solution, therefore there must have been a problem". There is NO PROBLEM with just writing dates as ordinary text, just as there is no problem with writing anything else as ordinary text. So let's stop trying to solve the non-problem with schemes that would make editors' work harder, and stop continually disrupting the MoS and this talk page by raising issues that have been dealt with satisfactorily and require nothing further except implementation.--Kotniski (talk) 10:43, 3 November 2008 (UTC)

[outdent] We certainly don't want to encourage newly registered editors to select a date preference: they need to leave the default option "No preference" untouched, and WPians who have already selected a format preference should seriously consider reverting to "No preference". Why? Because we are all responsible for cleaning up the mess that date autoformatting has led to. This includes spotting inconsistent formats in an article (easy to insert when the raw format our readers see in the remaining square-bracketed dates is concealed from us) and forcing the point on the global choice of format for an article, both through the display mode. These are essential to housecleaning, and are hampered unless "No preference" is chosen. Tony (talk) 13:36, 3 November 2008 (UTC)

'Forced' date format

I hate to wade into this, as I am only a hack editor. I tried reading most of the above, and hope this doesn't conflict. Most of my editing has dealt with TV show episode lists and such. I somewhat agree that the dates listed in the tables don't need to be linked to anything, but do think that some robot or other script would still want an easy way to tell a date from the rest of the text. Does or could there be a template that would forcibly format a date, somewhat like {{forcedateformat|USFull|2008-11-01}} would output an unlinked November 1, 2008, no matter what the user settings are. Andyross (talk) 16:51, 1 November 2008 (UTC)

Not a template as such, but the software does indeed contain such a feature. To use it, you type the following characters: November 1, 2008. Miraculously, this produces precisely your desired output. And this looks so much like a date that it can be recognized as one by bots and humans alike.--Kotniski (talk) 18:08, 1 November 2008 (UTC)
That's not quite fair. As I noted in another one of these interminable threads (with different specifics), on January 23, 1900 people were killed. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 18:12, 1 November 2008 (UTC)
Maybe it happened in Albany, New York's capital. But I don't see any calls for putting templates round all phrases containing commas just because they might be misinterpreted by some hypothetical bot.--Kotniski (talk) 18:50, 1 November 2008 (UTC)
Above, we have an editor who wants a sort of return to date autoformatting so that all users see the same date format displayed according to what they prefer. Here we have an editor who would like to be able to force all editors to see a date in the 'same' format, no matter what his preferences are. Funny, takes all sorts to make a world! Ohconfucius (talk) 00:52, 2 November 2008 (UTC)
In the American date format the year is a parenthetical phrase and should be followed by a comma, so, on January 23, 1900, people would have been killed, if they weren't one thousand and nine hundred people killed on January 23 of current year. -- Army1987 (t — c) 02:17, 2 November 2008 (UTC)
Many many US writers will disagree that a comma is required, except on rare occasions for disambiguation. This is one of the reasons that dates should be left for editors to control (according to our guidelines), and not handed over to another programmer's toy. Why is the order of month and day so important, anyway? Tony (talk) 10:10, 2 November 2008 (UTC)
I'm a native speaker, and I'm skeptical many many US writers will disagree that a comma is required. Please cite some. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:03, 2 November 2008 (UTC)
I'm curious as to why this issue was not raised when autoformatting was first introduced. If we accept the argument that a comma is required (or even that many editors consider it to be so), then surely this breaks autoformatting right from the start?--Kotniski (talk) 13:55, 4 November 2008 (UTC)

Part of my idea was to make it EASIER to adjust date formats as Wiki standards change, or if an article just needs to be updated. By wrapping dates, something as simple as a find/replace could change the date formats. Maybe even putting in a {{fdf|USLong}} would default everything after it to a particular format. And, one of the 'formats' could be AUTO, so it could cover all options. Andyross (talk) 14:26, 2 November 2008 (UTC)

And another nice reason for wrapping dates: By setting a format at the beginning of the article, you can keep the format consistent throughout the article. I know one of the issues discussed were articles with mixed date formats. That's so much of an issue when you have multiple editors and countries. By wrapping dates in a template, other editors will hopefully also wrap theirs, giving a consistent look to the end user. Andyross (talk) 21:43, 2 November 2008 (UTC)
By not wrapping dates in a template, other editors will hopefully not wrap theirs, and everything will be very VERY easy - you write what you want the reader to see, as most editors do already and will always continue to do. Honestly, I've never seen so much discussion of potential solutions to a total non-problem as I have over this dates issue. --Kotniski (talk) 08:45, 3 November 2008 (UTC)

Protected

I've seen too many reverts on this page popping up on my watchlist in the last day. Edit warring does not achieve anything, only discussion achieves progress. So I've protected the page for a week so people can discuss before editing. MBisanz talk 13:51, 3 November 2008 (UTC)

This may have been overkill. There are a number of different disputes about autoformatting, and they came up on the same day; there is no established war that I can see. I would suggest unprotection; I'm not sure this even amounts, at the moment, to a {{disputedtag}}, although the addition of this new issue on "specific" may boot it to that level. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 16:09, 3 November 2008 (UTC)
The sequence that hit me was [3], [4], [5], [6], [7], [8], [9], [10], [11], [12], [13]. Does that not look like an edit war over a tag? MBisanz talk 16:14, 3 November 2008 (UTC)
Yes, that does; thank you for isolating it. (All except the first, which was the substantive edit that provoked the tag.) Septentrionalis PMAnderson 16:33, 3 November 2008 (UTC)

My opinions on the merits are

  • there plainly is a dispute; going to the brink of 3RR to remove a tag is evidence of underlying dispute.
  • I don't see the functional difference between reason and specific reason in this context, and I wish someone on either side of this nonsense would tell me. Some other wording should be possible. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 16:33, 3 November 2008 (UTC)
I tried addressing this issue in this section, above, but frustratingly the discussion left the point I raised and moved on to a whole new area (piped links). To answer your request, the nuance is that with a word like "specific", it demonstrates that there is no blanket "reason" for all uses of date linking, but that in specific circumstances, an individual date may be linked with unusual justification. --Dweller (talk) 16:52, 3 November 2008 (UTC)
If that's all, then it's redundant. Dates should not be linked, unless... already denies the existence of a general reason to link all dates, and the only one ever suggested (to serve autoformatting) is expressly denied at the end of the paragraph. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 02:51, 4 November 2008 (UTC)
72 hours is standard. A week is an abuse of admin. tools. Tony (talk) 11:40, 4 November 2008 (UTC)
No and no, Tony. —Locke Coletc 14:32, 4 November 2008 (UTC)

Unnecessary vagueness - suggested correction to the text

{{editprotected}} One of the examples in MoS is not quite right. It compares:

  • A beautiful little house in Malibu
  • In 1974, a $400,000 property in the Malibu Area

I think that the second one should read: In 1974, a $400,000 residential property in the Malibu Area--Toddy1 (talk) 04:49, 5 November 2008 (UTC)

Should it also be "area", lowercase? --Elonka 22:59, 5 November 2008 (UTC)
Yes check.svg Done, with lowercase "area". Huntster (t@c) 06:20, 6 November 2008 (UTC)
Thanks--Toddy1 (talk) 06:50, 6 November 2008 (UTC)

Please allow ordinal dates

I have recently been told that Wikipedia has decided that ordinal dates are not allowed. For reference, ordinal dates are in the format 4th November and Cardinal dates are 4 November. Ordinal dates are regarded as correct in English used in the UK and numberous other countries, as '4th November' or the '4th of November' are contractions of the full dare 'the fouth day of November'. Ordinal dates are considered to be the most correct date format in the UK. I would like Wikipedias guide lines to allow this format, particularly on pages that refer to the UK, its citizens and institutions. Smart51 Smart51 10:52, 4 November 2008 (UTC)

Why do you think they are needed? If you understand ordinal dates, you'll have no trouble understanding "4 November", and it stops there being so many different date formats across articles. Trebor (talk) 11:31, 4 November 2008 (UTC)
The trend to drop "th", "nd" and "st" has been widespread throughout anglophonia since puss was a kitten. So is the dropping of the grammatical words in the writing out of dates ("the 2nd of November"). I think everyone except the writers of consitutions and arcane legal documents has decided that things are a lot neater that way. Tony (talk) 11:37, 4 November 2008 (UTC)
  • The request is understandable in that its use remains widespread in speech even in the USA, most likely because it feels weird to say 'four November two thousand and eight'. Don't Americans always say 'fourth of July' and not 'July four'? However, not using it in written form, as is now common practice here on WP, is never likely to confuse. Assuming I am correct about Americans' usage, perhaps the best and most universal form of date formatting should be ordinal. ;-) Ohconfucius (talk) 03:09, 5 November 2008 (UTC)
  • Well, you're not correct as to American usage. In American speech, "July four" is more common than "July fourth", and the British "4 July" would probably be read as "the fourth of July" or "July four" (for those who have dyslexia). "4th July" just looks wrong to me, although I admit to seeing it in fiction set 18th century England. (In deference to the other dispute here, I'm not going to link "18th century".) — Arthur Rubin (talk) 03:26, 5 November 2008 (UTC)
  • "The fourth of July" is a special case, very few would say "the fourth of November" for election day here. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 03:27, 5 November 2008 (UTC)
    • It is obsolete; it was common usage in the mid-nineteenth century, as Seventh of March speech shows. In my regional dialect, "September eleventh" is standard educated usage; "Nine eleven" is slangy except for the terrorist attack, where it is supported by the pun on 9-1-1. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 05:34, 5 November 2008 (UTC)
    • Perhaps it is obsolete in the USA and other places. Here in the UK it is still common practice even today. No-one says July 4 here, the 4th of July is how it is always said and how it is mostly written, with purely numerical dates also being common in informal writing e.g. 04/07/2008. I can understand your views that it is not neccesary in your part of the world. What I ask is that it be allowed for pages about the UK, where ordinal dates are very much in use and are considered correct.Smart51 (talk) 09:39, 5 November 2008 (UTC)
    • It's certainly standard practice in the UK to say "the twenty-seventh of September", for example, but it's generally (though not universally) written as "27 September" - it's understood that the speaker will add the missing pieces. So I see no reason to change current WP practice. Colonies Chris (talk) 11:39, 5 November 2008 (UTC)

Developer help with dates

I got a response from a dev with SVN access to MediaWiki to answer a couple of questions here. As this appeared to be the primary reason for unlinking dates and removing auto formatting, can we please stop the mass unlinking that's going on? —Locke Coletc 23:00, 31 October 2008 (UTC)

The current date preferences choice is unacceptable. By offering the format choice "2001-01-15T16:12:34" it creates an overwhelming implication that date autoformatting obeys ISO 8601, because that very specific format is strongly associated with that standard. However, data autoformatting does not actually conform to the standard. Since the means to invoke date autoformatting is unacceptable, date autoformatting is also unacceptable. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 03:46, 1 November 2008 (UTC)
An implication is not a contract. The preferences do not say it is ISO 8601, it only outputs something resembling that. Similarly, AFAIK there was no contract saying ISO 8601 was valid as input for wikitext, just that it would convert linked dates to whichever format the user had chosen. I read your essay (linked from your user page) and I agree that it could be improved. So instead of dismissing auto formatting out of hand as you have done, why not propose some changes or outline how you believe it should work? —Locke Coletc 05:09, 1 November 2008 (UTC)
  • Why is there this dogged insistence from one person that there should be DA? While there may be dispute to de-linking dates, there is an undisputed consensus that it is deprecated, so its not an issue any more. It's dead. So what, even if it were browser-configured, automatic and totally transparent to the user. Why should we be bothered to put in the effort to discuss it, let alone have to get developers involved? It's not as if we have a policy to use ISO dates which is not prose. We have date formats perfectly comprehensible to all, so lets 'fuhgeddit'! Ohconfucius (talk) 05:29, 1 November 2008 (UTC)
  • Er... it is disputed, in fact. Or did you miss the various people who have turned up on this page (and in the archives)? And I fail to see the problem with date autoformatting: it allows editors to use any date format they feel comfortable with without making articles inconsistent in date display. That's a good thing, last time I checked, and is something worth working for. —Locke Coletc 05:54, 1 November 2008 (UTC)
  • Let’s not count our chickens before they hatch. All the developer (Werdna) said is that accomplishing what is desired wouldn’t “be too difficult.” That comes up quite a bit short of anyone committing to do something about it (or finding someone who gives a damn) and is a light-year short of actually receiving a finished product. Now that we actually have specific knowledge of a developer (someone who has been programming since he was 14 years old), I suggest we try to further develop this relationship. It would sure be nice now, to be able to present a unified front as far as our requests go. A big turn off for any programmer would be bickering and changing our minds. Greg L (talk) 06:12, 1 November 2008 (UTC)
    • You are absolutely correct. He hasn't committed to doing it, nor is it done. But we also haven't come up with a specific plan or design (which I've noted further up on this page) in order to proceed. Once we have that we can go back with specifics and ask (or as I've offered, I can work on developing it). FWIW, I've been programming since I was 16 or so (circa 1991), but I'm also older than Werdna. :P At any rate I think any dev would be reluctant to work on something without a clear decision on what should be done and how it should work. —Locke Coletc 06:35, 1 November 2008 (UTC)

Locke Cole, how would the ISP mechanism deal with Canada, which uses both formats? Or India, which uses both? That is just one issue that will stuff it all up. And someone will need to make a choice about an awful lot of countries; it's by no means a hard-and-fast rule as to which use which: have you had a look at this article? Enough to send shivers down the spine of any programmer. Tony (talk) 12:16, 1 November 2008 (UTC)

Locke Cole asked "why not propose some changes or outline how you believe it should work?" My preference is to read dates that follow the same variety of English as the rest of the article, so I would not use date autoformatting if it were offered. So I'm not going to help design date autoformatting, but I will point out problems that may result in date corruption, or false claims that we conform to a standard. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 14:45, 1 November 2008 (UTC)
Tony, I don't see anything in the questions to Werdna asking for IP geolocation. Trying to implement that would be a Bad Idea, but I think Locke Cole simply wants a single default (at least, a single default for each article) for all preference-less readers. While I don't see this kind of autoformatting as particularly necessary, I also don't see it as particularly harmful, if it can be safely done without requiring editors to mark up all dates in some way, especially not as links. ("Safely" here refers to problems like detecting if dates are within quotes or detecting whether extra commas are needed, etc. It still doesn't sound like a perfectly simple task to me.) -- Jao (talk) 15:28, 1 November 2008 (UTC)
Regrettably some type of markup would be necessary I suspect because there's bound to be false positives in any function that tries to detect and format dates automatically on the server side. But is that really such a bad thing? We already have all kinds of markup in the form of templates and parser functions, a simple XML-style tag to surround dates doesn't seem like that big of a deal, really. —Locke Coletc 00:16, 2 November 2008 (UTC)
On second thought, your arguments are starting to get to me here. Not as to its usefulness, I still think it's unnecessary, but that's just me (well, and a lot of others). But I think I could find this type of DA acceptable. Say we accidentally have "<date>January 20, 1961</date> – November 22, 1963" in John F. Kennedy. To almost everyone, this inconsistency will be hidden, so they will not know it should be fixed. But some will come there logged in with non-US date preference, and they will see "20 January 1961 – November 22, 1963"; eventually, in all probability, one of them will fix it. I still don't really see how it's better than no DA, but it sure beats the old DA. Even if this will be implemented in the (near or far) future though, I don't see a case for not unlinking dates. I understand that a bot could convert old link-markup to new tag-markup, but it would still not catch all dates, because all dates are not linked as it is. -- Jao (talk) 01:30, 2 November 2008 (UTC)
Although the comma issue (also see Tony's comment in the section below for that) would still have to be solved, of course. -- Jao (talk) 12:10, 2 November 2008 (UTC)
  • It’s not complex. Why is so much effort being devoted to this? A simple guideline for fixed-text dates for editors to use in writing new articles is all we need:
  1. For articles on, or strongly associated with, the U.S. or its territories (or countries listed in this guideline that use U.S.-style dates: Micronesia and Palau), editors should use the U.S.-style date format (“February 2, 2008”), otherwise, editors should use the international date format (“2 February 2008”) in articles.
  2. New articles on or strongly associated with Canada should use the international format but, for existing articles related to Canada, whichever format was used by the first major contributor shall be retained.
Nothing more complex that this is needed. We don’t need to shelter our readership from the occasional *shock* of seeing dates in a less-than-customary format. Whereas such dates may be unused by certain readers, dates in either format confuses absolutely no one. Greg L (talk) 18:35, 1 November 2008 (UTC)
So much effort is being devoted to it because this isn't a print encyclopedia, there are opportunities here for better presentation than simple unchanging static text. —Locke Coletc 00:16, 2 November 2008 (UTC)
  • I agree Locke. I truly look forward to country-sensitive parser functions. Templates that use these parser functions will be extremely useful tools. They would allow us to create templates that group countries into classifications. Then, text that truly interrupts the flow of thought (and is sometimes truly confusing) can be addressed. For instance, we could code {{dialect|Commonwealth|US|The solicitor put the suspect’s colour-coded files it the boot.|The attorney put the suspect’s color-coded files in the trunk.}}.

    My concern is that just because someone left a message on the talk page of a developer and received a response (*collective audience gasp*) mustn’t be construed as a reason for delaying the deprecation of formatted dates. Bugzilla requests have historically taken a l-o-n-g  time to get any action. Many Bugzillas never get any action whatsoever—not even a response. So, while it might be *pretty* to think this will be acted on soon, it just isn’t realistic to assume as much. Nor is it wise, IMO, to postpone meaningful action in the mean time. This autoformatting is really junking things up for regular I.P. readers. And… (I might catch flack for thinking this and having the chutzpa to actually express it here) I also think the trivia articles these links take readers to are simply appreciated far too rarely by the typical reader. I think the best thing to do is keep on bot-delinking so long as the bot makes the articles read better for I.P. readers than what is currently there. Greg L (talk) 01:06, 2 November 2008 (UTC)

  • Of course it could take time for this to happen, while the issue of overlinking and inconsistent dates should be one solved now, but this going to the point that the auto-correcting change that people have done on dates should leave some computer-understandable bits around that do nothing to the markup to the reader so that when this happens (now that there's progressive talk on the devlist), reverting dates to the new approach will be trivial. Otherwise, editors, with the dates completely stripped of such codes, will have to manually process articles. There's a number of ways to do this, all that are still compatible with scripting tools, so its not like the breadcrumbs can't be left. --MASEM 12:26, 2 November 2008 (UTC)
I really, really don't like that Canada wording. Suppose User:JoeCanuck, a WP newbie, writes an impressive article on Waterfowl in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, using the U.S.-style format. Someone changes all the dates to international. JoeCanuck asks about this on the talk page, getting the answer "for articles on Canada, you should use the international format". "Ah," he answers, goes to Gulf of Saint Lawrence and spots a U.S.-style date there, using his newfound knowledge about WP to "fix" it. Someone reverts him; new talk page answer: "That rule doesn't apply here, because this article was created before November 2008." I wouldn't be surprised if we never heard from JoeCanuck again after this. All right, so maybe I'm exaggerating, but I think that a policy that distinguishes between old and new articles is never a good idea. Apart from that, I still think this proposal (as well as the one which does not favour a specific format by default, only taking a stance for articles connected to certain English-speaking countries) is very clear and simple to follow. -- Jao (talk) 01:30, 2 November 2008 (UTC)
Just my two cents. I would propose something more-or-less like:
  • Every article should consistently use one date format, except within direct quotations (and in tables etc. using YYYY-MM-DD);
  • If a significant majority of the full dates in the article refer to events happening in places where the month-day-year format is commonly used in English, use that format; likewise for the day-month-year format.
  • If all dates refer to events happening in places with no significant English-speaking population, or in places where both formats are in common usage in English (e.g. Canada), or if roughly the same number of dates refer to events in places using each format in English, just choose either format. The format choosen should preferably be consistent with the variety of English used in the article, i.e., use 2 November 2008 for articles written in British English, and November 2, 2008, for articles written in American English.
Maybe the wording should be tweaked, but I think nothing more complex or arbitrary than that is needed. -- Army1987 (t — c) 02:35, 2 November 2008 (UTC)
Army1987's formulation does not fit well for articles that are not about people or places at all (for example, Standard deviation). Such an article could use either format, even if some of the people connected to the topic are from an English speaking country (for example, Francis Galton). Also, articles about creative works that are not set in any particular real location should use the format associated with the author, if the author spoke English or lived in an English-speaking country. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 03:34, 2 November 2008 (UTC)
Well, in Standard deviation there will usually little reason to write a full date (with the day of year), anyway; the one about fiction is a good point. I just fail to see the reason why an article written in American English should not use the November 2, 2008, just because it is not specifically about the US, even if maybe the only two or three dates in it refer to events which took place in the United States. -- Army1987 (t — c) 09:15, 2 November 2008 (UTC)
  • Splendid Jao, a one-rule guideline for dates. I like simplicity:
  1. For articles on, or strongly associated with, the U.S. or its territories (or countries listed in this guideline that use U.S.-style dates: Micronesia and Palau), editors should use the U.S.-style date format (“February 2, 2008”), otherwise, editors should use the international date format (“2 February 2008”) in articles.
Does that work for you? Greg L (talk) 05:06, 2 November 2008 (UTC)
For me personally, yes. I don't know if forcing the day-month format on Canadian topics is a wise decision, but speaking only for myself, I would have no problems with it. I also, of course, enjoy the simplicity. -- Jao (talk) 11:01, 2 November 2008 (UTC)
There would be a lot of complaints. Tony (talk) 11:13, 2 November 2008 (UTC)
Even simpler: "Each article should generally use the date format commonly used in the variety of English in which the article is written: for example, use 2 November 2008 for articles written in British English, and November 2, 2008, for articles written in American English. (For varieties of English in which several different formats are in widespread use, such as Canadian English, just choose any one of them and use it consistently; in case of doubt, use the format used by the first major contributor to the article.)" Together with WP:ENGVAR, it automatically requires British format for British topics and American format for American topics, and doesn't impose absurd restrictions such as that Gasoline (which is written in US English) should use day-month-year. -- Army1987 (t — c) 17:30, 2 November 2008 (UTC)

(unindent) Yep, this issue (like the linking one) was also discussed ad nauseam and with wide community participation, consensus was pretty clearly reached in the end. I don't see much point continually raising these same issues. We should be glad they're settled, even if the consensus isn't exactly what each of us personally would prefer. It's not as if they're a big deal or anything. I suggest people find some new and more significant things to discuss - there's still plenty out there.--Kotniski (talk) 12:37, 2 November 2008 (UTC)

I haven't quite finished reading all the new discussion, but there is a thing I'll say right now: Will people please stop pretending that Locke is alone in this? You have read the discussions, you were there, so you know he isn't, and pretending he is is very dishonest. Shinobu (talk) 09:06, 3 November 2008 (UTC)
(Okay I think I've mostly caught up.) Firstly, there is no consensus for turning dates into plain text, regardless of what some editors here say. I've waded through all the discussion a while back, and now again through the new discussion, and it's quite clear there is no consensus for that. Now, the time I can devote to dredging through MOSNUM talk is limited, so when I post a comment, it usually sinks in the archive and I'm forgotten as it were, while some other people apparently can post daily and leave much more of a vocal impression. I'm not saying people shouldn't be allowed to do that, au contraire. But when these people then start to pretend that we slowpokes don't exist and start to derive from that a kind of pretend consensus, or rather start implementing their loved solution by fiat without consensus, they're in the wrong. Good, now that we've got that over with, on to the proposed solution, namely a kind of date markup that doesn't link.
According to a developer it wouldn't be hard to implement. This aligns well with my own programming experience: these kind of things tend to be rather trivial to implement, especially since most of the work has essentially already been done (tag detection, date formatting). (Note further that we could achieve the same effect with template markup and JavaScript for people who want another format than the default. So if a wikimarkup solution isn't viable for whatever reason, that shouldn't stop us. But it looks like it's simple to implement.) However, the developers need a clear guide on what to implement, because otherwise you end up implementing it in ten different ways, getting whistled back to the drawing board after people say ‘no we really had a slightly different thing in mind’. So what exactly do we want?
Syntax: <date>12 March 456</date> looks like a reasonable proposal. This would then also determine the default display format. Alternatives in the same vain: <date value="12 March 456" /> or template inspired: {{date|12 March 456}} or perhaps as a parser function: {{#date:12 March 456}} Perhaps we should ask a developer what is easiest.
Functionality: Now we're adding this, we might as well think if there's anything else we need or want. Should a page be able to have a default format or is it enough to specify formats in the tags themselves? Should registered users be able to specify a ‘short’ format, for use in tables, etcetera? If so, how do we want this implemented? Automatic detection from text entered, possibly with override? Should users be able to turn all dates into links, or to turn all date links off?
I have done enough programming to know that this should all be relatively simple to implement and I think it would pave the way to a solution acceptable to all of us. And this is of course a benefit of such a technical solution: instead of forcing what one group of editors wants down all our throats, a specialized markup based solution can potentially make everyone happy which makes it clearly the best road forward. Shinobu (talk) 09:56, 3 November 2008 (UTC)
Explain how "everybody" is going to be made happy by being told that whenever they want to write a date in an article they're editing, they can't just write it, but they have to use some special syntax that apparently serves no useful purpose except to solve a problem that never was a problem.--Kotniski (talk) 14:19, 3 November 2008 (UTC)
A date autoformatting that works without overloading linking is desirable as long as it has all the features we've asked for default settings and the like. The currently implementation sucks and needs to be dropped, that is a given. The devs say that a fixable version is possible. Thus, instead of dropping all easily-discovered computer-readable dates, we should try to find a format that in the current is simply a passthru to the data within but can be easily modified (whether a single template or bot activity) to make it work for the new DA. This will require additional markup, yes. Just like learning how to reference material properly, provide interwiki links, create tables, and so forth. It is no more difficult than other basic wikiediting tasks. DA was never a problem, it was always a feature and its a feature that we want to have as long as it degrades gracefully for unregistered/no preference users. The devs say it can be done , it's just not going to be today, so it seems silly to rush to make reinstalling the new DA more difficult by wiping the metadata of dates (the link brackets) with another piece of metadata that at the present time does nothing but help prepare for that. It's thinking forwards compatibility, not backwards. --MASEM 14:42, 3 November 2008 (UTC)
You really would have to be cross-eyed to find difficulty in reading month–day or day–month, whereever you come from. No one has yet answered why our readers and our editors are SO uneducated or blinkered that this would be an issue spending more than 2 seconds thinking about. Why are people wasting time here, hmmmmm?? Tony (talk) 15:23, 3 November 2008 (UTC)
Of course everyone can probably figure out day-month vs month-day. Having to do that once or twice in an article isn't going to kill anyone. But when you get to history-based articles with a lot of dates, someone reading in the date format that they aren't use to will be spending more time trying to figure out and scan visually for dates that are in the format they aren't use to seeing. DA (when done right with proper defaults and no linkages) is a usability feature we should want to strive for. Otherwise, why do we even argue over the date format of US+select other country-oriented pages over that from the rest of the world? Why not just go all international day-month-year style and never worry about date formatting again? If we are going to admit that US-centric topics should use US-style dates, then it also makes complete sense to want and desire for a DA system that works properly. --MASEM 15:29, 3 November 2008 (UTC)
If the dates are in a consistent format on a page, I don't believe that any reader will have any significant difficulty in figuring them out. If you've learnt to read English and use the Internet, you're almost certainly used to seeing both types of date (and even if you haven't, it's a no-brainer to figure them out). Spelling probably has a far greater effect on individuals' comprehension - why is no-one interested in making editors write {{altspell|colour|color}} or the like? The only answer seems to be that we've seen so much discussion and effort put into the specific question of dates (generated originally, I guess, by a few people who got over-emotional about what date format they preferred to see), that people have been misled into thinking there must be a real problem here. THERE ISN'T. Or anyway, not one that's worth developers, editors (and even readers) wasting any significant amounts of time on. This effort should be spent doing some of the countless things that really would make Wikipedia better.--Kotniski (talk) 15:44, 3 November 2008 (UTC)
Indeed. Trebor (talk) 19:50, 3 November 2008 (UTC)
Tony, as you seem to think we're all "wasting our time" here, perhaps you should move along and find something else to work on as this really seems to be bothering you. I'm sorry for that, I really am, but your view is (IMO) the minority view and you need to stop minimizing these things simply because you don't appreciate them. —Locke Coletc 02:17, 4 November 2008 (UTC)
Fake apologies don't really solve anything, to be honest. Can we agree that linking dates to day or year pages is generally pretty dumb? And that having the vast majority of our readers (the ones who aren't logged-in) seeing a mish-mash of date formats is pretty dumb? And that with regards to a new method of date autoformatting, it will take a long time to get consensus here and an unknown (but, based on past experience, probably long) time for the developers to implement it? If so, it's still correct at the moment to be unlinking and standardising dates in articles. If not, which bit do you take issue with? Trebor (talk) 02:57, 4 November 2008 (UTC)
It wasn't a "fake apology", he seems to believe this is a "waste of time" and wonders why we're all "wasting [our] time" on something he's apparently sorted out already for all of us. And I'm sorry, but that's just no the case at all. To your questions: I'm on the fence about year and date links, I don't see the harm in linking to these articles. But yes, having our regular readers seeing inconsistent dates within the same article (and often within the same paragraph or even the same sentence, I'm sure) is dumb. So let's fix that: by making auto formatting of dates work for regular readers. I don't know how long it would take to get consensus on date autoformatting (as far as how to implement it, I don't think there's any real opposition to it in principle). I do know that once we have something we can go to a dev with (something they can act upon) it shouldn't take long at all so long as it isn't unnecessarily complex. No, it's not correct to unlink dates: somehow Wikipedia has survived with them for all these years, I fail to see the immediate urgency in removing them now. —Locke Coletc 04:31, 4 November 2008 (UTC)
Allow me to explicitly register my "real opposition to it in principle", then, since you seem to have overlooked my previous pleadings. Whatever solution (if any) is adopted, it's going to lead to more trouble for developers, editors and possibly even readers, for NO purpose whatever. We do NOT NEED A SOLUTION because there is NO PROBLEM TO SOLVE. And we do NOT WANT A SOLUTION because it will inevitably cause NEW PROBLEMS (look at the discussion below about whether US dates are followed by commas, for example - often such commas will be incompatible with the other style of dates).--Kotniski (talk) 10:09, 4 November 2008 (UTC)
I would forgive Lock for appearing to be confusing 'cause' and 'effect'. The current movement to delink dates rests on a script which is capable of harmonising date formats within an article in one fell swoop (except for ISO dates). This, I believe is the correct approach to fixing the problem to which Lock was referring. To use some sort of theoretical DA for the purpose is akin to sweeping dust under the carpet than to sweeping it up. I hope I will have un-confused you enough to get you off that fence, and to hoover under that carpet. ;-) Ohconfucius (talk) 04:41, 4 November 2008 (UTC)
Locke: please stop apologising before diagreeing; it's totally meaningless and makes you seem patronising more than anything else. Wikilinks should be there just because they're harmless - they should be linked because they are helpful to the understanding of the article. If they weren't a relic of a bad date autoformatting method, this wouldn't even be an issue. From the state of this talk page, I imagine getting consensus on new date autoformatting could take a very long time (I'm with Kotniski: I don't think we need it at all). As raised earlier, if it was implemented, would you then start trying to get word autoformatting for colour/color etc? Because I'm sure most people find that far more annoying than the dates. Wikipedia has survived with dates this long, because most editors are logged in and haven't seen the mess some pages are in. But if we want to improve pages for the vast vast majority of readers without accounts, unlinking is the way to go. Trebor (talk) 11:25, 4 November 2008 (UTC)
I havent been part of this conversation for a month or so as things have been pretty busy in real life and I found myself getting annoyed by some of the same tones that Locke is responding to. The civility of the group has improved somewhat from two months ago, with dismissiveness the major remaining sticking point. To give credit where credit is due, Tony, Greg and others have been extremely persistent and focused on their goals. What concerns me is that it's an all or nothing goal which goes beyond guidelines to impose and execute their vision. I'd be much more impressed if participants in this discussion were actually editing more articles and not just running bots (though I do recognize that we all contribute in different ways).
I'd also like to suggest people do their best to avoid dropping back to their old circular logic when responding. WP:CHILL comes to mind. Someone new comes to the group and says "why"? Depending on who responds first, the thread quickly winds up touching DA, ISO dates, trivia, IP vs registered editors, overlinking, context, wording, what does specific mean, markup vs links, etc. It winds up with annoyed editors who feel there's a cabal here because the only people responding are those who have the passion, anger or persistence to keep following this talk page. It's not fair to say that only a few people have an opposing point of view. It is fair to say that many of them run away from here quickly. I just wish there was some middle ground we could find without having to stake out far end of the spectrum positions. dm (talk) 05:19, 4 November 2008 (UTC)

Autoformatting will always have unwanted side-effects such as creative linking that breaks the function:

  • [[August 21|21st Aug.]]
  • [[21 March]] [[1995 in basketweaving|1995]]

Some of the errors have persisted for years due to widespread confusion amongst ordinary editors. If autoformatting were intended to be a function of Wikipedia, somebody should have noticed that these errors are appearing faster than humans can fix them. There should have been a permanent bot to seek out such errors and fix them. The absence of complaints about errors is like Sherlock Holmes' dog that didn't bark i.e. if people care about autoformatted dates, they would complain loudly when it is broken. Similarly, if people care enough to discuss the benefits of autoformatting, they would care enough to create bots to fix it when it is broken by confused editors. I am making a serious suggestion here without trying to score a point:

  • if you want autoformatting to work, propose a bot to fix errors that break it.

Such a bot will not affect the debate itself. Lightmouse (talk) 11:05, 4 November 2008 (UTC)

And as usual, it's the complainers who are sitting in their armchairs dreaming up these so-called solutions while others work hard to fix WP's scrappy dates. I urge all to do one of two things that would be a significant contribution to the project, instead of this sideline gazing:

  • Join the WikiYear project and help us to make the year and decade pages better.
  • Help to redress the damage caused by DA by delinking and cleaning up dates. Tony (talk) 11:50, 4 November 2008 (UTC)
Such an amazingly disrespectful person you are Tony. So because I disagree with (and thus do not engage in) these activities you think are so "important" you feel the need to deride me (and others) by saying we're "sitting in [our] armchairs dreaming up these so-called solutions"? Stating matter of factly that we don't "work hard"? What is WRONG with you? Why do you feel the need to personally attack people? It's totally unacceptable per WP:NPA, and it MUST stop if you wish to continue contributing to this discussion. The reason I'm "on the sideline gazing" is because my offer of help (further up) hasn't spawned anything I can actually ACT UPON. As I am naturally AGAINST DELINKING DATES it's silly and almost insulting to suggest I should go engage in that act (when in fact I'm seriously considering going through Lightmouse (talk · contribs)s contribs and reverting his edits which consist of only unlinking dates).
Please stop with the personal attacks. —Locke Coletc 14:30, 4 November 2008 (UTC)
(e.c.) Please calm down. I'm one of the few people doing all of the work, and I have a perfect right to point out that complainers here do nothing, zilch, niente, null, zero, to improve certain aspects of the project connected with their complaints. Instead of launching your own, explicit, frenzied attack on me, why don't you take my call seriously and join the WikiProject Years? Tony (talk) 14:36, 4 November 2008 (UTC)
  • Calling people who disagree with you "complainers" and contrasting them as people who dont work hard doesnt make them wrong or you right. Personally the only thing I cared about was the metadata around dates, which the work you and others are doing is removing without concern. I agree that only some dates are relevant for linking, though perhaps more than you'd prefer. I agree the current version of DA is broken, but I'm not opposed to having a better version. In short, I feel there is middle ground here, where you appear to see little and dismiss anyone who does. I reread this arbitration and think it has great relevance to this group, especially the fait accompli section. I'd be curious what you think about it. dm (talk) 14:34, 4 November 2008 (UTC)
Just because there's disagreement doesn't mean the correct solution is to find the middle ground. I'm yet to see a compelling argument why we shouldn't delink dates at the moment considering we have no idea if and when a new DA system might be introduced or if we even need one. You agree that the current version is broken so, since we are still a long way from a new version, let's get rid of it. Trebor (talk) 14:44, 4 November 2008 (UTC)
  • Somewhere in the history here, I said I was ok with turning off DA in the underlying code without delinking. A followup task would be to take the linked dates and turn them into something else that could leverage the metadata around the dates without creating the links that some people dislike and while cleaning up the inconsistencies that no one wants. To be clear, there is no correct solution here. dm (talk) 14:57, 4 November 2008 (UTC)

There is a good point Trebor brings up. Let us presume that the devs provided us with a perfectly working DA system that was easy to use, gracefully defaults to the appropriate style for a page depending on its nation date preference, addressed issues with BC/AC and the Julian/Gregorian calendar, didn't link automatically, and all that. (add any other feature you think is necessary). How many would want that feature available? That's a question that there's no clear consensus because I don't think that's been asked. There is the issue of the current DA and providing date links and all that, but strictly on the aspect of a fully-functional and proper DA system, I do see anything to infer one way or the other. I see DA as a useful feature to have when it is done properly for all readers and for editors, but that's just me. I think a smart conversation to have right now is to determine if there consensus that we want a DA feature that doesn't have the burden of the current one, because that will lead to two results:

  • If DA is a consensus-desired feature, we should avoid losing the metadata on the dates right now and find a way to keep them in place (passthru templates) until the new DA system is up, or admit that we're ready to dedicate a lot of bot CPU cycles and manual edits, strip the current linking off dates right now, and be prepared to reenter the new DA format when it is on
  • If DA is decidely not needed, then we simple strip the date links, and tell the devteam their efforts aren't needed. --MASEM 15:01, 4 November 2008 (UTC)
The cow will jump over the moon before WikiMedia delivers any useful improvement. And if I were WikiMedia, I'd hide behind a tree: who wants to mess with month–day order? Soon we'll have people pushing for every instance of "colour/color" to be format-linked so our precious minds aren't corroded by the "wrong" spelling. Let's all get a life and move on, please. Tony (talk) 11:00, 8 November 2008 (UTC)
It's this kind of attitude that probably keeps the MediaWiki devs at length. Tony the sooner you recognize that you're a hindrance to date formatting and not a help the better off the Wiki will be. —Locke Coletc 18:34, 9 November 2008 (UTC)

I did it...

Copied from User talk:Army1987:

Sewer cover.jpg The Sewer Cover Barnstar
You have been awarded the Sewer Cover Barnstar because you can read through anything. You don’t know the meaning of attention deficit disorder, laugh in the face of boredom, and are wasting your talents if you don’t become a patent examiner.
  • I award this to you with humbleness and awe. You’ve done what I truly can not. Greg L (talk) 03:10, 7 November 2008 (UTC)
  • Congratulations, would you care to share your experience? Ohconfucius (talk) 08:17, 7 November 2008 (UTC)
    Yesterday, the morning lessons had finished, and a classmate of mine suggested to wait until 2:20 pm before we went to the canteen, so that the queue would be much shorter, and we accepted his suggestion. That is what I did to pass my time, meanwhile. My ideas:
    • An article like 1925 or 2008 as they are structured now is not terribly useful. Personally, I'd split it into List of 1925 events, List of people born in 1925 and List of people died in 1925. It could be useful to create a prose article about the year, à la 1345, which would ideally provide general historic context for events having happened/books written/etc. in that year. (I acknowledge that this would be very hard to do for some years; also, I have no good idea of what to do to 1925 between the time the current list of lists is split and the time when a decent article is written.)
    • As for October 1 or October 16, I simply cannot understand what those lists are supposed to be useful for – I don't just claim that they are not useful for someone clicking October 1 from, e.g. Alberta; I claim that they are not useful at all, so the solution is not to delink them – it is to remove them. Wikipedia is not an indiscriminate collection of information; why would anyone need a list of completely unrelated events which just happened to happen on the same day of different years? As for what I would do with those articles, I would include stuff such as:
      • A summary style introduction to the major holidays and celebrations hold worldwide on that day, with maybe some historical perspective; ideally, there would still be a reason why Christmas should link December 25 (but Belize or Compaq shouldn't);
      • Stuff like the average sun declination and equation of time of that day, and maybe even the high and low temperatures and precipitations on that day for some of the main cities worldwide (averaged over the last ten years or so); (but for the latter, I don't think it'd be easy to obtain that information).
    • In other words, IMO, things related to the day October 1 of all years should belong to that article, things related to October 1 of any particular year shouldn't, unless they have been celebrated on October 1 of later years.
    BTW, thank you for the barnstar, Greg. -- Army1987 (t — c) 16:26, 7 November 2008 (UTC)
  • My pleasure. You should consider copying this thread over to WT:MOSNUM. Greg L (talk) 20:14, 7 November 2008 (UTC)

  • Done, even though I'm beginning to feel sick of this page. -- Army1987 (t — c) 20:27, 7 November 2008 (UTC)

I have no sewer cover barnstar yet, but I mostly agree with Army1987's views. I guess the date articles are used for Wikipedia:Selected anniversaries on the main page though? -- Jao (talk) 21:00, 7 November 2008 (UTC)

So this suggests that we have some idea of when dates should be linked, depending on their context:
  • For the linking years:
  • Key events (national/global impact) to a "list of events in YEAR"
  • Births to a "list of births in YEAR", and same for deaths
  • For linking Month/day:
  • Dates associated with annual/biannual/etc. activities (holidays, etc.), possibly including those holidays based on a day of the week instead of the actual date (maybe for 5 years back to 5 years forward, eg "Mother's Day will be celebrated on May 12, 2010 in (country list)".
  • Dates should not be linked for one-time events
If we can narrow these down, then we start a rationale discussion on date linking. --MASEM 21:33, 7 November 2008 (UTC)
  • Even though you didn’t flog yourself with four of these articles Jao, thanks for expressing your views on the matter (21:00, 7 November post). Arthur Rubin became the second person ever to earn his Sewer Cover Barnstar the hard way; he read four of these trivia articles. Greg L (talk) 01:18, 8 November 2008 (UTC)
  • Responding to Masem: I would suggest that if we were to link to “List of births in year”, that we still do so with fully aliased links that fully disclose what the reader will be taken to. Many readers would be reluctant to click on 1925 unless it was in the form of “(other 1925 births)”. Whether it is 1952 in film, or 1795 in science, these links, IMO, should fully explain what the linked article is about without having to dwell one’s cursor over it. Maybe such links can be added to our See also sections. Greg L (talk) 01:18, 8 November 2008 (UTC)
  • And to Army1987: Your link to Wikipedia is not an indiscriminate collection of information seems a very compelling argument to not ever link to these day-of-the-year articles. It certainly seems that policy (not a guideline and not an essay) would have prohibited the creation of these “October 1”-type articles in the first place. But, now that we have them, it would be unrealistic to douche them. But I would think we can certainly agree to not clutter up our articles with links to them though. Greg L (talk) 01:29, 8 November 2008 (UTC)
If you want a list of of births in 1925, there is an extensive list at: 'Category:1925 births'. Lightmouse (talk) 16:04, 8 November 2008 (UTC)

(←unidented)

That  is an interesting point ('Category:1925 births') Lightmouse. If we have categories like that, then why in the world  have editors been linking to the trivia-type year articles? I didn’t know these things existed. With 4,591,401 articles, Wikipedia is apparently so damn big, it’s hard for editors to know what in the world is available here to link to. Were it me, I would be finding a way to let readers know about this in a non-intrusive way that best adheres with the Principle of Least Astonishment. Perhaps something like this:



Angela Lansbury in The Picture of Dorian Gray trailer.jpg

Angela Brigid Lansbury, CBE (born October 16, 1925) (other 1925 births) is an English actress and singer whose career has spanned six decades. She made her first film appearance in Gaslight (1944), for which she received an Academy Award nomination, and expanded her repertoire to Broadway and television in the 1950s. Highly respected for her versatility, Lansbury has won four Tony Awards and six Golden Globes, and has been nominated for eighteen Emmys and three Academy Awards.





…or via this method:

See also




By the way, our Angela Lansbury article currently does not even have a See also section and the article currently does not provide a link to [[List of British actresses]] (perma-link to what I was referring to). I think these See also  sections are a perfectly splendid way to let readers know of the availability of “germane” information (something we’re apparently not doing a very good job of right now).

Further, the current practice (now being deprecated) has been failing to properly employ aliasing to clue readers as to the nature of what they will be going to if they click on a link. Someone shouldn’t have to click on links in text like this:

The United States’ energy independence briefly looked possible with the 1989 “discovery” of cold fusion.

…to find out what these year links really are all about. It makes them less inclined to click on other links. …Which is unfortunate, because some editors have been aliasing good  links like this: [[1989 in music|1989]]. Many readers avoid year links after stumbling upon them a few times and would never click a rose that has been so camouflaged as something to avoid.

IMO, links to relevant information should always be fully disclosed as to what it is about (via aliasing if necessary), and should either be in the form of a parenthetical in body text (first example above), or should be a bullet in the See also  sections (lower example).

Greg L (talk) 21:49, 8 November 2008 (UTC)


P.S. And now the Angela Lansbury article has a See also  section.
Greg L (talk) 21:55, 8 November 2008 (UTC)

Well, for what it's worth, I consider 1989 in music to be even less likely to be relevant, even to a music article, than our current 1989, but that may be a matter of taste. (Speaking of which, what's that redlink doing in 1989 in music#Births?) — Arthur Rubin (talk) 22:00, 8 November 2008 (UTC)
Both are as useless as each other. Greg, that's a good example. Is she still as stuck-up as ever? Tony (talk) 11:25, 9 November 2008 (UTC)
  • Angela Lansbury? Is that what you’re suggesting?? I hadn’t heard that. Anyone who reminds me of my mother‑in‑law… ;·) I had  heard that was widely shared view (s.u.-rhymes with “rich”) of Katharine Ross according to the real‑life F‑14 pilots who worked with her during the making of The Final Countdown (according to their commentary on my two‑DVD special set of the film).

    The interesting part of the commentary (for me) was a sequence where an F‑14 was dog fighting with a Zero. The F‑14 made low-level roll, stalled, and had to hit the after-burners to pull out just above the wave tops. They used that clip in the movie and used sound effects that ignored the lighting of the after-burners, which made it more difficult to detect just how desperate the maneuver truly was. Some Navy brass showed the finished movie to some admiral. When they later greeted the admiral, they asked him how he liked the movie. His answer was something like: “Fine, fine. How low did he go?” The F‑14 pilots defended the pilot who pulled that stunt by saying he was damn good and knew how to pull it off safely. No he wasn’t—and didn’t. Just damned lucky. Greg L (talk) 22:48, 9 November 2008 (UTC)

Different readers prefer to navigate in different ways; some like navboxes, some like links, some like categories. We have all three in order to pander to all of them. We should continue to do; there is no One True Structure which Wikipedia must have, to the exclusion of all others. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 00:48, 10 November 2008 (UTC)

Can the MOS be changed because an RFC to change it failed?

Moved from Lightmouse talk page:begin
Since the RFC at WT:MOSNUM shows no consensus on this, please stop using automatic tools to impose a change of status. Jheald (talk) 19:07, 4 November 2008 (UTC)

The rfc was a request to obtain special treatment for dates of birth and death. It failed to establish consensus. If you think it succeeded then we are so far apart in our interpretations that we won't make much progress on my talk page. Let's see what other people at wt:mosnum say. Lightmouse (talk) 19:23, 4 November 2008 (UTC)

The RFC asked people what should be done. It was split almost equally down the middle. Plainly, that means no consensus. Jheald (talk) 19:26, 4 November 2008 (UTC)

Moved from Lightmouse talk page:end

I can't parse this. If what Jheald says it true, then the failure of an RFC can be treated exactly the same as its success. Have we entered a world of doublethink? Lightmouse (talk) 19:41, 4 November 2008 (UTC)

It seems plain to me. There was an RfC to ask what people thought about linking dates of birth and death. If it had gone one way, we would have clear consensus to "link always". If it went the other, we would have clear consensus to not link. But the truth is, it split right down the middle. So, plainly, that means there is no consensus.
It is long established that bots shouldn't be used to make mass changes for which there is no consensus. Jheald (talk) 20:03, 4 November 2008 (UTC)
That RfC could have had three outcomes:
  • A positive consensus would mean that links should remain in birth/date fields even if there was a clear consensus to delete them here.
  • A negative consensus would mean that the links should be deleted from birth/death fields even if there was a clear consensus that autoformatted links should not be deleted.
  • What we have, is no consensus, which means that, in the clear absence of a consensus to delete datelinks, they should remain in place. In the case of new person-articles, the existing (arguable) consensus is that the date links should not be added, but the RfC provides a specific reason for linking, so for delinking to be done, there would have to be a specific reason for delinking. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 20:12, 4 November 2008 (UTC)
  • Your interpretation is "interesting". As with all previous instances of consensus, not achieving it means a revert to the status quo - the RfC was to add "These dates should normally be linked" to the guideline. The action on achieving consensus would be to start linking. It failed, so it must mean it is not added, and no birth and death dates should be linked (if not already explicit enough, is strongly implied by the absence of the phrase). AFAIK, there are no bots going around doing anything against any established consensus, so what exactly are you referring to? If you are referring to the script-assisted date-delinking, it is done consciously by humans with the aid of a machine. Ohconfucius (talk) 02:59, 5 November 2008 (UTC)
Arthur, stop churning the same old mantras. No one out there cares about this confabulated WP:IDONTLIKEIT retro-screeching by a tiny minority about what was a bad solution for a non-problem. The decision was made in August, and it enjoys wide support. Now, why don't you help with the year articles? That would be welcome. Tony (talk) 03:05, 5 November 2008 (UTC)
    • The status quo is "all such (birth and death) dates are linked, except those which have recently been removed."
    • There is no consensus to remove the links, so the link removal bots such as Lightbot were operating against consensus. If Lightmouse and Tony were looking at each link they removed and determined there was no specific reason why each of them should be there, they were following consensus. Otherwise, not. I'd like to WP:AGF, but considering the edit rate, I would have to assume they have Chloe Sullivan's (current) power. I could assume that for one person, but not two.
    • The consensus for deprecation of autoformatted links is real, (among MOS wonks), but weak, as it was not advertised on the VP.
    • Specific reasons why they should be linked were given in the arguments in favor of linking, so that removing the year links is not supported or opposed by the MOS.
    • No, I think my interpretation is credible; certainly more so than yours that there is a consensus to remove the links. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 03:18, 5 November 2008 (UTC)
It sounds like that 'I was playing with that toy first' sort of argument. Ohconfucius (talk) 05:36, 5 November 2008 (UTC)
  • Jheald and Arthur: How about you two go earn yourselves a Sewer cover barnstar here, and then we’d better accept that you are making an informed decision and are willing to practice what you preach. Greg L (talk) 04:53, 5 November 2008 (UTC)

    P.S. Test at 11:00 Thursday. No crib sheets. Greg L (talk) 04:56, 5 November 2008 (UTC)

The RFC was a request to add a piece of text to the MOS. The text would have provided special treatment for dates of birth and death. The RFC failed. The failure of the RFC does not create an invisible clause in the MOS that provides special treatment for dates of birth and death. The MOS contains no invisible clauses and users of the MOS do not have to check with the proponents of failed RFCs if pro-MOS edits are ok with them. Lightmouse (talk) 11:18, 5 November 2008 (UTC)

It demonstrates that there is no consensus either way on this matter. The text of MOS should not state rules which are not consensus; therefore this warrants toning down the language which one moiety of the participants would have liked. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:17, 5 November 2008 (UTC)
There is wide consensus—far beyond the bounds of any styleguide talk page. Tony (talk) 13:23, 6 November 2008 (UTC)
{{fact}} — Arthur Rubin (talk) 14:10, 6 November 2008 (UTC)
Tony your imaginary consensus doesn't count. Various comments taken from talk pages don't count. You need a community discussion for this type of change not some disjointed discussion that anyone concerned with couldn't have found if they wanted to. —Locke Coletc 00:38, 7 November 2008 (UTC)
You're not simply constructing "consensus" in a way that suits your feelings on the matter, are you? Tony (talk) 00:43, 7 November 2008 (UTC)
Amusingly enough, this appears to be exactly what you are doing. Most consensus seeking is done in one centralized location, not in various article pages (which nobody but those interested will be watching) over a long period of time. What you've presented is not consensus, it's a random sampling (which may not, and I posit, is not, representative of the communities view). —Locke Coletc 02:33, 7 November 2008 (UTC)
  • With regard to my 04:56, 5 November post and my challenge to Jheald and Arthur, they may not have risen to the challenge, but Army1987 did and I just awarded him the Sewer Cover Barnstar. To do so, he read four entire articles of pure trivia (Oct. 1, Oct. 16, 1925, and 2008). Congratulations. He really toughed it out. Greg L (talk) 03:23, 7 November 2008 (UTC)

The RFC was a request to add a piece of text to the MOS. The text would have provided special treatment for birth/dates. The RFC failed. Arthur proposes that the MOS should contain a clause for 'old links good, new links bad'. I think it is silly but have no objection to people making proposals for MOS modification. In the meantime, many editors will continue to operate on the basis of the existing MOS. As an example, I have fully delinked the dates in Princess Eléonore of Belgium. I think it is an improvement to the article and is in accordance with the MOS. Many editors are continuing to make similar edits in line with the MOS. Either accept the MOS wording or change it. Lightmouse (talk) 10:26, 7 November 2008 (UTC)

I'm sorry, but however you slice it there is demonstrably no consensus either to link or to delink dates of birth and dates of death. The WP way is to put questions like this to an RfC. We did, and the result was split right down the middle.
The argument that these dates had to be delinked for consistency was made in the RfC, but it did not achieve consensus. Jheald (talk) 16:18, 7 November 2008 (UTC)
If the MoS page wasn't locked, I would happily add to the MoS that "currently there is no consensus either to link or to delink dates of birth and dates of death" -- since that is what the RfC has demonstrated. Jheald (talk) 16:21, 7 November 2008 (UTC)

The RFC was a request to add a piece of text to the MOS. It was not a vote about existing text. You can't change the terms of the RFC after people have voted. Lightmouse (talk) 16:55, 7 November 2008 (UTC)

PS, I have fully delinked the dates in Shakir Stewart. I think it is an improvement to the article and is in accordance with the MOS. If you think the birth/death dates in that article need linking, please let us know why. Lightmouse (talk) 16:59, 7 November 2008 (UTC)
That's fascinating that you think it's an improvement (FWIW, you also fail to note "why" you think it's an improvement). I don't. —Locke Coletc 22:38, 8 November 2008 (UTC)
Amusing. So because he runs around removing dates from articles he's never edited before, I'm not allowed to undo that because I disagree with it? No, I don't think so. And I'm not the only one going around undoing edits. The MoS does not reflect consensus, and until it does, these types of edits should not be getting made on a massive scale. —Locke Coletc 18:32, 9 November 2008 (UTC)


  • Although WP is "the encyclopaedia that anyone can edit", following someone around in a physical (and metaphysical) sense is by definition stalking. Ohconfucius (talk) 07:52, 10 November 2008 (UTC)
  • Nonsense again. If, for example, WAREL were to consistently make nonsense and mathematically incorrect edits and incorrect links to ja.wikipedia, it wouldn't be "stalking" to check his edits and revert the ones which are clearly wrong. (This is a real example, where I was one of the "stalkers" before I became an admin. He's now banned from both en. and ja.) The question of whether the edits are clearly wrong obviously must be up to the individual editor. Now, I'm not saying I'd do that, but if Locke Cole honestly believes that Lightmouse's edits are not supported by policy and are harmful to Wikipedia, it's not stalking to find them by looking at his contributions and revert them. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 08:07, 10 November 2008 (UTC)
Lightmouse brought Shakir Stewart up here; Locke Cole disagrees with him on the links. (I would take an intermediate position: November 1 is material, the others aren't.) That's not stalking: it fails to meet even the first test, that Cole have been watching Lightmouse's contributions. As Arthur points out, one can watch and revert someone's contributions and still be behaving perfectly civilly; but jumping from this very section cannot be stalking at all. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 15:41, 10 November 2008 (UTC)

I have just fully delinked the dates in John Hermon. I think it is an improvement to the article and is in accordance with the MOS. There is nothing relevant in the four date links:

  • 6 November
  • 1928
  • 23 November
  • 2008

other than a collection of random trivia. If one of those articles has something relevant about 'John Hermon', it should be in the 'John Hermon' article itself. Lightmouse (talk) 14:19, 10 November 2008 (UTC)

Reverted. Per the reasons in the RfC above. Script-assisted tools are not appropriate where there is not consensus. Jheald (talk) 14:46, 10 November 2008 (UTC)
I suggest we look for an outside arbitrator here, that isn't committed to their own dog in the ring. Jheald (talk) 14:47, 10 November 2008 (UTC)
Do you mean arbitrator or mediator? — Arthur Rubin (talk) 20:00, 10 November 2008 (UTC)
I don't think either mediation or arbitration would be effective. First, they are conduct-oriented and only put on notice the people directly involved; this problem involves all editors. Also, in part the dispute revolves around whether date autoformatting will ever be fixed, but mediation and arbitration are confined to Wikipedia and does not bring in the developers. (I recognize that many editors, perhaps a majority, don't want date autoformatting even if it works perfectly in even the most arcane situations. But some editors might change their position if they had definite information that date autoformatting would be either abolished or fixed by a date certain.) --Gerry Ashton (talk) 20:18, 10 November 2008 (UTC)
Certainly arbitrators could look at the conduct of users such as Tony1 and Lightmouse who, despite being asked to stop, seem intent on removing date links (and the accompanying formatting) anyways. Coupled with the lack of consensus (demonstrated by the various people who have wandered in here over the past three months only to be bullied away), I think the conduct of those pushing this through is appalling. —Locke Coletc 05:46, 11 November 2008 (UTC)
  • It will only work if the objectives are clear from the outset, and if there is a buy-in. I don't think we have either - not by a long way. Ohconfucius (talk) 06:05, 11 November 2008 (UTC)
Locke, there's a tendency to personalise the issue. My arguments have concentrated on technical issues that place our readers, not editors, at the centre. The exception has been my pointing out that the complainers here sit by and watch while others work hard to improve this aspect of the project. It appears to be still the case. Tony (talk) 14:02, 11 November 2008 (UTC)
Just because you concentrate on the technical issue doesn't give you the right to dismiss others opinions out of hand as you've done over the past many months. Especially when it comes to trying to ignore comments simply because people aren't doing "work" because they "sit by and watch" (in your view). You might consider reading fallacy (particularly ad hominem) if you get a chance. —Locke Coletc 14:27, 11 November 2008 (UTC)
Tony, that is completely false. For example (and there are many more), you have accused me on various discussion pages of having a mental disorder. If that isn't "personalizing" the issue, I can't imagine what would be. Tennis expert (talk) 04:33, 12 November 2008 (UTC)
  • Tennis expert, on the contrary, I was most concerned that your behaviour in relation to a number of people was the result of something more than everyday stress, and asked you whether I could be of assistance. At the time, I was more concerned with your personal well-being than your technical/administrative dispute over WP's now-widely-accepted decision to largely dispense with double square brackets around dates. If that is what you mean by "personalising", I think you've misinterpreted my words. Locke Cole's accusation above that Lightmouse and I are bullies, and our behaviour "appalling", can't be excused in the same way as your past behaviour. Again, I encourage you both to lend a hand to clean up WP's date formatting, and perhaps even its chaotic year and date pages, rather than attracting the limelight by sniping from the sidelines. Please try to be cooperative; I'm keen to collaborate and move on from this adversarial environment. Tony (talk) 08:35, 12 November 2008 (UTC)

Edit proposal

The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

I'd like to clarify the section Wikipedia:Manual_of_Style_(dates_and_numbers)#Quantities_of_bytes_and_bits a little, without significantly changing its content.

Old verion

  • Disambiguation should be shown in bytes or bits, clearly showing the intended base (binary or decimal). There is no preference in the way to indicate the number of bytes and bits, but there should be consistency within a given article with the notation style used (e.g., write A 64 MB (64 × 10242 bytes) video card and a 100 GB (100 × 10003 bytes) hard drive, A 64 MB (64 × 220 bytes) video card and a 100 GB (100×109 bytes) hard drive or A 64 MB (67,108,864 bytes) video card and a 100 GB (100,000,000,000 bytes) hard drive are all acceptable; but not A 64 MB (67,108,864 bytes) video card and a 100 GB (100 × 10003 bytes) hard drive). Footnotes, such as those seen in Power Macintosh 5500, may be used for disambiguation.

New version

  • Disambiguation should be shown in bytes or bits, with clear indication of whether in binary or decimal base. There is no preference in the way to indicate the number of bytes and bits, but the notation style should be consistent within an article. Acceptable examples include:
A 64 MB (64 × 10242 bytes) video card and a 100 GB (100 × 10003 bytes) hard drive
A 64 MB (64 × 220 bytes) video card and a 100 GB (100×109 bytes) hard drive
A 64 MB (67,108,864 bytes) video card and a 100 GB (100,000,000,000 bytes) hard drive
Avoid inconsistent combinations such as A 64 MB (67,108,864 bytes) video card and a 100 GB (100 × 10003 bytes) hard drive. Footnotes, such as those seen in Power Macintosh 5500 may be used for disambiguation.

Needless to say, I think these changes are non-controversial, but since the page is protected I thought I should do this "by the book" rather than just editing away. Comments? SHEFFIELDSTEELTALK 15:59, 6 November 2008 (UTC)

  • I think your new wording is clearer and better written. I agree, the edit should be considered as a non-controversial improvement. Good suggestion. Greg L (talk) 03:36, 7 November 2008 (UTC)
  • Yep, go for it. (But lose the hyphen after the colon at the start of the list.)--Kotniski (talk) 09:07, 7 November 2008 (UTC)
  • I agree. I've tweaked the wording a little, hoping not to have changed the substantive meaning; revert if you don't like it. Tony (talk) 13:43, 7 November 2008 (UTC)
  • Looks like an improvement to me.LeadSongDog (talk) 15:09, 7 November 2008 (UTC)
Heh. I never get tired of trying to sneak the :- symbol into articles. It is allegedly known in English typesetting as "the dog's bollocks". I'll go ahead and make the change... without that :) SHEFFIELDSTEELTALK 15:15, 7 November 2008 (UTC)
  • I know this is going to be shouted down, but how infinitely more clear would have been:
Acceptable examples include:
A 64 MB (64 MiB) video card and a 100 GB (93 GiB) hard drive
woodstone (talk) 20:41, 10 November 2008 (UTC)
That would have been significantly less clear, given that everyone understands bytes, and very few readers understand MiB. SHEFFIELDSTEELTALK 21:15, 10 November 2008 (UTC)
Do you seriously think that people intuitively know how much 64 × 10242 is, or are going to count the zeroes in 100,000,000,000? Disambiguation is best done by converting to a simple unambiguous unit of the same magnitude. −woodstone (talk) 06:42, 11 November 2008 (UTC)
What you and I think is irrelevant. This isn't a proposal to alter the MoS guideline. It's the tail end of an uncontroversial edit proposal, and to be honest, since the edit was made, this discussion is closed. SHEFFIELDSTEELTALK 14:32, 12 November 2008 (UTC)

The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.


Autoformatted dates broken by concealed links

There is a discussion about autoformatted dates being broken by concealed links. Please see Wikipedia_talk:Only_make_links_that_are_relevant_to_the_context#suggestion_re_year-in-X_links. Regards Lightmouse (talk) 17:52, 11 November 2008 (UTC)

Administrators that don't like the MOS

Administrators that don't like the MOS are threatening blocks. How do we define the term 'involved administrator'?

See: Wikipedia:Administrators'_noticeboard#Proceeding_from_here. Lightmouse (talk) 23:16, 12 November 2008 (UTC)

Don't like the MOS? Talk about grasping at straws. More like "administrators that are responding to numerous complaints about a bot" are threatening blocks, and even then only blocking the bot, not the users. There's no need to exacerbate the situation any by trying to make this a personal sort of thing. I have no specific desire to see Lightbot blocked, except that it is causing numerous complaints. I really fail to understand why you (or the other editors who are stridently pushing for the bot's continued operation) seem adverse to putting this issue to bed once and forever by opening it up to public discussion. RFC has been suggested previously, the Village Pump has come up as a viable option - I simply do not understand the resistance toward gathering some real consensus that could circumvent the need for this kind of discussion again. Please stop trying to paint me as being the enemy here; I in fact supported[14] your request for a bot performing similar date-delinking when you tried to get Cleanbot off the ground. Shereth 23:32, 12 November 2008 (UTC)
(edit conflict) Absolute poppy-cock. The issue is that some administrators do not feel that Lightbot has the neccessary community approval to delink autoformatted dates; not that they don't like the MOS. That is pure rubbish. I think Mlaffs comment in #Proceeding from here sums up the situation perfectly. Woody (talk) 23:36, 12 November 2008 (UTC)
  • Shereth, you are employing the wrong criteria in deciding whether or not to block Lightbot. The criteria is not whether the bot is operating in the midst of a dispute over its use”; some disputes absolutely never  end—even though a consensus has been reached—just because there are impassioned editors on the loosing side of the dispute who are willing to climb the Reichstag over it. Virtually nothing could be accomplished on Wikipedia if action could be paralyzed because there is still controversy. And we certainly can’t have admins jumping into this and deciding issues based on who shouts loudest and cries that there is still an ongoing dispute. By your logic, Lightmouse wouldn’t have been able to modify his bot to help convert instances of “mebibyte (MiB)” to “megabyte (MB)” because doing so would have had it operating in the “midst of a dispute”.

    These issues of dates and links have been discussed for a very long time and the editors who’ve stayed in the thick of it the entire time have witnessed a clear consensus form amongst informed editors to deprecate certain practices. But once deprecation starts, new editors come here with a WTF reaction and we have to start all over again to explain the rational. We’ve found ourselves saying the same thing over and over with each new editor to come here. That is the very reason I wrote WP:Why dates should not be linked (to automate this education process). But with 22,311,013 users, there will always be new editors coming here with their hair on fire wondering why their blue this or blue that is no longer blue. We’ve now got some essays to point them to but there are a lot of users to educate and—even if we could educate them all—there will always be holdouts.

    It’s important too to remember that general consensus is determined in large part by the weight of rational arguments; the pendulum doesn’t swing back one iota just because a half-dozen brand new editors come out of the woodwork a few days after a bot goes to work. The only decision here that is relevant is whether or not there clearly was—and continues to be—a general consensus for a policy and whether or not Lightmouse’s bot is fairly operating within the scope of that consensus decision. Please limit yourself to those criteria.

    Respectfully, if you can’t see the truth of this, then you should recuse yourself. Greg L (talk) 03:55, 13 November 2008 (UTC)

  • If this were an isolated incident then I would not be in the position I am. However this is far from isolated; it is a recurring problem. In the last week or so alone over half a dozen independent editors have requested that Lightbot be paused while arguments are considered, and numerous others have chimed in on the discussion, be it here, with Lightmouse directly, and at the administrator's noticeboard. There may well be other locations I am unaware of, but those I named are sufficient to illustrate the breadth of the problem. I agree with you wholeheartedly that we cannot have anyone - admin or otherwise - jumping in and dashing what appear to be longstanding practices merely at the whim of a loud complaint. At the same time, we cannot allow the direction of the debate to be steered by a small but persistent cadre of voices, either. The reason that this is a repetitive problem is because, when this debate keeps rising to the fore, instead of attempting to gain some kind of community consensus, the complainants are inevitably driven away by reams of well intentioned but unwavering discussion from a cohesive group of editors who have a keen interest in the subject. I daresay that if we were to lump all of the arguments against the removal of date links that have accumulated over time against the arguments for the removal of links, there would be an overwhelming lean toward the side against. This is not how consensus is achieved, but neither is consensus achieved by drowning out every lone complaint. This issue desperately needs a real consensus one way or another. As I have stated and continue to state, I really don't care which way that consensus goes - I just want to see it. That's all. Why are you so opposed to this? In any event, while it may seem abundantly logical to you and a few others that removing these links is in the best interest of the project, there is no demonstrable consensus to that effect. If you are keeping tabs on the discussion at WP:AN you would see that I am by no means alone in this assessment of the situation. To go back to your point: no, we cannot have admins jumping in on issues and deciding the outcome based on loud voices. I am in now way attempting to decide an outcome or even influence it in one way or another; I am merely enforcing a moratorium on the issue until an outcome is reached. As such, I see no need to recuse myself at all. If it can be demonstrated that the community does, indeed, want these links removed then I will be all too happy to enforce the will of the community by responding to complaints with a link to the discussion that generated said consensus. Until then, I must treat the complainants with equal respect to the operator of the bot and its proponents. Shereth 05:26, 13 November 2008 (UTC)

Shereth: "we cannot allow the direction of the debate to be steered by a small but persistent cadre of voices"—Yes, well that is just what it seems you're relying on to support your pursuit of administrative threats and actions. These threats and actions appear to breach basic tenets of the policy on admin behaviour. Casting my eyes down the policy page, I see:

If you are granted access, you must exercise care in using these new function

Administrator tools are also used with judgement

and more pertinently, the policy on "Failure to communicate" (WRT your initial blocking), and on "Conflict of interest", which involves the use of admin tools "where a significant conflict of interest is likely to exist", and requires that "administrators should ensure they are reasonably neutral parties when they use the tools".

I believe that you have demonstrated a personal interest in the issue of dates and linking, and that the risk of a perceived conflict of interest requires that you desist from further involvement except as a registered editor. This is a serious issue that involves the reputation and respect of the system of administrators on WP. That is why the policies are in place. Tony (talk) 06:20, 13 November 2008 (UTC)

Can you (or anyone) point this "initial blocking" that was performed with or without a "failure to communicate"? I doubt it, because I have yet to issue a block in all of this mess. In fact I have been extremely patient and communicative here - I have issued numerous warnings and have given Lightbot the benefit of the doubt every single time and have in fact refrained from making good on those warnings. I won't do that any longer, as my patience in the matter is exhausted. Your dire talk about "serious issues" and the "reputation and respect of system administrators" is little more than a red herring, Tony, and I for one am not going to be dissuaded by it. My position has been supported both here and otherwise. My "personal interest" in this situation is to ensure that all editors, bot or otherwise, respect the rules of Wikipedia with regards to edit disputes. This is, in fact, a protracted edit dispute between numerous editors in the population at large and less than half a dozen extremely persistent editors here at MOSNUM. I cannot stress enough that I am not taking sides in this debate, but I am going to use my authority to ensure that the situation is placed on hold until a resolution is found. That's a key tenet to the process of dispute resolution and is one of the basic functions of an administrator. Trying to call my interest in seeing consensus develop a "conflict of interest" and demanding I recuse myself from the matter because I have shown a keen interest in seeing the conflict resolved is pure nonsense. I won't further entertain this kind of hand-waving and will not further respond to baseless accusations of a "conflict of interest" unless something substantive comes up. The cycle of this issue has gone on long enough and I'm going to be the stick in the mud if I have to and insist that it be resolved. I don't care what the resolution is, and I'm not going to bother repeating that point any further - it's been made here countless times. Again, my position is neither novel nor unique. Stop trying to derail an attempt to gather consensus by casting aspersions of improprieties about. Shereth 13:48, 13 November 2008 (UTC)
Yes, but you are taking sides by riling against the legitimate work of a bot to assist the project in complying with the style guides—very much taking sides. You do thus show your personal stake in your dogged persistence in this matter, over many many weeks. You need to admit this and resist the urge to use what you call your "authority" to pursue what is a conflict of interest. If you do act, be aware that you expose yourself to further and more serious claims of such.Tony (talk) 14:22, 13 November 2008 (UTC)
Yes, administrators who don't like the changes you've made to the MOS without a clear consensus are threatening to block bots acting on an extension of the (changed) MOS. So? As for "involved" admins, if Lightbot edits a date article and removes links specifically mentioned in the appropriate WikiProject, (and I happen to notice it), I'll block it, even though I'm involved. If have avoided blocking Lightbot because of my involvement in the issue, but restricting admins who are involved pretty much restricts admins who have a clue, in this instance, considering the number of megabytes of argument. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 14:55, 13 November 2008 (UTC)
[edit conflict] Whatever else you're uttering, at last, here's an admission that admins "are pretty much involved" (you could only be referring to Shereth et al.). This is a clear indication that if they threaten to use their tools, or actually do use them, they need to be brought to the appropriate disciplinary forum for breaching the conflict-of-interest policy (not guideline, but policy). Thank you. Tony (talk) 15:10, 13 November 2008 (UTC)
Tony - in a dispute over a single page where two sides continue to go back and forth without resolution, it is common practice to temporarily protect the page from further editing while the dispute is resolved. Such protection is never an endorsement of the status of the page when it is protected. This dispute does not involve a single page and thus there is no page to protect. My insisting that the bot be temporarily halted (up to and including blocking) is not an endorsement of the side who is against date unlinking but is the only way to place a temporary lid on the pot while it is boiling. It is standard procedure to cease editing in a contentious manner when the situation is being assessed. I am sorry you interpret this as as taking sides, but your insistence that it is such does not make it so. I cannot make this any more clear so I will not continue to try. If the bot is resumed prior to a resolution it will be blocked, that's all there is to it. Shereth 15:05, 13 November 2008 (UTC)