Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style (dates and numbers)/Archive 54

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Wai Wai's changes, continued

Here are some options, in alphabetical order:

  1. Accept Wai Wai's changes without further ado. -- Several of us disagree, so not a good choice.
  2. Ask to have the page protected.
  3. Continue the back-and-forth reversion.
  4. Start an RFC.
  5. Wai Wai could stop changing the project page, discuss the desired changes, and wait until consensus is clear to make the changes. -- Apparently unlikely, given that this has been requested several time by different people.

Comments? Maurreen 09:23, 12 August 2006 (UTC)

The "Continue the back-and-forth reversion." is definitely not an option even if people here vote for it. It is because it is against Wikipedian's policies: Wikipedia does not allow revert wars! --Wai Wai (talk) 09:38, 12 August 2006 (UTC)
Takes two to tango. Maurreen 09:44, 12 August 2006 (UTC)
I think we are rapidly approaching the time for Wikipedia:Requests for comment/Policies. -- Donald Albury(Talk) 09:53, 12 August 2006 (UTC)
After seeing the recent changes on the article page, I would say it is definitely time now for an RfC. -- Donald Albury(Talk) 10:21, 12 August 2006 (UTC)
Stop changing the project page, discuss the desired changes, and wait until consensus is clear. Only change the page when there is a consensus to do so. This would be the best way to go about it. In fact, isn't that the way that we have been doing it. MJCdetroit 12:27, 12 August 2006 (UTC)

What are you really saying? Anyway, I have examined the revert policy once again. Unfortunately I'm afirad all people are wrong, at least in reverting. Stephen Turner states he was trying to be bold to revert long hours of contributions. However the "bold" policy clearly states it does not apply in terms of "reverting". Although a few people support him by doing the same, the action is wrong. The majority people are performing the same action does not justify the action itself. Wikipedia is not a democracy. We need to respect rules!

Pay attention that it's NOT my PERSONAL opinion. It is stated in the policies (eg WP:BOLD).

Please read the following rules first about revert. No one seems to care or understand about the "revert policy" - not to revert people's contributions even if it has problems. Revert is not something which should be taken lightly. "Reverting" is harmful, and so on.

If you feel you are correct in reverting, please tell me which rule tells people it is justifiable to do a SIMPLE REVERT of days of contributions?

What's more, the recent update is not just the same as the old one. It has spent me valuable time to modify the update according to some comments (eg super-section, bullets, and spacing in unit measurement). However people keep reverting THE WHOLE PART OF IT instead of stating the questions. People seem to think it is just the same and revert it without any examination. THAT IS VERY RUDE.

Please read this:

  • Reverting should be used primarily for fighting vandalism. -- Help:Reverting
  • Be respectful to others and their points of view. This means primarily: Do not simply revert changes in a dispute. When someone makes an edit you consider biased or inaccurate, improve the edit, rather than reverting it. -- Wikipedia:Resolving disputes
  • Does the editor do is something very similar to vandalism? Even the update has some big problems, it is not the excuse to revert it. In the case of NPOV, people usually do it wrong by using: "lack of neutrality as an excuse to delete" Quoted from NPOV (its philosophy applies): Many of us believe that the fact that some text is biased is not enough, in itself, to delete it outright. If it contains valid information, the text should simply be edited accordingly. -- NPOV
  • Unless what one writes is near to completely non-sense, or useless or rubbish. Revert is not something which you should be taken lightly. The bold policy does not apply. We are bold to create/improve it, not bold to destory/delete it.
  • Reverting should be used primarily for fighting vandalism or anything similar to the effects of vandalism.

I realise my edits may not be perfect, but that's the process of wikipedia. I post a preliminary edit. People will try to edit and improve it. We don't need to make sure it is 100% acceptable and perfect before it can be put. Consensus will be reached during the edit process.

I am willing to work on the problems or consensus issues. However people keep saying there is no consensus, but they are unwilling to specify where is the no consensus. Please specify the problems and what your doubts are, so I will know which are in higher priority and focus my explanations on them. I will try to explain some of the reasons why I make the changes. Consensus and agreement could be made in this regard. Please give me some time to fix the problems before you make your decision.--Wai Wai (talk) 13:40, 12 August 2006 (UTC)

My suggestion would be to discuss your changes a little at a time. Don't do a large scale edit of the page. Baby steps. I think it would go smoother; it'll take longer but that is better in the long run anyway. So start a new topic based on what the first thing that you want to change is. It will be discussed over a few days and you will know the feelings of the editors on that proposal. What do you think? MJCdetroit 14:18, 12 August 2006 (UTC)
Yes, you are very right. I did too many changes at one time. Lessons learnt. But I am sure the real "contextual" change is much less than what people orginally thought since most of them are not real contextual changes. However I mixed all of my hours work together and make one single update which may be too confusing for others to review. Sorry about that.
After all, it is perfectly fine for me to post the changes here first. However I wonder if there's anyone who will be willing to review it.--Wai Wai (talk) 14:49, 12 August 2006 (UTC)
Baby steps! Also, you need to give your proposals some time to be debated. Not everyone lives on the computer—I certainly don't. Let as many people as possible discuss this.---MJCdetroit 15:34, 12 August 2006 (UTC)
Who says we need to settle it instantly? As long as the discussion is moving, it is perfectly fine. However, last time, I have waited for nearly a week for others to ask questions or respond or specify the problems, no one responded. After all, your review is excellent. Keep it up! --Wai Wai (talk) 15:53, 12 August 2006 (UTC)
This user is in a great mood.

about unit of measurement

I have forgotten whether which is copyedit, which is proposal. Anyway, it doesn't matter. Read them once. If you find anything problematic, state it out.--Wai Wai (talk) 14:50, 12 August 2006 (UTC)


  • Try to use the international units instead of local, unless you have good reasons to use others.
    ——Covered under 'conversions', unless you mean something else by 'international units'. MJCdetroit 15:09, 12 August 2006 (UTC)

What's wrong to state this out to remind editors? When someone which is unsure what unit should be chosen, they are going to read that section. The covering under 'conversions' is not clear, at least to some people.--Wai Wai (talk) 15:39, 12 August 2006 (UTC)

  • Some non-metric units have more than one version. Be specific. For example, U.S. gallon or imperial gallon rather than just gallon. Similarly, use nautical mile or statute mile rather than just mile in aviation, space, sea and in some other contexts.
  • Try to be consistent with your choice.


  • Use standard or formal (as opposed to localized or informal) abbreviations when using symbols. For example, metre is m, kilogram is kg, inch is in (not " or ″ ), foot is ft (not ' or ′ ), and pound is lb (not #).
    • Do not append an s for plurals of unit abbreviations. For example kg, in, yd, lb; not kgs, ins, yds, lbs.
  • For concision purposes, please use digits for values. For example, 100 kg; not one hundred kg.
  • For understandability purposes, please spell out units in the text, and link to the relevant article at the first few usage.

——You must have non breaking space between the number and symbol. Here's why: I weigh 180lb and drink a 1l of water a day. Having a space is easier on the eyes and is more consistent with many technical writings.

———However I see the non-spacing version in other formal writing, including the dictionaries. I see it uses 500g, 10km and so on.--Wai Wai (talk) 15:39, 12 August 2006 (UTC)

It's not to say that the other method is wrong, it's just a well informed choice of how we do it here. Rich Farmbrough 00:38 20 August 2006 (GMT).

——It's not for understandability, it's the way formal writings are styled. MJCdetroit 15:28, 12 August 2006 (UTC)


  • Conversions should generally be included and not be removed.
  • If editors cannot agree about the sequence of units, put the source value first and the converted value second.
  • If for some reason the choice of units is arbitrary, choose SI units as the main unit, with other units in parentheses. For subjects dealing with the United States, it might be more appropriate to use U.S. measurements first, i.e. mile, foot, U.S. gallon.
  • Use digits and unit symbols for values in parentheses. For example, "a pipe 100 millimetres (4 in) in diameter and 16 kilometres (10 mi) long" or "a pipe 4 inches (100 mm) in diameter and 10 miles (16 km) long".
    • Do the same for measurements in tables.
  • Converted values should use a similar level of precision as the source value. For example, "the Moon is 380,000 kilometres (240,000 mi) from Earth", not "(236,121 mi)".

See also

About dates

If memory serves, they are (nearly) summarised changes (copyedit). The major change is to move all general style and formatting which can apply to the rest of the page (or date formats) in the front first.--Wai Wai (talk) 14:50, 12 August 2006 (UTC)

See the following:


Uncertain date
  • When only an approximate date is available, the English word about or the abbreviation "c." (Latin: circa; English: "about") may be used.
  • When a date is uncertain because the source is unreliable, that fact should be noted and the source should be mentioned. For example, "according to Livy, the Roman Republic was founded in 509 BC", or "The Mahabharata is traditionally said to have been composed in 1316 BCE".
  • The seasons are reversed in each hemisphere, while areas near the equator tend to have just wet and dry seasons. Neutral wording should be used to describe times of the year to avoid confusion.
    • Use "in early 1990", "in the second quarter of 2003", "around September" or an exact date, rather than references to seasons, unless there is some particular need to do so (eg "the autumn harvest"). It is ambiguous to say that Apollo 11 landed on the Moon in the summer of 1969 (whose summer?).
See Anno Domini for a discussion on what is meant by AD and BC notation, and Common Era for a discussion on what is meant by CE and BCE notation.
  • Simply speaking, AD equals CE. BC equals BCE.
  • Both the BCE/CE era names and the BC/AD era names are acceptable, but be consistent within an article.
  • Note that the 1st century BC is from 100 BC to 1 BC (there was no year 0) so 1700 BC would be the first year of the 17th century BC, 1800 BC would be the first year of the 18th century BC, etc. Similarly, 4000 BC was the first year of the fourth millennium BC, not the last year of the fifth millennium BC.
  • Note that the 19th century is 1801—1900 (but not 1901—2000). It is because the 1st century starts at 1 AD and ends at 100 AD.
  • Normally you should use plain numbers for years in the Anno Domini/Common Era, but when events span the start of the Anno Domini/Common Era, use AD or CE for the date at the end of the range (note that AD precedes the date and CE follows it). For example, [[1 BC]]—[[1|AD 1]] or [[1 BCE]]—[[1|1 CE]].
  • In articles about prehistory, if you use BP (before present) or MYA (million years ago), expand these abbreviations when you first use them, as most readers will be unfamiliar with them.


  • For any formatting or style, please maintain consistency throughout an article, unless there's a good reason to do otherwise.
  • If, for any special reasons, a less clearer or specific format (eg 1900-01-12 date format is chosen instead of 12 January 1900) is used. Please make it very sure that your choice does not cause any ambiguity or confusion to anyone over the world. Note that something which is certain in one country or nation may not be so in another. Thus the best way to eliminate possible ambiguity or confusion is to adding notes beside the usage (to clarify any grey area or ambiguity).
  • Wikipedia respects different formatting and style as long as they are clear and unambiguous. When any of the style is acceptable, it is inappropriate for a Wikipedian to change from one style to another unless there is some substantial reasons for the change. For example, with respect to English spelling as opposed to American spelling, it would be acceptable to change from American spelling to English spelling if the article concerned an English subject.
  • Direct quotations (ie the word-for-word reproduction of a written or oral text) should not be altered to confirm any wikipedia formatting or style. It is because the original source has to be kept as intact (in verbatim) as possible. For instance, the date in the following fictional quotation should not be linked (even if it is preferred in wikipedia):
"Tony Blair, responding to critics in his party, said 'The world has totally changed since the 11th of September.' He was echoing earlier sentiments by Lord Ronald McDonald, who said that 'nine-eleven' was the day that the American public woke up to the reality of terrorism."

Sometimes numbers and dates are expressed in ranges, such as "14—17" for the numbers 14 to 17. It is often preferable to write this out (eg "14 through 17" (US and Canada) or "from 14 to 17"). It is to avoid confusion with "14 minus 17", which is expressed with spaces, as "14 − 17".

Traditionally, ranges of numbers and dates are given with an en dash (—). Simply click the "–" button (excluding quotes) below the edit window or insert it with any software supporting this punctuation. Please avoiding typing the code – to insert en dash. It is because new editors may not understand the code. They may delete the code due to misunderstanding. Also the visually form of "—" (excluding quotes) is more visually appealing and readable in the edit screen.

However, nowadays some sources use spaced or unspaced hyphens, at least online, and some Wikipedians believe that these hyphens should not be changed to en dashes.

See #Dates of birth and death (another section in the same article) for example.

See Wikipedia:Manual of Style (dashes) for details.

Year, decade, century formats
  • Always write year in full form. Do not use the shortened two-digit form to express a year. It is because the shortened formats are likely to cause confusion. The same holds true whether the years are BC or AD. For example:
    • Do not use 56 or '56. Use 1956 (when referring to the <str>decade</str> year of the 20th century)
      56 is not a decade Rich Farmbrough 00:42 20 August 2006 (GMT).
    • Do not use 80s or '80s or "the eighties". Use 1980s (when referring to the decade of the 20th century)
  • It is not necessary to use an apostrophe to indicate a decade. 1970s is preferred, but not 1970's.
  • The word "century" is normally not capitalised. 18th century (small capital) is normally used. 18th Century (big capital) is less common.
    This is quite unnecessary, in my opinion, as the two digit form at the end of a range (e.g. "1423–25") is very common, and is much neater than the full form in cases where many sets of dates are mentioned. Kirill Lokshin 01:02, 20 August 2006 (UTC)
Day and month formats
  • Please express a month as a whole word. Do not use numbers, except in ISO 8601 format. Do not use abbreviations like "Dec". For example, use December 1945. Do not use "12, 1945" or "12 of 1945" or "Dec 1945"
    • If space is precious (eg in a table, infobox, or the like), abbreviations are preferred to numbers (eg "Oct", not "10"). Numbers are discouraged because it may cause confusion to readers as to whether day or month is referred.
    • The shortened two-digit format is optional at the end of a range (ie "1970—1987" or "1970—87").
  • The ordering does not matter: both "February 14" and "14 February" are fine.
  • It is not necessary to add ordinal suffixes. "February 14" is preferred, but not "February 14th" and "14th February".
  • It is not necessary to use a comma (,) or the word "of" between a month and year. "December 1945" is preferred, but not "December, 1945" and "December of 1945".


Wai Wai, this is progress. Thank you.

But the above material does not indicate the difference between the established style guide and your desired changes.

I have asked you to address a pragraph at a time. If you won't do that, would you at least narrow it to a section or subsection at a time, whichever is smaller that is applicable? Maurreen 18:06, 12 August 2006 (UTC)

You are welcome! What "material" are you referring to? I assume you are talking about "dates". Yes, you spotted it right. There is no change in real content. They are just summarisation, re-organization or the like. The major change I could think of is to move all general style and formatting which can apply to the rest of the page (or date formats) to the front.
Some changes are expanding the explanations. For example, I have added more explanation about "BC and AD", like the 19th century is meant to be 1801—1900 (I don't know if it's common sense to native speakers, but I know some people will mistakenly take it as 1901-2000. Personally I avoid using 19th century. I use 1801-1900 instead to avoid possible confusion, like the case in 12:00pm and 12:00am. The same holds true to date format like 2006-11-12. There are 2 possible formats: YYYY-MM-DD and YYYY-DD-MM. Some people will get confused. That's why I prefer the traditional 12 Nov 2006 or 2006-Nov-12 if I have to use similar date format. I would like to add these notes too, so editors who decide to pick these formats realise the potential ambiguity or confusion.
If you are talking about "time", the changes are already pointed out in my first post.
if you are talking about "unit of measurement", the only change in real content I would think of is the "spacing". I simply point out both style are used in writing (non-spaced and spaced).—Wai Wai () 20:59, 15 August 2006 (UTC)
There is really only one YYYY-MM-DD type format And if you put square brackets round it it will display as a date with words, provided you have your user preferences set. Nevertheless it is almost deprecated partly for the reason you give. Rich Farmbrough 10:07 17 August 2006 (GMT).
Furthermore you can't really use 1801-1900 as a replacement for nineteenth century, becasue to say something happened "in the nineteenth century" has a different implication than "in 1801-1900" which implies it took all 100 years. You could say "the eighteen hundreds" (1800-1899) but this is risky, for example 1800s is interpreted (on WP) to mean 1800-1809 by analogy to 1970s. Rich Farmbrough 10:11 17 August 2006 (GMT).

&mdash; and &ndash; entities

I find the changes to the dash guidelines highly objectionable. &mdash; and &ndash; are easy to type, their names quite clearly indicate "this is a dash", and HTML entities are certainly no more confusing than most of the markup used in MediaWiki. I don't see any reason to disallow using the Unicode characters, but "confusing for new editors" describes a whole lot more of what goes on here than these HTML entities. Anyone playing with the sandbox will be able to see what &mdash; and &ndash; do. ptkfgs 18:36, 12 August 2006 (UTC)

The reason is most new editors who are not familiar with Unicode characters will find it confusing. That's also why Wikipedia creates Wiki codes, to make it easier for others to edit. Others like HTML are hard to understand for newbies.—Wai Wai () 20:20, 15 August 2006 (UTC)

recent changes

I agree that it's a little sudden. They need copy-editing in a number of places, and while I like a lot of the changes, I don't like all of them. Tony 15:47, 12 August 2006 (UTC)

So sorry about the "suddenness".--Wai Wai (talk) 15:59, 12 August 2006 (UTC)

Removal of material from user talk page

Some people have left notes on Wai Wai's talk page about the style guide changes. Wai Wai has removed them all, including my note intended to discourage such removals. Maurreen 20:10, 12 August 2006 (UTC)

Removing warnings from one's own talk page is unacceptable, per Wikipedia:Vandalism. I think both this edit and this one fall into that category. Stephen Turner (Talk) 20:34, 12 August 2006 (UTC)

Thee above are not warnings, as mentioned in Wikipedia:Removing warnings. The responses (discussions) are related here. Why don't all of you simply reply here? Forking the discussion is hard to follow, not to say others are not going to read them.

Just like this case, my responses about the removal is completely missing. As a reference, here's the previous discussion about "removing warnings":

Replies to removing warnings
Removing the recent notes here about your changes to the style guide is misleading. Also, from Wikipedia:Removing warnings: "Removing warnings, whether for vandalism or other forms of prohibited/discouraged behavior, from one's talk page is also considered vandalism." Maurreen 17:45, 12 August 2006 (UTC)

I don't understand what you mean. Anyway I have received no warning from the admin etc. at all. The 3RR is fake. I don't know if I understand correctly, but it seems to be the reverse. I posted an update. Others reverted all the changes without even trying to improve or examine. After all, I have done 2 reverts. How come I have violated 3RR (and received warning)? Weird?

Anyway I don't care much. Time should be spent on improving articles, not on trivial things.--Wai Wai (talk) 18:00, 12 August 2006 (UTC)

What part of "Removing the recent notes here about your changes to the style guide is misleading" do you not understand? And to mark such removals as minor is further misleading. Maurreen 18:08, 12 August 2006 (UTC)
Please understand what is "warning" (in your quote) before you make your comment. Next time, for any discussion relating to the article/topic, please reply in the related talk page, instead of forking the discussions over everywhere. it is hard to follow.--Wai Wai (talk) 18:22, 12 August 2006 (UTC)

General comments

I don't have time to read through your changes in detail at the moment, but here are some general comments:

  • I think your changes are more extensive than you imagine. You think they're mostly just tidying up, but I think they're rather more than that.
  • I find rewriting the paragraphs as bulleted lists makes them much less readable.
  • The grammar is often slightly wrong. Your English is very good, but not quite perfect. For example, a native speaker wouldn't say "Both '12 noon' and 'noon' is acceptable" but "Either '12 noon' or 'noon' is acceptable". There are many similar examples, so you should get it checked by a native speaker first.
  • On MoS pages, it is conventional to proceed very cautiously, and seek consensus for all changes before making them; not to make changes and hope that they're not reverted. This is because the MoS guidance potentially affects every article on Wikipedia. You might like to compare what I wrote before I made extensive changes to this page.
  • If you are reverted by several editors, consider whether you may be doing something wrong. And take it to the talk page, rather than making your changes again.

Stephen Turner (Talk) 20:27, 12 August 2006 (UTC)

I'm not specifically replying to your points above, but I thought the title "General comments" was suitable for adding this: regardless of how much reasonable they can be, changes to the Manual of Style should be carefully considered, and possibly avoided. When I joined Wikipedia the whole Manual was pretty stable. At a given moment, it began to change and has never stopped. This is too bad. It does need stability, or articles will never keep up (if nothing else because nobody wants to drive crazy for that). To put it differently: the more you change it, the more it is dead letter. —Gennaro Prota•Talk 02:12, 15 August 2006 (UTC)

Regarding general comments, I have modified my changes based on what you say (eg bulleted lists) (which is actually my second update done last week). Let's see how others respond to the proposed changes then.—Wai Wai () 20:31, 15 August 2006 (UTC)

Wai Wai, I appreciate that you are making an effort to discuss what you want here instead of changing the style guide directly. But, in short, I find your communication confusing and your style guide edits not an improvement. Given that you are being more cooperative, I'd like to try an idea.
I plan to make a subpage. I will copy the project page onto the subpage. I will encourage you to change the subpage to your heart's content, and for you to tell us when you have it as you like it. Then we can use "compare versions" to easily distinguish your desired changes and give you further feedback. Maurreen 07:20, 16 August 2006 (UTC)