Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style (dates and numbers)/Archive 109

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Archive 105 Archive 107 Archive 108 Archive 109 Archive 110 Archive 111 Archive 115

Lightbot removing links to volume units within infoboxes

Moved from Lightmouse talk page: begin
Please leave lk=on on {{convert}} in infoboxes. -- User:Docu

In all of them? Lightmouse (talk) 22:12, 21 August 2008 (UTC)

I'd very much support this. Leaving links in infoboxes doesn't disrupt prose, but at the same time provides a link for those people who really don't understand the meaning of certain measurements (after all, the site is supposed to educate). Is it possible for Lightbot to detect Infoboxes, or better yet, all templates (aka, anything inside {{ }}), and leave the contents alone? Huntster (t@c) 19:00, 22 August 2008 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Only make links that are relevant to the context says In general, do not create links to ...Plain English words, including common units of measurement. It goes on to give examples of common units of measurement. The usual reason given for links is to provide access to a conversion factor. There are some people that suggest that even 'second tier' units (i.e. not common but not obscure either) should not be linked when a conversion is provided. I agree with you that a link will help if people do not understand the meaning of *certain* measurements where they are obscure. Can you give me an example edit that you disagree with? Lightmouse (talk) 08:54, 23 August 2008 (UTC)

Personally, I think the units for volumes on {{infobox lake}} should be wikilinked. This reflects the consensus for that infobox. -- User:Docu

Moved from Lightmouse talk page: end

What do people think? Lightmouse (talk) 09:32, 23 August 2008 (UTC)

I don't think this is an issue for MOSNUM, but only an issue for Lightbot. Policy and guidelines are one set of issues, a bot that forcefully imposes them is something entirely different. Please move this discussion back to User talk:Lightmouse. --Danorton (talkcontribs) 14:18, 24 August 2008 (UTC)

I don’t buy into the premise that “common” units of measure don’t need to be linked. The first occurrence of a new unit of measure should always be linked. Feet or acres are common in the U.S. but might be quite unfamiliar to an 8th-grader in Europe. What is “common” to you or me is not necessarily common to someone else. Similarly—and I know this will be hard for Europeans to believe—but “kilogram” and “meter” are not at all “common” for Americans. MOSNUM already calls for this nuanced approach for spelling out the names of “common” units:

In the main body text, the first instances of units of measurements should be spelled out at least once, and perhaps several times for less familiar units before unit symbols are employed. For instance, one should write “…the typical batch is 250 kilograms…” before one later writes “…and then 15 kg of emulsifier is added.” For less common units of measure, editors should not employ unit symbols without first showing the unit symbol parenthetically after the first use of the full unit name; e.g., “The light intensity over the metrology table was 800 lux (lx).”

Clearly, the above speaks to the issue of spelling out units of measure before employing unit symbols, but the principle underlying it is the same: what is extremely familiar in one culture is not all that familiar in all others. So I would suggest that the very first instance of any new primary unit of measurement (not the parenthetical conversion) be linked.
As for the {{convert}} template, and whether it should have linking turned on in infoboxes, I don’t see the harm of allowing links there. Info boxes (sidebars) should be regarded as rather of an article within an article. Many readers skim articles by going straight to sidebars. Greg L (talk) 16:07, 24 August 2008 (UTC)

This was extensively discussed at Wikipedia_talk:Manual_of_Style_(dates_and_numbers)/Archive_105#Bot_removing_links_to_metric_units and I think we are covering the same ground again. There are three common reasons cited for linking units:

  • 1. To access a multiplication factor so that the reader can do the conversion manually. This reason does not apply when a conversion is provided, even for uncommon units.
  • 2. To give the reader an awareness of the quantity (length, volume, weight) being discussed. This reason does not apply when a conversion is provided, even for uncommon units. Even without conversions, context will be helpful. The road is xx foobars long. - the foobar is clearly a unit of length
  • 3. To give the reader new knowledge about this strange unit. When a conversion is provided, this is the only reason left. Frankly, I think anyone that reads: Bob is 6 feet (1.8 m) tall, yet still wants the units linked is either claiming astonishing ignorance of the two most common measuring systems in English or is trying to make Wikipedia into a dictionary.

Lets get real here, common units are linked because they can be, not because people are confused about what they are. Lightmouse (talk) 16:34, 24 August 2008 (UTC)

  • No, not trying to turn Wikipedia into a dictionary; your first option: “astonishing ignorance”. I assume you would advocate not linking the first instance of “meter” because you believe it to be totally obvious, well-understood, ubiquitous, and common to all peoples of planet Earth. And you’d be wrong on that count. A spectacular number of Americans do not know what a meter or kilometer or a kilogram is. And what’s at stake over this? Linking only the first occurrence—not all of them. Greg L (talk) 16:51, 24 August 2008 (UTC)
I don't believe that the first occurrence of common units ("feet", "m", "mile") should be linked unless there is particular reason to do so, with the onus on the contributors to say why. I'm complaining about this very thing at an FAC nomination page now, where we have something like "It is 33 feet (10.058400000000 m) tall". Looks awkward. Yep, the conversion says all, and since we provide both units, no one should be in need of further explanation. It doesn't help that the linked pages are not shaped to provide the very information someone needs about factors of conversion—they tend to be historical in their angle, at least at the start. If an eight-year-old reader doesn't know what the basic units in their country are, they should pay attention in class or ask their parents. Similarly, we don't link horse unless there's a good reason to. Tony (talk) 03:18, 25 August 2008 (UTC)

hmm .. feet and mile are not units for volume, or am I just confused?

Anyways, for infoboxes, there doesn't appear to be a consensus to remove any links to units. I suggested that we refrain from doing so in the future. -- User:Docu

Removal of conversions

There seems to be some confusion about when it is appropriate to remove metric units. With Lassen National Forest, metric units have been removed and editors have cited three separate reasons for doing so:

  • conversion templates are a burden for the reader
  • numeric formats are a problem
  • Pmanderson's edit with a summary that does not mention removal.

Are metric units really that bad for readers that they should be removed from articles? Lightmouse (talk) 09:50, 23 August 2008 (UTC)

This is typical of Anderson's deceptive tactics. No, metric conversions may not be removed from the inline text. Tony (talk) 12:47, 23 August 2008 (UTC)
Tony never hesitates to resort to abuse when he has no valid argument. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:38, 23 August 2008 (UTC)
You mean I never resort to abuse when I do have a valid argument? You grant me too much. Tony (talk) 14:35, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
Can I quote you on that? But no, I'm a mathematician; I did not mean more than I said. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:02, 30 August 2008 (UTC)

There are some things that Pmanderson says and does that I agree with. This is not one of them. I would like to ask Pmanderson a specific question:

  • Have you removed any metric units elsewhere? If so, can you put them back, or let us know so that we can do so?

Lightmouse (talk) 13:10, 23 August 2008 (UTC)

With very few exceptions, one should not remove any conversions; be they metric or not—plain and simple. —MJCdetroit (yak) 13:36, 23 August 2008 (UTC)
Not that I can recall. I will agree that this is close to a borderline; but I judge here that the balance between readable prose and accessibility of the conversion (where a more accurate conversion is in the infobox) is clear. I would remove a conversion to customary units on the same grounds. Unlike many editors here, I have no dog in this fight except clarity. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:36, 23 August 2008 (UTC)
"I will agree that this is close to a borderline"—whom are you agreeing with? No one has said anything of the sort. If you want to employ "spin" (which is not welcome here, anyway), it's usual to avoid an obvious approach. Tony (talk) 01:46, 24 August 2008 (UTC)
  • How in the world did anyone manage to make a reasonable-sounding case for removing metric conversions? Here’s some Wikipedia 101:Many English-speaking readers of Wikipedia use metric. I’m sure someone will weigh in here and correct me that most use metric (but I’m not sure of the facts as of this writing). So in this case, where it’s an American-centric article that would have a significant portion of Americans as its readership—or where a visiting foreigner would need to be conversant with Americans on that subject—the article’s primary unit of measurement should be U.S. customary (with the first instance of that unit of measure spelled out in full and linked). In this case, I don’t know whether that would be acres or square miles, but I do note that the U.S. Forest Service’s Web page for the park uses acres. So were it me writing this article, that’s the unit I’d use.

    And clearly, an appropriate conversion must be shown right after the primary value. By “appropriate”, I mean whatever metric or SI land-area unit is customarily used for extremely large tracts of land for English-speaking peoples outside of the U.S. And finally, per MOSNUM, the conversion should use the unit symbol and it should not be linked since it is A) obvious that it is a measurement of area, and B) its magnitude is obvious by being juxtaposed right beside the primary unit of measure and its value.

    P.S. I note that the Forest Service Web page says the park is 1.2 million acres, so I would double check the source that says it is just under 1.1 million acres. Greg L (talk) 17:28, 23 August 2008 (UTC)

...I’m sure someone will weigh in here and correct me that most use metric.... Of course I will. This is going to be a source of annoyance to many Americans, but there are about as many Chinese who can read English as there are Americans - about 300 million in both cases. Worldwide, the number of people who can read English is nearly 2 billion, and the Economist estimates that by 2050, half the world's population will understand English (which by then will amount to 4.5 billion English readers.) A small percentage of them will know how big an acre is, but almost all (including most Americans) will understand square metres and square kilometres. And, to be frank, not that many Americans these days know how big an acre is, either . (Quick, off the top of your head, tell me how many square feet there are in an acre).RockyMtnGuy (talk) 18:22, 23 August 2008 (UTC)
  • RockyMtnGuy, you’ve confused me for someone who embraces the U.S. customary system. I do not. First, the U.S. customary system is no “system”. Secondly, I am an R&D engineer and do all my initial design in SI and convert only to the last minute to write owners manuals and what not. SI is the only way to do tough engineering. I even installed a Honeywell, mechanical, round-dial celsius thermostat in my house and had to have a friend snare one when he was up in Canada for me. How many Americans go that far?

    Having said that, you are totally mistaken when you presume that “most Americans” will understand square meters and square kilometers.” No, they don’t. This whole issue has been thoroughly hashed out in depth on Talk:MOSNUM before. MOSNUM guidelines are clear, correct, serve an important purpose, and—as Skyring stated below—should be abided by all editors.

    The simple fact is that Americans use the U.S. customary system and any article that is U.S.-centric should use U.S. customary units as their primary measure. We do this to minimize confusion and best serve our readership. That’s what we’re here for as editors; we are not here to help promote the adoption of the SI in the U.S. by ignoring U.S. customary units in an faux “Oh, didn’tcha know? Miles are so ‘yesterday’, they aren’t even found in our encyclopedia anymore.” Wikipedia is not to be hijacked by proponents of the SI in a back-door effort to promote change in how the world works. In order to communicate to our readership with minimal confusion, we communicate in a fashion that is accurate, succinct, clearest, and most natural and comfortable for the greatest portion of our readership. Sometimes that requires SI units first (with U.S. customary units in parenthetical conversion), and sometimes it doesn’t. Greg L (talk) 19:14, 23 August 2008 (UTC)

I wasn't referring to you in particular, I was talking about Americans in general. I was making the point that the customary units of the US are only customary in the US. You can't expect people in other countries to understand non-metric units because they never use them. Wikipedia articles need to have conversions to metric units for the benefit of those people reading it outside the US who don't use US non-metric units - which is most of the world's population. The adoption of SI units in the US is a secondary issue which I wasn't discussing.RockyMtnGuy (talk) 01:43, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
Thoroughly agree. We aren't here to convert people to one system or another. we are here to supply information as best we can. If American people feel more comfortable with yards and acres and pounds, then American articles should feature those units, with SI values in brackets after. If and when the U.S. uses SI predominantly, then we will follow suit. Likewise for (say) South American articles. We use SI primarily, but we don't leave our American readers stranded amongst unfamiliar values. We keep everybody happy, apart from the zealots who can't abide any system but what they were born with. --Pete (talk) 19:37, 23 August 2008 (UTC)
I'd like to see the whole world use and be happy with SI units. Consign pounds and shillings and ounces and miles to the bucket of things that seemed like a good idea at the time, but weren't world's best practice. But this is one of those things where we have to cater for everybody who is likely to read the article. We aren't pandering to personal preferences, we are doing our best to inform. If we exclusively use units that some of our readers are not familiar with, then we may drive them away, or force them into doing their own conversion calculations, which could be wrong. The system nutted out by the community and outlined above works well, and if someone is tinkering with the system for their own personal reasons, then they should be warned and sanctioned until they accept that they are part of the wider wikicommunity. --Pete (talk) 18:57, 23 August 2008 (UTC)
Newsflash. Queen Elizabeth II has made a major announcement in London overnight: she is pleased with the progress of metrication in the UK, and has decided that if the American colonies do not immediately dispense with the imperial system of weights and measures, her government will force them to go back to the duodecimal pounds, shillings and pence. She was heard to utter under her breath "Factors of 14 and 16, pfffff ... and that "US customary" term—doesn't fool me for one minute." Tony (talk) 01:57, 24 August 2008 (UTC)
14?? You do realize that stones aren't customary American units? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:43, 24 August 2008 (UTC)
I've cabled Her Majesty on this point. Tony (talk) 03:08, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
The use of both imperial and metric units was predicated by the knowledge that using both systems would provide the reader with "better" information. Removing one or other does not serve that purpose. Yes, we do have SI-centric editors that have gone on a crusade as well. Typically, the project sets up "guidelines" but these are intended to provide a reasonable "way to go" and unless there is an overriding reason to use a different format (see the arguments proposed to allow any format for a citation?), these guidelines serve that purpose. FWiW Bzuk (talk) 12:17, 24 August 2008 (UTC).
  • “Crusade”… Appropriate word. Indeed, we are here to write articles so readers from a wide variety of English-speaking cultures can as easily and naturally as possible, absorb and understand the information presented with minimal confusion. We are not here to drag that silly ol’ U.S.-of-A into more rapidly adopting the SI by ignoring U.S. customary units as part of the Grand crusade to show the world the path to a better and brighter future! ©™® Just write clearly—and do so in a way that is helpful for as wide a variety of English-speaking cultures as is practical. Greg L (talk) 16:41, 24 August 2008 (UTC)

I see a lot of agreement here. People do not want metric units imposed on them. On the other hand, people are not aware that non-metric units are imposed by silly decisions at high levels. For example I see reports about the Olympics where journalists strip out metric units because they believe that American viewers can't cope with nasty foreign measures. Laws also mandate non-metric units. I was in contact with somebody that was prevented from shipping the standard 500 ml bottles into the United States because it is a Federal offense to have just '500 ml' on the bottle label. A separate label had to be made just for that one country. Companies like Proctor and Gamble pay huge costs for these technical barriers. The old joke is that metrication is only possible when all the old people have died. Lightmouse (talk) 17:02, 24 August 2008 (UTC)

In addition to being contrary to US law (see below), I think that prohibiting the use of metric units would be considered a non-tariff barrier to trade under the various international agreements the US has signed.RockyMtnGuy (talk) 01:43, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
That joke goes back at least to the 1920's, when metric-basd units could first claim to be world-wide. Like similar remarks on other subjects, it is optimistic: the people who were old then have died out. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:41, 24 August 2008 (UTC)
Metric (SI) units are world-wide. Even the US has adopted them, as of 1866: It shall be lawful throughout the United States of America to employ the weights and measures of the metric system; and no contract or dealing, or pleading in any court, shall be deemed invalid or liable to objection because the weights or measures expressed or referred to therein are weights or measures of the metric system.. In 1901 the National Bureau of Standards announced: Henceforth it shall be the policy of the National Bureau of Standards to use the units of the International System (SI), as adopted by the 11th General Conference of Weights and Measures, except when the use of these units would obviously impair communication or reduce the usefulness of a report.. In 1988, Congress passed the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act, which said the metric system of measurement is the preferred system of weights and measures for United States trade and commerce. So, metric units are universal around the world, except in the minds of certain people.RockyMtnGuy (talk) 01:43, 25 August 2008 (UTC)

The most recent change in the relationship between imperial and metrics was just last year, when MOSNUM made it possible to dispense with imperial conversions in science-based articles, provided there is consensus among contributors. I'm not pushing for further change any time soon, but let me tell you what I think will almost certainly happen, in sequence, over the next five to ten years on WP:

  1. Main units (converted) in all non-US-based articles properly enforced.
  2. Conversions to imperial not required in all non-US-based articles, not just all science-based articles.
  3. Conversions to imperial not permitted in science-based and non-US-based articles.
  4. Main units may (subsequently must) be metric in US-based articles, converted.
  5. Conversion to imperial in US-based articles optional.
  6. WP entirely metric, no conversions.

It's up to the community how quickly this happens. Barack Obama may speed things along. Tony (talk) 03:08, 25 August 2008 (UTC)

I doubt any of these will happen, and regret the strong drive towards "enforcement". The comment on Barack Obama is utterly implausible; there have been many Democratic presidents since the non-English speaking world went metric, two since the Metrication Council was formed - Obama is less likely than most of them to rock this boat. The United States remains where it is: largely metric in industry and science, largely using conventional units in daily life. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 16:41, 30 August 2008 (UTC)
There is no strong drive towards enforcement of metric units in the United States. Quite the opposite, federal law (e.g. the FPLA) enforces non-metric units. Lightmouse (talk) 17:49, 30 August 2008 (UTC)
I meant a drive for enforcement here; compare the text of the post to which I replied. Since the real world is not likely to become more metric in the next five to ten years, it is unlikely to be suitable for Wikipedia to do so. We are not a political movement. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:03, 30 August 2008 (UTC)
OK, I did not understand what you meant. I understand now. Lightmouse (talk) 18:08, 30 August 2008 (UTC)
Perhaps we can do the same thing with date formats? --Pete (talk) 08:46, 25 August 2008 (UTC)

RockyMtnGuy, the relevant Federal law that makes '500 ml' labels illegal is the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act (FPLA). It mandates dual unit labels on most prepacked products in the supermarket. It is an offense to use metric-only labels for products within its scope. If supermarkets were free to sell products with metric-only labels, they would. I don't know if the Act itself is illegal but it is certainly questioned as something that increases costs for trade. There is lobbying to change the law but unfortunately few politicians willing to stand up and say that Americans should be permitted to see metric-only labels. Furthermore, they would be arguing for free trade and support for that does not always translate into the law. Lightmouse (talk) 12:03, 25 August 2008 (UTC)

Whereas in Australia, it became an offence to use imperial units on packaging and signs. No "waiting for the oldies to die" there ... Tony (talk) 14:33, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
It is perfectly legal under international law for other countries to prohibit the use of non-metric units within their boundaries, and like Australia, the European Union has already passed a law to that effect (although it has been suspended indefinitely). If the US requires the use of US conventional units, that means companies are forced to use different packaging in the US versus the rest of the world. Even if other units were allowed, in Commonwealth countries the Imperial pint and quart were 20% bigger than the US pint and quart. Using the US units could have resulted in charges of defrauding the consumer. This and other aspects of using non-standard units contributes to the astronomical US trade deficit.RockyMtnGuy (talk) 05:54, 26 August 2008 (UTC)

I'm impressed

Resolved: Just an FYI.

WP:MOSNUM and WT:MOSNUM continue to get a lot of edits, but through it all, WP:MOSNUM is getting better and better. If no one minds, I'll toss WP:MOSNUM into CAT:GEN and report on updates monthly at WT:UPDATES. This month I'm doing updates a week early so that people can complain if they see anything they don't like before I do the update on Sept 1; I'll probably keep doing that. - Dan Dank55 (send/receive) 00:26, 27 August 2008 (UTC)


Resolved: Temporary protection no longer in effect.

Due to the recent edit warring this page has been protected for 2 days. Please use the time to discuss the matter here and come to a consensus on what should and shouldn't be included on the page. If an urgent edit needs to be made during the protection, please place the template {{editprotected}} here with details of the edit that needs to be made and justification for the edit, and an administrator will come by to make the edit. If you have agreed and resolved the dispute before the expiry of the protection, please make a listing at requests for unprotection. While it is also possible to make such requests on my talk page, it would be quicker for you to use those previous methods. Thank you. Stifle (talk) 14:37, 29 August 2008 (UTC)

We have a straw poll above in which four editors have supported the present text. Skyring has not !voted, but I presume he opposes. This is as close to consensus as we are likely to come.
There is some discussion elsewhere of a modification to this which would tie the date format to the national variety of English used; this is a separate proposal, independent of Skyring's arguments, but comments are welcome. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 14:51, 29 August 2008 (UTC)
Please someone change the protection template to this: {{pp-dispute|expiry=August 31, 2008}}. Waltham, The Duke of 17:24, 29 August 2008 (UTC)
So far, there have been several discussions, several suggestions, and several polls regarding different aspects of the autoformatting mechanism. It is good to have these discussions to find out what everyone thinks of the subject. After all this discussion, though, the original proposal has been lost in a sea of discussion. Someone has marked the #Again calling for date linking to be deprecated section as "Resolved", but did not state what the resolution was (and editors are not going to want to search through the history trying to find the explanation in an edit summary).
What I think needs to happen is that we need to form one proposal, declare that that is the final proposal (that is, all other options have been discussed and rejected), discuss it, revise it, come to a consensus on whether to accept or reject it, and then edit the MOS page and begin edits to the mainspace.
While the final discussion is going on, the "script assisted date/numbers" edits need to stop in the mainspace, and the Manual of Style should remain how it is. If no one objects, I'm going to set up a framework for this process. Of course, feel free to change it as necessary, but try not to deviate too much, lest the proposal again become lost amongst mountains of text. — OranL (talk) 19:04, 29 August 2008 (UTC)
Please see the page at Wikipedia:Manual of Style (dates and numbers)/Autoformatting proposal. If no one has any objections within the next six hours or so, I will transclude that page onto the bottom of this page. Please discuss changes to the discussion framework on its talk page.
I believe that the discussion needs a moderator to decide when a consensus is reached for each proposal. I suggest asking an uninvolved party to serve as moderator for make sure that further edit wars do not occur involving the resolution of these proposals. After all, that is what we're trying to prevent here. Smiley.pngOranL (talk) 20:07, 29 August 2008 (UTC)
Howdy all, OranL asked at AN about someone helping to mediate this discussion, and I've volunteered to help out, as long as no one objects to someone hanging around to keep the conversation going in a productive direction. Any objections? MBisanz talk 04:16, 30 August 2008 (UTC)
  • I’ve been away for a while and am surprised to come and find MOSNUM locked down. What is wrong with the current wording(?):
It looks damned short and simple to me. Greg L (talk) 04:34, 30 August 2008 (UTC)
I was just wondering the same thing. --Philosopher Let us reason together. 05:11, 30 August 2008 (UTC)

Yes, it seems to be a good time to have a moderated disussion about date formatting -- on the new page devoted to that.

A few days ago, the new subpage Date_autoformatting, was created. However, its exact wording remains under dispute. The earlier content on how to use date links work was moved from the main page to there, and a note that using the date autolinking mechanism was now discouraged.

Since the issues of (a) which date to use in each circumstance; (b) how autoformatted dates should work: should they produce links or not; and (c) should autoformatted dates even be used, instead of just typing dates in plaing text, are all related, I suggest the moderated discussion at Wikipedia:Manual of Style (dates and numbers)/Autoformatting proposal take all this on board. So let's continue this discussion there instead of here, OK?

Thanks for your offer to moderate, MBisanz.

I just archived all the date-related topics that was on this talk (except this one "Protected", and the following, "Autoformatting proposals discussion") to Archive D6. The page was already over 200 kB. Teemu Leisti (talk) 05:25, 30 August 2008 (UTC)

We've had the discussion (long and broad), we reached a decision, the arguments are very clear, we don't need all this continual revisiting. If someone has a new proposal, let them put it up and argue for it. Until this happens, things should stay as they are and be acted on. (Removing the transclusion since it seems pointless to set up a separate discussion page and then mirror it back here anyway.)--Kotniski (talk) 16:41, 30 August 2008 (UTC)
And why are we supposed to use a format nobody has written yet?
But, on substance, there are several issues. None of them, as far as I know, involves WP:Autoformatting, which is intended as a summary of the nature of autoformatting, without any guidance; that should be at MOSNUM, where other editors have a chance of finding it.
  1. There is the question of whether linking dates for autoformatting is a good idea or not. Its inconveniences are on the summary page; a distinct majority here think it a bad idea, but there are a substantial number of dissentients. (The majority here could be consensus.)
  2. If date-linking is a bad idea, what do we do about it? Several editors want to call it "deprecated"; some of them would like, I gather, to set up unlinking bots or scripts. I think it is a bad idea, but that this approach will be divisive and thus counter-productive. I would prefer to say it is "no longer encouraged" and refer editors to the reasons against. (But I don't think this rises to the level of needing page protection; if a majority wants to try "deprecation", let's see what happens.)
  3. As another wording issue: what do we want to say, if anything, about value-added date-links which are not intended to autoformat? (Tony would probably say there aren't any, but I'm not sure anybody else would.) Can we leave this detail to WP:IAR? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:13, 30 August 2008 (UTC)
  4. There is an entirely separate protest, maintained almost entirely by Skyring alone. He would like to require that all dates, except those dealing with the United States, be formatted 30 August 2008, whether they are linked or not. (This includes changing established formats; his main-space editing has been doing exactly this and little else.) We had a straw poll on this; nobody supported his position, and four of us opposed it.
  5. There was a limited amount of amicable discussion of a proposal that articles in American English should use the American dating system, and articles in British English should use International, leaving mid-Atlantic articles to choose. The present language would be a corollary of this, since, by WP:ENGVAR, articles with a strong link to some English-speaking country should use the corresponding English. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 16:58, 30 August 2008 (UTC)

Spelling error needs correction

Resolved: Typo fixed

{{editprotected}} This text is in the section about date autoformatting:

Dates from before the introduction of the Gregorian calendar should not be expressed in the ISO format, which implies the dates are Gregorian. Also, conventionally formated dates from that era will normally be in Julian; they should not be wikilinked and autoformatted into ISO, which would constitute a false assertion they are Gregorian.

The bolded word is misspelled -- it should be "formatted", with 2 T's. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Auntof6 (talkcontribs)

And if anybody shows up for this, you might consider changing the protected tag to {{pp-dispute|expiry=August 31, 2008}}, as requested in the section above. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:34, 30 August 2008 (UTC)
Yes check.svg Done --Philosopher Let us reason together. 19:36, 30 August 2008 (UTC)


I personally do not think the BC/AD system implies a belief in Jesus as the Lord anymore than Thursday implies a belief in Thor...however, on the Talk:Jesus page people have mentioned that it is POV- is it? Gavin Scott (talk) 23:36, 2 September 2008 (UTC)

The system has been in use for longer than the modern English language has existed, so it is, for better or worse, an integral part of our language. It is no more POV than the fact that it is hard to write an English sentence about a person without indicating whether the person is male or female. Maybe BC/AD will be abandoned. Maybe English will evolve a new set of pronouns. Just wait and see. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 23:43, 2 September 2008 (UTC)
Many people do find AD and BC POV. BCE and CE are the best alternatives as they are completely NPOV. NerdyNSK (talk) 01:10, 3 September 2008 (UTC)
I dunno; "common era" implies that the Christian era is common to the whole of humanity, which seems an even more extreme point of view than just saying that Jesus can be called "Christ" or "Lord".--Kotniski (talk) 08:05, 3 September 2008 (UTC)
Yeah, it's a bit off to call CE "completely NPOV". It is, however, a more NPOV description of that particular numbering system. The numbers are here to stay, but at least we don't have to shove "The Year of Our Lord" (AD) down anyone's throat. And let's not forget that, strictly speaking, the years are slightly off, since Jesus was born in 7-2 BC. --Golbez (talk) 10:23, 3 September 2008 (UTC)
As Raul's Laws say, any effort to NPOV a subject results in imposing another POV. BCE/CE is another example of this; whether CE (with its inherent worldview of political correctitude) or AD (with its lingering associations of Christianity) is more POV is a matter of taste - on which Wikipedians differ. Consensus is that we should agree to differ, and not revert war for either POV. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:04, 3 September 2008 (UTC)

Can you use both?

The Page states that

Either CE and BCE or AD and BC can be used—spaced, undotted (without periods) and upper-case. Choose either the BC/AD or the BCE/CE system, but not both in the same article. Style guides generally recommend writing AD before a year (AD 1066) and after a century (2nd century AD); however, writing AD after the year (1066 AD) is also common in practice. The other abbreviations always appear after (1066 CE, 3700 BCE, 3700 BC). The absence of such an abbreviation indicates the default, CE/AD. It is inappropriate for a Wikipedia editor to change from one style to another unless there is a substantive reason; the Manual of Style favors neither system over the other (see WP:BCE for past debates on this).

However, can you use both- as is the case on the article Jesus so that it says, "Jesus is thought to have been born in between 7-2 BC/BCE?" The Congress of Malastare (talk) 14:25, 3 September 2008 (UTC)

You could also say Jesus is thought to have been born between the years -0006 and -0001 if you use ISO 8601 date format. This is not only politically but mathematically correct, since in the ISO system, there is a year 0000. The History Channel humorously represents this as Jesus Christ: born 0000, died 0036. The Romans and early Christians were mathematically challenged, so they did not have a year zero in their calendar, throwing the math off by 1 year for BC dates. And, even worse, they used Roman numerals, possibly the worst number system ever invented.RockyMtnGuy (talk) 18:17, 3 September 2008 (UTC)
Why not just create a year zero with (appropriately) zero days? Hawkeye7 (talk) 21:51, 3 September 2008 (UTC)
Year zero was just another ordinary year - the only problem was that the number zero hadn't been invented yet so they didn't know how to write it down. In the proleptic Gregorian calendar used in ISO 8601, the year 0000 was a leap year, so it had 366 days. The year before that was -0001, and it had 365 days.RockyMtnGuy (talk) 04:21, 4 September 2008 (UTC)


(Unicode symbols for fractions may also be used.) - this creates an inconsistent look - I've written a script that people who prefer to see the fraction symbols can use to change available fractions from {{frac}} in their view; anyone have any thoughts on changing to officially prefer {{frac}}? --Random832 (contribs) 19:38, 5 September 2008 (UTC)

  • By “people”, I believe you are referring to “registered editors”-only, are you not? Would this tool benefit unregistered I.P. users, who comprise 99.9%+ of Wikipedia’s readership? I guess I don’t understand exactly what technology you have made and who can benefit from it. Please explain. Greg L (talk) 22:14, 5 September 2008 (UTC)
The Unicode fractions should simply be completely deprecated for WP usage. Only a tiny handful of them exist, and they do not render consistently (not only are they inconsistent with {{Frac}} they are inconsistent with each other in some fonts, including the default font used under MacOS X by Mozilla browsers such as Firefox and Seamonkey). Hmm. I though I already deprecated these in MOSNUM. Am I misremembering? — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 21:36, 6 September 2008 (UTC) PS: I've also heard that they cause accessibility problems, as some screen readers don't recognize them. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 21:37, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
I think it was me who added the sentence (and indeed the whole pararaph), based on a short talk page discussion that revealed that MOSNUM didn't then contain any advice at all on representing fractions. I'd be quite happy to see the Unicode fractions deprecated.--Kotniski (talk) 09:09, 7 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Greg, anyone who has a strong enough preference for seeing ½ instead of 12 that they can't stand the latter can register an account for that. The difference between this and randomly mixed date styles is that this is a legitimate stylistic choice --Random832 (contribs) 12:46, 8 September 2008 (UTC)

Since I don't see anyone defending Unicode fractions here, and since it was me who originally added the sentence, I'm going to delete it again.--Kotniski (talk) 12:57, 8 September 2008 (UTC)

Concealed links

The music project says:

  • Do not use piped links to years in music (e.g., do not write: The Beatles Please Please Me came out in [[1963 in music|1963]]). Instead, sparingly use parentheses after years mentioned in the article, such as The Beatles released Please Please Me in 1963 (see [[1963 in music]]).

The film project referred to the music guideline and suggests formulas like:

  • Foo is an American political thriller that was [[2001 in film|released in 2001]] and starred...
  • Snatch is a [[2000 in film|2000 film]] ...

Now the aircraft project is discussing the same issue at: Wikipedia_talk:WikiProject_Aircraft#Template:Avyear. The music project and film project suggestions are not specific to just music or films. I think they have good suggestions that MOSNUM readers may find useful as options. Does anybody agree? Lightmouse (talk) 20:01, 5 September 2008 (UTC)

I'd be pleased for advice to be written into MOSNUM that the practice of piping to what looks like a single year generally be avoided. A few examples of how such pipes can be reworded might be provided, so that editors see that there are more skilful ways of linking. I'd also like MOSNUM to point out that it's unnecessary to link more than one or two "year in blah"s, since all years in blah can be accessed through just one. Tony (talk) 04:43, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
A similar issue is present in Brian Boru, where years link to YYY in Ireland. I think it would be better to write in a style that gives readers a better idea of what they will find when they click on the link. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 20:26, 5 September 2008 (UTC)
A good general rule is to make sure a masked link includes more than one word or term in the text, so that users have some reason to believe they're not just going to be transported to the article 963 or whatever. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 22:34, 5 September 2008 (UTC)
Good point, Anderson. Maybe that should be included as advice in MOSNUM. Tony (talk) 04:39, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
Strong support, as it were. I do this all the time (see my edits last night/this morning (depending on your time zone) to Steve Davis for an example. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 21:29, 6 September 2008 (UTC)

As of ####-##-##

It has been my understanding that in the case of "As of some-date" (as in As of 2006), it is recommended that the phrase DO get linked - so that people can check what might need updating using "what links here" from the As of ''some-date''. There is a bot removing links from as ofs - likely in response to the recent change in policy re linking dates --JimWae (talk) 20:17, 6 September 2008 (UTC)

Which bot? That needs to be stopped immediately. GregorB (talk) 20:30, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
Why should the people who make backwards use of "as of" links expect these links to be respected if they have not documented this usage anywhere that editors are likely to find it? --Gerry Ashton (talk) 21:13, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
Yeah, that, and what on earth possible utility could there be in linking to "As of 2006"? That seems utterly pointless to me. We do not need links to articles on what happened in some year in order to flag the fact that something in an article may need to be updated! Yeesh. This is like making a link to Comedy in {{uw-joke1}}. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 21:26, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
You're correct, we don't need links to articles on what happened in some year, but having a mechanism for finding dated statements is useful. Apparently there is a better way: templates instead of wikilinks. "As of" links should not be removed outright, they should be replaced with templates, and it appears that this process is underway. (This has nothing to do with the date autoformatting.) See Wikipedia:As of. GregorB (talk) 21:37, 6 September 2008 (UTC)

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