Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Dates and numbers

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Military dates, round 2[edit]


Is anybody noticing that today's article on Paul Tibbets is using mdy dates, despite his background in the U.S. military?

I will remind people of this discussion, archived not so very long ago, where I was more or less ridiculed for being of the opinion that people of the U.S. military should have mdy dates, just like other American people. The reason: Wikipedia is larger than military life, and problems arise when people have another notable career, such as in the case of Dwight D. Eisenhower, John McCain, Audie Murphy, James Stewart, Wesley Clark, and many more. This problem does not occur in the U.S. military, as they, unlike Wikipedia, don't write about just about everything.

In Tibbets' case, it's doubtful that his post-military career is notable, as it's connected to his background in the U.S. Air Force. That career alone had, most probably, not qualified him for an article here. Thus, he's mainly known for his military background. Still, his article uses mdy dates.

I put it to you that the constant re-surfacing of this issue, and the numerous articles of American military people that have mdy dates (despite the guideline), is an obvious indicator that the guideline that was "hammered out" at WP:MILHIST may not necessarily be the correct one.

HandsomeFella (talk) 20:42, 23 May 2015 (UTC)

Is there a change to MOS/Dates you're proposing? Otherwise, discuss this with other editors on the Tibbrts talk page? If that discussion convinces you a change is needed in the guidelines then come back here and propose something. So far I'm just hearing that some articles still need to be brought into conformance with best practice. EEng (talk) 21:21, 23 May 2015 (UTC)
There's always border cases. Use whatever format seems best after talk page discussion and don't be anal about dates. --Pete (talk) 22:58, 23 May 2015 (UTC)
If we change the guidelines – remember: consensus can changethen there will not be any border cases. Articles on American people will have mdy dates, period.
In any case, this Tibbets guy clearly isn't a border case; his post-military career is just barely notable, he's mainly notable for his military career (dropping the bomb), and thus, according to the current interpretation of the guideline, the article should have dmy dates. But I have no intention whatsoever to bring that up on the article talkpage, because I believe that the current interpretation is wrong, and thus the article correct. Instead, the guidelines, or the interpretation of them, should change, which is why I brought it up here.
The interpretation of this clause – articles on the modern US military use day before month, in accordance with military usage – is what need to change. To me, it's obvious that this does not apply to people. You don't say about people that "there goes a modern military".
Yes, the military use dmy dates when referring to people too (they do it consistently), but wikipedia is larger than the military, which is why these problems arise.
HandsomeFella (talk) 16:53, 24 May 2015 (UTC)
I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General. EEng (talk) 19:30, 24 May 2015 (UTC)
@HandsomeFella: Without any explicit consensus on that article's talk page and there having been no recent edits about this from the article's edit summaries, I have boldly changed the article to DMY format citing MOS:DATETIES. If anyone disputes this, they can revert and discuss on that article's talk page. The reference to "military" doesn't exclude people in the military and I disagree with your view that this is "obvious" based on your flawed use of an adjective as a noun. sroc 💬 18:49, 24 May 2015 (UTC)
It does not include people either, and what about the problems that constantly arise? They will vanish if we just change the flawed interpretation. There are hundreds of notable American military people in wikipedia with mdy dates. This article made it all the way up to FA status without anybody noticing the deviation from the current interpretation, so everyone involved in the process must have thought it was both natural and consistent with guidelines to use mdy. That's a clear sign that there's a problem. HandsomeFella (talk) 19:04, 24 May 2015 (UTC)
Btw, I just reverted your bold edit per BRD. I wasn't able to "undo" that particular edit, so I'm notifying you here. HandsomeFella (talk) 19:18, 24 May 2015 (UTC)
Are you proposing a change to the guidelines? If so, what change? EEng (talk) 19:30, 24 May 2015 (UTC)
@HandsomeFella: DATETIES says: "articles on the modern US military use day before month". To my mind, this means any topic relating to the US military, including personnel. In practice:
It's also ambiguous what "modern" means, so it would be good to clarify this, too. When did the US mititary adopt DMY date format? sroc 💬 19:57, 24 May 2015 (UTC) [addenda to 20:50, 24 May 2015 (UTC)]
For "modern", see Modern History. It was adopted during World War I. Hawkeye7 (talk) 20:10, 24 May 2015 (UTC)
What about General officers in the United States, which used inconsistent date formats, even within the section referring to the World War II era? I've reconciled these to DMY consistently. sroc 💬 20:13, 24 May 2015 (UTC)
It is true that Paul Tibbets is not notable outside his military service (although he would still be notable had he not flown the Hiroshima mission). Had the article been created today, it would have been created with DMY dates per the WP:STRONGNAT; but it was created in 2004 (the change history doesn't go back that far). That the article used Polish dates (as they are called in the US) did not go unnoticed at FAC and other reviews; but the decision was taken to leave the article as it was per WP:RETAIN. Occasionally a USAF serviceman comes along and makes an edit, using US format, and I switch the date format. The consensus on Wikipedia over a long period of time has been to allow both Polish and US Military date formats, with the expectation that the MDY format will die off over time. Changing the rules as suggested will not eliminate border cases; it will create more of them. We still have plenty of cases of people whose nationality changed or is uncertain, of conflicts between sides using different dates, of battles and wars fought by coalitions. Hawkeye7 (talk) 20:36, 24 May 2015 (UTC)

Tiresome EEng repeats himself[edit]

I'm going to repeat my strict line that this page is for discussion of changes to MOS/Dates. There either should be a proposal on the table for such a change or, at least, diffs should be provided of actual discussions, on actual articles, suggesting that such a change is needed. If someone thinks the Tibbets article should be changed, go open a discussion there. Otherwise we shouldn't be discussing this here, because most people here aren't interested in that article or its subject, and therefore the discussion tends to become abstract and hypothetical. For example, sroc says above that "modern" is ambiguous; well, certainly it is to at least some extent, but it has yet to be shown that it's ambiguous enough that editors waste time fighting over it on real articles.

The purpose of DATERET, DATETIES, DATEWHATTHEFUCK, and all the other guidelines on this subject is not to make sure each article uses the "right" date format for that article; there's no such thing -- if all articles used MDY, or all used DMY, or articles were assigned to use one or the other by coinflip at the moment of creation, the earth would keep turning and no one would have the slightest problem comprehending the article or be incommoded in any way. And if there was some weird software restriction that compelled only MDY to be used, or only DMY, and there was positively no way to change that, everyone would eventually get used to it and we'd all move on.

But the choice is in fact there, and people feel strongly about it. And thus we have the various DATEWHATEVER guidelines, whose purpose is (as I said) not to "get it right" but merely to cut the baby in half and end debate to the extent possible, so everyone can get back to something productive. So as long as editors are working it out for themselves on article talk pages, there's nothing for us to do here. I'd like to see evidence that that's not happening before this discussion continues.

All IMHO, of course. EEng (talk) 00:44, 25 May 2015 (UTC)

I listed four articles above that use both DMY and MDY interchangably. I want to change them to ensure that they are at least consistent within each article (DATEUNIFY), and ideally consistent with related articles, but there is confusion over whether DATETIES applies to military personnel. So yes, some clarity is needed, and it's not purely hypothetical, nor would it be productive to have the same arguments about the scope of DATETIES over and over separately on each article's talk page—I'm just not sure how best to resolve it other than by discussion here. sroc 💬 02:34, 25 May 2015 (UTC)
Yes, but how do you know there will be any argument at all? I suggest you decide what format you think each article should use, and post that on each article's talk page. If there are no interested editors watching, or those who are watching don't object, you're done. Otherwise, if brief discussion doesn't resolve the matter, come back here. At that point our discussion will have the benefit of the (presumably) thinking of the people who participated on the article Talks. That will make any discussion here much more informed. EEng (talk) 04:41, 25 May 2015 (UTC)
What's the point of having disjointed discussions on the same issue on multiple talk pages when we already have an audience here? I might post links to this discussion on the relevant articles' talk pages, but no point making the same points over and over and over—and possibly coming to different conclusions. sroc 💬 08:35, 25 May 2015 (UTC)
Like I said, it's not clear there will be any discussion at all on article talk pages. Maybe you'd just be able to go ahead and change the articles as you see fit. I think you should find out how that goes first. EEng (talk) 12:06, 25 May 2015 (UTC)
@EEng: Except I don't know how I "see fit" because I have no preference (unless we can obliterate illogical MDY dates altogether... anyone?) so I'm trying to ascertain which version is preferred in this context by consensus. sroc 💬 14:40, 25 May 2015 (UTC)
If we're using the MOS, then discussions on article talkpages are the place for BRD consensus-building talk. If we're talking about changing the MOS, then this is the right place for more general discussion. However, given this current section's focus on one article, I'd rather not have disjointed discussions, possibly coming to different conclusions. I've added a link to this page at the Paul Tibbets talk page, and it can be thrashed out here. So, I guess we're, uh, on the same page, sroc! --Pete (talk) 08:50, 25 May 2015 (UTC)
I'm talking about the MOS. I've created the below RfC seeking to clarify the wording and linked from the talk pages on these articles where both formats are used:
sroc 💬 09:09, 25 May 2015 (UTC)

RfC: What does DATETIES mean for articles on US military personnel?[edit]

Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Dates and numbers § Chronological items §§ Dates, months and years §§§ Strong national ties to a topic (MOS:DATETIES) says:

  • Articles on topics with strong ties to a particular English-speaking country should generally use the date format most commonly used in that nation. For the United States, this is month before day; for most others it is day before month. Articles related to Canada may use either format, with (as always) consistency within any one article.
  • In some topic areas the customary format differs from the usual national one: for example, articles on the modern US military use day before month, in accordance with military usage.

This wording is ambiguous whether articles on US military personnel should use month–day–year (MDY) format, as is standard for general articles about the US, or day–month–year (DMY) format, as applies to other US military topics. As noted above, there is mixed usage in articles on current/recent military personnel: the trend seems to be towards MDY format, but it is unclear whether this is due to editors assuming this applies to all US-based topics without being aware of the exception for the military. There are some articles that use a mix of both formats interchangably, which is undesirable, but it is hard to know which format should be preferred in this context. Some clarification of the above wording to explicitly state whether it applies to articles on specific military personnel would be welcome. sroc 💬 08:53, 25 May 2015 (UTC)

Also, if DMY applies to US military personnel, there is the question of how this applies to Americans who are notable for reasons other than their military career (e.g., DMY if they are primarily notable for their military career, MDY if they are primarily notable for other reasons). sroc 💬 09:18, 25 May 2015 (UTC)

Sroc, I've had my bottom spanked by military-related editors (typically those who've served) for changing dates from dmy to mdy in US military articles. It's especially the case where the admiralty is the theme. So I don't dare flip from one form to the other in US military articles. I don't think it's a big deal. If someone doesn't like it in a particular article or set of articles, they should raise it on a talkpage. Tony (talk) 10:06, 25 May 2015 (UTC)
Now we're going to have to get that image out of our heads. Hawkeye7 (talk) 03:14, 26 May 2015 (UTC)
WP:NOTCENSORED EEng (talk) 04:53, 26 May 2015 (UTC)
Yep. The primary editor(s) decide what date format to use, and after that it shouldn't be changed without consensus. If it is inconsistent, so be it. Plenty of stuff on wiki is inconsistent, but still per MOS. Cheers, Peacemaker67 (crack... thump) 10:14, 25 May 2015 (UTC)
That's assuming that the "primary editor" is au fait with the MoS. This is a big ask. The reason we have bots and wikignomes tidying up articles is because most editors don't write their material in compliance with MoS. That's how it's always worked: someone creates an article with useful information and others add to it, tidy it up, and it gradually climbs the quality ladder. --Pete (talk) 10:42, 25 May 2015 (UTC)
Just because something is in the MoS gives the gnomes no licence to change the pages. They still have to seek agreement with article writers. Hawkeye7 (talk) 23:25, 26 May 2015 (UTC)
(edit conflict) MOS:DATEUNIFY requires that each article is at least consistent with its choice of DMY or MDY, so articles that use both aren't "per MOS".
Based on these comments that both forms are used, should DATETIES be revised to say that articles on US military may use either DMY or MDY as long as each article is internally consistent, as with Canada (and thus the established format shouldn't be changed on this basis, per MOS:DATERET)? Or should this be the rule for US military personnel specifically? sroc 💬 10:48, 25 May 2015 (UTC)
  • Common sense says that DMY dates should be used:
    1. For biographical articles on US military personnel where their primary claim to notability is their military career;
    2. For biographical articles on US military personnel that are military biography forks of the main article (ie "Military career of XXXX") Hawkeye7 (talk) 11:12, 25 May 2015 (UTC)
  • Well, sroc, "In for a dime, in for a dollar", I always say. I'm inclined to extend the "US military" rule to military personnel as well. Some interesting cases:
  • George_Marshall - I would think he counts as clearly military, despite his later diplomatic and administrative career
  • Dwight Eisenhower - Tough call! Was he a general, or a president? The lead photo shows him in mufti, so I guess he's a president.
EEng (talk) 12:18, 25 May 2015 (UTC)
I should clarify that 'I'm inclined to extend the "US military" rule to military personnel as well' assuming we keep the "US military" rule in the first place -- I'm open to the possibility (suggested below) of eliminating the "US military" rule. EEng (talk) 00:22, 26 May 2015 (UTC)
Surely Eisenhower was generally military but the presidency takes precedence? NebY (talk) 12:47, 25 May 2015 (UTC)
Civility militates against such majorly bad puns in lieu of something with a kernel of truth, except in private -- though your attempt was admirable. EEng (talk) 12:56, 25 May 2015 (UTC)
  • I found Hawkeye7's comment interesting because to me, common sense says MDY should be used. For me, the question is "what would the reader expect?", and that overrules the pedantic arguments between editors. Most readers of US military bios will be American and naturally predisposed to the MDY format they are used to. We have no real need to use the format the US Military does (and if we decide to do so, do we intend to also use the 24-hour clock for any times noted in such articles, etc?). Resolute 14:10, 25 May 2015 (UTC)
  • Perhaps, but I was speaking in general terms about a biographical article, whether or not it relates to a military mission. Resolute 22:35, 25 May 2015 (UTC)
  • Strike final sentence and let U.S. military articles use MDY dates. I don't see a strong reason why dates related to one U.S. topic should use a different style than others. Military style guides may prefer DMY, but reliable sources don't. As for the question posed here, I would prefer to use MDY per my comment and because the articles on individuals are not strictly about the American military. Calidum T|C 14:43, 25 May 2015 (UTC)
  • Many comments here go well beyond the initial question, which was limited to biographies. Limiting my comments to that subject, I don't see any reason for either except to be consistent. A side note: until about 1943, the US Army used MDY formats, at least in Adjutant General correspondendce. --Lineagegeek (talk) 22:18, 25 May 2015 (UTC)
If there is a growing consensus to do away with the military exception, then I wouldn't object to it; we could start a renewed RfC if necessary. sroc 💬 01:58, 26 May 2015 (UTC)
  • Agree generally with Peacemaker: "The primary editor(s) decide what date format to use, and after that it shouldn't be changed without consensus.".
And agree with Resolute, that clarity of understandng by the reader should be the overriding criterion that overrules all pendantic arguments. Above all, it should be noted that there is no reason to believe that any reader of English (or even anyone who understands Arbabic numberals) should have any difficulty handling either (e.g.) "April 11" or "11 April". Which is to say that in regards of MDY/DMY both formats are acceptable.
The one reason I can see for preferring (but not mandating!) "military" date format in purely military topics is where coverage of the topic involves a lot of dates, perhaps a lot of quoted dates, and the editors prefer to follow the sources. But (following Dirtlayer) shouldn't this also imply military style time format? (Note that military time is not the same as "24-hour time". E.g., 6 AM is not 06:00, but 0600J, or "oh six hundred hours".) The advocates of military style dates don't seem to carry this logic over to time (the three articles cited above being deficient in this regard). In the end, there is no compelling argument that military topics should conform to military usage. If the editors involved desire to do so, fine, and if not, also fine, and they should not be coerced othewise. Agree with Callidium to strike the final sentence about military usage. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 23:17, 25 May 2015 (UTC)
If the general consensus is that DMY dates in articles on military topics and/or personnel is optional, then might it be preferable to reword the final sentence instead? For example:
  • In some topic areas the customary format differs from the usual national one: for example, some articles on US military use day before month, in accordance with modern military usage.
Otherwise, deleting the highlighted wording altogether could prompt wholesale changes to MDY dates (on the basis that the first bullet point of DATETIES expects them for US-centric topics) given that the exception for US military articles would be deleted and there would not be explicit consensus to adopt DMY on most articles' talk pages.
Of course, if the consensus is to abandon the exception and prefer MDY dates in US military articles, then should the second bullet point be deleted altogether? Are there any other cases where this applies? sroc 💬 02:09, 26 May 2015 (UTC)
Why not use DMY dates? These are easier for the reader to understand, as they don't involve commas. That's why the military shifted to them in the first place. There is no rational argument for MDY. They may be customary in some parts of the US, but they are not official. (And yes, there are other cases.) Hawkeye7 (talk) 08:39, 26 May 2015 (UTC)
@Hawkeye7: What other cases are there? (Partly because I'm curious, partly because it might be useful to mention other examples or substitute the military example.) sroc 💬 14:58, 26 May 2015 (UTC)
It is used by some government agencies. Most people's first contact with the US government is filling in the immigration card (I-94 From memory), in which you are required to enter dates in DMY form. (It also asks if you intend to commit acts of terrorism while in the US. That keeps Bin Laden's buddies out.) Hawkeye7 (talk) 20:41, 26 May 2015 (UTC)
@Hawkeye7: But how does that relate to this guideline? Are you suggesting artucles on US government agencies (or, indeed, terrorism in the US) should use DMY dates if those agencies do? (Should it be 11 September attacks?) sroc 💬 12:08, 27 May 2015 (UTC)
No, I was just answering your question. Hawkeye7 (talk) 20:21, 27 May 2015 (UTC)
I say that there should be:
  1. no preference for either DMY or MDY in "military" articles except by the consensus of the editors involved, and
  2. no wholesale changes whatsoever to date formats except by the consensus of the editors involved.
If the editors involved cannot reach consensus then the existing (or original) format is retained. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 05:31, 26 May 2015 (UTC)
@J. Johnson: This is why I suggested revising the wording rather than simply striking the last sentence. Otherwise, DATETIES will be left saying that articles on US topics use MDY date format (without any carve-out for military articles), and this could then be used to justify changing articles on US military topics that currently use DMY to MDY. If the consensus is that either DMY or MDY should be acceptable in US military articles (and therefore that there is no justification for changing one way or the other), then DATETIES should say so as an explicit exception to the general guideline of MDY for US topics. sroc 💬 14:53, 26 May 2015 (UTC)
@Sroc: You keep leaving out the "should generally" that qualifies "use". A lapse which some editors then interpret as an implicit "must".
Where I said "there should be ... no preference ... except by consensus", that is what I mean: no preference, except by consensus. DATETIES is a guideline (not a mandate) that editors should consider in developing consensus, but it does not justify making any changes contrary to consensus.
If a topic (be it military, scientific, or any other) customarily uses a certain format, then it may be acceptable to use that even if it varies from any "strong national ties". Given the proclivity of some editors to over interpret, this probably should be explained. But only as general guidelines that editors should consider, which do not transcend consensus. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 00:09, 27 May 2015 (UTC)
@J. Johnson: I'm not sure whether you misunderstand me or are interpreting this differently. Take the example of USAF General John E. Hyten, whose article exclusively uses DMY dates (since its creation last July) and whose talk page is blank save for maintenance templates (hence there is no explicit documented consensus that the date format for this article should depart from MOS). Now, if DATETIES were amended to remove the exception for US military topics, an editor could justifiably change the dates in the article to MDY format on the basis of the remaining guidance: "Articles on topics with strong ties to a particular English-speaking country should generally use the date format most commonly used in that nation. For the United States, this is month before day ..."; they could also argue that DATERET does not apply for changes "based on strong national ties to the topic". You could revert the change arguing that it's just a guideline, "not a mandate", but you could end up in an edit war having to explain why the revert was necessary and trying to justify it on the basis that the US military tends to use DMY dates (even though it is no longer a documented exception to DATETIES).
It would be much simpler making it clear in the guideline that both formats are acceptable for US military topics, just as we do for topics on Canadian topics. Why would you want the guideline to be less clear? sroc 💬 12:27, 27 May 2015 (UTC)
What is unclear about my second point of "no wholesale changes whatsoever to date formats except by the consensus of the editors involved"? Your confusion seems to arise from various suppositions (e.g., that exceptions and consensus must be explicit and documented), which you then compound into an elaborate hypothetical where you selectively invoke some guidelines but ignore others (such as the requirement for consensus). Your confusion also arises from your view that DATETIES overrules DATERET. Given the demonstrated confusion where a national tie conflicts with a military tie, it would be much simpler to declare that explicit consensus is always superior, followed by established usage (i.e., implicit consensus), and if neither resolves the matter then (just as Hawkeye7 says, below, and per MOS:DATERET) go with the date format chosen by the first major contributor. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 20:56, 27 May 2015 (UTC)
DATETIES is an express exception to DATERET. So is explicit consensus. But not implicit consensus. Hence my pertinent example where there is no explicit consensus where DATETIES could then be applied to change the date format. Why do you want to make more work for yourself in arguing your (flawed) position by making MOS say something other than what you want in preference for a more clearly worded guideline? (That's purely rhetorical; I'm not trying to engage you in another battle.) sroc 💬 23:28, 28 May 2015 (UTC)
It would make less work all around if you would pay attention. Or (non-rhetorically) do you simply not understand the concept of "should be"? ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:21, 29 May 2015 (UTC)
────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────@J. Johnson:

should verb 1. used to indicate obligation, duty, or correctness, typically when criticizing someone's actions. 2. used to indicate what is probable.

So if the guideline says you should use MDY for US topics and someone changes the dates to MDY format in a US military article, you would need to justify why we should ignore this "obligation" or "what is probable". If you maintain that "there should be ... no preference for either DMY or MDY in [US] 'military' articles" but you don't want to say so in the guideline that says that there is a preference for MDY in US articles, you're just making more work for everyone arguing over it in individual cases. sroc 💬 03:07, 30 May 2015 (UTC)
Such a wonderful explication that quite misses what I said. . ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 22:13, 30 May 2015 (UTC)

The reason for the original format provision is for articles like Paul Tibbets were the date formats have become mixed over time. Nothing that the readers care about, but where there is no obvious "existing" format then we go for the original format. Hawkeye7 (talk) 08:39, 26 May 2015 (UTC)
Archive 1... well, that was a long time ago. Not much help, though, because that stupid linked-date thing makes the discussion almost meaningless. Thanks, though. EEng (talk) 04:37, 30 May 2015 (UTC)
  • Retain existing wording - It works, it's worked for a long time, and that's really all we need for an encyclopaedia compiled by many different editors. The question here is really whether the subject of the article is more notable for military service or some other aspect. Paul Tibbets is (to quote) is best known as the pilot who flew the Enola Gay (named after his mother) when it dropped Little Boy, the first atomic bomb used in warfare, on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. That's modern US military. Lee Harvey Oswald, USMC, is better known for other activities. Of course there are cases where one might argue either way, and the article talk page is the place to have that discussion. We cannot possibly make some determination here that covers all such ambiguous situations. Leave it as it is, because it works well. --Pete (talk) 22:41, 27 May 2015 (UTC)
  • All US should be consistent — summoned by bot. I would be against a different guideline for military articles as this creates an unnecessary layer of inconsistency - is Colin Powell a "military article" or a non-military article? Is the president, as head of the US military? What about weapons used by the military and police? What about articles about natural disasters where the National Guard is deployed - is this a military article? You see where I'm going. And this is my firm belief per consistency; personally I prefer DMY and gleefully use it in non-USA articles. МандичкаYO 😜 00:24, 28 May 2015 (UTC)
  • Comment. This guideline has been in place since 2008. Check the history. We're not talking about creating anything new. --Pete (talk) 02:57, 28 May 2015 (UTC)
Why should "all US be consistent"? Why not all en.wp? We all accept the need for consistency within each article, but why do we need consistency on any broader scale? ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 19:30, 28 May 2015 (UTC)
Because, as we have found in the past, we get people who are attached to one format or the other battling with those of a different view, and that is not good for harmony. Personally, I think we should all use SI units, drive on the right, and use dmy, because it's more practical, but others have their own reasons and who am I to argue? We gravitate to what works here and now, and this is what has worked for eight years. --Pete (talk) 22:45, 28 May 2015 (UTC)
So let's petition Jimbo/WMF to make DMY date formats mandatory across all of Wikipedia. One size fits all, and no arguing allowed. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:27, 29 May 2015 (UTC)
Did you even read what I wrote? I don't think so. We work out Wikipedia style right here. I'm happy with the way things are. Because it works well to minimise disruption. We've had some major battles in the past over date formats, and it's not good for Wikipedia to start that up again. JJ, if you want to take your own advice and petition Jimbo, then you go right ahead. That would be pointless and foolish, and you know it. Cheers. --Pete (talk) 14:58, 30 May 2015 (UTC)
Yes, Pete, I read what you said, and what's more, I think I can claim a fair understanding of what you mean. But what you said— well, I asked why "all US" should be consistent, AND ALSO why consistency should not be applied to all of en.wp. A fair reading of what you said is that consistency reduces disruption. If that is true (at least for U.S. articles, but I would question that, just as Wikimandia suggests), then why shouldn't it be true for ALL articles? Would it not then be a good thing if (say) WMF mandated universal consistency? If not, then might it be possible that your apparent belief that consistency reduces disruption is not exactly correct? ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 22:20, 30 May 2015 (UTC)
No, that's neither what I said or meant. In fact you are exactly wrong. What we have now - an inconsistency in US articles - is what works, has worked for seven years, and minimises disruption. It's what was agreed to after much discussion among editors directly involved. If you want to insist that I said or meant something I have denied multiple times, then your behaviour is delusional, and I suggest reassessment to conform to the reality. I know what I said, I know what I meant, and I reject your interpretation completely. Thanks. --Pete (talk) 03:58, 31 May 2015 (UTC)
Lighten up, Pete. And note carefully: what you said is: "Because ... this is what has worked". Which followed Wikimandia's assertion that "All US should be consistent" and my questioning of why that should be. Without any clarification on your part it is indeed a fair reading that you were justifying consistency. That you now declare "an inconsistency ... is what works" does not surprise me, but that's fine. Just don't blame me for your initial lack of clarity. And while we are here, please clarify if by "inconsistency" you refer to the exception made for "military articles" (as Wikimandia suggests). ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 22:15, 31 May 2015 (UTC)

A digression[edit]

Funny guy. You were wrong initially, you were wrong the second time, and you still can't get it right. I didn't say "all US should be consistent" - that was Wikimandia. The inconsistency that has worked fine since 2008 is that we have this inconsistency in DATETIES for articles on the modern US military. You want to change this for something new, and I'm not convinced you understand that this would just lead to the disruption we had prior to 2008. It seems to me that disruption and attention is your object here and I remind you that this page is subject to discretionary sanctions. --Pete (talk) 04:00, 1 June 2015 (UTC)
For shame, Pete! Please say you don't really mean that. EEng (talk) 04:44, 1 June 2015 (UTC)
You've got me. The word "funny" was meant ironically. Sorry. --Pete (talk) 05:36, 1 June 2015 (UTC)
<Ba - da - ba - BING!> EEng (talk) 05:42, 1 June 2015 (UTC)
Does the bit at WP:TALKNO about not misrepresenting other people also apply to misattribution of other people's intents? Or is that covered by WP:AGF? At any rate, I would like to examine a question of how much scope should be given consistency (or, inversely, inconsistency), but Pete seems too emotional to allow this, for fear "that this [i.e., discussion that might possibly lead to a change] would just lead to the disruption we had prior to 2008." This amounts to a showstopper. As he doesn't seem to be listening to me, perhaps someone else (EEng?) could reassure him that discussing the point is not going to bring the roof down on us. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 23:18, 1 June 2015 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── AGF means there needs to be really good evidence before a charge like "It seems to me that disruption and attention is your object here" is leveled. As I've mentioned before these date format debates leave me cold so I haven't been following who's advocating what and saying what, but if such a charge is justified there ought to be one or two others chiming in to say, "I'm afraid that's the way I see it too." Can I suggest that we take a voluntary 12-week break from this discussion, after which it can be resumed with clear minds and refreshed patience? EEng (talk) 00:59, 2 June 2015 (UTC)

I call 'em as I see 'em, and I've been watching JJ troll his way through the discussion here for some time. He can't seriously imagine that DATETIES does not override DATERET, for example. If it's an honest misunderstanding of the plain English, then we're looking at a lack of competency with the language and he should accept the advice he's been given by sroc, among others. --Pete (talk) 02:20, 2 June 2015 (UTC)
Let's all take that two-week break I was talking about. EEng (talk) 02:26, 2 June 2015 (UTC)
I would, but that Pete is starting to piss me off with his misrepresentations and snarky remarks. (Just who is trolling here?) I tried to raise a simple question about the need for consistency, and Pete gets tangled up in inconsistent statements ("Because ... this is what has worked" [22:45, 28 May] versus "an inconsistency ... is what works" [03:58, 31 May]). Which SHOULD NOT BE AN ISSUE, as either would suffice for the question I would raise, but for Pete being too emotional to own up to any imperfection of expression and simply select which formulation he wants to go with. I doubt that a break would do any good. Might as well just close the RfC on the grounds that the topic of date formatting is too sensitive for some editors to contemplate. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:10, 2 June 2015 (UTC)
  • AM I GOING TO HAVE TO TURN THE HOSE ON YOU TWO??? EEng (talk) 22:07, 2 June 2015 (UTC)

Resuming !voting[edit]

  • Do not argue about it Either is acceptable. Follow the date style used by whatever editor first used a date. Change the date style only with clearcut consensus. Do not canvas or make a big deal about it. Do not get indignant about date styles under any circumstances whatsoever. It is a triviality. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 04:48, 28 May 2015 (UTC)
Yes. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 19:32, 28 May 2015 (UTC)
Retain, follow established MOS. I don't see why the MoS shouldn't mention the difference. While internal DoD memos appear to go with MDY, this is not shared by the rest of the DoD (USAF, USN, USA), or even different parts of the Federal Government (DOJ). In the end, keeping with the primary editor/consensus rule appears to be best. But in general, I am of the opinion, that editors of new U.S. military articles should be made aware of the modern DMY preference used by the U.S. military.--RightCowLeftCoast (talk) 21:39, 30 May 2015 (UTC)
  • Retain per my reasoning at the end of subsequent proposal. All the best: Rich Farmbrough, 13:06, 19 July 2015 (UTC).

Proposal for DATETIES on US military topics[edit]

There seems to be an emerging consensus that either DMY or MDY date formats may be used on US military topics, as decided by the editors of each page on a case-by-case basis, provided that each article is internally consistent. I thus propose the following revision to Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Dates and numbers § Chronological items §§ Dates, months and years §§§ Strong national ties to a topic (MOS:DATETIES):

  • Articles on topics with strong ties to a particular English-speaking country should generally use the date format most commonly used in that nation. For the United States, this is month before day; for most others it is day before month. Articles related to Canada may use either format, with (as always) consistency within any one article.
  • In some topic areas the customary format differs from the usual national one. For example, as the US military now uses day–month–year dates rather than the civilian month–day–year format, articles on the modern US military (including biographical articles about Americans primarily notable for their military career) may use either format provided that each article is consistent.

This would make it clear that the usual guidance preferring MDY format in the US does not apply to military articles, while DATERET would still apply prevent needless changing between DMY and MDY formats (as DATETIES would not prefer either format over the other). This would also clarify that this applies to biographies without requiring DMY for individual cases so this would remain at editors' discretion and local consensus in each case. sroc 💬 03:06, 7 June 2015 (UTC)

To assist discussion, under the proposal the bit highlighted above would replace this:
for example, articles on the modern U.S. military use day-before-month, in accordance with U.S. military usage.
I'm inclined to support this -- any problem anyone sees here? EEng (talk) 06:23, 7 June 2015 (UTC)
The existing wording has worked well for many years. I see no need to add more complexity. Article talk pages are, as ever, the place to resolve borderline cases. DATERET would not prevent mass changes to date formats, as many articles on the modern US military would have been commenced with MDY formats, and a format warrior would claim that they were following DATERET. USAF and USN, for example. --Pete (talk) 22:43, 8 June 2015 (UTC)
While the new wording is longer, the additional length consists mostly of clarifying language. Other than that what the proposal does is replace
articles on the modern US military use day-before-month
articles on the modern US military (including biographical articles about Americans primarily notable for their military career) may use either format provided that each article is consistent
I don't see that as adding significant complexity. And, by the way, it resolves the Dwight Eisenhower problem: Eisenhower is not primarily notably for his military career, because neither his military nor his political career can be called primary -- they're both essential. Therefore MDY would be used, end of discussion. EEng (talk) 02:28, 9 June 2015 (UTC)
It is certainly more complex. And you do see the problem with trying to deal with individual articles here, rather than on their talk page? --Pete (talk) 02:50, 9 June 2015 (UTC)
I said significant complexity. And who's talking about dealing with individual articles here? We have to discuss examples... EEng (talk) 04:39, 9 June 2015 (UTC)
I'm counting wordage nearly three times as long as the existing, adding new concepts and changing a working system for something that is going to cause disruption over what we already have. You've ignored the examples I gave where date format warriors can use the new wording to completely change the format of existing articles, and you've ignored the well-established precedent of dealing with borderline cases on individual article talk pages. We cannot sort out Eisenhower, Patton, Lee Harvey Oswald, Audie Murphy and so on here in the Manual of Style. You do understand this, don't you? --Pete (talk) 06:59, 9 June 2015 (UTC)
I'm beginning to see why everyone's so pissed off at you. No one is trying to sort out particular articles here -- merely, particular articles have been mentioned as thought experiments on how different wordings might operate. To my mind the new wording, combined with DATERET, makes it clear that for modern US military topics, the first significant contributor picks either of the two formats, and that format sticks. There might in some cases be uncertainty about whether a topic qualifies as "modern US military", but that can happen anyway with the current wording, and in any event that would be worked out on the article's Talk.
I endorse everything sroc says below. EEng (talk) 15:00, 9 June 2015 (UTC)
Lets keep the discussion to the points raised, please. Good start, now keep on going with your line of thought in relation to the two articles I mentioned. Under the proposed new wording, what happens with USAF and USN? As per the reworded WP:DATETIES and the existing WP:DATERET. Just humour me, please, and set out your logic. --Pete (talk) 16:47, 9 June 2015 (UTC)
Under the new wording, both those articles could have used either format when new, but they're not new -- they're established, and use DMY. Under DATERET they stay that way. What's the problem? EEng (talk) 17:09, 9 June 2015 (UTC)
The problem is that your reading of DATERET differs from the norm. The first major contributors used MDY, therefore under the proposed DATETIES wording, any subsequent format change is contrary to the established style and may be reversed. If you have a different understanding could you please quote the relevant wording and your reasoning, if any? --Pete (talk) 19:18, 9 June 2015 (UTC)
The new wording says that, as an exception to the main rule for US-related articles, in modern US military articles DMY could be used. And DATERET says that, as with any other article in which DATETIES doesn't prescribe one or the other format, the first contributor's choice controls. EEng (talk) 19:25, 9 June 2015 (UTC)
That's essentially what I said above. Now keep going with this line of reasoning in relation to USAF and USN, please. --Pete (talk) 22:07, 9 June 2015 (UTC)
Both USAF and USN use DMY, and assuming that was the first major contibutor's choice, they should stay that way per DATERET, unless consensus on Talk is to change. If something else is going on with these articles, please just fucking say what it is. We're all tired of your pseudo-Socratism. EEng (talk) 22:38, 9 June 2015 (UTC)
You assume wrong, which is why I mentioned them. In both cases the initial format was MDY and both were subsequently changed to DMY under DATETIES. If you need to take a break from editing, that's fine. We're in no hurry. Take a stress pill and come back when calm. Agitated editors are sloppy editors. --Pete (talk) 23:19, 9 June 2015 (UTC)
I'm neither stressed nor agitated, nor is there any sloppiness in what I wrote. You're confusing a stated assumption (which is a good way to simplify discussion) with a conscious but unstated assumption (which would be either lazy or disingenuous) or an unconscious assumption (which would be -- yes -- sloppy).
Since you've now deigned to share with us what you knew all along, we can now say that under the proposed wording and the actual facts, these articles should be changed back to MDY. (We might want to add some kind of grandfather clause to the proposal to avoid making too many waves -- this had occurred to me but I thought I'd bring it up later.) So once again the proposed wording gives a straightforward result without debate.
But thanks for playing our game, Einstein. EEng (talk) 03:23, 10 June 2015 (UTC)
Been playing this game for many years, brother. If you're trying to get my goat, you'll have to find a different way. BBB is not that way. So you propose adding some more clauses to complicate the proposed wording which is already three times as long as the original. If you think that's needed, could you draft some wording for consideration? If you don't think it's needed, then following your argument, you support changing two major articles on the modern US military to a different date format while supporting a change to DATETIES that implies the exact opposite. I'm not seeing any value-adding here to move the Manual of Style in the direction of clear, elegant and useful.
Incidentally, I found many more articles on the modern US military that were initially in MDY format. It is a simple, but tedious, exercise. Let us consider what would happen if MoS were changed so as to have DATERET override DATETIES in this one area. Some format warrior would come in his pleated jeans, grab ahold of his datebot and set about changing every article he can find - starting with USAF and USN and working his way through the military down to individuals - and then some other editor with a different view will come along behind and change them back again and we'll be coping with the same sort of disruption that brought about the initial action on DATETIES. Trust me on this. There are people who see changing Wikipedia articles to their preferred format on things like dates as being their life's highest calling. They are immune to common sense and appeals to reason. They are on a Mission from God.
Me, I see the existing wording as having worked perfectly fine to avoid disruption and conflict for many years. I think we should retain what works and not try to fix something that ain't broke. --Pete (talk) 05:07, 10 June 2015 (UTC)
I'm not your brother. Instead of all these tediously coy, spoonfeeding posts, why didn't you just come out and say, "Doesn't this imply that military articles now in DMY, but which were originally in MDY, will need to be switched back to MDY?"? Anyway, please now you go ahead and have the last word, after which the rest of us will discuss how to deal with this obvious concern. EEng (talk) 12:04, 10 June 2015 (UTC)
Pete certainly brings in a lot of emotional freight. ("Some format warrior would come in his pleated jeans, grab ahold of his datebot and set about changing every article he can find". And: "They are immune to common sense and appeals to reason. They are on a Mission from God." Wow.) I will point out that I have previously suggested (05:31, 26 May) that there be no wholesale changes whatsoever to date formats except by the consensus of the editors involved. Pete seems to think that the primality of DATETIES is the only thing preventing flower children in pleated jeans from wrecking Wikipedia as we know it. If that is the fundamental concern perhaps we should have a separate RfC for that. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 20:28, 10 June 2015 (UTC)
@Skyring: The proposal addresses several deficiencies with the current wording:
  • It is presently unclear whether the exception for US military applies to biographies of military personnel (HandsomeFella says "To me, it's obvious that this does not apply to people"; Hawkeye7 says "Common sense says that DMY dates should be used ... [f]or biographical articles on US military personnel ..."; EEng says "I'm inclined to extend the 'US military' rule to military personnel ..."; biographical articles are divided but tend to ignore the exception);
  • It is further unclear whether the exception applies to US military personnel who are also notable for other reasons;
  • As noted in the proposal, there is an emerging consensus that both DMY and MDY should be acceptable, decided by the editors of individual articles, provided that each article is consistent (J. Johnson says "Which is to say that in regards of MDY/DMY both formats are acceptable"; Cullen328 says "Do not argue about it Either is acceptable. Follow the date style used by whatever editor first used a date.")—but that's not what it currently says;
  • The guideline is, in fact, frequently ignored by using MDY dates in many (most?) US military articles despite the current wording says that such articles use DMY dates—the guideline should reflect actual practice by allowing both formats.
Contrary to the claim that "date format warriors can use the new wording to completely change the format of existing articles", this is not the case because the new wording does not endorse either format over the other and DATERET still applies to overrule unjustified changes. On the contrary, the current wording allows editors to change the date format of existing articles to conform (i.e., to change MDY dates to DMY dates in US military articles). The change will actually avoid to-ing and fro-ing because the boundaries of where the exception applies will be clearer and, where it does apply, it does not require any changes in either direction. sroc 💬 14:42, 9 June 2015 (UTC)
I don't see any deficiencies in the current wording. It has worked fine for years, and presumably will continue to do so.
  • It is always going to be unclear where the dividing line is for biographies of military personnel. That is inherent in the topic and we can't straighten it out here. Common sense and talk pages will presumably continue to be employed by editors to work out if a subject is primarily modern US military or not.
  • If the MoS is to be reworded to follow current practice that ignores it, then what is the point of having a MoS at all? Do we lay down our preferred house style to enable consistency, or do we just throw our hands up in the air and say, "F*uck it, anything goes, lets reword the MoS to endorse this new reality"?
  • The proposed wording will push DATERET ahead of DATETIES for this one area, spreading confusion and inconsistency. Yes, the current wording allows people to change articles to use DMY in articles on the modern US military that do not use it. That is its precise purpose. That is what we have a Manual of Style for. To allow anyone to contribute content and for others to tidy it up to conform to our preferred style. The proposed wording would give authority for format warriors to make mass changes on articles, as per the first person to insert a date is equivalent to "the first major contributor". USAF and USN are examples. However, these changes would act against consistency, rather than for it.
If there is truly an emerging consensus here for change, then why change to a more complex wording? Why not simply use the example of Canada quoted above: Articles related to Canada may use either format with (as always) consistency within each article. That wording has consensus and works just fine. --Pete (talk) 16:47, 9 June 2015 (UTC)
Why should someone who restores a consistent, acceptable, and original date format be a "format warrior", but not the editor (or set of editors) that degraded that original, acceptable, and consistent usage? Pete might have in mind some assumptions that would make such a view seem reasonable, but they have not been stated, so we are unable to examine them. Proceeding from what appear to be different assumptions I do not see why the editor(s) restoring a set of consistent changes should be characterized as a "warrior" and not the editor(s) who screwed them up in the first place.
The view that DATERET would "give authority for format warriors to make mass changes" does not seem any different than the authority currently taken from DATETIES. That DATERET would makes us all slaves to "the first person to insert a date" would seem to arise from an assumption that there no other considerations. In fact, that is (or would be) only the extreme fall-back case. If editors involved in a given article can achieve local consensus (whether express or implicit), then that should be controlling. It is only when consensus is lacking that we need these "tie-breaking" rules. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 20:32, 9 June 2015 (UTC)
Sorry, JJ, I'm not following your reasoning in the first part. I think you may be assuming more than was actually said. Could you expand and maybe I can help you out?
Both DATERET and DATETIES have wikihistorical bases to prevent edit-warring and hence disruption. Of course, if there is a local consensus to do something else, then that overrides any external style guidance, but how often do we see this happening in "modern US military" articles. Could you give three examples, please? --Pete (talk) 22:02, 9 June 2015 (UTC)
Sure, I would be happy to facilitate your understanding. Consider an example where some editor (or group of editors) creates an article which consistently uses an acceptable date format. (Whether DMY or MDY does not really not matter.) Now suppose some second editor (or group of editors) "make mass changes" of date format on the authority of DATETIES. Note that for this example it does not matter whether they rely on a U.S. national tie (i.e., non-military) to change to MDY, or a U.S. military tie to change to DMY.
Now suppose some third editor (or group of editors) "make mass changes" of date format on the authority of DATERET (starting to sound familiar?), restoring the original, and also consistent and acceptable, date formating. This is the very case where you apply the emotionally charged term format warriors. Why should editors taking authority from DATERET be "format warriors", but not those taking authority from DATETIES? The only reason I can see is that DATETIES is arbitrarily set as superior to DATERET, wheras the contrary would work equally well, and even better. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 19:44, 10 June 2015 (UTC)
Your hypotheticals are all very well, but what we have seen in the past can only be described as format war, and that's why we have the current wording. To reduce disruption. You want to change what has worked very well for many years. --Pete (talk) 23:34, 14 June 2015 (UTC)
You were pretty hypothetical in your concern about some "format warrior" in pleated jeans running amuck (05:07, 10 June). And I as said before, if that is your fundamental concern perhaps we should have an RFC for that. In the meanwhile, please stop dodging the question and explain: why should someone who restores a consistent, acceptable, and original date format be a "format warrior", but not the editor (or set of editors) that degraded that original, acceptable, and consistent usage? Alternately, just leave-off with this one-sided name-calling so we can get back to objective discussion of the topic. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 22:54, 15 June 2015 (UTC)
By format warriors, I'm referring to what we saw before we had the current wording. Changing it so that in this instance alone DATERET would override DATETIES would invite more in the same. That's just common sense. --Pete (talk) 19:31, 17 June 2015 (UTC)
I'm sorry, but I don't see how the proposal "[changes] it so that in this instance alone DATERET would override DATETIES". EEng (talk) 22:42, 17 June 2015 (UTC)
Pete: I remind you of WP:TALK#OBJECTIVE. This "format warrior" bogeyman you raise you have you have previously characterized (05:07, 10 June) as "changing every article he can find", as " people who see changing Wikipedia articles to their preferred format on things like dates as being their life's highest calling", "immune to common sense and appeals to reason", and "on a Mission from God." These characterizations do not arise from "common sense"; they arise entirely from your emotional over-reaction. Such comments are disruptive of objective discussion. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 19:13, 21 June 2015 (UTC)
And you are still dodging my question. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 22:56, 17 June 2015 (UTC)
Pete: it's getting onto two weeks since you stated (22:43, 8 June) that "DATERET would not prevent mass changes to date formats", implying that format warriors would make such mass changes, and you still have not provided any objective basis for believing that this would actually happen. Or why someone who restores an acceptable date format is a "warrior", but not someone who degrades it in the first place. These views are untenable, and rejecting them will hopefully allow this discussion to proceed. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 19:13, 21 June 2015 (UTC)
Have you not read my repeated comments about how things were here before the current wording? We have wording that was agreed after much discussion and has worked for many years. Please cease your trolling. Cheers. --Pete (talk) 23:02, 21 June 2015 (UTC)
Your repeated comments show only a fear that any alteration of the status quo will unleash "format warriors" on a "Mission from God", and amount to little more than an emotional form of WP:JUSTDONTLIKEIT that impairs any objective discussion. Your name-calling only underscores the paucity of your response. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 22:00, 22 June 2015 (UTC)

What to do with existing articles[edit]

I support the proposed change, but there's a consideration here which I had been meaning to raise, and it is indeed the same, in a way, as the one Pete has been worrying us about, though unlike him I don't think it's a dealbreaker. It is the following: under the proposal, a number (possibly a large number) of articles currently using DYM (because the current guideline says "articles on the modern U.S. military use day-before-month") would, under the new guideline, use MDY (because the proposed guideline says "articles on the modern US military ... may use either format", and the first major contributor -- at least the first to add a date -- chose MDY). An examples would be USN, which (I think) took on its first date around late 2006. (Search October in [1]. I didn't narrow this down to the exact edit so if I'm wrong, forgive me.)

Are we saying such articles should/could be changed back to MDY? Will that piss a lot of people off, especially if someone gets it in his head to do a lot of articles all at once? If so, what do we do about that? EEng (talk) 19:39, 21 June 2015 (UTC) P.s. For some comic relief see the "John Paul Jones" image here [2].

Should be changed back? Not automatically. That there is any "reason" (I use the term loosely), argument, or policy pertaining to what an article's date format should be should not in itself be a free license to charge ahead with any mass change. As I suggested a month ago (05:31, 26 May): no wholesale changes whatsoever to date formats except by the consensus of the editors involved. Even where a single "format warrior" (define it how you will) has used any policy or guideline as leverage contrary to consensus, reversion should not be made except upon consensus.
As a side comment, I think what tends to piss off people most is not so much implementation of any specific format, but doing so in a high-handed or arrogant manner. Simply asking for objections before proceeding would likely avoid a lot of unnecessary aggravation. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:21, 23 June 2015 (UTC)
Should we add a parenthetical or something recognizing that the guideline has changed, and counseling... um... how shall I pout this... restraint in conforming existing articles to the new guideline? I just worry this will blow up in our faces. EEng (talk) 23:34, 23 June 2015 (UTC)
Glad you've come around to my way of thinking in seeing this as a worry. --Pete (talk) 23:46, 23 June 2015 (UTC)
I haven't come around to anything. As I stated in opening this thread, and took pains to make clear earlier [3] I've had this point in mind from the beginning. I just didn't waste everyone's time coyly bringing it up over a dozen posts. EEng (talk) 02:00, 24 June 2015 (UTC)
Well, now we're both on the same page and you see mass format changes as a problem, why would you add even more wordage to the MOS? We currently have sixteen words in MOS:DATETIES which has worked well since its introduction, and you support a 45-word replacement which you now admit is problematic - "blow up in our faces", as you put it - and you want to add even more words to attempt to "fix" it even more.
What's the point? If you change this bit of MOS to have DATERET override DATETIES, then it becomes perfectly legitimate for editors to change articles to conform to the new guideline. Perhaps you could put up a wording proposal for those involved in this discussion to consider? --Pete (talk) 06:40, 24 June 2015 (UTC)
Hardly different from the current situation, where some editors have taken it as "prefectly legitimate" to unilaterally change articles "per WP:DATETIES". But you have gotten carried away again: the proposed text does not make DATERET override DATETIES. It says only that certain articles "may use either format". ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 22:22, 24 June 2015 (UTC)
If an article may use either format, then MOS:DATERET automatically applies. As it does for Canadian articles, which also may use either format. It is the very next section. I suggest you read it. --Pete (talk) 22:53, 24 June 2015 (UTC)
I suggest you be less snotty. And be less wild in your presumptions and interpretations, which all too often lead you into untenable positions and inflammatory statements. (E.g., "format warriors".) If you think there is a problem with DATERET we could discuss that. But your behavior is rather disinviting. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:48, 25 June 2015 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── I've said we should think about whether this might be a problem -- I'm not convinced it is. Anyway, here's some possible text (not saying I like it a whole):

(A previous version of this guideline provided that "articles on the modern U.S. military use day-before-month, in accordance with U.S. military usage." Articles established as using DMY under that guideline should not be changed to MDY without consensus on the article's talk page.)

EEng (talk) 12:54, 24 June 2015 (UTC)

That sounds like a special restriction that applies to DMY  MDY, but not necessarily to the reverse. It would be simpler to just say that mass changes to date format should not be done without consensus, period. All other considerations are points to raise in discussing what date format to use; they are NOT license to make unilateral changes. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:48, 24 June 2015 (UTC)
  • On reflection I've decided I'm not worried about the mass-change scenario. I'm ready to support the text proposed above (#Proposal for DATETIES on US military topics without any further qualification. I suggest we open a !vote in a new section below, and ping everyone who's been participating. Or maybe an RfC would be more appropriate. What do you think? EEng (talk) 03:35, 25 June 2015 (UTC)
sroc, J. Johnson, HandsomeFella, Cullen328, Hawkeye7, Skyring... what shall we do to bring this to a conclusion, one way or another? EEng (talk) 20:52, 26 June 2015 (UTC)
I just happened to be thinking on this. See my proposal, below. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:09, 26 June 2015 (UTC)

An inelegant solution to a non-existent problem[edit]

Currently we have:
In some topic areas the customary format differs from the usual national one: for example, articles on the modern U.S. military use day-before-month, in accordance with U.S. military usage.

This has stood, almost unchanged since September 2008. It has worked well and caused no problems.

However, some articles are on the cusp of "modern US military". Lee Harvey Oswald, ex-USMC, and Audie Murphy, film star, for example. The former uses MDY, the latter DMY, presumably related to the most notable aspect of their life. Murphy was the most decorated U.S. soldier in WW2, Oswald was a ratbag.

J. Johnson and EEng want the wording changed to:
For example, as the US military now uses day–month–year dates rather than the civilian month–day–year format, articles on the modern US military (including biographical articles about Americans primarily notable for their military career) may use either format provided that each article is consistent. A previous version of this guideline provided that "articles on the modern U.S. military use day-before-month, in accordance with U.S. military usage." Articles established as using DMY under that guideline should not be changed to MDY without consensus on the article's talk page.

I cannot see this as being a step forward. In actual fact, biographical articles on U.S. servicemen differ in format depending on the whim of the editor and nobody gives a rat's arse. It is not a problem, and it certainly does not need a complicated bit of quasi-legalese in conflict with other guidelines.

If there is any debate over what format needs to be used for a particular article, it should be resolved on that article's talk page, using common sense and well-sourced facts. --Pete (talk) 22:53, 24 June 2015 (UTC)

You know, you're beginning to piss me off again. I have not proposed this new text, just offered it as an example for discussion. And J. Johnson certainly has not "proposed" anything of the kind -- in fact, as seen in the prior subsection, he doesn't seem like it. EEng (talk) 03:35, 25 June 2015 (UTC)
I didn't say you'd proposed it. Nevertheless, you are pushing for an inelegant solution to a !problem. The MoS should be as clear and concise as possible, not a jumble of contradictory directives. --Pete (talk) 04:40, 25 June 2015 (UTC)
Yes, you did: you said we "want the wording changed to...:. EEng (talk) 04:54, 25 June 2015 (UTC)
I see. You think the two are equivalent. Cheers. --Pete (talk) 05:24, 25 June 2015 (UTC)
For this purpose I do, and this is exactly the kind of quibbling that's got people so pissed off at you. Cheers. EEng (talk) 05:28, 25 June 2015 (UTC)
That's right. I (and EEng) favor some parts of the proposed text (e.g., "may use either format"), but not necessarily all of it. (For reasons including inelegance.) Pete, your failure to grasp this, and your general railing away on all of this, quite obscures the several points on which we might find agreement. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:49, 25 June 2015 (UTC)

Proposed closure[edit]

I propose that the specific proposal made above be closed due to inadequacy of the wording. This is without prejudice to the view that "[t]here seems to be an emerging consensus that either DMY or MDY date formats may be used on US military topics" (subject to consistency and local consensus), and does not preclude a revised proposal. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:12, 26 June 2015 (UTC)

Just to be clear, you're talking about the proposal here #Proposal_for_DATETIES_on_US_military_topics? But if you see an inadequacy, why don't we fix it now? A lot of effort's gone into this to just discard it. EEng (talk) 21:58, 26 June 2015 (UTC)
Yes (and thanks for the link). I don't see this as discarding such clarifications, etc., as have been reached. But we haven't really gotten into the inadequacy of the wording (whether in regard of elegance or scope), and as this page has gotten quite full I think it would be better to shed the cruft and start afresh. Especially as I am working working on a more general proposal which I think will avoid some of the bogs, fogs, and thickets of the current discussion. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 22:16, 26 June 2015 (UTC)


sroc, where are you? EEng (talk) 01:52, 7 July 2015 (UTC)

@EEng: Sorry, I've been busy with work. I personally don't see the problem with my proposed wording for Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Dates and numbers § Chronological items §§ Dates, months and years §§§ Strong national ties to a topic (MOS:DATETIES):
  • Articles on topics with strong ties to a particular English-speaking country should generally use the date format most commonly used in that nation. For the United States this is, for example, July 4, 1976; for most other nations it is, for example, 4 July 1976.
  • Articles related to Canada may use either format with (as always) consistency within each article.
  • In some topic areas the customary format differs from the usual national one: for example, articles on the modern U.S. military use day-before-month, in accordance with U.S. military usage. For example, as the US military now uses day–month–year dates rather than the civilian month–day–year format, articles on the modern US military (including biographical articles about Americans primarily notable for their military career) may use either format provided that each article is consistent.
The proposed wording specifically says that US military topics do not prefer either format so this revised version of DATETIES would not support any changes to existing articles (other than to make articles with mixed usage consistent, as they should be anyway in accordance with MOS:DATEUNIFY). Anyone who attempts wholesale changes from MDY to DMY or from DMY to MDY citing DATETIES without any discussion to establish consensus for a specific article should be reverted in accordance with MOS:DATERET: "If an article has evolved using predominantly one format, the whole article should conform to it, unless there are reasons for changing it based on strong national ties to the topic or consensus on the article's talk page." (There would be no "reasons for changing it based on strong national ties to the topic".) So I don't see the drama.
If there remains any confusion on the interaction between DATEUNIFY, DATETIES and DATERET, then that's a different issue that might warrant some clarity, but I personally think it's pretty clear. sroc 💬 12:40, 11 July 2015 (UTC)
I see some problem with the wording (perhaps inherent in the situation it is describing), but overall I am inclined to support this as being a small step forward. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 20:56, 12 July 2015 (UTC)
There are three problems I see.
First. There is no problem with the current wording. It has worked well for many years. Anyone seeing a need for change should clearly identify a problem to be solved.
There is a community of editors who work in this area. I rarely edit articles on the modern U.S. Military, and I doubt any of the other participants in this discussion do so either. Any changes should specifically include those editors most affected. Otherwise, we will generate needless conflict and friction in the future.
Third. The proposed wording above is longer and more complex than what we already have. Are we aiming for elegance and clarity here, or are we trying to make the MoS and Wikipedia even more of a swamp of legalese to deter new editors? --Pete (talk) 19:56, 13 July 2015 (UTC)
That you see no problem with the current wording is despite clear identification of deficiencies in the current wording (e.g., here). Such efforts seem like leading a horse to water. Also, lets not forget that you also think that any change would unleash the format warriors.
If you really want to maximize clarity, elegance, and even brevity, I think nothing beats my previous suggestion (which you sneered at): petition Jimbo/WMF to make DMY date formats mandatory across all of Wikipedia. Or do you have other undisclosed requirements we must not tread upon? ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 22:27, 13 July 2015 (UTC)
JJ. I see no problem, and if you are trying to persuade me otherwise, you are going about it the wrong way. But I will accept that you have a different view on this point, and that is fine. Do you have any opinions on my other points above, or are we in agreement there? -Pete (talk) 19:51, 14 July 2015 (UTC)
No, I am not in agreement with any of your points above.
I believe there has been demonstration sufficient to establish the existence of problems with the existing guideline. If you think there is a better way of persuading you of their existence (short of personal communications from the Almighty), by all means inform us of how to proceed. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:25, 15 July 2015 (UTC)
You could address the points I raise in discussion, for example. If you could provide evidence - diffs, examples in articles, RfCs and so on - that work against my arguments, then I, being a reasonable person, would accept that the facts beat empty opinions. Ways of arguing that are generally regarded as unconvincing - personal abuse, hand-waving, strawmen and so on - are unlikely to persuade me. This is Wikipedia, after all, and it is not as if facts are in short supply here. Go, pull up a few, use them in a convincing fashion, and see where that gets you. --Pete (talk) 05:32, 18 July 2015 (UTC)
Personal abuse, hand-waving, strawmen? Curiously, those are the very complaints I have about you, though I add misrepresentation and evading the question. Regarding the latter, I have addressed your points, but there is no telling what would satisfy you. It seems more likely that there simply is no "right" way of persuading you on any of this. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 22:21, 20 July 2015 (UTC)
  • No problem with current wording Why don't we get significant disputes? Because the US uses both formats "in real life" (notably 4th of July of course) and hence there is no cognitive shock in seeing the "wrong" format as there might be for people from cultures that use predominantly one format. All the best: Rich Farmbrough, 13:04, 19 July 2015 (UTC).
  • I adopt Rich Farmbrough's reasoning, but support For example, as the US military now uses day–month–year dates rather than the civilian month–day–year format, articles on the modern US military (including biographical articles about Americans primarily notable for their military career) may use either format provided that each article is consistent. More flexibility, and clarity that US mil personnel are included within that flexibility, would be beneficial. This would allow, e.g., a US mil bio article festooned with all kinds of important military dates to use the mil date format, but permit the next article over, that is almost all about political matters, for a US mil figure who did not see any wartime action, and spent all their time at the Pentagon, stick with M D, Y dates, without room for doubt that (read: fighting about whether) this is okay. That said, I actually categorically oppose wikiproject-based WP:LOCALCONSENSUS on such matters; it's the WP:SSF problem again. Accepting special pleading of this sort, for style quirks borrowed from in-house usage in some field or sector, simply inspires more demands for variants. But since there appears to be buy-in for accepting this particular variants, it should be done the smart way. I do have to point out that this variance directly conflicts with WP:ENGVAR, but US English as used by the general public, not some subculture (and the US military is a subculture, and much has been authored about it in that regard), uniformly prefers MD,Y dates.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  15:38, 20 July 2015 (UTC). Updated.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  12:30, 22 July 2015 (UTC)
I often turn to Wikipedia for information about the modern US military as part of my longstanding interest in military history. I know I will find useful information written by people who know what they are talking about, with enough of an active community to keep articles up to date, well illustrated and so on. I very rarely edit such articles - there is little need - and I'm a member of the general public in such cases. I prefer DMY, as I assume do most other non-US readers, not to mention many past and serving members of the modern US military. But I don't care about the date formats in the articles. I care about the articles, the content, the editors who produce them. If this community prefers to do things a certain way, as part of a subculture within the US subculture within the overall Wikipedia readership, then that's fine with me. Keep 'em happy and productive. Why fix something that ain't broken? --Pete (talk) 16:14, 22 July 2015 (UTC)

Symbol for astronomical units (again)[edit]

The discussion was closed by IJBall below. The result was implemented by Ashill as noted in another subsection below. Cunard (talk) 06:06, 30 July 2015 (UTC)

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

There is some active debate about what symbol should be permitted in the MoS and/or supported by {{convert}} to represent the astronomical unit in WP. I feel that this debate should be on this talk page, and those watching this page may be interested in weighing in (and bringing the debate here). See Template talk:Convert#au, Template talk:Val/units#What should MoS say on unit "au", Talk:Non-SI units mentioned in the SI#The symbol used in the article for astronomical unit is incorrect, Talk:Astronomical unit#AU vs au vs ua. Since so much debate is sparked by this, it strikes me as a prime candidate for explicit mention in WP:MOSNUM. —Quondum 23:47, 13 June 2015 (UTC)

MOSNUM shouldn't get involved unless and until there's evidence that editor time is being wasted litigating the issue on multiple articles. And {{convert}} shouldn't add a new unit to its repertoire until there's general consensus of how to represent that unit. In other words: FIRST discussion on individual article talk pages, SECOND (if necessary) discussion at MOSNUM to harmonize things, and then LAST convert takes that consensus on. (Until then it's OK for convert not to handle a given unit -- conversions can be handled manually in articles for a while.) As far as I can see from your diffs, we're still at (or even before) step FIRST -- where are the discussions among actual editors of actual articles, disputing this issue? EEng (talk) 04:46, 14 June 2015 (UTC)
I agree with Quondum that there is a problem, but I don't know how to fix it. Internationally accepted symbols for the astronomical unit include au (IAU) and ua (ISO). Until recently, the BIPM recommended symbol was ua (following ISO), but switched to au after a recent decision by the IAU to standardise on that symbol.
In my opinion Wikipedia needs to either make a choice between the two standard symbols (ua and au), or permit both of them, but it doesn't. I have made several attempts to adopt one or other symbol (it doesn't matter which) on various articles but these attempts have failed because (as far as I can tell) the {convert} template accepts only AU, a symbol not accepted by any standards organization that I know of. The result is standardization on a non-standard symbol (AU) by the back door of {convert}. It would be much better if a decision were made centrally and for the conversion template to implement that central decision.
Dondervogel 2 (talk) 08:17, 14 June 2015 (UTC)
"AU" is much more common than "au" and clearer to many people. --JorisvS (talk) 09:23, 14 June 2015 (UTC)
Just because something is common does not make it better (otherwise no doctor would have bothered to invent a vaccine for the common flu), so we can safely ignore that argument. Clarity is certainly desirable so let's focus on that. Do you have any evidence to support the assertion that AU is clearer than au? Dondervogel 2 (talk) 10:06, 14 June 2015 (UTC)
Just to be clear, if we can agree here that AU is the most appropriate symbol to use (whatever the reason), I would be pleased to go along with that choice. What is not acceptable is confusion caused by reluctance to harmonise. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 10:13, 14 June 2015 (UTC)
Your comparison with the flu is wrong. This is writing, a form of language, not some illness. What is appropriate language is determined by commonality. As a case in point, Wikipedia uses a subject's common name for an article's title, even when this deviates from some officially preferred name. I'm all for standardization, if that goes to the most common and clearest option, which is "AU" here, no matter that it deviates from an official acceptance by some organization. --JorisvS (talk) 10:28, 14 June 2015 (UTC)
Well, it's not just "some organization" we're talking about here. The bodies supporting au as the symbol are the International Astronomical Union and the BIPM (responsible for the SI). I do agree that what matters to WP is consensus on this page though. Can we agree to standardise here on AU? Dondervogel 2 (talk) 10:34, 14 June 2015 (UTC)
Only two options exist, blindly follow IAU (BIPM/ISO are irrelevant here) and use the official symbol of au. Or follow sources and do what everyone does, and use AU (which has the added benefit of not being ambiguous with atto-atomic mass unit, although no one would ever use that). Personally, I'd standardize on AU. Headbomb {talk / contribs / physics / books} 11:03, 14 June 2015 (UTC)
I think this comment is confusing a mostly-ignored IAU standard and an almost-completely-ignored BIPM standard with "international acceptance". This is a case where common usage is different from the standards. That's fine. —Alex (Ashill | talk | contribs) 12:50, 14 June 2015 (UTC)
I think Alex's statement is a critical concept to understand. This is not like metric adoption, which is nearly universal. Very few entities actually use the "standards" in practice. Huntster (t @ c) 13:05, 14 June 2015 (UTC)
There has indeed been much discussion of this, but the editor time is spent almost entirely in talk space. That makes this seem to me like a solution in search of a problem. FWIW, my preference is to go with the overwhelmingly-most common symbol, AU, which also has the benefit of being unique (as far as I know) and thus more clear than "au" or certainly "ua". (I had never even been aware that another symbol was in use until this was brought up a while ago on Wikipedia, and I see "AU" all the time.) —Alex (Ashill | talk | contribs) 12:36, 14 June 2015 (UTC)
I pinged Talk:Astronomical unit about this discussion and was brought here by a ping at WT:Astronomy. —Alex (Ashill | talk | contribs) 12:45, 14 June 2015 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── A Guide to Effective Publising in Astronomy coordinated by Claude Bertout, Chris Biemesderfer, Agnès Henri (EDP Sciences, 2012, outcome of a workshop for journal authors and referees, held originally at the XXVIII General Assembly of the IAU in Beijing, in August 2012.) says the core astronomy journals are

  • the journals of the American Astronomical Society, including the Astronomical Journal (AJ) and the Astrophysical Journal (ApJ) and the Astronomy Education Review (AER). Other core journals are Astronomy and Astrophysics, The Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, and the publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific.

The "Manuscript Preparation: AJ & ApJ Author Instructions" says "Use standard abbreviations for SI (e.g., m, km, mm) and natural units (e.g., AU, pc, cm)." But it also says "The AAS style conforms to Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary (11th ed.) and The Chicago Manual of Style (15th ed.)." The current edition of Chicago is the 16th, suggesting the instructions may not have been updated recently.

The "Astronomy & Astrophysics - Author’s guide" (April 2015) addresses units on page 27 but does not specifically mention the astronomical unit. A forthcoming paper for which free access is currently available, "Search for satellites near comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko using Rosetta/OSIRIS images" (I. Bertini et al, A & A manuscript no. 25979_ap_final_printer) says "The images were taken when the comet was at 3.69 AU from the Sun." (emphasis added).

The "Instructions to Authors" of the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society says "The units of length/distance are Å, nm, µm, mm, cm, m, km, au, light-year, pc" (emphasis added).

"Information for Authors" of the Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific does not contain style recommendations at this level of detail.

Perhaps other editors with convenient access to these journals can report what symbol is used in recent issues. Jc3s5h (talk) 13:24, 14 June 2015 (UTC)

The most recent issue of the last I can access through JSTOR is that of May 2014, in which one article uses AU for astronomical units—while another uses au for “arbitrary units“ (to label one axis in a set of plots).—Odysseus1479 07:51, 15 June 2015 (UTC)
  • PASP: AU in doi:10.1086/681765 (May 2015 issue)
  • ApJ and AJ: explicit policy is to use AU, as quoted above.
  • MNRAS: explicit policy is to use au, as quoted above.
  • A&A: AU in doi:10.1051/0004-6361/201525680 (May 2015)
  • And for higher profile academic journals, Science: AU in doi:10.1126/science.1251527 (July 2014, in the title as well as text; defined at first use in the abstract)
  • Nature: small caps AU in doi:10.1038/nature14276 (2015) and doi:10.1038/nature04205 (2005, in the title as well as text). At first use, the 2015 example says "corresponding to 50–70 astronomical units (1 AU is the distance from the Earth to the Sun)"
  • I also searched Sky & Telescope, but couldn't find any relevant usage of the term. I'm much less adept at searching Sky & Telescope articles than I am journals, though. —Alex (Ashill | talk | contribs) 12:42, 17 June 2015 (UTC)

Examples from individual papers (first 7 hits for "astronomical unit" using Google Scholar)[edit]

  1. Krasinsky et al 2004 uses AU.
  2. Millan-Gabet et al 2004 uses AU.
  3. Standish 2004 uses au.
  4. Pitjeva & Standish 2009 uses AU.
  5. Iorio 2008 uses AU.
  6. Cameron & Pine 1973 is behind paywall.
  7. Muhlernan, D. O., Holdridge, D. B., & Block, N. (1962). The astronomical unit determined by radar reflections from Venus. The Astronomical Journal, 67, 191. uses a.u.
But the IAU declaration of the symbol, together with the change from a measured to a defined unit, was in 2012, so older papers don't help us discern whether the astronomical community has decided to follow the IAU or not. Jc3s5h (talk) 13:58, 14 June 2015 (UTC)
Would it make any difference if they did follow the 2012 decision? I have the impression that the majority preference is to follow AU "because it's out there". I'm not saying I consider this a good reason, but it's better to agree to follow AU than to have no agreement. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 14:06, 14 June 2015 (UTC)
Studying papers published only in the last two years doesn't show much change. Most use AU. A few use au. I looked for a split between different branches of astronomy, but couldn't see anything obvious. Possibly there is a tendency for physicists to use au and astrophysicists to use AU. As an (old) astrophysicist I would never dream of using au and have to think twice what it means when I stumble across it. Lithopsian (talk) 14:22, 14 June 2015 (UTC)
I agree with Lithopsian. au can mean thousands of things and it will probably take a while for a reader to understand it means "Astronomical unit", but Astronomical unit immediately pops up into the reader's mind when he sees "AU". Besides, the majority of people are used to "AU", so why change that? We're not trying to get the reader confused here. aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa (talk) 17:14, 14 June 2015 (UTC)

Examples from individual papers since 2014 (first 3 hits for "astronomical unit" using Google Scholar)[edit]

  1. GALTIER AND MEYRAND 2014 uses no symbol or abbreviation
  2. Kobulnicky et al 2014 uses no symbol or abbreviation in the abstract
  3. Chiu 2014 uses AU

Pardon me[edit]

Pardon me, but can someone show me where there's been trouble about this in actual articles? Someone above said, "There has indeed been much discussion of this, but the editor time is spent almost entirely in talk space" -- could we have pointers to those discussions (by editors down in the trenches actually working on articles -- not just arguments about how convert should work). Otherwise, why does MOSNUM need to say anything about this? EEng (talk) 14:43, 14 June 2015 (UTC)

Mostly the extensive discussion at Talk:Astronomical unit, which grew out of an earlier discussion (linked there). By "editor time is spent almost entirely in talk space", I meant that the editor time is spent by editors who want to change the MOS, not editors who are actively involved in editing articles that use the symbol AU (there are, appropriately, very few that use au or ua). —Alex (Ashill | talk | contribs) 15:33, 14 June 2015 (UTC)
Thanks for the clarification. EEng (talk) 18:51, 14 June 2015 (UTC)

Previous discussion[edit]

I note that this discussion rather closely mirrors the one at Talk:Astronomical unit#AU vs au vs ua. Has anything changed since then? Why are we having this discussion again? There was one clear consensus from that discussion: there is not a desire to even decide on this question on a project-wide basis. Instead, the preference of most editors was to decide this on an article-by-article basis (a la WP:ENGVAR), since there haven't actually been many problems doing it that way (and the conclusion has almost always been AU anyway). —Alex (Ashill | talk | contribs) 15:36, 14 June 2015 (UTC)

If this is being brought up again because the convert template enforces AU (instead of the no-project-wide-consensus approach), could "au" be added to convert, so it supports both AU and au? —Alex (Ashill | talk | contribs) 15:48, 14 June 2015 (UTC)
I strongly object to the status quo. It should be clear to an editor which units are acceptable, e.g. that au or AU can be decided on a per-article basis. At the moment, this is not clear, and triggers a fresh, drawn-out and unproductive discussion on many such occasions. As Alex says, if au is acceptable, {{convert}} should support it rather than discriminating against it behind-the-scenes, as EEng seems to think it should.
The MOSNUM guidance is currently (quoted from WP:MOSNUM#Specific units):
  • The SI Brochure should be consulted for guidance on use of other SI units. "Chapter 4" tables 6, 7, 8, and 9 give additional guidance on non-SI units.
The linked brochure clearly lists au as the unit symbol. I consider this as sufficient to motivate a change of style in any given article, unless MOSNUM makes a specific note about this unit. —Quondum 16:03, 14 June 2015 (UTC)
@Ashill The reason we are having this discussion again is that the previous discussion, by deciding against harmonization, has led to the situation to which Quondum refers, whereby what is used on WP is determined by {convert}. Changing {convert} to accept other units unit symbols would not change that unless a decision was first reached regarding which symbols are (and are not) acceptable. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 16:38, 14 June 2015 (UTC)
@Dondervogel 2: Well, I'm virtually certain you've got your history wrong: Wikipedia, like everywhere else in the English-speaking world, used predominantly AU. Then the convert template was written and reflected that (probably without much thought, since "AU" is the normal practice used in most cases -- I see no evidence at all that there was any conscious attempt to use convert to enforce AU over au). And then after that the IAU specified "au". Now some are arguing that au is either acceptable or should be primary. But either way, this objection can (as far as I can tell) be easily addressed by modifying convert to accept either AU or au, so this is not a reason to make a Wikipedia-wide decision about this. (There may be other arguments, but editors didn't find them persuasive before and I don't see what has changed.)
@Quondum: The guideline to follow the SI brochure is useful because in most cases common practice reflects the brochure (or, perhaps more accurately, the brochure reflects common practice). That's not true in this case, so I think we should follow common practice (or at the very least allow editors to decide to follow common practice on an article-by-article basis). —Alex (Ashill | talk | contribs) 17:10, 14 June 2015 (UTC)
My problem is that what you say is not evident from MOSNUM, and it should be: to the editor coming in fresh, the use of AU seems to be going against the MoS. I am perfectly happy with an article-by-article choice, or pretty much any choice, even one to allow any symbol. But in my mind inclusiveness implies two things: (a) qualify the reference in MOSNUM to the SI brochure to say that both au and AU may be used (or something along those lines, such as even just "AU is commonly used"), and (b) support au in {{convert}}. What I'm objecting to in the status quo is the confused message from MOSNUM. —Quondum 17:22, 14 June 2015 (UTC)
And mine is that I speak from personal experience. When I encounter articles with non-standard or inconsistent unit symbols by instinct is to make them consistent, first internally and then with each other. When I find one using {convert}, the only choices available to me are a) use the non-standard symbol and b) remove the conversion. I don't believe decisions should be driven by the shortcomings of the conversion template. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 17:31, 14 June 2015 (UTC)
OK, so easy enough; have the convert template support "au" in addition to "AU". —Alex (Ashill | talk | contribs) 17:43, 14 June 2015 (UTC)
That seems reasonable. Two quick additional points: the MOSNUM guidance does not say that the SI brochure should be consulted for guidance on the use of non-SI units, and a quick site-specific date-limited search of the NASA, ESA and BPS sites suggests that the use of AU is still prevalent in at least the public-facing material of some space exploration organisations. NebY (talk) 18:32, 14 June 2015 (UTC)
For convert to be agnostic seems to me the best outcome, under the circumstances. EEng (talk) 18:52, 14 June 2015 (UTC)
In the absence of consensus, how would the custodians of {convert} decide which unit symbols it would accept? Dondervogel 2 (talk) 19:09, 14 June 2015 (UTC)
I think convert should probably accept pretty much anything editors want it to accept, in general, except where MOS clearly says Usage X is inappropriate. The talk page of a template isn't the place to make decisions on which units are OK or not OK, how to present them, etc. A template is a tool, not a cudgel.
Having said that, there's no necessity that convert handle absolutely everything, or everything right now. If a unit is somehow subject to dispute, or its usage is, then it's OK to leave that unit out in the cold, convert-wise, until clarity is found on how to handle it. In the meantime editors can do manual conversions within articles. I'd rather have that than some rushed decision on the convert talk page. EEng (talk) 19:18, 14 June 2015 (UTC)
(edit conflict)Dondervogel 2, There seems to be a growing consensus in this discussion that MOSNUM should not specify au or AU. (There's a difference of opinion as to whether MOSNUM currently prefers AU; Quondum says it does but I think that's a misreading.) Are you opposed to that consensus? NebY (talk) 19:28, 14 June 2015 (UTC)
With at least 4 editors arguing for standardization (Quondum, JorisV, Headbomb, and Dondervogel 2), I see no such consensus. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 19:52, 14 June 2015 (UTC)
None of the others you mention have said so clearly. Quondum said explicitly that s/he doesn't care if this is specified at the MOS level. —Alex (Ashill | talk | contribs) 22:16, 14 June 2015 (UTC)
This feels more than a little absurd to me. The only controversy I've seen stems from one party demanding that "au" be used on Wikipedia to the exclusion of "AU" because industry standards demand it, despite industry practice overwhelmingly using "AU". The Convert template can of course use both "AU" and "au" as inputs, and there's no reason to not do so. Huntster (t @ c) 21:04, 14 June 2015 (UTC)
So it seems to me that an acceptable solution would be that convert support both AU and au, and that MOSNUM should be worded carefully to avoid implying any guidance on non-SI units from the SI brochure? (BTW, what I read in the MOS was a reference to an article, which has changed since, and I should not have read any weight into that anyway. So, I'm not arguing for any specific unit, only for some clarity.)—Quondum 21:46, 14 June 2015 (UTC)
Agree with the view that we should allow both AU and au. If sometime down the road academic standards and practice agree on one of them, we can then reconsider the issue. --SteveMcCluskey (talk) 22:00, 14 June 2015 (UTC)
I particularly agree that the convert tool is not the place to make a decision like this. Irrespective of whether a consensus is reached that au or AU is preferred Wikipedia-wide, the template should let editors do what they want to within reason (and au and AU are both within reason). —Alex (Ashill | talk | contribs) 22:10, 14 June 2015 (UTC)
I totally agree, and I particularly like EEng's above "A template is a tool, not a cudgel."—I have been less eloquently arguing that at Template talk:Convert for a while. Someone has just added au to convert, so editors can now choose for themselves:
  • {{convert|12.3|au|abbr=on}} → 12.3 au (1.84×109 km; 1.14×109 mi)
  • {{convert|12.3|AU|abbr=on}} → 12.3 AU (1.84×109 km; 1.14×109 mi)
Johnuniq (talk) 00:59, 15 June 2015 (UTC)

What about abbreviations?[edit]

There seems to be a consensus for permitting both AU and au as unit symbols for astronomical unit. That is real progress. Also common are the abbreviations A.U. and (perhaps less so) a.u. Can we also agree these abbreviations are not permitted in lieu of a unit symbol? Dondervogel 2 (talk) 07:35, 15 June 2015 (UTC)

When I see 'au', I think Australia. My preference is to use AU for Astronomical Unit; that's usually how I see it used. Praemonitus (talk) 22:11, 16 June 2015 (UTC)

What exactly is the consensus then?[edit]

We should just standardize on "AU" as it is the only one that is frequently and commonly used in the field, by the professionals, and also used by popular science books and amateur astronomy publications. "standards" that are never used are not real standards, since they are not used. BIPM isn't even the relevant or competent authority in this area. If the convening authority is not related, then it's like those schemes to sell plots of land on the Sun and the Moon. Sure you get a nice piece of paper saying you have title, but it's only worth as much as the paper it's printed on.
WP:SOAP Wikipedia itself does not prescribe how the field should operate, it merely follows actual usage in the field. -- (talk) 08:45, 15 June 2015 (UTC)
Hmmm, it seems I spoke too soon. Would someone like to summarise what they think the consensus is? Dondervogel 2 (talk) 09:01, 15 June 2015 (UTC)
The IP seems to be on the right track. Consensus has been and still seems to be that "AU" is the preferred output on Wikipedia. That "au" was added as an alternative input for Convert doesn't change anything, it simply adds flexibility. Progress. Huntster (t @ c) 13:39, 15 June 2015 (UTC)
How about this: if one editor tries to change the style of an article from au to AU or vice versa, and another editor objects, the meta-rules imply that the change should not happen. What seems clear is that the MoS does not say that only AU or only au may will be used across all scientific articles. Does anyone object to that summary? It is all we need, for practical purposes. —Quondum 13:56, 15 June 2015 (UTC)
My impression is also that there is basically a consensus here for standardizing on using "AU". --JorisvS (talk) 13:59, 15 June 2015 (UTC)
In my opinion it is better to choose between AU and au, and do not feel strongly which of the two it should be. I would therefore support uniform adoption of AU across Wikipedia. Any objections to doing so? Dondervogel 2 (talk) 14:06, 15 June 2015 (UTC)
I don't think it's necessary for MOSNUM to rule between AU and au. Yes, AU appears to predominate at present but the IAU - in the IP's words a "relevant or competent authority in this area" - has chosen "au" and we can expect it to appear in RSs. I agree that MOSNUM could usefully say that "A.U." and "a.u." should not be used (we avoid phrases like "not permitted" here"). NebY (talk) 14:42, 15 June 2015 (UTC)
Which brings us back to my post of 07:35 this morning, which I rephrase now as

There seems to no consensus for making a choice between AU and au as unit symbols for astronomical unit, implying that both are permitted. That is real progress. Also common are the abbreviations A.U. and (perhaps less so) a.u. Can we also agree these abbreviations should not be used in lieu of a unit symbol?

Dondervogel 2 (talk) 14:52, 15 June 2015 (UTC)
@Dondervogel 2: I don't think anyone will object if you change "au" to "AU" in articles, even if "AU" is not formally chosen here. I have done it on occasion and no one has ever objected. --JorisvS (talk) 16:01, 15 June 2015 (UTC)
@JorisvS: Given there is no consensus to make the change you describe, I don't understand why anyone would want to replace an international standard symbol with a non-standard one. My preference is to use international standard symbols until there is consensus to depart from them. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 16:28, 15 June 2015 (UTC)
Well, I see basically a consensus that "AU" is much more common (inside and outside Wikipedia) and clearer and hence preferable, but that there is some disagreement whether this should be made explicit in the MoS. My point was that if you prefer to have "AU" everywhere over a mixture of "AU" and "au", then changing the few cases of "au" lying around to "AU" is unlikely to find opposition regardless of the MoS. --JorisvS (talk) 16:42, 15 June 2015 (UTC)
I just don't agree that widespread use makes something better by default. Years ago there was a debate about whether to use Mbps or Mbit/s as a symbol for megabits per second. Those in favour of "Mbps" argued that it was far more common, which it was. Those in favour of "Mbit/s" argued that international standards should be followed. I argued then to follow the appropriate international standard and so again. For this reason I prefer au over AU and see no justification for converting in the direction you suggest. My position would change if there were consensus here to use AU, but I don not see that consensus. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 10:33, 16 June 2015 (UTC)
Widespread use is what MOS and other relevant WP:POLICY uses (e.g. WP:COMMONNAME), unless some greater concern overrides it. If you disagree with the widespread use, demonstrate why a less common one overwhelmingly better for WP's mission, audience, technical needs, etc., don't just say WP shouldn't operate the WP does. It will continue to operate the way it does.  :-)  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  12:22, 22 July 2015 (UTC)

Pardon me again[edit]

In response to my previous query along these lines (#Pardon me) I was told that the closest thing to dispute on this issue was at Talk:Astronomical unit. That's it? Here's my usual, tiresome refrain:

A. It is an axiom of mine that something belongs in MOS only if (as a necessary, but not sufficient test) either:
  • 1. There is a manifest a priori need for project-wide consistency (e.g. "professional look" issues such as consistent typography, layout, etc. -- things which, if inconsistent, would be noticeably annoying, or confusing, to many readers reader); OR
  • 2. Editor time has, and continues to be, spent litigating the same issue over and over on numerous articles, either
  • (a) with generally the same result (so we might as well just memorialize that result, and save all the future arguing), or
  • (b) with different results in different cases, but with reason to believe the differences are arbitrary, and not worth all the arguing -- a final decision on one arbitrary choice, though an intrusion on the general principle that decisions on each article should be made on the Talk page of that article, is worth making in light of the large amount of editor time saved.
B. There's a further reason that disputes on multiple articles should be a gating requirement for adding anything to MOS: without actual situations to discuss, the debate devolves into the "Well, suppose an article says this..."–type of hypothesizing -- no examples of which, quite possibly, will ever occur in the real life of real editing. An analogy: the US Supreme Court (like the highest courts of many nations) refuses to rule on an issue until multiple lower courts have ruled on that issue and been unable to agree. This not only reduces the highest court's workload, but helps ensure that the issue has been "thoroughly ventilated", from many points of view and in the context of a variety of fact situations, by the time the highest court takes it up. I think the same thinking should apply to any consideration of adding a provision to MOS.

That's only my humble opinion of course. But humor me... where's the evidence that either (1) or (2) is satisfied? If not, why should MOS say anything at all about this? All I see here is a lot of people arguing in the abstract, divorced from actual article work. EEng (talk) 15:02, 15 June 2015 (UTC)

Yup, I agree. Although it did come in 2004 on that same talk page. Though I think it has been discussed to death, it hasn't come up all that frequently. Neither 1 nor 2 is satisfied; in fact, I think there's a pretty clear consensus with only one vocal objector that there is no need to harmonize AU or au project-wide. But if we do decide to harmonize, I think the consensus (clear, though perhaps slightly less so) is for AU over au. —Alex (Ashill | talk | contribs) 15:11, 15 June 2015 (UTC)
I guess we see things slightly differently. My purpose is only to document consensus. At present I see no consensus so there is nothing to document. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 16:43, 15 June 2015 (UTC)
@Dondervogel 2: Where do you see disagreement with using "AU" all over? --JorisvS (talk) 09:22, 16 June 2015 (UTC)
@JorisvS: Well, to start with I disagree with doing this myself unless there is consensus for it that would override the wider principle of following international standards. When I suggested (earlier in this same thread) that such a consensus might exist, it received objections from several editors. Do you think it is worth trying again. Perhaps it just needs to be phrased differently? Dondervogel 2 (talk) 10:39, 16 June 2015 (UTC)
@Dondervogel 2: Who expressed that and where? All I find is either agreement with standardizing on "AU", disagreement over whether the MoS needs to address this even if it is decided to standardize, and a somewhat vague position of Quondum, who appears to object mainly to how the MoS currently handles the situation, but not really to using "AU" if that is decided. --JorisvS (talk) 11:37, 16 June 2015 (UTC)
That isn't my interpretation, but rather than reading between the lines, let's just try it one more time to see what happens. I would support standardizing on AU if there is consensus for that. Are there any objections to adopting AU as the preferred symbol for astronomical unit on Wikipedia? Dondervogel 2 (talk) 12:31, 16 June 2015 (UTC)
Yes, objections. See (earlier thread) Template_talk:Convert#au look four 'Authority', IAU and BIPM. Apart from forumshopping (3 talkpages by now), I am with EEng that this MOS has no case to answer. -DePiep (talk) 13:40, 16 June 2015 (UTC)
As long at some clarity on the position is added, I'd be fine with any statement in the MoS on this. Even something as vague as "No specific symbol is preferred by the MoS for the astronomical unit." This would shortcut a lot of future wrangling. —Quondum 13:56, 16 June 2015 (UTC)
@DePiep: but article titles can differ from an officially sanctioned term if the unofficial term is more common. Why not do the same here? (Separately from whether the MoS should address this at all.) --JorisvS (talk) 15:37, 16 June 2015 (UTC)
Won't do content here, this is being forumshopped in three pages by now. -DePiep (talk) 15:39, 16 June 2015 (UTC)
@DePiep: Then your objection is hollow. This is the only place where I've discussed it because this is where I saw it. --JorisvS (talk) 17:14, 16 June 2015 (UTC)
Whatever, I won't get pulled in. I happened to talk somewhere else, how can you call that a "discussion"? Replying here would be oxygen for WP:FORUMSHOPPING. I'm not blaming you for this, but engaging is not the way to finish this talkmess. This talk is the last one of three AFAIK opened, so I can claim nullification of any outcome. -DePiep (talk) 17:40, 16 June 2015 (UTC)
Did you or did you not state your objections elsewhere? If yes, then I'd call that (part of) a "discussion". I asked you a question and I'd appreciate a response. If you won't do that here, elsewhere is fine to me (e.g. my talk page), but refusing to respond categorically to an editor who has not been involved in any of the discussions you refer to simply because that would be fuel for the "forumshopping" is no way to work cooperatively. --JorisvS (talk) 18:02, 16 June 2015 (UTC)
See? If I wrote something elsewhere, you claim you responded here and call that a discussion? Not. -DePiep (talk) 18:07, 16 June 2015 (UTC)
? I was talking about a discussion between you and others elsewhere, not between you and me. I was not involved in any of the other discussions, so I'm not familiar with your objections. That's why I asked and why I'd like a response, even if it is elsewhere. And if you have actually voiced your objections already to others, you can also simply refer to where you said it. --JorisvS (talk) 19:33, 16 June 2015 (UTC)

Proposal proposing not proposing[edit]

Proposal: There being no evidence at this time that a MOS provision is needed, that this discussion be ended with nothing added or changed to MOS.

  • Support as proposer. EEng (talk) 19:18, 15 June 2015 (UTC)
  • I dispute the premise that there is no evidence a MOS provision is needed. Who invented those rules for determining so called "evidence"? If there were no clear preference between AU, au, A.U. and a.u. then I would agree with EEng's proposal, but there is a clear preference, namely for AU. For me that is reason enough to document that preference. I abstain because I do not feel strongly enough either way to oppose. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 19:35, 15 June 2015 (UTC)
The rules are mine own, but they reflect a principle that I and others have been pushing for some time, to wit If there's no need for MOS to have a rule, there's a need for MOS to not have a rule. The reasons are given above. Absent such a need we shouldn't be achieving consensus here even if we can. EEng (talk) 22:20, 15 June 2015 (UTC)
Like I said, we see things differently. I find it confusing as a reader (not as an editor) to be confronted with multiple different symbols and abbreviations for exactly the same quantity. It would make my life much easier as a reader (not as an editor) if such inconsistencies were removed. This is the reason the SI chooses a unique symbol "m" for the metre, and does nor permit individual authors to use "met", "mtr" or "m." even if they do so consistently throughout an article. The MOSNUM is our SI. It is our tool for helping the reader. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 22:59, 15 June 2015 (UTC)
Yeah, but SI doesn't insist on either meter or metre, demonstrating that other considerations sometimes override the general principle that uniformity is usually better. Your argument is basically "A1" in my formulation above, but absent further evidence I don't buy that, any more than I buy that all date formats, or AD/BC vs. CE/BCE, need to be uniform project-wide. EEng (talk) 23:33, 15 June 2015 (UTC)
@EEng The spelling is completely irrelevant here, and the (uncharacteristic) weakness of your argument (what evidence might possibly be needed to demonstrate that having four different symbols for the same quantity is confusing?) irritates me. I now do feel strongly enough about this to oppose and change my position accordingly. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 08:53, 16 June 2015 (UTC)
  • Comment I don't see a problem with documenting what we've found and what we've agreed on. MOS is a guide, not a court that only gives rulings on substantial disputes, and it's quite possible - even desirable - that editors will seek guidance here during the ordinary processes of article creation and editing. I would suggest something along the lines that a literature search in 2015 found that "au" was now recommended (stipulated?) by the IAU and the BIPM, but that AU still predominated; either is acceptable and supported by Convert but consistency within an article is preferred. "A.U.", "a.u." and "ua" should not be used. NebY (talk) 23:48, 15 June 2015 (UTC)
The problem is that "we" aren't those actually editing articles using the unit (if they're here are they aren't identifying themselves -- anyway we'd want a much wider group to participate). For all we know such a group might decide that one form or another is best. EEng (talk) 23:54, 15 June 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose – having just gone through an exercise that has cost me many hours of arguing, based on what I did read in the MoS and on what I sought in the MoS and failed to find, I would be sorely put out if next time this issue arises I will find myself, and many other editors, spending time rehashing this yet again. EEng, I put it to you that there is plenty of evidence that some greater guidance is needed from the MoS on this, and thus that you are misapplying your principles. I am in agreement with the perspectives of both Dondervogel and NebY, except in that I categorically reject the conclusion as proposed. —Quondum 03:17, 16 June 2015 (UTC)
Where were you hashing it out, other than here? EEng (talk) 03:47, 16 June 2015 (UTC)
I brought it here after it had gone some way elsewhere; it is not as though I didn't link to it. Please don't be obtuse. —Quondum 06:07, 16 June 2015 (UTC)
Some people think my reasoning is acute. Sorry -- I forgot you were the OP. Look, I'm seeing one article (the article astronomical unit itself) at which there was such discussion. The rest was at places like convert and val. So as far as I can see actual editors of actual articles (and there must be zillions of them on comets and asteroids and whatnot) aren't asking for guidance on this. EEng (talk) 14:16, 16 June 2015 (UTC)
I apologize for my tone. I don't think we're far apart; I'm going to make a new observation below that focuses exclusively on the MoS wording, in particular a nuance that might need rewording. —Quondum 19:12, 16 June 2015 (UTC)
'Somewhere else' being Template_talk:Convert#au starting at 21:34, 12 June 2015. -DePiep (talk) 11:17, 16 June 2015 (UTC)

*Support. There is no need to specify one way or the other in the MOS, and the MOS suffers from instruction creep (to say the least). Adding an outcome of every discussion the MOS makes it less manageable and harder to read and thus less useful. But if we do add something to the MOS, the formulation by EEng NebY is a good starting point. (I wouldn't proscribe "A.U.", "a.u.", or ua, though. We don't need to list options that aren't recommended.) —Alex (Ashill | talk | contribs) 06:23, 16 June 2015 (UTC)

Wikipedia talk:MOSNUM

(not to scale)
I'm taking you off my Christmas card list. EEng (talk) 13:09, 17 June 2015 (UTC)
:D I wish editors would apply the "common sense" admonishment at the top of every guideline, which your idea implicitly replies on. Alas, this discussion has convinced me that it ain't so. —Alex (Ashill | talk | contribs) 13:11, 17 June 2015 (UTC)
I wonder if you meant the approach I suggested? I wouldn't have a problem with dropping the mention of "A.U.", "a.u." and "ua" and it might even be possible to take account of Quondum's categorical rejection - if I understand it correctly - with something along these lines: A literature search in 2015 found that "AU" predominated although "au" was now recommended (stipulated?) by the IAU and the BIPM. Both are supported by Template:Convert but consistency within an article is preferred. NebY (talk) 12:28, 17 June 2015 (UTC)
You're correct; I misread the signature line. I would definitely say "recommended" not "stipulated", since "recommend" is the word the IAU uses and they obviously have no authority to stipulate, since almost no one follows their recommendation anyway! —Alex (Ashill | talk | contribs) 12:52, 17 June 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose Given the disruptive insistence by some editors, mostly DePiep, that their view prevail and be enforced by the convert template if the MOS doesn't make some mention of AU or au, I now am leaning away from the view that we can leave the MOS alone. I now think we probably should say something. My preference is for NebY's formulation; I could also readily get behind just specifying AU per the vast majority of English-language sources. —Alex (Ashill | talk | contribs) 12:58, 17 June 2015 (UTC)
disruptive insistence by some editors, mostly DePiep -- Take a F-riday day off. I did not start this forumshopping. btw, I still claim any outcome is invalid for that reason. -DePiep (talk) 22:54, 22 June 2015 (UTC)
  • Support. I am astonished that I am supposed to redo the older discussion all again here. WP:FORUMSHOPPING? -DePiep (talk) 11:10, 16 June 2015 (UTC)
As was pointed out on Template talk:Convert, that is not the appropriate place to discuss something like this. And if you want older discussions, see Talk:Astronomical unit, where there was one discussion in 2004 and one in January 2015 (and the last few hours of December 2014); nothing had changed since that discussion, but it was restarted at Template talk:Convert anyway.
On the substance, DePiep, is it your view that this proposal would mean Wikipedia-wide adoption of au over AU? —Alex (Ashill | talk | contribs) 14:02, 16 June 2015 (UTC)
That's not the way to kill forumshopping. I don't do content -- this thread cannot decide, I claim fs. -DePiep (talk) 14:09, 16 June 2015 (UTC)
DePiep, today you argued on Template talk:Convert#au concerning "AU" "Please show me where MOS allows this deviation (contradiction) of BIPM/SI".[4] It seems as if your support for this proposal is not so much in order that MOSNUM should not take a stance, as EEng intended, but so that you can interpret it as by its silence definitively favouring one symbol (au) and barring the other (AU). NebY (talk) 19:34, 16 June 2015 (UTC)
Stop trying to pull me in a discussion. I stated that this topic is bein forumshopped, and three-page (or more?) discussion threads are impossible to perform. For this, I will claim any outcome here invalid. This thread might as well be closed & killed. -DePiep (talk) 22:10, 16 June 2015 (UTC)-DePiep (talk) 22:10, 16 June 2015 (UTC)
DePiep, you sought to use Convert to remove AU from articles ("AU to be be removed from the {{Convert}} data set, offending articles will be listed automatically for edit (up for change 'AU' into 'au')".[5] The use of "AU" is an appropriate matter for discussion here - Convert works within the scope of MOSNUM - and you yourself pleaded MOS as your WP authority for such a change. NebY (talk) 09:17, 17 June 2015 (UTC)
Stop confronting and blaming me for what I wrote elsewhere. That is my point: this discussion is multi-page, so invalid. I am not discussing with you here. DePiep (talk) 22:49, 22 June 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose. The MoS should clarify that, despite official sanction of "au", "AU" is far more common and clearer and hence preferred on Wikipedia. Not mentioning it may suggest differently. --JorisvS (talk) 10:00, 17 June 2015 (UTC)
  • Comment: As someone that edits asteroid articles, I think it is useful to remain true to what the source uses to prevent confusion for any readers that check the source. Most sources will use AU. -- Kheider (talk) 13:55, 21 June 2015 (UTC)
    Strongly oppose a mess of inconsistent symbols or abbreviations, each copied from the source that supports a particular statement. Jc3s5h (talk) 19:41, 21 June 2015 (UTC)
    Strongly support Jc3s5h strongly opposing source based units. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 20:20, 21 June 2015 (UTC)
  • This thread seems to have lost its way. There's no proposal for source-based units or any of those other awful things. The proposal is simply to close the discussion without making any change to MOS (which is currently silent on au/AU/a.u./A.U./whatever, as it is on almost all units). EEng (talk) 20:58, 21 June 2015 (UTC)
    If we not to follow sources, the only sensible option - in the absence of clear advice from MOSNUM - is to follow international standards. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 08:33, 22 June 2015 (UTC)
  • Strongly support: (this proposal to close the discussion without making any changes to the MOS). It's been hashed over once recently, not to the satisfaction of some who wish some form of standardization which was not agreed to, so there's no reason to go through it again. The Convert template is not the issue here, and is not required by MOS, and hence does not enforce a de fact standard in the absence of consensus either. Evensteven (talk) 05:28, 22 June 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose doing nothing: Perennial demands don't go away unless a "rule" is put into place (they sometimes still don't go away even then, but usually do).  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  12:18, 22 July 2015 (UTC)

Proposal to add "AU" to the MoS[edit]

The following discussion is an archived record of a request for comment. Please do not modify it. No further edits should be made to this discussion. A summary of the conclusions reached follows.
There appears to be near universal consensus for the idea that the use of "A.U." (i.e. as a "unit abbreviation", as opposed to a "unit symbol") is incorrect in these circumstances, and its use should be discouraged under the MOS. On the issue of the use of "AU" versus "au", there appears to be narrower, though still clear, consensus that "AU" is most commonly used as the unit symbol for Astronomical unit in the literature, and thus should be adopted as the unit symbol in the MOS. Therefore, there seems to be a consensus to add "AU" to the table, as proposed (with the "Comment" portion still subject to further debate and refinement). Note that "AU" vs. "au" in the table issue can always be revisited at a later date if the IAU preferred "au" version becomes the more widely adopted unit symbol in the literature. --IJBall (contribstalk) 16:21, 23 July 2015 (UTC)

Proposal: add "AU" to the table under the header "Specific units" as follows:

Guidelines on specific units
Group Name Symbol Comment
astronomical unit AU "AU" is the most commonly used unit symbol for the astronomical unit, both in popular and professional astronomical articles and is hence also used on Wikipedia, even though "au" is officially sanctioned by the IAU
  • Support as proposer. Feel free to tweak the comment. --JorisvS (talk) 10:29, 22 June 2015 (UTC)
  • Qualified Unqualified support. It is important to choose between au and AU. If au is chosen one only needs to point to the IAU (or BIPM) definition. If AU is chosen as proposed here (and I understand the reasons for doing so) I think it is important to include a comment, similar to the one proposed, to the effect that the international standard symbol is au. I say "similar" because I need to think about the precise wording. I will come back with a specific suggestion if there is support in principle for this proposal Dondervogel 2 (talk) 10:38, 22 June 2015 (UTC)
    Here is my suggested wording for the comment

    Most sources use “AU”, although “au”, “A.U.” and “a.u.” are also seen. Even though international standardisation bodies such as the IAU and BIPM specify “au” as the symbol for astronomical unit, the preferred symbol on Wikipedia is AU because it is familiar, and therefore most recognisable to readers of astronomy articles.

    Dondervogel 2 (talk) 13:53, 22 June 2015 (UTC)
  • support as it is the most widely used form and we should stop the pointless changing of these abbreviations back and forwards, and put a bullet into the argument above that seems to be getting nowhere. Graeme Bartlett (talk) 11:49, 22 June 2015 (UTC)
  • Support. AU is the most widely used, and we need some finality to all this. I approve of the mention that "au" is officially sanctioned. Huntster (t @ c) 13:25, 22 June 2015 (UTC)
  • Support per others and the extensive previous discussion on at least four article and WP talk pages. —Alex (Ashill | talk | contribs) 13:52, 22 June 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Even when leading bodies in astronomy make a decision, it takes a long time to filter down through the style guides of the leading journals and the practices of working astronomers. It is too soon to tell if the astronomical community will switch from "AU" to "au" after the pronouncements from the IAU. Also, this proposal is incomplete in that it only addresses the abbreviation without addressing the definition, which was also changed by the IAU. I suggest we wait five years. Jc3s5h (talk) 14:02, 22 June 2015 (UTC)
  • Not sure if the suggestion to wait five years was a joke. However, the IAU-recommended symbol from 1976–2012 was A (ref), which no one used. So the astronomical community never followed the recommended symbol, and I see no movement towards accepting "au", three years after the recommendation came into place. —Alex (Ashill | talk | contribs) 23:48, 23 June 2015 (UTC)
  • Support per JorisvS wording. As I have learned at WP:NASTRO, sometimes it is better for Wikipedia guides to get to the point and not spend too much time explaining themselves. -- Kheider (talk) 14:05, 22 June 2015 (UTC)
  • Provisional oppose (assuming there's no answer to the first two bullets below). I am still waiting for diffs showing that actual editors, on actual articles, are having disputes over this, so that guidance in MOS is needed.
  • Graeme Bartlett refers to "the pointless changing of these abbreviations back and forwards" -- a few diffs, please?
  • Ashill says there have been "extensive previous discussion on at least four articles" -- sorry if I missed something, but what four articles?
  • Huntster says "we need some finality to all this" -- well, we do need finality to this discussion of whether to put something in MOS, and that's easily done by putting nothing unless there's an answer to my requests in the first two bullets.
EEng (talk) 17:46, 22 June 2015 (UTC)
  • Diffs (from today alone, and only one per article: see the article history for additional edits): Gliese 876, Lambda Scorpi, Alpha Comae Berenices. But I agree that this has, fortunately, been more discussion in talk space than edit warring on articles.
  • Previous discussion: Talk:Astronomical unit (dating back more than a decade), Talk:Voyager 1 (later moved to Talk:Astronomical unit, here, and Template Talk:convert. I think there are others, but don't know where off the top of my head.
  • The main thing that convinced me that the MOS needs to say something was that an editor has made clear that if the MOS doesn't say something explicitly, the convert template will be used to enforce that editor's preferred format (au). —Alex (Ashill | talk | contribs) 18:19, 22 June 2015 (UTC)
Thanks. I notice, Ashill, that in an earlier discussion at Talk:Astronomical_unit, you said, "This seems like a solution in search of a problem. What problem does this proposal address? I agree that the British vs American spelling is a useful analogy. As long as each article is internally consistent, I see no need to enforce a project-wide standard." What changed your mind? If it's the convert thing, you'll see elsewhere on this page that (thank goodness) it was agreed convert must not be used to coerce stylistic choices, and both au and AU would be supported. EEng (talk) 18:59, 22 June 2015 (UTC)
For the reasons I gave here. I don't see the agreement you refer to from the problematic editors, which is why I have, unfortunately, come to the view that this discussion will come up again and again if the MOS doesn't simply say something. (I'd be fine if what it says is "either AU or au is fine" or "any symbol the editors of a given article damn well please is fine", but my reading of the discussion is that specifying AU has the most support. The one thing I would oppose is specifying a single symbol other than the most-widely-used one, which is AU.) —Alex (Ashill | talk | contribs) 19:29, 22 June 2015 (UTC)
  • The symbol au is not the preferred symbol of just one isolated editor. It is the international standard symbol for the astronomical unit, and I for one agree with the editor referred to by Ashill that you need a damn good reason to use something different. The only authority that can trump the RS to which he refers is MOSNUM itself. The opposition to this simple change has gone for far too long. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 18:27, 22 June 2015 (UTC)
But Dondervogel2, you seem to be supporting the change to MOS (which specifies AU), while at the same time implying au! Huh? And if you were really going around changing this in articles, even as this discussion was going on, then shame on you. EEng (talk) 18:59, 22 June 2015 (UTC)
Dondervogel 2 has, I think, made it quite clear that (s)he would prefer au but most strongly prefers harmonization across Wikipedia, even if the standardization is on AU. I appreciate the flexibility. —Alex (Ashill | talk | contribs) 19:29, 22 June 2015 (UTC)
@EEng: The editing I was doing was to purge "A.U." wherever I found it. I changed this to "au" because, as Ashill correctly asserts, this is my preferred symbol, and then others followed my trails and replaced "au" with "AU". If there is consensus for "AU" I am willing to support that in the interests of harmony. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 20:15, 22 June 2015 (UTC)
Dondervogel 2, "[The symbol 'au'] is the international standard symbol for the astronomical unit" is untrue. A true statement would be "The symbol 'au' is an international symbol for the astronomical unit. The IAU is just an association of astronomers, and people are free to accept or ignore their pronouncements. BIPM only has authority over SI; any other pronouncements are just mild suggestions. The usage in the major astronomy journals is at least as authoritative as the pronouncements of these two organizations. Jc3s5h (talk) 19:16, 22 June 2015 (UTC)
The way I see it BIPM accepted IAU's authority (for want of a better word) on the matter by adopting its recommendations. Scientific articles do not normally go to the trouble of defining units, relying instead on the authority of bodies like BIPM or ISO. In this instance, BIPM has chosen to follow the IAU, resulting in a conflict with ISO. I hope we can resolve this by all agreeing on AU. Otherwise you will have me arguing for "ua" :P Dondervogel 2 (talk) 20:26, 22 June 2015 (UTC)
I can't say I've personally submitted articles to academic journals (although I've worked in the same office as people who did). But I would expect authors of scientific journal articles to follow the style manual of the publisher. I would expect the authors to write the article with the publisher's style manual next to their keyboard, and do their best to use the symbols, citation style, and every other requirement in the manual, so as to get their article published as quickly as possible. I know my former employer had cash awards for publishing; the sooner you publish, the sooner the money shows up in your paycheck. Jc3s5h (talk) 21:55, 22 June 2015 (UTC)
  • OK, I give up. But look... drop the "comment". The table is full of choices (like bit/s instead of bps) that are more or less arbitrary, without explanation. MOS is bloated enough as it is. If you decide AU is what should be used, then just say so. Comments should only be used where something really needs explaining to avoid confusion e.g. calorie/kilocalorie/etc. EEng (talk) 22:03, 22 June 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose. The "Used by most RS's commonly"-rule can provide this. Dangerous for a sub-MOS to intrude SI this way. -DePiep (talk) 22:45, 22 June 2015 (UTC)
Oh and before I forget (you sure did): this thread is forumshopping, and thus invalid. BIPM is the authority. -DePiep (talk) 22:57, 22 June 2015 (UTC)
  • Support "AU" is most commonly used amongst Research, Pedagogical texts, Popular science and Amateur astronomy RS's -- (talk) 04:07, 23 June 2015 (UTC)
  • Comment. The proposal says "even though "au" is officially sanctioned by the IAU". First this reads a bit childish, I'd expect a better formulated background (for a MoS page). Anyway, the IAU decision is also approved by BIPM and so in SI. -DePiep (talk) 22:23, 23 June 2015 (UTC)
Oh dear. Does the proposal really say "AU is a speed"? -DePiep (talk) 22:25, 23 June 2015 (UTC)
No. The proposal shows a new line to be added to the existing table, in the "Length / Speed" section. EEng (talk) 22:45, 23 June 2015 (UTC)
I stand corrected on my secondary note. Now will the MOS include BIPM in this? -DePiep (talk) 23:44, 23 June 2015 (UTC)
I agree that the wording could be slightly better (as JorisvS noted in the proposal). "Recommended" would be better than "sanctioned". Proposed alternate wording (which has some similarities to that proposed by Dondervogel 2:

"AU" is the most commonly used unit symbol for the astronomical unit, both in popular and professional astronomical articles, and is hence also used on Wikipedia, The [[BIPM]] and [[IAU]] officially recommend "au".<ref>{{cite web | title=RESOLUTION B2 on the re-definition of the astronomical unit of length | url= | date=2012 | work=International Astronomical Union}}</ref><ref>{{cite web | title=SI Brochure | section=4.1, Table 6 | url= | edition=8 | date=2006, updated in 2014 | accessdate=2015-06-23}}</ref>

(If we're going to appeal to authority, the authority we're appealing to should be explicitly cited, I think.) I also note that the IAU recommendation is used in English and French; "au" may well be commonly-used in French even though it's not in English, which may explain the different choice. My preference is that English Wikipedia follow common English usage, which (as we have well established) is AU. Though I also take EEng's point that we could just drop the comment altogether. Because I'm pretty sure the horse is dead by now, I wouldn't object to any of these four options (the original comment, Dondervogel's comment, my comment, or no comment at all). —Alex (Ashill | talk | contribs) 00:05, 24 June 2015 (UTC)
  • Support Death to au and dots per majority practice in professional settings. When, and if, the world switches to au, so can we. But for now, we do what most do, and standardize on AU. Headbomb {talk / contribs / physics / books} 18:02, 6 July 2015 (UTC)
  • Comment In response to a point below (#Where are we on this now?) but moved here to keep substantive discussion together: including the defined value of one AU is excessive and counterproductive. I doubt there are any contexts on Wikipedia in which the difference between the old value (149597870700±3 m) and the new definition (149597870700 m, exactly) matter. If there is any article in which that level of precision matters, it should be stated explicitly anyway, since readers aren't expected to refer to the MOS to know which value is being used. —Alex (Ashill | talk | contribs) 15:20, 7 July 2015 (UTC)
    • @Ashill I would expect there to be articles for which the difference matters. I have seen publications that talk about the rate of change of the astronomical unit, measured in units of km per year (or similar). Clearly with the new definition the answer is identically zero, so in this context it does matter. I do agree with you that this kind of detail is for article space, and not mosnum. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 15:48, 7 July 2015 (UTC)
  • Support so that this kind of edit won't be necessary anymore. Rfassbind -talk 01:23, 8 July 2015 (UTC)
  • I'm fine with "no consensus for change to the MOS": I am not convinced that the encyclopedia benefits from a rule prohibiting a usage which is mandated by important bodies such as IAU and BIPM. And in response to the inevitable objections that standards bodies don't decide everything: no, but they are at least a part of what determines usage. To ignore them is at least as serious a violation of NPOV as to follow them slavishly. Archon 2488 (talk) 22:26, 7 July 2015 (UTC)
@Archon 2488: Hardly 'mandated', more like 'recommended'. And as noted above, they used to recommend "A", which never caught on. The common usage has been "AU" for a long time. Wikipedia also follows common usage with article titles, even if there is a different officially sanctioned one. Why should be we not do the same here? --JorisvS (talk) 09:15, 8 July 2015 (UTC)
I try to resist the seduction to redo the discussions. I thought this section is about concluding the proposal. -DePiep (talk) 09:23, 8 July 2015 (UTC)
  • Support because the "AU" usage is predominant in the field, most consistently used in reliable sources, while "au" and "A.U." appear to be uncommon. "AU" is also more easily recognizable as a unit symbol to more readers, "A.U." looks like an abbreviation of something (e.g. human initials), while "au" looks like a typo, and also coincides with both the ISO two-letter and IETF symbols for Australia. This is a essentially a repeat of WP:BIRDCON, and that massive RfC ended with precisely that rationale in the close, in regard to another 'standard" being advanced by one organization's adherents in a field that was not actually adopting their proposal in the real world, either.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  15:48, 20 July 2015 (UTC) Updated.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  12:24, 22 July 2015 (UTC)

The above discussion is preserved as an archive of the debate. Please do not modify it. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

Where are we on this now?[edit]

Can someone suggest how to get this discussion closed? As mentioned earlier I've dropped my opposition to the proposal (I still question how much good it does, but I don't feel strongly) but I don't think it's appropriate for me to evaluate consensus. I would like to stress, again, that I think there's no need for the comment. EEng (talk) 20:54, 26 June 2015 (UTC)

I support EEng's (implied) proposal for closure by adding the symbol 'AU', without a comment. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 21:17, 26 June 2015 (UTC)
The discussion of the proposal was started on 22 June. I suggest that we wait at least 7 days (ie until 29 June) before posting a request for closure. I think that leaving a discussion open for at least a week is normal and old practice. I'll suggest wording separately. —Alex (Ashill | talk | contribs) 00:06, 27 June 2015 (UTC)
Gosh, I thought it had been much longer. I guess a day away from the AU debate feels like a month in the country. EEng (talk) 00:19, 27 June 2015 (UTC)
Huh, it felt longer for me, too. I don't oppose not adding any comment at all when 'AU' is added, though I do think that if a comment about the reasoning behind it is useful to make editors understand why this particular choice has been made and to prevent people from posting objections simply because 'the IAU and BIPM have decided "au"'. --JorisvS (talk) 20:27, 27 June 2015 (UTC)

I propose posting a request for closure with the following text: "Would an uninvolved editor please assess the consesnsus at WT:MOSNUM#Proposal to add "AU" to the MoS. Please address three related questions: 1) Is there consensus to add a comment about the symbol(s) for astronomical unit to the manual of style? 2) If yes, is there a consensus which symbol(s), if any, should be specified? 3) If yes, is there a consensus for the explanatory text to be added?" —Alex (Ashill | talk | contribs) 18:40, 29 June 2015 (UTC)

This discussion has been stale for some time now. Above, there are seven support votes, one provisional oppose whose provisions were addressed, one oppose whose argument was debunked, and one oppose who didn't give any actual argument, but who considers this forum shopping, even though this is the talk page of the Wikipedia: page affected. Is this consensus? --JorisvS (talk) 08:44, 6 July 2015 (UTC)
I'm trying to work out who's arguments have been "debunked". Do you mean those of Jc3s5h. I do have some sympathy for his point of view, and would not object to au and AU both being permitted, in order to address that concern. It might be worth exploring whether that option might carry more support than the present proposal of AU only. I would support either one because what I seek is clarity. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 10:24, 6 July 2015 (UTC)
Is there anyone who disagrees with JorisvS's reading of the consensus? If no, then I'd say we're done and can implement the proposal (perhaps with some tweaks as suggested in the discussion). If yes, I suggest the formal request for closure route I proposed above. Pinging the two editors who opposed and haven't retracted: DePiep, Jc3s5h. I generally prefer not to assess consensus of a discussion I'm involved in unless it's unanimous, and I prefer not to interpret for others whether their concerns have been addressed (whether or not I agree). —Alex (Ashill | talk | contribs) 15:34, 6 July 2015 (UTC)
I oppose a statement that limits the symbol to AU; au should also be accepted since it is the current recommendation of the IAU, BIPM, and the "Instructions to Authors" of the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. I would prefer to see a mention that it has been changed from an experimental derived quantity to a defined quantity, with a link to the current definition. Jc3s5h (talk) 16:26, 6 July 2015 (UTC)
Are you suggesting that the use of au should be limited to the new IAU definition (a constant), while AU should refer to the old definition (a variable)? If so, would such a ruling be within the scope of mosnum? Dondervogel 2 (talk) 17:27, 6 July 2015 (UTC)
@Jc3s5h: That wasn't the question that was asked. The question was do you disagree with JorisvS's characterization of the consensus from the discussion? (Put another way: It's clear that you disagree with the substance of the result, but do you disagree that there is a consensus?) —Alex (Ashill | talk | contribs) 17:37, 6 July 2015 (UTC)
@Dondervogel 2: There is no mention in any of the documents I've read that au should be associated solely with the new definition. Of course, when editors are discussing some source or software that used/uses the old definition, the editor would be free to use it too, so long as there was some mention that an older definition was being used. Jc3s5h (talk) 19:05, 6 July 2015 (UTC)
Let me begin by saying I will count everyone's recent (beginning June 2015) response, including those who didn't come back to repeat their views over and over again when the question was re-asked over and over again. I count in favor Jorvus, Dondervogel 2, Graeme Bartlett, Headbomb,, and Kheider (6 editors). I count against DePiep, Jc3s5h, Quondum, Ashill, Steve McCluskey, Johnuiq, Neby, and Evensteven (8 editors). If the discussion were closed now, I think it should be closed as no consensus for change to MOSNUM. Jc3s5h (talk) 18:57, 6 July 2015 (UTC)
Not sure how you count me as an oppose, since I said Support in the discussion here. But sounds to me like we should as for closure from an uninvolved editor. I'll do so in 24 hours if there's no objection. —Alex (Ashill | talk | contribs) 19:21, 6 July 2015 (UTC)
I'd request that this section be kept to the meta discussion of where we are and whether there's consensus, keeping substantive discussion like whether we should include the specific quantity in the existing section. —Alex (Ashill | talk | contribs) 17:44, 6 July 2015 (UTC)
re Ashill 15:34. (As for !vote counting: I oppose per my 22:45 !vote; the rest is comments & arguments. I'm not sure the weighing & judging of the discussion by JorisvS at 08:44 I understand).
Have reread this plus the previous (proposal) thread. I'm fine with no consensus (no change). Both 'au' and 'AU' have a correct, though conflicting, base to be used in WP (one being by two authorities, the other one used by RS's). Following non-consensus (and so no changes to this MOS), any page editor will have to keep in mind: internal stylistic unity (i.e. use one spelling only throughout), any new article or first usage of au/AU has prevalence, editors will follow source habit, and explicit source quoted spellings (like in book title) should be followed. Nothing new. I guess not changing the MOS will keep AU in use a long time, and still leaves the option open that science community (by paper styles) evaluates to the new form. Forbidding 'au' would block this evolution. (What to do if one journal decides to change style next year? Two?). EEng's line makes most sense over this all.
All this is to say that no consensus will leave a viable solution, absorbing recent changes on long-time WP-rules in time. And, of course, it reflects the situation in that scientific domain. -DePiep (talk) 09:01, 7 July 2015 (UTC)
I have not judged anything, merely summarized the vote above and asked a question. As for including 'AU' in the MoS blocking such change: any decision to include it can simply be revisited if such a change were to occur. --JorisvS (talk) 09:05, 7 July 2015 (UTC)
As a summary, I don't recognise it. All in all, the !voting reads like an no-consensus with arguments presented (not just !votes). I think no consensus (to change the MOS) should be the conclusion. That's common WP practice, and no fatal consequences have been brought forward (i.e., no change does not disrupt anything). -DePiep (talk) 08:34, 8 July 2015 (UTC)
No change means we have to put with the nonsense symbols "A.U.", "a.u." and the like. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 09:01, 8 July 2015 (UTC)
Where was this added to the original issue? How are these unit symbols at all (are you confusing symbol and abbreviation?). Why would anyone be allowed to add nonsense symbols to an article?, per yesterday's MOS, or per any tomorrow's MOS? Cutting short: there are two options under discussion. Both have RS's. -DePiep (talk) 09:20, 8 July 2015 (UTC)
I see them as abbreviations myself, but they are used on many WP articles in lieu of symbols, and that is what I really meant. It's often done (not only on WP - also in peer-reviewed journal publications), and I strongly prefer a deprecation of this practice. And no, this is not new. Just me repeating the main reason why I support the proposal. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 10:06, 8 July 2015 (UTC)
The dotted versions are not part of the proposal. Full stop. As unit, they are not valid. How does current MOSNUM prevent you from changing those articles? -DePiep (talk) 11:23, 8 July 2015 (UTC)
It doesn't, and the dotted versions are part of the proposal because saying "AU only" implicitly excludes "A.U." and similar. But the dotted versions are used (on WP and beyond) and are very hard to track down (on WP) because the search engine ignores the dots. It would make all our lives easier if the dotted versions were discouraged from the outset. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 11:44, 8 July 2015 (UTC)
Dotted spelling is off topic (that is, all topics in this thread). I leave this thread. -DePiep (talk) 12:38, 8 July 2015 (UTC)
@Dondervogel2:I'll reply to Dondervogel2 in a new thread. Jc3s5h (talk) 12:11, 8 July 2015 (UTC)

Since the discussion has once again stagnated, I have put a request for closure up at WP:AN/RFC. —Alex (Ashill | talk | contribs) 22:04, 20 July 2015 (UTC)

Should "A.U." et al. be addressed on a wider level?[edit]

This is all WP:MOS#Units of measurement has to say about symbols vs. abbreviations:

  • Standard unit symbols do not require a full stop (period). However, non-standard abbreviations should always be given a full stop.

MOSNUM does not directly address the issue, but does contain one table entry that indicates it's hard to draw a bright clear line between symbols and abbreviations, and when to use dots and when not to. The statement in the table is "The abbreviations sq and cu may be used for US customary and imperial units but not for SI units." The good example is 15 sq mi and the bad example is 15 sq km

If you want to address the issue of dots in A.U. you need a new proposal. If I were going to do it, I'd go over to MOS and revise the statement I quoted above to improve the situation for all units, not just the astronomical unit. The statement I quoted fails to say what to do if there is a standard abbreviation for a unit. If peer-reviewed science journals use an abbreviation, that makes it a standard abbreviation. Period. (Pun intended). Jc3s5h (talk) 12:11, 8 July 2015 (UTC)

There is a bright clear line. By BIPM, and so in the wider SI, there is no "unit abbreviation", let alone a "standard" one. There only exists "unit name" and "unit symbol". (note that MOSNUM confuses "abbreviation" and "symbol" in the quote). -DePiep (talk) 12:45, 8 July 2015 (UTC)
@DePiep: Please fix that error; shouldn't be controversial.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  19:19, 20 July 2015 (UTC)
You mean propose a change to MOSNUM? Later, maybe. btw, if it's correct what I say anyone else could pick this up. -DePiep (talk) 20:06, 20 July 2015 (UTC)
No, I meant WP:Be bold and WP:JUSTFIXIT. But it doesn't say "unit abbreviation" in MOSNUM anyway, so there's nothing to fix.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  12:13, 22 July 2015 (UTC)
It's pretty clear that SI units only have names and symbols, but Wikipedia uses units outside SI, and historical evolution that lead to various ways of writing full and short versions of those units mostly went on when short versions were generally regarded as abbreviations. And yet, technical publications that continue to use non-SI units tend to combine them with other units as if the short forms were symbols. So I don't see a bright clear line for non-SI units. Jc3s5h (talk) 21:15, 20 July 2015 (UTC)
The distinction between "abbreviation" and "symbol" is so subtle that it is only meaningful if one spends way too much time focusing on the MOS; I doubt it means anything to most editors, let alone readers. So the choice of whether to use "AU", "au", and "A.U." to mean "astronomical unit" is all one discussion. Note that not a single editor in this discussion has supported the use of "A.U." anyway; there are just some existing articles (and reliable sources, albeit mostly older ones) that use "A.U.". The point is that explicitly recommending "AU", "au", or "AU or au" in MOSNUM proscribes "A.U." simply, efficiently, and unambiguously. Yes, it's already said elsewhere in MOSNUM that any abbreviation involving periods/full stops should not be used as a shortened version of a unit, which is why we don't need to say "not A.U." in the comments, but I think that this remains a valid talk-only argument for including "AU", "au", or "AU or au" in the unit table. —Alex (Ashill | talk | contribs) 12:58, 8 July 2015 (UTC)
I am 100% behind Ashill on this. To argue that use (or not) of "A.U." is somehow a separate issue is absurd. I can support any one of "AU", "au", or "AU or au", for precisely the reasons he states. I honestly don't give a toss which, but some pronouncement is needed IMO. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 13:44, 8 July 2015 (UTC)
Ashill: 'not a single editor supported A.U.'. Dv2: 'that A.U. is a separate issue is absurd.' Etcetera ad infinitum. -DePiep (talk) 14:15, 8 July 2015 (UTC)
Ashill writes "Yes, it's already said elsewhere in MOSNUM that any abbreviation involving periods/full stops should not be used as a shortened version of a unit...." No, I don't think MOSNUM says anything like that (but maybe I missed it). MOS just says that if you do use a standard symbol, you shouldn't use dots. MOS doesn't say that an editor who has decided to write a unit in a shortened form should prefer a standard symbol over an abbreviation if there is a standard symbol available.
DePiep's comment is all about SI. It certainly doesn't apply to units not accepted by BIPM for use with SI. It's highly questionable whether it applies to units accepted for use with SI by BIPM, since BIPM merely recognizes the usefulness of the units; it doesn't control them. Jc3s5h (talk) 13:50, 8 July 2015 (UTC)
OK, fair enough. So I think that makes the case for including "AU", "au", or "AU or au" explicitly in MOSNUM (which is just another line in a table, not a huge deal) a bit stronger. —Alex (Ashill | talk | contribs) 13:58, 8 July 2015 (UTC)
re 'abbr or symbol "is so subtle that it is only meaningful if one spends way too much time focusing on the MOS"' - too little time for you. Your response does not reply to the post it responds to.
re 'It certainly doesn't apply to ...' - bs. What a useless threads. Bye. -14:15, 8 July 2015 (UTC)

FWIW I am happy with "close with no consensus for change"; I could accept merely listing the different symbols in the table of units for the sake of completeness, which should not be controversial, but I don't yet see strong consensus for a prescription about usage. Archon 2488 (talk) 14:11, 8 July 2015 (UTC)

Chew on this you all. So there is a Proposal with !votes, it is "concluded", that forks into "dots allowed?", and no we arehere at this period:. -DePiep (talk) 23:29, 8 July 2015 (UTC)
  • As the sources don't agree, MOS should prefer AU, since it's obviously more recognizable as a unit symbol instead of some typo. WP is written for everyday readers, not just astrophysicists IAU and BIPM members with some WP:SSF axe to grind about lower-casing that their industry doesn't even consistently support. This closely mirrors WP:BIRDCON (in which one segment of editors on a biological topic were very strong supporters of a particular alleged standard (also regarding letter case) used by some-but-not-all RS, and they were overruled by the community because the usage wasn't a consistent standard used by RS, and it conflicted with everyday readers' expectations. We shouldn't use lower-case unit symbols unless the usage in RS is consistent (as it is for, e.g. km and other metric units).  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  15:45, 20 July 2015 (UTC) Same goes for "A.U." Because WP insists on permitting that formatting for "U.S." (and damned near nothing else on WP, not even human initials), despite the fact that even the US government barely uses it any more and most American citizens don't either, it's liable to be interpreted as a country name abbreviation, or just confusing in general. "AU" = principle of least astonishment for the general public, meanwhile people who actually work with that unit recognize it in all three forms.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  15:51, 20 July 2015 (UTC)
A minor point: it's not "astrophysicists" who have a SSF axe to grind about lower-casing; quite the contrary. The norm in astrophysics usage (both professional and for lay audiences) is AU, which is the main argument (as far as I'm concerned, at least) for using AU. It's a group of editors who insist that the IAU and BIPM recommendations are gospel despite not being followed by most writers, including astrophysicists, who are arguing for au. —Alex (Ashill | talk | contribs)
Noted! This means that this case really, really directly parallels WP:BIRDCON (another case of standards-activism by adherents to a particular organizational camp advancing a preferred pseudo-standard that is not actually the standard in their field at all. I'm going to take this to WP:ANRFC on that basis.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  12:00, 22 July 2015 (UTC)
Never mind; someone beat me to it.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  12:13, 22 July 2015 (UTC)

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

Added to table[edit]

Per the closure of the discussion above, I have added astronomical unit to the table. The closure indicates that further discussion is possible on the comment text; I've chosen the last proposed version of the comment text (which I suggested) because I thought that it incorporated the points raised in the discussion, but I by no means view that as a fully determined consensus. —Alex (Ashill | talk | contribs) 01:28, 27 July 2015 (UTC)

Binary prefixes again[edit]

@Dondervogel 2: Although consensus can change, you should not tag pages when the existing wording has been established by consensus, even if you do not agree with it. Furthermore, although I don't remember the correct tags, {{fact}} and {{dubious}} are not appropriate tags except on article pages.

If you want to reopen the discussion, this (not the guideline page) is the place. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 00:46, 25 June 2015 (UTC)

@Arthur Rubin:It is one thing for a guideline to say "use this unit symbol or that unit symbol". It is quite another for it to justify said recommendations by including factually incorrect (or at best dubious) statements. The statement in question is

The IEC prefixes kibi-, mebi-, gibi-, etc. (symbols Ki, Mi, Gi, etc.) are rarely used, even in technical articles

I maintain the statement is false and should be removed. More specifically, I proposed replacing it with

The IEC prefixes kibi-, mebi-, gibi-, etc. (symbols Ki, Mi, Gi, etc.) are rarely used outside technical articles

but that change was reverted, leaving the original outlandish, unproven, and (in my opinion) incorrect claim. If you disagree with my assertion that the statement is false, I challenge you to prove it correct. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 06:24, 25 June 2015 (UTC)

Specific proposal[edit]

My feeling is that the main forum in which the IEC prefixes are used is in peer-reviewed journals. I therefore propose the following more neutral wording

The IEC prefixes kibi-, mebi-, gibi-, etc. (symbols Ki, Mi, Gi, etc.) are rarely used, except in peer-reviewed journal publications

Dondervogel 2 (talk) 06:31, 25 June 2015 (UTC)

I cannot confirm that the IEC prefixes are used in peer-reviewed journals, so I believe your phrasing is misleading. I would find

The IEC prefixes kibi-, mebi-, gibi-, etc. (symbols Ki, Mi, Gi, etc.) are rarely used, except in some peer-reviewed journal publications

acceptable, although I don't see the need for change from the existing wording established by consensus. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 07:52, 25 June 2015 (UTC)
The need for change arises from the fact that the MOS statement is (at best) unproven, and therefore misleading. The prefixes are indeed used by "some" peer-reviewed publications, although it would also be accurate to say "many". Perhaps a further improvement is to replace "peer-reviewed journal publications" with "scholarly publications". Dondervogel 2 (talk) 08:32, 25 June 2015 (UTC)
  • No position on the mebi- mega- mubi- or whatever question itself, but in general MOS doesn't give justifying explanations for its choices unless necessary to avoid confusion e.g. the calorie/Calorie/etc. discussion at then end of this table -- and I think that's the way it should be. I don't know, however, whether "to avoid confusion" applies here or not. EEng (talk) 11:13, 25 June 2015 (UTC)
    Would you like to comment about whether, in principle and always assuming that there is agreement to including a justification in the first place, the justification should include a controversial statement that is not backed up by a source? Dondervogel 2 (talk) 12:31, 25 June 2015 (UTC)
Obviously we shouldn't be reciting something without basis, but the usual SYNTH and OR restrictions emphatically do not apply to project material such as this. EEng (talk) 13:07, 25 June 2015 (UTC)
@Arthur Rubin: Do you agree with EEng that the MOS should not state something without basis? If so, what is the basis for "IEC prefixes ... are rarely used, even in technical articles"? Dondervogel 2 (talk) 17:16, 25 June 2015 (UTC)
DV2, I should interject here that, where wording has been achieved by consensus and has been around a while, it's incumbent on you to check the discussions that led to that wording to see if you can find the reasoning behind it, before challenging others to back up the wording for you. Have you done that? EEng (talk) 17:45, 25 June 2015 (UTC)
Short answer is "No". Long answer is "Are you sure it is wise to dig into the history?" Remember that at least two editors left Wikipedia in disgust at the way things mebi- were handled on this page (though one of them eventually returned), and a third referred to it as a "snakepit", so I question the wisdom of re-opening old wounds. I honestly think it is best on this occasion to examine this on its merits from scratch. Today I sense a completely different (more pleasant) atmosphere to the one that led to the present choices and wording, an observation that I attribute in no small part to your arbitration efforts. Are you are willing to oversee the proceedings on this basis? Dondervogel 2 (talk) 18:53, 25 June 2015 (UTC)
How sweet of you to say; I try my best. Just so you know I doubt I'll be participating in this issue beyond trying to get it off on the right foot -- I just don't feel I've got my mind wrapped around it. Look, at the very least you should post links to the prior discussion(s) you think are relevant, and briefly say how they fit into your new thinking. EEng (talk) 21:10, 25 June 2015 (UTC)
I will try. It seems the "rarely used" wording originates from this edit on 30 July 2013 by Quondum. I will see what I can find on the talk page in July 2013 that might help. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 21:39, 25 June 2015 (UTC)
I can see no relevant discussion on the talk page current at the time of the edit. Perhaps Quondum can explain his thinking at the time? Dondervogel 2 (talk) 21:48, 25 June 2015 (UTC)
  • The proposed wording should not be added. No one has even demonstrated that the IEC prefixes are used in computer-related peer-reviewed journals, much less peer-reviewed journals in general. Bear in mind that since computers have permeated every aspect of life, we can expect to see large quantities of bits and bytes described in all kinds of journals, even those which are not about to computers. Jc3s5h (talk) 19:28, 25 June 2015 (UTC)
My first proposal made the assumption that most Google Scholar hits are to peer-reviewed journals, but I accept they might not be, which is why I changed the proposal to "scholarly publications". Dondervogel 2 (talk) 20:10, 25 June 2015 (UTC)
Scholarly publications, whether peer-reviewed journals or some other form of publication, are likely to make mention of large quantities of bits or bytes, no matter what field. But all the fields with the possible exception of electronics engineering and computer science are likely to use the popular, rather than IEC prefixes. Thus the IEC prefixes are probably rare even in scholarly publications. Jc3s5h (talk) 21:43, 25 June 2015 (UTC)
You say "probably" rare because you don't know, and that is precisely my point. Why do we feel the need to make a statement that we cannot defend? That is precisely why it should go. By the way, I have just noticed this much more neutral wording on Unit prefix: "Since the standardisation of the new terms, they have been used mainly in scientific literature and are now part of the International System of Quantities. Their adoption in popular publications remains limited.". Dondervogel 2 (talk) 12:10, 26 June 2015 (UTC)

EEng proposes[edit]

Will you marry me? Just kidding. OK, a coupla things:

The IEC standard prefixes kibi-, mebi-, gibi-, etc. (symbols Ki, Mi, Gi, etc.) are not familiar to most Wikipedia readers, so are generally not to be used except under the following circumstances...
  • Somewhere in the last two or three years it became
The IEC prefixes kibi-, mebi-, gibi-, etc. (symbols Ki, Mi, Gi, etc.) are rarely used, even in technical articles, so are generally not to be used except:
  • when the majority of cited sources on the article topic use IEC prefixes,
  • in a direct quote using the IEC prefixes,
  • when explicitly discussing the IEC prefixes,
  • in articles in which both types of prefix are used with neither clearly primary, or in which converting all quantities to one or the other type would be misleading or lose necessary precision, or declaring the actual meaning of a unit on each use would be impractical.

with a footnote reading

Wikipedia follows common practice regarding bytes and other data traditionally quantified using binary prefixes (e.g. mega- and kilo-, meaning 220 and 210 respectively) and their unit symbols (e.g. MB and KB) for RAM and decimal prefixes for most other uses. Despite the IEC's 1998 International Standard creating several new binary prefixes (e.g. mebi-, kibi-) to distinguish the meaning of the decimal SI prefixes (e.g. mega- and kilo-, meaning 106 and 103 respectively) from the binary ones, and the subsequent incorporation of these IEC prefixes into the International System of Quantities (ISQ), consensus on Wikipedia in computing-related contexts currently favours the retention of the more familiar but ambiguous units "KB", "MB", "GB", "TB", "PB", "EB", etc. over use of unambiguous IEC binary prefixes. For detailed discussion, see Complete rewrite of Units of Measurements (June 2008).

Personally I prefer the "unfamiliar to readers" approach, of the two, but really I don't see why any such explanation at all is needed. I suggest simply:

The IEC prefixes kibi-, mebi-, gibi-, etc. (symbols Ki, Mi, Gi, etc.) are generally not to be used except...

-- which gives the same guidance without the commentary. I suggest retaining the footnote, which simply emphasizes that this wasn't an accidental decision. EEng (talk) 21:37, 26 June 2015 (UTC)

  • I support EEng's proposal. At least part of the footnote is needed because it explains the choice between ambiguity and unfamiliarity, and states that familiarity is preferred even though it results in ambiguous unit symbols. I'm not saying I agree with the reasoning. Just that I consider it important to document that reasoning. The footnote could probably be shortened without losing that essence, but it serves the required function as is. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 22:49, 26 June 2015 (UTC)
  • I don't support any of the changes mentioned above because consensus has not changed to favour the use of IEC prefixes in the real world.Fnagaton 14:30, 27 June 2015 (UTC)
The proposal in this thread doesn't change the recommendation about when to use IEC prefixes in WP articles (i.e. hardly ever) which is all the guideline should concern itself with. It removes the side statement about what's used in outside sources, which seems to be the point of contention, and doesn't serve any purpose that I can see in guiding editing. EEng (talk) 14:39, 27 June 2015 (UTC)
The part that is proposed to be removed or changed does help guide editing because it reinforces the message that IEC prefixes shouldn't be used. Without that part of the guideline then some could argue that "hey look I think the guideline supports my use of IEC prefixes because I think they're more common now". Without the text it gives more wiggle room to someone who might like using IEC prefixes in articles. Fnagaton 06:34, 28 June 2015 (UTC)
Huh? The guideline clearly sets out the restricted cases in which mebi/mibi/mubi are to be used. There's no wiggle room at all based on anyone's perception of use in sources of various kinds. The statement about the rarity of such use is superfluous, and if anything invites someone to think, "Well, this guideline seems to be based on rarity of use in the wild. I think that's changed now, so I guess I'll ignore the guideline." So it's quite the opposite of what you're saying. EEng (talk) 06:49, 28 June 2015 (UTC)
The phrase IEC prefixes are rarely used, even in technical articles, so are generally not to be used gives important context from the lengthy discussions held years ago. Without it someone reading the guideline might not understand the context of those discussions. Hence wiggle room. Fnagaton 12:23, 29 June 2015 (UTC)
You keep saying this, but there's nothing in the guideline (even omitting the talk of rarity in sources) that suggests any wiggle room. MOS rarely gives justifying explanations for its choices, and that's the way it should be—​MOS is bloated enough as it is. Talking about rarity in the outside world doesn't help editors apply the very clear list of exceptions any better. EEng (talk) 14:03, 29 June 2015 (UTC)
But could it be reworded so not apparently circular? Tony (talk) 13:44, 29 June 2015 (UTC)
@Tony1: Good idea. And while we're at it, why not reword it so that it is not easily refutable? Dondervogel 2 (talk) 14:32, 29 June 2015 (UTC)
It would seem DV2 has a point. Perhaps we should go back to the wording (buried in my OP to this subthread)
The IEC standard prefixes kibi-, mebi-, gibi-, etc. (symbols Ki, Mi, Gi, etc.) are not familiar to most Wikipedia readers, so are generally not to be used except under the following circumstances...
Can we agree that's indisputable? EEng (talk) 16:03, 29 June 2015 (UTC)
Not sure about indisputable (that would be a challenge :P), but I would not dispute "not familiar to most Wikipedia readers" myself, and I don't believe any regular visitors to this page would either. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 16:24, 29 June 2015 (UTC)
Just wait. This is MOS, remember. EEng (talk) 22:02, 29 June 2015 (UTC)
It still doesn't convey a succinct summary of the many pages of discussion as well as IEC prefixes are rarely used, even in technical articles, so are generally not to be used. Which is rather the point. If it said IEC prefixes (insert examples here) are not familiar to most Wikipedia readers and are rarely used, even in technical articles, so are generally not to be used then it would be an improvement. Fnagaton 13:01, 30 June 2015 (UTC)
The purpose of the guideline is not to reflect discussion for the sake of reflecting discussion, but to (a) say what should happen in articles and (b) if necessary (and it's usually not necessary) add explanation or motivation to help editors better understand and implement (a). Given that, I'm not sure what role is played for the guideline to talk about what various sources use. What I think does help (or might help, anyway) is to talk about the fact (if we agree it's a fact) that most readers are unfamilier with IEC prefixes. That's an explanation that speaks directly to why the guideline helps articles be as comprehensible to readers as possible. EEng (talk) 14:05, 30 June 2015 (UTC)
The purpose of the guideline is to reflect discussion. It's entirely appropriate to include a summary of those discussions in the guideline for some subjects and especially this subject since it went on for so long before. What benefit is there from removing an accurate summary? None that I can see. Fnagaton 11:10, 1 July 2015 (UTC)
The purpose of the guideline is to reflect the outcome of the discussion, not the content of the discussion -- that's what the discussion archives are for. It's inappropriate to include a summary of the discussion unless it helps editors understand what they are expected to do when editing because MOS is far, far too bloated, to the point that its usability is already seriously impaired. Thus if something does not need to be included, then it needs to be not included. Furthermore, include background reasoning (unless it helps editors understand what's expected, or explains a counterintuitive guideline) invites quibbling, especially if (as here) the stated reason seems to be open to question. The guideline to avoid IEC was based on much more than its prevalence in sources, and to state that as if it were the only basis for the guideline gives, in fact, a distorted view of the discussion, and (as already stated) thereby invites quibbling. EEng (talk) 17:01, 1 July 2015 (UTC)
The outcome of the discussion related to the guideline way back then was basically to make sure that people know IEC prefixes are rarely used, even in technical articles, so are generally not to be used which is why including that text in the guideline is appropriate.Fnagaton 13:53, 3 July 2015 (UTC)

Template:Op Um, no. As I said in the opening of this thread, the outcome of the big discussion long ago was to say that IEC is unfamiliar to readers. It's only recently that "rarely used in sources" got added. When things settle down in other threads I'll be re-proposing the modifications I suggested above. EEng (talk) 04:55, 4 July 2015 (UTC)

I was part of those discussions years ago and the phrase used in the guideline IEC prefixes are rarely used, even in technical articles, so are generally not to be used is in line with those discussions and correctly and honestly represents the conclusions and outcome of those discussions. Fnagaton 09:24, 4 July 2015 (UTC)
So you keep saying, except that's not the text that was apparently agreed upon. EEng (talk) 12:29, 4 July 2015 (UTC)
Unfortunately what you're saying isn't accurate. The phrase used in the guideline is in line with those discussions and correctly and honestly represents the conclusions and outcome of those discussions. Fnagaton 10:39, 5 July 2015 (UTC)
So you keep saying. In fact the "rarely used" wording didn't appear until July 2013 [7]; the edit summary reads changed stated motivation to a more objective basis; no change to actual guideline (as per talk), but I'm unable to find any such discussion. Can you point us to it? EEng (talk) 11:06, 5 July 2015 (UTC)
The discussion is linked in the edit.Fnagaton 11:13, 5 July 2015 (UTC)
No, it's not. You seem to be talking about the link to the 2009 discussion which led to the "unfamiliar to readers" wording. If you're saying there's consensus in there for the "rarely used" wording introduced without further discussion four years later, please point to it specifically. EEng (talk) 11:30, 5 July 2015 (UTC)
I think the current wording, which was changed two years ago, reflects the consensus in the discussions. I noticed the change at the time and thought it reflects the consensus in the discussions back then and I think it still reflects consensus from those discussions. The discussions did specifically talk about how IEC prefixes are rarely used in technical articles and hence why they're unfamiliar to readers. You can read the entire talk archive to find the general consensus around this wording. I don't think you were part of those discussions back then, were you? Fnagaton 11:37, 5 July 2015 (UTC)
For the last time: please do the courtesy of pointing to the specific place in the 2009 discussion at which editors reached consensus for the "rarely used" wording. Otherwise, the history of what has been actually in the guideline over the years is against you -- the guideline installed (with, presumably, all participants in the discussion watching) said "unfamiliar to readers"; two years ago someone changed the wording, without further discussion, to "rarely used [etc etc]". You say the discussion is actually there back in 2009, so point to it; if necessary, give a search string I can use after uncollapsing all the collapse boxes. EEng (talk) 11:51, 5 July 2015 (UTC)
Please make read the discussion archives before making demands of others. There doesn't have to be agreement on precise and exact wording for every minute change in the guideline text, the only requirement is that it follows the talk page consensus. The change made two years ago reflects the consensus in those discussions. Fnagaton 12:11, 5 July 2015 (UTC)


EEng disposes[edit]

I did look, and since you keep dodging the question, in a moment I will change the current wording --

The IEC prefixes kibi-, mebi-, gibi-, etc. (symbols Ki, Mi, Gi, etc.) are rarely used, even in technical articles, so are generally not to be used except...

(inserted two years ago without apparent discussion [8], despite the implication of its edit summary) to wording following that actually installed after that 2008 discussion [9]:

The IEC prefixes kibi-, mebi-, gibi-, etc. (symbols Ki, Mi, Gi, etc.) should not be used except...

I suggest that reinsertion of any motivating comments ("rarely used" or "unfamiliar to readers"), which have caused anguish, should happen only either after fresh discussion, or after someone points to earlier discussion (subsequent to the giant 2008 discussion) agreeing on such language. EEng (talk) 16:09, 5 July 2015 (UTC)

Just to confirm I support Eeng's edit. This is definitely an improvement. I would also support some form of rationale being reinstated, but only if based on facts. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 18:23, 5 July 2015 (UTC)
The talk archives contain failed attempts to find many technical articles using the prefixes and the consensus, the conclusion being that technical articles hardly use the IEC prefixes compared to the much more common use found in the majority of sources. Fnagaton 11:20, 6 July 2015 (UTC)
You've repeatedly refused to point out where "the consensus, the conclusion" actually is, It ought to be a trivial point, since we don't disagree on what the guideline should tell editors to do i.e. don't use IEC; the question is only whether to include this aside that IEC is "rarely used".
Now you've reinserted the "rarely used" verbiage, your edit summary being [10] "We're not done talking yet." Actually, we are, if that "talk" continues to consist of you saying "there was consensus reflects the consensus general consensus there was consensus reflects the consensus general consensus there was consensus reflects the consensus general consensus there was consensus reflects the consensus general consensus there was consensus reflects the consensus general consensus", over and over and over and over and over and over, but refusing to point to anything to that up more specific than a 400k discussion (you can take that in kilobytes or kikiwikibytes -- either way, it's just an approximation). I once again challenge you to do so. Is there some reason you can't or won't do that? EEng (talk) 13:37, 6 July 2015 (UTC)
I have not repeatedly refused anything, I've clearly explained that the talk archive contains the information you request and it's actually linked in a footnote on the talk page. I have also repeatedly explained that I think the change you undid from two years ago reflects the consensus from the talk archive. I undid your change because we're still talking about it and because I don't think your edit reflects consensus. How about the original editor of the change is asked what they meant with regards to their comment? I was active in the discussions when consensus was decided and as explained the consensus is represented by the edit you reverted. I think I asked before, but were you active in the talk archive when consensus was reached? I don't see your name there, which is why I ask. Fnagaton 14:18, 6 July 2015 (UTC)
The link in the footnote just points to the same 400k discussion you've mentioned over and over, which (as explained) I have searched, in vain, for anything like the consensus you keep claiming is there. No, I did not participate, but you did, which is why it ought to be easy for you to point to what you're talking about. For the 100th time, where is it, specifically? EEng (talk) 01:42, 7 July 2015 (UTC)
Start here It talks about how the prefixes are hardly/rarely/not used much in literature. Fnagaton 13:51, 7 July 2015 (UTC)
OK, thanks. I've looked it over, and the problem still is that while I see a lot of assertions and links and stuff, where's the point where someone says, "Well, is there consensus for the idea that the IEC prefixes are rarely used [something something something]?" and then a lot of other people say, "Yeah, I'm on board with that." -- ? EEng (talk) 05:06, 8 July 2015 (UTC)
<bump> EEng (talk) 04:15, 11 July 2015 (UTC)
That would be related to the "follow current literature" discussions. Basically it's the idea the because IEC is rarely used in most of the common literature on the subject then then shouldn't be used in general articles. Fnagaton 05:44, 11 July 2015 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── You're not answering the question I asked. This discussion is not about what the guideline should recommend about what units should be used, and when. That's agreed. This discussion is only about whether the guideline should, as an aside not affecting its instructions to editors, add the assertion that

The IEC prefixes kibi-, mebi-, gibi-, etc. (symbols Ki, Mi, Gi, etc.) are rarely used, even in technical articles, so are generally not to be used except:

instead of simply

The IEC prefixes kibi-, mebi-, gibi-, etc. (symbols Ki, Mi, Gi, etc.) are generally not to be used except:

I ask again: Where, specifically was the consensus for that idea? For a long time you said it was somewhere in Wikipedia_talk:Manual_of_Style_(dates_and_numbers)/Archive/Complete_rewrite_of_Units_of_Measurements_(June_2008). After I couldn't find it, you said it was (more specifically) in Wikipedia_talk:Manual_of_Style_(dates_and_numbers)/Archive/Complete_rewrite_of_Units_of_Measurements_(June_2008)#Comments_on_binary_prefix here. Since I still can't find it there, you've pointed me to this new link, but I don't find it there either. Now for the final time: is there, or is there not, a place where the rareness-of-use of IEC prefixes is agreed upon for inclusion in the guideline, and if so, where exactly is it? EEng (talk) 06:29, 11 July 2015 (UTC)

It's right there in the links. The consensus across those links is that because they're rare and hardly used then following the current literature means using the units that are represented in most sources on the subject. That's the general gist of of all those links. I think we should ask person who did the edit, don't you agree? Fnagaton 13:02, 14 July 2015 (UTC)
There is also an urgent matter, some people are reverting the factually accurate edits about how KB/MB/GB/TB etc are also used in the binary sense. Basically removing the facts from artiles about binary prefixes. This makes the articles less inclusive and less useful of properly sourced information.Fnagaton 13:04, 14 July 2015 (UTC)

Re-proposing removal[edit]

"That's the general gist" is not "consensus". I conclude there was no proposal, much less consensus, and as previously stated an editor added this text years after the discussion you keep pointing to, and at that time there was no discussion either. Therefore I believe it should be removed from the guideline. Please remember that we're not talking here about any change to what the guideline tells editors to do, but merely a side assertion i.e changing
The IEC prefixes kibi-, mebi-, gibi-, etc. (symbols Ki, Mi, Gi, etc.) are rarely used, even in technical articles, so are generally not to be used except:
The IEC prefixes kibi-, mebi-, gibi-, etc. (symbols Ki, Mi, Gi, etc.) are not to be used except:
I'm pinging everyone who participated here -- Dondervogel_2, Jc3s5h, Tony1, Arthur Rubin. EEng (talk) 14:51, 14 July 2015 (UTC)
  • The prefixes are widely used in scholarly articles. Any assertion to the contrary is POV that should have no place at mosnum. I support EEng's proposal Dondervogel 2 (talk) 14:55, 14 July 2015 (UTC)
To be clear, the reasoning for removing the "it's rare" verbiage is not that it's false, but that it's irrelevant. I neither know (globally) nor care whether it's true or false. EEng (talk) 02:57, 15 July 2015 (UTC)
  • The guideline need not state why it was established, so I agree with the change to the guideline; provided that any attempt to modify the guideline to increase usage of IEC binary prefixes must be preceded by a revert to the previous wording. I don't consider it a necessary part of the guideline, although it was apparently accurate at the time it was added. In other words, I agree that the existing wording need not be in the guideline, but that any argument related to the usage of the prefixes in (some) technical journals does not amount to an argument for increased use on Wikipedia. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 19:28, 14 July 2015 (UTC)
  • I think we're done here. I'm removing the "rarely used" phrase, as agreed by all except Fnagaton. EEng (talk) 02:31, 18 July 2015 (UTC)
  • I don't think the rarely used part should be removed. I'm everting it because the old wording is much much better and it shouldn't be changed because "any attempt to modify the guideline to increase usage of IEC binary prefixes must be preceded by a revert″.Glider87 (talk) 13:51, 19 July 2015 (UTC)
  • Dondervogel2 is editing against consensus again. Looking back through his edit history it's obvious he's trying to revert binary prefix related edits in other pages.Glider87 (talk) 13:47, 20 July 2015 (UTC)
There is no consensus for removing the text EEng, please stop and desist from making changes without consensus. Edit warring is not the way to add stuff to guidelines or any other page.Fnagaton 14:59, 23 July 2015 (UTC)

Complaints about pinging[edit]

When you say "I'm pinging everyone who participated here" that would be seen as canvassing? Also you didn't ping everyone involved. Changing the guideline years after just because someone puts in an incorrect fact tag isn't a good reason. Fnagaton 12:17, 17 July 2015 (UTC)
Only a sockpuppet would likely know. Kbrose (talk) 12:24, 17 July 2015 (UTC)
No, the list of people involved "Dondervogel_2, Jc3s5h, Tony1, Arthur Rubin" isn't a complete list of people involved in the talk page archives I posted. I don't see Greg in that list for example. Or Headbomb. Or Glider. Fnagaton 12:40, 17 July 2015 (UTC)
Greg who? Tony (talk) 03:04, 18 July 2015 (UTC)
I pinged everyone who had participated in this thread to comment on the proposed resolution. That's no canvassing. EEng (talk) 02:31, 18 July 2015 (UTC)
@Tony1: Fnagaton refers to Greg_L, who has already been made aware of this discussion, by Fnagaton himself. I guess that action would be considered canvassing? Dondervogel 2 (talk) 07:49, 18 July 2015 (UTC)
You're wrong TB2 because Greg had already seen my edit history.Fnagaton 14:57, 23 July 2015 (UTC)
Greg L left WP a long time ago. I am in very occasional contact with him. Tony (talk) 08:15, 18 July 2015 (UTC)
  • The incorrect arguments put forward by Kbrose are a good example of why the guideline text should unambiguously state the consensus that The IEC prefixes kibi-, mebi-, gibi-, etc. (symbols Ki, Mi, Gi, etc.) are rarely used, even in technical articles, so are generally not to be used. Anything less direct means those with incorrect arguments will try to find ambiguity in the guideline to use IEC prefixes in articles. Fnagaton 13:52, 17 July 2015 (UTC)

Binary prefixes should be used as freely as any other standard unit[edit]

This continued squabbling over binary prefixes is utterly disturbing and plain contrary to any intellectually meaningful process. Binary prefixes are standards, are being used in thousands of software applications and a growing number of operating systems. Academic publications use them. All standards bodies support them. People who actually deal in modern software matters encounter them frequently and when they do there is no confusion about the meaning of units. The unit are clear, clean, and logical, and distinguishable. The only reason they are being shunned on WP is that there exists a small army of retro-thinking activists and their sock puppets who dominate the discussion, while the world moves on and uses the units around the world. It is time that Wikipedia follows suit and stops the activist minority from policing the content of WP and reverting any usages of the units. The argument that most users of WP are unfamiliar with the units is an unproductive and counter-intelligent argument that should befuddle anyone. WP has an abundance of articles and article chapter that deal with these units that no reader should have any problem of resolving their lack of knowledge, just as they do with any other topic. Kbrose (talk) 18:45, 5 July 2015 (UTC)

I am neutral on the question of what the guideline should say, but as a point of information I certainly "deal in modern software matters" (37 years as a computer engineer, and eight as a consultant in intellectual property for software and computer systems) and I've almost never seen the IEC prefixes used. So cool it with the unfounded aspersions and certainty of belief. Looks really bad. EEng (talk) 23:29, 5 July 2015 (UTC)
Well, you only have to look for the last few years, ten the most, and apparently you haven't been looking very hard or not at all lately. So cool your experience exaggerations and look what's really happening around the world. This whole controversy is absurd. Kbrose (talk) 02:24, 6 July 2015 (UTC)
No exaggeration, I assure you, and again your presumption is on display. I don't claim that my experience is all-encompasing, and in fact that's my point: no one's is, including yours. Your should remember that. EEng (talk) 03:01, 6 July 2015 (UTC)
The entire familiarity issue is a red herring, and is a stupid reason for banning anything from an Encyclopaedia. How many readers of Wikipedia have ever heard of a Gal, for Heaven's sake? About 0.001 %? Is that a reason for banning its use? Of course not! The Gal, like any other unit, should be used if it helps the articles get their message across clearly and succinctly. The continued ambiguous of "MB" and "GB" adds confusion, not clarity. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 08:33, 6 July 2015 (UTC)
EEng, looking at this diff, how do you square your edit summary with WP:ESDONTS? Not criticising, just curious. --Pete (talk) 00:15, 6 July 2015 (UTC)
I figured that way he'd know for sure I was addressing him. EEng (talk) 03:01, 6 July 2015 (UTC)
Thank you Kbrose. There is no good reason for the continued deprecation of IEC prefixes on Wikipedia. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 19:00, 5 July 2015 (UTC)
There is no good reason to use IEC prefixes you mean, as reflected in the massive talk page archive dedicated to this topic. Fnagaton 11:23, 6 July 2015 (UTC)
The IEC prefixes are still hardly used in the real world. Wikipedia doesn't use failed standards just because someone happens to like them. Wikipedia still reflects real world use not what standards bodies try to impose, nor what what some people happen to like. Fnagaton 11:25, 6 July 2015 (UTC)
First of all, they are standards developed by respected engineers and scientists. Second, they are used in major operating systems and thousands of software applications. Third, many new editors coming to WP have tried to use them—this shows usage too—but are revert on regular basis. Fourth, the application area for them is actually only rather small, in most cases they provide no advantage over using decimal prefixes, so this argument against their use will always be weak. The main reason for their historical use is laziness. How often these units are actually used in the "real world" is actually completely irrelevant, fact is they are used and increasingly so, for good reason. The notion to suppress them is plain censorship for stupid reasons. Kbrose (talk) 13:08, 17 July 2015 (UTC)
Microsoft Windows, the most popular desktop OS in the world, uses kilobyte, megabyte, gigabyte, terabyte, petabyte etc as binary. The IEC so called "standard" is a failed "standard" because it has not really been accepted and used by the majority of sources in the real world. Wikipedia reflects commonly used real world use, not minority use by failed "standards". Fnagaton 13:44, 17 July 2015 (UTC)
I agree, but we need to be able to back up this assertion with facts (see subthread below), since standards-mongers will besiege us on this perennial point unless and until usage changes and we change with it, or IEC gives up and changes. Or we can stop making the assertion of fact about adoption, and simply not provide a rationale, since consensus for MOS to advise what it does is sufficient for it to do so.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  11:53, 22 July 2015 (UTC)

Tenth Anniversary[edit]

This is the tenth anniversary of the crusade to use Wikipedia to teach the world about the IEC Binary Prefixes. Binary Archive B0. After a week or so of discussion on Manual of Style (dates and numbers) talk page involving about two dozen editors, the required use of IEC Binary Prefixes became the law on Wikipedia.

The adoption of the IEC binary prefixes on MOSNUM in July 2005 was controversial from the start.

This is ridiculous. There are a few extremely important points that are being ignored here. First, and most importantly, The Manual of Style should reflect common usage on Wikipedia, and not prescribe a usage which is not the common usage'. So no matter if 3 or 5 people vote here that the MoS should "recommend" the IEC prefixes, if that usage is no the common usage on Wikipedia, then it shouldn't be in the MoS. The reality is that the IEC prefixes are extremely obscure, particularly to the lay reader. Second, "oh, we'll just put in a link" is not really an adequate response to that complain. It's not a valid argument for the same reason that many articles include measurements in feet in inches. Third, people are used to kilobytes being 1024 bytes and megabytes being 1024 kilobytes, and even though there are new prefixes that define that explicitly, those prefixes do not enjoy common usage. It doesn't matter if they're official (whatever that means--there is no regulatory authority over the English language). The only thing that matters is common English usage—and with the exception of hard disk manufacturers and a few others, a megabyte almost always means exactly 1,048,567 bytes. Usage on Wikipedia should reflect the common usage, and the MoS should reflect usage on Wikipedia. Nohat 23:24, 12 July 2005 (UTC) [11]

In January 2006 a rogue editor, User:Sarenne, began the wholesale editing of articles to change KB to KiB, MB to MiB, and so on. That was his only contribution to the articles. Here is an example from May 2007[12]. When the article creators and regular editors complained at MOSMUN, they were told that consensus was the IEC prefixes. [13] There was a long and tedious debate about mandating the IEC binary prefixes. By July 2008 MOSNUM switched back from the IEC MiB to the traditional MB.[14] -- SWTPC6800 (talk) 15:25, 6 July 2015 (UTC)

Dondervogel2 is still being pointy as well I see.Glider87 (talk) 13:55, 19 July 2015 (UTC)
  • I decline to wade through this entire mess. The assertion "rarely used, even in technical articles" is what we'd call "an extraordinary claim requiring extraordinary sourcing" if it appeared in an article, and it could be deleted or de-hyperbolized as controversial and unsourced. Even if we were sure 10 years ago that it was true then, it obviously needs to be revisited regularly (e.g. annually). Just in this year alone I've seen a sharp increase in use of these prefixes, and they no longer seem weird to me, but my reading habits have not changed. This strongly suggests to me that, despite the harddrive industry's promotion of the idea that "GB", "TB" etc. can mean two different things (so they can borderline-defraud the public), that the real world is starting to accept these units and the disambiguation they provide. The originally proposed change, from "even in technical publications" to "outside of technical publications" is true, and doesn't even imply any particular level of adoption in technical publications, so it's a harmless change, and one that doesn't imply facts we don't have about that adoption in the present day.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  15:58, 20 July 2015 (UTC)

Reasonably often, values have some uncertainty: Significant_figures. If the uncertainty is large enough that MB and MiB are both reasonably approximations, I prefer MB. If the difference matters, I am happy to see MiB. As far as I know the disk drive question goes back at least to the IBM 3330 in the early 1970's, at 100,018,280 bytes per disk pack, it was marketed as 100 Megabytes. (That is, 404 cylinders, of 19 tracks each, and 13030 bytes/track full track blocked.) Gah4 (talk) 20:59, 21 July 2015 (UTC)

To clarify, I'm not blaming HD mfrs. for introducing the confusion, but for perpetuating it; Microsoft can also be blamed, but on an apathy level, not a greed one.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  11:25, 22 July 2015 (UTC)
@SMcCandlish: In what sense are HD manufacturers perpetuating confusion? The way I see it, Microsoft is achieving the perpetuation almost single handedly, whereas the HD manufacturers are doing their utmost to label their products unambiguously. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 11:54, 22 July 2015 (UTC)
  • I think the "rarely used, even in technical articles" is accurate and still reflects the state of IEC prefixes. That's why I think removing it it wrong. This isn't an article page, it is a guideline. Hence it does not need to contain reliably sourced links for every part of text or claim it makes. Glider87 (talk) 22:41, 21 July 2015 (UTC)
The fact that MOS does not need to be sourced for us to decide what advice to offer and to follow it, or make any wording changes to it, is a point I frequently make myself, and stand by firmly (I am glad I can count on our mutual consensus when we do so). MOS doesn't need to provide any rationale for what it says, only demonstrate a consensus for it, like any other WP:POLICY decision. I'm not making the opposite argument here, though the difference might not be obvious at first. Rationales mostly belong in the talk page discussions that lead to the consensus. But when we do provide a rationale for a "rule", it should be justifiable, or the rationale should be deleted as pointless. When that rationale makes a specific claim of fact (one that multiple editors question on both factual and PoV grounds) we have a responsibility to fact-check it. When that rationale depends on a moving target, we also have a responsibility to track that target. I'm not making a policy argument, I'm making a rationality, integrity, and competence argument. See also WP:Don't drink the consensus Kool-Aid.

"Removing it is wrong" doesn't seem to fit this discussion. Nothing would be deleted, just reworded to a version known by everyone on both sides of the issue to be true, instead of one that is only accepted by some and which has not been proven, or even examined in years. There does not seem to be any internal much less encyclopedic purpose served by maintaining the claim of fact that no one can show is true. All it does is increase doubt in MOS's consensus level. Even a single claim of fact that proves not to be true would greatly erode the community's trust level in MOS, and magnify the MOS Conspiracy Theory's suspicion that some evil WP:CABAL with ulterior motives to destroy Wikipedia is in control of MOS [rolling eyes]. [Yes, I can provide a diff proving the "MOScon" theory posits this, but I would not do so unless administratively forced to, since it would implicate another editor specifically, an increase the paranoia level.] It's ridiculous, but the MOScon is gaining not losing converts. Don't feed the paranoia, especially to defend a "stick it to the GiB'ers and stick it hard" wording choice, in a rationale we can safely just delete entirely.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  11:48, 22 July 2015 (UTC)

It seems to me the version that existed for years should still exist until such time those wanting it removed make a good enough argument for the change. That would be the Wikipedia way. At the moment they're refusing to talk which means they don't have a good reason for the change, which means they lack consensus. Which means sanctions can be brought against them for repeatedly pushing against consensus.Glider87 (talk) 12:00, 22 July 2015 (UTC)
I agree that there is no consensus for changing the text that was there a few months ago before someone started using incorrect templates. Fnagaton 05:39, 23 July 2015 (UTC)
It's a shame the EEng is now editing without consensus. Fnagaton 14:57, 23 July 2015 (UTC)
@Glider87 and Fnagaton: You're both making a WP:BUREAUCRAtic, procedural point and ignoring the WP:COMMONSENSE one. It's utterly pointless to stamp our feet about WP:BRD crap with regard to a copyedit the point of which is to reduce distrust and hatred of MOS by people actively recruiting others to oppose compliance with it. It's like refusing to undergo an operation to remove a tumor that will kill you if you don't, on the grounds that you'd really hate to have even a tiny scar.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  08:21, 27 July 2015 (UTC)
I think it went well beyond WP:BRD when the other editor kept on reverting the same thing and refusing to talk about it and reverted to accusations of socking. Glider87 (talk) 13:42, 27 July 2015 (UTC)

EEng and Dondervogel 2 editing editing without consensus[edit]

I call on on these two accounts to stop making edits to the guideline without consensus and to engage on this talk page before making any further changes on the subject of binary prefixes. There are three editors who say there isn't consensus for your changes. You EEng made the change and were reverted by those three editors, now you should discuss instead of making the same change again. Fnagaton 02:19, 25 July 2015 (UTC)

  • For those playing along at home, Fnagaton is complaining about the decision to change
The IEC prefixes kibi-, mebi-, gibi-, etc. (symbols Ki, Mi, Gi, etc.) are rarely used, even in technical articles, so are generally not to be used except...
The IEC prefixes kibi-, mebi-, gibi-, etc. (symbols Ki, Mi, Gi, etc.) should not be used except...
i.e. remove the aside "are rarely used, even in technical articles", without changing the guideline's statement of what editors should actually do. The discussion (above at #Re-proposing_removal) showed that the insertion of the "rarely used" material was made two years ago with no discussion at all, and all editors who had participated were pinged for the final proposal of removing it. After four days, three editors (counting me) agreed to the change and none said anything in opposition it, so the change was made. Two days later Glider showed up to disagree. He's welcome to open a new discussion, but his disagreement doesn't nullify the old one.
Special:Contributions/Glider87 and Special:Contributions/Fnagaton are both worth a look. EEng (talk) 02:59, 25 July 2015 (UTC)
  • As an outsider, I have briefly reviewed this and support EEng's edit. As noted above, it is generally not necessary to explain the reason behind the guidelines unless it is necessary to understand it. See Wikipedia:Policies and guidelines § Content:
    • Be as concise as possible—but no more concise. Verbosity is not a reliable defense against misinterpretation. Omit needless words. Direct, concise writing may be more clear than rambling examples. Footnotes and links to other pages may be used for further clarification.
    • Emphasize the spirit of the rule. Expect editors to use common sense. If the spirit of the rule is clear, say no more.
    sroc 💬 05:18, 25 July 2015 (UTC)
  • I also support Eeng's edit, for the reasons given by sroc. Statements of alleged fact probably do need supporting sources but that is irrelevant in this case. --Boson (talk) 11:25, 25 July 2015 (UTC)
  • I do not support the edit because the reason behind the guideline is important to understanding why the guideline exists. Removing the reason makes it easier for certain editors with a biased point of view to insert their preferred prefixes, to use a non-neutral point of when editing articles. Glider87 (talk) 13:29, 25 July 2015 (UTC)
You and Fnagaton have been saying this for literally more than a month, but just saying it over and over doesn't make it true, and indeed it's contrary to official guidance, as sroc so cogently shows. Of course, if you edited more often than once every two years, you might know stuff like that. Will you stop embarrassing yourself, and wasting everyone's time over this unbelievably trivial point, any time soon? EEng (talk) 14:42, 25 July 2015 (UTC)
I also support EEng's edit. Glider87's statement seems like a lot of handwaving. If "certain editors with a biased point of view" go against the clear meaning of the wording then it can be explained to them; there is no need to recapitulate the arguments in the guideline. Particularly for such a trivial point. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 20:09, 25 July 2015 (UTC)
Glider87 wrote: "Removing the reason makes it easier for certain editors with a biased point of view to insert their preferred prefixes ..." This does not make sense. The proposed wording ("The IEC prefixes kibi-, mebi-, gibi-, etc. (symbols Ki, Mi, Gi, etc.) should not be used except ...") does not support editors inserting these prefixes (other than the stated exceptions) merely because no reason is given. No reason is necessary. It is unnecessary to explain whether the reason behind the guideline is based on use in technical journals or widespread understanding. The amended guideline is clear and unambiguous enough for editors to follow, which is all a guideline needs to do. Be concise.
Incidentally, the wording "technical articles" is itself ambiguous as to whether it means articles on technical matters in academic journals or articles on technical subjects on Wikipedia (or something else), so we're better off doing away with it. sroc 💬 02:15, 26 July 2015 (UTC)
  • I don't support the edit because guidelines can and do include a brief summary of the rationale behind the sometimes lengthy discussions. In this case the consensus was that the comparative rarity of IEC prices is reflected in the guideline. The whole point of the guideline is to specifically help reinforce good editing practices. Fnagaton 01:58, 26 July 2015 (UTC)
@Fnagaton: Guidelines sometimes include brief summaries of rationales behind contentious guidelines to explain them but, for the overwhelming majority of guidelines, it is sufficient simply to state the guidelines without rationale. In this case, the guideline is clear without needing the rationale explained. Moreover, the claim that these prefixes "are rarely used, even in technical articles" has been disputed, so it hardly seems like a valid justification. The guideline is sufficiently clear and more succinct without this rider. sroc 💬 02:27, 26 July 2015 (UTC)
Someone disagreeing with the facts is not the same as something being disputed on a rational basis. Without the text I think the guideline is less clear because our misses the consensus and rationale from the many pages of discussion. Since some guidelines do include rationale and this is a technical subject it's best to keep it in. Fnagaton 23:34, 26 July 2015 (UTC)
Setting aside the question of accuracy of the disputed wording, I'm not sure what you mean by the highlighted words in "I think the guideline is less clear because our misses the consensus and rationale from the many pages of discussion", but guidelines don't need to state the rationale behind consensus (which is often for a multitude of reasons given by different editors); it only needs to capture the consensus itself. The words "should not be used" are perfectly clear and easy to follow without having to know why. sroc 💬 13:19, 28 July 2015 (UTC)
  • Strongly concur with sroc and J. Johnson. The only reason we ever provide a rationale for a "rule" here is to clarify, after some preponderance of editors paying attention to the page at the time are convinced that the clarification is needed and is likely to be accepted. That latter point, at least, isn't the case here. People are going to WP:SOAPBOX about this no matter what, just as they did about capitalisation of common names of species (when MOS:LIFE included rationale wording it just led to two more years of vicious fighting about the rationale, it's wording, and it's meaning, and a "rebellion" in the form of POV-forking various other guidelines like WP:NCFAUNA to contradict MOS). The rationales and the pro and con arguments about them belong in the talk page and its archives, not adding more verbiage to an already long guideline. I would actually prefer to see all rationales stripped from MOS advice, or at very least reduced to footnotes. It's leading to an increasing amount of WP:GAMING, especially at WT:MOS, where people who do not understand how MOS works (or who do and are trying to monkeywrench it) keep demanding "sources" and "proof" and will WP:FILIBUSTER until hell freezes over, about every other minor detail's wording. Enough, already. Just nip it in the bud. If anyone needs a rationale for anything in MOS, they can look up the previous consensus discussions. We have archives for a reason.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  07:55, 27 July 2015 (UTC)
Don't forget you're concurring with poor lil' EEng too, who's been fighting this lonely war, re this trivial phrase, from the beginning. Perhaps now you'll see why I was a bit more than my usual don't-suffer-fools-gladly self over at /Linking, what with dealing with this as well. EEng (talk) 19:17, 27 July 2015 (UTC)

Proposal to add DATEBOTH to MOS:DATEFORMAT[edit]

Debate over DMY vs. MDY date formats, the precedence and proper application of MOS:DATETIES and MOS:DATERET, and whether certain articles have stronger ties as "U.S.-military" or "U.S.-national" (non-military), has been interminable and of little benefit. As there seems to be an emerging consensus that both formats are acceptable (in that both are readily understandable to all readers), I propose the following addition at the top of MOS:DATEFORMAT:

Both "DMY" (day, month, year) and "MDY" (month, day, year) formats are deemed understandable to all readers of Wikipedia, and therefore either format may be used, subject to consistency within each article, the consensus of the editors involved, and any other applicable considerations (below).

This change implicitly rejects the view of an inherent and pre-determined format for certain topics, leaving the choice of format to the judgment of the editors involved. Where editors are unable to reach consensus the usual guidelines are applicable. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 22:23, 26 June 2015 (UTC)

Gosh, I hate to do this to you, but I just don't see what you're trying to accomplish with this. While everything in MOS has potential exceptions, via editor consensus for a particular article -- see the box at the head of every MOS page -- this turns it around and makes a discussion among editors primary for each article, using the "usual guidelines" only as a tiebreaker. I see that as a recipe for disaster. I think STRONGNAT and DATERET have served us well up until now. I thought the special US military exception was out of place and came to believe it should be removed, but what you're proposing will upset the entire applecart, I fear. But I'd like to hear what others think. EEng (talk) 22:53, 26 June 2015 (UTC)
Are STRONGNAT and DATERET half full, or half empty? I grant they have been of some good service. But surely it is not necessary (per WP:BLUE) to enumerate all of the bickering about which format is innately better, or whether some topic or person is more "national" or more "military", or the arguments over guideline precedence, or where editors not involved in an article come in and unilaterally make mass changes on the sole basis of (e.g.) "per DATETIES". ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:15, 2 July 2015 (UTC)
As it is these several guidelines are a frequently conflicting patchwork which fosters bickering. My hope and intent is find a clearer, simpler formulation that reduces the points of conflict. And without "upset[ing] the entire applecart", a fear apparently arising from concern that any adjustment of the guidelines would trigger an onslaught of mass changes by "format warriors". (See previous discussion at #Military dates, round 2.) I think this would occur only if such adjustments were interpreted as a mandate for change, which is disputable irregardless of this proposal. At any rate, I reiterate my suggestion of no wholesale changes without consensus.
Which gets back to "discussion among editors primary for each article". This is, after all, our fundamental model for editorial decision-making, so why shouldn't we let those closest to an article determine what is most appropriate? Why should they be shackled to a guideline on what is really a trivial matter? ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 22:15, 27 June 2015 (UTC)
That's basically a rationale for having no MOS at all. I don't mean to make a bullshitty, hyperbolic reductio ad absurdum here at all. With the possible exception of a few matters required for technical and accessibility reasons, and a few more for policy-compliance, all other rules on all MOS pages could be scrapped with such a rationale. But clearly the community wants us to have style guidelines.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  07:58, 27 July 2015 (UTC)

Hell no. I deem the pushing of this idea which has been repeatedly rejected as a strong indication there are plans afoot to abuse this addition. Jc3s5h (talk) 23:04, 26 June 2015 (UTC)

Jc3s5h, please, please, no accusations. It doesn't help. Can you please strike that bit?
J. Johnson, don't respond. EEng (talk) 23:09, 26 June 2015 (UTC)
Aye aye. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 22:08, 27 June 2015 (UTC)
At ease. EEng (talk) 03:16, 28 June 2015 (UTC)
J Johnson, are you really proposing that US-related articles can be written in BrEng, and vice versa? Tony (talk) 13:46, 29 June 2015 (UTC)
In a narrow sense, no, because we are discussing only date format. However, if we take your meaning as "US-related articles can be written in DMY format", then the implication is yes, they could. But what I actually propose is only that neither format is inherently wrong, and deciding on which is primarily a matter for the editors involved. Note that just because an article can be formatted a certain way does mean it will be. If the local editors chose to do so I would not unilaterally revert without looking into the matter. This is unlikely where there is a truly strong national tie (such as Civil War (US)). More likely is where the ties are weak or conflicting. E.g., Transatlantic telegraph cable uses MDY dates, although no part of it crosses U.S. territory. Should I presume to "fix" that? I don't think so. Likewise for Audie Murphy and James Stewart. So let's not sweat letting ordinary editors make that choice. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:22, 29 June 2015 (UTC)

So is there anyone who would take issue with the proposition that both DMY and MDY date formats are understandable to all readers of Wikipedia? And (aside from any issue of changing date format) does anyone care to maintain that there is any problem of understandability in the consistent use of either format in any topic? ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:15, 2 July 2015 (UTC)

From the lack of expressed objections regarding the understandability of either date format it is a fair presumption that we have consensus on this point in that everyone either agrees or is indifferent. Is there also consensus that (subject to consistency and consensus, and again leaving aside any issue of changing date formats) either format is therefore acceptable in any article on any topic? ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 20:20, 6 July 2015 (UTC)

Creating a new article that uses a date format that does not follow the guideline is an error. Errors are not acceptable. The guideline specifies certain articles that should have certain date formats. When an editor creates a new article that fails to follow the guideline the editor has made an unacceptable error. Jc3s5h (talk) 20:42, 6 July 2015 (UTC)
We seem to have a disconnect here. You are saying that the criterion for acceptability is "the guideline". (Which has multiple parts and variable interpretation.) Well, that is essentially we currently have. What I am arguing is that neither format is inherently "wrong", and therefore we can and should let the editors involved decide what is acceptable. (If they can't, then arbitrary guidelines such as we have can be applied.)
Your characterization of non-compliance with the MOS guidelines as "an unacceptable error" is unsupported and overreaching. MOS:NUM does show a number of unacceptable formats, but these are specific errors not touching on the use of DMY vs. MDY. And if you will check the cited sources for the first footnote in MOS:NUM (following " revert-warring over optional styles is unacceptable.[1]) you might note Arbcom statments such as "[t]he prescriptions of Wikipedia's manual of style are not binding", and that the MOS "is not policy and editors may deviate from it with good reason".
Yet your characterization is useful, as it does illustrate a basic problem with the current situation: by framing any perceived non-compliance as "an unacceptable error" - and therefore something that any editor should be able to correct on sight - you are creating we get the very situation that has been plaguing us, where editors feel free to make mass changes unilaterally and without discussion. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 22:32, 6 July 2015 (UTC)
Your proposal is a recipe for disruption, and ignores the hard-fought battles of the past right here. The archives stand open for your reading pleasure. Saying that one format is as good as another may be true in a broad sense, but one might say the same of British English and American English. Nobody is going to be confused if "colour" is spelt without the "u", but if we allow open slather on all articles, we will get back to the situation of ten years ago or more.
Sneering at guidelines because they don't fit your own strongly-held opinions is not helpful. We have guidelines to help us work together, not to facilitate warfare between obsessives. --Pete (talk) 22:56, 6 July 2015 (UTC)
You're just waving around your format warrior bogeyman again. I repeat my comment from the last time we visited this issue (at "Proposal for DATETIES on US military topics", 22:00, 22 June): Your comments show only a fear that any alteration of the status quo will unleash "format warriors" on a "Mission from God", and amount to little more than an emotional form of WP:JUSTDONTLIKEIT that impairs any objective discussion. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 04:42, 8 July 2015 (UTC)
Nah, it's institutional memory. MOS has evolved to be as detailed and specific as it is because the style wars are real and are only kept at bay by nailing down what people keep squabbling over. WP:LOCALCONSENSUS is all fine and dandy when consensus is actually reachable. When it turns into an endless river of recycled pissing matches, a site-wide settlement is called for, gets implemented, and 9 times out of 10 that's the end of. What you're complaining about is called a slippery slope argument. It's instructive to read that article. While an SS argument is sometimes a fallacy ("We can't let women wear pants or vote! It will lead to moral turpitude and a degeneration of family values!"), in many other cases, SS arguments are perfectly valid. They are most commonly spot-on in legal and other "regulatory" matters (like a style guide), when a particular rule is instituted to prevent things from continuing to slip down an already observed slope.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  08:07, 27 July 2015 (UTC)
SMcCandlish: I think you mis-take my basic premise, which is exactly as you said: "WP:LOCALCONSENSUS is all fine and dandy when consensus is actually reachable." Where consensus is lacking, I am all for "tie-breaking" rules, even if they are arbitrary. What I am against is where there is local consensus, but some outside editor, never before seen on that article, uses MOSNUM to unilaterally change formats contrary to that consensus. Note that in the case discussed below (#User converting date formats in complete articles) both of the opposing edits claimed "date formats per MOS:DATEFORMAT" (see here). That there is no style war on that article cannot be attributed to DATEFORMAT, as it is applied contradictorily. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 19:36, 28 July 2015 (UTC)
──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── This is un-wiki, though: "some outside editor, never before seen on that article". There is no such thing as an "outside editor", there are no WP:VESTED editors at any page with more editorial rights than newer arrivals[*], and there is no WP:OWNership of pages by a wikiproject or other group of editors who would like to control a page. You and I and the next editor have 100% identical editorial rights to every page on the system (absent topic bans, ArbCom-only pages, and a few other odd-ball exceptions). Every Wikipedian is an inside editor as soon as they start editing somewhere. Where theres' a pre-established consensus at a page, and someone wants to change it, this usually means further discussion happens (often brief, if the rationale presented isn't new or isn't compelling). Maybe I'm missing something, but if DATEFORMAT is being cited for two different rationales that are cognizant under it, a consensus discussion will sort it out. If two parties are citing it and one is misinterpreting it, that will sort out too. This is a discussion-and-revision-based proejct. Avoiding the terrible annoyance of having to ever re-examine a decision once made, by imposing rules against change by "outsiders", isn't part of how WP works.  :-)

The reason this "outside editor" stuff raises my hackles so much (and I encounter this sentiment around 2–5 times per week in one debate or another) is that a large number of very productive Wikipedians mostly edit rather random articles (cleaning up categories of tagged articles, going down a list of RfCs, or whatever), and because they're generally applying site-wide standards that reflect a broad consensus, but are encountering "specialized-style" quirks inserted by people who often know a tremendous amount about some topic but very little about how to write an encyclopedia, more often than not it's the "outsider" to the topic (i.e., the Wikipedia insider) who is actually doing the right thing. The idea that the most valuable editors are those who focus on writing an article from the start and shepherding/controlling it all the way to FA is faulty; the best articles are produced when editorial input is broad, and not micro-managed by people too close to the topic. [*] The only quasi-exception is the "first major contributor" criterion of ENGVAR and DATEVAR; but it doesn't give the FMC more rights, it just says "look at what the FMC did, as an arbitrary cut off point, and stick with that, absent a convincing reason not to"; consensus can overturn the FMC any time. It could just as easily have been "first contribution after the second day" or "first contribution" or "exactly 18th contribution".  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  01:06, 29 July 2015 (UTC)

An interesting comment, and a point I think worth some discussion. But perhaps a bit of a tangent to the discussion here. Could we explore this further at, say, your Talk page?
As to the key point here: do you still stand-by your statement that " WP:LOCALCONSENSUS is all fine and dandy when consensus is actually reachable"? ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 22:53, 29 July 2015 (UTC)

Oppose The statement that "both formats are readily understandable to all readers" is not verifiable. It certainly isn't the case for readers under the age of fifteen or even twenty and I would need to see empirical evidence stating that everyone over those ages understands the differences. The edit warring over the formats of last decade were a drain on the project. I still find articles about US subjects that have this template {{Use dmy dates}} added by editors that thought the UK formatting was the only one to use. I agree with Pete's statement above that there is no reason to return to a situation that facilitates edit warring. MarnetteD|Talk 23:13, 6 July 2015 (UTC)
As to verifiability: so what? It cannot be verified that every human being ever born had a belly-button, but would you seriously assert the contrary? Same here: do you assert that either MDY or DMY are not readily understandable? Can you show any instance of someone who understands "July 6, 2015" but does not understand "6 July 2015"?
This proposal does not return to any situation. It is an attempt to remove a basic cause of edit warring, where lone-wolf editors use an ambiguous guideline to "correct" an established usage. It addresses the same deficiencies in the current wording previously identified by sroc (14:42, 9 June). And it is in accord with Pete's prior comment (22:53, 24 June) that "any debate over what format needs to be used for a particular article, it should be resolved on that article's talk page". ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 04:49, 8 July 2015 (UTC)
There is no doubt that DMY is widely used in the US, but MDY is not widely used everywhere else. However the cognitive dissonance produced by seeing MDY dates for those not used to it is as nothing compared to the disruption risked by changing the rules without very broad consensus. People bear grudges for many years over this sort of thing. All the best: Rich Farmbrough, 14:44, 8 July 2015 (UTC).
Indeed. While I suspect there is an emergent consensus that both date formats are acceptable, it is hard to tell when every attempt at rational, objective-based discussion keeps getting singed by lingering emotionalism. It is even harder when editors with fears (which I allow as valid points to consider) are not honest about them, and try to cloak them in arguments of dubious validity. This may be a long effort, but we will never get anywhere if we don't start somewhere. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 23:21, 8 July 2015 (UTC)
Just to clarify. JJ seems to have assigned completely the wrong meaning to a previous comment. I'm in favour of keeping the guidelines on date formats as they are. Where there is occasional doubt over whether a particular article has strong national ties to a particular nation, or whether an article is primarily about the modern US military, then that should be resolved by consensus-finding on the talk page. Not for every single article! Geez. --Pete (talk) 18:50, 8 July 2015 (UTC)
Pete, I took the plain and literal meaning of your words. You said any debate on date format "should be resolved on that article's talk page", without any expressed qualification of what kind of debate. (It's hardly my fault if your words don't carry the meaning you wanted.) And of course we do not apply any of this to "every single article". Only to the ones where there is some doubt of which format should be used. Where there is no doubt the editors involved are presumably in consensus, right? If this differs from your view you should look for some unstated assumptions or qualifications. As to resolving such matters "by consensus-finding on the talk page", that is exactly what is proposed here. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 23:32, 8 July 2015 (UTC)
Glad to be able to clear up your misunderstanding. Thanks for bringing it up. On looking at my earlier comment it is clear that I rejected your inelegant solution to the comparatively minor problem of working out which date format should be used in BLPs relating to ex-US servicemen such as Lee Harvey Oswald or Audie Murphy. Sorry that you took it to have a universal rather than a particular meaning. Cheers. --Pete (talk) 00:03, 9 July 2015 (UTC)
You have cleared up nothing, and on your steaming pile of misunderstanding you heap even more: where you state "I rejected your inelegant solution" your link is to discussion of sroc's proposal (#Proposal for DATETIES on US military topics). My proposal is that what you thought good in a particular context should be good universally. (You have something against that?) And my proposal avoids the "inelegant" wording you criticized in sroc's proposal. BTW, I once again remind you that your continuing pattern of snide remarks is uncivil. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:42, 9 July 2015 (UTC)
Charming. Well, if it's plain speaking you want, let me be plain. Your proposal sucks. There are some "edge cases" where it is best for editors to form a local consensus on matters of style and format where MoS is imprecise or flexible. To expand that to every single article is ludicrous. It goes against the decade of coöperative effort which has gone into the MoS, and indeed the whole body of procedures and guidelines which has enabled us to make Wikipedia what it is today. We have built something marvelous, and it is folly to cast aside what has taken so much time and effort to create and refine. I commend to you the remarks of our fellow editors in their responses to your proposal. Set aside some time to read what they have written and consider their thoughts and reasoning. --Pete (talk) 23:15, 9 July 2015 (UTC)
So your view is that the MOS is perfect, and any changes will not just unleash all those format warriors on a Mission from God, but will cause the whole body of WP procedures and guidelines to collapse. This is just more of your over-reactive hysteria, of bogeyman writ large. And you verge back to a strawman argument, as I have in no way proposed to "cast aside what has taken so much time and effort to create and refine"; that is just your over-active imagination. Another strawman argument: your opposition to applying consensus to "every single article", as I have not proposed that. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 00:04, 12 July 2015 (UTC)
Again, you are wrong in your assumptions. I reject your proposal. As does every other editor here who has offered an opinion. --Pete (talk) 05:11, 12 July 2015 (UTC)
You keep asserting that I am wrong, but you have yet to demonstrate that. (And I think I have credibly shown where you are wrong.) So if you are done with arguing about things I have neither proposed nor said, sure, let's examine my assumptions. My key assumption is that both MDY and DMY formats are readily understandable to all readers. MarnetteD opposes this proposal on the basis that this assumption is not verifiable (23:13, 6 July). To which I say: so what? In the face of wide-spread usage of both formats, and an utter lack of any evidence of a problem of understandability, it is more reasonable to assume there is no such problem. On the other hand, if that is wrong - if there is, in fact, any significant problem of understandability - then it should easy to rebut this assumption by citing evidence of that problem. This has not been done, not by MarnetteD, nor by anyone else. If my assumption is wrong, show it. Until then you are just blowing smoke. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:55, 12 July 2015 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── There is no "widespread" usage of DMY in the US. Banks, businesses, newspapers, TV schedules, sports schedules and on and on use MDY. To claim otherwise shows a lack of research at the very least. MarnetteD|Talk 22:45, 12 July 2015 (UTC)

Two points mentioned at WP:CONLIMITED need mentioning here. "Consensus among a limited group of editors, at one place and time, cannot override community consensus on a wider scale" and "Wikipedia has a higher standard of participation and consensus for changes to policies and guidelines than to other types of pages. This is because they reflect established consensus, and their stability and consistency are important to the community." Berate us all you want but know that it is not likely to change our minds. Nor is it likely to get your proposal added to this guideline. MarnetteD|Talk 23:04, 12 July 2015 (UTC)
NY Times, LA Times Amazon's Facebook page and the NFL schedule. Even the BBC America schedule uses MD. Of course there are hundreds of other examples but this is enough to illustrate the point that DMY is not in common usage in the US. MarnetteD|Talk 23:14, 12 July 2015 (UTC)
You miss the point. I am not claiming widespread usage of DMY in the U.S.; I am claimng there is no problem understanding either MDY or DMY. Furthermore, citing CONLIMITED is quite off the point, is another strawman argument, because I no where claim that local consensus should override community consensus. I do claim that, in regard of any individual article, the local editors are the best judges of what is most appropriate, and if they can reach consensus then everyone not involved should respect that. If they can't reach consensus the usual considerations apply.
To get back to the point: can you (or anyone) demonstrate any instance of someone who understands either of these two date formats (I exclude infants, idiots, and the senile) not understanding the other? ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 23:59, 12 July 2015 (UTC)
Concur, modulo the fact "the local editors" mean "the editors who show up for the discussion", not some would-be WP:OWNers of the page who feel WP:VESTED because they were working on the article 5 years go. That would be a WP:LOCALCONSENSUS problem. Real consensus is determined at an article by Wikipedia as a whole, which means those editors who actually GAF enough to participate (and weren't canvassed) at the present time. People get this wrong all the time. At least 50 times a year, I see some topically-insular pundit declare that so-and-so's opinion doesn't matter because "they don't even edit this article/these articles". Mostly comes up in WP:RM and article-specific WP:RFCs, since they usually take place on the talk page of the affected article but attract attention from all over WP. Anyway, I accidentally reiterated the reset of your post, just below. Hadn't seen your post, we just converged on the same thing.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  17:16, 20 July 2015 (UTC)
The sort of local consensus I'm thinking about is deciding on an article talk page, whether the article concerns the modern US military or not. The example of Lee Harvey Oswald USMC (retired), for example. I think any editor, regardless of whether they have had any prior input to the article or not, would be able to join a discussion to form consensus. Sometimes arcane knowledge might be needed to participate - at a certain point, my mathematical skills evaporate, for example. I have a sort of grasp of calculus, but beyond that, WP:COMPETENCE applies. If we were trying to work out consensus on an article concerning a finer point of Sanskrit, for another example, there would only be a limited number of editors with the background needed to participate effectively. We all have our different interests and levels of skill. --Pete (talk) 16:32, 27 July 2015 (UTC)
In response to earlier comment, there's no need to "prove" that MDY and DMY are both understandable to everyone. It's just utterly implausible that anyone but a severely mentally handicapped person, unable to even cope with, with help, wouldn't be able to comprehend that 19 July 2015 and July 19, 2015 are equivalent. We would not permit both date formats at all if this were the case. In reality, where I live sometimes, everyone regularly encounters dates in a wide array of formats, from 2015-07-19 to "the nineteenth of July, in the year of our Lord two-thousand-and-fifteen", and no one's head asplode. That said, as long as we're going to entertain ENGVAR (which seems like "until machine translation is so good it can auto-fork and from each other on the fly"), we're consequently tolerant of the idea that particular formats are contextually preferred over others sometimes. The proposal elsewhere on this page to explicitly allow DMY date for US mil bios because the US mil uses it, but not to require this formatting, is sufficient. We don't need to erase all context-dependent date format preferences just because some people editwar over US mil dates sometimes.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  16:07, 20 July 2015 (UTC)
Indeed, it seems quite implausible that date format should be the least bit confusing. Yet the continuing format contentiousness suggests that even the obvious must be clearly stated. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 22:43, 20 July 2015 (UTC)
Nobody is saying that DMY or MDY formats are confusing. That's a given. But extending this common sense of the situation into a proposal that either format is acceptable in any article is a different argument entirely. It has attracted zero support in the discussion above. --Pete (talk) 23:09, 20 July 2015 (UTC)
If both formats are understandable, then why should either not be acceptable? Does acceptability have any basis other than simple JUSTDONTLIKEIT? ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 20:40, 21 July 2015 (UTC)
In a perfect world, there would be no difference. Alas, our editor base is made up of people who have strong preferences for certain styles of language, currencies, units of measurement and so on. Often very strongly held opinions. People who battle, dispute and edit-war over what is really just stuff inside their head. JUSTDONTLIKEIT, as you point out. If you were one of those people, and you accepted that you were, what would you do? Swallow your pride to fit in with others, or would you argue, battle and edit war to get your own way and have the last word? --Pete (talk) 22:15, 21 July 2015 (UTC)
You are evading the question. Why should either MDY or DMY format not be acceptable in any article? ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 23:16, 22 July 2015 (UTC)
See above, brother. This time, think about it. Cheers. --Pete (talk) 23:38, 22 July 2015 (UTC)
Still evading the question. Why do you do that? Is it because you don't have a decent answer? (BTW, I am not your brother.) ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 23:45, 23 July 2015 (UTC)

Applicability of ENGVAR[edit]

Just out of curiosity, J. Johnson, in what variation of English do they use Aplicability? ;P EEng (talk) 00:01, 28 July 2015 (UTC)
Oops. Of course I preview, but perfecton is such a chore. :-) J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 17:48, 28 July 2015 (UTC)
I don't think the question's being evaded (and I hate it when people evade questions, so I'd notice); he just doesn't want to reiterate the rationales. 'If both formats are understandable, then why should either not be acceptable?' The most obvious answer is: because of ENGVAR's interplay with DATEVAR. Most English-language varieties overwhelmingly prefer one date format vs. the other; the only major ENGVAR that doesn't is Canadian (and even there, there's a strong preference, just not quite a near-universal one). If we were to allow using "July 27, 2015" in random British-English articles, there would be no reason to bother keeping ENGVAR; the rationale for allowing Americanisms in British English in that case would be applicable to doing so for anything else, like the spelling of "neighbo[u]r".  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  07:44, 27 July 2015 (UTC)
Something can't be re-iterated until it's been iterated the first time. And in this thread you are the first to expressly cite ENGVAR as a basis of acceptability; Pete has failed to offer any basis other than JUSTDONTLIKEIT. (And fear all change.)
But now that you raise it, let us consider whether the acceptability of DATEBOTH is precluded by MOS:ENGVAR. It seems to me this is quite weak, being no more than a backdoor into its subtopic of MOS:TIES (aka "Strong national ties to a topic"), which has a See also back to MOS:DATETIES (with an identical section heading). At best ENGVAR implies (rather arbitrarily I think) that date formatting is a characteristic as inherent in the language as vocabulary, spelling, punctuation, and grammar. I beg to differ, that date formatting is an incidental, and not right or wrong in the same way that (e.g.) "honor" and "honour" can be. If this was otherwise, then U.S.-military articles would be either in violation of ENGVAR, or constitute a distinct variant of English. The absurdity of such a result reflects on the assumption. We have ENGVAR because differences of vocabulary can be confusing (and to avoid edit-warring over spelling and punctuation). We have yet to see any evidence that DMY/MDY is ever confusing. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 23:26, 27 July 2015 (UTC)
"Reiterate" doesn't require that it have originally been iterated exactly where you'd like to have seen it. This point about DATEVAR and ENGVAR is not a new one, even if it's new to you.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  15:01, 29 July 2015 (UTC)
Pete is so careless with his assumptions, caveats, and interpretations that it is necessary to have everything above board and in the open; otherwise it is impossible to know just what we are dealing with. (Esp. when he won't respond to specific inquiries.) If someone wants to invoke a point made somewhere else, fine, but they should cite it, so that everyone can see where it comes from. In earlier discussion Pete alluded to ENGVAR in an example, but, not being a mind-reader, I would deem it irresponsible to make any assumptions of what he assumes here. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 22:43, 29 July 2015 (UTC)
It's not that confusing, JJ. Look. If it's spelt "h-a-r-b-o-u-r", it's "h-a-r-b-o-r" without the "u". See? The same goes for a few similar words. Where you may have difficulty is with the "ise/ize" endings. That can be a real surprize. I feel your pain. Seriously now, are you trying to have it both ways? It's exactly the same mindset that creates disruption for both date formats and English variants - some people like to change them to their preferred form because they feel that's the way things should be. And they score a few points in whatever game they are playing. We have these rules to stop disruption, not because the words or the dates are confusing. I think that they have worked very well in helping a community of disparate souls work together. --Pete (talk) 23:40, 27 July 2015 (UTC)
Agreed. These rules exist to reduce unproductive fighting, not to be declare any particular side "right", or to tie this spelling or that other style to a particular "national variety of English" (which is a fantasy; there really is no such thing at all), as if it were an immutable law of nature. It's just an approximation, close enough to work with, that usually gets people to STFU and go back to productive editing.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  15:01, 29 July 2015 (UTC)
If avoidance of unproductive fighting was the key criterion then there are many "rules" that would suffice. Of which the simplest would be: "All dates must be in DMY format; no exceptions". If we want to be more accomodating there are other formulations that can work. As it is there is continual bickering as to whether certain articles have an inherent characteristic (like "national variety") such that they must be one format or the other. I think we can do better, but it is exceedingly difficult to keep the discussion focused. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 22:04, 30 July 2015 (UTC)

User converting date formats in complete articles[edit]

Is there a policy that supports conversions of full articles like this [15] Eldizzino (talk) 18:44, 10 July 2015 (UTC)

You may want to read WP:DATERET, which supports that dates should be retained in articles. If you took the time, you would have noticed that another editor had changed the dates that very morning. JOJ Hutton 19:33, 10 July 2015 (UTC)
You are stating the untrue [16] Eldizzino (talk) 20:06, 10 July 2015 (UTC)
DATERET allows for users to normalize dates to the set format for the article; in the example there, the bulk of the article is using DMY dates (particularly in references) so conversion of a handful of MDY to DMY is fine. Particularly as one should not use MDY in prose and DMY in refs, or vice versa. --MASEM (t) 20:22, 10 July 2015 (UTC)
Well it was in response to the same user making This edit on another article that was made the same morning. And in both cases WP:DATERET still applies because in both articles, MDY was the first date format introduced. Furthermore, in the case of Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes, it was determined, through consensus at The Beatles: Rock Band, that the subject determines the date format, not the publisher and the date MDY date format is consistent with the original Lego Batman: The Videogame. Now we can't have it both ways now. Either its the subject or the publisher that determines the date formats, but we can't pick and choose so that they are all DMY.--JOJ Hutton 20:24, 10 July 2015 (UTC)

Take it to to the article's talk page guys. sroc 💬 12:53, 11 July 2015 (UTC)

And avoid fixation on "first major contributor". It is not required to stick with the FMC's choice; consensus can overturn that anywhere. A long process of gradual change moving an article away from the FMC's choice over time, without incident, until way too late in the game someone (who isn't even the FMC) wants to vent about it after the fact, is a consensus that's already changed, especially if there are other reasons to prefer the evolved format, almost always because it agrees with the ENGVAR in use. Basically, a DATERET dispute really should never arise and be taken seriously unless the article is in Canadian English. If it's US, use US format, if it's a US-military article, use intl. format. If it's anything else in the world, use intl. format. (Unless there's some weird case I missed. Does the military of Botswana use ISO format, and do we GAF? Heh.)  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  16:16, 20 July 2015 (UTC)

An interesting case that bears upon the DATEFORMAT discussions here, and we have been asked specially regarding a mass conversion of date format without any discussion or explicit consensus: are such conversions supported?

The article involved (Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes) was created 30 November 2011 by User:WikiEditor44. However, the initial edit did not establish DMY or MDY usage, subsequent edits were mixed, there is no notably major contributor, and there is nothing on the talk page about which format to use.

A MDY date was introduced into the text on 5 April 2012 in this edit this edit by WikiEditor44. Subsequent edits added dates in both formats, without comment.

On 7 June 2012 this edit by User:X201, with the summary "date formats per WP:MOSNUM by script as per developer nationality", changed the single date in the text and various accessdates, etc., to DMY, and added the "use dmy dates" template.

On 6 Dec. 2012 this edit by User:X201, with the edit summary "date formats per WP:MOSNUM by script", made recently added dates consistently DMY.

At 11:00 9 July 2015 X201 similarly revised three inconsistent dates with this edit, citing as authority "date formats per MOS:DATEFORMAT by script". At 14:40 User:Jojhutton, who has never before edited on this article, made this edit, which converted every date in the article to MDY format, and replacing {{use dmy dates}} with {{use mdy dates}}, citing "date formats per MOS:DATEFORMAT by script WP:DATERET"

So how should these guidelines be applied? I can I can see various points here that lead to different ends. As overall there has been little strife in this article (very few non-vandalism reverts, no apparent edit-warring, no arguments on the talk page), any strife that should develop here will reflect on these guidelines and the editors here. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 00:08, 12 July 2015 (UTC)

Date normalization should be done, and in the case of Batman, it was clear at the time of the latest edit that the majority format was DMY, so converting the exceptional cases to that is reasonable. However, DATERET allows discussion for consensus building to argue a different format if one believes the current one is not correct, and that's what should be done here. For video games we have set a rule of thumb to base the dates on the developer's national ties, but there are cases for clear exceptions (The Beatles: Rock Band being one, since the importance of the Beatles in a video game far outweighed the importance of the developer) --MASEM (t) 20:52, 12 July 2015 (UTC)
A small but possibly key detail: was it really clear as to the established date format? I would take the presence of the 'use dmy' template as a strong indication, but I seem to recall some protest that these do not so indicate. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 22:06, 12 July 2015 (UTC)
Keeping in mind that the refernences prior to the chance were pretty much in dmy , that definitely means dates in prose must be dmy too (you can't use ISO in prose, and mdy conflicts with dmy between prose and reflists). --MASEM (t) 22:19, 12 July 2015 (UTC)
I don't know that dates in references control dates in the text. But regardless of that, my question is: what constitutes "clear"? Is an editor supposed to count up all the instances either way? Does a template have any weight on this? ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 23:23, 12 July 2015 (UTC)
Fixing dates to normalize to the more common format means that it should be readily obvious - without exact counting - what the predominate date format has been used. If a visual scan of the article's prose and references don't easily show a near uniform date format, then it is probably best to check on the talk page. I would safely say that the change in question did have proper allowance based on the near majority of dmy sources. And yes, the template should have significant weight on the assumption it was added in good faith. And the only reason in this case that reference format drive the prose is that it was definitely the case that the ref date format was near uniformly dmy, and since mdy in prose and dmy in reference is unallowable, that forced the prose to be in dmy too. --MASEM (t) 23:34, 12 July 2015 (UTC)
MOS:DATEUNIFY (aka MOS:NUM#Consistency, right above DATETIES AND DATERET) lists three categories (dates in article body text, publication dates, and access and archive dates) within which dates "should all use the same format". But I don't see that it says all three categories should be the same. It says that it is permissible to "normalize" access/archive dates to the text, but does not suggest that the contrary is true. So I would say that the format of access dates does not drive the format in the text. I agree with you that the dmy template should have significant weight, but I suspect many editors would disagree. As to "clear", it does seem to be one of those "it's obvious" matters. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 20:34, 13 July 2015 (UTC)
The second point of Publication dates spells this out: "provided the day and month elements are in the same order as in dates in the article body". That is if you have prose as DMY, you cannot use MDY in citations, but you can use DMY, an abbreviated DMY, or YYYY-MM-DD. While this suggests that prose should drive the citation dates, it's basically the easiest language to state that you can't mix DMY and MDY in prose and references. And since that article before the edit was a mix of DMY and MDY between refs and body (which is not acceptable), it was a appropriate choice to go with what was the fewest number to fix, being moving MDY to DMY. --MASEM (t) 23:16, 14 July 2015 (UTC)
Well, I'm not convinced on that interpretation. But for this discussion I think we could accept that converting to DMY was appropriate, on the basis of retaining an existing usage per DATERET. But what of JOJ's argument that the initial MDY date in the text set the format, with the implication that the subsequent history is immaterial? ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 20:18, 15 July 2015 (UTC)
Now, there, [17] this edit does appear to be where X201 unilaterally change date formats based on the developer's nationality, which should be something checked in before doing on the talk page (though in the VG project, we do state that date formats should follow the nationality of the developer which Travelers Tales is UK based. But again, this isn't as strong a national tie as, say, if it was the developer's page themselves). --03:27, 16 July 2015 (UTC) ← Masem
Which is to show that X201 wasn't arbitrary, but proceeded on the basis of some kind of established guidance. This raises an interesting question regarding an intermediate level of guidance worked out by a community of editors greater than those working on a particular article, but less than the whole WP community. (Such as on a project level.) Even if such is allowed (and I am not against it), there is a significant problem: it's not in the MOS. So how would some passing passing editor not familiar with that particular guidance know about it? How should the MOS bear on such intermediate level guidance? ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:15, 17 July 2015 (UTC)

As no one else cares to explain how the date guidelines should be applied in this case, I will hazard an opinion. The specific guideline relevant here appears to be [MOS:DATERET]], which starts by saying "If an article has evolved using predominantly one format, the whole article should conform to it ...." Jojhutton, who made the questioned edit, also cites DATERET, and argues two points in this discussion (above): 1) that the article in question is not consistent with a closely related article (implying that consistency should apply to related articles), and 2) that "MDY was the first date format introduced".

The first point is interesting, but not supported in these guidelines. And both here and elsewhere in the MOS (e.g., MOS:RETAIN) the expectation of consistency is clearly intra-article.

The second point is implicitly a claim on the third part of DATERET, which starts: "Where an article has shown no clear sign of which format is used ..." [emphasis added]. However, this is inapplicable, as the article was using "predominately one formt" immediately prior to Jojhutton's edit, and has been so, including use of the dmy template, since 2012. DATERET expressly states: Retain exsting format, unless certain exceptions apply, which is not alleged here.

In response to the question asked: there are no policies regarding date format particularly. But the MOS - a guideline - does NOT support conversions of date format where the existing usage is predominately consistent. The specific edit cited here appears to be unsupported, and therefore may properly be reverted.

Pinging the editors involved (X201, Jojhutton, and Eldizzino) for their comments. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 22:24, 19 July 2015 (UTC)

First off, please accept my apologies for not contributing to this discussion; major off-wiki tasks/problems have claimed my time. I suppose explaining the rationale for the edits would be a good place to start - although Masem is very close to the full explanation. The things running through my head when I made the change were: A scan of the article where, DMY looked like the dominant form, the WP:VG guideline about developer nationality (Traveller's Tales as mentioned above). I also considered the fact that the product the game is based on is designed by Lego, and the Lego company is well known for its ties to its home nation of Denmark (MOS:TIES again), Batman is obviously American, but I'm sure most people will regard Lego Batman as a Lego product, rather than a Batman one. My edit summaries should have been vastly more informative than they were, I hold my hands up to that charge, but the edits were made with the best of intentions about what I thought was the right decision for the article.
My addition to the discussion is that the date guidelines need to nudge editors a little more into going down a particular route. To explain, DATERET reads as a bit Land Grab-y, it explains that it can be changed with discussion, but the weight of the guideline is with the founder(s) of the article. I can understand that, it needs a guideline of some sort and its a decent enough choice until the developers decide bring Wiki software up to date and allow user preference for date formats. What I think its lacking though is the "use common sense element", telling users to think about what is appropriate for an article, rather than just use their own default date format. - X201 (talk) 09:05, 20 July 2015 (UTC)
The superhero article is resolved by using the date format expected by the article's ENGVAR.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  16:16, 20 July 2015 (UTC)
"Common sense" is commonly invoked, but suffers from everyone having different views on just what it is. The whole purpose of a guideline is to guide our sense of what is proper, and to provide a basis for resolving conflicts. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 22:53, 20 July 2015 (UTC)

There being no further discussion, either here or at the article's talk page, I have reverted the last date-format change there per DATERET. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 20:31, 28 July 2015 (UTC)

Interaction between DATEFORMAT guidelines[edit]

I have said this elsewhere, but I just wanted to document here my common-sense understanding of the interactions between these guidelines, based on their wording:

  1. Ignore all rules (WP:IAR) and Use common sense (WP:COMMONSENSE): Consensus on a specific article/topic may decide to ignore the below guidelines.

    Common sense should be used and occasional exceptions will apply to the guidelines below, for good reason as determined by consensus of editors on a specific article or topic area.

  2. Consistency (MOS:DATEUNIFY): Each article should use the same date format (with exceptions for publication and access/archive dates), without expressing any preference for DMY or MDY.
  3. Strong national ties to a topic (MOS:DATETIES): Articles on topics with strong ties to a particular English-speaking country should generally use the date format most commonly used in that nation:
    • US topics use MDY except US military topics use DMY (it is proposed that they may use DMY or MDY);
    • Canada may use DMY or MDY;
    • Other English-speaking countries use DMY.
    • There may be other exceptions not expressly documented in the guideline.
  4. Retaining existing format (MOS:DATERET): If an article has evolved using predominantly one format, don't change it unless:
    • to conform with strong national ties (MOS:DATETIES); or
    • there is consensus on the article's talk page otherwise (WP:IAR).

This represents an order of priority. That is:

  • Local consensus overrides all else;
  • DATETIES overrides DATERET, so an article on an Australian topic written with MDY dates can be changed to DMY dates unless there is an explicit consensus on the article's talk page (including archives) to use MDY anyway;
  • DATERET requires the existing format be retained unless DATETIES applies or there is explicit consensus on the article's talk page;
  • In any case, each article should be consistent in using DMY or MDY unless local consensus dictates otherwise.

If anyone seriously disagrees with this, then perhaps some revisions would make this clearer. sroc 💬 14:02, 11 July 2015 (UTC)

  • My first thought is that "1." should incorporate the notion, as given in MOS top-of-page banners, of occasional exceptions i.e. exceptions for good reason, not just because editors on a given article decide "We'd rather do it this other way." EEng (talk) 15:23, 11 July 2015 (UTC)
Indeed. That's rather clear from the wording of WP:IAR and WP:COMMONSENSE. sroc 💬 15:28, 11 July 2015 (UTC)
Understand, friend sroc, that I'm only pressing this because of the high tensions traditionally associated with date guidelines. Since so far it's just you and me I've modified your text to emphasize the occasional aspect, subject of course to your objection. EEng (talk) 16:03, 11 July 2015 (UTC)
I'm thinking this could become an essay. sroc 💬 04:03, 12 July 2015 (UTC)
Sroc: to the extent the above reflects your personal understanding, there can hardly be any argument: it is factual statement of your understanding. However, to the extent you are proposing that everyone one else should accept this understanding, well, that's what we are arguing about.
I point out that allowing "common sense" to override all other considerations could be a serious problem. You will recall that back on 25 May even two reasonable editors (Hawkeye7 and Resolute, at 11:12 and 14:10, resp.) differed as to whether common sense supported DMY or MDY dates. Even if we truly had a commonality of good sense I think we would still need guidelines. As it is, there are indications that some editors take "common sense" to be their estimation of what is sensical, never mind any bureaucratic guidelines. Undoubtedly there will be exceptions, but I think local consensus should be the arbiter of any exceptions and "common sense". I say we should go with your "local consensus overrides all else", and state that at the top. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 22:46, 12 July 2015 (UTC)
  • Sorry to come in like this, but there's an awful lot above that I don't want to read. Could the proponent of change summarise briefly the problems with the current guidelines on this area? It seems to have worked smoothly enough. I leave date formats in US military articles as I find them, as long as they're consistent. Tony (talk) 05:40, 13 July 2015 (UTC)
@Tony1: Please see my context below. sroc 💬 13:29, 18 July 2015 (UTC)
And I leave date formats in all articles as I find them, as long as they are consistent. But should mass changes, done unilaterally and without discussion, and even contrary to an existing consistency, such as we have in the case presented in the discussion above (#User converting date formats in complete articles) be allowed to stand, or reverted?
As to the need for change, I would concur with sroc's list of several deficiencies in the current wording of these policies (see 14:42, 9 June). These include:
  • lack of clarity in application to US military biographies.
  • lack of clarity re military personnel notable for non-military reasons.
  • emerging consensus that both DMY and MDY should be acceptable.
  • frequent disregard of the guideline.
Regarding the last item note also Jc3s5h's comment above (20:42, 6 July) that not following the guideline (at least in new articles) is an "unacceptable error". I find this interpretation troubling, as seems to invite "corrections" where none are really needed. E.g., Transatlantic telegraph cable uses MDY (i.e,. "U.S.") dates, even though no part of it crosses U.S. territory, and the eastern end is definitely in "DMY territory". By this interpretation that is prima facie an "unacceptable error" begging for correction. On the contrary, I argue that what needs correction is the guideline that (arguably) allows such unneeded and often divisive actions. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:45, 13 July 2015 (UTC)
I don't see it (sroc's interpretation as seen by J. Johnson); an article which is not tied to a specific specific country which uses DMY may use MDY, while an article which is not tied to a specific specific country which uses MDY may use DMY. "Transatlantic telegraph cable" is not tied to any specific country, so should not be changed from the first usage without consensus. If the guideline wording doesn't match this (I think it does, whether or not amended for US Military), it needs to be changed. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 19:19, 14 July 2015 (UTC)
Although the Transatlantic telegraph cable is physically tied (anchored?) in Newfoundland (Canada, use either MDY or DMY, per guideline) and Ireland (use DMY?), I grant that you are taking a more nuanced view of "strong ties". But neither WP:STRONGNAT nor MOS:DATETIES explain what those are, and application is based entirely on any editor's subjective understanding of the term. (See WP:STRONGNATSUCKS.) I agree with you that date formats "should not be changed from the first usage without consensus" (at least not en masse). But the guideline not only does not say this (where??), it is being explicitly cited (aka MOS:NUM, MOS:DATEFORMAT, WP:DATERET, WP:DATETIES, etc.) as license for doing such unilateral, non-consensual changes. (E.g., I invite your attention to the case discussed just above.) Sroc's assessment was mainly about the U.S. military rule, but I deem "strong ties" (whether national or any other) to be flawed overall. And the use of this guideline as license for unilateral mass-changes is a fundamental deficiency that does need correction. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:28, 14 July 2015 (UTC)


To bring this discussion back on track, the purpose of my original post was not directed at US military articles; I only mentioned them because they are expressly mentioned as an exception to DATETIES. The purpose of this discussion is to clarify the interaction between the various guidelines. I had thought my introduction made this clear.

I brought this up mainly because my understanding of the priority as set out in my original post has been disputed by others. For example, when I previously noted that "DATETIES is an exception to DATERET", J. Johnson replied: "sroc's ... view that WP:DATETIES overrides WP:DATERET is a questionable view ..." It doesn't help discussions on specific issues (e.g., whether dates should be change to comply with DATETIES in established articles) when there is disagreement on what the underlying guidelines mean.

For the record, this is my understanding of the principles behind these guidelines:

  • DATEUNIFY: Inconsistent dates are bad, mmmkay?
  • DATETIES: When articles relate to topics related to a specific English-speaking countries, it makes sense to use the date format common to that country because either readers/editors will tend to be from this country and find it convenient or readers from elsewhere will find it naturally fitting for the article. This does not apply to topics related to non-English-speaking countries because this is the English language Wikipedia.
  • DATERET: Unless needed to comply with DATEUNIFY or DATETIES, so don't editwar over dates and leave them as they are. Wikipedia's readers come from all over the world, including many from the USA and many from other English-speaking countries, so either DMY or MDY dates are generally acceptable.

Having regard to the example of the Transatlantic telegraph cable article mentioned above, the topic (presumably) does not have strong ties with any specific English-speaking country, so DATETIES does not apply to force the choice. DATERET requires that the current format (MDY) be kept unless there is consensus to change it (e.g., editors may agree that DMY dates should be used because the cable is associated with many countries including English-speaking countries that use DMY and not the USA, but this is a matter for consensus rather than a unilateral change without discussion).

There are a few comments where editors have suggested it's best to leave date formats alone "as long as they're consistent", but this doesn't accommodate cases where date formats are inconsistent, least of all when no one contributes to discussions about date formats on their talk pages. It would be helpful to have clarity over how to apply these guidelines in cases like this.

As to J. Johnson's comment: "Undoubtedly there will be exceptions, but I think local consensus should be the arbiter of any exceptions and 'common sense'. I say we should go with your 'local consensus overrides all else', and state that at the top." This should go without saying because, as COMMONSENSE itself says:

Why isn't "use common sense" an official policy? It doesn't need to be; as a fundamental principle, it is above any policy.

Finally, there's nothing I've seen in the guidelines that says that changes to articles cannot be made to comply with the guidelines without discussing them or gaining consensus on the articles' talk pages first. Indeed, the guidelines are based on the premise that consensus can override the guidelines. Moreover, the principle in BRD is that changes can be made boldly and only reverted if the changes make Wikipedia worse—not just because the changes were not discussed first (especially if the change is a good one to comply with the guidelines). sroc 💬 13:29, 18 July 2015 (UTC)

Thanks, sroc. Of course DATETIES has a higher priority than DATERET; it's stated right there in the MoS. My interruptions above were:
  1. in reaction to your rewording of the US military text. It introduced a change in meaning, which I considered incautious.
  2. To highlight an inconsistency with DATETIES - that of the English-language restriction. This seems to be unique to date formats. There is no such restriction regarding units of measurement at WP:UNIT or currencies at WP:$, but this is the English-language Wikipedia, so if the "English-speaking" restriction is important in DATETIES, why is it not worth mentioning in regard to units of measurement and currencies? --Pete (talk) 16:25, 18 July 2015 (UTC)
  • Scoc: dateunify, yes; dateties, yes, but the "fitting" is much deeper than just a hypothesis about reader origins (we don't write the article on Chicago just for US readers—call it an issue of national identity/ego, if you wish; it keeps things calm, and BTW in practice it seems to be applied to articles related to majority anglophone countries, with anglophone-minority countries tagging along, with less urgency, mostly using dmy, except the Philiphines, which mostly uses mdy ... I apply dateret to those). Dateties does trump ret.

    There are two grey areas: the US military one (especially admiralty), where I apply dateret (who wants to be yelled at?); and bios where, say, they were born in the UK and spent most of their career in the US ... needs to be negotiated on the talkpage if there's trouble, but ret is good enough for me). Are the guidelines really deficient? I do tons and tons of this, and complaints are rare. Tony (talk) 08:42, 19 July 2015 (UTC) And PS, I harmonise dates in reference lists to the form chosen for the article. Tony (talk) 08:45, 19 July 2015 (UTC)

Same here. The only time I get reverted on this are instances of WP:OWN (especially WP:CITEVAR fetishism), and usually even then only by individuals who have a long-standing bone to pick with me personally, or with MOS in generally, making it a WP:POINTy exercise as well as OWNish. There doesn't seem to be a widespread issue. And the "Canada trick" I outlined in another thread could be used to obviate most disputes that aren't POINTy.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  07:32, 27 July 2015 (UTC)
  • The box at the top of this thread (with the first point revised as it has been) correctly describes the logic in my view. It permits that there can be exceptions per common sense and consensus, so we do not need to instruction creep by trying to specifically address every possible dispute that could arise.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  16:19, 20 July 2015 (UTC)
Precisely. The only element that is open to interpretation is DATETIES. Local consensus (such as for the modern US military) will preclude many disputes, but I'm wondering just how much of a problem really exists. Editors aren't wrangling over date formats near as much as they used to, at least in my experience over many years. --Pete (talk) 22:52, 20 July 2015 (UTC)


Thanks everyone for your comments. I have written an essay to provide an overview. See:

Wikipedia:Overview of date formatting guidelines (WP:DATEOVER)

The essay, of course, does not have the same standing as a guideline but may help editors to understand how the guidelines should be applied. It is based on the box at the beginning of this discussion but adapted with an introduction for context. I am indebted for EEng's contributions on the wording, and the comments of others above such as Pete regarding proposed changes to DATETIES on US military topics (I have based the essay on the current wording) and JJ on the "common sense" exceptions (which are clearly explained at the end, as this seems like a more logical place after explaining the blackletter provisions in the guideline itself).

As others such as SMcCandlish and Tony1, I don't think DATEFORMAT requires any clarification on this, but I hope the essay meets with broad support and may be useful in directing editors who are otherwise confused. sroc 💬 03:01, 26 July 2015 (UTC)

Excellent work. Is there any reason we cannot simply replace what is already in MosDate with this? --Pete (talk) 08:12, 26 July 2015 (UTC)
@Pete: Thanks. You're not serious, I trust? MOSDATE has the detail, the essay is the basic digest. Having said that, if we were so inclined, we could use a summary like the essay in MOSDATE and link to the more detailed provisions on sub-pages (like how Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Capital letters § Calendar items links to Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Dates and numbers § Seasons and Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Capital letters § Acronyms links to Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Abbreviations § Acronyms). sroc 💬 09:40, 26 July 2015 (UTC)
Actually, it's pretty well summarised at Wikipedia:Manual of Style § Dates and time §§ Days:
Choice of format
  • All the dates in a given article should have the same format (day-month or month-day). However, for citations, see WP:Citing sources § Citation style. These requirements do not apply to dates in quotations or titles.
  • Articles on topics with strong ties to a particular English-speaking country should generally use the more common date format for that country (month-day for the US, except in military usage; day-month for most others; articles related to Canada may use either consistently).
  • Otherwise, do not change an article from one form to another without good reason. More details can be found at WP:Manual of Style/Dates and numbers § Dates.
sroc 💬 09:55, 26 July 2015 (UTC)
I'm serious. If we have two pieces of text saying the same thing, we should use that which is best suited to the purpose, and here clarity and understanding is the purpose. So far as I can see, your essay says the same thing as what we already have in MoS, but in a way that communicates the facts better. --Pete (talk) 19:26, 26 July 2015 (UTC)
Agree with that assessment of how to build good guidelines. But also agree with sroc's own point that MOSDATE provides more details. So, either a merge into MOSNUM using sroc's clearer wording and format where feasible, or perhaps merging with the material in MOS proper, so that it contains the clearer explanation, while the other details remain here in MOSNUM (MOS's own hyper-short summary seems maybe too compressed).  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  07:27, 27 July 2015 (UTC)
What if the essay were move to (or replicated at) Wikipedia:Manual of Style § Dates and time §§ Days? Then it would provide a handy summary but still preserve the detail at MOS:DATEFORMAT for anyone who wants it. sroc 💬 09:34, 27 July 2015 (UTC)

Discussion over at WT:ANIME[edit]

A discussion is currently taking place at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Anime and manga on how broadcast times for shows should be presented in the article text. Opinions from non-WikiProject Anime and manga participants is very much appreciated. Thank you. Narutolovehinata5 tccsdnew 22:59, 17 July 2015 (UTC)

It's a WP:RS issue (secondary vs. primary sources), mostly. The date style matter is that the discrepancy between the "release" date and the airdate (which differ only by crossing the midnight date line) are being represented with pseudo-times like "May 21 at 25:00" in some sources, and this ought not be done on WP, per our date formatting rules. But this issue is obviated automatically if RS is followed (even if it weren't, the alternative proposed was to give one date and then the other in a footnote, so no MOS:NUM problem either way).  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  18:01, 20 July 2015 (UTC)

O Canada![edit]

I just realized that Canada fixes most EVGVAR vs. DATEVAR disputes. It's quite simple once you see it:

  • For encyclopedic-writing purposes, there is no difference between American English and Canadian English that cannot be worked around with some minor rewording occasionally ("washroom" vs. "restroom", etc.), unless the first major contributor insists on Briticized spellings ("colour", etc.). And even then consensus on the talk page could overturn that (but it wouldn't be necessary to, as we'll see). The vocabulary is about 99.99% shared.
  • Canadian English accepts either DMY or MDY date format.
  • Many topics have a natural DATEVAR due to national ties (e.g. a Russian movie), but no natural ENGVAR because of lack of national ties to the language.
  • If written in anything other than North American English, international date format applies by default. No issue.
  • If written in North American English using Commonwealth spelling, this is Canadian, and intl. format dates are permitted.
  • If written in North American English using non-Commonwealth spelling, this is either American or Canadian English. Canadian permits intl. date format, so we simply declare it Canadian, and here – the dispute sticking point – there suddenly is no issue any more.

It works the other direction, too with a bit more work: Any Commonwealth English article is not much different from a Canadian-with-British-spelling one (there are more vocabulary tweaks that could be needed, but nothing insurmountable). And cases of Commonwealth English but US date format are rare if they even come up at all. Is there any place that conventionally uses US date format but no longer has strong US ties, and might have some articles already written about them in non-North American English? Blind guesses might be Libera or the Philippines.

This would eliminate virtually all fights about DATEVAR vs. ENGVAR. It's also evidence that ENGVAR and DATEVAR are WP:CREEPy WP:BUREAUCRACY clouding WP:COMMONSENSE sometimes, but at least we can see through that particular cloud of hidebound WP:WIKILAWYERing, and short-circuit years of pointless future strife, letting people get back to productive editing instead of fighting over this particular brand of guideline-related conflict. This has been a mental prison of our own groupthink. As soon as we stop imagining the bars of the cage and how solid they are, they just disappear. Maybe if the Andamanese people join the industrialized world and decide they will use ISO dates, then we'll have an actual problem.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  17:05, 20 July 2015 (UTC)

I prefer to blame Canada. --Izno (talk) 17:35, 20 July 2015 (UTC)
America, fuck yeah? LOL  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  17:41, 20 July 2015 (UTC)
Doesn't this just shift whatever problem we have one stop over? The variety of English applied to a topic is often random according to whatever editors have had a whack at it. If some article has been through a GA candidate process, some practical soul will have gone through and undiscrepancied the text, but by and large if I select a random article that doesn't get a lot of interest, it looks exactly like the result of random editors with random writing styles adding a sentence or two at random times. Wikipedia's prose style rarely sparkles.
Perhaps I'm misunderstanding your solution to a nebulous problem, but it seems to me that you are proposing that allowable date formats are linked to variety of English, so instead of arguing over whether an international-format date applies to (say) an article on a French painter, we will argue over what variety of English the article is written in, and have some more rules to puzzle newbies with. Just as an aside, French painter articles come in a wide variety of styles. --Pete (talk) 22:18, 20 July 2015 (UTC)
Editors do want to link the DATEVAR to the ENGVAR, and they're conceptually closely related. The mind rebels at the notion that dialectal language use is of such paramount importance that we must have rules about it that enforce within-the-article consistency and not changing the style already used in the article, yet also permit a date format change that directly conflicts with the dialect used in every other way in the same article. Walk the logic tree I laid out. If an intractable debate about this arises at a particular article, the way to short-circuit it is to just have consensus (which can override the first major contributor) declare that the ENGVAR that page uses is Canadian, which is compatible with both Commonwealth and US spelling (one or the other at the article in question, not both at once, of course), and both of the typical date formats used in articles. The only adjustments needed will be rare cases of vocabulary incompatibility, easily resolved by simply rewording.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  11:17, 22 July 2015 (UTC)
Ah, I see. Reminds me of my time in the military, where we would often find ourselves doing things that were at the same time quite logical but also patently ridiculous. Taking a shower in full uniform with weapons, for example. --Pete (talk) 16:22, 22 July 2015 (UTC)
I'm confused. Are you implying that "color" is an acceptable spelling in Canadian English? It isn't. RGloucester 22:38, 20 July 2015 (UTC)
WP:How many legs does a horse have? Presuming to lecture on topics with which you have no actual familiarity is not a productive endeavor on Wikipedia, and greatly reduces the willingness of other editors to take you seriously each time it happens, which is frequently. I actually lived in Canada only a few years ago, so I know for a fact you're wrong in implying "color" is not acceptable in Canadian English. Have you ever even been there? But all you had to do was Google this, or consult any reliable source, like the The Oxford Canadian Dictionary, or even just read our well-enough sourced article Canadian English.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  11:07, 22 July 2015 (UTC)
I missed this. Yes, I've "been there", and even lived there briefly. "Color" has not been an acceptable spelling in standard Canadian written English. Sure, a few newspapers may have used such Americanised spellings decades ago, but none do so now. RGloucester 23:03, 28 July 2015 (UTC)
Canadian English has always vacillated between American and British spelling but in recent years a definite standard for "Canadian" English has been developing, and it is tending to be closer to British spelling (or more accurately, Commonwealth spelling) than to American spelling. Thus "colour" has been winning out over "color" and is almost universal now. A few decades ago a lot of Canadian newspapers used American spelling because it saved the trouble of rewriting articles from American news sources, but today editors can change the spelling with the click of a mouse, so almost all media use "colour" instead of "color". It's not British spelling, though, and nobody uses "tyre" instead of "tire" in Canada. The MDY versus DMY dispute remains unresolved. Canadians use either indiscriminately, and I personally use YMD because that is also a Canadian "standard". Canadian banks give you a choice of any of the three on your preprinted cheques (not checks). RockyMtnGuy (talk) 12:32, 31 July 2015 (UTC)

Non-base-10 notation[edit]

While in general C notation seems fine, in some specific cases I believe other notation should be used. Articles about other languages that have an appropriate notation should use that notation. Personally, I have never found anyone confused by the OS/360 assembler X'hexdigit' notation, but if it could be confusing an article should explain the notation early on. Verilog and VHDL each have their own hex and binary notation, as do some other languages. But I agree, in general discussion, without a specific language in context, C notation is a fine choice. Gah4 (talk) 20:42, 21 July 2015 (UTC)

Are you proposing that a sentence be added that, in discussion of a particular computer language, the language's own convention should be used? And where does this leave the mathematical joke "Halloween = Christmas" (that is, 31OCT = 25DEC)? — Arthur Rubin (talk) 22:05, 21 July 2015 (UTC)

Caliber issue[edit]

Here, I raised an issue of using the convert template for metric caliber identification & it was suggested the MoS governs. (I imagine the template will need to be adjusted to permit the change, if approved, too.) So, can editors who need this "special case" get a template able to cope with it? FYI, posted the issue on the Firearms & Milhist Talk pages, with links here. TREKphiler any time you're ready, Uhura 22:56, 21 July 2015 (UTC)

Can you restate that in more concrete terms? I can't quite peer into your mind. :-)  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  12:32, 22 July 2015 (UTC)
As explained at the first link, this is about not repeating the unit when a X is used. For example listing the caliber "9 × 25 mm (0.35 × 0.98 in)" [proposed] instead of "9 mm × 25 mm (0.35 in × 0.98 in)" [current]. -Fnlayson (talk) 19:10, 22 July 2015 (UTC)
Perhaps this would be better raised at the template talk page? I'm not sure if we have a guideline on this precise application. --Pete (talk) 22:36, 22 July 2015 (UTC)
"Perhaps this would be better raised at the template talk page?" I went there first & was told it was an MOS compliance issue... If it's not... (And Fnlayson has me right: I want to be rid of the first use of the unit, or limit to one after only. No spaces would be good, too.) TREKphiler any time you're ready, Uhura 23:28, 23 July 2015 (UTC)
It will be a template issue if there's a change, but yes, you are right. It is an MoS issue, and the usage mentioned above seems to be specifically ruled out. As the usage is commonplace in military/firearms circles and our own articles (5.56×45mm NATO and 7.62×51mm NATO and 7.62×39mm, for example), I think we should allow it and modify the wording appropriately. Are there any objections? --Pete (talk) 23:48, 23 July 2015 (UTC)
Two separate issues
  1. MOS should be recommending "9 × 25 mm (0.35 × 0.98 in)" not "9 mm × 25 mm (0.35 in × 0.98 in)", except in cases where for some reason some ambiguity or confusion could result. Using "9 mm × 25 mm (0.35 in × 0.98 in)" is obnoxiously redundant and treats our readers like morons.
  2. "5.56×45mm NATO" is a name, that happens to be based on a measurement, but is not itself a measurement; it is thus correct without the spaces if the overwhelming majority of reliable sources (not just specialist sources) write it that way, which appears to be the case. I.e., a correct sentence to illustrate style not how to write a good encyclopedia sentence would be "The 5.56×45mm NATO ammunition measures 5.56 × 45 mm."
  3. These measurements (not as embedded in the caliber name!) should be given with the {{Convert}} template.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  03:27, 26 July 2015 (UTC)

Proposal: Stop recommending the Unicode minus symbol[edit]

The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section. A summary of the conclusions reached follows.
The result of this discussion was a consensus to continue using the Unicode minus symbol for negative and minus. Even the nominator changed to this view, resulting in 0 editors in favor of the proposal (other than, in theory, the original author of the essay). There's also a consensus to userspace the essay. [Non-admin close by nominator, rescinding proposal.]  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  06:58, 27 July 2015 (UTC)

This is a procedural nomination, on behalf of User:Wikid's essay, Wikipedia:Avoid unicode minus and use numeric keypad minus. The full text of the essay can serve as the proposal, to exclusively recommend the hyphen-minus (keyboard minus) not the special Unicode minus glyph. Don't fixate on every quibble in this, just the main proposal:

In the Wikipedia Manual of Style, the paragraph "Minus signs" failed to mention the 40-year standard of the minus-key on a numeric keypad, which is what the Wikipedia MediaWiki system uses for negative numbers. The paragraph should have been written to prefer the keypad minus-sign, but to also allow using "&minus;" in some cases:

Minus signs // "Do not use an en dash for negative signs and subtraction operators: the preferred sign is the minus-key on the numeric keypad of a computer keyboard (same as the hyphen), which has been a keyboard standard for over 40 years, and it is also the result generated by Wikipedia, as in subtracting 9 - 10: {{#expr: 9 - 10}} (to yield "-1"). The unicode character for the minus sign (&minus; as "−") could be used for some display purposes. However, the hyphen is preferred when searching a page for negative numbers (matches keypad "-"), or when calculating negative results in a template, or when sorting numbers."

The use of "&minus;" (during 2007-2009) [still true, and today also effects parsing of strings as numbers by WP:Lua modules. – SMcCandlish] has led to templates generating unusable negative-numbers which will not match a numeric-keypad search, and will NOT sort numerically in sortable tables specified using class="wikitable sortable". However, the WP:MOS standard could be changed in later years, to prefer &minus when the world's keyboards change most numeric keypads, but I don't think that should be stated in the MOS, because of the decades of waiting.

Meanwhile, the template {{msym}} can be used to alter the font and display a keypad-minus (or hyphen) in a font that appears like a unicode minus, such as Courier font. Compare the example of "-3" with {{msym}}3 versus &minus;3:  "-3" with "−3" versus "−3". When searching a page for a hyphen-minus or negative number, then any unicode-minus on the page will fail to match, while any msym-style minus will match.

The template it referred to would need to be create or recreated, or the recommendation to use it deleted.

If the proposal is not carried, the WP:ORPHANed essay should be MfD'd to be userspaced or deleted.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  10:55, 22 July 2015 (UTC)

  • Support the core proposal, not the nitpicky specifics. Changed to Oppose, effectively rescinding the proposal. I'm a huge fan of using the proper Unicode glyphs for things, when it is practical. However, the search and automated parseability problems here seem non-trivial (I've encountered the problem myself in dealing with regular expressions in Lua modules.) This change would be consistent with our deprecation of curly quotes for the same and similar reasons. [Aside: I don't entertain any "not enough editors do it anyway" argument; not "enough" editors follow any style rules of any kind, but MOS remains important, and its principle purpose is establishing best practices. It's secondary one is guiding WP:WikiGnomes in cleanup efforts, and this is proper: Editors creating new content should not need to futz over style minutiae when bots and style tweakers who prefer to do that work sometimes can clean up after them. So, please avoid that lame argument.]

    A problem with one nit-picky specific, is that the widen-the-character idea is a poor one, because the resulting rendered character will be hard to distinguish from a dash.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  12:56, 22 July 2015 (UTC)

    PS: I have no "dog in the fight" and do not care in any emotional way what version of "–" vs. "−" we use. I'm just supporting the essay's underlying rationale on logical usability grounds. The "we should use the Unicode character because it exists" rationale isn't compelling in the face of the problems that it can cause. But they're not frequent problems or very widespread ones, so maybe the cost is worth it. I'll be fine with either result, but am not quite neutral.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  06:42, 26 July 2015 (UTC)

  • Oppose, if I'm understanding this correctly. A key isn't a symbol, so can you please tell us what symbol it is you think we should be using? On every computer I've used at home or work, the symbol generated by the minus key on the numeric keypad is an ordinary hyphen, as it has been since before there was a Unicode, and before anyone had proportional typefaces on their computers, so neither minus signs nor en dashes even existed on them. If that's what you feel we should use, well, typographically, it's too short. And it won't help searches anyway.
Search engines normally don't distinguish punctuation like hyphens, from word breaks. An initial hyphen is sometimes a special case, meaning "find pages that don't have the term to which the hyphen has been affixed". For example, "-hello" means "return only pages that don't have the word 'hello' on them". Indeed, I just ran a Wikipedia search on -30, returning 3.8 million articles. Of the ones I looked at, none had either "30" or "-30" on them.
As the redlink shows, there is no template {{msym}}. I don't understand how rendering anything in Courier or other monospaced font would make it look longer than a hyphen anyway. —Largo Plazo (talk) 11:52, 22 July 2015 (UTC)
"Symbol" isn't the right word either. It's about glyphs. This was already explained in the original text (which I repeat is not mine), but to re-explain it: The glyph we arguably should be recommending is the one that 99.999-% of the world uses for "minus": -, a.k.a hyphen, a.k.a. hyphen-minus, a.k.a. the glyph produced by the - keys on virtually every keyboard in the world (both in the main keyboard and, when present, the numeric keypad on the side). It's also the one that virtually all software and programming languages use for minus (i.e. for negative and for subtraction). The one to not use the Unicode character for minus, which you can find in the "Insert" editing tools below the WP edit window (it's between ± and ×.

Code does distinguish. But so do search engines. Here's a simple demonstration that they don't do what you think they do: [18][19]. Most of them drop (or use for specific things, like exclusion) the - hyphen. But most of them do not drop Unicode characters outside the basic ASCII range, but treat them as literals. It would be insanely tedious to code a search engine to drop every "symbol" its coders arbitrarily decided wasn't alphanumeric "enough". In-page search also distinguishes these characters, in every browser I have.

If you're not inclined to support, I request that you switch to neutral until you've had time to investigate the matter in more detail. (And the proposal itself; I already addressed the fact that {{msym}} is missing. :-) 'I don't understand' is not a rationale for "oppose". To explain that point you flagged, the monospace font will usually do this because all glyphs in such a font are the width of the font's widest character, while in a proportional font, hyphen-minus is never that wide.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  12:48, 22 July 2015 (UTC)

Actually it is about symbols rather than glyphs. U+0016 represents the character/symbol "lowercase a". The glyph for this character varies by font; in particular the right downstroke may or may not extend above the closed loop. In a fixed space font, the glyph for a hyphen (U+002D) is usually the same as the glyph for a minus sign (U+2212), but they are different characters. Peter coxhead (talk) 14:49, 22 July 2015 (UTC)
Your links to search results pages showing what Google returns for searches on a hyphen in isolation, or a Unicode minus in isolation, are irrelevant, since you are talking about searchs for negative numbers, and I already explained to you what happens when you try to search for a negative number where the symbol you use to indicate the negativity is a hyphen. By the way, glyphs includes symbols, letters, numerals, etc. The kind of glyph that a hyhen is, is a symbol. —Largo Plazo (talk) 15:01, 22 July 2015 (UTC)
Code conventions don't bear any relevance to this discussion because we don't write Wikipedia articles to look like this and because here we also properly write a × b instead of a * b, as well as 210 instead of the typical code expression 2^10 (or 2**10 as in Fortran, if I recall correctly).
"I don't understand" is a euphemism for "Maybe there's an outside possibility that I'm missing something but I doubt it". I will express my conclusion based on my view of the situation and as I see fit. —Largo Plazo (talk) 16:31, 22 July 2015 (UTC)
This "glyphs vs. symbols" stuff is a distraction; all three of us commenting on these words and their distinctions apparently come from backgrounds where these words have different meanings. It's clear we all do understand that we are talking about the difference between "-" and "−".

Code vs. prose: I addressed this in a comment below, but short version is: we have in the prose in many articles, and there are templates and other code that work on strings as numeric data and put it back out as strings, so it does matter. This idea that "never the twain shall meet" is an illusion.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  06:42, 26 July 2015 (UTC)

Oppose. If you want to have a minus sign, then you need to use the minus sign. The only allowable exception is in code, because code is designed around a hyphen-minus for the minus sign. This is already mentioned. No change to the current wording is required or desired. Headbomb {talk / contribs / physics / books} 13:49, 22 July 2015 (UTC)
And that essay needs to be userfied. Headbomb {talk / contribs / physics / books} 13:55, 22 July 2015 (UTC)
Or just deleted; I'd leave that up to MfD.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  13:57, 22 July 2015 (UTC)
Oppose I write and check computer code and also moderate public examination questions in Computer Science. In code, of course the hyphen is used (ultimately because computer languages go back to typewriter fonts, which didn't have a minus sign). In examination papers, when a proportional font is used, whether for code or for mathematical formulae, the glyph for a hyphen is too short and looks wrong for a minus sign. In my experience, those writing and editing examination papers generally seem to substitute an en-dash (U+2013), I guess because for most people it's easier to input. The use of en-dash for this purpose causes the same problems as the correct minus character in terms of searching and sorting, but has the additional disadvantage of being the wrong character. In Wikipedia we should promote correct typography, and encourage search and sorting technology to catch up. Peter coxhead (talk) 14:49, 22 July 2015 (UTC)
Huh? How is that relevant? WP:NOT a public examination, and why would we want to emulate abuse of en-dashes? That's not "correct typography". "In Wikipedia we should promote some ideal, and encourage the real world to catch up" is precisely the same argument the activists are using on transgender issues, pushing for WP to falsify history and 'lead the way' in language reform. This is the dead opposite of WP's role. We reflect (within reason and technical limits) general mainstream usage. In this case, there are some technical issues that seem to be real (see below). Question: Does Microsoft Word auto-convert hyphen to a minus when it precedes a numeral? Just looking to see if there's anything indicating any shift, in computer-mediated communication, not dead-trees printing, toward use of the Unicode symbol. I agree mainstream print has long distinguished (though to a greater or less extent depending on the nature of the publication). We also prefer higher-quality sources over newspapers when it comes to technical material, so I can see why we'd favor the minus from that viewpoint. Unlike, say, capitalizing species common names, there is no principle of least astonishment factor at work; the average reader neither notices nor cares about any difference between these characters. I want to support it, because I agree with the "we should use proper typography" idea.
Oppose There's a lot of stuff which is irrelevant, dated and/or plain wrong here.
  • This notion that the minus sign doesn't work in sortable tables may or may not have been accurate at the time of this essay's being written but it isn't true now. Even if it were the case, however, there would be ways around it (e.g. {{nts}}).
  • The fact that in the early days of typewriters people had to get by without such characters as "−", "×", "÷", "±", "≈", "≠", "≤", "≥", etc. is of no relevance. Why continue to limit ourselves to what was possible a century ago ... tradition?
  • The text in question is text intended for humans to read not for computers. That such functions as {{#expr:}} and {{#time:}} require the hyphen as a minus sign is of no relevance. It's a question of output not input. If a template or module has to cope with minus signs as input (for some reason), Lua is capable of dealing with it.
  • There are two types of search to consider.
    • Firstly, as mentioned above, in the search box, a hyphen will turn up pages without whatever text comes after it but a minus sign is simply ignored. Obviously, it's of no use to recommend either one over the other here.
    • Secondly, there is the [CTRL][F] search done on a page. Again as mentioned above, the two are distinguished in this case. However, far from this counting in favour of the proposal, it gives us a strong reason to reject it. We may only want to find the hyphens and not the minuses or vice versa. Say, for example, we're looking for ymd dates on a page, we could look for "-0" and "-1" but we don't want "−0" or "−1".
  • Owing to its length and position, the hyphen is more difficult to recognise as a minus sign than a true minus sign. This is especially true where it's in sub- or superscript.
  • The proposal would mean a whole lot of work in getting rid of the minus signs we have in place and replacing them with the inferior hyphen. This is likely to end up in edit wars as it is clearly a bad idea. Eventually, though, we'd realise the mistake and go back to the more sane approach. However, we'd run the risk of ending up with en dashes for minus signs (as we once had). In other words, it would be a lot of work with no actual benefits ... unless you count the in the negative.
  • The idea that something like {{msym}} would ever end up being used throughout WP is just unrealistic but for consistency this would be necessary. As I recall, there were a half dozen or so transclusions in use before it was deleted, just another fleeting whim of its creator.
Just userfy this essay. Jimp 03:20, 24 July 2015 (UTC)
Not so "irrelevant" except the first one:
  • Sortable tables: Glad that's been fixed.
  • It's not about typewriters, it's about modern keyboards.
  • These categories overlap. Only last week I made a module that strips string input down to embedded numeric data, performs an operation on it, then returns the result of the operation as a string again. It's extra work I'm not willing to do to also add routines to convert back and forth between – and −. I barely ever edit mathematical or string manipulation templates, but here I have a counter-example to what you said, and it's only days old. Sure makes we wonder if someone who does a whole lot of Lua module coding has dozens and dozens of counter-examples.
  • There are not two types of searches to consider, but at least three, if you want to lump "all external search engines" into one category. Not all of them are as blunt an instrument as Google. Plenty let you search for specific strings one way or another. WP's results in them are totally different for the otherwise-identical string if you put in a Unicode minus vs. a hyphen.
  • "more difficult to recognise as a minus sign than a true minus sign"? More difficult for whom? Only a vanishingly small percentage of computer users even know a separate Unicode minus symbol exists, and of them, only a tiny fraction use it. I'd bet money that less that 0.0000001% of computer users have ever intentionally put a Unicode minus instead of a hyphen. There's no evidence that people have any difficulty recognizing "-2". I would almost also bet that some, especially younger people used to computer-mediated communication, have difficulty parsing (at first) "2x−6b" or "−2", because it looks like an en dash; for them a minus is "–", and this "−" character is what's unfamiliar, while the opposite would be true for an older person, or just a more studious, one who spent a lot of time reading math printed by publishers that use the Unicode symbol.
  • Virtually all proposals to change any style on WP mean a whole lot of work. This is a variant of the WP:HARDWORK argument at WP:AADD.
  • Yeah, the {{msym}} thing doesn't seem practical.
I'm half devil's advocate on this, but only half. I expected there to be a dozen reasons why this proposal was crap, but so far most of the rationales against it aren't very strong. The case against the Unicode minus is quite similar to the one against curly quotes.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  06:42, 26 July 2015 (UTC)
  • Modern keyboards are descended from the old typewriter but whereas in the old days we had to make do with "-" for minus signs, "x" or "*" for multiplication signs, etc. we don't have to do so any longer. We can easily put a non-keyboard symbol in.
  • If it's too much work for you to make your module/template output a true minus sign, let someone else fix it.
  • If the third type of search distinguishes between hyphens and minus signs, as you indicate, this is a reason to use the minus sign.
  • The hyphen is shorter and lower. This is why it seems to me more difficult to recognise.
  • True, we shouldn't base style proposals on how much work will be needed to be done. The main point I was trying to get at was that we may end up with a mess with hyphens, en dashes and minus signs all being used.
  • There is a significant difference between minus signs vs hyphens and straight vs curly quotes. Straight and curly quotes are different versions of the same symbol whereas hyphens and minus signs are different symbols.
The rationales against the proposal may be crap but I don't see the rationales for it as any better. Jimp 02:02, 27 July 2015 (UTC)
I think I'm sold on most of that.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  06:58, 27 July 2015 (UTC)
  • Changing to Oppose: While I think there are rationales that run both ways, those in favor of the Unicode minus have swayed me. I was mostly neutral anyway, and this detailed discussion archives enough arguments that we can call this a solid consensus against further motions in this regard, unless something new comes to light that might cause consensus to change.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  06:58, 27 July 2015 (UTC)
  • Neutral. I have not investigate how search engines handle this, but the Firefox for Windows search within a page feature definitely distinguishes hyphen-minus from minus. This is a feature I use a great deal both in Wikipedia and elsewhere. Jc3s5h (talk) 14:51, 22 July 2015 (UTC)
    • Yeah, it'll be that way for all of them; it's the same issue as curly quotes.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  06:42, 26 July 2015 (UTC)
  • Has anyone mentioned line break rules for text layout? My understanding is that hyphen-minus (U+002D) is ordinarily interpreted as binding to its left, but minus (U+2212) binds to its right. If a line break needs to be placed in the neighborhood of a minus sign, it can have a really ugly result if a minus sign is coded as a hyphen-minus, because the sign can end up on a different line than the number it prefixes. —BarrelProof (talk) 02:11, 27 July 2015 (UTC)
    • Math expressions should be put in {{nowrap}} anyway. They'll be hard to parse if they break before or after "+" or "=" or whatever.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  06:42, 27 July 2015 (UTC)

The above discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section.

Non-pure ranges - either end (or both) not a year or not exact(ly known)[edit]

Osmund (fl. 760–772) ... [already did this edit there – possibly wrong? ]
 •   Aethelwalh (fl. c. 660 – 685) ...

Seems "760–772" should be spaced (or this example dropped). I'm not sure anyone flourishes this exactly.. or vice versa "fl. c. 660–685"? Unclear if spaced for circa is meant for the space after "c. " only or for the years. There is a rule about both years requiring c. then "fl. c. 660 – c. 685".

Anyway was looking into if this in British Antarctic Survey should be spaced (can't change/not sure how with timeline template):
1973–May 1987 – Richard Laws[7][8] [..]
2007–May 2012 – Nick Owens[11][12]
November 2012–September 2013

Also seems "FIDS/BAS/" has an extra slash.. comp.arch (talk) 15:53, 22 July 2015 (UTC)

Yes, when one end of a year range begins with a prefix such as fl. or c., the en dash must be spaced. Among other things, this emphasizes to the reader that the prefix on the first item in the range does not also apply to the second item. This is really just a special case of the rule that if either end of a range includes a space, the en dash must be spaced, which requires
1973 – May 1987
November 2012 – September 2013
Anomalocaris (talk) 14:39, 24 July 2015 (UTC)
Generally fl applies to the range, not one end of it. Therefore the first endpoint doesn't contain a space, and therefore there's no spaced ndash (unless one or the other endpoint has e.g. a month, or c. -- though not sure c. really makes sense with fl.). EEng (talk) 23:10, 24 July 2015 (UTC)
I agree, and I have crossed out part of my previous comment. —Anomalocaris (talk) 07:01, 25 July 2015 (UTC)
Note, for this reason, you would not have (fl. c. 660 – 685) as there needs to be a space after the fl. before the starting point in the range; thus: (fl.  c. 660 – 685) (assuming the end point was not approximate, otherside it should have c. 685). sroc 💬 03:41, 26 July 2015 (UTC)
My take:
Format Meaning & notes
660–685 between those exact years, inclusive
c. 660 – 686 660-ish to exactly 686
660 – c. 686 660 exactly to 686-ish
c. 660 – c. 686 660-ish to 686-ish
c. 660–670 around that decade; while essentially shorthand for c. 660 – c. 670, more concise yet as c. 665 in many contexts; possibly confusing in general. Deprecation suggested (i.e., merge into next example).
c. 660–685 Deprecated – uncertain meaning; instead use c. 660 – 686 or c. 660 – c. 686, as needed
fl. 660–685 between at least these years, both certain
fl. c. 660 – 685 between 660-ish and 685 for certain; probably better explained in words (easy to misinterpret as fl. c. 660 – c. 685, as well as possibly confusing in general)
fl. 660 – c. 685 between 660 for certain and 685-ish; probably better explained in words (possibly confusing in general)
fl. c. 660 – c. 685 between 660-ish and 685-ish; rare usage, probably better explained in words (possibly confusing in general)
fl. c. 660–670 somewhere in that decade probably; while essentially shorthand for fl. c. 660 – c. 670, more concise yet as fl. ca. 665 in many contexts; probably better explained in words (possibly confusing in general). Deprecation suggested (i.e., merge into next example).
fl. c. 660–685 Deprecated – uncertain meaning; instead, use fl. c. 660 – 685, or fl. c. 660 – c. 685, as needed
Hope that helps. PS: We should be permitting "ca." as well as "c."; they're both equally acceptable in usage guides, and as attested in reliable sources, while "ca." is easier to parse as "circa" instead of as something else., especially in running prose (though spelling it out in that case might better).  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  06:40, 27 July 2015 (UTC)
Maybe we can integrate your table into the guidelines -- many are confused by this, at least the rare times they encounter it. Perhaps I'll mae a go at it after I get started over at /Linking. EEng (talk) 16:23, 27 July 2015 (UTC)
Well, we'd have to use better wording. My "-ish" stuff is an informalism.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  15:18, 29 July 2015 (UTC)
I urge not using c. 660–670 because the reader has no way of knowing that the unspaced en dash is intended to bind the c. to the whole range; in many cases the c. is intended to bind only to the start of the range. It's just sloppy. —Anomalocaris (talk) 06:40, 28 July 2015 (UTC)
I could get behind that. I wasn't recommending using it, just documenting it as meaning something when people do use it.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  15:18, 29 July 2015 (UTC)

Pure year–year ranges[edit]

"A pure year–year range is written [..]

 •   1881–86;  1881–92 (not 1881–6;  1881 – 86)

[..] But both years are given in full in the following cases: [..]
different centuries: 1881–1903; not 1881–03"

I don't know, this may have been discussed before. This just seems to be a bad rule.. 2000–2001 seems better as some might misunderstand 2000–01 as YYYY-MM (note, that would use a hyphen, not a distinction to many.

The real trouble however begins if say 1998–2000 needs to be introduced (say another section title). Do we want to mix YYYY-YY and YYYY-YYYY ranges? We can never know what needs to be added later to an article.. comp.arch (talk) 14:20, 27 July 2015 (UTC)

Many (most?) other publications would use 2000–01 rather than 2000–2001 to mean the the year range. I don't know of any English-language prose publication that uses 2000-01 to mean January 2000, although one might see it in databases. Since people manage to figure it out in all those other publications, I think they can figure it out in Wikipedia too. Jc3s5h (talk) 14:29, 27 July 2015 (UTC)
In all countries and contexts, where the ISO 8601 date format is the recommended date format or even mandantory to be used, 2000-01 would be normally interpreted as January 2000, not as 2000-2001, regardless of language. Even more so since abbreviated year numbers are broadly deprecated since the millennium for all those Y2K bugs they caused. The good news is that it is possible to learn from past mistakes. --Matthiaspaul (talk) 15:28, 27 July 2015 (UTC)
Help is at hand. The MoS does not make the two digits mandatory. There is another rule - we use the most common construction. People generally write as they speak - they say, for example, "nineteen sixty-six to seven" and they write 1966 - 7, not 1966 - 67.
Thus 2001 - 2 is perfectly acceptable, and avoids the 2001 - 02 construction which some would think means February 2001. (talk) 15:39, 27 July 2015 (UTC)
Another way round this is to use the slash. You could write 2000/01 for example and I don't think anyone would mistake that for January 2000. (talk) 15:43, 27 July 2015 (UTC)
@Matthiaspaul:, I don't accept your implication that there is an English-speaking country that requires, or even recommends, ISO 8601 in prose. Indeed, English-speaking countries aren't even in the business of telling their inhabitants how to speak or write. Can you prove that such a recommendation from the government of an English-speaking country exists, and if so, that the recommendation carries any weight with the inhabitants? Jc3s5h (talk) 17:47, 27 July 2015 (UTC)
Christ, this ISO crap again??? ISO 8601 is a data exchange standard and has nothing to do with everyday writing. And as Jc has pointed out, no English-speaking country, AFAIK, commands its inhabitants to read, write, and speak in certain ways. EEng (talk) 19:01, 27 July 2015 (UTC)
Thanks (all) for answering. I'm sorry for starting with the minor point. Nobody has addressed my main point ("real trouble"..). [2001–2 wouldn't really help there, 1991–2002, might happen (or just 2001–12), besides, 1991–2 is just as ambiguous as 1991–02 is that case.]

8-digit (XXXX-XXXX) year ranges for sports[edit]

  • Current wording "A date range may appear in 2005–2010 format if it is a range of sports seasons in an infobox."
  • Proposed change "A date range may appear in 2005–2010 format if it is a range of sports seasons in an infobox."

Rationale in a nutshell: The intent is to establish that compact 8-digit year ranges (XXXX-XXXX) are acceptable for a range of sports seasons. In all other respects, these sports ranges should be subject to the same general usage rules as the compact 6-digit year range (XXXX-XX).

Current use in FAs: Rudolf Caracciola (motor sport), Thierry Henry (assoc football), Karmichael Hunt (rugby union), Otto Graham (American football), Joel Selwood (Austrailian rules football), Grey Cup (Canadian football), Michael Jordan (basketball), Jackie Robinson (baseball), Wayne Gretzky (ice hockey)

Background: My bold edit was reverted with the edit summary of "oh, no, no, no. There's WAY too much history to the current wording. I understand what you're trying to do but this will need to be discussed".

As seen by the above sampling of Feature Articles from various sports, the 8-digit format is already being used in places where a compact format using en dash is more suitable than using words i.e. "from XXXX to XXXX". Aside from infoboxes, this is already used in cases like section headers or tables. For sports year ranges, the 8-digit year range is not in practice used any differently than if the 6-digit format were chosen. This is consistent with WP:PROPOSAL: "Most commonly, a new policy or guideline simply documents existing practices, rather than proposing a change to them."

The previous discussion to add the 8-digit format can be found at Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Dates and numbers/Archive 144#Date range redux. As a background, the 8-digit format was preferred in for some sports where a single season straddles two years, and is typically expressed with a 6-digit range. While quite a few of the comments were with respect to infoboxes, the spirit of the discussion was allowing 8-digit sports year ranges where the MOS previously allowed only the six-digit format, which was contrary to actual practice. The discussion was closed with consensus to accept the 8-digit form on February 3, 2014. The MOS was not updated until March 7, 2014, when I added it with the overly restrictive limitation for infoboxes.[20]Bagumba (talk) 07:37, 28 July 2015 (UTC)

I've modified some text which may or may not have caused confusion (to SMcCandlish below?). Removed text has been struck, while inserted text is in red and underlined: "As a background, the 8-digit format was preferred in for some sports where a single season straddles two years ..."—Bagumba (talk) 08:56, 29 July 2015 (UTC)
Doesn't change my position, just reminds me that some people are treating "generally" as if it meant "always".  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  15:39, 29 July 2015 (UTC)


  • Support proposal per nominator's rationale. Rikster2 (talk) 19:54, 28 July 2015 (UTC)
  • Partial support with clarifications: This should be used in "infobox-like" compact presentation, such as section headings, lists, tables, and navboxes. Limiting this format to exactly infoboxes was a consensus-assessment error. It's also permissible in running prose, but only in reference to specific, individual seasons, as in the 2014–2015 season, or some favor the 2014–15 season. It should not otherwise be used in running prose, when referring to a span of multiple seasons (use the 2008–2009 through 2013–2014 seasons), or just some date range unconnected to seasons, e.g. played for the team, 2010–2014; that's unencyclopedic telegraphic writing, a news style as used in headlines (same goes for a "...2010–14" version); instead, use played for the team from 2010 to 2014". This is surely central to why the incautious change to a blanket statement in favor of eight-digit style was reverted. The purpose of the 2014–2015 line-item is to cover a conventional, specific usage that is used as a shorthand in particular constructions, not to play some "sports wikiprojects are exempt from date formatting rules" favoritism that scraps basic rules of good writing. There are a few other things with regard to date-range formatting that should probably be re-examined and may need tweaking, but I'll address that separately in the #Discussion section below.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  21:55, 28 July 2015 (UTC) Clarified. 15:32, 29 July 2015 (UTC)
the eight-digit format should never be used to describe a specific season, as in your example. If specifically referring to a sports season (vs. a range), it should be 6 digits (example "the 1993–94 season"). The 8-digit format is only used to express a range (essentially standing in for prose like "Smith played for the Tigers from 1991 to 1996"). Otherwise I agree with your statements. Rikster2 (talk) 02:17, 29 July 2015 (UTC)
Rikster is correct about referring to individual seasons. Per WP:DATERANGE: "Periods straddling two different years, including sports seasons, are generally written with the range notation (2005–06)."—Bagumba (talk) 08:39, 29 July 2015 (UTC)
Rikster is not correct, because "generally" does not mean "always" and thus does not translate, in the inverse, into "never". The six-digit format is problematic, because it's easily misread as YYYY-MM in many situations; this is one reason why it has the "generally" caveat, I'm pretty sure (another is that there are sports in which it is not conventional). We shouldn't be using it at all if you ask me, for the same reason we don't do this with page number ranges (it's pp. 239–272 not pp. 239–72). We should not make the situation even worse by swapping out plain English Smith played for the Tigers from 1991 to 1996 for telegraphic gibberish like Smith played for the Tigers 1991–1996. WP is not a newspaper. Actually, even a newspaper wouldn't do that except in a headline. So, I'll support this for compact presentations (infobox, nav, heading, table, list) only, not running prose unless it's in ref. to a single season.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  15:32, 29 July 2015 (UTC)
I agree with your comment on usage in compact presentations as opposed to running prose. However, that applies to the six-digit format as well, and is not unique to eight-digits. Thus, the proposal was made to strike "in an infobox" from the eight-digit note. No prejudice if the MOS is enhanced separately to generally discuss common practice regarding compact form vs prose to cover both six- or eight-digit formats. If you agree that is can be handled separately, please consider changing your !vote from partial to full support. Thanks.—Bagumba (talk) 15:56, 29 July 2015 (UTC)
"generally" does not mean "always": True, MOS is a guideline, and WP:GUIDES says "Editors should attempt to follow guidelines". So in that sense, there can always be common sense exemptions.—Bagumba (talk) 16:01, 29 July 2015 (UTC)
I agree with most of what you wrote and support the proposal, however, to me it does not make sense to restrict the yyyy-yyyy range to sport seasons. yyyy-yyyy is the normal form to express a range of years in compact form (that is, when the long form "from year yyyy to year yyyy" is undesireable to be used for some reason). Therefore we should allow it whenever the abbreviation yyyy-yy is allowed at present.
If you ask me, I would also support to go further and deprecate the yyyy-yy form (except for in citations and where a range needs to be expressed in 7 characters for space reasons). It looks like a leftover from the past century to me. As I wrote earlier, there was a lesson to be learned from the Y2K nightmare, and this is to avoid abbreviated years. In fact, I very rarely see this form being used outside the English Wikipedia now, perhaps once or twice a year, whereas I see the 4-digit year form almost on a daily basis. Most people now seem to stick to 4-digit years.
Generally speaking, the purpose of the MOS is to assist editors in chosing a writing style which is non-ambiguous, easily accessible, consistent (where possible), and logical (hopefully). At present, the section on pure year ranges recommends the form yyyy-yy and then lists a long lists of conditions and exceptions when yyyy-yyyy should be used instead because yyyy-yy causes ambiguity. So, why don't we just swap this around, and recommend the easier to parse form yyyy-yyyy as the default compact representation and specifically allow yyyy-yy in those cases where we know that it does not cause confusion? Sounds way more consistent and logical too me.
--Matthiaspaul (talk) 19:00, 29 July 2015 (UTC)
Can I ask that a new thread be started with your proposal to remove "if it is a range of sports seasons" as well? I don't want to sidetrack from this (hopefully) simpler proposal already here. Thanks.—Bagumba (talk) 19:08, 29 July 2015 (UTC)
Sorry, I didn't want to "hijack" your thread. I just thought the proposal would be related enough to be discussed in tandem in order to reduce the general overhead and free everyone's time for more actual article editing. Anyway, you have my support... --Matthiaspaul (talk) 00:28, 31 July 2015 (UTC)


I'd rather see us approach this more programmatically, but need to review the exact present wording before getting into the details of what tweaks may be needed. I'll post a followup here later.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  21:55, 28 July 2015 (UTC)