Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style (dates and numbers)/Archive 111

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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)

Would anyone like to add this now? Lightmouse (talk) 09:54, 13 September 2008 (UTC)

Support Tony's, Gerry's, and Pmanderson's suggestions. Teemu Leisti (talk) 05:04, 14 September 2008 (UTC)

Text formatting math section merge proposal

Wikipedia:Manual of Style (text formatting) serves no purpose at all, as it is simply rehash of WP:MOS (and in one place WP:MOSNUM). To the extent it may say anything distinctive that point should be added to MOS/MOSNUM, but otherwise this is just a blank-and-redirect-to-MOS. See also the closely related discussion at WT:MOS#Text formatting merge proposal. The merge-from page is inconsistent on many points with both target pages, and its talk page is evidence of a great deal of confusion being sown among editors as a result of this break-away "guideline"'s existence. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 05:31, 4 September 2008 (UTC)

PS: I have edited a few bits of it to comply better with MOS/MOSNUM, but much of it is still messed up. There are probably a few points in it not presently in either of the controlling guidelines (which is why I suggested merges instead of just wiping it). One of the most important of these (one that I just added) is that variables should be marked up with <var>variable</var> (variable), not ''variable'' (variable). They both will typically visually render the same (depending upon user-side CSS), but the former actually has a semantic meaning, while the latter is just presentational hooey (notably, by the time it hits the user's browser, MediaWiki has converted the latter into <span style="font-style: italic;">variable</span>, not <i>variable</i>, because it has zero meaning at all from a content/semantics point of view). As with much else in MOS*, the average editor will ignore it and do what is convenient, but math editors (definitely not me) and cleanup gnomes (definitely me) should get this right. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 06:32, 4 September 2008 (UTC)

Any objections? — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 21:59, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
It doesn't look like it. I support the merge, and so do all others who have commented on the MOS talk page. Teemu Leisti (talk) 06:09, 7 September 2008 (UTC)
Moving the provision here seems reasonable. I have seen a good many math articles, and I strongly expect that any requirement of <var></var> will be ignored; math editors will contine to use '' in-line and <math></math> for full-line formulas as they always have. The chief purpose of wiki markup is presentational hooey; and any effort which depends on regularity in the production of such hooey is likely to fail. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:00, 12 September 2008 (UTC)

I object to this undiscussed change of a policy that belongs in Wikipedia:Manual of Style (mathematics) and not in Wikipedia:Manual of Style (dates and numbers) and I will revert it if I don't get a reply very very fast to my objection expressed on the manual's talk page. "SMcCandlish", you really need to take this discussion to Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style (mathematics) and also to Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Mathematics. It's already being discussed on the latter page. Michael Hardy (talk) 21:13, 12 September 2008 (UTC)

Archived /Date format as /Archive 110

I've done some archive-related changes in the last hour or so.

The newly created subpage "/Date format" had some discussions that were unrelated to the subject. Some of them seemed finished, with no updates in the last couple of days, so I moved them to /Archive 109. Some others had updates in the last couple of days, so I moved them back to this main talk page.

Even after these moves, "/Date format" remained huge. I thought it would be best to archive it as /Archive 110, even though the latest updates to some of the discussions were within the last couple of days. If anyone finds it necessary to continue on any of the individual discussions of that page, perhaps they could copy the text they wish to discuss back to this talk page. In any case, the poll among four choices had been closed, and the runoff poll hadn't been updated for over a day.

D7 in the archives box on the right also points to /Archive 110.

In any case, it's perhaps better to just discuss things just on this main talk page, to avoid any "hiding" of discussions, as a couple of people have pointed out above. Teemu Leisti (talk) 17:11, 13 September 2008 (UTC)

Way to go. Multiple active discussions were just magically archived. Yet another reason most editors can't be bothered with this page. Gimmetrow 17:44, 13 September 2008 (UTC)
Not magically, but manually, and clearly noted here. And as I noted above, before I archived the page, I made sure to move discussions unrelated to the formatting of unlinked dates either to the previous archive (109), if they were inactive, or back to this talk page, if they had had updates in the last couple of days. The discussions now on /Archive 110 (507 kB of it) are all concerned with the formatting of unlinked dates. The contents can be easily referred to by linking, or by copy-pasting text from there to here.
Another reason for archiving: I have noticed that people do not generally want to discuss a subject on a subpage, whether it's a subpage of this talk page, or the talk page of a subpage of the project page. So, it's better to move the old discussions to an archive rather than cause confusion about which page the discussion should be conducted on.
The discussion on the formatting of unlinked dates is still going on here on the main talk page (and might well go on for a few more years, it feels like). However, if anyone feels that I've unfairly archived a particular topic that should be here, please feel free to delete it from the archive and restore it here, or to ask me to do it.
By the way, I notice that (a) no one else is complaining about my archiving, and (b) quite a few editors are bothering with this page. Teemu Leisti (talk) 04:47, 14 September 2008 (UTC)


Proposal: E-WANDaF

I don't actually advocate this proposal, but since some people seem to want to do it, I wish to bring the issue to a head and accept or reject it.

Resolved

The community of English Wikipedia editors retroactively recognizes the all-numeric date format used by the date autoformatting software (as of 13 September 2008), and names it the English Wikipedia All Numeric Date Format (E-WANDaF).

The format consists of a four-digit year, between 0001 and 9999 inclusive, a hyphen-minus (Unicode hex 002D), a two digit month, a hyphen-minus, and a two digit day-of-month. If necessary, any element is padded on the left to make up the stated number of digits.

Example: 2008-09-12

The format may be used to represent dates in the Gregorian calendar, the Julian calendar (either the proleptic Julian calendar or the calendar as actually observed in Rome in 45 BC to AD 8 inclusive), or the old Roman calendar. If necessary, any conventional notation may be placed near the E-WANDaF date to indicate whether the date is AD or BC. The calendar used shall be deduced by the reader from the context of the article.

Please express your support or opposition below. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 21:26, 13 September 2008 (UTC)

No. Corvus cornixtalk 21:40, 13 September 2008 (UTC)
What do you mean by "may be used"? Note that JimWae explicitly only wants this format as an autoformatting preference, not in the source of articles. If and when a new autoformatting system is implemented, the inclusion or exclusion of this quasi-ISO format could be discussed, but otherwise I don't see the point (unless it's simply a POINT). -- Jao (talk) 21:53, 13 September 2008 (UTC)
By "may be used" I mean that a date in any of the mentioned calendars may be represented in this format under whatever circumstances this format is considered appropriate (perhaps on the screens of those who have expressed a preference for this this format in some future date autoformatting facility that is not deprecated, or as plain text in tables and other areas where space is at a premium). I also mean that the format may not be used for dates in calendars other than those listed, such as the traditional Chinese calendar. As for whether this should be supported in a new autoformatting system, such proposals do exist, and an acceptance or rejection of this proposal could serve as guidance for those seeking to advance those new autoformatting systems. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 22:15, 13 September 2008 (UTC)
By the way Jao, I certainly hope you didn't really mean, when you wrote "if and when a new autoformatting system is implemented, the inclusion or exclusion of this quasi-ISO format could be discussed" that a new system should be implemented FIRST, and THEN the format should be discussed; surely formats should be decided upon before implementation. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 22:25, 13 September 2008 (UTC)
No, I see I was imprecise on that point, but of course I meant after it has been decided to implement such a feature, not after it has actually been done. As for support or opposition of the clarified wording (that is, including "as plain text in tables and other areas where space is at premium"), that's an obvious oppose. I personally like the looks of yyyy-mm-dd in tables, but we probably shouldn't use it, and we definitely shouldn't use it where it's not actually ISO 8601. -- Jao (talk) 23:04, 13 September 2008 (UTC)
  • What is this talk of more techno-garble autoformatting in the future? The community is very happy, overall, without such. Tony (talk) 05:00, 14 September 2008 (UTC)
  • While I'd be the last one to force any particular format on our readers, I'd like to note that the yyyy-mm-dd format has served me well in resolving a couple of date formatting disputes before. The articles in question were on Japanese subjects, and while none of the parties involved could be persuaded to give in to the US or International date format, they could be convinced to go with a subject-relevant third option. It's also a necessity in sortable tables, of course. --erachima talk 07:34, 14 September 2008 (UTC)
  • I thought the entire point of {{dts}} was so that numerical date formats would not be a necessity in sortable tables. -- Jao (talk) 10:41, 14 September 2008 (UTC)
Exactly. Teemu Leisti (talk) 21:10, 14 September 2008 (UTC)
The instructions for {{dts}} are deficient in that they don't explain what range of years is valid. The range is specified, I just didn't see it the first time I looked. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 21:41, 14 September 2008 (UTC)
All right, you lost me. The instructions say that any astronomical year number between -9999 and 9999 may be entered, and that the year number 5 with an additional BC parameter set may be used as an alternative to -4. What's the ambiguity? -- Jao (talk) 22:17, 14 September 2008 (UTC)

these polls

If we are to have any further attempts to measure opinions on this difficult issue of date format choice for articles related to non-English-speaking countries or to no country at all, I strongly feel that they should involve just two, maybe three, simple, narrow questions, each requiring just a yes or a no. The problem has been that fully-fledged proposals have been put; no wonder people baulk at having to declare a preference for a set of complex principles rather single issues.

On Pete Skyring's recent edit to MOSNUM: I wholly support Kotniski's reversion and edit summary. Your "country-driven" idea has been rejected, having been given a very reasonable airing. No one appreciates the disruption you are causing by slipping it back into the text. Tony (talk) 13:01, 14 September 2008 (UTC)

How anyone can claim to be able to decipher a consensus for anything (related to date formats) in all the mess above and in the archives is beyond me. I, for one, certainly don't have the time to verify that what you say here is true. Powers T 15:49, 14 September 2008 (UTC)
Tony, see my response to Kotniski above. And I take your point about the "national ties" wording being rejected, so I'm putting in the wording that actually won both the poll and the run-off. If any version has community support, this one does. I agree with you on the "simple questions" poll. Asking people to choose between "fully-fledged" versions is a big ask, especially when they aren't fully formed but whipped up on the fly for the purpose of putting them up as poll options. Much better to choose between a range of principles and then work on the precise wording as a community. --Pete (talk) 18:38, 14 September 2008 (UTC)
Please read WP:Polling is not a substitute for discussion. None of these polls is a vote; we are not majoritarian: it isn't "winning" that counts.
The runoff poll was between two options, A and C; neither of them the present text. By my count, there were 19 unvotes. Of those, 8 approved of C and disapproved of A; 2 approved weakly of both and preferred C to A; 4 approved A and dispproved of C; 5 disapproved of both. That's 10 approvals at all, to 9 disapprovals, which is not consensus, even in our approximate usage. Both A and C were universally prescriptive; and neither is "widely approved of" as guidelines should be.
The present text is neither A nor C; it's what A and C have in common. So far it is widely approved of, and is much more popular than C; we will see. It may be possible to win a wider consensus by shortening it still further, but only if there is some interest in that by the Not Contents. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:22, 14 September 2008 (UTC)

Julian dates and templates

I have an interest in dates on Wikipeida, in relation to birth (and death) dates for hCard and start and end dates for hCalendar microformats.

Is it not possible that the existing date templates could be used,; modified so that, if a date before a certain point is entered, a prominent warning is generated, requiring a "calendar" flag be set, and, depending on the flag, the date be rendered as "DD MM YYYY (Gregorian) or "DD MM YYYY (Julian), using any DD-MM-YYYY order/format as suits the user? Andy Mabbett (User:Pigsonthewing); Andy's talk; Andy's edits 14:51, 10 September 2008 (UTC)

Not everyone edits articles with the edit box, so it wouldn't be possible to raise an interactive warning flag. All that could be done is to refuse to save edits that don't meet requirements. Also, indicating Gregorian or Julian with every date in an article would be excessive. A single statement of the convention followed in a certain article would suffice. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 15:03, 10 September 2008 (UTC)
There can be on-page warnings, like those generated, say, when coordinates are entered wrongly. Perhaps the indication could be shorter - say "DD MM YYYY (J)"? We don't seem to have a problem with repeating "BC" (or whatevr0 in articles. Andy Mabbett (User:Pigsonthewing); Andy's talk; Andy's edits 15:06, 10 September 2008 (UTC)
We probably should not; on such articles as Pericles, where there is no possible question on almost all of them, one BC per section or less would be enough. But it is sufficiently short and commonplace (and, above all, does not interrupt the syntax) that it is not deeply intrusive. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 15:15, 10 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Possible, yes: but that's in the sense that a Turing machine can perform any computable operation. Several widely supported requests have been made to the developers to change autoformatting in various ways; none have been acted on.
  • Prominent warnings can be produced without affecting the software, although one which is triggered by an unlinked July 15, 1581 would be difficult to imagine.
  • But is this desirable?
    • It would not affect dates between 1582 and 1752 in the English-speaking world, which are a large proportion of the problem, and which may actually need clarification.
    • It would not affect dates which mention only October 14 with the year understood,
    • On the other hand, it would force parenthetical explanations on every date in Battle of Hastings which mentions the year. This is bad writing, especially if there is a footnote explaining the calendar, as some articles have. Even without, who ever imagined that October 14, 1066 was not Julian? (Some readers have never considered the question, but they are merely confused; they will in all likelihood remain confused by the parenthesis.) Septentrionalis PMAnderson 15:10, 10 September 2008 (UTC)
"Several widely supported requests have been made to the developers to change autoformatting in various ways; none have been acted on." — for the record, I have acted upon every single technical request that has been pointed out to me, usually within a few hours. I have submitted three patches to modify the behavior of date autoformatting, all in response to requests made here or on the bugzilla site. The WikiMedia system administrators (who are not properly called "developers" though most of them also happen to be developers as well) will no doubt be happy to put in place whatever patches the community decides are appropriate. The problem is (and always has been) getting a broad consensus on what should be done. Stop blaming the developers and/or system administrators for the inability of editors to come up with a sensible plan. --UC_Bill (talk) 23:22, 10 September 2008 (UTC)
But why bother with all of this palahva? What is wrong with WYKIWIG (what you key-in is what you get)? Tony (talk) 13:28, 15 September 2008 (UTC)

Using templates for dates and date ranges

In line with the concerns over mass-delinking of dates that would leave such dates difficult to relocated via computer searches (not impossible, just difficult), I really think we should consider the replacement of dates in articles with a templated version which provides many benefits. The template itself should be simple/stupid: {{d|2008|9|13|int}}, for example, as to make it easy to type as well. Use of the template is not required, but as shown by the benefits below, it can easily help an article maintain an article-consistent date format per MOS. An equivalent template can be made for date ranges. (Note that this is not an ISO date, the date is entered as described in the correct calendar format per the MOSNUM section).

The template would not have to link dates so we don't have over-linking, and the template would have a field for the date format specifier so that regardless of how it is determined what date format to use for an article, the template can put out dates in either format; such a format could also be easily changed in one shot in an article via automated tools like AWB and so forth (just by changing the template parameter in all dates in an article). No DA would be used at all, so the end page results are still the same for anon user and logged in user. The template can be used in main and footnote areas as to normalize the date format (the "cite" template family would need modification for this, but it needs modification anyway for date format equilivalence between text and footnotes). Bots and script tools that are already stripping dates can likely be easily modified to replace linked dates with the template version.

The key benefit is that very likely, if a DA solution is found that addresses all the concerns that others have against it (nonlinking result, anons are shown date format best suited to them (geographical-based or article-based), etc.) only the template has to be modified to bring in the DA solution. Now, there's a likelihood that a proper DA solution may not work with the template, but now we have the other benefit of using a template: a bot can go through and convert the templates to whatever format the DA needs.

The only drawback for this is that we will have a very widely used template, assuming full usage, at least 2 million times (once per page if not more). It would likely need full protection to prevent IP vandal harm, but that's not a huge concern. --MASEM 13:26, 13 September 2008 (UTC)

Templates are useful in some cases, such as when displaying dates in sortable date columns; otherwise the "date" sorting would actually become alphabetical sorting. For instance, in a table in an article Schengen Agreement, I used the dts template in this manner: {{dts|link=off|format=dmy|1995|04|28}}. That produces "28 April 1995", doesn't produce a link, and sorts chronologically when used in a sortable table.
I understand that you're proposing a new, simpler-to-use date template, which doesn't take a "link" or "format" parameter, since it would never produce a link, and would format the date according to the MOSNUM. Is this correct?
I do see drawbacks to using this method: (a) It's harder to use it than just typing the date directly in the text. (b) Since no link is produced, nor does it have any other visible benefits, such as sortability in a table, I suspect many editors will not see the point of using it in normal text. (c) If a MOSNUM guide on date formatting that everyone agrees with ever arises, and it says that formatting depends on the article context—or heaven forbid, on what some earlier editor decided was the best date format—then the template will either have to have some sort of articifial intelligence, or a "format" parameter for outputting the date in other than the default format. Some of the simplicity is thus lost, and editing the use of the template takes as much effort as just editing a date expressed in normal text. (d) It will be hard to write a template that can cope with things like "the night of 21/22 September" or "July 15/25" (if giving a date in both Julian and Gregorian), and I suspect using such a template will be difficult, too.
In conclusion, I think it's a good idea to use date templates in tables, citations, and such; but we already have such templates, {{dts}} and {{cite}}. For dates in normal text, we should just write out the date without markup. I don't really see the extra effort involved in template-ifying every single date being worth it.
What would be a good idea, in my opinion, would be to make the {{dts}} template produce by default no links and an output in the dmy format, making it unnecessary to specify the parameters link=off|format=dmy. Also, there should be another output format, shortdmy or such, that would produce standard month abbreviations in case of the longer months, so the date field wouldn't date up so much space in tables: for instance, "23 Sep. 1879" instead of "23 September 1879". Teemu Leisti (talk) 19:40, 14 September 2008 (UTC)
To address the drawbacks:
  • Yes, unfortunately it is harder to use, but, again, it would be optional, and only what would result with a bot-assisted DA-delinking manner. I would also believe that save for date ranges, as long as bare dates are in the two expected manners, they themselves can be converted to the template form via bot or script-assisted tools; and also vice versa.
  • Same issue; which is why I'm pointing out that this would typically be output from a bot or script that could be done on a cleanup pass or the like when reviewing an article. It may become second nature to some later.
  • I address this point already. The template right now needs a format parameter since it does not relay on DA. Now, say I wrote an article, all dates with this template using intl format, and the MOSNUM decision decides that it should be US format for this page. Changing this is only a matter of going to a regex-aware editor (AWB or the like), and swap the format parameter in each date, a very simple automated step compared to reversing day and month in every date. (Yes, it would be nice if WP's template system allowed a page-persistent parameter, so that I could have a lead template set the format, and all others get from that, but I don't see that happening without a heavy dose of JS).
  • Date ranges (ignoring diffent calender aspects) are not difficult and only require a few more #if checks to reduce characters produced. The calender differences is a tougher solution, and in such cases, may be better just written out directly, or at least see how many such instances are around to warrant a template need. (Technically, it is possible that a template could be written to spit out a date in the G/J calanders - just a bunch of #if statements again, and then add in the proper formatting. Not sure how date ranges would then interfere with all that). --MASEM 13:39, 15 September 2008 (UTC)

---

Could we have a date template which, rather than require the specification of YYYY|MM|DD and format as four separate parameters, instead simply wrapped around already fully MOS formatted dates.

The point of this would be for those users who have date preferences set up, so that:

  • If user preference was for International date format, then {{dte|May 9, 2001}} would render as 9 May 2001.
  • If user preference was set for US format, then {{dte|9 May 2001}} would render as May 9, 2001.

- Ideally I'd like the template name "date" rather than "dte", but "date" is already taken with this buggy thing. Perhaps this could be resolved in future, but I'd encourage keeping things simple for now.


To clarify all the combinations, and to suggest keeping it simple, I'd recommend allowing only the following MOS formats in the template:

Yes check.svg Format in template Rendering for user:
International date preference US date preference
9 May 9 May May 9
May 9 9 May May 9
9 May 2001 9 May 2001 May 9, 2001
May 9, 2001 9 May 2001 May 9, 2001

Users without set date preferences would of course just get what's in the template.

This way both the user's preferences and the editor's intent (with respect to MOS) would be taken into account.

--SallyScot (talk) 13:14, 15 September 2008 (UTC)

This would return us to the most unsatisfactory situation where it's almost impossible for WP to manage its date formats properly. Editors need to see what their readers see. And as has been pointed out above, it's a lot of work to key in, and not intuitive. Why all the trouble over whether month or day come first and second in order? Tony (talk) 13:26, 15 September 2008 (UTC)

I don't follow the argument of how such a template would make it almost impossible for WP to manage its date formats. Could you explain? As I see it such a template's intent would simply be to give editors the option of catering for user date preferences. I'm not suggesting it ought to be mandatory, but I would ask why you'd deny such choice? It's not as if the question of why all the trouble over whether month or day comes first or second is a newly invented issue. The template would simply resolve linking context issues around the pre-existing date autoformatting approach. If anything, the pre-existence of that autoformatting approach, the fact that it was being used despite its linking issues, clearly indicates that some editors would like to be able to cater somehow for user date preferences. --SallyScot (talk) 14:42, 15 September 2008 (UTC)

Some, perhaps, but the vast majority used it (or had it inserted for them) just because it was the recommended thing to do at the time. Had there been a widespread desire to cater for readers' preferences, editors would have been banging on the devs' doors all these years asking them to implement something along those lines for IP users (which nearly all readers are).--Kotniski (talk) 18:24, 15 September 2008 (UTC)

Again, I don't think I quite follow the argument. I don't see how editors would've been asking for date autoformatting preferences for IP users to be taken into account, because I don't see how such requests would make sense. Maybe I'm missing something, but as I understand it, you'd need to be a registered user in order to have set up preferences. I think this is how most editors would understand the situation, and as such they wouldn't have been banging on devs' doors asking for the implementation of something that couldn't be done for IP users. --SallyScot (talk) 19:47, 15 September 2008 (UTC)

There are two ways that I could see IP users and users without a preference set handled. One is to support a per-article default. The other is to base it on the country associated with the IP address of the user. PaleAqua (talk) 20:02, 15 September 2008 (UTC)
What Tony meant is that if there's a way to format dates according to preference, then many editors will use it. I know I did, for four years. That's not a huge problem if there is a default format for unregistered users (possibly on a per-article basis), as PaleAqua suggests. But if "users without set date preferences would of course just get what's in the template" (just as they do in the present, deprecated, system), then we are in a lot of trouble. If an article contains the text "The meeting was held between {{dte|9 May 2001}} and {{dte|May 13, 2001}}" and we, the editors, see "The meeting was held between 9 May 2001 and 13 May 2001" (or the other way around), then who would fix it? Who would know there was even something that had to be fixed? That's exactly the mess where auto-formatting has left us in the first place. If somehow editors could be prohibited from using the feature, then catering for non-editor reader preference might be nice; but how many non-editors have a date preference set? And there would still be the date-range problem and the possibly needed extra comma after middle-endian dates to be addressed. And we would effectively have four date formats to choose between: now each article must either consistently use "9 May 2001", "May 9, 2001", "{{dte|9 May 2001}}" or "{{dte|May 9, 2001}}", as they would all be incompatible, any mixing leading to inconsistent results for at least some users. -- Jao (talk) 20:24, 15 September 2008 (UTC)

Date format preferences

Thanks for the clarifications here. I wasn't really considering the issue of article default date formats. I'm just making the point that IP users can't expect to have their own overriding date preferences without becoming registered users.

The date template I've suggested would simply resolve the linking context issues around the pre-existing approach to date autoformatting (now apparently deprecated). That pre-existing autoformatting approach was to cater for registered user date preference rather than article default date preferences.

Tony's point that "Editors need to see what their readers see" is at the expense of having user date preferences. It necessitates the removal of a long-established and pre-existing choice.

I would rather suggest that registered users (readers/editors) continue to be allowed this choice.

Perhaps some users would rather see dates in their preferred format. That is, rather than feel they're under any particular obligation to spend their time 'fixing' mixed date instances.

With it working this way, if an editor feels on the other hand that the issue of mixed dates formats is their overriding consideration, then they can choose to specify "No preference" as date format option on their preferences page.

Editors need to understand the implications of having their date preferences set, but they certainly ought not to be "prohibited from using the feature" as Jao suggests.

Another thought that occurs is that a date template may even be unnecessary for fully-formatted dates (ones that include day of month, month and year). It ought to be possible to recognise dates in article text; therefore it ought to be able to recognise and format 9 May 2001 and May 9, 2001 in accordance with user date preferences (i.e. without the need to wrap either full date format in a template in the article text).

--SallyScot (talk) 13:56, 20 September 2008 (UTC)

Final up/down vote on guideline for writing fixed-text dates

This poll runs for a week, and closes at 15:48, 20 September 2008 (UTC).

This is the final step in choosing the MOSNUM guideline to assist editors in determining the most suitable fixed-text date format to use in Wikipedia’s articles.

The results of the runoff poll, as of the vote by Pete, are as follows:

A = 1.31
C = 2.48
e = 1.48

So option C advances with a clear super-majority among the two options that laid out a specific proposal. Option e (each editor suggest an alternative solution) had a variety of opinions and no consistent theme. However, many editors voted with a non-zero value on e but did not add a ref-comment as to what they specifically had in mind. It seems that many treated e as “do nothing”, which would be applied as “keep the current wording.”

The next step is an up or down vote. Now that subsections on Talk:MOSNUM has been archived and the past voting moved to a subpage, we have freed up a lot of room here. The best venue for this next, critical step, is to keep this poll in this high-profile venue so the maximum number of editors can participate. One of the shortcomings of Wikipedia’s procedures is how controversial discussions have in the past been moved to remote backwater venues where it tends to drop off editors’ radar. That’s not good. The more controversial the issue, the more we need to foster the greatest participation by the Wikipedia community to ensure we are getting a good measure of the community’s mood. So let’s keep the voting here, well out in the open where the maximum number of editors can voice their opinion and discuss this matter.

Most everyone in the runoff poll did a great job of registering nuanced votes (a surprising number of 1, 2, and 3 votes), posted thoughtful and constructive vote comments, and debated without rancor. The general consensus in the previous voting, debate, and discussion was that option C was preferable to the other new options. But is option C better than what we currently have? Let’s see if we can push this to a natural conclusion and arrive at a general consensus now.

The options are as follows:


(C) Default to international unless U.S. and its territories—listed countries for editors’ convenience:

  • For articles on, or strongly associated with, the U.S. or its territories (or countries listed in this guideline that use U.S.-style dates: Micronesia and Palau), editors should use the U.S.-style date format (“February 2, 2008”), otherwise, editors should use the international date format (“2 February 2008”) in articles.
  • New articles on or strongly associated with Canada should use the international format but, for existing articles related to Canada, whichever format was used by the first major contributor shall be retained.

(R) Retain present guideline: (This is the current wording. There will be no editwarring on MOSNUM to fight battles over this poll.)

  • Articles on topics with strong ties to a particular English-speaking country should generally use the more common date format for that nation; articles related to Canada may use either format consistently.
  • If an article has evolved using predominantly one format, the whole article should conform to it, unless there are reasons for changing it on the basis of strong national ties to the topic.
  • In the early stages of writing an article, the date format chosen by the first major contributor to the article should be used, unless there is reason to change it on the basis of strong national ties to the topic. Where an article that is not a stub shows no clear sign of which format is used, the first person to insert a date is equivalent to "the first major contributor".


Is the proposed text better than what we have now? This is an up-or-down vote. No “0–4” values for voting; just an “X”.

Please cooperate. Do not add new columns and options to this table. We started with a four-option poll, then a three-option poll. A clear consensus can not be determined unless we have a simple two-option poll here. The question is whether or not to replace the current guideline on this issue with option C. If you have another idea, start your own poll. Alternatively, wait for the outcome of this poll and, if you don’t like what gets posted to MOSNUM, come here to this discussion page to rally editors to your way of thinking to go with your even-better idea.

This poll runs for a week, and closes at 15:48, 20 September 2008 (UTC).

SUPPORT FOR OPTION 
Editor   C     R  
Greg L X[1]
Septentrionalis X[2]
JavierMC X[3]
Teemu Leisti X
Headbomb X[4]
Woodstone X
Jeandré du Toit[5]
Pete X[6]
Mr.Z-man X
JimWae X[7]
GregorB X[8]
Mdcollins1984 X[9]
Gerry Ashton X
Twas Now ×
Askari Mark X[10]
erachima X[11]
Arnoutf X[12]
AliceJMarkham X[13]
dm X[14]
Christopher Parham X[15]
Truthanado X
Rrius X[16]
Bzuk X
Fullstop X[17]
PaleAqua X[18]
Ohconfucius* X[19]
Robert A West X[20]
NerdyNSK* X
SharkD* X[21]
MJBurrage* X[22]
Danorton* X[23]
Necrothesp* X
Hiding* X[24][25]
ChrisDHDR* X
Occuli* X
Tom94022 X
Arthur Rubin X[26]
Calliopejen1 X
gadfium X
Dtobias X[27]
Orderinchaos X[28]
Fnagaton X[29]
Tomas e X
Carewolf X
Jacklee X
Nichalp X
Bkonrad X

Vote statements

  1. ^ The new wording (option C) seems to me to be much clearer and less ambiguous than the present wording. The guideline is simple as it gives a very simple test: if the article is closely associated with specific countries listed right there in the guideline, use U.S.-style dates, otherwise default to international dates. Under the current wording, if I had used U.S.-style dates in Kilogram (and I used American-English too), that article would have been “grandfathered” in with American-style dates. Fortunately I didn’t. As an American, I use American-style dates in daily life. But in writing for an internationally read encyclopedia, I use international-style dates in articles not closely associated with the U.S. And, of course, I use U.S.-style dates in articles closely tied to the U.S. Whatever is most natural for the most readers who will be reading the article. I think this guideline will be easier for editors and will be better for our readers as it is better optimized to be sensitive primarily to the subject matter of the articles. And like Pete noted below, the philosophy underlying this guideline is similar to how MOSNUM recommends which will be the primary unit of measure in articles and which should be the parenthetical conversion:
    In general, the primary units are SI (37 kilometers (23 mi)); however, [editors should use] US customary units … [as] the primary units in US-related topics.
  2. ^ The present language does not have the implication Greg suggests: it says exactly Articles on topics with strong ties to a particular English-speaking country should generally use the more common date format for that nation; articles related to Canada may use either format consistently. Kilogram does not. We should therefore stay with the format it now possesses, which happens to be the European style.
  3. ^ There is no ambiguity between the two date formats of month-day-year and day-month-year. An article without strong national ties to an English speaking country should be allowed to be written in either format consistently. Defaulting to the international style, when no clear tie exists, may alienate our American editors or other editors who use the "American format" and feel more comfortable with it. The same would, more than likely, be true if we defaulted to an American style. I see our ultimate goal as providing consistency in an articles format and preventing format edit warring. When I write an article, my choice would be to use the style I was taught. Of course, if it was about a subject with a strong tie to a specific English speaking country, I would use the relevant style.
  4. ^ Simpler option, easier follow, avoids the problem of finding out what's the convention for that specific country etc...
  5. ^ None of the above vote and column deleted. During the mass delinking, the more important issue may be the breaking of consistent formatting per preferences.
  6. ^ This follows the same convention we use for units of measurement. I'd like to see the date format guideline follow the same simple pattern, thus: In general, Wikipedia uses international date format (1 February 2003); however, US format (February 1, 2003) is used in US-related topics
  7. ^ Let Canadian articles use whichever, as long as consistent with first contributor. Nearly every major Canadian newspaper uses MMMM dD, YYYY - it is not up to wikipedia editors to decide what is predominant style in Canada.
    • For a MoS entry that would involve all editors, complex choices were removed far too quickly in previous polls. Those polls also did not state when they would be closed (nor did this one for far too long).
    • Calling dD MMMM YYYY "international" (or even worse "International" as a proper name) unfairly privileges that format. "US" format is also used by other nations (hence, it too is an "international" format); however, calling it "US format" is at least unambiguous. Just as it is OK to call "MMMM dD, YYYY" "US format", just because dD MMMM YYYY is used outside Europe is not a valid argument that calling it "European format" is a misnomer. Google "international date format" and nearly all the hits are ISO 8061 (YYYY-MM-DD). Google "European date format" and you will get dD MMMMM YYYY. Use of "International" or "international" for dD MMMM YYYY trades unfairly on an ambiguity.
    • The situation with dates is NOT the same as with "units of measurement". With units of measurement, it is clear what the customary and/or legal units are within each country, AND there is a clearly International system. With dates, there are several countries that commonly use more than one system , but more importantly, neither date-system discussed here is truly "International" (with a capital letter).
    • The overall guideline in wikipedia is to have only as many rules as are needed to prevent edit-warring. All that is needed here is 1> Be consistent within an article & 2> Do not change approved styles without good reason.
    • (I actually prefer YYYY-MMM-DD and want to use preferences to display in that format. Preferences can be made to work.)
  8. ^ No need to repeat arguments by myself and others. Ultimately, I like this option because it is less restrictive: generally, it does not prevent editors from using whichever format they please when writing anew about international subjects. If all editors choose the international date format, then we'll effectively have option C, and I'm perfectly fine with that too.
  9. ^ I'm hoping that this a vote to decide on the basic text for the way forward, and then to give us the opportunity to tweak the wording. As I said when not voting on the run-off poll, to allow scores of 3 (Support but could be better), to my mind, means that there will be a change to improve them, before the leading 3 or 2 get put to another vote with the same wording. That said, the current format (R) broadly suits my view.
  10. ^ Sorry, but I really don’t like how sloppily these polls have been handled. For one thing, the actual descriptions of the positions have been vague and changeable, leaving people in some cases to misperceive just what they were voting for or against. Furthermore, I believe options A and B were essentially the same thing with but one minor tweak which could itself have been better resolved by a separate two-option poll; the result split votes between them that might otherwise have rendered their general approach preferable to the one that has been carried forward.
  11. ^ In addition to my strong personal stance against any rule which cuts the domain of individual editorial judgment without a very good reason (legislated inconsistency is not a good reason), I believe that this sort of elimination voting is exactly not how we're supposed to handle problems on Wikipedia. Let's trust the editors to be reasonable. In the minority of cases where they aren't? Well, in my experience, the people who get worked up over such a trivial issue as date formatting are already the type of hair-trigger editors who start into disputes over every misunderstanding. At least formatting arguments let them burn their fuel on something that doesn't hurt Wikipedia's audience.
  12. ^ I don't see any problem with the old version, while the new version is imposing all kinds of constraints for trivial issues on good faith editors.
  13. ^ I still favour a solution that formats dates on-the-fly based on user or browser prefs, but in the meantime the retention of the existing guideline appears to be less likely to cause significant disruption than the proposed change.
  14. ^ people are overthinking this. the current language is good enough. I think everyone needs to walk away from this for a while and take a couple of deep breaths, maybe even edit some articles or something :)
  15. ^ This version is less complex and the replacement has nothing to recommend it.
  16. ^ The other will be ignored by some and cause edit wars among others. I also agree with erachima that this very structured process of elimination is an odd way to handle the issue since polls are not consensus.
  17. ^ Might as well generalize articles related to Canada may use either format consistently to articles related to an anglophone nation where both formats are equally common may use either format consistently. We don't have to pick on Canada as an example of a country within the "other" sphere of cultural influence. Caribbean countries as well as the US territories in the western Pacific are similarly influenced by the "other" spheres.
  18. ^ Agree with the suggestion as given by Fullstop about generalizing the Canada case. I would still rather see some form of auto formating perhaps with a per-article default.
  19. ^ Because WP is an encyclopaedia with international pretentions, I think it actually preferable to universally use International dates. This has the advantage that the consistency could be completely automated through use of bots. Anything else would involve manual or scrip-assisted maintenance. However, due to the strong American presence, I believe that they should have an "opt-out" and use mm dd, yyyy in US-related articles, so I back C for pragmatic reasons. I do not believe that date format is necessarily related to US/British spelling, so MOSNUM should be abandoned. The 'first major editor' clause may be too subjective in application by editors seeking to unify/audit dates to avoid edit warring over dates.
  20. ^ I think that even the current phrasing sounds too prescriptive. With few exceptions, uniformity of style within an article is crucial. With few exceptions, uniformity of style among articles is not. So long as we don't force to convert 25 Fructidor or to disambiguate "11-09-01", what difference does it make which format an article uses? If we want to be taken "seriously" (assuming that train has not already left the station) our first consideration what the sources for an article use, not some arbitrary rule of our own contrivance.
  21. ^ However, I believe all articles with strong ties to Canada should use the international date format, regardless of their age.
  22. ^ I also believe all articles with strong ties to Canada should use the international date format, regardless of their age. Along those lines I would further support just making "day month year" the standard for all of Wikipedia (except tables, where yyyy-mm-dd fits better and is easily sortable), since "day month year" is just as easy to understand for Americans (and is increasing used by them as well), but also understand the resistance for established American articles, and am pragmatic enough to simply argue for a consistent date format for all other articles. And for the record, I am an American editor.
  23. ^ "First-major-contributor" preference without allowing for subsequent correction is absurd.
  24. ^ I don't like the caveat for Canada in C. Were the wording for Canada the same as in R I would support it, but will not as it stands. User:Hiding, about 9:46 UTC on Wednesday the 17th September, 2008.
  25. ^ Apologies. I intuitively reasoned that the original wording came first in the poll, and that C stood for current and R for revision.
  26. ^ C is unacceptable. Period. I said it in both polls above, and I'm saying it again. I don't think I've ever seen such a bad multi-choice polling methodology.
  27. ^ The current guideline is a reasonable compromise, similar to the rules for using American vs. Commonwealth spellings... it ain't broke, so why fix it?
  28. ^ Agree with Pete's formulation (no.6), should also extend to East Asia. I would have said Canada too, but the fact Quebec uses international date format confuses things there. The confusion in articles about Australia, which unambiguously uses the date format dD MMMMM yyyy, and occasional strange attempts by American editors to impose their date preferences are a big factor in my thinking here - we need consistency and professionalism, rather than ad hoc solutions.
  29. ^ After reviewing the contributions this seems like the only sensible option presented thus far

Discussion of votes and the guideline

Septentrionalis: With regard to your vote comment, come-on, we can read. The current guideline states “articles on topics with strong ties to a particular English-speaking country…” Now clearly, the Kilogram article is about the kilogram. It could be argued that the French invented the thing, but France is not an English-speaking country and the article is not about France. So the article clearly has no “strong ties to a particular English-speaking country.” Accordingly, the current guideline requires that “the date format chosen by the first major contributor to the article should be used”. So if I had used American-style dates, those would have been grandfathered in. That was the point of my vote comment: if I had used an inappropriate date format,  the article would have been stuck with American-style dates under the current guideline, which is ill-advised and needs, IMO, to be updated. It’s not all about we editors. The style in articles should be more strongly based on what is most natural for the likely readership. That’s all. Greg L (talk) 16:24, 13 September 2008 (UTC

And where does the present language, which is one of the alternatives I support, suggest that Kilogram should be changed? As for your hypothetical, it is much more simply dealt with by limiting the last clause to unless there is reason to change it.
The hypothetical case involves articles which have almost entirely written by American editors who have not seen reasons to use European dates: kilogram is not one of these, and those which are usually have reasons, weak or strong, to use the format they do. Solving this hypothetical (are there instances?) by imposing the International style on almost all articles is opening an egg with a sledgehammer. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 16:29, 13 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Please read and understand my point. I’m an American editor. I use American English. I use American-style dates in daily life. If I had used American-style dates, the current guideline says those would stay. Right? That’s not best editorial practices for making the best-reading articles on Wikipedia. We need a simple guideline that says “if the article is specifically about these listed subjects, do this.” All very simple. And it makes articles that read best for the greatest possible number of readers throughout the world. Greg L (talk) 16:40, 13 September 2008 (UTC)
    • To quote another American: "For every problem, there is a solution which is simple, direct, obvious, and wrong." If this were cost-free, we would be doing it now; changing the date format on hundreds of thousands of articles to address a hypothetical problem is a recipe for intergroup strife. As it is, consensus on any article can ignore MOS; all we need do here is to acknowledge this, as we should do more widely. I'll go do that; this poll can then be closed. If we need to refine the section on not date-warring, we can return to this. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 16:51, 13 September 2008 (UTC)
    • In addition, the assertion that it serves the majority of readers begs a question. We exist for readers of English, and the majority of Anglophones live in North America (the talk page includes much discussion that we go too far, and September 13 is customary in Canadian English; certainly it reads as well as the alternative); native speakers of other languages are best served by their own Wikipedias - that's why we have them. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:04, 13 September 2008 (UTC)
      • Well, as a native speaker of another language, I have still always felt welcome here, and quite frankly I practically never use sv; although it's one of the larger, it simply cannot compare with en. I think we're quite a bunch who reason this way. Anyway, your conclusions still work on me. When I first signed up and assumed that setting an autoformatting preference would be a good idea, I chose the month-day format. Why? Well, pin it down to American "cultural imperialism" or the sheer fact that most professionally-written English probably emerges out of North America, but that's what I was used to seeing in English. The idea that "13 September 2008" should somehow feel more natural than "September 13, 2008" because I consistently read and write "13 september 2008" in my native Swedish never crossed my mind. Why would it? -- Jao (talk) 17:21, 13 September 2008 (UTC)
        • Then do you favor the imposition of 13 September 2008 on all but a handful of articles? If you do, support the proposal; if not, oppose it. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:03, 13 September 2008 (UTC)
          • Actually, I don't care much either way. Encyclopedia-wide consistency would be nice, but that would mean Elizabeth II being born on April 21, 1926, or John F. Kennedy being shot on 22 November 1963, and I don't see that happening. We have to be inconsistent, and what rules we use for that inconsistency doesn't really bother me, as long as the decision isn't made on account of assumptions on what people like me should find natural or not. I'd note though that both proposals need a clear list of English-speaking countries. Currently only Canada is listed, and for all other countries "the more common date format for that nation" is guesswork for most of us. Easy guesswork in the case of the U.S., more difficult when it comes to Australia, India, Jamaica or Belize; I don't think we can assume little-endian dates are more common just because they are Commonwealth countries. Calendar date#Usage issues and Date and time notation by country are both almost entirely unreferenced, so apparently Wikipedia doesn't know, in most cases, which format is most common. -- Jao (talk) 19:21, 13 September 2008 (UTC)
And why do you think Americans are less likely to be reading about kilograms than anyone else? (Incidentally, I'm not participating in the poll since I really don't mind which option is chosen, but I'm not sure if the poll itself is a great idea, presented as it is. We need to ask the editing community at large the question: are we ready to abandon our traditional impartiality between the two date styles, in favour of one which is felt to be more appropriate for international articles. And make sure everyone knows about it. And put it on a separate page, or this one will get overwhelmed by this issue again.)--Kotniski (talk) 16:43, 13 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Kotniski, to address your question “and why do you think Americans are less likely to be reading about kilograms than anyone else?”: You know full well that’s not the premiss of my position. The facts of who reads en.Wikipedia have been well established on this page by others. Greg L (talk) 19:42, 13 September 2008 (UTC)

I can't imagine what format JimWae is referring to when he says he prefers an International ISO format. I am not aware of any ISO format that allows the display of Julian calendar dates, or dates before 1582. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 20:51, 13 September 2008 (UTC)

If I choose that format in my preferences, I think I can make the mental adjustment quite well myself, thank-you--JimWae (talk) 20:53, 13 September 2008 (UTC)
I absolutely refuse to condone, or collude with, calling a format that presents Julian calendar dates "ISO" or "ISO 8601". As far as I'm concerned, JimWae still has not told us what format he is talking about. If he wants to present his favorite format as an option, the first thing he needs to do is find a legitimate name for it. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 21:02, 13 September 2008 (UTC)

Discussion over the nature and necessity of the poll itself

  • Please look up the word supermajority and see what it means. Two plans were under discussion at that poll; the present text is neither of them. 8 !votes opposed A and supported C; 4 supported A and opposed C. 2 !votes supported A and C and chose between them. 5 !votes opposed both of them. 10-9 is the best claimable here, and to call that a supermajority is to deprive super of all meaning. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 16:27, 13 September 2008 (UTC)
  • OK, I revised what is meant. Greg L (talk) 18:25, 13 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Kotniski, regarding your 16:43, 13 September 2008 (UTC) post, this poll needs to stay here on this page, Kotniski, so as to not be moved off the radar screens of editors. This poll needs the widest possible input from Wikipedia’s editors. No matter how much attention this issue receives here, this topic couldn’t possibly grow this page to anything remotely as large as it’s been on many occasions in the past. And to address your question “and why do you think Americans are less likely to be reading about kilograms than anyone else?”: You know full well that’s not the premiss of my position. The facts of who reads en.Wikipedia have been well established on this page by others. Greg L (talk) 16:49, 13 September 2008 (UTC)

I object to the refusal among the "poll constructors" to even consider a country-blind option. Every single proposal that has been "voted" on has included language requiring certain formats for certain articles based on associations with particular nations. No opportunity has been given to register an objection to that requirement. Powers T 17:26, 13 September 2008 (UTC)

I see with some bemusement that Greg L simultaneously wants this poll to stay on this page so it can get "the widest possible input from Wikipedia’s editors", and objects at great length to an RfC, which is the traditional tool for securing such input. I await an explanation which is consistent with good faith. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:47, 13 September 2008 (UTC)

  • Septentrionalis. Stop accusing me of bad faith. You’ve already complained about the runoff poll in an ANI and that went nowhere. In case you haven’t noticed, most editors want to participate in this, notwithstanding your insistence to try to prevent that. And stop re-writing MOSNUM in an effort to game everything to your suiting. There will be no editwarring on MOSNUM (or here for that matter). Why can’t you just express your voice here and sit back and see how others feel? Greg L (talk) 17:52, 13 September 2008 (UTC)
    • The purpose of discussion is to find compromises which will meet the needs of as many as possible. If we can do this by tweaking two clauses to permit editors of a Kilogram article to decide which format best suits their needs, why not? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:03, 13 September 2008 (UTC)
    • And where is the explanation? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:58, 13 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Your bias blinds you to the reality of the situation. Stop being disruptive. The explanation is above. In case you haven’t noticed, people want to participate in this. Do you want to stop that? If so, you offer a good-faith explanation as to why everyone else here can’t participate as they’d like to. If it is because you fear the consensus won’t be to your liking, that’s too bad. Wikipedia isn’t about you. Greg L (talk) 18:06, 13 September 2008 (UTC)
      • No, I want to encourage participation. It is you who object to publicity for this poll. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:09, 13 September 2008 (UTC)
  • OK, this is too weird. I’m going back to my Universe now. Stop being disruptive. Your moves remind me of China shutting down Internet chat rooms because their citizens are (OMG!) discussing Tiananmen square. This isn’t MOSNUM, where guidelines are posted; this is a talk forum where ideas are exchanged. Stop trying to shut it all down with your ANIs and RfCs and rushing back to MOSNUM to rewrite what it says there. Is there any trick you haven’t tried? Greg L (talk) 18:15, 13 September 2008 (UTC)
        • While you are looking things up, you might want to read WP:RfC: A policy or guideline RfC is for requesting comment on proposed policies and guidelines or proposed revisions to existing policies and guidelines. A style RfC is for requesting comment on style issues spanning multiple articles, or for proposals on new or revised recommendations in the Wikipedia:Manual of Style. Policy and proposals are also sometimes discussed at Wikipedia:Village pump (policy) and Wikipedia:Village pump (proposals). Encouraging wider discussion is what RfCs and the Village pump are for; they don't reflect on conduct. If you don't object to wider discussion, please remove your complaints. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:06, 13 September 2008 (UTC)
  • An artful wording; many opposed both proposals, and only 10 out 19 endorsed C. Details further on. The present text contains neither proposal. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:09, 13 September 2008 (UTC)
  • In this case, I must support Septentrionalis/Pmanderson: we do want a wide input on the subject, and posting an RfC is a valid way of going about it. I did it myself at an earlier stage of this process. As a matter of fact, this vote should be advertised at the Village Pump, too—perhaps with the promise that we're now finally attempting to settle the matter? Teemu Leisti (talk) 07:34, 14 September 2008 (UTC)

I'm getting rather weary of all this. First to Greg, thanks for setting this polling up and doing your best to keep things calm. I might not agree with everything you've done, but it's plain you've acted in good faith throughout. Anderson, this whole dispute erupted because you changed the long-standing wording in MOSNUM without consensus[1] and then engaged in edit-warring to keep your preferred view. After a long discussion and two votes a fresh position emerged with strong support, but again you changed to your preferred wording[2] without consensus. Looking at the discussion above, I see the same arguments that we've already seen many times before. Rather than bloat out yet another discussion page, why not leave the poll to run its course, let editors make new points rather than rehashing old ones, and quit being disruptive? Is that so very hard? --Pete (talk) 19:26, 13 September 2008 (UTC)

  • Without consensus? The text was changed on the basis of this discussion, in which Skyring was the only voice to defend it out of half-a-dozen. The rest of this is similar exaggeration. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:33, 13 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Pete, your poll comment, "In general, Wikipedia uses international date format (1 February 2003); however, US format (February 1, 2003) is used in US-related topics", in bold print no less, is a factual misrepresentation. Wikipedia does not use that format in general and appears to be an attempt to sway the poll to international date format by making it. I would hope that editors would not make such statements without verifiable statistics to back up such a BOLD view.--«JavierMC»|Talk 19:49, 13 September 2008 (UTC)
Noted. I've clarified the wording to show that it's a proposal. Thanks. --Pete (talk) 20:00, 13 September 2008 (UTC)
  • could I suggest that it be reduced to italics, and that it is more correctly called "European" not "International". --JimWae (talk) 20:08, 13 September 2008 (UTC)
European and African and South American and Oceanic and (mostly) Asian. The overwhelming majority of nations use day month year order. The US and China and a handful of other nations use different formats. I see date format as being most closely akin to units of measurement - we use SI in all versions of Wikipedia except in this English one, where we use American units in American articles. We call day month year order International because that's what it is. --Pete (talk) 20:15, 13 September 2008 (UTC)
  • "International" is ambiguous - and the "US" format is also the predominant format in Canada (thus it too is "international" [lower case]). I also add that there is no convention that units be spelled in British format in non-US articles, as the use of "meter" in the kilogram article makes clear. It is only the article names for units that use British spelling --JimWae (talk) 20:41, 13 September 2008 (UTC)
Let's not get overly prescriptive here. It's just a talk page, and it's easier to use terms such as U.S. format, international format, and ISO without having to define them each time. Everyone knows what is meant, and if we started to call U.S. format international format because it's used by more than one nation, then we're going to have confusion all round. This thing is already difficult enough without making it confusing. --Pete (talk) 21:02, 13 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Septentrionalis: You’ve voted. You’ve posted your vote comment. You’ve had more than your fair share of complaining and commenting here. Will you please just sit back and let others have a chance to voice their opinion without you revising MOSNUM and revising the structure and nature of this poll and what is being considered, and deleting run-off polls, and threatening more ANIs and RfCs and every other trick up your sleeve? Can any human possibly be more disruptive? Greg L (talk) 19:52, 13 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Greg, I hope you don't mind if I quote you: "The proper response to bad speech is better speech, not censorship". GregorB (talk) 20:35, 13 September 2008 (UTC)

Obvious anti-Americanism run rampant yet again. There was nothing wrong with the previous way things worked, and this is going inevitably to lead to edit warring by Americans who feel that they're being discriminated against, or else there will be zealots attacking Americans who have the temerity to use American date formats in articles which are not specifically about American subject matter. Let me state clearly here and now: I will not bow down to date fascism, and will format dates in whatever format I damn well please. Corvus cornixtalk 20:45, 13 September 2008 (UTC)

Anyone attacking other editors should be dealt with appropriately under WP:NPA. By and large, the "previous way things worked" was to recommend the date format actually used in the country, which pretty much means using International format except for U.S.-related articles. In practice, editors contribute dates in whatever format they want to, and that's not going to change. In practice, we have gentle reminders rather than "datenazis". If we have anything at all. Mostly editors work quietly away at improving Wikipedia. Adding content, uploading photographs, tidying up, and we all get along pretty well. --Pete (talk) 21:02, 13 September 2008 (UTC)
No, the previous way things worked was that unless the article were country-specific, you would leave the format the way it was initially created. Now, the fascists are requiring that only US-specific articles use US format. What's next? A mandate that all non-US articles be written in "International English"? Corvus cornixtalk 21:10, 13 September 2008 (UTC)
I don't think it's helpful to talk about "fascists". But in any case, is it a problem if (say) the United Nations article uses International date formats? Or Basket-weaving? Or Inferiority complex? --Pete (talk) 21:18, 13 September 2008 (UTC)
It's a problem when well-intentioned editors get "warnings" that their edits are being reverted because they didn't use the Wiki-mandated formatting, even though it's not the format that over 300 million Americans know. It's a problem if two editors get into an edit war over which format to use. It's a problem if somebody decides to write a bot, or even take it on themselves to manually edit every non-US specific article to change it to the anti-American version. Corvus cornixtalk 21:38, 13 September 2008 (UTC)
You'd have to have a lot of free time for that last! Seriously, if there are any behaviour problems, Wikipedia has ways of dealing with them. If you really care about the date format used in the (say) Anthropodermic bibliopegy article, then you might want to ask yourself, why? --Pete (talk) 21:55, 13 September 2008 (UTC)
See Alexf (talk · contribs)'s edits from last night. He was going through lots of articles removing date links. Why wouldn't this proposal give editors the impetus to do just what I'm saying will happen? Corvus cornixtalk 22:01, 13 September 2008 (UTC)
One last comment, then I've finished discussing this, since I refuse to let it be forced upon me. Linking dates is now a no-no, even though we used to be able to put a particular format into our preferences, and now we've got "you must use the non-American date format in all but a small subsection of articles." In other words, "fuck you, Americans". Corvus cornixtalk 21:48, 13 September 2008 (UTC)
It is a style guideline, Corvus cornix. Your language is over the top. Fascism? "Fuck you, Americans"? Get a grip. Teemu Leisti (talk) 07:34, 14 September 2008 (UTC)
Indeed it is; but one of the purposes of MOS is to discourage proposals which send editors over the top. One of the chief arguments against C is that it will tend to so; if proposing it gets this reaction, what will happen if we try to enforce it on hundreds of thousands of pages? Are its tenuous benefits worth the trouble they will cause? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:43, 14 September 2008 (UTC)

Hello, I am just looking into this item in MOS, and I know there has been a lot of history, so I apologize if this seems out-of-place or a late addition to the discussion. It seems to me that a firm rule (as opposed to good counsel) on this subject is just asking for silliness: a commodity too common on Wikipedia. It matters little to ordinary readers whether one uses 4 July 1776 or July 4, 1776: any reasonable reader will understand. While the current rule about national tendencies is probably 80% right, there are significant issues not discussed. In particular, if the scholarly sources for an article use a particular format, Wikipedia should use that format, even if it runs opposite to the rule currently given.

Two examples: Modern military history tends to use the "European" form even when written in the U.S. Contrariwise, the current "U.S." form was common British practice in the late 18th century (a fact that should surprise no one). Some secondary sources modernize the usage except when quoting, and others use the older format throughout. It would strike me as useless to complain if the editors of an article decided to adopt the older format throughout. While Septentrionalis is correct that the MOS can be overruled by local article consensus, I think it would do not harm, and much good, for the text to add

  • Where the scholarship in a field dominantly uses a particular format, the article should follow that format.
  • Articles that extensively quote primary sources may read better if harmonized with those sources.

Regards. Robert A.West (Talk) 20:01, 14 September 2008 (UTC)

    • Those are entirely reasonable concerns. When the present poll (have you an opinion?) is closed, some consideration should be given to looser language, either by including a generally or making these points expressly. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:43, 14 September 2008 (UTC)


Major problem

Looking more carefully at the instructions for this poll, I see two options, first is a less verbose Option C, and the second says, Retain present guideline: (This is the current wording. There will be no editwarring on MOSNUM to fight battles over this poll. The problem is that the current wording has no consensus - it's merely PMAnderson's edit-warred version of the long-standing wording here. I grew tired of restoring the existing wording, believing that with broad discussion and polling underway, we'd get consensus, and Anderson wasn't heeding the warnings to cool it anyway. Now I find that Anderson's persistent edit-warring is taken to be the current wording, and we're voting for it or the winner of both the primary poll and the run-off. This is bizarre, especially given Greg's warning against edit-warring.

In fact, Anderson's wording has been rejected already - it is the rejected Option B of the first poll here. See for yourself:

  • "Current" wording: Articles on topics with strong ties to a particular English-speaking country should generally use the more common date format for that nation; articles related to Canada may use either format consistently.[3]
  • Rejected Option B: For articles on, or strongly associated with a particular English-speaking country, use the most common date format used in that country. Where there is no tie to an English-speaking country, the "first major contributor" rule applies.[4]

(The note about Canada is non-contentious, and the existing guidelines in the MoS describe the "first major contributor" rule.)

So my objections are threefold:

  1. Why are we voting on something that has already been rejected twice over?
  2. Why are we apparently legitimising PMAnderson's edit-warring?
  3. How long does this go on?

I'll accept that Greg is acting in good faith, and doing his best to shepherd this thing to a satisfactory conclusion, and nobody's perfect, but in the light of these concerns I really must ask for an explanation.

What we should really be doing, I suggest, is recognising that Option C won twice over and instead of voting yet again, we should be working on the wording, forming it into something we can work with. I note that several (presumably American) editors have expressed concern over compulsion and "fascism". I'd like to ensure that the agreed wording addresses these concerns. --Pete (talk) 05:49, 14 September 2008 (UTC)

I haven't been able to follow all the ins and outs of what has happened with the MoS, but if what you say is true, then I think it has this implication: The absence of a clear consensus cannot mean simply returning to the existing wording. If the existing wording is under dispute, and there is no clear earlier non-disputed alternative, then we must find a non-disputed alternative, or at least a majority-supported alternative, here on the talk page.
And since this is not a complex argument about politics or philosophy, where the "correct" answer is an elusive concept, but rather one where only a limited number of choices are available to us, I think voting is a perfectly valid way to arrive at an answer acceptable to the maximum number of people.
In other words, if a choice other than the disputed one currently on MoS wins, but not by a huge majority, "lack of consensus" shall not be a valid argument for rejecting the winner. Teemu Leisti (talk) 07:37, 14 September 2008 (UTC)
Without meaning to sound condescending, nothing but an outcome of "return to status quo" could reasonably be expected here because of the vote format. Wikipedia:Polling is not a substitute for discussion (and its predecessor Wikipedia:Voting is evil) have been longstanding principles on Wikipedia not because there's anything inherently wrong with the democratic process but because we as a community are horrible at it. And we will remain so unless we instate some form of officially sanctioned voting system where the outcome becomes policy, period. Remember Wikipedia:Attribution? Or how about the old userbox debates? And then of course there is everyone's favorite from the fiction category, our guideline on spoiler warnings. Every one of these issues tried to decide the situation by reasonable discussion, which failed, then widescale polling, which again failed, returning us to a paradoxical non-consensus status quo that everyone hated but the majority disliked less than any of the perceived solutions. Each of those situations were eventually resolved when one side chose to unilaterally enforce their view, and the community at large decided they cared less about the cries of "fiat accompli!" than they did the problem being resolved. I expect a similar outcome here.
While I hate to admit it, there are points at which our standard decision-making model spectacularly fails to produce an agreeable solution. In these cases, the community invariably supports whatever solution requires the least additional time and energy from them, whether that's abolishing the rule and allowing anything as long as it doesn't start fights, deciding the status quo was "good enough" even though everybody hated it, or just caving in to whichever editor brought the biggest sledgehammer.
I suppose this sounds like the usual rigmarole that a lot of disgruntled project editors put on their user pages as their last edit before retiring, but I don't consider it a bad thing. I used to, but after seeing so many problems resolved this way I've realized that we owe quite a lot to the members who are willing to force a solution even if everyone hates them for it, and consider it an example of the WP:SOFIXIT mindset which serves Wikipedia so well. (I do deeply dislike how the usual method of quieting the losing side of the debate is to sacrifice the problem solver to them, though. We've lost a lot of good editors that way.) --erachima talk 08:41, 14 September 2008 (UTC)
I understand your point of view, and agree with you that if no real consensus can be found over a change in a policy, then the previous policy should be kept. However, in this case, what Pete says is that what's in the MOSNUM now, i.e. the "previous policy", is not actually the real previous policy, because someone (Septentrionalis/Pmanderson) has gone and changed the MOSNUM guideline before a consensus was formed on what the new wording should be. So this introduces a further complexity into the question: what exactly was the previous policy?
We're not substituting polling for discussions, as you can see by perusing, for instance, /Archive 110. There's been plenty of discussion. We're trying to find a choice with the most support, and the vast majority of editors have been happy to participate in the voting, or straw polling, or whatever you want to call it. If there are only one or two editors who are unhappy with this approach, I don't think that's reason enough to abandon it. Teemu Leisti (talk) 09:19, 14 September 2008 (UTC)
I'm aware there's been plenty of discussion in the past, but the fact that we are currently trying to use a poll to resolve what reason couldn't is exactly why I'm confident the resolution process is going to flop. It's the typical historical pattern in these cases. A better, if rather longwinded, name for the new VIE guideline would be Wikipedia:Polling is not a substitute for discussion, much less an effective fallback when discussion fails.
As for what qualifies as the status quo in this case, if we wish to be completely uncontroversial we will use the last version to indisputably "stick": the wording prior to when the current editing dispute began. The most recent edit to remain untouched for over 24 hours (for reasons other than page protection) was this revision from August 18 by User:Philip Baird Shearer, which stated in the relevant portions (which had not been edited by him or anyone else for some time) that
  • "Articles on topics with strong ties to a particular English-speaking country should generally use the more common date format for that nation; articles related to Canada may use either format consistently.
  • Articles related to other countries that commonly use one of the two acceptable guidelines above should use that format."
and said to use the "first major contributor" rule in other cases. Hope that helps. --erachima talk 10:11, 14 September 2008 (UTC)
I've restored the existing wording on the basis that treating PMAnderson's preferred version would legitimise edit-warring during a time of wide and intense discussion on this exact point. We're supposed to work things out as a community, not battle each other by hitting the edit key. I'm guided by the uppercase warning on the project page: SIGNIFICANT CHANGES, ESPECIALLY IN POLICY, NEED TO BE FLAGGED AT MOS TALK PAGE BEFORE IMPLEMENTATION HERE. Anderson's claims of consensus (or the risible "no consensus to keep") are untrue and show a distinct lack of respect for established wikiprocess. --Pete (talk) 10:35, 14 September 2008 (UTC)
You will find I think that the present version is not Anderson's preferred version. He wanted to link date format to language variety - he is showing restraint by not attempting to restore that version, even though it did better in the poll than the present version. The wording you keep restoring is the version which was decidedly rejected in the poll, as I've kept saying and no-one (including you) has tried to dispute. In fact there was probably never consensus to add it anyway, and worst of all its meaning its totally unclear. Please stop - this isn't Anderson against the world, it seems to be you against the world.--Kotniski (talk) 13:28, 14 September 2008 (UTC)
I take your point about Anderson's preferred wording in polls, but I'm referring to the MOSNUM wording he edit-warred his way into. Even if you accept that this did better in the polls than Option D, it certainly didn't do better than Option C. So why didn't Anderson change the wording to match that of Option C, twice winner in a community poll? He just ignored the poll, ignored his fellow editors and changed the wording to what he wanted. So what's the point of discussion and voting for options if it doesn't matter a bean - the wording gets decided by who can edit-war their way to victory. Regardless of which wording I personally prefer, the process of change should be as fair and transparent as possible. --Pete (talk) 18:28, 14 September 2008 (UTC)
OK, then. I don't have the time to go through the history of the MOSNUM page right now to research the history of the edit-warrning. However, it seems that erachima has done that already. I suggest that (a) erachima, being a new contributor and not a party to some of the recent unpleasantness, please restore the version that he or she identified as the last long-standing one on the MOSNUM page, and that (b) we all accept that if we can't reach a consensus on changing that version, then that's the version that will stand. This way, we could get a bit more clarity on this issue. Support? Oppose? Teemu Leisti (talk) 18:30, 14 September 2008 (UTC)
Teemu Leisti, that version (arguably) says to use the date order in a foreign language to determine the date order in an English article; that position finished dead last in the polls, so that is out of the question. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 18:37, 14 September 2008 (UTC)
I wasn't attempting to find the "poll-approved" wording, just which version was uncontroversially status quo. That was the wording prior to the start of this debate, and the wording has been essentially the same since it was added in December 2007 (diff) a few days after the initial insertation of the section.(diff)
Frankly, this whole debate strikes me as extraordinarily WP:LAME. Positions C and R are tantamount to each other in the vast majority of cases, since whichever we pick, articles with strong ties to specific non-English speaking nations will go with the SI format. This will either be on the rationale that it's the SI format (C) or because that's what most of them predominantly use (R). The only point currently being decided is whether articles on non-affiliated subjects and nations which use predominantly ymd ordering will be made to switch to SI or can stay as they are. --erachima talk 20:42, 14 September 2008 (UTC)
No, the gap is quite wide; C would switch the format on articles which use September 14, 1958 and are about any topic other than North America or United States possessions. The present text would leave the format on almost all of them alone. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:53, 14 September 2008 (UTC)
WP:LAME? Well, perhaps gradually getting there.... Teemu Leisti (talk) 21:06, 14 September 2008 (UTC)
This sounds a lot like the software development aspect of Wiki(media): lots of talk, little gets done. What does get done is whatever is easiest. And, most people eventually learn to live with whatever gets decided. SharkD (talk) 02:40, 17 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Pete, with regard to your 05:49, 14 September 2008 (UTC) post and your observation that the “current wording” is just some text Anderson put there that you got tired of reverting, that was simply the current wording on MOSNUM at the time we had the runoff poll (I thought). I saw that Anderson had recently further revised it only hours before and I reverted that. What is now there still seems to be the current wording. What else should I have done? I thought the more recent edit of Anderson was further gaming the system and would have none of it. I looked back a day or two, saw the same, unmolested text, and decided that was current enough. Just how far back should I have gone?

    As for the less verbosity in option C, I omitted the “there will be no tie to dialect”-sentence. That sentence had been in a version of the text used in the prior votes only to highlight the distinction from the options that did tie the date format to the dialect used in the article (regardless of the subject matter); but as a standalone against the current MOSNUM guideline, it wasn’t really necessary and has zero effect on the proposed guideline. It was rather like, “You are instructed to go up (that means you won’t be going down)”: one doesn’t need the parenthetical caveat except for those who are galactically stupid or stubborn. Greg L (talk) 20:30, 14 September 2008 (UTC)

The problem is that the "current wording" is the wording PMAnderson edit-warred. For nine months the wording stood, apparently accepted by all. Then on 26 August Anderson deleted the second guideline concerning non-English-speaking nations and precipitated the shitfight you see now. It's been reverted back and forth. I've always restored the longstanding text with the admonition to wait for the discussion to work itself out, but Anderson prefers to edit-war. By choosing his version as the "current wording" and presenting it as an option in this poll, you've effectively legitimised it, short-circuiting all the discussion we've been having. What's the point of having a community of editors if it comes down to whoever is more determined to get his own way?
Anderson's opinion in this matter is important. As important as anyone else's. I don't want to see him unhappy with the outcome, but nor do I want to see me unhappy. I don't think I'm unreasonable, but I've had all sorts of rubbish thrown at me in this discussion, most of it well wide of the mark. I'm not anti-American, I don't want to force international dates on editors, and I'm not trying to invent some sort of "International English". This is all quite bizarre. I just think that for an International project, we should have international processes in place. The guideline on SI units seems to me to be the most appropriate and has worked extremely well, apart from those who are out of step with the wider world and would like to see feet and yards, pounds and ounces used everywhere. Most of the world uses day-month-year order for dates, just as most of the world uses SI units. We use the terms and units actually in use when we have an article about a place. Looking at the Paris Métro article, the track width is measured in metres, the ticket prices are shown in Euros, and the dates are in the format actually used in France. Is there anything wrong with this? Should we use yards and inches because the first editor was an American? Translate the ticket prices into USD?
This is important, not because of whether a date is expressed one way or another. As everyone accepts, Americans understand what 1 February 2003 means, and Londoners aren't confused by February 1, 2003. It's important because we are a community of editors and we need to get along with each other. That's what consensus is all about. So yes, I'm annoyed that we've had two polls to select a way forward, we've had a clear winner, but instead of discussing the best wording for the winning proposal, you've started off yet another poll, and made a serious error in the process. --Pete (talk) 04:29, 15 September 2008 (UTC)
No offense Pete, but based on the way you've spent the last couple days repeatedly reverting the page while complaining about edit warring, I think you need to take a step back from the debate for a bit. It won't matter until the end of the poll comes around anyway, so there's no rush.
It is true that the old stable version included the second point on foreign usage. However, that is a technicality. The current lack of dissension with the minimalist version (from people other than you), combined with the large number of votes against the more restrictive wording, suggests to me that we have indeed found consensus. Specifically, a consensus against instruction creep.
There are essentially two mindsets we can take here: The first is to think of the editors as something that must be controlled, expand the manual of style with a new rule every time a conflict emerges, update that rule whenever an exception is pointed out, add a caution to the exception when a wikilawyer starts abusing it, and repeat this cycle ad nauseum. The second is to treat them like intelligent humans and write a manual of style that gives general guiding principles and trusts the specifics to page editors. I, for one, believe Wikipedia is not written by idiots. --erachima talk 05:29, 15 September 2008 (UTC)
No offence taken. My beef is with the attitude that it's fine to edit-war your way to your personal preference when wide discussion is ongoing. That's why I kept pulling Anderson back to the status quo. It's a behaviour thing. When I get time, I'll look around to see what other sort of tricks he's been up to.
As for controlling users, I don't think the MoS is about that. Editors write what they want in the way they want it, mostly. It's bots and wikignomes that come along and shake it all into a coherent style. Which is what happens in the real world. Style manuals get ignored, except by those few who really care about stuff. --Pete (talk) 01:12, 17 September 2008 (UTC)
I note and reprehend this threat to wikistalk me. "Tricks" would appear to be projection; it is Skyring who has been editwarring both on this page and on others, for his desperately preferred format.Septentrionalis PMAnderson 13:56, 17 September 2008 (UTC)

I am fairly sure that Skyring has been warned about WP:CANVASS before; but the evidence that he has been spending the last day largely appealling to anyone he can think of to vote on his position; including Ohconfucius, NerdyNSK, SharkD, MJBurrage, Necrothesp, Hiding, and Occuli; DANorton seems to have voted against the solicitation. (Two or three have not yet responded.) Skyring has at least learned to phrase more or less neutrally; but mass posting to a partisan audience is disapproved of - it is traditional to give less weight to such !votes, as not a random sample of all interested Wikipedians. In this case, Skyring has contacted those editors who disliked A last time, and none of those who disliked C. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 14:22, 17 September 2008 (UTC)

Speaking of wikistalking... And projection... --Pete (talk) 00:40, 18 September 2008 (UTC)
I would advise Septentrionalis to better acquaint [him]self with WP:CANVASS, as it appears he may have made a false accusation about the content which was posted on my talk page and elsewhere by Pete. Ohconfucius (talk) 01:50, 18 September 2008 (UTC)
Let me see: I said the notice was neutrally phrased; but this is not all WP:CANVASS demands. It was selectively placed - only on the talk pages of editors who had agreed with one of Skyring's unvotes, and not on those who had disagreed with him. If OHconfucius sees an exception, do let us know. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 03:09, 18 September 2008 (UTC)
  • It's not my job to determine who he posts messages to, and I have no reason to consider his posting on my talk page anything other than a friendly notice. However, I have noted that you are one of the very few who seems to be dead set against the various different attempts by others to reach a consensus, and you seem to be doing much heel-digging. I will not speculate if you would do your own share of canvassing if you could - but there may not be enough editors who consistently support your stance, or agree with the rather disruptive way you have been conducting yourself here in this discussion. Ohconfucius (talk) 04:39, 18 September 2008 (UTC)
    • Twenty-two editors above seem to opppose the version of "consensus" that amounts to "Me and Skyring get our way; everybody must use the 'international' format." If I were interested in canvassing, I could easily increase that number; I would only have to invite those editors Skyring has omitted.
    • What I would genuinely prefer, however, is to have some member of the minority express their case without personal attacks. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 05:52, 18 September 2008 (UTC)
    • In 'stance', I was not talking about which 'side' you or I belong to, but the general approach to seek consensus. You appear to have attempted to stymie each and every attempt. To !vote one way or another is one thing, because it is an individual editor's prerogative. But to go around saying you don't believe in polls and then participating in them in your rather negative way smacks of hypocrisy, and quite frankly, I believe I am just one of many who are fed up to the back teeth of your antics. The personal attacks did not come from me nor from Pete. OH, and I think that you are airing the views of the minority well enough. ;-) Ohconfucius (talk) 06:40, 18 September 2008 (UTC)
      • On the contrary; the current wording is the third to have my active support; nor is it my first preference. If the minority were willing to propose something less than almost all articles should use the European format this would never have gone on so long. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:43, 18 September 2008 (UTC)
Wake up to yourself, Anderson. Nobody is proposing imposing date formats on articles. It's a guideline. You began this whole ridiculous affair when I had the temerity to make dates within a new article the same uniform format as those actually used in the countries, as per the MoS, and you then edit-warred to get your way there, and you then edit-warred the MoS to remove the longstanding guideline that let me do this. I get a great deal of pleasant and relaxing satisfaction from tidying up Wikipedia, and you're doing your obnoxious best to stop me doing an easy and useful task, creating all sorts of disruption in the process. If there's anyone imposing their petty personal preferences on other editors, it's you. --Pete (talk) 00:37, 19 September 2008 (UTC)
  • If C is not intended to impose European style on articles, with a handful of exceptions, it is very badly worded. There is a section below where more reasonable wording can be proposed
  • I met Skyring when he was revert-warring to place his format preference on 2008 South Ossetian war, which had and has enough problems.
  • There is no consensus that articles on non-English speaking countries should imitate their dates. See Jao's comment above, including opposition by an editor whose native language uses 19 september.
  • Skyring's "easy and pleasant activity" is a new form of Date Warring. (If he genuinely asked for, and abided by, consensus, it would be less objectionable.) It is no service to the encyclopedia; has elicited numerous complaints; and should indeed stop. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:14, 19 September 2008 (UTC)
Have to laugh at the above. The longstanding wording of the Manual of Style gave me perfect liberty and authority to change the date formats used in the South Ossetian war article to the format actually used in the two nations involved. I made the changes and you kept on reverting them, contrary to the MoS guidelines. Why? Because you wanted the article to have dates in American format and you were prepared to be disruptive to achieve this. I certainly don't want to see date formats imposed on any article, except to keep them all internally consistent. But I just think that, as we use American format dates for American articles and International format for British dates, and we use metric units in articles about nations that use them, and we use local currency units as appropriate (see the Paris Metro article for an example), then we should use the date formats actually used in a country. After all, Wikipedia is an international project. But you differ. Anyway, the edit record speaks for itself. This whole time consuming exercise in futility is a direct result of your attempt to change the Manual of Style away from the way we've been doing things for years. How many pages of discussion have editors been forced to wade through? How many sections archived?
Let's look at two things - the ArbCom decision on Jguk says:
  • When either of two styles are acceptable it is inappropriate for a Wikipedia editor to change from one style to another unless there is some substantial reason for the change. For example, with respect to English spelling as opposed to American spelling it would be acceptable to change from American spelling to English spelling if the article concerned an English subject.[5]
And the relevant longstanding MoS wording said:
  • Articles on topics with strong ties to a particular English-speaking country should generally use the more common date format for that nation; articles related to Canada may use either format consistently.
  • Articles related to other countries that commonly use one of the two acceptable formats above should use that format.[6]
That's the way things stood, and had been for years, with the exact wording quoted standing for nine months unchallenged. Your continued attempts to assert that I had done something wrong or contrary to process are plainly untrue and malicious. Oddly enough, I'm finding your contributions to this discussion quite offensive. --Pete (talk) 08:41, 20 September 2008 (UTC)
Poll running time

No running time has been given for the poll. I think this should be fixed at the start, so there can be no accusations on the person running the poll that they have cut off the poll at a time convenient to them. I suggest one week's running time, and the following note to be added to the poll's instructions: This poll closes at 15:48, 20 September 2008 (UTC). (The edit history shows that Greg L added the poll at 15:48 on the 13th.) Teemu Leisti (talk) 07:12, 14 September 2008 (UTC) PS. Greg, I am not concerned about you manipulating the poll, simply about the best practice of polls, and avoiding the possibility of accusations of improper behaviour. Teemu Leisti (talk) 07:23, 14 September 2008 (UTC)

  • Your suggestion seems fine to me. Greg L (talk) 19:59, 14 September 2008 (UTC)
OK, done. Teemu Leisti (talk) 21:09, 14 September 2008 (UTC)
What a disaster

Corvus cornix is completely right. This is an atrocious waste of time. First, polls are non-binding. Second, a guideline is non-binding. Third, and most important: if you do not have the skills, time, or inclination to research substantive topics so you can write real encyclopedia articles, please do not try to inflate your edit count by busy-body actions that just amount to instruction-creep. Wikipedia is an anarchic community and the only rules that matter are the ones that allow people with diverse points of view work together. Aside from that, WP:BOLD, dudes. Rules which impose one way of doing things on others is the worst idea in the world, it is the opposite of freedom and anarchy and diversity i.e. core values of Wikipedia. Slrubenstein | Talk 12:55, 18 September 2008 (UTC)

Good points - especially with the waste of time comment. This whole shemozzle began with PMAnderson taking exception to me altering the American format dates in one article to the format actually used in the countries, and attempting to alter the MoS to prevent me doing that. We're getting well into WP:LAME territory now, and nobody thinks big of you for that. Our core business is providing information. However, presenting information is important too, and I quail at the thought of how Wikipedia would look if we hadn't evolved standard ways of doing things. My philosophy is that editors are welcome to add new information or refine existing material, and so long as they get the basics right it doesn't matter how they present it. Because other folk will come along and tidy it up. Another important point, touched upon above, is that we shouldn't become ossified into one way of doing things. Different ideas should be given a free run, and good ideas naturally progress as editors copy and re-use them in other articles. Yang to this yin is that bad ideas are tried and died when they don't work out. Date autoformatting turned out a bad idea. My question is: how do we deal with the random debris of differing date formats now increasingly revealed as the autoformatting tide rolls out?
  • Convert every date to one format or another?
    • If so, which one?
      • Tendentious editors will champion their preferred format. We'll be locked in argument as the weenies wrestle for total victory.
  • Draw a dividing line? Some articles use one format, others use the other.
    • Where do we draw the line? What criteria do we use? National ties? Regional variety of English? First contributor?
      • As we currently see, the arguments on how to word the instructions are of mind-melting pettiness.
  • Allow open slather?
    • So long as articles are consistent in one style or another, does it matter which style is chosen? American editors might feel their manhood shrivel when they see a date like "4 July 1776", but they aren't going to be confused about which day we are talking about. And vice versa: English-language newspapers (including The Times of London) use American format almost universally without too many gentlefolk choking on their kippers.
In any case, no matter what course we choose here, most editors will ignore it and do whatever they bloody well want anyway. --Pete (talk) 00:02, 19 September 2008 (UTC)

This does, indeed, seem to be one of those instances in which Wikipedians get into the most heated debates about the most pointless things, like the "road wars" where people got into fisticuffs over whether to use "New York State Route 376" or "State Route 376 (New York)" or "State Road 376 (New York)" or "Route 376 (New York State)" or whatever. I, for one, am American and tend to use American date formats in my offline life, but on the Internet I've often used more "internationalized" formats in places like my personal Web site (which has "This page was first created 07 Mar 1995, and last modified 16 May 2004.") and when presenting evidence in an ArbCom case here in the form of a chronological list of events, on the basis that this format, though not native to my own country, is concise and clear, and well suited to the international audience of the Internet. In still other contexts, like log formats, database fields, and file naming schemes (which, as a "techie", I deal with a lot), I generally use a format such as "2001-09-11 08:45:00" which has the virtue of sorting properly in an ASCII ordering. But I think the present guidelines which encourage use of dates corresponding to the format in use in the country relevant to the article and permit latitude in date formatting otherwise are a decent compromise, and "if it ain't broke, why fix it?" *Dan T.* (talk) 13:47, 20 September 2008 (UTC)

Side proposals

Two definite questions, and the possibility of a third, have come out of this poll, despite its structural inhibition of discussion. This is not <gesture of aversion> a new poll; these are questions whether tweaking the language in some directions can get general consent. If there is more than one or two voices in opposition to any of these, I will close it (as "resolved: no change") myself; also if there is no outpouring of wider support.

These are questions of what we should do in principle; if you approve changing in that direction, please suggest wording. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:12, 18 September 2008 (UTC)

Only Canada?

  • Several voices say that Canada is not the only English-speaking country where both methods are commonplace; Powers would include the United States. Should we broaden that exception?
    • And if so, on what grounds should we broaden that exception? As pointed out above, Calendar date#Usage issues and Date and time notation by country are both almost entirely unreferenced. If nobody found reliable sources for which format is most common in various countries (Australia? Jamaica? Belize?), then how do we know? -- Jao (talk) 18:37, 18 September 2008 (UTC)
You using a computer? Go to your preferences page and somewhere there will be a list of countries. Select one at random and it will provide examples of formats in date, time, currency and so on. On Mac 10.5 it's at Preferences:Personal:International:Formats. I doubt that there is any great difference between manufacturers as to which countries swing which way. However, I notice that Apple sees Canada as using January 5, 2008 in written form and 5-Jan-08 as abbreviated. --Pete (talk) 00:15, 19 September 2008 (UTC)
Not sure whether software is a reliable source: if we considered Windows a reliable source then Poland would be a sea. NerdyNSK (talk) 22:36, 19 September 2008 (UTC)
For what it's worth, Windows XP Home's Canada looks pretty much the same. I'm missing some countries in the list though (for instance, none of Fiji, India, Kenya and Singapore can be chosen). -- Jao (talk) 00:27, 19 September 2008 (UTC)

Good reasons to switch?

  • Several voices say that there are good reasons to switch other than strong national ties; most detailed is Robert A West, who points out that present American military usage and the usage in Commonwealth historiography are both often contrary to the usual national custom. Should we acknowledge this, and what should we say? (This can vary from in general to West's explicit bullet points.)
I think I was one of the first to raise this point (and as a reason not to impose hard rules). Perhaps this can be left to the style guides of those Wikiprojects most concerned with military subjects. As long as no one at FA is going to try to impose a choice but rather look for consistency, then it's not really a problem. Most of the bickering here seems to have been over imposing one's preferences on everyone else while avoiding having theirs imposed on us. If anything, there seems to be a consensus that this is not the best approach. Askari Mark (Talk) 22:55, 19 September 2008 (UTC)

Compromise?

  • I do not see that this poll shows any consensus for version C's imposition "of one way of doing things on others" as SlRubenstein put it. But we can always consider compromise wording. Suggestions? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:12, 18 September 2008 (UTC)


Archive 105 Archive 109 Archive 110 Archive 111 Archive 112 Archive 113 Archive 115

Bots and user pages

I would like to suggest that the bots that happily wander through pages and change wikilinked dates to plain text be prohibited from making any edits to pages in user space. Autoformatted dates work correctly for logged-in users, and if a user specifies a date preference, they should get what they asked for in pages that they control. Put another way, the deprecation of auto-formatted dates should not apply to user space. Truthanado (talk) 20:04, 14 September 2008 (UTC)

Support. Teemu Leisti (talk) 21:10, 14 September 2008 (UTC)
Support if true but I have never seen any specific example of a bot changing dates in the userspace. If somebody really did this then it's very very bad. NerdyNSK (talk) 19:20, 17 September 2008 (UTC)

Who would bother running a script (not a bot) on a user page? Tony (talk) 01:53, 15 September 2008 (UTC)

Truthanado and Teemu, don't worry. You can assume that no bot does such a thing, unless you have a specific example. In any case, autoformatting is not used outside article space. You can see that all the signatures on this page use just one WYSIWG format and users seem happy with that. Lightmouse (talk) 12:23, 15 September 2008 (UTC)

this odd "change" box

I've removed it again. I see no consensust for its placement there in the first place. It damages the status of the whole page, sending a message that it's unstable. Policy and style pages are inherently unstable—it'a a wiki. There's no "This is an unstable mess" posted in a huge box at the top of WP:NFC, even though WP:NFCC#8 has gone back and forth and back and forth month after month for most of this year. Tony (talk) 02:09, 18 September 2008 (UTC)

k versus K for metric/binary kilo

There is a section in the MOSNUM about using K/M/G rather than Ki/Mi/Gi. K is never a proper SI prefix; it should be lowercase k. I changed that, assuming it was an uncontroversial typo correction, but apparently I have to go through a procedure of discussing it here. Well here I mention it; change it or leave it as it is. I'm not wasting more time on it, but in the latter case I will take MOSNUM a lot less seriously in the future. Han-Kwang (t) 20:14, 15 September 2008 (UTC)

Earlier in the development of computer terminology, some people used k in it's SI meaning of 1000, and reserved K for 1024. Around the same time, some computer displays and printers still lacked lower-case letters, so some people were forced to use K to mean 1000 due to this technology limitation. Later, kilobits and kilobytes came to be seen as so small, they're hardly worth worrying about. Also, the option of switching the case to indicate binary or decimal meaning does not apply to M, G, T, etc.
All in all, I see no reason we should accept the use of K to mean 1000 in Wikipedia. Although bit and byte are not SI units and therefore are not strictly governed by SI, the prefixes are often extended to non-SI units and I don't see why the method of extension should be any different for bit and byte. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 20:45, 15 September 2008 (UTC)
What's used in the computer industry? If K is in widespread and accepted use, then no reason for us to disallow it.--Kotniski (talk) 14:30, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
When this was discussed in relation to using IEC prefixes for the binary meanings, if I recall correctly, the case of the k was mixed. It isn't that easy to find examples since there isn't much call to write about kilobits or kilobytes anymore. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 16:29, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
Yeah, the IBM 029 didn't do lowercase characters, so it wasn't until keypunches, COBOL, and FORTRAN IV were mostly forgotten that computer users and writers started to pay attention to case. Recall that even after case-sensitive Unix systems had been in use for years MS brought out several case-mangling generations of DOS. General usage was and often still is sloppy. LeadSongDog (talk) 07:13, 17 September 2008 (UTC)


If you read the technical literature of the 1950s and 1960s you will notice that case did not matter. Frequency was measured in kilocycles and megacycles (this was before hertz). You will see 10 mc and 10 MC for 10 megacycles. Capacitors were measured in microfarad abbreviated as "mfd" or "MFD". Picofarad was not used; micromicrofarad was used instead and abbreviated as "mmfd" or "MMFD". This worked because no one broadcast on 10 microcycles and you could not make a 10 megafarad capacitor. Here are some references to k and K.

  • Real, P. (September 1959). "A generalized analysis of variance program utilizing binary logic.". ACM '59: Preprints of papers presented at the 14th national meeting of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM Press): pg 78–1 – 78–5. doi:10.1145/612201.612294. On a 32k core size 704 computer, approximately 28,000 datum may be analyzed, … without resorting to auxiliary tape storage.  The author is with the Westinghouse Electric Corporation. (Note: The IBM 704 used binary addressing, K = 1024.)
  • Sonquiest, John A. (December 1962). "Fixed-word-length arrays in variable-word-length computers". Communications of the ACM (ACM Press) 5 (12): pg 602. The following scheme for assigning storage for fixed-word-length arrays seems to meet these criteria and has been used successfully in working with linear arrays on a 4k IBM 1401.  (Note the IBM 1401 used decimal addressing, k = 1000.)
  • Gruenberger, Fred (October 1960). "Letters to the Editor". Communications of the ACM 3 (10).  "The 8K core stores were getting fairly common in this country in 1954. The 32K store started mass production in 1956; it is the standard now for large machines and at least 200 machines of the size (or its equivalent in the character addressable machines) are in existence today (and at least 100 were in existence in mid-1959)." Note: The IBM 1401 was a character addressable computer.
  • IBM (1972). "System/370 Model 158 brochure" (PDF). IBM. All-monolithic storage ... (1024-bit NMOS) This new improvement of processor storage makes system expansion more economical. Real storage capacity is available in 512K increments ranging from 512K to 2,048K bytes. 

SWTPC6800 (talk) 15:34, 17 September 2008 (UTC)

Some newer ones.

SWTPC6800 (talk) 19:44, 17 September 2008 (UTC)


The uses cited by Swtpc6800 don't really solve the issue of what Wikipedia should use for kbit when we mean 1000 bits. SI was not created until 1960, and we have to allow a few years for it to catch on, so the only journal article from the list above that tells us anything is the one from 1972, and that refers to the binary meaning (1024 bits). Since there is no clear use in the industry of K for 1000, I believe Wikipedia should use k, and the "Manual of Style (dates and numbers)" edited accordingly. Does anyone disagree? --Gerry Ashton (talk) 16:37, 17 September 2008 (UTC)

The IEEE Computer Society Style Guide indicates that K means 1024 while k means 1000. I couldn't find anything relevant in the general IEEE Editorial Style Manual or the IEEE Standards Style Manual. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 20:26, 17 September 2008 (UTC)
Han-Kwang, in the real world the uppercase K is commonly used and the JEDEC memory standards organisation, which is followed by nearly all manufacturers of transistorised memory, also states "kilo (K) = 1024"[7], note the uppercase K. For this subject you have to ignore what SI say because for Wikipedia according to WP:RS we use secondary reliable sources for the contents of articles and in the real world the reliable secondary sources mostly ignore what SI has to say. SI is a primary source but according to WP:RS we don't use primary sources unless we have secondary sources to verify that the primary source is notable. Since the SI point of view is in the tiny minority WP:UNDUE also applies where the minority point of view is not given equal weight with the majority common point of view. Basically, Wikipedia reports the world how the secondary reliable sources say it is, not how SI thinks it should be. Fnagaton 02:52, 18 September 2008 (UTC)
SI is not a source at all, it is the result of an international collaborative process that is very comparable to the peer review process used in the best secondary sources. It is also, strictly speaking, irrelevant, because neither bit nor byte are SI units, and SI only says what to do when applying SI prefixes to SI units. Whether it is OK to borrow the prefixes for other purposes has not been addressed in any universal, authoritative manner.
Fnagaton is probably right that when K means 1024 bits or bytes, it is usually capitalized. Usage is mixed in cases where k means 1000 bits or bytes; I would suggest using lower-case k in those cases because it agrees with SI and agrees with the IEEE Computer Society Style Guide. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 03:19, 18 September 2008 (UTC)
While the use of k or K to mean 1000 bits, 1000 bytes, 1000 words, 1024 bits, 1024 bytes or 1024 words is unquestionably widespread in trade press, it is beyond doubt that its meaning is unclear without further amplification. For this reason alone, it should always be amplified for clarity. Surely we've been over this topic enough to establish that.LeadSongDog (talk) 17:17, 18 September 2008 (UTC)

Month abbreviations

It struck me that I cannot see anything (at least obviously) that suggests or disallows use of month abbreviations (eg "Sept." for September), a fact that is often used in tables where there is date information but the table has gotten rather wide. Presuming that in line with "which format", is there a standard?

Namely: if abbreviations are ok, we should fix on one set of abbreviations (either all three letter, or the more common: Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, June, July, Aug. Sept, Oct, Nov, Dec set.) and make sure what punctuation we should use, eg "Sept. 15, 2008" vs "Sept 15, 2008" and "15 Sept. 2008" vs "15 Sept 2008" (note lack of abbreviation period). If they are not ok, we should be stating this. --MASEM 23:17, 15 September 2008 (UTC)

Agreed. Since Wikipedia is an online resource and the most common online date abbreviation convention for months is three characters (Windows, Unix and Linux all use it), I suggest that 3-chars be adopted. Specifically: Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec. Truthanado (talk) 23:27, 15 September 2008 (UTC)


Abbreviations are fine in charts and the like where full months make the thing too big or distract from more important data, but abbreviations in text are informal and produce ugly prose. -Rrius (talk) 04:09, 16 September 2008 (UTC)

Agreed, abbreviated months should only be used if space is a premium, which is pretty much limited to tables. I just think it would be worth while to standardize these. --MASEM 04:55, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
Of course we should only abbreviate when space is a premium; but why should we spend our editors' attention on standardizing these? I commend Erachina's point above:
We can think of the editors as something that must be controlled, expand the manual of style with a new rule every time a conflict emerges, update that rule whenever an exception is pointed out, add a caution to the exception when a wikilawyer starts abusing it, and repeat this cycle ad nauseum. The other way is to treat them like intelligent humans and write a manual of style that gives general guiding principles and trusts the specifics to page editors. I, for one, believe Wikipedia is not written by idiots. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 05:01, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
Point taken, though I do find that we are generally very explicit on punctuation use (moreso in the general MOS than here); irregardless of using 3 or 4 letters in the abbreviation, we should at least make sure if the month abbreviation should or shouldn't be followed by a period (and if that changes when one goes from m/d/y to d/m/y date format). --MASEM 13:04, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
No thank you; that's a question of idiom, and of the space involved. Periods are more common in American English, which comes under ENGVAR; on the other dimension, if the table has 24 months horizontally, and the entries are single letters, good editors of any nationality will use Jan and Feb because they're short. Where is the necessity to rule on this? Because we can? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:17, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
The whole argument against linked ISO 8601 dates was based on usage in prose, yet it has also (predictably) spilled over into citations, where structured metadata unquestionably has value. Whatever goes in should be amenable to automatic parsing in a "date", "accessdate", or similar field. Superfluous punctuation is inconsistently executed by human editors and makes a citation harder to read. The KISS principle still holds.LeadSongDog (talk) 13:49, 17 September 2008 (UTC)

LeadSongDog, keep in mind there is a vast difference between a date field and an accessdate field. The timespan covered by date is about 600 times greater than the timespan covered by accessdate, so the date must accomodate dates covered by Julian, Gregorian, and other calendars, some of which cannot be accurately associated with dates in modern calendar systems. They must also accomodate negative years or BC. Also keep in mind that citation templates are entirely optional. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 14:48, 17 September 2008 (UTC)

I get that. I've previously argued that when it might be ambiguous we should explicitly state the calendar used. Almost everything is optional on WP, but well structured content does have more value than unstructured. WP:BUILD is based on this principle. WP is not just a collection of linear text. Anything that strengthens the assisted/automated verification of bibliographic data will ultimately better articles. Who has never clicked through an ISBN or PMID to get to a source?LeadSongDog (talk) 17:30, 18 September 2008 (UTC)

Timing

This article is currently going through a peer review. The point that that all numbers under 10 should be written, but are unsure how "1 minute 23 seconds" should be written as it's referring to time. Should it stay how it is or be written "one minute 23 seconds"? Thanks, --Jimbo[online] 07:37, 18 September 2008 (UTC)

Jimbo, thanks for your inquiry. Like most style guides, WP's MOSNUM hedges its preference for the spelling out of small numbers with exceptions: there's no easy way out in English (thus five .22-calibre rifles, among many niceties). These exceptions are listed in Numbers as figures or words. Generally, measurements are stated in figures, so your suspicion that "1 minute 23 seconds" should remain entirely in figures is born out. If there were lots of such time expressions in the article, as in a current featured article candidate, one might be tempted to abbreviate to 1'23" (in parentheses on first occurrence); but there aren't lots in that article. Tony (talk) 09:37, 18 September 2008 (UTC)
Thanks for clearing that up Tony. Much appreciated. --Jimbo[online] 10:33, 18 September 2008 (UTC)
What's the best approach at Akira (manga)? If I write 6 volumes rather than six volumes in the lead, it catches my eye as wrong, but by the time I get into the meat of the article, I'm mixing them rather badly. Hiding T 09:53, 18 September 2008 (UTC)
There are several considerations. My own rule of thumb, not I think presently represented in the guideline, is to use numerals when the quantity is a lot of something. For anime, from my experience, six volumes is not a lot; 13 might be. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:40, 18 September 2008 (UTC)
Thanks to you and Tony, we seem to have it solved. Hiding T 10:28, 19 September 2008 (UTC)

Decades (again)

Call me petty-minded, but I'm still bothered about the fact that some of the decade articles are misnamed. (We've discussed this before, and more or less agreed to make the change, but there were always more pressing things to do.) The problem concerns the decades which begin centuries (or end them, if BC), such as 1100s, 1800s and so on. We know, of course, that in real life 1100s refers to 100 years, not 10, but Wikipedia has decided differently. If you agree (or disagree) that this decision should be reversed (i.e. the decade article at 1100s should be renamed 1100–1109, etc.), then please comment at the discussion I started at what seems to be the most relevant page - namely WT:Naming conventions (numbers and dates)#Decades.--Kotniski (talk) 12:02, 19 September 2008 (UTC)

Strong support, replied there. - Dan Dank55 (send/receive) 13:42, 19 September 2008 (UTC)

Move text from WP:JARGON?

At WP:JARGON, we have: "... as a rule of thumb, if expressing an equation requires LaTeX (as most do), do not assume the reader will understand what it means. It is also considered polite (but not always necessary) to explain how the symbols are read, e.g. "A ⇔ B means A is true if and only if B is true". Much of the hassle and redundancy can often be mitigated by providing a link to the extremely helpful table of mathematical symbols and providing a simple warning/disclaimer, such as at the top of the prisoner's dilemma article." I'd prefer that this material be here (in whatever tweaked form we prefer) rather than WP:JARGON because the typical users wondering what to do about numbers and symbols will probably be searching here or at the math MOS, not WP:JARGON. If you guys agree that this is a better page for that, I'll remove it there and we can start discussing it here. - Dan Dank55 (send/receive) 13:57, 19 September 2008 (UTC)

I'm not sure that's advisable. Richard Feynman's publishers warned him that every equation he included would halve his sales, but that's not the criterion we should go by. This should be merged, if anywhere, with the mathematics MOS; but you should consult the math wikiproject first. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:21, 19 September 2008 (UTC)
WP:MSM seems to focus on articles about math, rather than on how to deal with math symbols in science- and technology-related articles, but if you guys don't want this, that's my next stop. - Dan Dank55 (send/receive) 17:53, 19 September 2008 (UTC)
It's the only guide to LaTeX I know about, though. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:45, 19 September 2008 (UTC)

long decimals

What about a way to break up long sequences of numbers after a decimal point? For instance, at Earth a distance is given as 1.0167103335 AU. At Charon, the period is 6.3872304 ± 0.0000011 days. These can be rather difficult to read.

What about a convention of breaking up such sequences? Commas might prove confusing, but we have at least one numerical template that adds spaces:

1.016 710 333 5 AU
6.387 230 4 ± 0.000 001 1 days

Commas, for comparison:

1.016,710,333,5 AU
6.387,230,4 ± 0.000,001,1 days

kwami (talk) 05:03, 20 September 2008 (UTC)

This has been discussed before, and no consensus was reached. Some people didn't want to use spaces as separators to the left of the decimal, and some people didn't want to see numbers like 123,456.789 012. No one wanted to use commas to the right of the decimal point --Gerry Ashton (talk) 05:35, 20 September 2008 (UTC)

Poll

The recent "final" poll on date formats has expired and been moved to /Archive 111. For comments see below.--Kotniski (talk) 20:46, 20 September 2008 (UTC)

Yes, it was time to archive it, but I think generally once an archive page has been created, its contents shouldn't be changed, but rather, a new archive page should be created.
In this case, bot User:MiszaBot II and you added text to /Archive 111. MiszaBot might have got confused because when I created Archive 111, I didn't update the counter variable in the invisible template for the bot's information at the top of the page. But neither did the bot when it moved sections to Archive 111. I'll have to contact the bot's owner and ask what's going on.
Note: I have edited some of the archive pages, but for things like adding the {{aan}} templates, warning that the page is a talk archive, to the bottoms of pages, and such administrative work that doesn't touch the content. Teemu Leisti (talk) 22:18, 20 September 2008 (UTC)

Uppercase/lowercase for unit abbreviations

Over in the automobiles project, the question has arisen of uppercase or lowercase expression for adverbial unit abbreviations. We've no convention on the matter within the project, and I find no explicit provisions anywhere in MoS. Grammar authorities seem to agree that noun abbreviations (NHTSA, RDA, IQ, THC, UFO, HIV, and so forth) get uppercase, while adverbial abbreviations (rpm, mpg, mph, and the regionally-preferred kph) get lowercase. See here, here, here, here, here (search page for rpm), here (search page for rpm), here (search page for mph), here (search for mph), and here (search mpg) for example. Can anyone think of a reason this convention should not be adopted here on Wikipedia? —Scheinwerfermann (talk) 19:44, 20 September 2008 (UTC)

I have not thought of it as noun and verb but I use lower case for units by default. My unit script actually enforces consistency in articles by changing 'MPH' and 'RPM' into lower case 'mph' and 'rpm'. Common units tend to be lower case (lb, kg, s, m, ft) but upper case is easy to find e.g. (°C, °F, MW). Lightmouse (talk) 20:09, 20 September 2008 (UTC)
The law does not give a rat's ass about what is written in encyclopedias, but the case of SI symbols (sometimes loosely called abbreviations) is defined by law for use in commerce. KG is wrong, S is Siemens, M is wrong, and MW must be upper case if you mean megawatt; the only other option case-wise is mW, which is milliwatt. Do what you want with American customary units, but there is only one right way to write SI symbols (except that litre may be either l or L).—Preceding unsigned comment added by Gerry Ashton (talkcontribs) 16:29, 2008 September 20
I would like to point out that Scheinwerfermann’s examples for “noun abbreviations” are more correctly acronyms, for which it has long been tradition to use capitals. Likewise, common units of measurements have generally been lowercase except where tradition (‘°C’ or ‘S’) or – as Gerry notes – standards’ prescriptions for clarification (‘MW’ vs. ‘mW’) have called for capitalization (which has most often followed cases where the unit symbol was derived from a person’s surname). Askari Mark (Talk) 23:10, 20 September 2008 (UTC)

year month day

In chronological listings, historical summaries, scientific archiving, etc., it's generally the year that needs to be prominent. Is the MOS now saying that the rational order, year-month-day (actually, millennium-century-decade-year-month-day-hour-minute-second) is no longer acceptable? Having the day first and the year last when the year is more relevant than the day doesn't make sense. kwami (talk) 19:51, 20 September 2008 (UTC)

I think we always allowed this format in its proper place. Has something changed recently?--Kotniski (talk) 20:30, 20 September 2008 (UTC)

I hope not. Lightmouse (talk) 20:32, 20 September 2008 (UTC)

The poll

Well, the poll has run its course according to its pre-announced running time. I've moved that whole large section to the archive; apologies if there were side-threads that people wanted to continue, but they can bring them back if they (really) want. I don't think anyone will dispute that the poll confirmed that there is no consensus to change the present wording of the section at this time (at least, not in the way suggested there, i.e. by making day-month the preferred format over month-day basically in any article not U.S./Canada-related). Other proposals for improving this section of the guidance are now awaited (though not very eagerly, I suspect).--Kotniski (talk) 20:46, 20 September 2008 (UTC)

"I don't think anyone will dispute that the poll confirmed that there is no consensus to change the present wording of the section at this time..." I suppose you're right. But at least that [[yyyy-mm-dd]] thing is now deprecated, which is good.
So, is User:Lightbot continuing to unlink dates? Teemu Leisti (talk) 22:25, 20 September 2008 (UTC)

Using templates for dates and date ranges

Original first part

---

Could we have a date template which, rather than require the specification of YYYY|MM|DD and format as four separate parameters, instead simply wrapped around already fully MOS formatted dates.

The point of this would be for those users who have date preferences set up, so that:

  • If user preference was for International date format, then {{dte|May 9, 2001}} would render as 9 May 2001.
  • If user preference was set for US format, then {{dte|9 May 2001}} would render as May 9, 2001.

- Ideally I'd like the template name "date" rather than "dte", but "date" is already taken with this buggy thing. Perhaps this could be resolved in future, but I'd encourage keeping things simple for now.


To clarify all the combinations, and to suggest keeping it simple, I'd recommend allowing only the following MOS formats in the template:

Yes check.svg Format in template Rendering for user:
International date preference US date preference
9 May 9 May May 9
May 9 9 May May 9
9 May 2001 9 May 2001 May 9, 2001
May 9, 2001 9 May 2001 May 9, 2001

Users without set date preferences would of course just get what's in the template.

This way both the user's preferences and the editor's intent (with respect to MOS) would be taken into account.

--SallyScot (talk) 13:14, 15 September 2008 (UTC)

This would return us to the most unsatisfactory situation where it's almost impossible for WP to manage its date formats properly. Editors need to see what their readers see. And as has been pointed out above, it's a lot of work to key in, and not intuitive. Why all the trouble over whether month or day come first and second in order? Tony (talk) 13:26, 15 September 2008 (UTC)

I don't follow the argument of how such a template would make it almost impossible for WP to manage its date formats. Could you explain? As I see it such a template's intent would simply be to give editors the option of catering for user date preferences. I'm not suggesting it ought to be mandatory, but I would ask why you'd deny such choice? It's not as if the question of why all the trouble over whether month or day comes first or second is a newly invented issue. The template would simply resolve linking context issues around the pre-existing date autoformatting approach. If anything, the pre-existence of that autoformatting approach, the fact that it was being used despite its linking issues, clearly indicates that some editors would like to be able to cater somehow for user date preferences. --SallyScot (talk) 14:42, 15 September 2008 (UTC)

Some, perhaps, but the vast majority used it (or had it inserted for them) just because it was the recommended thing to do at the time. Had there been a widespread desire to cater for readers' preferences, editors would have been banging on the devs' doors all these years asking them to implement something along those lines for IP users (which nearly all readers are).--Kotniski (talk) 18:24, 15 September 2008 (UTC)

Again, I don't think I quite follow the argument. I don't see how editors would've been asking for date autoformatting preferences for IP users to be taken into account, because I don't see how such requests would make sense. Maybe I'm missing something, but as I understand it, you'd need to be a registered user in order to have set up preferences. I think this is how most editors would understand the situation, and as such they wouldn't have been banging on devs' doors asking for the implementation of something that couldn't be done for IP users. --SallyScot (talk) 19:47, 15 September 2008 (UTC)

There are two ways that I could see IP users and users without a preference set handled. One is to support a per-article default. The other is to base it on the country associated with the IP address of the user. PaleAqua (talk) 20:02, 15 September 2008 (UTC)
What Tony meant is that if there's a way to format dates according to preference, then many editors will use it. I know I did, for four years. That's not a huge problem if there is a default format for unregistered users (possibly on a per-article basis), as PaleAqua suggests. But if "users without set date preferences would of course just get what's in the template" (just as they do in the present, deprecated, system), then we are in a lot of trouble. If an article contains the text "The meeting was held between {{dte|9 May 2001}} and {{dte|May 13, 2001}}" and we, the editors, see "The meeting was held between 9 May 2001 and 13 May 2001" (or the other way around), then who would fix it? Who would know there was even something that had to be fixed? That's exactly the mess where auto-formatting has left us in the first place. If somehow editors could be prohibited from using the feature, then catering for non-editor reader preference might be nice; but how many non-editors have a date preference set? And there would still be the date-range problem and the possibly needed extra comma after middle-endian dates to be addressed. And we would effectively have four date formats to choose between: now each article must either consistently use "9 May 2001", "May 9, 2001", "{{dte|9 May 2001}}" or "{{dte|May 9, 2001}}", as they would all be incompatible, any mixing leading to inconsistent results for at least some users. -- Jao (talk) 20:24, 15 September 2008 (UTC)

Date format preferences

Thanks for the clarifications here. I wasn't really considering the issue of article default date formats. I'm just making the point that IP users can't expect to have their own overriding date preferences without becoming registered users.

The date template I've suggested would simply resolve the linking context issues around the pre-existing approach to date autoformatting (now apparently deprecated). That pre-existing autoformatting approach was to cater for registered user date preference rather than article default date preferences.

Tony's point that "Editors need to see what their readers see" is at the expense of having user date preferences. It necessitates the removal of a long-established and pre-existing choice.

I would rather suggest that registered users (readers/editors) continue to be allowed this choice.

Perhaps some users would rather see dates in their preferred format. That is, rather than feel they're under any particular obligation to spend their time 'fixing' mixed date instances.

With it working this way, if an editor feels on the other hand that the issue of mixed dates formats is their overriding consideration, then they can choose to specify "No preference" as date format option on their preferences page.

Editors need to understand the implications of having their date preferences set, but they certainly ought not to be "prohibited from using the feature" as Jao suggests.

Another thought that occurs is that a date template may even be unnecessary for fully-formatted dates (ones that include day of month, month and year). It ought to be possible to recognise dates in article text; therefore it ought to be possible to recognise and format 9 May 2001 and May 9, 2001 in accordance with user date preferences (i.e. without the need to wrap either full date format in a template in the article text).

--SallyScot (talk) 13:56, 20 September 2008 (UTC)

Consensus on date formats?

Honestly, I can't see any real consensus coming out of the series of polls, except maybe that all but a few people are getting tired of discussing this. Counting noses is all very well, but given the changes in proposed wordings during the series of polls, no wording has overall approval. More than that, no philosophy has overall approval.

The comments of individual editors in discussion or when casting their !votes are more useful in gauging the mood of the community, and perhaps I can attempt to summarise my perceptions of things we have consensus on.

  • Two date formats are acceptable in written English within Wikipedia:
    • American format (July 4, 1776) and
    • International format (14 February 2008)
      • Some editors objected that this isn't really an official international format, and I'd agree, because ISO 8601 is the official international format, but there are problems in using that format for Julian dates, and it doesn't look comfortable in written text, although it works well for tables and is excellent for sorting. Calling day-month-year British or European format only tells part of the story. The plain fact is that most countries of the world use day-month-year in preference to month-year-day. That's a huge majority in both nations and population. Incidentally, we all have a convenient and useful guide as to which nations use which format in the "control panel" of our computers: it might be called different things in different operating systems, but somewhere there is a way to select which national formats (in date, time, currency, numbers, keyboards etc) you want to use on your computer, and the formats chosen by Mr Gates, Mr Jobs, Mr Linux and so on are all pretty similar per country.
  • For English speaking nations, we use the format in general use in that country
    • Articles with strong ties to the USA should use American format
    • Articles with strong ties to the UK should use International format
      • There were some comments that the US military uses day-month-year and English-language newspapers use month-day-year (even in the UK), but by and large, we know which format is in general use. Canada aside. Those wacky Canadians use both.
  • We don't want to compel or impose one usage over another. We have guidelines, not policies, and local consensus overrides the Manual of Style on this point.
  • We don't want to have overly prescriptive or detailed guidelines.
  • Articles should use the same style consistently.

While not consensus as such, we have the ArbCom desicion on Jguk for high-level guidance. Summed up, this makes changing one existing style to another without good reason, and an example of good reason is given: with respect to English spelling as opposed to American spelling it would be acceptable to change from American spelling to English spelling if the article concerned an English subject.

Where we don't have consensus is in how to treat articles without clear ties to an English-speaking country. These fall into two types:

There are four approaches:

  • Where there is a clear tie to a nation using a date format, use that format. This follows on from the guideline on English-speaking nations and the ArbCom decision on Jguk.
  • Use International format everywhere apart from articles with a clear tie to a nation using American format. This has the advantage of clarity and simplicity, but is bitterly opposed to those who personally prefer American format.
  • Use the date format most closely associated with a national variety of English:
    • The variety used in the country. Fine for the USA and the UK, ambiguous for Canada, anomalous for countries such as Japan or Venezuela.
    • The variety used in the article. Rare for any article to display a consistent style: "or/our" and "ise/ize" word endings can be found sprinkled throughout most non-trivial articles, mostly dependent on which editor wrote which bit.
  • Use the format chosen by the first major contributor. This gives inconsistent results for similar articles, depending on the preference of whichever editor first introduced a date.

With the deprecation of date autoformatting, resulting in editors seeing the same mix of date formats as readers, it would give Wikipedia a more professional and uniform look to have some consistent guideline in place. As it stands, all four of the above approaches have been used, with predictable results for consistency. --Pete (talk) 21:34, 20 September 2008 (UTC)

That's an excellent summary of the situation at this point. Teemu Leisti (talk) 22:30, 20 September 2008 (UTC)
(ec) You seem to be trying to start the same huge discussion process we've just been through all over again. We've established that the present wording of the guideline (which doesn't try to impose consistency, except within any article and among articles relating to a particular English-speaking country - not Canada) is preferred over wordings that would tend to impose one format consistently. (Just as with US/UK spelling.) If you have a wonderful new idea, let's hear it, but I think people are soon going to get very tired of discussing this.--Kotniski (talk) 22:32, 20 September 2008 (UTC)
My point is that there is neither consensus nor overwhelming preference for any of the four approaches listed above. That's where we're at. --Pete (talk) 23:11, 20 September 2008 (UTC)
Thanks Pete for an excellent summary - one which suggests to me that we should just drop the matter. Before I come back to this point let me add two things: first, an official usage does not preclde familiarity. A country can haveone official language where virtually everyone is conversant if not fluent in another language; a country may have an official standard for dates, but what does that mean? That its use is required on all pulbic documents? that it is the prefered style of all citizens of the country? Or that it is the only style anyone ever uses? I do not know the answers to these questions; my point is we should not take any answer for granted. This is relevnt because i would oppose our using any date style that a signifcant number of English-reading people wouldn't understand. This is a different threshold than what the official style of those people's government is. Second, and I bring this up only because i don't thnk anyone else has, but I think the style should be that prefered by most of the editors doing most of the editing on that article - they are doing the work and should use the style they are comfortable with (and they are as good a sample as any of general readers who would be interested in the topic - I am not saying this works perfectly all the time, but in lieu of other data ...). Of course when we have conflict among editors we do need guidelines to help resolve conflicts and I think consistency and priority (which style was used first - or which has been in stable use the longest) are good ones. What if these are not enough? I now have a default response to any situation where conflicts over style seem irresolvable, and it is a question I pose to all people involved in the conflict: why would you rather spend time arguing over this rather than reading recent books published by academic presses, peer-reviewed journal articles, and any other kind of reliable source that would helpo you make a substantive contribution to the encyclopedia? Slrubenstein | Talk 23:24, 20 September 2008 (UTC)
I agree, that’s a good summary, Pete – thanks for adding it. It fairly captures the range of issues and preferences espoused and I think it’s a good place for editors to start with the – unfortunately – next time this debate arises. In fact, it would have been handy for many of the late-arriving participants in this debate. (I hope this gets archived with the final poll for that reason, rather than separately with unrelated material.) One other point that I think should also be captured (although it was not polled over) is that there was considerable support for a coding or template approach that would permit any reader – not just registered editors – to choose to see dates in the format with which they’re most comfortable. This whole debate has inevitably arisen out of the lack of such a means and the inability of editors to implement one on their own initiative; any standardization we can pursue and implement ourselves requires developing a clear consensus among the choices Pete notes above. Askari Mark (Talk) 23:28, 20 September 2008 (UTC).
One place for discussing date templates and such might be WP:WikiProject_Dates. Its currently stated tasks are to (1) "compile a comprehensive list of all articles with dates in them" and (2) "develop a set of criteria for standard date formats for articles". Since (2) was handled in the just-closed discussion, which had no resolution, the project currently seems to have no purpose. Teemu Leisti (talk) 09:19, 21 September 2008 (UTC)

Arbcom jguk ruling

Considering the recent discussion, I think it is pertinent to quote what passes for law around here, which is the ArbCom ruling on jguk:

Style guide

1) Wikipedia has established a Wikipedia:Manual of Style for the "purpose of making things easy to read by following a consistent format," see [8]. The prescriptions of Wikipedia's manual of style are not binding, but it is suggested that with respect to eras that "Both the BCE/CE era names and the BC/AD era names are acceptable, but be consistent within an article." [9].

Passed 6 to 0 at 30 June 2005 15:33 (UTC)

Optional styles

2) When either of two styles are acceptable it is inappropriate for a Wikipedia editor to change from one style to another unless there is some substantial reason for the change. For example, with respect to English spelling as opposed to American spelling it would be acceptable to change from American spelling to English spelling if the article concerned an English subject. Revert warring over optional styles is unacceptable; if the article is colour rather than color, it would be wrong to switch simply to change styles as both are acceptable.

Passed 6 to 0 at 30 June 2005 15:33 (UTC)

Courtesy

3) Courtesy between Wikipedia editors is important, especially with respect to matters which are in dispute.


Passed 6 to 0 at 30 June 2005 15:33 (UTC)

Revert wars considered harmful

4) Revert wars are usually considered harmful, because they cause ill-will between users and negatively destabilize articles. Users are encourage to explore alternate methods of dispute resolution, such as negotiation, surveys, requests for comment, mediation, or arbitration.


Passed 6 to 0 at 30 June 2005 15:33 (UTC)

Sincere disputes are unlikely to be resolved by forcing the issue

5) At times the proper implementation of Wikipedia's NPOV policy will be a matter of dispute between reasonable editors who sincerely wish to uphold the principle. In these cases, no attempts to dictate the proper solution, whether coming from the Arbitration Committee or from a mechanism such as a poll, will be helpful. All that can be done is to insist that the participants in the dispute remain civil and respectful.

Passed 4 to 1 at 30 June 2005 15:33 (UTC)

Clearly the ruling allows format changes to be made for good reason, and a national tie to a topic is a good reason.

Perhaps the final statement is the most telling. We can't expect the ArbCom to rule on a specific date format in an specific article. In fact I'd expect such a request to be tossed out, with the injunction that the involved editors should sort it out themselves and be civil to each other. Likewise a poll won't solve matters, if the dispute is between reasonable editors. --Pete (talk) 23:59, 20 September 2008 (UTC)

We can, however, expect ArbCom to rule on a continual and disruptive practice of Date Warring. I trust there will be no need to bother them about this. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:34, 21 September 2008 (UTC)

Two formats

Looking at this edit by Gerry Ashton, he gives an edit summary of Revert attempt to defeat consensus reached on talk page; assertion is unproven and irrlevant.

No consensus was reached on the talk page, let alone over this point. Nor is the assertion unproven: a glance at Calendar date gives a list of countries where "day before month" is the predominant format. Checking this via a computer control panel gives the same result. The language spoken is irrelevant. --Pete (talk) 00:26, 21 September 2008 (UTC)

I see no comprenensive study of all countries. Even if such existed, it is unclear whether the main consideration is the number of countries, number of languages, or number of people. There is a consensus that date-order in an English language article does not depend on the date-order in a non-English speaking country that is closely related to the article. I see this edit as a way for Pete to incrementally change the guideline towards his preferred position. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 01:16, 21 September 2008 (UTC)
Agreed. I see it the same way. NO changes to the current wording should be made without consensus on THIS talk page. We just went through a very long and pointed discussion and now that the previous poll issue has closed, edit warring ensues. Editors should refrain from further pushing a personal POV on the main space article and discuss such changes here to avoid a repeat of previous edit wars conducted to no ones benefit, especially that of other editors referencing MOSNUM for guidance.--«JavierMC»|Talk 01:49, 21 September 2008 (UTC)
(ec) Please show me the diffs that support your assertion of consensus, Gerry. I see no such consensus - instead I see you and a couple of others expressing your strongly-held personal opinions, for which you are apparently prepared to revert war. The plain fact is that day before month is the preferred order in most countries of the world. For every nation you can name that uses a different format, I'll show you three that use day before month. On the basis of population, let's see:
  • China, year-month-day, 1,326,220,000
  • India, day-month-year, 1,138,270,000
  • USA, month-day-year, 305,210,000
  • Indonesia, day-month-year, 228,322,555
  • Brazil, day-month-year, 187,720,600
  • Pakistan, day-month-year, 164,387,000
  • Bangladesh, day-month-year, 158,665,000
  • Russia, day-month-year, 141,815,000.
That's both a majority in population and a three to one preponderance right there. Numbers from Wikipedia, formats from my Mac control panel. Let's stick with the facts. Please. --Pete (talk) 01:57, 21 September 2008 (UTC)
Relevant facts, though. It looks odd to some (I know not to you) to claim that a format exemplified by "14 February" is predominant in any non-English-speaking country (where the word "February" is not used). We could argue about that, but it's not worth it, because for the purposes of the style guide, what's relevant at the moment is what format is used in what English-speaking countries. So no need to muddy the waters by making claims about other countries, which may well be true in a sense, but have nothing to do with this guidance. Please leave this alone; everyone's tired of this by now.--Kotniski (talk) 07:31, 21 September 2008 (UTC)
We've been through this before. Sure, this is the English-language Wikipedia, but we have articles about places and people with no ties to any English-speaking nation. If the date format used in a place where they don't speak English is day before month, then what on earth is wrong with using that format in written English? Am I missing something here? The only reason I can think of why people would edit-war and abuse other editors for the sake of using one date format over another is that they care very deeply about their own personal preference, and that's not the attitude of a reasonable person. --Pete (talk) 10:11, 21 September 2008 (UTC)
Nothing wrong at all (with using that format...); but equally well nothing wrong with using the format used by the majority(?) of the world's English speakers. Hence the current guideline. I don't honestly care one way or the other (as long as the guidance is clear and rational), but the community has spoken on this; let's accept the decision and move on.--Kotniski (talk) 17:53, 21 September 2008 (UTC)
The fact remains, Pete, that no consensus has been reached to change the current wording on the main space article concerning dating format and any such change is an invitation to engage in edit warring. The only clear outcome of the discussion over the past two weeks or more was the exclusion of the wording pertaining to countries formats with no ties to English-speaking countries. Again I reiterate, do not make changes to the mains space article concerning date format without gaining consensus on this talk page. It is an open invitation for edit warring.--«JavierMC»|Talk 02:12, 21 September 2008 (UTC)
Surely we had the perfect solution with smart links which autoformat dates to the user's preference, and what we should do is stop/revert all the bots which are stripping links from dates. dramatic (talk) 02:41, 21 September 2008 (UTC)
dramatic, apparently you missed the part about autoformatting not working for those who have not registered, which accounts for the vast majority of readers. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 03:09, 21 September 2008 (UTC)

Gentlepedians, you are making a mountain out of a molehill. In truth, most countries do use the European style, and the point you’re editwarring over is pretty trivial. The simple fact is, the American format is (to be precise): “predominant in the US, and widely used in Canada and a few other countries”. If you’re going to point out that the former style is “common in most countries”, then it’s probably obligatory to note at the least the major exceptions, if not the full specific list (which I do not advocate). None of this is contrary to the consensus.

As for reverting back to the “original” version, I’ll point out that there’s an open question as to which that is, since edits to the section have continued unabated throughout most of the debate. In fact, what Gerry is reverting to is simply the first revision of the day (20 Sep.) by PMAnderson. His edit replaced a series of changes by Ckatz, JimWae and, lastly, DI2000 the previous day.

So instead of edit warring over “protecting” some “official” version, may I suggest that you come to an agreement here on just how many other countries besides the U.S. should be mentioned and then make the change to the MOSDATE text. As long as it doesn't contravene the sense of the consensus, no harm is probably done by such minor changes. Askari Mark (Talk) 03:28, 21 September 2008 (UTC)

Delinking dates

What is the policy on delinking dates that are linked for purely autoformatting reasons? When I first saw that date autoformatting was deprecated, I sighed (I like date autoformatting, though I understand the reasons for ditching it) and went about delinking when I came across it. Then I saw a side discussion on this page where a few people said we should hold off until some other issue (presumably what format to use) was handled. I decided to just heed that advice, but now I am not sure what to do. Should I be delinking and putting those dates in the appropriate ENGVAR format or not? -Rrius (talk) 23:55, 21 September 2008 (UTC)

I don't know what others are doing. When I come across an artcle with inconsistent dates within the reference section, or within the rest of the article, I change them all to the most appropriate format, and unlink dates while I'm at it. I don't try to enforce consistency between the reference section and the rest of the article. I also remove date linking if any date in the article is before the year 1583. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 23:59, 21 September 2008 (UTC)
I tend to regard that sort of thing as part of the long queue of fixes that WP needs, less urgent than many I have not yet done. If I saw a particularly egregious case, I would leave a note on the talkpage, commenting that linking for autoformatting was no longer done and linking to WP:Autoformatting to explain why. If I were editing a passage and it had date links, I might well remove them unless they seemed valuable as links, especially if the links were grammatical in one format and not in the other; I am less worried about 1582 - anyone who autoformats into ISO accepts its problems. Doubtless you will find an approach somewhere between these positions. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 01:39, 22 September 2008 (UTC)
Gerry, yes, exactly. Rruis, you can also ask for a human-assisted script to be run through an article or a set of articles. This saves the manual labour of updating the formatting, and regularises all date formats. Tony (talk) 02:39, 22 September 2008 (UTC)

Need an opinion

Hope this is the right place ;) What is the best way to word the following: "On March 26–28, 1958, the NCLC held the first of many workshops..." Should it say "on" or "from" at the beginning, and should the dates say:

  • March 26–28, 1958
  • March 26 to 28, 1958
  • March 26 to March 28, 1958
  • Some other variation

Opinions? Kaldari (talk) 06:27, 21 September 2008 (UTC)

NYTM and AP Stylebook are silent; TCMOS says (6.83) "For the sake of parallel construction the word to, never the en dash, should be used if the word from precedes the first element; similarly, and, never the en dash, should be used if between precedes the first element." In American English, use: March 26–28, 1958; or "from March 26 to March 28"; or "between March 26 and March 28". - Dan Dank55 (send/receive) 00:20, 22 September 2008 (UTC)
Thanks! Kaldari (talk) 19:51, 22 September 2008 (UTC)
You bet. Note that I'm not suggesting we add this to the style guidelines. There's some kind of fuzzy line where people think we're trying to teach them how to write, and my instinct is that this crosses that line. But if you're asking my opinion, I think it's important to make it easier for material to enter and leave Wikipedia, and if we go by the style guidelines that other people use, that makes it easier. - Dan Dank55 (send/receive) 19:55, 22 September 2008 (UTC)

I might "during March 26–28" but NOT "from March 26–28", since "from" goes with "to" (and similarly "between" goes with "and" in cases like this). Michael Hardy (talk) 20:02, 22 September 2008 (UTC)

Third party opinions needed please: nautical terms

Moved from Lightmouse talk page: begin

Stop Please stop removing instances of template {{convert}} dealing with ship speeds from infoboxes in ship articles as you did recently here. I have asked you previously to stop (here) but you have continued. Please stop using whatever assistive tools you are using to prevent your further removal of speed conversions unless and until they can be altered to avoid such removals in the future. — Bellhalla (talk) 13:18, 21 September 2008 (UTC)

I don't understand. What is your objection? Lightmouse (talk) 15:06, 21 September 2008 (UTC)
My objection is that you, through either your Lightmouse account or your Lightbot account, are … wait for it … removing instances of template {{convert}} dealing with ship speeds from infoboxes in ship articles as stated immediately above your post. If you need further clarification of what that sentence means, please see the first example in this post from further up your talk page under the heading Removal of {{convert}}. I believe that my objection is quite explicitly listed in the title of this section, in my comment immediately under that heading and above your comment, and in my earlier post on your talk page. If you are genuinely having trouble understanding the objection, please try to have someone else explain it to you, because I don't think I can make my objection any clearer. — Bellhalla (talk) 03:54, 22 September 2008 (UTC)

I understand that you object to the abbreviation 'kn'. I also understand that you don't like it being used even though it is part of the template code invisible to readers. Although I disagree with you, I have tried to work with you by using the full form. I had hoped that you would be happy with that. I don't understand why you object to the full form 'knot' or 'knots'. I think we should take this off my talk page and onto a different page such as wp:mosnum. As you suggest, third party involvement would be a good idea. Lightmouse (talk) 18:27, 22 September 2008 (UTC)

Moved from Lightmouse talk page: end

User:Bellhalla is unhappy with some of my edits. I will not add any more comments but he/she did suggest that I ask somebody else to explain the objection. I agree that it would be a good idea to seek third party input. I am reluctant to add further comment because I don't fully understand the problem. So it might need a little digging around to find out what he/she said and what I said. If anyone else is willing to take a look at this, I would be grateful. Thanks. Lightmouse (talk) 18:33, 22 September 2008 (UTC)

The only thing I can really see is, that by removing the {{convert}} template, it delinks knots and km/h to plain text, not wiki-linked. If for some reason the speed at which the vessel is rated were to change, the {{convert}} template would have to be used again to convert , and then once again removed by the bot, if this is even a considration. Perhaps the objection is the delinking, and not the removal of the template, or it's the thought that if speed ratings change often, then it is an unnecessary burden to have to continually insert the template to perform the conversion. Is it either of these that is the objection?--«JavierMC»|Talk 03:09, 23 September 2008 (UTC)
I beg to differ that this does not belong on User:Lightmouse's talk page. This issue has nothing to do with MOS:NUM. It has to do with Lightmouse—acting through his own account or through User:Lightbot, his bot proxy—ignoring the widely accepted practice in ship infoboxes of using {{convert}} for for ship speeds. There is no consensus for removing {{convert}} from shipboxes. I asked him to stop and provided diffs as to what I am talking about. He continued performing the same action so I posted the above comments on his talk page in a new section. After his vaguely worded comment about thinking about moving someplace (no definitive word that this had been posted here, whatsoever; I found this by accident), I posted another explanation, again with a diff of what I am talking about. I will repeat: there is no MOS issue here. It is about a user that continues to make edits counter to consensus. I will await his answer on his talk page, the appropriate venue. — Bellhalla (talk) 04:22, 23 September 2008 (UTC)
Bellhalla, thanks for raising this issue. I don't mind that it's spilt onto this page, although I do wonder about the extent to which contributors here are interested in engaging with this matter—as you say, it "has nothing to do with MOSNUM". Javier has succinctly raised the concrete points that should be answered before proceeding: can you respond to them? I'd like to be convinced that your complaint isn't a personal one against Lightmouse himself, which you almost, but not quite, seem to be saying above. Lightmouse has a history of improving WP's formatting, appearance and readability, with ingenuity, diligence and sensitivity, and by readily engaging with those who provide critical feedback. I'm unsure why every detail of such improvements needs some gold-plated endorsement by "consensus" (which strictly speaking can always be questioned by naysayers). This is particularly the case when you admit that your stance is driven by a conservative frame that constructs long-standing phenomena as "widely accepted"; poor English is a long-standing phenomenon on WP, but that doesn't mean we should accept it, or be bullied into giving up our push to improve it. I'm posting this at LM's page as well. Tony (talk) 05:13, 23 September 2008 (UTC)
I'm quite sure that LM's intentions are good, but the use of tl:convert or some like construct for this purpose should not be replaced by plain text. The template ensures that the two numbers presented are consistent. It's a basic premise of configuration management: you avoid redundancies in specifications in order to preclude the possibility of inconsistencies when one of the redundant numbers changes. Using "{{convert|10|knots}}" to get "10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph)" avoids the possibility of undetected vandalism leaving us with "10 knots (17km/h/26 mph)" or whatever.LeadSongDog (talk) 07:05, 23 September 2008 (UTC)

Year articles and wikilinks to year articles

Can we try and discuss the basic question of year articles and wikilinks to year articles without mentioning autoformatting? The recent changes (by User:Lightbot among others) seem to be removing links to year articles that were never part of any date, autoformatted or not. So what reason would there be to remove all links to year articles? There are surely some cases where year articles should be linked, otherwise there is no reason for them to exist. Or should year articles only be linked from calendars and categories-set-up-as-calendars? My view is that some year links are a useful placeholder to allow "what links here" for a particular year to be used to locate notable events for that year, and hence build the year articles. Carcharoth (talk) 00:14, 23 September 2008 (UTC)

There is some discussion above at #Dates are not linked unless.... Tony is at least close to the position that no year links are useful to the reader; I see at least three cases where they are (or should be). Septentrionalis PMAnderson 02:09, 23 September 2008 (UTC)
There may be rare exceptions, but I put it to you: if 1776 contains important contextual information, isn't it better to link specifically to it or to include it in the topic? And I'd prefer a month-year link, if possible, according to WP:CONTEXT, which asks for as specific as possible a link. Tony (talk) 03:04, 23 September 2008 (UTC)
I regard Tony's approach as very narrow and limited. I would like to see our year articles gradually built up so that they can be used to provide a general historical context. This would include much information about which a specific date may not be available or relevant. What countries were dominant in Europe? What was the general situation in East Asia? What technological advances were made in or about that year? I would prefer to make year links more valuable rather than to remove them wholesale. This will not be a rapid process, but it is an area where Wikipedia can be greatly improved. Robert A.West (Talk) 03:09, 23 September 2008 (UTC)

For discussion, I present my three cases again; the second is not doable by a month year link, and cases like the first may not be (the month may not be known):

  • For a real example, the quote from Henry Laurens: "presiding officer of that congress from June until March of 1776." It would be off topic to include the political history of South Carolina at this point; but as with WWII, some readers will benefit from checking what was going on. They will find that SC had not yet declared independence, but had made demands to which even the local Loyalists were willing to subscribe; and that the British were about to evacuate Boston.
  • For a hypothetical example, consider: "In the century and a half from 1620 to 1776, New England [complex statistical claim]". Most readers will understand what the dates are, and why they are being used; some readers will find the links valuable. It may be possible to recast the sentence, but just substituting the settlement of Plymouth and American Revolution may make an already complex sentence unbearable. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:31, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
  • As another actual example, I have just come across an offhand reference to an increase of royal control in New England in 1682. One way to find more about this would be to go to 1682 and either find it (which did not happen) or search the What links here for the page; but the second will only work if years are actually linked. (Searching on "New England" and 1682 turns up mostly survey articles broad enough to include both New England and the founding of Pennsylvania.) Septentrionalis PMAnderson 03:20, 23 September 2008 (UTC)
    • but there are 1000s of articles that link to 1582. It does no service to the reader to expect them to find relevant articles by following thewhat links here links. Far better to include some relevant links in the text, OR in the See also section, no? Other possibilities: create a section within the article that presents the relevant concurrent events - or even a separate article. Piped links such as [[United States presidential election, 1860|1860]] work well too, povided they are not "Easter eggs" --JimWae (talk) 07:37, 23 September 2008 (UTC)
      • There are 1000s of articles that link to 1582 because 1000s of things happened in 1582. That "what links here" list might be long, but it is a veritable goldmine of data for those wanting to improve the article on 1582, or even read more than what 1582 tells us. You could search within Wikipedia for the text of 1582, but in theory, if used properly, the "what links here" list will provide a suitable filtered search function. Seriously, I actually use "what links here". I suspect many people either don't use it, or give up too easily when faced with a huge list of links. Carcharoth (talk) 07:54, 23 September 2008 (UTC)

OK, but there are nearly 3000 that link to 1776 (and nearly 1000 to 1682 [which is what I meant to type]). None of those amounts is useful to the "general reader" - if some links are truly relevant, some other method needs to be used --JimWae (talk) 09:10, 23 September 2008 (UTC)

Editors as well as general readers use "what links here". I wonder if there is a way to have "editorial" links, as opposed to "reader" links? That could be useful, but might get messy. Would probably end up as a "primary" and "secondary" links system, with the secondary links turned on or off in preferences, with the default being off. Carcharoth (talk) 04:16, 24 September 2008 (UTC)
  • that was my thought too. However, there does not seem to be much success in getting developers to work on what editors want to see. There even seems to be resistance. The only obvious exception has been date auto-formatting, which would not even be that difficult to fix up to meet current objections--JimWae (talk) 04:31, 24 September 2008 (UTC)
  • but taking 1582 above as an example, probably 95% of the good links are in the Categories group, no? --JimWae (talk) 04:37, 24 September 2008 (UTC)
  • I agree. But I wouldn't want to see a bot remove year links without checking to see if the link needed to be converted to a category. That's probably not possible though. Also, categories can be a bit unstable. If at some future point, it goes out of control, the whole category structure for years could get decimated. Carcharoth (talk) 04:50, 24 September 2008 (UTC)

Response from Tony1: "I regard Tony's approach as very narrow and limited."—Well, year pages are very narrow and limited, as you appear to admit. If 2000-plus year articles are still ragtag slender lists of unconnected factoids after all of this time, I'm unconvinced that magically they'll be transformed any time soon. The task of bringing year-pages up to standard would be monumental.

If you want my opinion, before a certain century (possibly the 15th, but I'm unsure), the information becomes so threadbare that it would be better to conflate year pages into decade pages. 1345 demonstrates this: per se, it's a relatively good attempt, but robs the surrounding years of much content. Better that such articles deal with broader historical descriptions over ten-year periods. In more recent centuries, year pages are more appropriate: not only has there been a faster level of activity and change in human societies, but more information is available, because the sources are both more recent and more variegated.

But none of this overcomes the specificity–generality quandary in linking years as a standard formula: either the year page buries the information that is relevant to an article from which it is linked (when properly developed and dealing as it should with a whole-world context); or it contains no information of relevance (when, as usual, the year article is woefully underdeveloped).

Please convince me that this view is wrong, or at least challenge my arguments, because thus far no one has come up with the answer. If the orphaning of year pages is of concern, it should not be: year-in-X pages are the obvious gateway to solitary year pages, and year-in-X pages, provided they are not arrived at through unthinking, formulaic "hidden" links in articles, should be regarded as part of the same chronological infrastructure in WP. At present, they are not, which is a great pity (WikiProjects please note). Tony (talk) 09:52, 23 September 2008 (UTC)

If you wish to propose that all pre-1500 years should be deleted then you should propose that. While these years exist then it is logical that links to them are permitted. It is true the dark age era has very threadbare year articles but that is a reflection of the Western bias of Wikipedia. Chinese record keeping did not get worse during that period. Hence, it can be expected that these years will fill out over time. It is not at all the same situation as before 500 BCE when the records that survive are so sparse that there is never expected to be an adequate page. Links to years are important gateways for users and need to be encouraged.Dejvid (talk) 11:28, 23 September 2008 (UTC)
For me pages like 1344,even tho a little short, are useful. If I'm reading about Edward's coinage I can switch to the year and see that at that moment there was famine in China and that in Mexico a major city was being founded. True, the influence between those societies was so weak that they might as well have been on different planets. But they were on the same planet and I find it useful to keep a tab on how these societies were developing over time because they are going to come into contact later on. I can't convince you that these links are useful because you don't look at history in the way I do. Just because something isn't helpful for you don't assume that it is not useful for others.Dejvid (talk) 11:47, 23 September 2008 (UTC)
I rest my case. Tony (talk) 12:46, 23 September 2008 (UTC)
I asked you why don't you propose the deletion of pre 1500 years seeing as that is what want. Trying to produce the same effect with a bot, by making them all orphans, is a little unhelpful. It would be nice if you could answer my question.Dejvid (talk)
  • I think the current position (that year links shouldn't exist without a particular reason) is fine. The same rule should apply to every link; why create links that have no reason to exist? I have no faith that a bot can analyze the context of a link well enough to decide if it should be removed or not. Christopher Parham (talk) 23:41, 23 September 2008 (UTC)
    • To be fair, the current situation probably does require bots to shepherd people in the right direction (people edit by example, not by reading the MoS). What we need to avoid, though, is bot-tyranny. Even if the protests are loud and vociferous, and people are frustrated that protests are slowing progress, the protests still need to be heard and answered. If it takes a year instead of a month, that is not too bad in the overall scheme of things. Carcharoth (talk) 04:19, 24 September 2008 (UTC)
      • A bot which added an "is this link necessary?" notice to talkpages, quoting MOS and prehaps linking to a discussion, would be very useful. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 04:31, 24 September 2008 (UTC)
        • No, it wouldn't. I would have to argue that yes, it is, every time I encountered it. Corvus cornixtalk 02:15, 25 September 2008 (UTC)
            • If nobody agreed with it, you could let the comment rest in silence, like all too many other comments from editors with the intelligence of bots. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:32, 25 September 2008 (UTC)

Strike out "Dates are not linked unless there is a particular reason to do so".

I accept there are reasons for this but they are not so compelling that they are worth all the hastle when it is possible for someone to misinterpret it as a reason for mass delinking of years. Most important, this MOS is over long and needs reducing.Dejvid (talk) 11:53, 23 September 2008 (UTC)

Um .... nooooo. 12:47, 23 September 2008 (UTC)
Dejvid, I disagree with you; I think the "dates are not linked" stipulation needs to stay. It's a pretty fundamental, basic formatting convention for Wikipedia. If you have substantial reasons why it should be changed, please state them, but so far your argument is just "I don't like it", which doesn't constitute a valid reason for removal. —Scheinwerfermann (talk) 13:18, 23 September 2008 (UTC)
It is not "I don't like it" it is that the MOS is overlong. An overlong MOS is one that most users will find esoteric and that risks causing conflict. Given the whole argument over Lightbot, this clause is clearly causing conflict. It is difficult for me to prove that this not as you claim "fundamental". All the reasons advanced in favor of this clause seem at best minor. If think that there are reasons why we would be worse off if we were just silent on the matter please give those reasons and explain why the gain is more than trivial.Dejvid (talk) 13:47, 23 September 2008 (UTC)
I've taken this up at Dejvid's talk page. Tony (talk) 14:40, 23 September 2008 (UTC)

Dejvid, you may find the MoS overly long, but that doesn't necessarily make it so. This what you've written is a perfect example of "I don't like it" argumentation. —Scheinwerfermann (talk) 15:10, 23 September 2008 (UTC)

Without a doubt, it's being misinterpreted to support actions being taken against policy. That fact needs to be added to the MOS now. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 15:16, 23 September 2008 (UTC)
I oppose. I'm more or less totally opposed to linking to any year article. The previous need for and history of wikilinking has bred a psychological reflex to link any 'bare' years they see in articles, so I see the phrase is absolutely necessary to kill that reflex. I am not sure deleting that one phrase is going to make much odds to the length of the article, but I wouldn't want it to be some excuse to further any hidden agenda. Ohconfucius (talk) 15:42, 23 September 2008 (UTC)
Why is it "absolutely necessary" to prevent linking of years? At least some links of that type improve Wikipedia. The vast majority of the rest do not make Wikipedia one iota worse. The rare case of true overlinking can be dealt with otherwise, and may not involve years at all. What is the imperative here? Robert A.West (Talk) 22:48, 23 September 2008 (UTC)
I agree, there is clearly no consensus for this statement, and it is being abused by people claiming it as justification for mass deletion of ALL year links with bots (which it does not in any way justify). Secondly, the justification for this 'rule' is weak and highly contestible. Sure, there is a case for getting rid of repetitive links, but who are we to say what the reader may or may not read, they are perfectly capable of making up their own minds. Get rid of it I say. G-Man ? 23:09, 23 September 2008 (UTC)

Scheinwerfermann, I said three things. First of all this clause has a cost. It is creating arguments and I'm not alone in saying that it is being abused. That's real. I then said I didn't think it was worth the cost. Fine, just because I don't think it is worth the cost, doesn't mean that there isn't a good reason. You may have a killer reason of which I'm unaware. I'm not a mind reader. I have asked to tell me what reason you have in mind that is so overwhelming to be worth the problems it is causing. Until you give me a reason what can I do but assume that you have no good reason. Finally I made a general point about the MOS being too big. If you are going have a set of rules they work best when they are few. As you increase them a law of diminishing returns sets in. Beyond a certain threshold each new rule becomes counter productive. Eventually most users will become alienated from the rules, they will no longer participate in the consensus needed to give them legitimacy and will ignore them. I may be wrong about my opinion that the MOS has exceeded that threshold but lets test it by finding a way of seeking the opinion of editors who do not normally come near the MOS. So please stop just labelling what I'm saying as "I don't like it" argumentation as an excuse to ignore my arguments.Dejvid (talk) 23:38, 23 September 2008 (UTC)

You're still not presenting any cogent, thoughtful reason to withdraw the stipulation that dates not be linked. I was being diplomatic characterising your argument as WP:UGH, for I wanted to avoid pointing out that your argument is specious. "There are too many rules, so let's remove this one" is a nonsequitur at best; your suggestion to remove this particular rule is not supported by your opinion that there are too many rules. If you feel the no-date-links rule per se is disadvantageous, please state your reasons. Perhaps they're meritorious. In the meantime, sorry, but I'm not interested in a pointless squabble with you, nor will I do your homework or prove your case; you're the one who wants to make a change, so it's up to you to provide substantive, thoughtful support for your idea. The mere fact that you make a proposal does not create an obligation for anyone else; that's not how it works here. —Scheinwerfermann (talk) 01:27, 24 September 2008 (UTC)
There was never consensus for removing date links. There is now a limited consensus that day-of-year links should be unlinked, but not for isolated year links.
Due to the fact that people are misusing the term "depreciated":
  1. The only part on which consensus had been reached is that full date links are depreciated, meaning is that including date links had been a guideline, and is no longer.
  2. There is now apparently a majority position from RfC/Tony1 that full date links should be unlinked, although I wouldn't describe it has consensus.
  3. The MOS statement is that date links should be included only if there is a good reason.
  4. Mr LinkBot is interpreting that as date and year links should be deleted unless there is an exceptional reason, and he's not going to bother to check.

Arthur Rubin (talk) 01:47, 24 September 2008 (UTC)

I suggest that Rubin, Dejvid et al. calm down and take a few days to think through their "I don't like it" outrage and what is, to say the least, their eccentric take on consensus. This is an old debate that has been thoroughly aired upteem times and resolved by the community. I'm sorry if it's not to your liking, but almost all WPians realise that in their evolving wiki this is a significant change for the better. Rather than trying to railroad it by sudden brute force, please engage with substantive issues. Tony (talk) 02:14, 24 September 2008 (UTC)
There's been consensus for about a month that date links should not be added without good reason, and there is now at least a supermajority that full date links should be removed if there isn't a good reason, but there is not and never has been consensus that year links should be removed from articles unless there was good reason for them to have been added. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 02:30, 24 September 2008 (UTC)

Maybe I'm not parsing Rubin's sentence correctly, but there has been even longer standing consensus that solo years are not linked. That's a very old given. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 03:17, 24 September 2008 (UTC)

Yes, it looks like he meant unless there was no good reason. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 03:23, 24 September 2008 (UTC)
But as for Sandy's assertion: Where is this consensus? (I could believe in consensus against every year should be linked; but that's not the same thing. There are many steps between all and none.) That is not what the present statement actually says; what is the discusussion that decided thus? What is the present supermajority that supports it? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 03:21, 24 September 2008 (UTC)
It seems to me that some of the more strident proponents of change without consensus don't appear to be taking an appropriately broad, coöperative, or self-considerate view of the matter. Arthur Rubin is talking about "depreciation" when in fact deprecation is the term he's trying for — this undermines, to some extent, his comments regarding the manual of how things ought to be written. A cursory glance at Dejvid's comments here and on his talk page, meanwhile, shows that he may not have the most advanced grasp of written English in general. That does not make either editor unworthy or unwelcome or anything of the sort, but it does cast some light particularly on Dejvid's belief that the MoS is too long and too complex. Perhaps he finds it challenging, but it seems to have done an effective job so far as the grammatical, syntactic, and stylistic basis for an excellent and steadily-improving encyclopædia.
Arthur Rubin, you write (inter alia) There's consensus that date links should not be added without good reason [...] but there is not consensus that year links should be removed from articles unless there was good reason for them to have been added. It seems to me you are suggesting that if a date or year link happens to have been added without cause in spite of the consensus against it, then there's nothing to be done about it because there's no consensus for removing such links. Do I understand your position correctly? I hope not. Please clarify, keeping SandyGeorgia's accurate comment in mind.
  • Such heavy weather for a typo; deprecated is indeed being used for "had been a guideline, and is no longer." May your fingers never slip; I don't suppose the proverb about Steinwerfer and glass houses conveys much. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 03:40, 24 September 2008 (UTC)
  • As for Sandy's assertion, where's the evidence? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 03:40, 24 September 2008 (UTC)
I would remind Dejvid that the MoS is voluminous because of the many different situations it must address. Fortunately, its volume is not problematic, because only a small subset of the manual applies to whatever specific situation an editor might find himself in. It's sort of like a telephone directory, which consists of thousands of pages of very small type. Very daunting, except when you remember that you don't have to read the whole thing. All you have to do is look up the number of the person you want to call, and because the directory is organised logically, that's easy to do. It's sort of like driving: there are a lot of rules and regulations because there are a lot of different driving situations, but we only ever find ourselves in one driving situation at a time, and for any given driving situation, we need only mind a small subset of the rules: at high noon on a bright, sunny, hot day on a 2-lane urban road, you don't need to know what the law says about when to turn on your wipers or lights. You don't need to know anything about snow tires, or anything about driving on an 8-lane freeway. All you need to know (and mind) is what laws apply to driving in clear conditions in the city. It's even easier here on Wikipedia, where the answer to "What should I do now?" is always just a couple of mouseclicks away, so there's really no reason to get agitated over the length or volume of the MoS. Tony1's comments on Dejvid's talk page (linked above) are well aligned towards a productive way of improving the MoS. —Scheinwerfermann (talk) 03:25, 24 September 2008 (UTC)
  • MoS is not a highway code; Wikipedia is not a legal system. If it were, it would be in sorry need of codification; MOS especially has a dusty smell of Jarndyces about it. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 03:40, 24 September 2008 (UTC)
Yes, yes, I didn't say MoS is a highway code or a legal system, I merely made an analogy. Relax! —Scheinwerfermann (talk) 03:47, 24 September 2008 (UTC)
Oh, I'm relaxed; almost to the point of rolling on the floor. The analogy breaks down precisely on the point of WP:NOTLAW; we don't need to regulate everything; we can't, and we assuredly are not competent to do so. We don't need to invent or regulate the English language; it already exists.
What the bulk of MOS (with its innumerable subpages) does do is to make it unreadable and nearly useless; a tangled wood of arbitrary prescriptions, each buried by its own squirrel, who digs it out not to eat, but to brandish at other editors: "see, see, you have to do it my way; Holy MOS says so." Septentrionalis PMAnderson 04:07, 24 September 2008 (UTC)
Once again people are getting hot and bothered about the issues. Can I bring people's attention back to the sentence, "Dates are not linked unless there is a particular reason to do so"? I came to it myself because I was trying to bring an article up to GA and I wanted to know what the current position on date-linking was; the sentence left me more confused than before! Let's break it down:
  • "Dates": this is ambiguous for a start! I would take the word on its own to mean "January 1, 2001", but the discussion continually veers off into year dates. If day-month-year dates and year dates are separate issues - and they clearly are - there should be at least two sentences, each specifying the precise date type referred to.
  • "are not linked": this is patently untrue. Dates are linked, de-linked, re-linked and become the subject of edit-wars. It's probably safe to say there is a consensus that dates are linked but not just for the sake of it; that's not the same thing at all.
  • "unless there is a particular reason to do so": this phrase (clause?) is meaningless, since nobody is willing to even hazard a guess what constitutes a "particular reason", and there is a sizeable body of people who assert that there is no good reason for linking.
Pending a consensus on the issue (currently expected September 2018) the statement should reflect the status quo, something like "Dates are linked to provide context to the article, never just because they are there."
The sentence as it stands, in a "Manual of Style", is the exact equivalent of a sentence in a camera manual that says, "For the taking of better pictures press the button 1." Scolaire (talk) 08:09, 24 September 2008 (UTC)
It's nice to know that people are carefully reading what I wrote, looking for typos (yes, that was supposed to be "not"). It would be nice if they looking similarly at the guideline discussion, and not read "depreciate" (loosely, 1) as "deprecate" (2). — Arthur Rubin (talk) 13:44, 24 September 2008 (UTC)
Sorry? Is that a reply to me, or the continuation of a train of thought from somewhere up ↑there? Like, what was supposed to be "not"? Scolaire (talk) 15:13, 24 September 2008 (UTC)
The most recent edit: "Dates (years, months, day and month, full dates) should not be linked, unless there is a particular reason to do so", is more, not less ambiguous. The likely "particular reasons" for, say, day-and-month and full dates are not going to be the same, as I said above. Again, can somebody not dream up a teenie-weenie example of a "particular reason" to add to the sentence? Scolaire (talk) 07:59, 25 September 2008 (UTC)

Dates are linked

To put the argument in a nutshell: dates are linked. Unless and until there is a resolution on the general linking issue, as opposed to the autoformatting issue, the status quo is that dates are linked. Therefore any sentence that begins "Dates are not linked..." is untrue! What follows those words is immaterial. Any statement beginning "dates are linked only...", "dates are linked when...", "dates are linked but..." etc. is acceptable, but "dates are not linked..." is not. It looks like an attempt to pre-empt an ongoing discussion. I'm not saying that that was the intention of the person who put it there, but now that it is disputed that construction could be put on the attempts to keep it as it is. Scolaire (talk) 10:08, 25 September 2008 (UTC)

It's nothing new; it's very long-standing advice (except that it was recently extended - after long and extensive dicussion - to include the links that were previously encouraged on the grounds of autoformatting magic). It now says "dates should not be linked..." to make its prescriptive nature clear. To dispute it is to say that dates should be linked for no reason except that they are dates - I see no-one seriously arguing that. What we are trying to do is to define what is meant by "particular reasons". Let's all participate in good faith in that discussion and not keep reinserting tags that imply that a very well-established style guideline is not to be taken seriously.--Kotniski (talk) 10:15, 25 September 2008 (UTC)
Again, I am disputing the sentence - in good faith - and I am not saying "that dates should be linked for no reason except that they are dates". The purpose of the tag was simply to inform users that the thing was under discussion - again good faith. I have replaced the sentence with one which IMO says the same thing, but in a positive and meaningful way. Let's discuss that now and see if we can get a MOS that actually tells it like it is. Scolaire (talk) 10:26, 25 September 2008 (UTC)
In answer to the repeated justification (in edit summaries) that this is a consensus statement, here are ten posts in the last week [10], [11], [12], [13], [14], [15], [16], [17], [18], [19] (not including my own) disagreeing either with the sentence or with the views expressed in it. Whatever consensus there may have been is now gone. Scolaire (talk) 14:27, 25 September 2008 (UTC)
In answer to the somewhat disturbing edit summary, "We are giving instructions here; the sentence should clearly tell people not to link." (1) When was WP:NOTBUREAUCRACY revoked? (2) How is "dates should not be linked, unless..." clearly telling people not to link, and "but the great majority of dates should not be linked" not? Scolaire (talk) 14:37, 25 September 2008 (UTC)
And in answer to the edit summary, "Scolaire, just blurting out that "dates are linked" at talk will convince no one. Please don't be disruptive", that is not acceptable language at all! Anybody who wants to defend the wording of a sentence should have the curtesy to discuss it in an NPA way on the talk page. I am up to three reverts now so I am withdrawing from the discussion altogether, but I think the unthinking unlinkers have behaved very poorly today. Scolaire (talk) 14:48, 25 September 2008 (UTC)
As I responded to Scolaire on my talk page, I'm sorry that s/he has taken my strong wording this way: perhaps it was too strong, for which I apologise if I'm "unthinking" and "have behaved very poorly today". I'd rather engage with Scolaire and convince him at least to watch the implementation of the new consensus than see him/her walk out. Feedback is valuable, even when negative. Tony (talk) 15:08, 25 September 2008 (UTC)
The sentence I was proposing was: "Dates are linked when the link is useful for providing a context to the sentence in the artice, but the great majority of dates should not be linked." I myself think that it is a positive, not a negative, statement of the case. I'd like to know why people think it's a bad substitute for the sentence that's under discussion. Scolaire (talk) 15:34, 25 September 2008 (UTC)
Another note on "consensus": I thought if I found exactly when this sentence was added, it might shed some light on how the consensus was arrived at. I found it here. Seriously, guys, does that edit summary indicate a long-standing consensus for this sentence? Scolaire (talk) 19:52, 25 September 2008 (UTC)

Concealed links and autoformatting

There is widespread confusion about concealed links. People seem absolutely determined to use concealed links even where they break autoformatting. I think that either the language in the MOS needs to be shorter and stronger, or people need more education. I fix many of these errors yet people are prepared to revert over it.

For just one example, see the history of Ballinglass Incident. What can be done? Lightmouse (talk) 09:19, 25 September 2008 (UTC)

That's an interesting example, I've not come across many like that. The hidden links are by and large useless here as it is not obvious that they point to other articles. The use in the date range is odd, as it misses out links to 1847 and 1848. I would unlink all the dates - the link to The Great Hunger should provide enough background context, but in case it doesn't, I would further suggest a "See also" of 1846 in Ireland, which makes it clear there is background material there.–MDCollins (talk) 09:44, 25 September 2008 (UTC)
The article probably has too many of the "xxxx in Ireland" dates, but that does not make them all bad. Their destination is readily available as a tooltip with no clicking required.
As for autoformatting, that is only an issue if the month day are linked (which they should not be under the new guidelines). —MJBurrage(TC) 16:21, 25 September 2008 (UTC)
New guidelines? Please, please can you point me to the new guidelines (not the AF ones)? Scolaire (talk) 16:58, 25 September 2008 (UTC)
This page (Wikipedia:Manual of Style (dates and numbers)#Dates) 5th bullet "Dates (years, months, day and month, full dates) should not be linked, unless there is a particular reason to do so."
MJBurrage(TC) 18:56, 25 September 2008 (UTC)
LOL. I meant, who formulated this famous guideline, when, and where? Scolaire (talk) 19:33, 25 September 2008 (UTC)
Sorry about that, if I understand your question, the answer was added as a footnote and is found at (Archive D6#Again calling for date linking to be deprecated) —MJBurrage(TC) 01:00, 26 September 2008 (UTC)
Thanks, MJ, that does help. Scolaire (talk) 05:50, 26 September 2008 (UTC)

Dates are not linked unless...

The last bullet under the Dates section could use some clarification. It currently states "Dates are not linked unless there is a particular reason to do so". What is considered a good "particular reason"? Notable historic events – surely. Birth/death of a notable person – maybe. What else? Should linked dates only include those events back referenced from the date pages?

Also, I noticed that there is a movement by some editors to remove existing date links. For example, this edit to the Usain Bolt article removed a link from the subject's birth date, even though the subject is listed on the date pages. Is it the intent of this policy to remove such links?

I'm sure if I dig through the discussion archives I'll find some answers, but my point is that the specific guidelines should be on the MOS page. Thank you. -- Tcncv (talk) 01:29, 16 September 2008 (UTC)

  • That's an interesting point. I'd have thought a linked article would be worthy of such because it contained extra information or context about the subject, not a mere mention. If this reference to the subject in the other article is indeed novel, it should probably be included in the article in question. If the larger context in the linked article is important enough for the reader to view as "secondary" information (I doubt it, given the fragmentary lists that make up almost every year page—have a look at them), it might be better to summarise that context neatly for the reader in the article on the subject. That will give greater cohesion and focus to the article, and free up the link space we need to allocate strategically (to avoid dilution) for a high-value link. Tony (talk) 02:09, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
I already raised this issue not long ago (but it's been shunted into an archive). I've noticed people going around with bots removing ALL date links, which is surely quite wrong. I would argue that dates should be linked in infoboxes, for example, as a link to a date gives the reader the opportunity to see the wider context of what happened on a particular date or year. I'm not sure what is meant by free up link space I wasn't aware that 'link space' was limited? G-Man ? 02:20, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
"Link space"—the more you link, the more you dilute the individual high-value links. I think we seriously overestimate the number of links that readers actually follow; part of optimising the features of wiki is to use linking strategically—to put it crudely, to ration the links to the good ones. I'm unsure how "June 9" could be a good link. Can you point to a date link in an infobox that adds to the reader's understanding of the subject? I put it to you that in the unlikely event that there was a fact-fragment of the remotest relevance to the subject at such an anniversary date for each year, you'd want to put it in the article at hand rather than sending the one-in-ten-thousand readers who do click on that link through what would be almost a wild goose chase. If the purpose of the link to the date is to facilitate discretionary browsing, I'm sorry, but WP has moved away from bright-bluing textual items for that purpose. Discretionary browsers simply need to type a destination into the search box—it's not hard. The same applies to year-links. There's possibly one exception—the years of the two European world-wars in the 20th century, although again, such a larger context is probably better supplied through a direct link to a world-war article, where it would provide focused information—and probably to a section of one of those articles, not the general article. Tony (talk) 03:28, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
Also 1776, 1789, 1492, 1815....Septentrionalis PMAnderson 05:05, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
You say the more you link, the more you dilute the individual high-value links. That is an opinion which I don't share. Part of the joy of wikipedia is the abillity to jump to a large number of topics. Who are we to say to the reader what they should and should not read, most readers are perfectly capable of making up their own minds. I would certainly argue that date links can help to establish context. G-Man ? 23:02, 23 September 2008 (UTC)
I don't think even the world wars or the French revolution merit a link to the years concerned. If a link is needed, it should be to the specific article on World War 2, on the French Revolution, or what have you. I see very little reason to ever link to a date article or to a year article. Teemu Leisti (talk) 05:44, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
But we are not all editors and are not required to see all reasons. That is why MOS should prescribe only in very clear cases.Robert A.West (Talk) 12:56, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
Wait a minute - I thought the idea of wikilinking a date was to format dates as per user preferences. ++ MortimerCat (talk) 13:12, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
We are discussing what linking of dates should exist even if autoformatting were to disappear tomorrow. My position is some, but less than there is; we should link to dates, when clicking on them will add significantly to the reader who clicks on them, just like any other word. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:31, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Indeed: sadly, date autoformatting is mechanically entangled with linking, and in some respects needs to be discussed in a similar light (i.e., overlinking, dilution of high-value links). I'm trying to get to the bottom of why people would think that dates of birth and death should be linked; the argument appears to be that you can link to day-month article and year article. No one has shown why they're useful to understanding the topic. Anderson, can you point me to an instance where linking "1776" is useful to understanding a subject, and whether it would not be preferable to include any scraps of info in the year page in the actual article at hand? (Perhaps this is possible—it's a good-faith question.) Tony (talk) 13:50, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
      • For a real example, the quote from Henry Laurens: "presiding officer of that congress from June until March of 1776." It would be off topic to include the political history of South Carolina at this point; but as with WWII, some readers will benefit from checking what was going on. They will find that SC had not yet declared independence, but had made demands to which even the local Loyalists were willing to subscribe; and that the British were about to evacuate Boston.
      • For a hypothetical example, consider: "In the century and a half from 1620 to 1776, New England [complex statistical claim]". Most readers will understand what the dates are, and why they are being used; some readers will find the links valuable. It may be possible to recast the sentence, but just substituting the settlement of Plymouth and American Revolution may make an already complex sentence unbearable. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:31, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
      • As another actual example, I have just come across an offhand reference to an increase of royal control in New England in 1682. One way to find more about this would be to go to 1682 and either find it (which did not happen) or search the What links here for the page; but the second will only work if years are actually linked. (Searching on "New England" and 1682 turns up mostly survey articles broad enough to include both New England and the founding of Pennsylvania.) Septentrionalis PMAnderson 14:05, 17 September 2008 (UTC)
    • What is the harm being prevented here? How does linking of dates that are significant to the article make Wikipedia worse? Some people like to know what else happened on a date, and especially so when the date is not within their personal memory. If reading about the First Anglo-Dutch War, it might provide a particular reader with useful perspective to see what else was going on in that year. For example, tea, coffee and cocoa all first arrived in London during the year 1652. While there is no immediate relevance to the war, that fact gives some perspective on the growth of world trade in the period. Even if the year article mentions nothing of interest or value now, that should change over time as Wikipedia improves. Obviously, you don't read that way, but Wikipedia is written for the readers, not for us editors. Personally, I think that linking years and dates is a service to readers and should be, if anything, encouraged. Robert A.West (Talk) 14:38, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
I also think that linking the birth and death dates would be good and have mentioned that numerous times although I cannot seem to vocalize exactly why. But by this logic then we shouldn't be linking to places of birth, death, burial, etc. Are those to be the next targets of our hatred of overlinking.--Kumioko (talk) 14:40, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
  • I would react with some horror at the extensive wikilinking of birth and death dates. The vast majority of biographies I have come across have these dates linked, and I just feel that these links add nothing to any of the articles. What I am talking about includes EIIR, where the only date I have chosen to retain is the date of coronation; I might also consider linking the dates of death of Mao Zedong and John F. Kennedy and other leaders who died in office, or other world figures who died at the height of their influence - for example John Lennon. However, that's probably where I would stop. I would say that even Albert Einstein's birth and death dates are but biographical facts which add little significance to the world if linked to date and year articles. Ohconfucius (talk) 03:17, 17 September 2008 (UTC)
  • For some readers not wikilinking dates creates problems: for example, I like to know the wider historical state of the world for each date referred in an article, and wikilinking the date allows me to quickly have a look at the date articles, but deleting the wikilinks injures my reading experience, as I cannot as easily check the state of the world on a particular date. I know other users may not be as interested in history, though, and I also accept the fact that too many links make the "primary" high-importance links difficult to distinguate, although I maintain that deleting what some people see as "secondary" links is not a solution. By the way, if you read a recent CACM journal issue, there is an article in there in which a researcher (if I remember correctly then it's someone who is also a Wikipedian here, but I'm not sure whether I remember correctly) found that Wikipedia growth is related to its links, and especially its red links (ie red links make people write an article), which implies that being reluctant to link, especially for red links, could slow the growth of Wikipedia. For years (most of which are existant articles), this would mean that non-wikilinked year articles may receive less contributions than wikilinked year articles (many times reading an article then clicking a date wikilink there allows a reader to spot historical events that are noted in the article but not in the year articles, thus this may enable them to add these in the year article). In general, I believe that the benefits of wikilinking outweight the disadvantages in most situations, if done in the right way. NerdyNSK (talk) 19:14, 17 September 2008 (UTC)
Of course, our year and date articles could use a lot of improvement. We could use more global perspective (though the prospect of {{globalize}} stuck on every one of them fills me with horror). There are events that we can pin down to a year, but not a specific day, should be listed. Major developments and milestones should be listed on the main year article, and not in "yyyy in xxxxx". But, I suppose I should take that up with Wikiproject years in my "copious" (i.e. nonexistent) spare time. Robert A.West (Talk) 15:31, 16 September 2008 (UTC)

Are there any plans to replace the meta data applications linked dates provide? The mass delinking is breaking those options. -- Jeandré, 2008-09-16t20:54z

What applications? —Remember the dot (talk) 22:27, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
Semantic web. -- Jeandré, 2008-09-18t08:31z

Is it actually suggested here that it would be OK for an article (like the Queen's) to consistently use "21 April 1926", "29 May 1926", "6 February 1952" etc., plus one "2 June 1953", which will for some users be presented as "June 2, 1953"? Isn't that a little too inconsistent? (Then, it might get people to turn off preferences, which is probably a good idea anyway.) Also, how about linking to the specific date article for the date when the subject matter occurred, came into being or ceased to exist ("the competition was held on August 9, 2004", or "the competition was held on 9 August 2004")? These articles only exist for a few years however, and whether or not they should exist is probably a question for Category talk:Dates. An article listing the events of August 9, 2004 feels like trivia, but hardly any more so than listing lots of events that happened on August 9 in the main August 9 article. (Note: I'm not saying we should be linking any dates, I don't feel strongly either way about that. Just asking how we should link, if at all.) -- Jao (talk) 16:50, 17 September 2008 (UTC)

Dates aren't consistently linked now; anybody who autoformats does so at his own risk, for he is choosing to have more dates in his preferred format at the price of inconsistency (and sometimes bad grammar or factual error). The question here is "are any links in dates valuable as links?" I think some are. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:02, 17 September 2008 (UTC)

What is the value of a June 2 article or a 1953 article? I presume many people think they are valuable since there are hundreds of such articles. What kind of article should link to them? Self-evidently if all dates are de-linked then all those articles will become orphaned. So back to Tcncv's original point: "Dates are not linked unless there is a particular reason to do so" should be followed by a statement of what constitutes a good reason; and his other point: the dates of events, births, deaths etc. in those articles should always be linked. Scolaire (talk) 15:27, 18 September 2008 (UTC)

Tony1's comment: I haven't seen one good reason why dates of birth and death should be linked. They are linked only because of an appalling decision in the programming design of date autoformatting to entangle it with the linking mechanism. "9 June" etc was never intended to function as a link to the corresponding anniversary article: magic bright-blue buttons for diversionary browsing are discouraged in a serious encyclopedia, for all of the reasons trotted out ad infinitum on this page and its archives). Neither was the other other date fragment in autoformatted dates intended as a wormhole to a year-page, and most casual readers would be unaware that it links separately to such.

Having surveyed many year-pages, all I can say is that they're poor. When they approach the standard of 1345, we might start to promote them in the project. But for the most part, they're rag-tag threadbare lists of fragmentary facts. The quandary raised by 1345 is that it sucks in much of the suitable information for the surrounding years, too. What would be more suitable is decade articles before the last few centuries. They could make a fascinating addition to WP's historical articles. But the chance that this will happen is slender, I suspect. I note PMA's arguments above, and apologise for not yet responding. Surely the exceptional year-link is allowable under the current guidelines ("not normally"), where editors want to put a case for the benefits? I'm referring to odd years such as 1776 in the context of the American revolution, and years in the two 20th-century world wars. Tony (talk) 15:59, 18 September 2008 (UTC)

  • How can an editor feel motivated to improve a year article if they know that someone will quickly step in to almost turn it into an orphaned article, thus the good work done becoming invisible to the readers? How can someone feel motivated to improve an article that people don't even want to see links towards it. De-linking dates means keeping them in their current poor state forever. This is unwiki. NerdyNSK (talk) 22:23, 19 September 2008 (UTC)
  • I'm content with not normally, provided FA and GA will listen to cases for the benefits. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:50, 18 September 2008 (UTC)
Greetings,

Let's not forget that the TWO most important things about Wikipedia are that:

A. Anyone can edit, which leads to potential for the most up-to-date information

B. Wikilinks, which allow a user to get from one topic area to a related (but tangential) topic very quickly. In short, Wikipedia has become a collective "brain" of humanity, and building these links increases Wikipedia's brainpower.

Therefore, it doesn't make sense to unlink dates. WHY are dates used? To place events in historical context. Links allow us to investigate that context. No links reduces and devalues one of the two main pillars of Wikipedia's purpose and success.Ryoung122 10:46, 19 September 2008 (UTC)

  • And let us not forget that templates like {{Cite web}} and others automagically wikilink dates. I'm sure the job queue will have a heart attack if someone or somebot stats an edit battle over that. — MrDolomite • Talk 11:10, 19 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Although I don't mean people to clutter LM's page with comment, there's an interesting little debate on "skilled linking" and solitary year-links at [talk page]. Tony (talk) 14:28, 19 September 2008 (UTC)

I think there's a demonstrated lack of consensus for "Dates are not linked unless there is a particular reason to do so". Can we remove it? hateless 14:58, 22 September 2008 (UTC)

I think the issue of linking to year articles needs to be separated out from the autoformatting issues. See here for a separate discussion. Carcharoth (talk) 00:16, 23 September 2008 (UTC)

This particular section is not about either issue. It's about the sentence itself, which is unclear and lacks context. It should be clarified or removed. Scolaire (talk) 06:58, 23 September 2008 (UTC)
A) In my reading, dates are not linked unless the linked date has information that contributes to the article in which the date appears. For example,...
Saint Valentine (in Latin, Valentinus) ... etc etc .... He was buried at the Via Flaminia north of Rome on February 14.
Here we have "a particular reason" to link the date, i.e. February 14 is Valentine's day.
So, this could be expressed as
  • "Dates should only be linked if the date is that of a particular event directly related to the topic under discussion"
  • Or as a firm benchmark: "Dates should only be linked if the article also discusses a relationship to an event on that date."
(or something to that effect).
Or, as an rule-of-thumb assist,...
  • "whenever a link as [[date X]] could just as well be formulated as [[link to article for event Y|date X]]."
This might be too confusing though. Editors would probably misunderstand and do that literally.
In any case, these would all also cover the 1776 of the examples others have provided.
--
B) Not to muddy the issue, but something I haven't seen discussed is what happens when only one part of the date/date-range meets the criteria. Say, "(December 31, 210—February 14, 270)" for Saint Val. Should then nothing be linked here (since the event is also referred to later in the text), or only "February 14" be linked, or the whole date, or both dates or what? -- Fullstop (talk) 07:47, 27 September 2008 (UTC)