Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Dates and numbers

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Era style issues - I think deleting "reasons specific to the article" is a mistake[edit]

What I'm seeing now at Talk:Pontius Pilate#Lede picture is a discussion about the use of era styles in the UK and the US, whether a book was published in the UK or the US, etc. The deletion means we end up with people simply putting forth the same arguments that lesd to the old wording which focussed on what was more appropriate for that particular article. Maybe we need an RfC but I think this is going to continue to create problems in other articles. Doug Weller talk 09:12, 5 August 2019 (UTC)

We already have a clear policy, WP:ERA, which says in essence "do not change the era style first used in the article". The Pilate article began as BCE and should stay as BCE. To do otherwise is giving way to POV-pushing and where does that end. --John Maynard Friedman (talk) 10:46, 5 August 2019 (UTC)
A) It doesn't say that any more, which I presume is what Doug is referring to, and B) it never did say what you say - it was "do not change the era style first used in the article without a talk page consensus". If someone could dig out the changes & any discussion on them, I think I too would prefer to go back to the old version. I never actually saw serious arguments over this - more ips changing BC to BCE because everybody knows that's right or, less often, the other way. I've only ever seen a handful of actual talk page sections running a vote. Johnbod (talk) 13:12, 5 August 2019 (UTC)
Thinking about this a little more since this morning, I came back here to say that, since thus particular Roman Governor is only notable because of the Christian story, it does make a good example that sometimes convincing cases can be made for an exception to the rule. [It is not easy for me to check on mobile but I think the "special circumstances" exception is given at MOS:STYLEVAR ]. --John Maynard Friedman (talk) 13:40, 5 August 2019 (UTC)
I agree with your first comment. That particular pressure group had serious problems with its sources and dating in general! Best to avoid all their dating systems till they have sorted it out.ClemRutter (talk) 17:46, 5 August 2019 (UTC)
Mine were the most-recent major changes here (see this cumulative diff over a few weeks) based on the discussion in #ERA style solutions and #This article should not fork wp:ERA. I took a bold pen to it and merciless editing is welcome. Specific changes and rationale are something to the effect of:
  1. Remove reference to Dionysian as being somewhat obtuse/indirect for the average reader-editor.
  2. Removed the "what is it" in deference to our articles on the matter.
  3. Removed the commentary on whether it was traditional or otherwise, which should be presented with citation in the appropriate article.
  4. Removed what seemed like a serious and deviating fork of WP:STYLEVAR. We do not need to handhold people through the process of consensus in the MOS.
  5. In exchange, provided a directive to use the process in STYLEVAR.
  6. In removing the fork, added the 'depending on article contexts' language.
This last bullet John tried to do something with but reverted himself. I am not sure if his concerns were pointed the same direction as those in this thread. --Izno (talk) 18:07, 5 August 2019 (UTC)
I've revised the section heading as I meant the change is specifically a mistake when applied to era styles. Not Pontius Pilate, that's an example of why I think the chnage was a mistake. Doug Weller talk 18:30, 5 August 2019 (UTC)
That's not at all clear - what about PP shows this? Johnbod (talk) 18:38, 5 August 2019 (UTC)
They discussion is a metadiscussion about era styles in general, while I think it should be about which style is most appropriate for the article. Doug Weller talk 18:12, 8 August 2019 (UTC)
Since this has sort of been revived, I'll just point out that at no point in that discussion does anybody propose actually changing the style of the article concerned. Johnbod (talk) 03:41, 20 August 2019 (UTC)

Era style cautions[edit]

I'm reverting this [1] partly because by default I prefer less verbiage in the guidelines (among other things, prescribing a word for the subhead is really overdoing it) but mostly because there's something wrong with it but I can't sort out how to fix it. Izno? EEng 12:56, 19 August 2019 (UTC)

  • @EEng: it should have read:
Do not change the established era style in an article unless there are reasons specific to its content. Seek consensus on the talk page before making the change. Open the discussion under a subhead that uses the word "era". Briefly state why the style is inappropriate for the article in question. A personal or categorical preference for one era style over the other is not justification for making a change.
Doug Weller talk 13:59, 19 August 2019 (UTC)
OK, but a bullet or two above that there's already Apply Wikipedia:Manual of Style § Retaining existing styles with regard to changes from one era to the other so at the very least those need to be integrated.
I agree this is a special sore point, and more than just the usual pointer to RETAIN (or whatever) is needed. But not that much more. At least it should be its own bullet point, with a bit more to warn editors to tread carefully. EEng 14:25, 19 August 2019 (UTC)
  • @Izno: I couldn't find any discussion about this. Sure, verbiage is to be avoided, but the important thing is to avoid editwarring or arguments that are in the end based on personal preference or more commonly religious orientation. It's not that different from how we handle in practice (at least in my experience) national variaties of English, except that there doesn't really seem to be a guideline on that. In any case I'm unhappy with such a change being made with what seems to have been no discussion other than edit summaries. I do get the ""When either of two styles are [sic] acceptable it is inappropriate for a Wikipedia editor to change from one style to another unless there is some substantial reason for the change." but that, as I've said, leave it too open for people to debate the styles themselves rather than their applicability to the article. Doug Weller talk 13:59, 19 August 2019 (UTC)
  • Doug Weller reinstated some original text that says (in a nutshell) 'leave the era [CE/AD] as you find it'. A while back, someone tidied this section on the basis that there are multiple cases (citation style, SI/Imperial) like this and the generic 'leave it alone' rule should suffice without needing to repeat it in every case. In a perfect world, that would be true. But experience has shown that there have been too many cases of fundamentalists (both types) changing the era because wp:IDONTLIKEIT. So we really do need to be able to give a quick, clear referral to WP:ERA to give the all relevant policies in one place. --John Maynard Friedman (talk) 14:18, 19 August 2019 (UTC)
    I wrote the above without checking for an ongoing discussion, my apologies to all. I have decided to let it stand since the point seems to need restating a different way. --John Maynard Friedman (talk) 14:48, 19 August 2019 (UTC)
  • I think the section should be restored, as the general caution elsewhere is likely to be missed, but without "unless there are reasons specific to its content" which I think is likely to encourage rather than discourage disputes. There is "state why the style is inappropriate for the article in question" just below, which is enough to make clear discussions should be article-specific. Johnbod (talk) 15:00, 19 August 2019 (UTC)
    How about
    Wikipedia:Manual of Style § Retaining existing styles applies to era styles: before changing an article's era style seek consensus on the talk page, giving reasons – specific to the article's content, not merely a personal preference – that the current style is inappropriate.
    EEng 15:32, 19 August 2019 (UTC)
    Happy with that - maybe add "general or" before "personal preference" - most arguments in either direction tend to be "but everybody does it this way...". Johnbod (talk) 15:58, 19 August 2019 (UTC)
    EEng's proposal sounds good to me. I wouldn't want to extend it per Johnbod's suggestion, not because I disagree but because it is too vague without the longer explanation. Let's just stick to this succinct wording: special circumstances and hard cases can be dealt with in the discussion as it arises. --John Maynard Friedman (talk) 17:11, 19 August 2019 (UTC)
    Looking at it again I want to suggest removing not merely a personal preference because that actually lowers the bar -- implies that any argument better than a mere personal preference is an acceptable argument. Just specific to the article's content says exactly what's wanted. Thoughts? EEng 17:46, 19 August 2019 (UTC)
    I'm ok with that. Johnbod (talk) 21:33, 19 August 2019 (UTC)
    Johnbod, was it intentional that your comment is indented so as to ok only my original draft, but not my later suggestion of dropping not merely a personal preference? Much hangs on a colon or two! EEng 21:51, 19 August 2019 (UTC) Imagine if the Supreme Court used a wiki. Someone could get the chair because of an indenting error!
    No, changed. Johnbod (talk) 01:45, 20 August 2019 (UTC)
    Remind me never to nominate you for the Supreme Court. EEng 02:02, 20 August 2019 (UTC)
For those who don't know, Izno's an admin now!EEng
  • Just to say I've seen this discussion and I'll try to get to it tonight. --Izno (talk) 17:51, 19 August 2019 (UTC)
We await your comments with anxious anticipation. EEng 20:56, 19 August 2019 (UTC)
Isn't that tautological? Await and anticipation? "We anxiously await your comments"? Tony (talk) 02:39, 20 August 2019 (UTC)
How 'bout I give you a punch in the schnozola?[FBDB] EEng 03:40, 20 August 2019 (UTC)

I do not entirely understand why the comment I made in the above section was not meaningfully engaged with before the edit was made today.

That aside, I have an issue with the extra text proposed above. A bad faith editor is going to change the text regardless of what the MOS says, wherever it says it. We deal with such users with WP:AN3 and similar. However, a good faith editor, if he should bother to check the MOS first, will see the link currently pointing to WP:STYLEVAR and will probably think to himself "yup, don't change that without consensus". My "depending on article context" in the sentence currently in WP:ERA immediately prior to "apply STYLEVAR" was trying to get at EEng's latest statement of the !rule we want. Now, I also object to forcing discussion first (per my logic above about good/bad faith users). EEng's formulation then reduces to something that's already quite similar to the text in the section at present. There might be some reasonable rejiggering in there if e.g. the order of the clauses/sentences isn't quite right, but a total rewrite or revert probably is not called for. I see the reminder to use STYLEVAR as nearly entirely sufficient when combined with some sense of what a "substantial reason for change" is in this context (article context/content). --Izno (talk) 02:49, 20 August 2019 (UTC)

Well, I'm pleading ignorance -- didn't realize the earlier thread was there. Personally I was happy with Izno's original change cutting the additional text [2], or that + a tiny bit more to make sure it's not missed; above I was just proposing a compromise to keep the peace. And we could use some peace around here nowadays. EEng 03:37, 20 August 2019 (UTC)
It is not credible to refer disruptive editors to the entire MOS. I repeat my earlier statement: we need to be able to tell them the read wp:ERA and there they will find a short succinct statement. EEng's one liner exactly hits the spot. I don't understand why you find that objectionable. --John Maynard Friedman (talk) 16:52, 20 August 2019 (UTC)
Yes - this is a very strong argument. Mostly links to WP:ERA get used in edit summaries reverting drive-bys, just like WP:ENGVAR. Johnbod (talk) 17:05, 20 August 2019 (UTC)
This is not referring users to the entire MOS--that is an overexaggeration. This is one section that anyone who is interested in concerns of style should already know and care about, especially those making, or reverting, disruptive edits. As for his one-liner, my "one-liner" also hits all the critical points of interest--and I already said why I find his objectionable. Please engage with that rationale. --Izno (talk) 18:10, 20 August 2019 (UTC)
@Izno: just one question, have you experienced talk page discussion about this? Doug Weller talk 14:48, 20 August 2019 (UTC)
That's not relevant. You're welcome to point to where you have and then we can all review to see if your suggested reversion is reasonable/appropriate in the context of those discussions. --Izno (talk) 14:55, 20 August 2019 (UTC)
It is entirely relevant. At an early stage in this discussion, I acknowledged that in an ideal world the repetition would not be needed but in the real world it has proven to be needed. It is not a theoretical issue. --John Maynard Friedman (talk)
I am not disputing that the issue may be real. I am disputing that my experience with it is relevant. I distinctly invited specific instances for Doug (or anyone) to identify where the issue has occurred and where there is some reasonable belief that the current text is insufficient for having reverted those issues and/or initiation discussion. --Izno (talk) 18:10, 20 August 2019 (UTC)
  • Just to be clear, the current text is
Apply Wikipedia:Manual of Style § Retaining existing styles with regard to changes from one era to the other
at the end of the introductory paragraph of WP:ERA. "My" text above (and I repeat I was just trying to find a compromise -- I'm happy with the current text except that I'd set it off as it's own bullet).
But I just noticed something, Izno. "My" text (distilling more verbose text that was in the guideline for some time) does impose a somewhat higher bar for change than does STYLERET (i.e. Wikipedia:Manual of Style § Retaining existing styles), and that's not an accident, given the history of ERA disputes. Are you sure you don't see that as useful? I say that as the author of WP:NONEEDNORULE. EEng 00:16, 21 August 2019 (UTC)
The current text worth quoting is
Either convention may be appropriate for use in Wikipedia articles depending on the article context. Apply Wikipedia:Manual of Style § Retaining existing styles with regard to changes from one era to the other.
which I think is pretty close to your current suggested text,
Wikipedia:Manual of Style § Retaining existing styles applies to era styles: before changing an article's era style seek consensus on the talk page, giving reasons – specific to the article's content – that the current style is inappropriate.,
before changing an article's era style seek consensus on the talk page,
which as I said is either useless for bad faith editors (because they're either driveby or can't be convinced by a !rule in the MOS) or unnecessary for good faith editors (because they'll already follow WP:STYLEVAR). I have already ceded that the article content (though I called it context) is an important protection in this context. The rest of the intent duplicates STYLEVAR almost entirely and so I see it as unnecessary. --Izno (talk) 00:30, 21 August 2019 (UTC)
  • I've juggled STYLERET a bit without, I think changing the meaning, but putting more emphasis on prior discussion [3]. Assuming those changes stick I think there Izno need for more than the current text, though I'd break it out onto its own bullet to add prominence. EEng 01:01, 21 August 2019 (UTC)
    Not all of it stuck :). The edit I had issue with in the set was this one. I am thinking about how best to look at what STYLEVAR says. Unless we have a reasonable belief that all spontaneous acceptable-style changes are controversial or likely to be controversial (I'm skeptical), then it's just about as bad as "problematic" was in the prior text. Of course, I might be seeing more intent than what is there.... --Izno (talk) 01:16, 21 August 2019 (UTC)
    (The edit you didn't like is the one I called out as bold in my e.s., so you see everything was very carefully planned.) Yes, I considered changing the "problematic" part to something like "If you're not certain" or "In uncertain cases" or "Unless [something something] is clear" (not hitting on all cylinders right now, I'm sure I could come up with something better than those) but I didn't think it was OK to weaken what it says in any way. Anyway, the combination of your and my brilliant changes (result here [4]) still has the result that I think STYLEVAR now makes the case strongly enough that we don't need anything special at ERA, other than the separate bullet as already mentioned. I wonder what others think. EEng 02:03, 21 August 2019 (UTC)
    • Like I suspect most people, I can't really keep up with you two nattering away, but we certainly need something very like what is there now. As an example just now, where the reverter has written his own explanation, you need to just be able to link to WP:ERA and know that the first-edit ip will rapidly find something that pretty fully explains the reversion. Johnbod (talk) 02:09, 21 August 2019 (UTC)
      Man, you just can't please some people. EEng 03:50, 21 August 2019 (UTC) You know, the thought occurs to me, and it's just a thought, that maybe a short essay addressing the perennial ERA issue would help. You could link to that. It could be called WP:PLEASEGODNOTERASAGAIN. EEng 03:50, 21 August 2019 (UTC)
      Johnbod, saying you can't be bothered to participate here, while reverting to your preferred version (which no one else here advocates) is not cool. EEng 05:51, 21 August 2019 (UTC)
      • I certainly am participating here, I just can't keep up with your usual endless filibuster (or Izno's). I'm certainly not seeing people here "advocate" any of the many versions you've put up on the page in the last few days, or removal, not that that ever discourages you. My version was improvised, reflecting the discussion(s) above, when you'd just completely removed the garbled version (thus "reverting to your preferred version (which no one else here advocates)". Let's be totally clear - there is support here, probably a consensus (Izno doesn't seem to have told us what he really wants yet), for a clear statement immediately at the end of a WP:ERA link. Johnbod (talk) 12:49, 21 August 2019 (UTC)
  • In my experience, the majority of era changes only change one or two instances, which are in close proximity, while ignoring other instances in the same article. So if you think such editors are worth communicating with, you have to allow for the fact that their attention span is at most 5 column-centimetres, and whatever you want to communicate with them should fit in that space. Jc3s5h (talk) 13:32, 21 August 2019 (UTC)
    Exactly. Johnbod (talk) 13:51, 21 August 2019 (UTC)
    While I can't deny that happens, I also see editors changing multiple instances either with multiple edits or just one. I prefer User:Johnbod's version.[5] As I said, that avoids metadiscussion as to what is preferable overall and concentrates on the particular article, which I think is key. Doug Weller talk 13:29, 22 August 2019 (UTC)

Johnbod, were were doing very nicely with

Wikipedia:Manual of Style § Retaining existing styles applies to era styles: before changing an article's era style seek consensus on the talk page, giving reasons – not merely a personal preference – that the current style is inappropriate.

so why are you now advocating what is essentially the old text? Surely telling editors they need to use a special keyword in the thread heading is going overboard. EEng 13:42, 22 August 2019 (UTC) Earth calling. EEng 20:01, 25 August 2019 (UTC)

@EEng: I don't understand what sort of confusion led a new editor to make these changes from BCE to BC in an article that has been BCE since 2012[6] saying "noticed that the usage of calendar eras is highly inconsistent on this page. According to Wikipedia's Manual of Style/Dates and Numbers, an article should retain its guideline-defined style unless there is a good reason not to. The oldest major contributions to this page used the BC notation. Therefore, I have decided to change all other era-styles to this one in order to make the era usage consistent throughout the whole page." Mind you, there is a problem with consistency as there's a template, {{Near East Neolithic}} that is BC, so whenever that template is added to a BCE article people can say it's inconsistent. Doug Weller talk 06:49, 28 August 2019 (UTC)
Want me to give him a punch in the schnozola? EEng 12:02, 28 August 2019 (UTC)
Mothership to earth: could I poke my schnozola in here, to say that a keyword in the thread heading would be cumbersome. Tony (talk) 12:51, 28 August 2019 (UTC)
  • Touching this to delay archiving. EEng 02:22, 2 October 2019 (UTC)
  • The original instruction to apply RETAIN is entirely sufficient, since it means the same thing: by default, keep the existing style; don't change it without a good reason backed up by a consensus discussion as needed (and if consensus cannot be reached, default to the style used in the first non-stub version of the article). I cannot support reduplicating this in a blathery form on this sub-page, nor in suggesting that this particular dispute is somehow special. The edit summary "... this is an area that attracts a lot of emotion and is not the same as other style areas" is particularly amusing. Anyone with long MoS experience knows that every style matter is an overly emotionalized festival of WP:DRAMA, the more so the more trivial it is. (Cf. bike-shed effect.) It's one of the reasons MoS shepherds are so resistant to changes to the current guidelines. They work about as well as they can work, are the most hard-fought compromise on WP and in all of the world's style guides; meanwhile, virtually every demand for a change to them is blatantly subjective, frequently ignorant or willfully PoV-pushing, and almost dead-certain to displease others and thus perpetuate a dispute cycle. One of the main purposes of MoS is to curtail "style-warring" at articles, and it cannot do this if it's embroiled in "do it this way, no do it that way, wait I want it done this way" changes all the time. MoS's value is in its comparative simplicity (WP-editing focus) and its long-term stability. I also can't support making an extra-restrictive rule with regard to this particular topic. It's been my decade+ experience (under various usernames) that well-reasoned changes at an article (most often to CE/BCE dating in a topic with no connection to Christianity in particular or to Western to Middle Eastern history more broadly) go unreverted, while "activistic", opinionated ones attract editwarring and other controversy. WP:COMMONSENSE is perhaps our most important meta-policy, yet relied upon too infrequently. So, really this is a WP:CREEP and WP:BUREAUCRACY matter. We don't need another rule to thump here; we need informed and dispassionate application of reason, on a case-by-case basis.  — AReaderOutThatawayt/c 11:42, 22 October 2019 (UTC)
  • The current
An article's established era style should not be changed without reasons specific to its content; seek consensus on the talk page first (applying Wikipedia:Manual of Style § Retaining existing styles) by opening a discussion under a heading using the word era, and briefly stating why the style should be changed.
could be tweaked to
An article's established era style should not be changed without both consensus and reasons specific to its content. Apply Wikipedia:Manual of Style § Retaining existing styles by opening a discussion on the talk page under a heading using the word 'era', briefly stating why the style should be changed.
which might help some editors by being slightly more explicit. (talk) 12:07, 10 November 2019 (UTC)
Not sure about that - a very good reason to "change" style is to confirm/clarify what the original style was or is, & it's not clear that would be covered. Johnbod (talk) 12:27, 10 November 2019 (UTC)

Ambiguity in MOS:ERA?[edit]

Currently it says "Do not change the established era style in an article unless there are reasons specific to its content. Seek consensus on the talk page first..." An editor is interpreting this as meaning that they can change the style without discussion if there is a reason specific to its content. See Talk:Self-praise of Shulgi (Shulgi D)#Eera. Doug Weller talk 15:36, 9 November 2019 (UTC)

With what I hope will be your kind permission, I have merged your post with an ongoing, if currently dormant, thread. I don't know what part of seek consensus on the talk page first this editor does not understand. EEng 15:45, 9 November 2019 (UTC)
The "unless" part before is reading as an exception. Rupert Loup (talk) 23:04, 9 November 2019 (UTC)
Without prejudice to the discussions above (which we really should resolve -- can't have all that effort go to waste) I've juggled the current bulletpoint a bit to make it unmistakable that talk-page consensus is called for before changing the era style. [7] EEng 19:01, 9 November 2019 (UTC)

Can somebody point out which part of WP:ERA says BC/AD are only to be used on explicitly Christian articles and that most other articles should use BCE/CE. Thanks.  Stepho  talk  23:49, 9 November 2019 (UTC)

It doesn't; it's quite vague as to what constitutes a reason for preferring one style over the other. Given that, we get precious little dispute over this except where an editor comes in on a RIGHTGREATWRONGS mission, as here. We write articles in language best understood by our readers, and that includes referring to months named for Roman gods and days of the week named for the Norse ones. I'm an atheist and I think Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Wicca, and all the rest are complete nonsense, yet the AD and March and Saturday bother me not one bit. EEng 00:59, 10 November 2019 (UTC)
Thank you - that confirms my understanding. That means that Rupert loup is violating WP:ERA in the same manner that some editors change between colour/color to violate WP:ENGVAR and WP:RETAIN - ie change for change sake or WP:IJUSTDONTLIKEIT.  Stepho  talk  01:14, 10 November 2019 (UTC)
I already explain that my motives were based in neutrality. You are who is tring to enforce the policy cherrypicking the "first" word disregarding everything else stated there. If the "unless" part is redundant in both MOS:ERA and MOS:VAR then should be removed from them. People admited that the policy was ambigious but still they make assumpitions about my motives in a WP:FORUM fashion, that's not WP:GOODFAITH. Since Admins and the present users don't care about upholding WP:NEUTRALITY and using a a part of a policy to shut me down I lost all interest in be part of Wikipedia. Rupert Loup (talk) 16:52, 10 November 2019 (UTC)
Rupert, I'm not quite sure of the rational you are applying to change from BC/AD to BCE/CE. I see nothing in WP:ERA that mentions whether an article has to be explicitly Christian or not - hence I can see no unilateral basis for the change. I didn't see any prior discussion to your initial change (admittedly that point wasn't clear in the policy) but I also didn't see consensus after the discussion started (no clear consensus means return to previous state of the article). While I am not claiming that you are uncivil, I do think that you have misunderstood the policy. Or at least I am asking you to explain your interpretation to the rest of us. Thanks.  Stepho  talk  09:31, 11 November 2019 (UTC)
It really should say that, though. Well, in better wording. Like "Avoid BC/AD dating except in topics primarily pertaining to Judeo-Christianity, including historical Christendom and its interactions with other societies." (E.g., Moses, Jerusalem, Nero, Holy Roman Empire, The Crusades, and Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire are good articles for BC/AD dating, while Aristotle, Alexander the Great, Mohammed, Qin dynasty, Toltec, and Julius Caesar are not) This is just one of those things .... At this point, hardly anyone hasn't encountered BCE/CE dating by now, and we will (well, should) link to Common era on first occurrence anyway. Meanwhile, it just doesn't matter that lots of American and British publications still like to pepper everything with BC/AD dating. They do not have as broad a target audience as WP does, and simply care less whether they offend non-Christians. We can and should do better than this.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  12:21, 2 January 2020 (UTC)
Or to put it another way, you have a preference and anybody who wants to use a different preference is pushed into a ghetto where you don't have to see them.
Or possibly those in your social circle don't use the term therefore nobody of importance uses the term. I come across plenty of people (of both religious and secular persuasions) who use AD/BC as the normal method of doing things and relatively few people using CE/BCE.  Stepho  talk  06:46, 4 January 2020 (UTC)

  • Didn't this thread start as a discussion of improving the wording on this? EEng 00:13, 6 December 2019 (UTC)

Date format date[edit]

I've seen many edits which change the date parameter, on templates such as {{use dmy dates}}, to the current month (examples: [8], [9]). What is the perceived benefit of doing this? ―cobaltcigs 17:43, 29 December 2019 (UTC)

It’s some stupid script and it’s counterproductive because it obscures the length of time the particular date fmt has been in use on that article, plus needlessly churns histories and watchlists. EEng 18:09, 29 December 2019 (UTC)
While I agree with EEng, the rationale is that the updated date shows when the date formats in the article were checked. For example, if an article had a tag dated December 2009 (ten years ago), one might suspect that subsequent edits could have introduced dates that conflict with the proclaimed style. If tagged December 2019, one might hope that the dates are consistent. Johnuniq (talk) 22:32, 29 December 2019 (UTC)
I do apologize. I thoughtlessly assumed, without checking, that the date referred to when the template was first added. So now I don't know what to say. I didn't even know we had automatic thingamajigs for checking this, though in retrospect it would, of course, be surprising if we didn't. EEng 22:45, 29 December 2019 (UTC)
This was being discussed at Template_talk:Use_dmy_dates#"date=":_parameter_meaning_drifted but just fizzled out.
Since there are 2 desired but contradictory uses for the parameter, perhaps there should be 2 parameters - one for when it was added (|added-date=) and another for when the article was last checked for conformity (|checked-date=).  Stepho  talk  23:39, 29 December 2019 (UTC)

A quick addition?[edit]

Under WP:SEASON, does it make sense to avoid stating "holiday(s) 2020", given that not everyone celebrates that set of holidays at the end of December globally, and that this can be more marketing speak? (In other words should we add explicit mention of "holiday" as a seasonal term to avoid in most cases?) --Masem (t) 06:15, 4 January 2020 (UTC)

"holidays 2020" is an vague term. Which holiday? A religious holiday? A secular holiday? Chinese New Year? Australia Day? Ramadan? As defined by which religion or country? Presumably it's the American term for the Christmas holidays (ie December) but many parts of the world (such as my country of Australia) don't call it that.  Stepho  talk  06:42, 4 January 2020 (UTC)
Exactly why I recommend we include this as too undefined like other season terms here. --Masem (t) 18:30, 4 January 2020 (UTC)
I think that's micromanaging. While possibly overused or used too casually, the concept has its place and can be linked (Holiday season or Christmas and holiday season). EEng 19:55, 4 January 2020 (UTC)

In a discussion over era style, is it a correct interpretation that those supporting the status quo don't have to give a reason?[edit]

Because that's being said at Talk:Isaiah#Undiscussed change from BC to BCE where an editor correctly reverted a change from BC to BCE but then started a discussion about it.If that is the interpretation I don't think that's what we meant the last time it was discussed (above). Surely both sides need to discuss reasons. Doug Weller talk 14:30, 5 January 2020 (UTC)

Stability/precedent seems an adequate reason to me. As you may recall, I think there is a strong general accessibility argument in favour of BC, which is no doubt why the big museums still use it. This is an article with very broad appeal. But we don't want to have this argument every time. Johnbod (talk) 14:47, 5 January 2020 (UTC)
Precedent is only an adequate reason to retain in the absence of a valid reason to change, otherwise it holds no weight. Of course, we should just be deprecating BC/AD in favor of BCE/CE (unless there's really some overriding reason not to use it in a specific case) and be done with it, but if we can't even get people to agree to stop using she for ships in favor of it, what hope is there for this? Face-sad.svg. –Deacon Vorbis (carbon • videos) 15:32, 5 January 2020 (UTC)
Lol. You make a good point. I don't know how to have a discussion with someone who just says "That's the way it's been, I don't need to give any other explanation." That's wrong is so many ways. @Johnbod: what arguments might be good reasons to change an article from BC to BCE? I'd really like your opinion. Doug Weller talk 15:38, 5 January 2020 (UTC)
Note – factual correction to User: Doug Weller’s post above: I added my comment on the Talk page of Isaiah at 23:58 on 3 January. This was because it looked as if an edit war was going on, and I thought the matter should, instead, be discussed on the Talk page. At 00:14 on 4 January another editor reverted a change back to the established style. I reverted this revert at 00:17 on 4 January (i.e. going back to the established style), with an edit summary referring to the Talk page. Sweet6970 (talk) 15:48, 5 January 2020 (UTC)
Certainly not - I see Deacon Vorbis uses American spelling, and is probably unaware how much BCE is an American thing, which has certainly gained some traction in academic circles globally, but is often just mystifying to a general readership. We shouldn't be ramming the current American PC style down people's throats, with an arrogant assumption that this is obviously the right, indeed the only, way to do things. I personally would usually choose BCE for East Asian articles & those on Jewish, Islamic or Pre-Columbian subjects. I used to prefer it for South Asian subjects until I noticed that most local editors from the region used BC. Next time I see a talk page query asking what CE is, Doug, I will send them your way. Where was that recent discussion where museum usage got analysed? Johnbod (talk) 17:36, 5 January 2020 (UTC)
Yes, that's correct, they don't have to give a reason. In discussions of style, there's no argument where you can point to policy. It's really a matter of aesthetic taste so it really comes down to headcount. If you can get a supermajority on a reasonable quorum (say, I dunno, 6-3 at a minimum) I guess you can make a change. But I mean even that is WP:LOCALCONSENSUS and can be resisted on that basis, so it's not really worth spending energy on. Otherwise, stare decicis and give the person who wrote the article the courtesy of deciding which to use, per WP:BLP.
My suggestion is for editors who want to see BC [or: BCE] used in more articles is, write some articles and use your preferred format in them. Herostratus (talk) 16:25, 5 January 2020 (UTC)
@Deacon Vorbis::Why should? The majority of the general population (at least from my vantage point in Australia) still uses AD/BC. Since both forms are in common use, it is merely a preference (depending on your social circles) for which is used. WP:RETAIN is a good example to follow.
@Doug Weller:, if convincing arguments can be made to go to CE/BCE then the AD/BC adherents need to also give arguments to stay. If neither side can convince the other side then the status quo remains in place. I can't see any arguments that give CE/BCE precedence over AD/BC (or vice versa) because both forms are merely a preference along the same lines as using British or American spelling.  Stepho  talk  22:03, 5 January 2020 (UTC)
First, my comment was already resigned to this being a lost cause, and I don't want a side comment I made to get drawn out into a big thing, but since you asked: referring to a year as one of "our lord", or to Jesus as savior (via the christ suffix) is a gross violation of WP:NPOV. We deprecate usage of all sorts of honorific titles and phrases for similar reasons. There are other good reasons too, but from a WikiPolicy standpoint, this is probably the clincher. –Deacon Vorbis (carbon • videos) 22:20, 5 January 2020 (UTC)
Yeah, and the name Friday honors the goddess Frigg. So what? There's lots of stuff like that. Big deal. You want us to start writing First day, Second day, Third day, like Quakers? Of course, that would honor and favor Quakerism... EEng 22:28, 5 January 2020 (UTC)
As EEng said, regardless of the origin, if it's in common use then it is valid and can't be thrown out due to your preferences. Should we also throw out January? - that's named after a god as well. Having 7 days in a week is also derived from Christianity, which picked it up from Judaism. Should we throw that out too? The argument to throw out something that is in common use due to your beliefs is POV itself.  Stepho  talk  22:56, 5 January 2020 (UTC)
Facepalm FacepalmDeacon Vorbis (carbon • videos) 23:06, 5 January 2020 (UTC)
I agree. There are none so blind as those who will not see. This is not 'political correctness gone mad', it is simply a different perspective on the world. AD/BC is in common use among Christians, who are the majority among Anglophones. People of other faiths and none tolerate it but dislike it. The current solution to edit wars is to leave things as first written but it has to be possible if the subject matter demands it, for change to be made if a significant majority of subject editors believe it appropriate. This is not the same as Freya's Day and Saturn's day. --John Maynard Friedman (talk) 23:36, 5 January 2020 (UTC)
Yeah, actually, it is. And by the way, I have no faith (no faith in a sky god or other supernatural fairy tails, at any rate) yet I do not, as you say, "dislike" AD/BC. It's just an historical relic like so much else. There are real things in this world to get exercised about, and that isn't one of them. EEng 16:23, 13 January 2020 (UTC)
My interpretation is that the default is to the status quo ante. So technically it's correct to say that the side that doesn't want it to change doesn't "have to give a reason", in the sense that, if neither side gives a convincing reason, then the style should remain what it was.
But this is only a default position. If the side that wants to change the style does give a convincing reason, then the other side would need to address it, I think. I'd qualify that by saying that a global preference for one style or another is not a good reason — the reason should be specific to the article topic in some way. I'm not sure what sort of reasons those would be, unless it's agreed that articles specific to Christianity should use BC/AD, which is a possible position to take but one I'd expect to attract some controversy. --Trovatore (talk) 01:22, 6 January 2020 (UTC)

Answering the original question is easy: if someone wants to change existing style, they need to have a very good reason to make the change. Someone wanting to follow WP:RETAIN is under no such obligation, although they would have to respond to claims a change would be helpful. If Wikipedia was a company with editors on the payroll, we would do what we were told after venting at a faux meeting. However, the only reasonable way for volunteers to handle style issues such as BC/BCE or mdy/dmy dates is to strongly favor RETAIN unless a compelling reason to change is available. Otherwise editors would waste undue time and energy arguing about side issues, with the winnings going to the person with the biggest emotional investment who is also prepared to slowly edit war to victory. Johnuniq (talk) 03:02, 6 January 2020 (UTC)

Perhaps we need to make it clear that arguments need to be engaged with. Otherwise it becomes just a vote count and that's something we shouldn't be doing on an issue that involves NPOV, which this does in a way that doesn't so clearly apply to other styles changes. Note that 'first written' isn't the automatic default. It wouldn't make sense to argue that for an article begun with one era style 15 years ago which was changed in the first month.As Johnuniq says, it's the existing style we are talking about, and that's about how long an article has been stable with one era style, and deciding that is a combination of length of time and how frequently the article has been edited. As for names of days and months, I'm sorry but that's a complete red herring at best and could be seen as insulting. I've seen books by believing theologians that use BCE but none that try to make up new names. The same for books in the fields of archaeology and history. I agree with User:Trovatore that global preferences aren't a good reason - sadly them used too often. I revert drive-by changes to BCE just I revert drive-by changes to BC. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Doug Weller (talkcontribs) 08:26, 6 January 2020 (UTC)
In order for arguments to be engaged with, they have first to be made. Saying, for instance, that articles connected to Christianity (whatever that means) should use BC/AD is not making an argument, it is stating a preference. The preference needs to be justified with reasons, before any counter-argument can be made. Sweet6970 (talk) 10:16, 6 January 2020 (UTC)
@Sweet6970: can you please give us a few examples of arguments you'd find acceptable? Doug Weller talk 11:44, 13 January 2020 (UTC)
Combined reply to User:Doug Weller’s posts of 13 January on the Isaiah and MOS pages
(i) On the MOS page, you ask: ‘can you please give us a few examples of arguments you’d find acceptable?’. This sounds as if you are asking me to make your arguments for you. I don’t see that I have any obligation to do this. Also, I am not the only one you have to convince.
(ii) ‘If you think that the era style shouldn’t relate in any way to the religion in an article, could you please give some examples?’
Sorry – I don’t understand the question. Examples of what? My reasons are given at (v) below.
(iii) Re the word ‘substantial’- The guideline on retaining existing styles says: ‘Where either of two styles are acceptable, it is inappropriate for a Wikipedia editor to change from one to another unless there is some substantial reason for the change.’
(iv) The guideline says that any reason given for change should be specific to the article. This means that any reason should not be a general argument for one era style versus the other. I cannot think of any argument, either way, which would be specific to any article. This has the beneficial result that I do not make proposals for changing the era style of any BCE article to BC, and much time and effort is saved.
(v) I get the impression that you consider that if the subject matter of an article relates to a religion, then that should determine the era style, as if the views of the adherents of that particular religion should determine the era style. I don’t agree. (a) Wikipedia articles should not be tailored to the views of any particular group of people, religious or otherwise. (b) In any event, Wikipedia articles are written for readers. I think that the most likely reader of a Wikipedia article on a religious topic is someone who doesn’t know much about it. So an article on Christianity, for instance, is more likely to be read by a non-Christian than by a Christian. A practising Christian is unlikely to come to Wikipedia for information about their religion. If they want to learn more about Christianity, I imagine they would go to a Christian source. Similarly for other religions. A religious person may come to a Wikipedia article to find out what Wikipedia is saying about their religion, and perhaps to complain about it. Perhaps you think these complainers should be placated. I don’t agree. I think they should be resisted.
Sweet6970 (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 11:17, 14 January 2020 (UTC)
Well, I can certainly think of a reason specific to the article: if the article has many quotations that use one or the other style, then it may make sense for the article text to follow suit. EEng 20:42, 14 January 2020 (UTC)
To play Devil's advocate - if an article quotes many Japanese sources, should the date use the Japanese calendar with Japanese characters?  Stepho  talk  10:41, 15 January 2020 (UTC)
I agree with the (implied) preference of Stepho-wrs (talk · contribs). The purpose of MOS (including MOSNUM) it to facilitate uniformity across WP and promote accessibility to WP readers, not compatibility with (often conflicting) external sources. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 13:14, 15 January 2020 (UTC)
The Japanese example is a straw man argument that has the beneficial side-effect of destroying its own argument. If we had such an article, yes we would certainly give dates in the Japanese calendar but we would also give their Gregorian equivalent – just as we do with Anno Mundi for articles about Judaism and Anno Hegirae for articles about Islam. The MOS recognises equal validity for both BCE and BC (and BP for that matter), and it is not acceptable to declare that the style you don't like to be haram/not koshher/sinful. --John Maynard Friedman (talk) 18:07, 15 January 2020 (UTC)
The Japanese example is certainly a straw man (by design) but how does it destroy its own argument? Many people say "follow the source". This is a good principle for facts but a lousy principle for style issues where the sources may differ wildly from what is appropriate. Which was all the example was highlighting. Given enough sources, a good researcher could find sources using BC/AD. A good researcher could likewise find sources using CE/BCE. Suitable cherry picking of sources could then "prove" that the sources use one or the other and then the article is locked in to that preference because the sources say so.  Stepho  talk  20:59, 15 January 2020 (UTC)
If the preponderance of sources use a particular style and we can recognise that in a way that is consistent with our own Style Guide, we can and should do so. Thus, for the Japanese example and assuming(!) that the most respected RS were only in Japanese, we would give both the original Japanese regnal dates AND the Gregorian dates as mandated by our MOS. It seems to me that it is equally cherry picking to ignore the most respected sources in favour of an English language text, just because the former happen to be Japanese and the latter English.
The "preponderance of sources" argument is certainly a valid element of a case for change, though may not be enough. But where the existing notation seems to be as it is because some editor in the past preferred that style and thus falls under wp:I just like it and no other, then the defence of the status quo is merely an extension of that view.
No-one wants to see a weekly culture war over the era style in contentious articles, but it seems to me that we need to say something like "the era style in an article should not be changed without substantial consensus, based on strong supporting evidence, that the existing style is inappropriate". The preponderance of RSs is an example of strong supporting evidence. --John Maynard Friedman (talk) 15:25, 16 January 2020 (UTC)
(i) What does ‘substantial consensus’ mean?
(ii) As has been said, if the era style for the article is to be determined by the style of the majority of the sources, then this may result in editors cherry-picking the sources which use their preferred style. This could result in skewing the selection of sources, and could damage the quality of the encyclopaedia. Also, an unspoken dispute over the era style may be transformed into a dispute over sources. Sweet6970 (talk) 23:21, 16 January 2020 (UTC)
Do we have a WP:Wikipedia is not a law-book? This is suggested guidance, not the (unexpected) Spanish Inquisition.
(i) Consensus does not mean unanimity but by 'substantial' I hope to reduce the incidence of holiday-season flip-flopping. (I haven't seen much if any flipflopping but then I keep away from articles like Jerusalem – I don't even dare look at it, I bet it even has arguments about Julian v Gregorian). I am trying to provide a structure where well-meaning editors acting in good faith have a means to move forward. I am beginning to understand the frustration!
(ii) My suggestion is only that the custom and practice in respected sources is a factor that could be taken into account, not that it is decisive let alone a directive. --John Maynard Friedman (talk) 17:58, 17 January 2020 (UTC)
On large subjects (Roman Empire, Alexander the Great, whatever) for Wikipedians to attempt to assess the usage of "The preponderance of RSs" is madness. For more obscure topics, RS will normally use the version dictated by the matrix of date of source, originating country, academic vs general public as intended readership, with the religious history of the region concerned a poor last. Johnbod (talk) 18:25, 17 January 2020 (UTC)
I just want to point out that all I said is if the article has many quotations that use one or the other style, then it may make sense for the article text to follow suit. I didn't say anything about preponderance of RSs. EEng 01:32, 18 January 2020 (UTC)
Nobody said you did. For heaven's sake, it's not all about you.... Johnbod (talk) 03:46, 18 January 2020 (UTC)
Well for that matter, I wasn't addressing you in particular. For heaven's sake, it's not all about you. You've certainly been dyspeptic lately. EEng 03:53, 18 January 2020 (UTC)

If I had seen EEng's if the article has many quotations that use one or the other style, then it may make sense for the article text to follow suit earlier, I'd have said yes, that is exactly what I meant to say, then tip-toed quietly away before chairs start getting thrown at the mirrors behind the bar. But I will do so now: I agree with EEng, thank you and good night. --John Maynard Friedman (talk) 17:10, 18 January 2020 (UTC)

I agree with EEng – Always the best policy. EEng 18:59, 18 January 2020 (UTC)

MOS:DATEUNIFY scripts[edit]

Anyone have scripts or bots which correctly "enforce" MOS:DATEUNIFY. The one I'm using has an option for body dates, but not specifically for citation |date=, ignoring |archive-date= and |access-date=. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 00:10, 18 January 2020 (UTC)

If we want to be "correct", MOS allows for the reference dates to be different to the body dates - as long as the reference dates are consistent among themselves for that article. {{Use dmy dates}} and its brethren run over that principle - just like I predicted when they were proposed.  Stepho  talk  00:52, 18 January 2020 (UTC)
Sorry; my (and the script authors') mistake. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 01:01, 18 January 2020 (UTC)
Just in case I'm coming across as a bit bitter, I do realise that I have lost the battle. Apologies if I bite.  Stepho  talk  01:07, 18 January 2020 (UTC)