Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Dates and numbers/Archive 137

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Archive 130 Archive 135 Archive 136 Archive 137

Numeric months

The MOS here proscribes the use of year-final numerical dates (e.g., 6/3/2012 or 3/6/2012) on grounds of ambiguity. However, it is not clear whether or not day-less numeric months (e.g., 3/2012 or 3.2012) are similarly prohibited. In article prose, I can understand that they should always be avoided. But in space-constrained places like tables, they might conceivably be used. In this case, which form would be used, the backslashed (3/2012) or the dotted (3.2012)? Or should numeric months be proscribed alongside numeric dates, and an abbreviation used instead in space-constrained areas (Mar 2012)?

Now, I can predict that some of the first responses to this will likely be along the lines of "don't worry about it and go back to doing other things". Such responses I find unhelpful and unwelcome. I am looking for an actual answer that clarifies MOS guidelines on this, not a lazy "shh only dreams now" deferment. ~~ Lothar von Richthofen (talk) 21:05, 6 March 2012 (UTC)

I am unaware of any English-language style book, such as Chicago Manual of Style, that suggest any format that uses a numeric month and year with no day. The only recommendation I'm aware of is ISO 8601, which would have us write the month the World Trade Center was destroyed as 2001-09. That, of course, could be misunderstood to mean 2001-2009, so that format is a non-starter. So I would suggest an abbreviated non-numeric month because all numeric formats are either unfamiliar or ambiguous. Jc3s5h (talk) 21:57, 6 March 2012 (UTC)
Alright, that makes sense. Thanks for clearing things up. Should a brief note be added to the page about this? ~~ Lothar von Richthofen (talk) 20:18, 15 March 2012 (UTC)

Problem: Date ranges and AD

When AD is placed in front of the year, the best way to use it with period of years is in my opinion eg "AD 110-115" instead of "AD 110 - AD 115". But what if months or days are involved -- which is better: "May AD 110 - May AD 115" or "AD May 110 - May 115", "15 May AD 110 - 15 May AD 115" or "AD 15 May 110 - 15 May 115"? -- (talk) 17:48, 17 March 2012 (UTC)

AD standing for Anno Domini ‘in the year of the Lord’ (though it's also used in constructions like 2nd century AD where its literal translation doesn't quite make sense), I guess it ought to be immediately before (or after) the year number, e.g. May AD 110 – May AD 115, 15 May AD 110 – 15 May AD 115. On the other hand, I wouldn't repeat it at the second occurrence, hence May AD 110 – May 115, 15 May AD 110 – 15 May 115. ― A. di M.​  17:59, 20 March 2012 (UTC)
If you put the AD at the end, it could be more easily read as referring to both dates, May 15, 110 – May 14, 115 A.D. or 15 May 110 – 14 May 115 AD. Less naturally, perhaps, you could put the A.D. at the front to cover both dates at once, e.g. AD May 15, 110 – May 14, 115 or A.D. 15 May 110 – 14 May 115. (After all, a BC/E date isn't going to follow an AD one chronologically). But those are just my preferences. I think that strict rules wouldn't work here very well: it seems less awkward, unnatural and confusing to put the day (rather than the month) closer to the the AD rather than to follow WP:ENGVAR rigidly.—— Shakescene (talk) 22:33, 20 March 2012 (UTC)

Should this document mention {{Use dmy dates}} and {{Use mdy dates}}?

The templates {{Use dmy dates}}, {{Dmy}}, {{Use mdy dates}} and {{Mdy}} are used to specify a preferred date format for an article. Not only are they unambiguous for human editors, they are very helpful for bots. Should those be mentioned in this document? Blevintron (talk) 01:06, 10 April 2012 (UTC)


The Signpost has reported this week on progress in launching this new project—one that is likely to be powerful and influential if managed well. I've signed up as a volunteer WRT participating in discussion and consensus-generation concerning style, formatting and presentation. This aspect doesn't seem to be on the radar yet for Wikidata, yet it is just as important there as it is for a WP; style and formatting need to be discussed by the community, or we'll find ourselves with hyphens for minus signs all over the place, and units and symbols jammed up against each other (both contrary to ISO rules and en.WP's MOSNUM). There may need to be unique discussions about whether percentage signs, for example, may be spaced or unspaced, depending on the linguistic origins of the original author (the French space it). It's an interesting new scenario, and I encourage experts here—who have constructed and maintained what appears to be the most sophisticated guide for numerical style in the whole of the Wikimedia movement—to contribute to this exciting new project. Tony (talk) 03:39, 12 April 2012 (UTC)

Edit request

Could the bullet point starting "Do not use year-final numerical date formats (DD-MM-YYYY or MM-DD-YYYY), as they are ambiguous" get something like {{anchor|Ambiguous}} next to it? (talk) 04:14, 15 April 2012 (UTC)

And maybe also add a 'don't' example using dots/periods instead of slashes or hyphens (EG DD.MM.YYYY), and put all the examples in the !xt template? (talk) 04:14, 15 April 2012 (UTC)
* Do not use year-final numerical date formats (DD-MM-YYYY or MM-DD-YYYY), as they are ambiguous: "03/04/2005" could refer to 3 April or to March 4. For consistency, do not use such formats even if the day number is greater than 12.
*{{anchor|Ambiguous}} Do not use year-final numerical date formats ({{!xt|DD.MM.YYYY}} or {{!xt|MM-DD-YYYY}}), as they are ambiguous: "{{!xt|03/04/2005}}" could refer to 3 April or to March 4. For consistency, do not use such formats even if the day number is greater than 12. (talk) 04:30, 15 April 2012 (UTC)
I don't think the anchor "Ambiguous" is appropriate because there are too many other usages in the English language that are also ambiguous that could use the same anchor, such as "12 AM". "DD-MM-YYYY" and "MM-DD-YYYY" are not examples, they are formats, so they don't belong in the !xt template. Those strings would never appear in an article; the letters would be replaced by numerals in an article.
Have you had problems with people challenging your replacement of the ambiguous formats and needed an anchor to refer them to the appropriate part of MOSNUM? If so, the shortcut WP:DATEFORMAT would get the close. Have you had people argue with you, claiming that although the MOSNUM prohibits 04/15/2012, 04.15.2012 is OK? Jc3s5h (talk) 12:29, 15 April 2012 (UTC)

Ambiguity problem with the year numbering system (CE/BCE; AD/BC) guideline

The sixth bullet point at WP:ERA concerning arbitrary style changes from CE—AD and vice-versa seems rather ambiguous and doesn't outline any valid reasons for why a change would be appropriate, other than to state that arguments should be "specific to the article". If someone were to initiate discussion at Talk:Julius Caesar for example, and were to argue in favor of using BCE/CE, what argument for its use could possibly be considered valid? The guideline itself rules out "personal preference" as a reason, and I'm not sure which other arguments could be used save notable academic use of one particular notation for that subject matter, multicultural sensitivity or political correctness.

Given past failed attempts, I don't think mandating one style is the answer. But perhaps it is time for us to decide which categories of articles should generally use BCE/CE and which should use BC/AD? There remain innumerable articles whose presentation and readability is compromised due to varied use of both the BCE/CE and BC/AD notations within the same article. It's quite unprofessional. — FoxCE (talkcontribs) 04:31, 15 March 2012 (UTC)

Good to see this issue being raised, as I came over to this talk page after seeing a page on specifically Jewish events using "BC". It seems to me that this question is much like the American/British spelling question: either is generally acceptable, but on specifically British-focused articles, American spellings are avoided, and vice versa. It seems to me that articles on Christian history, the BC/AD usage should be prefered; for pages specifically on matters of non-Christian religions, BCE/CE should be preferred; for all other articles, consistency within the article is the important thing. --Nat Gertler (talk) 16:54, 20 March 2012 (UTC) (And for technical reasons, let me add to my suggestion for consistency "except in quotes"; obviously, we should not rule out having an AD quote and a CE quote in the same article, nor would it be appropriate to refactor the quotes. --Nat Gertler (talk) 20:40, 20 March 2012 (UTC))
It should decided on a by-article basis, and if people can't agree they should default to the status quo (provided it's consistent and has been stable for a while; otherwise, use whichever style was used in the first non-stub version of the article, or flip a coin, or whatever). ― A. di M.​  18:03, 20 March 2012 (UTC)
I also agree with A. di M. that BCE/CE should be the default for certain categories of articles (particularly religious articles and archæological-type articles which strongly comment upon religions which are not New Testament/Christian centric). The use of the "other system" (which I do not use) are faith claims, particularly the one equivalent to CE which is a self-declaration of a certain person's divinity by anyone who uses it. Such a declaration of faith is strongly POV and thus violates the WP NPOV rule.
BCE-CE is, on the other hand, neutral, even though the era (the Gregorian calendar's eras) that they are based on is connected to the same person referred to in the other system since it does not directly make a declaration of any particular faith nor any claim of divinity for any particular person (it only the years since/before the supposed birth of a person; the divinity question is not addressed).
Those who claim the other system is NPOV have at the same time, when asked, said that using the Rabbinic (which is based on the supposed age of the world) or the Islamic era system (which is based on the year of a certain first pilgrimage) would be POV. There seems to be a bit of hypocrisy here, and lack of willingness to see or admit bias/POV on their own part.
A side-effect of using the other system is a non-willingness of certain persons of faith (both Jewish and Islamic) to make edits to Wikipedia; indeed, there are certain small religious communities of these two groups where there is a ban (a bit extreme, in my opinion) on their community members from using or editing WP because of WP's use of the other system. Unfortunately, this may cause people who have the most knowledge in these particular topics to not be willing to participating in WP. This alone should be a sign that this other system is strongly POV when it causes people to shun WP use.
al-Shimoni (talk) 01:39, 29 March 2012 (UTC)
It wasn't A. di M. who suggested that, it was Nat Gertler. Nevertheless, I would agree that BCE/CE should be the default for non-Christian religious topics and archaeological articles dealing with non-Christian or Abrahamic religious history, but only if BC/AD would then be the default for other categories of articles, e.g. vastly secular topics. Making one notation the default for one set of categories but not the other is insufficient in resolving this problem we are having with consistency and NPOV.
I strongly disagree with your argument that AD/BC (which you refuse to even name, which seems to speak to your own strongly biased POV on this issue) are POV whilst BCE/CE are not. You seem to have a fundamental misunderstanding of what the WP:NPOV policy is: editing from a neutral point of view (NPOV) means representing fairly, proportionately, and as far as possible without bias, all significant views that have been published by reliable sources. AD and CE are both used by reliable sources—–with AD still in the lead by most accounts–—so we use both systems here. Most importantly, NPOV does not dictate that we remove any and all religious connotations from the customs of the English language and replace them with euphemistic terminology, else we'd use, for example, "Common Fourth Day" in place of Thursday to avoid "faith claims" about the Norse pagan deity Thor. The true violation of NPOV policy would be to only use BCE/CE, as it would unfairly promote the use of one notation when both have a status of significantly notable usage in the English language. It is not the encyclopedia's concern that some users may be more offended by BC/AD than by Thursday or other similar religiously-connotated English language conventions. — FoxCE (talkcontribs) 04:56, 29 March 2012 (UTC)
The claim that standardizing on BCE would be a violation of NPOV is a misreading of NPOV. Not everything is a statement of a point of view. In articles that are discussing the use of dating formats, yes, both should be discussed. The argument that we have to use both because both are used outside of Wikipedia is simply an argument against standards; the real world uses both straight quotes and curly quotes, but we standardize on straight quotes; we standardize on avoiding honorifics; and so forth. (Applying NPOV in this manner to dates would be particularly ugly, since we're supposed to represent different views within the article, and this would call for, what? Alternating CE and AD references?) If BCE meant "there is no Christ", perhaps there would be a conflict; but it doesn't. --Nat Gertler (talk) 05:21, 29 March 2012 (UTC)
While I accept your point, I think the BC vs. BCE issue is more directly comparable to the US vs. UK English spelling issue than the examples you've cited, with both being deeply personal issues for many. While we could easily standardize either US or UK English spelling wiki-wide, this would result in constant argumentation for standardization of the other, since both spellings are in widespread use and it is virtually guaranteed that there will never be agreement about which to use primarily. The same can be said about BC vs. BCE, in fact even moreso since involves one of the most controversial issues in society. Ultimately, the main point I was trying to get across is that Wikipedia shouldn't exclusively use any available euphemisms for religious-originating terms just because it can, else we'd need to use them for every single English-language convention with a religious connotation, many of which don't have notable euphemisms in widespread use. Because of the highly contentious nature of it all, I don't think BC/AD should ever be dropped from Wikipedia until (A) we excise all other religiously-connotated conventions or (B) BC/AD falls almost completely out of use in reliable sources. — FoxCE (talkcontribs) 05:56, 29 March 2012 (UTC)
Okay, getting back on point: given that both BC and BCE are described as acceptable in the general case, is there any reason we shouldn't prefer BCE for articles on non-Christian religions? --Nat Gertler (talk) 04:24, 12 April 2012 (UTC)
I would only agree to that if BC/AD were to become the preferable notation for secular topics, which I doubt it will. I don't think we can assert in the MOS that both notations are equally valid if we are recommending one for a particular category of articles but not the other for another category.
However, something else relating to WP:ERA that I would like to put in place is a rule that as of a set date going forward (i.e. April 27, 2012), all articles that currently have stable use of BCE/CE should retain that notation permanently, and all that use BC/AD will should retain it permanently. As for new articles or articles that don't yet use either notation anywhere, whichever is used first as a natural part of the elaboration of the article without contest will become its immutable standard. I'm going to add a section about this below. — FoxCE (talkcontribs) 12:38, 27 April 2012 (UTC)

RfC at WT:Manual of Style

Since the section above is equally applicable to citation style guidelines placed in the "Manual of Style" or any of its sub-pages I have created an RfC at WT:Manual of Style#Which guideline for citation style?. Jc3s5h (talk) 13:47, 6 May 2012 (UTC)

Proposed changes to WP:ERA

Weighing my concern for constant ongoing edit warring and unnoticed era notation changes on innumerable articles across the encyclopedia (noted in above section) with an understanding that no consensus for which era notation is appropriate for which types of articles will be probably ever be reached, I am making a proposal for change to the WP:ERA guideline (specifically, the fourth paragraph).

Here is the fourth bullet point as it stands now. Problem areas bolded:

  • Do not arbitrarily change from one era style to the other on any given article. Instead, attempt to establish a consensus for change at the talk page. Reasons for the proposed change should be specific to the content of the article; a general preference for one style over another is not a valid reason.

I think the glaring problem with this paragraph is that it does not specify what type of valid arguments can be used when attempting to argue for a notation change. And really, there are none. A common argument is that it is not appropriate to use a "Christian system" for an article about—for example—Jewish history, but then why is it appropriate to use Roman pagan months and Norse pagan days of the week for the same article? The solution for this paragraph is to not encourage time-wasting argumentation for era changes when the arguments will have no basis in Wikipedia policy. I believe we should make whichever era style is currently used in any given article the immutable standard going forward from a certain date (i.e. this month). For articles with no BCE–CE–AD–BC usage at all, whichever is used first as part of a natural elaboration of the article should become the immutable standard. For articles that defy the current recommendation and mix both styles at random throughout, a talk page discussion should be opened to reach consensus on one style.

My proposed change:

  • Do not change from one era style to the other on any given article. Whichever style had had stable use in any given article by [April 2012?] should remain its immutable standard. For new articles or articles that do not as of yet use either style, whichever is used first as a natural part of the elaboration of the article should become its immutable standard. For articles that mix use of both styles as of [April 2012?], discussion should be opened to reach a consensus on which single style to use as an immutable standard.

I think the "as of April 2012" condition is quite necessary to prevent further arbitrary style changes that can go unnoticed for months. On past occasions where the style has been arbitrarily changed on any given article and gone unnoticed, it has been argued that a silent consensus for the era change had been established, resulting in dispute and endless ensuing cycles of era style changes over a period of years by editors who go unnoticed. With the "April 2012" cutoff point, we can revert a change months down the road per the MOS without concern for silent consensus. We can also copyedit new additions that use the non-immutable style to the article's immutable style standard without any edit warring controversy.

If you generally agree with my changes but have problems with the wording, please add your suggestions for how to word it better. I realize that "immutable standard" is a bit strong and there will be those who will beg and cry to have an article change its style from BC to BCE or vice versa, but I think this change will not only save wasted time arguing about this, but will also prevent endless circular talk page arguments about "Christian POV" or "political correctness" that we've all seen before. — FoxCE (talkcontribs) 13:12, 27 April 2012 (UTC)

I regard "immutable" as more than a bit strong. Making anything here immutable and not subject to review is a dangerous practice; even if limited to the present issue of era-dating style it would be overkill. There has to be a better way of clarifying the present wording and policy.
Having just discovered this talk page, I have not had time to study the preceding discussions in depth, and will not be able to do so immediately. I did want to register my objections forthwith to any locking in of a particular style without allowing for further recourse. New articles can, and do, get off on the wrong foot. An avenue for change must be kept open. Hertz1888 (talk) 03:10, 6 May 2012 (UTC)
I strongly disagree with the proposed change; it is against the spirit of Wikipedia to lock out attempts at improvement, and the reason that it avoids generating editing discussions makes it seem as though editing discussions are a bad thing. If you do not care whether a given article is BC or BCE, then you are free not to enter said discussions and thus you will have wasted no time. If you wish to have a standard for the purpose of coherency across the encyclopedia, that would be one thing, but this clearly works against any such goal. --Nat Gertler (talk) 03:55, 6 May 2012 (UTC)
I also disagree with this proposal. It makes no accommodation for non-arbitrary changes of era style, and effectively locks the style into whatever is currently in use. Mojoworker (talk) 08:07, 6 May 2012 (UTC)
I have encountered numerous cases of editors changing articles from BC/AD to CE/BCE for no legitimate reason and with no mention of it on the talk page, which is a blatant violation of WP:ERA. I suspect there are countless more instances of this that have so far slipped under the radar and are yet to be corrected. The proposed change would legitimise and enforce deliberate breaches of Wikipedia rules simply because nobody has corrected them yet. It's outrageous. There are so many rules to Wikipedia that many, like this one, are unfamiliar to most editors and therefore rogue editors are able to break them without other people realising it's a problem. Do you really want these people to win their game against the system? (WP Editor 2011 (talk) 14:13, 6 May 2012 (UTC))
From what I have encountered, it would appear that a considerable proportion of articles using CE/BCE, perhaps even the majority, are only doing so as a result of rogue editors changing the article from BC/AD with no discussion or justification. Therefore the proposed change would be extremely one-sided. I'm not accusing you of being one of these rogue editors exploiting the obscurity of the rule to push a POV, User:FoxCE, but I don't think you've thought this out fully. (WP Editor 2011 (talk) 14:23, 6 May 2012 (UTC))
While I agree with WP Editor that their are "rogue" editors making most of the changes (I.E. without establishing consensus) I suspect most of these are unaware of the MOS guidelines and the history, and simply think they are fixing something. I have sympathy for the idea of establishing a status quo, but that has already happened, and setting a new date sounds like "Wrong version!" Rich Farmbrough, 10:06, 9 May 2012 (UTC).
The current wording is not ideal but currently we don't really have much of a problem with era edit wars so I don't see any great need for a change. Making the status quo something like April 2012 does however the advantage that it avoids having to trawl thru histories back to a time when there was no policy on eras. Quite a few pages are the way they are simply because someone copied a page from the 1911 Britanica. End of the day, in the real world both era forms are competing. Idealy the proportion in wikipeda it would refelct the proportion in the real world but I don't see any likelyhood of us agreeing to what that proportion is. The current situation is probably the best achievable.Dejvid (talk) 16:37, 10 May 2012 (UTC)

Proposed change to "In references" section

I propose the first line in the "WP:MOSNUM#In references" section be changed from

{{See also|Wikipedia:Citing sources#Citation style |l1="Citation style " section in "Citing Sources"}}


{{Main|Wikipedia:Citing sources#Citation style |l1="Citation style" section in "Citing Sources"}}

The purpose of the change would be to make it clear that citation format is a matter for WP:CITE and related pages, and this page is merely a summary of WP:CITE. Jc3s5h (talk) 16:04, 27 April 2012 (UTC)

  • CommentI think you'll need to elaborate and give concrete example of how this is likely to work when there are press releases, scientific journals, websites and newspapers cited in a single article, as is already often the case; what is meant by "consistency", and what date formats are likely in the example article, and if for example that means we're likely to see "(2005-07-17)" "(2005, July 17)" and "(17 July 2005)" all within the same reference section. --Ohconfucius ¡digame! 16:28, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
For example, an article might be about Vermont, and thus use mdy dates in the body of the article. It might also follow The MLA Style Manual which calls for dmy dates in the citations, including access dates. (Postings on the talk page of the first editor to add citations to that article indicate he intended to follow MLA style.) But this page calls for access dates to either match the body or use YYYY-MM-DD format. Since this guideline only summarizes WP:CITE, and WP:CITE allows MLA, WP:CITE trumps the "In references section" of this guideline. Jc3s5h (talk) 16:38, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
Interesting. That alone is enough to confuse the hell out of most readers and editors. Unless of course dates in the body of 'Vermont', which by our rules is mdy, are in dmy. --Ohconfucius ¡digame! 02:42, 28 April 2012 (UTC)
Whether MLA style is a good style is beside the point; the point of this proposal is that WP:CITE should be the definitive guideline for citation style, not MOS or any of its subpages, so that the two guidelines do not contradict each other. Jc3s5h (talk) 03:14, 28 April 2012 (UTC)
True, there should be no contradiction and as little ambiguity as possible. But is this the way to go? I just fear it will explode into an unmanageable mess. --Ohconfucius ¡digame! 03:57, 28 April 2012 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────There was an extensive discussion of a proposal to establish a house style which failed, at Wikipedia:Centralized discussion/Citation discussion. The discussion alludes to earlier discussions which also failed. So the clear consensus is that an article may use any consistent citation style, including but not limited to printed style manuals. Since the MOS and subpages (herinafter MOS includes subpages) contain specific style decisions that contradict some printed style manuals (not to mention whatever some editor might invent), it's obvious that one cannot say "follow MOS" and "any consistent citation style is allowed" without contradiction. So the way the MOS, WP:CITE, WP:LAYOUT and printed style manuals set up their respective bailiwicks, as I see it, is:

  • LAYOUT states that certain sections should exist and their order.
  • MOS controls aspects of headings not mentioned in LAYOUT, the body, infoboxes, and just about everything except citations. At present it also summarizes some material from CITE.
    • If a printed style manual is used for the citations, MOS nevertheless governs the non-citation parts of the article.
  • CITE declares all consistent citation styles allowable, with one exception: the only allowable all-numeric date format is YYYY-MM-DD, and that format is limited to limited to Gregorian calendar dates where the year is after 1582. (What is not explicitly stated, but obvious, is that all-numeric years may be used, e.g. 2012.)
  • The citation portion of a printed style manual, or the pattern that can be deduced from existing citations, govern the citation portion of the article, including that portion of the body that refers to the reference list.

Jc3s5h (talk) 12:47, 28 April 2012 (UTC)

  • After a lot of reflection, I think it does make sense for the style of citations to be handled at one page, so that all aspects of citation style can be covered on the page, rather than in pieces (as MOSDATE, MOSBOLD, etc. do). I'm sympathetic to Jc3s5h's view, but I'm having some difficulty seeing the guidance here, on a narrow aspect of citation styles, as a "summary" of WP:CITE. Gimmetoo (talk) 20:44, 9 May 2012 (UTC)
The "In references" section here is more like a paraphrased excerpt of WP:CITE, rather than a summary. Also, to be consistent with WP:CITE, "Access and archive dates in references should be in either the format used for publication dates, or YYYY-MM-DD" should really be stricken and "Publication dates in article references should all have the same format." should be replaced with some thing like "Dates used for each particular purpose, such as publication dates, access dates, and archive dates, should all have the same format. The date formats for different purposes need not match." But the currently running RfCs should be decided before more changes are proposed. Jc3s5h (talk) 21:10, 9 May 2012 (UTC)

Access dates

This is what the Manual of Style currently says about access dates:

  • Access and archive dates in references should be in either the format used for publication dates, or YYYY-MM-DD.
In the same article, write
  • Jones, J. (20 Sep 2008) ... Retrieved 5 Feb 2009.
  • Jones, J. (September 20, 2008) ... Retrieved 2009-02-05.
but not
  • Jones, J. (20 Sep 2008) ... Retrieved February 5, 2009.

There doesn't seem to be any rational basis for allowing a different date format for access and archive dates than we use for publication dates. I therefore propose that the option to use YYYY-MM-DD even when the publication dates use a different format should be removed. If the fear is that articles will be punished in FA reviews and the like, then that could be addressed, but having people use WP:DATERET to justify thwarting people who try to make date formats uniform within the references section is bizarre. As I said, there is no benefit to having different formats side-by-side, and there is even less in forbidding people to bring in uniformity. -Rrius (talk) 21:00, 26 April 2012 (UTC)

Several publications will not have all three components of a publication date (year certainly at minimum, but month and often day of month are unknown), while accessdates can always be justified this way. Hence the reason for two different systems between pub date and access date.
As for people that revert changes that attempt to normalize the formatting of dates consistently in references, if the generally agreed upon format(s) is obvious, that reverting is a troutable action. On the other hand, if its difficult to tell which date format(s) are desirable, discussion should occur on the talk page instead of forcing one way or antoher. --MASEM (t) 21:09, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
I agree that the retrieved date formats within an article should all have the same format - and have always presumed that was the intention of the policy, as my edits will reflect. "People" are not just making the date formats "uniform", they are converting uniform accessdate formats to their personal preference - or more often, making no attempt to follow WP:DATERET and removing uniform ones they do not like to "any other". One such "people" has also posted that anytime he finds an inconsistent accessdate format, he will remove YYYY-MM-DD on sight, making no effort to follow WP:DATERET. That same "people" has repeatedly been notified that he is contravening policy - yet continues to do so on a large scale --JimWae (talk) 21:11, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
You aren't agreeing with anyone; what has been said is that dates in the reference section should be uniform, not just pubs with pubs and accesses with accesses. Your point about what one editor has done is irrelevant to the question here. Please attempt to justify why YYYY-MM-DD should be allowed as an alternative to the date format used for publication dates. -Rrius (talk) 21:26, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
I don't understand your first point. What we are talking about is the situation where more than a year is known, so there is a single full-date format for publication dates. Even if all that is included is a month, we know that the appropriate format includes written-out months, so YYYY-MM-DD would not be appropriate, and the user would have the choice of putting the day before or after the month. Removing the option of using YYYY-MM-DD in addition to the publication format doesn't change anything with regard to situations where no format has been chosen for publication dates. In other words, if my proposal were adopted, it would in no way prevent a person from adopting YYYY-MM-DD when only a year is used for publication dates. That is because YYYY-MM-DD is an option for publication dates itself. That raises the question of whether reference format should be allowed to differ from the body, but I'll leave that for another time. -Rrius (talk) 21:24, 26 April 2012 (UTC)

In view of the widely advertised RfC Wikipedia:Mosnum/proposal on YYYY-MM-DD numerical dates I suggest if Rrius intends to modify the advice concerning YYYY-MM-DD access dates it must be through a widely advertised RfC.

Furthermore, take note of the see also template at the top of the In references heading, which reads

Many styles are allowed, including styles from printed style manuals. Some of these manuals suggest different formats for dates within citations, depending on the purpose of the citation. In practice, YYYY-MM-DD dates are only used with citation templates. So I suggest this proposal is out of order here, and should be brought up at the various citation template pages. Jc3s5h (talk) 00:46, 27 April 2012 (UTC)

Um, no. This is a separate issue from that discussion; it is a direct proposal to edit the content of this page. It is not a proposal to outlaw YYYY-MM-DD in references. Rather, it is a proposal to get rid of allowing YYYY-MM-DD for access dates when publications dates use a different format. Also, it is not just about citation templates; the issue also arises in typed-out references. -Rrius (talk) 01:22, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
The discussion Wikipedia:Mosnum/proposal on YYYY-MM-DD numerical dates does discuss whether YYYY-MM-DD should be allowed for some, but not all, dates within a citation.
A requirement to use the same format for all dates within a citation, regardless of the purpose of the date, would bring this page into conflict with WP:CITEVAR. Jc3s5h (talk) 01:40, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
The proposal you are talking about has been dead for almost three years, and from what the actual proposal listed at the top, it was not about this issue. The fact that some people may have brought it up is irrelevant. That proposal was much broader in scope than this one. As for the CITEVAR point, I don't see it. I just read it twice, and I don't see the conflict. The only issue here is whether it is rational to allow one date format for the publication date in a reference and a different one for access and archive dates in the same reference. That's it. If you really think there is a conflict, then leave a note on that guideline's talk page referring them here. But this is clearly the correct place to have this discussion as it is the only place in the guidelines where this particular issue is directly dealt with. Instead of trying to palm this discussion off on a different page, would you care to weigh in on the actual issue? So far no one has bothered to. I said at the outset there is no justification, and so far I have been proved right. -Rrius (talk) 01:53, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
The conflict arises because a style manual adopted for a particular article may require different kinds of dates to have different formats. For example see this example of APA style:

McGinn, D. (2005, June 27). Rewinding a video giant [Electronic version]. Newsweek, 145(26). Retrieved July 12, 2005, from [Emphasis added.]

However, the latest version of the APA style manual discourages retrieval dates except for electronic sources that are likely to change. Jc3s5h (talk) 02:40, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
  • Before I can even think about this, what on Earth does "Access and archive dates in references should be in either the format used for publication dates" mean (my underlined bit)? Tony (talk) 01:49, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
    • I don't understand why you are confused, but I will help as best I can. What you are quoting is part of the guideline, of which you left out "or YYYY-MM-DD". The access and archive dates are the ones that come after "Retrieved" or "Archived" in the text (what you put after "|accessdate=" or "|archivedate" in a citation template). The publication date is usually rendered in parentheses and is what you put after "|date=" in a citation template. Right now the rule says that the access and archive dates should either be in the same format as the publication dates or YYYY-MM-DD. My proposal is that the two dates should be in the same format. -Rrius (talk) 01:59, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
      • Sorry to appear dumb: what is "the format used for publication dates" in the context of an article? (As opposed to what has been inserted into the archived and retrieved fields.) Tony (talk) 06:44, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
        • A reference citation typically includes the author, the title of the work, the publisher or source, the date of publication, and so on. The date of publication, if present, appears in some format. Gimmetoo (talk) 12:41, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
  • So does that mean that if a ref section contains a mixture of British and US sources, the date formats should use the date format used by each source, thus creating a mixture of formats in the list? That's what it looks like to editors who read this clause in the guideline. Tony (talk) 07:31, 28 April 2012 (UTC)
  • I contend that citation style is governed by WP:CITE, which states "A consistent style should be used within any given article". It goes on to mention several acceptable printed style manuals, all or most of which dictate a date format and none of which call for the date format to follow the format used in the source. Do you think that is sufficient? Should WP:MOSNUM#In references be reduced to a reference to CITE? Should CITE explicitly state that the format of the source is irrelevant except for titles and direct quotes? Jc3s5h (talk) 15:26, 28 April 2012 (UTC)
  • Support There seems already to exist the possibility of many date formats within reference sections. Potentially we already have:
    1. dates within the title parameter which are immutable, even if they are unacceptable per WP:MOSNUM.
    2. publication dates in the same format as the article body.
    3. access dates in the same format as the article body.
    4. archival dates in the same format as the article body.
    5. publication dates in ISO.
    6. access dates in ISO.
    7. archival dates in ISO.
So, potentially for each of dmy and mdy formats, we have 8 different permissible permutations as follows:
    body publication access archive     body publication access archive
  alt1 dmy dmy dmy dmy   alt1 mdy mdy mdy mdy
  alt2 dmy ISO dmy dmy   alt2 mdy ISO mdy mdy
  alt3 dmy dmy ISO dmy   alt3 mdy mdy ISO mdy
  alt4 dmy dmy dmy ISO   alt4 mdy mdy mdy ISO
  alt5 dmy ISO ISO dmy   alt5 mdy ISO ISO mdy
  alt6 dmy dmy ISO ISO   alt6 mdy mdy ISO ISO
  alt7 dmy ISO dmy ISO   alt7 mdy ISO mdy ISO
  alt8 dmy ISO ISO ISO   alt8 mdy ISO ISO ISO
Let's also remember that in the halcyon days of Date autoformatting, all the dates were rendered dmy or mdy according to user preference settings. Since its disabling, ISO dates are appearing everywhere, and users are often mystified as to how they work, what they mean. They often get the implementation horribly wrong. As if it were not problematic enough dealing with a mix of dmy and mdy dates, keeping ISO dates in the mix within reference sections is definitely not a sensible way to go. What's more, it's never been clear to this user as to why accessdates are so special that they deserve to be treated separately from publication dates and archival dates. Dates pervade wikipedia, and the task of maintaining date format consistency must be made manageable by automated means, not just human effort or semi-automated; it's just impossible at present, and human effort is still subject to risk of "wrong conversions". It should be all or none for ISO dates within reference sections; in other words, we should only have 'alt1' and 'alt8'. --Ohconfucius ¡digame! 02:16, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
Re Jc3's comments above, contrary to what Jc3 asserts, ISO dates are not used exclusively within citation templates. As to the "Many styles" of dates being allowed by WP:CITE, such as styles from printed style manuals, these will further add to the permutations identified above, and further complicate maintenance. --Ohconfucius ¡digame! 02:47, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
I suggest that citations not using citation templates are not amenable to automated maintenance, so using ISO 8601 format would not help in that case. Since this guideline isn't really addressed to citations, and certainly isn't addressed solely to citation templates, any discussion for date formats within citation templates be discussed on the talk pages of the citation templates, and not here. If/when such a discussion occurs, the participants might want to explain how they will educate editors about how to convert any publication dates in the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar, which is the only calendar allowed in ISO 8601 dates. Jc3s5h (talk) 03:17, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
Er, by definition, since Wikipedia was launched in 2001, all dates susceptible of being used to indicate access dates are Gregorian. --Ohconfucius ¡digame! 03:22, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
Your table advocates some ISO format for publication dates. I guess you mean ISO 8601. Jc3s5h (talk) 03:26, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
Also for the purposes of our citations, I have yet to see a publication date before 24 February 1582, and it is questionable how anything that far back can have a reliably-established publication date. --Ohconfucius ¡digame! 03:32, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
The Julian calendar was used in Russian and Greece into the 20th century. Jc3s5h (talk) 03:59, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
Also, I invite Ohconfucius to prove his claim that "ISO dates are not used exclusively within citation templates." I wouldn't be surprised if he could find an instance of the YYYY-MM-DD format in a non-template citation, but I would be surprised if he could prove that the editor who added any YYYY-MM-DD formatted date was consciously adhering to any ISO standard. Jc3s5h (talk) 03:24, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
I'm asking you to take my word for it, but I'm not going to comb through my thousands of date-related edits to prove that to you. Suffice it to say there is the option within reflinks to populate reference data, including ISO dates, without the template, and I have seen used. --Ohconfucius ¡digame! 03:32, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
Perhaps reflinks can add dates, without a template, to a citation that consists of a bare URL. But once that is done, no tool is able to read the dates, figure out what kind of date it is, and automatically maintain it (perhaps by comparing it to a date in a publication date and flagging it if it conflicts with the database). Jc3s5h (talk) 03:56, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
  • Oppose change and Ohconfucius's interpretation of the existing guidelines; there is no reason why access dates and/or archive dates shouldn't be in YYYY-MM-DD (aka ISO 8601) format, regardless of the format for publication dates and dates in the article. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 03:55, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
    • Which bit of my "interpretation" do you oppose, and on what grounds? If there are any material false premises, then please state them so we can discuss them, instead of rubbishing my analysis. Solid reasons have been stated by the nom, and I feel my analysis is pertinent and accurate. Your oppose, arguing "no reason why access [it] shouldn't" isn't an argument. It's only valueless rhetoric. --Ohconfucius ¡digame! 11:19, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
      • Your misinterpretation is that (1) the guideline overrides WP:CITE, and (2) it requires the same format for access dates and archive dates, whether or not the same as publication date or the date format used in the article. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 16:27, 16 May 2012 (UTC)
        • My "misinterpretation" is in your words only. (1)Which date format to use is a question of style, so of course our style guideline MOSNUM ought to trump CITE, which has the main say over whether and what dates to use. Isn't it just so ironic that Jc3 has taken the pains to support his favouring of formatting allowed in WP:CITE, yet he quotes a style guideline; (2)Please look again at my table above – you will see that I have made no such assumption. I made separate columns for access date and archive date. --Ohconfucius ¡digame! 16:36, 16 May 2012 (UTC)
  • Oppose change, no reason to insist on uniformity. I personally always use YYYY-MM-DD for the subsidiary dates, and always will, they are shorter and less obtrusive, appropriate for minor information. Ohconfucius is perhaps joking with the mention of "halcyon days"? Those were the days of per-logged in user date settings, not per-reader of the encyclopedia - so the regiatered editors who set their own date preference were just fooling themselves, the ISO dates were there all along and visible to every anonymous reader, our actual readership. Franamax (talk) 04:46, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
    • Uniformity, after quality and clarity of prose, is one of the main drivers of "quality" in the project. To say that there is "no reason to insist on uniformity" is akin to burying one's head in the sand. As to "halcyon days", yes, I had my tongue in my cheek. --Ohconfucius ¡digame! 11:19, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
  • Oppose change for the reasons well-stated by Franamax. And, with all respect, there are more pressing needs for the valuable time of Wikipedia's careful proofreaders.--Arxiloxos (talk) 06:30, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
  • Comment and request. Generally I'm all in favour of simplicity against complexity, uniformity against bewildering variety in styling, and clarity in presentation of style guidelines, and of proposals to change them. I like the look of what Ohconfucius lays out, above. But searching further up, I get lost.
    Will someone please set out in a short, clear, well-marked paragraph what the hell we're supporting or opposing here?
    This talkpage needs to be far more navigable, if progress is to be made. (With respect guys, take a look at WT:MOS these days, for comparison.)
    A couple of specific suggestions: label sections thoughtfully and informatively; and make a well-labelled subsection when there is a proposal that needs votes, OK? Just under the heading, state clearly what the proposition is. Critics can rightly complain that the community is left out of decision-making, if we don't do such things.
    NoeticaTea? 12:29, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
  • I also don't understand what is being proposed, except that it appears certain editors think it would remove yyyy-mm-dd style date formats. Plenty of editors use that format in the references, especially for the accessdates. There are editors who prefer to help distinguish different types of information by using different formats for that information. At least one not-entirely-obscure external reference format (APA) has different formats for them, too. Also, Ohconfucius analysis above does not represent the current guideline on many points, nor, to my recollection is his technical history correct on how date autoformatting worked; WP had yyyy-mm-dd dates looking like yyyy-mm-dd dates then. Gimmetoo (talk) 12:48, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
  • I endorse what Noetica says; I've thought it for a long long time. MOSNUM could easily be shortened with no loss of effective guidance.

    Gimme, the whole matter of the harmonisation of ref access dates, etc, is a bit clouded, I believe. The text needs to be clearer. I wonder why you're at OC so often after he harmonises, cleans up. I find ref date-formats to have become messier and messier over the past few years. Tony (talk) 12:52, 27 April 2012 (UTC)

    • Do you support adding inconsistency to date formats, as OC did recently? Gimmetoo (talk) 13:02, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
      • Do you still beat your wife? --Ohconfucius ¡digame! 15:00, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
        • ??? on both previous comments ... Tony (talk) 15:14, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
          • I'm confused, Tony. You seemed to be opposing my recent posting at Ohconfuicius' page about date formats. My post asked about an edit by OC that added inconsistency to an article. You responded to that on OC's page, and almost simultaneously, here, so it seemed likely that post was the context of your statement here. If you oppose me questioning edits that add inconsistency, then the natural inference is that you support OC adding inconsistency to articles. Do you wish to clarify yourself, Tony? Gimmetoo (talk) 19:07, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
            • In the diff cited, I saw a whole lot of mdy formats in the refs, and a whole lot of ISOs. Tony (talk) 07:27, 28 April 2012 (UTC)
              • In the diff cited, user:Ohconfucius changed some ISO dates to mdy, installing inconsistency into the article. Do you support installing that type of inconsistency - yes or no? Gimmetoo (talk) 22:37, 30 April 2012 (UTC)

Three different issues are being conflated in the discussion:

  1. Whether YYYY-MM-DD should be an additional option for access and archive dates when a different format is used for publications dates
  2. Whether all dates in the article should be in a single format
  3. Whether YYYY-MM-DD should be eradicated entirely.

The proposal is only about the first issue. Right now, publication dates can be any of the following:

  • 4 September 1999
  • 4 Sept 1999
  • 4 Sep 1999
  • September 4, 1999
  • Sept 4, 1999
  • Sep 4, 1999
  • 1999-09-04

This proposal would change little if the publication date is 1999-09-04. The purpose of the proposal is to make the two sets of dates match, so if the publication date is (1999-09-04), then the proposed rule would require the accessdate to be formatted as 2012-02-21. The point of the proposal is to eliminate the situation where a ref could read "(4 September 1999)...Retrieved 2012-02-21", requiring it to be "(4 September 1999)...Retrieved 21 February 2012".

The reason, as stated, is that there is no justifiable basis for this exception. It is less accessible, it is less attractive.

The continual references to various edits Ohconfucius are irrelevant. The proposal is not to litigate those edits. It is as I have said: to allow editors to bring consistency within reference sections. -Rrius (talk) 00:13, 6 May 2012 (UTC)

  • Oppose, and continue to allow international date format for access dates  Access dates are not part of the citation itself.  Allowing the international-standard date form for the access date seems to work well to make it easier to tell the difference, since publications rarely use international-standard date format.  Unscintillating (talk) 00:44, 6 May 2012 (UTC)
  • Wrong forum. After correcting the errors in the statement of the proposal, go to WP:CITE. Jc3s5h (talk) 01:33, 6 May 2012 (UTC)
  • don't care anymore This has not passed before and won't pass now, and it has become such a trivial yet frustratingly perennial issue.
The use of YYYY-MM-DD dates in references is the result of an historical accident. Citation templates originally wikilinked the date field so that readers would see the date styled according to their user preferences; YYYY-MM-DD was the preferred style for the template fields. As early as December 2006, discussion started on removing the links from dates.[1] In September 2008, discussion noted that the multitude of unregistered readers were seeing the YYYY-MM-DD style dates, and consensus was to remove the linking and update the date styles.[2] Citation templates were updated to remove date linking in September and October 2008, leaving all dates to show in YYYY-MM-DD format. Some templates were updated to force the dates style to MDY, but this was reverted.[3] There was much discussion on fixing citation template dates to match the article style, but ultimately nothing was done.[4]

In January 2009, a request for arbitration was opened involving editors who were delinking dates.[5] A proposal in September 2009 to remove YYYY-MM-DD dates failed.[6] I am sure there are other bits of this I have missed.

---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 17:31, 6 May 2012 (UTC)
Support per Ohconfucius. However, I think a better idea would be to open a RFC, as a positive outcome of this discussion would have far reaching consequences. I'll open a RFC shortly. 1exec1 (talk) 22:21, 8 May 2012 (UTC)
Support dmy and mdy are standard date formats understood by anyone with a decent capacity to read English. The same cannot be said for ISO dates. I can think of no reason to have ISO dates appear anywhere on WP (except as examples of ISO dates). Status quo arguments don't stand up to the point mentioned above (which I've also mentioned before) that many of the ISO dates we've got littered about the place were assumed to be autoformatted into English (i.e. dmy or mdy) but when autoformatting died they became exposed. Plus there's copy-cat crime: editors see these now exposed raw ISO eye sores and assume that that's how it's done. Consistant use of dmy or mdy throughout an article is the most logical solution. JIMp talk·cont 23:27, 8 May 2012 (UTC)

Support per OP, Ohconfucius, Jimp, etc. -- Alarics (talk) 06:37, 9 May 2012 (UTC)
NOTE. The RFC directly below discusses the same issue with with a larger potential audience and clearer initial proposal. I think it makes sense to continue the discussion there. Those editors who already have said their opinion here should probably add a copy to the RFC. 1exec1 (talk) 09:24, 9 May 2012 (UTC)


With reference to this edit asserting the primacy of WP:CITE over MOSNUM, I strongly disagree. Whilst there may be potential conflict between the two, it's not at all clear that WP:CITE should enjoy primacy over MOSNUM in terms of date formats. Here is certainly not the place to go about it. My understanding is that CITE was set up to give guidance as to correct provision of citation content, and Manual of Style exists to guide the format of that content and appearance on the display window or printed page. Quite at what stage those editors drafting WP:CITE decided on a land grab for matters within the realm of the MOS is not my concern. WP:CITE does have a valid role to play, but determining the permissible format of dates ought not to figure, IMHO. --Ohconfucius ¡digame! 03:02, 6 May 2012 (UTC)

WP:CITE says use any citation style you want, as long as it's consistent, with one exception: Don't use all-numeric date formats other than YYYY-MM-DD because those would be too ambiguous to tolerate. Allowing this guideline to come into conflict with that would create a contradiction. The proposal and supporting statements immediately above propose to create such contradictions. This change is necessary to avoid discussion of proposals on the wrong forum, thus preventing interested editors from being aware of the discussion. Jc3s5h (talk) 13:28, 6 May 2012 (UTC)
I'm asserting that here is not the place to discuss that. The guidance on what forms and in what combinations are deemed acceptable are quite clear here; being a matter of form, this is the guideline of reference. It's not unacceptable to have one being more prescriptive than another, there's no "real" conflict so long as we know, as we do, which one should be dominant in the realm of date formats. --Ohconfucius ¡digame! 14:02, 6 May 2012 (UTC)
I have no idea what the previous paragraph means. Jc3s5h (talk) 14:22, 6 May 2012 (UTC)
(@ Ohconfucius). Yes, we do know. It's WP:CITE. WP:MOSNUM, by its nature, cannot apply to dates in citations. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 02:34, 15 May 2012 (UTC)

24 hour clock addition

I have added a note about the handling of midnight using the 24 hour clock. This convention is used by airlines outside the United States where times are usually rounded to the nearest five minutes. If consensus regards this additional note as being excessive, I will not oppose its removal. Martinvl (talk) 09:21, 20 April 2012 (UTC)

I do not accept, without evidence, that airlines outside the US use 0001 and 2359 rather than 0000 and 2400 because they think these are directly more clear to passengers. Instead, I suspect their times are translated into AM and PM times by US airlines that code-share or make connections with them, and whatever times they use will be converted by computers to the AM and PM format.
Wikipedia editors do not select times, they report times written about by others in reliable sources. Editors should not change times, so the advice added to the guideline by Martinvl would seldom be appropriate. Note that the section about AM and PM times does not suggest changing times, it suggests replacing them with "noon" or "midnight". Jc3s5h (talk) 10:45, 20 April 2012 (UTC)
It would take a little searching on my part as most European airports are closed at midnight due to local noise restrictions. However Qatar Airlines follows what I suggested. You will also note that apart from these times, all times are rounded to the nearest five minutes. I also suggest that you visit the live arrival and departure boards of a European airport of your choice. They are closed at midnight, but all times are rounded to the nearest five minutes.
As regards the changing of times, you will notice a big caveat on my part. Martinvl (talk) 13:00, 20 April 2012 (UTC)
I understand the caveat to only consider, not always do it, and to consider context. But the only time I can think of when the advice would be applicable would be when creating an example, where one has freedom to choose times. In that case, it would be better to choose a time well-separated from noon or midnight. It is also confusing to suggest changing times when using 24-hour notation but to suggest demand using "mignight" and "noon" when using AM/PM notation. Further confusion results because in an article that makes frequent use of noon and midnight, and a potential for confusion exits between the two midnights at the ends of a given day, 24-hour notation might be an appropriate solution, but the new advice would discourage that. Jc3s5h (talk) 13:09, 20 April 2012 (UTC)
As shown in the railway timetable in page 24-hour clock, both 00:00 and 24:00 notations are factually used in timetables. Even both on a single page. Off-setting by a minute goes against the grain of the 24-hour system. One should never change a time from a dependable source. −Woodstone (talk) 16:32, 20 April 2012 (UTC)
As your own file informs us the information is outdated. NS themselves have stopped with the practice (the Spoorboekje is no longer being published), and midnight is now reported rightly as 00.00 (see for instance the NS Sprinter Amsterdam Bijlmer ArenA to Duivendrecht service which terminate at 00.00). Off-setting by a minute may occur if the transporter wishes to include a leg within a single day; see for instance the Color Line Hirtshals to Kristiansand service which terminates at 23.59 (with travel time being reported as 3 hr 14 min instead of the usual 3 hr 15 min), though this is rare. It also doesn't matter much unless you run a train service as times will be approximate anyway. I assume the proliferation of journey planners will make more transporters follow NS and drop time"tables" altogether. (talk) 22:15, 27 April 2012 (UTC)

The use of 24:00 in the 24-hour clock is, at best, a convenient fiction; there is no such time. I would suggest that we accept and acknowledge that such a fiction exists, but that the use of 24:00 in Wikipedia content should not be encouraged. The MOS should say something like "midnight should be expressed as 00:00, possibly followed by the date or wording like 'of the following day'". A comment above says "Editors should not change times" - I don't think that this is a serious issue, it's a change of notation, not time; I'd accept that quoted information should not be changed, but reporting midnight as 00:00 is not a problem. Wikipedia conveys the sense of sources, it doesn't normally copy them. Pol098 (talk) 15:43, 17 May 2012 (UTC)

Pol098 fails to distinguish time displayed by a clock vs. time in static text. It's true it would be next to impossible to find a clock that will actually display 2400, but it can certainly occur in static text. I refuse to consider it a fiction for static text for the following reasons:

Querying this

I noticed this recent change in MoS and I wanted to query whether it has consensus here. --John (talk) 14:06, 5 May 2012 (UTC)

Some context for the addition to MoS section would help: how are "some editors … currently applying this", please? --Old Moonraker (talk) 14:13, 5 May 2012 (UTC)
Recently, [1]. Gimmetoo (talk) 15:10, 5 May 2012 (UTC)
Ah yes, I'd like to know, too, where consensus for that edit came from. Tony (talk) 15:24, 5 May 2012 (UTC)
Ho Ho, Gimme, You are a barrel of laughs to place a recursive reply like that! --Ohconfucius ¡digame! 15:27, 5 May 2012 (UTC)
It's an example of a user who, when queried about his changing ISO-style dates in the references in violation of DATERET, explicilty justified that by citing STRONGNAT, as Moonraker requested. Gimmetoo (talk) 15:30, 5 May 2012 (UTC)
Thanks for the replies. I'm not sure that Wikipedia:Citation templates agrees with your linked example; see "write date as one of the formats shown at MOS:DATE; e.g. |date=22 July 2009 or |date=July 22, 2009". AFAICR (and that's really not very far) the use of YYYY-MM-DD in footnotes was cancelled when date autoformatting was turned off in the software. --Old Moonraker (talk) 15:35, 5 May 2012 (UTC)
I'm not sure what you mean by "cancelled". RFCs on date formats routinely support the option of ISO-style dates in the references, and so does this guideline. If the examples on pages regarding cite templates do not illustrate the range of acceptable styles, then perhaps they should, so as not to mislead editors. Gimmetoo (talk) 15:53, 5 May 2012 (UTC)

[2] I agree. Thanks, Ohconfucius. Gimmetoo (talk) 16:32, 5 May 2012 (UTC)

  • You already knew the only aspect of these darned dates is I disapprove of is the mix of dates in reference sections, and not their right to exist... --Ohconfucius ¡digame! 17:17, 5 May 2012 (UTC)
    • Maybe we should focus on whether there are any reasons to use ISO-style dates in the date field (which I understand is deprecated, as Old Moonraker says), or in the accessdate field (where it is optional), of references, when we recommend not using it in text? When I say "reasons" I mean reasons of reader utility, not editor preference. Thanks in advance. --John (talk) 17:54, 5 May 2012 (UTC)
      • It has not been established that ISO-style dates are deprecated in either field. Please demonstrate your claim. Gimmetoo (talk) 18:14, 5 May 2012 (UTC)
        • See Old Moonraker's post of 15:35, 5 May 2012 just above. Are there any reasons to use ISO-style dates in references, when we recommend not using it in text? When I say "reasons" I mean reasons of reader utility, not editor preference. --John (talk) 18:48, 5 May 2012 (UTC)
          • Again, it has not been established, and you have not provided evidence even after it was explicitly challenged multiple times. And yes, there are reasons for using ISO, but that is not pertinent to this discussion. This discussion, which you initiated, is about your claim that STRONGNAT authorizes you to remove ISO-style dates from references, which is nowhere mentioned in the guideline. Can you point to any previous discussion here establishing consensus for your so-far unsupported claims? Gimmetoo (talk) 19:23, 5 May 2012 (UTC)
            • No, as should be obvious from reading my post at the top of this thread, I am querying the proposed change you made here which made no reference to STRONGNAT but seemed to contradict the advice Old Moonraker pointed out above. Your change sought to specifically legitimise the use of ISO dates on references. If, as you assert above, there are reasons of reader utility for making this change, perhaps you could give them here so that others can comment on them with a view to deciding a consensus for your proposed change. --John (talk) 19:34, 5 May 2012 (UTC)
              • Repeating a claim is not providing evidence of that claim. This guideline allows, and shows examples of, ISO-style dates in the references. Can you justify your asssertion that STRONGNAT authorizes you to remove ISO-style dates in the references? Until then, I can see no basis for you to object to any clarification written into the guideline to address the misconception already noted in the diff cited above. I will await your evidence-based response. Gimmetoo (talk) 20:45, 5 May 2012 (UTC)
                • Thank you, I'll take that as a "no". Anybody else think this is a good change, who is prepared to provide a supporting rationale? If not, we can probably close this. --John (talk) 21:16, 5 May 2012 (UTC)
                  • The "rationale" is that certain editors are using STRONGNAT as a justification to remove ISO-style formats from the references, a format explicitly allowed by this guideline. User:Ohconfucius above agrees that ISO-style formats have a "right to exist". Nevertheless, you have claimed ISO-style dates are "deprecated", and have been asked to provide evidence of that. Can you? Gimmetoo (talk) 21:24, 5 May 2012 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────* I think the change in question would be consistent with the existing understanding of what the guideline says, if it said something like "everything but the reference section and tables". But by using the phrase "the article body" it could be understood to allow inconsistent dates in infoboxes. In tables, I consider the YYYY-MM-DD formats and abbreviated formats (e.g. 5 Nov. 1946) to be allowed in tables dues to the space limitation. Jc3s5h (talk) 23:06, 5 May 2012 (UTC)

Just so we're clear, here is the change in question. I think that agrees with what you just said. Do you agree? Gimmetoo (talk) 23:35, 5 May 2012 (UTC)
Yes, I think the change just cited by Gimmetoo reflects the consensus that has existed for a year or more. Jc3s5h (talk) 01:26, 6 May 2012 (UTC)
No, the consensus has always been that YYYY-MM-DD format and abbreviated formats are suitable whenever space is limited, such as in some tables and in infoboxes. Gimmetoo is attempting to introduce a novel guideline to allow citations to have their publication date in DMY or MDY format and their accessdate in YYYY-MM-DD format for no reason other than he likes that. The guidance given here has always been that date formats should be consistent, with the intention that the same format is used throughout as far as possible. We should not be moving away from that to cater for individuals who prefer a quirky system of mixed formats. --RexxS (talk) 04:10, 6 May 2012 (UTC)
Please stay on topic. The guideline explicitly allows the accessdate to be in a different format than the publication date. This particular aspect of the guideline reflects many past discussions. This discussion here, however, is specifically about a claim regarding STRONGNAT. Gimmetoo (talk) 05:37, 6 May 2012 (UTC)
It's not your topic to dictate about. Until 15 February 2011, the guideline quite specifically stated "Dates in article references should all have the same format." Headbomb eventually edit-warred in a contradictory statement excepting accessdates when Jc3s5h ran out of reverts - these are the edit summaries and diffs: examples[3], Remove comment that reflects the views of a single editor. Also, no consensus was ever reached about whether accessdates may have different date from rest of citations[4], Undid revision 414130823 by Jc3s5h (talk) this is the view that transpired from the date delinking RFC, it is not mine[5], Undid revision 414133744 by Headbomb (talk). Changing editor should prove consensus[6], Undid revision 414135744 by Jc3s5h (talk) exactly, hence this revert. Hold the RFC rather than revert war[7]. That exchange of edit summaries are what you mean when you refer to "many past discussions"? The consensus to allow a mixture of 'named-month' and YYYY-MM-DD in the same citation simply doesn't exist, and that guideline text is being challenged by discussion right now. You get to argue that a mixture of date formats helps the reader distinguish; I get to argue that keeping the same date format throughout an article (except where space is limited) increases consistency and is easier to parse. You don't get to define the terms of the discussion just to suit yourself. --RexxS (talk) 20:16, 6 May 2012 (UTC)
This discussion came about because a user removed ISO-style dates from an article, and when queried, said they were removed because of STRONGNAT. (User also said YYYY-MM-DD formats were not allowed, but this guideline explicilty allows them.) The edit I made here did nothing but clarify that "YYYY-MM-DD formats are allowed in the references, even in articles with 'strong national ties'". It just addresses the STRONGNAT claim. If you wish to discuss "a mixture of 'named-month' and YYYY-MM-DD in the same citation", that's fine, but it is a different topic. Gimmetoo (talk) 11:43, 7 May 2012 (UTC)
Well, DATERET doesn't mean we leave dates as they are if there's no coherent or dominant format, but I've often seen it used as a defense of the existence of ISO-type dates in general. This constant battle in support of such a mix of formats makes the job of maintenance a veritable nightmare. The underlying assumption of DATERET is that ISO dates (or indeed any other format) must have been deliberately put there (or by some other acts of consensus) because it's a format editors prefer, is fallacious in general and specifically in the case of reference dates. I and people using my scripts have now processed more than a hundred thousand articles of EN.Wikipedia's output, and I can authoritatively say few people actually care what format an article's dates are in, or even notice that there's an unaligned date format somewhere in the article. Trust me. If more people cared, we wouldn't have such a mess on our hands. DATERET is a blunt tool to prevent tidying up dates that may involve removal of any number of ISO-type dates. Truth is the yyyy-mm-yy dates within citation templates are usually the result of the default action of Reflinks – it all too common for there to be a set of bare links that nobody could be bothered to fill out. Many gnomes who enjoy unifying dates walk the walk, and occasionally one then finds an uncivil messages of the genre 'Don't you dare touch those dates' or somesuch admonishment from one of the very few editors who care with a vengeance about yyyy-mm-dd dates, and that usually scares off one more editor from the monumental task of tidying up the messy mix of date formats, particularly in reference sections. I get praise as well as criticism, and I take the rough with the smooth. --Ohconfucius ¡digame! 02:12, 17 May 2012 (UTC)
[8] What is the dominant format of the references in this article? What format do you think should be chosen by someone "tidying up dates"? After the RFC ran in 2009, people should have simply stopped removing ISO-style dates in articles that had them as the obvious dominant format. Why did people continue to remove them, despite the consensus of the RFC? Gimmetoo (talk) 11:58, 17 May 2012 (UTC)

If I understand correctly, this discussion is about John changing access dates from YYYY-MM-DD to DD Mmm YYYY and claiming that nothing forbids him from doing so. That is not the case: WP:MOS says Where more than one style is acceptable, editors should not change an article from one of those styles to another without a substantial reason, and WP:MOSNUM says Access and archive dates in references should be in either the format used for publication dates, or YYYY-MM-DD, therefore YYYY-MM-DD is an acceptable style for access and archive dates and it shouldn't be changed without a substantial reason. Disclaimer: I actually like using YYYY-MM-DD in access dates, because they are usually a relatively unimportant piece of information so I'd rather they took up as little space as possible and didn't crowd up more important dates such as publication dates. But if an article consistently uses one format I don't switch it to any other format. ― A. di M.​  10:06, 6 May 2012 (UTC)

Then you do not understand correctly. One editor wants to amend the MoS to specifically recommend using ISO-style dates in references but seems unwilling to share any rationale they may have so that we may judge it. --John (talk) 12:33, 6 May 2012 (UTC)
A. di M. correctly understands this. This discussion is to address the claim that YYYY-MM-DD formats are not allowed due to STRONGNAT. Thus the clarification amendment: "YYYY-MM-DD formats are allowed in the references, even in articles with 'strong national ties'". The guideline already explicitly allows YYYY-MM-DD formats. Gimmetoo (talk) 11:43, 7 May 2012 (UTC)
  • Not that we use precedent or test-cases here on Wikipedia, but there's a discussion here that may be relevant to this discussion. --John (talk) 12:33, 6 May 2012 (UTC)
  • If you are talking about this clarification, that is not a change-- it is exactly as it has always been, but some people in this discussion seem to need to have it spelled out in gory detail. I am embarrassed for all of you, to join in another bashing of Gimmetrow after he endured same for years from Jack Merridew (talk · contribs) and his merry band of never-ending socks and sockpuppet supporters. There is no change in that text that doesn't reflect exactly what practice has always been. Why do some people get their rocks off by having little MOSy turf wars over trivia when someone else has actually been maintaining the article for years-- those who maintain articles should be the ones who determine consensus for citation style on that article-- not those who just happen to all show up on the same article on the same day to push through a new style. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 04:11, 7 May 2012 (UTC)
Someone looking from another planet would swear that Gimme was on a crusade to change all ref dates to ISOs. Tony (talk) 05:13, 7 May 2012 (UTC)
Rhetoric aside, Tony1, that's not even close to true. Gimmetoo (talk) 11:43, 7 May 2012 (UTC)
No? --John (talk) 11:49, 7 May 2012 (UTC)
Yes, John, that's an edit I made that you "warned" me for, but I challenged you on that already you failed to provide any basis for your "warning". Gimmetoo (talk) 12:39, 7 May 2012 (UTC)
  • Sandy, there's sadly a bit too much rhetoric in your post above. Firstly, nobody has any idea what article you are referring to. Secondly, it seem you are implying that Gimme is the only one "maintaining the article"; and that his/her having done so "for years" may confer some special rights over the article in question. The additional implication is that every other party who edits that same article (and perhaps others) as Gimme is perhaps a Jack Merridew sock bent on causing grief to Gimme or, even worse, a vandal. I trust you will clarify. Thanks, --Ohconfucius ¡digame! 06:12, 7 May 2012 (UTC)
  • I have no idea who Jack Merridew is and certainly I am not a sock of him. I am here because a certain user reverted my edits to restore their preferred mixed style, even at the cost of restoring a copyvio and various other errors to articles, then wanted to retrospectively change the MoS to support their changes. All I am asking is that someone who supports the use of ISO-style dates in references when the dates in the rest of the article are the more common human-readable type, to explain why this is a good thing as this seems highly counter-intuitive to me. We certainly can't change MoS out of sympathy because somebody had a hard time with a sockpuppet once upon a time. --John (talk) 08:39, 7 May 2012 (UTC)
We are here because a certain editor removed YYYY-MM-DD formats, formats explicitly allowed by this guideline, and when questioned, the editor claimed STRONGNAT. The reasons for YYYY-MM-DD formats have been given many times, but again, that is not the point here. The point is the use of STRONGNAT. If you wish to argue that using STRONGNAT in this manner is appropriate , then please provide evidence of at least a discussion that supported that claim. If not, then why you are objecting to this clarification? Gimmetoo (talk) 11:43, 7 May 2012 (UTC)
  • Summary. The change in question is to affirm that "YYYY-MM-DD may be used in references or in tables, even in articles with national ties" in the section on national ties (STRONGNAT). Jc3s5h and A. di M.​ explicitly agree that this idea reflects consensus. Essentially nobody else is addressing STRONGNAT. So, I think we're at an agreement - it's wrong to claim STRONGNAT as a basis for removing YYYY-MM-DD dates. If the experienced user in the diff above can be mislead by the guideline, then something needs to change in the guideline. Without completely rewriting the guideline, then, the affirmation needs to be there. Gimmetoo (talk) 05:26, 9 May 2012 (UTC)
    • I very strongly disagree with your summary. I think the recent discussion at Talk:Sean Combs#Date format change_proposal is highly indicative that most editors dislike these ISO dates and that they only survive because of the hangover from the era when they were parsed by linked dates. Other than brevity, no serious argument has been put forward for allowing them in references (I accept, for now, that sortable tables do benefit from them). I counter-propose that we explicitly deprecate YYYY-MM-DD in access dates on the grounds of reader utility and internal consistency. I further propose that examination be made of technical means to hide access dates on the grounds of clutter, per Franamax's proposal in that other discussion. If we decide that these dates need to be displayed to general readers though, it doesn't make sense to display them in a form that very few of them will find comprehensible. --John (talk) 21:25, 9 May 2012 (UTC)
      • All editors in this section that have mentioned STRONGNAT have directly disagreed with your assertion, John, that "national ties" is a reason for removing ISO dates. And again, you fail to mention national ties. Thank you for your confirmation. Gimmetoo (talk) 21:33, 9 May 2012 (UTC)
  • A week has gone by. Again, this started because user:John claimed that STRONGNAT is a reason to remove ISO-style date formats. Jc3s5h and A. di M.​ agree that it's not a reason, and nobody has supported John's interpretation. That appears to be a clear consensus. Frankly, I think anyone who has followed MOSDATE knows that is not a valid reason. I am restoring the clarification. Gimmetoo (talk) 13:56, 16 May 2012 (UTC)
    • Of course, if yyyy-mm-dd format dates are not dominant in the reference sections, without needing to slavishly count occurrences, it is well within reason to align them to the format prevailing in the body of the article. --Ohconfucius ¡digame! 15:53, 16 May 2012 (UTC)
          • Of course, if there are only a small minority of dates in a different format, I would expect them to be eventually be made consistent with the majority format, whether that format be YMD, dmy or mdy. I assume we can agree on that, Ohconfucius? (Even if we may not agree that the dates in the references and the dates in the body of the article are considered separately, as expressed in the guideline.) Gimmetoo (talk) 19:02, 16 May 2012 (UTC)
      • It worries me slightly that Gimme thinks this is so important as to be worth fighting over, worth campaigning for, worth reverting others' good edits for, worth restoring a copyvio for, worth trying to get a user banned for, and ultimately worth changing the MoS for. I don't think it is nearly as important as he does. I think the YYYY-MM-DD dates are unhelpful to our readers and offer no meaningful advantages, and I therefore oppose this change, but I won't fight Gimme on it. I think overall article quality and avoiding copyvios to be far more important than date formats. I hope we can all agree on that. --John (talk) 18:53, 16 May 2012 (UTC)
        • It worries me, John, that you again repeat, without a shred of evidence, your very serious accusation that I "restored a copyvio". See WP:NPA#WHATIS and either provide complete evidence, or retract, please. Gimmetoo (talk) 19:02, 16 May 2012 (UTC)
          • Avec plaisir. Look in the section on Ciroc vodka. I paraphrased it because it was obvious to me that it was in fanspeak, and you returned it to its copyvio state in the pursuit of purity of date formats. The entire section was then removed by you here, because Malleus pointed out that it was a copyvio. Please be more careful, as copyright violations and decent writing (you edit warred to return "Combs has inked a multi-year deal" to the article!) are ultimately far more important than date formats. --John (talk) 19:17, 16 May 2012 (UTC)
            • Not sufficient, John, and you have already been challenged on this. Did you really identify that material as an alleged copyright issue or not? If you did, did you say so at any point? Gimmetoo (talk) 19:28, 16 May 2012 (UTC) birth–death dates at top

Advice requested: I'm seeing more and more of this type of thing at the tops of articles that I presume have been google-translated and dumped at en.WP: (* 1708 in Tamsel; † 1784 in Berlin). Aside from the slightly POV Christian cross, may I ask whether this is proscribed by our rules? I've been removing the asterisk and cross, and replacing the semicolon with a spaced en dash. Tony (talk) 12:38, 7 May 2012 (UTC)

Yeah I have seen and removed some of these on the same basis. --John (talk) 12:57, 7 May 2012 (UTC)
This is a standard convention in Germany, though not in the United Kingdom. Out of interest I checked de:Albert Einstein and yes, his date of death is prefixed by a "†", even though he was Jewish. Martinvl (talk) 13:12, 7 May 2012 (UTC)
Although that was my impression when I encountered it in English-language genealogical works, Wikipedia assures me that the death dagger should not be confused with the Christian cross. Rmhermen (talk) 13:20, 7 May 2012 (UTC)
Huh, that's Wikipedia for you! I am pretty sure that in this usage it derives its meaning from the Christian cross. --John (talk) 13:23, 7 May 2012 (UTC)
I'm pretty sure 99% of readers who see it means death, will think of a Christian cross, regardless of history, intent, or anything we say here. Art LaPella (talk) 17:06, 7 May 2012 (UTC)
As it happens, the † symbol is not pronounced by a common screen reader such as JAWS, so the visually-impaired lose that piece of information. A nice, accessible, en-dash separating the two events – and nothing else – is much kinder to those using assistive technology (not to mention that hearing "asterisk" isn't a great audio cue for a birth). --RexxS (talk) 17:31, 7 May 2012 (UTC)
  • I think the cross and the asterisk should be disallowed. They're POV in effect, even if not by intention in all cases. Tony (talk) 06:49, 9 May 2012 (UTC)
I agree with Tony. -- Alarics (talk) 06:51, 9 May 2012 (UTC)

The reason for this format showing up (more often) is probably simply due to the fact that other language wikipedias use or even mandate them (for instance de.wp). Many authors switching between different language wikipedias probably simply do a cut and paste job and don't care about the exact format being used as long as it is understandable. So rather than Google translation in many cases it is simply a question of convenience for authors.--Kmhkmh (talk) 12:00, 9 May 2012 (UTC)

Yes, something which can be quietly replaced as and when. No need to worry about them. Rich Farmbrough, 13:23, 9 May 2012 (UTC).
Interesting article in the current issue of "The Genealogist" (journal of the Society of Genealogists about the Nazi genealogy charts - the illustrations that accompanied the artcile all showed the dagger as a symbol for "died" -the Nazis were not noted for any religious zeal, so this was probably an adaption of normal German practice. Martinvl (talk) 13:36, 9 May 2012 (UTC)
The asterix/dagger/cross thing is quite common German literature and in particular it is/was used by German encyclopedias, meaning in German it is just common traditional notation the religious meaning or association of which is close to zero.--Kmhkmh (talk) 18:27, 9 May 2012 (UTC)
No matter: it will look like a Christian cross to many folks, and that is reason enough to avoid the POV. Tony (talk) 12:08, 17 May 2012 (UTC)

I think the discussion has gone down a tangent; what matters isn't whether it looks like a cross or not but whether that's an accepted convention in the English-speaking world. The simple fact is that it's conventional in German and in some other languages, but it isn't in English and so it shouldn't be used here. --Tyrannus Mundi (talk) 19:08, 17 May 2012 (UTC) (Incidentally though, as far as the typographic dispute goes the German wikipedia's page on Genealogical signs gives the death symbol as being distinct from the typographic dagger, terming it a "Latin cross"—they do seem to be different glyphs as well. --Tyrannus Mundi (talk) 19:11, 17 May 2012 (UTC))

I agree that it shouldn't be used here, but also not because it's a cross or convention, and also not because it's German or non-English, but because we have a specified format for birth-death dates (WP:MOSBD), and that ain't it. :-) -- JHunterJ (talk) 20:28, 17 May 2012 (UTC)

Chess notation

There's a discussion at MoS central. Tony (talk) 03:03, 22 May 2012 (UTC)

Use of "June 6-20" in table cell

2012-05-24, after reply by JIMP, i have revised link names and addresses, clearly to provide stable targets as the exhibited articles change, to specify sections, etc; with some clarifying revisions in prose.
Present tense refers to 21:00, 23 May 2012. -P64

Does the use of "June 6-20" in the cell of a table commit us editors to mdy throughout article text? (Exh. Predecessors, row 1937 shows year in preceding column) (Exh. Historical results, column one shows year on preceding line in same cell) In many such tables I have used "Month day" at the left margin of a table cell, where alpha works better than numer. (Most importantly, alpha–numer helps distinguish that date from more important numerical-lead entries in the same cell.) If WP:WPCB adopts any general style it will be dmy. Neither of the two exhibited (Exh.) articles uses a full date in prose.

P.S. Last hour i questioned (Exh. user talk) another editor's arbitrary(?) changes from 2011-05-23 to dmy in two refs, among many refs that use only 2011-05-23 publication and retrieved dates (Exh. compare versions). (By the way, no full date appears in the article.) Reading above discussion of the current proposal, I infer those two refs were selected by AWB because we use {{cite}} for those two.

P.P.S. Hours ago I followed up helping another editor who last week solicited for his solo article (Exh. project talk). In part I imposed uniform 2011-05-23 format for publication dates and retrieved dates. (Exh. compare versions) (Exh. article References) (Exh. talk Suggestions: "At the same time i made the publication date and Retrieved date formats consistently yyyy-mm-dd, which seemed to be the chosen format for both.")

Thank you for your time. --P64 (talk) 21:00, 23 May 2012 (UTC)

Here's my thripennce-worth:
  • Yes, the date format shuould be the same in the table as in the text. Whether this means mdy in the table entails mdy in the text or dmy in the text entails dmy in the table (or vice versa) is another question. Why not just change the "year" column to a "date" column (also keep "site" & "entries" on separate columns) and keep the wole date together?
  • Baring in mind that when the cite templates were originally designed it was assumed that readers would have their prefered format set in their user prefs so the templates were created with in-built autoformatting which required dates to be input in yyyy-mm-dd format but now that we've dropped the practice there are a whole bunch of yyyy-mm-dd dates left exposed I don't see it as being arbitary at all to fix these.
JIMp talk·cont 03:00, 24 May 2012 (UTC)
Thanks for your reply, JIMP. You say fix and mean one thing. I say fix and mean something else. But the other editor ("P.S.") has explained, essentially, that date reformat-in' references is not arbitrary but directed by the joint appearance of {{dmy}} and {{cite}}. So I will visit {dmy}.
In that article Helpful Pixie Bot inserted {{dmy}} during one of my edit sessions last summer. Easy to overlook then, not easy to find now, partly because the edit summary does not name 'dmv'. (Exh. compare versions) There was one use of {{cite}} in the article.
I do not object to dd mmm yyyy, only to {dmv} because its scope may be so broad. --P64 (talk) 20:43, 24 May 2012 (UTC)
No thanks to those who visit exhibited articles and impose preferred solutions to the matters under discussion without comment here or elsewhere. But I should have written my yesterday comment more carefully and I have now rewritten with stable (until Talk page archiving) and clear targets. (For me now, some section links send me off-target, maybe a browser problem new to me. But linknames and context will help anyone follow and find.) --P64 (talk) 18:27, 24 May 2012 (UTC)
Autoformatting didn't require YYYY-MM-DD, and anyway only a small fraction of people set their preferences so it was far from ‘assumed’. ― A. di M.​  19:36, 24 May 2012 (UTC)

US military date format

I'm trying to find a reference that indicates the US military writes the date as, say for instance 25 December 2011. While I was in the United States Navy for four years, and all of the logs I have prepared never was the date written as such. I tried to see if things have changed, and I couldn't find a reliable source that indicates such change. Can someone cite where the military writes the date in that manner. I do know the military does write it 25DEC11 and other formats, just not 25 December 2011.Racingstripes (talk) 05:24, 13 May 2012 (UTC)

It would be useful if you took a look at the US naval ship artices, given your familiarity with the situation. I've encountered navy and ex-navy editors who insist on dmy. I ended up not changing the format to mdy, to avoid trouble. Tony (talk) 12:11, 17 May 2012 (UTC)
A web page of the U.S. Naval Institute, which is closely associated with the U.S. Navy, "Writing for Proceedings" contains this date example: "12 July 1986". But the page does not delve into detailed style advice and it isn't obvious whether they would edit manuscripts with a different date format to conform to mdy. Jc3s5h (talk) 14:47, 17 May 2012 (UTC)
I read a wikipedia article on a ship and notice the date in a style of 02 April 12. So I edited that date to April 2, 2012, and my edit was reverted with this article as the reference why. Surprised by what I read, I started looking at other US Navy ships wikipedia articles and there is mixed appearances. So I decided to review official websites for ships, and based on the small percentage of ship's websites that I reviews the results are mixed as well. Some websites consisted of both styles, and some just have April 2, 2012.Racingstripes (talk) 16:04, 17 May 2012 (UTC)
I acquired my fondness for uniformity from my military experience, and surprisingly the military hasn't been very uniform in the date format.Racingstripes (talk) 16:07, 17 May 2012 (UTC)

The rationale I've seen for 25 December [20]12 rather than, say, December 25, [20]12 (this was many years ago; it convinced me to use the former format) is that number word number is clearly separated with no possibility of confusion and easier to take in at a glance, as against word number, number. This wasn't in a military context, but it strikes me as the sort of argument that might appeal to the military mind. I suppose it was recommended, but not considered important enough to enforce. Pol098 (talk) 19:11, 17 May 2012 (UTC)

Since there are reliable sources that indicate that the US military uses multiple styles when writing the date, it would incorrect for this article to state articles on the modern US military use day before month, in accordance with military usage.Racingstripes (talk) 17:36, 25 May 2012 (UTC)

Which reliable sources are these? --John (talk) 17:55, 25 May 2012 (UTC)
  • Whatever the rationale for the use of dmy and when it was decided, it's pretty much an accepted convention here now. Those editors who work WP:MILHIST seem to prefer it by quite a large margin. Removing that particular statement you are challenging could mean disruption – thousands of articles risk being changed to mdy. If you're really unhappy with the status quo, I guess you could always file an RfC. I won't hold my breath for a change. --Ohconfucius ¡digame! 18:07, 25 May 2012 (UTC)

Official US military website:

Racingstripes (talk) 18:15, 25 May 2012 (UTC)

By saying something is done in accordance of military usage is a definitive statement that clearly is not the way the military operates as indicated by the above official military websites. There maybe indication that at times the military does write the date in one manner but there is also indications that the military writes it another manner. On a side note if the military does write the date in a certain manner, does that mean that wikipedia articles should follow suit? Regarding disruptive and changing thousands of articles, there are plenty of articles that qualify as modern military that are not consistent with this. These articles qualify as modern military and are either inconsistent or at times their content uses both formats and I'm sure there has to be plenty more War in Afghanistan (2001–present), Michael Mullen, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Martin Dempsey, MCPON, Naval Station Norfolk, USAF Thunderbirds.Racingstripes (talk) 06:48, 26 May 2012 (UTC)
I agree, the fact that the articles use other data format is not a strong reason against the change. However, is there much inconsistency in the date format used by the army? Websites are websites; you should look at the official documents. For example, all U.S. Army field manuals use DMY dates for long formats. In addition to that, this field manual] says that all army messages use Date and Time Group format, which is sort of DMY. So I don't see much of ambiguity about which format to choose.
By the way, War in Afghanistan (2001–present) is about Afghanistan, not U.S. or its army. 1exec1 (talk) 15:27, 26 May 2012 (UTC)
I seem to have noticed that whilst many many articles on ships, equipment, battles etc employ dmy dates, it's quite a bit less frequently seen in bios of military personel. Just an observation. --Ohconfucius ¡digame! 16:11, 26 May 2012 (UTC)
Yep. - Dank (push to talk) 16:18, 26 May 2012 (UTC)

If you ask at WT:MIL or WT:SHIPS, you'll find out more than you ever wanted to know on this subject :) Short answer: the 100K+ articles on Wikipedia tagged by Milhist lean toward DMY, and I can't guarantee that if you use MDY you won't get reverted, but personally, I tend not to revert MDY if the US connection is very strong ... it's just not a battle we're ever going to definitively win, as long as this is the encyclopedia that anyone can edit, and as long as most Americans are a little uncomfortable with DMY (and they are). - Dank (push to talk) 15:45, 26 May 2012 (UTC)

Dates including the day of the week at midnight

Dates at midnight we separate by a slash but what if we want to include the day of the week?

  • We could use day of week slash day of week date slash date, for example
    • Wednesday/Thursday 23/24 May 2012
    • Monday/Tuesday 30 April/1 May 2012
    • Saturday/Sunday 31 December 2011/1 January 2012
    • Wednesday/Thursday, May 23/24, 2012
    • Monday/Tuesday 30 April/1 May 2012
    • Saturday/Sunday 31 December 2011/1 January 2012
  • We could, on the other hand, use day of week date slash day of week date, for example
    • Wednesday 23/Thursday 24 May 2012 (version 1)
    • Wednesday 23 May/Thursday 24 May 2012 (version 2)
    • Monday 30 April/Tuesday 1 May 2012
    • Saturday 31 December 2011/Sunday 1 January 2012
    • Wednesday, May 23/Thursday, May 24, 2012
    • Monday April 30/Tuesday May 1, 2012
    • Saturday 31 December 2011/Sunday 1 January 2012
"Version 2" seems clearer than "version 1". Note that there is no difference between "versions 1 & 2" unless you use dmy dates & it's the same month.

I think I prefer the second choice because day of week slash day of week date slash date looks like (day of week) slash (day of week date) slash (date) instead of the intended (day of week slash day of week) (date slash date). JIMp talk·cont 08:14, 23 May 2012 (UTC)

  • If forced to choose between the two options, I would go for the former. However, I only ever see such date constructions on MILHIST articles where an action takes place overnight. As war knows no day of the week, I'm not persuaded that there many circumstances, if there are any at all, where the day of the week is significant/notable. So my inclination is to drop mention of it. --Ohconfucius ¡digame! 08:35, 23 May 2012 (UTC)
Yes, no, the day of the week is usually not necessary but it might sometimes have a place. JIMp talk·cont 09:46, 23 May 2012 (UTC)
The day of the week might be significant in describing a court case about an activity that is legal on some days of the week, but not others, and where the activity occurred near midnight. But this is so rare I don't think the MOS needs to have a rule about it. Jc3s5h (talk) 10:04, 23 May 2012 (UTC)
I'd go with the latter, but if you do, you might want to space the slashes (Wednesday 23 / Thursday 24 May). That at least is in the MOS. — kwami (talk) 05:44, 25 May 2012 (UTC)

RFC on requiring consistent style of access, publication and archive dates in footnotes

Note: this is direct extension of the above discussion. A lot of relevant information is there

The following is what the Manual of Style says with regard to access dates:

  • Access and archive dates in references should be in either the format used for publication dates, or YYYY-MM-DD.
In the same article, write
  • Jones, J. (20 Sep 2008) ... Retrieved 5 Feb 2009.
  • Jones, J. (September 20, 2008) ... Retrieved 2009-02-05.
but not
  • Jones, J. (20 Sep 2008) ... Retrieved February 5, 2009.
The issue with this is that the footnotes are allowed to have dates in two different styles. The main argument for the inconsistency seems to be that the access date is not proper part of the citation and the difference of styles helps to emphasize the distinction. However, I don't find this argument convincing. Only few readers know the actual reason for the difference, thus for them this style looks just inconsistent. This is emphasized by the fact that the dates with the same format is not grouped spatially - they are interleaved; this leads to the whole reference section looking like a mess. Note, that we have pretty strict guidelines with regards to consistency of date formats and the only exceptions are for spatially grouped dates - dates in tables and dates in footnotes. This is not the case here. Given these arguments, I think that all dates within references should use the same format, the selection of which should conform to relevant guidelines, as before. To be more specific, I want the section of the guideline quoted above to become the following:
  • Access and archive dates in references should be in the same format that is used for publication dates.
In the same article, write
  • Jones, J. (20 Sep 2008) ... Retrieved 5 Feb 2009.
  • Jones, J. (2008-09-20) ... Retrieved 2009-02-05.
but not
  • Jones, J. (20 Sep 2008) ... Retrieved February 5, 2009.
  • Jones, J. (20 September 2008) ... Retrieved 2009-02-05.
I would like to ask for some opinions to determine whether this change is supported by consensus. Thank you for the input. 1exec1 (talk) 23:03, 8 May 2012 (UTC)
  • Support as proposer. 1exec1 (talk) 23:03, 8 May 2012 (UTC)
  • Support I can think of no reason to allow inconsistency. If it were up to me, I'd require consistency throughout the article. JIMp talk·cont 23:27, 8 May 2012 (UTC)
  • Support Nom is stating the obvious. --Ohconfucius ¡digame! 03:10, 9 May 2012 (UTC)
  • Refuse to consider in this talk page. If adopted this proposal would contradict WP:CITE, which allows any consistent citation style, including APA style. APA style, in turn, calls for dates like "(2008, January 1)" for a publication date, but "January 5, 2010" for an access date. Jc3s5h (talk) 02:42, 9 May 2012 (UTC)
    • Agreed; stylistic matters for footnotes belong at WT:CITE. — Carl (CBM · talk) 02:57, 9 May 2012 (UTC)
      • As blazoned on the top of WP:CITE", This page documents an English Wikipedia content guideline", so style matters ought to remain here. --Ohconfucius ¡digame! 03:07, 9 May 2012 (UTC)
        • I believe this (non?) issue has been solved by adding a pointer from WT:CITE to here. 1exec1 (talk) 09:07, 9 May 2012 (UTC)
Support per nom. -- Alarics (talk) 06:40, 9 May 2012 (UTC)
  • Support—no-brainer: make ref dates uniform. Like Jimp, I can't see why all dates shouldn't be consistent in an article, with the possible exception of the occasional really space-poor table. Tony (talk) 06:46, 9 May 2012 (UTC)
  • Burn with fire are you enjoying your nice little MOS walled garden and not actually soliciting comments from the community of editors who cite? Fifelfoo (talk) 07:15, 9 May 2012 (UTC)
    • So where I can see a list of problems with this proposal along the with the supporting arguments? How can I adjust my opinion without even knowing what's wrong? I acknowledge that I'm not a expert in official citation styles. But here's a comment of an user who did some research:

      I had looked through the APA style guide and found the recommended publication date format was like "(2010, February 22)", and that access dates were discouraged unless the content was likely to change. I could find no example of an access date format. But today I experimented with Zotero and found that if you specify an access date and order Zotero to produce an APA reference list entry, it will format the access date like "March 6, 2012".

Emphasis mine. So unless someone can confirm that there's a requirement on APA or some other style guide to use different format for access dates, your argument is very weak. 1exec1 (talk) 09:07, 9 May 2012 (UTC)
I have confirmed that not only Zotero, but also the Wikipedia "Cite this page" tool found to the left of articles, and Microsoft Word 2010 implement APA style with publication dates like "(2010, February 22)" and access dates like "March 6, 2012". Jc3s5h (talk) 15:20, 9 May 2012 (UTC)
This is just the way these tools chose to implement undefined part of the APA guideline. APA style doesn't say anything about the format of access dates, thus one can choose whatever format he wants, including 2008, December 2 or 2 December 2008. 1exec1 (talk) 14:50, 10 May 2012 (UTC)
After searching further, I found this example on the APA style blog, a website operated by the American Psychological Association. It gives the retrieval date as "October 14, 2009". Jc3s5h (talk) 15:25, 10 May 2012 (UTC)
This example is not a rule. There's nothing written anywhere that this is the preferred format. For us this means that one can choose whatever format he wants without breaking any rules in the guide.1exec1 (talk) 11:27, 11 May 2012 (UTC)
Since the blog just cited describes itself thus: "the APA Style Blog is the official companion to the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, Sixth Edition" I consider the matter definitively settled and your objection to be without merit. Jc3s5h (talk) 12:54, 11 May 2012 (UTC)
I can repeat the same question again: can you quote some official APA source unambiguously saying that DMY/MDY style is the preferred one? 1exec1 (talk) 11:47, 14 May 2012 (UTC)
I just did. Read the APA manual. You will see that format is always presented in the form of examples. That what the entire chapter 7 consists of, examples. The presentation of an example on the official blog is consistent with this practice. Jc3s5h (talk) 12:55, 14 May 2012 (UTC)
  • Comment: YYYY-MM-DD dates have the advantage of being (easily) machine-readable. An ideal solution would allow their use for data entry in citation templates, subsequently rendered with either a configurable output, or output according to a user-preference setting. c/f {{Start date}}. Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 09:44, 9 May 2012 (UTC)
Andy, this is like arguing for decimalisation because it's easier for computers. Parsing reasonably well formed dates (especially sitting in a "date" field of a template) is fairly trivial. But I do have a preference for them for accessdates, partly to emphasise that they are technical trivia 99% of the time. Rich Farmbrough, 09:58, 9 May 2012 (UTC).
Take a step back. To me the issue is somewhat moot. When we started using accessdate we were a little vague, and the purpose is therefore equally muddy. Access dates are now part of mainstream citation, but mainstream citation is also static. I made some proposals a few years back on this, I think they were lost in the talk page morass, but they were slightly addressed by adding a quote field, although that has a similarly muddy purpose. So what we want is:
  • This is the document I looked at (it was on date A, and the text supports "Foo is a bar" because it says "Foo the bar from Baz")
  • This document was last looked at on date B and it still says "Foo the bar from Baz"
In other words there are two distinct functions, one is to pin down the version of a dynamic page (even if we just mean the page existed on that day) the other is to monitor currency.
It's not clear to me where and when we want to display this information. I believe we actually need to tuck some of it away, and only use it when we are verifying currency of references, or investigating why references don't [any more] seem to support their referent (referand?). Rich Farmbrough, 09:53, 9 May 2012 (UTC).
  • Oppose. Archival and access dates are usually very unimportant info; I can barely see the point of giving them at all in most cases, let alone of spelling them out in full. In some articles this would make a large majority of the space in the reference footnotes be taken up by full dates, making it much harder to look for actually important info such as authors and titles. ― A. di M.​  10:17, 9 May 2012 (UTC)
So why should the publication dates be spelled out in full if the space is at premium? This proposal doesn't disallow using ISO format, only that dates should use consistent format whatever it is. 1exec1 (talk) 10:21, 9 May 2012 (UTC)
What is "most cases"? References generally? Or web references, where material is highly mutable? Where sources change, a specific version should be cited. For printed works, a publication date or edition usually suffices. Web pages don't have that, so an access date is needed. And where significant changes are made the access date can be very important (like Rich just said). ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 20:00, 9 May 2012 (UTC)
  • Oppose I like having the visual signal that the access dates are different. Also, it reflects actual community practice, having been voluntarily used on a huge number of articles even though never required, and /i think guidelines like this ought to reflect the community's voluntary practice. WhatamIdoing (talk) 15:16, 9 May 2012 (UTC)
    • I'm pretty certain that were it not for Reflinks' adoption of ISO as the default date format, we would see it on few articles. Those ISO date formats currently being "voluntarily used on a huge number of articles". As it stands, the pervasive use of dmy or mdy dates despite the Reflinks insertions indicates that people strongly desire date formats they can easily understand. --Ohconfucius ¡digame! 00:37, 10 May 2012 (UTC)
  • Oppose per WP:CREEP. The more rules we add about how references must be formatted, the more difficult we make it for people to add references, when we should be making it easier. I wouldn't mind having a bot run around making them look more consistent but I don't think we should insist on turning human editors into bots. —David Eppstein (talk) 15:20, 9 May 2012 (UTC)
    • Surely those are arguments for reducing the number of permissible formats?? --Ohconfucius ¡digame! 00:37, 10 May 2012 (UTC)
The actual problem is that some editors like to oppose any such consistency changes based on WP:DATERET. I think wording of the guideline that consistency is preferred but not required would fix any issues with WP:CREEP. What do you think?1exec1 (talk) 11:14, 11 May 2012 (UTC)
  • Oppose as written. Some editors distinguish accessdates and publication dates by format. I see nothing objectionable with that approach; it's been accepted and used on Wiki for years. We should not be forbidding such styles without a very strong reason, and I haven't seen that yet. I would support adding "Jones, J. (2008-09-20) ... Retrieved 2009-02-05." to the explicit list of acceptable styles, however, to avoid giving new editors the impression that style isn't allowed. Gimmetoo (talk) 20:06, 9 May 2012 (UTC)
  • Comment. I could see all access dates (all across Wikipedia) having a consistent (and preferably terse) format. But I don't (yet?) see any compelling reason that they should be consistent with the publication date. Which could vary with the style of citation. Seems to me that access dates would be easier to handle (in the templates, and for editors) if there was a single (terse) format. Consider it an in-house technical thing, independent of citation style. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 20:16, 9 May 2012 (UTC)
Templates? Templates are not required. Jc3s5h (talk) 00:18, 10 May 2012 (UTC)
  • Oppose, and continue to allow international date format for access and archive dates  Access and archive dates are not part of the citation itself.  Allowing the international-standard date form for the access and archive date seems to work well to distinguish the two groups.  Unscintillating (talk) 00:06, 10 May 2012 (UTC)
Many style manuals do specify access dates as part of the citation, although I have not noticed any that specify an archive date. So many access dates are part of the citation itself. Jc3s5h (talk) 00:18, 10 May 2012 (UTC)
  • Of course they are part of the citation. If they were not, there is even less of an argument for them to be governed by WP:CITE. --Ohconfucius ¡digame! 00:37, 10 May 2012 (UTC)
  • Oppose per WP:CREEP Having a restriction must have a good reason for it. The proposer thinks this very mild inconsistency looks a mess. I don't see that and doubt that most users will.Dejvid (talk)Dejvid (talk) 16:54, 10 May 2012 (UTC)
The actual problem is that some editors like to oppose any such consistency changes based on WP:DATERET. I think wording of the guideline that consistency is preferred but not required would fix any issues with WP:CREEP. What do you think?1exec1 (talk) 11:14, 11 May 2012 (UTC)
  • Support. I like the way the citations look when the dates are all a uniform style, and personally I find the ISO dates not as easy to parse. A bot could be tasked with changing the existing articles to conform to this guideline.-- Dianna (talk) 18:53, 10 May 2012 (UTC);
  • Oppose. Changing the MoS means requiring millions of referenced articles to be update to meet it. Or if not, then it is pointless it being in the MoS if it is not followed.
It seems to me the MoS is updated more often than most articles are. I think MoS change proposers should try eating their own dogfood and come with an evidence-base proposal of, let's say, a few thousand articles before-and-after the proposed change, before suggesting such makework. WP:CREEP as above, and WP:IDONTLIKEIT is relevant, too. Si Trew (talk) 22:49, 10 May 2012 (UTC)
The actual problem is that some editors like to oppose any such consistency changes based on WP:DATERET. I think wording of the guideline that consistency is preferred but not required would fix any issues with references not aligned to the guideline. What do you think?1exec1 (talk) 11:14, 11 May 2012 (UTC)
  • Support and update WP:CITE to conform: Having multiple formats in the same article is pointless, confusing, sloppy-looking and leads to formatting editwars. I've raised the issue before that there never was a clear consensus to change MOS to support ISO date formatting in the accessdate to begin with, and many consensus discussions over the last decades that concluded we shouldn't use ISO date formats at all in reader-facing material, because only geeks who know what order ISO dates go in knows for sure what they mean (2010-02-07 is liable to be interpreted differently by average North Americans vs. typical British, Australian, etc. readers). If we return to the simple rule to use the same date format in an article consistently (and consistently with WP:ENGVAR), virtually everyone will follow it without incident. PS: Wikipedia DGAF about APA style; WP is not the American Psychological Association. PPS: That various things not in compliance with a proposed rule would have to be changed over time to comply with it is not an argument against the rule, it's just an statement of one's own unwillingness to partcipate in that particular effort. Frankly, that's another DGAF matter; no one on the system cares at all who is doing what, and what you personally won't fix is of no consequence, since some bored gnome will just write a bot or AWB script for it. If "we can't do that, because stuff would have to change" were a valid rationale here, WP would look exactly as it did the week it started. PPPS: The APA "2017, January 16" weird formatting being "allowed" by WP:CITE is a red herring, since no one actually does this here. If anyone did, another editor would fix the goofy date format sooner or later, probably sooner. I've been editing for about 7 years here, and only seen that nonsense two or three times, and was not reverted when I cleaned it up. PPPPS: The idea that this must be discussed at WT:CITE, not here, is clearly incorrect. This is obviously a MoS matter. A content guideline and how-to, like WP:CITE, cannot be authoritative on style guideline matters, by definition. — SMcCandlish   Talk⇒ ɖ∘¿¤þ   Contrib. 07:59, 13 May 2012 (UTC)
  • Support as per SMcCandlish and others. The templates (such as {{Cite web}}) all recommend using a format such as "May 14, 2012" so that is what is being used as editors copy-and-paste the blank templates as a starting point. It makes sense to use "May" instead of "05" because the English version is immediately, and unambiguously recognisable to any reader. I can't see how any article can be harmed by having a consistent date format throughout. GFHandel   01:53, 14 May 2012 (UTC)
  • Oppose Access and archive dates are present for a different reason than the publication/creation date. There's no reason for them to use the same format. The existing wording is fine. The proposed change would be classic instruction creep. Peter coxhead (talk) 21:29, 16 May 2012 (UTC)
  • Strong Support as per 1exec1. There's absolutely no reason for such an inconsistency in style.--Yutsi Talk/ Contributions 22:01, 22 May 2012 (UTC)
  • Oppose utterly In the discussion above (two sections, all i've read), I don't recognize a good reason in favor and I disagree with the reasons that are bad because they simply express personal preference.
    · "Bad guy" OC is dead right that no one should confidently attribute 2011-05-23 to the use of templates or to copy-and-paste. Certainly I have typed "Retrieved 201y-mm-dd" more than 1000 times, or pasted one completion and edited the numerals.
    · I do wish the display were shorter, don't much care about the typing. Now my preference seems to be 20110523, second choice 2011-05-23, no alphabetical characters.
    · (quote) "Access and archive dates in references should be in either the format used for publication dates, or YYYY-MM-DD". I do not understand this to permit the alternation of access and archive dates that OC illustrates in (?)the preceding section, two blue tables. I understand "access and archive" to be one use; if I am wrong, of course I think wording can be improved. Anyway I suggest improvement "should use either YYYY-MM-DD or the format used for publication dates". (continued in new section if time permits) --P64 (talk) 20:51, 23 May 2012 (UTC)
  • Support - Per proposer. Uniformity in date formats is good. Permitting (and using) two formats within a single article gives editors the impression that there is no MOS rule on date formats at all. --Noleander (talk) 20:35, 30 May 2012 (UTC)
  • Support - The inconsistencies cited do make the references look messy, so WP:IAR should weigh heavy over references to English style guides that were devised before the existence of Wikipedia. __meco (talk) 20:52, 30 May 2012 (UTC)


I'm not sure that the new percent guideline "Percentages are usually written with figures, e.g., 10 percent" was written with recognition of the existing percent guideline: "Where a whole number in a percentage is spelled out, the percent sign is not used (three percent or 3%, not three %)." If we discourage "three percent" then why do we use it as a good example without comment? And if both guidelines are valid, then shouldn't they be listed together, so we understand the nuance of just how discouraged but not discouraged "three percent" is? Art LaPella (talk) 05:03, 12 June 2012 (UTC)

Regarding placement in the page, there are three relevant sections about percentages, each with a different purpose:
  • Numbers as figures or words - This section is about when to spell out numbers (e.g., "ten") and when to user figures (e.g., "10")
  • Typography - This section is about whether to use the symbol '%' vs. "percent"
  • Percentages - This section covers general usage and style questions about percentages
It makes sense to have the rule about using figures for the numbers in percentages (e.g., "10 percent") in the first section, since that is a dedicated section on when to spell out numbers. We shouldn't repeat the rule in the general section on percentages. The same question of redundancy occurs with other topics on numbers, such as fractions, which are treated in multiple sections.
Regarding the new percent guideline, to be clear, it's not new. It was there before, just buried within a confusing line about fractions (see Fractions (above)): "use the fraction form if they occur in a percentage". This was included under a guideline on fractions simply because percentages are by definition fractions. I thought that was confusing, since most people don't think of percentages as fractions, so I made a separate line to state the rule more clearly without reference to fractions.
The recommendation to use figures for the number part of percentages is consistent with other style guides, such as the AP Style Guide which says "Percentages are always expressed as numerals, followed by the word “percent.” Example: The price of gas rose 5 percent." Regarding use of the word "percent" vs. the symbol "%", the AP guideline is more restrictive than the Wikipedia guideline as now written, because Wikipedia only favors the symbol "%" in tables and info boxes (see MOS:NUM#Percentages). Otherwise, Wikipedia doesn't explicitly favor either "percent" or "%". In my personal opinion, I like the AP style, which encourages the word "percent", at least in text (vs. tables), because the symbol "%" seems to jump out of lines of text, but that's just my opinion. As is typical, Wikipedia tends to favor letting the writer decide in cases like this when there is a stylistic choice (with the obvious exception of encouraging consistency within an article). The Chicago Manual of Style is fairly consistent with these Wikipedia gudelines, except it favors "percent" over "%" in text (as opposed to a table, where it is suggests "%" might look better).
Given all that, I think "10 percent" is a good example. It clearly shows the guideline to use figures vs. numbers. It also shows that you should still use figures even if you use "percent" instead of "%". Since Wikipedia doesn't favor one over the other, and there are examples, such as in tables, where "%" will clearly work better, it makes sense to include another example, "10%". I'll make that change for clarity.
In my recent changes, I was trying to clarify guidelines that I thought were poorly written vs. introducing new guidelines. We could introduce a new guideline, however, that encourages using "percent" in text vs. using "%", and I'd certainly be open to discuss that. Coastside (talk) 08:18, 12 June 2012 (UTC)
“the symbol "%" seems to jump out of lines of text” – maybe you're using some unusual font? In my font, the % symbol has the same height as numerals. Anyway, the symbol appears to be more common than the spelled-out word, at least according to Google Ngram Viewer. (But that counts both prose and tables, and I wouldn't be surprised if a sizeable fraction of all uses of percentages in books were in tables or the like.) ― A. di M.​  10:30, 12 June 2012 (UTC)
By "jump out" I just meant the symbol % visually stands out more than percent in lines of text (as you can see in this line itself). Regardless, none of my changes were meant to modify the guidelines, only clarify them. I was just expressing my opinion (and it seems maybe I shouldn't have done that) that I liked the AP guideline which favored "percent" vs. "%", but I didn't impose that guideline on Wikipedia. Also, I put the other example in, too, so now the examples don't inadvertently favor one style over the other. Coastside (talk) 11:03, 12 June 2012 (UTC)

Categorical BC/BCE standardization

A conversation that got started on the issue of BC/BCE standardization has been lost inside a mess of strikeouts of the posts of a deleted user. So let me try to start again, separate from whatever he was discussing. The relevant portion of the guidelines currently start out with "AD and BC are the traditional ways of referring to these eras. CE and BCE are common in some academic and religious writing. No preference is given to either style." In the general case, that is reasonable. However, given that both are acceptable, there are contexts in which one or the other may be preferable to avoid (generally unintended) POV problems. (For those unfamiliar with the situation, BC stands for Before Christ, and AD stands for Anno Domini, "In the Year of Our Lord", both references to the perceived divinity of Jesus; the BCE/CE nomenlcature - Before Common Era/Common Era - uses the same date figures but avoid claims of divinity. BCE/CE is now in common use among academic historians.) By casting an article on, say, the history of the Temple in Jerusalem specifically in terms of BC/AD, it creates the unintentional suggestion that what was going on with or to the Jews has some relation to Christ. I would like to propose that we replace that opening with this:

    • AD and BC are the traditional ways of referring to these eras. CE and BCE are common in some academic and religious writing. No preference is given to either style.
      • Use either the BC-AD or the BCE-CE notation, but (except for within quotations) be consistent within the same article. AD may appear before or after a year (AD 106, 106 AD); the other abbreviations appear after (106 CE, 3700 BCE, 3700 BC).
      • BC-AD notation is preferred for articles that are primarily about the Christian religion, such as the history of a church or the biography of a saint. BC-BCE notation is preferred for articles primarily on non-Christian religious topics (including non-Abrahamic religions, non-Christian Abrahamic religions, and atheism) and for articles on general religious topics that include both Christian and non-Christian content. For articles that are not primarily on religious topics, no preference is given to either style.

(The "Use either" paragraph is bumped up from later in the section, with the exception for quotations being added.) Basically, I see this akin to the British spelling/US spelling standard, where we use British spelling on British topics and US spelling on US topics. Any objections? --Nat Gertler (talk) 16:40, 16 May 2012 (UTC)

On first and hurried glance it looks like a general improvement, except that the wording lacks the present prohibition of casual changes. "Use either", without stated limitation, invites edit warring and pov pushing and makes the situation worse. Perhaps the omission was an oversight?
If the choice of era-dating style is akin to WP:ENGVAR (especially at WP:RETAIN), we should ensure there is an analogous template for notifying violators.
I hope that your asking "Any objections" will not lead to hasty closure of the discussion. It's a complex issue; let's give it sufficient time and consideration. Hertz1888 (talk) 17:23, 16 May 2012 (UTC)
I was merely listing the bullet points that would be changed; "Do not arbitrarily change" is a separate bullet point and I was expecting it to remain. Good point on the creation of a template. And no, "any objections" was not an attempt to rush things; merely an attempt to be able to treat a prolonged lack of response as consensus. Clearly, response has occurred. --Nat Gertler (talk) 02:36, 17 May 2012 (UTC)
The English language is chock full of historical and religious baggage. Just get over it. Jc3s5h (talk) 17:35, 16 May 2012 (UTC)
I have to agree with Jc3s5h about the desirability of not worrying so much about this. It is simply untrue that the merely conventional use of BC/AD affirms the divinity of Jesus; how is this so? Does the use of "Thursday" assert the divinity of Thor? Both BC/AD and BCE/CE stipulate the life of Christ as the center from which all time is reckoned; they differ not at all on this point. Besides, you do know that many people think CE stands for "Christian era," and that indeed some dictionaries provide that as one meaning? For me, BC/AD is less susceptible of scribal error, or misreading at a glance, than BCE/CE. More specifically, the proposed wording is too complicated and invites lawyering. Let me be self-centered and say that I don't want to have to deal with drive-by era-convention edits on the hundreds of articles I watch on ancient Greek, Roman, and Celtic religion, insisting without the slightest interest in the actual content that non-Christian religions must not use BC/AD. I could just as easily argue that since Anno Domini is Latin, it's more appropriate for any article on ancient Rome. Or better yet, I could argue for using AUC dates for all articles about ancient Rome; that would solve the supposed problem of Christian-centered chronology, which BCE/CE does not. Cynwolfe (talk) 21:01, 16 May 2012 (UTC)
You are, of course, free not to worry about this. It is not "simply untrue that the merely conventional use of BC/AD affirms the divinity of Jesus"; it is saying that all things are relative not just to Jesus, but to Christ, and that he is our Lord; there's a reason why people have been using alternatives to BC/AD for centuries. That's different than simply using that date as a reference point. You may not feel that way, so it is simply untrue for you that it does, but what problem would this standard cause for you? Apparently, that you'd see some editing taking place. "For me, BC/AD is less susceptible of scribal error, or misreading at a glance, than BCE/CE." If you wish to argue that one should be considered generally preferable, feel free to make that case, but the extant situation is that both formats are already deemed acceptable. --Nat Gertler (talk) 02:53, 17 May 2012 (UTC)
Look, the proposed change says BC-BCE notation is preferred for articles primarily on non-Christian religious topics. Does that not give drive-by editors a license to impose BCE/CE dating on every article about ancient Greek and ancient Roman religion and myth? I don't wish to impose a particular system on anyone else, and I don't wish to go around changing established era conventions in other articles. I do think the subject matter of an article should be taken into account in choosing or changing the era convention; I don't think we need to dictate that all articles not explicitly dealing in Christian subject matter should use BCE/CE. The proposed phrase would dictate a categorical preference, even if contrary to the consensus of editors contributing to the article. That's a significant change. Cynwolfe (talk) 04:32, 18 May 2012 (UTC)
If using BC/AD implies a relationship between the historical event and Jesus then by the same logic, I could say that measuring temperature in Celsius implies a relationship with water. It's simply not true and only a select few people would even consider that possibility. Besides, the proposed change would create even more ambiguity than the status quo, since people would be arguing about whether an article does or doesn't relate to Western civilisation. (WP Editor 2011 (talk) 08:52, 19 May 2012 (UTC))
But the relationship between the Celcius scale and the physical characteristics of water is not "implied", it is explicit. Roger (talk) 10:21, 19 May 2012 (UTC)
Simply saying that something is "simply not true" does not actually make it not true. Claiming that only a few people would consider that possibility flies in the face that this possibility has been considered by many for many years, leading to BCE/CE becoming the apparent default for academic use in non-Christian-specific circles. Since "Western civilisation" is not the criteria, that's a false concern. -Nat Gertler (talk) 13:59, 22 May 2012 (UTC)
@Cynwolfe Two points. Firstly the proposed wording uses "preferred", this doesn't equate to "should". Secondly I agree that this shouldn't apply to every article about "ancient Greek and ancient Roman religion and myth". The issue is really one of politeness and consideration: it's not appropriate in articles about currently practised non-Christian religions to use BC/AD – the latter in particular. Peter coxhead (talk) 11:46, 19 May 2012 (UTC)
And there is an argument to be made for adding a clause limiting it to currently practiced religions. Good thought. -Nat Gertler (talk) 13:59, 22 May 2012 (UTC)
"Currently practiced" would certainly solve my problem. Peter coxhead, you are a reasonable soul who sees the difference between "preferred" and "thou shalt," but I can't say whether you are in the majority among editors who concern themselves with stylistic conformity. I've seen editors swoop into articles—long, complex, densely researched and footnoted articles—and try to impose certain stylistic preferences (such as citation style, or era convention) against the strong objections of the editors who are actually generating the content. Hence my exasperated tone. As a secularist, I'm tired of having people fight their religious wars in my yard (that goes for militant atheists too). I'm perfectly happy to give Thor his day, because I don't think Thor exists. The world is full of living fictions. Homo sum, and all that. As I said, I wouldn't use BC/AD in a context where it would sound offensive or quaint. Cynwolfe (talk) 21:59, 24 May 2012 (UTC)
Sadly I have concluded from experiences similar to those you describe that reasonableness is all too rarely a quality possessed by editors interested in (or claiming to be interested in) stylistic conformity, so I well understand your exasperation. Peter coxhead (talk) 06:12, 25 May 2012 (UTC)

AFAIK, Cynwolfe is correct that "CE" started out simply as Christian Era, the English translation of Latin "AD". (And "BC" stayed "BC".) Only later was it taken to be, or to double for, Common Era. That said, it is preferred by many where "AD" would be taken as Christian POV pushing.

And frankly, in my country, I'm surprised that there isn't a move to rename Thursday. At least we don't have that to worry about.

This may not be reliable, but it seems that Hindu writers don't have much problem with AD/BC. That's more of a Jewish/Muslim/secular thing. — kwami (talk) 05:56, 25 May 2012 (UTC)

An updated take:

    • AD and BC are the traditional ways of referring to these eras. CE and BCE are common in some academic and religious writing. No preference is given to either style.
      • Use either the BC-AD or the BCE-CE notation, but (except for within quotations) be consistent within the same article. AD may appear before or after a year (AD 106, 106 AD); the other abbreviations appear after (106 CE, 3700 BCE, 3700 BC).
      • BC-AD notation is preferred for articles that are primarily about Christian religions, such as the history of a church or the biography of a saint, except for those specifically about Jehovah's Witnesses. BC-BCE notation is preferred for articles primarily on topics related to currently-practiced non-Christian religions (including non-Abrahamic religions, non-Christian Abrahamic religions, and atheism), Jehovah's Witnesses, and for articles on general religious topics that include both Christian and non-Christian content. For articles that are not primarily on religious topics, no preference is given to either style.

This reflects the "currently practiced" concern, adds in Jehovah's Witnesses (who avoid AD dating apparently because of concern of the accuracy of the dating of the birth of Jesus), and reworks the phrase "the Christian religion" I had sloppily put in there as if all differences were merely intramural. --Nat Gertler (talk) 16:08, 25 May 2012 (UTC)

That sounds pretty good. Anything that can, at the least, minimize some of the conflict is an improvement. To clarify, the "Do not arbitrarily change" bullet point will remain as stated above? Mojoworker (talk) 17:00, 25 May 2012 (UTC)
The position of atheism in this list is awkward, classing it as a religion. Better to move it to the end, like
  • ... BC-BCE notation is preferred for articles primarily on topics related to currently-practiced non-Christian religions (including non-Abrahamic religions, non-Christian Abrahamic religions, and atheism), Jehovah's Witnesses, and for articles on general religious topics that include both Christian and non-Christian content, and for articles on atheism. ...
There is such a thing as trying too hard. I think you are saying much too much in the third portion of the proposed text. It imposes a level of detail in what is preferred (after saying that WP has no preference) that will be seen as pov and will be difficult to enforce. Unless that text is radically simplified, I think I would prefer the status quo. In any event, the "do not change without consensus" point should have a prominent place near the top of the statement, and (as previously mentioned) a warning template should be created regarding violations of the policy. Hertz1888 (talk) 18:48, 25 May 2012 (UTC)
"BC-BCE notation" is a typo. In context, it has to mean "BCE-CE notation". Art LaPella (talk) 23:17, 25 May 2012 (UTC)
The hot academic debates on this topic have cooled down, and most academics now omit "AD" whenever possible, and either use "BCE" or read "BC" as "before the Christian era". - Dank (push to talk) 16:09, 26 May 2012 (UTC)
I was going to add this to the earlier thread, but will put it here. I certainly don't like the proposal in that thread at all. My experience is that most changes are from BCE/CE to BC/AD. I've seen a number of IPs and some accounts making multiple unexplained era changes in this direction but not the other way. In fact I've been discussing one of these with WP Editor 2011. I doubt that many of them know about WP:ERA of course. In fact right now I'm in a discussion with him about whether once a change has been made, discussed or not, it becomes the 'default' after a period of time and a discussion is needed to change it back. Say a 9 year old article started with one, and five years ago was changed to the other. I'd argue that you can't just change it back quoting WP:ERA but need a discussion. In fact, on active articles I'd say a year is long enough for it to be 'default'. I think we could use some guidance on this although that might be pre-empted by this discussion - or maybe not. It might avoid some edit wars if we give some guidance on this. Dougweller (talk) 15:29, 29 May 2012 (UTC)

I'm indebted to Dougweller for introducing me to this discussion. I don't want to go over old ground, other than underlining his sense that most changes of Era dates are the work of drive-by editors, generally without user names, often leaving no explanation for the change. Where there is a rare explanation, there seems to be a genuine perception that BCE is a typo for BC; in other cases it may be a wish for monocultural conformity. I am, therefore, very much in favour of some mention in the guidelines of the need to avoid the latter. Just because the English language has currently such a widespread use does not necessarily mean that those who employ it wish to subscribe to all the conventions of countries where it is the home language. It needs to be repeated over and over that WP is for all people and everything possible should be done to avoid giving them a sense of exclusion.

I'd like to take up kwami's impression here that Hindus aren't bothered by the Era issue. I belong to a Dharmic faith myself (that's Buddhist, Hindu, Jain, Sikh) and know how ready my Dharma brothers and sisters are to express their frustration at culturally colonial suppositions about them and their preferences when they find a sympathetic ear. It's a question, really, of asking the right question - not 'Do you mind?' but 'Which would you prefer?'

Finally, how do we establish consensus for change of Era in an article? Is it necessary to open the same kind of debate as here on just this point in every case? Or is it enough to suggest an editorial standard for an article on its talk page, which may include reasons for Era preference, and see if there is comment? As I think I see from the discussion above, the preference is for clear guidelines but avoidance of a draconian and prescriptive approach. Mzilikazi1939 (talk) 16:40, 29 May 2012 (UTC)

A talk page discussion is quite enough; everything does not need to come here. Stretching a consensus on one page to cover other related pages that were not notified of the discussion may be dubious though. Johnbod (talk) 15:51, 30 May 2012 (UTC)
I agree with that both of your comments. The situation is that the very last edit at Talk:Aesop Fables (part of a discussion called "General guidelines on creating and editing Aesop Fable articles" reads "One other thing. Since articles involve a wide range of dates, and many countries and cultures for which Christian dating is inappropriate, all dates should be given as Common Era (B/CE). Mzilikazi1939 (talk) 10:36 am, 29 April 2011, Friday (UTC+1)" No one responded to that, and the editor made the change to Aesop. WP Editor 2011 somehow came to the article recently and changed it back, with the edit summary "Corrected ongoing style issue/rule breach. That change has never been discussed, let alone agreed to, on the talk page" and there's been a minor edit war since but no discussion on the talk page. Dougweller (talk) 17:37, 30 May 2012 (UTC)
There has however been a discussion at Talk:Aesop about BC/BCE and 3 editors support a change to BCE. WP Editor 2001 doesn't seem willing to take part in the 'poll', citing Wikipedia:NOPOLLS which doesn't apply since this 'poll' is the response to a discussion initiated in February but which only received responses in the last few days, but is now being discussed. If an editor is going to take that stance we'll get nowhere. Dougweller (talk) 17:47, 30 May 2012 (UTC)

Another stab at it

Here's a stab using something even more genteel than "preferred", merely calling for consideration.

  • Consideration should be given on topics that are primarily about a currently-held specific religious belief or about the history, practices, and personages whose import derives from such a belief as to whether the use of BC/AD dating would create an improper non-neutral POV. For such topics where the belief's adherents do not consider Jesus divine or who object to BC/AD dating, use of BC/AD may create such a POV.

Thoughts? --Nat Gertler (talk) 20:02, 30 May 2012 (UTC)

Too hectoring. Tells me how I'm supposed to position myself morally in relation to a style convention. How about:
  • The era convention should be appropriate to the topic. The BC/AD convention has Christian connotations that may be incongruous with the content of an article, particularly those dealing with another religion or culture, in which case BCE/CE may be preferred.
    • No preference is given to either BC/AD or BCE/CE in articles dealing with historical Western culture up to the 20th century. In such articles, do not arbitrarily change an established era style unless there are reasons specific to the content. If the change is opposed by another editor, seek consensus on the talk page. Cynwolfe (talk) 21:03, 30 May 2012 (UTC)
While I don't see the hectoring you do, I do like your general phrasing. I'm not clear about the 20th century division; do we have reason for preference for BCE/CE beyond the 20th century? I'm also trying to find a way that the concerns includes topics of atheism (which is not a religion, but may be considered a religious belief) and also may include Christian groups that avoid AD themselves. Having said that, the only example I know of the latter is the Jehovah's Witnesses, and I don't know that there are specific JW articles that have particular reason to invoke such date coding at all... although I guess they would when discussing JW beliefs about the birth of Jesus. --Nat Gertler (talk) 22:36, 30 May 2012 (UTC)
You're right; the time parameter should go. "Historical" is probably sufficient. My main point is that we shouldn't try to anticipate all the possible reasons or objections. I think it's sufficient to state in the guideline that the era convention should be appropriate to the subject matter. The sub-guideline simply clarifies that by definition either convention will be appropriate to historical Western culture; that excludes leaves it up to consensus regarding the contemporary West, broadly construed as the last hundred years, and prehistory. Cynwolfe (talk) 23:05, 30 May 2012 (UTC)
We definitely need more guidance, and something like this looks good. I'll note that one problem I've just discovered is an editor adding 'AD' to articles that didn't have any era in them, and this is apparently being done to give AD priority. Any suggestions as to what to do about this? Dougweller (talk) 15:17, 31 May 2012 (UTC)
I'd say that's already covered by "Do not use CE or AD unless the date or century would be ambiguous without it (e.g. "The Norman Conquest took place in 1066" not 1066 CE nor AD 1066)." --Nat Gertler (talk) 16:03, 31 May 2012 (UTC)
I'd like to go ahead with this as soon as possible. Is the discussion at Talk:Apollo#Talk:Apollo sufficient for the change just made by WP Editor 2011? Dougweller (talk) 12:31, 3 June 2012 (UTC)
I'd welcome the suggested changes. Haploidavey (talk) 17:32, 3 June 2012 (UTC)
Looks good to go to me. --Nat Gertler (talk) 19:25, 3 June 2012 (UTC)
It's stupid. BC/AD creates a POV no more than the days of the week, months of the year or the planets, all of which are named after other gods. For Wikipedia on a policy page to suggest that other religions should be offended by the standard English language way of writing dates, which is the way it's always been, would get these people worked up for nothing. Nat Gerler, your suggestion is a ploy to encourage foreign minority groups to bastardise the Queen's English. (WP Editor 2011 (talk) 03:05, 4 June 2012 (UTC))
If you wish to discuss the editing of the guideline, this would be a good place to do it. If you wish to discuss whatever motivations you wish to make up for me, my talk page might be a better place to do it if you need to do it at all. You'll find a link to my talk page at the end of this message. As for the names of the days of the week and other such things, I cannot point to non-trivial groups who avoid those names in English; I can point to sizable ones that avoid AD dating, and have been for decades. They perceive a POV in that format. --Nat Gertler (talk) 03:56, 4 June 2012 (UTC)
I was indeed discussing the editing of the guideline. Just because some people perceive a POV doesn't mean all minority groups do. Wikipedia has nothing to gain by encouraging people to feel offended by the English language. (WP Editor 2011 (talk) 04:04, 4 June 2012 (UTC))

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Relevant discussions about WP Editor 2011 are at Wikipedia:Administrators' noticeboard/Edit warring#User:Akhilleus reported by User:WP Editor 2011 (Result: ) and his talk page. This editors' edits seem to be a textbook example of why any changes in era need to be made clear in the edit summary (ie not hidden by "grammar and links" or "adding information", and an illustration of the problem when people like WP Editor 2011 deliberately search for changes they can make (not my claim, WP Editor says "I was already planning to stop searching for chances to uphold that rule as soon as the issue with Mzilikazi is resolved." Note that the changes searched for always result in a change from BCE/CE to BC/AD. I still feel that if an article has been stable for some time, even if the original change wasn't discussed, simply reverting back isn't a good idea. And what is the meaning of comments about "foreign minority groups" and about the Queen's English? Do I have to bring up examples of reliably published Christian theologians using BCE/CE? They aren't that hard to find. Dougweller (talk) 05:41, 4 June 2012 (UTC)

An update from the edit warring noticeboard: "The reporter, WP Editor 2011, is blocked for thirty-six hours for edit-warring and repeated violations of WP:ERA despite warnings to stop.". Dougweller (talk) 06:02, 4 June 2012 (UTC)
WP Editor 2011 seems to be referring to NatGertler's original proposal, and not to the alternative wording I proposed. Maybe we should be clearer about which version we're trying to implement? My goal was to remove the element of moral hectoring and not try to anticipate all possible offense that might be taken. For me, the two main points should be stated in the positive, and not as a prohibition: the convention should be appropriate to the topic. The sub-guideline is intended to clarify that either convention is appropriate for the historical West, and that era style in these articles will be based on established usage and consensus. Cynwolfe (talk) 16:08, 4 June 2012 (UTC)
WP Editor 2011 seems to be referring to a version that only exists within his mind, written by a version of NatGertler that only exists within his mind. Given that consensus is not unanimity, and given that that particular editor has currently disqualified himself from responding (and has done so out of violation of this guideline), I don't see particularly reason to wait on this until he is taken out of the penalty box. --Nat Gertler (talk) 16:23, 4 June 2012 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── So then, is this ok:

  • The era convention should be appropriate to the topic. The BC/AD convention has Christian connotations that may be incongruous with the content of an article dealing with another religion or culture, in which case BCE/CE may be preferred.
    • No preference is given to either BC/AD or BCE/CE in articles dealing with historical Western culture. In such articles, do not arbitrarily change an established era style unless there are reasons specific to the content. If the change is opposed by another editor, seek consensus on the talk page.

My only problem is that we are clearly trying to prevent edit wars and maybe we don't give enough guidance in the first paragraph to do this in the situations covered there. Dougweller (talk) 17:15, 4 June 2012 (UTC)

I have a problem with that too, and other reservations. I believe the primary purpose of rewriting the policy should be to assert firmly that the style should not be changed at will, and then to explain why not and offer some guidance. I find myself repeatedly dealing with those who apparently (sometimes explicitly) think that by changing BCE/CE to BC/AD they are correcting mistakes, or who make the changes solely out of personal preference. It wastes editorial time having to explain over and over that nothing is "broken" that needs "fixing". It would be very useful having this stated up top in [[WP:ERA]], and to have a template warning notice ready to use. A similar situation exists with WP:ENGVAR, where users of UK or US English encountering the opposite variety for the first time will "correct" it. Yes, there are edit warriors too (some of whom become abusive when challenged), and the policy should especially have teeth in it to counter them. The proposed wording helps define what is appropriate to various contexts. It needs first of all to discourage casual changes without, as the policy used to say, a "style-independent" reason, and editorial consensus. It now says, "Reasons for the proposed change should be specific to the content of the article; a general preference for one style over another is not a valid reason"; this is buried deep within the section. It, or its successor text, needs to be strengthened and prominently placed at or near the beginning. Hertz1888 (talk) 18:29, 4 June 2012 (UTC)
I agree with Hertz1888 on emphasizing the preservation of the established era style, and seeking a consensus for change before making the change. I would welcome a template that identified the article's era style to editors at the top, as well as what variety of English is used. But two things:
  • I hear what Dougweller is saying, but I just find it impractical to anticipate all the possible ways to give offense or to determine what's "appropriate." All the efforts I've seen will only lead to more wiki-lawyering and looking for loopholes, which is the opposite of what you want. If we direct editors to stop and think about the possible Christian connotations of BC/AD before using that era convention, sensible editors will get it (or ask others for an opinion); users who aren't really here to create a good encyclopedia never will. The problem is disruptive behavior, which can't be addressed through MOS. What I see happening on talk pages is that a preponderance of editors involved with an article will affirm a particular era style, and one or two editors (who almost always have had nothing else to do with the article) won't take no for an answer. Channels for dealing with disruptive behavior are too complicated and star chamber-ish. Our emphasis on courtly etiquette and the prohibition against "canvassing" keep serious editors from organizing ad hoc to address disruptive individuals. That said, let me suggest that we keep the guideline simple, but supplement it with a neutral essay that illustrates at length what's appropriate with examples.
  • If it's OK, I restored the word "historical." My thinking is that an article dealing, for instance, with the Neolithic in a geographical area that happens to lie within "the West" isn't really part of Western culture. That is, prehistory is covered by the main guideline, not the sub-guideline. Articles on the contemporary West (which would rarely use an era designation anyway) should also have an era convention that depends on its appropriateness to the subject matter, and would be covered under the main guideline. Cynwolfe (talk) 19:21, 4 June 2012 (UTC)

Era, from the top

I was wondering whether we should look at the section more holistically. Following is an effort to incorporate the concerns and suggestions above by editing the whole section. Cynwolfe (talk) 00:42, 6 June 2012 (UTC)

  • Years are numbered according to the traditional western Dionysian era (Common Era)Western Dionysian era (also referred to as Common Era) .
    • AD and BC are the traditional ways of referring to these eras. CE and BCE are common in some academic scholarly and religious writing. Either convention may be appropriate, but the topic of the article should be taken into consideration. The BC/AD convention has Christian implications that may be incongruous with the content of some articles, particularly those dealing with another religion or culture, in which case BCE/CE may be preferred. In articles dealing primarily with historical Western culture, no preference is given to either BC/AD or BCE/CE. (It might be helpful here to point to an essay, one with lots of examples.)
      • Do not change the era style in an article unless there are reasons specific to its content. Seek consensus on the talk page before making the change. (Alt wording for the preceding sentence: If the change is opposed or reverted by another editor, seek consensus on the talk page before making another era-related edit.) Open the discussion under a subhead that uses the word "era". Briefly state why the established style is inappropriate for the article in question. A personal or categorical preference for one era style over the other is not a reason. Having a personal or categorical preference for one era style over the other is not justification for making a change.
      • BCE and CE or BC and AD are written in upper case, unspaced, without periods (full stops), and separated from the year number by a space (5 BC, not 5BC). It is advisable to use a non-breaking space.
      • AD may appear before or after a year (AD 106, 106 AD); the other abbreviations appear after (106 CE, 3700 BCE, 3700 BC).
      • Do not use CE or AD unless the date or century would be ambiguous without it (e.g. "The Norman Conquest took place in 1066" not 1066 CE nor AD 1066). On the other hand, "Plotinus was a philosopher living at the end of the 3rd century AD" will avoid unnecessary confusion. Also, in "He did not become king until 55 CE" the era marker makes it clear that "55" does not refer to his age. Alternatively, "He did not become king until the year 55."
      • Use either the BC-AD or the BCE-CE notation consistently within the same article. Exception: do not change direct quotations.

As I thought this over, it seemed that we couldn't achieve the emphasis Herz1888 recommended without looking at the section as a whole. Just an attempt. Cynwolfe (talk) 00:42, 6 June 2012 (UTC)

Thanks for putting this together and for accommodating my suggestions, along with others'. I like the new version a lot. It looks commendably well thought-out, clear and well-integrated, with logical flow. I think the alt wording may be too open an invitation for making changes. Also, it would require quicker reaction from other editors than a change proposed on an article's talk page. Other than that, just a couple of very small points (really no big deal): "academic" writing might alternatively be termed "scholarly", and a "general" preference might be expanded to a "general or personal" preference. Thanks again. Hertz1888 (talk) 02:01, 6 June 2012 (UTC)
Although the phrase "space or non-breaking space" is not a change, as chief contradiction nagger I point out that this conflicts with WP:NBSP: "It is advisable to use a non-breaking space ... in expressions in which figures and abbreviations (or symbols) are separated by a space (e.g. 17 kg, AD 565, 2:50 pm)". Art LaPella (talk) 02:23, 6 June 2012 (UTC)
You could just say "...when people close to the article's subject take offence from BC/AD and vice versa" or something along those lines instead of trying to guess or even worse, suggest, when and why people would be offended. After all, most people don't even know what AD stands for, let alone perceive it as having a Christian bias. As I said before, it's the same as the planets and the calendar. Saying "common in some writing" is a bit dubious; we all know it's the minority, so perhaps "appears in some writing" would be more truthful and less ambiguous. (WP Editor 2011 (talk) 13:25, 6 June 2012 (UTC))
Running based on "offence" would be a poor manner of setting things up; the goal here is NPOV whether or not anyone is specifically taking offence. To run off of offence means that someone can come along claiming that a page on British Jewish history offends because it uses the abbreviation for Common Era (which is obviously bastardised English compare to a good, Queen's English phrase like "Anno Domini") If you can find some substantially-currently-used alternative to the names of the planets and the days of the week that you wish to see included in appropriate circumstances, you are free to put them forward. And yes, it is the more common form in some writing; at least by quick inspection, it seems the more common form in academic historical writing, for example. I'm not sure why hiding the commonness would be more "truthful". --Nat Gertler (talk) 13:58, 6 June 2012 (UTC)
It would be helpful if WP Editor 2011 and Nat Gertler would focus quite narrowly on the wording of the guidelines, in the way that others commenting here have. These kinds of comments are not actionable. In particular, I would like to see Nat Gertler draft the aforementioned essay on the propriety of era style. Cynwolfe (talk) 14:23, 6 June 2012 (UTC)
First, I would insert the word "valid" in the following phrase: "preference for one era style over the other is not a valid reason." Second, I would make an explicit exception for quotations when saying that the era notation should be used "consistently within the same article".Coastside (talk)
I guess I'm thinking that a reason is by definition valid, as distinguished from either a rationale or whim. You wouldn't say "A personal or categorical preference for one era style over the other is an invalid reason," which is the same as "is not a valid reason." "Valid" allows us to argue over what is valid/invalid reasoning. As it stands, we're simply declaring that this is not a reason that can serve as a basis for the discussion. To WP Editor 2011, I would say that my goal is to avoid combative, emotive language that assumes people should take offense over a style convention. You may need to look more closely at the proposed wording: it simply says that BC/AD have Christian implications that may be incongruous with some types of content. It also says flatly that there is no argument against BC/AD in articles dealing with historical Western culture.
I've tried to implement the other changes. In addition, I've replaced "general" (a word I decided was meaningless here) with "categorical," meaning: keep your reasons specific to the article at hand, and don't argue on a categorical premise such as "BC/AD should not be used in any article about any non-Christian religion." I moved the sub-guideline on Western culture to follow naturally after the caution that BC/AD might be inappropriate to some contexts. It then struck me that the detailed guideline on when to use an era designation at all came before the basic info on style, so I reordered that as well. I used the wording at WP:NBSP to make the point about the space, and linked to MOS:QUOTE for the era style in direct quotations. Cynwolfe (talk) 14:16, 6 June 2012 (UTC)
Looking good! I don't feel strongly about "valid reason" vs. "reason", but I did kind of trip up when reading it. I immediatlely thought, "of course it's a reason, just not a good one." Perhaps "sufficient reason" would be better?Coastside (talk) 14:27, 6 June 2012 (UTC)
I see what you're saying: I expect a modifier there too. Maybe that means "reason" isn't the right word. "Is not grounds for change"? "Is not a rationale for change"? "Don't even bring this up if that's the best you've got"? Cynwolfe (talk) 14:33, 6 June 2012 (UTC)
Several edit conflicts later - we do need a modifier, we need to make it clear that personal preference, or finding one usage offensive, is not a sufficient reason for change. I'd like to include the offensive bit as I see it a lot, and it is rarely a good reason for a change. Dougweller (talk) 14:53, 6 June 2012 (UTC
How about "Having a personal or categorical preference for one era style over the other is not justification for making a change." Coastside (talk) 15:03, 6 June 2012 (UTC)
Should the intro read something like "Under both conventions year 1 is that of the birth of Jesus (actually most likely born between 6 and 4 BC (6 and 4 BCE)); thus the distinction is one of form rather than meaning"? Maculosae tegmine lyncis (talk) 17:40, 6 June 2012 (UTC)
There is no part of the convention of BCE/CE that says that the year 1 is the birth of Jesus; it is merely consistent with the extant numbering system (and all that becomes even more confusing when you suggest that Year 1 wasn't the birth of Jesus). None of that helps with the person trying to decide whether BC is proper in an article. Would what you're trying to say would be better said as "The two systems use the same numeration for the years; the distinction between the two is one of terminology"? (Note: I am hectic for the next few days and may not be as involved in this discussion as I'd want to be.) --Nat Gertler (talk) 20:31, 6 June 2012 (UTC)
I just changed the wikilink to Dionysian era - it was pointing to Dionysius Exiguus. This seems to have been a simple error. You need change this in your proposed paragraph above, i.e., [[Dionysius ExiguusDionysian era|Dionysian era (Common Era)]]. Now that I look at it, this wikilink treats "Dyonysian Era" and "Common Era" as the same, which is why "Common Era" is in parentheses. Since these are not equivalent (that's the point of this discussion, after all), and they have their own wiki pages, shouldn't we wikilink them separately? For example, maybe this should say "Dionysian era (also referred to as Common era)" or at minimum "Dionysian era (Common era)."Coastside (talk) 19:28, 6 June 2012 (UTC)
I made one more typo correction: "Western" should be capitalized in "Western Dionysian era". Again, you need to change this in your proposed paragraph above, i.e., "wWestern".Coastside (talk) 19:28, 6 June 2012 (UTC)
Thanks for checking the links and such, Coastside. I confess I copied that stuff mindlessly. You may make the edits, or I'll look back at this in a couple of hours (in a dash now). The links that Coastside is pointing out explain what the era conventions represent; I see no reason to review that here. People won't read and follow guidelines if too great a sea of text daunts them, or if they feel lectured at. Cynwolfe (talk) 20:41, 6 June 2012 (UTC)
Maybe I misunderstood - I thought there was a proposal to include "The BC/AD convention has Christian implications that may be incongruous with the content of some articles"; since CE/BCE is also based on year1=birth of Jesus, this has identical "Christian implications", which should presumably be made clear, Maculosae tegmine lyncis (talk) 20:51, 6 June 2012 (UTC)
First, the Christian implications of AD/BC are not identical to CE/BCE. The former are abbreviations of anno domini and before Christ, so together they can be read to mean an acknowledgement that Jesus is lord and the Messiah. The CE/BCE terminology implicity acknowledges the importance of Jesus and/or his followers, since they were influential enough to spread a calendar convention throughout the world, but does not explicitly recognize any of the religious titles that Christians ascribe to Jesus.
Second, the inventor of the convention, Dionysius Exiguus, wrote that he was commemorating the Incarnation and it is unclear whether he thought that was the Nativity which is celebrated December 25th, or the Annunciation which is celebrated March 1. Arguments have been made that he thought Jesus was born in 2 BC, 1 BC, or AD 1. This is possible because several beginning-of-year conventions were in use in Dionysius' time, and it isn't clear which one he was using for the Incarnation calculation. Jc3s5h (talk) 21:06, 6 June 2012 (UTC)
'Tis either obfuscation (a rose by any other name) or closet colonialism - rather than "in the year of our lord" it's "in the year of your lord to, our common lord", partially disguised by adding an E, Maculosae tegmine lyncis (talk) 21:16, 6 June 2012 (UTC)
Made the changes as dicussed (links and capitalization of "Western") Coastside (talk) 21:29, 6 June 2012 (UTC)
Thank you - and a big improvement, having these two articles side by side for the background, Maculosae tegmine lyncis (talk) 22:46, 6 June 2012 (UTC)
Does one dare to read the ensuing silence as tacit approval? Should the guidelines above go live? Cynwolfe (talk) 18:11, 7 June 2012 (UTC)
From "Do not change the era style in an article", yes, with User:Coastside's amendments to the links having now clarified the background, Maculosae tegmine lyncis (talk) 18:39, 7 June 2012 (UTC)
I would say we reached a reasonable concensus. WP:BB Coastside (talk) 18:53, 7 June 2012 (UTC)
I concede. Er, consensify. Oh, whatever, I can accept it as it is! --Nat Gertler (talk) 19:13, 7 June 2012 (UTC)
Looks good. A big improvement over the preceding versions. Mojoworker (talk) 22:03, 7 June 2012 (UTC)
You yourself said "the links that Coastside is pointing out explain what the era conventions represent; I see no reason to review that here", so I'm surprsied you went against that in your update; this seems a POV rendering of only one side of the arguments in the articles linked; do you want to at least include "explicit" before Christian? OUP clearly has no problem with AD/BC for non-Western: [9]; what's good enough for them should be good enough for us? Maculosae tegmine lyncis (talk) 21:21, 7 June 2012 (UTC)
I don't know what you mean. The goal is to remove personal feelings from the process. Either convention is acceptable; in the context of some topics, BC/AD calls attention to itself as perhaps incongruous or anachronistic. (This is not my opinion; this is how I'm understanding consensus here.) I didn't see anyone suggesting that the entire paragraph be struck. Many people wanted to elaborate on it by calling "BC/AD" offensive; this to me just opens the door for subjective arguments, rather than focusing on (A) not changing without consensus, and (B) for new articles, consider which convention might be most appropriate for the subject matter. By definition, we said, there is no argument against using BC/AD in articles dealing primarily with historical Western culture. My point was that the links clarify why BC/AD might be considered more aggressively Christian than BCE/CE. Cynwolfe (talk) 21:43, 7 June 2012 (UTC)
Please discuss this, Maculosae, as you seem to be the only one who objects to that paragraph. I agree that no one should be offended by BC/AD, nor by BCE/CE. But we're trying to work with what we can all live with. Cynwolfe (talk) 21:59, 7 June 2012 (UTC)
I agree, where was the consensus to excise that paragraph? It disappeared while I was adding my comment, the version I said "looks good" had the additional verbiage that Maculosae has since removed. (edit) And has now been restored – I guess that brings us to 'D' in BRD. Mojoworker (talk) 22:19, 7 June 2012 (UTC)
Sorry if I was slightly brusque and editing from a mobile device clearly leads to typos etc; I've just checked a load of books, mainly about Classics, and I'm struggling to find any using the (B)CE convention; re East Asia, The Cambridge History of Japan uses BC/AD, as does the 30 volume survey of Japanese Art by Weatherhill, so do various Kodansha publications, and it looks like the Cambridge History of China also likes BC/AD; other books re Japan by OUP and Blackwell and some US university presses seem to be using B(CE); I thought the point was to leave it open, following our sources, but to discourage drive-by editors from changing the existing convention; including in the guideline the wording "The BC/AD convention has Christian implications that may be considered incongruous with the content of some articles, particularly those dealing with another religion or culture, in which case BCE/CE may be preferred. In articles dealing primarily with historical Western culture, no preference is given to either BC/AD or BCE/CE" seems to proselytize the (B)CE convention; also, the fundamental "Christian implications" reside not in the signifier but the signified, as per your edit here; including some such text - "both systems take the same religious event as the turning point of the era" - that is, calling a fig a fig, might help clarify, disarm, and prevent such flare-ups, Maculosae tegmine lyncis (talk) 23:37, 7 June 2012 (UTC)
(Though my preference, as per the above responses to your tacit approval query, would be to leave it at the bare links - attempting to distill the various arguments, counter-arguments, historical positions etc may be beyond a one-liner intro), Maculosae tegmine lyncis (talk) 23:47, 7 June 2012 (UTC)
Cynwolfe, you were wrong to edit your changes into the article at such an early stage. The so-called "silence" only lasted for a few hours and there were still unresolved issues. Editors shouldn't have to repeat themselves unnecessarily. I agree with Maculosae that your wording would proselytise CE. The whole idea of CE is to avoid hypothetical offence to people outside Western society; if this style guide specifically recommends CE for such cases then why should there be a choice for Western articles? Surely they should just use BC/AD. The suggested wording would lead all articles to eventually use CE. You also ignored what I said about CE being "common". CE is rare; I've only seen it twice outside Wikipedia and everyone else here knows it's not common. (WP Editor 2011 (talk) 02:07, 8 June 2012 (UTC))
In reality, use of BCE is currently quite common; it's the majority of uses in certain circles, and a sizable portion of usage overall. Doing a Google book search for "century bce" vs. "century bc" ("century" chosen as an easy way to avoid other uses of BC and BCE) and limiting it to books published in the 21st century, BC is more frequent but it's 56% to 44%. And no, it's not just a matter for those outside of Western society. --Nat Gertler (talk) 02:47, 8 June 2012 (UTC)
(edit conflict)I ignored it, WP Editor 2011, because it's impossible to take your statement seriously. If you've only seen CE twice outside Wikipedia, then forgive me, but you've done very little reading in scholarship that deals with the period of, say, 5th century BC to 5th century AD, which is the period I most often research and write about for WP. Your claim indicates that you lack familiarity with era usage in a broad range of RS that deal with historical topics. BCE/CE is quite common in scholarship dealing with classical antiquity, the archaeology of the Mediterranean and the Near East, Bronze and Iron Age Europe, Jewish history, and even early Christianity. Your position that it's "rare" or even uncommon appears to be based on what is easily demonstrated to be a factual inaccuracy. Perhaps you don't see it because you don't read materials dealing with the periods when the era needs to be designated? My experience is that in scholarship of the last 20 years it's become more common than BC/AD. Again, I myself prefer to use BC/AD, and I don't want to be lectured on the moral or theological significance of what I consider to be merely conventional. But I've become aware on WP talk pages that some people find it jarring in some contexts. I recognize that religionists and atheists want to fight to the death about this, and dictate to the rest of us what we must do, but the rest of us just want a sane compromise that lets everybody move on. Cynwolfe (talk) 03:07, 8 June 2012 (UTC)
In fact, WP Editor 2011, let me recommend that you take a look at this passage. Cynwolfe (talk) 03:13, 8 June 2012 (UTC)
Everyone else here doesn't know that BCE/CE is uncommon. I see it all the time in scientific and historical writing. However, that shouldn't matter; the relative prevalence of one style or another is not something that should govern how our guideline is framed. With NPOV firmly in mind, this is not a "winner take all" situation where the recommended style is put to a vote. I fail to see how "no preference is given" proselytizes for anything, and I disagree that only those outside Western society deserve consideration and a choice. For some in the West, BCE/CE is more faith neutral than BC/AD, even if the two systems share a common year-numbering convention; labels do matter. The excised section of text says just enough, says it well, lets us move on, and should be restored. Hertz1888 (talk) 03:20, 8 June 2012 (UTC)
But sadly for your argument the excised text doesn't say "no preference is given", it suggests one may be preferred, that's the point; I'm of course in no way questioning that (B)CE is widespread, I was just attempting to show that plenty of reputable publishers are happy with either, whatever the context; re your 'labels do matter', there seems to be some regression here from Annals XV.18 dum adspectui consulitur spreta conscientia, "with attention to surface form, and the neglect of underlying facts" - sadly for those attempting to be "commendably inclusive", this is but lipstick on a pig; if you want to summarize the long arguments, why not cut to the quick and point out what no amount of euphemism can disguise? At the very least, you need an "explicit" in there; and yes, it would be great to move on, but isn't the whole point to forestall repetition of the ludicrous time-wasting on the Apollo talk page - it may be worth a little extra effort to get it right here, Maculosae tegmine lyncis (talk) 05:23, 8 June 2012 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── I've restored it WP Editor 2011's removal - we can of course change it still, but WP Editor 2011 should not so far as I'm concerned be editing the page after recently being blocked for edit warring over this subject. Dougweller (talk) 05:36, 8 June 2012 (UTC)

I don't understand WP Editor 2011's arguments about a ploy to "encourage foreign minority groups to bastardise the Queen's English." or " offence to people outside Western society". Who are these people outside of Western society? Maculosae, I disagree with your suggestion that this "seems to proselytize the (B)CE convention" but it appears that your main desire here is to add 'explicit' before Christian, am I right? If so, why? I can't see at the moment how that will help in any discussions over era style. Dougweller (talk) 05:55, 8 June 2012 (UTC)
Previously we had "both, ok" now we have "one better than other", a retrograde step in my opinion; but saying, as per the guidelines as they currently stand, that BC/AD has Christian connotations suggests the other convention does not, even though of course it does, since it is based on the same religious event; either say this or, if you prefer to write it out in some kind of inclusivity statement, at least acknowledge the underlying and not introduce a false dichotomy, Maculosae tegmine lyncis (talk) 06:23, 8 June 2012 (UTC)

I'll just put these here for the sake of discussion:

  1. From The SBL handbook of style: for ancient Near Eastern, Biblical, and early Christian studies page 69 by the Society of Biblical Literature: "8.1.2 ERAS - The preferred style is B.C.E. and C.E. If you use A.D. and B.C., remember that A.D. precedes the date and B.C. follows it."
  2. From Writing About History at "Most writers of history have adopted the notations BCE and CE."
  3. The Christian Writer’s Manual of Style p. 135: 'The scholarly abbreviations CE (“common era”) and BCE (“before the Common Era”) are synonymous with AD (anno Domini, “year of our Lord”) and BC (“before Christ”) respectively and are used primarily when a writer feels the reader might be offended by the christocentric forms, as in writing for Jewish, Islamic, or secular readers. Most Western scholars still prefer AD and BC as the most commonly understood by the greatest number of readers in English, though CE and BCE are rapidly gaining ground.' and p. 389: 'In recent years the abbreviations BCE (“before the Common Era”) and CE (“Common Era”) have gained currency as more secular alternatives to the traditional AD and BC, the specifically Christian emphasis of which some people find offensive.'

Mojoworker (talk) 06:43, 8 June 2012 (UTC)

Let's just stick to the issue at hand shall we, Dougweller? Your petty personal attacks don't belong here. (WP Editor 2011 (talk) 07:14, 8 June 2012 (UTC))
Maculosae, I don't agree that the new guidelines say one is better than the other. The guidelines say that BC/AD may not be the better choice in all contexts. An editor I know preferred BC/AD on the principle of "most common" for general readers, but acknowledged that in articles focusing on some aspect of Judaica, BCE/CE would probably seem less incongruous. I find Mojoworker's passages here to be quite pertinent, especially from the Christian Writer's Manual of Style. I don't see how it's a bad thing in creating a new article to think about whether one era style is more appropriate to the content than another. Cynwolfe (talk) 07:23, 8 June 2012 (UTC)
I agree, I don't see them as saying one is better than the other. Maculosae, BC/AD are named after one religion's god, and can be seen to endorse that. BCE/CE don't do that. WP Editor 2011, that was not a personal attack, it was my opinion about your reversion so soon after a block. A personal attack would be, for instance, calling someone a liar. Oh hell, just noticed you've reverted again. That's exactly what I meant, now you've reverted twice. You still haven't answered my questions, but I will accept that they are probably irrelevant to this discussion and not ask them again. Dougweller (talk) 09:13, 8 June 2012 (UTC)

It might be helpful to explore a test case vs. focusing only on the wording. In other words, let's see if we can agree on what behavior we want from editors and then see if we can agree on how to provide guidelines to encourage this behavior. I'm not sure we agree on the former, so it is difficult to reach a consensus on the latter. Here's a hypothetical test case: someone creates a new article titled Jews, Money, and the Talmud. I got this title from a blog post at with that title. Let's say the author (we'll call him the author) includes dates without specifying either "BC/AD" or "BCE/CE". For example, as in the post referred to above, there is a sentence that reads, "[T]he Talmud was written in the 3rd, 4th, and 5th centuries when the rest of the world had no way of dealing with these problems." Another editor (we'll call him the editor) then comes along and finds it unclear whether this means BC or AD and clarifies the sentence so that it reads, "The Talmud was written in the 3rd, 4th, and 5th centuries AD when the rest of the world had no way of dealing with these problems." The original author then revises the text to use CE instead AD on the grounds that it is an article about Jewish history and therefore shouldn't have implicit references to Christ. They then get into an edit war about the issue, with the original author arguing that 1) he was the first major contributor to the article and 2) it's offensive to use "AD" instead of "CE" in an article on Jewish history, and the editor saying he was the first editor to introduce either term and therefore the original author has no basis for changing it from "AD" to "CE" (they are equivalent after all, so there should be no preference shown either way). Who is right, the author or the editor? What behavior do we want the MOS guidelines on this to encourage? Coastside (talk) 09:01, 8 June 2012 (UTC)

If we want to post every two-bit publisher's recommendations, then I think these are more authoritative than Blackwell: [10], JEA [11], USC [12], etc all preferring AD/BC; and of the big boys, Cambridge University Press [13] and Oxford University Press, [14], via New Hart's Rules 11.6.3, both recommend AD/BC; fine to have both ok, but what's good enough for OUP and CUP should suffice for us; the key point to stress to avoid edit wars is that no era style is more appropriate, since what is signified is identical; the articles linked for the background seem to cover this quite well, Maculosae tegmine lyncis (talk) 09:14, 8 June 2012 (UTC)
As I've said, I disagree that "what is signified is identical". When you say "should suffice for us" it appears that you are suggesting we endorse AD/BC but hopefully I've misunderstood you there. When you say "no era style is more appropriate", do you mean that a discussion on an article talk page shouldn't discuss which era style is more appropriate for the article? Dougweller (talk) 09:51, 8 June 2012 (UTC)
Yes, don't worry - the point was that these two find nought inappropriate so why should we? re User:Coastside's example above, the problem I have is "it is an article about Jewish history and therefore shouldn't have implicit references to Christ" - call it AD, CE, or a heffalump, it's still x years from the birth (or incarnation if you prefer) of Jesus; the number relates it to Jesus; it's all about Jesus... there seems to be doubt expressed above that some users even know what AD means, bizarre if true, but whatever; I think by not only advocating one but suggesting that the other is inappropriate before of its Christian implications, when both are about you know who, seems perverse; if you want to move away from the both ok model at least explain that it's all about superficialities, that both are based on exactly the same Christian event, include some of the "criticisms" content from the linked articles; anyway, I'm becoming repetitious and seem to have successfully formed a consensus of one, so I guess I'm going to back away at this point, Maculosae tegmine lyncis (talk) 10:28, 8 June 2012 (UTC)
WP Editor: please gain consensus here before removing the text at issue. And you are not in a good position to edit-war. Tony (talk) 10:30, 8 June 2012 (UTC)
Tony1, you don't know what you're talking about. I didn't remove anything and I certainly wasn't edit-warring. I undid Cynwolfe's addition of material that was done prematurely, before consensus had been established. There has been extensive discussion about the unresolved issues since, proving that I was right to do so. You may care to read WP:NPA before falsely accusing someone of "edit-war[ring]" again. (WP Editor 2011 (talk) 11:06, 8 June 2012 (UTC))
  • WP Editor ... why not relax into it? You're coming over as angry, which is not helping anything. Tony (talk) 12:51, 8 June 2012 (UTC)
MTL, you may not find there to be a difference a difference in incongruity between BC and BCE, but there are large groups of relevant folks who do not agree, that one is making a statement about both when Jesus was born and his divine status, and the other is just saying "hey, here's how people number dates", that there is a difference between calling something a common era and saying that it is a year of a lord, and that if there is a linkage it is a far less direct link and thus at least less incongruous. --Nat Gertler (talk) 13:37, 8 June 2012 (UTC)
I concur with MTL on this. Saying both conventions are "about you know who" misses the point. There are people who don't want to use AD because of what the acronym means "Anno Domini" and they prefer to use "CE" because of that. It isn't reasonable to argue that since they both start in the same year these people shouldn't feel that way. They use a system that starts in the same year because they need to be consistent in the numbering of the years, that's all. Think about it, if they picked a different scheme, say absolute time in years from the beginning of the universe, who else would adopt their convention?" Coastside (talk) 15:09, 8 June 2012 (UTC)

WP Editor 2011, I would appreciate it if you would stop blaming me personally for taking the new guidelines live. I've been trying to work with the desired wording of both sides in drafting this; I myself am a regular user of BC/AD, and while I don't wish to impose that on others, I also don't want to be told I can't use it. There were multiple editors saying "looks good, let's move on." No one said clearly (Maculosae's point was unclear to me at the time) "no, wait, we're not ready." You've blamed me more than once, and it's evidence of how you make the issue personal and emotional. Stop it. Cynwolfe (talk) 15:30, 8 June 2012 (UTC)

Also, I'd like to thank Coastside for the valiant attempt to focus on a test case. It's unfortunate that didn't lead to a more productive discussion. Cynwolfe (talk) 15:32, 8 June 2012 (UTC)

This addition to the guideline:

but the topic of the article should be taken into consideration. The BC/AD convention has Christian implications that may be considered incongruous with the content of some articles, particularly those dealing with another religion or culture, in which case BCE/CE may be preferred. In articles dealing primarily with historical Western culture, no preference is given to either BC/AD or BCE/CE.

is a statement, in Wikipedia's voice, addressed to Wikipedia editors, that AD/BC notation has Christian implications that are absent from the CE/BCE notation. It is not a statement that CE/BCE notation is free of Christian implications, just that there are additional implications with AD/BC. Since we normally ignore fringe groups and tiny minority positions, I think to decide if this statement is true we need to find out if there are a significant number of English-speaking readers who perceive this difference. I don't know where to look to find out how many such readers exist. Jc3s5h (talk) 15:59, 8 June 2012 (UTC)

I don't know how numerous they are, but they are certainly noisy, as I know anecdotally from talk-page experience. But your point is well taken. I think you've expressed what makes me queasy about that pronouncement. Please see following section. Cynwolfe (talk) 16:28, 8 June 2012 (UTC)

Era-change justification

I've never been keen on introducing theology, morality, or political correctness into style guidelines, so I might be persuaded to support omitting the controversial portion of the new guidelines if we could come up with some succinctly stated examples of what might constitute justifiable era change under the guidelines as they currently appear live. (Could we all agree not to change them for the next 24 hours until end of day Monday, at least?)

After "either convention may be appropriate," the controversial passage is: but the topic of the article should be taken into consideration. The BC/AD convention has Christian implications that may be incongruous with the content of some articles, particularly those dealing with another religion or culture, in which case BCE/CE may be preferred. In articles dealing primarily with historical Western culture, no preference is given to either BC/AD or BCE/CE.

I propose an amendment to Either convention may be appropriate, but the context should be taken into consideration. Full stop, no further explanation. In my view, the next section (the one beginning in boldface) might just take care of the problem. Could we try to imagine directions era-change discussion might take? What if we were able to offer examples of justification for change (as with the Plotinus exemption)? Here are some examples I personally would find reasonable. These are for discussion; they are not proposed wording for any guidelines or examples.

  1. Proposed era change. The article currently uses "BC/AD." However, it contains five direct quotations and a map that use BCE/CE. Since the body text would be easier to change, wouldn't the consistent use of BCE/CE be less confusing to readers?
  2. Proposed era change. This stub is a transcription from a 19th-century encyclopedia, except for one change: the source used BC/AD, and in the one instance of era style in the stub, the WP transcriber changed it to BCE/CE. I'd like to develop this into a full-length article, but would prefer to use the BC/AD convention.
  3. Proposed era change related to a move. This short article about the minor Roman consul named Publius Affilius Latro uses the BCE/CE style. It needs to be properly disambiguated from Publius Affilius Latro (consul 89 BC), Publius Affilius Latro (consul 8 AD), and Publius Affilius Latro (praetor 291 BC). This name appears on List of Roman consuls, which uses the BC/AD convention, and on the prosopographical page Affilia (gens), where it will be listed among other Publii Affilii Latrones who are all designated with BC/AD. I'd like to change the era convention to BC/AD and move the article to Publius Affilius Latro (consul 65 BC), so the inconsistency of era convention won't add to readers' understandable confusion about these figures.
  4. Proposed era change related to content. The article uses the BC/AD style, but I've checked all the sources used to compile it, and 10 of the 12 used BCE/CE. The other two, though qualifying as RS, are pre-1950 and may not reflect current usage in this field of study (Judaic or Islamic studies, for instance).

Notice the absence of categorical rants about militant atheists or Christian dominion, or imagining that ancient Romans might be offended by the use of a Christian year-numbering system. Thoughts? Cynwolfe (talk) 16:28, 8 June 2012 (UTC)

We also need to look at examples of what constitutes "personal" ("I'm offended by being told Jesus should be my Lord") or "categorical" ('articles about non-Christian religions shouldn't use BC/AD"; "BCE/CE is a new-atheist plot"). Cynwolfe (talk) 16:43, 8 June 2012 (UTC)
I like it; seems a sensible and very useful way of addressing the main problem, namely "era crusading"/drive-by changes, by indicating examples where a change might be considered legitimate; no real thoughts but looks good to me, Maculosae tegmine lyncis (talk) 17:35, 8 June 2012 (UTC)
Two additional things I'd like to point out. The examples are era-neutral: you could take any one of them, and flip the style being argued for without changing any other wording. I should also credit Coastside for taking a positive rather than prohibitive approach. The emphasis here is meant to be on facilitating content creation. I do have a fourth example that might throw a wrench in the gears, and we need to look at Coastside's Jewish history example again, but I don't want to muddy the waters until there's more input on the general direction. Cynwolfe (talk) 18:08, 8 June 2012 (UTC)
Fourth example. I've gone ahead and added the fourth, more difficult example. I'm assuming the first three would be relatively uncontroversial. The fourth addresses the issue of how to determine whether the era style is appropriate to the content of the article, without engaging in subjective "it's offensive" arguments. Notice the argument would be based neutrally on the usage of sources actually footnoted and used to compile the article (which we would explain if this example can generate a point of justification policy); you can't pad the argument by adding sources using another style convention to the Bibliography or Further reading sections, without the sources having actually affected the content of the article. You can't argue categorically that "modern scholarship on Jewish studies far more often uses BCE/CE," even if this is true. The argument must be specific to the content of the article in question. Example 4 is thus intended to support content creation. It affirms that creating content is how the era style is established. And if the example can be "translated" into a sub-guideline on how to justify a change, it would state that the era usage among the footnoted sources must demonstrate a clear preponderance in order to change an established style. It discourages drive-by editing based on personal or categorical preference, because it requires an editor to examine the footnotes and sources carefully, but it allows editors to make changes that reflect contemporary scholarly usage—but only if they're willing to use that scholarship to develop the article. Cynwolfe (talk) 15:06, 9 June 2012 (UTC)
Again, seems eminently sensible, unobjectionable, and to the point, but I'm too asinine to proffer anything more, Maculosae tegmine lyncis (talk) 15:57, 9 June 2012 (UTC)
Ditto, and then some. My input here has been minimal, because I'm tired out and easily confused these days, but if I've got the gist of the above, any amended era guidelines should encourage sourced, content-based editing and consistency within articles. Sounds good, and of course it's never going to be watertight. Or flame-proof. And we deal with each case on the merit of arguments put forward by those who wish to change the era system from whatever the current version happens to be. Thanks to everyone who has worked on this. (Just a couple of thoughts: where does that leave us in terms of WP:BRD? And if consensus fails, what's the default to be? The MOS guidelines intro still allows reversion to the first use. Someone suggested, someplace and some time ago, reverting to the version used (or preferred, for whatever reason) by the main contributor. Doug has suggested that when an article has been stable for a period of time, change is disruptive in the first place; I agree with that, but we seem to have moved on. Yes?) Haploidavey (talk) 16:29, 11 June 2012 (UTC)
As I understand it, no attempt to discuss means that you can revert, otherwise the guideline is meaningless. I still think that if it's been stable, reverting simply because there was no discussion, as has happened a number of times recently, is disruptive. Dougweller (talk) 16:56, 11 June 2012 (UTC)
Thanks for clearing that. Yes, the most recent revert-binges were disruptive because the articles had been stable for some time, in some cases for years. That's the kind of thing I meant. Haploidavey (talk) 17:04, 11 June 2012 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────The guideline used to specify "first established," but I think at some point "first" got deleted. I miss those days. "Established" then at that time was defined by searching the edit history to find the first occurrence of an era designation. Tedious, but unambiguous. I did wonder whether the requirement to discuss before changing subverted boldness, or at least the spirit of "everyone can edit." I originally proposed two possible wordings on changing an established era, the other stating that if another editor reverted your era change, then no further action should be taken without consensus. And yes, I agree with Dougweller that if the discuss-first guideline is in place, any era change can and should be reverted—politely, since it's easy to be unaware of the controversies. Crafting succinct era-change justification sub-guidelines/examples may be tricky, but is perhaps a more neutral solution than trying to instill religious sensitivities, from either perspective. And as Maculosae pointed out above, it's probably worth the trouble now to forestall endless contention in future. Cynwolfe (talk) 18:21, 11 June 2012 (UTC)

Also, Dougweller, although it will be understandable if an editor changes an era style once without discussing first, doing it again after being advised on correct procedure would establish a clear pattern of disruptive behavior that could be addressed more easily through our various tribunals. After an era consensus has been established, the article would benefit from a template stating which convention is used (visible at the top, I hope, only in edit mode so as to avoid further top-clutter). Cynwolfe (talk) 15:42, 12 June 2012 (UTC)
Notice the absence of categorical rants about militant atheists or Christian dominion, or imagining that ancient Romans might be offended by the use of a Christian year-numbering system. - Now, there's a set of straw men for you if ever there was one... or do you care to point to any proposed guidelines that actually had the rants you specified? In any case, I think the suggested changes making an era change by default wrong are a bit too anti-editing. I am also concerned about guidelines relying to hard on the date formatting that the sources use, as that seems likely to encourage the stacking of sources, introducing more battle into the matter. --Nat Gertler (talk) 17:39, 12 June 2012 (UTC)
The idea is that the sources have to be cited in the footnotes; that is, sources must be used to build content. The ordinary provisions would apply: RS, undue, etc. I never said the guidelines ranted. I said we need to craft guidelines that put a lid on ranting in talk-page discussion. This lecturing back-and-forth regarding Jesus, atheism, and being personally offended is pointless and is inherently non-neutral, as it depends on the subjective judgement of editors. If you think this through, Nat, I think you'll see what it does. If an article was written using outdated (though still useful) sources such as the Catholic Encyclopedia, it should be updated with modern sources. If it's conventional among these sources to use BCE/CE (as is likely the case for articles dealing with Judaism, Islam, and any number of topics), and if the preponderance of sources uses that convention, it would argue for changing the era style in the article—but only if an editor were willing to focus on content development instead of using the article as a battleground for his or her preferred style. The idea is to discourage drive-by era changes. In some existing articles, it would be possible to argue for a change of era based on existing sources. I'm certainly open to other ways of doing this. But it's become evident to me that telling people how to "feel" about an era style, or to have a moral position regarding the era style, isn't the Wikipedian way to go. Cynwolfe (talk) 18:42, 12 June 2012 (UTC)
I'm not thrilled by using a preponderance of the sources. My concern is not so much for the article that has an established style as one that has a mixed style, or which adds the first mention of a BC year. It is unlikely that any one editor will have access t all the sources that were cited, so usually an editor adding the first BC date or cleaning up an article will not be able to determine what abbreviation a preponderance of the sources use. Also, if a discussion arises about changing the eri designation, but only some of the usage in the sources can be determined, a preponderance criteria would invite argument. Jc3s5h (talk) 19:06, 12 June 2012 (UTC)
Yes, I agree, which is why I hesitated to propose that. Can you think of another way to demonstrate which convention is appropriate to the content? This is the only thing I've been able to come up with so far. The more general claim of scholarly usage in general seemed to me unprovable. Cynwolfe (talk) 19:12, 12 June 2012 (UTC)
Yes, I understand that the sources have to be cited in the footnotes - and I've also been around Wikipedia long enough to see people replace sources with one that say something similar in order to sway some other aspect of the discussion, which is what I fear would happen here. That would seem more disruptive than the simple discussions of contextual appropriateness you seem to be trying to avoid. I don't see the problem in having a discussion of noting that thus-and-such happened In The Year Of Our Lord 43 may not be factual regarding the Lord and may be particularly inappropriate when discussing folks who have a conflict with that unproven claim. It is, at base, not a question of political correctness but a question of factual correctness. --Nat Gertler (talk) 21:17, 12 June 2012 (UTC)
We have policies against deleting RS. The more RS used, the better, as far as I'm concerned. But I've only participated in era discussions pertaining to Classical Greece & Rome. Could you provide links to some discussions pertaining to era usage with other topics? Maybe then I'd understand the problems better. Cynwolfe (talk)
“a question of factual correctness” – huh, nope. Sometimes phrases have well-established idiomatic meanings which don't coincide with literal meanings (in your own comment you use the phrase political correctness by which I don't think you mean ‘correctness about politics’), and this is the case for Anno Domini as well. (In particular, even people who believe Jesus existed and are OK with calling him Lord often acknowledge he was most likely born around 7 BC.) ― A. di M.​  10:44, 13 June 2012 (UTC)
In articles where the era is mixed, it was convenient to have the "first established" unless later changed by consensus clause that the guideline use to have. In such a case where the era was all over the place, we could look over the Talk for any era consensus discussions, if none were found, then find first-used era in History. This was an easy way to bring conformity to the article. Whenever I made a change like this, my edit summary would contain a change in era, why it conforms to WP:ERA (including ref to WP:ERA) and include date and user/IP of first established era edit from History. If I could not make the edit (because first-established/consensus was for the other era system), I would add a note in the Talk mentioning the lack of conformity, when consensus or era was established, and ask for another editor to make the corrections. This seemed like a legitimate circumstance (one of the very few) where era could be adjusted without first having a discussion about it. Under the new guidelines, this quick correction would not be appropriate.
Sorry to be a late joiner in the discussion, and for rehashing old stuff, but:
Over this very long discussion, occasionally people have mentioned the other system possibly being "offensive" to non-χians. I don't think taking offense is the main issue non-χians. I think the more common issue is the creedal phrasing which declares a certain person as having lordship in relation to the speaker. For religions where words, what you say/write have extreme significance (such as in Judaism and Islam), and where books will be buried and honoured like a deceased person, avoiding phrases and abbreviations (used extensively by Judaism and Islam for religious contexts such as z"l and pbuh) declaring the faith of another religion is a huge deal.
Also mentioned is the common comparison to days of the week. Many do avoid using the western names of the week as well as months, opting instead for numbered days and months (ex: 2nd day of the 3rd week of the seventh month) with a couple exceptions (the month Abib and the day Shabbat). Even still, the comparison doesn't really hold well as Thor's Day does not declare any faith in Thor any more than Tom's Birthday declares any faith in Tom.
Anyway, can we have some loophole around the discuss first when it comes to merely bringing an article into conformity with an already established era? Of course, an edit summary explaining what's going on will be very helpful in preventing a revert in this particular case.
al-Shimoni (talk) 06:24, 14 June 2012 (UTC)
Internal era consistency has just been raised as a problem in discussing first. I moved the word 'established' earlier in the guideline in partial response. Thought that would be uncontroversial, and clearer. I agree that "established" is itself a source of potential debate. I too miss the word "first," as in "first established," which required only that you search the edit history. The examples of era-change justification should take care of things like developing a one-paragraph single-source stub into a GA with 175 footnotes, and changing the era along with it. I wonder whether we should discuss reinserting "first." Cynwolfe (talk) 15:24, 14 June 2012 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────To address Imerik al-Shimoni's other point, I also agree, sorta. Originally the dedication of the days of the week to a deity was indeed religious, so we are preserving a declaration that Saturday was holy to Saturn. In the calendar of the Romans, the month of March (Latin Martius) was sacred to Mars. Most people are unaware of the rituals and sacrifices associated with March originally, so it doesn't bother them that they're marking holidays they would consider "pagan," because it's a passive convention, not an active affirmation. What I'm trying to find are examples of articles in which the AD convention was/is inappropriate, and concerned users are unable to get it changed because somebody else invoked the MOS era guidelines. Most topics pertaining to Islamic studies won't need an era designation at all, for obvious reasons. I looked through Letter A in Index of Jewish history-related articles the other night, and couldn't find a discussion of era. Most of the articles needed no era style. My subjective impression is that of the articles that did, most used BCE/CE, but a few used BC/AD. Again, I could find no discussion of era on the talk page of any of these. To me, the key is content creation. If someone says "I've just read the article on Roman Empire, and it offends me that you use the BC/AD convention," then this reader would likewise be offended by reading a vast amount of the published scholarship on the topic, so that can't be WIkipedia's responsibility. I know you very carefully distinguished between being offended, and committing a religious transgression, so bear with me. If someone comes to Ancient Greek funeral and burial practices, a mere start of an article based on a single source, and says "I'd like to help develop this article, but in accordance with my religious practice, I cannot make the active declaration Anno Domini; could we change to BCE/CE," then that to me is a justification that I would certainly want to accommodate, because it's tied to actively generating content, and a style convention should not be a bar to the "everyone can edit" ethic. Am I making an acceptable distinction between Wikipedia not being able to shield a reader from AD, since it exists in scholarship one might otherwise read on the topic, and accommodating the participation of editors? Cynwolfe (talk) 16:09, 14 June 2012 (UTC)

No, you're not making an acceptable distinction. If instant changes with minimal discussion are allowed for one reason, editors will just lie, using that one reason every single time. Besides, the editors in the second case can still edit; they just don't want to. (WP Editor 2011 (talk) 00:58, 15 June 2012 (UTC))
I don't know where you're getting "instant change with minimal discussion." Have you read the guidelines as they stand? Don't change an established era style; if you feel there's a justification for change, discuss it first; consensus is required before making the change. This is just an example of one possible justification. I would consider this a justification that I would want to heed out of respect for someone else's religious beliefs, but I might be in a minority, and other editors might form a consensus to decline the request for that article. It's a violation of our good faith behavioral guideline to say that your fellow editors are all a bunch of liars. Cynwolfe (talk) 01:50, 15 June 2012 (UTC)
Whilst it would be nice to assume good faith all the time, it would be naïve to think this won't happen. Didn't you say you want to avoid future disputes? (WP Editor 2011 (talk) 05:06, 15 June 2012 (UTC))
I'm sure I don't have to point out the fallacy in saying that we can't make a rule because somebody might break it or deceive by means of it. There would be no laws if we could only make laws that would never be broken. What we're aiming for is a set of guidelines that support constructive behavior and productive disputes, not pointless time-wasting disputes. Do you have anything to say about the wording of the guidelines, or are you satisfied with them as they are? Cynwolfe (talk) 06:09, 15 June 2012 (UTC)
I thought we'd said something about edit summaries. 'Style consistency' (whether or not that's a good reason), isn't enough for an edit summary, edit summaries for era change should mention the era change. I mention that because WP Editor 2011 edited Turpan yesterday using that for the edit summary. He was correct in his edit but it should have been more specific. I also am unhappy about editors showing up at articles they haven't edited before (note I have edited Turpan) and finding changes made over 3 years ago (I'm sure WP Editor 2011 agreed that he was doing this and would stop). This sort of behavior is likely to lead to future disputes. Dougweller (talk) 08:13, 15 June 2012 (UTC)
That has nothing to do with what we're talking about. (WP Editor 2011 (talk) 15:12, 15 June 2012 (UTC))
I disagree. I don't see editing for consistency as necessarily exempted from "Discuss first and establish a consensus," because how do you determine in a mixed-era article which is the established style? Maybe I should move "established" back, and the wording should be Do not change an era style in an article unless etc. We specified opening the talk-page discussion under a heading that mentioned "era". I can't believe we need to implement when changing an era style, always use the word 'era' in the edit summary. We've made it quite clear in this discussion that drive-by era editing is precisely what we're trying to put a lid on. Now, I can imagine someone becoming interested in this style point, and then going around doing cleanup. But "cleanup" can be distinguished from era crusading: the latter is identifiable when an editor only edits in his preferred era style, and never cleans up for consistency favoring the other. An evasive edit summary poses a special irony when it comes from someone willing to think other editors are all liars. Cynwolfe (talk) 15:45, 15 June 2012 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────I'm still looking for examples of era-debate on article talk-pages other than those dealing primarily with ancient Greece and Rome. That is, do we actually have a problem, or only a few disruptive editors who could benefit from a topic ban? For instance, History of Iran and Timeline of Iranian history use BC/AD, but I don't see any era controversy on their respective talk pages. Military history of Iran and Achaemenid Empire use BCE/CE, again without need of talk-page discussion. Back in 2006, Seleucid Empire had a mixed style, according to this talk-page section; a justification for BCE/CE was offered in 2007, but the article currently has BC/AD. And yet I see no inflammatory rhetoric that matches that of Talk:Apollo. How do we locate the problem we're trying to address? Cynwolfe (talk) 15:45, 15 June 2012 (UTC)

This probably doesn't meet the profile of what you are looking for, but I believe I recall the DSS article has had the era debate pop-up a few times over the last few years. The BCE/CE system is the current consensus for the article, but occasionally someone wants to switch it to the other. One of the discussions from last year began with someone wondering why BCE/CE was being used when the first era introduced was the other, WP:ERA was brought in for support, while WP:ERA was also criticized, accusations of rabid PC-ism, etc. The DSS article isn't directly a religious article (more of an archæological type article concerning jewish religious objects), but the association does add to the tension in the article's maintenance.
With non-discussed era changes, the only times I can think of where eras can be changed without discussion are: 1) as a revert to an editor who switched eras in the article away from what has been established as article default era either by original establishment, or had been later established as article default era by a consensus change; 2) when the article has taken on mixed eras due to multiple editors, then the eras in the article that do not match the article's default era may be changed without discussion. In both of these cases, the edits can not be marked as minor edits (reverts already have this requirement), and the edit summary needs to include a mention of the era changes and supporting reason(s) for the change which is supported by WP:ERA.
Just my 2 pesos on this. — al-Shimoni (talk) 17:05, 15 June 2012 (UTC)
Thanks very much. Haven't had a chance to look at the example, but the latter part of this sounds reasonable. Inconsistency is difficult only when there's no clear indication of what 'established' is. Above, it was suggested that a template be created to indicate the established era. I think that would help; I hope it could be something that appears only in edit mode, to avoid top clutter. Will come back to this. Cynwolfe (talk) 17:21, 15 June 2012 (UTC)
Oh, yes. That is exactly the kind of example I'm looking for. "Scientific" gets thrown around, even though this isn't an article about science, and unprovable claims of predominant scholarly usage. This is why I was wondering whether "preponderance of sources cited in footnotes" might be a neutral way to address scholarly usage, since in my view that's what should settle the discussion. If most scholars of the last 30 years use BCE/CE to discuss a topic, then to me it's like any other matter of neutrality and due/undue weight. However, that's impractical unless the sources are actually cited in the article. Many articles were started by transcribing public domain encyclopedia entries. When these are thoroughly updated and rewritten, how does it make sense to stick arbitrarily with an era style attached to material that's being replaced? I've reflected on the objection above that not everyone will have access to the sources to determine what era is used; that's a good point, but then again, that's always true of the verification process. I would still like to add but the context should be taken into consideration after Either convention may be appropriate, but unless we can craft some justification guidelines and examples, the clause would open the floodgates. Cynwolfe (talk) 18:24, 15 June 2012 (UTC)
I think basing it on sources is not a good idea. First, I expect that there are some articles that have always been BCE/CE but where most sources use BC/AD. I don't see it as acceptable for that to be a reason to suddenly change. Secondly, that would mean people might only choose sources that satisfied their era wishes. Third, it seems to arbitrary, although I guess you could argue that. I presume there are some authors that prefer a certain era style that at times have to follow style guidelines that prescribe the other style, so in those cases we wouldn't know the author's preferred style. Dougweller (talk) 18:45, 15 June 2012 (UTC)
Yes, I've been told this is a bad idea. It would certainly open many of the articles I've written up to era change, so it's no advantage to me personally. It's just the only neutral mechanism I've been able to come up with for determining what's appropriate. BTW, I chose the word 'preponderance' carefully: it doesn't just mean 'the greatest number" but the greatest weight, which I hoped would imply the WP sense of due and undue weight. A source cited multiple times carries more weight than a source cited only once or for a minor point. If we weigh the sources to determine how an article is constructed in terms of content, why are the sources not reliable for what era is appropriate to the topic? Since I take article composition seriously, I suppose I'm unable to imagine (re)writing an article by looking through the scholarship, choosing only those sources that use my preferred era convention, and then somehow producing otherwise neutral, properly balanced content from that. Keep in mind this involves actually writing or rewriting an entire article and composing complete prose sentences in some kind of good order; an editor would have to be insanely committed to imposing an era convention to devote that amount of time and effort for that reason alone. And besides, you can't just go around deleting sourced content without being noticed, and if an era crusader deleted unsourced content and replaced it with sourced, isn't that an improvement of the article? I don't follow your reasoning on the last point; yes, books published by OUP will follow the same stylebook, but that's kinda the point. It reflects the standard usage of a scholarly press. And if the sources used to compile an article all used BC/AD, then who are we to say nah, BCE/CE is what's correct? In other words, how do we determine when BC/AD is inappropriate, since there seem to be times when it is? You saw how the proposal that merely advised considering the religious and cultural context was shot down. Cynwolfe (talk) 19:42, 15 June 2012 (UTC)
Also, "preponderance of sources cited in the footnotes" is only one form that justification might take; an era change would still require discussing first, and coming to a consensus. Editors are under no obligation to accept a justification; they can still collectively say, no, the established era is longstanding and there's no compelling reason to disrupt the article by changing it. Cynwolfe (talk) 20:02, 15 June 2012 (UTC)
Perhaps consensus at this level is not possible at this time, and the buck should be passed down to the individual WikiProjects to establish their own preferred style if they so choose, and adjust the wording here to reflect that (and to respect WP:CONLIMITED). But then some editors would probably just war over which projects to include in an article... Mojoworker (talk) 22:09, 15 June 2012 (UTC)
While I have stated concerns about the effect of preponderence of sources test, as mentioned earlier, I respect its desire to seek some outside standard. One problem that I should note is that we do not rely solely on sources that have our own NPOV goals. I would suspect that many of the scholarly sources on Mohammed, for example, use various traditional claims of his holiness in even invoking his name, but we would not thus use the same in our articles. (Also, the mere stating of "preponderance" gives equal weight to a source from 1820 as one from 2020.)
As for the request to find examples of BC/BCE discussion, I'm here largely because of the discussion which I initiated for The Exodus, which can be seen in this archive; note that someone tried to use the preponderence-of-sources argument for BC, but it looks as though the evidence does not support him.
We are obviously not going to reach unanimity here; that doesn't mean we should think consensus unreachable. --Nat Gertler (talk) 22:17, 15 June 2012 (UTC)
Well said, and thanks for the example. On 'preponderance', I agree with your first point that even high-quality RS may not share our goals on neutrality and POV. On equal weight to all sources, again my thinking was that "preponderance" would not be a head count, but rather weighing in the WP sense: which sources represent mainstream scholarship? what do sources of the last 30 years say? This would be a complex discussion, like any debate over content—since once we raise the question of whether the era style is appropriate to the topic, it becomes a content question, not just a question of style. Mojoworker is probably right about the exhaustion of this thread. Even if we agreed on what forms of justification are constructive rather than disruptive, it's still discuss first, consensus required. And after following Nat's link, I'm thinking it's probably pointless. When I read that discussion, I come away with the impression that the best arguments were for BCE, and that most of the participants favored BCE, and yet the change wasn't made. Cynwolfe (talk) 05:01, 16 June 2012 (UTC)
What's so special about sources from the last 30 years? We're talking about ancient history; there would be sources for any of these topics dating back centuries or even millenia. (WP Editor 2011 (talk) 08:37, 16 June 2012 (UTC))
More to the point I don't even think that's true - perhaps it depends on the quality of the sources from the last 30 years you're looking at; as per the above, OUP and CUP seem to be happy with BC and AD, and they're presumably of irreproachable authority, Maculosae tegmine lyncis (talk) 10:29, 16 June 2012 (UTC)
Maculosae, I don't think you read me carefully. I didn't say that sources of the last 30 years would necessarily favor one over the other; I said they should be given weight as reflecting current usage. Which is my answer to WP Editor 2011, who once again reveals that he's pronouncing on things he's unfamiliar with. Yes, particularly in classical studies, 19th-century German sources, for example, may still be vital and foundational resources, and we will cite the ancient sources themselves in conjunction with the modern secondary sources. But (by way of simple analogy) we don't use the German form of proper names, and we don't use the ancient Greek or Latin forms of names; we use names that reflect current English usage. In the same way, the language we use to describe content should reflect contemporary popular or scholarly usage, not the Victorian diction of 19th-century encyclopedias. Just as we wouldn't present readers with an article on the biology of cells based on sources from 50 years ago, we shouldn't do that in the humanities. The difference is that humanities articles need to reflect the history of scholarship: the scholarly questions that have traditionally and continually been brought to the subject. But we review that history through the discourse of our own time. Cynwolfe (talk) 15:33, 16 June 2012 (UTC)
Oh, there are certainly things we can present from humanities sources from 50 years ago... but still that doesn't mean that we present it as if we were writing an encyclopedia of fifty years ago. Using facts from old sources does not require us to use outdated measurement standards, puntuation, or language. Cynwolfe: The change on The Exodus was not not-made because of being overlooked, but because the article is in the midst of a lockdown while some overall issues are thrashed out, so don't use that as a basis for claiming pointlessness. MTL: Those style guides are not "irreproachable authority", they are style guides for uniformity within certain works, and various style guides disagree in various ways. --Nat Gertler (talk) 18:50, 16 June 2012 (UTC)
I assumed that since the discussion dated back to March, the era change was languishing because there was a sense (not apparent in the rather civil discussion) that it would be reverted. My chagrin no doubt comes from unrelated discussions in which "the other side" seemed to me quite patently to lack the support of guidelines and sheer reason, and yet got their way through obstinacy. On outside stylebooks, these support generally that we need not ban BC/AD to conform to current scholarly usage. But they don't tell us anything about whether an era style is best for a particular article. Cynwolfe (talk) 19:09, 16 June 2012 (UTC)
But now it's you not listening to me - my point is your "ban BC/AD to conform to current scholarly usage" tends towards the fallacious: from what I can gather, the (B)CE convention may well have been rarer thirty years back, but BC/AD is in no sense universally deprecated today, being ?still? the norm, as it has been for many a moon, for many scholars and their publishers. On a side note, I was checking out what's supposed to be the oldest known pottery, and the noughties French publication used BC for the radiocarbon date of the residues - for wp's foreign readers is one convention better known? Maculosae tegmine lyncis (talk) 21:43, 16 June 2012 (UTC)
No, he seems to be listening to you, you're just misinterpreting what he's saying. He said that we need not ban BC/AD to match with current scholarly usage - i.e., that mimicking current scholarly usage wouldn't exclude BC/AD. Which is fine, as no one in this discussion has been calling for an utter ban on BC/AD, it has focused on the fact that there are some topics where the BCE usage is more appropriate - and, as the discussion at The Exodus found, more prevalent. --Nat Gertler (talk) 06:23, 17 June 2012 (UTC)
Oh, ok, one of those "Sherlock saw the man with binoculars" situations - but hey, you're slipping in some fallacious/wannabe-normative phraseology here, with your "fact that there are topics where BCE usage is more appropriate"; interesting though if you say there's a preponderant propensity amongst recent scholars of Christianity to slip a colonizing commonality into their era naming, Maculosae tegmine lyncis (talk) 08:25, 17 June 2012 (UTC)
I miss where I said anything about scholars of Christianity. I mentioned the topic of The Exodus, which, while embraced by Christians as part of their history, is not primarily a Christian event. --Nat Gertler (talk) 15:38, 17 June 2012 (UTC)
Er, not my period... Maculosae tegmine lyncis (talk) 16:08, 17 June 2012 (UTC)
Isn't there something about Old Testament as precuror to New, as in sacrifice of Isaac = that of Jesus? Perhaps I'd better get my coat again, Maculosae tegmine lyncis (talk) 16:22, 17 June 2012 (UTC)
So if Christianity is involved, then the scruples of any other religion or culture need not be taken into consideration? Judaism is just a "precursor" to Christianity? See, that's just the kind of presumption that causes people to recoil from Anno Domini as a form of Christian domination, instead of regarding it as a mere convention. Cynwolfe (talk) 18:37, 17 June 2012 (UTC)
Again, while Christians claim an interest in The Exodus, it is not primarily a Christian event, as there were no Christians involved. That's not to say that Christians cannot look at the event from a Christian perspective, but they can do that to everything, and that does not make all topics primarily Christian topics. The Exodus is embraced as part of history by all Abrahamic religions. Study of the Exodus is not inherently or primarily in the realm of "scholars of Christianity". --Nat Gertler (talk) 19:18, 17 June 2012 (UTC)


In the section WP:NUMERAL there is a rule that needs clarification: "*Simple fractions are normally spelled out; use the fraction form if they occur in a percentage or with an abbreviated unit (14 yd or a quarter of a yard, but not a quarter of a yd) or if they are mixed with whole numerals (two-and-a-half yards)." The final example ("use the fraction form ... if they are mixed with whole numerals (two-and-a-half yards).") doesn't make sense. The example shows the fraction spelled out, not the "fraction form", which would be 2 12 yards.

I would think the correct rule should be: "*Simple fractions are normally spelled out (a quarter of a yard instead of 14 yard or 0.25 yards; use the fraction form if they occur in a percentage or with an abbreviated unit (14% or 0.25% and not a quarter %, and 14 yd or 0.25 yd and not a quarter of a yd). When combined with whole numbers, simple fractions should match the integral part (two-and-a-half yards and 10 12 yards) and not 10-and-a-half-yards." Coastside (talk) 21:52, 5 June 2012 (UTC)

I decided to rewrite the above. Also deleted the guideline "Decimal representations containing a decimal point are not spelled out."with the reasoning that "decimal representations" are by definition "not spelled out". Decimal fractions on the other hand are already covered by the general guidelines for fractions. Coastside (talk) 00:34, 12 June 2012 (UTC)

By definition? The word "point" spells out decimal representations, as in "point 5", "point five" or "three point one". Perhaps some say "dot". --P64 (talk) 15:03, 12 June 2012 (UTC)
I hadn't considered someone spelling out "point". Good point(!) Rather than revert the line, let me propose a change to something short and to the, err... point: "Decimal numbers are never spelled out (0.5, not point 5). Thoughts? Coastside (talk) 20:42, 12 June 2012 (UTC)
Unfortunately, I'm not sure even the mathematicians agree on the terminology, and I'm quite sure the readers of this guideline will have trouble with terminology. For example, "10" is a decimal number (and so is "ten"). In binary it would be "10102". Jc3s5h (talk) 21:04, 12 June 2012 (UTC)
I certainly agree the style guide for numbers is complex. Examples are helpful. Maybe we should change it to "DecimalnumbersDecimal fractions are never spelled out (0.5, not point 5)." At least that draws attention to the fractional part, which is the point. Coastside (talk) 22:09, 12 June 2012 (UTC)
It should not be helpful to write in terms that are neutral to base ten because the sophisticated reader, comfortable with other bases, who cares to comply with intended style will take "decimal point" in a general way. It means that full stop that delimits the integer part, in any base.
In this sense we take base ten for granted from an earlier point in the article, no later than 3.3 Delimiting: "A full stop (.) should not be used to separate thousands (e.g. 12.200, 255.200) to avoid confusion with the decimal point."
That full stop or dot is the point that should not be spelled out. It shouldn't hurt to continue calling it "full stop (.)". I agree that "point 5" should be sufficient as an example. ...
"Decimal points Full stops (.) are never spelled out (0.5, not point 5)."

--P64 (talk) 15:18, 13 June 2012 (UTC)

"Message received STOP Never spell out full stop STOP"... The term "full stop" is for the symbol (.), but it can be used to mean the end of a sentence, and American English calls it "period", etc., so a reader might not understand until they read the example. I think it's more precise to say "Decimal point", or perhaps "Decimal mark". To avoid the implicit assumption around base 10, we could use the more general term "radix point". The article on radix points calls the symbol a "small dot". Here's another suggestion: "Decimal marks (or more generally radix points) are never spelled out (0.5, not point 5)." If as you you say sophisticated readers would not need the parenthetical part, we could leave that out.Coastside (talk) 09:45, 14 June 2012 (UTC)


I have been changing code in article text (nothing to do with links) from 1900s to 1900s (decade) and 2000s to 2000s (decade). I base my clarifying edits on Wikipedia:CENTURY. At least one editor objects to this, saying the MOS does not justify my edits and in any case he doesn't like my changes to articles being watched and is going to go to ANI to complain because I don't edit the way being demanded. What is MOS actaully saying here? Hmains (talk) 02:35, 14 June 2012 (UTC)

It's not changing code when you're appending an unnecessary qualifier to the prose of the article such as in this edit. There is nothing listed on this manual of style that says "add '(decade)' to article text". This was never standard practice before. You've just unilaterally decided to make these changes yourself. This would not be an issue if it was a link to the article, but you're putting a raw "(decade)" in the prose of the article so things now read "In the mid-to-late 2000s (decade)..." instead of "In the mid-to-late 2000s...". This page does say to not use ambiguous terms, but it does not say to treat it like a disambiguated article title.—Ryulong (竜龙) 02:41, 14 June 2012 (UTC)
WP:CENTURY does say "Forms such as the 1700s are normally best avoided since it may be unclear whether a 10- or 100-year period is meant (i.e. 1700–1709 or 1700–1799)." But it doesn't specify what to say instead of "1700s" or "2000s". 2000s (decade) only makes sense in a title. It isn't used in prose. "First decade of the 2000s" would be a more obvious choice; see this Google Books ngram. There may be other phrases that could be used, but it shouldn't be just 2000s according to the guideline, and it shouldn't be 2000s (decade) if only because nobody else does it. Art LaPella (talk) 04:32, 14 June 2012 (UTC)
Yes, "first decade of the 2000s" is good where there is ambiguity that should be undone (and I'm sure that's the case for some revisions by Hmains that are not linked by Ryulong above).
While 2000s is intrinsically ambiguous, however, it is not routinely ambiguous in context. The four linked instances are ambiguous only where that is appropriate (the first three) because it isn't clear that "2000–2009" rather than "2000–2012" is intended. --or should be intended, if it's too soon after 2009 to know whether the generalizations do comprehend more than the decade.
The fourth instance ("mid-to-late 2000s") will not be ambiguous for at least seventy years; presumably not even then, concerning an episode(?) in the life of someone born 1935.
As a reader I pass over "In the 2000s, ..." as harmless transition in the middle of chronological accounts such as biographies of people, political parties, businesses, sports clubs, etc.
Even regarding Christianity or France or manufacturing, who span centuries, 2000s is routinely unambiguous because it is paired with another unambiguous decade or because it appears in a chronological account whose pace is slow. --P64 (talk) 14:52, 14 June 2012 (UTC)
Just because the guideline discourages 1700s, doesn't mean they were really thinking about 2000s. But remember that what we write now might still be read in 2025. Art LaPella (talk) 15:09, 14 June 2012 (UTC)
(I somehow suspect that the use of 2000s to mean ‘2000–2099’ will never catch on – at least, not within the next 100 years or so; but still, better safe than sorry – though in contexts where the meaning actually is obvious, going out of our way to disambiguate it may be unnecessary pedantry. And even when we do need to disambiguate it, “2000s (decade)” is about as clumsy as you can get.) ― A. di M.​  16:59, 14 June 2012 (UTC)
I'm not sure that matters. What matters is consistency. If it is accepted, and I'm not claiming that it is, that the 1400s means 1400-1499, then the 2000s should mean 2000-2099. Personally using the 15th century and 21st century would be better to use since they are not ambiguous. Vegaswikian (talk) 01:04, 15 June 2012 (UTC)
If the 2010s means 2010–2019... IOW you got to be inconsistent with something; the choice is what to be inconsistent with. ― A. di M.​  15:23, 15 June 2012 (UTC)
  • In all these cases, the time span being discussed is the first decade of the 21st century (known by the WP article as 2000s (decade), whether disagreeable to some or not). What is not being discussed is the 100 year century, since future time has not happened yet and by the MOS should be written as 21st century anyway. I am trying to follow the MOS for clarity so that articles written now will still be valid 100 or more years from now--without wondering whether the writer is discussing the decade or the century. Clarity of writing should always be our high goal, right after facts. And no we cannot link to the decade article since that is a violation of another part of the MOS so that discussion about linking such is completely off base. And 1700s is only an example in the MOS; the MOS is not stating that its text only applies to the 1700s--that would be an absurd interpretation of examples throughout the MOS. Hmains (talk) 02:02, 15 June 2012 (UTC)
Nobody has disagreed with 2000s (decade) as the title of an article, but nobody else has agreed with using it in prose, and my ngram shows that nobody outside Wikipedia uses it either. Writing for readers in 2100 will best be done by our descendants, but writing for a few years from now is necessary, and the difference between the 2000s decade and 2000s century will grow as time goes on. Ryulong didn't advocate linking to the decade article; he said (decade) would only be OK in such a link, presumably piped because the reader isn't necessarily expected to understand Wikipedia disambiguation conventions. "Forms such as the 1700s" means 1400s, 1500s, 1600s, 1700s, 1800s, and 1900s, and maybe 2000s is a special case but I think that was exaggerated. It doesn't mean the 385949300s; we would rethink that issue separately if it ever came up, and almost no rule is intended to apply to everything. To summarize: "first decade of the 2000s". Art LaPella (talk) 02:41, 15 June 2012 (UTC)
"First decade of the 1700s" will not work as that leaves the ambiguity in place. Either "1700s (decade)" or "first decade of the 18th century" would be fine with me. When I came to this forum several years to ask which should be used before I started making changes, there was no agreement and no one willing to write something in the MOS, so I chose to use the shorter wording--which some people agreed with and which has only rarely been reverted. I can change all the articles to whatwhat unabiguous phrasing is agreed upon, but I wish a decision could be made and stuck with as it is a lot of wasted time and effort to change things back and forth, based on whoever joins the conversation at any given moment. Hmains (talk) 04:25, 15 June 2012 (UTC)
"first decade of the 18th century" would be fine with me too. My main interest in this page is Main Page copyediting (and maybe quieting down MOS wars), so I agree that guideline writers often don't seem to have the editors' practical needs in mind ... Art LaPella (talk) 05:01, 15 June 2012 (UTC)
I didn't find the discussion Hmains described above. These discussions were about date delinking, not about whether to say "2000s (decade)" in prose. Art LaPella (talk) 13:42, 15 June 2012 (UTC)
How is “first decade of the 1700s” ambiguous? I can't think of no other possible meaning for it than 1700–1709. (And technically “first decade of the 18th century” is 1701–1710 not 1700–1709, though if one-year differences matter you shouldn't be using decades as opposed to years in the first place.) ― A. di M.​  15:26, 15 June 2012 (UTC)
That it is ambiguous is established by the MOS, regardless of personal opinion. The MOS also indicates that centuries, which is what is being written about with '1700s' in the phrase 'first decade of the 1700s' are to be written as '21st century' and never '2000s'. Again this is the MOS, not personal opinion, including mine. Hmains (talk) 03:36, 16 June 2012 (UTC)
This arises from the definitional fact that a decade is a portion of a century, not a portion of itself. Hmains (talk) 03:53, 16 June 2012 (UTC)
I don't quite think you've understood my argument. I've been saying you should not be using the phrase "2000s (decade)" within a sentence to refer to the period of time from year 2000 AD to 2009 AD when it is within standard prose because it is clunky and awkward. There needs to be a different option to identify this time period that does not match the way we disambiguate article titles, because that only works for organizational purposes and not making the written word clearer.—Ryulong (竜龙) 20:21, 17 June 2012 (UTC)
I understand your statements but I don't agree with them as I previously indicated. And it seems no one else in this discussion has supported your statements either, which is what we came to this forum to determine. Sorry. Hmains (talk) 15:57, 1 July 2012 (UTC)
Strange, I thought all of us except Hmains agreed that you wouldn't say "2000s (decade)" in prose. I said it explicitly ("2000s (decade) only makes sense in a title. It isn't used in prose.") So did A. di M. ("'2000s (decade)' is about as clumsy as you can get"). And I think everyone else took that for granted. Are we talking about something else? Art LaPella (talk) 17:54, 1 July 2012 (UTC)
Sorry about that. I will try again. Hmains (talk) 01:11, 2 July 2012 (UTC)

A link to something behind a paywall

The third note in WP:MOSNUM says,

"Note the style guides of British publications such as Times Online (under "Metric")."

However, the style guide is now beyond a paywall, and WP:ELNO states:

"Links to sites that require payment or registration to view the relevant content, unless the site itself is the subject of the article, or the link is a convenience link to a citation."

Neither of these qualifications appear to apply, and directing readers to a paywall is an unnecessary frustration.

There is a way round this. The style guides of the Times and other papers are summarised in Metrication in the United Kingdom. See [15] One solution is to link this to the note, something like this:

"Note the style guides of British publications.

I should add that this change does not change MOSNUM's recommendations. It only changes a footnote that appears to be at odds with Wikipedia's policy of avoiding links to sites that require payment. Michael Glass (talk) 03:42, 19 June 2012 (UTC)

...which will then be used to suggest that the metric-first style guides that are listed at Metrication in the United Kingdom are more important than the imperial-first ones that aren't. Or alternatively, the argument will be, well this is a British publication, so its style guide overrides the rest of the guidance provided. Seen that sort of trick played many times before. I oppose.
We should be mentioning the Times, because it's the Times that our guidance is based on. If there's a problem with the paywall (and it's been behind one for a long time now) then we can change it to "The advice provided is based on the Times style guide." or similar. Kahastok talk 18:44, 19 June 2012 (UTC)
I disagree with Glass' interpretation of "Wikipedia:External links". First, that is a guideline, not a policy. Further, it only applies to articles, not to Wikipedia space. Finally, it does not apply to citations, only to "extra" links that are not cited to support the contents of the article. Jc3s5h (talk) 18:56, 19 June 2012 (UTC)
While I do agree that application of EL is wrong here, the problem is that this appears to be a style guide we're expecting editors to be familiar with but it is stuck behind a paywall, making it "pay to play" to edit articles that include metric/imperial units, which we absolutely don't want to do. If there's no other direct source for these, but this guide forms the basis for dealing with units, then the revalent aspects of the guide need to be spelled out in detail here so that we're not excluding readers from that information. --MASEM (t) 19:04, 19 June 2012 (UTC)
They pretty much are. The guidance they provide is:
  • In general, prefer metric, with imperial in brackets.
  • This particularly includes temperature.
  • Prefer hectares and square metres to acres and square yards, but prefer square miles to square kilometres.
  • Don't be overprecise when converting.
  • "Principle exceptions" to the above are:
    • Give distances globally in miles. When dealing with distances outside the US and UK, convert to kilometres at first mention.
    • Give speeds globally in miles per hour. When dealing with speeds outside the US and UK, convert to kilometres per hour at first mention.
    • Personal heights and weights are in feet/inches and stones/pounds, with conversions in brackets.
    • Elevation and depth is metric first except for aircraft altitude. Hill heights are metric first.
    • Use pints for beer, cider, and milk where appropriate. Use litres (unconverted) for fuel sold by the litre, but measure fuel consumption in miles per imperial gallon.
  • Use metric first in "sporting, foreign, engineering and scientific stories", including recipes, though retain tablespoons and teaspoons for small measures.
With the exception of the instruction to use square miles, the use of tablespoons and teaspoons in any recipes we happen to have, and the instruction not to use conversions, this is identical to the system that we should say we should use in "non-science UK-related articles". Kahastok talk 19:30, 19 June 2012 (UTC)
Can these be added/summarized (and I'm assuming this is paraphrased and not verbatim) to the MOS? That would alleviate the issue of using the paywall link, we can still employ it but we're not requiring people to have to see it to edit. --MASEM (t) 20:09, 19 June 2012 (UTC)
Yes, it's paraphrased, except obviously the quotes. The current MOSNUM wording is:
In non-science UK-related articles: the main unit is generally a metric unit (44 kilogram (97 lb)), but imperial units are still used as the main units in some contexts, including:
  • miles for geographical distances, miles per hour for speeds, and miles per imperial gallon for fuel consumption;
  • feet/inches and stones/pounds for personal height and weight measurements;
  • imperial pints for draught beer/cider and bottled milk.
The text we're discussing is in a footnote following the word "including". I don't mind summarising it further for the footnote, by adding something like: which advises the use of metric first in most cases, with the exceptions outlined above. The guide also recommends the use of square miles, hectares and square metres for area and feet for aircraft altitude. - but we're already echoing it closely in the advice we give. Kahastok talk 20:28, 19 June 2012 (UTC)
Sure, that's fine. I just worry that if there's a case that someone may encounter part of this style guideline that is not spelled out here but left in the paywall source. Reading this, I really don't see this being the case, but I would maybe include footnote language that says to consult this talk page for cases otherwise not covered, upon someone which does have access can explain the right advice. --MASEM (t) 20:46, 19 June 2012 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── I am not happy with summarising The Times styleguide - as Masem said, we run the risk that something could be accidently misquoted. The only alternative is to quote the entire guideline verbatim but then we will run into copyright problems. I would far rather use a third party whose style guide is readily available. Martinvl (talk) 21:01, 19 June 2012 (UTC)

As long as there are multiple editors here that have access to that styleguide through the paywall, the information can be verified to assure it is correct (it would be helpful if those editors could checkmark that off here, so that we have that archived somewhere around). The problem with using an open guide is that it appears to be slightly different from current practice; we can easily resolve the paywall issue without too much problem. Alternatively, is this guide anywhere in print? If it is, that's even better to stay with this approach. --MASEM (t) 21:06, 19 June 2012 (UTC)
FWIW the style guide remains available through the Wayback Machine. Probably not a good idea to link through the Wayback Machine, but it is available. There is also a print edition. The argument Martin makes could equally be applied to any offline or paid-for source anywhere on Wikipedia. Kahastok talk 21:14, 19 June 2012 (UTC)
If there is a print, we should link to that, make a note that the URL is a paywall link, and be done. There's no concern in this case (per WP:V even if it doesn't apply to non-mainspace pages). --MASEM (t) 21:40, 19 June 2012 (UTC)

It was interesting to read the comments above, and I thank all those who made them. I will bow to the expertise of those who assert that when a guideline or policy says to avoid "Links to sites that require payment or registration to view the relevant content" it doesn't apply here. However, I also note the concern that was expressed that information should be locked beyond a paywall.

Kahastok criticised the article on metrication in the UK for listing pro metric UK style guides but not listing pro Imperial style guides. That's a good argument for improving that article. Perhaps he could explain what pro Imperial style guide or guides should be review in that article.

I also note the assertion that MOSNUM policy is based on the Times. It may have started out this way, but there are important differences.

  • The Times says to prefer square miles to square kilometres, but MOSNUM does not list square kilometres as one of the listed exceptions.
  • "The Times should keep abreast of the trend in the UK to move gradually towards all-metric use..." but there is no equivalent advice in MOSNUM.
  • "The overwhelming preference is sporting, foreign, engineering and scientific stories to be metric..." says the Times guide, but MOSNUM does not make any such stipulation for UK sporting and engineering topics.
  • On the other hand, MOSNUM, The Times and other style guides all specify miles for road distances in the UK, so this is a similarity between all the style guides and not just between the Times and MOSNUM. Also there are legal provision about pints of milk, draught beer and so on.

There are of course several features in common between the Times Style Guide and MOSNUM, but these similarities should not be overstated.

I think it also should be noted that the MOSNUM footnote says, "Note the style guides of British publications such as Times Online (under "Metric"). This tells us to note the guides plural so even MOSNUM doesn't instruct us only to depend on the Times style guide.

That's why it makes sense to link this statement to the discussion of the style guides in the UK metrication article. Michael Glass (talk) 13:12, 20 June 2012 (UTC)

The current advice is based on the guidance from the Times. You know this. You were there when we drafted it. The current wording is not substantially different from the one originally agreed in any of the ways you list. You know that as well. I shouldn't need to tell you things that you already know, but given your standard tactics of denying all knowledge of things you've done and acting as though someone else did things that you did, it isn't very surprising that I do.
I oppose your change. I'm quite happy to include a reference to the print edition of the Times style guide, or a summary of the online version. These measures entirely address the concern you have stated about the paywall. The fact that you insist on your version, instead of these perfectly reasonable options, demonstrates the fact that, despite your protestations, you are in fact trying to change policy here while pretending that you aren't. Again, this a pretty standard tactic of yours. Kahastok talk 21:16, 20 June 2012 (UTC)

Second proposal

I note the opposition to removing the reference to the Times Style Guide and withdraw that proposal. I accept that the advice to avoid links beyond a paywall does not apply in this instance. However, I also note that I am not alone in voicing concern that the Times policy is not freely available. I'm also happy to support a reference to the print edition of the Times Style Guide. However, the policy does refer to more than one style guide. I therefore have a second proposal to address this question.

This second proposal is to leave the wording and the reference unchanged. However, I propose that the passage is linked to the discussion of newspaper style guides in "Metrication in the UK". One way to do this would be like this:

"Note the style guides of British publications such as Times Online (under "Metric")."

The advantage of this is that it would provide a link to a summary of several style guides. This would not change policy. It would simply provide a link to a summary of the Times Style Guide and other style guides.

I should also add that if there are deficiencies in this summary, then it might be better to fix this up before putting in the link.

I hope that I have addressed every concern that has been expressed and seek the support of other editors for something that does not change policy one iota. Michael Glass (talk) 03:46, 21 June 2012 (UTC)

I oppose. If the page concerned gave a full account of style guides across the press, rather than just the Times and those that are more metric than the Times, I might be more inclined to accept it. But it doesn't, so I'm not. I note that you claim it doesn't change policy - it never does, when it's proposed. With your proposals it's only after it's implemented that it changes policy. Kahastok talk 19:03, 21 June 2012 (UTC)
What guides does Kahastok propose? I looked through the Dauly Telegraph guide, but could not find anything about the use of metric or imperial units other than that the Telegraph prefers the word "metrication" to "metricifcation". The Daily Mail and Daily Express "Style Guides" referred to woman's dress style! The Sun, Daily Mirror, The Daily Star - lets not go there. Martinvl (talk) 19:30, 21 June 2012 (UTC)

Use common British weights and measures even in foreign stories unless the context dictates otherwise. Metric weights and measures should be followed by British equivalents in brackets. Use the abbreviations oz, lb, st, cwt, in, ft, yd after numerals from two upwards. No full points, no plurals, no space between the number and the abbreviation.

Given quite how many times this has been quoted to you, it would seem astonishing for you to have so completely forgotten it. Kahastok talk 21:16, 21 June 2012 (UTC)

Just answer my question - can you give me a freely available guide to which we can refer? Martinvl (talk) 23:27, 21 June 2012 (UTC)
So, despite the many times the Telegraph has been quoted to you, and despite your heavy involvement in the discussion earlier this year in which it was repeatedly proposed that replace our current advice based on the Times with it, you're really going to deny all knowledge? That says a lot, though I can't say I'm particularly surprised - it doesn't advocate the metric system, after all. I can show you things, but if you're not willing to look at them I can't force you to. Let's leave it at I oppose this proposal. Kahastok talk 17:22, 22 June 2012 (UTC)

The above quotation would be a good addition to the article on metrication in the UK. It can be found | here. If part of this was added to the article (I don't believe we need the advice of which abbreviations to use), would this satisfy you, Kahastok? If not, could you elaborate further on your demands? Michael Glass (talk) 05:09, 23 June 2012 (UTC)

"It can be found here." is a dead link. Art LaPella (talk) 05:34, 23 June 2012 (UTC)
There's a stray | at the end of the URL. Remove it and it'll work. ― A. di M.​  07:15, 23 June 2012 (UTC)

Sorry about the dead link. This one, I hope, will work. [16] Michael Glass (talk) 10:19, 23 June 2012 (UTC)

Changed information in Metrication in the UK

I have now added extra information to Metrication in the United Kingdom article. See [17]. I hope that this meets all concerns that have been expressed. Are there any further comments or concerns about my proposal to link the this portion of the article to the relevant footnote in MOSNUM? Michael Glass (talk) 04:07, 25 June 2012 (UTC)