Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Dates and numbers

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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 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".

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.  — 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)
1) Sure. I'll open that thread now. 2) Depends on what you mean, and whether you know what I meant; I'm highly suspicious of (often accidental) fallacy of equivocation with questions like that. The problem is that WP:LOCALCONSENSUS is used to mean two different things, one positive and one negative; I almost always use it in the negative sense and use WP:CONLEVEL for the positive one, so I was being inconsistent here. It's fine for topical microconsensuses to resolve issues, when they really do so, when they don't conflict with site-wide consensus, and when they don't confuse readers. More at User talk:SMcCandlish#MOS, CONLEVEL and "centralization".  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  08:46, 7 August 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 simple.wikipedia.org, 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 en.us.wikipedia.org and en.gb.wikipedia.org 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)
"The key criterion" implies other criteria, which WP (including MOS) would, and do, balance. Despite all the headaches it causes, the community wants WP:ENGVAR. And it has lead directly to WP:DATEVAR. C'est la vie. Personally, I think the "first major contributor" rule is stupid, WP:GAMEable, and counter-productive, but we have it, and it's more useful to work with it than to rail against it, because it's unlikely to be abandoned. I would personally (despite being American) prefer that we had precisely the "no exceptions" rule you outline for dates, but the community at present would not accept that. If we're going to keep ENGVAR, then using the DATEVAR that corresponds to the variety of English is the simplest solution. There are cases (e.g. the US military) where some other concern overrides this. Ergo, other consensuses can arise to create other such exceptions. Can you articulate what the problem is? "There is continual bickering" is a general description of WP. Loosely tying DATEVAR to ENGVAR reduces it with regard to dates. Tying it more explicitly would reduce it even further. So would eliminating truly pointless variances. Last time I looked, there was some escape clause somewhere to use ISO dates or anything else in source citations, or at least in access and archive dates, regardless what the rest of the article was doing. Which is nuts. Hopefully this has been fixed already.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  20:05, 2 August 2015 (UTC)

Perhaps we could return to the question of the applicability of MOS:ENGVAR to date format? What I asked was why either MDY or DMY format not be acceptable in any article, and whether acceptability depended on any basis other than understandability.  SMcCandlish argues (07:44, 27 July) argues that relaxing ENGVAR would lead to "no reason to bother keeping ENGVAR". However, that argument is not about the intrinsinc acceptability of either DMY/MDY, but of the acceptability of changing a rule. (Which leads right back to the slippery slope argument of unacceptable consequences.) Such an argument can be considered, but it is independent of whether either date format is acceptable (or not) in itself.

So far it appears that the problems with date-format warring have virtually nothing little to do with the acceptability of MDY vs. DMY, but arise entirely primarily from the behavior of editors. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 19:36, 2 August 2015 (UTC)

To clarify, my point is that date formatting is part of an English language variety, as WP conceives it. It makes no more sense to inject "August 2, 2015" into an Australian English article than it would the spelling "neighbor".  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  20:08, 2 August 2015 (UTC)
My apologies, I was so focused on one point that I forgot your other point, that date formatting is inherent in "varieties of English". I am doubtful of the validity of that proposition, but grant that it bears on the intrinsic acceptability of date formatting. More comments later, as I am out of time for today. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 22:03, 2 August 2015 (UTC)
While I do not agree that relaxing date format necessarily undermines ENGVAR, it appears to me it is not necessary to argue that. Even if that was the case, there would be a very simple remedy:severability. That is, remove date formatting from ENGVAR, and the connection is broken. This would not undermine the current state of DATETIES because that can stand independently.
As to date formatting being an inherent aspect of the language: I find the connection to be quite incidental. Sure, there is a strong correlation where all varieties of non-American English imply DMY. But note that the inverse is not true: while MDY is almost entirely associated with American English (AE), DMY is standard for AE-military, AE-science, AE-computers, and often used by AE people with foreign education or military experience. None of these uses constitute a distinct variety of English, and show that AE is tolerant of both. At best, the problem with "Aug. 2" in Australian or "2 Aug" in American is one of stylistic usage, not language itself, akin to the issues of using title-case versus sentence-case.
I note that the current ENGVAR/DATETIES/etc. formulation is not the simplest solution. A simpler one (leaving out universal DMY) that reflects actual practice: DMY is preferred for all articles; MDY is acceptable where there is a strong American or Canadian tie AND there is local consensus to use MDY. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:27, 4 August 2015 (UTC)
Your premise is faulty. DMY is not common in "AE-science" [or] "AE-computers". You could (conceivably) argue that MDY should not be used unless there are "strong ties" to a country where MDY is used, provided that MDY should be used in US-related articles unless tied to a field in which DMY is almost always used. Even that requires consensus to change the existing guideline. More restrictions on MDY use are unreasonable. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 03:22, 5 August 2015 (UTC)
I beg to differ regarding "AE-science". My experience is that while DMY is not universal, it is quite common. Note that Science, the most-widely read scientific journal published in the U.S., uses DMY, and there is no evidence this impairs communication in anyway.
I am not proposing "[m]ore restrictions on MDY", and certainly not that MDY should not be used lacking a strong national tie. I believe the "simpler" formulation (above) is pretty much congruent with actual practice. There is one point where it could be made more congruent (and simpler): leave off the national tie. E.g.: MDY is acceptable where there is local consensus to use MDY. The main difference seems to lie in the understanding of "consensus", and the nature of the default lacking an explicit consensus. MDY proponents seem to want a default, even a mandate, of MDY on anything related to the States, and even elsewhere, perhaps fearing they will have to fight an uphill battle where explicit consensus is lacking. This is an over-reaction that ignores DATERET: established and uncontested usage is implicitly consensual, and new articles follow the style of the first major contributor. (Until there is consensus to change.)
However, we seem to have drifted off-topic. The question here is whether MDY formatting is an intrinsic element of American English, or, as I argue, incidental. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 20:57, 5 August 2015 (UTC)
(I fixed your wikilink, hope you don't mind) My take on this is that having a standard at least defuses irritating disputes about styles before they can start. There's no obvious benefit to developing a local consensus at each article on whether it should use MDY or DMY. I anticipate a lot of time potentially being wasted on nothing, when we could simply define a standard to be used in the absence of strong reason to the contrary. Philosophical questions about whether it is "intrinsic to American English" are secondary to that objective. Archon 2488 (talk) 21:28, 5 August 2015 (UTC)
(Thanks. I'm still workiing on that perftion thing.) We can arbitrarily define any standard we wish (e.g., mandatory DMY anyone?), but some standards are more acceptable than others. Keep in mind that it has been argued (above) that if DATEVAR were relaxed "there would be no reason to bother keeping ENGVAR". But this follows only if date formatting is intrinsinc to American English, so that is a vital point. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:55, 5 August 2015 (UTC)

As I stated at the start of this discussion: "Debate over DMY vs. MDY date formats ... has been interminable and of little benefit." In the end this discussion was dragged down to the same result. My key proposition, that both DMY and MDY date formats are "understandable to all readers of Wikipedia", has not been challenged, has even been affirmed. That, nonetheless, there is still an issue with use of either format shows (the principal showing of this discussion) that objection to "BOTH" is based on factors other than any lack of understandibility or inherent acceptability. Another principal showing is how the sensitivity of this topic impairs discussion. As to whether MDY formatting is intrinsic or incidental to American English: that is unresolved. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 20:29, 22 August 2015 (UTC)

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.[1]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) Yes, that red correction help.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  00:13, 21 August 2015 (UTC)

Comments[edit]

  • 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)

Discussion[edit]

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)

  • Follow-up: I agree we're talking about multiple different things, above, and have attempted to outline all of them:
    1. YYYY–YYYY is the normal way, in good writing, to express a date range where compacting (in a table, etc.) a phrase like from YYYY to YYYY is necessary.
    2. This is not exclusive to sports, but across all topics.
    3. YYYY-YY should be avoided everywhere, because it's sloppy, and it produces confusing results like "2008-09" which automatically means "September 2008" to many readers, and is ambiguous to all others. Same goes for YYYY/YY.
    4. In running prose, the YYYY-YYYY season is a normal way to express a single sport season that spans the Dec. 31 / Jan. 1 year boundary.
    5. This is also true of some other things, e.g. television seasons that span a year (the YYYY-YYYY season again), a serial publication issue that spans a year (the winter 2008–2009 issue), and literal seasons that span a year (a population that dropped precipitously in winter 2008–2009 or ...summer 2008–2009 in the southern hemisphere); it is often not the only way to write it, e.g. the winter of 2008–2009. So, again, we have no reason to limit this to sports specifically.
    6. There are some [potential] exceptions to formatting, contexts in which / is traditionally used and is the majority use in reliable sources on that topic. Some sports conventionally use the 2014/2015 season or even season 2014/2015, given in compact form (tables etc.) as 2014/2015. Whether MOS wants to "honor" that or not is an open question; an argument can be made that it's totally harmless ("an acceptable alternative style which MOS should not prohibit" is how we usually approach such things), while another can be made that it's the WP:Specialized-style fallacy. I lean toward the former, specifically because it would have to directly conflict with normal usage in a way that confused people, in order to be an SSF, and I don't see any evidence of such confusion. Even the winter of 2008/2009 is common in reliable sources, probably more common than the dash version. I can break out the pile of style guides if necessary; I have a suspicion that a slash may be recommended in place of a dash by many of them, for two consecutive years.
    7. In running prose, willy-nilly use of YYYY-YYYY and YYYY-YY are substandard, informal writing, for sports and all other topics: played for the Tigers 2008–2015.
    8. One sports-journalism usage in particular, which seems to be the genesis of this thread, is also substandard writing: the halfassed-compressed form played for the Tigers in the 2008–2015 seasons. It's gibberish. There is no such conceptual entity the 2008–2015 seasons. They are separate things, and what is meant is from the 2009–2010 through 2014–2015 seasons (or from the 2009/2010 through 2014/2015 seasons, depending on the sport's season naming conventions). If it there's no in-context need to mention seasons specifically, this can be compressed to from 2009 to 2015.
    9. Some conceptual date entities do span more than a single year boundary, as in seeking the 2016–2020 US Presidency.
    10. A side point not discussed here yet, this time, but worth reaffirming is that we should never capitalize as Season (in TV, sports, climate, or anything else), per the general MOS:CAPS approach: If in doubt, do not capitalize. The external sources do not uniformly capitalize this, even for sports or TV, so we don't either, as a zillion WP:RMs and other previous discussion demonstrate. An obvious exception would be in titles of published works, e.g. a DVD box-set called The X-Files Season 9.
 — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  21:03, 2 August 2015 (UTC)
@SMcCandlish:: Given your general support for XXXX-XXXX across all domains, can I assume you support the premise of allowing XXXX-XXXX for sports when a compact form is needed, and not exclusively for infoboxes (as it is currently worded)? If so, I would propose to incrementally make the minor change originally proposed here, and start a separate discussion on expanding XXXX-XXXX for use beyond sports, which I imagine might need more discussion. Thanks for your consideration.—Bagumba (talk) 22:10, 2 August 2015 (UTC)
I've already given that, above: '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.'  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  23:14, 2 August 2015 (UTC)
With regard to #3 I would disagree that 6-digit date format should be avoided "everywhere." It is the most common display for a split-year sports season like basketball or hockey ("the 2009–10 season") and should remain the default for that IMO. So I suppose that means I disagree with #4 and if the proposal is to change MOS to reflect this I would like more discussion on that point. I also don't think this proposal was suggesting #8, that in prose a range use the "–" instead of from/to. I believe the proposal has always been about compact usage and don't believe anyone was suggesting the MOS be changed to allow this. Rikster2 (talk) 23:27, 2 August 2015 (UTC)

Update There seems to be consensus to remove the "in an infobox" text as proposed. Moreover, Matthiaspaul and  SMcCandlish have expressed an interest to expand the XXXX-XXXX format beyond sports, which they are encouraged to continue (possibly under a new thread that doesnt end in "... for sports", so as to involve other interested parties in the wider discussion.—Bagumba (talk) 01:38, 3 August 2015 (UTC)


I am against' encouraging YYYY–YY usage anywhere unless it is done to meet width constraints on tables, but even then it should only be contemplated if there is no elegant alternative. Back in the good old days when Wikipedia was edited by real editors and not quiche eaters, editors used to link all years like this 1900-1905 (notice also the use of dash instead of ndash). Now although times have moved on and we have bots to change dashes to ndashes between such dates, I am against the change of using two digit years, because if people want to search the internet for a date, any pages using two digests formats are likely to be missed. As this is not a paper encyclopaedia, we do not have to save characters like they do in paper encyclopaedias by truncating dates or page range (as it will have a detrimental affects on internet searches). The old wording in this guidance was the typical neutral wording of a consensus compromise:

A closing CE or AD year is normally written with two digits (1881–86) unless it is in a different century from that of the opening year (1881–1986). The full closing year is acceptable, but abbreviating it to a single digit (1881–6) or three digits (1881–886) is not.

It was changed by this edit on 24 September 2010 by user:PL290. to

A closing CE or AD year is normally written with two digits (1881–86) unless it is in a different century from that of the opening year, in which case the full closing year is given (1881–1986).

I think that broke a compromise which exists in fact (it certainly did on the pages I edit which retain all four digests in such cases). AFAICT there was little or no discussion of that change in the archives. The no no examples were reinstated by user:EEng with this edit on 12 January 2014 but without the wording "The full closing year is acceptable" which I think was a mistake.

In the case of sporting seasons or school years (like night time bombing raids during World War II: "night of 17/18 May 1940" (eg Bombing of Hamburg#Timeline) then I prefer "1881/82 season" rather than "1881–82 season".

-- PBS (talk) 14:36, 3 August 2015 (UTC)

  • I strongly concur with "I am against' encouraging YYYY–YY usage anywhere unless it is done to meet width constraints on tables". It's sloppy telegraphic writing / headline style. "A closing CE or AD year is normally written with two digits (1881–86) unless it is in a different century from that of the opening year" is wrong. It's fairly (probably decreasingly) common in journalism, is avoided in academic writing, and is something we cannot do with any automated tool, or in any other circumstance where what comes after the hyphen might be under 13, because it produces hopeless ambiguity, and will be interpreted by many readers as a month not an abbreviated year. "The full closing year is acceptable" is an understatement; it's preferable.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  01:58, 9 August 2015 (UTC)
    • I was just wondering whether anything had been done about this and was delighted to see this discussion underway. Although I agree entirely with the points made above in support of XXXX-XXXX format, perhaps the strongest argument of all is that the current guideline is practically never followed. The MOS should reflect usage not dictate it wherever possible, and the vast majority of editors are clearly using the full 8-digit format. If this needs to be formalised somehow I hope it is, but otherwise surely there is consensus above to make the change? Frickeg (talk) 12:31, 18 August 2015 (UTC)
      • I am somewhat unclear what is being suggested here, but for the record I am against moving away from using the six-digit date format to denote distinct sport seasons that span a calendar year (like 2013–14 Dallas Mavericks season). This is the overwhelming manner in which these are displayed in reliable sources in the U.S. (as well as other countries) and directly discouraging the practice (in context of course) does not seem like something MOS should do. It seems like Wikipedia should reflect reality. Rikster2 (talk) 18:41, 18 August 2015 (UTC)
        • My comment, for the record, has nothing particularly to do with sports seasons, about which I know essentially nothing and am not qualified to have an opinion, really. It was in support of the 8-digit format being either the preferred format of date ranges generally, or at the very least as an equal option with the 6-digit format and preferred in tables. Frickeg (talk) 02:53, 19 August 2015 (UTC)
          • Ok, good, because if people tried changing single-season articles that span two calendar years to an 8 digit format, you'd have a war on your hands. "2015–16", as the upcoming NHL and NBA seasons will be, is a very common format and is completely expected by the reader. For date ranges exclusive of single seasons, I would generally support (and I wrote the Grey Cup article referenced above) making the eight digit format the preferred style, but not a mandatory one. Resolute 00:38, 21 August 2015 (UTC)

We should clarify "In most articles..."[edit]

I am reluctant to open yet another discussion about units of measurement (and doubtless many here will be relieved to read that this does not involve UK units), but I think that one bullet point could use a little clarification:

In most articles, including all scientific articles, the primary units chosen will be SI units, non-SI units officially accepted for use with the SI, or such other units as are conventional in reliable-source discussions of the article topic

The problem with this, which will be immediately familiar to many MOSNUM regulars, is that the word "most" immediately invites the response "most is not all", which is in effect just a charter for individual editors to ignore the MOS and choose whichever units style they want. It invites attempts to game the MoS, which is undesirable.

I am currently involved in a dispute which relates to this, in which there is an editor who wants one particular distance in Ukraine (!) to be given primarily in "English miles" rather than "French kilometres". I have tried to explain, to no avail, that the purpose of a Manual of Style is to ensure that questions such as this do not come down to arbitrary individual preference, and that they need to follow the MOS prescription unless they can give a very strong reason not to. If certain editors do not approve of "French kilometres", that's irrelevant, and if previous editors gave a measurement in a disfavoured style, that by itself is not sufficient reason for retaining it.

So in light of this dispute, and to prevent annoying future ones like it, I'd suggest rephrasing this bullet point as:

In all articles not otherwise exempted, the primary units chosen will be SI units, non-SI units officially accepted for use with the SI, or such other units as are conventional in reliable-source discussions of the article topic

This phrasing makes more sense – my reading of the bullet point as it stands, is that it is intended to apply to those articles which are not covered by "non-scientific articles relating to the United States" or "non-scientific articles relating to the United Kingdom". There's no point in allowing editors to game this one clause because of its vague ("most") language. Moreover, it maintains the necessary provision for contexts in which the commonsense primary units are something else (we do not need to worry that it will require every single time duration to be measured in kiloseconds). Archon 2488 (talk) 20:35, 5 August 2015 (UTC)

The clause change indeed would eliminate any defence of what the proposer characterises as "commonsense primary units". It would therefore facilitate the proposer's all too apparent crusade to metricate Wikipedia, as recently observed by Toddy1, for no reason other than because they would prefer it that way, by removing any room for reasoned exceptions.
Look too at this example where the proposer lost the argument to Sturmvogel 66, the proposed clause change would have left no room for the common-sense argument that prevailed and the proposer's unreasonable changes would have stuck.
The main trigger for the annoying disputes of which the proposer complains, is the proposer's almost single-issue-agenda leading to his mass daily editing-out of imperial and editing-in of metric as the primary units in carefully targeted editing sprees.
As the proposer's agenda is all too transparent, and as the proposed change would weaken the case for common-sense exceptions, I oppose it. Speccy4Eyes (talk) 22:04, 5 August 2015 (UTC)
Thank you for immediately responding in the most ad hominem way possible. I will avoid, for the sake of maintaining constructive discussion, responding in kind to your personal attacks. I edit articles to ensure they comply with the MOS; my edits do not comprise mass-conversion of articles about the USA to metric-first, for example, so I hope others can see there is no mala fides there.
Your objection is apparently that my "agenda" is too "transparent", meaning that my intention of clarifying a serious ambiguity in the MOS guidance is clear to everyone. This was indeed my intention; there is a degree of ambiguity about the meaning of "most" which has been gamed. Does "most" mean that a distance in Ukraine can be given in miles, because somebody just so happens to want that? Surely not. NPOV and the commonsense criterion of least astonishment dictate that if the distance from Houston to Dallas is given primarily in miles, then the distance from Dnipropetrovsk to Kiev is given primarily in kilometres. That shouldn't even be controversial, and there is no good reason to allow wiggle-room, which simply opens the door to bad-faith arguments. Why then allow the ambiguity? Why should articles not comply with the normal MOS standard simply because some editors would personally prefer that they didn't?
My wording clearly allows exceptions, in cases where those exceptions are actually warranted by topic-specific reasons, and it clearly does not allow wiggle-room for editors to argue that articles should not use the metric system because they personally don't like "French kilometres" (!!) or because somebody else previously decided, for whatever reason, to give a measurement in a style which isn't compliant with the MOS. In the case you describe, and in some others, editors argued that there were substantial topic-related reasons (e.g. historical reasons, such as the Russian Empire using non-metric units) to use a different style. That was, is, and will remain legitimate under any conceivable proposal. I am sure that any fair-minded editor can see that the argument "Russia didn't use the metric system at that time" is not equivalent to "I don't like French millimetres, so it needs to be in English feet and inches". My proposal, in a nutshell, is to clarify the difference between the former (good-faith) argument and the latter (bad-faith) one.
Even the editors arguing against this must be aware that, in terms of real-world practice, it violates the criterion of least astonishment to give a distance in Ukraine primarily in miles. We've already had a bad-faith request for those editors asking for the article to follow the MOS to provide an arbitrary number of secondary sources to support their contention that the distance should be given in kilometres – that is extremely pointless, it has no basis in the MOS, and it is disruptive.
It was in no way my intention to change the substance of the current MOS guidance – only to clarify that the normal standard is metric-first unless there is some good reason not to follow that standard. This is already, I submit, what a commonsense, good-faith reading of "In most articles..." would be – certainly not "In most articles, except when I don't want to..." Archon 2488 (talk) 23:18, 5 August 2015 (UTC)
Perhaps we need to specify the following:
  • In non-scientific articles relating to countries other than the US and the UK, the primary units are metric or other internationally used units.
I believe that this is what the present wording intends to convey. Michael Glass (talk) 01:36, 6 August 2015 (UTC)
But it is not what the current wording says.
I see no reason why people should be forced to use the metric system. This is English Wikipedia, and most English-speaking people understand non-metric measures best for many things.-- Toddy1 (talk) 07:41, 6 August 2015 (UTC)
@Toddy1: what's the evidence for this claim? If by "most English-speaking people" you mean "most Americans" you may well be right, but worldwide I very much doubt it. Peter coxhead (talk) 08:06, 6 August 2015 (UTC)
Indeed. There are more English speakers in China than the USA, for example. Most of the British Commonwealth uses SI units and have done for some decades. Imperial units are used by a minority of English speakers, and are steadily growing obsolete. --Pete (talk) 08:10, 6 August 2015 (UTC)
What Toddy1's argument neglects is that this is an international project; it is not being written exclusively for an Anglo-American audience. From a global perspective, the use of non-metric units is in the minority; to comply with the spirit of NPOV and representativeness of real-world use, we make special exemptions for those two countries, and we allow individual articles to use a different style only if topic-related reasons warrant that. The only way to ensure NPOV compliance is to follow local usage. We certainly do not make exemptions for individual editors to argue that an article can use whatever style he or she personally believes "most English-speaking people understand".
The NPOV case here is extremely simple: given that Wikipedia states the distance from Houston to Dallas as "miles (kilometres)" and from Sydney to Melbourne as "kilometres (miles)", which of these formats is more appropriate for a distance in Ukraine? It's a simple question with an obvious answer; making the standard format unclear by using the notorious weasel-word "most" benefits nobody. To argue for the retention of "most" is to argue, in effect, that there should not really be a guideline (because, you know, "it says 'most' not 'all'"). Archon 2488 (talk) 12:57, 6 August 2015 (UTC)
  • Support, and look for the best way to say it. Use the international units (first), unless there are good reasons not to. This comes down to non-scientific US-related articles and possibly UK-related article, though as pointed out above, SI units have been in use in the UK for quite some time now, which may actually be enough to warrant a SI-first-accompanied-by-non-metric system of unit presentation there. --JorisvS (talk) 08:31, 6 August 2015 (UTC)
JorisvS, indeed they have been in use for some time now in the UK, but they are still no nearer to being accepted in mainstream common usage. Indeed the trend appears to be moving back towards more imperial usage following various climb-downs and reversals of policies concerning enforced metrication. If anything, the UK rule here should move closer to the US rule. Speccy4Eyes (talk) 06:41, 7 August 2015 (UTC)
My proposed change deliberately doesn't relate to US or UK articles. I agree with you that the UK guidance is overly conservative, since the UK has now been using SI units for some time, but it's a toxic subject with a long and acrimonious history here, which I do not want to reopen. This section is exclusively about articles which do not have strong national ties to the USA or UK. Archon 2488 (talk) 21:14, 6 August 2015 (UTC)

I am not a fan of Archon's wording - it's a bit too legalistic I think - but his reasoning is entirely correct. The word "most" here is clearly to contrast the large majority of articles from the US- and UK-related articles, for which there are different rules. For articles not related to either the US and UK, MOSNUM recommends that we should be using SI (and other units as described) unless there is a good article- or context-specific reason not to. I have not checked the context in question, but I find it very unlikely on an article on a Ukrainian city that such a reason exists.

The argument against this seems to be that the use of the word "most" effectively allows editors to override the guideline for no good reason. It should come as no surprise to those familiar with units discussion that I strongly reject such an argument. For one thing, if it meant that, why put a guideline in at all?

I would not endorse Michael's wording. I believe he intends to add an extra bullet point? Such a point is entirely superfluous if it intends to describe the same mix of units as the existing one, and if not then I don't think it would be useful for us to change this rule to something quite so vague. Kahastok talk 17:33, 6 August 2015 (UTC)

I would also oppose adding a new bullet point – there is no need. We could simply re-order the the three current bullet points so that the US and UK ones go first, then the last bullet point acts as a catch-all ("In all other articles..."). This would be simpler than the admittedly clumsy language of my first proposal. I agree that a good-faith reading of "most" in this context means "without strong ties to the US or UK", but the intrinsic vagueness of that word means that the door is left open for a bad-faith reading ("it doesn't say all, does it?"). Best to close the door if we can, by making it explicit what "most" means – if you give some people a French millimetre they'll take an English nautical league. Archon 2488 (talk) 19:26, 6 August 2015 (UTC)
I am happy with this proposal. I would prefer to put the general rule first, followed by the exceptions - but I haven't considered how it might be worded that way. Kahastok talk 21:44, 6 August 2015 (UTC)
Makes sense to me too. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 22:33, 6 August 2015 (UTC)
I am pleased to see such a large area of agreement between Kahastok and Archon. This means that agreement could well be in reach. On the matter of the order of the dot points I like the idea of starting with the general rule and then dealing with the exceptions, but in this case, dealing with the exceptions and then stating the general rule that applies in all other cases may be a better way to proceed. Michael Glass (talk) 03:30, 7 August 2015 (UTC)
Works for me, too. We need to clarify the existing material not add a new bullet. It really is the case that it's two exceptions, and for everything else be consistent. The "most" here is being used to WP:GAME, so the section does need clarification, but we don't need to do it with legalistic language, just a logic flow that prevents an "I can do whatever I damned well want for WP:ILIKEIT reasons" interpretation.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  01:14, 9 August 2015 (UTC)

Inconsistencies which need rectifying[edit]

  • When I tried to implement the MOSNUM recommendations for UK related personal heights and weights ("the primary units for personal height and weight are feet​/inches and stones/​pounds") I got an injunction slapped on my talk page basically prohibiting me from doing so. When I came here looking for help and advice I got reprimanded and the conversation turned to discussing how MOSNUM should be changed to tolerate the non-compliant metrication. MOSNUM was not changed, so the UK related heights should be given primarily in imperial units, yet the anomalies still exist in those articles and there is apparently nothing that can be done to correctly apply the MOSNUM recommendations there.
  • When I joined a talk page discussion about whether non-UK articles should be metricated on sight and without discussion or consensus the indignant metricator came here to get MOSNUM changed so as to make their mission easier for them.
  • Currently it appears to me that MOSNUM must be totally ignored when it recommends imperial primary units and it must be strictly applied, even modified to make it easier to do so, when it recommends metric primary units. How can this inconsistency possibly be tolerated? Speccy4Eyes (talk) 21:15, 6 August 2015 (UTC)
Meditation or Scotch or possibly both. --Pete (talk) 21:20, 6 August 2015 (UTC)
In fact, I'm off out now for a 568 ml (or two). Speccy4Eyes (talk) 21:46, 6 August 2015 (UTC)
The difference is the long history of problems that have arisen on UK-related articles. This has not happened on other articles - including US-related articles which use non-metric units first - so there is no reason not to treat units on those articles in the normal way. This is not a matter of changing the advice - metric first in articles not related to the US or UK has been the spirit of the rule for many years - but to make it clearer what is intended, in a case where it has clearly been misinterpreted. Kahastok talk 21:44, 6 August 2015 (UTC)
Kahastok, the UK rule to use imperial for personal height and weight could hardly be clearer, yet even though it is openly flouted, it is completely and utterly unenforceable, so pointless and useless. What do you think the point of making this rule for metric clearer is? Speccy4Eyes (talk) 21:51, 6 August 2015 (UTC)
As Kahastok says, the situation with UK-related articles is different. General Sanctions were introduced to prevent edit-warring in that one specific context. We should not discuss UK units further here, since this section is solely about articles without strong ties to the USA or UK. Bringing up UK units is simply a means to derail this conversation.
Your second point above, Speccy, is a poorly disguised attempt at a personal attack on me which I'll ignore. I will say, however, that misrepresenting the intended meaning of the MOS in this context and then calling those who object "indignant metricators" is not exactly constructive, and it is not a substitute for having a real argument.
The inconsistency you speak of does not exist. Articles about the USA do in fact use the "US customary (metric)" style and articles about the UK do in fact use the "imperial (metric)" style in contexts where that is appropriate. That you have recently repeatedly attempted to change certain UK articles from one style to the other, when there are sanctions in place, is not something I'd draw too much attention to. Archon 2488 (talk) 22:07, 6 August 2015 (UTC)
I agree with both Archon and Khastok that we should deal with non-UK, non-US web pages at this time. UK units are a distraction at the moment. Better to deal with them at another time. Michael Glass (talk) 03:30, 7 August 2015 (UTC)

The main point I am making is being missed, or at least being ignored. If a rule as clear-cut as the current one for UK personal heights and weights can be gratuitously flouted with impunity, then what is the point wasting time and energy trying to agree new wording to bring another rule up to a similar level of unambiguous clarity?

Even if it is clearer, an equally impotent new rule can only give rise to further, even more bitter, conflicts between those attempting to provide comprehensive, rich and interesting content and those (inevitably reinvigorated by this) whose sole purpose appears to be to metricate Wikipedia at all costs. Speccy4Eyes (talk) 06:33, 7 August 2015 (UTC)

Let me give an example. In the Australian Constitution, a body called the Inter-State Commission is established. This is the fundamental aw of the land, and yet there is no Inter-State Commission in existence. The federal government saw no point in paying for it. There is nobody, no body, with the authority to compel the government to implement this Inter-State Commission. The High Court has no power, nor has it been approached on the matter. The States are unable to force the Federal government, nor is anybody but the Feds able to do it. And they don't want to.
It may be that the tide on Imperial units is on the ebb, and though one or two may see it as important to preserve feet and ounces and stuff, there is not the will to push the matter to ArbCom, who I suspect, would be reluctant to make some sort of blanket ruling in a matter that had little support amongst the general population of editors. --Pete (talk) 06:51, 7 August 2015 (UTC)
  • Back to what the OP was saying: There wasn't a consensus to change MOS to stop recommending these units. The fact that a particular editor likes to ignore MOS on this point and wants to start vexatious ANI noise about it isn't an "injunction", it's just disruption. One should continue to do what MOS says, and let the WP:BOOMERANG effect take care of the WP:TE problem. Separately, it's worth discussing whether MOS should still recommend a colloquial unit like "stone" (I would argue against this), but that doesn't mean you're wrong to do so if it says to do so for now. The whole "metrification" activism thing is silly noise, since {{Convert}} gives you both feet/inches and metric, in whatever order one wants.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  01:42, 9 August 2015 (UTC)

Revising the wording[edit]

The present wording is as follows:

The problem with the present wording is that been interpreted in a way that contradicts the main thrust of the recommendation. Hence the present | dispute

One suggested wording was this:

  • In all articles not otherwise exempted, the primary units chosen will be SI units, non-SI units officially accepted for use with the SI, or such other units as are conventional in reliable-source discussions of the article topic

However, an objection to this wording was that it was "a bit too legalistic". Perhaps, other wording would hit the mark. I think MOSNUM should specify all scientific articles but perhaps others can come up with better wording. Michael Glass (talk) 11:59, 8 August 2015 (UTC)

I agree that "not otherwise exempted" sounds a bit legalistic. How about
  • "In all scientific articles and all other articles not specifically related to the United States or the United Kingdom (see below) ..."? --Boson (talk) 12:20, 8 August 2015 (UTC)
I think Archon's second proposal above is better: I understand it to be to move the current first bullet point to the end and replace "In most articles" with "In all other articles". Kahastok talk 12:45, 8 August 2015 (UTC)
Yes, exactly. I too would prefer, as a matter of principle, having the most general rule first followed by the exceptions (which seems the most logical and intuitive way to arrange things) but in this case it might be clearer to put the exceptions first and the general rule after them. There's no need for the general point to emphasise "in all scientific articles", I think, because the US and UK bullet points are worded specifically to exclude science-related articles. Archon 2488 (talk) 12:59, 8 August 2015 (UTC)

As I understand it, the above proposal would look like this:

Quantities are typically expressed using an appropriate "primary unit", displayed first, followed, when appropriate, by a conversion in parentheses e.g. 200 kilometres (120 mi). For details on when and how to provide a conversion, see the section § Unit conversions. The choice of primary units depends on the circumstances, and should respect the principle of "strong national ties", where applicable:

  • In non-scientific articles relating to the United States, the primary units are US customary, e.g. 97 pounds (44 kg).
  • In non-scientific articles relating to the United Kingdom, the primary units for most quantities are metric or other internationally used units,[1] except that:
    • the primary units for distance/​length, speed and fuel consumption are miles, miles per hour, and miles per imperial gallon (except for short distances or lengths, where miles are too large for practical use);
    • the primary units for personal height and weight are feet​/inches and stones/​pounds;
    • imperial pints are used for quantities of draught beer/​cider and bottled milk;
    • UK engineering-related articles, including those on bridges and tunnels, generally use the system of units that the topic was drawn-up in (but road distances are given in imperial units, with a metric conversion).
  • In all other articles, the primary units chosen will be SI units, non-SI units officially accepted for use with the SI, or such other units as are conventional in reliable-source discussions of the article topic (such as revolutions per minute (rpm) for angular speed, hands for heights of horses, et cetera).

Is this what it would be? Michael Glass (talk) 13:24, 8 August 2015 (UTC)

Yes, this is my proposal exactly. I support the adoption of this new text. Archon 2488 (talk) 15:01, 8 August 2015 (UTC)
I would just like to point out that the first sentence of that proposal is not strictly true. In some situations, such as when the reliable sources give a measurement in units other than the primary units being used in the article, it is the article primary unit that is the conversion, followed by the value from the reference as the secondary unit. This would more correct:
Quantities are typically expressed using an appropriate "primary unit", displayed first, followed, when appropriate, by the equivalent value in another unit in parentheses, where either value may be the value from the reference e.g. 320 kilometres (200 mi)
Speccy4Eyes (talk) 22:02, 8 August 2015 (UTC)
That's correct, but it's already covered by the final bullet-point in the units section:
Where the article's primary units differ from the units given in the source, the {{convert}} template's |order=flip flag can be used; this causes the original unit to be shown as secondary in the article, and the converted unit to be shown as primary.
The statement we are discussing is just about the order displayed in the main text of the article, not how to format the wiki markup. Archon 2488 (talk) 22:25, 8 August 2015 (UTC)
I added your example of order=flip usage to the main page, since there was a comment suggesting we could do with one. Archon 2488 (talk) 22:35, 8 August 2015 (UTC)

I support Archon's proposal.

  • It confirms present practice.
  • It is brief and clear.
  • It resolves the ambiguity in the present wording.
  • It will help settle a dispute that has arisen partly because of this ambiguity.

Michael Glass (talk) 23:16, 8 August 2015 (UTC)

  • I also support that version. I would like to remove "stone" as a recommended unit, because it seems to lead to confusion and contention, but I'm willing to save that for a separate proposal if it would be a sticking point.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  01:46, 9 August 2015 (UTC)
This is not about changing the advice for UK-related units, because that way lies very long and circular discussions that go nowhere but waste lots of people's time. We really don't want to get into it.
But - and I raise this purely for information - the fact that you raise stones in particular (as opposed to the concept of using imperial measures for personal weight), and that your user page indicates that you are American, suggests to me that you may have assumed that British and American usage are the same in this area. They are not.
Simply put, in the US, if you had someone who weighs, metrically, 76 kilograms, that would be expressed as "168 pounds". In Britain, you'd only ever hear something like "168 pounds" in an explicitly American context, and because not everybody can multiply and divide by 14 quickly, you might not actually have much idea of how heavy the person is. You'd normally express it as "12 stone", which would be well understood. Unfortunately, there isn't a picture of British bathroom scales on the Commons, but Americans on this page have in the past expressed surprise that - at least on analogue scales (as digital ones allow you to switch) - the primary dial is in stones and the secondary dial is in kilograms and there's no dial at all in just pounds.
In my view we should actually be expanding use of stones and pounds so that they are visible for all personal weights, including outside UK contexts. Kahastok talk 09:12, 9 August 2015 (UTC)
I agree with you that stones belong in the stone age, but that is outside the scope of this discussion. British and American usage, more saliently, are different because for the past ~40 years, only one system of weights and measures has been taught in Britain (and used increasingly in almost all aspects of professional life), which is certainly not the case in the USA. This is a large part of the historical reason why the USA and UK guidelines have come to be so different; metrication in the USA and metrication in the UK are simply not comparable in their extent. As an example of a British person who was educated under the new system, I see a "pint" as just an odd word for a glass that's slightly more than half a litre, imperial weights and temperatures I have no intuitive grasp of at all (I know a "stone" is 14 "pounds", but since I have never had to use pounds except when weighing my luggage in American airports, that is not exactly helpful to me – imagine being told that a flabbergast is very easy to understand at a mere 29.3 eegojoogles, and then someone telling you that they weigh 19 23 flabbergasts), inches are confusingly oversized centimetres, a "yard" is an archaic way of saying "about a metre", and miles are just illogically sized units that appear on road signs. But a lot of people in the UK are old/conservative/don't like the metric system for reasons I have never understood, so the present mixture is somewhat of a compromise between two fundamentally irreconcilable positions, with the result that nobody likes it.
But we should leave off any discussion of specific UK-unit-related topics, to say it again. I don't want another protracted and acrimonious discussion about stones, such as I was nearly drawn into above... Archon 2488 (talk) 10:39, 9 August 2015 (UTC)
  • I also support Archon's proposed changes. I don't support all the of the current text on UK usage, because I don't believe it accurately represents formal British usage, but we have been there before, and I too have no interest in circular, time-wasting discussions. I would have no objection to permitting stones and pounds as a secondary unit to make articles more understandable to British pensioners if we could, in exchange, use metric primary units for height and weight in contexts where they are normally used in Britain (most non-colloquial contexts?). --Boson (talk) 15:07, 9 August 2015 (UTC)
Just how old do you think the pension age in Britain is? 25?
Stones are used routinely by the vast majority of the adult population, including those who like me have grown up under the current system. Even if schools did teach you to weigh yourself in kilograms (and in my school the only unit used for the purpose was the Newton), it still wouldn't change the fact that you would go home and find that the rest of the culture - from newspaper reports to sports broadcasting to police descriptions of suspects to your bathroom scales - uses stones. Kahastok talk 15:31, 9 August 2015 (UTC)
Yes, but we were talking about your proposal to use stones for personal weights "outside UK contexts". So it is not a matter of what a 25-year old Brit would use at home or read in the local newspaper, but whether he or she would understand the use of kilograms when applied in a foreign context. I was agreeing with your proposed use of stones, because people who are eligible for a Freedom Pass might have missed that bit of the national curriculum. --Boson (talk) 17:53, 9 August 2015 (UTC)
I do not understand the logic of your claim that someone who has never used or even considered using kilograms for personal weight of a Briton is suddenly going to understand them fully when used to describe a Frenchman.
You claim that "people who are eligible for a Freedom Pass might have missed that bit of the national curriculum". But again, you're claiming a pension age somewhere at most in the low twenties. Shoot, can you demonstrate that the intuitive understanding of personal weight as measured in kilograms is even in the national curriculum today? I very much doubt it. The closest reference I could find was this which actually acknowledges the continued use of the stone in precisely this context. Kahastok talk 21:45, 9 August 2015 (UTC)
If you look at the reference you gave, you will see that the context is the origins of systems of measurement, explaining to six- and seven-year olds how people used to use things like actual feet for measurements and letting them discover for themselves the disadvantages of such systems. And by the age of ten children are using the metric system but also "know the basic conversions between metric and imperial measurements for length, weight (mass) and capacity" .The standardized National Curriculum was introduced in the 1980s, but was developed from the systems introduced in the early seventies. Anyway, as I said, I have no interest in a repeat of the circular, time-wasting discussions, that we all remember; so I'll leave it there. --Boson (talk) 01:04, 10 August 2015 (UTC)
I've gone through the entire British education system from nursery school to PhD. Imperial units were mentioned virtually never. All measurements of weight/mass (yes, yes, I'm a physicist and I understand the difference, but in this context it's essentially irrelevant, and I hope we never start a discussion about whether the "stone" or "rock" or "lump of mineral" or whatever the hell it is, was intended by the illiterate medieval peasants who invented it to be a unit of mass or force or something else) were in kilograms. I have no idea why you believe people are taught to understand kilograms for measuring the weights/masses of everything except one bipedal mammal. I can tell you, at least from my own experience of the UK education system, that this was not a problem. Nor is it a problem for people in almost any other country on earth, for whom we do not need to provide reams of evidence that they can understand weights/masses in kilograms. You are applying a standard to people of one nationality that is applied to those of no other. Archon 2488 (talk) 02:23, 11 August 2015 (UTC)
So is there a part of the national curriculum that does discuss the measuring of personal weights in kilograms, as you suggested before? I couldn't find one. If a child only ever measures themselves and others in stones, then the only unit they will will become familiar with in this context is the stone. Because the standard unit in this context in this culture is the stone, this is happening as much with today's children as it did with today's pensioners. I do not argue that this is a good thing - that is not our concern. Wikipedia should reflect the world as it is, not as we might like it to be. Kahastok talk 21:08, 10 August 2015 (UTC)
As I suggested before? Either you are reading into my statements something I did not write, or I expressed myself badly (though I can't see where). However, see above. --Boson (talk) 22:44, 10 August 2015 (UTC)
"this is happening as much with today's children as it did with today's pensioners" Do you actually have any evidence for this? I'm certainly not a child, and when people try to state their body weights/masses in multiples of (some random lump of granite that existed somewhere in medieval England where the evil EU bureaucrats and the BIPM couldn't destroy it) I haven't a clue what they're talking about. Archon 2488 (talk) 02:23, 11 August 2015 (UTC)
My parents still think of their height in feet and inches, distances in miles and furlongs, and their weight in stones. Bathroom scales are in kilograms, with stones as an alternative, although most have only kilograms these days. I can reassure British editors that at the rate they are going, it will be another 20 years or so before you reach this point. In articles on athletes, I have always included conversions using the old measurements (as we always call them), so an athlete's height appears as 201 centimetres (6 ft 7 in) and weight as 94 kilograms (14 st 11 lb). What's wrong with that? Hawkeye7 (talk) 03:08, 10 August 2015 (UTC)
I'm surprised you suggest "Bathroom scales are in kilograms, with stones as an alternative, although most have only kilograms these days." My experience is that most are electronic, all with a choice of kg/st/lb. Of the analogue ones, most give stones on the outer ring and kg on the inner. Here is the choice from Argos, one of the largest retailers. Chief archivist (talk) 06:32, 10 August 2015 (UTC)
"This country" in Hawkeye's case is Australia. In Britain it's still stones-primary in most circumstances as you describe. Kahastok talk 21:08, 10 August 2015 (UTC)
In contexts where measuring body mass is actually important it is not at all uncommon to use kilograms; indeed it is the standard practice. Ask any healthcare professional. Do you think BMI is measured in stones per square toenail, or some such? Archon 2488 (talk) 02:23, 11 August 2015 (UTC)
We aren't writing for doctors or scientists, as a rule. We're writing for everyone. In Britain, at the moment, and whether you like it or not, that means stones. Maybe in twenty years it will change, but that's where we are today. Kahastok talk 21:07, 11 August 2015 (UTC)
Hawkeye7: I'm not sure if the question ("What's wrong with that?") was addressed to me, as appears from the indentation, but I have no objection to that. I understood that to be Kahastok's suggestion for non-UK articles ("we should actually be expanding use of stones and pounds so that they are visible for all personal weights, including outside UK contexts"), and I was offering qualified support for that (for instance in exchange for using the same format for UK articles).--Boson (talk) 11:33, 10 August 2015 (UTC)
Hawkeye7, you asked "What's wrong with that?" Well nothing, unless it is a British athlete of course, in which case MOSNUM says: "the primary units for personal height and weight are feet​/inches and stones/​pounds". So it must appear as "6 feet 7 inches (201 cm) and weight as 14 stone 11 pounds (94 kg)" for them. Speccy4Eyes (talk) 18:24, 10 August 2015 (UTC)
  • Support revised wording as per Michael Glass/Archon. This removes a lot of the wriggle room that allowed people to buck the spirit of the existing wording, leading to wastage of time, and collegial wrangling. --Pete (talk) 22:38, 9 August 2015 (UTC)
I do think this has been a problem in discussions on this topic. But the change accurately reflects the spirit of the existing rule. I do not believe people are necessarily deliberately misinterpreting the rule, but I do believe it has been misinterpreted and it's worth making it clearer to prevent future misinterpretation.
(The alternative would seem to be to propose the change in the rule. If you believe that "most" implies an exception in some circumstances, for example, what circumstances do you believe the exception applies to?) Kahastok talk 21:08, 10 August 2015 (UTC)
The question you need to answer, then, is how my proposal would actually change the substance of the existing guideline? Archon 2488 (talk) 02:47, 11 August 2015 (UTC)
  • (ec)Support a good simplifying proposal that removes an ambiguity. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 21:11, 10 August 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose as I think it was only proposed because the proposer has recently been challenged in their mission to continue, as they have systematically been doing for most of the 2 years since this edit, to metricate articles. The main excuse, if ever challenged (which is rare because few, if any, of these metrications have been clearly described in the accompanying edit summaries) by the hard-working content providers that have been disrupted by these actions, having been merely that it is mandated by MOSNUM. Of the 2 successful challenges that I have come across of this abuse of MOSNUM, both would probably have failed if the MOSNUM wording was similar to that proposed here. The reversion of this (note misleading edit summary) was met with this (see edit summary) and this discussion (note the weak "justification" and ungracious capitulation in the face of a compelling case). More recently this sneakily summarised metrication edit was followed by a reversion by a content adding editor, which resulted in this further reversion. That last case led to the proposal here, seeing as the content provider stubbornly stuck to their guns. Speccy4Eyes (talk) 21:56, 10 August 2015 (UTC)
Have you actually provided us with any reason why an article about Ukraine should use any style other than that prescribed by the MOS? What real, justifiable exemption from the normal MOS guidance would apply in such a case, and how could it be made to apply consistently? Archon 2488 (talk) 02:23, 11 August 2015 (UTC)
I really do think most of Speccy's comment above should be disregarded. When I checked the links, Speccy provided an appallingly partisan account of the interactions. In the case of the Dnipropetrovsk article, Toddy agreed that, based on the edit history of the article, kilometres should come first. In the other case I can see no justification for describing Archon's words as "ungracious".
This leaves the declaration of the two opposers that this clarification of the wording amounts to advocacy of the metric system or a mission to metricate articles. This is best answered by the comments of uninvolved editors such as this and this. Michael Glass (talk) 02:40, 11 August 2015 (UTC)
Michael Glass, would you also disregard partisan accounts that support your partisan opinions? Interesting too that you singled-out two contributions that support your view as the best answers. Speccy4Eyes (talk) 06:09, 11 August 2015 (UTC)
You are not being constructive. Archon 2488 (talk) 09:50, 11 August 2015 (UTC)
You've repeatedly and explicitly accused other editors, including Speccy, of bad faith in this discussion. Do you not think it's just a bit of a double standard for you to now complain if he fails to assume good faith? Kahastok talk 21:07, 11 August 2015 (UTC)
Your argument does not consider how warranted those assumptions of good faith (or perceptions of bad faith) are. The comment that he posted immediately above was purely an ad hominem criticism of Michael Glass to the tune of "well, you would say that, wouldn't you?". Like several of Speccy's comments here, it had little relevance to the substance of what we are supposed to be discussing, and it was phrased in a needlessly patronising and hostile way ("your partisan opinions"), which is not conducive to a peaceful discussion. And even if I were to grant you that I had – for no reason at all – perceived certain of his behaviours as bad-faith, that would hardly be an excuse for him to do the same thing to someone else, nor would it invalidate my observation that his comment was unhelpful.
Anyway, now that we are at the stage of trying to start disputes with each other over trivia, I'd suggest we leave this thread alone for a few days to see if there is any more input from other editors before we move to close it. Archon 2488 (talk) 22:47, 11 August 2015 (UTC)
Archon 2488, you didn't give any reason other than "because MOSNUM says so", which is in direct contravention of one of the opening statement in WP:MOSNUM: "The Arbitration Committee has ruled that editors should not change an article from one guideline-defined style to another without a substantial reason unrelated to mere choice of style, and that revert-warring over optional styles is unacceptable." Speccy4Eyes (talk) 06:13, 11 August 2015 (UTC)
I've answered this question before: the fact that two styles are equally permissible in the abstract does not imply that they are equally permissible in every article. To follow your logic to its conclusion, if I found an article about a US-related topic which used the spelling "colour" I'd be disallowed from changing that to "color" because US English and UK English are both "optional styles". There's nothing wrong with changing an article to be more internally consistent, and more consistent with the MOS. Otherwise, why bother having an MOS? What you are arguing for, in effect, is a carte blanche to ignore what the MOS says. This whole dispute arose because an editor was not happy to allow one measurement in one article about Ukraine to use the format that virtually all measurements relating to Ukraine are given in on Wikipedia, namely the style prescribed by the MOS. To water down the MOS standard in the way you seem to favour would open the door to arguments such as "you can't force us to use French kilometres!". This whole discussion is a perfect case study in why the MOS exists. Archon 2488 (talk) 09:50, 11 August 2015 (UTC)
Archon 2488, [[[User:Archon 2488|Archon 2488]] look], you didn't even try to explain why you changed it the first time - "style" tells us nothing. The second time you said "these are also the units used in Ukraine and almost every country on earth. do not change without a good article-specific reason", which again is not a justification for defying the MOSNUM advice or for edit-warring. Then you went to the talk page and basically said it should be that way because MOSNUM says so, finishing with this: "Given all this, I propose that the article be returned to the MOS-compliant style forthwith." That defied the MOSNUM statement "The Arbitration Committee has ruled that editors should not change an article from one guideline-defined style to another without a substantial reason unrelated to mere choice of style, and that revert-warring over optional styles is unacceptable" that Toddy1 referred you to. No more excuses please and no more false analogies. Speccy4Eyes (talk) 19:19, 11 August 2015 (UTC)
At this point you've made it clear that you are not listening to me; you're just asserting the same thing again and again in the hope that it will change something. It won't, and there is no need for another circular MOS discussion on this topic. Your personal reading of the MOS to the effect that one can never change a measurement from one format to another is not reflective of the community consensus, and you should probably just drop that stick. I am also not obliged to write edit summaries in a way that you personally approve of. Since this discussion is not going anywhere, I will not respond to you any further. Archon 2488 (talk) 20:44, 11 August 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose. As this has turned into a vote now, I would like to register my total opposition to this change. I think that without any clear examples of exactly what this is intended to stop, we cannot assess whether we think it might work or not. The choice of units is usually very important to some people, where most others couldn't care less. This chance removes flexibility which might be important in some areas, we simply do not know. So I think such a change is too restrictive. Chief archivist (talk) 21:34, 12 August 2015 (UTC)
I don't think we're really voting; Michael Glass decided to list the main contributors with what he understood to be their opinions, which I now see the downside of.
In any case, the example of what it was intended to stop was the article Dnipropetrovsk, where my attempt to format one distance measurement according to the normal MOSNUM standard was reverted by an editor who argued that he didn't want "French kilometres" but preferred "English miles". He also responded "WP:MOSNUM does not say that metric units must be used first", which is exactly the kind of problematic argument that I am trying to tackle here.
My intention is solely to remove this one kind of "flexibility" – the flexibility to say "most doesn't mean all" and "can is not must", which means in effect that there is no guideline, and an editor can have a personal exemption from the MOS because he wants one (in the case of Dnipropetrovsk, an exemption for one measurement, for no specific reason). You are correct that a sensible degree of flexibility is required, which is why the bullet point (current and the proposed version) says "such other units as are conventional in reliable-source discussions of the article topic". Meaning that you need to produce a good article-specific reason if you want to use a nonstandard format, rather than just saying "most isn't all". If in this context "most" is intended to mean "not US-related or UK-related", why not just say that a bit more explicitly?
Because the proposed version and the current version differ minimally in substance (the latter is intended to mean the same thing as the former, without the unhelpful ambiguity that is introduced by "most") I don't see any far-reaching unintended consequences. It's the same rule as before, but just harder to game. Archon 2488 (talk) 22:38, 12 August 2015 (UTC)
Chief archivist As you stated a clear opinion above I have recorded your opinion as oppose below simply as a matter of fairness. However, if you are not happy with that, please remove your name and accept my apologies. Michael Glass (talk) 00:35, 13 August 2015 (UTC)

Support. I support this measure strongly and commend Archon 2488 for his continued efforts against this barbarism. We need to make it harder to game these rules. As long as there is no major change to the substance of the sacred MOS guidance, there is no problem. ZICO (talk) 12:46, 18 August 2015 (UTC)

Discussion (on last proposal in previous subsection)[edit]

Folded section[edit]

IGNORE:

This is not a closure of the discussion on a proposed rewording for the MOS page, just cutting of a chunk that is heading nowhere:

  1. Closers are clever guys, they don't need lists of names of who supported what (such list also may impede sound argument), but will look at strength of arguments;
  2. This is vote-stacking for two reasons: (1) all other participants in the preceding discussion should have been likewise notified a new proposal was awaiting comments; (2) it argued why one editor should support it, instead of "a new version of a proposal you commented upon has been posted, could you have a look and comment?" and leave the discussion why it was a good (or bad) proposal to this page. Don't repeat such action, but as that version of the proposal has been superseded by more recent proposals there should be no effect to the ongoing discussions resulting from this incorrect action.
  3. Please stop arguing with innuendo against other participants in this debate, such innuendo will be ignored and doesn't help for finding consensus.

In sum, when you run out of arguments on the content of the matter, and no more contributors come to the debate to voice their opinion, list it at WP:ANRFC instead of starting to make lists (which closers don't need), sending selective invitations (which weakens the arguments of who sends them), trying to win the argument by innuendo, etc. --Francis Schonken (talk) 21:20, 23 August 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.

Support and Oppose[edit]

Archon's proposed amendment has support from,

  • Archon
  • SMcCandlish, 01:46, 9 August 2015 (UTC)
  • Boson 15:07, 9 August 2015 (UTC)
  • Pete, 22:38, 9 August 2015 (UTC
  • Dondervogel2, 10 August 2015 (UTC)
  • Michael Glass 23:16, 8 August 2015 (UTC)
  • ZICO 12:46, 18 August 2015 (UTC)


Also:

  • JorisvS 08:31, 6 August 2015 (UTC) *"Support, and look for the best way to say it. Use the international units (first), unless there are good reasons not to. "
  • "I am happy with this proposal. I would prefer to put the general rule first, followed by the exceptions - but I haven't considered how it might be worded that way." Kahastok 21:44, 6 August 2015 (UTC)
  • "I think Archon's second proposal above is better: I understand it to be to move the current first bullet point to the end and replace "In most articles" with "In all other articles". Kahastok 12:45, 8 August 2015 (UTC)


Archon's proposed amendment has been opposed by

  • Toddy1, 20:34, 10 August 2015 (UTC)
  • Speccy4Eyes 21:56, 10 August 2015 (UTC)
  • Chief Archivist 21:34, 12 August 2015 (UTC)

I hope I haven't missed or misquoted anyone who has expressed an opinion. Michael Glass (talk) 23:39, 11 August 2015 (UTC)

It is almost never useful to divide people up in this way IMO because you'll almost inevitably misrepresent people or take out much-needed context. Any close should be based on the discussion above and not on a partisan editor's oversimplification of people's comments. Kahastok talk 20:40, 12 August 2015 (UTC)
In this case I don't see what's been oversimplified. My reading of MG's comment directly above is that any editor who commented in this discussion with a support is mentioned as such, as is any editor who stated oppose. You were, I think, the only significant contributor who didn't give either, so he gave some of your relevant comments. So long as everyone who stated an opinion is included in the list, I'm not sure how that can be partisan or misrepresentative. Bear in mind, all we are proposing is to clarify a rule without changing its substance. Archon 2488 (talk) 20:53, 12 August 2015 (UTC)
Exactly right. My voice has not been misrepresented in the tally above. It looks to me like as clear a consensus as we ever get around here. --Pete (talk) 21:06, 12 August 2015 (UTC)
If it is accepted that the summary is accurate, then there is no point in listing people because it will be clear already. As it happens, the list it is not strictly accurate as Speccy notes below - not all the supporters supported the same thing. Divorced from context this is not clear. You could also argue that quoting the same editor twice doubles the appearance of that editor's comments.
It may be that we can nonetheless accept all the supporters listed as supporters, but that's for the closer, not a partisan member of the community.
I note that I have many times seen such summaries provided that were significantly misleading and/or ignored crucial context, skewed in such a way as to imply more support for the position of the summarising editor than actually existed. We should not assume that this has not taken place. And it's also significant that this is not a vote, it's a discussion. The arguments are important. Kahastok talk 21:18, 12 August 2015 (UTC)
That's a very misleading summary as JorisvS did not support the current proposed new wording, just the notion that the old wording could be improved. Speccy4Eyes (talk) 21:10, 12 August 2015 (UTC)
True, he didn't explicitly say that he supported the precise wording we are discussing here. We can fix that easily enough. JorisvS, would you please let us know if you're happy to support the current proposal? Archon 2488 (talk) 21:20, 12 August 2015 (UTC)
One thing that this list of supporters and opposers has done is to concentrate people's minds on the wording. Several things need to be stated. First, I have added the opinion of ChiefArchivist. Secondly, JorisvS wrote "Support, and look for the best way to say it. Use the international units (first), unless there are good reasons not to." For Speccy4Eyes to characterise this as "just the notion that the old wording could be improved" is a serious misrepresentation. I included two comments from Kahastok so as not to distort or misrepresent what he wrote. Finally, I want to thank those who defended me against the usual ad hominem but, I do acknowledge that this list of supporters and opponents does not and cannot weigh up the relative weight of the arguments. As for the context of the discussion so far, it is still there. Michael Glass (talk) 00:35, 13 August 2015 (UTC)
This is to confirm that the above straw poll summary (which currently misspells my name and one other) correctly reflects my view. The change proposed by Archon (that is first describing usage for non-scientific US and UK articles and then referring to all other articles) clarifies what I always understood to be the intention of the guideline.But is removes a slight ambiguity that made it possible to interpret if differently. It describes what has, in my opinion, always been consensus, it is clear and concise, and it appears – unfortunately – to be necessary. --Boson (talk) 00:49, 13 August 2015 (UTC)
Apologies for the misspellings. I have corrected them. Michael Glass (talk) 01:00, 13 August 2015 (UTC)
I moved JorisvS's comment to the 'also' list, as it was made before the wording above was proposed. (copied verbatim) Michael Glass (talk) 23:11, 16 August 2015 (UTC)
Michael Glass, I noticed too that you lobbied JorisvS as a potential supporter of the new wording after you were criticised for adding him to the "support" list above. I'm not too happy with your actions here in trying to exaggerate the support for this measure - you are using methods which to me don't seem to be honest and fair. Speccy4Eyes (talk) 06:34, 17 August 2015 (UTC)
How do you suggest we go about asking him to clarify his position in a way that is honest and fair? JorisvS has already expressed an opinion in the discussion, so it's not like MG is lobbying previously uninvolved people to support his position. I'd also suggest to you that (implicitly) to accuse MG of being dishonest and unfair – over something so trivial! – is pretty unhelpful. Archon 2488 (talk) 11:15, 17 August 2015 (UTC)
Speccy, I wrote : "As you expressed your opinion a couple of days before this wording was devised it would be helpful if you could indicate whether you supported the later wording. If you could do so here it might help in decision-making." I regard your description of this as "trying to exaggerate the support for this measure" as another clear misrepresentation. Michael Glass (talk) 14:25, 17 August 2015 (UTC)

False consensus? Vote-stacking?[edit]

As I said above, I was concerned about what I perceived to be dishonest and unfair tactics being employed to, perhaps, influence the direction the discussion was going above. Well, as it turns out, Wikipedia policies, guidelines and 'case law' (for want of a better term) seem to support my feelings.

  • WP:CONSENSUS says that the quality of an argument is more important than whether it represents a minority or a majority view. So the lists that Michael Glass keeps tweaking here, headed "support" and "opposed", cannot possibly help with that.
  • Additionally, Wikipedia:False consensus says in its "List of 'opponents'" section, that making personal battles out of Wikipedia discussions goes directly against our policies and goals. In particular, making list of "opponents" or coordinating actions in order to drive off or punish perceived "adversaries" goes counter to the necessary collegial atmosphere required to write an encyclopedia. (my bold).
  • Wikipedia:Canvassing calls posting messages to users selected based on their known opinions (as Michael Glass did to JorisvS) 'vote-stacking' and classifies it as 'inappropriate notification'.
  • And what a fantastic coincidence that ZICO - who hadn't edited since May 2014, and who even then only made a handful of edits after making another surprise appearance, following 5 months absence, to support Archon 2488 again in another metrication dispute - should turn up again out of the blue to support Archon 2488, the proposer of this change!

I think this 'discussion' should be declared null and void, and that perhaps any violators of relevant Wikipedia norms should be prohibited from participating im future discussions about this - as suggested in Wikipedia:False consensus, which says that administrators who become aware of any such manipulation should immediately disregard any such consensus, and initiate a new process barring those who participated in any such improper activity. (my bold) Speccy4Eyes (talk) 20:21, 18 August 2015 (UTC)

Hi Speccy4Eyes. I am not under the control of Michael_Glass, Archon 2488 or anyone else; the arguments I express are my own and I am perfectly entitled to express them. I suggest that it is more constructive to address the content of both my argument and the arguments of others than to seek out and hint at supposed conspiracies. ZICO (talk) 19:47, 22 August 2015 (UTC)
There is nothing wrong with making an inventory of supports and opposes. If you have a point to make, make it and stop whining. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 20:56, 18 August 2015 (UTC)
Dondervogel 2, an inventory is a list, and those who oppose are opponents. WP:False consensus is very clear about condemning lists of opponents, it even has a section for it. Speccy4Eyes (talk) 20:36, 19 August 2015 (UTC)
  • Such a list helps one identify the concerns of those mentioned (it is your choice to call them "opponents"), and address legitimate concerns they might have in common. That's a good thing because it leads to consensus. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 20:56, 19 August 2015 (UTC)
I think that there is a clear difference between 1) a neutral list of people who have stated opposition to a given proposal, and 2) a list of people who are considered personal opponents (i.e. enemies) – what one might call a shitlist. In case 1) the people so listed are not being stigmatised, and in case 2) they are. Your argument appears to blur this distinction.
I suggest to you that an interpretation of what MG has done above, with due presumption of good faith on his part, is that he has made a kind of straw poll – a simple, neutral measurement of where the consensus position might lie. It is not binding, and it is simply something to guide our discussion. Making a straw poll (which will inevitably include a list of people who "oppose" the proposal, however you want to phrase that) is certainly not a violation of any WP policy or guideline. Archon 2488 (talk) 20:55, 19 August 2015 (UTC)
Speccy, I understand that you do not approve of how this discussion has gone. I'll start off by stating that Wikipedia talk pages are not intended to be a legal system. Still, I agree that the quality of the arguments should decide – of course it should. In the specific case we examined here, there was no legitimate reason given why editors should be able to say at a whim that an article on Ukraine should not use the metric-first style consistently. We are speaking only about articles without ties to the UK or US, and we are not proposing a substantial change – only less ambiguous wording. That is the kernel of the discussion, over and above voting (or, really, straw-polling, which I think is what MG is trying to do). Regardless of your opinion on straw-polling, it is very unfair to describe Michael Glass's list of "people who have stated opposition to the current wording" as "a list of opponents", making it sound like he is drawing up a hit-list or something equally sinister.
I would also ask you to interpret MG's asking JorisvS for his opinion with some charity. There was precisely one person in the discussion, whom you identified, who stated explicit support for modifying the guideline along the lines I suggested in general, without supporting the current proposal precisely. I then asked him directly whether he did support it (i.e. clarifying an opinion he had already expressed) as did MG. If he doesn't want to reply to us, then fair enough. MG has not, to the best of my knowledge, been asking previously uninvolved people to come here and express their opinions (this is what votestacking refers to). I apologised to you for being too quick to throw around accusations of acting in bad faith, so I would ask in turn that you do not rush to draw unfavourable conclusions about other editors' behaviour.
Please do not attack other editors as soon as they enter the conversation – that is unlikely to be constructive and it certainly deters others from commenting. I assume ZICO has some sense of humour about these perennial discussions, given that he was involved in another one some time ago (indeed it is usually the same people, round and round, on and off) and little has changed. But that doesn't delegitimise his opinion.
You have been given ample space to air your objections, which is (to my mind) part of a fair discussion. I do not understand why it would be in our interest to start another one (this time, apparently, without everyone you disagree with). This is supposed to be a simple discussion about a simple proposal, and I suggest that repeating it from stage one would help nobody. Archon 2488 (talk) 21:05, 18 August 2015 (UTC)
Archon 2488, those who oppose are opponents and WP:False consensus condemns lists of opponents.
WP:Canvassing describes vote-stacking as "Posting messages to users selected based on their known opinions (which may be made known by a userbox, user category, or prior statement)". That message was posted to a user based on their known opinion from prior statement, thus was vote-stacking by that definition.
And I didn't attack ZICO, what I did was note the extraordinary coincidence that he should show up here, out of the blue, after a Wikipedia absence of more than 14 months, just when you needed him, in exactly the same way that he did back in January 2014 after an absence that time of more than 5 months. It almost seems too unlikely a coincidence to actually be a coincidence, don't you think?
The ideal simple and fair discussion has, I feel, been perverted by an ill-advised drive to exaggerate and embellish the level of support and to diminish and trivialise the opposition. Speccy4Eyes (talk) 21:10, 19 August 2015 (UTC)
If you're asking us to accept that merely listing people who oppose a given idea is unacceptable, then that flies in the face of common sense.
Vote-stacking refers to selectively notifying uninvolved editors whom you think will support your proposal. So if MG had known of a few other editors he thought might have supported his own position, and he notified them for that reason only, that would count as vote-stacking. Asking someone who has already participated in the discussion to clarify their position is not, I think, the same as vote-stacking.
In both of these cases, I am unpersuaded that your interpretation of the relevant policies is correct. Archon 2488 (talk) 21:19, 19 August 2015 (UTC)

I've just noticed another infringement of the WP:Canvassing advice too.

  • There in the "Campaigning" section it says: "Campaigning is an attempt to sway the person reading the message, conveyed through the use of tone, wording, or intent. While this may be appropriate as part of a specific individual discussion, it is inappropriate to canvass with such messages." Michael Glass posted this to the talk page of Chief archivist, an editor who opposed the proposal being discussed, saying: "For an object lesson in why MOSNUM advice for non UK non US articles needs to be tightened, please see this discussion at Talk:Dnipropetrovsk."

It speaks for itself. Speccy4Eyes (talk) 21:30, 19 August 2015 (UTC)

Speccy. Please check the dates. Chief Archivist opposed Archon's proposal wording on 13 August. I wrote to him on 16 August, three days after he had expressed his opposition to Archon's proposal. The dates alone blow your conspiracy theory out of the water.
I wrote to draw Chief Archivist's attention to your stonewalling an agreement at Talk:Dnipropetrovsk. Both Archon and I pointed out that the history of the article was against you, but you refused to acknowledge this. It was only when Toddy pointed out to you that the history of the article was against you that you relented. The discussion of this proposal is and remains an object lesson in why we need Archon's proposal. Michael Glass (talk) 00:46, 20 August 2015 (UTC)
Michael Glass, the date of your post is significant, yes. You went to an editor's talk page after they opposed the proposals above, in an obvious "attempt to sway the person [Chief archivist] reading the message", and by means of "the use of tone, wording, or intent". A clear text-book contravention of the WP:Canvassing "Campaighning" section I quoted above.
Additionally, the discussion you cited to Chief archivist was still in progress at that time, so it might be argued that you were misrepresenting or giving a biased account of that dispute too (perhaps also to try to influence its outcome), which, incidentally, ended with an amicable consensus being arrived at. Speccy4Eyes (talk) 06:24, 20 August 2015 (UTC)
If my aim was to influence Chief Archivist, as Speccy alleges, it failed, He did not take any further part in the discussion and his opposition stands. However, there was another target: Speccy. And it apparently worked a treat on him.
Michael Glass, no, you are wrong once again. Luckily Wikipedia logs don't lie, and if you look at the history log for Talk:Dnipropetrovsk, you will see this contribution from Toddy1, and 22 minutes later my reply. My edit to the article, the one you wrongly claim responsibility for above, was made 2 minutes before my response to Toddy1. I hadn't even noticed tour campaigning call to Chief archivist until I spotted it yesterday evening, nearly 3 days after you made it and just before I commented on it above. Why would I wait to add it to your catalogue if I had seen it earlier?
I came here with an open mind to try to understand the issues with measurements and have been shocked by the level of bias, bad-faith, animosity and pack behaviour that I have found.
Your latest boast above: that your action "has helped pull Speccy more into line", has brought a message home to me. I realise now that Wikipedia is not the collegiate community trying to build a neutral and information-rich encyclopaedia that I was hoping to find. It is in fact a battleground, with a few hardened warriors ruthlessly and relentlessly warring to defend their narrow and unrepresentative view of what information should be provided, and how it should be served up. Speccy4Eyes (talk) 20:37, 20 August 2015 (UTC)
That particular turn of phrase did show the mask slipping somewhat. Speccy is incorrect about the intended meaning of the guideline, but he is not the only one interpreting it this way and I do not believe it is all in bad faith, merely in error. That is why the guideline needs changing: because its intended meaning is not clear enough and is being confused by some editors. This is, incidentally, unlike previous cases where the "can is not must" argument was repeatedly employed by editors who were well acquainted with the guideline and what it was intended to mean, having been heavily involved in drafting it.
Indeed, I must admit to being astonished at degree of the double standards being shown here. Michael says "that is one good reason to enact Archon's proposed wording: Speccy will have less room to game the system." This is the same editor who has insisted over and over and over that any wording favouring imperial units is a strait-jacket that must be loosened, unless it allows him to use exactly the arguments he now condemns as an attempt to "game the system" when they are used the other way. The only difference being that there is very good reason to believe that in his case he knew very well what the guideline meant because he was involved in drafting it. This is not the case with opponents of this proposal. Kahastok talk 21:25, 20 August 2015 (UTC)
My apologies for not replying earlier to both Kahastok and Speccy. Life sometimes gets in the way of Wikipedia.
  • First, I note this comment by Kahastok: "...the guideline needs changing: because its intended meaning is not clear enough and is being confused by some editors." I would like to add this comment to the Also list above, and to ask Kahastok if his name should now go in the list of those who support Archon's proposed amendment.
  • Secondly, I note Kahastok's comment about the apparent inconsistency in pushing for tighter rules most countries while pushing for more flexibility in the case of US units. The reason for this is that the situation is different. In most of the world, the metric system predominates (just as US customary units predominate in the United States.) However, in the UK is more mixed and decidedly more controversial, so a more flexible approach is needed in this situation.
  • Speccy4Eyes has stated that he did not see my post to Chief Archivist until later. I'll take his word for this and commend him for modifying his approach to non-US, non-UK articles. I can assure him that though Wikipedia can be a battleground, mostly it's not, provided that he is willing to take notice of others. I agree with Kahastok when he wrote that the intended meaning of the present text is not clear enough, and that is why it needs to be changed. Michael Glass (talk) 03:01, 22 August 2015 (UTC)
The situation is not different. In neither case is it appropriate to allow wordings that can be misinterpreted (deliberately or accidentally) such as to render the rule useless. It is a clear double standard on your part to demand "most is not all" to allow editors to enforce personal preference in one case, and object to it in the other.
I object to the existence of your list and as such I see no reason why I should cooperate in compiling it. Kahastok talk 08:37, 22 August 2015 (UTC)
Kahastok, I note your objection to the existence of the list and I am not asking you to take part in compiling or changing it. I would like to add this comment to the Also list: ...the guideline needs changing: because its intended meaning is not clear enough and is being confused by some editors. I believe that this would be helpful to other editors. ( I also draw your attention to the fact that Archon, Pete and Boson explicitly endorsed the fact that the list did not misrepresent their views.) If you do not want this comment to be added, please let me know. I will respect your wishes.
I must say I was surprised by your comment about the situation with UK units being no different from the rules that apply to other articles. One obvious difference is the general sanctions that prevent changes in the order of units to be changed with prior consensus in UK articles. This alone makes the situation quite different for UK based articles. Michael Glass (talk) 12:45, 22 August 2015 (UTC)
If you want to alter the list to make it more helpful to editors, the way to do it is to remove it entirely. Quoting editors out of context is a bad idea, and that list does nothing but. Adding more quotes out of context, or presenting them in a way that does not accurately represent them, helps nobody.
The fact that you apply double standards when you make one argument when we're talking about imperial units and dismiss precisely the same argument as gaming the system when we're talking about metric units goes unchallenged, I find. Kahastok talk 19:19, 23 August 2015 (UTC)
The reason why it goes unchallenged, at least on this page, is that we're not here to discuss the life and misdeeds of Michael Glass for the 893rd time. Nor are we here (in this thread) to discuss UK units.
It's not illegitimate in principle to take a straw poll to assess support. In any case, several editors stated explicitly that MG had not done violence to their positions (it's not like we're discussing something subtle, I hasten to add) and the necessary context is provided by a quick search on the same page. You've communicated adequately by now that you don't approve of the straw poll; fair enough. Whether the poll stays or goes, the sky will not fall down.
Now can we please move to close this discussion, seeing as it's now progressed to the point where people are arguing over who has misbehaved the most during it? Do we have any kind of consensus? Archon 2488 (talk) 20:24, 23 August 2015 (UTC)
Reply to a false allegation[edit]

It appears that Speccy4Eyes has accused me of vote stacking. This is demonstrably false.

  • ZICO gave his opinion at 22:46 on 18 August.[2]
  • On 00:56 on 19 August I added his name to the list.[3] That is 70 minutes later.
  • At 1:26 on 19 August I notified ZICO of this action on his talk page. [4]. That is half an hour later again.

All of this happened after ZICO had stated his opinion. Therefore the allegation of trying to canvass ZICO to influence his vote falls to the ground. What I stated above is all part of the public record that was available to Speccy when he accused me of vote stacking. I also wish to state without any equivocation that I have not had any prior contact with ZICO about this matter (or any other matter that I can recall). I therefore regard Speccy's allegation as an unwarranted smear and I think I have a right to demand an apology.

The same applies with JorisyS. I did not lobby JorisyS for his vote. I asked him to indicate whether the later wording met with his approval. As he did not reply I moved his comment from the support list to the also list. It is fair enough to criticise me for including JorisyS's comment under support but I did respond to this by moving the comment to the also column. However, the allegation that this was lobbying is clearly false. I also wish to state that I have not had any prior contact with JorisyS about this matter or any other matter that I can recall.

Speccy has bandied about the terms dishonest and unfair in regard to others. I think he should examine his own behaviour here. Michael Glass (talk) 05:33, 19 August 2015 (UTC)

References

  1. ^ If there is disagreement about the primary units used in a UK-related article, discuss the matter on the article talk-page, at MOSNUM talk, or both. If consensus cannot be reached, refer to historically stable versions of the article and retain the units used in these as the primary units. Note the style guides of British publications such as The Times (see archived version, under "Metric").
Michael Glass, no, I did not link (explicitly or implicitly) the coincidence of ZICO's timely, but rare, appearance with any of your actions. So your allegation of a false allegation is itself a false allegation. Speccy4Eyes (talk) 06:09, 19 August 2015 (UTC)
  • Speccy, I accept your explanation about ZICO. Yes, on a careful reading of what you wrote, you did not explicitly link me with this. On the strength of this I withdraw that allegation and apologise. However, the implication remains, because of your allegation about " coordinating actions in order to drive off or punish perceived "adversaries" which I utterly reject.
  • Nevertheless, your allegation of vote stacking remains. I completely reject your allegation that my message to JorisyS was in any way inappropriate. On more than one occasion I have reprinted the question that I asked JorisyS but on no occasion did you explain or justify your allegation that my message to JorisyS was in any way inappropriate. Repeating the same false allegation over and over doesn't make it true.
  • You have objected to my counting the opinions of editors. However, I reject the accusation that this was dividing people into opponents. The wording was this: "Archon's proposed amendment has support from" "Also" and "Archon's proposed amendment has been opposed by" This is as neutrally worded as I can make it.
  • You have objected to the lists. However, one after another, editors have written in to affirm that they were not misquoted. There was one instance where criticism was justified, and I have dealt with that by removing the comment from those who supported the wording to the Also column. As you know, seven editors have explicitly said Support to Archon's wording, three have explicitly said Oppose and two have made other comments that I have recorded. If the numbers are not to your liking, that's not my fault.
  • None of us is perfect, and it's easy to get things wrong. However, making a string of wild accusations is not helpful. Michael Glass (talk) 10:39, 19 August 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.

Date ranges cleanup proposal, part 2[edit]

Pursuant to various above conversations, it is proposed that the following changes be made to the MOS:NUM#Date ranges section (which incidentally also simplifies the detailed instructions about en dashes, which are already provided elsewhere in MOS many times):


Proposed text:
  • A pure year–year range is written (as is any range) using an en dash (, available in the editing tools or with the {{ndash}} template) not a hyphen or slash; this dash is usually unspaced (that is, with no space on either side). The range's end year may be abbreviated to two digits when the result is –13 or greater, and thus cannot be confused with a month abbreviation.
  •   1881–1886 or 1881–86 (not 1881–6, nor   1881 – 86)
Both full years are always given in full in the following cases:
  • An abbreviated end year would result in –12 or less: 2002–2010; not 2002–10
  • [other examples unchanged]
Notes:
[details elided]

The material below this, in the "Notes" segment, about "a range of sports seasons", etc., would be adjusted to compensate, but in accordance with the separate proposal about this material, above. (Note in particular that a lot of WP:CREEPy text and examples relating to citations can simply be deleted after the change proposed here,) Both proposals should be settled and a final draft of the changes for the whole section prepared, so that these changes are introduced simultaneously.

 — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  03:02, 9 August 2015 (UTC)

  • Why 12 as a limiting value, SMcCandlish? I may have missed previous discussion which gave a good reason for this, but it seems arbitrary, nor do I see any problem with 2001–05. Can you summarize the reasons for this, or link to the discussions where it was proposed and supported, or both, please? DES (talk) 16:38, 17 August 2015 (UTC)
    Because 2012-13 cannot possibly be misconstrued as a year-month, since there are only 12 months in a year. --Izno (talk) 21:54, 17 August 2015 (UTC)
    Right. It clearly says "confused with a month abbreviation" in the proposed text.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  00:07, 21 August 2015 (UTC)
  • Strong support. I hadn't seen this section down here. This is a clear and well-overdue change that reflects widespread practice rather than dictating it. I think it may be a good idea to include the fact that 8-digit format is preferred in tables generally (any exceptions re: sports seasons, etc., can be included within that). Frickeg (talk) 05:49, 23 August 2015 (UTC)

Within-article consistency recommendation[edit]

A separate proposal is to also include the following clarification:

Notes:
  • Avoid mix-and-matching styles in the same article. E.g., if one date range requires 2002–2010 formatting, use 2011–2015, not 2011–15, in the same context.
[other details elided]

The "in the same context" caveat allows for compressed date formats to be used in tables, infoboxes etc., while discouraging conflicting usage in the same block of prose, or in the same series of headings.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  03:02, 9 August 2015 (UTC)

  • I don't see a good reason for this either. i see no problem with having 2011–15 and 1997–2003 in the same sentance, even, let alone the same article. Please expand on the reasons for this proposal. DES (talk) 16:38, 17 August 2015 (UTC)
    • We'll just have to agree to disagree, then. A large portion of MOS is devoted to avoiding intra-article inconsistency, and most especially within the same sentence. I can't see any reasonable cause for a single sentence something as confusingly formatted as "1997–2003 and 2011–15", especially since it will encourage cases like "1997–2003 and 2011–12", in which the latter is easily mis-parsed by many readers as "December 2011", a point you appear not to have understood in the immediately-above related proposal.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  00:05, 21 August 2015 (UTC)
  • I'm on the fence about this one but am leaning also toward "this change is not necessary". Perhaps lighten the tone of "avoid" in this case. --Izno (talk) 22:04, 17 August 2015 (UTC)
    • It now says "avoid"; are you meaning that even that is somehow too strong? It's a wishy-washy-ism already, when we mean not to say something as strong as "do not use" or "never use".  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  00:05, 21 August 2015 (UTC)

Binary prefixes (new thread moved here from previous discussion)[edit]

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)

Leading vs. following vs. denying[edit]

Wikipedia follows opinion, it does not lead it. Equally, it should not deny it. Has anyone looked at the interfaces for Azure, Amazon EC2, Google cloud storage? This usage is becoming mainstream in tech. Specs for my company's storage products are now typically quoted in TiB - and we ship more of them than anyone else. Just sayin'. Guy (Help!) 22:58, 7 August 2015 (UTC)

The IEC prefixes are routinely used by Toshiba to advertise its data storage products and by IBM on its on-line help centre, and there are many other examples in the computer industry. They are also becoming increasingly common in scientific publications. But for me the most important point is - always has been - that the existing guidelines are counterproductive because they encourage ambiguity. This point is completely ignored by the existing MOSNUM wording, which denies WP editors the use of a simple and powerful disambiguation tool that is accepted by all major standards bodies. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 08:39, 8 August 2015 (UTC)
Google price their storage in binary GB and TB. Reliable sources mostly disambiguate by defining the number of bytes not by using IEC. So IEC are not a powerful disambiguation tool. Glider87 (talk) 17:21, 8 August 2015 (UTC)
I have also noticed slowly increasing usage of IEC in various contexts – it's hardly surprising that a very new standard takes time to enjoy wide acceptance. SI is significantly older than IEC binary, and its usage is patchy in many areas. It's difficult, however, to gauge in an objective manner exactly how widely used the IEC notation is, so I am not sure how prescriptive we can be at MOSNUM about its use on Wikipedia. Unfortunately, this topic has attracted a few "deniers" (to use your term) who refuse to allow the consensus to move in a direction they disapprove of; they are certainly not helping. I have no idea why they persist (maybe they just dislike the IEC standard for some reason), but I am certainly not the only one who finds it tiresome and obnoxious. My own opinion is that we need to monitor real-world usage closely and be responsive to it, but it is in no way a legitimate purpose of MOSNUM to "outlaw" IEC binary throughout the encyclopedia. That's an absurd and pointless over-reaction.
As for the argument above that Google's pricing practices (or the obvious fact that we could just state the number of bytes explicitly) implying that IEC is never useful for disambiguation, that's a total non sequitur, sorry. Archon 2488 (talk) 18:47, 8 August 2015 (UTC)
I am still against changing the guidelines; use, even in technical publications is spotty. I'll take your word that it's not "rare", but it certainly isn't common.
Regardless of whether the binary units are "allowed", I also think they need to follow the rules in MOS:CONVERSIONS as non-metric, and unfamiliar, units. The parenthetical can be either the exact value
4 TiB (4 × 10244), or a conversion
4 TiB (4.4 TB), with a raw TiB
4 TiB not being allowed without explanation, even if the guidelines are changed to encourage use of IEC/ISO/ISQ units.
4 TiB is possible under those guidelines, if changed.
Furthermore, we need to look at the history of the use of IEC binary prefixes on Wikipedia. Early in the life of Wikipedia, a group of editors (possibly, a single editor) edited this guideline to require their use, regardless of the fact that they were not yet being used outside of the standards documents. Years later, in a possible overreaction, a consensus was established that they should not be used, except in articles about the prefixes or when used in the sources. (The June 2008ish discussion pointed to by the footnote to the MOS actually does say that they should not be used on Wikipedia because they are not used in the real world. Whether there was consensus to that is unclear.) Common use in the field of the article was added later (possibly without consensus; I wasn't watching at the time). I'm almost sure the fourth bullet point (that they can be used if both binary and decimal prefixes are used, and other methods of disambiguation are impractical) was added without consensus. We cannot ignore the fact that Windows reports memory use with the binary JEDEC-like prefix. That implies that the binary use that some would want to deprecate is not at all rare in the real world. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 10:15, 10 August 2015 (UTC)
Why I'm trying to reconstruct the history when I wasn't there for most of it is another matter. However, the history is important. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 10:42, 10 August 2015 (UTC)
@Arthur Rubin Thank you for summarizing the history. I don't disagree with the facts you have just presented. We do differ in opinion though. Mine is that the present wording encourages ambiguity and for that reason is long overdue an overhaul. What I would like to see is a clear statement that ambiguity is deprecated (with exceptions, where appropriate), and a way ahead found that encourages disambiguation. My proposal (made in 2008, and completely ignored by Headbomb and the others when they claimed consensus for their preferred version) was to permit disambiguation using IEC prefixes as an intermediate step to footnotes - footnotes being the preferred solution accepted by all concerned, but requiring far more effort than these simple prefixes. That option (IEC prefixes as stepping stone) is worth exploring now, because it was not taken seriously then, by editors who should have aknown better. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 12:37, 10 August 2015 (UTC)
Leading or following is not the primary issue. The problem at a hand is the need for disambiguation. Two units have the same name and the reader must be informed as to which is meant this time. So as proposed above one might take the same approach as for conversions. State one unit and in brackets indicate the other one. In this specific case the two units could have the same spelling, so a qualifier would be needed. Examples:
  • a memory chip of 512 MiB (described as 512 MB)
  • a memory chip described as 512 MB (512 MiB)
  • a disk of 512MB (488 MiB)
This usage would show that an editor has done an interpretation and still allows verification with sources. Both proponents would see their preferred units. For readers unfamiliar with MiB, the MiB could be linked the first time in an article.−Woodstone (talk) 17:01, 10 August 2015 (UTC)
I, personally, would be happy to allow the IEC units to appear in brackets, at least. I do not have the stomach for a discussion about which order the decimal/binary units need to come in. Archon 2488 (talk) 02:43, 11 August 2015 (UTC)
I would support either of Woodstone's or Archon 2488's suggestions. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 06:47, 11 August 2015 (UTC)

I am traveling so I have not commented on the current discussion. I don't see how using a unit unfamiliar to most Wikipedia readers will reduce ambiguity. Providing a blue link to teach readers about the benefits of MiB and GiB is hijacking Wikipedia to promote a point of view.

The JEDEC committees are made up of companies that make or use semiconductors and they work together to standardize products. They have decided that MB, GB, and TB are the binary units to be used with solid state memory. A few people here on Wikipedia are promoting a footnote in the JEDEC dictionary that mentions MiB, GiB and TiB as proof that JEDIC has adopted the IEC binary prefixes. This is an extreme (outrageous) case of undue weight. -- SWTPC6800 (talk) 16:46, 11 August 2015 (UTC)

You miss the point. Whatever the industry defines for their case, the terms MB and GB still have two meanings. A casual reader will not know which one is meant in a specific case. Therefore a disambiguation is needed. One of the simplest ways to achieve that is to add an unambiguous unit in parentheses. −Woodstone (talk) 17:22, 11 August 2015 (UTC)
I think you are missing the point. You are advocating using a terminology unknown by at least 95% of Wikipedia readers. How does that help? You might as well add the value in hexadecimal. Those readers who know about the IEC binary prefixes already know how to read the correct value. The IEC binary prefixes have been around for 15 to 20 years and are still rarely used. You know this because when some advocate finds an occurrence in an obscure technical paper they announce that company X uses the prefixes and it is now time for Wikipedia to fall inline. Every semiconductor memory sold today uses the customary units. When the memory is used in a solid state disk, it uses the decimal value just like regular spinning disk. Using obscure terms does not reduce ambiguity. Wikipedia follows the real world and the real world has not yet embraced the IEC binary prefixes. --SWTPC6800 (talk) 21:26, 11 August 2015 (UTC)
The point of discussion here has never been whether JEDEC promotes the binary prefixes. The blocked socks tried to use the JEDEC documents to prove that JEDEC defines the binary interpretation for the metric prefixes k, M, G, and T, and therefore should stand on equal footing. JEDEC doesn't promote anything, frankly, they are not a standards organization. They follow the standards organizations, and they explicitly discuss the ambiguity in the document and refer to the binary prefixes as a possible resolution. They also state that their dictionary presents the binary meaning of the metric prefixes for reasons of history in the industry. The point however is that the binary prefixes are increasingly used in applications (there must be thousands), operating systems, documentation, even in product specifications. The industry trend is unmistakable. Semiconductor manufacturers do not set standards, and what they use is their business, and for them there is little reason to change. You can't make decimal multiples of memory cells very efficiently. This doesn't mean that the rest of the world should continue this practice and remain ambiguous. The notion that only few people know them is the most idiotic argument in education, because it basically says one shouldn't use high-level English so that even 1st graders can understand the writing. Virtually every use of units on WP is augmented with links to the definition of those units, so people can quickly look them up. Are you advocating that WP shouldn't be using units like neper, or atomic units, or barns, or many others, because they are not familiar to readers? Where does this kind of censorship end? Should we have article about obscure topics that virtually only experts can really appreciate? Nobody is advocating wholesale-conversion to binary prefixes, every reasonable editor here appears to be understanding the history, and I don't see anyone trying to cover that up. The real world indeed is converting to unambiguous unit, but as usual, it takes time. Not all places have even embraced the SI yet fully. Kbrose (talk) 16:58, 16 August 2015 (UTC)
Your claim that JEDEC is not a standards organization is absurd. Here is a quote from the JEDEC website
"JEDEC is accredited by ANSI and maintains liaisons with numerous standards bodies throughout the world." ANSI thinks they are a standards organization.
Virtually every semiconductor memory device ever made has followed a JEDEC standard. The US government allows the semiconductor industry to agree on design and packaging issue at JEDEC meetings. If JEDEC was not a standards organization this would be an antitrust issue. Every JEDEC meeting starts with reading of the Antitrust Guidelines. You can't discuss pricing, inventory, customers, etc.
JEDEC has two types of committees, service and product. The service committees deal with industry wide standards such as package outlines, terms and definitions, government standards, and international standards. JC-10 authored the JEDEC dictionary that is so popular here on Wikipedia. (There is a fixation on a footnote.) The product committees focus on the technical standards for actual products. All of the current memory standards from JC-42 use the customary binary units. A typical memory standard is JESD209-4 "Low Power Double Data Rate 4" (LPDDR4), a table on page 11 lists the memory capacity from 4Gb to 32Gb. Here is an example "16Gb has 17,179,869,184 bits". -- SWTPC6800 (talk) 20:15, 16 August 2015 (UTC)
You are still missing the point. The issue raised here is not what industry does or does not do, but about how to report what it does here on Wikipedia. The present guideline encourages ambiguity, resulting in statements like the one I mentioned at Blue Waters. You have posted several replies here, but not answered, or even addressed my question about what the meaning of that ambiguous statement, so I will pose a different question. Do you agree the statement is ambiguous, and if so, is that ambiguity acceptable? Dondervogel 2 (talk) 06:46, 17 August 2015 (UTC)
In the computer world there are two meanings for units like KB, MB and GB. Computer memory has used the binary meaning for over 50 years while disk/tape storage has used the decimal meaning. The manufactures, trade press and users have not found this to be a significant problem. The major standards organization for semiconductors, JEDEC, uses the binary meanings for semiconductor memory. A notable exception is for when the memory is used in solid state disk, the decimal meaning is used there. The IEC binary prefixes were proposed around 25 years ago to solve this "problem". The real world has ignored this "solution". The trade press, the semiconductor industry, equipment suppliers, and the user communities have not adopted the IEC binary prefixes. Wikipedia needs to follow the computer industry's reliable sources and the overwhelming majority has ignored the IEC binary prefixes. It doesn't matter that a random technical article or two uses IEC binary prefixes. There has been a decade long effort to get Wikipedia to promote the IEC binary prefixes. Wikipedia is not a soapbox.-- SWTPC6800 (talk) 15:56, 17 August 2015 (UTC)
That is a very indirect answer to my question. You state that both definitions are used, which I interpret as an acknowledgement of the ambiguity. You also say "The manufactures, trade press and users have not found this to be a significant problem", and mock the IEC standard by putting the words "problem" and "solution" in brackets (as if the former does not exist from which one could conclude that the latter was unnecessary) which I interpret as meaning you consider the ambiguity an acceptable one. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 16:11, 17 August 2015 (UTC)
It helps because it gives the reader the chance to read up the correct meaning, if he or she wishes to do so. If the explanation is not given the reader is denied that choice. You state that "those readers who know about the IEC binary prefixes already know how to read the correct value". On what evidence do you base this assertion? And even if it were correct (and it is not, for there is a counter-example typing this post) how does that possibly help those who do not know about IEC binary prefixes? The disambiguation is needed for both sets of readers.
Let's take a specific example: I have just edited Blue Waters, which includes the sentence "It has 1.5 PB of memory, 25 PB of disk storage, and up to 500 PB of tape storage." Can you tell us how to interpret this statement? Dondervogel 2 (talk) 21:43, 11 August 2015 (UTC)
Getting those units wrong would be a real peta-flop, that would be an error of almost 13%, and a likely budget gap of a few million dollars. Kbrose (talk) 18:15, 17 August 2015 (UTC)

Does and should the present guideline encourage disambiguation?[edit]

Present wording (of "Quantities of bytes and bits")[edit]

Shortcut:

In quantities of bits and bytes, the prefixes kilo (symbol k or K), mega (M), giga (G), tera (T), etc. are ambiguous. They may be based on a decimal system (like the standard SI prefixes), meaning 103, 106, 109, 1012, etc., or they may be based on a binary system, meaning 210, 220, 230, 240, etc. The binary meanings are more commonly used in relation to solid-state memory (such as RAM), while the decimal meanings are more common for data transmission rates, disk storage and in theoretical calculations in modern academic textbooks.

Prefixes for multiples of
bits (b) or bytes (B)
Decimal
Value SI
1000 103 k kilo
10002 106 M mega
10003 109 G giga
10004 1012 T tera
10005 1015 P peta
10006 1018 E exa
10007 1021 Z zetta
10008 1024 Y yotta
Binary
Value IEC JEDEC
1024 210 Ki kibi K kilo
10242 220 Mi mebi M mega
10243 230 Gi gibi G giga
10244 240 Ti tebi
10245 250 Pi pebi
10246 260 Ei exbi
10247 270 Zi zebi
10248 280 Yi yobi

Follow these recommendations when using these prefixes in Wikipedia articles:

  • Following the SI standard, a lower-case k should be used for "kilo-" whenever it means 1000 in computing contexts, whereas a capital K should be used instead to indicate the binary prefix for 1024 according to JEDEC. (If, under the exceptions detailed further below, the article otherwise uses IEC prefixes for binary units, use Ki instead).
  • Do not assume that the binary or decimal meaning of prefixes will be obvious to everyone. Explicitly specify the meaning of k and K as well as the primary meaning of M, G, T, etc. in an article ({{BDprefix}} is a convenient helper). Consistency within each article is desirable, but the need for consistency may be balanced with other considerations.
  • The definition most relevant to the article should be chosen as primary for that article, e.g. specify a binary definition in an article on RAM, decimal definition in an article on hard drives, bit rates, and a binary definition for Windows file sizes, despite files usually being stored on hard drives.
  • Where consistency is not possible, specify wherever there is a deviation from the primary definition.
  • Disambiguation should be shown in bytes or bits, with clear indication of whether in binary or decimal base. There is no preference in the way to indicate the number of bytes and bits, but the notation style should be consistent within an article. Acceptable examples include:
  •  A 64 MB (64 × 10242-byte) video card and a 100 GB (100 × 10003-byte) hard drive
  •  A 64 MB (64 × 220-byte) video card and a 100 GB (100 × 109-byte) hard drive
  •  A 64 MB (67,108,864-byte) video card and a 100 GB (100,000,000,000-byte) hard drive
  • Avoid inconsistent combinations such as A 64 MB (67,108,864-byte) video card and a 100 GB (100 × 10003-byte) hard drive. Footnotes, such as those seen in Power Macintosh 5500, may be used for disambiguation.
  • Unless explicitly stated otherwise, one byte is eight bits (see History of byte).

The IEC prefixes kibi-, mebi-, gibi-, etc. (symbols Ki, Mi, Gi, etc.) are generally not to be used except:[1]

  • 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.

References

  1. ^ 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 ISO/IEC 80000, 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 WT:Manual of Style (dates and numbers)/Archive/Complete rewrite of Units of Measurements (June 2008).

Theses[edit]

I'd like to establish whether there is consensus for whether disambiguation is necessary or desirable. To this end, please take a look at the present wording of the guideline under discussion (above) and add agree/disagree to the theses (below) as you consider appropriate, with reasons. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 06:37, 18 August 2015 (UTC)

The present guideline provides sufficient encouragement to disambiguate, but some other change is needed.[edit]
  • Disagree given that these issues with ambiguous decimal/binary units are recurrent (although I am confused by the idea that the existing guidance is enough, but we should change it; is that even coherent?). It is possible in principle to disambiguate by using explicit byte counts, but in practice this is rarely done, even when disambiguation is necessary. Archon 2488 (talk) 13:00, 19 August 2015 (UTC)
  • Disagree. The proposed way to disambiguate is so unwieldy that it is unlikely to be followed.−Woodstone (talk) 09:57, 20 August 2015 (UTC)
The present guideline provides sufficient encouragement to disambiguate. No change is needed.[edit]
  • Strongly disagree. There are many articles that use the symbols "MB", "GB", "TB", etc with more than one meaning in the same article. Sometimes even in the same sentence. How is the reader supposed to know which meaning is intended? Change is needed to encourage disambiguation. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 10:36, 18 August 2015 (UTC)
  • Disagree – same argument as my comment immediately above. There isn't currently enough disambiguation in this context, and the fact that the IEC units are relatively unfamiliar does not imply that they should never be used (parsecs? inverse femtobarns? GeV/c2?). They are not something that Wikipedians have just made up, and they are defined by an independent body. Listing technical publications which do and do not use them is rarely very enlightening. Archon 2488 (talk) 13:00, 19 August 2015 (UTC)
  • Agree. The existing guidelines would be adequate if followed, although we need some guidelines on how to report MBs when we have no idea which is intended. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 02:48, 20 August 2015 (UTC)
  • Disagree. The proposed way to disambiguate is so unwieldy that it is unlikely to be followed. A simpler way of disambiguation should be proposed.−Woodstone (talk) 09:57, 20 August 2015 (UTC)
The present guideline provides insufficient encouragement to disambiguate. Change is needed.[edit]
  • Agree – I think that the Wikipedia house style should aim for lack of ambiguity. There is no objective reason for an encyclopedia-wide requirement not to use IEC. Archon 2488 (talk) 13:00, 19 August 2015 (UTC)
  • Disagree. There is no objective reason why we should not restrict use of IEC units to articles where used in the sources. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 02:54, 20 August 2015 (UTC)
  • Agree. Disambiguation should be encouraged or even required and a simpler way to disambiguate should be proposed. −Woodstone (talk) 09:57, 20 August 2015 (UTC)
  • Support: Half the reason squabbling over IEC prefixes is so perennial is this lack of disambiguation. (I'm not going to fill in !votes in all four sections of this, nor should anyone else – just makes it hard to understand who is supporting what and why.)  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  00:00, 21 August 2015 (UTC)
  • Comment: I cannot speak for others, but for me the issue identified by SMcCandlish is not 50% of the problem, but 100%. In a nutshell, the guideline says Disambiguate, but do not even think about using the industry standard disambiguation tool. How daft can it get? Dondervogel 2 (talk) 06:48, 31 August 2015 (UTC)
To be clearer, I mean that "the other half of the squabbling over IEC prefixes is an activistic "mission" to promote them no matter what, and this WP:SOAPBOXing doesn't belong on WP."  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  23:50, 31 August 2015 (UTC)
My view is that the adoption of a sensible disambiguation rule would quickly banish that kind of fringe view to where it belongs - the fringe. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 07:01, 1 September 2015 (UTC)
The present guideline provides insufficient encouragement to disambiguate, but no change is needed here.[edit]
  • Disagree. See above for reasoning. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 10:38, 18 August 2015 (UTC)
  • Disagree. Disambiguation should be encouraged or even required. −Woodstone (talk) 09:57, 20 August 2015 (UTC)

Discussion[edit]

@Arthur Rubin The fact is that the guidelines are not followed. Why do you think that is? Regardless of the cause, a possible solution is to make them easier to follow. I made a proposal for doing so in 2008, and that proposal was ignored by editors who should have known better. I repeated it again recently. What are the objections to my proposal? Dondervogel 2 (talk) 06:53, 20 August 2015 (UTC)

IIRC, your 2008 was even more contrary to the general unit guidelines than the current binary unit guidelines. I don't see it as an improvement, but I could accept increased use of the IEC units provided that they are treated as unfamiliar non-metric units, so they are explained at each occurrence in articles (except those about the units, themselves). Alternatively, I would like to see the fourth case in which IEC units may be used tightened, to explain that other forms of disambiguation are allowable. I cannot imagine a legitimate case in which "declaring the actual meaning on each use would be impractical", and have difficulty imagining a case in which "converting all quantities to one or the other type would be misleading or lose necessary precision" if the parenthetical explanations were used. If you can point to the discussion where that was added, or point to an example article where it is necessary for those reasons, I would appreciate it. Regardless of whether the IEC units are "rarely used", they ate still unfamiliar non-metric units, and should be treated as such. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 08:10, 20 August 2015 (UTC)
But they are unfamiliar non-metric units - this is what I've been saying all along and I don't see any reasonable editor disagreeing. On those grounds, why would they not be treated like other unfamiliar non-metric units? This seems a promising avenue to explore further. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 17:46, 20 August 2015 (UTC)
Let's try taking this train of thought one step further. An example of an unfamiliar non-SI unit is the troy ounce. The advice given for this unit reads "Articles about precious metals, black powder, and gemstones should always specify whether ounces and pounds are avoirdupois or troy." The equivalent statement in the present context might read "Articles about computer storage should always specify whether byte multiples are decimal or binary". Would that be acceptable? Dondervogel 2 (talk) 22:50, 29 August 2015 (UTC)

Demonstration of ineffective guideline[edit]

For what it's worth, I just tried a WP search for "MB GB". The first 10 hits were

  1. List of Windows Phone 7 devices
  2. TomTom
  3. Comparison of free web hosting services
  4. AlphaServer
  5. Nokia Internet tablet
  6. NetApp filer
  7. Nokia 5200
  8. Creative MuVo player models
  9. File size
  10. Sony Vaio FE series

Of these, 7 make no attempt at disambiguation, and 2 (#8 and #10) use IEC prefixes to disambiguate. The other (#9), seems to be the only one that complies with the guideline, but it's a weird article that needs attention for other reasons. My point is that 9 articles out of the 10 found do not follow the guideline, which shows how ineffective it is. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 18:00, 20 August 2015 (UTC)

Overview of date formatting guidelines[edit]

Following the discussion at Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Dates and numbers/Archive 152 § Interaction between DATEFORMAT guidelines §§ Essay that petered out, I humbly suggest the following hatnote under the heading for Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Dates and numbers § Chronological items §§ Dates, months and years §§§ Formats:

Formats

Thoughts? sroc 💬 07:20, 17 August 2015 (UTC)

I think a "Hitchhiker's guide to date formats", to help editors tie together the various date-format advice scattered here and there, fills a niche. EEng (talk) 17:44, 17 August 2015 (UTC)
Such a link seems dubious. To the extent your essay is just a restatement of the guideline it adds nothing new, and there is not point for the link. To the extent that it goes beyond a mere restatement and strengthens a particular interpretation, but without acknowledging that strengthening ("clarification"), linking it into the offical guideline amounts to a covert modification of the MOS. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 23:25, 17 August 2015 (UTC)
And we-rrrre off! EEng (talk) 04:40, 18 August 2015 (UTC)
I hope not. Sroc asked for thoughts, and I have provided them. I think he will understand that I am not trying to instigate a re-argument of what the proper interpretation should be. He may understand why I think his essay is not the kind of "Hitchhiker's Guide" you contemplate, and why I think a link would be improper. He may think otherwise, in which case we can agree to disagree. He may even have doubts, in which case I might be able to help resolve some aspects. We will see. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 22:45, 18 August 2015 (UTC)
Indeed, I totally see JJ's point here in blurring the lines between guideline and essay. The only I reason I brought it up is because others had suggested (in the earlier discussion) incorporating the essay into the guidelines somehow and I thought this might be a simple way to do so, but I'm happy to let sleeping dogs lie. At least I hope the essay serves as a useful point of reference to show my understanding of the interaction between the listed provisions—an understanding shared by others, but not purporting to be a proper guideline—as it may be a useful re-statement to link in discussions from time to time, whether others use it or not. sroc 💬 13:31, 20 August 2015 (UTC)
Your interpretation of the existing provisions (quite aside from their goodness or usefulness, or how they might be improved) derives from your understanding of their interaction. It might be useful for future discussion to explicitly identify those interactions, and distinguish them from alternative understandings of same. But that is rather a "meta" discussion, and not, I think, useful for anyone going to MOSNUM for guidance. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:17, 20 August 2015 (UTC)
We should not be linking to essays for guidance; this will (rightly) be interpreted as inappropriate deference to one editor's opinion. If such a page is seen as needed, it should be vetted as an MoS subpage guideline, i.e. proposed as WP:Manual of Style/Date formatting overview or the like.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  23:56, 20 August 2015 (UTC)

Reasonable date format alternative[edit]

I recently happened upon the the fact that AWB semi-automatically corrects the date format "[month] of [year]" (e.g. "August of 2015") to "[month] [year]," as per the Wikipedia Manual of Style. However, I find this prescription to be quite perplexing. I am not familiar with any major English-language style guide that explicitly proscribes the aforementioned format. Rather, it is a subjective decision by writers to adopt a particular style of date format (within the confines of one's chosen guide). Consequently, establishing normative rules that amount to ones inscribed in stone without any counterpart in unaffiliated style guides runs antithetical to the free and open nature of Wikipedia. I submit that the MoS rules ought to be modified so as to allow a "[month] of [year]" format. Ergo Sum 04:08, 18 August 2015 (UTC)

The Manual of Style says: "The Manual of Style documents Wikipedia's house style. Its goal is to make using Wikipedia easier and more intuitive by promoting clarity and cohesion, while helping editors write articles with consistent and precise language, layout, and formatting." I support consistency.
Wavelength (talk) 04:25, 18 August 2015 (UTC)
It also ends useless arguing over trivial variations. Having said that, it goddam well better be that AWB requires the human editor to review and approve this kind of change. I'm sick and tired of mindless scripts "fixing" things like this inside quotes and so on. EEng (talk) 04:39, 18 August 2015 (UTC)
@EEng I do not know how AWB operates with respect to this issue as I am not a user of it, though I can attest to the fact that I have observed on several occasions edits to replace this date format via AWB. However, I do agree with your dissatisfaction with the automation of controversial actions. Ergo Sum 05:19, 18 August 2015 (UTC)
@EEng AWB is a semi-automated editing assistant where the user is supposed to review all the changes before saving. The user can skip any suggested changes that shouldn't be done. The AWB user is just as responsible for their edits as any other Wikipedia editor. I'm not sure what you mean about fixing inside quotes, but there are guidelines related to that, and if an AWB user is adjusting something to meet the guidelines, they aren't misusing the tool. Stevie is the man! TalkWork 10:23, 18 August 2015 (UTC)
@Wavelength Surely, you do not mean to suggest that consistency and constraint to whatever mode of consistency is arbitrarily chosen is paramount to freedom of participation in the richness of the English language, as that would truly be a sad day for all those who cherish linguistic propriety. The date format that I described in my original comment fails no criterion listed in your quotation of the manual of style other than the single, subjective notion of consistency (which may never be wholly realized, seeing as there are multiple "acceptable" formats in the Manual of Style). The format cannot be said to be unintuitive, unclear, non-cohesive, or imprecise. Considering that Wikipedia fundamentally is an open and free project (and patently exclusive of an oligarchic or technocratic elite), evaluation and, perhaps more importantly, re-evaluation of all functionally binding rules is crucial. I, too, support consistency but not at the expense of the ability to utilize the various components of proper English. Therefore, re-evaluation of the proscription on this date format ought to be taken under serious consideration by the Wikipedia community. Ergo Sum 05:19, 18 August 2015 (UTC)
Gracious! The polysyllabification! Look, I can't tell you not to make an argument for changing the guideline to allow "in [month] of [year]". But you need to understand that these things have been hashed over endlessly in the past—​for some reasons date formats induce a peculiarly treatment-resistant form of monomania—​and part of the point of MOS is to end such wastes of time. Your reasons will need to be overwhelmingly compelling or no one's going to give this a second look. "This other format's just as good, so why discriminate?" isn't going to be enough. EEng (talk) 06:19, 18 August 2015 (UTC)
@Ergo Sum What EEng said (there's a very high bar to change this guideline), and while I agree that the English language is rich and that the Wikipedia is an open and free project, it is also a work. In a work, you will normally expect to see a style that is followed consistently. Now, in some cases, like citations, we allow for several approaches based on what various disciplines are accustomed to. But something like month-year formatting is very basic. For the sake of editors and readers, we all (should) know what to expect in this case. And that's even though "in month of year" is allowed in the broader English language. Stevie is the man! TalkWork 10:37, 18 August 2015 (UTC)
I won't attempt to forge a consensus as I simply do not have the necessary time to do so. However, I feel compelled to say that there is something very wrong when there is such an arduous obstacle that you reference to simply allow for the utilization of portions of a language that are commonplace. I understand the need for consensus and "consistency," but when that consistency precludes any variation in such a manner that is an anomaly among the thousands of English style guides based on expert input of bygone times and the present, the objective transforms from consistency into speech constriction. I sincerely hope that such an objective is not the philosophical underpinning of the present Wikipedia Manual of Style. Ergo Sum 18:03, 18 August 2015 (UTC)
You said that already. Ideally, a guideline is added to MOS when...
  • 1. There is a 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 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.
Or as Picasso (or someone—​probably lots of people) said, "Form is liberating." EEng (talk) 03:54, 19 August 2015 (UTC)
I would add that editors are certainly free to write "in {month} of {year}" in the course of adding content or copyediting, but I honestly don't get how an editor could be pained if a bot or AWB user comes along and takes out the 'of' as part of a cleanup. Who is injured? Stevie is the man! TalkWork 14:42, 20 August 2015 (UTC)
  • While I agree with the above pro-consistency points, MOSNUM does not actually say not to use "August of 2015". It's entirely permissible, and editors use it where they feel it flows better in the sentence. What MOSNUM does not want is archaic blather like "the 20th of August, 2015", or "20 August of 2015". AWB users, like others, should not claim that "August of 2015" → "August 2015" is a MOSNUM compliance edit. It's legitimate to use AWB to make such a text change in the course of editing. It's not legit to editwar to try to force that change on a particular article; whether you're using AWB or not is irrelevant.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  23:52, 20 August 2015 (UTC)
    • It's not AWB users claiming that -- it's AWB developers who put that cleanup rule based on the guideline into the software. Also, it's pretty clear that the guideline says not to use "August of 2015" - unless I have lyin' eyes. And nobody is suggesting any edit war, so let's not jump the gun. Stevie is the man! TalkWork 16:47, 21 August 2015 (UTC)
      • Can you quote the line that says so? I've gone looking for it and did not see it, so maybe my own eyes are lyin'.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  11:11, 23 August 2015 (UTC)

Advice on arabic vs. roman vs. spelled-out numbers for series and sequences[edit]

At WT:MOSTM it's been pointed out that we don't have a default. WP:COMMONNAME will tell us how to title the article (it's World War II, not World War 2, World War Two, or Second World War for this reason; titles of published works tell us just by looking at the published title; and regnal numbers are conventionally roman; etc.), this does not tell us what to do by default in running prose when sources are not consistent on a particular case.

I propose adding the following:

Series and sequences
When reliable sources are not consistent in their usage of the designation of things in a series or sequence, generally default to using a spelled-out, leading ordinal number: in the seventh grade. Where this is part of the proper name of something, it is capitalized: the Tenth International Conference on Climate Change. Default to trailing arabic numerals for abbreviated forms, but follow the majority of reliable sources' usage for a given case of abbreviation (e.g., the somewhat idiosyncratically hyphenated ICCC-10 for the previously mentioned conference). Numbers of volumes, episodes, sequels, and the like default to arabic numerals (e.g., vol. 7 and season 3), unless given in roman numerals by the published work to which they pertain, consistently across editions/releases (as in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope). Events are usually best distinguished by date (e.g., Harlem riot of 1964 or the 1964 Harlem riot), even if they also have formally numbered names (e.g. Super Bowl XLIX), unless the year is also given or is clear in the context. (See also § Regnal numbers.)

I think that should cover at least most of what needs to be spelled out, and will consolidate it in one place.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  09:51, 20 August 2015 (UTC)

SMcCandlish, This generally looks good, but I think the recommendation to spell out ordinals should be modified. the Tenth International Conference on Climate Change is fine, but what about the (fictional) presented at the 205th Conference on Species Names. Ordinals over some limit (many use ten, some 99) should not IMO be spelled out, and theis should be mentioend here, I think. DES (talk) 18:40, 21 August 2015 (UTC)
Ah yes. We already have a rule about not spelling about bigger numbers, so we should cross-reference it.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  23:22, 21 August 2015 (UTC)

Cleanup of messy coding[edit]

I've done a big cleanup of the increasingly messy and palimpsestous coding of this page, e.g. to distinguish semantic emphasis vs. conventional typographic italics in both usage and instructions; proper use of markup like <code>...</code> and {{var}}; using {{xt}}, {{!xt}}, and {{xtn}} consistently and as-intended; removed confusing, unnecessary emphasis or emphasis-like abuse of italics; consistent formatting of cross-references as such with {{crossref}}; use of spaced en dashes instead of run-together em dashes, to separate code and examples from the dashes that are in turn intended to separate them from non-code/non-example notes; misc. other cleanup tweaks. Converted the HTML comment at the top about such formatting into an easy-reading checklist.

Please do not mass-revert if you don't understand, or disagree with, something; just change the part you're objecting to or ask me to do so. This was about 4.5 hours of work.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  14:19, 20 August 2015 (UTC)

@SMcCandlish: I object to the change from {{smallcaps}} (indicating a format) to {{var}} (indicating a variable). As you also changed some straight italics to {{var}}, I cannot fix it easily. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 16:33, 20 August 2015 (UTC)
In both cases it's indicating variables:
  • YYYY-MM-DD (technically that should be coded as YYYY-MM-DD – fixed [5]). Using yyyy-mm-dd implies ISO dates are supposed to literally be formatted in articles with {{smallcaps}} which is not what we want (though I do keep encountering it, surely because of this confusion). We're not using small caps to mark up "formats" of anything otherwise; why would we use it in this one case?
  • x + y. Is the intent to not illustrate use of var markup here? On that assumption, I've tried [6], and documented use of {{var}} and <var>...</var> below the table. Also documented the "Insert" tools, which we were not mentioning for some reason (probably because the table pre-dates these tools being added below the editing window).
 — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  21:23, 20 August 2015 (UTC)
I consider {{tag|YYYY}} a different usage than {{var|x}}, as the former indicates the format (in this context) or the data range (in some other data contexts), while the later represents a placeholder (the syntactic or semantic equivalent of a (linguistic) pronoun). The difference is subtle, possibly related to typed variables, but I find using the same (visible) format jarring. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 00:28, 23 August 2015 (UTC)
I'm more aligned with Arthur Rubin than SMcCandlish. For example I now define the variable for a date d which I set equal to today's date and the value may be written "2015-08-22", "57256" (which is a modified Julian date), or "the twenty-second day of August in the year of our Lord two thousand fifteen". It is standard in mathematics to write a variable in italics. There is no widely recognized typography for a format description. Jc3s5h (talk) 00:49, 23 August 2015 (UTC)
No one said they're mathematical variables. Whether you personally want to think of them as variables or not, A) YYYY, etc., are in fact variables, a classic example of the use of metasyntactic variables in prose rather than numeric variables in a mathematical expression. "YYYY-MM-DD" as a whole (however you want to style it) is a format description if you want to call it that, that happens to contain variables. If you just markup the variables as such, there is no longer a need to try to apply some other stylization to indicate that it's a so-called date format description; it's already differenced enough that everyone will understand "we don't literally mean for you to type out the letter Y then the letter Y again ...". C) We use italics for lots of things (words as words, etc.) without anyone's head asplode. D) Where is this small-caps coming from, a style WP doesn't use for, well, anything? Where's the consensus discussion to mark up date formats or anything else in that style? What makes that supposedly better than italics? E) How do you get around the implication (which is incorrect) that we actually want people to use smallcaps formatting for dates? We don't want that at all, so why do something that implies we do? Our use of italics for variables, words as words, emphasis, etc., is frequent enough that no one mistakes it for an actual formatting instruction. But our use of small-caps is extremely rare, and thus looks stylistically instructional.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  07:49, 31 August 2015 (UTC)
Although there is no standard typography for format description, it is never the same as for a variable. Small caps is not uncommon, nor is changing fonts, but simple underlining would be an adequate distinction. Italics is clearly inappropriate. If there is potential confusion, it could be explained at the head of the section. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 09:00, 31 August 2015 (UTC)
You seem to be stating a rule. What's the source for it? Italics isn't "clearly" inappropriate. Using it to mark up the variables in the construction sufficiently differentiates it from running prose that using an additional form of markup to surround the entire "format description" would seem to be superfluous. But let's say we go with small-caps anyway. What clarification would you put, and where, to prevent the use of smallcaps formatting of the YYYY-MM-DD examples back as YYYY-MM-DD from being mistaken as preferred formatting for the actual dates? Anyway, I don't want to come off as WP:FILIBUSTERing on this; the exact markup doesn't matter that much to me, as long as it's clear we don't mean to actually use smallcaps for dates in articles.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  06:25, 1 September 2015 (UTC)
I disagree with the claim that "YYYY", in context, is a variable; it's a format or variable type, not a variable. It's not even a typed variable, or YYYY-YYYY would be meaningless. As for avoiding the implication that smallcaps should be used in articles, perhaps a table of formats and actual dates could be added near the start of the section? — Arthur Rubin (talk) 19:13, 1 September 2015 (UTC)

To-do list:[edit]

(in no particular order)
  1. Megaannum, etc., have been changed by SI to megannus, etc. (with same symbols), so MOS needs to be updated on that point. Done.
  2. We have wretched headings filled with anchors in various places. E.g.:
    ====<span id="Abbreviations for long periods of time"/>Long periods of time====
    needs to be replaced with:
    ====Long periods of time====
    {{anchor|Abbreviations for long periods of time}}

    (There are worse examples, with three ore more anchors in the same heading, which interferes with the ability to leave meaningful edit summaries.)
  3. Deferred to next talk-page section. This (fifty-six, five hundred) probably needs to read (fifty-six, five hundred, five hundred fifty-six) so our meaning is clear, or people are apt to write "five hundred fifty six". (Or is that somehow what WP actually wants? Surely not.)
  4. The whole page is full of someone's (I think PMAnderson's mostly EEng's) personal HTML comments. A couple them seem sarcastic and non-constructive, but most raise legitimate questions that should be proposed here for resolution and/or started as threads here for research, depending on what they are (bug reports vs. questions). Either way, they do not need to be littering the guideline's wikicode. A few HTML comments should remain, as they are instructional about the code, especially table maintenance.
  5. After this: "billion" and "trillion" are understood to represent their short-scale values of 109 (1,000,000,000) and 1012 (1,000,000,000,000), respectively., we should add: Keep this in mind when translating articles from non-English Wikipedias, or using material from non-English sources. Done.
  6. The bit about -s/-es suffixes with units lists only one example (with -s), has an HTML comment lamenting the lack of -es examples, and has the note except for these irregular forms, followed by a list that include two cases that are not irregular forms, but the "missing" -es examples! This obviously need to move up, and only the two genuinely irregular cases should remain where they are (if I'm remembering my count correctly; I believe there were four examples there total, below the one -s case).
  7. This bit about Do not use M ... is boneheaded, and should just be Do not use M ..., since a) with the link it implies "do not use it linked this way", which is not what we mean, b) its explained immediately after this anyway, so the link serves no purpose, and c) the link turns it blue and we want it to be red. Resolved by moving the link code to surround the {{!xt}} tag instead of vice versa.
  8. That same part should be followed by a note like (except as noted elsewhere on this page), since there are in fact places we do recommend it. (After this fix, the HTML comment at that location can be removed, BTW.) Done.
  9. There's a spot in the wikicode that reads | {{xt|y}} or {{xt|yr}} (in a table, of course) that needs a cross-reference to the section about this kind of date notation. Done.
  10. Symbol question.svg Open question: There's another table line that reads | rowspan=8 | {{xtn|US}}, and it needs to either read:
    | rowspan=8 | {{xtn|US}} ([[Wikipedia:Manual of Style#US and U.S.|or {{xtn|U.S.}}]])
    or we need to say somewhere With units, do not use U.S., or something to this effect. I.e., WP needs to make up its mind whether "U.S." can be used in this kind of case or not, and state it clearly.
  11. There're at least four cases of "full stop" than need to be changed to "full point" or just "dot"; this character is only a full stop when it terminates a sentence. Even a lot of British people get this wrong (it's telegram lingo that snuck [or sneaked, if you prefer] into British English usage, and refers to the semantic role, not the character glyph). Done.
  12. The statement about raising a discussion on the article's talk page "or at WT:MOSNUM, or both" has to drop "or both"; otherwise we're directly advising that people fork discussions and WP:FORUMSHOP! Done.
  13. Off-site reference The SI Brochure should be consulted ... needs to move to a footnote like all the rest of the off-site references. Done, along with other citation & footnote cleanup.

That's all that caught my eye while doing this cleanup work. I'll start doing this stuff later today, barring any specific objections.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  14:46, 20 August 2015 (UTC)
Updated:  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  23:08, 20 August 2015 (UTC)

Excellent work on this. Just on this point:

Generally, in article text:

  • Integers from zero to nine are spelled out in words
  • Integers greater than nine expressible in one or two words may be expressed either in numerals or in words (16 or sixteen, 84 or eighty-four, 200 or two hundred). In spelling out numbers, components from 21 to 99 are hyphenated; larger ones are not (fifty-six, five hundred).
  • Other numbers are given in numerals (3.75, 544) or in forms such as 21 million. Markup: 21{{nbsp}}million
You wrote: "This (fifty-six, five hundred) probably needs to read (fifty-six, five hundred, five hundred fifty-six) so our meaning is clear, or people are apt to write "five hundred fifty six". (Or is that somehow what WP actually wants? Surely not.)" Absolutely not. The whole point of this guidance is neither five hundred fifty-six nor five hundred fifty six should be written in words; use 556 instead. So I don't think any change is needed here. sroc 💬 13:54, 22 August 2015 (UTC)
@Sroc: Except we specifically say to sometimes write it out. Here is it: "There were 3 deaths and 206 injuries ... or Three died and two hundred six were injured"; note that "two hundred six" exceeds "expressible in one or two words", so we still have a MoS self-contradiction here.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  21:41, 22 August 2015 (UTC)

I've punted this to a new discussion, below, since there are two different ways to resolve this conflict, which affects four different segments of advice.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  22:25, 22 August 2015 (UTC)

Resolving self-contradictory advice on constructions like "two hundred six"[edit]

This is contradictory because it simultaneously advises:

  1. "Integers greater than nine expressible in one or two words may be expressed either in numerals or in words" (i.e. it forbids "two hundred six")
  2. "Comparable quantities should be all spelled out or all in figures: ... Three died and two hundred six were injured"; at "adjacent quantities not comparable should usually be in different formats" it could also expect "two hundred six" in some cases; and "Avoid beginning a sentence with figures" also expects "Two hundred six" at the beginning of a sentence.

There are two obvious ways to resolve this conflict (changed lines marked up like this):


The added "Integers that require more than two words to express may also occasionally be spelled out ..." instruction could also be moved to the "Notes and exceptions" section; the important part is that it be in there.


 — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  23:22, 22 August 2015‎ (UTC)

  • Followup notes: The real question is whether to ever write out numbers of such complexity as words to begin with. Chicago and Garner's both rightly note that there are different approaches to this question with different rationales. MoS has been perhaps inadvertently pulled back and forth between an "zero through nine" and a "zero through one hundred" rule (both covered by Chicago as conflicting standards), and doesn't seem to have adequately internalized and expressed the rationale for sometimes spelling out no matter what, e.g. at the beginning of a sentence, or in an alternating way to avoid clusters of easily confused digits being used to express unrelated kinds of numbers ("In 27 major incidents in 2005, 3 died and 206 were injured at 32 sites" is not really much better than "In twenty-seven major incidents in 2005, three died and two hundred [and] six were injured at thirty-two sites.") If we're doing to stick with this idea, which it seems we must, we have to account for the conflict identified in the main thread, and write the conflict out of our own guidelines.

    Note that Chicago suggests that the "zero through nine" a.k.a. "under ten" rule is favored in the sciences. However, it's also favored by the New York Times Manual of Style and Usage rev'd. & expanded ed. (Siegal & Connolly, 1999, p. 237), and the Associated Press Stylebook 50th ed (2015, Basic Books paperback ver., p. 190), with various exceptions (as also found in Chicago and others: addresses, dates and times, etc., as well as when alternating between juxtaposed but different uses of numbers). The Economist Style Guide 11th ed. (Wroe, et al., 2015, p. 55) uses a slight variant, the "ten and under" rule. This strongly suggests that the "under 100" rule is dying out, and that WP can simply ignore it. Between journalistic writing, and sciences and technical writing, where would it be surviving? One would guess humanities journals, but we don't have any direct evidence of this.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  03:32, 1 September 2015 (UTC)

Side point: "two hundred six" vs. "two hundred and six"[edit]

Just one point: While two hundred six might be acceptable North American English, elsewhere we would say and write two hundred and six. Michael Glass (talk) 12:53, 23 August 2015 (UTC)

"Two hundred six" is not acceptable in Southern California. We would write "two hundred and six". I suspect that "two hundred six" may be found in casual conversation anywhere in the world, as is the case with most skipped words. The classic example is Elvis Presley's Jailhouse Rock: "The warden's looka now'sa time t'make a break", which one would write as "The warden's not looking. Now is the the time to make a break." --Guy Macon (talk) 01:44, 24 August 2015 (UTC)
"Two hundred six" is standard written English according to grammar and style manuals, across dialects. That it doesn't match the "and" version that many of us use in spoken day-to-day English is irrelevant. An Irishman working on a newspaper article writes of a subject "then he put it on the table". When his wife asks him what their son did with TV remote control, he says "he's after putting it on the table". When I write about shopping, I write "She went to the store to get some bread"; when I'm asked what where I'm going, I'm going to the store and getting some bread. When my sister says she may contact me, she tells me "I'll try and call you on Tuesday"; if she were to write something like this in an office memo, she'd write "I'll try to call you on Tuesday". Never confuse formal written English with informal, dialectal spoken usage. Just, seriously, get way over that idea. WP is not written in any local, informal, colloquial pattern.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  07:31, 31 August 2015 (UTC)
Only in American English is "Two hundred six" "standard written English", of course. Not "across dialects" if you meant worldwide. Why did you not believe Michael Glass? Dbfirs 08:28, 31 August 2015 (UTC)
Except Guy Macon is claiming it's in American English that the "and" is used. Again, you all seem to be mixing "this is what I hear in daily speech where I live" with "this is how grammar guides say to write". If we need to do yet another spree of citing grammar and style guides volume by volume, we can do that, but I'm not volunteering this time. The onus is on you to show that MoS should change on this point.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  00:18, 1 September 2015 (UTC) I do concede that my expectation that style guides were consistent on this has been frustrated by digging through them (see subthread below). But this source research hasn't proven the opposite case either: Almost all we get are examples, many of them negative (i.e. what not to do), and a single claim in a British style guide that dropping the and is American. Not conclusive at all.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  09:28, 1 September 2015 (UTC)
Can we get back to the topic? This "two hundred and six" business has nothing at all to do with this issue this thread is about. Forking it into a subthread.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  07:33, 31 August 2015 (UTC)
Since it has been brought up, I've made a small modification to allow for all varieties of English, lest readers think that the American style is prescriptive. Dbfirs 08:44, 31 August 2015 (UTC)
And Iknow23 beat me to reverting that. There's no showing that it's an American style, and one editor above says it's not an American style, at least not his kind of American.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  00:22, 1 September 2015 (UTC)
If the form with and is the only (or normal) form used in British English and it is also preferred by some in the United States, it might be appropriate to use that form in examples.
I don't recall ever seeing a number spelled out without the "and" between the hundreds and the tens/units in British English. It's probably so obvious to any Brit that style guides don't mention it explicitly, but style guides use it in examples of spelling out numbers, e.g.
  • "Two hundred and fifty gold bars were stolen." OUP house style
  • "... it is important to decide whether to write the number out in full (two hundred thousand four hundred and six) or to use numerals (200,406)" University of Bristol
  • "Spell out any number that begins a sentence, 
eg One hundred and ten people graduated this year." University of East Anglia
  • "Spell out numbers that begin a sentence, regardless of any inconsistency this may create eg One hundred and ten men and 103 women will graduate this year." University od Sussex
  • " If you do need to start a sentence with a number, spell it out in words; e.g. Two hundred and fifty women were entered in the trial." Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
  • "Compound numbers between 20 and 99 should be hyphenated if they need to be written out as words. ... One hundred and seventy-six" The British Psychological Society
--Boson (talk) 02:08, 1 September 2015 (UTC)
On this point, I concur with Boson. RGloucester 02:23, 1 September 2015 (UTC)
"Spell out numbers that begin a sentence, regardless of any inconsistency this may create eg One hundred and ten men and 103 women will graduate this year." University od Sussex < fails Comparable quantities should be all spelled out or all in figures: Three died and two hundred six were injured.
Anyway I'm in US and I think of check writing usage: the AND separates the full numerals (US Dollars) from its decimal portions (cents). One Hundred Ten Dollars AND eighty-eight cents, Not One Hundred AND Ten Dollars AND eighty-eight cents.—Iknow23 (talk) 02:59, 1 September 2015 (UTC)
Maybe it's just me but "Three died and two hundred six were injured." is clearer than "Three died and two hundred and six were injured." The and is a separator between two categories Death (died) and Injuries (injured) in the first case. In the second case the second appearance of "and" seems superfluous. More to me like the second "and" would be used if spoken, but not when written out.—Iknow23 (talk) 03:11, 1 September 2015 (UTC)
"Two hundred and six" also seems like "Two hundred" is an original amount, with six more found or added later.—Iknow23 (talk) 03:16, 1 September 2015 (UTC)
Aye, it's ambiguous and confusing, as detailed below, especially in complex constructions.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  03:29, 1 September 2015 (UTC)

What do style guides say on this point?[edit]

Just to get started:

  • Oxford A–Z of Plain English (Seely, 2009) does not address the issue.
  • Oxford Modern English Grammar (Aarts, 2011) does not address the issue.
  • Oxford Guide to Plain English 3rd ed. (Cutts 2009) does not address the issue. On p. 201, it gives three million eight hundred and fifty thousand as a negative example (i.e. of what not to write), though even here it does not address the and question, but instead suggests rounding to four million in the context of that example, about rounding. So while it acknowledges that the style exists and that someone might write it, it can't be taken as advising it.
  • New Hart's Rules (Ritter, 2005, Oxford U. Pr.) and its alternative publication as the Oxford Guide to Style within The Oxford Style Manual (2003) [hereafter collectively "Hart's"] does not address the issue. The only example it provides (on p. 168 of the OSM edition, and with identical text in the NHR edition) is the sum of nine hundred and forty-three pounds sterling (£943) as a direct quotation from a legal document. The OSM edition adds a note suggesting that the style without and is American. Going through the American sources below, I see no such claim made (despite most of them also incidentally coming from Oxford U. Pr.) and little evidence to support it.
  • Fowler's Modern English Usage, rev'd. 3rd ed. (Fowler & Burchfield, 2004, Oxford U. Pr.), does not address the issue, and explicitly defers to Hart's on numerals, figures, and writing numbers generally.
  • Oxford English Grammar (Greenbaum, 1996) gives an example two hundred and fifty pages long, on p. 197, in a list introduced with "Here are examples of cardinals as pronouns and as determiners". It does not express it as a rule, though it does not provide a counter-example without "and".
  • The American Heritage Book of English Usage (Berube, et al., eds.; 1996) does not address the issue.
  • Webster's New World Engish Grammar Handbook 2nd ed. (Loberger & Shoup, 2004, Wiley) on p. 283 give "three hundred twenty" as an example, but does not state it as a rule.
  • Garner's Modern American Usage 3rd ed. (2009, Oxford U. Pr.) does not address the issue. Like Cutts 2009, it gives a contrived negative example (p. 579), thirty-four thousand eight hundred seventy-one people and suggests rewriting as nearly 35,000 people, its its own segment on approximation.
  • Chicago Manual of Style 16th ed. (2010, U. of Chicago Pr.) expresses no rule, but gives examples like one hundred eighty.
  • New York Times Manual of Style and Usage rev'd. & expanded ed. (Siegal & Connolly, 1999) does not address the issue, despite an detailed section on figures vs. spelled-out numbers (pp. 237–240).
  • The Economist Style Guide 11th ed. (Wroe, et al., 2015) does not address the issue.
  • The Associated Press Stylebook, 50th ed. (2015, Basic Books paperback ver.) does not address the issue, despite having several pages of advice on figures vs. spelled-out numbers (pp. 190–193).

This is probably enough to demonstrate that American publishing leans toward dropping and, while British publishing leans toward including and, but no one insists on either as a rule, and no one but Ritter seems to think there's anything like a nationally defined one.

Even if we were to accept the not-well-sourced notion that this is a regional English dialect matter (directly contradicted by informal use of and in American speech and less formal writing), this doesn't mean that WP is bound to accept this as a legitimate WP:ENGVAR variation that "must" be allowed to flourish. As with various other matters, like quotation style, formatting of initials, use of the period/dot/full point with abbreviations, avoidance of colloquial words and constructions, and many other MoS matters, other concerns may outweigh "I want to write how I'd write for my local newspaper". Chief among these are clarity and precision, with a secondary issue being consistency.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  03:29, 1 September 2015 (UTC)

Quite interesting that so many Style Guides do not address the issue or do not express a rule.—Iknow23 (talk) 04:19, 1 September 2015 (UTC)
Yeah, this is the sort of thing that is usually left to house style (which is what MoS is).  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  07:50, 1 September 2015 (UTC)

Starting with the science and technical sources:

  • New Oxford Dictionary for Scientific Writers and Editors 2nd ed. (Daintith & Martin 2009) does not address the issue (illustrates only the use of figures, not written-out numbers).
  • I'll add more later as I get around to them.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  07:50, 1 September 2015 (UTC)

Why to avoid the optional "and"[edit]

The clarity and precision problem is that the grammatically optional and in these constructions – especially in a passage with a lot of numbers, long sentences, and/or a mixture of figures and words being used to present numbers of different types – is easily misinterpreted as a conjunction between two separate numbers. There is absolutely no question what the following means, instantly, to any reader: "In twenty-seven major incidents in 2005, three died and two hundred six were injured at 32 sites." This is not the case with the following, which is unnecessarily hard to parse because of the extraneous and: "In twenty-seven major incidents in 2005, three died and two hundred and six were injured at 32 sites." Yes, there are other ways to write that, but that's not the point; in any circumstance leading to writing out of complex numbers the unnecessary and may introduce comprehension difficulty. A further complication is that the and is not optional when writing out fractional amounts in words: two and a half million (NYT Manual covers this on p. 240, for example, as does Economist, p. 55), which will just compound the confusion if the optional and is used in the same passage: "In twenty-seven major incidents in 2005, three died and two hundred and six were injured at 32 sites in a two-and-a-half-month period."

Short version: The optional and in "two hundred [and] six" should be avoided because it introduces ambiguity and confusion. While British writers might prefer to include it, British readers are certainly not going to have any trouble comprehending "two hundred six", but all readers may have trouble parsing "two hundred and six" in some cases, depending on the rest of the sentence.

 — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  03:29, 1 September 2015 (UTC)

Given that it is how we write in all cases, as Britons, it is clear that we have no trouble with "ambiguity" or any similar problem. Functionally, your rationale is WP:OR, and unfairly proscribes that standard British variant. RGloucester 03:42, 1 September 2015 (UTC)
WP:NOR applies to sourcing articles. All discussion of what WP should do as an internal guideline or policy matter is "original research", by definition, whether it's about style, editorial behavior, or what we consider reliable sources. There is no "fairness" issue worth considering here other than fairness to readers: Do we give them a consistent usage all users can understand, or saddle them with an optional construction that introduces ambiguity just because some editor want to push ENGVAR as far as it can possibly be pushed?  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  03:54, 1 September 2015 (UTC)
It is only original research if it is not supported by reliable sources. You've found none that explicitly say what you've said above. Regardless, I've long been of the opinion that either Wikipedia should standardise on one ENGVAR/date format, or have different versions for each a la the Chinese Wikipedia, but that's not what we have here. In the world of ENGVAR, where we need to accommodate all varieties under one roof, excluding the usage of a major variety is simply wrong, especially in articles that are written in British English under the ENGVAR principle. It is not easier for readers, as in my case, where it appears awkward and incorrect. It may well be easier for some readers, but not for others...hence ENGVAR. RGloucester 04:57, 1 September 2015 (UTC)
Repeat: All discussion of what WP should do as an internal guideline or policy matter is "original research", by definition, whether it's about style, editorial behavior, or what we consider reliable sources. There is no reliable source for "what we collectively decide is in the best interests of the encyclopedia's readership" other than our own discussions on Wikipedia. No variety of English would be excluded by this, either way. What I'm suggesting is that we must not take ENGVAR to an extreme by insisting on every single possible nit-pick being included within it, when there are sometimes countervailing reasons to avoid a particular colloquial use. Already covered this above: There are lots of points on which MoS has a specific rule that could have been no rule, but just been left to vague ideas about English varietal usage, yet consensus chose to have a consistent rule instead. This is common here; we prefer consistency whenever readers interests in it outweigh editor interests in maintaining or demanding an inconsistency for their own pleasure. I.e., we have lots of precedent for not always deferring to ENGVAR in every possible way. Also, WP doesn't actually expressly permit every imaginable English language variety, and only encompasses as few major ones. Many dialects have no formal register of their own (Jamaican, Barbadian, etc.), while those that nominally do are mostly indistinguishable from British in written form.

FWIW, I agree with you that ENGVAR is not very practical and that we need a way out of it. I've said before that some combination of templates and an expert system will help us get there eventually, but no one seems very interested in developing this yet. It could begin simply with a template that worked like this: {{engvar|stunned|US=flabbergasted|UK=gobsmacked}}, or whatever. I.e., default value, and specific replacement values by ISO en-XX code and some aliases (I think the real British code is GB). And yes, I realize that's a silly example; {{engvar|aluminium|US=aluminum}} is probably better. Anyway, have it output specific classes that user stylesheets, manually or with a preferences "Gadget", can show/hide in preferential order, though it might also require some Javascript if done manually. Much of the resistance to the demise of date linking and auto-formatting was desire to keep the autoformatting but ditch the linking. If the devs redid it properly, auto-formatting of dates, triggered by various things like user preferences and tagged English variety of the article, could thwart plenty of disputes from ever being born. PS: Such a template solution could be used for other things than geographical dialect: {{engvar|<--blank-->|UK-journ=and|casual=and}} for the and at issue here, on the assumption that it's common in British journalism writing (likely but not proven), and common in general in less formal writing even in the US (I know anecdotally this is true, as at least two others have observed earlier about spoken American usage, in which the and is common). It could also be used for jargon: {{engvar|heart attack|med=myocardial infarction}}.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  07:21, 1 September 2015 (UTC)

  • Support, but...: I personally support avoiding the usage of the optional "and" and think that that leads to better clarity. I shall admit my bias as that is the way that I learned it and made some attempts to describe such above. I can understand if British users have learned differently. I am concerned over the failure of the Style Guides to properly address this issue. Therefore, I wonder if we should decline to rule on this issue as well and be willing to accept both variants?
    No. I am not a politician.Iknow23 (talk) 04:40, 1 September 2015 (UTC)
Whether external style guides have a rule has little to do with whether MoS should have one (they have all kinds of rules we don't bother with, and we come up with our own that suit our needs). Most externally published style guides are explicitly nationalistic works, which makes them basically useless for MoS purposes when it comes to any point on which some people claim a nationalistic difference; the more nationalistic works of this sort will be cited as "proof" when when they really are is advocacy, not linguistic description, and they're not really proof of anything but a desire to sell more "American" grammar/style books to Americans, and "British" ones to the British, etc. Cf. the history of Webster's dictionary; it was created as an explicitly political work, the intent of which was for fork English usage and style irrevocably and create a codified American dialect in defiance of the British. Similarly, the American Heritage Dictionary was created for the sole purpose of promoting conservative, traditionalist prescriptivism against the allegedly "liberal" and more linguistically descriptive Webster's Third International. And so on. These works are inherently socio-political in nature. It's so thick in both Chicago and Hart's you could cut it with a knife and spread it on toast (or crumpets). Anyway, the problem with defaulting to no rule is that it won't actually be no rule, it'll be taken as a rule meaning "it's my right to insert the and anywhere I want, over others' objections, as long as it isn't explicitly tagged as an American English article", all on the assertion of one writer (a British one, writing the most nationalistic of all the British style guides) that the absence of the and is an Americanism. MoS is supposed to forestall disputes, not generate more of them.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  07:21, 1 September 2015 (UTC)

Does all of this (and stuff) perhaps fall under WP:LANGVAR or is it perhaps a bit of excessive granilarity (my sense of homour tends to an inappropriate misspelling of 'excessive'). Style guides tend to only address those matters which are not (generally) universally held by the domain of readers of a particular English variation. They are not intended to be a complete compendium of punctuation (and everything else about using english). Cinderella157 (talk) 04:57, 1 September 2015 (UTC)

That's why I consulted rather more exhaustive grammar books as well as smaller style guides. One thing I've not gone through yet is sources on technical and other precision writing; I have a strong suspicion they say to avoid the optional "and" for the very reason I've outlined above: it introduces an ambiguity about whether a single or multiple numbers are meant. I only have a few of these on hand, as they tend to be expensive (university textbook pricing, not normal bookstore pricing).  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  07:21, 1 September 2015 (UTC)
Consulting American style guides for information on British usage is likely to result in an erroneous conclusion. Dbfirs 08:02, 1 September 2015 (UTC)
A) But you're consulting British style guides to arrive at a conclusion about American usage. B) Given that I've already cited more British than American publications in this thread, why would you assume I'd only cite American publications with regard to this question? I've already pre-disproved your assumption. Even as I begin doing the technical and science guides citations (just adding them below the original list, above), I've started again with Oxford (before you posted that :-).  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  09:52, 1 September 2015 (UTC)
I make no such claim about American usage. I would consult American style guides for that. You have not "pre-disproved" anything. The point about British style guides and educational material is that they insist on the and after hundreds, and sometimes point out that omission of this conjunction is regarded as an American form (though I agree it is not the only American form). Interestingly, Canadian English also includes the and (in cheque-writing). Dbfirs 17:38, 1 September 2015 (UTC)
The fact that Americans sometimes use British style for numbers does not imply that American style (as given in many American style guides) is correct for British English. To British readers, the six without "and" seems tacked on as a separate number. See Comparison of American and British English#Numbers for the facts. We can resolve the issue either by giving a note on standard British English, as given in British style guides, or by reducing 206 to 96 to avoid the issue. I don't mind which, because the matter is incidental to the main topic of the paragraph. Dbfirs 07:08, 1 September 2015 (UTC)
The article you "cite" is unsourced on this, while I and others here have already gone through most of the "likely suspect" sources for such a rule, only to find that they do not give any such rule. There's nothing but a suggestion, inferred from examples (several of them negative, i.e. what to not write, rather than what to write), that the British tend to favor the and and Americans don't. But some Americans actually do, and meanwhile one British style-guide writer, writing a highly nationalistic British style guide (i.e. someone with a vested interest in trying to see nationalistic differences that may not actually be concrete, and exaggerating them) states that dropping the and is an Americanism. This is piss-poor sourcing. It's more likely that this is a register-of-usage difference in actual practice, not a regional one. But we'll see. Or maybe we will; this might be such a side-point nitpick that we'll all lose interest in it before anyone gets around to checking more precision-writing style guides, and the larger thread above this could actually moot the question entirely by simply concluding "don't write out numbers this complicated in words".  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  07:34, 1 September 2015 (UTC)
I've just added a reference. I repeat: the fact that American English uses both styles, but prefers to omit the "and" in writing, does not alter the fact that British English always includes the "and". Others have provided references above. I could provide more if necessary. Your original research is in error. Dbfirs 07:40, 1 September 2015 (UTC)
They're references to examples of usage, not to rules demanding the usage. It's trivially easy to provide counter-examples, of British-English sources dropping the and; I found all of the following in minutes (it's taken ten times longer to copy-paste all the details):
  • "One hundred seventy-five scientists, philosophers, journalists, and others ...", in Kanta Dihal, "Must Everything Really Die?", Oxonian Review, 2 March 2015, 27:4 [7] (that's "Oxonian" as in Oxford, England).
  • "seventy-four thousand twenty-seven", etc., etc., in a British grammar school math test [8] (see "Words to Numbers" section, p. 9. Originally published by Maths Mutt Mathematical Resources, scruffs.shetland.co.uk
  • "Results: One hundred twelve subjects were followed through 24 months....", in Guido, Macer, Abbott, et al., "Radiofrequency volumetric thermal ablation of fibroids: a prospective, clinical analysis of two years’ outcome from the Halt trial", Health and Quality of Life Outcomes, 2013, 11:139 [9]. This is a British journal, based in London [10].
  • "six million two hundred fifty thousand (6,250,000)", in Draft amendment of the Articles of Association of ROYAL BAM GROUP N.V. [11]
  • "one hundred seven", etc., in weather forecasts (about India in this case) at WeatherHQ.co.uk [12]
  • "Results: One hundred thirty-two triplet measures of CO2 were ...", in Tingay, Munn & Perkins, "End tidal carbon dioxide is as reliable as transcutaneous monitoring in ventilated postsurgical neonates", Archives of Disease in Childhood: Fetal and Neonatal Edition, 2013, 98:F161–F164 [13] (This is a BMJ journal. That's British Medical Journals, based in London [14]).
  • "One hundred-twelve patients had SJ-PHPT" (odd hyphenation in original), in "A prospective study on juvenile primary hyperprathyroidism population", paper by Italian researchers written for 17th European Congress of Endocrinology Ireland, Dublin, 16 May 2015 – 20 May 2015 (is anyone going to argue that Irish conferences and journals used different basic style from British ones?
  • "One hundred seventy-eighty (178) students commenced ...", in Response to Freedom of Information Act 2000 request (FOI_13-193), University of East Anglia, 20 January 2014 [15].
  • "Two hundred fifty-eight women fell within the long-term follow-up period ...", in Walker and Barton-Smith, "Long-term follow up of uterine artery embolisation—an effective alternative in the treatment of fibroids", BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, 2006, 113:464–468 [16]. This is a British journal, published by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists [17].
  • "Chapter One Hundred One", etc., Report of the Bloody Sunday Inquiry, Volume VI, Chapter 111, at NationalArchives.gov.uk [18]
  • And it's not a recent borrowing from American usage: "Charles II, 1666: An Act for granting the Summe of Twelve hundred fifty six thousand three hundred forty seaven pounds thirteene shillings to the Kings Majestie towards the Maintenance of the present Warr", at British-History.ac.uk [19]
  • Nor did the usage disappear in the beginning of Early Modern English only to reappear just now in British usage: The Fables of Aesop, with a Life of the Author and Embellished with one Hundred Twelve Plates, Piccadilly, London: John Stockdale, 1793. [20].
    "Within the Sheriffdom of Aberdeen the monthly Sum of Three hundred thirty nine Pound* Eight Shilling* of like Money.", The statutes of the realm [1101-1713] printed by command of his majesty King George the Third (actual publication date 1810–1828) [21]
The notable thing is that no matter what numbers I put into Google searches, like "two hundred eleven" -"two hundred and eleven" and use the Advanced Search tools to limit the results to the UK (or you can manually add &cr=countryGB to the URL), I always get results, and they typically include lots of journals (one has to look at the actual publisher of the journal though, not the site at which it was found - a British site might have a copy of an American paper or vice versa), and often include governmental publications, but it almost never includes journalistic material. This tells us, as I predicted, that the insertion of the "and" is principally an informal-register practice, something to expect on blogs and in newspapers and advertising copy, but which will be eschewed where precision is valued, as in peer-reviewed journals, legal material, and, I would argue, encyclopedic writing. (In fairness, yes, if you reverse the search exclusions, you can also find some British journals inserting the and, but [here's the kicker] also some American ones, and they lean towards humanities publications, not science ones, i.e. toward low-precision writing. But it's mostly news sources and informal self-published stuff (blogs, forums, etc.) using the and, including plenty of American ones if you drop the geographic filter. This effectively disproves the notion that one "is" American and the other "is" British. Rather, one is high-precision and one is low-precision, and by historical accident of what examples nationalistic style guides leaned toward, one is somewhat more preferred in written American English and the other somewhat more in written British English. This situation is an exact mirror of logical vs. typesetter's quotation (in which the British lean toward LQ, the precise form, while American publications favor TQ, the loose form, but high-precision publications like journals lean predictably toward the high-precision form regardless where they are published, as does Wikipedia.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  09:28, 1 September 2015 (UTC)

Sorry if I have come late to this and missed something but ... The first section in question commences:

Generally, in article text:

  • Integers from zero to nine are spelled out in words
  • Integers greater than nine ...

The second section commences:

Notes and exceptions:

  • In tables and infoboxes, quantities are expressed in figures (Years in office: 5); but numbers within a table's explanatory text and comments follow the general rule.
  • Numbers in mathematical formulae are never spelled out (3 < π < 22/7, not three < π < 22 sevenths).
  • Comparable quantities should be all spelled out or all in figures: ...

Furthermore, with regard to the and:

... (or "two hundred and six" for British English, even though "two hundred six" would normally be given as "206") ...

Reading the text in fuller context (including the introduction to each list), there is no conflict apparent since generally is permissive and the second list gives exceptions. Furthermore the and is not optional in British English, nor is it problematic. Punctuation can be used to resolve any concern of possible ambiguity that might arise. I have never encountered two hundred six before and while it might be acceptable engvar, it is confusing and looks plain wrong. Or have I missed something of fundamental importance? Cinderella157 (talk) 08:08, 1 September 2015 (UTC)

See above. A few minutes on Google looking at exclusively British sources proves that it's optional in British English, and often avoided in formal, precise British writing, though it seems to be the norm in British journalism to include the and. It seems improbable that you've never encountered "two hundred six" before, given that it's all over the place on the Internet, including many WP articles. Isn't it more likely that you simply parsed it without noticing? That seems to be what everyone does; those used to no and parse it fine when and is present too, except when it introduces ambiguity about the meaning, as demonstrated earlier.

As for the original question: I see what you mean, but the "exception" is "Comparable quantities should be all spelled out or all in figures", not an exception to how numbers are spelled out, so "Generally" being followed by "Notes and exceptions" doesn't resolve the issue, because it doesn't include an exception for that. The conflict is between the instruction "Integers greater than nine expressible in one or two words may be expressed either in numerals or in words" (i.e. those expressible in three or more words are only given in numerals) at the top, and the example "two hundred six were injured" (because "two hundred six" is more than two words). Without resolution of the conflict, the only way to comply with both rules is to always convert to using numerals (figures) any time one of the values would require three or more words, but doign this is often not desirable. So we either need to account for this with specific wording in the exceptions, or more clearly require conversion to figures, not leave people wondering what to do.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  09:50, 1 September 2015 (UTC)

I can only say that it stood out like a country dunny in the middle of a forty acre paddock as soon as I saw it! Even more than the juxtaposition of day number and month used in US date format. In short, the answer is no I haven't and I would have noticed. I will say that I have taken a broad definition of British English, to be that which is not US English or which closely follows the conventions of US English. I would broadly group Australian English under the former and my experience is that and is not optional. I will not dispute your comments re usage in the UK. I am not in a position to do so but others apparently better equipped do appear to do so.
I still see no conflict. I provide the following annotated version of the relevant text which has been directly quoted save that examples and other considerations not directly relevant to the pertinent matter have been omitted for clarity.
Generally [permissive], in article text: Integers from zero to nine are spelled out in words. Integers greater than nine expressible in one or two words may [permissive] be expressed either in numerals or in words. Notes and exceptions [are]: Comparable quantities should be [permissive] all spelled out or all in figures But adjacent quantities not comparable should usually [permissive that notes the very likelihood of exception] be in different formats:. Avoid awkward juxtapositions [permissive - but sometimes it is unavoidable or the best course]. Avoid beginning a sentence with figures [permissive - but sometimes it is unavoidable or the best course].
Regarding 'and', to my mind, you have demonstrated no ambiguity whatsoever. The examples you give have no hint of the ambiguity you intend to demonstrate. The permissiveness of the advice provides other remedies to an ambiguity, if there is a reasonable fear of one occurring but without over-riding a national variation of English. There is also the option of inserting a comma associated with the non-numerical 'and' that might well provide relief. I would note that a change here would be inconsistent with the MOS with respect to WP:LANGVAR. Cinderella157 (talk) 11:42, 1 September 2015 (UTC)
There will always be exceptions to any rule, and Google is not always your friend when looking for British usage because it usually picks up American books published in the UK, articles written for an international audience, multiple scannos, and text written by authors whose first language is other than British English. I must admit I was surprised at the Shetlands worksheet — if I'd received that as an educational resource, I'd have sent it back as unsuitable for purpose. I suspect that they copied it from an American website. There is no question that inclusion of "and" after hundreds is standard modern British English, as taught in schools (see this BBC educational website, for example), or any British textbook that deals with writing numbers. Dbfirs 17:00, 1 September 2015 (UTC)

What ngram says[edit]

I think this [22] ngram is enlightening. Try selecting "American English", "British English", etc. (Follow the link "About Ngram Viewer" at the very bottom, then search Corpora, for what those mean exactly.) EEng (talk) 17:28, 1 September 2015 (UTC)

Or this --Boson (talk) 20:57, 1 September 2015 (UTC)
Thanks for those — they are better searches than my quick look at ngrams yesterday. The first one maybe just tells us that spelling out numbers in words is becoming less common? The second one seems to indicate that Americans don't follow their style guides — or am I misinterpreting the graphs? The problem with Google ngrams is that one needs to examine at least a fair proportion of hits to see what sort of unexpected bias Google is introducing. Dbfirs 21:59, 1 September 2015 (UTC)

Merge proposed of how-to essays on hyphens, dashes and minus[edit]

FYI: Pointer to relevant discussion elsewhere

Proposal at Wikipedia talk:How to make dashes#Merge proposed, to merge Wikipedia:Hyphens and dashes essay (2012) to Wikipedia talk:How to make dashes how-to page (2011).  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  00:10, 31 August 2015 (UTC)