Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style (dates and numbers)/Archive 55

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Wai Wai's change proposal

Please read the proposed change:

12-hour clock

  • Times in the 12-hour clock end with lower case "am" or "pm". These suffixes should not be omitted.
  • As to "12 pm" and "12 am", "(12) noon" and "(12) midnight" should be used for clarity purposes. Some readers may find the former ambiguous and confusing. As it is a wikipedia policy to minimise ambiguity, "(12) noon" and "(12) midnight" are much better than the former.
    • Both "12 noon or midnight" and "noon or midnight" is acceptable.
  • Normally no leading zero is used to distinguish from times in the 24-hour clock.
  • Regarding capitalisation:
    • It does not matter what capital form "am/pm" is used. It can be written as "AM or am" or "PM or pm". But please be consistent throughout the article.
    • It does not matter whether the first letter of "noon/midnight" is capitalised.
  • The dot (.) is optional in the suffix: either am/pm or a.m./p.m. is fine.
  • The spacing between the number and suffix is optional: either 2:30am or 2:30 am is fine.

24-hour clock

  • Time in the 24-hour clock times have no "am/pm/noon/midnight" suffix.
  • 00:00 or 24:00 refers to the midnight and 12:00 refers to noon.
    • 00:00 refers to the start of a day while 24:00 refers to the end of a day. However the end of a day equal to the start of the next day. That is why 00:00 is identical to 24:00.
    • Both 00:00 and 24:00 are acceptable. It does not matter which one you use.
  • Normally a leading zero is added to distinguish from times in the 12-hour clock.

Common formats

  • In either case, the colon (:) should be used to separate hours, minutes and seconds. The use of dot (.) as a separator is not standard. It also causes confusion with the decimal point (.) in 12.45 (amount). Do not use it.
  • Do not add extra symbols like (") to indicate second.
  • Example:
    • Use 12:34:28 pm (but not 12.04 38″ pm)
    • Use 00:34 (but not 00.34 or 0.34 or 0034)


Wai Wai () 20:13, 15 August 2006 (UTC)

Comments on above proposal

I wonder if the above proposal merits to be called a guideline: it seems to allow almost any notation. The purpose of guidelines like these is to show a uniform face to the reader. In an encyclopedia edited by many people, some rules to avoid an inconsistent appearance should be given. Therefore in the existing guideline choices are made. Of the many notations AM, A.M., am, a.m., or small caps AM, one only a.m. is selected. That is how most articles are now and why change it?

The part on the 24 hour clock shows a fundamental misinderstanding of 00:00 and 24:00, which are not the same (for the same date they are 24 hours apart). It does matter which one isused.

Woodstone 21:49, 15 August 2006 (UTC)

I agree with Woodstone. Also --
  1. If such loose style is desired by the group, that can be communicated more concisely.
  2. You've done away with the commonly used periods in "a.m." and p.m."
  3. Slashes are ugly. Maurreen 17:37, 17 August 2006 (UTC)

Compound units

I thought there was a style recommendation for complicated units like mm•K/W, but I don't see it. How should we format things like this? — Omegatron 14:02, 10 August 2006 (UTC)

I don't think the "Manual of Style" has such a recommendation, but the standard IEEE/ASTM SI 10-1997 states on page 14 "Symbols. To avoid ambiguity in complicated expressions, unit symbols are preferred over unit names." I think this should go in the manual. --Gerry Ashton 15:30, 10 August 2006 (UTC)
I wouldn't not be against this going in the manual. However, we should insist on having a page (linked to the symbol) explaining what the unit is and how it used. Some of the symbols would be obvious, but they should still be linked to the respective article. If mph and km/h have articles about them then so should mm•K/W. MJCdetroit 14:41, 12 August 2006 (UTC)


Dates, non WaiWai issue

I was taking a look at the changes and I noticed this (which was present in both versions)

Elsewhere, either format is acceptable. See Wikipedia:Manual of Style#National varieties of English for more guidance.

I would assume that in non-Commonwealth, non-US/Canada countries there is in fact a preferred style and IMHO we should stick with this. So perhaps it would be best to at least mention this (e.g. although if a national style is known, this should be used). Depending on how variable national styles are, we might even be able to include some info on national styles from non-Commonwealth, non-US/Canada countries... Nil Einne 16:37, 12 August 2006 (UTC)

I'm OK with including "(e.g. although if a national style is known, this should be used if it does not conflict with this style guide)," with the modification at the end. But I think extra info on national styles might be too much detail. Maurreen 18:00, 12 August 2006 (UTC)
Can you give an example of an English speaking country that was not part of the British Empire/ Commonwealth and the type of date style that is used there?---MJCdetroit 19:11, 12 August 2006 (UTC)

Very few countries use American dating. Apart from North American topics, I think the default should be International dating, which is the choice of most. BTW what does South America do, BTW? FearÉIREANNIreland-Capitals.PNG\(caint) 20:16, 12 August 2006 (UTC)

I should have been clearer but reading the statement "non-Commonwealth, non-US/Canada countries" makes me think that there is/are other date styles besides the two that are used in the U.S./Canada and British Commonwealth —i.e. besides August 13th, 2006 or 13 August 2006 (and their slight variations). I don't want this taken the wrong way but we should only be concerned with how native English speaking counties style things. If this was Spanish Wikipedia that I would wonder how dates were styled in South America.MJCdetroit 13:49, 13 August 2006 (UTC)
Hmm... Some of my ideas: 1) If most editors here are American, does it mean only American spelling or style should be used. Not so. Wikipedia is intended to be edited by everyone in the world. 2) The style guide should not take editors into consideration only. 3) It is also intended to be read by everyone in the world. Some styles or formatting, even if it causes no problem to one nation or country, may cause problems on another. This style should not be used to avoid ambiguity to visitors of other nations.—Wai Wai () 20:36, 15 August 2006 (UTC)

There is this prevalent idea that there is a geographical split in written dates. Having spent some time on the subject, I would say that while the spoken divide is fairly clear, many N American sources use the "Commonwealth" style and vice versa. Rich Farmbrough 10:04 17 August 2006 (GMT).

See my comments on International Dating further on on this page. My feeling is that articles should use a consistent style, and related articles be consistent. Accordingly, it follows that unless we favour open slather or uniform adherence throughout the English Wikipedia to one style or the other, then we are going to have a geographical divide on this issue, and that we should note which style a country favours in deciding how to draw the line. --Jumbo 17:35, 19 August 2006 (UTC)

My proposed changes

Would anyone please take some time to read my proposed changes (and make amendments if you find the mistakes)? After all, thanks so much for MJCdetroit to give valuable advice and improve my proposed changes.—Wai Wai () 21:07, 15 August 2006 (UTC)

Keep in mind:
  • Beware m:Instruction creep. If editors are going to be wise with common sense in a style, there is not much need to add more to the styleguide. Editors are coming here to clarify an issue, they don't start off by memorizing the styleguide and then following it precisely when editing. Complicating it makes it less useful.
  • Ten bullet points do not make for easy reading.
  • The Manual of Style does not create style and impose it. When changing the styleguide, some questions to ask about the change are:
    • Could this style lead to confusion or will it diminish confusion?
    • Does this reflect common practice on Wikipedia or in written English generally?
That said, changes should be conservative not only because the styleguide has been discussed and agreed by dozens upon dozens of people in the last several years, but also because it is easier to discuss and refine and agree on a smaller change. In the future, rather than rewriting half the styleguide in one proposal, propose a revision of one section and explain why it is necessary. For a well-formed example, see [1], though it may be unnecessarily wordy. In the case of your proposal above, it does not look like there is much agreement to implement the proposed changes. —Centrxtalk • 22:41, 15 August 2006 (UTC)
Where is the proposed change? --Gerry Ashton 22:53, 15 August 2006 (UTC)
That is part of the problem, it is somewhere nestled in lengthy tracts above. —Centrxtalk • 23:04, 15 August 2006 (UTC)

Spelling out units

Maybe I've never noticed it before or perhaps it was added in all this recent reshuffling that I haven't been paying attention to, but I have some concerns about the recommendation to spell units out in text. There needs to be some kind of limitation to that since following such a guideline most certainly will produce tiresome and overly verbose text in many scientific and computing related articles. For general interest articles I'd say this is still a good practice to follow. However, I think the MoS should acknowledge that articles on scientific topics shouldn't be expected to adhere to the principle.

I can think of a few additions to the recommendation that would make it more suitable for general use. One possibility is to recommend spelling out the first usage of a unit in an article and then opting to use the appropriate abbreviation from there forward if said unit is used enough to merit such action ("enough" is here determined by editor discretion). This somewhat follows the concept of generally wikilinking only the first occurrence of a common term to avoid overwhelming the reader with links. Another route is to yield to common practice in technical articles and allow editors to assume that the competence level required to understand the article will include prior knowledge of the meanings of the prefixes.

This leads to another minor issue. I often wikilink units that may not be of general familiarity to someone who could otherwise understand an article's content. One good example of where this is useful is in relation to the MoS-recommended IEC binary prefixes. I think wikilinking the first occurrence of a unit in an article may also be a good idea, but there ought to be a limitation with regards to very common units. The question is, how do we define a "common unit"? I believe that the SI base units are one good metric (no pun intended) to go by. These units should probably never be wikilinked unless they are used in an article that specifically discusses the units themselves or is an introduction to a related topic (for example, Ampere is an appropriate link in Electric current). Things are somewhat less clear-cut for non-SI units due to regional differences in their definitions and so on.

Anyway, I think I've typed more than enough text on what will probably end up being a ten word addition. Please offer your own insights and comments. -- uberpenguin @ 2006-08-15 22:18Z

This recommendation has been there for a long time (at least January 2005 [2], has "In text written out units are preferred"). It is rather standard for non-technical written English and aids reading. Is there an example of a technical use that would show the problem? I find it hard to envision a situation beyond "The ball traveled 13.5 metres at a speed of 2 metres per second, etc." or "The heats of fusion of hydrogen, helium, and lithium are 0.117, 0.0138, and 3.00 kilojoules per mole, respectively.", both cases where spelling out the unit is fine, but exceptions for extravagant technical use may be reasonable. —Centrxtalk • 23:03, 15 August 2006 (UTC)
As I stated, it's only a problem for technical articles that use units prolifically. I just think there should be a few words to address those situations. -- uberpenguin @ 2006-08-15 23:43Z
I couldn't agree more that editors should have the option of using abbreviations after initially spelling them out. The rule might specify "if the unit occurs a number of times in the same text". It can be tedious to read, otherwise, and brings up this vexed problem of treating inside out outside the parentheses differently ("16 kilometres (10 mi)". Can anyone explain the advantage of insisting on full spellings-out in every case? Tony 02:51, 16 August 2006 (UTC)
See, I don't honestly think that anyone would argue that there is an advantage to actively avoiding the abbreviations. I'm bringing this up mostly because I think that the guideline is too terse and restrictive and doesn't reflect current common (and sane, I'd argue) practice. As we all know, the MoS doesn't (and realistically, couldn't) mandate anything, but it should at least reflect the practice of the more sane articles on the wiki. Spelling out full units is uncommon in most articles and nearly unheard of in technical articles. -- uberpenguin @ 2006-08-16 03:17Z
So can you propose a modification to the current text? Tony 03:28, 16 August 2006 (UTC)

I agree with Centrx, but I could possibly go along with uberpenguin. Maurreen 04:53, 16 August 2006 (UTC)

Centrx asked "is there an example of a technical use that would show the problem?" Suppose one wished to explain what SI base units are equivalent to the SI unit of force, the newton. The expression would be something like kilogram meter per second squared. But the expression makes me uneasy; the order of operations is understood when using parentheses and operation symbols such as • and /, but do people understand the order of operations when using words? Anyway, kg•m/s² is much shorter and, to people familiar with the subject, more recognizable. --Gerry Ashton 06:01, 16 August 2006 (UTC)
I remember pointing out somewhere in the past two years that context matters, but it always seems to fall on deaf ears... anyway, that's all in the past.
I agree completely with uberpenguin. It must be stressed here that this applies only to scientific/technical articles where quantities often need to be expressed. In this situation, in normal practice, units are almost never spelt out. ("almost"—every rule has exceptions.)
Put another way, users of such scientific/technical articles (presumably enthusiasts of the field) are more used to seeing kJ/mol than "kilojoules per mole".
As a side note, "2 m" or "two metres" but not "2 metres" (if the spell-out-less-than-ten rule is followed) and certainly not "two m", but one could argue that this is common sense. Neonumbers 06:58, 16 August 2006 (UTC)
The reason I put "2 metres" is for consistency within the same context (i.e., 13.5 metres -> 2 metres), but this may be incorrect in this case because it is 2 metres per second. —Centrxtalk • 13:30, 16 August 2006 (UTC)
There is prior discussion I forgot at [3]. The tentative conclusion from that would be that all units except very complex units should be spelled out, leading to a revision of "Spell out units in text, except for very complex units (e.g. k•m/s²)". However, the example given above is a very special case, and in general there is usually some alternative name, like "newton" to replace "kilogram-metre per second per second", where abbreviated units would not be necessary. Also, this might have problems with consistency within an article: having a few abbreviated units scattered around might be worse than having a whole article with only abbreviated units. —Centrxtalk • 13:30, 16 August 2006 (UTC)
I agree with Centrx—spell out units (in text) unless very complex. Then I would suggest spelling it out the first use and/or linking to an article about. Also, shouldn't "kilogram-metre per second per second" (which is also a Newton) be abbreviated kg•m/s² and not k•m/s²? Can you see where this could lead to confusion in some circumstances? I measure in Newtons at work and from professional experience we never express (metric) force in kg•m/s²; it's newtons (N) or kilonewtons (kN). MJCdetroit 16:56, 16 August 2006 (UTC)
MJCdetroit is correct, I should have used kg rather than k in the force expression. On the other hand, Newton was a Lucasian professor of mathematics at Cambridge, while the SI unit of force is the newton. --Gerry Ashton 17:09, 16 August 2006 (UTC)
Sorry, typos sure can change the meaning if you are not careful! MJCdetroit 19:49, 16 August 2006 (UTC)
I disagree with the need to link simple words such as "metre". It's obtrusive. And can MJCdetroit provide a reason that "kilometre should be spelt out every time in an article? Tony 01:16, 17 August 2006 (UTC)

Many people appear to be saying that the bullet: Spell out units in the text is unacceptable in its current form. I do not believe that making it more detailed will result in an improvement to Wikipedia. My personal guidance-about-guidance is that we should only give guidance if:

  • the issue is clear and present in Wikipedia articles
  • the issue is frequent enough to worry about
  • the guidance will result in a change in editor action

I propose that we remove the entire bullet. bobblewik 09:11, 17 August 2006 (UTC)

Sounds fine to me: leave it up to common sense and our judgement of readability on a case-by-case basis. Tony 09:32, 17 August 2006 (UTC)

I appreciate the bullet. Many people over abbreviate in general text - almost to the point of ".. lives in TX with 1 dog & 2 cts & is 70in & 120lb." Adding the word "generally" to the beginning seems reasonable (although as a guideline that could be considered imnplicit). Technical examples have been given above, and perhaps imply that we might say " the wavelength is 173 nanometres (nm), whereas the red-shifted value is 170 nm, and that from Proxima Cneturi is 122 nm." Certainly that is an example that would dodge the bullet. Rich Farmbrough 09:59 17 August 2006 (GMT).
Other examples are in ship and rail articles when people import raw data. I would not want to discourage people from adding data that the wiki (including me) can format properly later. Do you really think the preserving the guidance will (to quote my last 'guidance-about-guidance') will result in a change in editor action? bobblewik 10:36, 17 August 2006 (UTC)
It is (or used to be) stressed at the top of Mos in a box that the important thing was content. It is exactly for those doing perfective maintenance (sub-editors), or with the flypaper mind for detail, that the MoS is written. Clearly the drive-by editor is usually unaware that it even exists, which may be as it should be. Rich Farmbrough 20:39 19 August 2006 (GMT).

I seriously object to Bobblewik's "guidance about guidance". It is in blatant contradiction with Guidelines for creating policies and guidelines and Wikipedia:Avoid instruction creep. I think it is dearly needed to stop seeing guidelines (and policies) as the playground of those who want to press changes whatever the general sentiment of other editors. Policies and guidelines can equally confirm good practice, even if that is the way it is currently done. New and experienced editors may come to such guideline & policy pages when wondering what is the best practice on an issue.

Note that I left a question relating to the Numbers & dates MoS on Bobblewik's talk page[4] which has not been answered yet (afaik). --Francis Schonken 11:18, 17 August 2006 (UTC)

All that I want is an end to the mandatory, across the board ban on the use of abbreviations for units after the first occurrence. Is it too much to ask that the wording allow good judgement in these cases? Tony 12:11, 17 August 2006 (UTC)

My reason for sticking to the "spell out units in text" rule is because that is the way formal non-technical journalistic/academic style is taught. In my experience, technical writings do tend to have all units abbreviated. However, many have some type of a reference guide at the end to help with abbreviations; ASTM has a four page quick reference guide. Technical writings are usually written for a particular group —chemists, engineers, rocket scientists —and not for a general audience. What Tony wants is something similar to the way NASA wants their technical publications written; spell out first then abbreviate. That been said, this is not a technical writing, such as an ASTM or automotive specification and is intended for a general audience. I believe that spelling out all units in text (not conversions) is the correct way of expressing units in this type of non-technical writing. Changing that will tend to make this less formal and lead to inconsistencies in style. I think that the MOS is set up properly now and with the exception of compound/complex units (see above) should be left as it is. MJCdetroit 13:09, 17 August 2006 (UTC)

I favor always using symbols for complex compound units. For non-technical articles or articles that only have one or two instances of complex compound units, spell out the simpler units. For articles that frequently use complex compound units, use symbols throughout the article. --Gerry Ashton 13:18, 17 August 2006 (UTC)

MJCdetroit—I don't think that "formal non-technical journalistic/academic style" is uniformly taught in the English-speaking world, and probably not within single countries either. The spell-out-first-then-abbreviate convention works well enough for initialisms and acronyms on WP, where it appears to be widely accepted. I want to give editors the ability to do this. I don't believe that it will cause a general audience confusion, but rather, will make for an easier, neater reading experience. Outside the US, everyone is kewl about "km" and "kg", so why can't we use these for metric equivalents after first spelling them out? "Mile", "inch", "ounce" and "pound"—it's all very well when the unit names are pithy, but metric units are hedgehog words. I don't advocate forcing people to do it; only where there's consensus among the contributors to an article. I find it tedious to force FACs to convert to full spellings-out of these terms repeatedly in the same text.

"Where a multisyllabic unit name appears a number of times in an article, after initially spelling it out, the commonly accepted abbreviation ("symbol") may be used if there is consensus to do so among contributors."

And I don't think inside and ouside parentheses should be treated differently. Tony 14:17, 17 August 2006 (UTC)

Does anyone know of any style guides for works for general audiences that support "the spell-out-first-then-abbreviate convention"? Maurreen 15:51, 17 August 2006 (UTC)
Spell out less well-known abbreviations on first mention Guardian style guide. bobblewik 16:23, 17 August 2006 (UTC)
The Chicago manual of style has something that maybe a compromise. From section 8.15 of The Chicago Manual of Style, 14th edition (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993):
Units of measurement in running text should be spelled out. When many units of measurement appear together in text, use numerals with abbreviations (e.g., 9 g, 10 mph).
This can be found on the NDLP Writer's handbook website. Thoughts? —MJCdetroit 16:44, 17 August 2006 (UTC)
Works for me. Maurreen 16:50, 17 August 2006 (UTC)
This would prohibit the use of 'rpm', 'mph', 'BTU', 'kWh', 'GB', 'cc', 'psi', 'm/s²', 'kJ/kg' in running text. No matter how this bullet is worded, editors will ignore it. bobblewik 09:42, 18 August 2006 (UTC)

The reason that inside and outside () can be treated differently is that, for example, if I am familiar with the MegaSquirble but not the Clomperate then I will understand "11 Clomperate (23.5 MSq)" If I am familiar with neither then at least I will know that a Clomperate is the unit I need to find out about. Rich Farmbrough 20:39 19 August 2006 (GMT).

Wai Wai subpage

I have copied the "dates and numbers" style guide to Wikipedia:Manual of Style (dates and numbers)/Wai Wai's proposal. I encourage to Wai Wai to change this subpage to indicate his desired changes. Maurreen 07:29, 16 August 2006 (UTC)

re: Partial dates

The fifth bullet of the Partial dates section includes the guidance that when all we have is year and month, we should do so in the format [[April]] [[1974]] → April 1974. This appears to contradict the second bullet which says that when all we have is the month, it should generally not be linked. As it says at the start of the section, month alone or with year has no relevance to the date-preference issue. Month with year is unlikely to ever logically link to the generic article on April. It seems that this line should be changed to April [[1974]] → April 1974. The month generally should not be linked.

It's been a long time since I looked in on this page so if this has been discussed, please point me to the right place in the archives. Thanks. Rossami (talk) 03:26, 18 August 2006 (UTC)

I'd prefer not linking the year either, or least not requiring it. Maurreen 03:37, 18 August 2006 (UTC)
Wikidates give correct format when user date preferences are selected, and should almost always be used. However, this is for full (day, month and year) dates. Months and years (alone or together) need no linking (unless there is a good contextual reason), as no additional formatting is performed. --Jumbo 03:45, 18 August 2006 (UTC)
Yes, it makes no sense to have an example of doing something specifically discouraged. —Centrxtalk • 05:20, 18 August 2006 (UTC)
I'm distinctly uncomfortable about providing examples that include links which are highly contentious. Why the year at all? Tony 06:52, 18 August 2006 (UTC)
Well spotted. I think both [[April]] [[1974]] and [[April 2000]] should say "Generally should not be linked" to be consistent with the guidance and the other entries in the list. Stephen Turner (Talk) 10:20, 18 August 2006 (UTC)
Good, so if no one objects, can you make the changes? Tony 11:38, 18 August 2006 (UTC)
Sure, but let's wait a little while to see if anyone has any opposing comments. Stephen Turner (Talk) 11:44, 18 August 2006 (UTC)
Done. Stephen Turner (Talk) 16:17, 19 August 2006 (UTC)
This point is pure instruction creep. Individual months are not linked. Individual years are the subject of considerable dispute. Why the krett do we need a seperate guideline for month-year combinations? Moreover, there is absolutely no excuse for saying "generally do not link" in the circumstances Stephen notes when this would overturn the whole result of months of discussion earlier this year (involving far more people than the three people who have commented here). Rebecca 02:42, 20 August 2006 (UTC)
Rebecca seems adamant about this, and I don't care about it that much because I think the principles are now clear. So I accept her reversion — other people can argue about it if they want to. Stephen Turner (Talk) 09:30, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

Use of International Dating format

I have recently been doing a little housecleaning of articles by tidying up date formats. Generally, on examining a largish article that does not involve an American subject, I find that date formats are all over the place. Some dates within the article use International Dating ("dd/mm/yyyy"), some use American Dating ("mm/dd/yyyy"), some are wikilinked, some are not, some are in between.

My understanding of date formats is that full dates involving a day, month and year should be wikilinked so as to display correctly according to the user's date preferences. If done correctly, the date format should be immaterial - a user will see his or her preferred date format. However, the majority of Wikipedia users are readers, rather than editors, and will therefore be unlikely to have an account with user preferences set. It is therefore useful to make sure that the underlying date format is in an appropriate format - American articles in American Dating format, other articles in whatever format is appropriate. The United Kingdom is the most prominent user of the International Dating format, but of course the vast majority of nations use International Dating, some exceptions being Canada and the Philippines, with some further nations preferring their own format. However, in Wikipedia, we generally use the form day month year (12 March 2004) or month day, year (January 23, 2004).

The Calendar date article is a useful guide here:

Little endian forms, starting with the day
This sequence is common to the vast majority of the world's countries, and is used as the accepted international date usage.
  • 16/11/2003, 16.11.2003, 16-11-2003 or 16-11-03
Big endian forms, starting with the year
This form is consistent with the endianness of the western decimal numbering system, progressing from the highest to the lowest order magnitude.
  • 2003 November 16
  • 2003-11-16: the ISO 8601 International formal standard ordering for dates, often formatted to be especially easily read and sorted by computers. It is used with UTC in the Internet date/time format (see the external link below).
This format is also favoured in certain Asian countries, mainly East Asian countries, as well as in Hungary.
Middle endian forms, starting with the month
This sequence is common to a smaller number of countries.
  • November 16, 2003
This order is used in the United States and countries with U.S. influence (but the U.S. federal government sometimes uses day, month, year).

The overall picture is that most countries use International Dating and a few use other formats.

The Manual of Style recognises that there are differences, and therefore we have the following section:

Date formats related to topics
If the topic itself concerns a specific country, editors may choose to use the date format used in that country. This is useful even if the dates are linked, because new users and users without a Wikipedia account do not have any date preferences set, and so they see whatever format was typed. For topics concerning the UK, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, most member states of the Commonwealth of Nations, and most international organizations such as the United Nations, the formatting is usually [[17 February]] [[1958]] (no comma and no "th"). In the United States and Canada, it is [[February 17]], [[1958]]. Elsewhere, either format is acceptable. See Wikipedia:Manual of Style#National varieties of English for more guidance.

Whilst this appears to divide the world into British and the rest, this is in fact quite misleading, and the lead sentence shows the way: Editors of an article may choose to use the format used in the relevant country. As I have shown above, most nations use the little endian format of International Dating.

Another principle, one of some importance in avoiding edit wars, leads the Manual of Style itself:

Disputes over style issues
In June 2005, the Arbitration Committee ruled that, when either of two styles is acceptable, it is inappropriate for a Wikipedia editor to change from one style to another unless there is some substantial reason for the change. For example, with respect to British spelling as opposed to American spelling, it would only be acceptable to change from American spelling to British spelling if the article concerned a British topic. Revert warring over optional styles is unacceptable; if the article uses colour rather than color, it would be wrong to switch simply to change styles, although editors should ensure that articles are internally consistent. If in doubt, defer to the style used by the first major contributor. See Wikipedia:Requests for arbitration/Jguk

Reading the above sections together, it follows that if an article concerns a British topic, International Dating may be used, even if the article originally used American Dating. Likewise "if the topic itself concerns a specific country, editors may choose to use the date format used in that country", and that is sufficient reason to change from an inappropriate but established usage.

I trust that the above argument is clear, is well grounded in accepted MoS guidelines, and is backed up by ArbCom decisions, notably the Jguk case.

I ask for comments on the above in case my understanding is somehow flawed, or there are other guidelines or precedents I might have missed.

I also ask because I have been encountering some incivil and ill-informed debate from certain editors who apparently have a dislike of any format but American Dating, and have been reverting my careful work:

I would appreciate informed guidance and suggestions on how to proceed with rationalising date formats without inflaming an edit war. Jtdirl has already provided the benefit of his knowledge and experience, and I am confident, based on his guidance, that I am on the correct path, but I welcome other voices. --Jumbo 08:00, 19 August 2006 (UTC)

This description is pretty much my understanding of the situation, also. I haven't checked the diffs yet, but to use mm/dd/yy for the KG VI and Mountbatten articles would appear to be highly unintuitive. -- Arwel (talk) 15:39, 19 August 2006 (UTC)
I agree too. Articles about British topics should use [[dd MMMM]] [[yyyy]]. (Full month name, not numerical, and wikilinked). Stephen Turner (Talk) 16:15, 19 August 2006 (UTC)
I agree. It seems to me that the US version should really only necessarily be used on topics mainly concerning the US. It also seems to me that this is hardly an issue worth anybody falling out or getting worked up over. Users who strongly prefer one style of date preference over another can log in and adjust their preferences if they want to. The main thing is making sure we wikilink alll full dates and no (or very few) date fragments. Priority should be given as follows
Change all instances of 13th May 1888 and the like to 13 May 1888; other common errors are '12th of January'; 'December of 1950'; and 'the year 2000' (except where ambiguity would ensue from a change to a MoS version).
Delink very nearly every instance of January, Tuesday
Lose most (maybe 90%) of links to 2005, 20th century and (especially) the 1960s
--Guinnog 21:24, 19 August 2006 (UTC)

The background to the whole dating problem is complicated. When WP was formed most of its users were needless to say American, and they used American Dating all over. As international users joined that became a big problem because just as Americans rarely use ID, internationally most people never use AD. Edit wars ensued. Various compromises were tried. All failed (broken, it must be said, by AD users who would suddenly decide to start putting AD all over again. (As one put it to me, "our Wikipedia. Our dates. Make your own if you want your own dates.") We did achieve a compromise based on local usage, but after a short time a particular user went on a blitz deleting ID everywhere he could find it and insisting that the world uses AD!!! (He even tried blocking users using ID!) After a mega edit war a compromise was worked at. The rule was simple. Use the dates the country uses. If a country uses both, let the first editor set the standard on an article. This was written into the manual of style. Unfortunately the phraesology was not the best (and users were too tired edit warring to fight over the ambiguous wording that didn't fully convey what had been meant). So now some users interpret the list of countries in the MoS as the only AD-free locations on WP, with the rest open to use either. In fact the agreement was to use them as examples, not the definitive list, of how to work this. It was never intended to say that ID should only receive priority in the UK, Ireland, the Commonwealth and the UN. They were simply examples of usage.

Perhaps at this stage the best solution is to set up a project on dating, with users examining date usage in each country in general and then assembling a list that should be followed on WP. For example:

  • France - ID
  • Ireland - ID
  • Sweden - ISO
  • United Kingdom ID
  • United States AD

etc. All articles on each topic must then reflect the local usage. So anything written about an American topic cannot be written in ID and must be changed if so. Anything on Ireland cannot be written in AD and must be changed if so, etc. Where countries have a demonstable history of using both widely then it rests on the judgment call of the original editor.

At this stage we have to spell out explicitly what each country uses. We cannot keep fighting over this damn thing over and over. We created the technology so people can set preferences but you have to be a Wikipedian to do that. A visitor sees the article as typed, which means that American readers get mightily annoyed to find articles written in a format they never use. Ditto with the British, the Irish, etc who go ballistic if they see AD (a format that not only do they not use, but one which many positively hate) all over British or Irish articles. FearÉIREANNIreland-up.png\(caint) 02:29, 20 August 2006 (UTC)

Would we be out of order in assuming that the acceptance in [5] that the ID version predominates in the EU, allows editors to change to the format used in this bloc of countries? --Guinnog 02:47, 20 August 2006 (UTC)

That was the understanding that ended the edit wars. If France for the sake of argument uses ID, and Italy AD, then French articles should be in ID and Italian ones AD and users are entitled to ensure that. Unfortunately the MoS wording is shabby and open to the misinterpretation that only the UK, Ireland, the Commonwealth and the UN use ID, which is preposterous. So any attempt to put ID in to articles off that list sends a (very but vocal) group of AD pushers ballistic. But the whole point of the agreement was to say "use a country's own usage in articles", not to say "AD can be put in anywhere but in articles on the UK, Ireland, the Commonwealth and the UN." SuperJumbo's edits on France were 100% right. But then, if you want to see the nature of the behaviour of some users, look at Cyde's insistence of reverting corrections on the Bono and Edward VIII of the United Kingdom even though the former as an Irish topic should be written in ID and the latter was a screwed up mess of both ID and AD. FearÉIREANNIreland-up.png\(caint) 03:16, 20 August 2006 (UTC)

The actual understanding that ended the edit wars was to leave dates in the format originally used, and let software preferences deliver the format desired. If Superjumbo feels that a change to this understanding is needed, he should effect that change before simply converting all dates to the one he prefers. I think there is probably support for a rule that changing to British dating in specifically British articles is acceptable. But simply declaring that British dates should be used in all articles except specifically American ones would not find such wide support, and calling British date styles "International" doesn't make it more palatable. There's no reason that articles on Monaco should be written in British English to the exclusion of American English, and that will be the next step. - Nunh-huh 23:27, 20 August 2006 (UTC)

Perhaps Nunh-huh, you would like to go to any article and click on the "in other languages" links and see the date formatting used before your declare a date format to be "British". --Clawed 23:50, 20 August 2006 (UTC)
Nunh's interpretation is 100% fiction. That was not the agreement. The agreement, written into the MoS, was to allow local usage to be reflected in articles. That is the policy. That is the policy we have been following. That is the policy we will continue to follow, however much a small clique of AE users might like to be in denial. As to the ridiculous statement "There's no reason that articles on Monaco should be written in British English to the exclusion of American English" Monaco in translation does not use British English. It uses International English. His constant attempts to suggest that the only alternative to using American English is British English is farcical. If Monaco does not use American English and does not use American Dating then American English and American Dating do not belong in articles on Monaco and will be deleted on sight. If Monaco however uses American English and American Dating, then International Dating and International English has no right to be in the article. If it uses both equally then the original editor of the article gets to choose which one to use. They are the rules. They are the rules we have all been following. They are the rules we will continue to follow. Policy is set. Get over it. FearÉIREANNIreland-up.png\(caint) 00:11, 21 August 2006 (UTC)
Is "actual understanding" the same as truthiness? -grin-
Nunh-huh may accuse me of "Wikilawyering" but the way the relevant sections are written, especially given the JGuk decision, is that formats stay the same unless there is a good reason to change. This is not the same as saying that formats stay the same. Period/FullStop. I can also spot a logical fallacy of the "all dogs have four legs therefore all four-legged animals are dogs" kind in his argument. The United Kingdom is one of many nations that use International Dating. Along with France, Ireland, most of Europe and a whole bunch of other places. If Nunh-huh told the average Frenchman that he uses British Dating, he would robustly reject this as incorrect.
As for this being a slippery slope concept, ending up with Monaco or French articles written in British English, I cannot see any basis for it. Monaco and France undeniably use the Day Month Year dating format, just as they use metres rather than feet and inches. This is independent of language. They don't use any sort of English spelling because they don't use English as an official language. When I was in France I found that English-language signs used what I might call "French English", and I certainly wouldn't suggest that we adopt that as a preferred style. Let alone Japanese Engrish! --Jumbo 00:22, 21 August 2006 (UTC)
I think that the use of numbers to represent months should be avoided; no matter which format is used. December 7, 1941 or 7 December 1941; not 12/07/1941 or 07/12/1941. --MJCdetroit 16:42, 21 August 2006 (UTC)

Arbitrary break

  1. The International date format is ISO 8601, which leads, for example, "to the increasingly familiar YYYY-MM-DDThh:mm:ss format seen in international forums."
  2. British English is not synonymous with international English. Maurreen 00:26, 21 August 2006 (UTC)

ISO 8601 has been adopted in far more countries than "Asia", and "Hungary". It is a pan-European standard, also adopted in Japan, China, Thailand, India, Australia, New Zealand, US, Canada, etc, as far back as 1968/1971 in many. The W3C long recommends it for web work. RFC 3339 also refers.

Numbers

I would like to propose an addition to the section on numbers, as follows:

In articles relating to countries which traditionally use the Indian numbering system (India, Bangladesh, and Myanmar), numbers may be expressed in the traditional system, but to avoid confusion they should also be expressed in the "international English" manner, e.g. "five crores (5,00,00,000 or 50,000,000)".

Thoughts? -- Arwel (talk) 11:05, 20 August 2006 (UTC)

I convert those when I see them and I believe that I have a good ethical position on regional issues. I have yet to receive a complaint. A web search revealed merely 1000 articles with 'crore' or 'lakh'. This issue certainly does not meet my personal guidance-about-guidance (see above). Do we really need a guideline? bobblewik 11:28, 20 August 2006 (UTC)
When I see a number with a comma after two digits I'm never sure whether it's an Indian representation or a typo, which is why I'm suggesting having both. -- Arwel (talk) 11:47, 20 August 2006 (UTC)
That fooled me for a long time. Now I assume it is not a typo. I convert those too. For information, the group of three is in ISO_31-0#Numbers. bobblewik 12:01, 20 August 2006 (UTC)
I agree. The 'Standard English' number form should be fine for all users. --Guinnog 11:33, 20 August 2006 (UTC)
“Five crores (50,000,000)”, “five crores (50000000)” and “five crores (fifty millions)” should be okay, when you need to use crores etc. at all. We don’t write “fifty millions (50,000,000)” either, because when you know millions you also know three-digit grouping and likewise when you know crores you know Indian grouping, but despite the enormous population of the Indian subcontinent we should—outside quotations—stick to the international way, which doesn’t include milliard and raised dot or comma as decimal separator either, although those are or were common in parts of the English-speaking world.
Non-literal, ungrouped digits are the best for search engines and the worst for human readability by the way. Christoph Päper 21:43, 20 August 2006 (UTC)

Commas in full dates

Has anybody noticed that when full wikidates are used, including a comma is superfluous? It is a wasted character.

The relevant section gives an example:

*Day, month, and year

But the comma doesn't need to be included: the software is clever enough to insert it, even if date preferences have not been set:

The date displays correctly regardless of preferences:

  • No date pref: February 17, 1958
  • American Dating pref: February 17, 1958
  • International Dating pref: 17 February 1958

A very minor point, I agree, but over a long article with many dates, it could save a few characters. --Jumbo 12:11, 20 August 2006 (UTC)

Interesting. I call that a bug. Wikipedia should not change anything unless requested. bobblewik 13:14, 20 August 2006 (UTC)
You may be right, but as it stands, the software inserts the comma for American Dating formats whether it is written or not (which I think is a handy and useful feature), and I think we should amend the MoS to reflect this. --Jumbo 21:55, 20 August 2006 (UTC)
I would support this tiny modification to the MoS. Rich Farmbrough 22:04 20 August 2006 (GMT).
I wouldn't. It's really not important enough to have a rule about. Stephen Turner (Talk) 22:12, 20 August 2006 (UTC)
It's not a rule, just an alteration of the example given. Perhaps with an explanation. It's no big deal, but I like to see loose ends tied up and squared away. Sets a good example. --Jumbo 00:05, 21 August 2006 (UTC)
I'm reasonably sure this hasn't always been the case. Was it recently changed? Of course, it still won't insert the comma in without preferences set, with them set to no preference, or even with them set to MDY format if you use [[February 17]] [[1958]] (February 17 1958). Nor will it delete it for the DMY format if you use [[February 17]], [[1958]] (February 17, 1958). That's something clearly more deserving of mention on the project page than what's under discussion here. Gene Nygaard 01:43, 21 August 2006 (UTC)
I think you should check your statements above. I turned my date format preferences off, so that I could see how text appears to readers rather than editors, and I can assure you that the software inserts and deletes commas in an entirely appropriate way. --Jumbo 01:56, 21 August 2006 (UTC)
No. I put them in in an appropriate way so they work when preferences are off. When they don't work right is when preferences are on and those "year in foo" links are used. They will be wrong when preferences are set to YMD and in one or the other of the DMY or MDY formats. Gene Nygaard 09:56, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
Re "loose ends": I see your point, Jumbo, but on this page we're not trying to document the feature but rather to give editors guidance as to what to type. I think we should advise them to type [[February 17]], [[1958]] (maybe the software will stop adding the comma one day, so it's better to retain it than to save a byte here and there). It's not necessary to explain in the MoS that if you type another format it will end up the same: keep the advice as simple as possible. That's my opinion, anyway. Stephen Turner (Talk) 09:43, 21 August 2006 (UTC)
Why should we ask editors to type in superfluous characters? Those who don't know how the software works will still type the comma in, while those who do will feel a glow of pride and power. A small glow, to be sure. --Jumbo 20:46, 21 August 2006 (UTC)
It's an undocumented bug/feature. Not something to be relied upon. Gene Nygaard 09:58, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

Did you notice that it not only inserts a missing comma for the U.S. format, but also deletes a superfluous comma for the other format? −Woodstone 22:00, 21 August 2006 (UTC)

Yes. It's a nice bit of programming. It also works if no prefs are selected, adding and deleting commas as required. --Jumbo 22:07, 21 August 2006 (UTC)

Use of year in foo links in dates

A number of articles have full dates linked to the appropriate timeline year rather than just the year. For example, F-22_Raptor#First flight has [[9 April]] [[1997 in aviation|1997]] which appears as 9 April 1997 whatever the users options.

While I can see the attraction of having a more relvent link than the simple year, I think the use of such links for full date links should be discouraged. --Cavrdg 17:00, 20 August 2006 (UTC)

I agree. I recently added this to WP:PIPE, after a discussion on this page. Maybe it should be added here too, but there didn't seem to be a good place to put it without bloating this page. Stephen Turner (Talk) 17:08, 20 August 2006 (UTC)

Thanks. Perhaps there should be a very brief mention here that it's discouraged and a pointer to WP:PIPE for the detail and reasons. --Cavrdg 17:44, 20 August 2006 (UTC)

Perhaps there is a technical solution to this? It would be a pity to lose these years in aviation, sport, technology and so on. --Jumbo 21:47, 20 August 2006 (UTC)
Sometimes not. The same relevancy problems that plague year links also plague "Year in subject" links - see today's featured article with "Easter egg" links to 2000 in sport, 2003 in sport, 2004 in sport, 2005 in sport, 2006 in sport in the first paragraph (and hence on the main page). The only one that mentions netball at all is 2004, and that only for one line (albeit posiibly relevant to the article). The Wikiproject on Albums has come out against Easter egg links, preferring this style "...released im 2000 (see 2000 in music)...", which is a solution. We seem to be moving into increased specialisation - e.g. "2006 in Amercian television", maybe it will eventually be things like "2009 in West London tiddleywinks (Acton rules)". Rich Farmbrough 22:01 20 August 2006 (GMT).
Ok. I get you. Yes, I like the (see 1969 in sex positions) approach. Thanks. --Jumbo 00:03, 21 August 2006 (UTC)
IMO, at no point should a year be linked to an "year in x" article - it is simply not intuitive. Instead it should be of the form [[year in x|year x]], eg. 2000 film. violet/riga (t) 00:16, 21 August 2006 (UTC)
Much nicer. Rich Farmbrough 16:55 21 August 2006 (GMT).
No, Cavrdg, you have mischaracterized it. [[9 April]] [[1997 in aviation|1997]] does not always appear "appears as 9 April 1997 whatever the users options", as many users can see right of the bat by looking at this: 9 April 1997.
Those with month day year preferences will see April 9 1997. What they won't see is a comma after the first nine. By the same token, if you use [[April 9]], [[1997 in aviation|1997]] (April 9, 1997) those of us with preferences set for day month year will see 9 April, 1997 with an extraneous comma. The day and month are switched, but the presence or absence of a comma isn't changed with these links. Gene Nygaard 01:56, 21 August 2006 (UTC)
That is true, but it won't display as 1997-4-9 as one preference setting would otherwise show. violet/riga (t) 08:29, 21 August 2006 (UTC)

Someone has just removed the "Generally do not link": I thought there was consensus about not bluing chronological items that have no date. Tony 06:22, 21 August 2006 (UTC)

I put it back in the absence of any obvious consensus here to remove. --Guinnog 09:31, 21 August 2006 (UTC)

The examples of correct linking still show the form [[1958]]-[[02-17]] as an alternative to [[1958-02-17]]. I cannot see any advantage or any difference in rendering between the two, regardless of preference settings, or being logged in or not. Any objection against removing this oddity? −Woodstone 20:34, 25 August 2006 (UTC)

Integrating other more recognized Style guides into Wiki Manual of Style

I'll admit that I haven't spent an extensive period of time looking at the entire Wikipedian Styleguide available to us Wikipedians.

I wanted to start a real discussion and debate with the editors and contributors to the articles of the English Wikipedia. I've seen a lot of inconsistencies in several areas. For example, the numbering schemes (one, two, ..., ten, eleven, twelve/twelfth, thirteen/thirteenth, one hundred, nineteen hundred fifty-six, etc). A more modern and generally accepted numbering scheme (see AP, New York Times style guides) is to spell out the numbers 0-9 as such (zero, one, two, three, four, through nine) and spell out numbers 10+ as 10, 11, 12, 13, etc).

The AP and NYT styles seem to be copyrighted under the fair use doctrine... making it capable of being consistent in news pieces crossing the wires, but is also accepted in most college-level English courses for papers written for college classes. This is otherwise known as the MLA standards.

If this project has already begun, I'd love to participate since I'm a news desk editor and would like to bring even more mainstream consistency to the wikipedia articles. If this project has not begun or is in its infant stages, I am very anxious to start working with the rest of the team.

I look forward to reading about everyone's thoughts or suggestions. I'd love to go more in depth if there's even a need to... I hope we can do something. But if not, I understand.

Best regards, Bsheppard 09:27, 22 August 2006 (UTC)

The Manual of Style has been under way for a while now (for this dates one, since 2003 :). Basically, keep an eye on the Talk pages for discussions, make proposals here for major changes; if a change would be controversial or large (or if anyone reverts it), bring it up here first rather than implementing it immediately. One thing to keep in mind about the styleguide on Wikipedia is that it is a lot more of a non-binding recommendation than you might find, for example, at the newsdesk where the editors have mandated a uniform style largely without exception. The Wikipedia Manual of Style is a lot more of a reflection of current standard practice on the wiki than styleguides at other places (the wiki being both a bottom-up writing system, and also a new technology for writing). In many cases the styleguide allows for two or three acceptable styles, so long as style is consistent within a single article. In such cases, there are general prohibitions for changing articles between different, both acceptable, styles without good reason (see Wikipedia:Manual of Style#Disputes over style issues). There is also Wikipedia:Ignore all rules. The purpose is still to clarify and standardize presentation, and this is a frequently visited page the styles of which are widely implemented, but the recommendations are just less strict than elsewhere.
You can see the current recommendation for spelling out numbers at Wikipedia:Manual of Style (dates and numbers)#Numbers in words. Above 10, both spelling out and using numerals are allowed: on the one hand, using numerals is more common in contemporary newspapers and magazines; but spelling out in words is the dominant form for non-technical books, encyclopedias, and any professional work where print space is not an issue. Both are found on Wikipedia. Any proposals you have are welcome, and I think we would be happy to have you here; you may find this particular styleguide especially to be very active. —Centrxtalk • 17:44, 22 August 2006 (UTC)
Thanks Bsheppard. Wikipedia is explicitly an international resource, US media are not. Therefore:
  • Wikipedia needs guidance compatible with regional variations of english.
  • Wikipedia needs to prefer international forms over regional forms.
  • Wikipedia needs to make itself accessible to readers that do not have english as their first language.
These issues do not usually apply to a national (US, UK, Indian etc) publication, although some editors do touch them in 'international' editions. Your example of number style is a good one, the digit form is better on all three of those bullets. bobblewik 06:30, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

Time formatting

When a.m. or p.m. is used at the end of a sentence, do you add another period? For example:

It begins at 2 p.m.
or
It begins at 2 p.m..
--Silver Edge 02:57, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

No, you don't need a second period. Stephen Turner (Talk) 09:21, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

Well now that this has come up, why are the dots there at all? That's entirely US-speak. At the very least, there should be the option to use "am" and "pm" without the dots, the way other people do. Tony 12:16, 27 August 2006 (UTC)

blued out examples

So if Rebecca wants to remove the "generally do not link" phrases, and the examples are retained, why are they linked? That is completely biassed towards linkomaniacs. Get rid of the examples altogether, I say. Tony 09:39, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

The examples are listed as examples of dates which do not respond to users' date preferences. Stephen Turner (Talk) 09:43, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

Via RfC/Style issues

If appropriate, please copy these preferences to whatever becomes the pertinent area of the debate – thanks.

  • Support either "August 24, 2006" or "24 August 2006" formats in any article, so long as one used consistently throughout;
  • Oppose "2006-8-24" or any variants placing year first, as I find these interfere with readability.

Regards, David Kernow 12:26, 24 August 2006 (UTC)

What is the Arbcom decision that supposedly changes the status quo with regard to dates? —Centrxtalk • 23:23, 24 August 2006 (UTC)

The conflict here is unclear to me. Why would Wikipedia treat date systems differently from national spelling variants and other issues? The way I understand policy is - to state the matter crudely - that if an article concerns a specific country then it uses that country's spelling: so Wikipedia has Theater of the United States rather than Theatre of the United States. Otherwise, whichever convention sets the first precedent "wins:" List of notable brain tumor patients rather than List of notable brain tumour patients (although redirects are advisable for article titles). Unless I'm mistaken, nearly anyone who has enough English fluency to read Wikipedia can recognize and understand either date convention. Durova 03:12, 25 August 2006 (UTC)

The Chicago Manual of Style (14th ed.) says that the University of Chicago Press generally changes British spelling to American spelling (p. 195). On the other hand the same university press prefers day-month-year over month-day-year. So which system is actually prefered in the U.S. is less clear than in the case of spelling. I am against changing articles with strong ties to the U.S. or Candada from day-month-year to month-day-year because of the risk of introducing an error in the process. If someone changes colour to colur I can still read it. If someone changes 15 January 1929 to January 25, 1929 how will I, as a reader, realise there is an error? --Gerry Ashton 03:56, 25 August 2006 (UTC)
That fails to answer my question. You select a single source (albeit a respected one) and suggest that renders American usage unclear, yet you avoid the question of why there would be any cause to change an article that already uses one system consistently (allowing for the same caveats as regional spelling). In theory it might be preferable to use the day-month-year system throughout Wikipedia, yet in practice it is also inevitable that Americans (who predominantly use month-day-year dating) will continue to use that system in their edits. Any English language reader understands both systems. Hence, an effort to enforce a uniform date standard will be ineffective and a waste of time. I suspect the attempt will also lead to needless edit warring and disputes. Let's get back to the business of writing an encyclopedia. Durova 07:14, 26 August 2006 (UTC)

The ruling, and it reflects general WP practice, is based on one couple of simple facts.

  • There are a number of forms of English spoken and used, but they can usually be broken down into 2 super-groups, American (language and dating) and International (language and dating).

In practice it mmeans:

  • It prohibits users changing all text to one format based on the user's personal preference. (As someone who never uses American English and American Dating, I cannot, for example, change every US spelling or dating to IE (International English) and ID (International Dating — dd/mm/yyyy), or vice versa.
  • It allows users to change text and dating to reflect local usage. So it is perfectly allowed, and indeed encouraged in the MoS, to change all dates on US articles to the US format, or to change all spelling to AE (American English). Similarly it is allowed and encouraged to change any AE and AD (American Dating) if it is used on an Irish topic to IE (International English) and ID (International Dating) as Ireland does not use the American version.

So in practice, it is OK for me to correct a British topic, or a French topic, or an American topic, or whichever, to allow its language and dating to reflect local usage. I cannot blanket change articles in formats that do not reflect local usage. So I can change an article on George Bush that talks about 1 June 1974 to June 1, 1974, since all I would be doing there is correcting the wrong usage of a date structure. But I cannot change an article on U2 that writes 1 June 1974 to June 1, 1974 since there I would be changing a correct format to a wrong one, given that the topic is Irish and Ireland never uses American dating.

Put simply:

  • adjusting language and dates to reflect local usage, is facilitated by the MoS and is motivated by correcting an inaccuracy, so is allowed.
  • adjusting language and dates in a way which conflicts with local usage, is contrary to the MoS and based on personal preference, so is prohibited.FearÉIREANNIreland-up.png\(caint) 04:15, 25 August 2006 (UTC)
The issue is making mass changes of this sort, specifically going to articles one has never edited before to make such changes, not whether someone can change a few articles he happens to come across or articles where he is revising content. —Centrxtalk • 04:19, 25 August 2006 (UTC)
In my case, my actions are aimed at improving the overall quality of Wikipedia, in line with Jimbo's recent keynote address at Wikimania 2006. We should not have individual articles maintain a jumble of different styles. In the case of dates, they should be wikilinked, within the MoS guidelines, so that date preferences work correctly. For those readers without accounts, and therefore with no date preferences set, dates should be presented in the format appropriate to the article. Going through (say) the list of biographical articles on people in the line of succession to the British throne and ensuring that British subjects have their dates of birth recorded as per International Dating rather than American Dating should be non-controversial. Likewise, going through the biographical articles on U.S. presidents and ensuring that all dates are in American Dating format. I trust that I have the support of most Wikipedians in this.
I am cognisant of the possibility of introducing errors, and I have developed a technique for minimising the chance. If I need to change [[12 March]] [[2004]] to [[March 12]] [[2004]], I do it in three stages:
  1. [[12 March]] [[2004]] - original
  2. [[12 March 12]] [[2004]] - duplicate the day of month
  3. [[March 12]] [[2004]] - check that the two numbers match and delete the original.
I believe that this procedure is effective in minimising the chance for error. --Jumbo 05:01, 25 August 2006 (UTC)
FearÉIREANN overstates the need to change day-month-year to month-day-year in America-related articles. In actual American usage, month first is more common, but day-first is also acceptable. It is wrong to say that day-first conflicts with local usage, or that changing it is "correcting an inaccuracy." The most you could say is you're changing an acceptable date format to the Wikipedia house style.--Gerry Ashton 04:47, 25 August 2006 (UTC)
True, but in practical terms readers of articles on American subjects will expect dates to be in American format. --Jumbo 05:01, 25 August 2006 (UTC)
In practical terms, American readers will expect or want dates in month-first format and British readers will expect want dates in day-first format or, more likely, they won't care. —Centrxtalk • 06:16, 25 August 2006 (UTC)
In that case, why are you making a fuss? I'm quietly working away to improve the quality of articles, in what one editor charmingly called a "wikignome" fashion, and users like Nunh-huh are getting red in the face over what any reasonable person would accept is triviality. Can't we just count to ten or something? --Jumbo 06:34, 25 August 2006 (UTC)
Another question would be, why don't "users like" SuperJumbo stop? These are precisely the issues that are meant to be ameliorated by the ruling that changes to acceptable formats should not be made on a programatic basis. - Nunh-huh 11:35, 25 August 2006 (UTC)
A more relevant question would be: why don't "users like" Nunh stop attacking Jumbo? He is simply doing a clean up. We all do them where after a period of time new users (and some of the old reliables) have changed articles to have a mishmash of both formats (as was the case with Edward VIII of the United Kingdom), or where American topics have been written with British English, International English, or International Dating, or where articles on countries that use ID and IE have been written by Americans using AD and AE. When this issue has been discussed, most users have failed to see what the problem is. It is usually just a small group, invariably led by Nunh, that go ballistic. Ballistic or not, all Jumbo is doing is doing a clean-up, something we all have done and will continue to do. FearÉIREANNIreland-up.png\(caint) 15:17, 25 August 2006 (UTC)
There has been no "attack". I have objected to SuperJumbo's diddling with dates and claiming that arbitration committee rulings designed to prevent such diddling actually justify it. This is not "clean-up". And I haven't gone "ballistic" either. Perhaps it would be best if you would tone down your rhetoric a bit. - Nunh-huh 18:50, 25 August 2006 (UTC)
The articles being changed do not have a mishmash of dates; they are short articles with a single, consistent date format. Stop bringing up this red herring. The articles are not being cleaned up, only the dates are being changed. —Centrxtalk • 18:16, 25 August 2006 (UTC)

For the record, I'm an American who uses day-month-year format for long dates (I admittedly am forced to use mm/dd/yyyy for short dates, though). I have my date preferences set accordingly, of course, but the issue is the unregistered reader. I can see the advantage of having consistency (as Jumbo noted, all of the Presidents of the U.S. should have their dates in the same format), but I'm not sure this is really an American versus not-American issue; I'm not at all convinced that American readers will have a problem with day-month-year dates, and it seems to me that this, unlike the spelling issue, is one on which we could (and perhaps should) designate a standard format and stick with it without regard to regional differences. Powers T 15:20, 25 August 2006 (UTC)

That was proposed and IMHO would be a good idea. When however it was pointed out that as most users on the planet use International Dating dd/mm/yyyy (as do some Americans) that would mean using ID as the standard for all articles, AD users went apeshit, accused other users of being part of an "anti-American conspiracy" and went on an orgy of deleting ID everywhere and replacing it with AD. The 'war' was only stopped with the blocking of the main AD ringleaders doing all the ID deleting, coupled with an agreement to let AD be used in American articles, and anywhere else where it is used. (There actually aren't many places that use it outside the US.) That has been the standard now for years. However every so often a clean-up is needed to untangle the mess of articles with both dating systems in them, articles with the wrong dating system, ect. For some reason while ID users seem willing to use AD in American articles, AD users seem unwilling to reciprocate and put AD everywhere. When in a clean-up AD gets removed from British, Irish, Commonwealth and European articles, AD users then go ballistic, claim it is against policy, and launch the sort of personal attacks that Super Jumbo is now experiencing. They insist that it is their right to use AD in British, Irish, European, etc articles. But woe betide anyone who dares to use ID then in an American article! lol This sort of argument comes around like the seasons. And in six months time when someone else does a clean up, it will erupt again. FearÉIREANNIreland-up.png\(caint) 16:12, 25 August 2006 (UTC)
That's a wonderful story. —Centrxtalk • 18:16, 25 August 2006 (UTC)
My personal preference would be for International Dating, because it's a more logical format. (And thank goodness we use month names in Wikipedia's dating, because otherwise we'd have huge potential for errors and confusion.) However, I can't see that this would work, because our American readers would feel uncomfortable. Yeah, I know we got date preferences and stuff, but the average reader is just an IP address and they don't have prefs, and the average reader is mostly American, because that's where the internet is, mostly.
The beauty about Wikipedia (well, one of the beauties) is that the community sorts out a workable compromise, and we have that with the current situation, where articles are styled according to their topic. If a national style in English, dating, measurement or whatever is appropriate, then that's what the article uses. If two styles are appropriate, then we don't change the article, except to rationalise to the majority format.
I am not convinced that for American articles (or those concerned with nations within the American "empire", such as the Philippines) both American Dating and International Dating are equally valid. My test would be to ask what the average citizen would do if faced with a date field on a form: "__/__/____" and there's no question but that the average American would fill in that field with a date in the mm/dd/yyyy format, absent any instructions to the contrary.
Editors like Nunh-huh and Centrx are concerned about changing date formats from AD to ID or ID to AD where the dates in an article are consistent and wikilinked, and I can see how (in the light of Jguk and Sortan) this is problematic. My response has been that Jguk explicitly allows formats to be changed if there is a good reason to do so, and my good reason is that I am changing formats to one appropriate to the subject of the article. The objective being an overall increase in quality and consistency within Wikipedia, subject to the consensus-based guidelines of the MoS.
As for jtdirl's description being "a wonderful story", my investigation shows that his view is an accurate summary. Centrx suggested otherwise, and I have asked him for links, but as yet none have been forthcoming. --Jumbo 18:41, 25 August 2006 (UTC)
Yes, and in response to being told that others do not see your "good reason" as "good reason" you have...continued your crusade. - Nunh-huh 18:50, 25 August 2006 (UTC)
You've made your position plain. Your objections have been addressed several times, and you should accept that without consensus, all you are now doing is wasting the time of everyone involved in the discussion. We are seeing the same arguments and the same sources coming up repeatedly. If you do not have anything new, perhaps you would like to do the decent thing and draw an end to the matter. There has been far too much incivility already, as a glance at your user talk page shows.
Believe it or not, but I am very grateful for your contributions. The subject is one of some complexity and history and it has been useful to explore the arguments and the sources. It is helpful to know what the limits are and what the community expects and will accept. Style issues are always going to be touchy, because we cannot please everybody. Compromise and consensus are more valuable to us than a slavish devotion to technical detail. --Jumbo 19:19, 25 August 2006 (UTC)
Of course, you're the one making wholesale changes, so you're the one who has to establish that there's a consensus for you to do so. And of course, there is no such consensus. The debate continues not because I won't shut up, but because you won't stop. - Nunh-huh 19:44, 25 August 2006 (UTC)
I am operating within the consensus of MoS guidelines and ArbCom decisions. I have satisfied myself that this is so and other, more experienced voices have confirmed this. If there had been strong community opposition to my activities, then of course I would have stopped them. You have tried several times to put up a counter view, and if I may be blunt, you have had limited success and support in doing so. I do not think that it is fair of you to continue asking me to stop, when you cannot convince me through argument to do so and, more importantly, you cannot convince the wider community of experienced editors to back you up. Your activities have reached the point where they are no longer productive, though I again thank you for your views and do not think any the less of you for expressing them. --Jumbo 19:57, 25 August 2006 (UTC)
Saying you are operating with consensus does not make it so. And your incalcitrance is unreasonable, as it does not respond to reason. I am not alone in disagreeing with your actions - again, pretending that's the case doesn't make it so. And should you tire of argumentation, you can stop arguing. If you want to hear a wider variety of opinions, you will have to give people the chance to express them, rather than declaring yourself the "winner" and doing exactly as you please without listening to them. - Nunh-huh 20:14, 25 August 2006 (UTC)
Oh, come on, GAL! It really doesn’t matter whether you write “12 August” or “August 12” (save the comma dispute), as long as you write “August” and neither “8” nor “08”. For full numeric dates, which should be avoided in prose, only ISO 8601 formats are a serious option for an international project like the English-language Wikipedia is. And of course a good guy doesn’t edit articles, which are consistent within themselves already, just to adapt date formats or spelling to his preferences.
OTOH I wish Wikipedia had stricter, more international rules in its MoS (e.g. 24-hour clock, SI, certain ISO standards, any chosen set of rules for citing, spelling and punctuating), which would compose a goal to be achieved ideally, not be rules to be learned prior to first contribution and obeyed by everyone, but also not to be edited against by anyone.
Most contributors to the German-language WP, for example, have been taught traditional spelling rules in school and still many print sources are only available using the old orthography, but I’ve never encountered a “dass” being changed back to its traditional form “daß” (that being the most notable change) or, to take a different example that can also be applied directly to the English WP, typographic quotation marks being changed to straight ones. The latter happens on a regular basis here. Why is that? Is it because of an odd, egocentric understanding of freedom in Anglo-American everyday culture? I certainly don’t know, but it often looks like it when observed from the sideline. Christoph Päper 19:54, 25 August 2006 (UTC)
With regard to Nunh's statement to Jumbo "in response to being told that others do not see your "good reason" as "good reason" you have...continued your crusade" when Nunh says "others" he means himself. Let me check. Oh yes. The logo still says Wikipedia, not Nunhpedia. FearÉIREANNIreland-up.png\(caint) 20:11, 25 August 2006 (UTC)
Just because you're ignoring the others doesn't make me the only one saying this. Not even on this page. And I ask you once again to keep your ad hominem attacks to yourself. - Nunh-huh 20:16, 25 August 2006 (UTC)

Given that you have consistently

  • accused Super Jumbo of doing something he is not doing, ie, waging a vendetta
  • made personalised criticism of him and his motivations
  • criticised the personal motivations of the overwhelming majority of people who have said they have no problem with Super Jumbo's clean-up

your accusation of ad hominum attacks brings to mind a sentence with the words kettle and black in it. Given your sweeping personalised criticism of people who dare disagree with you, you can hardly then complain if people then mock your pretentions of infallibility and your presumption that you alone possess the true wikifaith. FearÉIREANNIreland-up.png\(caint) 04:19, 26 August 2006 (UTC)]]

Vendetta is your word, and it's aptly descriptive. I have not criticised him personally or speculated as to his motivations. And there is no overwhelming majority such as you describe. "Pretensions of infallibility"? "True wikifaith"? You continute to just make things up to justify your snide comments. - Nunh-huh 09:20, 26 August 2006 (UTC)
Why do people here call the "dd/mm/yyyy" format International (sic) Dating? This is the just the National format of a very small number of countries. it is used in more places than "mm/dd/yyyy" which is used in the US and very few other places. Lastly "yyyy/mm/dd" is used in various places, and is in use by the largest number of people as it includes China :-)

People call it that because that is its name. It is the dating format used worldwide, hence the name. The United States uses its own minority format while ISO is used in a tiny number of countries and is not user-friendly in text so is not an option on WP.

The above comments were unsigned. Maurreen 04:36, 26 August 2006 (UTC)

I notice the statistical comment above: the average reader is mostly American, because that's where the internet is. Where do we get statistics like that about Wikipedia readers? We need more (e.g. proportion with an account, proportion with preferences set). bobblewik
My educated guess. I dare say that we can find stats somewhere, but I'm confident that I'm in the ballpark with my comments. Look at that impressive pagerank - we don't get that just from those of us with accounts, or from editors alone. There has got to be a LOT of people who don't create accounts and who use Wikipedia. For this English Wikipedia, I'm assuming that most users will be from English-speaking countries with good Internet access, and that's pretty much North America, UK and Ireland, Australia and New Zealand, with a sprinkling from everywhere else, though I'd be expecting the Indian figures to grow steadily. I'd say that most English-speaking internet users are from the U.S., based on population sizes and internet access. If anyone has some good sources on this, I'd be interested to see them. --Jumbo 12:54, 27 August 2006 (UTC)

International date format

On WP, international date format redirects to ISO 8601, which indicates the year first. I am not saying we should or shouldn't use this; I'm just clarifying and giving a reference for "international date format". Maurreen 04:36, 26 August 2006 (UTC)

It's an international standard, but it's not really something we want sitting in the middle of slabs of encyclopaedic text. OTOH, it is good for tables and database fields and stuff, and because it's a big-endian format it's good for sorting, and nobody's going to get confused as to whether it's the 12th of November or December 11. "International Dating" is in contrast to "American Dating". We can't call it "British Dating", because it is used by countries with little or no British heritage. France, for example. --Jumbo 06:50, 26 August 2006 (UTC)
If you choose the terminology, you decide the outcome. Ask the prolifers/prochoicers. It's a simply matter of whether we will use the conventions of British English or American English, or allow both. - Nunh-huh 09:20, 26 August 2006 (UTC)

Year ranges proposal for comment

When writing out year ranges avoid truncation and use the full year

Proper

  • 1911-1940
  • 1911 to 1940

Not proper

  • 1911-40
  • 1911-2 (for 1911 to 1912)

—Preceding unsigned comment added by Richard Arthur Norton (1958- ) (talkcontribs)

Um, why? 1911–40 is a perfectly proper style, followed by many widely accepted style guides, is much easier to identify as a range, and is rather neater when many ranges are given. Kirill Lokshin 15:21, 26 August 2006 (UTC)
Concur, except in articles where the context is clear, such as decade or century articles. There's too much danger of some bot or misguided wikipedian linking the first "not proper" as [[1911]]–[[40]] (which is wrong), or [[1911]]–[[1940|40]] , which may be confusing. — Arthur Rubin | (talk) 17:24, 26 August 2006 (UTC)
Nope, I don't think that they're good enough reasons not to use the neater style. I always do it—so much easier to recognise and comprehend. Tony 04:41, 27 August 2006 (UTC) PS I think two digits is the minimum: I hate "1911–2", even though some publishing houses accept it (OUP). And please use en dashes, not hyphens, for the examples. Tony 04:42, 27 August 2006 (UTC)
The style guides were created for paper documents with limited space. The full date also makes it easier to do text based searches for years. I can search for "-1940" to find events that ended in 1940. Plus with the millenium change some dates are inherently ambiguous such as 1996-7. Is that 1996 to 1997 or 1996 to 2007? Plus "1996-07" is the ISO version of "July 1996". The old convention was created to save space, we don't need to hold onto archaic conventions created for outmoded purposes. If we err, it should be on the side of clarity, not space saving. --Richard Arthur Norton (1958- ) 04:56, 27 August 2006 (UTC)
It's not designed for space saving—a few digits wouldn't matter for most printed works—but for ease of reading; when reading quickly, it's easier to note the approximate length of the range if the identical first digits are ommitted. We should, indeed, prefer formats designed for being read by humans (that being Wikipedia's intended audience) rather than things like the ISO format, which are designed for machine processing at the expense of comprehensibility. (Incidentally, 1996–7 when 1996–2007 is intended would simply be wrong, as the truncation is used only when the first digits are identical; this is no more related to date styles than any other merely incorrect formatting would be.) Kirill Lokshin 05:48, 27 August 2006 (UTC)
You took the words out of my mouth, Kirill. And why not do your search for "–40"? This would rarely throw up false positives in a search. And the en dashes?? 1901–03, not 1901-03?Tony 07:38, 27 August 2006 (UTC)
I first looked into this, before I found this style guide, because someone had linked [[2004]]–[[05]] (I was looking for mistaken links to years beginning with "0", as there was an editor who was creating such years.) — Arthur Rubin | (talk) 16:15, 27 August 2006 (UTC)
Well, then said editor needs to be instructed as to the proper way of linking dates. It's no reason to bludgeon all of the editors who do know how to format them into a different style, though. (After all, there are plenty of other ways date links could be wrong. For example, have you ever seen someone link "1200 men"?) Kirill Lokshin 20:44, 27 August 2006 (UTC)

Speaking for myself, I do not care for the abbreviated format (particularly the one-digit version; the two-digit version is somewhat better). It takes me a split second more to recognize what I'm seeing and interpret it correctly. So I don't really agree with the argument that the abbreviated format is easier to read. Powers T 22:56, 27 August 2006 (UTC)

I agree. What is wrong with forms like 1975-1976? Also, the dates don't need to be linked unless there is a special reason for them to be. I too have seen many instances of the type 2004-05. The single digit version 2004-5 is the worst. --Guinnog 23:06, 27 August 2006 (UTC)
(one person's opinion) To put a context on it, when reading along and finding a rare or occassional use of a date range, i.e. one instance on a whole page of a year range, it flows better to present 1910-1933. But, in an article rich with date ranges, then a more abbreviated method would be desirable. The same then, in a chart with a lot of date ranges. An abbreviated method would be strongly desirable. This is from a reader's point of view, okay? Terryeo 23:09, 28 August 2006 (UTC)
I'm not convinced by that. What I want to avoid is a bunch of eight numerals, made even bunchier by using a hyphen rather than an en dash. I can't see why the frequency of the appearance of dates in a text alters matters. Rather than 1910-1930, I always recommend 1910–30: it's very clear and slightly easier to read. In the same way, I recommend "two- and three-voice rendition" rather than "two-voice and three-voice rendition". However, I'm not saying that it should be the only prescribed method—just an option. Tony 02:19, 29 August 2006 (UTC)
I disagree that it's "slightly easier to read". I find it slightly harder. That's all I'm saying. Powers T 15:59, 29 August 2006 (UTC)

Linking disease

I'm sorry to harp on about this, but the linked date examples in the MoS are not acceptable. They're linked, and two are followed by "Generally do not link". Both of these factors suggest that the other trivial chronological items should be linked. Can we try to achieve consensus among both factions to avoid this clear implication, which is one-sided? Tony 04:46, 27 August 2006 (UTC)

No, you've misunderstood. They're given as examples of links that don't respond to date preferences. For two of them there is consensus that they shouldn't normally be linked. For the others there is no consensus. Stephen Turner (Talk) 20:28, 27 August 2006 (UTC)

Units of length

Discussion imported from Village pump (policy)

It would be good if there was a policy on how metres, feet et cetera are used. While I personally use the archaic "[[foot (unit of length]|foot]]" around me, I recognise that the metre is a better unit of measure and that it is used far more often across the world. So I do believe measurements should be expressed in metres, and I'm not sure if it's even worth it to include mostly archaic units in parenthesis for the few countries which do not commonly used it.

Inconstantcy on this matter has led to disasters, such as with NASA. Of course, this is more abstract than the NASA project, but the point still stands.

Is there already a policy on this? --A Sunshade Lust 20:47, 28 August 2006 (UTC)

Wikipedia should not be the Internet equivelent of the Gimli Glider. If there isn't already a policy, one should be created, peferably favoring metric. Alr 20:50, 28 August 2006 (UTC)
Wikipedia:Manual of Style (dates and numbers)#Units of measurement --Francis Schonken 21:32, 28 August 2006 (UTC)
Personally I'd go for an equivalent of the spelling choice rule -- whatever style is used in the article upon its creation is the one that sticks (e.g. color vs. colour, etc.; American vs. British style). The premise of course being that having both in the same article is distinctly more jarring. But whatever way it's done, I certainly hope we don't have any of the stupid things that the government comes up with, like converting 1 inch to 2.5400 cm, inventing precision where none exists. 1.00 inches = 2.54 cm, sure, and 1.0000 inch = 2.5400 cm, but 1 inch is about 2.5 cm and that's that. ;Bear 23:37, 28 August 2006 (UTC)
There always have to be at least SI units given. Wikipedia is an encyclopaedia for an international audience; a lot of our readers won't be able to understand other units. Shinobu 00:48, 29 August 2006 (UTC)

I'd suggest that metric be the standard (it IS the international standard, after all), but if source material uses a non-standard measure, show that first, followed by the metric conversion in parentheses. Hmm, I could swear I saw something like this already as a WP standard. For example, most weights in the US will be in pounds and ounces, so a weight measurement taken from a US source would be shown as in the source ("a one gallon bottle of milk"), with the conversion in parentheses: "a one gallon (3.78L) bottle of milk" (I got the "3.78L" off the bottle itself). This way, others can see the original precision and also check the conversion calculation, to avoid a another "Gimli". Most measurements on US goods are indicated in just this way.

As another idea, perhaps a set of templates to convert from Imperial(?) measurements to metric; this would eliminate issues with conversion calculations, and help enforce standardized display of weights and measures. For example, something like: {{USWEIGHT|ton=1|pound=2|ounce=3}} could produce, depending upon the details of the template: "1 ton, 2lb, 3oz (908.177 kg)". I'd suggest a non-subst template at first until it gets standardized, then change to a subst template which puts special tags around the generated text so that a bot can later recognize template-created text and change the format to conform to a new WP standard, or correct calculation errors. --Scott McNay 01:17, 29 August 2006 (UTC)

It's not source-specific... the same style should be consistent in a single article.
Just as with AD/BC and color/colour, there are some articles that are about a more regional topic. In those cases, it's okay to default to the version used in that region (eg. Chevrolet Corvette can default to U.S. customary units, but always with metric at least in parentheses). --Interiot 01:22, 29 August 2006 (UTC)
My point is that whatever the article is, the information in it is likely to come from some secondary source, as per WP policy. Even if the source happens to be your head, you tend to think in a particular system, and that's what you should record, and if it's not metric, put the metric translation in parenthesis. It's not a matter of style, but rather of accuracy -- both the calculation itself and the precision. Once you convert it, it's no longer directly from the secondary source; every measurement conversion adds inaccuracies. Therefore it SHOULD be in the original measurement, with the metric measurement in parentheses. If a template is used, it could be switched around later to conform to a new policy, such as "1 m (original measurement US 4 ft)", or some such thing.
For example, "1 gallon" may be 3.78 liters, but since it's a round number, it could have really been 4 liters converted to gallons and rounded off. There are times when matching the original author is appropriate, but this is not one of them. In short, use the source measurement; the exception would be if context of the article and information (such as discussion of a work of fiction) indicates that it would be significantly more appropriate to use the author's measurement system. --Scott McNay 03:14, 29 August 2006 (UTC)

---The entries above were submitted via the village pump (policy) before discussion being moved here---

The manner in which the MOSNUM is set up now to handle conversions seems to work just fine. I wouldn't change it. --MJCdetroit 20:39, 29 August 2006 (UTC)

Fictional Currencies

This issue comes to my attention in the context of board games which use play money. They often use a denomination symbol such as "$" while specifically designing their notes to not look like any specific country's currency. Since the context probably makes it clear that "$", for example, usually refers to the game's play money, perhaps the best way to handle this is similarly to country-specific articles?

Basically, this note is saying "correct me if I'm wrong." -Stellmach 14:29, 30 August 2006 (UTC)

I don't disagree with how to handle it, but it doesn't seem to me that we need to make a style guideline about it. Are there articles which do it wrongly? Stephen Turner (Talk) 14:47, 30 August 2006 (UTC)
There are articles that do it contrary to the style guide, yes. Look at Monopoly (game). It uses "$" and "£" all over the place in a fashion which is (A) perfectly clear but (B) contrary to the style guide. My proposal would be to allow for this contextual usage but require the same disclaimer that is required of national context, precisely in recognition that some editors will doubtless be concerned about drawing a clear distinction between fact and fiction (as User:Francis Schonken so clearly is). - Stellmach 16:47, 30 August 2006 (UTC)
Ever seen this template: {{fiction}}?...
Yes, indeed. I'm afraid I felt compelled to remove it, though, to keep this talk page from being counted in the category "Wikipedia articles needing their fiction made clear." I believe the link you provide above suffices. -Stellmach 16:57, 30 August 2006 (UTC)
Sorry, all fiction, including fictional money, food, or whatever is subject to "fiction" guidance in the first place, which requests always to be clear where reality ends and fiction starts. Besides (this may be a surprise to you) not all international versions of Monopoly use fictional dollars. Wikipedia:Manual of Style (dates and numbers) should not contain verbiage inviting to obfuscate the distinction between reality and fiction. --Francis Schonken 15:02, 30 August 2006 (UTC)
It seems very bizarre to me to refer to this as "inviting to obfuscate the distinction between reality and fiction" when in fact it proposes adding clarifying language to the articles in question. What alternative would you propose, given in fact that there *is* no symbol for "monopoly dollar" and tagging each and every use of "$" in such an article would be incredibly awkward?
And, of course, I am well aware that not all international versions of Monopoly use dollars. I don't see where that bears on the point, however.
Hmmm. That sounds prickly now that I re-read it. It's not meant to. I merely want to assure you in the strongest possible terms that obfuscation is the furthest thing from my aim. -Stellmach 16:42, 30 August 2006 (UTC)