Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style (dates and numbers)/Archive 115

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"Involved" admins

I think we have a complex application of WP:IAR which has to be made explicit. Considering the number of megabytes of ranting arguments on date linking, it is unlikely that an admin who actually read it would remain uninvolved. If it is philosophically impossible for an informed admin to be uninvolved, does that mean no admin action can be taken? I think not.
However, I don't have a solution. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 15:59, 13 November 2008 (UTC)

There is no prohibition against an "involved" administrator performing administrative actions. Such a thing would be nonsensical, as an administrator who takes action is, by definition, becoming involved in the situation. I believe that Tony et al. are referring to the conflict of interest prohibition on the use of administrative tools. The pertinent section of the policy is as follows:
  • Conflict of interest/non-neutrality/content dispute — Administrators should not use their tools to advantage, or in a content dispute (or article) where they are a party (or significant editor), or where a significant conflict of interest is likely to exist. With few specific exceptions where tool use is allowed by any admin, administrators should ensure they are reasonably neutral parties when they use the tools.
Specifically, I believe they claiming that myself (and perhaps other administrators, though none have been named) have a vested interest in the outcome of this debate. I'm not sure where they are seeing it - I have never professed an interest in prohibiting the de-linking of articles. What is happening is an unfortunate conflating of "pausing the bot during the dispute resolution process" with "creating an advantageous atmosphere for those who want to overturn the MOS". This confusion would not exist if the editors in question realized that a temporary pausing of the bot is not tantamount to handing the anti-delinking crowd a victory. Shereth 16:29, 13 November 2008 (UTC)
I don't see any dispute resolution process, or even any properly formulated dispute - there's one group of editors trying to get on with the job of making Wikipedia better in line with properly established guidelines, and another group trying to obstruct that effort in any way possible, for reasons that aren't entirely clear (possibly out of pique that some of "their" articles have been altered). Clearly admins have to sort this out, but they should remember that the ability to create drama is no substitute for valid and relevant arguments.--Kotniski (talk) 17:11, 13 November 2008 (UTC)
Quite. Now, if only we could agree which group is which.... — Arthur Rubin (talk) 18:18, 13 November 2008 (UTC)
Unnecessary. It would proliferate the slagging war which is going on. Ohconfucius (talk) 02:32, 14 November 2008 (UTC)

Full dates with articles...

Hi, (Getting lost with all the threads, so starting a new one.) Apologies if I've missed part of the discussions (or just forgotten about them), but what is the plan for articles such as November 20, 2003 which seem to collect half a dozen random news articles of the day? A quick scan of the Category:Days in 2003 shows that some have been redirected into February 2003 etc. Surely full dates aren't going to have their own articles from today ad infinitum? I'm tempted just to prod it as meaningless and pointless drivel, but I'm not doing that for 365 days - and that's just for 2003 that I've stumbled across.

MDCollins 01:09, 11 November 2008 (UTC)

A bit more digging shows that November 20, 2003 transcludes onto November 2003 and a warning comment at the top of the edit box warns about editing or doing anything drastic to it. What's the point?—MDCollins 01:11, 11 November 2008 (UTC)
  • Sure. It’s a big barrel of monkeys over on Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/March 1. Greg L (talk) 05:33, 12 November 2008 (UTC)
    • Now closed as a snowball keep. I hope the three or four editors here who consider these articles absolutely useless will consider this evidence that there is no consensus, on Wikipedia as a whole, for their position, although I still hold there is considerable truth to it. Will they please consider persuading people, instead of revert-warring for rules and unleashing bots. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:44, 12 November 2008 (UTC)
      • Such content is present in other encyclopediae and long has been. See for instance "Chambers's Information for the people" (1849) in which there is a consolidated "Key to the Calendar" article spanning pages 433—448, the reading of which I commend to all and sundry. It lists months sequentially, loosely interweaving holidays based on the lunar cycle (Such as Easter) with those based on the solar cycle such as St. Martin's Day.LeadSongDog (talk) 17:46, 12 November 2008 (UTC)
  • PMAnderson: Don’t gloat. Keeping the articles is an entirely different issue from linking any old date to them. We need an iron-clad “truth in advertising” clause that prohibits non-aliased Easter egg links. If we wrote,

Angela Brigid Lansbury, CBE (born October 16, 1925) (click here for a list of pure trivia that occurred throughout history on October 16) is an English actress and singer whose…

…then it would be far fairer to our readership. The most vociferous defenders of these lists are (not surprisingly) some of we editors since many of us work to expand and improve them. By any objective measure, whereas these lists of trivia certainly have their utility (disk jockeys, for instance, can refer to them), they are clearly not  generally sufficiently germane to article content to merit linking to them.

Suppose one was reading a mathematics-related article and came across a “December 25” link. One entry to that trivia article might be “On this date in 1968, Apollo 8 orbited the Moon” and another article might say “On this date in 1939, J. Edgar Hoover and his life partner went shopping and bought some pretty smelling cologne and a leather bustier. This stuff has absolutely nothing  whatsoever to do with mathematics. Nor is there any common thread to each other than the fact that each entry is a “Capricorn.” So, keep the articles. Loose the links. Greg L (talk) 04:35, 13 November 2008 (UTC)

I arrived here accidentally; FWIW here are my views. I completely agree with Greg L that indiscriminately linking dates to these "list of events" articles is pointless. Having used Wikipedia for some time now, I long ago "forgot" the fact that "blue dates" are actually links. Originally I probably clicked on one or two, discovered that the target articles contained no relevant information, then stopped bothering. Now I just subconsciously think "Oh yeah, in Wikipedia dates are usually blue". I understand that date linking is also used somehow to tailor date formatting (not something I've ever consciously benefited from, not being a user who bothers to log on very often). But if such a formatting feature is to be provided then it surely needs to be decoupled from date linking. I don't see any reason to delete the "lists of events" articles though. They are mildly interesting to browse (e.g. you can look up your birthday), a lot of people have put in a lot of time and effort to create them (why hack them off?), and they aren't hurting anyone. So I say leave them alone. Matt 81.151.231.150 (talk) 15:13, 13 November 2008 (UTC).
  • Thank you for weighing in Mat. As an I.P. user from London, input such as yours is valuable in helping to determine what the current consensus is on this issue since the usual crowd of regulars can—at times—be a little too close to the issues. Greg L (talk) 22:13, 13 November 2008 (UTC)
  • Now I understand why some have suggested adding formatting to dates now that links are no longer the norm. It's the "I've grown accustomed to your face" type of nostalgia. Ohconfucius (talk) 02:29, 14 November 2008 (UTC)
This thread has completely left the topic from which I started. All I was looking for was some consistency regarding date articles. I was not proposing that none should exist - that is a completely different matter. I guess I was merely trying to say "why do we have separate articles for every day in November 2003, an article for August 2003 that has a subsection for every date" and none at all for countless other specific days. I can see that general articles such as On this day in 2000... has merit to some people, but the inconsistency applied to articles such as On this specific date, namely 23 November 2003... you get the picture. If "Lists of dates" articles are to be kept, and for the moment they will be, shouldn't they be consistently formatted "Lists of events in a certain year", or "in a certain month of a certain year" - are probably fine, but "list of 3 unrelated, vaguely newsworthy events on a certain day of a certain month of a specific year" are to my eyes to specific, to 'random' and should at the very least be merged into a single "month, year" article that can be linked for see also purposes as and when editors see fit. "See also: Events on 23 November 2003" is a bit pointless to me.—MDCollins 16:06, 16 November 2008 (UTC)

Unlinking safe harbor

Can we agree it is acceptable for an editor to unlink all the dates in an article, except the following (date means full or partial date unless otherwise stated)?

  • One mention each of a birth date, death date, date of founding of an organization, date of dissolution of an organization, date of publication of a book, CD, etc., and analogous dates
  • One mention of the year of an important event
  • One mention of the date of anything commemorated annually
  • One mention of any full or partial date in a date related article, such as 2007, February 29, or an article about a full date (I can't find one to give as an example). [Comment: The list of articles in this bullet item has been screwed up by date autoformatting; it should read 2007, February 29. I could fix it, but I won't.]
  • One mention of a date that is of particular interest in the article (e.g. February 30 in an article about calendars).

Such an edit (or series of edits) should make the dates within the article consistent, except for dates within cite xxx templates or citation templates, since the date handling in those templates is in a state of flux and difficult to deal with.

Other edits may be acceptable too; this is just intended to be a statement of some of the edits that are acceptable. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 15:24, 13 November 2008 (UTC)

I can't really foresee any serious objections to this. Thus far I have not dealt with any real complaints dealing with editor supervised delinking of dates; I don't think that they fall within the scope of the ongoing dispute regarding date unlinking. Shereth 15:30, 13 November 2008 (UTC)
Gerry, I can't imagine why these should be linked if the rest are not. It's like one foot on either side of the fence. I've yet to see evidence that any date links are of the slightest use in the context of a content-article. The proponents of turning back the clock on DA certainly don't seem to be able to provide an example. Tony (talk) 15:32, 13 November 2008 (UTC)
I doubt that Gerry's suggestion was meant as endorsing the existence of certain kinds of links, but rather as a compromise. For what it is worth it is likely a bit over-cautious. As I stated previously I do not believe that user-supervised removal of any date links, provided the user in question believes they do not contribute to the context of an article, are subject to the same "moratorium" that I am subjecting automated edits to. Shereth 15:35, 13 November 2008 (UTC)
I doubt that a bot could be written to follow those guidelines. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 16:02, 13 November 2008 (UTC)
Templates can be used to tag dates that article editors feel are necessary to keep, allowing bots to overlook them. This of course would require a period of time to announce that if you want to keep any date in an article (per any pending allowances), you need to protect them before the bot comes through, or to provide instruments after they are delinked to keep them linked. --MASEM 16:04, 13 November 2008 (UTC)
We shouldn't be aiming at a "compromise" solution. The concept of linking certain types of dates will lead to trouble as there will be a never-ending battle about what type should be in or out. My belief is that we either link all dates or none (and preferably none).  HWV 258  03:30, 14 November 2008 (UTC)
I basically agree with this, but I think that there may be some other articles where broader linking of dates should be considered. For example:
  • Lists of dates - eg timelines, year articles, day articles. A rationale being (i) these are already lists of events, so the reader may be unusually appreciative to other lists of events; and (ii) rather than reducing readability, the systematic linking can actually enhance readability.
  • Historical articles sufficiently far back - eg links to centuries and millenia BC.
and perhaps others. Jheald (talk) 20:15, 13 November 2008 (UTC)
  • Hell, no! Some of these timeline articles (and lists) are among the very worst offenders of the 'sea of blue' date links. Of the hundreds of articles I have delinked, many are in this group because they yield the biggest bang for my delinking efforts. I have noticed that these are amongst the most densely linked category of articles in the WP universe. At the same time, I feel the dates linked have very limited relevance, except (marginally) for the very first date in the time-line series. Ohconfucius (talk) 02:56, 14 November 2008 (UTC)
And most of the entries breach MOSLINK's rule in jamming two links together. Much better to bold or italicise the leading dates for each point than add to the sea of blue with a useless link. Tony (talk) 15:50, 18 November 2008 (UTC)

Knots

The current wording of the MOS is as follows:

Use kn to abbreviate knot rather than kt (could be confused with kilotonne) or KN (could be confused with kilonewton).

I propose a new wording.

Use knot rather than kt, KT, kn or KN. The abbreviated forms are either ambiguous or opaque or both.

This issue has been discussed on User talk:Lightmouse at various times. (Lightmouse runs a bot that does mass edits.) The most recent discussion can be found at: User talk:Lightmouse#Knots. In summary, people like knots because they are clear. kn and KN are not generally used, and are therefore opaque. The traditional abbreviation kt is still widely used, but might be ambiguous. See Federation of American Scientists Military Acronyms, Initialisms, and Abbreviations--Toddy1 (talk) 08:58, 16 November 2008 (UTC)

I agree that what is there should be removed, but not with the solution. Let's just use the standard "kt" in contexts where that is used; perhaps in some contexts kn would be acceptable too; but stick to the lowercase versions. There is no serious ambiguity; nobody is likely to mistake a speed unit for a mass unit in the first case. Furthermore, we should never be using "kt" ALONE for kilotonne anyway; I never see anybody using that for the mass units, and the "tonne" is only acceptable for use with the international system of units as a unit of mass. Not as a unit of force, and not as a unit of energy. In fact, the term "kilotonne" is almost exclusively used in the latter context, as some kind of unit of energy. In those cases, we should identify it specifically, as a "kilotonne of TNT equivalent" or a "kilotonne of coal equivalent" or whatever. Furthermore, nobody should be using either "KN" or "kn" for kilonewtons, either; their symbol is "kN".
Note that all ambiguity will probably ever be eliminated. In fact, we have an SI unit and another unit still acceptable for use with SI which still share the same symbol: the symbol "rad' can mean either radians or rads, for example.
Use some common sense, of course; spell it out in cases where someone really might not know what it means, but there is no real need to do so in listing the cruising speed of a battleship; people will recognize either "kn" or "kt" as a symbol for knots in that context. All we should really do is to specify that, as we usually do in other contexts, we are using symbols rather than abbreviations. That's a distinction metrologists like to use when as a shorthand for the fact that symbols generally have most or all of these properties: They are case-sensitive, they remain unchanged in the plural (that's the one we should emphasize, that "kts" or "kns" are unacceptable), they are not italized even if surrounding text is, they can be used in non–Roman alphabet languages, they should be used only with numerals rather than spelled-out numbers, etc. Gene Nygaard (talk) 13:52, 16 November 2008 (UTC)
{{Convert}} only accepts kn or kt as input, but only produces kn as output. Naturally any conversion template will require unique abbreviations for input units. Although knot could be spelled out as a template input and abbreviated as an output, templates don't understand context and can't intelligently choose between kt and kn. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 15:15, 16 November 2008 (UTC) Revised 17:25 UTC.
Not true. The convert template accepts knot. {{convert|13.5|knot|km/h|1}} produces 13.5 knots (25.0 km/h)--Toddy1 (talk) 17:05, 16 November 2008 (UTC)
I meant it only accepts the abbreviation kn, but it turns out I was wrong, kt can be used as input, but not output. With your example, but giving the SI unit first, we get the following results:
  • {{convert|25.0|km/h|knot|1}} displays as 25.0 kilometres per hour (13.5 kn)
  • {{convert|25.0|km/h|kn|1}} displays as 25.0 kilometres per hour (13.5 kn)
  • {{convert|25.0|km/h|kt|1}} displays as 25.0 kilometres per hour ([convert: unit mismatch])
--Gerry Ashton (talk) 17:31, 16 November 2008 (UTC) Fixed as suggested by Gene Nygaard 18 November 2008 22:34 UTC.
You overlooked
  • {{convert|37|lb|kn}} displays as 37 pounds ([convert: unit mismatch])
  • {{convert|37|lb|kt}} displays as 37 pounds (1.7×10−5 kt)
Gene Nygaard (talk) 20:55, 18 November 2008 (UTC)
When I just did this, I wondered why Gerry Ashton didn't get similar results. But he forgot to change the parts outside the nowiki to be the same as what is inside. His results should have been like this:
  • {{convert|25.0|km/h|knot|1}} displays as 25.0 kilometres per hour (13.5 kn)
  • {{convert|25.0|km/h|kn|1}} displays as 25.0 kilometres per hour (13.5 kn)
  • {{convert|25.0|km/h|kt|1}} displays as 25.0 kilometres per hour ([convert: unit mismatch])
As it was, he was showing us the same one with the "knot" parameter three times. Likely just an oversight, using copy and paste and forgetting to modify both parts, so he didn't get the error message on the last one. Gene Nygaard (talk) 21:06, 18 November 2008 (UTC)
  • I don’t know what the maritime-wide practice is regarding abbreviating nautical mile per hour. Sometimes there will be disciplines that use terminology and symbols that mean a different thing in other disciplines. Sometimes we can’t have project-wide consistency in units of measure. But we certainly should have consistency within a particular discipline and it is extremely  important that we follow what current literature says on the subject. If there is a particular most-common practice in the nautical/maritime world, then we should simply follow that practice so our readers can be properly conversant with mariners and others in the field. It is not our job to be advancing new proposals on abbreviations that might be used here. Just look to current literature. Conversion templates should also reflect what is the most common practice in the field. Greg L (talk) 23:13, 16 November 2008 (UTC)
Even "maritime-wide" is not determinative of anything. These units are also used in other context, most notably in aeronautics and in meteorology. But in almost all contexts, I'd say that "kt" is more common than "kn", but neither of them is so overwhelming as to preclude us from choosing to use one or the other in any particular context. And no, we don't necessarily need to look at current literature, and give that more importance in making our choice than for example what the experts in the field of metrology might use or recommend. Good heavens, that can often be a dumb idea. If we went by current literature, we use "ft/lbs" for automobile torque in foot-pounds force, even though there isn't any division in the units and therefore no good reason to make it look like there is with a slash, and even though symbols should remain unchanged in the plural, and it is indeed quite reasonable to make a choice to use symbols in that manner. Gene Nygaard (talk) 00:47, 17 November 2008 (UTC)
  • Gene, you can do better than blow an example like ft/lbs out of your butt. There is a perfectly good SI-compliant measure of torque (N-m) that should generally go as the primary unit of measure. However, if one was talking to an American audience on a subject of an American car and were talking about torquing lug nuts, on, then one would indeed use ft/lbs.

    In this case however, we’re talking about aviation and maritime practices. We can’t have Wikipedia look like our editors have once again donned our Spock ears and run off to a Star Trek convention by trying to invent some new abbreviation for nautical mile per hour if (that’s a big IF), the vast majority of authoritative sources make it abundantly clear that such disciplines already have a standard they abide by. Your rah-rah promote-the-SI tact is tiresome. If aviators are used to seeing “wind at 23 kts”, then that’s what we should do here on not have some sort of “meters per second” crap that you might push. Greg L (talk) 01:52, 17 November 2008 (UTC)

No, we should generally be using the original measurement as the "primary" measurement. No no, "ft/lbs" should never be acceptable here. And there is absolutely no invention of a new abbreviation involved in this discussion. Let's just stick to the real issues, okay? Gene Nygaard (talk) 16:41, 18 November 2008 (UTC)
  • P.S. having just posted the above, I looked and see that the U.S. Coast Guard uses “kt” as the symbol for nautical mile per hour. What do you wanna bet that this is the world-wide convention? We have absolutely no business pretending that Wikipedia is magically entitled to invent some sort of house convention that varies from this standard. The {{convert}} template needs to get fixed, pronto if it outputs “kn”. Greg L (talk) 23:21, 16 November 2008 (UTC)
  • Actually, the link provided by Greg L is to the U.S. Naval Historical Center. On that same page, they have KC for kilocycle, but no KHz for kilohertz. The page also lists Kn(s) for knot(s). I'd say the page is both out of date and inconclusive. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 00:52, 17 November 2008 (UTC)
  • Gerry, you know as well as I do that we don’t standardize on something just because one can find some instances of it. We go with what the majority of reliable sources use. I don’t know with certainty what the true facts are as I am neither a mariner nor aviator. However, my brother is an aviator and I just spoke with him. The first thing off his lips was that for aviation, it is “kts”. And, in support of what he told me a few minutes ago, I note that NOAA’s Aviation Digital Data Service (ADDS) (that’s the Federal Government here) gives wind speed in “kts”.

    As for maritime use, Naval Maritime Forecast Center/Joint Typhoon Warning Center gives wind speeds in “kt”. I really don’t care what Uncle Fester’s almanac says.

    So maybe aviation articles should use “kts” and maybe maritime-related articles should use “kt”. Hopefully, editors with experience in both these fields will weigh in here and explain, with confidence, what the standard practices are in each field.

    And maybe, Wikipedia shouldn’t once again look like “mebibyte” foolishness. We have far too much input on MOSNUM from editors who have no expertise whatsoever in various disciplines but have tons of experience out-wikilawyering others here on WT:MOSNUM and who think that somehow makes them an expert in everything and somehow think they’ve found The Better Way To a Brighter Future©™®. No wonder “Follow Current Literature” has been so gutted out of MOSNUM, too many regulars here really think they really are changing the world, one idiotic template at a time. Greg L (talk) 01:34, 17 November 2008 (UTC)

  • The American Practical Navigator (1995), generally called Bowditch, is not Uncle Fester's almanac. It is published by the United States National Ocean Service. My maritime knowledge is quite limited, but I've seen Bowditch mentioned favorably in several other publications. Its use of kn basically means Wikipedia should not settle on kt as the only option. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 03:09, 17 November 2008 (UTC)
  • So… by your logic, even if most reliable sources used “kt” and “kts” in maritime and aeronautical purposes (still to be determined for certain), if some usage of “kn” can be found on this pale blue dot, then any editor should just go ahead and do whatever the wanna and templates masquerading as proper tools can use just one of the options—the one that appears to be least standard of all. Is that what you’re suggesting? If the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Navy and the NOAA use kt and kts, that doesn’t hold much sway with you. You know what? I just realized I have a Garmin GPS 45 XL out in my car. The device is optimized for nautical purposes. I went out and got it and went to System Setup. Its symbol for nautical miles per hour is “kt”. You’re not persuaded yet, are you? Are your arguments not falsifiable? Please tell, is there any evidence that any human could present to you here that would cause you to change your mind(?) or is that utterly impossible? Greg L (talk) 04:45, 17 November 2008 (UTC)
In regards to the assertions on the NOAA position, please see their glossary (with attention to the irregular use of capitals), wherein we find these entries:

Knot
(abbrev. Kt) Unit of speed used in navigation, equal to 1 nautical mile (the length of 1 minute latitude) per hour or about 1.15 statute miles per hour, or 0.5 meters/sec).
KT
(Knot)- Unit of speed used in navigation, equal to 1 nautical mile (the length of 1 minute latitude) per hour or about 1.15 statue miles per hour, or 0.5 meters/sec).
KTS
Knots

Please note that much of NOAA's work is done by means of uppercase-only messages (e.g.), much like the military. Attaching great significance to their selection of capitals in a specific document instance would be a mistake unless they were explicitly discussing capitalization. General usage does indeed seem to be widely mixed between kt, KT, kn, KN, and even KTS, but knot is unambiguous and understood by anyone who understands the various abbreviations. Except under extreme space constraints, I hold that we should spell it out.-LeadSongDog (talk) 15:02, 17 November 2008 (UTC)
Yes, Greg, it is indeed perfectly legitimate for us to set house rules for our own use on Wikipedia;l and no, it isn't necessarily left to the whim of each editor. Nobody is inventing anything new here; there has been significant use of both "kt" and "kn" for this purpose. We can choose how we want our encyclopedia to look, however. We can try to give it some consistency, and that includes following more general rules such as using "symbols" rather than "abbreviations" for units of measure, and the associated notions about the distinction between the two. We can legitimately choose to standardize on "kn" as the MoS has, or to standardize on "kt", or to allow those two but no other symbols, or to say that it should always be spelled out.
The only real question is what we should do from among those options. Gene Nygaard (talk) 16:53, 17 November 2008 (UTC)

Note that Bowditch is written by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (formerly the National Imagery and Mapping Agency) and sold by the National Ocean Service, which is an office within the very same NOAA mentioned by Greg L and LeadSongDog. It strikes me as being just as official and reliable as the other sources mentioned. At this point there is no documentary evidence that one abbreviation is overwhelmingly preferred to the other. The {{convert}} template is built on the premise that there is one correct abbreviation for any given unit, so it can't handle this situation well. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 16:35, 17 November 2008 (UTC)

See Bowditch's American Practical Navigator for some history on that document. The 1826 version is online here but it goes back much further. Suffice to say that it carries with it a great deal of tradition but perhaps is not the most current usage.LeadSongDog (talk) 17:20, 17 November 2008 (UTC)
That's just one of the problems of that overwhelmingly complicated black box {{convert}}, one with thousands of subtemplates and subpages, one which cannot possibly be edited by more than one person who thereby gains undue control over how Wikipedia looks. It can and does sometimes handle different options; a bigger problem is that no Wikipedia editor knows all the nuances necessary to use it properly. There is always, even when options are available, a built-in bias in favor of one of those options, a default option--for example, in favor of British spellings, requiring an explicit command to override that. Gene Nygaard (talk) 17:32, 17 November 2008 (UTC)
Just checked Webster's Third New International Dictionary (1986) ISBN 0877792011, and found that it shows (abbr: kt., kn., k.), but it also reveals a deeper problem in that knot represents two different distances. The famiiar usage of knot to mean nautical mile will not come as much surprise, but it also is used as 47 feet 3 inches in the original context of a knotted log line. Counting these knots for 28 seconds of ship motion is the equivalent of counting nautical miles for one hour. It may be that the correct thing for {{convert}} to do is simply return an error message so that editors hand convert. LeadSongDog (talk) 18:26, 17 November 2008 (UTC)
Now there's a red herring. Whether or not that 47¼ ft is a "meaning" of knot in the first place is probably debatable, but even if it is, it is never going to be used outside of the article knot (speed). And in any case, we are only going to be using symbols for cases in which it is a unit of measurement, and that isn't a unit of measurement (it might be a standard length, but it isn't used to express measurements of length). Webster's Third, of course, is basically a 1961 work, even if you newer version has an addenda in the front. Gene Nygaard (talk) 16:52, 18 November 2008 (UTC)
Yup, it's a fish. Sailors like fish :/) Since Bowditch was on the table, page 88 in the 1826 version speaks to the minor variations in the "length of a knot". LeadSongDog (talk) 18:58, 18 November 2008 (UTC)

First, the symptom. We have our nautical mile per hour article doing POV pushing with this:

The knot is a unit of speed equal to one nautical mile per hour. Its kn abbreviation is preferred by American and Canadian maritime authorities, [1] [2] the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and the International Bureau of Weights and Measures, [3]

[4] however, the kt (knot) and kts (knots) abbreviations also are used.

Then, the reality is that the vast  majority of aviators and sailors use kt or kts. NOAA, Navy, Coast Guard, FAA, the airspeed indicators on Cessna 172s (I’ve ridden in one many times), Garmin GPS devices, all say “kts” or “kt”. It’s “We’re seeing 25 kt winds from the SE” and “We were making 17 kts and keeping up with the carrier.” Go hop onto any airplane—commercial or GA—and try to find kn; you won’t find it. But compare this reality to what it says in the above quotebox. It quotes the IEEE recommendations and other “I-wish-it-would-be” sources like the BIPM. Who gives a damn? Is the quote “correct” because it implies that “oh, and you will also find some occasional usage of kt and kts if you look hard enough”? That is misleading to the point of being flat out incorrect. The real world doesn’t work that way and it’s obvious that any mariner or aviator who tried to edit any affected articles would be shouted down by Spock ear-wearing, SI nuts who can out-wikilawyer someone who actually knew what they were talking about. The last sentence in the above quotebox should read “however, in the real world, the abbreviations are kt (knot) and kts (knots).”

And finally, the greater problem: regulars to WT:MOSNUM having far  too much voice and giving them the ability to use procedural tools to get their way even though they don’t know anything about the subject at hand other than they can find an Uncle Festers Almanac that uses an obscure symbol (kn) that no one in the real world follows. Deep down, these idealists are thinking to themselves “that symbol is wrong; there are better ways and I can find some recommendations from some alphabet-soup organizations.” That attitude is bankrupt and naïve. We simply reflect the way the world works; not the way it ought to work. We need to be more cognizant of this phenomenon here on WT:MOSNUM and invite comment from experts in the effected fields before once again running off with “mebibyte” nonsense because the “the IEC says so” and its the New World Order and the path to the Future. No it isn’t. It makes Wikipedia look (once again) like we’re run by idealistic 8th graders and it does our readers a disservice.

Do I give a shit about nautical mile per hour? No. I didn’t touch it so I’m not responsible. I’m going to leave it just as it is in all it’s profoundly naïve ‘mebibyte’ glory. My axe to grind is with this god-damned venue that lets practices like this continue and doesn’t have the balls to get real. There. I said what I believe. So shoot me. Greg L (talk) 21:05, 17 November 2008 (UTC)

(ec)Sorry Greg, I'm fresh out of the slow bullets. Will a Thuggee noose do ;/?
Looking at the collection of airspeed indicators on commons, they all seem to spell out "knots", "neuds", or "KNOTS". The FAA "Instrument Flight Handbook" (2008) uses "KNOTS" on all the airspeed indicators shown and "knots" in the text, never abbreviated. But wtf does the FAA know about aviation? Really, what does the abbreviation do for WP? Just leave it as knots and be done.LeadSongDog (talk) 21:55, 17 November 2008 (UTC)
Let's not lose sight of the forest for the trees. Just include a conversion to m/s or km/h as appropriate, so that the 90% of the readers who don't have the foggiest idea that a "knot" really is will understand it, and according to our general rules, those knots should then be spelled out. The most common usage of a symbol, whether "kt" or "kn", would be in tables where it might be good to use symbols even if a conversion is included. Gene Nygaard (talk) 16:45, 18 November 2008 (UTC)
Lest my unstated corollary isn't clear, I'd bet there aren't a handful of cases in Wikipedia where some editor has bothered to convert some measurement in other units of speed to knots. We only really need to worry about conversions in one direction; the other way can be dealt with on a case by case basis. Gene Nygaard (talk) 16:58, 18 November 2008 (UTC)
  • My problem is with a culture here that permits blatant POV-pushing as shown in the above quotebox, which is clearly misleading, isn’t it? Gotta go. Real world calls. Greg L (talk) 21:57, 17 November 2008 (UTC)

RfC: Linking of dates of birth and death

Proposal: to add the words

These dates should normally be linked.

to the section WP:MOSDAB#Dates of birth and death, and to link the example dates, so the section would read

At the start of an article on an individual, his or her dates of birth and death are provided. These dates should normally be linked. For example: "Charles Darwin (12 February 180919 April 1882) was a British ..."

  • For an individual still living: "Serena Williams (born September 26, 1981) ...", not "... (September 26, 1981 –) ..."
  • When only the years are known: "Socrates (470399 BC) was..."
  • When the year of birth is completely unknown, it should be extrapolated from earliest known period of activity: "Offa of Mercia (before 73426 July 796) ..."

...

Rationale There are some - most vocally perhaps Tony - who believe that pretty much no dates should be linked; and this seems to be what Lightbot was trying to achieve, too. But I don't believe that is the view of the majority. On the contrary, I think the balance of opinion, even amongst those who don't want to see pages becoming a "sea of blue", is that it is useful to have at least some date links on a page, to let people establish a broader context for the times in which a person lived, by clicking their way through the date hierarchy especially via pages like List of state leaders in xxxx or xxxx in the United Kingdom, etc. The proposal that at least the date of birth and date of death in a biographical article should be linked has been made independently in at least four different threads: by Scolaire in the section above #Dates are not linked unless; by Carcharoth in the section above #Concrete examples (year links); by Eleassar, relaying a question raised to him in talk, at WT:CONTEXT#Birth dates?; and by myself at User talk:Lightmouse#Date linking request (birth and death years). It therefore seems appropriate to put up this proposal specifically as a formal well-advertised RfC. Jheald (talk) 11:03, 29 September 2008 (UTC)

  • Support. The date page hierarchy, and pages rapidly linked from it, provides a useful link to historical context for biographical articles. The biographical articles are stronger for such context; and the birth date and death date are the most obvious choice of dates to link. Jheald (talk) 11:03, 29 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Oppose. (1) You're linking an anniversary day and month that is useless to our readers (please demonstrate some that are useful, and not just a magic carpet for discretionary browsers); and many editors will confuse this with the old autoformatting function. (2) Did you mean to "nowiki" the laborious constructions above that are concealed behind the piped linking (([[12 February|12 February]] [[1809]] – [[19 April|19 April]] [[1882]])? I'm sure this will go down very well with editors, who who will not only have to memorise how to do this, but will have to actually do it in every article. (3) You haven't demonstrated why it is worth forcing editors to make a link to a year page (birth/death): while it might be possible in a few rare instances to argue that the year of death page is vaguely useful (e.g., 1963 for the death of JF Kennedy, but even that example demonstrates how the fragmented facts about JFK in that year are better in the JFK article itself, or a daughter article on the assassination). (4) The "year in X" links are fine, except that concealing them behind what looks like a useless year-link is self-defeating, isn't it? Already, at least one WikiProject says not to use them. MOSLINK recommends the use of explicit wording to overcome the concealment. Tony (talk) 11:49, 29 September 2008 (UTC)
    • No, this has nothing to do with autoformatting. I'm proposing that such dates - the year, and the day - in the opening words of a bio article should be linked, end of story; something a number of other editors have also raised. The principal value being for the context that these links, and onward links from such pages, allow readers to click through to and explore.
      I'm not talking about "Year in X" articles, I'm talking about the bare year articles themselves. And I'm not intending to particularly mandate the   characters - they were there already, so I just left them. My proposal is very simple: as a rule, the days and years in those opening words should be linked. I want to see where the balance of the community rests on that question. Jheald (talk) 12:06, 29 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Oppose, per many of Tony's comments, and just the fact that these year articles (much less day of the month ones!) don't provide useful historical context, they provide an often enormous list of trivial crap. If a large and well-organized WikiProject were capable of producing actually useful year articles that summarized the truly notable happenings in those years, I could maybe see the linking of years (only) for birth/death/establishment/disestablishment dates (only, for the most part). The problem with this though is that editors will see them linked in the lead sentence and then go around linking them all over the place, and we'd be pretty much back where we started. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 11:55, 29 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Support. I opposed delinking dates in the first place and I still do. -- Necrothesp (talk) 11:57, 29 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Oppose, I've never seen much sense in date linking, and links to day-of-the-month articles result in triviality amost by definition. Fut.Perf. 12:41, 29 September 2008 (UTC)
  • CommentSupport. I agree this is a good question to work out. My question is whether we should use what I think you are proposing, the well known and much disliked, "link to the day of year", "link to the year" (which is why people are asking about autoformatting), or if we should be suggesting {{Birth date|yyyy|mm|dd}} and {{Death date and age|yyyy|mm|dd|yyyy|mm|dd}} which provides protection against lightbot and allows for more flexibility in the future. As for those who oppose the "trivia dumping grounds", I suspect that if the links are to specific types of narrowly defined data (such as Births on January 15, 1900 or People who share a birthday on 15 January) most people would be fine with that. dm (talk) 12:43, 29 September 2008 (UTC)
    • As an aside, I changed this to a support. The templates I mention are real templates, and dont need any development. dm (talk) 03:47, 1 October 2008 (UTC)
  • ;;partial Strong Support. In that case, the first example should be ""'''Charles Darwin''' {{DL|y=1809|m=February|d-12|mode=eng}} – {{DL|y=1882|m=April|d=19|mode=end}}) was a British ...", with the details of the template worked out later. (And yes, if the question is whether the dates be linked in the lead sentence, my answer is strong support.) Disagree with secret links to 1990 births or 15 January birthdays / January 15 birthdays (if, for no other reason, we'd need staff monitoring which of the latter is linked to.) — Arthur Rubin (talk) 13:22, 29 September 2008 (UTC)
    • Changed to neutral on the day of the year, even if the day of the year article is the one that links back to the person, and the year article does not, because of inadequate notability. It should, however, be pointed out, that [[15 January|15 January]] [[1990]] would block autoformatting, and the only consensus we have is that autoformatting is bad, not the linking. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 01:58, 18 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Support with comment There are many who do click and want to click on a date link to look at a reference in context, and whether that is trivial, banal or whatever is not my business, nor mine to judge. I can understand that someone may wish to click on a link to find out the context of a date of birth to the world around them at the time. Do I do it? No. Should it be allowable? Yes. For instance a child born during a battle in the local area, or being named Victoria, and that being the date of the coronation of Queen Victoria, or some other event that may have an effect on that person's environment. This information can be quite relevant. So the issue then becomes managing it, and making it useful. Is there 'overlinking' on dates, most definitely, and the information should be most specific, however, the request is specifically for Dates of Life. With regard to the comments about triviality ... for goodness sake, the difference between trivia and excellent knowledge is solely your own virtual framework and environment. If some people thrive on trivia, good luck to them, WP is here for all types. Not asking for extreme, let us find the median position. -- billinghurst (talk) 13:54, 29 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Linking some, but not all full dates in the article will be confusing. I don't see birth and death date-linking to be valuable at all. Most biographies do have categories for year of birth and death that would get your average browser to the year page anyway. Karanacs (talk) 14:21, 29 September 2008 (UTC)
    • Query to Billinghurst: Your assertion that many people click on and want to click on a date link seems unlikely—do you have sources for this? Tony (talk) 14:42, 29 September 2008 (UTC)
      • Thanks Tony. wikt:many Anecdotally from reading, especially the commentary when it was on User_talk:Lightmouse; some (light) discussions with genealogists, who are a little date focused. I too would love to see evidentiary information about date links and whether they are followed or not. If someone has the right wand to produce that data, it would be lovely. To Karanacs the proposal is just Dates of Life, not all dates. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Billinghurst (talkcontribs)
      • For tony to make such a statement that it is unlikely only proves that he is not paying attention to the comments being made against delinking of dates. I have stated on several occasions (as have others) that I do click on dates (sometime only to see if the article is associated to the date). As for evidence I recommend that someone does a query on the toolserver for all the date articles and see if the hits reduce over the next few months as more and more articles have the dates delinked. I believe we will find a marked reduction in the traffic to those date articles do to their delinking.--Kumioko (talk) 16:27, 29 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Oppose. It adds complexity and I just don't see the value. Haukur (talk) 14:59, 29 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Support I never agreed with Tony's 2 dimensional view that date linking is bad. Wikipedia is a 3 dimensional database of articles and is not bound by the 2 dimensional rules of a paper article. If we have an article in wikipedia that is linkable to an article then we should link to it (whether ir directly relates or not). That doesn't mean that it should be linked 4 or 5 times but it should be linked and the birth and death dates to me are reasonable. If we go along with this delinking of dates argument that tony presents then next we will be delinking the city and state of birth, military ranks, allegiances and any other link that is not directly related to an articles content. I think that this date argument sets a very ugly precedent. Additionally, given the volume of arguments for and against this venture it should be obvious to everyone (regardless of how they feel about whether dates should or should not be linked) that this does not meet consensus, regardless of how the vote previously came out.--Kumioko (talk) 15:06, 29 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Strong but partial support I believe linking the year to the bare year articles for births and deaths in bio provides useful context information. I'm actually in favour of linking years (decades etc.) where ever the historical context is significant to the subject of the article, even if the subject itself is not significant to the period of time linked. However, I am not as convinced of the value of linking the month and day, especially since those links would not seem to add much context without the year. PaleAqua (talk) 15:53, 29 September 2008 (UTC)
    • Two simple points to PaleAqua: (1) Where was the consensus to link these items in the first place? (2) No one is suggesting a slippery slope to no wikilinking; rather, I sense that the motivation is the direct opposite: the encouragement of a stronger wikilinking system through the avoidance of extremely low-value dilutions. Tony (talk) 16:45, 29 September 2008 (UTC)
      • 1) Rhetorical statements are unhelpful. Where is so much of the information and documentation of templates, convention, etc. Wikis evolve, we are talking about a controlled evolution. 2) No, you are correct, no slippery slope suggested, it was Dates of Life only. Low value to you, statements to the contrary by others that dates of linking are not of low value seem to be ignored or derided as of low value. :-( billinghurst (talk) 17:12, 29 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Support. It certainly does no harm. Also usefull for lovers of trivia. Let readers decide what they want to read. G-Man ? 19:55, 29 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Oppose. One of the dates in the example, 26 July 796, would be displayed to those who have selected the "2001-01-15T16:12:34" date format preference as 0796-07-26. The unique format in the preference menu clearly defines this date as an ISO 8601 date, even though that term does not appear on the menu. Also, the discussion leading to the implementation of date autoformatting makes it clear this format was intended to be ISO 8601. ISO 8601 requires dates to be in the Gregorian calendar, and requires mutual consent before information exchange partners exchange any date before the year 1583. Since the date 26 July 796 is in the Julian calendar, both requirements are violated. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 20:15, 29 September 2008 (UTC)
    • Comment: this discussion is not intended to be about autoformatting. This is about hard-linking of the dates, rendered as written, which is how 99% of readers will see them. If there are bugs in autoformatting, then there are bugs in autoformatting. User beware. But we shouldn't let the tail wag the dog. The question is, regardless of autoformatting, should these dates be linked? Jheald (talk) 20:50, 29 September 2008 (UTC)
      • You're wrong. Every date linking discussion is always about date autoformatting until the date autoformatting cancer is excised and incinerated. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 21:38, 29 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Oppose Just because an article exists on Wikipedia that can be linked to, doesn’t mean it should be linked to. Links should be topical and germane to the article and should properly anticipate what the readership will likely want to further explore. Linking of years (1982), isn’t germane most of the time and should be limited to intrinsically historical articles like French Revolution—in which case, the linked dates would be older, like 1794. What the bot is doing that I find really valuable is the de-linking of dates (October 21). If someone was born on that date in 1982, no one gives a damn if “On this date in] 1600 - Tokugawa Ieyasu defeats the leaders of rival Japanese clans in the Battle of Sekigahara, which marks the beginning of the Tokugawa shogunate, who in effect rule Japan until the mid-nineteenth century.” This isn’t not proper technical writing practices. Greg L (talk) 20:25, 29 September 2008 (UTC)
    • I just want to clarify that just because you don't "give a damn" doesn't mean knowone does. If knowone cared then there would be no need to have a On this day section in the main page.--Kumioko (talk) 20:39, 29 September 2008 (UTC)
      • Indeed. Maybe some people are interested in who else shared the same birthday, or that an English rugby union star was born on the feast-day of the patron saint of McDonalds. If WP has these pages, I think it's inappropriate to presume that because WP:YOUDONTLIKEIT, nobody else should be allowed to find them. Jheald (talk) 20:50, 29 September 2008 (UTC)
        • To Jheald: So you cite WP:YOUDONTLIKEIT. That’s sort of a “if it’s blue, it must be true” argument; if there was a WP:I REALLY REALLY LIKE IT AND IF AN ARTICLE EXITS ON WIKIPEDIA, IT SHOULD BE LINKED TO essay, I might “prove” my point. To Kumioko: I have no problem with the “On this day…” on the main page because all readers know what they will be taken to if they click on a link; they aren’t Easter eggs. And to both of you: This isn’t an issue of right or wrong; it’s a grey area centered around the issue of not desensitizing readers to our blue links through excessive linking. These are links to trivia. Too few readers, after they’ve stepped on these date land mines, want to bother with them any more. Greg L (talk) 21:24, 29 September 2008 (UTC)
          • I agree that date and year links can be land mines and unhelpful to readers. Let's make that clear first. However, I seriously doubt that links that are clearly birth and death years will mislead readers in your "land mine" sense. Take this example: "Charles Darwin (12 February 1809 – 19 April 1882) was a British ..." In my view, people may wonder what the links are, but when they click on them will realise "ah, an article on the year, that makes sense". They will then know this when they see it on future articles, and either click through as desired, or ignore them. What they won't do, in my opinion, is click on the link and think "oh, I was expecting an article on this person's birth" or "oh, I was expecting an article on this person's death". i.e. when clearly linked in a specified and limited context (birth and death years), year links are not Easter egg "land mines", and they are not excessive linking (two links per biographical article). Carcharoth (talk) 04:17, 30 September 2008 (UTC)
            • I have observed that articles tend to be more heavily linked in the lead section; birth and death dates also tend to be the first to appear after the subject's name. Linking to these date articles would strongly contribute to the strong sea of blue in the opening paragraphs. While death dates may be consequential in certain cases, the only possible exception birth dates being generally a non-event is Jesus Christ, and nobody knows JC's exact birth date or year anyway, so I think this is a red herring of a debate. 219.78.19.154 (talk) 15:47, 2 October 2008 (UTC)
              • Well, Alfonso XIII's birth was probably an event... Anyway, your overlinking argument is a good one. If we are to link some dates in a biographical article, then it would make sense to link birth and death dates, but doing it in the lead is not very good. If we say "do it only in an infobox", plus get rid of the autoformatting, then I like it better. -- Jao (talk) 15:57, 2 October 2008 (UTC)
                • Actually, Darwin's birth did involve a minor event; it was the same day as Abraham Lincoln's. I should prefer to have this trivium availabe behind a link to restarting the proverbially WP:LAME edit war about whether it should be in the lead...
                  More seriously, the year of birth does provide context, and would provice more if the year articles were better. On medieval articles, it is often of some interest on what saint's day a given person is born; and so on. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 02:59, 3 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Support - While I believe that most dates should not be linked, I believe that, in biographical articles, dates of birth and death would serve as helpful links. We link to the biographical articles of persons born on a particular date on that date's article, so why not link back to the date from the biography? – PeeJay 20:45, 29 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Oppose - I don't see the value of linking the dates of birth and death. The previous objections to all date linking still seem to apply. Day-of-the-month linking is still trivial even when the date is someone's birth date EdJohnston (talk) 21:17, 29 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Oppose - extremely low value links. If someone is interested in the "context" of who else was born on September 12, they can type those few characters into the search box themselves. These are trivial connections that clutter articles needlessly. Ground Zero | t 21:42, 29 September 2008 (UTC)

*Oppose - I have yet to see any argument that comes close to convincing me that these date links provide any sort of relevant context. Yes, they provide context, but the context is so general that it seems useless to me. And yes, I have heard the argument that "just because it seems useless to you, doesn't mean it's useless to everyone." This is a valid argument, but only to a point. Linking every word in every sentence to Wiktionary would probably be more useful than this, in my view. And I don't think that one would get any massive rash of support, either.--Aervanath lives in the Orphanage 22:31, 29 September 2008 (UTC) (Changed !vote: see below)

  • Oppose That would just makes everything more complex. Besides, I have yet to read a convincing argument on why date-of-birth and date-of-death links are necessary to aid the reader's understanding of the article's subject matter. Dabomb87 (talk) 02:20, 30 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Support linking of birth and death years once at the appropriate place in an article (with the second option being a formal written support in the manual of style for using the birth and death year categories). Oppose linking of dates as these are, in my opinion, trivial links. This was my position in an earlier thread quoted above, though I may not have made it clear enough. I obviously disagree with those who think birth and death year links are trivial in biographical articles - it is my opinion that birth and death years are integral metadata information for biographical articles. Currently, such information is found either as: (a) plain text in the lead sentence, with some articles still having the dates linked; (b) birth and death date categories; (c) entries in the infobox; (d) entries in the Wikipedia:Persondata metadata information. Until the Manual of Style specifically mandates that the information for birth and death years needs to be in a form that can be analysed by computers (ie. metadata - and yes, linking is a form of metadata when used correctly), then delinking birth and death years without checking for the existence of the other metadata is a destructive process. I support reduction of overlinking, and avoiding a sea of blue links, but also support the retention of some form of clickable links to take the reader from biographical articles to our chronology categories and articles. Carcharoth (talk) 03:54, 30 September 2008 (UTC)
  • I'd only support this as a reversion to the policy of all date linking, in other words linking dates of birth and death are no more or less valuable than any other date links. Either the standard should be to link all or to link none. - fchd (talk) 05:37, 30 September 2008 (UTC)
    • How so? Can you provide an example? I think the article with wikilink dates, eg. "He was promoted to Captain on 1 March xxxx ..." shows that THE date has only has relevance within the article itself, not to the world events at the time.
      At the moment, the issue with much of the discussion is the value judgments rather than relevance or usefulness. Many say it is of low-value where it means it is of low value to them. Whereas many of those supporting, say they find it useful, and they find it is of relevance for their research. I understand my biases, I would like the nay sayers to consider that it this is about relevance and perspective, not their values. --billinghurst (talk) 08:54, 30 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Oppose Firstly, we already have consensus that wikilinking of dates is deprecated, so having this as part of the guideline would be a seriously retrograde step, and make a mockery of it, IMHO. Secondly, I would would be somewhat horrified at extensive wikilinking of birth and death dates: the vast majority of biographies I have come across have had these dates linked, and I just feel that these links add nothing to any of the articles. What I am talking about includes EIIR, where the only date I would probably retain is the date of coronation; I might also consider linking the dates of death of Mao Zedong and John F. Kennedy and other leaders who died in office, or other world figures who died at the height of their influence - for example John Lennon. However, we already have articles on the Coronation of the British monarch, Assassination of John F. Kennedy, and Death of John Lennon, which renders the linking unnecessary in the examples given, also proving Tony's point. I would say that even Albert Einstein's birth and death dates are but biographical facts which add little significance to the world if linked to date and year articles. If somebody really wants to look up 18 April 1955 for a context surrounding Einstein's death, they can just as easily type it in the search box or the address bar. It seems to be rather bureaucratic to oblige editors to add wikilinks to these whilst removing all the other wikilinked dates, when there is so much to do here on WP. Ohconfucius (talk) 10:29, 30 September 2008 (UTC)
    • Consensus was only reached after being repeatedly opposed. Tony simply kept resumbitting it until it reached consensus. I have been editing for a couple years on WP and I have never seen any change that has been so hotly contested as this. Your right though in that consensus was reached, now it is up to all of us to refine the details of the decision so that it best supports the project overall. I can live with the decision that dates should not be linked (although I don't agree with it per se) but I do think that certain key dates such as birth and death should be allowed.--Kumioko (talk) 18:27, 30 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Support I use birth and death links all the time , as well as links in other key dates to get an historical context to what I am reading. Wikipedia year articles give a continuous timeline of what else was going on in the world at the time an event happend. They provide useful context and background and allow the reader to get immersed into a particular historic point in time. They are an invaluable resource unique to Wikipedia. Removal is a retrograde step. Lumos3 (talk) 12:43, 30 September 2008 (UTC)
More thoughts. I support the linking of years of birth and death in biographies for the following reasons:
  • They provide the reader with quick route to the historical context of the era in which the person lived. There is widespread cultural use of birth and death dates as significant dates which bracket and define a persons life.
  • Saying a reader should use a search to find these dates does not advertise this as an option for getting this context.
  • Linking them draws attention to Wikipedia's extensive historical chronology in its dates pages.
I also support the linking of the calender dates of birth and death for the following reason:
  • The anniversaries of calender dates especially the dates people were born and died is, widely popular. Almost every newspaper and news channel has an "on this day" column, including Wikipedia itself. There is a natural interest in what happened on a particular day and we should not ignore people who wish to take this route to knowledge and see their curiosity as trivial. Lumos3 (talk) 10:19, 20 November 2008 (UTC)
  • Weak support. Clearly some readers do find these useful, and the wide support for doing it can be seen in the fact that it has been so widely done. (If it had been introduced by bot, of course, this would not follow, but I see no sign that it has been.) We encourage multiple ways of linking articles together; categories and nav templates and links; this is merely another. I would much more firmly support weaker wording; but it is already established that normally means most people do, but you don't have to even for FA and GA, which should be weak enough. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 14:58, 30 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Support, in the cases described by Carcharoth above. A less obvious way I have found links useful is to use them to see what is linked to a given article & the birth/death dates are one important way this works. Further, until this latest push to delink all dates, no one ever raised the issue that linking birth/death dates was unnecessary. I believe it deserves an exception -- & the spirit of ignore all rules more than justifies us to make an exception to any rule when the exception improves the encyclopedia. -- llywrch (talk) 18:50, 30 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Qualified oppose. I don't have a strong opinion on the autoformatting question. Personally, I've always thought that our readers were smart enough to correctly read a date whether it was presented as 19 Jan 2008, Jan 19, 2008 or 2008 Jan 19. But I know that others disagree and I don't feel strongly enough about it to argue.
    On the more important question of whether the links are useful as links, I think they should pretty much all be removed. Linking a birth or death day to a page about that day of the month is invariably trivia. While many books publish such trivia, I do not consider that to be a proper function for an encyclopedia. There is nothing encyclopedic about the subject of the biography that the reader can learn by following the link to a page of other trivia that happened on all the other 19 Jans in time.
    The argument for linking years is better but still not strong enough in my opinion. The general argument for it (repeated by several people above) is that it provides historical context and can provide a path to the events which influenced the subject of the biography. I consider this a weak argument because the degree to which a newborn can be influenced by events outside his/her immediate family is trivially low. Child-development specialists will tell you that influences in the first 5-8 years are almost entirely domestic or, at best, highly local. The appropriate link for developmental context would be to the appropriate decate article covering the ages somewhere between 10 and 30. Likewise, a link to a death year tells almost nothing about the person's life except in the rare case where the death itself was a cause for notability.
    My opinion is also influenced by the observation that the "year" pages are massively overlinked. The odds of finding anything useful either on the page itself or by following "what links here" is miniscule. I've never yet followed one of those links and learned anything useful. Rossami (talk) 19:25, 30 September 2008 (UTC)
    • There are at least two uses for these links on birth/death dates. The first is an example of data management -- to maintain the Categories "X births" & "Y deaths". Not everyone who creates or improves an article remembers to include biography articles in these kinds of categories. The second is an example of user friendliness -- it helps end users to determine who was born or died on specific days. There are a lot of people out there who want to know who was born -- or died -- on a given day, & these links help them to research this information. While the Persondata information could offer the same information, so far Persondata is manually created & not yet present in all biographical articles. -- llywrch (talk) 03:13, 1 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Support - It's clear that not everyone finds these links useful, but it's equally clear that some do find them useful to a degree, myself included. Jheald's proposal seems like a fair compromise. I'm confident that linking a date or two in the lead won't turn the rest of the article into an indecipherable sea of blue. --Bongwarrior (talk) 19:38, 30 September 2008 (UTC)
    • Bongwarrior: OK, “some” find the [year] links useful. Is that the test you think should be used here: (“some”)? Or do you think it is more than just some, and that the body of readers who would actually want to read through lists of trivia in “year” article are sufficiently numerous to merit yet more blue links in our articles? Greg L (talk) 22:14, 30 September 2008 (UTC)
      • My impression from the above is that those who find the year links useful are coming more from the metadata side of things, rather than the trivia side of things. It would also be nice to have some acknowledgement that birth and death years are less trivial (though some people do clearly see them as still trivial) than a random mention of a year in a random article. And also that linking birth and death years does not contribute to a "sea of blue (links)", but is actually limited to a specific place (at the start of the article) and to two specific links. To expand on the metadata side of things, I'd be happy if a sustained effort were made to bring biographical articles into compliance with some standard style, ensuring that all the articles had Wikipedia:Persondata (currently woefully limited in its application - to respond to Kaldari's point below), that all biographical articles had birth and death year categories (or the 'unknown' equivalents) and the "biography of living people" tag (where applicable) and that all biographical articles had {{DEFAULTSORT}} correctly applied (to aid the generation of a master-index, as well as categorisation). If half as much effort went into that as into whether to link birth of death dates or not, then some progress might be being made. As it is, biographical articles account for around 1 in 5 of Wikipedia's articles (and, I suspect, a significant fraction of newly created articles), but only a small fraction use Persondata, thousands and thousands of biographical articles are not sorted correctly in the index categories, and many lack birth and death year categories. Many biographical articles also lack the {{WPBiography}} tag on their talk pages. This is one reason why I feel as strongly as I do about not just removing birth and death year links until a proper audit of the biographical articles has been carried out (you can, if you like, think of it as the "date audit" clashing with plans for a similar "biographical audit" and the "date audit" removing metadata links that might have been parsed by the "biographical audit"). To take that one step further, I wonder if the contributions log of Lightbot can be analysed to reveal how many birth and death years were delinked on biographical articles where no birth and death year categories were present? I presume such an analysis would be possible? Carcharoth (talk) 23:27, 30 September 2008 (UTC) I asked Lightmouse here if he can help.
        • I suspect that the actual readers click on links much less than we think they do. There's no evidence for their popularity. The concept of wikilinking is great, but needs to be rationed carefully. No studies have been conducted on readers' attitudes or behaviour in relation to them (for example whether readers tend to read through as much of an article as they're ever going to and then consider hitting a link, or whether they divert on the spot), but common sense tells me that the utility is fragile. Tony (talk) 02:30, 1 October 2008 (UTC)
          • You are probably right. I would say it would depend on a combination of factors: (1) Whether the reader understands the term or knows about the object/event/person linked {information/definition); (2) Whether the article contains sufficient context to explain things and avoid the need for a reader to click away to another article (insufficient article context); (3) Whether the reader is bored by the article they are reading and whether any particular link looks more interesting (diversionary browsing); (4) Whether the reader (after reading the whole article) wants to read up further on a particular topic (discretionary browsing). It depends on the reader to a large extent. What we, as editors, can do, is ensure articles have sufficient context to reduce the need to link, keep articles interesting, keep metadata separate from linking, and try to ensure high-quality linking (linking to good articles and to the correct articles) and to avoid overlinking. If there was ever a push for levels of linking, then one good metric would be "if a fact in article A is mentioned in article B and vice-versa, then that is a primary link", with other links being "background" or "definition" links. Trouble is, there is such a spectrum of reasons for linking, that levels of linking just allows for edit warring. If some software thing like "there is a reciprocal link" could be enabled to turn a link a different colour, that might work, but then too many different colours makes things silly as well. Maybe a preference to only have reciprocal links display? Carcharoth (talk) 03:00, 1 October 2008 (UTC)
            • Wow. Tony, are you saying we should unlink everytihng, not just dates or a few countries, but everything? Links aren't popular? We need to ration them? This certainly explains some of your underlying motivations. dm (talk) 03:47, 1 October 2008 (UTC)
              • It’s not too complex Dmadeo. Links should be judiciously used. They should be highly topical and germane to the subject matter. They should invite exploration and learning for the intended audience. Linking to electron is perfectly fine for the Atom article but would be boring and desensitizing to readers reading up on Planck units; the majority of the visitors reading that article already know what an electron is. The litmus test shouldn’t be whether or not some readers will find it interesting, but whether a good number of the target readership would find it interesting enough to click on. For too long, too many links have been added to Wikipedia’s articles because an article existed and could be linked to. But with 4,864,198 articles on en.Wikipedia, hundreds of them nothing but date-related trivia, plus even more on Wiktionary, the number of articles to link to is now astronomical and our articles have become excessively linked, effectively turning them into giant, boring, blue turds. Tony is right. We don’t need links to mind-numbing list of randomly-generated trivia nor to common countries. Nor to Manhole cover in the street out in front of Greg L’s house (it’s at a latitude of 47° 39′ 9.1″ for those who would actually be interested in that). It’s not that nobody is interested in clicking on all these links; it’s just that not enough readers are interested in clicking on them. IMO, the reaction to often strive for in readers when we provide links should be “Oh, WOW. I didn’t know they’d have an article on that too!”. Greg L (talk) 04:31, 1 October 2008 (UTC)
                • Precisely. As an aside, you should subst that 'number of articles' template, otherwise in a year's time it will show the number of articles at the time someone reads the archives, not when you wrote this - what do you mean, "no-one reads the archives"? :-) Though there could be a useful distinction, I think, between levels of information on an article and what to link to. Not everyone reading the Planck units article will know what an electron is - that is why you could link it once at the first appearance, and then not link it again (which is normal practice anyway). Consider the reader who wants to click "electron" but can't. They will either edit the article and add a link, or they will look "electron" up by searching for it. But they will be thinking as they do so "why didn't they give me a link to click on?!". But even relevant links are uninteresting to some. The first link on Planck units is units of measurement. I have no interest in clicking on that, but because it is relevant, it stays. So relevance is probably more important than whether a link is interesting. As for links to common countries, there are exceptions to every rule. If you have a list of countries, sometimes it makes sense to link all of them, rather than just some of them. Your "oh wow" point is one viewpoint (and something I agree with). The other is the semantic web - see WP:BUILD. Going too far one way or the other (overlinking and underlinking) could be very damaging. How would you propose to avoid underlinking? Carcharoth (talk) 05:02, 1 October 2008 (UTC)
                  • I get the overlink problem, and it seems like a theoretical problem, but not really one in practice. I think it's a lot better to deal with a particular problem article with a simple MOS guideline and involved editors actually editing the articles. Trying to prescribe exactly how to do this in the MOS devolves into lists of what's acceptable and what's not (ie: unlink the United States, but not Australia). I've seen others describe this as overinstruction or instruction creep and I'm starting to feel that there's a small number of vocal people who really like the idea. I find it offputting. dm (talk) 08:19, 1 October 2008 (UTC)
            • This is exactly what I was afraid would happen, in Tony's opinion above wikipedia should be nothing more than a publically updated encyclopedia britanica with a few links sprinkled in the article for certain key events. Tony, THIS IS NOT A 2 DIMENSIONAL DATABASE, stop trying to force your narrow views on everyone else. I agree that many articles are overlinked and I understand what you are saying, but having the links is useful and they generate trafic to other articles perpetuating the cycle of publically updated information. If we start stripping off links then one of the primary selling points of wikipedia is lost and we might as well buy the paper set when the salesman comes to the door.--Kumioko (talk) 15:12, 1 October 2008 (UTC)
  • I have to respond when my views are being misrepresented. I'm sure people aren't deliberately making things up, so I wish they'd check their facts first. (1) I see little value to the readers, and much unnecessary blue in prominent positions, in the linking of common country names, especially English-speaking countries. Just why every single popular culture article should have a link to "British", "UK", "American", "United States", "Australian", "Australia"—I've counted seven to one country in a single article—is quite beyond me. This includes such little-known entities as "India", "China", "Russia", and some European countries. If it's a world map our readers require, they should be made well aware of its existence on the main page, since these country articles swamp the linking reader with huge amounts of information, most of it unrelated to an article topic. (2) It's easy to accuse me, in an exaggerated and frankly quite unfair way, of wanting to strip away all or most links; but in reality, I'm pro-wikilink; I believe people who complain about the notion of a more selective approach to linking are, without their realising it, working against the wikilinking system by diluting the valuable links to such an extent that they are ignored by most readers. It's a great way to kill of a great system. I'm trying to make it more effective. Tony (talk) 15:40, 1 October 2008 (UTC)
    • there! Another link to mindless trivia. Why? I link, therefore I am. Greg L (talk) 20:47, 1 October 2008 (UTC)
    • P.S. I agree completely when Tony wrote “I believe people who complain about the notion of a more selective approach to linking are, without their realising it, working against the wikilinking system by diluting the valuable links to such an extent that they are ignored by most readers.”  Well said. Greg L (talk) 23:16, 1 October 2008 (UTC)
      • It may surprise you, but I agree with what Tony said as well. We just draw the line at different points. People will always have different ideas about what to link and what not to link. If you want to successfully persuade more people to reduce overlinking, it might be worth expanding WP:CONTEXT to explain things in more detail. I also think part of the problem is that editors often think "do we have an article on this?", and then try a wikilink to find out (using preview). When it turns out to be blue, they check it (hopefully) and then leave the link there because they are pleased that we have an article on whatever. The pleasure at seeing a wikilink work is such that it can be very hard to consciously remove it. By the way, thanks for the essay (I'm sure I've seen a similar essay somewhere before). It makes some interesting points, even if I think putting vomit in the "see also" section is a bit over the top and faintly insulting, as is linking to insanity, but it's your essay. I would add some footnotes to the essay, giving examples of "fascinating" trivia from the October 16 article (I didn't read all of it, but I did skim it), but that might not be appreciated. Seriously, have you ever thought of putting articles like October 16 up for deletion? You sound like you would be happy if they were all deleted. Finally, thanks for the photo of a sewer manhole cover. I've placed this photo in the sanitary sewer article - might as well use the picture to improve an article as well (did you know some people actually collect pictures of manhole covers? See here. There is also some interesting history behind some manhole covers. But then if you are recoiling in horror at the thought of this, then I guess you wouldn't appreciate things like Station Jim either. Carcharoth (talk) 23:56, 1 October 2008 (UTC)
        • Carcharoth: When you write “Seriously, have you ever thought of putting articles like October 16 up for deletion? You sound like you would be happy if they were all deleted.”. Perhaps I might come across that way but, no, I wouldn’t want them deleted. Just de-link them.

          There are just too few people who are reading up on, for instance, Hugh Beaumont (actor), who are really going to read more than the first two entries after they click on a date link. I’d bet that 99.9% of the time, the typical reaction is “Hmmm… that’s what these links do” and then they click their browser’s ‘back’ button. Even with my challenge in the essay, it will be interesting if anyone can ante up and actually read only two of those trivia articles.

          By better anticipating what readers to a given article will be interested in further exploring, we increase the value of the remaining links. If someone is in a mood for long lists of historical trivia, it’s easy enough to type them into the search field.

          And I agree 110% with you when you write about the litmus test many editors use in deciding whether to link or not: if it can be linked to, then link to it. Greg L (talk) 00:35, 2 October 2008 (UTC)

          • Thanks for the reply. I must admit that when I wikilink an article without wikilinks (sometimes a badly written one - the lesson there is that it is better to rewrite the article before wikilinking), I have tended to add links to find out if we have articles on certain things, and only then winnowed the links down to those that are most relevant (and sometimes not even that). I will, in future, be trying consciously to increase the quality and 'impact factor' of any wikilinking I do. I still think that wikilinking tries to do too much - acting as (among other things): a dictionary/glossary; a 'related topics' section; and a further reading section. Carcharoth (talk) 02:08, 2 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Support, I think the above comments provide a variety of compelling reasons why editors might want to link dates. What I would actually prefer is for editors to be given explicit discretion in whether to link these dates on any given article. Within the context of the rest of the MOS I think the proposed language is closer to that ideal than the existing text. Christopher Parham (talk) 02:01, 2 October 2008 (UTC)
    • I have five articles in mind already for an insertion of a link to Greg's essay on the sewer cover outside his house. Seriously. Link as much as you can, wherever there's a tiny opening to do so; after all, in today's world, everything can be related to everything else by one, two or three steps. it won't hurt the valuable links.Tony (talk) 02:27, 2 October 2008 (UTC)
      • The October 16 article has nigh on 12,000 incoming links. The same article has some 260 lines/events listed. The 364 links to other date articles created by {{months}} hardly dents the total. There is a serious imbalance here. 'October 16' is only one of 366 such articles with a very similar problematic. I am not saying that all articles should be back-linked from the date page, or that the majority are related to biographical d-o-b or d-o-d, but I would contend it is one valid perspective on the rather pandemic overlinking to date articles. Ohconfucius (talk) 04:22, 2 October 2008 (UTC)
        • If one looks only at links from article space and further exlude the 1199 lists, 1403 titles of the sort "2008 in medicine", 366 days, and 12 months, the count drops to 7425. Still high, but less outrageous. Looking closer at, say, XACML we see it is only linked by the date on a cited reference. I see no reason for linking citation data that is already well-structured, as in this date= field of a cite tag. On the wild assumption that only 2/3 of those are date= or accessdate= instances, that gets the number into a reasonable range.LeadSongDog (talk) 20:21, 3 October 2008 (UTC)
          • I suspect there may be some truth in that assertion, but unless and until all those citation templates are de-linked, we have no way of knowing. Ohconfucius (talk) 08:59, 9 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Oppose. For the same reasons as other opposition. Lightmouse (talk) 13:36, 2 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Come on… At least a couple of you “Support” editors ought to be taking me up on my challenge. If you can actually read four whole date and year articles, you can be the first recipient of your very own Sewer Cover Barnstar. Are there no takers? Greg L (talk) 03:03, 3 October 2008 (UTC)
    • I looked at your four date articles. I'm sure it's not going to convince you, but they didnt seem that bad. Someone had gone through and organized them enough to make them interesting. They arent going to be everyone's cup of tea, but I'm not sure why you're so offended by them either. I suppose suggesting you just don't look at them won't help either. dm (talk) 23:43, 3 October 2008 (UTC)
      • Dmadeo, when we, as editors, are deciding on whether or not to link a word or topic in an article we are writing, I would suggest setting the bar a bit higher than, “that didn’t seem so bad.” I might even be so bold as to suggest that we set the bar a bit higher so that in many cases, the reader’s reaction to seeing a blue link would be “Way cool… I didn’t expect they’d have an article on that too!” Greg L (talk) 00:14, 4 October 2008 (UTC)
        • With respect, I'd suggest setting the bar at whatever level makes you feel like contributing to articles. That level will be different for me and for anyone else, but thats fine. I encourage you to link however many words you'd like, as long as you dont mind when I do as well. dm (talk) 01:31, 4 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Oppose. As illogical, fussy and confusing as when we decided after prolonged discussion not to autoformat, just a short while ago. 86.44.28.60 (talk) 18:36, 3 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Oppose as confusing, since the policy is now *not* to link dates without particularly compelling reasons. "saving some curious readers the trouble of typing a year/date into the 'seach' gizmo" just doesn't seem sufficiently compelling. Sssoul (talk) 17:22, 5 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Support linking years at least once. It is a powerful way to update and expand the year pages to use the 'what links here' button and see what pages refer to a particular year. Jcwf (talk) 00:23, 6 October 2008 (UTC)
  • I don't know if this has been mentioned above, but there is a very relevant CFD discussion at Wikipedia:Categories_for_discussion/Log/2008_September_30#Category:Deaths_by_age. Some people, who seem to be in the majority, want to create a series of categories, automatically generated, of Category:Deaths at age 28, Category:Deaths at age 29, and so on. Whether they need the links being discussed here I don't know. Johnbod (talk) 00:59, 6 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Oppose Not needed, per very many above. Johnbod (talk) 00:59, 6 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Support (changed from oppose): I've changed my stance here because, while I frankly still can't see how linking of dates is useful, it is clear to me that there is a significant minority of editors who do find it useful. If it's useful enough for even a few editors, then it is something which we should be linking.--Aervanath lives in the Orphanage 04:26, 7 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Comment strange recursive reason for changing an opinion. You now support because you have seen a "significant minority" of other editors support? Do your previous convictions not amount to anything? Ohconfucius (talk) 11:18, 25 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Support the proposal. I find it useful. Deb (talk) 13:55, 8 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Oppose I have been very pleased to see a plethora recently of edit summaries reading "date audit per MOS:NUM" and I strongly feel that no wikilinks should be used for ornamental purposes which is what these links are. The next step would be linking full stops. (<- wikilinked) People are used to these links but they should go. People will get used to not having them, and if in one instance out of approximately 163 times reading the number 2008 they actually wanted to check out that page, they will not be annoyed at having to type it into the search box. __meco (talk) 17:32, 12 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Oppose I think it's a horrible idea and will encourage even more pointless wikilinking. I agree with Meco and most of the others who oppose this proposal (sorry, no new reason I can think of for opposing, it's more or less all been said.). Doug Weller (talk) 09:55, 25 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Oppose any naked linking of dates and years serves no purpose. So having it at the start of articles is a particular bad idea. --HJensen, talk 21:34, 26 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Oppose linking of birth and death dates is trivia and anyone interested can easily type in the dates. Dates are incredibley overlinked as it is. RainbowOfLight Talk 09:07, 27 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Oppose-It's unproductive (hardly anyone actually uses these links) and they devalue other important blue links in the article lead--Shahab (talk) 04:46, 1 November 2008 (UTC)
  • Oppose- this has been debated to death -- linking these dates will confuse the issue for many editors, who will take the date links in the opening para as licence to link all dates. Let's keep it simple and clean: no dates linked unless htere is a compelling reason. Ground Zero | t 18:53, 2 November 2008 (UTC)
  • Strong support. Who are we to decide what the reader should or should not click on, just because some people believe it to be "trivial". Let freedom of choice reign I say. G-Man ? 19:56, 7 November 2008 (UTC)
I'm starting to be swayed by this argument. Who are we to dictate that readers shouldn't be able to click on anything they wantincluding things such as: clutter, trivial, unnecessary, waste-of-time, or even (horrors) something like 12 February 1809. :-)
That is a misrepresentation of my argument. I was refering specifically to the issue in question. What I meant was. We have had many comments along the line of "date links lead to nothing but trivia". the point I am making is that some people might be interested in reading trivia about what happened on a particular date. I do not see it as being the editors job to tell them that they cannot. I fail to see what harm it does to give readers that option. G-Man ? 20:29, 20 November 2008 (UTC)
They (readers interested in trivia, however few that may be) do have an option: The search box. Dabomb87 (talk) 00:29, 21 November 2008 (UTC)
  • G-man, you've "voted" twice in this RfC (on 29 september and again on 7 november). you should probably strike out one of your "votes" to avoid appearances of ballot-box stuffing. 8) Sssoul (talk) 20:55, 20 November 2008 (UTC)
  • Comment I have just found out that there is the {{persondata}} template, which is placed in many bios by the biography project. It is invisible to the average reader but contains all the metadata that people have been talking about above. Because it is invisible, not many people actually know about it. The good news is that you can get rid of all the wikilinking of the date within the body of a biography, and the metadata is not affected in any way. The whole thing about wikilinking birth and death dates is therefore largely moot. We've been wasting our time with this one. The answer must be for those interested to step up including the template to gather this data, rather than dogged insistence on keeping the blue links which bore and confuse. Ohconfucius (talk) 13:33, 12 November 2008 (UTC)
  • On the contrary, those who support keeping these links in the !votes above predominantly do so because they think (i) these links can be useful - people do want to know the context of a year, and what else happened on somebody's birthday; and (ii) they are an appropriate way to advertise the existence of the date pages, per WP:BUILD, so people can know they exist. Neither of those arguments have gone away, so the issue is anything but moot. Jheald (talk) 13:51, 12 November 2008 (UTC)
  • While it may be argued that the [[YYYY]] may provide a context, it is just common sense that a [[DD MMM]] never can, unless what is described is an anniversary. Ohconfucius (talk) 14:22, 12 November 2008 (UTC)
  • As I just wrote, there are readers do want to know the context of a year; and also, what else happened on somebody's birthday. People do value these list articles, as the recent utter rejection of your AfD to remove them demonstrates. Jheald (talk) 14:34, 12 November 2008 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Why are birth and death dates more significant than any others in terms of what else happened on those dates? It should be all or nothing, and I vote for nothing. Finding out what else happened on a day/month (e.g. 23 February) is pedantry unworthy of devaluing more important links in an article. Finding out what else happened in a particular year (e.g. 1685) is easily achieved by simply entering that year and performing a standard WP search.  HWV 258  21:34, 13 November 2008 (UTC)
  • Oppose. I haven't seen any compelling reason to think that birth and death dates are more worthy of linking than any other dates. EdJohnston (talk) 22:00, 13 November 2008 (UTC)

Oppose Clearly overlinking. Eusebeus (talk) 15:41, 18 November 2008 (UTC)

  • Just to note that above this line there have been 19 "Support" and 25 "Oppose". HWV 258  22:19, 17 November 2008 (UTC)
  • Just to note that above this line there have been 19 "Support" and 26 "Oppose". Just so I don't have to take my socks and shoes off again for another count, would it be possible for further votes to go after this line?  HWV 258  22:21, 18 November 2008 (UTC)

Support the linking of, at least, years of birth. First, it seems that the attempt to de-link dates has been little more than a crusade of Tony and his cadre of followers, and his motivation seems to be to make Wikipedia look more like the Britannica...which is precisely what Wikipedia should NOT be. The two main advantages of Wikipedia are that it is easy to correct mistakes, and that it is easy to establish context through Wikilinks. I remember as a child reading the old encyclopedia, with the "see also" lists at the bottom. This is no longer needed.

Let's also not forget that the whole point of establishing birthdates is to provide context; a person's life fits into the context of time and space. Not linking for cosmetic or cost-savings reasons is clearly inappropriate.

However, the worst thing about this endeavor has been the way that one side has pushed their POV without having a reasonable attempt at compromise...total annihilation of wikilinking dates is ridiculous. Let's not forget that, for example, a "world's oldest person" is notable in the context of their having survived since year X. Deleting the wikilinks is clearly inappropriate when the date is the context, yet that hasn't stopped them from doing the wrong thing.Ryoung122 01:01, 20 November 2008 (UTC)

Ryoung, could you provide an example (or several examples) of how the linked year-page is useful to the reader's understanding of the topic? Tony (talk) 10:52, 20 November 2008 (UTC)
  • Comment. I do not understand the reasoning behind those editors oppose because once a date is linked it will encourage the linking of all dates in an article. This is easily covered by wording in the guideline. Personally I have no strong opinions about over or under linking, however I do understand that some are objecting to this proposal because they dislike what they consider to be overlinking. It seems to me however there is no consensus either way in which case I do not think that guidelines should be used as a bludgen to force one party to comply with the wishes of the other. --PBS (talk) 10:44, 20 November 2008 (UTC)
Philip, on that matter, few users have detailed knowledge of the style guides. The predominant mode of transmitting their content is through the example of those who do—that is, through imitation. Users tend to pick up the patterns they see, and asking them to piece together osmotically a practice of linking in some places and not in others is unrealistic. No one has provided a good reason for a standardised linking of dates of birth and death, anyway. And are we confusing linking with date autoformatting here? If we are, you can be sure that less experience WPians will. Tony (talk) 10:52, 20 November 2008 (UTC)
I for one am not confusing linking with date autoformatting here, are you? Whether you think that "No one has provided a good reason for a standardised linking of dates of birth and death" others clearly think that they have. Before the recent change from linking dates in general to unlinking dates in general, was that these dates would have been linked, it seems that a change in this guideline over date links and autoformatting has had an unforeseen consequence where it has affected another aspect of date linking for which (if this poll is anything to go by) there was not a consensus to change from those specific dates at the start of an article being linked. --PBS (talk) 14:54, 20 November 2008 (UTC)
I suppose the fondness for such date linkages depends if one is interested in information presented in almanacs. It is not unusual for papers to have sections called "on this day" and list events that happened on that date often 20, 50 and 100 years ago. Presumably there are enough readers interested in such things to justify the column inches devoted to it. --PBS (talk) 17:43, 20 November 2008 (UTC)

Infobox templates

  • BTW: up to this point it's 14 support and 13 oppose (if I counted right and ignoring any weak/partial distinctions). Sounds to me like there's no consensus either for or against this particular point. But it does point out that there is a large contigent of people who do want limited date linking, especially for something such as birthdates. As far as I know, lightbot is not unlinking the {{Birth date|yyyy|mm|dd}} and {{Death date and age|yyyy|mm|dd|yyyy|mm|dd}} templates, so perhaps we can say "In biographical articles, limited use of {{Birth date|yyyy|mm|dd}} and {{Death date and age|yyyy|mm|dd|yyyy|mm|dd}} may be helpful" dm (talk) 08:27, 1 October 2008 (UTC)
    • Strong comment: What this tells me most clearly of all is that we have lots of !votes from incoming parties totally unaware of the rest of debate (over three years worth) and thus largely-to-totally unaware of the negative aspects of date autoformatting. As just one example among many, I doubt that more than a handful of them have considered the fact that around 40% of surveyed articles had inconsistent date formats in them. This is largely because editors assume that the autoformatting just "handles it", and forget that 99.99% of Wikipedia's users are IP address readers, not editors, with no date preferences to set, who are all seeing "3 July 1982" in one sentence and "August 7, 1983" in the next – all because autoformatting ensures that most editors themselves simply don't notice the difference. This is happening in nearly half of our articles. That alone is enough to end this debate right now. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 05:00, 4 October 2008 (UTC)
    • Do these templates render the dates in bright blue and have all of the disadvantages of the date autformatting system? Tony (talk) 08:33, 1 October 2008 (UTC)
      • Don't you mean the *advantagees* of date autoformatting? - fchd (talk) 08:40, 1 October 2008 (UTC)
        • Um, no, he meant disadvantages. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 05:00, 4 October 2008 (UTC)
    • One or other of the two "birth date" templates MUST be used in infoboxes, if the birth-date is to be included in the emitted hCard microformat. Whether or not they link those dates does not affect this; and can be set according to whatever is the final community consensus. One or other of the two "death date" templates will be needed, when the hCard spec is updated to include "death date".Andy Mabbett (User:Pigsonthewing); Andy's talk; Andy's edits 10:15, 1 October 2008 (UTC)
      • I don't have the expertise to understand this. What I can tell you is that it's great that many of the infobox templates have recently been modified so they don't augoformat the dates. Tony (talk) 10:48, 1 October 2008 (UTC)
        • In short: the templates are needed for technical purposes (related to metadata). It doesn't matter (for those purposes) whether they link the dates, or not. But people shouldn't be discouraged from using them, because of formatting, as not doing so will break one of the functions of the infoboxes in which they're used. Andy Mabbett (User:Pigsonthewing); Andy's talk; Andy's edits 11:12, 1 October 2008 (UTC)
          • For the record, these templates are currently not emitting links (since 1 September). Jheald (talk) 11:29, 1 October 2008 (UTC)
            • The birth and death date template age calculation may be wrong for a person who was born under the Julian calendar and died under the Gregorian calendar. They also provide no way to indicate what calendar was used for the dates. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 14:42, 1 October 2008 (UTC)
              • Those are valid concerns (and are being discussed elsewhere, I believe) but are unconnected to the issue of linking; also, such cases seem to be vastly in the minority. Andy Mabbett (User:Pigsonthewing); Andy's talk; Andy's edits 15:50, 1 October 2008 (UTC)
                • Not being a template programmer, I don't know if the concern can be fixed. I am reluctant to recommend a template that cannot fulfil its intended purpose, and might not be repairable. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 16:07, 1 October 2008 (UTC)
                  • Forgive me for jumping in here, but can you explain something in simple terms to me? What is the purpose of the metadata, and the parsing thereof? I have seen countless mentions on this talk page that if dates were linked, such as birth and death, the collection of metadata would be made easier (am I right here - even if this can be achieved through plain text). This maybe the case, and several editors above wish it to be so, but I don't understand why. Maybe this issue isn't relavent here, but could somebody humour me. Dates should/would/could/may (whatever) be linked to allow for the easy collection of metadata. But why? (I'm not criticising metadata, or those who use it - I just don't understand it's purpose.) In anycase, for birth/death dates, is that not what {{persondata}} is for?–MDCollins (talk) 21:47, 1 October 2008 (UTC)
                    • It should be possible to generate a list of every biographical article on Wikipedia, along with the biographical data (where known). To do that, you generally need mature and comprehensive metadata coverage. Unfortunately, the maintenance of metadata on Wikipedia (en-Wikipedia at any rate) lags severely behind the rate of article creation (persondata, as you say, is one of the places where metadata should be placed, but as there are other places as well, such as the hcard format Andy mentioned above, and since persondata is used in only a small fraction of articles, there are problems). Wikilinks are sometimes analysed as a form of metadata, and certainly a mature and well-developed system of date markup would allow for applications. Geographical co-ordinates are given in a standard way - maybe dates should be as well. It is possible to go too far with this, though, since Wikipedia is primarily an encyclopedia, not a database (yes, I know the underlying software uses database tables, but I'm talking about the content here). It's a question of getting the balance right. I'm perfectly happy for dates and years to be mostly delinked (with a few exceptions), but the metadata concerns also need to be addressed. Carcharoth (talk) 23:34, 1 October 2008 (UTC)
      • No one was talking about removing those templates, anyway. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 05:00, 4 October 2008 (UTC)

a compromise/interim proposal?

this whole date-link thing is like a Passover situation: since the linking of dates for autoformatting is now discouraged, it's pretty clear that bots and scripts that can assist with the huge task of unlinking that kind of date-link are really needed (otherwise it'll take years, and meanwhile editors who imitate what they see will keep adding them). the question is how to designate certain linked dates as *intentional* so that the bots, scripts and/or editors unlinking dates manually will leave those alone. one proposal (discussed here) was to designate such "intentional" date-links by putting them in the "see also" section with nondate words in them to let the bots and scripts know they shouldn't unlink them, for example:
[[1943|Other notable events of 1943]]
[[18 December|Notable events on 18 December throughout history]]
[[1978 in music]]
some editors feel that solution is "too much trouble", but it's nowhere near as much trouble as leaving the massive job of unlinking now-deprecated links to be done by hand just because a bot might undo a link someone cherishes - and even if people are doing the unlinking job manually, they still won't know just by looking at them that this link here is cherished by someone, but that link there is free to go.
the editors who want birth/death dates linked at the start of biographies are proposing that that positioning should designate those dates as "cherished/untouchable". the trouble is that bots can't be taught to recognize position in an article; for a bot to understand that it should leave a link untouched, the link needs to include a non-date word. it's not easy to think of a non-date word to insert in birth/death-date links without making the sentences awkward - especially considering that the formatting breaks whole dates up into two parts: [[calendar date]] [[year]].
but: would the people who want to keep birth/death dates linked in the first lines of biographies be satisfied if the years remained linked - at least until we think up a better solution - and the calendar dates were unlinked? i understand that some editors feel the birth/death year links are potentially of interest for the context they might provide, but the calendar-date links don't provide context - they provide what amounts to historical trivia, which (i posit) *is* very adequately relegated to the "see also" section where the few readers who want to know what mishmash of events went on on that date throughout history can easily find it, marked explicity as "[[18 December|Other events on 18 December throughout history]].
if that would satisfy the people who cherish these birth/death-date links in bios, then the gallant bots that are waiting to assist with the necessary task of unlinking meaningless/now-deprecated date links could at least proceed with the unlinking of calendar dates. in good Passover fashion they would leave alone any calendar date link that includes a non-date word, like "[[18 December|Other events on 18 December throughout history]]. so if some calendar dates that someone cherishes do get unlinked, that can be repaired by adding a non-date word or phrase to the link to shield it from the next "pass" of the bot and moving it to the "see also" section so that sentence flow is not encumbered.
and meanwhile we could think some more about how to designate linked years for "Passover purposes".
i hope someone sees what tree i'm trying to bark up here. Sssoul (talk) 12:52, 13 October 2008 (UTC)
The major problem with this idea is that users should never have to alter their behavior to accommodate the bots; in fact the situation is always the reverse, in that bot behavior should be modified to accommodate the editors. If a bot cannot be written in a way that does not require human editors to modify the way they are editing to make the bot's task possible then the bot should not operate. This also raises the issue of existing articles - requiring users to go back and "mark" existing dates in order to prevent the bot from removing links is placing far too large a burden on the editors. In short : bots are created to make editors' tasks easier, not to force them to do more work. As such I find this proposed compromise - while a valiant attempt at finding a middle grounds - to be unacceptable. The central question that must be answered (and has not yet been significantly explored) is whether or not a retroactive removal of now deprecated links is acceptable to the community. Shereth 17:25, 13 October 2008 (UTC)
thanks first off for recognizing that i'm trying to be constructive. maybe i haven't made idea clear enough, though: i don't mean that any editors would *have* to mark any dates in any special way; everyone would be free just to leave the calendar-date links as they are and let them be unlinked. perhaps that wouldn't be a problem for anyone, since the argument that some date links provide historical context doesn't apply to calendar-date links. it seems plain that the vast majority of calendar-date links were created purely for autoformatting, and since linking for autoformatting is now discouraged/depracated, i don't understand (at all) what the resistance to removing those links is based on.
but meanwhile in case someone really feels it's valuable, encyclopedic, etc, to offer readers a link to [[18 December|Other notable events of 18 December throughout history]], they *could* create something like that if they wanted to, knowing it wouldn't get unlinked by a bot. (maybe by another human, but that's a different question!)
also, policy/guideline changes very often *do* entail people changing the ways we edit. in this case the policy deprecating links for autoformatting is the source of the changes. the bot is just meant to assist with making them. Sssoul (talk) 17:59, 13 October 2008 (UTC)
If I might just co-opt something you said, which I believe to be the very root of the problem : "The policy deprecating links for autoformatting is the source of the change." This whole mess gets fixed when one very simple question is answered, that question being, "Does the deprecation of certain types of year/date links necessitate the subsequent (and retroactive) removal thereof?" If the answer is yes, then Lightbot should resume, and the above idea can be implemented to allow editors to retain some links with some changes. If the answer is no, then the bot should not be resumed and the fate of now deprecated links left to the editors of the articles in which they are found. That question has yet to receive any community-consensus based answer, and I believe answering it would fundamentally solve the problem. Shereth 18:27, 13 October 2008 (UTC)
... i'm really struggling to fathom how the policy deprecating linking for autoformatting could possibly be interpreted as implying "but let's keep all the existing date links that have no purpose except for autoformatting" - but if that indeed needs clarification, how do you suggest seeking clarification - another RfC? mediation? or ...? Sssoul (talk) 19:07, 13 October 2008 (UTC)
ps: having slept on this ... Shereth, when you wrote "the major problem with this idea is ...", it seems to me that what you actually meant is "my [ie your!] main objection to this idea is ..." your view is as important as anyone else's, of course, but it seems to me that it would be fair to hear some other people's reactions to the idea before labelling one aspect of it a "major problem". Sssoul (talk) 08:53, 14 October 2008 (UTC)
  • There is a fundamental flaw with Shereth's argument and objection. Humans are endowed with intelligence, while bots are not. In order for things to be automated/automatable, things have to be done according to a certain logic. Economists realised that long time ago, and Taylor invented the concept of the production line; the vacuum cleaner was invented so we no longer clean floors the same way as before, the same applies to almost every labour-saving device you can think of. To say that humans should go about and be humans in exactly the same way as before is, with all due respects, bollocks. Ohconfucius (talk) 09:23, 14 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Re Ohconfucius: You have completely missed my point. See the response by Lightmouse below which catches my sentiment exactly. Software should simplify the tasks undertaken by humans and not complicate it. I do not mean to imply that we shouldn't adapt the way we do things to accommodate new technological advances. If that's what you got out of my statement then you completely misunderstood what I was saying.
  • Re Sssoul: Fundamentally I'm not opposed to removing date links. Fundamentally I really don't give a crap one way or the other. What's got me so animated here is that as an administrator I see (and deal with) complaints from sundry editors who have got their knickers in a bunch because of Lightbot removing some links and they do not see any consensus to remove links. I'm somewhat tired of having to deal with/respond to the situation. The reason I am so adamant about getting consensus is so that next time I see someone pitch a fit on a noticeboard about Lightbot removing date links, I can just point to the consensus and be done with it, rather than having this debate re-ignited for the umpteenth time. Shereth 13:51, 14 October 2008 (UTC)
thank you Shereth - so how do you propose seeking the consensus you consider necessary to clarify whether the deprecation of date-linking for autoformatting includes the premise that existing date-links that serve no purpose anymore should be undone? Sssoul (talk) 15:35, 14 October 2008 (UTC)
An RFC, coupled with a clear and unambiguous statement (such as "Does the deprecation of bare year links mean they should be systematically removed via bot") would establish a sufficiently strong consensus on the matter. Shereth 15:41, 14 October 2008 (UTC)
well ... why just "bare year links"? the now-depracated autoformatting also involved calendar-date links. maybe both questions had better be asked at once, to avoid someone saying yet *another* RfC is needed. Sssoul (talk) 15:59, 14 October 2008 (UTC)
The wording was just an example suggestion, naturally it would make sense to cover all of the bases. It might also make sense to keep the individual points as discrete questions to keep folks from getting confused about what they are or are not supporting, but it definitely would make sense to cover all of the issues in a single RFC and get it done with. Shereth 16:05, 14 October 2008 (UTC)
thanks for clarifying. would it be worth making the "by bot" question a distinct point from the other two? as in (and i hasten to add that i don't mean this is exactly how they should be worded):
  • 1] does the depracation of autoformatting mean existing calendar-date links that served no purpose but autoformatting need to be systematically undone?
  • 2] does the depracation of bare-year links mean the ones that exist need to be systematically undone?
  • 3] if yes to either: is it desirable to enable a bot to do the systematic unlinking, or should it be done only manually? (i feel like it would be fair to point out right away that there are ways to "earmark" both kinds of date-link so that a bot would not undo them, but that that part *would* need to be done manually - a link to a brief description of the suggested ways to "earmark" the links could be included.) Sssoul (talk) 17:04, 14 October 2008 (UTC)
I like this approach. Shereth 17:27, 14 October 2008 (UTC)

You make a fair point, Shereth. Software should eliminate, reduce or simplify human tasks. If only such reasoning had prevailed when auto date formatting was proposed ("its easy, all you have to do is link some but not all dates and in this exact way"). Now we have to find a way of clearing up mess attributed to autoformatting. We can do it with or without software assistance. Lightmouse (talk) 17:35, 13 October 2008 (UTC)

I won't disagree with you. I just have to repeat my insistence that community-wide consensus regarding the fate of said deprecated links be cemented prior to taking any sitewide actions. Shereth 18:27, 13 October 2008 (UTC)

Sssoul proposed bot delinking of calendar dates such as [[18 December]] and described some other features of his proposal. You are making yourself very clear that you think it requires the expressed opinion of many people. That is clear. You are one of the many people and your opinion is valid. Would you personally accept Sssoul's proposal? Lightmouse (talk) 18:51, 13 October 2008 (UTC)

I do not oppose the de-linking of calendar dates, no. This does not mean I personally accept Sssoul's proposal in its entirety Personally I do not see the need for such a compromise if only a demonstrable consensus could be reached one way or another. For all I care you can turn Lightbot loose on calendar dates, as I believe the primary objection that keeps coming up is regarding years, not the calendar dates. Shereth 14:01, 14 October 2008 (UTC)
I do object. Linking calendar dates should be even rarer than linking years, but there are occasions where it adds value. The link from Pope Sylvester I to December 31, St. Sylvester's Day, should stay. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 14:15, 14 October 2008 (UTC)
Pmanderson, do i understand that you see no possibility of designating that particular calendar date as valuable/meaningful in that article by inserting a nondate word in the link - for example [[31 December|Notable events on 31 December throughout history]]? Sssoul (talk) 15:35, 14 October 2008 (UTC)

Thanks. That's clear, as usual. I agree that the ideal solution would not be a compromise. I also agree that the heat of the debate is about years. I hope we can both agree that it has been about 'solitary years' (blah blah [[1974]] blah blah) rather than the year that was linked to enable autoformatted of a full date (blah blah [[18 December]] [[1974]] blah blah). Thus I would summarise Sssoul's proposal to turn into a bot specification such as:

  • leave solitary years alone and delink all other date components/compounds unless they contain a non-date term.

Many articles must be exempted as a whole e.g. date related articles themselves. Lightmouse (talk) 14:51, 14 October 2008 (UTC)

for the record, i personally would also prefer a non-compromise solution - i'm just seeking to help editors who are saying they want to keep particular dates linked as exceptions to the current policy deprecating date-linking. what i'm trying to do is point out how they can "protect" the links they want to keep, if they want to. and i focussed this latest suggestion on calendar-date links because i think there's less distress about/resistance to unlinking those. and i still hope a satisfactory resolution can be found for dealing with year links. Sssoul (talk) 15:35, 14 October 2008 (UTC)
It's already "marked as valuable/meaningful"; it appears three times in the infobox: once as his death, once as the end of his papacy, and once as his feast; also in the sentence: In the West, the liturgical feast of Saint Sylvester is on 31 December, the day of his burial in the Catacomb of Priscilla. At least the last two should be linked; they should not be convoluted to satisfy some piece of MOScruft. Both mean, and should say and link to, 31 December. When MOS ordains bad writing, as it does all too often, it is malfunctioning. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:27, 14 October 2008 (UTC)
thanks Pmanderson - i understand what you're saying. i just want to note in passing that no one is suggesting eliminating calendar dates from any articles - only asking whether all how many of them need to be linked to lists of miscellaneous events that happened on the same date throughout history. i understand that you feel this one *does* need to remain linked to such a list for the article to be understood, but that stating explicity in the link what it's a link to would not be okay with you in your opinion be detrimental to the article. Sssoul (talk) 17:40, 14 October 2008 (UTC)
I don't support linking all of them - and have said so at least twice; the effect of this proposal, however, is to link none of them, and substitute (for some of them) see also links which many readers will not know exist. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:05, 14 October 2008 (UTC)
okay, i've amended my statement above. i don't understand why "many readers will not know" that there are links in the "see also" section, but please note that the bot will leave intact any date-link that has a non-date word in it, wherever it appears; such links could appear in the body of the text, for example:
i feel that making date-links that you consider important explicit that way (and eliminating the masses of meaningless date-links) will have the advantage of clarifying for readers that your link really *is* worth following. Sssoul (talk) 06:40, 15 October 2008 (UTC)
  • I would still tend to believe that, even in the case of Sylvester, '31 December' is a low value link. It is infinitely more informative to link to the appropriate Name day article, because that's where the true meaning is. Ohconfucius (talk) 07:57, 15 October 2008 (UTC)
i agree, Ohconfucius, but unless i'm misunderstanding Pmanderson, he/she takes a different view. i'm just pointing out that the proposal *does* accommodate date links that an editor truly feels are essential to understanding an article. Sssoul (talk) 08:09, 15 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Pmanderson's just pointing out the exceptions which should prove the rule. There will always be exceptions, and we just need to agree on a way of treating them. His opposition to delinking by bot appears to be a bit Luddite to me. Is there an agenda? Ohconfucius (talk) 08:39, 15 October 2008 (UTC)
    • Then I suggest Ohconfucious look up Luddism: opposition to machinery on other grounds than whether it will work better. (Sometimes those grounds are also valid; harmony between editors is a good, and one which bot reversions tend to corrode.) But in this case, the bot will work worse: bots should not be used where there are exceptions, because they will not notice them, and (if reversed) they will come back and edit war for them. (He might also look up exception proves the rule; that saying has two senses: the legal one is irrelevant here, and the other is destructive testing. Enough exceptions blow up the rule.) Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:42, 15 October 2008 (UTC)
      • Incorrect. The original legal definition is the exact relevant one. If the rule is to remove all square brackets which surround 'mmdd', 'ddmm' or yy, then it is evident that all others are deliberate and are to be kept per the intention of one or more editor. It is a rule which humans and bots alike would have few problems in policing. Ohconfucius (talk) 08:51, 17 October 2008 (UTC)
"bots should not be used where there are exceptions, because they will not notice them" - again, the point of the proposal is that bots and human editors will notice exceptional date-links that are "earmarked" as exceptional. without earmarking them somehow, neither bots nor human editors have any way to recognize that the links [[31 December]] or [[1978]] should remain linked in one particular article. the proposal is pointing out a way to earmark the links that some editor values highly and wants to keep. if a link isn't worth the trouble of earmarking it, one might well ask whether it's really a high-value link. Sssoul (talk) 07:31, 17 October 2008 (UTC)
Quite correct. (2 messages up). The bot should not be run until a convention for "earmarking" dates is established and published, preferably for at least one month. You're claiming your argument is to the contrary? — Arthur Rubin (talk) 21:54, 17 October 2008 (UTC)
  • If you accept that deliberately linked dates must be formulated differently to just placing square brackets around calendar dates and calendar years (and you do, don't you?), then it is the very next logical extension that we can resumed delinking all those which are [[mmdd]], [[ddmm]], [[mmmdd]], [[ddmmm]] or [[yyyy]], delinking by bot or by script regardless of where they are placed. I just fail to understand what further objection there could possibly be to restarting the delinking by bot? Ohconfucius (talk) 23:34, 17 October 2008 (UTC)
(outdent) The root question one should be asking is whether or not the benefit of having superfluous/deprecated links removed is worth the cost of having editors manage the exceptions to the rule, a question I sincerely hope to see answered by a broader audience. Shereth 17:53, 15 October 2008 (UTC)
I think most of us (but probably not all) would be perfectly okay with mass catch-too-much delinkings if we were somehow certain that the relinkings we made to the article after this bot-edit would not be reverted again by bots. Sssoul's suggestion is one way of ensuring that, but I'm sure there are others. -- Jao (talk) 18:04, 15 October 2008 (UTC)
  • I agree with the questions/statements by both the above. I see no real issue to un-doing (whether by bot or by script) the date links which currently exist. Those date links which are 'deliberate' need to be re-made in another way which is obvious to bots other editors alike. Ohconfucius (talk) 08:46, 17 October 2008 (UTC)
Anderson and others, if it means so much to you to link a certain anniversary day or year (and I haven't yet seen one that is useful, frankly), then simply make an explicit piped link in the "See also" section. It is as simple as that, and everyone is happy. Tony (talk) 08:38, 17 October 2008 (UTC)
  • The 'why should we put in extra effort to put "special" date links in? argument' is exactly as Tony says. If it's worth putting in, it should be worth the effort. And if it's worth the effort, there should be no complaints about needing to put the work in ;-) Ohconfucius (talk) 08:46, 17 October 2008 (UTC)
putting "highly-valued date links" in the "see also" section should perhaps be regarded as a "strongly encouraged option", since some people have expressed anxieties that a reader might somehow miss that section. the main point (as i understand it) is that making "highly-valued date links" explicit by including a non-date word in them is what will designate them (for both human editors and bots) as "this link is highly valued by some editor, not merely a remnant of autoformatting or overlinking". and that "earmarking" will serve its purpose no matter where in the article the link appears. if some editors really strongly prefer to add For more historical context see the list of [[1943|notable events of 1943]] or For whatever reason, see the list of [[12 May|assorted events that have occurred on 12 May throughout history]] to a paragraph instead of to the "see also" section, it's no skin off my nose. bots will leave those links linked thanks to the non-date words they include; human editors might debate whether or not the links are really useful and/or what the best position for them is, but they'll know someone feels they are valuable links. Sssoul (talk) 09:04, 17 October 2008 (UTC)
The (weak) majority that the year of birth and death in biographical articles should be linked seems as strong as the expressed argument (not consensus) that all years should be unlinked. Any bot needs to take into account appropriate exceptions. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 21:59, 17 October 2008 (UTC)
the bot - like human editors - will recognize exceptions that are designated as exceptions. the proposal is to designate "exceptional date links" by adding a non-date word to them. most people in the RfC above were talking about keeping the birth/death-years linked; all they need to do is add something like For more historical context see the list of [[1943|notable events of 1943]]. calendar-date links don't appear to be very high-value to most of the people in the RfC above, but if they are of value to someone, they too can be designated as exceptional. it's not that hard. Sssoul (talk) 23:11, 17 October 2008 (UTC)
That is clearly unreasonable. I would consider "(born July 4, [[1776|1776 ]])" the maximal acceptable tagging to be required of editors if the RfC fails to reach a consensus for exclusion. (The status quo is inclusion.) — Arthur Rubin (talk) 23:29, 17 October 2008 (UTC)
I suppose another alternative I would consider acceptable would to be to include:
  • {{for|other events occuring in the year of birth|1943}}
  • {{for|other events occuring in the year of death|2008}}
before the lead. You might consider that less acceptable than the status quo, as would I, but I would consider that an acceptable alternative. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 23:33, 17 October 2008 (UTC)
  • There are two problems: (1) these examples are piped in a way that conceals from the readers their destination. (2) Positioning this type of link before the lead is far, far too prominent for what is almost certainly a pathway to a sea of irrelevant material. I strongly disagree with this suggestion on both grounds. "See also", when spelt out, is both unintrusive and more likely to be clicked on by readers than a concealed solitary year link in the running prose. I have no idea why you find objection in this solution. Tony (talk) 01:12, 18 October 2008 (UTC)
    • The [[1943|events of 1943]] approach violates the guideline for the #See also section (so it needs to be discussed in the talk page of that guideline), and conceals the name of the article. {{for}} in the #See also section seems appropriate for some cases, but the status quo that birth and death years are linked requires a consensus to overturn, as no consensus has been established that year links are always inappropriate. {{for}} in the lead seems an appropriate option, if you insist that the bot should be allowed to run amuck without consensus. {{for}} at the start of any section would be allowed by my proposed modification to the proposal here, and I see no reason why the link to the birth year should be moved out of the lead. I'd accept , as an alternative, the infobox templates emitting the year link, although you seem opposed to that, possibly because you think the year link is misleading, even though it's the actual name of article. If that is your reasoning, I can't understand why you think it's misleading, unless you want to propose moving all the year articles (and handling the templates which link to them). (I've got some idea how many templates are in question, considering the 1900s to 1900–1909 moves.) — Arthur Rubin (talk) 01:43, 18 October 2008 (UTC)
seeking common ground again: it seems that Arthur Rubin's concerns are with year links, not calendar-date links. it appears that so far only two people in this discussion object to unlinking calendar-date links that no one has "earmarked" as exceptional/high-value links. common ground is good.
as for year links (which were not meant to be the focus of this "compromise/interim proposal" - but so be it), they are currently misleading: autoformatting plus overlinking mean year links currently appear to be meaningless. a major part of the point is that when a year link *does* have meaning/value, "earmarking" it will make it explicit what the meaning/value is, which will increase the likelihood that readers might actually make use of the link.
if the main question is where exactly in an article the explicit/earmarked year links should appear, maybe suggesting recommended options would be sufficient: the "see also" section is one possibility - the info-box is another - adding a footnote would be another - a sentence added to the paragraph where the date appears would be another. Sssoul (talk) 12:42, 18 October 2008 (UTC)

Question for Shereth: You say "What's got me so animated here is that as an administrator I see (and deal with) complaints from sundry editors who have got their knickers in a bunch because of Lightbot removing some links and they do not see any consensus to remove links. I'm somewhat tired of having to deal with/respond to the situation." You later talk of editors who "pitch a fit" about the issue at a noticeboard. I have not yet asked, but need to now, whether this is still the case. How many editors have "pitched a fit" in your experience (it's strong language, so we're not talking of just queries and requests for where the practice is mandated, such as I've seen at Lighmouse's talk page). I'd be pleased if you placed evidence before us so we can judge the extent of the problem in numbers, intensity and timeframe. I note that new practices and policies, especially those that change long-established practices, are indeed the subject of emotional reactions by editors who may have spent considerable time and energy in inserting square brackets. But that is not what should concern us here, since editors have now been spared that manual labour in their creation of new text, and are greatly assisted by automated and semi-automated means WRT existing text. Lightmouse and others, including myself, have had considerable success in engaging with editors who query, or even complain of, the removal of the links in question.

Please be more explicit in laying out the evidence so that we can discuss it in informed terms. Tony (talk) 15:16, 18 October 2008 (UTC)

Oppose the linking of days of the year and years. All the proponents of these links should first earn their Sewer Cover Barnstar by honestly and truly accepting the challenge before coming here to run variations of this theme up the flagpole to test the winds. Absolutely no one actually *enjoys* reading these lists of trivia; the nearest I’ve seen an editor get to earning their barnstar was half the full challenge. And the opinion of that editor after that exercise was this: “That wasn’t so bad.” Well… that reaction comes up quite short of a ringing endorsement for linking to these God-awful articles. Step right up, you advocates of date linking; be the first to actually be able to stomach reading four entire trivia articles that the links take readers to. Then come back here and report to the others if your experience was…

  1. Worse than having a stick poked into your eye.
  2. Worse than getting on a bus and having to sit for five minutes next to a bum who smells like butt crack
  3. A thoroughly boring experience and you don’t really expect any reader to actually read more than 2% of what’s there before hitting the “back” arrow on their browser.

After one of you has actually earned the barnstar, then we can talk about why you really think linking to these articles is such a thoroughly marvy idea. Greg L (talk) 01:37, 20 October 2008 (UTC)

Strong support Dates of births and deaths are highly important and linking them will help people find things that are relevent --Hamster2.0 (talk) 18:34, 2 November 2008 (UTC)

Slam-dunk oppose. Articles are overburdened with blue and red links already.--Goodmorningworld (talk) 13:47, 3 November 2008 (UTC)

  • And the evidence for that is what, precisely? --CalendarWatcher (talk) 10:31, 12 November 2008 (UTC)
  • Evidence? CW, we're here to build good articles. How good they are is not up us to decide, our readers do. It's an "I know it when I see it" kind of a thing. Readability (or ergonomics, or usability) is one part of it. There are certain established typographical rules of thumb, one of them being to avoid anything that will impede the flow of text on a page (or screen). Ultimately, however, it's readers who decide.
Take a look at Bernard Lewis, where I removed several dozen Wikilinks last week, the one on his birth date being only one of them. According to this tool, the Article gets 300+ views every day on average, and no one has yet complained that my removal of Wikilinks made it worse nor has anyone reverted my edits.
Please give me your opinion. Please look at the article before I removed overlinking, and then after (not in a diff view, but separately one after the other.) Do you feel that my edits made it worse or better? And how do you feel about my removal of the Wikilink on the birth date, specifically?--Goodmorningworld (talk) 21:45, 15 November 2008 (UTC)
  • Support. User:Greg L's peculiar and overly hostile obsession laid out above notwithstanding--did a date article shoot his dog?--the date-linking is useful for templates, it's useful for formatting purposes, and it's useful for general information purposes to explore a little deeper into history. And no, I decline to play along with User:Greg L's utterly pointless 'challenge': substitution of any random selection of non-stub articles would pretty much guarantee the same 'result', whatever that result is supposed to be or signify. --CalendarWatcher (talk) 10:31, 12 November 2008 (UTC)
  • Unlinking of dates and years by bot should continue. Much has been made on this page of the fact that bots can't distinguish betweeen links for autoformatting and links on 'cherished' dates. Fair enough, they can't, but neither can human editors, except perhaps those very closely involved with the article. The vast majority of linked dates were linked en masse for autoformatting reasons, not in order to create a link (I know, I did a lot of them myself). If I thought that most dates had been linked after careful reflection in order to create a useful link, I'd be much more cautious about unlinking them. But that's not how it was (and still is among imitatve editors). Is a gnoming human editor supposed to read through the article history and its talk page (and its archives) to try to determine whether a particular date is 'cherished' before unlinking it in accordance with the MoS? A human editor, and a bot, can reasonably assume that the date is not linked for any special reason - in those few cases where that's the wrong decision, a human editor can revert the change with a single click, and can easily mark a date link as 'cherished' by including some non-date words in the link, as has been suggested many times. That's the best of all worlds - it provides protection from well-meaning human editors and bots, and alerts the reader to what they can expect to see (a list of random unrelated events) if they click on that link. There seems to be a presumption that a bot should not be allowed to run if it could ever make the wrong decision. That's unrealistic - human editors make mistakes too. The key questions are "how likely is it to make the wrong decision?" and "how much work would it be to fix the problem that wrong decision caused?". It seems to me that for a date-unlinking bot, the answers are 'rarely' and 'very little', but the benefits are substantial. Colonies Chris (talk) 13:21, 12 November 2008 (UTC)
  • Oppose this will add nothing of value to the articles and will encourage over-linking. Graham Colm Talk 17:18, 18 November 2008 (UTC)
  • Oppose I fail to see how the dates, even in birth dates or death dates, add any value to the articles.--User:2008Olympianchitchatseemywork 18:19, 18 November 2008 (UTC)
  • Oppose No value in separate month-day and year linking. If the date was linked as a single entity, then yes, but this isn't the case. Leave links for the more necessary terms. - Dudesleeper / Talk 12:36, 21 November 2008 (UTC)
  • What is the status of this RFC? There does not seem to be a consensus, and there is another RFC at the bottom of this page that covers this topic on a broader scale. Additionally, there is yet another RFC in the works. This discussion seems to have tangible results, and is taking about space. Dabomb87 (talk) 03:39, 24 November 2008 (UTC)

Ending the cycle : formal RFC

I for one am tired of the recurring and repetitive complaints about Lightbot's removal of date links. I am certain that the maintainers of this page are also tired of having to address these complaints on a regular basis. While I remain frustrated and confused as to why no real attempt has been made to gather consensus to date, I have decided to draft a request for comment that will hopefully address and finalize this problem once and for all. As has been mentioned previously, consensus is not the same thing as majority rules; reasoned and logical debate trumps numerous unfounded complaints. A centralized discussion on the matter will allow for such reasoned and logical statements to be collected, judged, and archived for future referencing. A formal discussion on the matter will allow for the following points to be addressed and resolved:

  1. If there is consensus for the recent wording change to MOS:SYL
  2. If the deprecation of linking for autoformatting purposes means existing links must go
  3. If there is consensus that bare linked years are generally low-value links and should be removed
  4. If there is consensus that automated (bot) removal of these links is acceptable

I have drafted a formal request for comment on the matter; the draft is currently User:Shereth/MOSNUM. I would like to get input from the folks here at MOSNUM on how well formulated the questions are and how it might be improved. I will then file a formal request for comment using the wording, move it to an appropriate section of this talk page, and broadcast the existence of the RFC in appropriate places (WP:VP, WP:CENT, etc). This will allow for a firm discussion on the nature of this dispute and provide the community with a solid foundation to preempt future disputes. Shereth 17:44, 13 November 2008 (UTC)

the wording of it looks pretty good to me, Shereth - a couple of minor changes that might make it clearer to people who haven't been following the discussion might be:
  • "... the systematic, retroactive removal of existing linked dates ..."
the use of the word "retroactive" seems potentially confusing (and/or redundant). i suggest: "... the systematic removal of existing linked dates ..."
  • "... a mechanism for creating exemptions, such that the bot would ignore certain links ..."
i'm not sure it will be clear to people that means a] some kinds of "exemptions" might need to be designated manually, and b] that "ignoring" means "leaving them linked". how about something like: "a way to designate certain date links as exceptions that the bot should leave linked"?
my other doubt is whether the aim is to take a "vote" or to actually get more people involved in a consensus-forging scenario. the birth-and-death-date-link RFC above seems to have been treated as a "voting" process, and even though i'm fairly new around here, i've read that that's not the way wikipedia is meant to operate. Sssoul (talk) 18:35, 13 November 2008 (UTC)
Excellent points all around. I'll modify the wording accordingly. Shereth 18:38, 13 November 2008 (UTC)
smile: with that encouragement, i'll try two more suggestions:
  • "... it has been requested that the community consider the following points of concern"
it seems worth specifying right from the get-go how many points of concern there are - "the following three points of concern" - and then numbering each of the points.
  • "removal of existing linked dates" and similar phrases really ought to read "removal of existing date links". it's the links that are up for possible removal, not the dates themselves - which should be obvious, but more than once during the discussions it's seemed like some editors are afraid a bot or script would obliterate the dates themselves. Sssoul (talk) 18:49, 13 November 2008 (UTC)
I would suggest numbering the points of concern, since the discussion will refer to them (and we could use labels), but not specifying how many. New concerns are likely to arise during the discussion. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 22:30, 13 November 2008 (UTC)

Could I suggest we add:

5. If there are classes of exceptions where date linking should be allowed?

-- since the RfC above, on whether people thought there was value in linking dates of birth and dates of death is so far split right down the middle; and since, if we do have date pages, then per WP:BUILD there should be at least some links to them. Jheald (talk) 19:45, 13 November 2008 (UTC)

  • I’m not following the atomic-level procedural details of this but understand the four-point subject matter and like what I see so far. Someone please let me know when general input (or “voting” or whatever you want to call it) is needed. I’ll add my 2¢. I’ll also take the liberty of copying the input of Matt (I.P. 81.151.231.150), which speaks straight to this issue of linking dates. Greg L (talk) 23:28, 13 November 2008 (UTC)
Shereth, might I suggest we conduct a poll/RFC on whether date linking/autoformatting should be deprecated to begin with? This change to the MoS was enacted with a straw poll involving twelve editors but is impacting many many more. I do think your RFC format is great and would keep the existing questions. But I think we should determine if the community wants to part ways with autoformatted dates before asking if they should or shouldn't be removed by automated means. —Locke Coletc 00:42, 14 November 2008 (UTC)
  • That's very nice and clever. And I'll continue reverting edits which remove date links until I'm shown there's actual consensus in the community at large and not amongst a dozen editors who are regulars here on this obscure talk page. kthx bye. —Locke Coletc 07:57, 14 November 2008 (UTC)
  • Neither nice not clever was intended. Good luck in your efforts. Ohconfucius (talk) 08:30, 14 November 2008 (UTC)

There is a split discussion going on... Shouldn't a single integral discussion be concentrated at User:Shereth/MOSNUM? Ohconfucius (talk) 02:25, 14 November 2008 (UTC)

  • If you want consensus, look at Wikipedia:Featured article candidates/Featured log/October 2008. Look at any of the articles. Not a single date is linked in this set of articles that have been recently labeled as the best of the best in Wikipedia. No, I did not just go through these articles and unlink them today; they have been like that. These are the articles we have to model when developing other articles. Dabomb87 (talk) 13:27, 14 November 2008 (UTC)
  • FA I believe goes by whatever is currently written at the MoS, so it's understandable that new FAs would have no date links. However, go back further and I'm sure you'll find FAs with date links being successfully promoted. —Locke Coletc 02:06, 15 November 2008 (UTC)
  • And I'm saying that a small consensus here does not force the rest of the community to deprecate date links/formatting. Hence why the question is relevant in a community RFC. More so, I think, than the question being discussed so far (whether automated tools should be used to delink dates). —Locke Coletc 07:52, 15 November 2008 (UTC)
  • Come on, why do we have important discussions going on in user space? Are we not trying to determine a true consensus now? If so, it needs to be in a high-profile area and there needs to be a big-print notice here on WT:MOSNUM on where to go. Without the above post by Ohconfucius, I wouldn’t have know about it. Greg L (talk) 03:38, 14 November 2008 (UTC)
  • I think it's appropriate - it's all about framing the discussion we ought to be having. The real point I was trying to make was that it makes absolutely no sense for there to be two parallel discussions, in the same way there should not be two separate articles on this issue to avoid Content forking. Ohconfucius (talk) 04:28, 14 November 2008 (UTC)
  • Ohconfucius is right. At the moment all we are doing is tweaking the wording of the RfC, not conducting the actual formal commenting. In a few days, when we believe we're asking the right questions, it will "go live" and be filed in a proper location, moved out of its temporary home in userspace. Shereth 05:12, 14 November 2008 (UTC)
  • I see. OK. Greg L (talk) 05:32, 14 November 2008 (UTC)
From what I've read, it seems ready to go now. Let's get this going before any more editing energy is wasted on this issue.--User:2008Olympianchitchatseemywork 05:54, 15 November 2008 (UTC)
It still lacks the primary question: do we want to deprecate date links/formatting? There's no consensus on that core issue, so the secondary question of automated vs. gradual isn't as relevant. —Locke Coletc 07:52, 15 November 2008 (UTC)
That's been decided already, after protracted discussion with very wide input. We shouldn't keep churning over the issue because a vocal few don't like it. --Kotniski (talk) 07:57, 15 November 2008 (UTC)
Actually, I don't see wide input. Of course, I may not have gone through all the archives. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 08:18, 15 November 2008 (UTC)
(1) Kotniski, even if there were consensus on this issue, which there wasn't, consensus can change at any time. Nothing is "decided" permanently. (2) There was no wide input. And on top of that problem, a handful of users are using AWB or script to eliminate thousands of pre-existing date links in thousands of articles, despite it being very clear that there never was consensus to eliminate those links. Those users are persisting in those disruptive edits even though most have been asked to stop or have had their edits reverted. See, e.g., this user's contributions, which among other things include blatantly blind changes to date-month-year orders. Something needs to be done about the abuse of script to make controversial edits. Tennis expert (talk) 11:07, 15 November 2008 (UTC)
My edits to the month-day-year order are not blind but are in strict adherence to guidelines. From the MoS: "Articles on topics with strong ties to a particular English-speaking country should generally use the more common date format for that nation. For the U.S. this is month before day; for most others it is day before month. Articles related to Canada may use either format consistently." That means if it is an article which has ties to a non-English speaking country, either format is acceptable, and month-day-year is just fine. Since I'm from America, that's how I edit. You are just upset that the links are going away per WP:OVERLINK#Dates and MOS:UNLINKDATES. And stop putting 3RR warnings on my talk page when you are the one who is reverting my edits. I don't see these edits as controversial but in compliance with current guidelines. I don't see how those guidelines are anything but straightforward.--User:2008Olympianchitchatseemywork 11:23, 15 November 2008 (UTC)
There should never be a need for a warning on your talk page. Per WP:BRD, you make one edit - if it's reverted, you stop there and begin discussion. If you're making script edits and an objection is raised, stop there and discuss. No guideline exists that says Since I'm from America, that's how I edit, in fact I think best practice is to look at the style in which the article was originally created. Franamax (talk) 11:38, 15 November 2008 (UTC)
This is a clear violation of the ArbCom ruling on Jguk, which is featured as a prominent warning on WP:DATE, quoted by 2008Olympian. See here for ANI discussion. --Pete (talk) 01:06, 16 November 2008 (UTC)
Pete, you failed to include my response at that same discussion. I clearly stated that I was in error for changing the date formats from international to US format without a good reason. To leave my admission of error out of your post, or to fail to note that I have not done so since it was brought to my attention, is to post here in bad faith. As for the editing, Franmax, it seems to have been discussed and the policy is written pretty clearly. I think that the discussion here is whether to change existing policy, not what the existing policy is.--User:2008Olympianchitchatseemywork 18:39, 18 November 2008 (UTC)
2008Olympian continues to engage in blind reverts of articles. By "blind", I mean this user is reverting clearly noncontroversial and beneficial edits while trying to enforce his opinion that all dates should be delinked. See, for example, this user's Maureen Connolly edit, Shirley Fry edit, Peter Fleming edit, and Zack Fleishman edit. Tennis expert (talk) 23:31, 18 November 2008 (UTC)
Well, if you bury one or two decent changes in a sea of terrible date links, then there's a good chance that they might accidentally get undone. Make those changes without also linking dozens of dates in the same articles and those edits will survive. Go to [notice] to see how your reverts are showing up for you.--User:2008Olympianchitchatseemywork 06:18, 20 November 2008 (UTC)
Seems to me that if the deprecation has gained consensus with wide input, as widely promulgated here, there should be no problem including the deprecation question on the RFC. It will be slam-dunk agreement n'est-ce-pas? And will put an end to the ongoing criticism of the deprecation decision itself. Franamax (talk) 08:40, 15 November 2008 (UTC)

When presented with any evidence that undermines your mantra that there's no consensus, you simply try to discredit it; will you continue to do so when the results of an RfA are not to your liking? You're going to keep banging on forever, it seems, until the whole house falls down. We debated the whole matter until people were sick to death of it here. This is like a filibuster in the US Senate—a degradation of due process.Tony (talk) 11:57, 15 November 2008 (UTC)

Key wording there is the parochial "we" and "here" elements. If this is truly widely acceptable and widely accepted, there should be no problem referring it to the wider community, should there? All that could happen is that your stance will be widely confirmed and the matter will be ended irrevocably. Franamax (talk) 12:58, 15 November 2008 (UTC)
Tony, if you are 100% certain there is absolute consensus in this matter, why, then, are you worried about an RfA? When I notice that the same individual, and that is you, Tony, speaking up in just about every dispute on this topic, it is beginning to suggest that this entire exercise is being pushed forth by just a handful (if not just one) determined individual.--Huaiwei (talk) 06:32, 17 November 2008 (UTC)
Certainly more than one, and you wouldn't normally expect more than the proverbial handful to take any particularly great interest in a technical issue like this (there's only a similar handful of objectors, anyway). But many people took part in the original discussion on the matter, and clear consensus was reached when all the arguments on both sides were taken into account. Another repeat discussion to decide this matter again, when no new substantial arguments have been put forward, would be unlikely to gain anything like the degree of participation and deep analysis that the previous one did (most people are bored discussing this issue now, I know I am), so I don't see how it can benefit the project.--Kotniski (talk) 12:56, 17 November 2008 (UTC)
I see the chain of events as follows: A single person feels strongly that all dates should not be autoformatted. He brings this debate up in a (relatively) secluded talkpage, where only those who are keenly interested in the topic would notice and have a debate over. When "consensus" was reached amongst those members, it was eventually rolled out across the website. Suddenly, hundreds and thousands of editors the world over began to notice this happening without realising that the original debate has actually taken place. Amongst these, an increasing number of people begin to protest against it, a number which increases as the changes affects more and more articles. Thus, what we are seeing now is the result of an increasingly wide backlash from a decision made by a much smaller group. Should a formal debate be launched as a result? The original proponents of this change claim "exhaustive" debate has already been made, thus no new debate should take place. Wikipedia:Consensus states that consensus can change and that "consensus among a limited group of editors, at one place and time, cannot override community consensus on a wider scale". I sense a possibility that wider consensus may differ from that of the original group, and hence I am all for launching a proper RfC on this issue.--Huaiwei (talk) 13:26, 17 November 2008 (UTC)
Totally agree with both your (Huaiwei) recitation of the facts and your view about wider consensus. Tennis expert (talk) 23:35, 18 November 2008 (UTC)
  • Rather a distorted view. Did you miss the two years of intermittent debate before it hotted up here in July and August? Have you deliberately ignored the uncomfortable fact that the dynamic FAC process, which sets the standards for all articles, hardly blinked at the change? That, my friend, is very telling evidence that mainstream editors are very much in favour of a more selective approach to linking. All very well to try to pin it on me, but I'm only one strong voice among many. As frustrating as you may find it, the cat is out of the bag: WPs now realise that date autoformatting was sold to them without consensus and was a grand mistake. Likewise, there is little objection now to the removal of solitary year-links and the like; that cultural change happened some time ago. Tony (talk) 14:00, 17 November 2008 (UTC)
  • (ec) CONSENSUS also implies strongly that it's the arguments that count more than the numbers expressing a particular opinion. If there were new arguments in favour of autoformatting, then there would be a reason for a new discussion. But there seem not to be (in fact I'm not sure there ever were any - at least, those that were raised were consistently rebuffed). All we seem to be seeing is a very small fraction of those hundreds and thousands of editors telling us "I don't like this" loudly and repeatedly, thus creating an impression of lack of consensus or a need to re-address the issue. Of course it would have been preferable for the original discussion to have been closed by a neutral experienced editor or, better, panel of admins, so that consensus couldn't be contested after the fact, but there was no provision in policy for any such action at that time, so we just had to close it ourselves on the basis of lack of opposing voices of arguments. Hopefully the new more formal provisions for policy and guideline changes that are now described at WP:Policies and guidelines will actually be adopted as practice by the community, so in the future we can avoid getting ourselves into pointless messes like this one. Meanwhile all the original arguments in this issue stand, WP is benefiting from the removal of these unwanted links, and it certainly isn't benefiting from the constant efforts by a zealous few - with apparently no substantial arguments - to undermine that process by creating drama around it. --Kotniski (talk) 14:08, 17 November 2008 (UTC)
    • The problem that I keep reading when I see this is that we have two higher intertwined issues:
      1. Date autoformatting does not nicely default to anon users and those that have not set their preferences, providing dates in a mess of styles to the user, which is unprofressional
      2. Arbitary date linking for the sake of just linking dates creates "seas of blue" that overlink the articles (and with the aside, our day-of-year and year articles are messy and provide no relevance for readers should they follow these links).
    • These are two very distinct issues, but tied to the double bracket autoformatting. Tony et al have provided strong reasons for ditching DA via #1, and even if that was put to consensus , I very much doubt people would be against that specific aspect - we want consistent dates to all readers, and in lieu of any DA system to replace it, manual editing to be correct makes sense. The problem is that there are those that insist by accepting #1, we also must accept #2 - that is, we must strip all date links out of articles save for extremely specific cases. (It cannot hurt to gain larger consensus on this, I just don't think it's going to change the outdated-ness of DA) But #2 is a very separate point, it does not follow from #1 despite these claims -- if we never had a DA functionality, we would still have to be asking ourselves, "What is appropriate linking for dates in articles to provide the right link context?" (It's also important to note we can link dates without invoking DA, so that's another clear separation of the issue) This specific point is what seems to be swept under the rug, as there are those (the ones against the mass delinking by bots) that think date links are useful, and thus we need to discuss that before bots remove all date links or at least find a means to tag appropriate dates to be correct. If this means we also have to reconsider the purpose of the day-of-year and year pages, of the various Year-in-X pages, and when and how these should be linked (inline? "See Also"?), then so be it. But because, unlike the issue of DA which has issues that are easily apparent for any editor, the use of date links and associated pages is a matter of how the readership uses them, and it is impossible without a wider range of input to gain consensus on this approach. This is the point that if the two sides can meet (it's somewhere between "link all dates" and "link no dates") via an RFC or some means, then that should resolve all the major issues that are on this page that I can see. --MASEM 15:10, 17 November 2008 (UTC)
Maybe I'm stupid or it's just that I came into this late... I just don't see the problem. Lightbot had been going around removing linked dates but apparently has now stopped. I saw a few people complaining on Lightmouse's Talk page about specific actions the bot took, and I was impressed by how responsive Lightmouse was to the concerns. Why can't the bot be restarted and any continuing or new issues will be dealt with by Lightmouse? And a question to Lightmouse: Is it possible for you to publish some statistics on how many pages your bot visited, how many delinks were made (per page avg. and total #), and how many complaints on how many pages you received? That would give us an idea of the degree of acceptance, or not, of your bot's actions.--Goodmorningworld (talk) 15:55, 17 November 2008 (UTC)
Until the issue about when dates should be linked or not and how to deal with them, it is better to hold off on any bot-type activity. Editors are free on their own to do what they want. Mind you, it may be that only few dates should ever be linked, so using Lightbot to go through to delink without consideration, allowing editor to relink only key dates as needed, may be the best solution once it is resolved, but right now it is not resolved. --MASEM 16:11, 17 November 2008 (UTC)

Comment One aspect of this dispute that needs to be considered here as well is the removal of what are described as "common terms". While not specifically date-related, it is relevant as a) there's even less of a consensus for the changes; b) there's considerable disagreement as to what should and should not be linked; and c) the same script that delinks dates is also being used by some (not all) delinking editors to strip out these other terms. This causes a problem as there are often terms that should be linked which end up delinked; fixing the errors either involves reverting all changes or performing extra to manually restore links. Now, it may well be better to have separate RfCs for the two issues, but the fact that the script is doing both actions at the same time during this process warrants consideration. Thoughts? --Ckatzchatspy 04:32, 18 November 2008 (UTC)

I agree that there is a bit more subjectivity. The script (and I believe Lightbot) removes linkages to continent names, G8 and some other countries' names, major city names. While although everybody knows where the USA, the UK, France Germany and Switzerland are, it may be argued that removing links to London within the United Kingdom article may not be the most appropriate course of action. I have also received comments that removing some but not all such names can create an odd result. Ohconfucius (talk) 06:43, 18 November 2008 (UTC)

I agree with not linking dates, but I strongly disagree with any "once and for all" decision. Consensus needs to be built gradually in the whole Wikipedia community, not forced from above while referring to a consensus among a smaller part of the community. Dissenting editors coming here to complain about unlinking need to be treated respectfully and have their questions answered, even if the complaints have been raised many times before. If you are tired of repeating the same discussion over and over, then go do something else and let other take over. Since the general consensus is against date-linking, there will be plenty of people to argue for it. If not, then there is no consensus. If you start telling people that "This has already been decided, so shut up!" you will just repeat the whole Betacommandbot debacle from 1-2 years ago.

I am also very reluctant to support bot delinking. Instead, manually edit articles with many editors and readers to conform to the new style. The accepted style in articles like United States, World War II and Beatles will naturally spread across the wiki. Also update common templates like all the citation ones before bot-changing all the individual articles.--Apoc2400 (talk) 14:21, 18 November 2008 (UTC)

  • I support delinking dates. I also support a bot going through and delinking. It would be good if we could get a bot to reformat dates written as 2008-10-20 into standard formats. Like differences in British and American English, I think format should depend on the standard for the country the article is about. When there is no standard for the topic, default to what was originally used. :) لennavecia 18:08, 18 November 2008 (UTC)
  • I wholeheartedly support delinking dates. The linking is clutter on the page (overshadowing links that are more important). The date formatting that linking provides only benefits a small portion of our readers, and for those with date preferences turned on, it makes it much more difficult to see any formatting issues that our readers would otherwise notice. I also support a bot to go through and delink existing datelinks; Lightmouse has been very responsive to fixing issues that have been brought to his attention. Karanacs (talk) 18:22, 18 November 2008 (UTC)
  • Linking all dates was a mistake; we should have agreed, as we agreed since on colour, that we should agree to live with each others' date formats. The links that were put in for this purpose only should be removed some time before WP:DEADLINE, but there's no rush. Date and year links should be treated as other links; some of them are worth having and should be retained, or even added, even as most of the present ones go. This requires editorial judgment; as always, this means that it should never be done by a bot, which has no judgment. I am glad to see that we are persuading editors to remove unnecessary dates; that is quite enough; we have time. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:58, 18 November 2008 (UTC)
  • I would also deprecate the use of scripts, as too prone to error. Consider this edit, which changed a book title because that title included dates; techniques which permit editing text one is not looking at should be discouraged; the first thing is not to make Wikipedia worse. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:07, 18 November 2008 (UTC)
  • Dates? If a date is truly relevant, there will be a consensus to restore it. So I am all for mass-delinking with the caveats Jennavecia et al already raised. But I don't want this turning into a rerun of BCBot drahmaz. Is Lightmouse the right person for the job? I have not got a clue, but if not this is the time to say so. Angus McLellan (Talk) 00:00, 19 November 2008 (UTC)

Full date formatting

The "full date formatting" section includes the following statement: Dates in article body text should all have the same format. I think that is a poorly considered notion, whether it is more appropriate to write "14 February 1990" or "February 14, 1990" can very much depend on the context and flow of the sentence. I also submit that rigidly using the same format throughout a piece of text is not actually conducive to variety of expression or textual rhythm, both of which are important to good prose writing. It's just plain unnatural to try to impose such rigid rules on prose. Can you imagine any creative writer imposing such rules on himself? Gatoclass (talk) 23:26, 14 November 2008 (UTC)

  • We're not aiming to be creative here. But guidelines can be broken on the occasions (very rare in this case, I would imagine) when they go against common sense.--Kotniski (talk) 07:54, 15 November 2008 (UTC)
My concern is that we currently have a user, Lightmouse, who is taking this guideline literally and using tools to change the formatting in dozens (if not hundreds) of articles. So I'm thinking this rule needs to be softened a bit, to better reflect a "common sense" approach. Gatoclass (talk) 08:35, 15 November 2008 (UTC)

The common sense is that the unregistered user will see mix of dates such as 2008-10-20, February 10, 2008, and 24 December 2006 in the same article while us registered user will think the article we're reading is fine. It will also clutter articles with unnecessary and pointless seas of blue (See Greg L's rant linked somewhere on this page for details). Mass delinking will improve things 99% of the time, and when there is a reason to link the dates it will be reverted. Lightbot can be made to give links to Greg's Rant in the edit summary, as well as to link to a page detaling good linking practices such as linking to 2008 in science in the see also section, rather than to link 5 November, 2007 in the body, etc. Headbomb {ταλκκοντριβςWP Physics} 09:00, 15 November 2008 (UTC)

Actually, now that I look at it, the guideline is ambiguous, I assumed that "full date formatting" pertained only to the two alternatives given, ie either "February 14, 1990" or "14 February 1990", but possibly it is intended to apply to other formats too. My point is only that the alternatives "February 14, 1990" and "14 February 1990" should effectively be considered the same format in article body text, I'm not suggesting that users should use "14 February 1990" and "14-2-1990" in the body of the same article. Gatoclass (talk) 10:40, 15 November 2008 (UTC)
... i'm struggling to imagine how using "February 14, 1990" in a UK-orientated article or "14 February 1990" in a US-oriented article would improve the flow of the sentence, the textual rhythm, etc. where i come from, it's normal journalistic (and academic) practice to stick to one date format throughout a piece of writing. Sssoul (talk) 10:54, 15 November 2008 (UTC)
Gatoclass asks "Can you imagine any creative writer imposing such rules on himself?" I agree that one good writer can alter the way dates are phrased to make sentences flow more smoothly. However, Wikipedia articles are neither creative writing nor written by a single author. Experience demonstrates that articles that contain varied date styles do not flow smoothly; they just look messy. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 15:37, 15 November 2008 (UTC)
  • I disagree with Gatoclass’ entire premiss in starting off this thread: “[writing] ‘14 February 1990’ or ‘February 14, 1990’ can very much depend on the context and flow of the sentence.” With rare exception, the style should stay consistent within an article. The point of making proper, encyclopedic text is to write clearly and not have writing style get in the way of the message by being distracting. Obvious exceptions would be for quotes.

    I also think Gatoclass’ statement “[the two different formats] should effectively be considered the same format in article body text” misses the mark by 180°. Within the context of how the subject has long been addressed here on WT:MOSNUM, there is a distinct difference. One is standard in America and the other is standard throughout the rest of the world. In order to keep text natural and fluid and not have distracting breaks in the train of thought for our readership, IMO, articles on or closely pertaining to America should use American-style dates; otherwise, use Euro-style dates.

    As I’ve stated before (too many times now to count), this is not complex and far too much effort has been devoted to this issue—including brain-damaged auto-formatting tools that masked these formating differences only for registered editors in a vain effort to get editors to stop coming here, throwing a tantrum, and threatening to hold their breath until they turned blue. Enough. Greg L (talk) 21:52, 15 November 2008 (UTC)

  • This is a complete and utter was of time, if you ask me. The above written by Gatoclass on some premise about creative writing. Have we forgotten what generations of writers before us know what an encylopaedia to be? WP is not an exercise in creative writing, and the sooner we knock this notion that it has any such pretension on the head, the better. Ohconfucius (talk) 03:15, 16 November 2008 (UTC)
While I partially agree, and let me add my voice to those who think that having the same date format throughout an article is A Good Thing, I must differ about creative writing. Wikipedia's house style is flat and turgid. An encyclopaedia doesn't need to be full of whimsy and poetic licence, but the writing should sparkle, and let me just say that very few of the nerds who contribute to our grand project do more than glow dully. --Pete (talk) 11:05, 16 November 2008 (UTC)
Using the phrase "creative writing" was obviously misleading, I meant it only in the sense that all writing is an exercise in creativity, encyclopaedic content included. I don't have access to a style guide ATM, and perhaps I should have consulted one before opening this topic, but I have my doubts that an overwhelming number of professional writers actually choose to employ this rigid date formatting (except perhaps in certain contexts). It seems to me that such petty rules have about as much utility as the split infinitive rule ("up with which I will not put", as Churchill famously mocked). By all means, a consistent format in such things as tables and lists, but I see no compelling reason to extend it to main body text. The end result of this guideline is that now we have users like Lightmouse going around imposing their preferred format on dozens of articles, leading the possibility of ill feeling and unnecessary disputes. Gatoclass (talk) 05:22, 17 November 2008 (UTC)
If you don't want unnecessary disputes, don't start another one. We have clear rules on this precisely so that there is no excuse for disputes continually breaking out over this very trivial issue. Break the rules if there's some special reason to do so (and be prepared to justify it), otherwise just go with them (all of us here are following a certain number of rules that we don't like; Lightmouse is not imposing his preferred format but that of the commmunity; and the Churchill quote is about prepositions, not infinitives).--Kotniski (talk) 07:15, 17 November 2008 (UTC)
Actually, this is both Gatoclass and Kotniski are in error, at least as I see it. Lightbot has greatly exceeded its mandate, and has now (as far as I can tell) suspended operation. Lightmouse is enforcing what he sees as a consensus format, but not everyone agrees that there is consensus. (And I agree with that part of what Lightmouse is doing; not the delinking, which I consider under dispute, but changing all the dates to the same format.) — Arthur Rubin (talk) 19:42, 17 November 2008 (UTC)

One type of article where I see different date formats that might make sense are some US military articles, for example, articles about ships, where the main text would have standard US dates, but the infobox would be in standard military format. It makes the infobox read official, yet it keeps the text from reading quite clumsily. To an American reader, reading international date formats in prose is awkward and it makes the encyclopedia read in a robotic fashion.--User:2008Olympianchitchatseemywork 17:58, 18 November 2008 (UTC)

A reasonable idea. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:09, 18 November 2008 (UTC)
I have grown accustomed to doing dates in Wikilinks to ensure that the date and time preferences of the user are honoured. This way no matter what way I enter the date, it'll appear correct to the wikipedia reader. Otherwise U.S. users will do MONTH DAY, whilst others may do DAY MONTH and might go through and 'fix' the dates on article's since they're not formatted 'properly'. Is doing dates with Wikilinks really such a bad thing? Nja247 (talkcontribs) 20:37, 19 November 2008 (UTC)
Nja247, you have been deceived. Date autoformatting only works for logged in users, who constitute a tiny minority of readers. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 21:16, 19 November 2008 (UTC)

Knots

The current wording of the MOS is as follows:

Use kn to abbreviate knot rather than kt (could be confused with kilotonne) or KN (could be confused with kilonewton).

I propose a new wording.

Use knot rather than kt, KT, kn or KN. The abbreviated forms are either ambiguous or opaque or both.

This issue has been discussed on User talk:Lightmouse at various times. (Lightmouse runs a bot that does mass edits.) The most recent discussion can be found at: User talk:Lightmouse#Knots. In summary, people like knots because they are clear. kn and KN are not generally used, and are therefore opaque. The traditional abbreviation kt is still widely used, but might be ambiguous. See Federation of American Scientists Military Acronyms, Initialisms, and Abbreviations--Toddy1 (talk) 08:58, 16 November 2008 (UTC)

I agree that what is there should be removed, but not with the solution. Let's just use the standard "kt" in contexts where that is used; perhaps in some contexts kn would be acceptable too; but stick to the lowercase versions. There is no serious ambiguity; nobody is likely to mistake a speed unit for a mass unit in the first case. Furthermore, we should never be using "kt" ALONE for kilotonne anyway; I never see anybody using that for the mass units, and the "tonne" is only acceptable for use with the international system of units as a unit of mass. Not as a unit of force, and not as a unit of energy. In fact, the term "kilotonne" is almost exclusively used in the latter context, as some kind of unit of energy. In those cases, we should identify it specifically, as a "kilotonne of TNT equivalent" or a "kilotonne of coal equivalent" or whatever. Furthermore, nobody should be using either "KN" or "kn" for kilonewtons, either; their symbol is "kN".
Note that all ambiguity will probably ever be eliminated. In fact, we have an SI unit and another unit still acceptable for use with SI which still share the same symbol: the symbol "rad' can mean either radians or rads, for example.
Use some common sense, of course; spell it out in cases where someone really might not know what it means, but there is no real need to do so in listing the cruising speed of a battleship; people will recognize either "kn" or "kt" as a symbol for knots in that context. All we should really do is to specify that, as we usually do in other contexts, we are using symbols rather than abbreviations. That's a distinction metrologists like to use when as a shorthand for the fact that symbols generally have most or all of these properties: They are case-sensitive, they remain unchanged in the plural (that's the one we should emphasize, that "kts" or "kns" are unacceptable), they are not italized even if surrounding text is, they can be used in non–Roman alphabet languages, they should be used only with numerals rather than spelled-out numbers, etc. Gene Nygaard (talk) 13:52, 16 November 2008 (UTC)
{{Convert}} only accepts kn or kt as input, but only produces kn as output. Naturally any conversion template will require unique abbreviations for input units. Although knot could be spelled out as a template input and abbreviated as an output, templates don't understand context and can't intelligently choose between kt and kn. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 15:15, 16 November 2008 (UTC) Revised 17:25 UTC.
Not true. The convert template accepts knot. {{convert|13.5|knot|km/h|1}} produces 13.5 knots (25.0 km/h)--Toddy1 (talk) 17:05, 16 November 2008 (UTC)
I meant it only accepts the abbreviation kn, but it turns out I was wrong, kt can be used as input, but not output. With your example, but giving the SI unit first, we get the following results:
  • {{convert|25.0|km/h|knot|1}} displays as 25.0 kilometres per hour (13.5 kn)
  • {{convert|25.0|km/h|kn|1}} displays as 25.0 kilometres per hour (13.5 kn)
  • {{convert|25.0|km/h|kt|1}} displays as 25.0 kilometres per hour ([convert: unit mismatch])
--Gerry Ashton (talk) 17:31, 16 November 2008 (UTC) Fixed as suggested by Gene Nygaard 18 November 2008 22:34 UTC.
You overlooked
  • {{convert|37|lb|kn}} displays as 37 pounds ([convert: unit mismatch])
  • {{convert|37|lb|kt}} displays as 37 pounds (1.7×10−5 kt)
Gene Nygaard (talk) 20:55, 18 November 2008 (UTC)
When I just did this, I wondered why Gerry Ashton didn't get similar results. But he forgot to change the parts outside the nowiki to be the same as what is inside. His results should have been like this:
  • {{convert|25.0|km/h|knot|1}} displays as 25.0 kilometres per hour (13.5 kn)
  • {{convert|25.0|km/h|kn|1}} displays as 25.0 kilometres per hour (13.5 kn)
  • {{convert|25.0|km/h|kt|1}} displays as 25.0 kilometres per hour ([convert: unit mismatch])
As it was, he was showing us the same one with the "knot" parameter three times. Likely just an oversight, using copy and paste and forgetting to modify both parts, so he didn't get the error message on the last one. Gene Nygaard (talk) 21:06, 18 November 2008 (UTC)
  • I don’t know what the maritime-wide practice is regarding abbreviating nautical mile per hour. Sometimes there will be disciplines that use terminology and symbols that mean a different thing in other disciplines. Sometimes we can’t have project-wide consistency in units of measure. But we certainly should have consistency within a particular discipline and it is extremely  important that we follow what current literature says on the subject. If there is a particular most-common practice in the nautical/maritime world, then we should simply follow that practice so our readers can be properly conversant with mariners and others in the field. It is not our job to be advancing new proposals on abbreviations that might be used here. Just look to current literature. Conversion templates should also reflect what is the most common practice in the field. Greg L (talk) 23:13, 16 November 2008 (UTC)
Even "maritime-wide" is not determinative of anything. These units are also used in other context, most notably in aeronautics and in meteorology. But in almost all contexts, I'd say that "kt" is more common than "kn", but neither of them is so overwhelming as to preclude us from choosing to use one or the other in any particular context. And no, we don't necessarily need to look at current literature, and give that more importance in making our choice than for example what the experts in the field of metrology might use or recommend. Good heavens, that can often be a dumb idea. If we went by current literature, we use "ft/lbs" for automobile torque in foot-pounds force, even though there isn't any division in the units and therefore no good reason to make it look like there is with a slash, and even though symbols should remain unchanged in the plural, and it is indeed quite reasonable to make a choice to use symbols in that manner. Gene Nygaard (talk) 00:47, 17 November 2008 (UTC)
  • Gene, you can do better than blow an example like ft/lbs out of your butt. There is a perfectly good SI-compliant measure of torque (N-m) that should generally go as the primary unit of measure. However, if one was talking to an American audience on a subject of an American car and were talking about torquing lug nuts, on, then one would indeed use ft/lbs.

    In this case however, we’re talking about aviation and maritime practices. We can’t have Wikipedia look like our editors have once again donned our Spock ears and run off to a Star Trek convention by trying to invent some new abbreviation for nautical mile per hour if (that’s a big IF), the vast majority of authoritative sources make it abundantly clear that such disciplines already have a standard they abide by. Your rah-rah promote-the-SI tact is tiresome. If aviators are used to seeing “wind at 23 kts”, then that’s what we should do here on not have some sort of “meters per second” crap that you might push. Greg L (talk) 01:52, 17 November 2008 (UTC)

No, we should generally be using the original measurement as the "primary" measurement. No no, "ft/lbs" should never be acceptable here. And there is absolutely no invention of a new abbreviation involved in this discussion. Let's just stick to the real issues, okay? Gene Nygaard (talk) 16:41, 18 November 2008 (UTC)
  • P.S. having just posted the above, I looked and see that the U.S. Coast Guard uses “kt” as the symbol for nautical mile per hour. What do you wanna bet that this is the world-wide convention? We have absolutely no business pretending that Wikipedia is magically entitled to invent some sort of house convention that varies from this standard. The {{convert}} template needs to get fixed, pronto if it outputs “kn”. Greg L (talk) 23:21, 16 November 2008 (UTC)
  • Actually, the link provided by Greg L is to the U.S. Naval Historical Center. On that same page, they have KC for kilocycle, but no KHz for kilohertz. The page also lists Kn(s) for knot(s). I'd say the page is both out of date and inconclusive. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 00:52, 17 November 2008 (UTC)
  • Gerry, you know as well as I do that we don’t standardize on something just because one can find some instances of it. We go with what the majority of reliable sources use. I don’t know with certainty what the true facts are as I am neither a mariner nor aviator. However, my brother is an aviator and I just spoke with him. The first thing off his lips was that for aviation, it is “kts”. And, in support of what he told me a few minutes ago, I note that NOAA’s Aviation Digital Data Service (ADDS) (that’s the Federal Government here) gives wind speed in “kts”.

    As for maritime use, Naval Maritime Forecast Center/Joint Typhoon Warning Center gives wind speeds in “kt”. I really don’t care what Uncle Fester’s almanac says.

    So maybe aviation articles should use “kts” and maybe maritime-related articles should use “kt”. Hopefully, editors with experience in both these fields will weigh in here and explain, with confidence, what the standard practices are in each field.

    And maybe, Wikipedia shouldn’t once again look like “mebibyte” foolishness. We have far too much input on MOSNUM from editors who have no expertise whatsoever in various disciplines but have tons of experience out-wikilawyering others here on WT:MOSNUM and who think that somehow makes them an expert in everything and somehow think they’ve found The Better Way To a Brighter Future©™®. No wonder “Follow Current Literature” has been so gutted out of MOSNUM, too many regulars here really think they really are changing the world, one idiotic template at a time. Greg L (talk) 01:34, 17 November 2008 (UTC)

  • The American Practical Navigator (1995), generally called Bowditch, is not Uncle Fester's almanac. It is published by the United States National Ocean Service. My maritime knowledge is quite limited, but I've seen Bowditch mentioned favorably in several other publications. Its use of kn basically means Wikipedia should not settle on kt as the only option. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 03:09, 17 November 2008 (UTC)
  • So… by your logic, even if most reliable sources used “kt” and “kts” in maritime and aeronautical purposes (still to be determined for certain), if some usage of “kn” can be found on this pale blue dot, then any editor should just go ahead and do whatever the wanna and templates masquerading as proper tools can use just one of the options—the one that appears to be least standard of all. Is that what you’re suggesting? If the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Navy and the NOAA use kt and kts, that doesn’t hold much sway with you. You know what? I just realized I have a Garmin GPS 45 XL out in my car. The device is optimized for nautical purposes. I went out and got it and went to System Setup. Its symbol for nautical miles per hour is “kt”. You’re not persuaded yet, are you? Are your arguments not falsifiable? Please tell, is there any evidence that any human could present to you here that would cause you to change your mind(?) or is that utterly impossible? Greg L (talk) 04:45, 17 November 2008 (UTC)
In regards to the assertions on the NOAA position, please see their glossary (with attention to the irregular use of capitals), wherein we find these entries:

Knot
(abbrev. Kt) Unit of speed used in navigation, equal to 1 nautical mile (the length of 1 minute latitude) per hour or about 1.15 statute miles per hour, or 0.5 meters/sec).
KT
(Knot)- Unit of speed used in navigation, equal to 1 nautical mile (the length of 1 minute latitude) per hour or about 1.15 statue miles per hour, or 0.5 meters/sec).
KTS
Knots

Please note that much of NOAA's work is done by means of uppercase-only messages (e.g.), much like the military. Attaching great significance to their selection of capitals in a specific document instance would be a mistake unless they were explicitly discussing capitalization. General usage does indeed seem to be widely mixed between kt, KT, kn, KN, and even KTS, but knot is unambiguous and understood by anyone who understands the various abbreviations. Except under extreme space constraints, I hold that we should spell it out.-LeadSongDog (talk) 15:02, 17 November 2008 (UTC)
Yes, Greg, it is indeed perfectly legitimate for us to set house rules for our own use on Wikipedia;l and no, it isn't necessarily left to the whim of each editor. Nobody is inventing anything new here; there has been significant use of both "kt" and "kn" for this purpose. We can choose how we want our encyclopedia to look, however. We can try to give it some consistency, and that includes following more general rules such as using "symbols" rather than "abbreviations" for units of measure, and the associated notions about the distinction between the two. We can legitimately choose to standardize on "kn" as the MoS has, or to standardize on "kt", or to allow those two but no other symbols, or to say that it should always be spelled out.
The only real question is what we should do from among those options. Gene Nygaard (talk) 16:53, 17 November 2008 (UTC)

Note that Bowditch is written by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (formerly the National Imagery and Mapping Agency) and sold by the National Ocean Service, which is an office within the very same NOAA mentioned by Greg L and LeadSongDog. It strikes me as being just as official and reliable as the other sources mentioned. At this point there is no documentary evidence that one abbreviation is overwhelmingly preferred to the other. The {{convert}} template is built on the premise that there is one correct abbreviation for any given unit, so it can't handle this situation well. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 16:35, 17 November 2008 (UTC)

See Bowditch's American Practical Navigator for some history on that document. The 1826 version is online here but it goes back much further. Suffice to say that it carries with it a great deal of tradition but perhaps is not the most current usage.LeadSongDog (talk) 17:20, 17 November 2008 (UTC)
That's just one of the problems of that overwhelmingly complicated black box {{convert}}, one with thousands of subtemplates and subpages, one which cannot possibly be edited by more than one person who thereby gains undue control over how Wikipedia looks. It can and does sometimes handle different options; a bigger problem is that no Wikipedia editor knows all the nuances necessary to use it properly. There is always, even when options are available, a built-in bias in favor of one of those options, a default option--for example, in favor of British spellings, requiring an explicit command to override that. Gene Nygaard (talk) 17:32, 17 November 2008 (UTC)
Just checked Webster's Third New International Dictionary (1986) ISBN 0877792011, and found that it shows (abbr: kt., kn., k.), but it also reveals a deeper problem in that knot represents two different distances. The famiiar usage of knot to mean nautical mile will not come as much surprise, but it also is used as 47 feet 3 inches in the original context of a knotted log line. Counting these knots for 28 seconds of ship motion is the equivalent of counting nautical miles for one hour. It may be that the correct thing for {{convert}} to do is simply return an error message so that editors hand convert. LeadSongDog (talk) 18:26, 17 November 2008 (UTC)
Now there's a red herring. Whether or not that 47¼ ft is a "meaning" of knot in the first place is probably debatable, but even if it is, it is never going to be used outside of the article knot (speed). And in any case, we are only going to be using symbols for cases in which it is a unit of measurement, and that isn't a unit of measurement (it might be a standard length, but it isn't used to express measurements of length). Webster's Third, of course, is basically a 1961 work, even if you newer version has an addenda in the front. Gene Nygaard (talk) 16:52, 18 November 2008 (UTC)
Yup, it's a fish. Sailors like fish :/) Since Bowditch was on the table, page 88 in the 1826 version speaks to the minor variations in the "length of a knot". LeadSongDog (talk) 18:58, 18 November 2008 (UTC)

First, the symptom. We have our nautical mile per hour article doing POV pushing with this:

The knot is a unit of speed equal to one nautical mile per hour. Its kn abbreviation is preferred by American and Canadian maritime authorities, [5] [6] the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and the International Bureau of Weights and Measures, [3]

[7] however, the kt (knot) and kts (knots) abbreviations also are used.

Then, the reality is that the vast  majority of aviators and sailors use kt or kts. NOAA, Navy, Coast Guard, FAA, the airspeed indicators on Cessna 172s (I’ve ridden in one many times), Garmin GPS devices, all say “kts” or “kt”. It’s “We’re seeing 25 kt winds from the SE” and “We were making 17 kts and keeping up with the carrier.” Go hop onto any airplane—commercial or GA—and try to find kn; you won’t find it. But compare this reality to what it says in the above quotebox. It quotes the IEEE recommendations and other “I-wish-it-would-be” sources like the BIPM. Who gives a damn? Is the quote “correct” because it implies that “oh, and you will also find some occasional usage of kt and kts if you look hard enough”? That is misleading to the point of being flat out incorrect. The real world doesn’t work that way and it’s obvious that any mariner or aviator who tried to edit any affected articles would be shouted down by Spock ear-wearing, SI nuts who can out-wikilawyer someone who actually knew what they were talking about. The last sentence in the above quotebox should read “however, in the real world, the abbreviations are kt (knot) and kts (knots).”

And finally, the greater problem: regulars to WT:MOSNUM having far  too much voice and giving them the ability to use procedural tools to get their way even though they don’t know anything about the subject at hand other than they can find an Uncle Festers Almanac that uses an obscure symbol (kn) that no one in the real world follows. Deep down, these idealists are thinking to themselves “that symbol is wrong; there are better ways and I can find some recommendations from some alphabet-soup organizations.” That attitude is bankrupt and naïve. We simply reflect the way the world works; not the way it ought to work. We need to be more cognizant of this phenomenon here on WT:MOSNUM and invite comment from experts in the effected fields before once again running off with “mebibyte” nonsense because the “the IEC says so” and its the New World Order and the path to the Future. No it isn’t. It makes Wikipedia look (once again) like we’re run by idealistic 8th graders and it does our readers a disservice.

Do I give a shit about nautical mile per hour? No. I didn’t touch it so I’m not responsible. I’m going to leave it just as it is in all it’s profoundly naïve ‘mebibyte’ glory. My axe to grind is with this god-damned venue that lets practices like this continue and doesn’t have the balls to get real. There. I said what I believe. So shoot me. Greg L (talk) 21:05, 17 November 2008 (UTC)

(ec)Sorry Greg, I'm fresh out of the slow bullets. Will a Thuggee noose do ;/?
Looking at the collection of airspeed indicators on commons, they all seem to spell out "knots", "neuds", or "KNOTS". The FAA "Instrument Flight Handbook" (2008) uses "KNOTS" on all the airspeed indicators shown and "knots" in the text, never abbreviated. But wtf does the FAA know about aviation? Really, what does the abbreviation do for WP? Just leave it as knots and be done.LeadSongDog (talk) 21:55, 17 November 2008 (UTC)
Let's not lose sight of the forest for the trees. Just include a conversion to m/s or km/h as appropriate, so that the 90% of the readers who don't have the foggiest idea that a "knot" really is will understand it, and according to our general rules, those knots should then be spelled out. The most common usage of a symbol, whether "kt" or "kn", would be in tables where it might be good to use symbols even if a conversion is included. Gene Nygaard (talk) 16:45, 18 November 2008 (UTC)
Lest my unstated corollary isn't clear, I'd bet there aren't a handful of cases in Wikipedia where some editor has bothered to convert some measurement in other units of speed to knots. We only really need to worry about conversions in one direction; the other way can be dealt with on a case by case basis. Gene Nygaard (talk) 16:58, 18 November 2008 (UTC)
  • My problem is with a culture here that permits blatant POV-pushing as shown in the above quotebox, which is clearly misleading, isn’t it? Gotta go. Real world calls. Greg L (talk) 21:57, 17 November 2008 (UTC)

disputedtag

There should be a difference between {{underdiscussion|section}} and {{disputedtag}}. The documentation suggests that the difference is that the former is for the case where there is general agreement that the current wording has been agreed on, and the latter is for the contrary case. Not only is the interpretation under dispute, but there is a real dispute as to whether the deprecation of autolinking is a real consensus. Furthermore, WP:BRD suggest that {{disputedtag}} should remain while this discussion is proceding. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 13:55, 18 November 2008 (UTC)

Arthur, a style guide page is not your private playground in which you are free to vent your personal peeves. Dispute tags should be used only as a last resort. Tony (talk) 15:52, 18 November 2008 (UTC)
No, that would be full protection of the page Tony. Woody (talk) 15:55, 18 November 2008 (UTC)

There is a dispute over the section; several editors are actively engaging in it. For that matter, there is plainly a dispute over the tag - although if that continues, I will be tempted to submit it to WP:LAME. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:50, 18 November 2008 (UTC)

Actually, dispute tags seem to me to be the appropriate first step if there really is a dispute as to whether the text reflected consensus at the time it added. But it is pretty WP:LAME. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 19:43, 18 November 2008 (UTC)
<sarcasm>Anyone have a tag for the tag being in dispute? {{disputed disputedtag}}? </sarcasm> — Arthur Rubin (talk) 19:44, 18 November 2008 (UTC)
I'm thinking of changing that to {{underdiscussion disputedtag}} ;) Franamax (talk) 00:46, 19 November 2008 (UTC)
The first step (or joint first, at any rate) should be for someone to set out explicitly what claim they are making, with evidence, under a new section title. Then a tag can be added with a link to that section.--Kotniski (talk) 04:32, 19 November 2008 (UTC)
Yes, well now we've seen a totally unreasonable exercise of punitive power by this person who calls himself an admin—User talk:Rjd0060, abetted by his friend User talk:How do you turn this on#top—I'm frightened to make any edits to MOSNUM, for fear of having them labelled "slow" edit-warring. This is an appalling situation. Just what is the boundary between "slow" edit-warring and being bold? One of the key aspects of fascism is to impose arbitrary punishment on the populace; then everyone's too nervous to blink, and the costs of exercising power come down significantly. There was a chilling rationale to Stalin's random murders, for example. I'm not likening anyone's behaviour to that in extent, but in a key way, there's an apparent similarity. Tony (talk) 04:59, 19 November 2008 (UTC)
Please make sure you read the ANI thread on this, in which the actions of Rjd were rather inexcused (if you have not read this already). --MASEM 05:26, 19 November 2008 (UTC)
  • Whatever happened to having a new wave of debate and voting to finally and definitively identify the true consensus? Not that doing so would necessarily settle anything, because if the consensus still calls for making those precious blue date links black, an endless stream of editors will come scurrying out from under the refrigerator to come here and complain about how they weren’t consulted. Oh… joy. Greg L (talk) 06:38, 19 November 2008 (UTC)
Well, Shereth was working on a RFC at User:Shereth/MOSNUM, but he doesn't seem to have been around the past few days, and in any case the proposed wording ended up being fundamentally criticised by people on all sides, so I suspect that might not be going anywhere. I think the next step should be a concrete proposal by someone who doesn't like the existing wording - either a reasoned claim that it was introduced without consensus (which ought to be a fairly short disucssion, with the facts on both sides being presented and a decision made by a disinterested user - a respected admin, preferably), or a proposal to change the wording (which would need to be argued through and gain consensus in the normal manner). In any case we should keep on topic - keeping the issue of the underlying guidance separate from the issues about bots and scripts, which are nothing to do with this page (in fact links themselves are primarily the topics of pages other than this one, although this talk page seems to have become the traditional interface for date warriors, so we may as well keep the discussion here).--Kotniski (talk) 09:24, 19 November 2008 (UTC)
  • That's how it has always worked, so it's a good reason to do it that way. I'm fed up that the only thing which is changing is whether the tag says 'disputed' or 'under discussion', while the discussion is going around in circles. Let's archive the entire preceding discussion and start from scratch. Ohconfucius (talk) 09:40, 19 November 2008 (UTC)

Edit request

{{editprotected}} Can someone update the {{underdiscussion}} tag on the "Linking and autoformatting of dates" section so that it points to the current correct section title, namely #Date linking discussions?--Kotniski (talk) 11:16, 29 November 2008 (UTC)

Done - thanks for remembering that link. --Ckatzchatspy 11:28, 29 November 2008 (UTC)
Thanks. I see there's also a split proposal box in the "Chronological items" section, again pointing to a non-existent talk page section. If discussion on that has ended, can we remove the box? (Or if it's still going on some place, make it point to there?)--Kotniski (talk) 11:31, 29 November 2008 (UTC)
I've commented it out for now; if anyone objects, or comes up with a suitable destination for the link, it can easily be restored. --Ckatzchatspy 11:39, 29 November 2008 (UTC)

Shortcuts to nonexistent sections

The part of this article about decades is accompanied by a box containing "Shortcut:WP:DECADE", which redirects to Wikipedia:Manual of Style (dates and numbers)#decades. However, that part is a list item and not a section, so the link points to the lead section, rather than that part of the article. Would it be worth making it a section (along with any other similar parts targeted by shortcuts)? Doing so might make the table of contents unwieldy. Is there a way to limit the TOC depth locally? Help:Section#Globally limiting the TOC depth is the only mention I have found of limiting TOC depth. Tim Ivorson 2008-11-30

Actually the link is to a hidden anchor attached to the bullet. The shortcut Wikipedia:DECADE does link directly to the text of the bullet rather than the section. olderwiser 17:02, 30 November 2008 (UTC)
Thanks for pointing that out. I withdraw my suggestion. I didn't realise because links to anchors intermittently fail for me, but even so I should have suggested hidden anchors, rather than more sections. Tim Ivorson 2008-11-30

Date linking discussions

Note to readers: There are two active requests for comment concerning the linking and autoformatting of dates. The discussions are taking place on subpages of this talk page:

RfC: Three proposals for change to MOSNUM

For this discussion, please see Wikipedia:Manual of Style (dates and numbers)/Three proposals for change to MOSNUM.

RfC: Date Linking RFC

For this discussion, please see Wikipedia:Manual of Style (dates and numbers)/Date Linking RFC.

Note: a discussion of alleged flaws in both RFCs can be found on the talk page of the first RFC.

Incidentally, is there any sign of either or both of these discussions being closed soon? People seem to be talking as if the results are already known.--Kotniski (talk) 10:13, 3 December 2008 (UTC)

ANI result on date-delinking complaint

This may be of interest to editors at MOSNUM talk: it's the result of the latest attempt to frame the hard work of people who are auditing and fixing date formatting as a breach of WP's policy. Here's the thrust of it, taken from the bottom of the relevant section of Administrators' noticeboard/Edit warring:

Pictogram voting oppose.svg Declined The moratorium existed because of the absence of consensus on the issue. Looking at both relevant RFCs on the issue, consensus is now much clearer so I have no mind to block on the basis of edit warring. However, I do have doubts about whether this is an appropriate task for automated or semi-automated tools since often the date-link may need to be replaced with a "See also" link to a relevant article (1932 in cheese making or whatnot). If an editor seeks an extension of the moratorium then they should do so at ANI. CIreland (talk) 16:10, 29 November 2008 (UTC)

Having looked at the RFC, I agree. LC should not make any further reports on this issue William M. Connolley (talk) 19:03, 29 November 2008 (UTC)
Does this case set a precedent? In other words, is it valid to bring those trying to bring editors who are editing articles to comply with the MOS and consensus (i.e. date delinkers) to ANI any more (barring 3RR violations of course)? Dabomb87 (talk) 22:07, 29 November 2008 (UTC)
This does set a precedent. Date-delinkers should no longer be reported here, or to ANI, purely for date-delinking William M. Connolley (talk) 23:03, 29 November 2008 (UTC)
Noted and will comply. —Locke Coletc 23:45, 29 November 2008 (UTC)

Tony (talk) 08:10, 1 December 2008 (UTC)

Please note that deprecation does not mean go on an all out de delinking spree. The community may be endorsing the deprecation but they're not endorsing the mass removal of date links (which will flood watchlists and annoy our most valuable asset: article editors). —Locke Coletc 12:04, 2 December 2008 (UTC)
Locke Cole, your edit summary "Don't break out the champagne yet" appears to imply that those who have been working for this long-overdue reform might be smug or relaxed about the community's support. May I assure you that this is far from the truth. We are instead focused on the hard work involved in fixing the shambolic state of date formatting that arose during the DA period, and in strengthening our brilliant wikilinking system through reducing its dilution by low-value links. At the same time, as I've written more than once already, I (and others, I'm sure) extend the hand of friendship to you and trust that you will join us in improving the project. Tony (talk) 14:22, 2 December 2008 (UTC)
  • Locke Cole: Your allegation that “…[the community is] not endorsing the mass removal of date links [via a bot]” is not supported by any unbiased reading of the vote comments. As of this writing, the last vote on the third point of Tony’s RfC was by Calliopejen1. He summed the general consensus of the user community quite nicely: “It's a waste of human energy to enforce this guideline, and the bot makes fewer mistakes anyways.” I have nothing more to add to that sentiment. Greg L (talk) 22:08, 2 December 2008 (UTC)
  • See below for my "reading" of the RFC (so far, with a very stern note that we're still two weeks or more from finalizing it). Suffice it to say there's nothing in the RFCs that supports mass delinkings at this time, only a deprecation in so far as dates linked for autoformatting only. The community does seem to think there's at least some occasions where date links make sense. —Locke Coletc 08:04, 3 December 2008 (UTC)
Nor does anything in the green box bless the resumption of date delinking edit warring, which some users clearly have done with their edits (automated and otherwise) since the posts by CIreland and William M. Connolley. The edit warring clock was not reset by those posts. Tennis expert (talk) 22:45, 2 December 2008 (UTC)
  • You could certainly try taking me to WP:AN3 to find out, it is beyond doubt to me that the above ruling implied any case you would bring would be thrown out for being frivolous. Of course I would advise you against it, I promise I will report you for harassment. Ohconfucius (talk) 08:20, 3 December 2008 (UTC)
It's heartening that you're admitting to a resumption of edit warring on this issue. Tennis expert (talk) 08:37, 3 December 2008 (UTC)
Sure, I have resumed date-delinking. However, as per the decision, it's not considered edit-warring any more, so eat your heart out. Also from my reading of the decision, if you came and reverted the delinking repeatedly, that would be considered edit-warring. Ohconfucius (talk) 09:49, 3 December 2008 (UTC)
You are edit warring if your date delinking is part of an ongoing back-and-forth struggle between delinking and linking edits. The edit warring clock was not reset. Therefore, you should be very cautious about your current date delinking activities lest they constitute edit warring. See WP:BRD, among others. Tennis expert (talk) 15:14, 3 December 2008 (UTC)

Looking ahead

It is fairly obvious at this point that (1) datelinking isn't coming back, (2) auto-formatting of dates isn't coming back, and (3) bot removal of date links will resume soon. While (1) and (2) are unproblematical, (3) still has some potential for difficulties. We need to make sure that all the people who recommended (in the second RfC) that dates be linked only rarely are not counted incorrectly as having voted for a fairly unspecific sometimes. Also, the past practice of bot delinking was unsatisfactory in that it put undue stress on the two people who had programmed bots to perform the task: Lightmouse and Colonies Chris. Especially Lightmouse has been the target of much abuse hurled at him, unconscionably in my opinion because he was very responsive throughout, thanking people for their criticism and quickly reacting to complaints by programming exceptions into his Lightbot.
I believe we need to think about a way to ensure that the hard-working, talented people programming the bots and responding to feedback are not left out in the cold having to face complaints and personal abuse all by themselves.
Also, while I thought that the bot owners' pragmatic responses were fine throughout, there is a weakness in the process here. Determining what exceptions are made became a responsibility weighing on the shoulders of these two people alone. We need to take some of this load off their shoulders. Perhaps a separate page can be set up in some neutral location where exception requests are displayed together with an option for community input and the eventual outcomes. That way, the bot owners are not put in the unenviable position of effectively setting policy on their own. Any subsequent criticism then should not be on their heads alone. Also, such a separate page should give statistics showing the number of delinks made — in total, on average per page, and on how many articles. A comparison of these figures with the number of complaints should give the community a quick handle on the general acceptance of the bots' work.
Both these suggestions aim at greater transparency and on making life easier on the bot operators, who have had to deal with some very unfair criticism.
Finally, I too extend the hand of wikifriendship to Locke Cole, Arthur Rubin, and Septentrionalis, and hope that future collaboration will become less contentious.--Goodmorningworld (talk) 15:08, 2 December 2008 (UTC)

I agree that the middle position should have been phrased rarely. But Lightbot cannot enforce only rarely - the only options it is capable of enforcing are always and never, neither of which has consensus.
I would deplore, and will if necessary appeal, reactivation of Lightbot. I do not see why an editor who chooses to link selected dates should have to jump through hoops at some obscure page to avoid edit-warring with a bot - bots should not edit-war.
For the twentieth time: Dates are linked for autoformatting because this page spent five years convincing editors that that was the WP way. The way to change that is to convince editors that the way has changed, with an explanation; it will take time, but we have it. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 15:46, 2 December 2008 (UTC)
  • It is up to the operator of bots to ensure that the results of his or her bot activity is fully compliant with MOSNUM. Lightmouse doesn’t need *PMAnderson’s benediction* before he can, in good faith, get to work with his bot. We should all thank Lightmouse for donating his efforts with his Lightbot; if he didn’t, who would?

    If, as you say, it is true that his bot can not properly facilitate bringing Wikipedia into compliance with the community consensus, I’m sure we’ll quickly hear from well-informed editors that his bot’s activity is fouling up things. I’ve always seen Lightmouse respond quickly to legitimate concerns. I see no reason to preemptively throw in the towel on his bot because “PMAnderson declares that it can’t be done” before we see what he has in mind. How say we A) see what wording actually gets posted to MOSNUM, and B) see what Lightmouse thinks he can do with it? I don’t know… this seems like the “Well, DUH” approach to me. Greg L (talk) 21:55, 2 December 2008 (UTC)

  • Until there is consensus as to the exact conditions under which dates should be linked, Lightbot can't enforce that consensus, and might be operating in opposition to consensus. If the consensus were that dates should be linked only in articles about other dates, (such as 1990, January 1, etc.), then that could be enforced by a bot. I suggest, in the interim, that he not reset his bot stop flag unless there is a clear consensus that the particular edits in question are in keeping with consensus. (I don't think that that's adequate, as some of you think there's a clear consensus that no raw year should be linked, which I find clearly incorrect, but it would be a start.) — Arthur Rubin (talk) 22:20, 2 December 2008 (UTC)
  • Lightmouse/Lightbot doesn’t have to deal with close judgement calls; he can always take care of all the flagrant violations of MOSNUM; there are currently too many of those to shake a stick at. Greg L (talk) 22:59, 2 December 2008 (UTC)
  • How can Lightbot tell whether something is a judgment call or not? It doesn't have any judgment - it's a program (and by Lightmouse's account, a quite limited one; it can only consider a few dozen characters at a time). Septentrionalis PMAnderson 23:28, 2 December 2008 (UTC)
  • These are worries for Lightmouse to deal with. I see no need for preemptive musings about what Lightmouse might or might not be permitted to do by me or anyone else here. The burden is on him to ensure his activities are in compliance with MOS and MOSNUM guidelines. The RfCs make it clear that there is an overwhelming consensus for certain things about dates, such as not linking Angela Lansbury’s birth date. Lightmouse can figure all this out for himself as MOSNUM guidelines get ever more specific. Greg L (talk) 23:47, 2 December 2008 (UTC)
    • This proposes that we have Lightmouse conatruct a bot which can decide when the subjective and undefined lines discussed in the RfC have been crossed. If he can do that, he can build an AI, and is wasting his time at Wikipedia. Strongly oppose. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 00:11, 3 December 2008 (UTC)
And I am suggesting that this burden has been placed unfairly on the shoulders of the bot operators, and that they should not be tasked with figuring it all out by themselves and then defending their choices. Hence my above proposal in the opening post to this sub-section.--Goodmorningworld (talk) 23:57, 2 December 2008 (UTC)
  • If this is an issue of relieving Lightmouse from a burden he doesn’t want (“burden has been placed unfairly on the shoulders”), then that is no problem whatsoever: his participation—like those of all others here—is voluntary. Perhaps, you might post your proposal on Lightmouse’s talk page and see whether he welcomes the help you propose.

    I know you have the best of intentions here. But I don’t quite know how better to summarize your proposal: “a separate page can be set up in some neutral location where exception requests are displayed together with an option for community input and the eventual outcomes.” It sounds like a bunch of wikilawyering and unnecessary bureaucracy and it would provide yet another step where editors long opposed to the new consensus *might* try to prevent Lightmouse from implementing the consensus wishes. I really do think we just don’t need to be heading down a path where we set up committees with oversight over the activities of other volunteers unless they welcome the idea. Oops, I did it again: plain-speak. Bad Greg L. BAD. Greg L (talk) 00:33, 3 December 2008 (UTC)

(ec)Thank you for your suggestion, I have posted invitations to contribute to the talk pages of both bot operators.--Goodmorningworld (talk) 00:53, 3 December 2008 (UTC)
  • There is still no consensus that all year links should be delinked. (Actually, there seems to be a clear consensus to the contrary in RfC2/Q4.) Hence Lightbot, and any delinking bot, needs to be informed as to what the consensus is. I don't know what it is, yet. Analysis of RfC2/Q3 and Q4 might lead to a consensus....or not. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 00:51, 3 December 2008 (UTC)
  • Your RfC votes and comments (decidedly out of step with the consensus view), Arthur, makes it exceedingly clear what you think. Maaaaybe you might be willing to wait for the final tally before you presume to tell us what you think it all means? Greg L (talk) 01:01, 3 December 2008 (UTC)
  • Wikipedia:Voting is evil! In any case, the tally cannot tell it "what it all means". One thing it does not mean, unless RfC2/Q4 had a consensus for never, is that all year links are bad. If RfC2/Q2 has a consensus against any autolinking, I have no objection to a carefully written bot reflecting the consensus of RfC2/Q3 and RfC2/Q4. RfC1 doesn't help decide on what a bot should do, only that RfC1/Q3 more-or-less establishes that if a bot can enforce MOSNUM, there's no specific prohibition against it doing so. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 01:10, 3 December 2008 (UTC)
  • This doesn not necessarily represent agreement or disagreement with Goodmorningworld's idea; I suspect a fair description of consensus would leave us with it not mangable by a non-intelligent bot. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 00:55, 3 December 2008 (UTC)

(undent)

  • If voting is evil, then you must really hate all those *inconvenient* vote comments where people shared their thoughts with others. The sum of those vote comments makes it quite clear as to what the community consensus is on various issues. Like me, you too Arthur, will have to abide by that consensus. It seems, at times that you are quite anxious to embrace views of just two editors who agree with you and wade in with edits that implement that *consensus*, and yet, you seem quite anxious to dismiss the results of way-lopsided RfCs whenever their outcome is at odds with your wishes. I wish the world worked that way for me… Greg L (talk) 01:33, 3 December 2008 (UTC)
  • I saw inklings of camaraderie, and didn't want to stir things up, but recent actions by certain editors here (and comments here) make me want to say "I told you so". Now that the consensus couldn't be more clear, those who favour linking are sticking to their guns and digging up trenches behind the original lines. They have lost the vote and are now advancing the preposterous view that WP:MOSNUM is "only a guideline", implying it can be ignored if habitual editors of any given article will have an override; another editor has expressed disdain by referring to delinking dates etc as "MOSCRUFT". Then I also hear comments above how there is no consensus on how to deal with 'certain exceptions'. That assertion is not true either: Editors who favour no date links whatsoever outnumber all those who suggest some limited linking; those who do have only put forward some sort of "wish-list". The default consensus position in favour of delinking dates is now clear; but there is no current consensus on what dates, if any, should be linked. It seems to me this secondary issue is a question for further discussion. Ohconfucius (talk) 04:03, 3 December 2008 (UTC)
  • Oh, I would have been right behind you, Ohconfucius, in predicting this sort of behavior. Those engaging in tendentious editing (an unsurprising gang) on a clear issue like linking years of birth will eventually have to be dealt with accordingly. Please keep notes; we will need it if they don’t stop acting like this. Greg L (talk) 04:49, 3 December 2008 (UTC)
  • It's because you've taken the results of this RFC and tried to run with it, but you're reading it all wrong (and it's not even over yet; we've still got nearly three weeks of discussion to go). The Date linking RFC is clear on one thing only: the community doesn't seem to want date links made purely for autoformatting. However, the lower questions (question three and beyond) where the community was asked when month/day and year links should be made is far far from being a consensus. So far there is, at best, a consensus that month/day and year links should sometimes be made. With that caveat in mind it's impossible to remove such links in an automated fashion (because a script cannot determine if a link is appropriate or not, only an editor can). Now, I've explained the rationale behind that particular article, I'm hoping those using automated tools will take note of the communities position so far and not engage in further disruptive date delinking. —Locke Coletc 08:02, 3 December 2008 (UTC)

I think it is very important to point out that Q2 of the second RFC (does the community want autoformatting) is giving a non-conclusive answer that I would weight slightly in support of a new non-linking method for DA (going by various opposes that including the cavaet about links being involved). This will require a review by a neutral third-party, but if there is anything in support of some type of DA, we should either not have a bot strip dates, have the bot replace current DA with something neutral, or make sure a second bot can go through and restore some type of DA for dates should the initial bot strip all dates out. --MASEM 14:20, 3 December 2008 (UTC)

Exclusion proposal

I suggest that a comment, <!--NoDateBots-->, be placed before the first date in an article where suitable adjustments have already been made by an editor, and might be disturbed by any date bot. I also suggest that no date bot be approved unless it recognizes that comment and does not process an article containing it.

The comment should only be placed by manual editing, not bots. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 16:54, 2 December 2008 (UTC)

Having a bot leave such a tag would also help. If we could assure being delinked once, after which linking would be a matter for discussion, most of the bottish problem would be addressed. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:53, 2 December 2008 (UTC)
This, Gerry and PM, sounds like an excellent idea. As I've said before, nobody will probably have any major issues with a bot delinking all dates in an article although a handful of them should have been kept – after all, the manual workload is massively decreased by this bot action – but another bot coming back and delinking the newly relinked dates is an entirely different matter. -- Jao (talk) 22:10, 2 December 2008 (UTC)
Sounds like a very good idea. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 22:13, 2 December 2008 (UTC)
  • I don’t see any harm with such a tool. If all editors use it in good faith and do a proper job of making an article compliant with MOSNUM, then such a hidden editor’s statement might well help ease the task for Lightmouse and his Lightbot. If Lightmouse/Lightbot can see that the article is clearly not in compliance with MOSNUM, then it can go ahead and correct the obvious errors. Greg L (talk) 22:22, 2 December 2008 (UTC)
Might be better as a template. That way inclusions could be checked to see if the article is still in compliance. My concern is that after the article is cleaned up, editors will simply add inappropriate links. This is still happening today to many articles. Vegaswikian (talk) 22:43, 2 December 2008 (UTC)
  • Yes, this is my concern too, Vegaswikian. Greg L (talk) 23:00, 2 December 2008 (UTC)
If I understand Septen's suggestion above, the date delinking bot can work on an article only once and must leave behind a "NoDateBots" flag, preventing it or any other date bot (including a re-linking bot!) from going back and edit warring. This looks to me like an excellent, creative suggestion that I hadn't thought of.
By contrast, Gerry's proposal that authors/editors be allowed to rule their date links off limits to date bots needs some refinement. Gerry qualifies this by saying, "suitable adjustments have already been made by an editor," but this should be more specific.--Goodmorningworld (talk) 22:53, 2 December 2008 (UTC)
  • But why would you want to exclude an article from routine date audits? Such audits are an essential service to editors and readers, and entirely necessary if we're to bring under control the messy additions that newbies and visitors (and sometimes even experienced editors) can make to an article. It's basic housecleaning for a site that wants to retain its openness to all contributors at any time. Increasingly sophisticated automated and semi-automated assistance is the way of the future, my friends, and we should not attempt to knobble it at this point in the pursuit of local prejudices. Tony (talk) 09:00, 3 December 2008 (UTC)

I don't really understand Vegaswikian's suggestion to use a template. If there is one template per article, I don't see how a bot could distingish between wise intentional date links and links for date autoformatting that were added by someone who didn't read MOSNUM (assuming the RFCs turn out as we think they will). Vegaswikian, are you suggesting that each linked date be placed within some kind of template to indicate it was not an accident? --Gerry Ashton (talk) 23:58, 2 December 2008 (UTC)

The suggestion was to not code the comment directly. Rather to use a template so that articles with dates that claim to be in compliance with the new guideline could be verified by anyone. If you use a template for this, then it is a simple matter of seeing where the template is used. If you rely on a specific comment, then someone would need to search all of the text in every article to find the ones that claim to be in compliance. This would make checking difficult. I'm not suggesting that dates be linked by a template, but they could. Based on your comment, I would say that there is no way to say that because a template was used to format a date that it is in compliance with the MOS. Anyone can use a template like that inappropriately. What is needed is a way to allow users or bots to see which articles are exceptions and see if they are in fact following the MOS. If not, then someone needs to correct the problems. Vegaswikian (talk) 23:26, 2 December 2008 (UTC)
OK, I see that the preference for a template over a comment is that it is easier to find the articles where the template has been used. I still don't think a bot can tell if the dates within the article comply with MOSNUM, but a bot might be able to create a list of "suspects" for human review. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 23:58, 2 December 2008 (UTC)
If what the bot actually did was to move every instance of $anything to the format {{date|yyyy|mm|dd|format=mdy}} then future verification would be easy and if we can figure out what to do with the metadata in the future (eg. en.wikitimeline.org?) then the data is already there. For a verbatim quote it could be {{date|yyyy|mm|dd|format=custom|raw=Ye olde 14th day X in the year of Goodwin}}. If US-centric articles are marked once using a second {{dateformat-mdy}} then 99.9% of the time format= would be unnecessary and could simply use {{date|yyyy|mm|dd}}. Editors don't have to worry about writing this "complicated" date format, because they can write what they like and the bot can pick it up. And we can define it as being non-ISO 8601 compliant and therefore usable for dates before 1582 and beyond 9999. The template could be used as {{date|annual|04|01|format=dm|link=yes}} to make it very clear that the event is annual, and the rest of the time, the year should be filled in even if the year is not displayed in the article. The presentation (and current whim) of WP:MOSNUM is thus abstracted from the data itself and the data is held in an unambiguous, validateable [pardon the pun] format. —Sladen (talk) 00:49, 3 December 2008 (UTC)
There are technical problems with Sladen's idea. I am not a template programmer, but I surmise that
  1. There is no way to make two templates cooperate, that is, the Date template can't see one {{dateformat-mdy}} per article and format accordingly
  2. Date processing is arithmetic-oriented, not character-oriented. Therefore, any date to be reformatted by the Date template must be a Gregorian date, lest February 29, 1500 be reformatted to 1 March 1500 (since February 29, 1500 existed in the Julian calendar but not in the proleptic Gregorian Calendar). --Gerry Ashton (talk) 01:16, 3 December 2008 (UTC)
Is the concept of abstracting dates behind a template something you'd be happy with? ((1) might be solvable with Help:Magic words, like {{DEFAULTSORT}}; (2) "we can define it as being non-ISO 8601 compliant", and perhaps with additional calendar=) —Sladen (talk) 01:32, 3 December 2008 (UTC)
I like the concept of abstracting dates within infoboxes in a way that the date format can be made page dependent. This would allow an infobox to display dates differently depending on whether it is used in a US-centric article or a UK-article --Gerry Ashton (talk) 01:37, 3 December 2008 (UTC)
  • The use of such a template would be a slippery slope for those who feel aggrieved by the community's support for moving the project on from the date-linking and autorformatting debacles to plaster every article in sight with a no-bot poster. This is clearly an attempt at subterfuge. As for "exempting" particular chronological items in an article, the onus is on an editor who is keen to do this to present a convincing case—for each one. I've yet to see a convincing case, frankly. A simpler and quite uncontroversial way of providing a gateway into chronological articles is to enter one or several date/time links in the "See also" section, which has great advantages for our readers. Tony (talk) 08:48, 3 December 2008 (UTC)
i understand designating "calendar item" pages as exempt from date-delinking, but i don't understand why other entire articles would want to be designated as "no date-delinking" territory. it's now clear that it's only rarely that date-linking is wanted/needed, so it seems like it should be feasible to establish an "exemption marker" that editors can add manually to designate each date they're deliberately linking - earmarking specific links as exceptions, i mean, not whole articles. if i recall right from previous discussions it's sufficient to include a nondate word in the link, eg [[18 December|notable events of 18 December]], but perhaps that could be finetuned. i hope Lightmouse and Colonies Chris will chime in about what's realistic. Sssoul (talk) 09:37, 3 December 2008 (UTC)
First of all, I'd like to clarify that I don't run a bot. I just use AWB in manual mode with a long list of regexes. On the matter in hand: it's clear from the RFC that linking for autoformatting is history and only a few diehards (we know who they are) will try to retain it, so that's good territory for a bot. As for other types of date links, the RFC accepts that linking of dates or date fragments for specific purposes is sometimes acceptable; this is where we get into difficult territory. If a date has been consciously and deliberately linked for a specific reason, we don't want anyone, or any bot, to casually unlink it. I pointed out in an earlier discussion that this isn't an argument against using bots, because a human editor who's not intimately familiar with the article cannot easily make this determination that either, only by searching back through the article's edit summaries and talk page archives. To document such decisions, I suggest a 'no unlinking' template, as discussed above, but one which would have to be applied to each date link individually and, crucially, must specify a reason: so the markup would look something like
{{KeepDateLink | [[1998 in platespinning|1998]] | because=buildup to platespinning becoming Olympic sport}}
Then bots would know to leave it alone, and human editors would know why it had been linked and would be able to engage in an informed discussion on whether to retain the link. The facility would no doubt be abused by a few determined editors (tennis, anyone?), but that would be for the local editors to sort out between themselves. Colonies Chris (talk) 10:47, 3 December 2008 (UTC)
The ability to insert a simplistic claim such as this will be a license to carpet WP with these links, without properly justifying them; thus, it will be a vehicle for abuse by those who disagree with the overwhelming consensus that, for example, solitary dates should generally not be linked. The whole idea is a layer of complexity that most editors will not know how to handle. Will there be a mechanism to challenge the proffered reason? Tony (talk) 13:04, 3 December 2008 (UTC)
Just as any editor can add a template to an article, any other editor can remove it. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 13:41, 3 December 2008 (UTC)
  • As I said above, editors who favour no date links whatsoever outnumber all those who suggest some limited linking; what we see only put forward some sort of "wish-list". The default consensus position in favour of delinking dates is now clear; but there is no current consensus on what dates, if any, should be linked. It seems to me this secondary issue is a question for further discussion. There should be no such exemptions unless there is a consensus for same, and therefore no 'exemption templates' to clog up articles or used as a means for diehards to deliberately prevent articles from being delinked. Ohconfucius (talk) 13:50, 3 December 2008 (UTC) PS maybe we need to create a bot to check if the templates are placed on reasonable grounds, and if there are any more than 2 dates being linked, the bot should remove the template. ;-) Ohconfucius (talk) 14:00, 3 December 2008 (UTC)
  • Once again, PMAnderson, you link to something you don’t understand in the slightest (or do understand but like to misdirect people). The point of Wikipedia is not a democracy’s is this: “Its primary method of determining consensus is through editing and discussion, not voting.” It’s another variation on WP:Polling is not a substitute for discussion, which states as follows:

Wikipedia works by building consensus, generally formed on talk pages or central discussion forums. Polling forms an integral part of several processes, e.g. WP:AFD; in other processes, e.g. article editing, polls are generally not used. In both cases, consensus is an inherent part of a wiki process.

So… (*sigh*) once again, you are 100% wrong PMAnderson. More than enough discussion has transpired on this issue to fill an Olympic-size swimming pool and if you disagree, I wonder what color the sky is over your planet. We’ve discussed this issue here for months. Essays in user space and article space have been made. And part of that consensus-building, as per the above-quoted policy (it’s not a guideline), is polling. The consensus of the community, as determined by discussion, consensus-building, and polling, makes it clear  what the community desires here. The majority does too decide things here so long as the majority decision was a arrived at using proper consensus-building methods. Get used to it. You seem perfectly content to abide by guidelines you agree with and condemn editors who flout those guidelines. Yet, when the shoe is on the other foot, then suddenly you are an insular being who can do whatever you want, whenever you want. Greg L (talk) 02:16, 4 December 2008 (UTC)
Polling is an integral part of several processes, and then it goes on to list one of those processes, WP:AFD. Polling is not a part of discussion over manual of style changes, nor has it ever been. This is not a vote, it is not a poll, and you are not going to play a numbers game here and come away how you expect. The only thing the community has said for certain in the RFC so far is that dates should not be linked purely for purposes of auto formatting; they support deprecation, not mass removal. They have, however, indicated that month/day and year links should be made on occasion. So to go around performing mass delinkings of dates at this point (and considering there's still at least two weeks left in the RFC) is premature and unhelpful. —Locke Coletc 09:21, 4 December 2008 (UTC)
  • Well, when I saw that you and I actually agreed on something when we opposed Kotniski’s move of this entire thread to a subpage, I thought we might have ripped a hole in the fabric of space-time. But I once again take great pride in being able to pronounce that I agree with nothing you wrote. Maybe you haven’t been keeping score, but you just got your asses kicked, pal! Further, uninvolved admins watching both RfCs have declared that a clear consensus has formed. You may jump up and down and rail about what Tony’s RfC is or is not (it is not a vote nor is it a poll). You may claim that Tony’s RfC means nothing whereas the RfC you promoted has been anointed with holy oil. And yet, both RfCs have completely corn-holed you as far as your agenda goes. The RfC subpages are always fun reading because it’s such a laugh to see your votes hanging out there, completely at odds with the community consensus. Greg L (talk) 21:17, 4 December 2008 (UTC)
  • P.S. I am highly impressed though, with your propensity to write utterly meaningless dribble that is at odds with reality, and make it actually appear on the surface, that it is rational. So (*sound of cracking my knuckles*), let me give a try at that:

I for one accept as true that Moana is already in a parallel universe, but that’s a different blog. With this in mind, it occurred to me during a fleeting moment of clarity, that everything is my fault! It must be! All the hatred, all the cynically snide, snotty, heartless, sarcastically cruel comments are wholly undeserved and to further my already sticky self-revulsion, for any one person to realize their capability of disgorging incomprehensibly venomous detestation towards the Canadian equivalent of Glinda the Good Witch of the North, is just cause to consider and identify an underlying motivation.

Obviously, no one person would except such abhorrent behavior as possible without some other cause, such as a natural defect, or one which is environmentally induced, which encompasses injuries, illness and induction of toxic substances to the human body present in the environment both naturally, like Radon and unnaturally such as Nuclear Waste which Moana pointed out is why Washington State is a baron wasteland due to it being a nuclear dumping ground and my area of Spokane glows in the dark from the vast amounts of Nuclear Waste.

Indeed; quite “Locke Cole-ish” Greg L (talk) 21:33, 4 December 2008 (UTC)
And there we thought it was because Greg eschews the scalpel for the thermonuclear hand grenade.LeadSongDog (talk) 22:23, 4 December 2008 (UTC)
  • LOL! (four times). Greg L (talk) 00:24, 5 December 2008 (UTC)

If bots make a pass through all the articles, and remove date autoformatting and indiscriminate solitary year formatting, new editors will no longer see most dates linked, and will not blindly imitate this practice. Once a single pass through the articles is completed, the need to delink dates should be greatly reduced. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 13:41, 3 December 2008 (UTC)

This is a very valid point—the amount of (human) effort required to relink 'a few of those dates from a clean base is much less than a review+delink from "swamp" of (unwanted) links. —Sladen (talk) 14:12, 3 December 2008 (UTC)

Given the fact that to make a date link without the present DA requires a bit of hacking (by some type of template), I don't think the bot will have an issue of "overriding" these desired date links since they won't be in brackets. The best plan here is that once it is decided to have the bot run again, is to give editors a couple weeks to replaced desired date links with the template version, as well as making sure the bot's edit comment points to how to restore links via this template. --MASEM 14:20, 3 December 2008 (UTC)

I'm going to nip this idea in the bud right now.

  • There has been overwhelmingly endorsement that the current wording should remain.
  • The requirement that there be a "reason" to go against the guideline by retaining a link does not mean any old clause can be chucked in. Otherwise, pure nonsense would do the trick and MOSNUM text would be proved meaningless.
  • The requirement is for a justifiable reason, and before any kind of template is even though about, each proposed link needs to be justified (presumably on an article talk page or at MOSNUM talk.
  • This justification can be no mere claim to reasonableness: it must provide evidence that readers' understanding of the topic will be improved. Evidences means a weighing up of all of the facts on the linked paged that are claimed to increase that understanding, in their context.

So let's not get excited about the notion of suddenly contriving a way to subvert community consensus that the current wording should stay. On Q2 in the second RfC, my interpretation is quite different to yours, Masem; whatever our differences, it is obvious that there is no consensus to change the status quo (i.e., no DA). Tony (talk) 15:06, 3 December 2008 (UTC)

So Tony, what is your proposal for a few pages with unusual text that causes one or more date delinking bots to have unintended effects? How shall we prevent the bot(s) from repeatedly damaging the pages in question? Shall we permanently ban a bot because it successfully fixes one million pages, but repeatedly damages four pages? Also, apologize immediately for claiming the exclusion suggestion is a ruse. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 16:56, 3 December 2008 (UTC)
Er, I'm not trying to stop any removal of DA (I was always for it, but now fully satisfied that there's concensus to ditch the current double bracket method), I'm trying to offer a solution for a way to have date links (not created by DA but by some template), where they are determined to be important per the other questions on the second RFC and other places by editors of a given page, to be retained when a de-DAing bot runs through and strips those out. Again, if this is not clear, here are the steps that should be done before Lightbot and mass delinking should be done:
  1. Create a template that produces a date link but not via the DA approach. (This is a pseudo hack but can be done strictly via templates)
  2. Announce that in two weeks from Dec 5th (when at least Tony's RFC can be speedily closed) , DA bots will be active per the results of the RFC and will strip dates: any dates that should be kept should be converted to this other template.
  3. After that two weeks, let Lightbot et al. run.
  4. Because the template now creates the link instead of the DA double brackets, Lightbot et al. will not see these dates as ones needing stripping and will not touch them.
  5. Lightbot et al. should have a message that points to the above template so that for pages that are done where dates were to be kept but the editors didn't catch the message in those two weeks or the like, they can restore them appropriately with the template.
Now, arguably you could go the route of de-DAing all date links and then forcing editors to rebuild, but giving editors the heads-up will be less disruptive. Also, in this way, Lightbot doesn't have to be modified at all to include any exclusion policy since the way dates remained linked (without invoking DA) is ignored by the bot. --MASEM 18:52, 3 December 2008 (UTC)
  • We’re not going to have “bots can go to hell” templates. If such a tool were available, the first thing Thunderbird2 would have done for his precious IEC prefixes (kibibyte instead of kilobyte) is declare that “all polling is evil,” “MOSNUM is just *guidelines*”, “there is no consensus”, “all I’m doing is ‘disambiguating’ ”, etc. Then he would have slapped a “no-bots” tag on pages and made it so you have to go in and undo all his crap by hand. Hell no. We won’t have intransigent editors who clearly disagree with a landslide RfC consensus able to override a bot that is intended to bring Wikipedia’s pages into compliance with MOSNUM guidelines.

    And stop trying to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes here by telling us in advance what Lightmouse intends to do with his Lightbot and what is and is not possible. No one knows what the final MOSNUM wording will be so it is entirely impossible to declare what is and is not impossible. What is clear is that Lightmouse can make his bot take care of flagrant goofs and fix them. Any reasonable interpretation of the RfC comments makes it clear that dates may be linked only very, very rarely. It doesn’t matter at all if a rare (damned rare) date gets caught up in a bot dragnet; it can be restored by hand. The bot will be saving us an impossible amount of effort to fix all those links by hand. If editors have a problem with the consensus view of the community, take it up with the community and change their minds. But stop trying to put on powdered wigs and make flowery oratory to promote a B.S. stunt about being able to put up “no bots allowed” templates on pages. Everyone here knows full well what will happen: a handful of editors who voted against the landslide consensus in the RfCs will go put them on every page they touch. Tell me I’m wrong and I’ll laugh out loud; everyone here knows full well that this is true.

    And don’t come back with hiding behind the apron strings of “failing to assume good faith” and other such horseshit. Someone pointed out some recent edits of some of you editors (all, magically, ones who voted contrary to the overwhelming consensus); good faith was assumed, but bad faith was recently demonstrated by some of you guys. I also can’t get over how some of you are acting like damned babies. The latest Newsweek cover has a picture of Obama getting onto a plane and has a caption of “How to Fix the World.” Now there  is a problem. All this vitriol and acting like children is over delinking dates on Wikipedia (which has wide community support). Get the hell over it; it’s not the end of the world. Greg L (talk) 19:22, 3 December 2008 (UTC)

It seems possible the final consensus will be to allow date linking on rare occasions. Lightmouse is not the only one who writes bots. A method of writing a linked date that is ignored by Lightbot might be picked up by some other bot. Since the bots may be rerun many times like other maintainance bots, it may not be just a matter of fixing the link once; it may have to be fixed over and over. If date links are allowed at all, editors have a right to be informed of one linking syntax that will be left alone by all bots. Of course, automated conversion of large number of dates to a bot-proof syntax should not be allowed. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 19:31, 3 December 2008 (UTC)

I agree totally that it should not be possible to tag a whole page as a 'Lightbot-free zone'. But it ought to be possible to tag individual dates or date fragments. I'm in broad agreement with Masem's proposal, except for one crucial point: the template itself should not do any linking. We need to make it completely clear that template should not be employed as a method of retaining autoformatting - that's going to become history, full stop. It would simply be a wrapper around a link, to tell humans and bots to be aware that someone thinks this link is important, and why. Colonies Chris (talk) 19:37, 3 December 2008 (UTC)
The template is only needed (well, needed to work around the obfuscation needed to link to a date without invoking DA; eg, [[March%201]] is needed to reach "March 1" linked but not autoformatted), but this can also be done by hand) when a date needs to be linked. In the general unlinked date, striking the double brackets does the job. This handles dates on a date-by-date basis. If some editor decides that every date on a page should be linked against the consensus that only a few dates should, that's a different issue. --MASEM 19:44, 3 December 2008 (UTC)
  • The better solution, IMO, is to let Lightmouse and his bot clean up Wikipedia and then have Lightmouse deactivate that aspect of it. Thereafter, humans can manually battle out the maintenance of dates. Too simple. When all is said and done, there might be a dozen—at most—articles linking to these trivia articles via linked dates (and I can’t imagine what they might be). Frankly, whenever linking to these trivia articles is done, it ought to be via a well-aliased bullet entry in articles’ See also sections. Indeed, let Lightbot loose to fix all this, and we’ll maintain manually thereafter. Greg L (talk) 19:48, 3 December 2008 (UTC)
  • Agree, I don't mind if date delinking bots make a few errors, as long as, as a group, they make only one pass through the set of articles. If Lightbot turns out to be the only delinking bot, fine. But if there are DDBot1, DDBot2,...DDBot89 and they don't coordinate to avoid processing the same articles over and over, that's no good. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 20:11, 3 December 2008 (UTC)
  • You are going to want date linking stripping a continuous activity of Lightbot and other bots for at least a year or so (if not indefinitely); there will be newer editors that don't follow policy pages that don't know about deprecation, there may be editors that have been dormant for some time but return using DA, and of course editors that will reinsist on adding date links. Thus, there needs to be a way to mark certain dates as "no touchie", and the easiest thing, requiring no change to Lightbor, is to use a template to help link but not DA dates that are to be linked. --MASEM 20:18, 3 December 2008 (UTC)
It would be useful to have some figures about how fast Lightbot works. If it were allowed to run continuously, how long would it take to delink every existing article - a week? a month? a year? The answer to that question would affect the strategy to choose. Colonies Chris (talk) 21:08, 3 December 2008 (UTC)
  • It’s pretty fast; multiple articles per minute; I’ve looked at the edit histories myself after setting my history view preferences so I could resolve to the second. My understanding is his bot looks to the “what links here” lists so it doesn’t waste time searching for stuff to fix. Greg L (talk) 22:47, 3 December 2008 (UTC)
  • That’s something I’ve been saying all along here. But for discussion purposes, WP:SNOWBALL suffices: it’s clear that the community doesn’t want linked dates darkening their doorstep any longer. This much is just common sense. Ergo, this whole discussion thread, which instantly degenerated into a preemptive move by the “quantum-minority” to declare what hasn’t been decided and what tools can’t be employed. Greg L (talk) 21:51, 4 December 2008 (UTC)
  • You are misreading (either) RFC. It is obviously clear we don't want to use date linking to autoformat dates. That's bad and evil and terrorism and all that.** However, there is support for limited linkage of dates (both m/ds and years). What exactly is "limited" is not yet determined, but it's more than "no date links at all". Just as DA coupled date linking and date format problems, removal of DA couples cleaning up date format problems with the potential removal of good links. The question right now is that do we accept the fact that DA will remove useful dates, hitting false positives, or should we make sure that editors are aware and can steps to prevent false positives from being wiped. Both achieve the same goal, but one is less disruptive on the community. Remember, there is no deadline to get this right, and I think caution, particularly after the last several months here, makes the most sense. DA will be gone by early 2009, I don't doubt that. It just that it could be a smooth road or a very bumpy one. --MASEM 23:12, 4 December 2008 (UTC)
  • (ETA) ** this is sarcasm in case someone sees it differently, though I still assert the RFC is clear that DA is to be deprecated. --MASEM 00:43, 5 December 2008 (UTC)
  • Agreed; “[date linking is] bad and evil and terrorism and all that.” LOL! Greg L (talk) 00:21, 5 December 2008 (UTC)
  • I have still never been shown a date-link that improves the readers' understanding of the topic, and that could not have been much more effectively put in the "See also" section. No one will click on a solitary year-link in the run of the text, with good reason. Why are people in a frenzy about bluing years in the prose? Tony (talk) 00:38, 5 December 2008 (UTC)
  • My sentiments exactly. That was too short and pithy, Tony. Ouch… ouch! Ice cream-like logic headache! Greg L (talk) 00:44, 5 December 2008 (UTC)
  • I disagree that the consensus is such that a bot cannot determine what dates will be exempt. Once this RfC is over, we should be able to determine what exceptions to delinking had community support, and remove only those articles from the bot's purview. As far as I can tell right now, there is only support for leaving them linked in the chronological area.--2008Olympianchitchat 02:21, 5 December 2008 (UTC)
  • That’s not what Tony and I are saying (and many others around here). I agree; a bot can be of great assistance here, 2008Olympian.

    As I mentioned earlier (above), MOSNUM can be updated with the consensus view after a common sense reading of the RfCs’ comments. Then Lightmouse can make his bot as compliant as possible with MOSNUM (no technology is absolutely perfect) and let his bot clean up Wikipedia and de-link proscribed date links. There are far, far too many of these to manually remove, so we desparately need a bot. Then Lightmouse can deactivate the date de-linking function of his bot and humans can manually resolve the maintenance of dates and fix the (very) few instances where dates that should be linked without worry of the articles being run over again by the bot. It’s all too simple.

    When all is said and done, there might be a dozen—at most—articles linking to these trivia articles via linked dates (and I can’t imagine what they might be). Really, as Tony said above, whenever linking to these trivia articles is done, it ought to be via a well-aliased bullet entry in articles’ See also sections. This, IMO, is a vastly superior way of letting readers know—in germane and relevant circumstances only—of these articles, and do so without turning our main body text into a giant, blue, over-linked turd. Although the RfCs aren’t over, a common-sense application of WP:SNOWBALL makes it clear as glass that the overwhelming consensus of the RfCs is that these links almost always suck. Greg L (talk) 02:59, 5 December 2008 (UTC)

  • You and Tony (and probably others) have this idea of what date links should remain, however, the second RFC (which still will go for two weeks from now) suggests there's more than you think based on its consensus. It's still a small number, though "a dozen" is too small based on reading that. It is not a trivial number that could probably be fixed by one editor in a day. Yes, we need lightbot or whatever other tools to do the automatic removal of linking for date autoformatting, but to wipe away good date links is not the same as "not being perfect" - that's deliberately removing such links. Again, if it were really only a handful on the order of a dozen, logically it would make the most sense to get rid of (millions?) of date links and recover those dozen. But this doesn't seem like the case to me, and blinding wiping all date links without considering what editors desire will bring down yet more wrath to MOSNUM and those trying to clean up autoformatting.
  • Again, I am not try to stop the removal, I am saying to give editors a broad announcement to "protect" any date links they feel they need to keep via a template so that the bot (since its not double bracketed) will ignore that, and this can even be done while the RFC is still running. Once the second RFC is over, the bot has run , and those remaining dates linked via template, we can track their usage via that template's transclusion list and determine if there's any abuse of date links per the second RFC result. Just giving editors that two weeks to prevent the bot from changing their page will bring a lot more goodwill here. --MASEM 14:38, 5 December 2008 (UTC)
  • (outdent) OK. Be really specific with examples, Masem. It’s clear that the general (read: colossal landslide) consensus is that examples such as these should not be linked in normal body text:

Angela Brigid Lansbury, CBE (born October 16, 1925) is an English actress and singer whose…

• Cold fusion was relegated as a fringe-science discipline after the 2004 hearing by the DOE.

After a fair reading of the RfCs up to this point (the principle of WP:SNOWBALL would say the RfC results are unlikely to radically shift from hereon), what dates do you think the general consensus says should remain? If the example dates you suggest appear in sidebars or tables, or something other than plain body text, please provide links to examples with directions to what exactly you are referring to (or create an example subpage in your user space and transclude the page below). Greg L (talk) 18:41, 5 December 2008 (UTC)
Based on surveying the comments provided on the second RFC, the only clear time when month-day and year (not year-in-field) links should be made is when discussing aspects of a calender system or a reoccurring event per that calendar. So, for example, national holidays (including those that may vary as many US holidays do, in a table listing the upcoming days), things like Winter solstice, and similar events. Years seem to have less likely uses in this area - to the point I can't see any obvious examples though I'd argue articles like Leap year. Yes, there's not many of these, but if you consider every nation and their own national holidays and various other events that the calender is based on, there's more than a dozen links. Year-in-field links are not a feature that Lightbot, etc. would be targeting to remove. But again, this is based on my reading of the RFC, and not necessary a complete perfect summary of the !votes. --MASEM 19:17, 5 December 2008 (UTC)
  • P.S. I kinda like the idea of an example page that can be transcluded when needed. It’s something the tribal council can gather around in the light of the campfire, scratch out examples in the dirt, and identify tatanka to hunt. Perhaps it would be a subpage of WT:MOSNUM (if not in user space). Such a page can be marked up with every feature imaginable, like overview-style template-based sidebars, tables, See also sections, body text, captions, etc. Otherwise, what we’ve got here is ‘failure to communicate.’  listen  Greg L (talk) 18:41, 5 December 2008 (UTC)
  • OK, Masem; I see some general examples, but no specifics. You mention an example like Winter solstice, which occurs between December 20 and December 23 each year. Are you suggesting that it is good to have text in that article that would read “Depending on the shift of the calendar, the event of the winter solstice occurs some time between December 20 and December 23 each year in the…” ? If so—this is just my opinion now—I can’t really see how readers trying to understand the seasons would likely want to wade through trivia to dig out such jewels as “Kwan-Ichi Asakawa, Japanese historian [is born this date in 1873]”.

    If this isn’t what you are suggesting, please show some example text. I’m looking for some body text where linking a date is somehow germane and topical to the subject matter and properly anticipates what the reader of said article would likely want to further explore. Mysteriously enough, the year 1589 in our Trivia article is not linked. Go figure. Greg L (talk) 23:19, 5 December 2008 (UTC)

Off topic or not

This thread was blatantly off-topic. Enough people have complained about this page getting ovewhelmed with discussions on certain vaguely-connected issues; we have to start being disciplined I think. I've moved it to User talk:Lightmouse for now; he may know of somewhere more appropriate to put it.--Kotniski (talk) 10:10, 3 December 2008 (UTC)

Forgive me Kotniski but I would prefer not to host the discussion. I have returned it to wt:mosnum. Lightmouse (talk) 13:33, 3 December 2008 (UTC)
Aarghhh, why is MOSNUM considered a suitable venue for all possible discussions having any relation to dates? I'm creating a new page for this whole topic - Wikipedia talk:Date formatting and linking. Please, everyone, respect the wishes of the community not to have continuous circular discussion of this subject (and the bibibytes one) rammed down the throats of everyone who wants to follow what's going on at MOSNUM. --Kotniski (talk) 14:30, 3 December 2008 (UTC)
  • Uhm… because it’s called “Talk: Manual of Style / Dates and Numbers” perhaps? This is, at least, the place to begin these things since everyone knows how to find this place. But the new venue is fine. I posted a hat statement above to make it easier to find. Greg L (talk) 22:56, 3 December 2008 (UTC)
I think there is a problem with moving this discussions off the "Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style (dates and numbers)" page. In the past these sub pages have later been declared an orphan and deleted. A complete record of the date-delinking discussions needs to be maintained because this is a significant change to the Manual of Style. I will leave the correct technical solution to others. SWTPC6800 (talk) 15:43, 3 December 2008 (UTC)
Well, the link to that discussion is still here, and I see no reason to suppose it will be deleted if anyone thinks it's worth keeping. It certainly shouldn't be on this page though - it's all about bots and stuff.--Kotniski (talk) 16:22, 3 December 2008 (UTC)
  • I disagree, Kotniski, and completely agree with SWTPC6800. If there is a chronic, long-term issue (and related discussion thread) that bores the hell out of people because it’s a dead issue (like the IEC prefixes had become), then it makes perfect sense to move it to its own subpage. But none of those conditions were met with this discussion about how a bot should implement date delinking.

    Further (and much more importantly) moving it to a subpage makes it impossible to get as much participation as that issue would have had enjoyed if it stayed here. We need wide participation on these contentious matters in order to form and identify a clear and fair consensus. I just don’t understand the jones you have for keeping this place so short and sterile; this page has gotten very long in the past but having bots to move threads older than seven days has always worked just fine.

    And finally, your first instinct, to move the discussion thread to the personal talk page of an individual editor (Lightmouse) without even asking him if he might welcome hosting the discussion thread was a thoroughly brain-damaged stunt. Please stop moving stuff off this page, Kotniski. You’re an admin; you can do better than this. Greg L (talk) 23:25, 3 December 2008 (UTC)

Thanks for the promotion; in that case I hereby block you for uncivil language;) There have been many complaints about this page getting dominated by a small number of over-discussed issues; I was only trying to help. I'm taking this page off my watchlist then, and leaving the whole mess for someone else to sort out.--Kotniski (talk) 09:15, 4 December 2008 (UTC)
  • Alternatively, could this thread be capped and remain here? That might satisfy Kotniski's (justifiable) concern about swamping and clutter (and perhaps boredom!), while locating the discussion at what is probably the most appropriate location. Tony (talk) 09:21, 4 December 2008 (UTC)
  • Let people talk and blow off steam in a high-profile venue. Maybe a bright idea or two might pop up. After seven days of inactivity, a clean-up bot will archive it. That has usually worked fine in the past. Greg L (talk) 00:41, 5 December 2008 (UTC)