Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Dates and numbers

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WikiProject Manual of Style
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G'day, there has been a perennial discussion over at WikiProject Military history about the US Government style convention regarding dropping the n and r from ordinal indicators. Thus, we have the 2d Bomb Group rather than the 2nd Bomb Group, same deal for 3d. I tried to find a discussion of this in the archives here, but drew a blank. MOS:ORDINAL seems to indicate (by example) that the convention on WP is to keep the r, but the purpose of that first bullet point seems to be more about superscription rather than mandating a particular approach to ordinal indicators. Can anyone tell us if there has been a discussion about this in the past and point us at it so we can tweak our style guidelines based on any consensus? Thanks, Peacemaker67 (click to talk to me) 07:34, 3 October 2018 (UTC)

I do not recall a discussion here regarding a choice between "2nd" and "2d". For what it's worth, I see zero benefit in dropping the "n"r "n". Dondervogel 2 (talk) 08:22, 3 October 2018 (UTC)
You see zero benefit in dropping what? EEng 08:29, 3 October 2018 (UTC)
Like Dondervogel 2 said, the "n" of "2nd" → "2d"; the "r" of "3rd" → "3d". --Redrose64 🌹 (talk) 09:14, 3 October 2018 (UTC)
He referred to dropping the "n"r. What's the "n"r ? EEng 09:17, 3 October 2018 (UTC)
Why not drop both? That's what the British Army do. --Redrose64 🌹 (talk) 08:25, 3 October 2018 (UTC)
You risk confusing and alienating half of your audience to save a single character? Not all the readers will know the ins and outs of number formatting systems for specific countries. For myself, I have never seen 2d and 3d before, except as English money from 50 years ago.  Stepho  talk  09:30, 3 October 2018 (UTC)
D-day was 15 February 1971, so not quite 50 years. Please stop making me feel older than I am! ;-) More seriously though, 2d and 3d read as numbers of dimensions as in "3d printer". Martin of Sheffield (talk) 10:26, 3 October 2018 (UTC)
Er ... shouldn't that be P-day?!? Dondervogel 2 (talk) 11:07, 3 October 2018 (UTC)
"D-day", short for "decimalisation day", was the term used at the time. I was there. --Redrose64 🌹 (talk) 18:46, 3 October 2018 (UTC)
That makes sense. Thank you for explaining. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 19:51, 3 October 2018 (UTC)
Can the discussion be kept at one place please?Nigel Ish (talk) 10:32, 3 October 2018 (UTC)
What are you referring to Nigel? Peacemaker67 (click to talk to me) 10:52, 3 October 2018 (UTC)
The discussion on the Milhistory talk page is here. If the discussion is kept in one place then there is more chance of coming to a definitive conclusion that won't be subject to future challenge.Nigel Ish (talk) 11:10, 3 October 2018 (UTC)
@Nigel Ish: We didn't know that there was an ongoing discussion. Peacemaker67 merely said "there has been a perennial discussion over at WikiProject Military history", which implies that there have been several discussions in the past, perhaps many of them, that had not been resolved. --Redrose64 🌹 (talk) 18:44, 3 October 2018 (UTC)
Perhaps I should have mentioned that at the outset, but if you look at my query, it was about whether there had been any previous discussion here that might inform consensus at Milhist. It seems unlikely from the above that this issue has come up here before, so of course you are all welcome to chime in at Milhist following the link Nigel provided. Thanks for those who have responded thus far. Peacemaker67 (click to talk to me) 00:42, 4 October 2018 (UTC)

Specific mosnum proposal[edit]

The discussion has continued at the WP project Military History but we find ourselves in need of guidance from MOSNUM, closely related to Peacemaker67's original question. To resolve the impasse I propose adding the following clarification at MOSNUM. "The two letter ordinals 1st 2nd, 3rd, 4th ... are used, not 1t, 2d, 4h or any other one letter abbreviation of these". Any objection? Dondervogel 2 (talk) 08:31, 6 October 2018 (UTC)

Thanks for this. I don't think there is any usage of 1t or 4t in the US Govt style guide, just 2d and 3d. But I think something like this is needed. Cheers, Peacemaker67 (click to talk to me) 08:58, 6 October 2018 (UTC)
The Wikipedia "Manual of Style" does not purport to be a complete manual of style. Complete manuals of style such as The Chicago Manual of Style contain several hundred pages. I see no need to address the point about whether to prefer 2nd over 2d and 3rd over 3d. Jc3s5h (talk) 16:08, 6 October 2018 (UTC)
But where manuals of style conflict, isn't it useful for Wikipedia to choose a consistent house style to avoid different ones being used? Particularly where article titles are concerned? Peacemaker67 (click to talk to me) 01:12, 7 October 2018 (UTC)

───────────────────────── Here's my standard blurb on this:

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); 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.

I don't think (1) applies. Is there evidence of 2A or 2B? EEng 01:55, 7 October 2018 (UTC)

That sounds like a reasonable position. Other than the current discussion at WT:MILHIST here, about USAF squadrons, there has been discussion here, on a USAF bomber wing page, here on a US Army infantry regiment page, here on a Milhist task force talk page as far back as 2006..., and multiple times on WT:MILHIST here, here, and here and many more I'm sure. It most often comes up regarding USAF squadrons, but also for other branches like US Army. So far as I can see, 2(a) doesn't apply, as there isn't general agreement (as evidenced in the current discussion at WT:MILHIST), but 2(b) may apply as there has been a lot of WP:LOCALCONSENSUS happening with it, where editors that favour one approach to the other move pages to suit their take on it. Peacemaker67 (click to talk to me) 03:44, 7 October 2018 (UTC)
I should add that for 2(b) the differences aren't arbitrary, editors have valid reasons for arguing the toss over it, essentially "official title" vs. version resulting in least astonishment for the casual reader. Cheers, Peacemaker67 (click to talk to me) 04:00, 7 October 2018 (UTC)
I think (1) does apply. When I see 2d Airlift Squadron and 33rd Fighter Wing my initial reaction is to assume "2d" stands for something other than "2nd", but without understanding what that something other might be. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 09:15, 7 October 2018 (UTC)
There is also Talk:132nd Fighter Wing which has a RM discussion of a number of articles. Peacemaker67 (click to talk to me) 09:39, 7 October 2018 (UTC)
Would it be fair to say that there isn't really an appetite for this to be formalised in the MOS? If so, no dramas, we'll just work on a local solution for Milhist articles. Peacemaker67 (click to talk to me) 05:35, 11 October 2018 (UTC)
Are there diffs you can give us of this being an issue on actual articles? EEng 05:41, 11 October 2018 (UTC)
Well, there's these on 2d Bomb Wing [1] [2], these on 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment [3] [4], and these on 3d Airlift Squadron [5] and 3d Fighter Training Squadron [6] [7]. There are no doubt many more diffs that could be mined if necessary, but a lot of 2nd/2d and 3d/3rd articles I looked at had been moved at least once between the two types of ordinals. Pinging @Lineagegeek and Buckshot06: who seem to the the ones who are arguing for 2d and 3d being the preferred option for USAF at least (I hope I'm not verballing them here), as well as @WP:MILHIST coordinators: for more corporate memory of this issue within Milhist. I'll also post a message on WT:MILHIST to ensure visibility of this discussion. Cheers, Peacemaker67 (click to talk to me) 06:06, 11 October 2018 (UTC)
I tried fixing 2d Airlift Squadron and 33rd Fighter Wing to at least make them internally consistent. With the first I succeeded (if not reverted) but the second I gave up on. I suppose it could be renamed to 33d Fighter Wing but that would be unwise during the present debate, the whole point of which is to stop articles flipping from one (name) to the other. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 06:23, 11 October 2018 (UTC)
Dondervogel 2, on the Project talk page, suggested, "mosnum should be updated by explicitly stating that '2nd' is preferred over '2d', even in cases where RS use '2d'". I would oppose that proposition in the strongest possible terms. Bad enough WP imposes a spacing standard to weapon calibers used nowhere else. Bad enough "commonname" over correct usage. Bad enough ill-informed pagemoves based on moscaps. Now this? Never. TREKphiler any time you're ready, Uhura 07:30, 11 October 2018 (UTC)
Language like Never is WP:BATTLEGROUND behavior. Please tone it down. --Izno (talk) 14:20, 11 October 2018 (UTC)

───────────────── I would prefer Peacemaker67's suggestion in the WP:MILHIST discussion "Perhaps we identify 2d and 3d as valid options for US units because it is standard US English, but don't mandate it, stating that the ordinal used should be what is most common in reliable sources on the individual unit?" In the meantime, I'd definitely oppose Dondervogel 2's suggestion to ignore WP:RS and WP:COMMON NAME (or make and exception to them) and always use 2nd and 3rd and suggest not exacerbating the issue by editing while the discussion goes on. --Lineagegeek (talk) 11:57, 11 October 2018 (UTC)

Endorse LG's position. Buckshot06 (talk) 12:00, 11 October 2018 (UTC)
Can we at least agree that articles should be internally consistent? For example, if an article title is 2d Airlift Squadron that it should not repeatedly refer to said unit as the "2nd Airlift Squadron", and vice versa? Dondervogel 2 (talk) 12:34, 11 October 2018 (UTC)
In vehicles "(officially named...)" or something similar is sometimes used with WP:COMMON NAME titles.Sammy D III (talk) 13:25, 11 October 2018 (UTC)
Opinion: These should conform to the general reader's expectation, which is "2nd Airlift Squadron". --Izno (talk) 14:20, 11 October 2018 (UTC)

My impression/opinion is that:

  1. The form of ordinals is not a matter of RS or common name but of style.
  2. 2d and 3d appear peculiar to the US?
  3. Are 2d and 3d the "norm" in the US or an accepted variation?

As a non-US user, 2d and 3d appear unclear. I perceive that 2nd and 3rd are broadly understood (given WP is global) but 2d 3d (1t and 4t) are not. IMO, matters of style that impact on accessibility globally should default to that which is universally understood (for the sake of our readers) and should disallow that which might be ambiguous or unclear. Regards, Cinderella157 (talk) 14:42, 11 October 2018 (UTC)

2d 3d can be US Army proper names. They are probably never used outside the military.Sammy D III (talk) 15:48, 11 October 2018 (UTC)
@Cinderella157: Sorry to disagree but I think 2d is very clear. It means tuppence. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 17:18, 11 October 2018 (UTC)
Ah, yes, there is an argument from MOS:COMMONALITY. --Izno (talk) 15:19, 11 October 2018 (UTC)
Joking aside, an anonymous editor at Project Military History made an ngram showing that while 22d and similar were common in the 19th century, that is no longer the case today, even in US English. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 17:30, 11 October 2018 (UTC)
Just for clarity, there is no suggestion of 1t or 4t, just 2d and 3d. As Hawkeye7 has indicated at WT:MILHIST, US university style guides are apparently split on this issue. Peacemaker67 (click to talk to me) 05:46, 12 October 2018 (UTC)
There doesn't seem to be a consensus that this is something the MOS needs to address. We will work on adding to our Milhist style guideline along the lines of "The use of the ordinals 2d and 3d instead of 2nd and 3rd are valid options for US units because they are used in standard US English, but their use is not mandated. The ordinal used in any given article should be what is most common in reliable sources on the individual unit, and articles should be internally consistent in the use of ordinals". Thanks. Peacemaker67 (click to talk to me) 03:18, 22 October 2018 (UTC)
I don't really understand why that is the conclusion. There are three comments right above that say you shouldn't have these be options. MOS:COMMONALITY would be salient over your suggested option. --Izno (talk) 13:12, 22 October 2018 (UTC)
Exactly. If the usual ordinal format English is deemed a 'valid option', it should be used per WP:COMMONALITY. There's no reason to use a specialist style if even the relevant sources in that topic area are conflicted about its use. RGloucester 14:24, 22 October 2018 (UTC)

───────────────────────── As the current proposal is for an addition to MILMOS, discussion should probably continue at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Military history. Kendall-K1 (talk) 14:36, 22 October 2018 (UTC)

I agree too. No one this side of the pond will read "2d" as an abbreviation of "Second". Best implemented as a clarification to MOSNUM though. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 15:14, 22 October 2018 (UTC)
It is preferable that consensus is achieved here for a MOS amendment to address this, rather than at Milhist, which would only be a WP:LOCALCONSENSUS. It has been suggested (at Milhist) that @Dicklyon and SMcCandlish: might also have informed views on whether 2d and 3d are standard US English alternatives for 2nd and 3rd or not. I do not know what their views might be (in case anyone thinks this might be canvassing), and ping them purely to broaden the discussion about this issue and try to get a solid consensus one way or the other. Peacemaker67 (click to talk to me) 00:04, 23 October 2018 (UTC)
More specifically, whether this reflects contemporary usage (with the same rider as PM). Regards, Cinderella157 (talk) 00:13, 23 October 2018 (UTC)
Those weirdo abbreviations need to be stamped out. Tony (talk) 00:17, 23 October 2018 (UTC)
  • I have to confess that this American thought it was a British thing. The COMMONALITY argument is a strong one, but the fact that we're talking about proper names makes it not entirely simple. EEng 00:30, 23 October 2018 (UTC)

Revised mosnum proposal[edit]

I agree proper nouns are a complicating issue. In the interests of finding some common ground can we put that (admittedly important) issue aside and consider this alternative proposal. "With the exception of proper nouns, the two letter ordinals 1st 2nd, 3rd, 4th ... are used, not 1t, 2d, 3d, 4h or any other one letter abbreviation of these". I realise that change leaves 2d Airlift Squadron unresolved but it would help us identify the stumbling block. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 09:16, 23 October 2018 (UTC)

I'm a little frustrated that, despite it being pointed out several times, anyone is still suggesting that 1t and 4h are even involved here. This is about 2d and 3d, that's it. No-one has suggested 1t or 4h are a thing. Why would a proposal include versions that haven't even been floated? Peacemaker67 (click to talk to me) 09:30, 23 October 2018 (UTC)
To me they all sound equally bizarre, but my purpose is not to frustrate. Better like this? Dondervogel 2 (talk) 09:52, 23 October 2018 (UTC)
I appreciate that. I also find them weird, but let's just focus on the issue at hand. Thanks, Peacemaker67 (click to talk to me) 10:18, 23 October 2018 (UTC)
I don't really see a reason not to commit to the common styling entirely without some intermediate stage which sets the potential for wikilawyering a la "it was mentioned as being allowed in proper nouns, which means it's definitely something we should do". --Izno (talk) 11:58, 23 October 2018 (UTC)
  • Oppose – Again, this is a matter of style, not naming. Whether written as '2nd' or '2d', the reading and the meaning are the same ('second'), and therefore the integrity of any name that includes '2d' is not compromised by styling that '2d' as '2nd'. We should use the common styling. RGloucester 21:26, 23 October 2018 (UTC)
  • Oppose - still. It is a matter of style. Regards, Cinderella157 (talk) 23:20, 23 October 2018 (UTC)
  • Oppose I think we should be mandating 2nd and 3rd across the board as a matter of style per the commonality argument. I know that this would disappoint the purists regarding official USAF squadron names, but I think we should go for the ordinal least likely to cause surprise to the casual reader. Peacemaker67 (click to talk to me) 23:50, 23 October 2018 (UTC)
  • Support: To be clear, I am not advocating any departure from "2nd" for common names either - rather my purpose here was to be silent on proper nouns in the hope we can at least agree for other article names; I have the impression others read it differently. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 05:53, 24 October 2018 (UTC)
  • Oppose - I think we should use only "2nd" and "3rd" in all instances. - wolf 20:19, 25 October 2018 (UTC)

Alternative proposal[edit]

The 2d Wikipedian Infantry Regiment charging a nest of Ordinal Suffixians

The text: "Ordinal suffixes use the form 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th etc." This would be added as the first dot point in the ordinal section. Regards, Cinderella157 (talk) 00:15, 24 October 2018 (UTC)

  • Support: As proposer and IAW with comment by Peacemaker67. The also reflects (IMO) a developing consensus at MilHist TP. Regards, Cinderella157 (talk) 00:25, 24 October 2018 (UTC)
  • Support: Happy to support this form too. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 05:53, 24 October 2018 (UTC)
  • Support: Per my comments above, I think we need a standard house style that deprecates strange USAF officialese with ordinals, and doesn't initiate a ″what the?″ response from the casual reader. Peacemaker67 (click to talk to me) 10:43, 24 October 2018 (UTC)
  • Support: Happy to support this proposal. Hawkeye7 (discuss) 12:00, 24 October 2018 (UTC)
  • Support – per my reasoning above. Though, I'd prefer if it also said 'do not use 2d', or something like that, to avoid ambiguity. RGloucester 20:57, 24 October 2018 (UTC)
  • Support . And explicitly prohibit the other forms. We should not be using 1t, 2d, 3d or 4h as they won't be recognizable to most readers.  — Amakuru (talk) 21:07, 24 October 2018 (UTC)
    JESUS FUCK FOR THE VERY LAST TIME no one is suggesting 1t or 4h. EEng 22:06, 24 October 2018 (UTC)
    Probably because you already killed them off, along with the 5h, 6h and 7h offenders mentioned below. Smart move Smiley.png  — Amakuru (talk) 22:21, 24 October 2018 (UTC)
    Desperate times call for desperate measures. EEng 22:46, 24 October 2018 (UTC)
  • I support this proposal per WP:COMMONALITY. I don't think it's ideal to jump into the specifics territory however; "Ordinal suffices use the normal English forms as in 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and so on." isn't much better, but at least makes it clear we're shooting for normal English.... --Izno (talk) 21:38, 24 October 2018 (UTC)
    We have as the current first bullet: Ordinal suffixes (-st, -nd, -rd, -th) are not superscripted (123rd and 496th, not 123rd nor 496th). Perhaps we could frame the proposed first bullet as "The ordinal suffixes on Wikipedia are -st, -nd, -rd, -th. Use of others is not permitted." or similar (and then remove the link and parenthetical in the next bullet). This gets us away from the issue of specifically calling out 1st 2nd 3rd 4th because it naturally leads to wikilawyering a la "what about 5th?". --Izno (talk) 21:50, 24 October 2018 (UTC)
    I think there izno need for this. I'll take responsibility for finding and killing any such people. EEng 22:06, 24 October 2018 (UTC)
    Yeah - Anyone taking the 5th is obviously guilty as charged, and so deserves to be shot. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 22:25, 24 October 2018 (UTC)
    Don't you mean the 5t? Regards, Cinderella157 (talk) 22:55, 24 October 2018 (UTC)
    omigawd... what an awesome thread. llol - wolf 20:26, 25 October 2018 (UTC)
  • Support EEng 22:06, 24 October 2018 (UTC)
  • Support – fits nicely with not surprising readers and MOS:COMMONALITYJoeyconnick (talk) 22:54, 24 October 2018 (UTC)
  • Not opposed – You know that as soon as we adopt this someone is going to come up with an example of an actual proper name that includes one of the banned ordinals. Like a band name or book title or something. I assume common sense will prevail at that time, and present this as advance warning, not as an argument against adopting the policy. (actually here's one now: [8]) Kendall-K1 (talk) 22:59, 24 October 2018 (UTC)
  • Support All the best: Rich Farmbrough, 14:01, 25 October 2018 (UTC).
  • Support - wolf 20:22, 25 October 2018 (UTC)
  • Support ... The meaning of "2d" and "3d" has changed since they were originally coopted to mean 2nd and 3rd. These days, they might cause confusion. - Dank (push to talk) 03:16, 28 October 2018 (UTC)
  • Support – The US government manual doesn't explain its one-letter abbreviations, which are apt to be confusing outside of their use in unit names; and those abbreviations aren't consistently adhered to, even on military sites (e.g. Fort Bragg and the 82nd Airborne).— Preceding unsigned comment added by Dhtwiki (talkcontribs) 22:18, 29 October 2018 (UTC)
  • Support. While the "2d" style exists, we have no reason to care. All kinds of stylistic divergences exist out there and we don't use them on WP, especially if they either cause reader confusion or editorial conflict. "2d" stuff does both. The only proper-name stuff we need concern ourselves with are trademarks and titles of published works, and we already have guidelines about for those (which would both have us keep a corporation name like 2d Chance Ltd, or a album title like Given a 2d Chance. So, there is not actual proper-name issue to resolve. A military unit, in plain-English writing by people who aren't writing official military material, is as apt to use "Second". It just doesn't matter. I thus support a very concise addition on ordinals just to make such debates stop. It's a waste of editorial productivity. 09:26, 8 November 2018 (UTC)
  • Support—I hope we discourage superscript in this context. And when I see "2d", I think "twopence" (pron. "tuppence"). Tony (talk) 10:01, 8 November 2018 (UTC)
    I was thinking that, too, though I haven't lived in the UK since I was little-ish.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  19:49, 13 November 2018 (UTC)
  • Support – for the sake of consistency and to avoid alternative meanings in a multinational encyclopedia (as Tony1 notes above). Peter coxhead (talk) 11:56, 8 November 2018 (UTC)
  • Support per pretty much everything above. It's just not relevant that [some not all] military publishing in the US prefers "2d". It's not done consistently in independent, reliable sources about (not published by) the subjects. Just because a usage is attested somewhere out there in the world doesn't mean WP should use it or endorse it. Otherwise we wouldn't have a style manual.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  15:15, 8 November 2018 (UTC)
    PS: That said, we should still be defaulting to "second" (or in proper names "Second"), etc., not the abbreviated form, unless there's a good reason to use the abbreviation.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  19:49, 13 November 2018 (UTC)
  • Support. Might as well make the count that much higher to strengthen consensus and put paid to the whole discussion. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Herostratus (talkcontribs) 19:30, 9 November 2018 (UTC)

Hello, hello... I get the feeling that those still commenting don't realize that this change was made a week ago [9]. EEng 15:22, 8 November 2018 (UTC)


I am seeing even at this stage unanimous support and that, as intended, the support is to preclude the use of other than two-letter suffixes. I think the statement is sufficiently categorical in that they "use" the form indicated and not some other form. Saying: don't use single letters, might be a bit like saying, don't stuff peas up your nose (similar but not exactly the same as a bean). "Etc" is intended to indicate: "and the list goes on", such that lawyering over 5th would not be in good faith - though "and so on" might well be better. However, IAW some of the comments I might suggest a minor ammendment/tweak.

Ordinals use two-letter suffixes of the form 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and so on.

Unless anybody objects, I would not think that this would need to be recanvassed. Regards, Cinderella157 (talk) 23:35, 24 October 2018 (UTC)

I think that is a reasonable tweak and doesn't affect the intent people are supporting above. Peacemaker67 (click to talk to me) 00:00, 25 October 2018 (UTC)
The reason I was nervous about this proposal was experience with how badly Americans take deviation from their norms, which in the past have included diatribes on Fox News about how Wikipedia's acceptance of un-American spellings and forms indicates its virulent anti-American bias. Since the Americans don't seem to have any objection (at least for the moment) about the use of British ordinals, I see no reason not to update the MOS accordingly. Hawkeye7 (discuss) 19:47, 28 October 2018 (UTC)
Except I still don't think it's clear it's a Br-Am thing. The Brits commenting seem to have thought it was American, and the Americans seem to think it's British. Everyone seems to think it's an oddity. I'm vaguely getting that it's a military thing (whether Br or Am or both). EEng 20:54, 28 October 2018 (UTC)
I believe that EEng is correct. This is not US vs. UK, this is US military vs. every other English speaker on the planet. I don't see any problem with 2nd/3rd other than some US military proper names. Sammy D III (talk) 11:00, 1 November 2018 (UTC)
Of course I'm correct. Didn't you get the memo? EEng 12:03, 1 November 2018 (UTC)
Is there any other document, other than the US government document linked to above, that explains the military's use of this style? The linked document is typographically flawed (note the spaces in instances of "fi gure") and the style isn't explained, AFAICT. I'm skeptical that the odd use of one-letter ordinal suffixes is really US military practice. It makes little sense. Dhtwiki (talk) 23:30, 1 November 2018 (UTC)
I think it's one of those goofy things someone came up with for"efficiency"and then some other people thought was cool because it was different.We used to have a jerk editor here who refused to put spaces after commas and periods,like you see in this post,to"save storage space".Probably the same kind of thinking.Oh,wait!Here it's called an "archaic variant".EEng 23:59, 1 November 2018 (UTC)
  • This has been implemented. Would somebody ({{U|Dondervogel 2}) like to close this as I am the proposer of what has been implemented? Regards, Cinderella157 (talk) 00:59, 2 November 2018 (UTC)
No formal close is needed. Support was unanimous. EEng 01:02, 2 November 2018 (UTC)
Agree. Peacemaker67 (click to talk to me) 01:20, 2 November 2018 (UTC)
You want me to agree with myself? EEng 02:31, 2 November 2018 (UTC)
Yes. Agree and agree now (resistance is useless! Dondervogel 2 (talk) 20:51, 8 November 2018 (UTC)

Clarifying date ranges in YYYY–YY format[edit]

Self-closing this per WP:SNOW. I wasn't aware that there is an ongoing WP:VPPOL discussion that overlaps with this (full of a lot of highly polarized invective), and which has been pointed to this thread. It's clear to me that many of the arriving respondents have not actually read the proposal (or at least not understood it), since few comments are substantively responsive to what it says. Of those that were, several are simply dismissive without much of a rationale. So, this is a waste of time. I'll raise the issue again some months from now when heads have cooled, if it still needs to be addressed.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  18:32, 13 November 2018 (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.

After various revisions (some of them not discussed enough and without any clear consensus record) over the last several years, we're right back to shitty advice and need to fix it.

The present vague wording which permits (does not recommend, much less require) YYYY-YY format under certain circumstances, but the certainty of them has been lost in fog, as have any restraints and rationales for that. It is being misinterpreted and wikilawyered about as a defensible rationale to force this style, including in article titles (one recent example here).

Every major discussion we've had about this has made the point that this format should not be used (at least not in isolation, versus in something like a long table consistently using this format) for anything ending in "-01" through "-12" because this is routinely misread as YYYY-MM. We cannot count on the en dash versus hyphen distinction at the browser/reader level, because it is not clear or even visible at all in every font.

What I'm seeing in the present wording is a suggestion that variation from the YYYY-YYYY pattern is okay for cases, and some examples of some such contexts; then various blather; then finally a statement that YYYY-YY in particular is permitted, without any tie between this idea and the prior material about contexts. The entire thing has become muddled, and needs to be rearranged and tightened.

It should state something akin to this:

  • YYYY-YY format is sometimes permissible:
    1. In tabular data to save space, if the format is used consistently in that table, list, or other presentation.
    2. In running text and in article titles, but:
      1. only for a contiguous two-year range; and
      2. only for particular contexts where this style is conventional, such as sports seasons, television seasons, and [add whatever else we need to list here]; and
      3. only for constructions that do not end with "-01" through "-12" (to avoid confusion with YYYY-MM dates), unless in close proximity to other ranges in this format that end with numbers outside the 01–12 range.
  • Especially do not use a construction like "2002–05" in isolation.
  • [Some other format if we need to cover another one] is sometimes permissible:
    1. [Conditions and limits here]

 — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  02:50, 9 November 2018 (UTC)

It's a startling claim that "Every major discussion we've had about this has made the point that this format should not be used (at least not in isolation, versus in something like a long table consistently using this format) for anything ending in "-01" through "-12"". The close of the 2016 RFC was that "The community has decided that four year date ranges (i.e. XXXX–XXXX) should be the default style used in Wikipedia. A limited number of exceptions apply to this. Firstly, when space is at a premium, such as in tables or infoboxes, two year date styles may be used. Secondly, applications such as sports seasons, fiscal years, and consecutive years use the two-year date range convention without problems. These applications can continue to do so. This list is not intended to be exhaustive, and exceptions can apply with a strong local consensus.". It did not bar the use of YYYY-YY for anything ending in -01 to -12, and neither that discussion nor the current and ongoing Village Pump discussion can obviously be summarised as making that point. It's a point that some contributors to the discussions have made, that others have rebutted and that others have ignored. (talk) 13:44, 9 November 2018 (UTC)
Disagreement and ignoring is not rebuttal. It's effectively not actually possible to rebut the fact that YYYY–YY and YYYY-MM, for cases 01-12, can and will be confused; there is no refutation available to be made against the fact that they are visually identical in various fonts. QED. And I never said that all closers of prior discussions raised this issue. I've made not any "startling claim"; you've drawn a self-startling inference and imagined it was a claim.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  16:38, 9 November 2018 (UTC)
Actually, it was specifically rebutted by Reidgreg stating plainly the difference between the hyphen and the dash makes it clear. I'm not sure I entirely agree with that as - & – can be difficult to distinguish, but to say no one issued a specific rebuttal is incorrect. oknazevad (talk) 13:47, 10 November 2018 (UTC)
You wrote "Every major discussion we've had about this has made the point". No, a handful of participants in discussions have made similar points. You wrote that "Every major discussion ... has made the point ... this is routinely misread as YYYY-MM". No, participants have generally avoided making that claim, perhaps because it would lack evidence. You have said now that it's a "fact that YYYY–YY and YYYY-MM, for cases 01-12, can and will be confused", without evidence that it will happen significantly often or that the confusion will be more than momentary, but the close of the 2016 RFC was that "applications such as sports seasons, fiscal years, and consecutive years use the two-year date range convention without problems." The proposed text would be contrary to the RFC close, "These applications can continue to do so." It startled me that you, of all people, would make such a proposal and support it with such claims. (talk) 17:17, 10 November 2018 (UTC)

Could we please see some examples where YYYY-MM is being used in Wikipedia article titles? Similarly, in running text? The format may be useful where data needs to be sortable, such as in a table. However, its usage in English prose would be uncommon. -- Ham105 (talk) 20:13, 9 November 2018 (UTC)

Forbidding YYYY–YY for 01<=YY<=12 unless the same format occurs in the same article for YY>=13 could prevent consistency among closely related articles. If most articles in a related set had values of YY greater than 12, but a few did not, the few that did not would have to use the YYYY–YYYY format. Also, infoboxes would almost always have to use YYYY–YYYY because the infobox author would't know which year range values would be present in the article where the infobox is transcluded. This would lead to preventing the use of YYYY–YY in articles that transclude infoboxes that contain year ranges. Jc3s5h (talk) 13:13, 10 November 2018 (UTC)
  • Oppose per Jc3e5h's point about consistency. For example, why should 2011–12 NHL season use a different format that every other NHL season article? The context that it's a two-year date range is pretty obvious. Also, I agree with the anon that the claim that prior discussions have leaned towards disallowing the YYYY–YY format for ranges ending in 01 to 12 is wrong. There's no such conclusion in evidence in the RFC, and even the current discussions at the villiage pump have a mixture of opinions, with some arguing for allowing YYYY–YY for non-consecutive years (don't think that's going anywhere, but it's there). So the entire premise of this discussion is off base. oknazevad (talk) 13:47, 10 November 2018 (UTC)
Of course it shouldn't use a different format. They should all be using YYYY-YYYY, since article titles are not tabular data.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  12:08, 11 November 2018 (UTC)
"Secondly, applications such as sports seasons, fiscal years, and consecutive years use the two-year date range convention without problems." I see no requirement that it only be used for tabular data. In fact, the whole point of the sentence is for use in non-tabular situations. You're reading it wrong. oknazevad (talk) 13:23, 12 November 2018 (UTC)
Of course it would be stupid. No one suggested anything like that (you're engaging in a straw man fallacy), and WP:CONSISTENCY policy would prevent it. They'd all be at YYYY-YYYY names.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  12:10, 11 November 2018 (UTC)
Thank you for clarifying. I still oppose. I can't believe that anyone would honestly think that 2011-12 Premier League would be about a competition played only in December 2011 -- ChrisTheDude (talk) 20:00, 11 November 2018 (UTC)
  • Oppose. It is very clear from the context. An article about a season is obviously referring to years. And also agree with the point above that the use of YYYY-MM format is very rare. Regarding the rarity, if anything a proposal to distinguish between the two should focus on changing any use of YYYY-MM to a usage with the name of the month in full or a three letter shortened version (such as November 2018 or Nov. 2018). --SuperJew (talk) 17:40, 10 November 2018 (UTC)
It can sometimes be clear from the context, and sometime it is not. "Jackson did not play in 2010–11.", for example, is apt to me misread by may people as "in November 2010". And article titles (which seems to be what most people are on about here, for no explicable reason, given WP:CONSISTENCY policy) are devoid of context.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  12:17, 11 November 2018 (UTC)
Why would anyone read "2010-11" as "November 2010"? That seems like pretty contrived reasoning to me. – PeeJay 15:09, 13 November 2018 (UTC)
  • I support the proposal because it increases clarity by decreasing ambiguity. The above-mentioned inconsistencies are easily avoided by using (eg) 2012-2013 Premier League. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 18:51, 10 November 2018 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Per the reasons above. 2011-2012 is just stupid and 2011-12 is clear enough. Kante4 (talk) 19:37, 10 November 2018 (UTC)
You're "opposing" something no one has proposed, and not responding to the actual proposal. See above.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  12:11, 11 November 2018 (UTC)
I've never came around when YYYY-MM is/was used and it never crossed my mind that 2010-11 could mean November 2010. So, still not sure what you want or why this proposal is being discussed. Fine as it is. Kante4 (talk) 14:34, 11 November 2018 (UTC)
  • Oppose I don't know what problem this is supposed to solve. The current format is clear, non-ambiguous, and concise. SportingFlyer talk 23:05, 10 November 2018 (UTC)
The proposal is crystal clear about what problem it will solve, please actually read it. Namely, it's the complete indistiguishability of YYYY–YY and YYYY-MM formats in many fonts.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  12:17, 11 November 2018 (UTC)
Right, but I don't think distinguishing between YYYY-YY/YYYY-MM is a problem. I'm not sure when YYYY-MM is used, and I think it's pedantic to think the en dash/em dash/hyphen are proper disambiguators (they're really difficult to tell apart in even fonts in which they differ). YYYY-MM is rare enough and I'm not sure I've ever come across it. SportingFlyer talk 13:15, 11 November 2018 (UTC)
  • Oppose Don't see any major issues with the current system. Number 57 00:12, 11 November 2018 (UTC)
See above. It appears that zero of the "oppose" !voters actually read or understood the proposal (with the possible exception of SuperJew).  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  12:17, 11 November 2018 (UTC)
  • Mostly oppose. I agree that the YYYY–YY format should only be used for consecutive years, but I don't think the other restrictions are necessary. To be clear, I understand the potential confusion that you speak of, SMC, but I think the YYYY-MM format is so rare that such confusion is in practice unlikely. Can you point us to some sources which use that format so I can evaluate whether it's commonplace in any form of English? On the flipside, Writing it as 2011–12 is a more concise and nice rendition, and is used regularly in sources, so IMHO banning it is unnecessary. Thanks  — Amakuru (talk) 21:17, 11 November 2018 (UTC)
  • Oppose To be honest I don't know understand the reasoning for the change to the 2011-2012 A-League instead of doing the 2011-12 A-League which is what most people think of doing. The amount of articles that have to change is properly in the thousands to do in this system and it's not just soccer that will have to change here but you also have Cricket, Basketball, Rugby Sevens (World Series only), Rugby Union (Northern leagues) to name most of the articles on this list. Not Homura (talk) 22:35, 11 November 2018 (UTC)
  • Oppose and support the suggestion by SuperJew that to avoid any possibility of confusion, the focus should instead be on the (probably far smaller) number of instances where 2010-11 has been entered intending to be November 2010 and change them to that phrase, 2010-Nov. or similar. Crowsus (talk) 17:21, 12 November 2018 (UTC)
    Um, WP doesn't use "2010-Nov." format "or similar".  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  15:36, 13 November 2018 (UTC)
  • Oppose needless, pointless, and functionally redundant. The YYYY-YY format has been a standard applied across sport for decades, and is very unlikely (other than in very specific instances of which I can think of precisely none other than in data analysis to help with table sorting) to be confused with a YYYY-MM function. This is particularly true when season article are routinely named / suffixed with "season" or similar to help eliminate this confusion in any case. If someone within an article was to state "x did not play in 2011-12" then the resolution is to change the text to "x did not play in the 2011-12 season" and is a basic function of grammatical correctness - not a formatting within wikipedia issue. Koncorde (talk) 12:52, 13 November 2018 (UTC)
    YYYY-MM is one of the most common date formats used by North Americans. The fact that long-term, MoS-reading WP editors don't use it is meaningless. WP is written for readers, not for WP editors.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  15:27, 13 November 2018 (UTC)
    I simply do not believe YYYY-MM is a common date format in the English-speaking portion of North America (since this is the English Wikipedia, that's the area we're interested in when it comes to readability). I exclude computer generated codes such as expiration dates stamped on food packages. Jc3s5h (talk) 15:37, 13 November 2018 (UTC)
    You clearly did not understand my comment at all. Please re-read it. It may help to first take yourself out of "pick a fight with SMcCandlish on every single front I can think of" mode. Your three-prong rapid-fire badgering of me is getting tedious.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  17:12, 13 November 2018 (UTC)
  • Oppose — Preceding unsigned comment added by PeeJay2K3 (talkcontribs) 15:09, 13 November 2018 (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.
  • I object to SMcCandlish giving him/herself leave to raise the issue leave to raise the issue again in a few months. The proposal is soundly defeated and should not be raised again for many years. Jc3s5h (talk) 15:47, 13 November 2018 (UTC)
    What, you want to have a discussion on that, too? Relax. EEng 15:53, 13 November 2018 (UTC)
    Anyone can raise any issue they feel like at any time; let's not be silly. It's conventional to let a matter rest for several months after an initial proposal doesn't attract positive attention, then return to it with an alternative approach if there's still an issue to resolve. While there was an alternative suggestion proposed, I didn't see that it garnered enough support to do an immediate followup RfC on it. Let's see how the VPPOL thread goes and if it implements any kind of change. It might moot the issue. If not, then after people have chilled out we can see if something like SuperJew's approach could ameliorate any remaining issue. The fact that this particular proposal wasn't accepted doesn't magically make the objective problem go away. Nor does the fact that you don't seem able or willing to read the material and understand the nature of the problem. I'm not sure I'm willing to continue this discussing with you any further, at least not in this venue at this time, with your current overly-personalized and fight-picking attitude.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  17:12, 13 November 2018 (UTC)
    Yes, agreed. The "objection" above seems to be fighting the person rather than the issue, and circumstances and evidence can always change within timespans far shorter than several years. Perhaps there will be a slam dunk argument presented next month that convinces everyone. That said I think you are mischaracterising the understanding of those in opposition above. I'm pretty sure most of the participants (several of whom are experienced admins) understood the nature of the possible ambiguity you mention, they just didn't consider it a major enough issue to warrant changing the guidelines.  — Amakuru (talk) 17:49, 13 November 2018 (UTC)
    Revised. However, being an admin means the community trusted someone not to be a tool abuser. It doesn't translate into increased willingness to consider what a proposal actually says and why, nor a higher likelihood of taking someone else's concerns at face-value, especially if arriving here from an over-heated argument about essentially the same thing. No one is commenting here in an administrative capacity, but as editors.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  18:32, 13 November 2018 (UTC)
    PS: And some of the comments up there really make no sense at all, e.g. the anon's "it was specifically rebutted by Reidgreg stating plainly the difference between the hyphen and the dash makes it clear". It is not logically possible for an observation that a hyphen and an en dash are not always clearly (or at all) visibly distinct to be "rebutted" by simply repeating one's already refuted belief that they're visibly distinct. That's a very basic fallacy called proof by assertion. It's not a real argument, it's just tendentious disagreeableness. I could go on, but re-arguing a closed discussion point-by-point would be counter-productive. My view that the majority of the responses are, well, not actually very responsive is sound in my view. I hope that if this needs to be revisited, that a combination of a clearer proposal and a lack of ongoing, related drama elsewhere will yield us more cogent responses.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  18:43, 13 November 2018 (UTC)
    For what it's worth, I see two different kinds of problems addressed by SMcCandlish's proposal. One is the risk of misinterpretation of the ambiguity in 1901-02, which I at least interpret as February 1901 (how else would one reasonably interpret that date?). The other is the present untidy (IMO unencyclopaedic) mix of YYYY-YY and YYYY-YYYY in (for example) sports seasons. The ambiguity and inconsistency are simple facts. A difference of opinion can arise on how to respond to these facts (one might think the inconsistency is minor compared with the effort of making the change), and not on the facts themselves. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 19:24, 13 November 2018 (UTC)
    Right. Plus there's the YYYY/YY and YYYY/YYYY stuff further complicating it (mostly also in sports, though I think some fiscal and TV stuff may be being named this way). Especially since YYYY/MM dating (in the real world, regardless what Wikipedia MoS nerds like us insist on here in our back yard) is even more common than YYYY-MM dating. [sigh] But anyway, I don't want to re-open a big discussion about this right now, but just let it go for a while. WP:NODEADLINE, and the sky is not falling. :-)  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  19:42, 13 November 2018 (UTC)
    Going back to the 1901-02 example. It never crossed my mind that someone would think February 1901 is meant, just logical and common sense for me (can speak just for myself of course). Kante4 (talk) 21:37, 13 November 2018 (UTC)
    There are problems with a lot of what SMcCandlish claims, such as "YYYY-MM is one of the most common date formats used by North Americans." which is false and utter bullshit, unless unbeknownst to me it is wildly popular in Canada and Mexico. (Mexico would not count for MOS purposes anyway, since it is not an English-speaking country.) Then the "I'm going to take my ball and go home" response his standard procedure whenever one of his proposals is rejected. It's really childish, and anyone with even one iota of self respect would just admit the lack of support and move on to something else more productive. Instead his obsession with saving face means we are treated to this act anytime he loses. Clearly anyone who disagrees with him simply doesn't recognize his ironclad logic and infallibly superior intellect, since there's no possibility that anyone could have any informed opinion that doesn't completely agree with his. It's tedious and insulting. I think SMcCandlish is smart enough to recognize this, so maybe it is the effect he intends. Quale (talk) 05:11, 14 November 2018 (UTC)
    SMcCandlish made two points, which should be distinguished:
    1. A string like "2001-02", regardless of whether a hyphen or an en-dash is used, can be misread as meaning "February 2001".
      Although I don't think they are very common, "YYYY-MM" formats are used – I'm certainly familiar with them – and simply saying "I don't misread such a string in this way" is irrelevant.
    2. To avoid the possibility of a misreading, we should avoid "YYYY–YY" where "YY" is in the range 01–12.
      There's a perfectly legitimate scope for taking different views on this issue, e.g. believing that the convenience and familiarity of the "YYYY–YY" notation outweighs the small likelihood of it being mistaken for "YYYY-MM". Personally, I wouldn't go as far as SMcC, but the MoS could usefully warn editors to take care to make sure that it's clear that strings like "2001–02" represent consecutive years and not a year+month date.
    Peter coxhead (talk) 10:27, 14 November 2018 (UTC)
    Peter's point 1 addresses the substantive part of Quale's comment, so I don't need to rehash it. The non-substantive stuff is just WP:IDONTKNOWIT hand-waving commingled with attempts to pick a fight, and I have better things to do. As a factual matter, YYYY-MM is part of the ISO-8601 date standard and is thus frequently used by tech professionals and scientists, and in any context in which sorting by date is desired. Someone simply seems to have been unaware of this. That's certainly excusable, but I'm not going to entertain more denialist "false and utter bullshit" [sic] now; the free pass has been used up. Point 2, a new one by Peter, is fair. Making it clear that it's a two-year range was the entire point of the suggestion to not use YYYY–YY format except in tabular data and in proximity to other dates in this format, specifically so that no one would be unclear on the meaning. (And it may not be the only way to do so, though it obviously is a way.) However, this has very little to do with the heated explosion of negativity in the thread above. Virtually no one addressed anything like this, but instead mostly vented about how important it is to them to mimic a style they see a lot of, in sports and TV publications and such, in our article titles which are utterly devoid of context and thus are not possibly able to make it clear that they mean YYYY–YY. The actual proposal and its rationale were basically ignored in favor of whacking at straw effigies.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  14:07, 14 November 2018 (UTC)
    Peter, out of curiosity, where have you seen YYYY-MM date formats used? The only place I've encountered YYYY-MM is as part of filenames used for monthly archives, and I think YYYYMM is more common. This is a rare use and I don't think I've ever seen that format used for a date in prose. (Our documentation describes the monthly filename format, but typical of most developer writing I wouldn't say it rises to the level of "prose". I'm not even sure anyone other than the author has ever read it.) As far as I can recall, whenever I have seen XXXX-XX in newspapers, magazines or online prose it has been a year range. Typically YYYY-YY (or perhaps YYYY/YY) is used for sports seasons, and I think many people have seen those date ranges and recognize them in that context. Quale (talk) 05:09, 16 November 2018 (UTC)