Wikipedia talk:Naming conventions (calendar dates)

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Wikipedia talk:Naming conventions (calendar dates)[edit]


Wikipedia seems, early in its history, to have standardised on US-style "Monthname NN, YYYY" for calendar dates. I believe this is a minority usage in the English language, and moreover is not befitting an encyclopedia with its generalisation and specialisation -- dates should go from specific to general, or general to specific, but not mixed up with months at the start.

Probably ISO 8601 date formats, YYYY-MM-DD, have already been proposed. They seem the least ambiguous, least prone to error, and require no translation into other languages. What reasons are there against using ISO 8601 dates as standard in Wikipedia?

-- Bignose

--- c. 639-0709-05-25 is the way one entry (that for the poet Aldhelm) in Wik now looks. If you think this looks intelllible, well.... It looks mjore like a bar-code than a date range to me. Maybe if the yr.-yr. dates were separated by an em-dash or if there were spaces before and after the ;yr.-;yr. dashes it would be much user-friendlier! Kdammers 03:21, 15 January 2006 (UTC)


I apologize if I'm putting my entry in an inappropriate place; as well as if what I'm describing has been done already (I tried to find a discussion addressing this precisely and could not find one). Regarding day and month position, unless all entries follow the same format (yyyy-mm-dd, mm/dd/yyyy etc.) there is ambiguity. Speaking for myself, when I see a date such as the following written as indicated, I have no idea which is month and which is day.

04/10/2006
2006-04-10 etc.

I have run into dates done as above on Wikipedia articles and I find it really frustrating if I need the accurate date for some reason.

When I worked for a large international company, the way this problem was handled way by spelling the month, in our case with a three-letter abbreviation, i.e., 04-Apr-2006. Padding and initial cap were used to make entries consistent (and more readily understood). This is a nice way to do it in a short format. As long as the only language being used in English, the three-letter abbreviation remains clear. I see a lot of people here showing dates along these lines, such as the one above, "15 January 2006," (which looks nicer) and with dates formatted either way there I don't think anyone would be able to confuse month and day values. Personally, I like the month spelled out if it's in article-type format. The shorter version was used in spreadsheets and reports. Richard G. Shewmaker 20:40, 23 July 2006 (UTC)


[moved from user talk]

I'm a supporter of your view on this matter, but concepts that would have them conforming with the rest of the world just don't sit well with the Yanks. I'll introduce a few of these dates on a list from time to time, e.g. List of British Columbia Premiers. If I put them on a biography page they almost immediately get changed to conform with the "American Way". Changing them all on a list page would be a lot more work.

When I enter these I use the format [[1949]]-[[12-23]]. I then immediately set up the article at 12-23 to be a redirect to December 23 unless it has been done already. Of course I get some complaints when I do this, but I just let the matter lie low for a few months until I'm ready to add another list. I don't think that a serious push can be made to make this an acceptable alternative for dates until all 366 redirect pages have been set up. Even then arguing that it should be the standard for all the pages may not get anywhere, but I would be prepared to argue for an optional approach where the person who starts an article gets the choice of which dating system to use. Eclecticology 19:49 Dec 23, 2002 (UTC)


Bad idea. We need some sort of consistency. The problem with number-only date formats is ambiguity. If people write 4-5, we can never be sure which way they mean -- newbies might not have read guidelines. Personally, I prefer "4 December" to "December 4", but it would take so much work for vsuch a small change, so I don't think it's worth the hassle. -- Tarquin 20:09 Dec 23, 2002 (UTC)


Agreed; full ISO dates e.g. 1949-12-10 are unambiguous, but month-day or day-month parts e.g. 12-10 are not (is that 12 October, or 10 December?) and these are not in the ISO 8601 standard. It seems the only solution for unambiguously representing dates with indeterminate years is spelling out the month or its abbreviation.

Perhaps Eclecticology's solution can be implemented without redirects: [[1949]]-[[December 23|12-23]]. This places the knowledge of "12-23 is December 23" where it belongs: in the specific instance of that date representation. "12-23" doesn't seem a usefully unambiguous article title, and shouldn't be created for this purpose. -- Bignose

Even I can easily agree that numbers alone are ambiguous unless the year precedes the numbers. The ambiguity problem has always been a big issue here in Canada where it is often at the whim of the individual to use D/M which used to be official or M/D in the American style. All federal government correspondance and forms here now use the ISO format. Your compromise solution will never please those who just don't like the look of the ISO format. Eclecticology

For the year in X entries, wouldn't it be better to do 1952 (television) rather than 1952 in television ? That way an article on a TV show could write:

''Shooting Stars'' was commission in [[1952 (television)|]] by ...
Shooting Stars was commission in 1952 by ...

So the "pipe trick" would make it easy to link to the correct part of 1952...

Hm. 1952 (disambiguator) is how you would disambiguate different things that share the name 1952. The YEAR in Y pages are daughter articles of the year pages - they are not different things by the same name. [[1952 (television)|1952]] is also very misleading since by convention, year pages are linked by their numbers and this is what readers expect when they click on them. They do not expect to go to a daughter page of a year page. This will only lead to confusion and doubt in readers when they click on years in Wikipedia. In short; it is a very bad idea to use the pipe trick to link to year in review daughter pages. Just spell it out and link direct. --mav

Date information, western bias[edit]

If Wikipedia aspires to be a global resource, I think having some way to easily convert dates between commonly used calendar systems would be useful, for instance, the Islamic and Jewish calendars. At the very least, specifying that the years in nearly all articles are AD or BC would be important. If I enter an islamic year right now, I get the (wrong) western year. How should this be done? Moooo! 02:07, 8 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Assuming the years are linked (e.g. 1932), the year page will note that it's AD (or CE, if you prefer). [[User:Meelar|Meelar (talk)]] 02:09, 2004 Sep 8 (UTC)

Actually, no where on the 1932 page does it say AD or CE. I suppose that's ok with that year, because not many other calendars have used it yet, but take AH 1422 - when you type in 1422, you get, of course, AD 1422. No reference even to other calendar systems, and certainly no mention that this AH 1422 is (mostly) AD 2001. Moooo! 02:17, 8 Sep 2004 (UTC)


Doesn't sound too difficult; the primary years should remain western, but they could all include references to the appropriate eastern years. I don't think eastern years need their own articles, since a year is a universal concept, it's just about when they begin and end and how tied to months they are. It would just require editing a few thousand pages; a bot might be able to handle it. But that's for someone else to handle --Golbez 02:15, Sep 8, 2004 (UTC)
Years do not correspond, since the AH system is lunar, not solar. Your idea of year is not universal. Moooo! 02:19, 8 Sep 2004 (UTC)
In English, if you are going to use AH years, you should use something like "1422/2001", and link to the 2001 article. Or perhaps 1422. The Arabic wikipedia might want to use AH, but I don't see why we would need to do that here - we don't use the Jewish, Chinese, or Julian calendars either. Adam Bishop 02:24, 8 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Exactly, that's the problem - you only use your calendar, the western one. What I am saying is that it seems reasonable to link from the 1422 article to other date systems, or include information about them in that article. For example, although 639 mentions that Dagobert I succeeded by Clovis II as king of the Franks, it does not mention that 639 AD is AH 2. + - Year 1 mentions that Jesus was born, but not that AH 1 is AD 638. It just shows how pervasivet the western bias is, not even to link to other years in different date systems, or even really acknowledge their existance. Moooo! 02:35, 8 Sep 2004 (UTC)


This is silly, borderline trollish. In the english speaking world (if not everywhere), there is universal acceptance of Anno Domini and the Gregorian calendar. You want us to waste the space in our articles offering alternative dating that will inevitably confuse 99.99% of our readers on the off chance that someone might find it political-correct that we include their dating system. Sorry, no dice. →Raul654 02:30, Sep 8, 2004 (UTC)

Ah yes, it's trollish to point out that not everyone uses the same date system as you. Acknowledging cultural diversity, or diversion from western dominance would be a waste of space in our articles. Surely camel jockeys can get their own wikipedia. Moooo! 02:37, 8 Sep 2004 (UTC)

It's not trollish to point it out. If you want to lobby our developers to make it a preference that you can set (so that it's transparent and optional), go right ahead. But, if (as I suspect) you are lobbying for us to systematically change our articles to add additional dating systems which (1) almost no one in the english-speaking world knows or cares about and (2) which "will inevitably confuse 99.99% of our readers on the off chance that someone might find it politically-correct that we include their dating system" - that's silly to the point of being trollish, and you won't find much support for your position. →Raul654 02:43, Sep 8, 2004 (UTC)
If your only purpose here is to pick fights and accuse others of racism, please leave. Multiculturalism for its own sake should not come before clarity. Rhobite 02:46, Sep 8, 2004 (UTC)
If anything of note happened in AH 2 you are welcome to add it to 639. And I'm sure you would be welcome to edit the Arabic wikipedia. Adam Bishop 02:47, 8 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Is now a bad time to point out that the Arabic wikipedia apparently uses er Western dates, ie June 24. Plonk.

Yes, stop proving me wrong :) Adam Bishop 03:06, 8 Sep 2004 (UTC)

No, my purpose is not to pick fights or accuse others of racism, but I think that you are missing the point in thinking that a) only Arabic speakers are interested in the Islamic (or other) calendars; b) English speakers are automatically uninterested in other cultures. I think it is pretty arrogant to say that almost no-one in the english speaking world is interested. My suggestion would be to add a box somewhere on the page mentioning that the page year numbering system here uses the AD/CE/BCE/BC system, but here is the equivalent year number in some of the world's other calendar systems. + I don't know why that would be unreasonable or overly confusing. Who knows, people might learn something about other's cultures. Moooo! 02:58, 8 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Well, I don't think anyone would be opposed to adding other calendar dates to year pages, similar maybe to the holidays sections of day pages. But how many do we include? What about calendars that are no longer used? Anyway, I don't think there is much we can do about having the article names at the Western dates - that's just how we use dates in English. Adam Bishop 03:06, 8 Sep 2004 (UTC)
I agree with Adam - if you want to add them to the year pages (where they are actually relavant) I think that would be fine. But we are *NOT* adding a disclaimer about our dating system, nor are we going to change all of our articles to cite calander systems that the vast, vast, vast, vast majority of our users do not use. →Raul654 03:10, Sep 8, 2004 (UTC)

I'm not suggesting to move the articles around, rather to have a box that says: This page refers to the Julian calendar system. Then a table or something with 2-3 (we could argue how many, but it couldn't be much more than that really) important calendar systems with the corresponding dates. The purpose would be - if I know something happened in AH 422, and I type in 422, I get AD 422. Aha I see - I know that stuff that happened in AH 422 will be filed under AD whatever (can't be bothered to work it out!). Calendars not in use? I'd think probably not, although you could I suppose. Would anyone really oppose that? I'm confused as to why. Moooo! 03:12, 8 Sep 2004 (UTC)

I didn't say the years were a 1:1 correspondence, Moooo; re-read my comment and you'll note i mentioned *and how tied to months they are*. An article for 2000 might mention two Islamic years that fall within the bounds of 2000. Likewise, it could contain some information on AH 2000 (Which we haven't come to yet, but I digress). However, this being the English wikipedia, and the Gregorian calendar being the primary used in the English-speaking world, 2000 should still be primarily the Gregorian year, with mentions of the other years. Links in articles to every kind of year are neither required nor desired, except perhaps in those most relevant articles, like about Islamic (or Jewish) history. After all, we use alternate dates for Middle-earth articles. --Golbez 03:16, Sep 8, 2004 (UTC)
I don't oppose your idea, but I oppose you accusing us of a certain bias. --Golbez 03:16, Sep 8, 2004 (UTC)
  1. We use the Gregorian calendar, not the Julian calendar.
  2. What you are describing is effectively polluting our articles. It's not our job to "push" alternative dating systems when only an inscrutably trivial fraction of our users will know or care (show me one general-interest reference that does). If it's not relavant to the article, then it doesn't belong. If you are reading an article on transistor-transistor logic, there is no need to display a date disclaimer.
  3. The only articles where it could concievably be relavant is on the year related articles. →Raul654 03:18, Sep 8, 2004 (UTC)

Erm? polluting? Why would a date disclaimer be on a transistor page? I don't seem to be making myself clear - I am proposing a page on each AD date page, making clear that that year also exists in other calendar systems, and where to find information if that is what you are looking for. I have no idea whether Muslims or Jews make up only an inscrutably trivial fraction of your users, but it is concievable that others may want to reference years in different systems. Moooo! 03:23, 8 Sep 2004 (UTC)

I'm suggesting a box kind of like this somewhere on the date pages:

Dates in Wikipedia typically refers to the Gregorian calendar. If you were searching for a date in another calendar system, please refer to the equivalents given below
Gregorian 639, Islamic 2, Hebrew xx, Other yyy.

Or something like it. Moooo! 03:28, 8 Sep 2004 (UTC)

I don't think there's a problem creating a several thousand more articles for alternative dating systems. They could each link to the appropriate section of the gregorian year they correspond to, without having an actual list of events themself. It would definately take a bot, but it wouldn't hurt anything. The gregorian pages could link back, as well. I do not want to see the dates cropping up in articles that they are not relevent to, however. siroχo 03:51, Sep 8, 2004 (UTC)
It sounds pointless to me. They would be almost verbatim copies of our already existing date articles. A much nicer solution would be to insert a sentence in our date articles saying to the effect that:
1953 is year:
  • XX on the AA calander
  • YY on the BB calander
  • ZZ on the CC calander
→Raul654 04:20, Sep 8, 2004 (UTC)
Thats fine by me too, i'm just tossing out suggestions. You'd need to give explicit dates though, as many calendars' years do not line up exactly to the Gregorian calendar. Basically, if we do try this, we can't half-ass it, we have to be accurate. siroχo 04:44, Sep 8, 2004 (UTC)

To summarize: Moooo wants us to recognize the other major dating systems. That's fine. What Moooo seems to be suggesting is that a MENTION be put on each year page (i.e. 639) that says what the Gregorian year corresponds to in the Muslim calendar, and vice versa, i.e. it would also say what Gregorian year 639 in the Muslim calendar corresponds to (1278, I'd imagine). Such a mention would also mention if the years weren't completely in synch, etc. What everyone ELSE is doing is ignoring this and thinking Moooo wants to make thousands more articles. I don't think that's the case, is it Moooo? Or do I have this backwards? :P If that is what you want, I've supported that from the beginning, but I lack the time, technical knowhow and knowledge of the subject to do it. Perhaps a Wikiproject could be made? --Golbez 04:47, Sep 8, 2004 (UTC)

And just a thought: What do he.wikipedia and ar.wikipedia use as their primary dating format? I'd look, but, ya know, the whole not being able to read Hebrew or Arabic thing gets in the way. --Golbez 04:49, Sep 8, 2004 (UTC)
On both the Arabic and Hebrew Wikipedias, they appear to use the Gregorian calendar, see e.g. ar:عراق and he:ישראל. -- Tim Starling 07:19, Sep 8, 2004 (UTC)

Tell me about it! The English Wikipedia is full of bias, as toward the English language (the gall!), factual accuracy (though this one isn't really enforced), and Latin typography (how dare they delete my Shavian text!). Such blatant intolerance is absolutely unconscionable, and it's time we did something about it. Austin Hair 05:16, Sep 8, 2004 (UTC)

Very drole! Mark Richards 17:50, 9 Sep 2004 (UTC)
I fully support what Moooo has been suggesting, and that a lot of people seem to have been misunderstanding. I would possibly add something more to the above ideas though:
1984 on the Gregorian calendar is:
Also:
  • 1984 on the Islamic calendar is XX on the Gregorian calendar
  • 1984 on the Jewish calendar is YY on the Gregorian calendar
This allows someone who knows the CE date to find an Islamic or Jewish date, as well as someone who knows the Islamic or Jewish date to find the Gregorian date. This is still a simplified example though, and the exact dates of the correspondences would have to be given. TPK 07:18, 8 Sep 2004 (UTC)
I agree with TPK, though I would put something more precise like:
  • 1984 on the Islamic calendar started 44 Juluary XX and ended 33 Juluary XX+1 on the Gregorian calendar
In addition, I think pages for the first few tens or hundreds of year AH might be interesting if they include a detailed chronology of Islamic events. The same goes of course for other calendar systems at periods where they were in widespread use. _R_ 14:42, 8 Sep 2004 (UTC)
It seems to me that what is needed to convert a date between calendars is a calculator of some kind. Perhaps, at least initially, we put an indication on the English Wikipedia year pages that the page refers to the year in the Gregorian calendar (linked to the page on the Gregorian calendar) (in addition to "BC" or "AD", each of which should be linked to the appropriate pages), and on the pages for the different calendars, we provide a link to an external web page that has a date conversion calculator. nroose Talk 09:14, 8 Sep 2004 (UTC)
I support this idea. Putting reference at each year is unreasonsble. There are more calendars than only western and muslim. Especially when we look in histories of different countries. For example, articles from about Russian topics use two dates: Julian and Gregorian. This a reasonable approach: one may be reading a source from XIX century and it states dates in old calendar. A calculator here would be handy, rather than a text on each and every 1881, 1882,... that Julian is shifted 12 (or was it 13?) days. Mikkalai 16:41, 8 Sep 2004 (UTC)

I think the idea is great - Rorro's layout looks really useful. I don't think the number date systems that are actually in current use would be that many - it seems like the main thing is to work out whether we have calculators for the exact dates, then get someone to write a bot, and get agreement on the formatting. The calculator would be another way to go, but I think it would probably be more useful to link. Any volunteers? Mark Richards 17:50, 9 Sep 2004 (UTC)

No need for major work onsite to achieve this. There are many online calendar widgets out there that can translate from any date to any other date system. Just link to those, or incorporate their functionality here. [anon] —The preceding unsigned comment was added by 85.210.137.27 (talk) July 14, 2007