Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style (dates and numbers)/Archive 113

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WP:DATED merge target concensus

It seems that there was consensus to merge WP:DATED, but before the target could be agreed, the section was automatically archived (above). The original idea seems to have been to merge into the relevant section of MOSNUM, but I suggested merging to WP:As of for reasons given in the previous discussion. If people give some consensus on which target is better, I'll be happy to go ahead with the merge. Thanks – Ikara talk → 20:40, 11 October 2008 (UTC)

Well, I would say merge to WP:As of, but as I originally pointed you to these discussions, I think you need input from others, though if no-one else comments, and this gets archived again, I'd say that means you can go ahead. Carcharoth (talk) 22:12, 11 October 2008 (UTC)
Is there any reason that the relevant information can't be merged to both as appropriate? - jc37 23:21, 11 October 2008 (UTC)
The information should be included in both anyway, and indeed I have just added a new section to WP:ASOF to that effect. The information in MOSNUM currently should be kept concise to avoid making the page too long, whereas the section in WP:ASOF is more detailed and pertains to the "as of" technique. The main purpose of the target is to decide where to redirect WP:DATED to. I would propose WP:ASOF in particular as it is more detailed, and relevant to the former project. Note that the information is already in MOSNUM in less detail than in WP:ASOF, and so the only change that need be made to MOSNUM is to link to the "main" section in WP:ASOF – Ikara talk → 23:29, 11 October 2008 (UTC)
Then redirect to the MoS, but make sure that the MoS has a Template:Main (or some such) in the appropriate section which points to "as of". - jc37 23:48, 11 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Most of the "As of" page is devoted to the outmoded linking of the item; there are long lists of "don't link to this month in this year because it's empty". What I believe should be done is to pick the eyes out of the top of "As of" and of DATED, and slip them into MOSNUM. We suffer from a plethora of uncoordinated MOS subpages, and attempts such as MOSCO to coordinate them centrally have hardly been a success. The next best thing is to be rigorous in our attempts to rationalise and merge. The information of most use to editors from both "As of" and "DATES" would be ideal in MOSNUM, and would not take up too much room. Tony (talk) 02:32, 12 October 2008 (UTC)
    • The bits from Wikipedia:As of#Previous method ("as of" links) downwards? That is a maintenance project to tidy up the old system, and if links are pointing to that, then the page needs to be kept or the links updated. In any case, the existing links to WP:As of will need to be checked to ensure people can still find whatever information gets moved (or a notice put at the top of WP:As of). I agree entirely about having too many MOS subpages. Tony, what do you think is the most useful stuff from WP:As of? Everything above the header I linked to above and the maintenance section introduction? The relevant bits seem to be the lead, the "Usage guidelines" the "Precise language" and the ""As of" categories" - none of which talk about the old linking system, but all talk about the template system. Carcharoth (talk) 04:15, 12 October 2008 (UTC)
    • Note also that the entire "As of" system is useless if not enough people are aware of the need to look through old "dated" categories and help update articles, and actually do so. That's not strictly a MoS problem, but it does need wider attention and MoS should be careful not to reduce the visibility of that area. Carcharoth (talk) 04:17, 12 October 2008 (UTC)

Proposal: We summarise the information from WP:As of in the lead, "Usage guidelines" and "Precise language" sections for inclusion in MOSNUM. This is the section that is relevant to the vast majority of editors, whereas the rest of the project is devoted to maintenance tasks which need only a handful of editors to perform. ASOF is added using {{Further}} to the relevant section, this should give adequate visibility for the time being. WP:DATED is redirected to the relevant section of MOSNUM, and the {{Redirect}} template is removed from the top of MOSNUM. A full merge of ASOF into the MoS is not practical as the maintenance information is not relevant to, and too long for, a style guideline, and must be maintained for the "as of" technique to server a purpose. That should cover everything – Ikara talk → 11:07, 12 October 2008 (UTC)

Sounds very good; but why not retitle what is left in ASOF as an essay or some such, for the sake of neatness. Honestly the plethora of style guides needs to be rationalised urgently. Tony (talk) 12:02, 12 October 2008 (UTC)
Just for a dummy like me: does the "As of" template have to render in blue? Does it have to link? Do we need to use the template? Many people don't. Tony (talk) 12:04, 12 October 2008 (UTC)
Type {{As of|2008}} and {{As of|July 2008}} and hit "preview" and see what you get: mess removed. No blue, no links. You do get categories, which I will remove after substituting the templates. Carcharoth (talk) 12:14, 12 October 2008 (UTC)
Well, substing does reveal the gory details. Remind me never to do that again. But trust us, it works. As for updating, there is no way to ensure that everyone uses a system like this. But those of us who want to flag up the stuff we write for future updates, should be allowed to do so. Carcharoth (talk) 12:15, 12 October 2008 (UTC)
That's just excellent! Tony (talk) 14:09, 12 October 2008 (UTC)
Everyone seems fairly happy with this now, I'll merge the project later when I have some time. Also, if you read the {{As of}} template documentation, it says that the template should not be subst'd, it generates lots of parser functions and comments. Thanks to everyone who replied – Ikara talk → 12:20, 13 October 2008 (UTC)
I've merged the article into MOSNUM, reworded the relevant section slightly to make it clearer, and added a little bit about ASOF. The new section is now available at WP:DATED if you would like to check it. My familiarity with MoS is not amazing so some editors may wish to go over it for formatting and the like, but it shouldn't be too bad. All the best – Ikara talk → 00:09, 14 October 2008 (UTC)

Intention to implement Sssoul's solution

The discussion above has a bearing on a number of style guide pages; I have no problem that it's being discussed here alone at the moment. Later today, I'll insert links at those pages to this section.

Pursuant to Sssoul's excellent suggestion, I intend to add this suggestion (above) to style guide pages that are relevant (MOSLINK and, until it's merged into MOSLINK, CONTEXT), unless there are good reasons not to. I can't see how anyone could object; there are at least four compelling reasons to support this:

  • Inline solitary year links are very unlikely to be clicked on (they're not explicit, and readers soon learn that they lead to unfocused information).
  • Related to this, being able to spell out "[[1929|other notable events of 1929]]" is a huge advantage and is likely to attract many more clicks.
  • The assumption that inline is superior to "See also" is very doubtful. The opposite argument could easily be run, that readers are more likely to branch out to linked articles after they've read an article, rather than aimlessly interrupting their reading to go elsewhere at important places in the main text. We should not assume that readers have a marijuana bong next to their computer.
  • It is long established that the undisciplined linking of every year is undesirable; linking selected years will encourage editors to start linking all of them, which would be a serious backwards step to the move towards selective linking to build the web more strongly.

In summary, it solves the issue that some editors may wish occasionally to privilege a particular year by linking it (1963 in the JF Kennedy article), and provides explicit gateways into the WikiProject Years articles. Since the use of "concealed" year-in-X links are already deprecated, this is an ideal opportunity to address that issue as well.


Where there is strong reason to link to a year-article, editors are encouraged to insert a piped link into the "See also" section ([[1929|other notable events in 1929]]) rather than linking the item in the main text ([[1929]]). Similarly, a "concealed" year-in-X link ([[1998 in basketball|1998]]) should be avoided in the main text in favor of an explicit link in "See also" ([[1998 in basketball]]). This recommendation does not apply to articles on years, other chronological items such as decades and centuries, and year-in-X articles.

Tony (talk) 03:40, 8 October 2008 (UTC)

  • Wow! Is there now a consensus for this? This looks great. May I suggest that the guideline explicitly state that if a year gets linked in the body text, that it also be piped? And may I also suggest that we standardize on terminology? I would propose that “date” shall refer to either a “calendar day” (May 12) or to a “year.” There has been confusion during our debates because of the dual meaning of ambiguity of the terminology. If someone else has more suitable terminology that is already well embraced elsewhere on Wikipedia, I’m all for it. Greg L (talk) 04:06, 8 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Unfortunately, I think this is jumping the gun a little. There has NOT been a consensus reached above on Sssoul's solution (no matter how much I like it), and therefore this proposal is premature. We should hold off a bit until the discussions above have reached a consensus.--Aervanath lives in the Orphanage 04:27, 8 October 2008 (UTC)
likewise - i don't feel enough opinions have been expressed yet. it's my understanding that the current MOS policy about the deprecation of linking dates for autoformatting purposes *is* based on a consensus broader than just a few people - i personally wasn't aware of any discussion of that, but since it's been adopted in the MOS i sure hope it doesn't need to be hashed out again. that consensus seems to me to justify unlinking *most* full dates, as well as excessive/ill-conceived linking of partial dates, but there's no consensus yet on what to do with date links that some editor feels are genuinely valuable to understanding an article, and i feel a consensus on that is important before proceeding.
although it seems premature to implement this proposal, i may as well note, for the record, that i don't think "the same applies to concealed links [[1998 in basketball]])" is very clear/communicative. Sssoul (talk) 06:34, 8 October 2008 (UTC)

That's funny, I thought piped links were deprecated in the "see also" section. — CharlotteWebb 10:24, 8 October 2008 (UTC)

(1) This is simply a more formal and quite transparent attempt to generate the consensus that Aervanath feels hasn't yet been generated. Several encouraging remarks were made in support of Sssoul's notion above, and there appeared to be no opposition thus far. I had assumed that people would write "support", "comment" and "oppose", so I'll start the ball rolling by writing "Support" below.
(2) Concealed links have been deprecated for I don't know how long in MOSLINK, and are strongly discouraged by at least one major WikiProject. Unfortunately, they're widespread in lists and in articles on sports, film, and certain other topics. I suspect that readers just ignore them, which is a pity.
(3) Charlotte, thanks for pointing out the possibility that piped links are deprecated in "See also" sections; however, I can't find mention of this just where you'd expect to, at WP:SEEALSO; nor can I readily see the point of such a deprecation. Tony (talk) 10:35, 8 October 2008 (UTC)
Are they not intended to list related articles by name, similar to disambig pages (one blue link per line and all that happy). This seemed sensible enough I took for granted that it was a guideline already. In any case Wikipedia:Piped link#Intuitiveness should cover it well enough. As I understand it, other than for dissanbiguation purposes piped links should generally only be used when the constraints of the surrounding prose (that is, what does and doesn't flow well in a sentence) leave no other viable option. This is not an issue in appendices such as the "see also" section or Main article: [[{{{1}}}]], and I as a reader would expect these to show the article's proper title, especially if I had the paperback edition. — CharlotteWebb 20:23, 8 October 2008 (UTC)

  • Support—This opens explicit gateways to year pages; it's highly likely that inline links to solitary years are rarely clicked on by readers. It is perfectly consistent with the trend on WP towards more careful, "smart" linking to maximise the utility of the system. It's the type of content that our "See also" sections appear to have been designed for. Tony (talk) 10:35, 8 October 2008 (UTC)
Well geez, if solitary year-links are rarely clicked on, doesn't that invalidate the argument that they commonly lead the reader on a path to nowhere? Presumably, the readers clicking the links will be genuinely interested in the other things that happened in 1929, 1941, 1939, 1905, 1968, 1989, 1918 - I'll stop now. Those years are relevant in-line to the article flow - they set the context for the story. Franamax (talk) 11:03, 8 October 2008 (UTC)
I'm no enemy of year-pages; on the contrary, I'm keen that WikiProject Years be revitalised and that year-pages (and decade pages) be lifted out of their current moribund state. Clearly, the inline carpet bombing of our text with bright-blue years never worked (many readers would have wondered WTF they were). Making links explicit in the "See also" section is a much better way of promoting them as focused secondary articles, and nicely addresses the disadvantages of blue years scattered through the main text, which does not have community support. Tony (talk) 12:09, 8 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Support - it is, without question, an improvement on the current situation. Millstream3 (talk) 11:29, 8 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Jao, note that the link will be piped and contain at least one non-date word. For example, [[1963|other notable events in 1963]] rather than [[1963]]. It will be impossible to implement using automation otherwise. Lightmouse (talk) 13:30, 8 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Yes, isn't that already part of the proposal? I'm sorry if I was vague, but I meant specifically "a link to the 1963 article", not "a link that looks like 1963". -- Jao (talk) 13:54, 8 October 2008 (UTC)
  • I can see this being reasonable when talking about one or two year links, but what if we've got a famous person with events that occur pretty much every year of his or her professional life (say, 40 odd years); Inline, these would not be a problem, but now you've got a spam of them in the seealsos. This is not a easily viable solution to this for multi-year topics. --MASEM 13:17, 8 October 2008 (UTC)
  • But very few years are relevant. Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom has done a lot of stuff, but there's certainly no point in linking to 1949 (the year she moved to Malta) or 1991 (the year she addressed the US congress). There has been a very stable consensus not to link these non-WP:CONTEXTual years at all, so these are not what anyone will (or at least, should) be putting in See also. -- Jao (talk) 13:54, 8 October 2008 (UTC)
  • They may not be relevant to you but given that we talking about this approach in that someone will be interested in clicking a year link to find other events during that year, there is a likelihood that someone would be interested to see what other events happened in 1949, even if that event is not a significant facet of Queen Elizabeth II's history. Anytime you start talking revelance, it becomes very subjective and leads down the road of edit-warring to no end.
  • The way I'm seeing this is that we want to replicate the usability of categories that allow users to jump to other related topics, but not using categories, which.. well, seems to be wasting an existing capability. It might be too grand a scheme now, but I'm thinking that if we plot out a good tree of "Year in XXXX" categories, we can make this all work via templates and categories and be more effective for end users. --MASEM 14:18, 8 October 2008 (UTC)
It's the dilution problem again. The more linked years, whether in the running prose or the "See also" section, the less likely the reader is to bother with any of them. The idea is to be highly selective; that is a much more effective drawcard to encourage reader interest in year articles per se. And remember that year articles, and year-in-X articles, all provide easy passage to their siblings, yes? Tony (talk) 15:03, 8 October 2008 (UTC)
I think before we get decide on this approach (again, I see the validity of it), we need to have a good working understand of what should be highly significant dates that are to be linked in this approach. ("linked" here could mean placed as seealsos or as current inline links). I realize this is not a simple task, and one that is likely better suited by giving a range of example cases which state that this is the case, and similar examples which are not, with cases otherwise not covered to be treated case-by-case. Once we know what the approximate volume of dates will be that we will want to link in this fashion, then a better assessment of which why is better can be made. --MASEM 15:25, 8 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Support with a few minor changes. 1) I would change "chronological item" to "year" as the wording seems to address only years and not dates. For example, there is ongoing discussion above about whether birth/death dates should be linked. 2) I would add that it would also be appropriate to use the template:see also to add year links to a particular section. 3) I think year links on date articles (e.g. links on the March 12 article) should be exempt from this policy and link directly to the year inline. Queerudite (talk) 14:07, 8 October 2008 (UTC)
Queerudite, excellent points one and three; is the wording now clear? I'm a bit wobbly about your second point, since if taken to extremes it would lead to clutter. If there's some way of wording it to yield highly judicious usage of this possibility, it might win support here ("Occasionally, if a year page is of close relevance to a section, the template:see also may be used for this purpose.") I'd be surprised to find whole-year articles that were sufficiently relevant to just a section; it's hard enough to find relevant year articles for an entire article. Unsure; what do other people think? I'm tending to think that this is more trouble than it's worth. Tony (talk) 15:03, 8 October 2008 (UTC)
If it is contentious perhaps my second point should be left for a separate discussion. I do think it would helpful, for instance on the biography of a politician, a certain section might have a see also 2001 in politics and in a different section see also 2003 in politics; or an astronaut might have sections on 1969 in spaceflight and later 1973 in spaceflight. It seems the alternative would be to place these in the See also section on the bottom of the article, when it is no longer contextually relevant. Queerudite (talk) 15:17, 12 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Oppose per WP:CREEP. You make all the rules you want, you'll never get 10,000 editors to start doing this. -- Kendrick7talk 14:22, 8 October 2008 (UTC)
Prescription for no policy or style guidance at all on WP, Kendrick? Tony (talk) 15:03, 8 October 2008 (UTC)
You'll never get people to remember to make a special exception for just year inlines as opposed to every other kind of inline. It'll simple lead to silly practices, like having to do [[1058 in non-arrivals of Messiahs|1058]] and "merging" 1058 in non-arrivals of Messiahs into 1058. Via la difference. -- Kendrick7talk 15:13, 8 October 2008 (UTC)
No, but a bot which goes around removing bare year/date links will make those who want a link to consider what the guidelines are, and to work with it accordingly ;-) Ohconfucius (talk) 09:06, 9 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Support due to its clarity (for editors who imitate what they see as well as for those who read the MoS) and the ease of implementing it in tandem with the process of undoing ill-conceived/depracated date links. i feel the wording of it still wants some finetuning, though. Sssoul (talk) 14:49, 8 October 2008 (UTC)
There was an e.c. Please see if it's better; I'd be pleased to hear your further suggestions. Thank you. Tony (talk) 15:03, 8 October 2008 (UTC)
i'm exhausted right now, Tony, but i'll ponder it later - thanks Sssoul (talk) 15:24, 8 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Oppose both '''[[1929|other notable events of 1929]]''' and '''[[1929 in sports|1929]]''' being encouraged anywhere. Strongly oppose "see also" links unless in the same paragraph as the year named. If at all implemented, the link needs to be something like.
  • rather than hidden links. (Hmmm. I guess that's support with those changes and those suggested by Queerudite, but strong oppose otherwise.)
  • Oh, and year links should be encouraged in the lead (birth and death years) and in the {{Birth date and age}} template. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 14:55, 8 October 2008 (UTC)
Nobody is proposing concealing links '''[[1929 in sports|1929]]'''. Quite the opposite. Have you misunderstood the proposal? Lightmouse (talk) 15:01, 8 October 2008 (UTC)
Please re-examine the tweaks to the green proposal. So you mean you don't think readers will be a lot more attracted to clicking on the explicit pipe than a plain old year link? I have to politely disagree. Tony (talk) 15:03, 8 October 2008 (UTC)
As for the paragraph-specificity, that's all good and well, but most years worth linking to would not be restricted to one paragraph. What paragraph of John F. Kennedy assassination would host the {{for|other notable events of 1963|1963}}? Background of the visit? -- Jao (talk) 15:09, 8 October 2008 (UTC)
For John F. Kennedy assassination, the {{for}} or {{seealso}} should be in the lead, or perhaps should be a specific year link inclusion, in that, for an event occuring at a specific date, the year should have an unadorned link, but only once, and only in the first sentence. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 16:26, 8 October 2008 (UTC)
Actually, I concur with the proposed text, noting reservations to the reasoning, provided that
  1. The suggested location of the {{seealso}} be left unspecified, or noting that acceptable locations include the top of the article (among other {{for}} tags), the #See also section (which, by the way, requires modifying the guidelines for that section), or the section or paragraph where the year first occurs. Deprecate the "[[1929|other notable events in 1929]]" in favor of {{for|other notable events in 1929|1929}}, to be placed in the lead, in the "#See also" section, or in a relevant paragraph.
  2. There should be occasional exceptions where a bare link is appropriate (examples being the birth year or death year of a person in an article about that person, or the year of an event in an article about the event) but almost never more than two links per article.
Arthur Rubin (talk) 17:40, 8 October 2008 (UTC)
I believe that these demands for open-ended prominence are unreasonable. I do not recommend them. Tony (talk) 06:44, 9 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Conditional support so long as this change is strictly limited to a suggestion as worded above and is not to be interpreted as a requirement. User:Masem's concern above that articles with multiple date/year links would wind up having an unwieldy "see-also" section are valid, and other conditions under which this suggestion is not favorable. I would strongly oppose any implementation of the above as a requirement or the use thereof as license to resume de-linking inline wikilinks, as any useful consensus to do either of these things requires broader attention than merely those who have an interest in watching MOS pages. Shereth 15:06, 8 October 2008 (UTC)
Shereth, adding date links to the "see also" section and simultaneously leaving in-line date links seems mighty redundant. just to make sure i've understood you properly: are you proposing that all current inline date links should be kept, including the masses of ill-conceived/now-depracated ones? (that's what your "i would strongly oppose ... resum[ing] de-linking" sounds like - but i hope i'm misinterpreting that.) either way, i agree that some wider attention/participation in this discussion would be excellent. is an RfC a good idea, or some other means of giving the proposal a wider airing? Sssoul (talk) 15:43, 8 October 2008 (UTC)
Not at all. As now, inline year-links are deprecated. The example below, although of a concealed year-in-X link, is an illustration; the principle is the same. Tony (talk) 15:56, 8 October 2008 (UTC)
(reply to Sssoul) - I'm not suggesting that we have both inline and see-also links. What I am suggesting is, as this wording is an encouragement it still leaves it up to the discretion of the editor whether or not to make the transition from inline to see-also, particularly for the cases mentioned above. To an extent calling it a suggestion is redundant - the MOS is a guideline and thus subject to interpretation/exemption. I just want to stress that it should be understood that, as a suggestion, this change remains optional and should not be enforced, especially by bot unless a broader community consensus suggests otherwise. Shereth 16:01, 8 October 2008 (UTC)
Well, no, that's not part of the deal, Shereth. Too many WPians object to inline solitary year linking. If that causes you to oppose, so be it. Tony (talk) 16:18, 8 October 2008 (UTC)
Too many Wikipedians or too many of the ones who watch this page? This whole debate was sparked by Wikipedians who have not run into this (or prior) discussions showing up to complain because Lightbot removed links on an article they maintain. File an RFC to get broader opinion on the issue of inline solitary year linking - otherwise this conversation is going to come up time and time again with editors wanting to see where the consensus for such an action was formed. Shereth 16:31, 8 October 2008 (UTC)
that objection may be just a mechanistic reaction, without due consideration of the revised MOS guideline. These days, I still come across editors who add date links to articles on my watchlist. Ohconfucius (talk) 09:12, 9 October 2008 (UTC)
Exactly -- an RfC, and probably a link in Template:Cent would seem highly appropriate to gain consensus, Tony. I've de-watchlisted this already, but if bots and script kids start mucking around again in historical articles I maintain, I'll be back. -- Kendrick7talk 16:49, 8 October 2008 (UTC)
I don't know how to do an RfC. Tony (talk) 16:56, 8 October 2008 (UTC)
Actually, I don't see a consensus against bare year links. (I can only see a consensus against autoformatting, which I actually don't agree with, but I can see the point.) They're usually inappropriate, per the overlinking guidelines, but not always. If this discussion were sufficiently published (RfC + {{Cent}}), and reaches consensus, then we can act on it. Not before consensus is reached. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 17:30, 8 October 2008 (UTC)
You're absolutely right on that point. There was a stable consensus to link solitary years per WP:CONTEXT only, but the deprecation of autoformatting or Lightbot's delinkings (or both) seem to have stirred up a lot of new thoughts/emotions on this, and now there are editors pulling both ends on the string, wanting anything from "link all years" to "link no years". (I'd note that the "link all years" crowd is a clear minority, at least if you discount those who would accept some non-wikilinked form of date markup. But the rest of the scale is crowded.) Personally, I mostly agree with Tony and Greg, but I'm not too blind to see that there's no consensus (yet) on the matter. And neither are they: Tony explicitly said that "This is simply a more formal and quite transparent attempt to generate the consensus that Aervanath feels hasn't yet been generated." But yes, it should be done with a larger input. And then, it will look like the birth/death date RfC section above... I'm actually having a hard time seeing how such a consensus can emerge from all this, but the MOSNUM regulars don't seem to despair just yet. -- Jao (talk) 19:38, 8 October 2008 (UTC)
(@Tony) Create a subpage under WP:MOSNUM (you could do a section here, but likely will make this talk page too long); write up the proposal you wish to add, set up a structure for "Support", "Oppose", "Neutral" and "Comments" for people to provide feedback. Then, at the top of the page, add in {{RFCstyle| section=section name !! reason=a short summary of the discussion !! time= ~~~~~ }} so that it gets listed at the RFC list. Announce that page at the various WP:VP and at WP:CENT and anywhere else you think it might help. I would also consider that this is worthy of a watchlist-notice, but I have a feeling convincing those that hate these that this should be added. --MASEM 17:35, 8 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Support This is a nice, encyclopedic way of doing it. It’s a bit more of the elegant, print-way of offering up options for further reading and helps remedy the hyperlinked, blue oceans of body text that have plagued Wikipedia lately. Greg L (talk) 16:21, 8 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Oppose; constrains editors' application of their own best judgment for no reason whatsoever. Linking inline is best for the same reason that every other relevant link in an article is made inline; Tony's logic seems to me to disagree with the general principle espoused elsewhere in the WP:MOS that links should be in the body text, rather than under See Also, where possible. Christopher Parham (talk) 02:19, 9 October 2008 (UTC)
  • This is just one of a large number of examples of editors using their discretion (sic). I would say that this is probably caused by conditioning from years of linking for the purposes of Date auto-formatting, and may be difficult to overcome if in-line linking was left to individual editors without an overall policy of full deprecation with some exceptions. The article may not be from the population of articles you habitually edit, but you should be mindful of some of the problems which exist at this point in time. Ohconfucius (talk) 07:58, 9 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Indeed, leaving it up to individual editors risks disorder. As Colonies Chris points out, our newer editors learn by imitating what they read, without the experience to analyse and decide whether their formatting—linking or otherwise—is appropriate. Throwing it to the wind is just what we shouldn't be doing. Parham, I forgot to type in the "Oppose" for you to make it easier. People are probably tired of the predictability in your responses to proposals, especially when your supporting reasons are, IMO, usually spurious. Tony (talk) 08:12, 9 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Hmmm. He's not the only predicatable one around here. Carcharoth (talk) 04:08, 11 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Oppose If a year is linked it should be to a year. If we want to link to an article about a specific aspect we should say so (see 1999 in film) - actually these links are rarely useful as the articles do not discuss context, they are simply lists of people born and dying in that year and projects started/completed or other events. More useful would be stuff like "his new film North by North West was released in 1962 (see also "Development of the thriller in the mid-twentieth century") despite the delays in editing it." Rich Farmbrough, 21:07 10 October 2008 (UTC).
... i'm puzzled what you're opposed to, in that case - the proposal is to make truly useful links to years explicit in the "see also" section, where they'd be listed as [[1929|Other notable events in 1929]], [[1978 in music]] or [[10 May|Notable events on 10 May throughout history]] (if anyone really considers those useful), and to eliminate the ones that are not useful or exist only for now-deprecated autoformatting purposes. Sssoul (talk) 21:17, 10 October 2008 (UTC)
Yeah, I'm puzzled too. Rich, shouldn't that be a "Support"? Perhaps you missed something vital in the proposal. Tony (talk) 04:08, 11 October 2008 (UTC)
I want to make the point here that the linking of solitary years has been on a significant declining pathway for several years, with reactions to blue years among WPs and readers ranging from quizzical to derisive. The style guides recommend against the practice. I put this proposal as a way to ensure that focused, explicit gateways into year article can be inserted into WP's article without upsetting the applecart. The "See also" section is the ideal location, and I don't understand those here who believe that readers will be more likely to interrupt their reading suddently to go to 1999 than to take up the offer through a prominent, explicit invitation at the bottom (Other major world events in November 1999). I do believe that for those who invest their time and energy in year articles to oppose this is akin to shooting themselves in the foot. Tony (talk) 04:17, 11 October 2008 (UTC)
It might also be worth pointing out that such linking of year-specific topics and years in "See also" is something that people can do anyway. If it catches on (and you know what they say about good practice - if it's truly good, it spreads by imitation), and more people use this style (I have used it in the past and will do so in the future), then this can be recorded in the MoS. I personally do lots of linking that people might consider irrelevant in the main flow of an article, but I put them in the footnotes to the article, as an aside to the main text, so while an article might look overlinked, or irrelevantly linked, once you read the context and the footnote, it usually becomes clear. Carcharoth (talk) 04:52, 11 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Question - Would all seasons mentioned in a sports article have to be placed in a See also section, or just the first relevent one? If the former, I don't think this is an improvement. Having 10 season links cluttering a See also section is not somthing I'd want in an article. If only the first relevant one would be placed there, the idea makes much more sense to me. An even better idea: give a See also link to a list of seasons, when avaliable. That way, an interested reader would have access to all of them at once, and it would be easier than locating another season in a template. Giants2008 (17-14) 01:49, 12 October 2008 (UTC)
Giants, this is an excellent suggestion, and shows how we can be a little more creative in doing this. But let's remember that all "year-in-X" articles contain lists at the top—conveniently setting out for the reader all of the available sibling articles, for each year, linked. That is why linking just one, or perhaps two or three, of the most important year-in-Xs for the article at hand rather than 10 or, as in many list articles with tables, 50, has two advantages: (1) you can make a statement to the reader about which year-in-X is best to start with as the gateway, and (2) you don't flood them with choice in the main text or tables, which every marketer knows is a bad thing, whether on the internet or the supermarket shelf. People get bamboozled once choice is more than a certain amount. Tony (talk) 02:26, 12 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Oppose. If the proposal were to make Sssoul's solution one way to deal with dates and years which may interest the reader, I would support. But to make it the only way is misguided: one size does not fit all. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 22:03, 12 October 2008 (UTC)
Anderson, at the moment, the linking of solitary year links is strongly discouraged (see MOSLINK/CONTEXT), and the use of "concealed" year-in-X links discouraged except in certain circumstances, such as tables. This proposal does not change those guidelines, but encourages what many people see here as a valuable option. It's not the only option either. Why do you oppose? Tony (talk) 07:18, 13 October 2008 (UTC)
  • I would support Where there is good reason to link to a year-article, editors can insert a piped link into the "See also" section (other notable events in 1929) rather than linking the item in the main text (1929); this is a question of convenience. A "concealed" year-in-X link (1998) should be avoided in the main text; it should be clear to the reader where links lead. This recommendation does not apply to articles on years, other chronological items such as decades and centuries, and year-in-X articles.
  • I hope the amendments will explain themselves. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:39, 13 October 2008 (UTC)
  • If my two cents are of interest, I'd support PMAnderson's wording just as I'd support the original proposal, and pretty much couldn't care less which one is chosen. -- Jao (talk) 19:55, 13 October 2008 (UTC)
  • On a related topic, I oppose a ban on day links, at least one to be imposed by bot; there are occasions where they justify themselves. The most obvious is the link to 23 April in Saint George: one sample of a wide class. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:39, 13 October 2008 (UTC)
I struggled to see the difference in Anderson's version. Ah, "this is a matter of convenience" (I think that begs questions and is an unnecessary second-guessing of what an editor's motive could be), the removal of the noiwikis (why? It just makes it harder to understand), and "strong reason" --> "good reason" (well, hardly much different, but I can cope with that). I still wonder why you opposed, and why what appear to be trivial differences would make you support. I can't agree with your reasoning for linking 23 April in that or any other article. Sure, in one year of the 13th century, it provides a St-George-related factoid of about eight words, which are surely in the article itself (if not, why not?). Why bother the reader with the hundreds of other absolutely irrelevant events on 23 April in other years? Tony (talk) 08:16, 15 October 2008 (UTC)
Indeed. A prominent link to St George's Day would be immensely more helpful than any link to 23 April. The lead now says "His memorial is celebrated on 23 April", and I think that should be "His memorial, St George's Day, is celebrated on 23 April" but not "His memorial is celebrated on 23 April" or "His memorial, St George's Day, is celebrated on 23 April". Of course the date is very relevant to the topic (much more so than your average birth/death date), but the date article contains almost no information relevant to the topic. -- Jao (talk) 14:30, 15 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Support I see it as very positive that editors be obliged to think about what important links are and be forced to prioritise them rather than linking in a moronic and mechanistic fashion. The sea of blue years in the body of the text would thus be banished for good. Ohconfucius (talk) 07:04, 13 October 2008 (UTC)


First example: This is of a concealed year-in-X link ([[1987 in film|1987]]) at the opening of Jaws: The Revenge. In fact, it broke the guideline at MOSLINK against the linking of adjacent items, and occurred in an already densely linked sentence:

Jaws: The Revenge (a.k.a Jaws 4) is a 1987 horrorthriller film directed by Joseph Sargent. It is the third and final sequel to Steven Spielberg's 1975 Oscar winning classic Jaws.

I've made the year plain black here, which I believe loses no clicks, reduces the detraction from the other links a little, and improves the look:

Jaws: The Revenge (a.k.a Jaws 4) is a 1987 horrorthriller film directed by Joseph Sargent. It is the third and final sequel to Steven Spielberg's 1975 Oscar winning classic Jaws.

Please now inspect the "See also" section that I've added after the main text, in place of what was a dubious inline link. I do believe, on balance, it's far more likely to attract the interest of the reader. Tony (talk) 15:56, 8 October 2008 (UTC)

Second example: Replacing what might otherwise have been a solitary year link with a "See also" explicit link to a major year in the life of Queen_Elisabeth_II.

Let's pretend that solitary year links were not deprecated, and that the year of her coronation (1953) was linked at the start of the second para here. Now it's not linked, and instead an explicit reference ([[1953|Other notable events in 1953, the coronation year]]) has been added to the "See also" section. Nice, huh?

The two advantages are (1) selective focusing of the reader on a single (or even two or three) major years in her life, from which they can further explore sibling articles, (2) explicitness, and (3) prominent location, even though underneath the main text. As well, it neatly sidesteps all of the complaints of WPians who want a more selective approach to linking in the main text. Tony (talk) 16:13, 8 October 2008 (UTC)

  • I think this is an outstanding idea. I hope others here click on the "See also" section link to the Jaws: The Revenge article. You don’t clutter up the main body text with more blue and the link isn’t an Easter egg and it’s a perfect way to let readers know these 1987 in film-type articles exist. Readers already tune out these 2000  links (you’re going to have to click the [edit] link or click the 2000 link to find out if my link takes you to 2000 (number) or to 2000 in film or 2000-the year.) That parenthetical clause illustrates why readers often don’t click these link: they violate WP: Principle of least astonishment and waste time. What an excellent way to let readers know that there is a 1974 in architecture article (the year of Frank Gehry’ first major design). Tony’s suggestion solves everything and improves learning and discovery. I think this method should be quickly adopted. Greg L (talk) 16:45, 11 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Well, on most systems you'd get warning ahead, by means of a tooltip or status bar or something similar. But still, we can't expect readers to have those tools (considering WP:ACCESS) and know that they have them, and we certainly can't expect readers to want to check them each time they see a year link. I agree that this is a great solution. -- Jao (talk) 17:00, 11 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Good point. I keep forgetting that trick: dwell on the link for about 1.3 seconds (with Mac OS X anyway) and it shows where you will go. I usually go too fast for that to happen and forget about it. And, yes, the availability of that feature doesn’t detract whatsoever from the virtues of Tony’s proposal. We’d break Wikipedia beyond all comprehension if its interface were predicated upon readers dwelling over and interrogating every link to find out what it would take them to in an effort to avoid suprises. Support. Greg L (talk) 17:06, 11 October 2008 (UTC)
I support the Jaws film example. The "other notable events in the coronation year" is naff. Who cares what other notable events took place that year? Anyway, by the time the readers get to the end of that article, they will have forgotten the bit they read about the coronation. I would prefer such links to be from the sections of the article, but that would quickly get silly. For biographies, I still maintain that the only years worth linking are birth and death years, to show the "state of the world" at the time of birth and death. For Queen Elizabeth II, you have: Overview of world events in the year Elizabeth II was born. For, say Queen Victoria, you have: Overview of world events in the year Queen Victoria was born and Overview of world events in the year Queen Victoria died. Ideally, a well-written biography would make the contrast already, but if not, have a look and see the changes. Carcharoth (talk) 19:48, 11 October 2008 (UTC)

Oppose When reading about the film Jaws, I don't want to just see what other films were made in 1975, I want to go to a full review of 1975 to understand the cultural setting it in which it was made and in which audiences flocked to see it. So keep links to year pages . Only link key years, not every mention of a year in an article. By all means put a link to 1975 in film in somewhere as well. Wikipedia is a tool to massively cross link cultural events otherwise seen in different boxes. The proposal puts everything back in the "Film " box. Lumos3 (talk) 10:37, 16 October 2008 (UTC)

'Under construction' templates

People put 'under construction' on a page to say that they are actively working on articles. But then the templates seem to hang around on the article for hours, days, and weeks. It is sometimes difficult to get them removed because people say 'I haven't finished yet, I just have to get round to it'. Sometimes people even revert removal of the template.

A reasonable proposal (I think) is to merge the templates into one. The one template would have a fixed expiry time visible in read mode. If it expires, the editor would be able to refresh it but would have to take positive action to refresh it. The current fire-and-forget design would be gone. The expiry time would be consistent with real tappity-tap editing where fingers are pounding the keyboard e.g. 15 minutes to an hour.

For more details, debate, and voting, see: Wikipedia:Templates for deletion/Log/2008 October 13. Regards Lightmouse (talk) 16:41, 13 October 2008 (UTC)

  • Sell-by date: Another thing we need to do is clarify—if it hasn’t already been—in the guidelines that when {disputed} tags and similar tags are added to articles, they should be removed if the issue hasn’t been actively worked after a reasonable period of time. I’ve seen stale, old {disputed} tags on articles and when I looked at the talk page, the issue had been discussed for a few days six months prior and hadn’t been worked since.

    Perhaps these tags could expire and vaporize on their own after a week. Whoever placed the tag in the first place would have to be active enough on the debate to notice and put it back in. Maybe a bot can troll the tag’s “what links here” and delete week-old ones. This would obviously get rid of tags on abandoned issues. And in some cases where there are vitriolic disputes, such a bot can help it to die a natural death while giving parties a way to save face. Greg L (talk) 17:50, 13 October 2008 (UTC)

Quite. Bots are indeed involved in purging stale 'under-construction' tags but without 'sell-by' date (nice metaphor), the bot programmer has to invent their own generous period of grace or risk of getting into a dispute with the person that wants the tag there. If you run through 1000 articles removing tags like that, you are bound to come into dispute with somebody. Believe me, I know. I am not sure if the tags can disappear without bot involvement but some bots run on the server and can look like there is no bot. The technical means to remove tags are easy. All we need to do is focus on how long one editor can reasonably freeze out others and can we all accept the end of unlimited sell-by periods. As you suggest, if we are successful with 'active editing' tags, we can extend it to other types of tags. Your comments on Wikipedia:Templates for deletion/Log/2008 October 13 will be welcome. Lightmouse (talk) 18:06, 13 October 2008 (UTC)

  • {{in-use}} is a freeze-out. {{Underconstruction}} is not; indeed, it invites other editors to pitch in. It's a warning that there may be major changes. We should probably encourage posting plans of action on the talk page. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:17, 13 October 2008 (UTC)
Sounds good. Could the sell-by date be set by the editor when they add the template? It could be subst'ed , for example {{inuse|2 hours}} would solve the problem of allowing the editor an arbitrary fixed period. It would give greater freedom and would force the editor to estimate his editing time. Would a bot/troll then be able to calculate the time and remove it? –MDCollins (talk) 22:49, 13 October 2008 (UTC)
Amd writing the template so that there was a default time when none was specified (3 hours, say, for {{in-use}}) would encourage editors to set them. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 23:05, 13 October 2008 (UTC)

One minor point - I've occasionally prodded or speedied an article, only to get a complaint from the editor shortly afterwards (by which I mean less than 24 hours) that either they're a) still working on it, or b) asking how they can improve the article to pass WP standards. I've genrally given a few hints and/or pointed them in the direction of WP policies and guidelines, and I've also occasionally marked the article as 'under-construction' so they get a breathing space to read the guidelines and improve the article. Of course, you could say that the article should be substantially complete before it's committed to WP, but from the number of articles I've seen that were built up from repeated edits from the same editor over a short period of time, I'd say this method of editing was common. Anyway, I've generally assumed that the 'under construction' tag would give something like 4 - 5 days 'grace period' - which I would have though seems reasonable - especially for those who've never contributed before and may not know exactly what's expected. In brief, I'm all in favour of some 'automatic expiry time' on these tags - but I'd hope that any default time on the 'under construction' tag would be in terms of days, rather than hours.

Re monitoring of the tags by whoever placed them - this would be (yet another) admin overhead if it had to be done manually, but wouldn't an 'automatic removal of a tag because it had expired' show up on the watchlist (if that page was being watched) ? CultureDrone (talk) 07:24, 14 October 2008 (UTC)

Therein lies the difference between underconstruction and inuse - the latter implies that somebody is currently very active and wishes to prevent edit conflicts, the former implies that anyone can edit, and is primarily a warning against deletion. Each template can then have a different default expiry period.–MDCollins (talk) 00:13, 15 October 2008 (UTC)
  • I agree. All tags should have an automatic expiration date. The time period can vary, but there is no point requiring Wikipedians to go to an article’s talk page and hunt down what some {dispute} tag was about in order to discover the issue had been worked for only three or four days and then had been abandoned for six months. There are simply too many of these stale tags junking up Wikipedia and it is too tedious of a task for humans to delete them all. That’s why we all often rubber-neck as we “drive by” these tags rather than do anything about them. If some editor wants to place {disputed} tags on an article and enjoy the satisfaction that it might still be there a year later, I think that’s probably too bad; our {disputed} tags should be reserved only for active disputes. If a bot deletes a tag and there is a live human who still cares, he or she can put it back in; it’s just that simple. Further, having an automatic expiration can serve as a pressure relief valve for many disputes. Greg L (talk) 22:42, 16 October 2008 (UTC)
  • I've always wondered why there's a bot going around dating certain tags, but failed to see why this needed to be done. Perhaps we need to define specifically which tags date and can be automatically removed, so that the bot can operate optimally. Those other tags which do not age need not to be dated. Ohconfucius (talk) 03:13, 17 October 2008 (UTC)
    • I disagree with All tags should have an automatic expiration date. That is an extraordinarily strong position, and I continue to dispute it, as above. But if you really want such guidance, this is not the place to achieve it; I would suggest WP:VPP. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 02:22, 17 October 2008 (UTC)
    • For example, {{cn}} tags should not expire. I came across a claim that women voted in Liege, in what is now Belgium, in 1792. It is unsourced, and it seems unlikely - but not impossible. The tag should stay until a source is found, or an editor has sufficient confidence in its falsity to remove the claim; having the tag expire is worse than either. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 02:31, 17 October 2008 (UTC)
  • No, those {{cn}} tags should not be automatically retired. They validly signal that someone challenges the assertion and seeks proof. What that needs is for some editor to come along and source it, or delete the entire unsourced phrase or section say after a month has elapsed since tagging. I don't see another way. Ohconfucius (talk) 03:03, 17 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Agreed; my all-encompassing “all tags should automatically expire” is exceedingly broad. I can however, think of at least two tags that should have “sell-by” expiration dates: {disputed} tags and {under construction} tags. I’m sure there are more. If organic neurons haven’t cleaned up many of these languishing tags after a certain period of time, it’s time to give silicon transistors a crack at the task. Greg L (talk)
    • While I hate to continue to disagree with someone being so agreeable, I would again say it depends. Some {{disputed}} tags are effectively {{cn}}: "say what? Show me." A bot-assisted effort to settle these would be a good thing, and would remove many that are redundant; but some require an intelligence to dispose of. On {{under construction}} I agree, although a sell-by date from the last major edit might be preferable. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 04:35, 17 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Yes, {{cn}} should expire: if a statement stays in an article for a year or so without anyone being able to find a decent reference for it, it should be deleted. (It can always be readded if a proper source is found.) -- Army1987 (t — c) 12:56, 18 October 2008 (UTC)
  • I think we are talking about 'automatic' (ie bot-assisted) obsolescence. Such obsolence is by definition a manual process as no bot will ever be capable of cleanly removing such unsourced material or assertions. If the tags are automatically retired in such cases, no-one will know that there is/was a contention and that the request for citations has not been fulfilled. Perhaps what is needed is alert pages which age {{cn}} tags (such as Category:citation-needed tags aged more than 3 months, [[.. 6 months]], [[.. 9 months]], so that editors may tackle this work systematically if so inclined to do. Ohconfucius (talk) 13:26, 18 October 2008 (UTC)
  • I agree with Army1987, for the same reason. A six-month old {{cn}} tag is like that 1991 calendar in an old farmer’s barn: everyone who goes in there notices the worthless thing, but it has almost become part of the barn and no one bothers to take the time to pull it down. Not all tags should expire at the same age; a {pardon our dust ‘cause we’re under construction} tag should expire faster than many other tags. But no tag should stay until the heat death of the Universe. If a {cn} tag still hasn’t been addressed after nine months, it’s still likely going to be the same old wart on the article after a full year.

    And it’s not like an automatic expiration douches a great deal of intellectual effort here (“My manuscript!”). It’s awfully easy to ralph these {cn} onto a page IMO. I’ve seen them attached at the end of values like, electron mass. I thought to myself “oh for God’s sake,” went to the NIST, confirmed the value on Wikipedia was correct, and then added a reference that wasn’t too much longer than the {cn} tag it replaced. And it took about two minutes to do it. I suspect there are editors who do nothing more than peruse Wikipedia with a high brow and pouted lip and do nothing more than “that ought to be cited… that one too… prove it… that one too… that one too.”

    It doesn’t matter what technology (bot?) we employ to get these to automatically vaporize, all we need to do is decide on an appropriate “sell-by” date for each tag.

    I’m very pleased that we have some proactive editors here that have a bot time-stamping current tags. This is the necessary bit of infrastructure going into the decisions regarding tag life. Greg L (talk) 16:51, 18 October 2008 (UTC)

Temperature units

There has been discussion over on Talk:Mercury (planet) about including Fahrenheit temperatures (along with Kelvin and Celsius) so that the encyclopedia is more readily understandable to readers from the U.S.A. One editor suggested that the appropriate place for this discussion was over here. The opinions presented so far can be viewed on that talk page under the subheading "Editing?" Tuna Night (talk) 17:09, 10 October 2008 (UTC)

  • I think a Fahrenheit conversion would be reasonable in Mercury (planet), especially in the lead section. It's the kind of article that school kids read, not just planetary scientists – probably why it gets so much vandalism! In WP:CHEMS, we often provide Fahrenheit conversions in articles about common or household chemicals, see acetic acid (featured article) for an example. Physchim62 (talk) 15:15, 10 October 2008 (UTC)
  • I don't see any harm in having the conversions available. As Physchim says, the article isn't just read by scientists. --Tango (talk) 16:25, 10 October 2008 (UTC)
  • If it's a general article like Mercury, then by all means it should have Fahrenheit in it. —MJCdetroit (yak) 16:56, 10 October 2008 (UTC)
  • There was a discussion some time back (either earlier this year, or late last year) amongst Astronomy editors which resulted in a decision to to use only the metric values. I'll try to track it down. --Ckatzchatspy 19:02, 10 October 2008 (UTC)
    • Really? And this from a discipline which has at least four widely-used non-SI units of distance! ;) Physchim62 (talk) 19:29, 10 October 2008 (UTC)
  • I agree with the first three editors here. Provide the conversion. Though the Planet Mercury article is clearly scientific in nature, all the planets are of interest to US students still in primary school. A conversion—particularly in the lead section—will help make it more accessible for a general U.S. readership with minimal impact on the quality of the article for everyone else. Greg L (talk) 04:39, 11 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Support; opposing a conversion that communicates and has a trivial cost in complication would be making the encyclopedia worse. What have we said that would discourage such a conversion? And can we get rid of it? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 21:59, 12 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Oppose. (1) US grade-school students, nowadays, are just the ones to know Centigrade, because they are taught it systematically. When they get to high school science, they become yet more familiar with the scale. WP would do them a favor by reinforcing what the schools teach them. (2) Planetary surfaces are rarely at room temperature (perhaps Mars and Mercury once in a blue moon); their temperature ranges are typically at extremes where there's either little significant difference between the two scales (which converge at −40) or the reader is likely to think simply "ah, very hot" or "ah, very cold", without a conversion. (3) We already allow editors of science-based articles to choose, if they wish, not to convert units; won't it look odd to except just one? Why, the school-child may ask. Tony (talk) 22:17, 12 October 2008 (UTC)
Replied to below. I should add here that I would not make an exception, but permit editors one more choice: include both as a conversion. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 03:32, 13 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Oppose – I'm with Tony. Everyone who has taken a science class in the last few decades in the US has been taught Celsius and Kelvin temperatures. And there's no useful intuition for Fahrenheit numbers of the sort in the Mercury article. Conversion might make sense in the context of weather and climate of places of earth, but nowhere else. There's no reason to dumb down the wikipedia to match the average IQ of the red states. Dicklyon (talk) 00:44, 13 October 2008 (UTC)
    • Anyone who has taken a science class since the adoption of the names has been taught about Celsius and Kelvin; it has been part of general education since the Sputnik panic - heck, it's part of the daily weather report. That's half a century now, and most living Americans have been affected by it.
    • This half-century effort has notably failed: Fahrenheit remains American idiom, and the form most readily "understanded of the people". That is therefore why we should be willing to include it where editors think it may help; I am not supporting a mandatory conversion clause here either. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 03:32, 13 October 2008 (UTC)
"Where editors think it will help" is OK. But if editors disagree, that's not to say that those who think it will help automatically win. Dicklyon (talk) 04:57, 13 October 2008 (UTC)
But the post that was brought here is a claim that those that think it will help automatically lose. That is not supported by the text of MOSNUM, and is an ENGVAR violation. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 05:54, 13 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Oppose per Dicklyon. On a case-by-case basis it can maybe be argued that providing Fahrenheit temperatures will be useful to some readers. A look at temperature reveals however that "[t]he entire scientific world (the U.S. included) measures temperature using the Celsius scale and thermodynamic temperature using the kelvin scale...". Later we see "... the United States is the last major country in which the degree Fahrenheit temperature scale is used by most lay people, industry, popular meteorology, and government. Other engineering fields in the U.S. also rely upon the Rankine scale (a shifted Fahrenheit scale) when working in thermodynamic-related disciplines such as combustion." If we allow Fahrenheit in the MoS, we are opening the door for Fahrenheit conversions in every single article which mentions temperatures, and where next? Rankine units? Réaumur scale? Rømer scale even? I'm for sticking with Celsius, or kelvin where appropriate. --John (talk) 05:14, 13 October 2008 (UTC)
    • the United States is the last major country in which the degree Fahrenheit temperature scale is used by most lay people, industry, popular meteorology, and government. The key point here is that it is used by most lay people, industry, popular meteorology, and government in a major English-speaking country. In short, this change is required by WP:ENGVAR, which is long-established and widespread consensus. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 05:51, 13 October 2008 (UTC)
      • That's a nice link, with ENGVAR, which I almost but don't quite buy. The difference is that on spelling conventions, even educated people use the specialized spelling which the US has adopted (as have I as I live in the US), but as the first quote makes clear, in the US, educated scientific use favors the SI units. As an encyclopedia we aim to inform, but we also aim to model educated usage. On this issue, as a science educator in the US, I strongly oppose this dumbing down for our supposed American audience which can't understand Celsius. I think we need to give Americans more credit for intelligence and resourcefulness than this proposal does, and I don't want to see Fahrenheit conversions going into every single article, which is what would happen if this proposal became part of the guideline. --John (talk) 06:09, 13 October 2008 (UTC)
        • The link to ENGVAR is, now that I think of it, actually to the little-quoted statement of principle: We are not here to declare one variety of English more correct than another; in this case, the use of Celsius for all purposes characteristic of some, but not all, Commonwealth countries.
        • I do not believe that conveying information to one's students is dumbing them down; I trust our science educator does not actually teach as he recommends. It is the mark of a good teacher, one secure about his knowledge of the subject, that he avoids uplifting his students with his command of technicalities. For more, see Richard Feynman, passim. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:14, 13 October 2008 (UTC)
          • I'm sorry, but in spite of reading this comment several times and being familiar with Feynman's work, I have no idea what you are trying to say here. --John (talk) 19:24, 14 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Support. Even if the US is just one country, it happens to contain maybe one third of the world's English-speaking population (depending on how you count), and probably an even higher fraction of the Wikipedia readership. Making articles less accessible to so many people due to SI self-righteousness helps no one. I don't buy the slippery slope arguments; this only occurs in "popular science" articles and the Reamur example is a caricature. --Itub (talk) 07:40, 13 October 2008 (UTC)
This is all a storm in a teacup. Editors currently decide themselves (by consensus on a science-based article talk page, if it's under contention), whether to convert to imperial units. Why are we talking about this? Tony (talk) 09:13, 13 October 2008 (UTC)
I agree. I think there is a tendency to overlegislate in this page when local consensus works perfectly fine. --Itub (talk) 09:21, 13 October 2008 (UTC)
Disagree. I think that a general rule would benefit everyone by avoiding consensus discussions on each article. Looks like so much a waste of time to me. Let's discuss this once for all. --Cyclopia (talk) 10:09, 13 October 2008 (UTC)
I'd agree with Tony and Itub, except that the editors on the article talk page seemed to think that the simply because it was a "scientific" article meant that there should be no conversion. That's not the rule that we use on WP:CHEMS, and I don't think it was what was intended when the guideline was written. There's really no need to have Fahrenheit conversion on Lanthanum(III) oxide, but it helps accessibility on acetic acid, IMHO. Physchim62 (talk) 11:56, 13 October 2008 (UTC)
I see no sign that that argument was the intent of the rule, and it's not what it says. Physchim62's examples are both to the point, and we could do worse than to add them; although since the only temperature mentioned in acetic acid is its flash point, the melting point of gallium may be a better example in that direction. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:14, 13 October 2008 (UTC)
We probably could do worse than to add them, indeed. However, as the arguments against adding them outweigh those for, I do not think we will. --John (talk) 19:24, 14 October 2008 (UTC)
Erm, hold on, am I reading you both correctly there? The only temperature quoted in acetic acid is its flash point? The argument against adding [Fahrenheit conversions] outweigh those for? Physchim62 (talk) 19:55, 14 October 2008 (UTC)
The first statement is clearly untrue. The second I believe to be true; the disruption caused by attempting to add Fahrenheit conversions to thousands of articles will outweigh any benefit gained. Instead I think we should seek local consensus to add the conversions on a case-by-case basis where circumstances demand it, rather than adding to MoS. --John (talk) 20:50, 14 October 2008 (UTC)
My error. That's what I thought the search results found; I'm not sure how I got that impression. Do we want to add conversions for, for example, the normalizations to 25 °C? to one of them? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:29, 15 October 2008 (UTC)
  • No one is suggesting that thousands of articles be altered; merely that any local group of editors be free to add Fahrenheit when they judge it likely to be helpful. Fortunately, the existing guidance does permit this, although clarification would prevent our having this discussion every time some well-meaning editor decides that only Celsius and Kelvin are pure enough to include in scientific articles. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:29, 15 October 2008 (UTC)
  • If that were merely the case there would be no need to have a discussion here about it. I recognize the right for local consensuses to decide minor things on a local basis; this MoS never was a binding, legal document. I would definitely be against amending the MoS towards any sort of recommendation to use Fahrenheit temperatures more widely than they already are in science articles though. The initial request wasn't very clear I suppose; I assumed from the fact they posted at a MoS talk page they wanted to amend the MoS. --John (talk) 05:03, 16 October 2008 (UTC)

  • Too many spurious arguments are being employed here to argue against a Fahrenheit conversion for the planet Mercury—as if the opponents fear the general discipline of science will be set on a track back to the age of human sacrifices and blood letting if we darken the doorstep of an article by using an occasional non-SI unit of measure in (*gasp*) a science article. The Fahrenheit conversion doesn’t “dumb down” the article and it doesn’t detract from the article to any appreciable degree.

    I live in the U.S. and am mature enough to know full well that pretty much everyone in America has an oven in their kitchen that is calibrated in Fahrenheit; this is how Americans intuit the relative magnitude of “really hot.” Showing a Fahrenheit conversion of 801 °F is extraordinarily helpful to intuitively communicate to an American reader just how hot Mercury is—much hotter than the highest temperature on their oven. Most American’s can’t relate 427 °C to any familiar experience. It doesn’t matter that Celsius is taught in American schools because the scale isn’t used in daily life.

    We’ve got to stop thinking that we somehow serve a meritorious and greater good by using Wikipedia as a vehicle to promote the adoption and understanding of modern systems of measurement via the omission of familiar conversions. If an article is on a scientific subject that is of broad interest to a generally non-scientific audience, there is no compelling reason to not provide a conversion to help American readers to understand the magnitude of an important measure. We aren’t here to help serve up autumn offerings to the SI gods; we’re here to communicate and educate via interesting text that invites exploration and learning—our American readership included. Greg L (talk) 01:39, 18 October 2008 (UTC)

    P.S. I didn’t precede my comment with a “support” because I think it is wholly inappropriate to even pretend that this common sense, fundamental point of doing proper technical writing for a world-wide readership can be subject to a referendum vote of a small handful of editors who frequent Talk:MOSNUM. And “pardon me all over the place” for honestly expressing my observation that I detect a bit of an arrogant attitude, from some editors here, that if America is too retarded to adopt the SI into their daily life, then they loose the right to intuitively and easily learn. That’s sort of an attitude of “we’re all too stuck up here to provide a simple temperature conversion for Americans.” And lest any proponent of the SI here think I’m soft on the adoption of the SI, I’m not. I imported a Celsius thermostat from Canada for my house when I was in my 30s. I’ve simply wised up enough since then to realize that just because I like the SI system, doesn’t mean we have to be an ass about it. Greg L (talk) 01:54, 18 October 2008 (UTC)

    • Without wanting to be an ass about it, this is not Talk:Mercury (planet) but Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style (dates and numbers). I don't have a problem with adding a conversion to the Mercury (planet) page, but I do have a problem with altering the MoS guidance to open the way to adding conversions to an obsolete unit to potentially thousands of articles. I do hope you will be able to grasp the difference. --John (talk) 17:31, 19 October 2008 (UTC)
  • John: It doesn’t matter if Fahrenheit is an “obsolete” temperature scale. It only matters that it is the scale that 300 million Americans are familiar with. Proper, modern science is now standardized on the SI and that is as it should be. A properly written MOSNUM guideline shouldn’t “open the door” to conversions like milliliters to fluid ounces in an article on titrating. I would propose wording along the lines of:

If an article is on a scientific subject that is of broad interest to a non-technical audience (e.g. the surface temperature of the planet Mercury), editors should provide conversions to non-SI units where doing so will help American readers to understand the magnitude of important measures.

I don’t see this as opening the door to anything but understanding. Greg L (talk) 02:00, 20 October 2008 (UTC)
I respect your intentions of course, but I still don't agree. I guess we have different views on the exact location of the fine line between aiding understanding and a patronizing dumbing down of our project. --John (talk) 02:10, 20 October 2008 (UTC)
  • That’s OK. I knew going into this that it would be an uphill battle trying to encroach barbarian units into science. America still hasn’t adopted the SI into daily life. (Sigh.) Oh well, at least I’ve had grand leadership over the last eight years by one of the great thinkers of our time—George Bush—as a consolation prize. Take that England and your “Winston Churchill.” (*whimper*) Greg L (talk) 02:50, 20 October 2008 (UTC)
  • You're a good sport and a good guy and I just know your intentions are good on this, I just fear it would destabilize things more than it would add light. If individual articles (or indeed projects) want to convert I wouldn't quarrel with that, so long as they don't go too far. As for Bush, I voluntarily moved to the US while he was leader, so I must like him, right? Hey, he taught the world how to pronounce noo-ku-lar correctly, what's not to like? Churchill and Maggie Thatcher was the original quote I think, and it's an excellent allusion to make in the context of this discussion. Churchill is actually a hero of mine, although I am Scottish and therefore supposed to hate English people; but then his mum was American. Complicated world, isn't it? :) --John (talk) 04:50, 20 October 2008 (UTC)
  • There's already provisions under this version of the MoS to have non-SI units in articles. See the sections on familiarity and the section on conversions. If there's consensus on Talk:Mercury (planet), then that's all there needs to be. And if there isn't (for lack of discussion), then WP:BOLD. Headbomb {ταλκWP Physics: PotW} 13:29, 20 October 2008 (UTC)


I thought there used to be a statement to not use unicode fractions for the same reasoning against the uses of unicode superscripts. --—— Gadget850 (Ed) talk - 10:38, 15 October 2008 (UTC)

Maybe, but it must have been deleted quite a long time ago. It was me who added the present section on Fractions, at a time when the subject was not addressed at all. Originally I mentioned Unicode fractions as an alternative, but people didn't like that, so I removed the reference to them. If you want to (re?)add explicit guidance against using Unicode fractions, I'm not aware of anyone who would object.--Kotniski (talk) 11:35, 15 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Before about six months ago, Wikipedia’s page rendering engine added lots of extra leading (line spacing) whenever someone used superscripted or subscripted characters. This made paragraphs really ugly; what with the leading jumping around all over the place. Further, this greatly expanded leading made it difficult to see where one paragraph ended and a new one began if there were successive lines in a paragraph containing super/subscripted characters. The Unicode fractions (½, ¼) were a quick work-around to this problem.

    Since then, the developers have fixed that problem and only one extra point of leading is added for super/subscripting. Since the need for this workaround no longer exists, I believe the Unicode fractions should no longer be used because their very small characters are hard to read on some OS/browser/hardware combinations; particularly if they appear in the small text-style used in many of our References & Notes sections (⅜, ⅝). Our {{frac}} template, e.g. {{frac|3|8}} → ​38 and {{frac|4}} → ​14, is a fine tool. Greg L (talk) 17:07, 15 October 2008 (UTC)

    • But, as often, it's a trade-off. Some editors will dislike the large amounts of white space introduced by {{frac}}, which this very section displays. Present the cases on both sides, and let editors decide; we cannot envisage all their circumstances. (White space is particularly bad on tables, and so forth...) Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:34, 15 October 2008 (UTC)
      • Any accessibility implications? Which will screen readers do better with?LeadSongDog (talk) 17:41, 15 October 2008 (UTC)
  • That’s an interesting question. With Mac OS X (10.5.5), the built-in speech services pronounces ​38 as two digits: “three eight”. It is wholly silent with the Unicode ⅜. It is also silent for ½ and ⅓. I have no idea how other, fine operating systems perform. You really have to use a lot of interpretation with OS X’s built-in reader; standard techno lingo is handled rather well but it starts getting stilted with advanced technical matters. For instance, it doesn’t know that “9.81 N” should be pronounced “nine point eight one newtons.” Note still, that the Mac is better than other free alternatives in its ability to parse English meaning—it’s almost clairvoyant. For instance, it correctly pronounces “I project that you will be done with that project on Feb. 13th” in that it properly pronounces the two different meanings of “project” (v. tr. and n.), and it says “February”, not “Feb”. And on routine technical matters, OS X is pretty good; for instance, “1000 kg” is pronounced “one thousand kilograms.” So I rather expected it would pronounce the Unicode fractions even better: as a true fraction (“three eighths”).

    I would agree with PMAnderson above, that there are places (tabular charts for instance) where the Unicode fractions might be better suited, and the best guideline is to provide usage guidance for editors and let them make the choice. Greg L (talk) 22:30, 15 October 2008 (UTC)

  • The {{frac}} template looks horrible to me (the denominator is on a completely different line than the rest of the fraction). What's wrong with using "1/2" or "5/8" like we have for the past 141 years? If you really need something fancy, you can always resort to math mark-up. Personally I think using {{frac}} and unicode fractions are clumsy solutions to a non-existent problem. Kaldari (talk) 23:05, 15 October 2008 (UTC)
I don't understand, the denominator looks fine to me:
  • One half, 1/2, ​12, ½
  • One quarter, 1/4, ​14, ¼
--—— Gadget850 (Ed) talk - 23:20, 15 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Yes, the denominator produced by {frac} looks fine with me too. These sort of issues can often be traced to a combination of OS/browser/hardware setup. I’m on Safari, which—like the latest version of Firefox—anti-aliases its fonts. So I personally don’t have any difficulty reading even the micro-size Unicode fractions.

    But I do appreciate fine typography and among the “easy” ways to produce nice-looking fractions, the results of {frac} come closest to what you’d get in professionally typeset materials. Ease-of-use and attractive output probably underlies why {frac} has proved so popular. Even an IBM Selectric typewriter from the mid-70s could produce fractions that looked midway between what {frac} produces and the Unicode characters. While a fraction like 3/4 could have indeed been produced on a 1940s Underwood typewriter in 7th grade (or “141 years ago” as Kaldari wrote), the typography world has fortunately moved on.

    Were it I who had designed the {frac} template, I think I would have tried one more notch smaller of text, such as 23, v.s. ​23 with {frac} and ⅔ via Unicode. I don’t know what it looks like when rendered on other people’s computers, but my hand-tuned version looks just fine on Safari on a Mac. But, it’s a pain to code:
    <font size="-1"><sup>2</sup>⁄<sub>3</sub></font size>
    Greg L (talk) 02:55, 16 October 2008 (UTC)

  • I also like the {{fraction}} template. If the unicode fractions are deprecated, they should also be removed from the symbols editing palette too. Their existence there encourages their use. Ohconfucius (talk) 04:19, 16 October 2008 (UTC)
  • For me (I'm on WinXP) it looks fine in Firefox, a little less fine in IE7 and pretty bad in Opera 9.10 (haven't tried later versions). I have no idea why, or whether we should consider that Opera's problem. There are no legibility issues though, which is the most important thing. -- Jao (talk) 12:11, 16 October 2008 (UTC)

As for me, I like 1/4 more than ​14 for fractions in running text, but maybe that's just me.-- Army1987 (t — c) 13:28, 17 October 2008 (UTC)

14 is obnoxious in some contexts. For example, consider the expression √​14. Students write this in a way that makes it unclear whether the radical covers the whole fraction or only the numerator, and then you need to tell them it's illegible on that account and deduct points for it and they act surprised that anyone cares about it, so you have to be really emphatic in forbidding such things. So we shouldn't encourage it. Michael Hardy (talk) 17:41, 17 October 2008 (UTC)
The fraction template looks horrible to me. I'm on a Mac running Firefox 3 (it looks fine in Safari though). Instead of using a template that looks great for 90% of users and terrible for 10% of users, why don't we stick with "2/3" which looks great for 100% of users and causes no problems? Kaldari (talk) 18:51, 17 October 2008 (UTC)
  • I’m sure there is a wide variety of opinion on this subject. I think all that is being established here is that there is no fits-all solution for fractions. Tabular tables, for instance, might benefit from using the compact Unicode fractions like ¾. As for radics in math, do you think √9/17 is in any fashion clearer than √917? And isn’t all that ambiguity solved by being unambiguous, e.g. √(​917) or ​√917 ? Further, once one is getting into math and radics, shouldn’t one be using Wikipedia’s math markup or TeX anyway? The expression is absolutely unambiguous. Regular text is unsuitable, really, for math.

    I think we’re getting off onto a tangent. This discussion started with whether the Unicode symbols, like ⅛, should be encouraged by MOSNUM for use in regular in-line text when {{frac}} (for producing fractions like ​18 ) is available. Then the discussion expanded to “typewriter” fractions like 1/2. Whereas typewriter fractions are an alternative, well done typography doesn’t do it that way… and hasn’t since the 1880s, when, even lead Linotype had special characters for fractions. Now that we have computerized, proportionally spaced typefaces and browses that anti-alias fonts, I think we can can afford to do better than recreate what a simple typewriter could do back when Abraham Lincoln wasn’t yet old enough to drink. Greg L (talk) 19:38, 17 October 2008 (UTC)

  • Well if it's a choice solely between {{frac}} and unicode fractions, I support unicode fractions. Since opinion seems to be divided, however, why don't we list both as options in the MoS? Kaldari (talk) 19:45, 17 October 2008 (UTC)
  • I have created the template {{radic}} for stuff like 9/17, though I do prefer TeX for anything much more complicated than that. And I've seen fractions written as 9/17 in many places, most of them much more recent than the 1880s, including for example the IUPAP Red Book; I really can see nothing wrong with them, especially when used in-line within a sentence. -- Army1987 (t — c) 20:16, 17 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Btw, what about 9 ⁄ 17 (9&nbsp;&frasl;&nbsp;17)? -- Army1987 (t — c) 20:18, 17 October 2008 (UTC) (Never mind, very ugly. -- Army1987 (t — c) 20:23, 17 October 2008 (UTC))
  • That is what PMAnderson suggested in his 17:34, 15 October 2008 post, above: just present the pros and cons to editors and let them do as they see fit. I can certainly see that {frac}-created fractions look stupid on Firefox 3.0.1. I simply use Safari on a Mac and pretty much everything looks good on it (on a modern LCD monitor); I can clearly read the Unicode fractions. The trouble is, some OS/browser/Preferences settings/hardware combos make the Unicode fractions truly unreadable because they are too small. This is a more serious problem than merely having ungainly leading or inconsistent vertical offsets. It’s terribly hard for editors to really believe that utter junk they might be looking at actually and truly looks fine for many other users. In sorting through the best compromise setting on {{val}} for delimiting numbers (such as 6.022365875×1023), we had to exchange screen shots between various editors so we can see what they were seeing and understand why they wanted something tightened up or expanded. We even had an editor looking at the results on an iPhone. There is a new benchmark for browsers to follow and to get a perfect score, they have to *exactly* match—pixel for pixel—a certain standard. As I recall, the newest version of Safari is compliant. I think we can assume that technology will catch up with our aspirations. In the mean time, we can muddle through with alternative tools and differing opinions as to what is best. All we can do on MOSNUM is provide information. Greg L (talk) 20:28, 17 October 2008 (UTC)
  • I'm thinking that {{frac}} may be best for general text and unicode may be best for tight areas such as tables. --—— Gadget850 (Ed) talk - 20:55, 17 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Seems that way to me too. Greg L (talk) 00:53, 18 October 2008 (UTC)
  • I'm thinking that "horizontal" fractions (1/4) is best for general text and tight areas such as tables, and "vertical" fractions is (usually) best for formulas on their own line. I can't see any place in which "diagonal" fractions (​14 or ¼) look best.{{frac}} looks best for cases such as "Aged ​13 34, and Unicode fractions in places where {{frac}} can't be used, such as the title The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13¾. -- Army1987 (t — c) 10:25, 18 October 2008 (UTC)
  • These differences of opinion are sometimes purely a matter of personal preference. Often though, there are surprisingly great differences in visual appearance due to an interaction of OS, browser, preferences settings, and hardware. Some browsers, notably Firefox, are currently mucking up the placement of subscripts. We know what OS/browser Jao is using. So too for me and Kaldari (who, like me, finds that diagonals look fine on a Mac using Safari but not Firefox). What are you running? Greg L (talk) 16:21, 18 October 2008 (UTC)

← I didn't say that they aren't displayed correctly, only that I don't like them. I use Epiphany on Ubuntu, and both the numerator and the denominator are legible in ​14 and ¼. (But I used Internet Explorer on Windows XP recently, and it crops the bottom part of denominators of ​13 in some places (e.g. tables), and the denominator of ⅓ almost looks like a 2 at some font sizes. But if M$ stuff is broken, that's their fault, not ours, right?) OTOH, 1/3 looks just fine to me, and it's impossible for even the most brain-dead browser to get it wrong, so why not use it? -- Army1987 (t — c) 19:09, 18 October 2008 (UTC)

  • I don’t know what would be the wisest thing to do here. If Microshaft is producing software that cuts off the bottom of some fractions, like ​13, then they actually are not being displayed correctly. Unfortunately, many readers use Internet Explorer. It would be most unfortunate if we were to optimize Wikipedia for lowest-common-denominator technology. I remember there was an editor who was shrinking pictures really small because he had a 640 × 480 monitor. The default standard for Web pages is to now optimize for 1024 pixels across (below that, scrolling is required). And it’s been that way for a long time. The same issue applies to page sizes (not the size the edit preview says, but the actual HTML download, including pictures): many of our articles require impractically long waits on dial-up service.

    Now that there is a new Web browser gold standard that developers are trying to certify their products as being compliant with (Safari is one of them as I recall), it should be soon enough that browser technology can keep up with the modest typography demands that some of our Wikipedia templates throw at them. Rather than put an explicit statement in MOSNUM that would place a premium on using barbarian-style typewriter-style fractions like 1/2 in order to make things look better on sub-standard browsers, I think the better solution at the moment would be to remain silent until the technology catches up; I don’t think the wait will be too long. Greg L (talk) 22:00, 18 October 2008 (UTC)

    Which pixel-by-pixel standards are you talking about? Is it the Acid tests? Those tests may check for pixel-perfect positioning of page elements such as boxes, but they say nothing about the exact rendering of fonts. I think it would be unrealistic to ask for a standard that required everyone in the world to use the exact same font and have it rendered the same pixel by pixel. --Itub (talk) 07:14, 19 October 2008 (UTC)
    I see "barbarian-style typewriter-style fractions" practically anywhere, even in professionally typeset books. Just to pick an example, on The Feynman Lectures on Physics you see , with both v and c on the same baseline as the 1. (Very slightly below, but that's a common thing to do with glyphs with curved bottoms, so the symbols are at the same relative heights as if 1, v, and c appeared in any one line of a sentence.) It appears to be much more common than diagonal-style fractons. If TeX allows you to do and directly but requires a kludge to do , do you think there's a reason for it? -- Army1987 (t — c) 08:48, 19 October 2008 (UTC)

Can I just throw into the discussion the question of mixed numbers? While I might be able to accept 3/4 for ​34, I would find it harder to accept 1 3/4 or 1+3/4 for ​1 34. Can those who don't like {frac} say what they would do with these?--Kotniski (talk) 09:19, 19 October 2008 (UTC)

7/4. -- Army1987 (t — c) 09:43, 19 October 2008 (UTC)
Oh all right, ​13 34 then (as in The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13¾ - though I don't think we have any alternative to Unicode in article titles).--Kotniski (talk) 09:54, 19 October 2008 (UTC)
Ok, ok, so there is a case in which {{frac}} is useful. But extending this to cases like "Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. The speed of light is 299,792,458 ms. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat." (I have seen something similar to that – including the link – in a real article) is not a very good idea. -- Army1987 (t — c) 10:13, 19 October 2008 (UTC)
I haven't read all of this yet, but I want to make three quick points. (1) There are extended ASCII characters for ½, ¼, and ¾. (2) On the edit screen, where you have "insert". "Wiki markup", and "symbols", there are symbols for several common fractions that is pretty convenient to use. Right now they insert Unicode. Those need to still work to give what ever is decided. (3) I strongly dislike "2/3". Bubba73 (talk), 14:36, 19 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Army1987: I believe the discussion is whether MOSNUM should remain silent on the use of in-line body text fractions like ¾, 34, ​34, or 3/4. A mathematical expression like , with both v and c on the same baseline

    …has nothing to do with it. For over a hundred years, fine typography—even in newspapers at the turn of the century—have had single-symbol, over/under fractions. I see no compelling reason to deprecate their use because you think “3/4” is beautiful. Clearly, other editors prefer over/unders. Why are we even debating this? Greg L (talk) 15:29, 19 October 2008 (UTC)

    I agree that the MOS should stay silent – istruction creep is evil. But I don't understand why that expression "has nothing to do with it". You say that fractions on one line haven't been used "since the 1880s", but that book was published in the 1960s; and that was only the first example I thought of; there are many others, even more recent than that. But I'm just not bored enough to go around making a list of such examples. I think that most books I've seen recently use such fractions (except books which use few or no fractions at all, such as some novels.) -- Army1987 (t — c) 15:47, 19 October 2008 (UTC)
    But one of these examples springs to my mind immediately. The SI brochure says: (1.1 Quantities and units) "[...] particle may be expressed in the form v = 25 m/s = 90 km/h, where metre per second [...]"; the m, the s, the km, and the h are on the same line as all other characters; a margin note on 5.1 Unit symbols says "m/s or or m s–1, for metre per second"; the form ​ms is not even mentioned. 5.3.6 Multiplying or dividing quantity symbols, the values of quantities, or numbers says: "When multiplying or dividing quantity symbols any of the following methods may be used: ab, a b, ab, a × b, a/b, , a b−1." And even there, the a and the b in a/b are on the same line as any other character (except the −1 exponent and the ), and ​ab isn't mentioned. The edition I am quoting was published in 2006, a hell of a long time later than Abraham Lincoln's legal drinking age. So, honestly, I can't understand where you get the impression that n/m fractions are so old-fashioned. -- Army1987 (t — c) 16:03, 19 October 2008 (UTC)
  • You raise a number of good points and it got me thinking about how I manage these issues. Indeed, I always use expressions like 5.2 m/s and not 5.2 ​ms. I do the following for stand-alone fractions, compound fractions, and complex fractions:
• ...there are ​1000123.562134 (≈8.093 moles)
• The test voltage must be no less than 1 ​78 the operating...
Greg L (talk) 18:51, 19 October 2008 (UTC)
Yes, maybe we disagree on fewer things than we thought, because 1000/123.562134 would look not very clear to me. (As for the voltage, I'd probably say "no less than 187.5%", but that's another matter.) Furthermore, we both agree that there's no point in adding an item on the MoS about this, so... -- Army1987 (t — c) 12:04, 21 October 2008 (UTC)

Historical years (again)

What's the deal people? I thought we'd been thru this two weeks ago -- bots and script kiddies (yes, you know who you are) have no cause to be auto-delinking historical years from articles. As noted above, 1066, a year largely considered a turning point in English civilisation had less that a few hundred "what links here" results. I understand the issue with recent years per WP:RECENT, but as a general rule, articles relating to olden days should be allowed to have years link so as to provide an easy historical context for the casual reader. Again, what's the problem? Where's the RfC myself and others demanded be called before implementing this? -- Kendrick7talk 05:45, 21 October 2008 (UTC)

Please would you kindly explain the distinction between a 'year' and a 'historic year'?? I could be wrong in interpreting it as a year not in living memory when something important happened. Er, It strikes me that the above concept may be extremely subjective. You mentioned 1066. Presumably you would also include 1776, 1789, 1780, 1937, 1914, 1918, 1939, 1945, 1949. How would you define 'important', and where would you advise the community to draw the line, if only to avoid the plague of blue numbered years from 0 to year infinity? Ohconfucius (talk) 06:13, 21 October 2008 (UTC)
Kendrick7, could you let us know what specific edits/pages you're talking about, so the rest of us can follow the discussion? thanks. Sssoul (talk) 07:42, 21 October 2008 (UTC)
I'm understanding "historic" to mean something like "memorable" in the Sellar and Yeatman sense. I don't think it's a tenable concept in a worldwide project like ours. If you think it's significant that event X happened in the year of event Y, then say so explicitly and link to Y ("She was born in 1066, the year of the Norman Conquest.") If you just link to the year, readers a) likely won't follow the link; and b) even if they do, likely won't know which of the hodge-podge of facts they find there is supposed to be relevant.--Kotniski (talk) 10:25, 21 October 2008 (UTC)
Lovely, thanks for that link. Excellent book, by all accounts! Ohconfucius (talk) 10:31, 21 October 2008 (UTC)

Bot proposal: remove autoformatted dates and leave solitary years alone

There is a bot proposal to remove autoformatted dates and leave solitary years alone. Please see Wikipedia:Bots/Requests for approval/Cleanbot. Regards Lightmouse (talk) 13:17, 21 October 2008 (UTC)

Date links per wp:mosnum?

Moved from Lightmouse talk page: begin
Why are you still delinking historical years? You know darned well there was no consensus at WP:MOSNUM supporting this. You edit comments are disingenuous. -- Kendrick7talk 19:24, 20 October 2008 (UTC)

Please don't be so aggressive. If you would like to debate wp:mosnum issues, I suggest the talk page of wp:mosnum is the best place. Lightmouse (talk) 20:52, 20 October 2008 (UTC)

Please reread the comment. Also consider: by making the edits you are being aggressive. I have looked hard at several of your year delinks, and agreed with them, but you seem to be getting a little overboard, or perhaps are not checking your robot closely enough. Perhaps I am reading Kendrick7's comment incorrectly, but I think the point is that your remarks on your edits need be be "more"... at least in some cases. I would agree with that. But perhaps I am incorrect. sinneed (talk) 02:18, 21 October 2008 (UTC)

If I wanted to be aggressive, I would have called for your AWB (sp?) scripting privileges to have been revoked. I am mad, but not yet completely pissed, as I'm not sure of your degree of caution with your ongoing efforts here. I had thought we had a sort of understanding that you were to gather wider consensus before auto-delinking years from articles, and I am, as such, suspicious. WP:CONSENSUS does not form simply because people on one side tire of re-arguing their point. -- Kendrick7talk 06:10, 21 October 2008 (UTC)

Which "historical year" is at issue, Kendrick? I'm interested, because I don't think I've ever seen one that provides useful information that will increase the reader's understanding of the topic at hand, as required by the MoS. Tony (talk) 03:51, 21 October 2008 (UTC)

Er, and what pray, is the distinction between a 'year' and a 'historic year', and how is anyone likely to tell the difference here on WP?? Ohconfucius (talk) 06:08, 21 October 2008 (UTC)

(sorry for stomping your sig) I had drawn the line at years within living memory. The point is, everyone understands culture in, say, the 1960s was different, generally, from culture in the 1980s, or even the 1930s, and there's a context which we all understand to events within each milieu, even if we've only seen late night ads for Time-Life CD collections. Anyone who thinks there's not just as much of a difference between the 430s, 460s, and 480s is ignorant. I understand that too many articles link to recent years, but that's no reason to delink the historical context from years whose links measure in the dozens and not the hundred thousands. -- Kendrick7talk 06:21, 21 October 2008 (UTC)

Are you kidding me, Tony? Maybe you are such an avid student of human history that you have at your immediate disposal the context for any given year, but I assure you for our readers that is not the case. What is your hang up about not providing temporal context? The are four dimensions, get used to it. I don't really feel like re-arguing this just for arguments sake, but OK, we can redux this on Talk:MOSNUM. -- Kendrick7talk 06:10, 21 October 2008 (UTC)

One more vote to stop this work till the consensus. I'm looking on the page, where the birthdate was delinked. My personal beleif, is that the page did lose some important information.--Alogrin (talk) 07:20, 21 October 2008 (UTC)

There's no vote here; only discussion. Kendrick, I'm still eagerly waiting examples of how a "historical" year page can "increase the reader's understanding" of the topic at hand. Alogrin, are you referring to the removal of date autoformatting, per MOSNUM's deprecation of it? DA was never intended to provide links to dm/md pages or to year pages. But just supposing it was, I'd like examples of how August 8 or 1977 provides focused and relevant information warranting a link from a particular article. This is an old argument that has been resolved yet rehashed many times; I'm still willing to go through it again. Tony (talk) 10:35, 21 October 2008 (UTC)

Moved from Lightmouse talk page: end

If your point is that most year articles are listcruft, the solution is to fix them, as was done to 1345, not to orphan them. (If someone believes that the current listcruft is of any use, they can simply copy it to List of 1913 events, for example.) -- Army1987 (t — c) 12:45, 21 October 2008 (UTC)
No one is talking of orphaning year pages, although frankly they're widely recognised as being substandard collections of ragbag facts. 1345 proves the point, although it's far from perfect and presents another challenge: it has sucked in much of the overview material that would be more appropriate to the whole decade; pages such as 1345 can't just be conjured up for all of the years in the vicinity. My suggestion at the WikiProject Years to conflate year pages into decade pages before a certain century was met with utter silence, as though not one person cared. Apart from this issue, which will be a gargantuan task to fix (there are thousands of pages, and the WikiProject is apparently moribund), there is the popular proposal here that chronological pages be linked in the "See also" section, where readers are more likely to be attracted to them. And let's not forget that they all link to each other like a huge tree, so one gateway in an article, or several gateways, will lead to all sibling pages. Linking years systemically throughout articles is not now an option, and linking just a few selected years is an ineffective way of attracting readers and will open a slippery slope to mass linkings. WP has moved on. Tony (talk) 13:00, 21 October 2008 (UTC)
"Linking just a few selected years" is the right thing to do if they are "selected" in the right way. See my 10 October comment at the end of #User:Lightbot_paused. -- Army1987 (t — c) 08:55, 22 October 2008 (UTC)
Linking years systematically through articles is still an option, and apparently a very popular one at that. Just because you (or I incidentally) don't find these links to be of great value, doesn't mean that loads of other people don't either. Deprecating date auto-formatting was a huge mistake in my opinion, the functionality was very helpful to a lot of users and the amount of edit wars it prevented must have been immense. Let's not make any more decisions that will inhibit the value of Wikipedia articles to users. - fchd (talk) 05:32, 22 October 2008 (UTC)
I'm sure it was nice for a lot of editors, but most readers are neither editors, nor registered users. Maybe the number of edit wars prevented was immense (since people without accounts don't seem to be interested in edit wars about date format; they'd rather edit war about how to spell metre; don't ask me why, I don't know). For whatever reason, present-day editors no longer seem interested in edit-waring over date format. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 05:41, 22 October 2008 (UTC)
Yup, concur with Gerry. It's an unexpected and very pleasing evolution that there's systemic acceptance of binary systems in both spelling and date formats. I think the last we saw of mutual irritations underlay some of the interactions in the debate on MOSNUM's rules for choosing date formats for articles that are unrelated to anglophone countries. Even that has settled. Tony (talk) 05:46, 22 October 2008 (UTC)


Plasticup has been removing links from dates in {{Citation}} and {{Cite xxx}} templates, with the edit summary "fixing the "date=" fields to allow wiki-magic using AWB". I've asked a question about this on the {{Citation}} talk page; do leave your comments there. — Cheers, JackLee talk 14:52, 23 October 2008 (UTC)

What is going on here w/r/t linked dates?

Came here from the autoformatting subsection, where I left some comments, only to find that the apparent "consensus" behind altering the date/year linking policy is only Tony's cherry-picked talk page (in short, it strawmans his opposition; downplays the opposition clear on the subsection page and here; and blames date linking for errors caused by autoformatting, which are far more efficiently solved by removing preference autoformatting if it's a legitimate problem.) Has the only vote so far been about British v American date formatting?

What gives? Is there really no consensus? And if so, why is the policy changing and why are bots being developed to auto"correct" existing pages? -LlywelynII (talk) 22:50, 2 October 2008 (UTC)

I second this, and have argued with Lightbot's owner about this before. Linking dates allows readers to use "what links here" on dates to find out what occurred on that date, and lets readers quickly see concurrent events worldwide for a given article's scope. This bot shouldn't be running until there's consensus. If the changes aren't noticed right away, it can be a real pain to undo it's efforts. -- Kendrick7talk 18:32, 5 October 2008 (UTC)
Autoformatting of dates is a pile of crap. It has been extensively debated for months. If Tony has a talk page that you don't think is convincing, that is a straw-man argument. Whether Tony's talk page is convinding or not, the concensus to not autoformat dates exists. Just read the talk page archives for this guideline. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 18:46, 5 October 2008 (UTC)
I do not agree with not linking the dates either and I would like to point out that the consensus was reached only after the 3rd or forth time of being no consensus.--Kumioko (talk) 19:28, 5 October 2008 (UTC)
About using "What links here" to find out what happened on a date: With autoformatting, "What links here" will pick up every reference published or accessed on that date, making it impossible to use autoformatting to find articles related to specific dates. —Remember the dot (talk) 19:45, 5 October 2008 (UTC)
That really only applies to dates from the 20th century on, maybe the 19th. There's no reason for this bot to be running around delinking dates from the fourth century, etc. -- Kendrick7talk 22:02, 5 October 2008 (UTC)
"What links here" on 5 October 427 can only show you links to "5 October" or "427", it can't show you links to "5 October 427" specifically. All the centuries are mixed together, making it very difficult to use linking to find events that happened on a specific date. —Remember the dot (talk) 22:17, 5 October 2008 (UTC)
You can get pages mentioning 5 October 427 from the intersection of sets of "what links here". Gimmetrow 03:46, 6 October 2008 (UTC)
From 5 October 419 through 7 November 427 .... — Arthur Rubin (talk) 03:58, 6 October 2008 (UTC)
Your point? You could get every article linking to any date in any range by getting every article lining to every date in the range. Gimmetrow 04:11, 6 October 2008 (UTC)
Arthur's point is that if you take the intersection of what links to October 5 and what links to 427, you'll include an article containing that text: "From 5 October 419 through 7 November 427", although it has absolutely nothing to do with 5 October 427. -- Jao (talk) 18:06, 6 October 2008 (UTC)
The intersection may include other articles, but it will include every article you want. Gimmetrow 18:20, 6 October 2008 (UTC)
Yeah, I know that, Remember. Still: a reader might want to know what else was occurring in 427 so they can get a wider historical context to the article they are reading, and linking it let's them do that in one click. Why is that such a terrible thing? -- Kendrick7talk 20:04, 6 October 2008 (UTC)
I have no problem with depreciating autoformatting. The question is w/r/t linked dates, particularly years. That seems very much not approved by consensus. Tony's arguments regarding "high value links" are rather silly. People may only click a few links upon visiting a page, but they don't click any of them by accident. If they click through the date, it's because they want context. More often, no one will click the dates, but it's useful information for those improving or examining year pages.
It boils down to reducing Wiki's information and functionality for aesthetics; personally, I'm against that. -LlywelynII (talk) 13:45, 6 October 2008 (UTC)

The old version of this manual used to encourage everyone to wikilink every single date. Your attempt to edit the manual can easily be interpreted as "go ahead and go back to the old policy of editing every single date, if that is your preference". This approach has been clearly rejected and your edit should not be allowed to stand. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 22:21, 5 October 2008 (UTC)

Plus the old policy was to only wikilink all full dates, which was done for the sake of autoformatting. For sole years, or month-year, the policy has always been to wikilink only when called for by WP:CONTEXT; thus, there has never been any consensus to wikilink all dates for the sake of linking. I'm not saying consensus can't change, just pointing out in what direction it would have to change, as many seem to be unaware of that. -- Jao (talk) 22:26, 5 October 2008 (UTC)
There's still no consensus that all year links should be removed, so Lightbot should be decertified as a bot, and those who unlink all dates using AWB or other automated systems, without checking each link for applicability, should be decertified for use of automated tools (after a warning). — Arthur Rubin (talk) 03:40, 6 October 2008 (UTC)
I second that removal of years has not been shown to be approved by concensus and decertifying Lightbot is an excellent idea, although I don't know where to go about saying so. Feel free to link to my support from the appropriate page. -LlywelynII (talk) 13:47, 6 October 2008 (UTC)
Agree that Lightbot should be decertified and anyone de-linking dates en masse should stop. --UC_Bill (talk) 14:55, 6 October 2008 (UTC)
And another agree here. Under the current discussion, Lightbot is well out of order. - fchd (talk) 16:00, 6 October 2008 (UTC)
  • First, this argument that year links are necessary for the editors of year pages to orient themselves—to find leads to appropriate information to include on these pages, is utterly bogus. Has anyone heard of the search box? If you need to rely on WP itself rather than outside sources for your stimulus, just type in a year. Second, can someone point to the consensus for linking years in the first place? Tony (talk) 16:10, 6 October 2008 (UTC)
  • There is no requirement to find consensus to allow for the linking of years and dates. Consensus would be required to enforce either always linking them (which no one is suggesting) or never linking them (which is what Lightbot is enforcing). There is no demonstrable consensus that these links must be removed, and given the concerns that continue to be raised it's continued use to remove all linked years is disruptive. Shereth 16:15, 6 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Granted I may be paranoid that my keyboard will break but I don't like the idea that a subset of articles should be reachable only via the search box. — CharlotteWebb 16:16, 6 October 2008 (UTC)
  • I realize that you think that these links should not exist. However, I think it is clear that there is no consensus for these mass edits. Please see Wikipedia:Requests_for_arbitration/Episodes_and_characters_2#Fait_accompli for why you should not being making these sorts of edits on a large scale without forming a consensus first. It feels like you're just trying to wear all of the opposition down by refusing to acknolwedge it and simply persist in making the edits until it's the status quo. -Chunky Rice (talk) 16:54, 6 October 2008 (UTC)
  • This, I think, is what has me worried about this entire approach, and the Fait accompli from that ARbCom is exactly right. I've been watching the debate, and I completely understand and agree with the point of delinking dates and all that. However, this last step, completely depreciating date linking, was brought to the community (across many boards, appropriately), but only a 7 day period elapsed with maybe.. 20-odd editors responding during that time, and suddenly it was "consensus". I am not saying the consensus isn't there for this change, but clearly there needs to be more discussion of the issue. The matter should have been brought up via an RFC or a watchlist-details notice or some other means to invite a much larger discussion; this might have prompted different solutions (maybe the MediaWiki devs would have been kicked into gear to give us a usable autoformatting solution, but there have been other practical solutions such as templates as well after this change was made that seemed to have support) The end result would have likely been the same, but personally a result I would be more comfortable with it once a much larger discussion was made given the wide impact date linking has on WP. --MASEM 17:13, 6 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Yes. Watchlist notification was discussed on 10 September but nothing was done. RFC was suggested on 13 September but it all seemed to get confused (Greg opposed RFC for a reason that seems to be of a personal nature, although he himself always said he wanted a larger input, did I get that right...?) and nothing was done there. No idea why, really. Of course, Tony's arguments have been visible in quite a few places, not only on MOSNUM, but still most people must have missed it (which would have been the case after an RFC or VP announcement as well, I'm sure; watchlist notification would reach more people). -- Jao (talk) 18:33, 6 October 2008 (UTC)
  • I can't fault Tony on trying to spam (in a good way) as much as possible to get the word out, but the spamming was never really to a point of requesting input in a typical RFC fashion; I know when it was posted to WP:VG, it was more confusion on the point as opposed to any discussion. --MASEM 18:45, 6 October 2008 (UTC)
Well, Tony, if you only want year articles to be accessible via the search box, and not through links, the natural conclusion is that that should be the default for all links. - fchd (talk) 17:54, 6 October 2008 (UTC)
There is a difference between links that pass WP:CONTEXT and links that don't. We write "A demo version was released via download on May 1, 1999" and "the game received positive reviews from gaming websites" (examples from today's featured article), and nobody complains that the reader who suddenly feels an urge to read more about downloads, reviews or websites has to type those words in the search box. Why would a reader be more likely to wish to visit May 1 or 1999 than any of those three? -- Jao (talk) 18:33, 6 October 2008 (UTC)
For me it comes down to whether the year is "within living memory" or not. 1999 is within living memory, whereas an article dealing with events 70+ years ago is not, because a reader is increasingly unlikely already know the historical context of the article's subject or to have learned it from elders over the course of their lifetimes, and increasingly likely to need to know to really understand the article the further back in time we go. -- Kendrick7talk

I'd like to point out a fundamental difference between linking years and linking other terms. After a short time, everyone gets to know that we have articles on most years. This is not so with other terms, such as dummy load. So linking some terms serves to alert readers that an article is available on a topic, when it isn't obvious this is the case.

I advocate using infoboxes or templates for significant dates, and I don't mind if the years are linked within those infoboxes or templates. I also don't mind having the first instance of a year linked in an article, if the year is significant. Obviously years that are present in the reference list are seldom significant.

As for the degree of scrutiny needed before using a semiautomatic tool to delink the dates in an article, I believe a person should skim the article and get a sense of the state of the dates in the article. The use of a semiautomatic tool is justified when there are a number of inconsistent date formats in the article, or when nearly all the dates are linked. The use of a semiautomatic tool is not justified when the dates are in a consistent format and only a few dates are linked. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 22:02, 6 October 2008 (UTC)

User:Lightbot paused

I have paused User:Lightbot (at least if it behaves according to the instructions) per the above concerns. I would like to see some sort of consensus here that the task of de-linking dates has any kind of consensus prior to resuming the bot's work. Thanks, Shereth 16:07, 6 October 2008 (UTC)

  • I can’t profess to be unbiased on this issue. I think linking to material that is unrelated to an article is unwise. I’ve written an essay on the matter (here) and expanded on that essay here on my talk page.

    Evidence for a consensus is unclear at this point. The above poll and discussion showed opinion was about evenly split (17 to 15) to no longer link the dates of births. I also believe there has been a developing consensus lately that the linking of calendar days (like March 12) is worse than linking years. Linked years is more of a grey area since there are more circumstances (like history-related articles) where the judicious linking of years is thought by many to be appropriate.

    There also seems to be an intertwining of issues. By de-linking calendar days/years, the bot was also removing autoformating. Autoformatting, which produced *prettier* results only for A) registered editors, who B) set their user preferences, was deemed as unwise by a consensus and has been deprecated.

    The complexity now, is that linking of dates is part of autoformatting and this won’t change until the developers disable the autoformatting function of the links. As a necessary consequence of delinking, Lightbot was replacing them with fixed-text dates in a specific format (Euro/International, or US). This aspect alone brings out passions and opinion is all over the map on how to choose date formatting in articles. A guideline that would key the date format to what is most appropriate to the subject matter failed and the current guideline is weighted towards defaulting to what the first major editor used. So formatting of dates after Lightbot has visited is intertwined with the issue of delinking dates.

    I would propose that we all get onto the same page as to whether there is any meaningful difference between linking of dates and autoformatting of dates (for simple years, like 1987, there isn’t), and try to progress forward from there. Trying to arrive at a consensus is made more complex by the fact that many editors arrive here late to the discussion after articles have been affected by Lightbot; we have to start from square-one with these editors. Greg L (talk) 19:41, 6 October 2008 (UTC)

    • We can wikilink dates without invoking autoformatting: [[March%2012]], [[2008]] will give March 12, 2008. Mind you, I strongly suggest a template form for this instead of hand-writing it. --MASEM 20:26, 6 October 2008 (UTC)

Greg, you wrote:

  • the bot was also removing autoformating and Lightbot was replacing them with fixed-text dates in a specific format

Lets be clear about one thing. Lightbot does not delink autoformatted dates. Many people would be delighted if it did, but it does not. Lightmouse (talk) 21:37, 6 October 2008 (UTC)

    • I have to say, it would be great if you would write up a description of what Lightbot does on it's user page because right now, there's no way to tell, as far as I can see. -Chunky Rice (talk) 21:45, 6 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Indeed. Let’s get it from the horse’s mouth. I’ve struck the contested text. What are the true facts here Lightmouse? What is your bot doing that has editors’ nickers so in a bunch? I’ve clicked on some of your activity as assisted by some AWB software and the result was the deletion of double brackets around dates. Of course, I completely agreed with what you were doing there and think it improves Wikipedia. And I think you properly read the general consensus when you made your move with AWB. But now I’m confused. Are there two kinds of computer-assisted activities going on here? Note further that by taking away the brackets, the dates get locked into their raw way they were coded. For editors who were looking at the world through their damned date preference setting, many would think AWB was changing the date format. The effect of AWB is confusing to some and this is aggravated by the thoroughly moronic action of autoformatting, which gives only some editors a special, rose-colored view of editorial content that no regular user sees.

    There is no point revisiting the issue of what date format to use in articles; that was thoroughly hashed through, starting here in Archive 110, via two run-off-style polls. It hasn’t even been a month since then, so it is unlikely the mood has changed.

    So task at hand is to push for a clear consensus on the circumstances under which it is appropriate to employ links to calendar days and years. Not too many editors disagree with the premiss that links should be sufficiently topical and germane to any given subject to merit being linked to; the issue is where to draw the line and how to memorialize the nuances in an easy-to-follow, clear guideline. Any bot activity should narrowly limit itself to whatever that guideline calls for. Greg L (talk) 21:56, 6 October 2008 (UTC)

  • Whatever comes of this (or any related) discussion, I'd also like to see the question of whether or not bot or script-assisted removal of wikilinks to dates/years is appropriate finally put to rest. Shereth 22:02, 6 October 2008 (UTC)
  • (EC)Thanks to an idea in your sig, we can nowrap the "faked" date to prevent it moving about. (see User:Masem/datetest for an example). Again, this needs to be simplified via a template, but its doable. Just that the template needs to know what format to pump out. --MASEM 22:05, 6 October 2008 (UTC)

I am always a little surprised when I come across the assertion that Lightbot delinks autoformatted dates. It delinks any date except autoformattable dates. That is it. A solitary year is not autoformattable. I personally like the phrase 'date fragments' but some people didn't like that. The issue was extensively discussed in the bot approval. The bot user page (User:Lightbot) provides links to its three separate approvals, look at the bullet points in the one called 'Lightbot 3'. I wrote it in bullet point form in an attempt to make it clearer. If you are still uncertain about what a date that isn't autoformattable means, come back to me. Lightmouse (talk) 22:19, 6 October 2008 (UTC)

  • Maybe we are talking about two different bots. What about this example, Lightmouse? Let’s agree on the simple facts here. Greg L (talk) 22:24, 6 October 2008 (UTC)

← And we come to the crux of the issue, Masem. There are nice ways to link fixed-format dates that circumvent autoformatting and gives all visitors to Wikipedia the same date format. On Sept. 16, we settled on the date format editors should use in articles. So now the issue to settle is the circumstances under which dates should be linked. Here’s my take:

If someone is reading up on the famous architect Frank Gehry, providing a link to beautiful architecture, like Falling Water, is a good idea. But…

We devalue links and bore most readers of that article by providing a 1929 link to an article that says March 3 - Revolt attempt of Generals José Gonzalo Escobar and Jesús María Aguirre fails in Mexico.”

  • The issue is not whether or not these lists have any socially redeeming value whatsoever; it is whether or not they are sufficiently topical and germane to any given subject to merit being linked to; that’s all.

    The nearest thing to a completely random list that has been successful is the Guinness Book of World Records. But, given the nature of what’s in that book, and the fact that is is organized into classifications (natural disasters, human feats, etc.), it can actually be read rather linearly with some measure of enjoyment. Wikipedia’s random lists of who-knows-what come up quite short of “compelling reading.” I don’t buy into the implicit argument that ‘since nearly everything is in date articles, they are suitable links to put into any article.’ To rebut that attitude, I submit How to Bore People in Five Simple Steps.

    Links to years in truly historical contexts are appropriate: in an article on the Great Depression, judicious use of links like 1929 make sense and do a good job of exploiting the promise of hyperlinking, as first envisioned by Paul Otlet in his 1934 book, Traité de documentation (Treatise on Documentation) as interestingly covered here on YouTube.

    But for general-purpose uses like birth years? I don’t think so; if visitors are reading a Wikipedia’s article on, for instance, Frank Gehry, they are most likely there because they are interested in famous architects and beautiful architecture. Accordingly, we add value to the Frank Gehry article and encourage learning and exploration by providing a link to Falling Water, not by linking to 1929 (the year Mr. Gehry was born). But if there was an article on Notable architectural events of 1974 (the year of his first major design), then by all means, let’s provide a year link to that article.

    As for specific calendar days, like like March 12, so few readers would be interested in wading through any of these lists, we would only diminish the value of links and desensitize readers to them were we to link to them.

    I also think Wikipedia’s Fairness In Advertising policy ought to be better applied. For specific calendar days (which ought to be quite rare) links would work as follows:

Pearl Harbor was attacked December 7, 1941 (list of random events throughout history on Dec. 7).

There’d be far fewer of date links being clicked on after that. In all seriousness, I suggest that year links be aliased so they better disclose to the reader what they will be taken to. I suggest as follows:

The Great Depression followed “Black Thursday” which occurred on October 24, 1929 (other notable events of 1929).

Greg L (talk) 22:24, 6 October 2008 (UTC)
Hmmm, a date that will live in infamy, but apparently not be linked. Maybe we should just say that Pearl Harbor, by amazing coincidence, occurred on Pearl Harbor Day. I think birthyears should be linked, because the world a person is born into tells you a lot about their life, and the year articles exactly provide that. -- Kendrick7talk 02:50, 7 October 2008 (UTC)
  • I can see what it was approved to do - which appears to be whatever it wants. What I want to know is what it actually does. Please write a short summary. -Chunky Rice (talk) 22:34, 6 October 2008 (UTC)

To answer Greg's question... you are not referring to Lightbot. You are referring to Lightmouse. Lightbot can run when I am asleep, Lightmouse can't. The Lightmouse contributions often involve a script and my fingers pressing 'Save page'. I find it difficult to answer the request by Chunky Rice because it does a lot, there are hundreds of lines of code. Think of the list of all things that might be called a 'date', then think of a list of all things that might be called a 'valid autoformatted date', then subtract the latter list from the former list and you will have a list of all the things it might delink. For example, in its last edit, it removed one link to '1961' and one link to '1968'. You can see from its recent contributions that it is mostly solitary years because that is what most non-autoformattable dates are. Lightmouse (talk) 22:48, 6 October 2008 (UTC)

  • Maybe the simplest way to convey what Lightbot does is to provide four links here that illustrate its typical activity with dates. Greg L (talk) 22:51, 6 October 2008 (UTC)

I am confused by that request. There are over 380,000 examples. You can pick any one of them just by going to the contributions. Why are we doing this? Lightmouse (talk) 22:58, 6 October 2008 (UTC)

  • The problem I have is that the approval includes "other edits," which aren't specified, to edit dates/numbers etc. as "part of general MOS guidance", which is also very vague. I don't have a good idea what this bot does. Just a sentence saying, "This bot unlinks non-autoformatted dates." would be helpful. Right now, there's no way to tell what it's doing. -Chunky Rice (talk) 23:00, 6 October 2008 (UTC)

Lightbot unlinks non-autoformatted dates. Lightmouse (talk) 23:01, 6 October 2008 (UTC)

And that's the entirety of what it does? -Chunky Rice (talk) 23:02, 6 October 2008 (UTC)

It is also approved to edit units of measure in a variety of forms. Note that approval might not translate into activity. Lightmouse (talk) 23:09, 6 October 2008 (UTC)

If you want to know what it is approved to do, see:
If you want to know what it actually does, see:
it is currently focussed on delinking solitary years because people believed such links as inferior to autoformatting links. There seems to have been a flip flop in that belief. Lightmouse (talk) 23:15, 6 October 2008 (UTC)
I think there is not so much a flip-flop in belief, as a change in which belief is being discussed. Towards the beginning of the discussion it was brought up that many editors saw that full dates and calendar dates were linked to enable autoformatting, so they just linked every year in incorrect imitation of what they saw. It think that's true, that's what really happened. Now the discussion has shifted to "what about the years that were linked deliberately?" Of course, Lightbot can't tell the difference. Perhaps if Lightbot could search an article for unlinked years, and not operate on any article that contains an unlinked year, that would reduce the problem. After all, if some years are unlinked, that would imply that the ones that are linked were deliberate. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 23:28, 6 October 2008 (UTC)

Lightbot can't do that, it can only work with a few characters and sometimes a whole line. Even if it could, that would mean that the four useless links to '2003' in The Escape Engine would not be unlinked because the year '2002' is not linked. Or the useless links to '2009' in Upcoming Telenovelas could not be unlinked because there is an unlinked year '2008' (that article is definitely overlinked because it also contains linked solitary months). Lightmouse (talk) 23:52, 6 October 2008 (UTC)

Sorry, but that sounds like an even stronger case for Lightbot to be dropped. While I generally support delinking of individual years as I believe the links have limited value (and I've delinked a number manually when making other edits to articles), it is clear from the above debate that a significant proportion of the editors here do find value in them. Also, when and if Lightbot is re-started, and all it is doing is delinking standalone year links, perhaps a more informative edit summary than "(Date links per wp:mosnum/Other)" might be in order? - fchd (talk) 05:27, 7 October 2008 (UTC)
... in case a newcomer's perspective is of any value: as Gerry Ashton wrote: "many editors saw that full dates and calendar dates were linked to enable autoformatting, so they just linked every year in incorrect imitation of what they saw." having gone through that exact phase not very long ago, i really welcomed the new policy deprecating date-linking because of its beautiful clarity. as you can see from my edit history i was unlinking/reformatting dates manually for a while, then tried a script for a day or two; and i'm deeply dismayed to learn that the policy is still so controversial. but reading the arguments being presented here ... it seems people agree that the autoformatting needs to be either abandoned or changed to template form; it seems people agree that not every date should be linked; it seems people agree that some dates (mainly years) do deserve to be linked. the trick is to formulate a rule that's clear (including to newcomers).
it's simplistic but: what about putting links to the date pages that people consider important/valuable in "see also" sections, rather than making them "in-line" links? Greg L's suggestion that such links should be identified as (for example) {([[1929|other notable events of 1929]])}} would work very nicely in the "see also" sections, as would "1978 in music"-type links. and it seems like it would be clear enough (even to people who haven't read the policies) that not every date mentioned in an article needs to be listed there. Sssoul (talk) 09:40, 7 October 2008 (UTC)

If anyone hasn't noticed, Lightbot has re-started again. - fchd (talk) 11:03, 7 October 2008 (UTC)

Apologies, that appears to be Lightmouse the user rather than Ligthbot the bot. Either way, the end effect is about the same. - fchd (talk) 11:24, 7 October 2008 (UTC)
Sssoul's idea sounds like an excellent move. There would be nothing more disconcerting to readers than to see some years bright blue and some black. Consistency in the main will be preserved, and the few occasions on which year pages might be deemed vaguely relevant to a topic may be convered in the "See also" section. Tony (talk) 12:01, 7 October 2008 (UTC)

Putting [[1929|other notable events of 1929]] in 'See also' rather than in the main body sounds good to me. Lightmouse (talk) 14:35, 7 October 2008 (UTC)

Excellent suggestion, Sssoul! That sounds like a beautifully phrased compromise. I wholeheartedly agree.--Aervanath lives in the Orphanage 16:11, 7 October 2008 (UTC)
Of course the article year X is going to link to notable events in year X, it's WP:COMMON sense. Readers looking for temporal context shouldn't have to scroll all the way down to the see also section; that's a terribly WP:BURO-cratic solution. We wouldn't do something like that for articles providing geographical context (i.e. a link to Azerbaijan), we just use an inline link and everyone is happy. -- Kendrick7talk 16:18, 7 October 2008 (UTC)
Mostly going to have to agree with the above. The compromise sounds nice at first, but I don't really see it as a solution. "See also" is the appropriate place for related topics that can't be linked in the main body of the text; inline links are always superior, if for no reason other than the fact that readers interested in context should not be expected to scroll to the bottom of the article. If a link to a year (or date) is appropriate to the context of the article, it is appropriate as an inline link. Shereth 16:23, 7 October 2008 (UTC)
In-line links and citations are always better. Perhaps we should reflect on why and when an editor should link to a date, rather than how. A bullet-point list of criteria in the style guide should suffice; and perhaps linking should be the exception rather than norm. Millstream3 (talk) 16:26, 7 October 2008 (UTC)
I still like "within living memory" as a good rule of thumb, which would make most everyone happy, at least from the examples most people are providing against linking, which involve years from 1990 onwards. Links to years even octogenarians can't remember anything about which provide temporal context to the article are OK, links to years less than 70 sols ago are generally to be avoided. If I'm writing an article that involves the year 1058, I insist that this year should be linked, and I'm not going spend the rest of my life reverting LightBot and script-kids every few days. -- Kendrick7talk 17:25, 7 October 2008 (UTC)
plainly there's a whole range of different views, but a "within living memory rule of thumb" is way too arbitrary to address the main problem i see with the date-linking - which is that unclear/inconsistent policies give too many people the mistaken impression that *all* dates should be linked. and the fact that it can be difficult to decide which geographical place names to link isn't (to me) an argument in favour of leaving excessive masses of dates linked for no reason - which is the current situation.
everyone in this discussion so far seems to agree that currently there *are* too many date links, mainly due to the now-deprecated (?) autoformatting, and to editors who think that since some dates are linked then *every* date should be linked. the bots/scripts were developed to assist in undoing some of that excess. i understand the objection to the bots/scripts - in the course of undoing masses of useless/ill-conceived date links, they've also undone some date links that someone felt were useful. so the point is to find some way to eliminate the excess date links and the confusing principles that mislead people into excessive date linking without doing away with date links that some people consider valuable.
some people who want to keep certain specific date links feel that scrolling down to the "see also" section is too much trouble. but leaving some dates linked creates an ongoing need to undo overzealous date linking - which is *also* too much trouble. so what other compromises do people propose for a clear and consistent policy on date linking? Sssoul (talk) 18:06, 7 October 2008 (UTC)
ps: Kendrick7 wrote: "Readers looking for temporal context shouldn't have to scroll all the way down to the see also section", and Shereth wrote: "readers interested in context should not be expected to scroll to the bottom of the article." i don't think i understand why not - if someone is interested in the temporal context, skipping to the bottom doesn't seem particularly difficult.
but if that's really too much to ask of interested readers, maybe a template could be created to add a box of "links to dates mentioned in the article" to the "contents" box on articles where there are editors who feel strongly about making it ultra-simple for readers to jump to date pages. Sssoul (talk) 20:13, 7 October 2008 (UTC)
I don't think a rule of thumb for articles relating to 70 year old+ events is any more arbitrary than the argument that we can't link to the year 472 because too many articles link to the year 2005. In my opinion, you're alternatives fail WP:CREEP; we can put that in the rules, but no one is ever going to go to this much trouble. -- Kendrick7talk 20:38, 7 October 2008 (UTC)
um ... i haven't raised any arguments related to the number of articles that link to 2005. the "70+" idea seems to me pretty arbitrary in its choice of "cut-off date"; but the main problem i see with it is that it will *look* arbitrary - for example in biographies of people whose lives/careers "straddle" the cut-off date. policies that look arbitrary won't be very helpful in alleviating confusion over what dates to link.
as for WP:CREEP, i don't think my proposals would require elaborate instructions. "don't link dates in articles; links to important dates can be added to the 'see also' section" seems pretty straightforward. (yes, a template attached to the "contents" box would call for a few more instructions - that's one reason i prefer the "see also" proposal.)
"no one is ever going to go to this much trouble" ... well, everything is "too much trouble" if no one feels strongly enough about it. i thought the whole point was that some editors feel strongly about making it ultra-easy for interested readers to link to some year pages. if that's not the case, let's go back to the "see also" idea.
anyway to reiterate: the proposals so far seem to be:
  • link all years prior to 1939 and unlink all other dates - is that right? (i don't know anything about bots/scripts so someone will have to chime in about whether a date-unlinking bot/script could be taught to do that. i feel this policy wouldn't do much to alleviate the confusion about what dates should/shouldn't be linked, but ... the confused will always be with us, i guess.)
  • unlink all dates in articles, and put date links someone considers important in a separate section - either the "see also" section or a box that could be appended to the "contents" box on articles where someone wants it. (i hope date-unlinking bots/scripts could be taught to leave sections like that alone. maybe this is "too much trouble", or maybe it sounds promising.)
  • unlink all dates. (bots/scripts exist that can assist with this, but some people protest that certain valuable date links are being or may be unlinked.)
any other ideas? Sssoul (talk) 21:38, 7 October 2008 (UTC)
I think the best bet is for editors to link dates when they believe that the date provides valuable context, and not link them when they do not. I don't expect editors to have a problem exercising this type of editorial judgment. Christopher Parham (talk) 21:57, 7 October 2008 (UTC)
... but the current situation is that there are masses of date links that are *not* based on editorial judgement - they're based on the now-defunct autoformatting policy and on misunderstandings of it and/or of other policies. the masses of ill-conceived links need to be eliminated; the question is how to designate date links that someone feels are genuinely valuable for understanding the article so that those don't get eliminated along with the useless/ill-conceived date links. Sssoul (talk) 07:51, 8 October 2008 (UTC)
There are also masses of dates that have been unlinked not based on editorial judgment, by this bot - the best way to ensure that date linking reflects the judgment of editors is to leave the decision for editors to make an a case-by-case basis. Christopher Parham (talk) 02:32, 9 October 2008 (UTC)
What we were to only allow year dates to link to "YYYY in field" pages, each of those having a separate table for other "YYYY in field" pages? That is, say I've got an article on a politician (and only a politician); then date links from that page would link to "1999 in politics" (and possibly "1999 in United States politics" if the field is considered too large). If the topic was a crossover, the editors would have to select the best appropriate links, so a politician that may have been a professional athlete before would have both "in politics" and "in sports" year links. In other words, this is sort of a category structure (which it what sounds like people want but keeping it inline). Now, and I would say this is critical, this works under the assumption that we normal avoid surprise links (eg linking to "YYYY in field" but only displaying "YYYY" with no additional context), but if we made this universal across pages, this would no longer be a surprise.
The unfortunate drawback is that this cannot be bot assisted, at least easily. A bot might be able to determine the page's primary field by looking for the first WikiProject on the talk page, but this is going to fail on crossover articles, and there's potential for hit and miss. Individual editors would be needed to standardize this approach Wiki-wide. --MASEM 22:04, 7 October 2008 (UTC)
well ... does every year that some editor feels is important to link to have associated "YYYY in field" pages? i kinda doubt it. Sssoul (talk) 07:51, 8 October 2008 (UTC)

A technical response to Sssoul's questions about bot capabilities:

  • a bot can delink all dates after a 'threshold date' such as 1939
  • a bot can delink all dates except those that contain a non-date word such as [[1929|other notable events of 1929]]. But it can't distinguish between [[1929]] in one section and [[1929]] in another because a bot doesn't know about sections.
  • a bot can delink all dates (we already knew this)

My other idea: full date linking (autoformatting) is the disease, overlinking of partial dates is merely a nasty symptom that has got out of control and keeps coming back. We could try for consensus for bots to treat the disease rather than the symptom. I am sure many of the pro-delinking people would support that. Lightmouse (talk) 22:08, 7 October 2008 (UTC)

For the record, I didn't suggest linking to years mentioned prior to 70 years ago would be mandatory! While I generally agree with Christopher above, if LightBot could be taught the difference between 1939 and 1939 BCE/1939 BC (well, those articles don't exist yet, but you get the idea), I would have no objection to it making a one time pass to de-link all years and decades after 1939. I would guess that would cover 90% of all year links, given Wikipedia's tendency towards WP:RECENTism. -- Kendrick7talk 22:17, 7 October 2008 (UTC)

Yes, it is easy for a bot to distinguish between solitary years such as [[1939]], [[1939 BCE]] and [[1939 BC]]. I notice that there is increasing acceptance that full autoformatted dates should also be delinked. That could be done at the same time. Lightmouse (talk) 22:44, 7 October 2008 (UTC)

From the RfC above, there is no consensus at all to unlink dates of birth and dates of death at the top of bio articles, whether full or not. And in the absence of a clear RfC that can be linked to, I'd suggest there's not much evidence of consensus to delink any other dates either. Jheald (talk) 23:09, 7 October 2008 (UTC)
While I think dates should be unlinked, I have to agree with Jheald: there's no consensus for a mass unlinking of anything quite yet.--Aervanath lives in the Orphanage 04:25, 8 October 2008 (UTC)
I'd agree that dates are overlinked (unless we can get the MediaWiki dev's to incorporate geo-presence for formal date formatting), but I'm most unhappy with the current mass unlinking. I'd suggest it stop for now, except by strictly manual methods.
I'm still intrigued by LightMouse's comment on LightBot's method: "I find it difficult to answer ... because it does a lot, there are hundreds of lines of code". Interesting that, bot approval is just a matter of confusing up the code 'til no-one can understand it? Changes in guidelines are immediately enforced with spaghetti code? Trust me, it really does work, honest. Hmmm. Franamax (talk) 08:40, 8 October 2008 (UTC)
Response to Aervanath and Franamax: so it's a case of WP:IDONTLIKEIT, is it? By that I mean, you just appear to be unsettled by the kind of prompt adaptation of which wikis were built for. The longer the cancer of overlinking and the dysfunctional date autoformatting is left, the harder it is to fix. Every new editor comes to WP and copies the practices they see. It is not practical to make such an important change in slow motion. Were you thinking of a decade-long program? Tony (talk) 10:17, 8 October 2008 (UTC)
Well, no, I try not to frame my arguments in blue. I do generally accept the overlinking rationale (pending geolocation auto-preference, wherein date-links would make perfect sense). What I'm not comfortable with is the pace and scale, in particular when I see bot-op and script-assisted edits. I worry about what gets left in the dust behind the vehicle. In particular, I'm not clear on when exactly date-linking is appropriate. Did we arrive at a consensus somewhere that it shall never ever occur? Franamax (talk) 10:32, 8 October 2008 (UTC)
a few people have expressed this greater confidence in date-unlinking that's done manually - which puzzles me some. as long as links are not designated as "this is a link someone thought about and wants to keep", doing the unlinking manually just means it takes longer than doing it with the help of a well-designed script or bot. i don't see the point of slowing down a process if there's agreement that it needs to be carried out. if someone doesn't support the process then i don't suppose they want it carried out slowly *or* rapidly.
moving well-founded links to the "see also" section and "piping" them when necessary - for example [[1965|Other notable events in 1965]] - would be a way of designating them as well-founded, considered, intentional, etc. maybe there are other workable ways to designate them, but that's one suggestion on the table at the moment. Sssoul (talk) 12:08, 8 October 2008 (UTC)

Comment. I'm glad Lightbot was paused. While I agree that irrelevant years should be de-linked per WP:CONTEXT, it appears that some people believe this means "articles about years should be orphaned". And I don't think a bot can be able to understand whether a link is relevant or not. I did remove the link in, as the fact that the theorem was published in 1824, rather than in 1624 or in 1924, is totally irrelevant to the point being made (that there is no formula for general quintic equations over the rationals in terms of radicals); on the other hand, linking the year when somebody was born, or a historic event happened, or a book was published, in the article about the person/event/book itself, provides the historical context in which the person lived, etc. -- Army1987 (t — c) 16:59, 10 October 2008 (UTC)

Avoiding linebreaks in dates

If dates aren't linked, allowing a line break between month and day looks bad. But having to add &nbsp;s to every date would be a pain, and hard to read while editing. If autoformatting was able to convert a linked date in accordance with a user's preference, could it be made to produce an unlinked, hard-spaced date? If not, what about creating a set of templates to do that? So {{1 January}} would produce "1&nbsp;January" by default, or "January&nbsp;1" for users with that preference. And the other way around for {{January 1}}.
—WWoods (talk) 19:32, 15 October 2008 (UTC)

Developers do not put improvements into production on a timetable that allows interaction with the editing community. That makes consensus-building with developers just about impossible. Without developer assistance, there is no access to preferences, and even if there were, few readers have preferences set. So WWoods proposal amounts to always using the format "15&nbsp;October 2008" and there is no consensus to always use that format. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 20:29, 15 October 2008 (UTC)

'Avyear' template

We have a template {{avyear}} in the aviation project (as in 1962) which links to years in aviation, it is used only in the infobox next to an aircraft's first flight date. First flights are listed in the relevant aviation year section, I strongly believe that this linking is totally in context and was very disappointed to see it delinked by Lightbot, there are now 100+ 'year in aviation' articles that are not easily accessible. Notwithstanding previous discussion about 'years in aviation, music', easter eggs etc I think it is (was?) a fantastic feature. I was demotivated after seeing many hours work undone and stopped editing for a week or two (not a protest, just very cheesed off). Sure, don't link to individual days or years if they are not in context but please leave an easy way of linking to very relevant 'year' articles. Nimbus (talk) 23:56, 20 October 2008 (UTC)

It is (or ought to be) a general principle in hypertext that the text of links should make clear where the link takes. If someone sees a printed version of that page, would them be able to figure out what article the 1962 refers to? Remember, not everyone has the ability of hovering on links to know where they go in advance. -- Army1987 (t — c) 09:02, 22 October 2008 (UTC)
Surely none of the links on a printed version of an article will work?! It seems discussion on this date linking subject is not over yet, watching with interest. In the meantime I will neither link or unlink 'aviation years' to stay safe. Nimbus (talk) 15:34, 22 October 2008 (UTC)
In printed encyclopedias, including some predating the WWW, I've seen marks in an article suggesting to read some other article, such as underlining its title or preceding it with a picture of a finger. Now imagine one has a complete printed copy of Wikipedia. If someone sees "atomic nuclei", they can realize that the editor was suggesting to read the Atomic nucleus article, despite the irregular plural; writing "atomic nuclei (see Atomic nucleus)" would be overkill. But which would be clearer, "1962" or "1962 (see 1962 in aviation)"? -- Army1987 (t — c) 11:34, 23 October 2008 (UTC)
Nimbus, there is no reason for Lightbot to be delinking {{avyear}}. First, there is no consensus for it, just a strong desire for it among some of those who equally strongly favor swift eradication of all other extant date-related linking (such removal also not having any broad consensus for it). Secondly, MOSNUM has no authority to eliminate historical date linking, which it is effectively doing by such delinking, since it lies outside the stylistic purview of MOSNUM. Askari Mark (Talk) 20:39, 25 October 2008 (UTC)

Unwikilinking full dates?

I have to say, I'm seriously thoroughly ticked off over this whole recent move to unwikilink full dates. Not so much over the fact that it was done, but moreso over the fact that I can't see that it was debated or discussed very well, or openly. Sure, I see several discussions at various pages, but I still can't see any single debate of "yes, do it" versus "no, don't". I mostly see several isolated discussions by very few editors that somehow someone seems to think represents the consensus of everyone. Seriously, what happened is not "consensus" -- it looks more to me like the cabal dictating its way on everyone.

What I really dislike about not having full dates wikilinked isn't so much the autoformatting issue, although I think we've opened up a HUGE can of worms on that one since, without autoformatting, there's inevitably going to be more edit wars between the British/European date format versus the American one. But what I really don't like about non-linked full dates is the fact that, in text, the date is not highlighted in any way, and it doesn't stand out like it did with the link there. I think the wikilinked full dates added some emphasis on the date in the article and, with particular attention to articles about historical topics, this was especially helpful. Taking these wikilinked dates away is doing a serious disservice to our readers.

I'll probably just get overruled by the cabal for this, if not outright banned for being an ass ;-), but I would strongly urge the community to reverse this decision. Dr. Cash (talk) 22:23, 21 October 2008 (UTC)

I didn't know about this change either, but I firmly agree with it. It always annoyed me to see those blue dates for very little reason that I could discern. I assume that casual visitors to WP were equally annoyed — or at least confused. I say, let it ride for a while and see if the sky falls on us. Sincerely, your friend, GeorgeLouis (talk) 22:31, 21 October 2008 (UTC)
The discussions about this issue were ongoing for YEARS. If it was decided by the Cabal, they certainly took their time. Kaldari (talk) 22:47, 21 October 2008 (UTC)
If someone is reading up on the famous architect Frank Gehry, providing a link to beautiful architecture, like Falling Water, is a good idea. But…

We devalue links and bore most readers of that article by providing a 1929 link to an article that says March 3 - Revolt attempt of Generals José Gonzalo Escobar and Jesús María Aguirre fails in Mexico.”

  • Derek: Yes, what Kaldari said. With what must be tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of Wikipedians (registered and not), there is no way that I know of to communicate to them all and keep them apprised of what is being contemplated here. For what it is worth, there are many editors who frequent this venue and many more still who occasionally come here to chip in with their views on maters. As a result, there has been—and continues to be—a wide variety of views expressed here. Note too, that this move was very thoroughly discussed (albeit in your absence). And whereas this issue certainly hadn’t been discussed out on the curb in front of your house, I can assure you that it was discussed “openly”: here on Talk:MOSNUM. I can also assure you that there have been a number of editors here acting as an ambassador of sorts who have been advocating your position.

    I believe too, that the recent move is very wise. Even though these blue links for days of the year and years are available to link to, doesn’t mean it is a good idea to actually link to them and turn yet another bit of body text to blue; far too few readers are interested in actually reading more than four or five line items in these random lists of pure trivia the first time they click on such links. From thereafter, they rarely click on them again. Links within Wikipedia articles should always be topical and germane. Properly chosen links anticipate what the readership of any given article would likely be interested in further reading. If you disagree on this fundamental point (whether these trivia articles are of sufficient interest to our readership to merit linking to them), I encourage you to accept the Sewer cover barnstar challenge. If you can actually earn such a barnstar, then I think you will have a stronger case for advocating the linking of these dates. Greg L (talk) 22:53, 21 October 2008 (UTC)

  • As the change, if fully implemented, would effect the majority of articles on Wikipedia (although many would be improved), it should have been discussed on the Village Pump (policy) before implementation was done. It wasn't. It's now (in the past month or two, long after the guidelines change) being discussed in relevant WikiProjects, namely Wikipedia:WikiProject Years and Wikipedia:WikiProject Days of the year. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 01:37, 22 October 2008 (UTC)
  • True, but that's the technical aspects. The consensus was that autoformatting is deprecated, not date linking, although there is now probably a consensus that dates should almost never be linked (although that wasn't pointed to by the VP), but there's no similiar consensus for years. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 01:55, 22 October 2008 (UTC)
  • The policy has been for years that full dates are linked always, only because of autoformatting. Without autoformatting, the policy on full date links is the same as the policy on other date links and linking in general, that they are linked when especially relevant to the context of the article. —Centrxtalk • 03:58, 22 October 2008 (UTC)

Derek Cashman, I've decided not to ban you "for being an ass". :-) Instead, I simply want to point out the dilution principle (one of four or five significant disadvantages that were never properly considered when we were fooled into adopting this autoformatting thing back in 2003). Every additional bright-bluing of text comes at a cost, which is that it vies for the reader's attention with links in the vicinity. That cost needs to be balanced against the benefit of the blue. There's no benefit at all to readers, since they're not logged in. Tony (talk) 02:06, 22 October 2008 (UTC)

Arthur, the disparagement of chronological links has been at CONTEXT for some time; it certainly pre-dates the current flurry of queries an the popular recommendation to highlight selected links in the "See also" section of an article. Tony (talk) 02:06, 22 October 2008 (UTC)
There's a difference between "don't link unless there's a reason" (presently here, and at WP:CONTEXT), "don't link unless there's a specific reason" (formerly here, added without consensus), and "don't link unless there's an overwhelming reason" (what you seem to be saying), and "don't link unless the article falls into a specific type in which date links are appropriate"" (what Lightbot is enforcing). — Arthur Rubin (talk) 02:14, 22 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Are you asserting that "reason" by itself, unqualified, doesn't mean "useful" or "arguable" or "supportable" reason? The onus is still on an editor who wants to link a solitary year to demonstrate why it is useful in the context. This is hard to do, as suggested above when my repeated requests of certain complainants to provide examples of the solitary year-links or anniversary links at issue are met with silence. Methinks this is just a case of WP:IDONTLIKEIT, without having though through and properly weighed up the evidence. Tony (talk) 03:01, 22 October 2008 (UTC)
  • As Tony suggested some number of threads above, an outstanding method (IMO) to provide historical trivia to readers is to provide a well-aliased link in the See also section. If there is an article on the War of 1812, then a link that is aliased to read Notable events of 1812, is a wonderful, least-intrusive way to let readers know of the availability of these lists without cluttering up the body text with more blue. Implicit here, is that these sort of aliased links in the See also section would be best limited to intrinsically historical articles. There’s no point providing a link in the See also section of Angela Lansbury so trivia on her birthdate (October 16) can be researched. If you actually read the Oct. 16  article, you can wade through *fascinating* bits like this…
Really, if we’re going to be providing links in an article on a famous female actresses like Angela Lansbury, then keep the links germane. A rather germane link would be “Robo-biscuit actresses of the 21st century.” Greg L (talk) 03:58, 22 October 2008 (UTC)
  • The interesting new thing about this section is that Derek wants to have dates stand out in the articles. I haven't seen that argument before; of course, for a person who wants this, it is a compelling one. But then, someone might want to have all personal names bolded, all negative numbers in red, etc., and I simply don't think these things are appropriate for article prose. At any rate, our links should be used for linking. Using them for something else (autoformatting) was a bad idea from the start and now that we can avoid it, let's. -- Jao (talk) 05:28, 22 October 2008 (UTC)
  • thanks Jao - i agree that links should be used for linking, not for "highlighting" purposes. Sssoul (talk) 06:47, 22 October 2008 (UTC)
  • To Tony above; for the years of birth and death in articles about a person, we've established a supportable reason. You seem to be saying it's not a reason, rather than it's not a good reason. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 14:28, 22 October 2008 (UTC)
Arthur: I know that you're keen to see biographical articles start with a splash of bright blue, but nowhere do I see evidence of this "supportable reason" you talk of. Are you sure this is not just wishful thinking? Tony (talk) 14:51, 22 October 2008 (UTC)
  • We’re covering old ground and discussing unwise new concepts, like using color for emphasis. It’s not hard (unless you add the factor of “change on Wikipedia”, which is rarely easy). In‑text blue links should be strictly limited to links that are particularly relevant to the article and will be of likely interest to that readership. This isn’t rocket science here. Links to random trivia are just that: links to lists of random trivia. Honestly, I wouldn’t even link dates in our Trivia article. Too few readers ever reads more than five or six entries in these articles after their first encounter with them. As for using text color for emphasis, that’s easy. Unwise, IMO, but easy. Greg L (talk) 16:19, 22 October 2008 (UTC)

The heart of the matter: no strong demonstration of consensus

First off, I completely agree about delinking (I'd rather see a scheme done in a way we can recover autoformatting w/o linking, but that's not critical). However, when I read this page, the thing that stands out is that while the effort to remove date linking due to its horrendous implementation has been a process that has taken a couple years, it has been a slow, glacial change. However, this last change - and the most drastic, going from "data linking is depreciated" to "date linking is not to be used except in limited cases", which removes the concept completely - seems to have been pushed through by a handful of editors with minimal time for discussion at a broader level. I know Tony put messages on several top Wikiprojects to explain why date linking was being removed, but this is not the same as a centralized discussion or an RFC to determine, even with the strong body of reasons to get rid of it, if date linking should be abolished. The fact that editors are coming here and not finding such a consensus even with what are in the archives, is why there is still a point of contention - it feels like the discussion was all done behind closed doors and suddenly put into place with no chance for further rebuttal.

To me, the matter can be settled if someone would create an RFC to get it out there (specifically, the matter of removing date links completely), announcing it to the Village Pumps, WP:CENT, and if we can convince those that maintain is, watchlist-details. Run it for two weeks, and then say it's complete, archiving the page. Presumably, it will have support to remove dates, at which point, those naysayers will hopefully stop complaining now that consensus has shown to be there. This is an issue that effects every user of WP (including anons, even if for the better), so passing it as a consensus with as small an input that it seemed to have just feels wrong. But there might be significant resistance to that, and if that's the case, we then need to talk about it more. Right now, it is impossible to judge that from what we have presently, and that's my primary concern. --MASEM 16:33, 22 October 2008 (UTC)

  • “The fact that editors are coming here and not finding such a consensus even with what are in the archives, is why there is still a point of contention - it feels like the discussion was all done behind closed doors and suddenly put into place with no chance for further rebuttal.” That will always be a problem on Wikipedia. There is a wide variety of volunteer, contributing editors. Most are unregistered and have no idea of the existence of special forums like this nor any interest in participating even if they did know. Even many registered editors are similarly inclined. It’s not at all surprising that editors wouldn’t have any knowledge of this decision to deprecate the linking and autoformatting of dates until they see their favorite articles affected by a bot.

    I don’t think the solution is yet more debate; debate would go on forever if we widened this and started all over fresh. And the conclusion would be the same: autoformatting, which can only be seen by registered editors and doesn’t benefit ordinary I.P. readers, would be deprecated. Linking of dates would also be deprecated since such links are rarely topical and germane.

    The end result of all that exercise would be an education for those who come in late to the discussion. So maybe what we need, is just that: a vehicle for education. Maybe we could have an essay explaining in detail, the rationale behind the decision. The trouble with that is, there are opponents of deprecation who would contest the “facts” in such an explanatory essay and, in the end, it wouldn’t be possible to write anything that was actually explanatory; it would just be a neutered re-hash of the nature of the debate.

    We’re just living the results of what is a pure democracy where there are no elected representatives. We rely instead on de-facto, volunteer leaders like Tony and others who care enough to stay engaged long enough to be familiar with all the details and persuade others to their point of view. It’s hard work and Tony has shown remarkable patience in the face of numerous instances of editors coming here complaining about how the linking of dates is such a splendid thing and no one told them about the change. In the end, we do have a general consensus. But a general consensus is not 100% of editors in full agreement. And it never was. Wikipedia would grind to a halt if every single editor who had a knee-jerk reaction to the deprecation of his or her linked dates could come here and make a politically-correct-sounding argument over how he wasn’t included in the decision so the decision is null and void.

    Now that I think about it, the best solution is to have two essays. One, written perhaps by Tony, could explain the reasoning behind the decision. If someone disagrees, they can write their own essay. It’s time to move on. The amount of debate that has gone on here over the years over just dates is nearly unimaginable. Greg L (talk) 17:02, 22 October 2008 (UTC)

Maybe Signpost can run an article about it? Also, I still think that the policy itself should be clarified. I don't think the casual reader would understand that it is saying "don't blue-link dates unless you have a specific reason why you want people to click on that link." I think that many editors continue to link dates for two reasons: 1) they like the way the blue-link LOOKS - that it gives prominence to the date. 2) newbies see other articles with dates blue-linked and think that this is the normal way to wikify articles. It takes some getting used to for those of us who have created many articles and carefully linked the dates to wrap our heads around such a big policy change, so I agree that publicity would be very helpful about the change, together with a clear explanation of WP:OVERLINK and the other reasons for the change. Happy editing! -- Ssilvers (talk) 17:07, 22 October 2008 (UTC)

If anyone wants to measure community acceptance, it is easy. Just go to Featured Articles, Good Articles etc and see for yourself. Those articles are, by definition the best that Wikipedia can offer. You can measure the ratio (actual date links)/(potential date links). I bet actual date links represent a tiny fraction of a percent of potential date links. Lightmouse (talk) 17:18, 22 October 2008 (UTC)
That's not really a valid method of gauging acceptance since you, Lightbot, Tony, and others seem to have already gone through and delinked dates in many featured articles. — Bellhalla (talk) 17:46, 22 October 2008 (UTC)
The way to solve that would simply be to examine the verisions at the time those articles passed FARLeadSongDog (talk) 22:25, 22 October 2008 (UTC)
Edits by bots should not count when trying to determine whether there is consensus. Tennis expert (talk) 10:12, 23 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Good summary of the status quo and the nature of the problem, Ssilvers. I agree. Greg L (talk) 19:10, 22 October 2008 (UTC)
Lightmouse's suggestion assumes that FA and GA are good measures of community consensus and that most FA and GA reviews have considered this matter. Neither seems plausible. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 03:16, 23 October 2008 (UTC)
Given how recurrent the complaints about date unlinking are, it is obvious that there is no widespread consensus. I suggest running a wider RFC or poll, announced via the watchlist, community portal, etc. to try to get more people than the MOS regulars to voice their opinion. --Itub (talk) 08:52, 23 October 2008 (UTC)
  • I'm not all that sure it's "obvious". What you might imply (and are you?) is that the consensus has changed. It took us two years to get this far, so I think it ain't all that likely to have changed in such a short time. The discussion here seems to be centred on some aspects of linking, but I don't see a wholescale revolt against the underlying principle of deprecating links. Anyway, how many people and how many discussions will it take to constitute a valid consensus? I believe what counts is that this was essentially a style matter, and it has reached a consensus here. In addition, the WP community is in a constant state of flux. We have to nail this thing at one point in time, and it appears to have been done. The horse is well and truly dead. Ohconfucius (talk) 09:28, 23 October 2008 (UTC)
Exactly right, Septentrionalis. Tennis expert (talk) 10:12, 23 October 2008 (UTC)

Indeed Ohconfucius. The "complaints" that Itub squeals about are coming from a tiny, loud minority of WPians who've probably been around for too long and are hard-wired against formatting improvements, because "they just don't like it". I'm sorry that they missed out on the long long debate here during 2007 and 2008, widely promulgated, at least towards the latter part.

What is telling is that when asked for examples of why the linking cancer should be allowed to persist, they are silent or offer (occasionally, if you're lucky) rather lame evidence.

What is also missing from their noisy complaining is the elephant in the living room: where was the original consensus for the linking frenzy? Please locate it for us (methinks it never existed).

It would be a breath of fresh air if detractors stopped in their tracks and thought of our readers: I hear of no readers, nor of WPians at large, lining up to bag the efforts of those who are bringing about these long-overdue improvements. Tony (talk) 09:49, 23 October 2008 (UTC)

If there ever were a "linking frenzy", that frenzy alone is evidence of consensus to have the links. You seem to be stuck on your personal dislike of date linking, in contravention of WP:IDONTLIKEIT, which you so conveniently and repetitiously cite to support your position. How ironic. Tennis expert (talk) 10:12, 23 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Doesn't need to be a real frenzy, AFAICT. The guideline's been in existence for several years, and I know there are editors who refused to promote articles to WP:GA or WP:FA without rigid adherence to the linking (in the same way as there are those who insist on the use of citation templates). IT may also tend to support to [my] view that most editors are merely law-abiding citizens who have been obediently inserting links because a guideline says so, for the benefit of DA. Or perhaps someone wrote a bot to automatically turn dates blue for the sake of the red-green colour blind? Ohconfucius (talk) 10:58, 23 October 2008 (UTC)

"The tiny and loud minority": what a perfect description of the self-selecting MOS legislature! (Of which admittedly I'm part of by posting here.) I agree that the consensus in this page changed. But the consensus out there never did, as evidenced by the reaction that often occurs whenever someone uses a bot to massively unlink dates in articles. FWIW, I don't give a damn about date links and don't use them myself. But I am interested in other issues related with units and numbers and it is annoying to have this page overflowing with WP:LAME discussion about date links for so long. --Itub (talk) 12:15, 23 October 2008 (UTC)

  • Wikipedia is not a democracy; it operates by consensus. It is not a form of government; the chief difference is that there are times when governments must act, and doing nothing is worse than either decision. In democratic governments, the majority has a right to rule (limited by other rights); here, decisions can be put off until the eve of our publication date. Therefore a filibuster is no evil; it is a sign that some temporary and local majority (all our polls are temporary and local) prefers their own way to the compromises required to get a minority to join the consensus. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 13:39, 23 October 2008 (UTC)
  • I would say that although I remain deeply unhappy about the inconsistent application of international vs American date formats in that 'no man's land of the non-British-non-American article. However, most of us are prepared to live with the decision arrived at by consensus, for the sake of harmony. Note that that debate only took place over a few weeks, if not days. How can we be sure it was reached correctly, and over a correct length of debate?? Sure, it may be OK to filibuster a bit, but when the debate has continued for two years, it is already one helluva filibuster. The battle lines are entrenched, and there is not much to suggest that minds will be changed any more. Ohconfucius (talk) 14:22, 23 October 2008 (UTC)
  • No, that's not fair. The debate went on until a (possibly temporary) consensus among the people monitoring this page at the time was arrived at, for about a week. Once the changes started being made according to that "consesnus", then the complaints followed, and have been following since. I think the "consensus" needs to be revisited. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 15:02, 23 October 2008 (UTC)
  • This is precisely the issue. Let's all be fair here; the goings on at WT:MOSNUM are not exactly well broadcast throughout the community as a whole. To your average Wikipedia editor, the methods by which these guidelines were written up and decided upon are a fairly esoteric process - it is no surprise that the discontents often refer to the regulars here as "MOS-wonks" or something less flattering. Many editors aren't even aware of the existence of the Manual of Style as a whole, let alone the obscure subsection of a section dealing with autoformatted dates. Since it's "just a guideline" it isn't that important, but when attempts are made to enforce the guideline it gets people's attention. That's why RfC exists. No one would reasonably expect that an RfC would be filed for small minute matters, but when attempting to enforce something on a Wikipedia-wide level it requires Wikipedia-wide consensus. Various avenues have been suggested here (using RfC, signpost, some other form of catching the community's attention) but for some reason have yet to be undertaken. Having been made aware of this issue for some time, I don't doubt that this back-and-forth is going to continue ad infinitum until there is some coherent consensus that can be pointed out. Shereth 15:10, 23 October 2008 (UTC)
Arthur, you say in your edit summary "Quite. Agree with title"; do you agree with the opening sentence underneath that title, naturally by the same editor? "First off, I completely agree about delinking". Tony (talk) 15:12, 23 October 2008 (UTC)
Shereth, it's all very easy—specious, actually—to keep demanding more and more consensus just because you don't agree. Perhaps your strategy is to be dissatisfied until there's a complete referendum of all WPians who've ever set foot on the project; maybe even all visitors too? It's just a spin-way of trying to discredit a well-established consensus. Purusing this line, you could batter down any consensus that has ever been established on WP, and freeze policy and practice to your liking. People won't be fooled by this. Tony (talk) 15:17, 23 October 2008 (UTC)
You are misrepresenting my position, Tony. I have stated that I do not oppose the deprecation and subsequent removal of these links. It makes no difference to me one way or another what the outcome of this debate is. My primary complaint is that as an administrator I have dealt with (far too often, I may add) complaints that a bot or a user is removing wikilinks from an article with no discussion and that no consensus can be found for this kind of action. You are employing a straw-man argument here by talking about a referendum of all editors and visitors - this is patently absurd. My position here is simple : people want to see consensus on this matter. Why is it so hard a thing to ask, that the proponents of enforcing the guideline seek broad consensus to do so? Shereth 15:31, 23 October 2008 (UTC)
  • I seem to recall Tony asking you for examples of complaints you have had to field. There are no visible signs on your talk page, so would you please be so kind as to point us in the right direction? Ohconfucius (talk) 08:47, 24 October 2008 (UTC)
  • If Tony (or anyone) asked for some examples, I missed the request and apologize. This and this and this for some AN/I discussions relating to Lightbot's delinking of dates. There are older examples but I don't really have the time to dredge through the archives. Shereth 13:53, 24 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Twice I've asked. Thank you for providing these links, Shereth. I wonder why you didn't pass them straight on to Lightmouse himself. One thing that distinguishes his bot-management is the polite, sensitive and responsive way in which he handles complaints (I've learnt something from it). The benefit of going straight to the horse's mouth in this case is that they provide feedback to Lightmouse, and he is in the best position to respond to them positively (see his talk-page including archives for much evidence). There was no need for you to become stressed at having to deal with them, and since you're on record more than once as saying you have nothing against the delinking of dates and date fragments, I see no problem. Tony (talk) 15:12, 24 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Again, I apologize for having missed your previous requests; it was not an intentional oversight. To my knowledge, Lightmouse was informed of the discussions each time they have come up, and a quick overview of his talk page archives seems to confirm that. A quick perusal of those archives also serves to highlight just how often there are concerns regarding date delinking! To his credit, Lightmouse has been cooperative in terms of halting operation of the bot during this period of discussion. However, there has been some level of dissatisfaction with merely being pointed at MOSNUM (or MOS:SYL) as justification for the removal, because the guideline does not mandate a mass removal of links, just their deprecation. I understand that in the view of some, this is merely a matter of semantics; however it is a point of contention among a significant number of users and it really is prudent that a firm consensus is established one way or another that does not rely upon interpretation of semantics. That is really all I am asking for, a centralized discussion regarding how (if at all) to enforce the deprecation of certain types of date links. Shereth 15:29, 24 October 2008 (UTC)
That means we'll have to hold a consensus-gathering palahva for every single point in the style guides. It will take years. The community, as I've said, is firmly behind the deprecation, and it is notable how few people do complain aside from the loud, tiny minority here. Can you outline a major plan for consensus gathering for every point of the style guides? This is a new turn of events. Tony (talk) 06:56, 25 October 2008 (UTC)
  • The examples given by Shereth are not on point, because they are largely about operation of Lightbot or AWB in ways that (1) obviously give wrong results, or (2) delink solitary years. This section is about whether there is consensus to delink (1) full dates or (2) a day-month combination (in either order). --Gerry Ashton (talk) 14:18, 24 October 2008 (UTC)

Tony1, you have a poor understanding of what "consensus" means. There isn't any sense in which there can be more consensus. It's not that kind of metric. In order for there to be a consensus, the points raised by all significant factions need to be taken into account and resolved to their satisfaction. That hasn't taken place with regards to the loss of useful metadata; therefore there is no consensus. It's that simple. If the participants to this discussion can figure out a way to preserve the metadata — either by halting delinking entirely (which I'd prefer) or by coming up with some alternative markup for dates that doesn't trigger autoformatting or produce wikilinks (which you'd presumably prefer, and I'd grudgingly accept) — then the delinking can proceed with a valid claim of consensus. You've already demonstrated your bad faith in this discussion by refusing to put your contentious activities (mass delinking of dates) on hold while we discuss this, so I don't expect you to give this point the consideration it deserves, but perhaps others will be more reasonable. And perhaps I'm wrong and simply caught you during a grumpy period of time, and you'll be more amenable to these points now. Either way, a solution that satisfies all the parties involved really isn't that hard to implement, if we just give it an honest effort. --UC_Bill (talk) 15:42, 23 October 2008 (UTC)

is the RfC regarding the proposal to link birth/death dates in the first lines of biographies still in progress or abandoned or ... ? did the people who wanted to keep those dates linked even read the "interim/compromise proposal" that was offered in hopes of satisfying both sides? only three people (one of whom didn't participate in the RfC) expressed opposition to that compromise proposal - does that mean the 32 other people in the RfC accept the compromise, or that they aren't really interested in reaching a consensus? hard to tell ... which also makes it hard to tell what purpose another RfC would serve ... Sssoul (talk) 17:43, 23 October 2008 (UTC)
  • To UC Bill. It is a total absurdity where you write “…[in a consensus decision,] the points raised by all significant factions need to be taken into account and resolved to their satisfaction.” That’s pure über hogwash. A consensus on Wikipedia is not 100% of editors in full agreement and it never has been. If a consensus required that all editors have made peace with a decision, hardly a damn thing would get done around here. We’d still be using the IEC prefixes for computer memory (“256 mebibytes of memory”) if the standard was set as high as you like. That’s because, in the example of the IEC prefixes, there are still hold outs who will never ever agree to the consensus view. Do you think that because there are editors who will never be satisfied with the consensus view that any asinine practice should be grandfathered in? No change for the better can occur if there are holdouts? Preposterous.

    It should come as no surprise that once dates start being de-linked, certain editors who just love these blue links to mindless trivia that no one actually reads will come here with a “WTF” reaction and demand that the decision be reversed. By your standard, we would then have to reopen debate and work on getting these editors up to speed on why the deprecation of autoformatting of dates and de-linking was a wise decision.

    What we need here to put this to bed is an essay explaining the decision that we can point editors to. Then, the next time someone comes here saying, “But, I wasn’t included in this decision” so it wasn’t a good decision, and there was no proper consensus (‘cause I wasn’t included), and who died and made you boss(?), and I think links to mindless lists of random trivia is good and valuable and germane to the subject matter and is sound technical writing practice (although I never actually managed to *read* one of these abominations from start to finish myself)”, well, we can just point them to the essay explaining why the decision was made.

    Yes, there was a consensus decision. Indeed, 100% of the editors were not in agreement. But it was a consensus decision and we don’t have to re-open the debate each and every time someone new arrives here saying they don’t like it. Greg L (talk) 20:28, 23 October 2008 (UTC)

If "someone new" is raising a valid point (such as the loss of metadata) then yes, you do need to reopen discussion, and you should also demonstrate good faith by holding off on contentious behavior while discussing the matter. Also, I never mentioned anything about 100% of the participants needing to agree. I wrote that all significant factions need to have their points taken into account. What constitutes significance is a matter of opinion.
Perhaps I should have taken the same kind of hard-line, uncompromising approach that you have. Perhaps I should have started edit-warring with you and Tony (and whoever else) by reverting your date delinking. But I didn't, because I happen to think that doing so would just be making a bad situation worse.
I happen to like date links, I like date autoformatting, and in fact I'm in favor of what you'd call "overlinking" in general. I disagree that having more links is somehow detrimental. But I don't push those views, here or elsewhere, because I realize they're in the minority. It's also a simple matter to add more links if the majority opinion ever changes. My biggest complaint with your mass delinking of dates is that there's no easy way to undo it, should policy ever change (back) to favoring date linking, or should some other approach to auto-formatting be developed. You're destroying metadata, and that's simply unacceptable. There's a big difference between a date in an article body and a date in a quote, and without that metadata, there's no way to differentiate between them. It's also more difficult to identify dates when they're not marked up. There are a variety of reasons that metadata is a good thing, and by getting rid of it you're throwing the baby out with the bathwater. I know you hate date autoformatting and linked dates, and that's fine. I happen to disagree with you, but I'm willing to put my opinion aside as long as your actions are (in theory) easily reversed.
So let's just come up with a replacement markup for dates, and modify the script you're using so that it replaces wikilinked dates with dates that are marked up some other way. Then I'll be willing to call it a consensus, and will be glad to help explain the situation to others, and possibly even help out with the markup change. --UC_Bill (talk) 21:43, 23 October 2008 (UTC)
  • UC Bill, if you’re going to backtrack on what you really mean, then just man-up and say so. But please don’t imply that I misread what you wrote, which was as follows:

Tony1, you have a poor understanding of what "consensus" means. There isn't any sense in which there can be more consensus. It's not that kind of metric. In order for there to be a consensus, the points raised by all significant factions need to be taken into account and resolved to their satisfaction.

Did you or did you not write that? So, just ‘pardon me all over the place’ for somehow thinking you were suggesting that a consensus isn’t a “shades of grey” issue where there can be varying degrees of it, and how a consensus requires that all points have to be resolved to all party’s satisfaction.

As to how you “happen to like date links,” you’d have a hell of a lot more credibility that you actually are making an informed stand on this issue if you accepted the Sewer cover challenge and earned your own Sewer Cover Barnstar. Then I’d at least have a better “theory of mind” regarding you and how you actually believe these trivia articles are “good reading.” Greg L (talk) 22:07, 23 October 2008 (UTC)

P.S. As to your love of autoformatting: this too, is an example of why we need an essay explaining the reasoning. But in a nutshell, autoformatting of dates can only be seen by A) registered edtiors, who B) have taken the time to adjust their user preferences. The results can’t be seen by regular I.P. users (the vast majority of our readership). In the best of cases, the *special* view the registered editors get masks inappropriate date formats (such as a default-European date in a clearly-American-related article). In the worst case, a date format like [[2005-07-06]] (which makes *pretty* dates like July 62005 or 6 July 2005 for a very small fraction of our readership), produces nothing more than a crappy looking 2005-07-06 for everyone else. The decision to make autoformatting that benefited only some registered editors was brain-damaged from conception.

As for making autoformatting work for everyone, we’ve gone all over this before (and I’ll repeat it for you now): To make date autoformatting work for everyone, would require major tinkering under the hood of the servers by the developers to make Wikipedia’s servers look to the requesting readers’ I.P. addresses, figure out what country they live in, look to a database of what date format is customary in their country, and spoon-feed custom content to them. If you think you can get the developers to do this, more power to you. I’m not holding my breath for their response. Nor do I think all that effort is in any way necessary. IMO, all we need is Euro-style dates for most articles, and American-style dates if it’s an article closely associated with the US. End of story. The consensus view here however, was to throw in a healthy dose of “first major contributor” into the guideline. I didn’t agree with that consensus view, but I accept it. I wish you’d do the same regarding the deprecation of autoformatting and linking of dates. Greg L (talk) 22:31, 23 October 2008 (UTC)

Hey Greg, two things:

  1. Notice the word "significant" in what Bill wrote (and ironically in what you quoted) — that word is.. you know.. significant here.
  2. There's no need to resort to IP address lookups when the browsers themselves advertise what locale settings they want. For instance, my browser sends the following information (among other things) with each and every single request:
Accept-Language: en-US,en
Adding a check for that to the servers is a pretty simple change. So that's not really an issue at all. The issue is getting everyone to agree to what features they actually want, not with the technical part.

--Sapphic (talk) 00:40, 24 October 2008 (UTC)

  • I saw the “significant” word. Lawering. It doesn’t significantly change the point of his message (“how a consensus is a black & white thing with no shades of grey and how pretty much everyone has to have complete buy-in and be satisfied”) does it?

    Regarding this news about the browser sending the info on what country someone hails from, I didn’t know that. I think it would be great if the developers produced parser functions for template writers like Lightmouse and Randmom832 to use. Frankly, I can think of better tasks to tackle with such parser functions than futz around with date formats. I read right over Euro and US-style date formats; neither bothers me in the least. I think there is way too much whining about the subject, honestly.

    What is more disruptive to my train of thought when I’m reading is when I see dialect-based spelling differences that don’t look right. My brain gives me a (!) interrupt as I read. For instance, if I encounter “you realise that the spell check on Safari just now put a dotted red line under ‘realise’ as I type this sentence in America with my browser”, I take notice. I’d love it if there was a template that used special new parser functions that looked to where the reader lived so one could—if they wished to—type {{dialect|US|UK|realize|realise}}. Then we could really spoon feed custom content to our readers. I could write The British people during WWII were noted for their {{dialect|US|UK|envious disdain of the overpaid, oversexed American soldiers|warmth and hospitality to the yanks}}.

    In advance, congratulations on your attempt at a Sewer Cover barnstar. Greg L (talk) 02:36, 24 October 2008 (UTC)

  • I'm not claiming a 'Sewer Cover barnstar', but would like to mention that having looked at some of the date articles, I would describe the experience as no more than "hmmm... interesting". Of course, the events which happened on a given date are almost never related, but are the coincidences of history; some of the events which happened in a given year are related, but the relevant articles usually deal with linking the issues in a more than satisfactory manner. Isn't it ironic that we have a policy which discourages trivia sections, yet we have hundreds of articles of 100% pure trivia? I guess some people get bored reading serious articles here and look out for diversion! Ohconfucius (talk) 09:45, 24 October 2008 (UTC)

I can't speak for Bill as to the point of his message, but I agree that a consensus is a black & white thing, which I think was his point. Consensus isn't a matter of degrees, unless you want to count the breadth of a consensus (i.e. the number of people participating) as such a measure. A consensus is a position that is acceptable (though perhaps not preferable) to a group of people. ALL the people. The subjective part is deciding who should be in the group. Stubborn loners are typically excluded. Small minorities with valid complaints should not be excluded, no matter how small they are. A consensus is a goal on Wikipedia, not a requirement. It's an ideal. If a minority group has a valid point, that point must be addressed in any decision that could properly be labeled a consensus decision. Bill's point (which I agree with) is that delinking dates eliminates metadata. A valid fix is simple: replace the wikilink brackets with some other markup. Something as simple as <date> would work, since it has no meaning in either HTML or in Wiki coding. The reason that this satisfies the goal of consensus (at least on this point) is that the people opposed to delinking can be told "well, if majority opinion changes, the dates can trivially be re-linked by a bot." That's not the case if the dates have all markup stripped away, because then there'd be no automated way of restoring the links. Plus, adding markup leaves open the possibility of fixing the autoformatting feature in the future, and having it use the new markup (or having a bot change the markup as needed.) Removing the links entirely simply destroys information and makes everything harder. --Sapphic (talk) 03:11, 24 October 2008 (UTC)

Sorry to prick the bubble of your "statistics" flurry that was started up at some specially created page last month and aggressively used as an urgent reason for any DA removal to stop—some of which pressure I found offensive in its style and intent. As I kept asking at the time, what on earth is the point of those "statistics", and can they possibly be useful when there are already so many contaminating variables? I was told just wait three weeks, just wait, wait, wait, and we'll show you. ....... But you haven't shown us anything. I'm afraid I don't believe for one moment that leaving WP's articles littered with double square brackets is going to lead to the generation of useful "statistics"—you'd expect some evidence already, but we remain highly skeptical, half-grinning onlookers, confirmed in our initial beliefs that this is a non-issue. As for wanting to retain the ability to convert the double square brackets to some other form of DA in the future: who would want to do that, when DA has caused such a mess to be made of date formatting through concealing from editors what our readers see? And who would want to repeat all of those broken syntaxes and wrong choices in a new scheme? It's the ultimate flogging of a dead horse. Tony (talk) 05:16, 24 October 2008 (UTC)
  • To UC_Bill: There is no loss of any data, meta or otherwise –it's just a bunch of square brackets which are being removed. Quite frankly, it takes no grey cells to insert such fixes as and when they are agreed upon, unlike the current need to manually (or script-based) de-linking to ddmmm or mmmdd. Just thinking about which way to go for each article because of the 'first significant editor' rule gives me blurry vision after de-linking more than a handful of articles. The rule has created all manner of inconsistencies between themes, categories, family of articles etc. The only consistency is within the article, which is already something, I guess. Ohconfucius (talk) 08:47, 24 October 2008 (UTC)
The problem with DA was the specific implementation of it when it was added to Mediawiki, not so much the concept. Overloading one function to perform another, as any OOP programmer will tell you, is a BAD thing, but at the time it was added it wasn't obvious, now very much so. A version of DA that allows for linking per instance basis and defaulting to a page-specific date format for all users when not otherwise set, and deal with the issues of BC/AD and the Gregonian calendar is not impossible, it just has to be explicitly developed; every point addressed by those wanting to ditch the current version of DA can be corrected, it is just that there seems to be an impass between the devs and main Wiki wants to get there. But the key point it is not impossible; there is a practical consideration that we can get a working DA in place that does its job and just its job. At that point, we can then separate the issues that we've been forced to connect here: how dates are presented to non-reg/non-pref users, and overlinking on dates. Thus, it makes complete sense to try to retain meta data of some nature such that if a corrected DA is ever presented appropriately, we can bot-transform all meta-stored dates to the new style. Arguably, a bot searching for "MMM DD, YYYY" or "DD MMM YYYY" can still search text via regex to find these, but this is a CPU-intensive process, and there are other types of dates (Month, Year, or Year alone, or date ranges, or dates lacking explicit BC/AD or calendar type notes) that without some type of meta-ness, it cannot pick up. There's a strategy we could do now, still ditching DA and overlinking, but keeping data around to make finding dates more friendlier to bots in the future. --MASEM 14:11, 24 October 2008 (UTC)

We're getting down a rabbit trail here; the merits or detractors for DAing are well and good to talk about, but that's not the primary issue I raise. My point, which others have followed on, is that regardless of the perfect merits of removing date links, is that there is no single point of discussion that has been brought to the full community's attention (limited, but not to the usual places one looks) for a change that affects nearly every single mainspace article, but a decision has been made by < 20 editors worth of input. That's causing other editors to come and complain about it when it is put into action. Normal course of action, as is it a content issue and not behavioral, is to open an RFC to get a wider discussion and determien the best path forward based on this; in this case "Should we avoid using DA?"

All that I'd like to see (again, I completely agree with DA delinking, I'm not arguing against it), is that to basically end further discussion is to put up an RFC announced broadly, and get a large swath of editor feedback. Presuming that most will agree with the various reasonings (which, yes, should be put to a WP page essay for ease of reference) the RFC will show the global consensus towards removal, and those that are against it will have to realize they are part of the minority and live with the change. Mind you, this may show strong resistance to the change as well, at which point we have to consider the fact that a new approach might be needed. I'm going off my 1.5 yrs of experience trying to get something at WP:FICT to a point of consensus: this RFC should be seen as the crowning moment of those that have been arguing for DA removal for the past two years: the reasoning is all sound and perfect and fits with policy. However, the final touch is to present to the community at large and say "are y'all ok with this?" making the process more open as necessary for a volunteer project. This is no ways meant to invalidate the work that those behind the removal of DA to date have done. --MASEM 14:29, 24 October 2008 (UTC)

Many thousands of WPians have not complained at the delinking of dates and date-fragments in their articles, and very few (proportionally) have. The number of enthusiastic approvals in just a four-week period numbers many more than those who contributed to the positive consensus here over months of debate. Want the link? I've put it on this page so often I'm sick of it. Tony (talk) 15:18, 24 October 2008 (UTC)
I don't debate this, but it can be argued to be inconclusive - maybe those thousands just don't care, or they don't know where to reply about the issue, and so forth. Again, we're talking about part of the process of any policy development on WP, following up local consensus with a large-scale RFC to validate the point, I cannot see any harm in doing this. --MASEM 15:58, 24 October 2008 (UTC)
When above I commented that I've come under unfair pressure that I found offensive, I wasn't joking. This was posted by UC_Bill five minutes ago at WikiMedia's Bugzilla:

Tony, you're an idiot who clearly doesn't understand the first thing about technology. You should just leave Wikipedia for good, and stop annoying people. At the very least you should drop yourself from replies on this ticket, since you've made it clear you have no interest whatsoever in a solution to the problem outlined here. Bypassing autoformatting is not the same as fixing it, so your asshole-ish actions of mass delinking aren't actually a "solution" at all. Go away.... I recommend we just completely ignore the MOS-nuts who have some sort of

vendetta against date links (I think everyone knows who those people are) ...

See what I mean ... Nice one, Bill. Tony (talk) 16:29, 24 October 2008 (UTC)
Not a nice one, Tony. On the issue of date linking I disagree with Bill and agree with you. On the issue of your behavior I agree with UC_Bill. In fact, if you had stopped to listen to Bill instead of soapboxing, you might have found that his patch does in fact do exactly what you want, and it does so without needing to strip articles of potentially valuable markup.
You are way out there in WP:POINT land. Its disruptive and destructive, also to yourself: Your feeling "unfair pressure" and "offended" is no less due to a response that you provoked to begin with (comment #156).
So go take a wikibreak or mosbreak or something, but for heaven's sake chill out! That is, if you intend to actually accomplish anything. At the moment all you succeed in doing is pissing everyone off, including those who in principle agree with you. -- Fullstop (talk) 21:27, 24 October 2008 (UTC)

RFC was issued

A Request for Comment was issued; see the announcement. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 16:14, 24 October 2008 (UTC)

That RFC dealt with date formatting and did not address the issue of link deprecation and subsequent de-linking thereof. Shereth 16:20, 24 October 2008 (UTC)


Rather than debate what is a consensus here, why not do it at wt:Consensus where it will have some lasting impact?LeadSongDog (talk) 15:47, 24 October 2008 (UTC)

Armchair critics watch while others work hard

It's galling to observe that the noisy complainers here are totally unwilling to lift a finger to improve the woeful state of WP's date formatting. They're quite content to watch from the sidelines while others who care about this significant feature of our articles apply their skill and effort to improving this long-neglected aspect that has been allowed to fall into a state of barely controlled chaos.

Only part of the reason for the chaos has been the ill-considered date-autoformatting toy, which itself was rashly introduced and spread among unsuspecting users without this concocted notion of extensive consensus that is now being tossed about with moral outrage. No, the outrage is that those who huff and puff about the end of autoformatting—and, indeed, about addressing the cancer of linking irrelevant date fragments—have sat by for years while ISO dates have been introduced (and linked, for some reason) in the main text, often inconsistently within an article. No one, not they nor the readers, see those dates in a "favourite" order of month and day. And they have been content to watch for years as our readers have increasingly been exposed to sloppy and inconsistent American and British date mixtures within the same article, affecting more than half the articles in many areas.

The huge number of articles on US Congresses and Acts are a case in point that I have recently visited. These articles are a superb achievement—even if a little uneven in their level of detail—and are a valuable resource for the democratic process that deserves more attention by WPians. While most of their dates are in a reasonable state, some have such bizarre formats as year–day–month, with a vain attempt to autoformat them. Some have ISO dates, surely confusing for many readers, and I just caught one with British dates. Why is it that the carping critics turn a blind eye to such issues while lampooning and insulting those who painstakingly do the work? Yesterday, on a publicly accessible forum, I was called "an idiot who ... should just leave Wikipedia for good, and stop annoying people", and my contributions "asshole-ish actions". Greg L has been similarly insulted at the same forum, and anyone who disagrees with the party line labelled "MOS-nuts".

Quite a few of our most talented people have been working in the background, unsung, making headway in improving this mess. Some of this work has also involved the correction of spelling and typos, over time on a quite massive scale. Really, you people should be ashamed of yourselves. It's high time that you pitched in and did some work on something constructive for a change instead of squealing about some precious order of month and day, day and month. Tony (talk) 12:33, 26 October 2008 (UTC)

And you don't see your own words as part of the problem here? It's all us other people - the enemy? Franamax (talk) 12:41, 26 October 2008 (UTC)
Some of us correct these minor mistakes whilst we do GARs and peer reviews, etc. We also see some of the consequences of unthinking uses of such tools to make bizarre changes to, e.g. titles of reference, citations etc. However, why is date fixing regarded as the only importance task being carried out on wikipedia; and why are these editors considered to be the only talented people at work?Pyrotec (talk) 13:01, 26 October 2008 (UTC)
Pyro, you completely miss the central points: there are lots of talented people at work on WP, but the complainers here refuse to do anything about the issues at hand, content to sit around bagging those who do shoulder the burden. Franamax, I'd respond if there were substance to your post above, but it does appear to be more of exactly the attitude I'm talking about. Tony (talk) 13:14, 26 October 2008 (UTC)
Franamax, your question is spot on. Tony disparages people here, disparages people on his discussion page, disparages people on other people's discussion pages, and disparages people on various article discussion pages. This gossiping behavior, which is an overly generous description of what he does, really should stop. See WP:CIVIL and WP:AGF. Tennis expert (talk) 19:48, 26 October 2008 (UTC)
Tennis expert, I don't need to gossip, and don't bother with it. As to this accusation of "disparagement" on people's talk pages, if you're talking about what I've said about you—it's hardly worthy gossip if it's in public. Now, when are you going to help rather than hinder the project? Tony (talk) 23:30, 26 October 2008 (UTC)
Thank you for demonstrating my point yet again. Your incivility and failure to assume good faith is rampant, not just here but in many other places in Wikipedia. Also, your belief that anyone who doesn't help with your date-unlinking-agenda is "hindering the project" is patently false and incivil. Go ahead and Wikilawyer about whether public gossiping is "real gossip". I have no idea what you're doing in private, obviously. But your public behavior (trash talking everyone who opposes you) is totally detrimental to the project. Tennis expert (talk) 06:24, 27 October 2008 (UTC)
Here are some examples of disparaging names you have called me: "Tennis pest", "Tennis fanatic", "pig", "very eccentric". And those are only the ones I know about. Contrast your hostility toward me with my empathy toward you when an RFC was started about you. Tennis expert (talk) 06:57, 27 October 2008 (UTC)
I've watched this page, and I am pretty sure you will have the backing of most of WP to remove DA and to insist on a common ground for how dates should be formated: your work to get to this point is neither misguided nor gone to waste. There is a sufficiently compelling case to go forward on. However, the reason that people are specifically complaining is likely not because of these end decision, but the methods that the main editors here have approached and started to implement that decision. Yes, it is necessary to be bold and no one cannot criticize the editors here for trying to push forward these changes. But considering the WP:BRD cycle, those bold changes have gotten negative feedback, even if a minor number, and now its time for discussion, but that's not what is happening here.
There are two points that those that don't want to see DA going away that have been brought up: the retaining of some sort of meta-data that can be used to re-establish DA if Mediawiki ever provides a non-overloaded way to doing it, and how and when dates, in general, should be linking (without the use of DA). Neither point has gone through a significant discussion cycle that I've seen in the last week with those complaining from the outside; those that want DA removed keep parroting the same, yet valid reasons, those that are concerned keep asking the ask questions or provide the same alternatives that work towards the same goal those that want DA gone, but get no feedback. It is the method of process that is at issue here, not the actual issue of DA. As no one is moving from their respective corner, that is why it is time to open an RFC and get an idea of the global consensus on losing DA and when dates should be linked. I very much doubt the hard work that those wanting to remove DA will go to waste, but there may be more alternatives or a different type of consensus that has yet to be revealed on exactly we should replace DA or when dates should be linked. Everyone involved should be open to this - this is the fundamental principle of how WP is build, as a collaborative effort. --MASEM 13:27, 26 October 2008 (UTC)

The word "deprecated"

I note above that several people have read the letter of the new autoformatting policy as disallowing new additions of non-contextual date linking, but still allowing the existence of such date linking that was added before the change. More than once it has been claimed that there is consensus for ceasing to use autoformatting links, but not for removing autoformatting links. I do not believe that this is possible, as it would mean that the community wants intentional inconsistency, even within articles. Anyone looking to the spirit of Wikipedia policy rather than the letter understands that this sort of inconsistency, that makes absolutely no sense to our readers, is not helpful to the project. Nevertheless, if people are going to read the letter of the law only, I see their point, because deprecation is a complicated concept, which does not translate all that well to an encyclopedia project.

My suggestion is that we get rid of that word in favour of something clearer, that cannot be misinterpreted this way. If that means we have to discuss this all over again and finally get a watchlist notice for the discussion and everything, then I agree with MASEM on that, why not? There is no deadline. (And just to give full disclosure: I'm 100% with Tony and Greg on this issue, and I still would prefer beyond measure the old wording over this "old links good, new links bad" mess that some people seem to see in the current wording.) -- Jao (talk) 17:06, 26 October 2008 (UTC)

What do you suggest? To me it is so utterly absurd that we should disallow new additions but not permit removals that I can't see how any reasonable person could think that's what it meant. But if people nonetheless do think that (or pretend they do), then certainly a better wording might be preferable (though don't count on getting agreement on the matter easily).--Kotniski (talk) 17:44, 26 October 2008 (UTC)
I don't really see a wide consensus about anything other than autoformatting being deprecated. (I'm not entirely sure there's a consensus on that, but I'll concede it for a point of argument.) I think we need to start over and reach a wide consensus as to exactly what are appropriate date links, or at least as much as possible, leaving some to editor discretion. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 20:17, 26 October 2008 (UTC)
Well, if linking for autoformatting purposes is removed, only linking for context will remain, and the guidelines for that already exist: at WP:MOSLINK and at WP:CONTEXT. But I agree, judging by the above, there seems to me much doubt over how to apply those guidelines in this instance. -- Jao (talk) 20:40, 26 October 2008 (UTC)
actually it's not only linking for context that will remain - people have also been talking about linking dates for "metadata" and linking dates to "highlight" them. Sssoul (talk) 20:45, 26 October 2008 (UTC)
Another commonly quoted reason: 'if date links are removed, date articles will be orphans'. Lightmouse (talk) 21:03, 26 October 2008 (UTC)

Sssoul, no need for the scare quotes — I assure you metadata is a real term. It's not necessary for dates to be linked per se, but they must be marked up in some way to be identified as unquoted dates. That markup — currently represented by links, but not necessarily so — is what's being referred to as metadata. By removing the links and not replacing them with some (inert) type of markup, you're making it impossible to distinguish between an actual reference to a date and a quotation that happens to include a date. The former should always be correct, formatted properly, etc. The latter (quoted dates) need not be factually correct, typographically correct, and they should never, ever have their format changed. It's useful to be able to tell the difference, and that's what the metadata is for. The markup also eases the process of scanning for dates by various programs, either to build fact databases, look for linguistic patterns, generate automatic timelines, or (as some are fond of disparaging) generating usage statistics for various kinds of date formats (or any other purpose involving dates.) --Sapphic (talk) 21:40, 26 October 2008 (UTC)

Jao, a better, more accurate word would be preferable, but unfortunately it is the word proposed and adopted for the consensus. Since some people took the word to mean what it actually does and others interpreted it to mean a ban (and, yes, this problem was pointed out), changing it post facto is tantamount to reopening the consensus achieved for further debate, because an unknown number of people might then want to change their position on it. Personally, I think that’s the last thing most of us who were involved in the process want to have to go through again. Redefining “deprecate” will still not resolve the disputes over the removal of date links, in any case, and that’s the real problem. The simpler, easier, and less disruptive way to resolve them is to seek consensus for a proposed approach for their removal (and at least two approaches have been proposed). Askari Mark (Talk) 22:05, 26 October 2008 (UTC)
I don't see the difference between seeking consensus for changing the word to something that obviously implies removal of non-contextual links (if such consensus is deemed not to already exist), and seeking consensus for the removal of non-contextual links (if such consensus is deemed not to already exist). I'm happy either way, of course. The point is that a guideline that can be interpreted to mean that if you want to add an election date to the sentence "He entered office on March 22, 1995", you must make it inconsistent ("He was elected on January 30, 1995, and entered office on March 22, 1995") has to be changed, one way or another. On a side note, I totally agree with Kotniski that it's astounding that people do interpret it that way, even considering the use of the word "deprecated", but it seems to be a fact. -- Jao (talk) 22:21, 26 October 2008 (UTC)
How exactly are the pages on "March 22" and on "1995" going to help the reader in this case? I can imagine a piped link to a section of a page on the overall election, if any is required. Tony (talk) 00:34, 27 October 2008 (UTC)
Yes, that's exactly why we need a guideline that allows de-linking of "March 22" and "1995". To most people, including me, Kotniski and (presumably) you, that's what the guideline already says, but obviously not to everyone. -- Jao (talk) 10:41, 27 October 2008 (UTC)