Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style (dates and numbers)/Archive 4

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Mav, Eloquence seems to be unaware of the decision some months back to allow the usage of both dd/mm/yy and mm/dd/yy (though of course only one version in each article). It appears that whomever was behind the debate that reached this conclusion failed to write it into the MofS. As a result Eloquence refuses to accept such a system and wants to change dd/mm/yys to mm/dd/yy, telling people if they want to use such a change they should propose it. (so obviously the endless debate we had, the agreement reached, the program written to facilitate such a system was our collective 'Bobby Ewing' moment and never actually happened. *sigh*) Could you please have a word with him over this. I fail to understand how a normally excellent user has suddenly become so determined to trample over hundreds of other articles and insist on applying the MofS when the MofS was presumably inadvertently not updated to incorporate the system agreed. After the hassle of Joe Canuck et al, I really don't have the stomach for another war with a user trying to do everything his way, particularly when the user is someone I respect and whose determination to ignore even the observations of as constructive a wikipedian as Arwel Parry I find puzzling. FearÉIREANN 21:33 21 Jun 2003 (UTC)

I'd like to point out that I have no intention to "trample over hundreds of articles", but I do intend to adapt existing articles I work on to reflect the current MoS, just like Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style (dates and numbers) suggests: "NB: the Manual of Style is not mandatory. However, copyeditors will change entries to match the manual of style". I am doing just this until you provide evidence that the convention has been changed. As for the datebot, see Talk:10 Rillington Place. --Eloquence 21:50 21 Jun 2003 (UTC)
Well then we will have to update the MoS page to reflect the agreed upon compromise and be tolerant and respectful of both date styles in the same way we tolerate and respect all valid English spellings. Consistency in these cases needs to be within the article and not throughout the entire encyclopedia. --mav
I'd still like to know where, when and by whom this compromise was "agreed upon". The talk page of the policy page shows only 8 votes for such a compromise. The vast majority (36 votes) wants one of the two options (XOR) to apply. --Eloquence 23:52 21 Jun 2003 (UTC)
And there was no clear winner. So we must respect both styles the same way we respect all valid English spellings. --mav
Interesting logic. The inconsistent options were options in the poll. They lost with a clear margin, so they are clearly not wanted! Now you've unilaterally declared a losing option the winner because there is no "clear winner" (whatever that means). This is completely undemocratic.
If we want a consistent style (which the majority of voters do want) the right thing to do is to have a second ballot only containing the two options, and to call all Wikipedians for input. I am sure we would get enough votes to determine a reasonably clear winner. In the meantime, the old MoS convention should be used. --Eloquence 00:07 22 Jun 2003 (UTC)
Set it up then. The previous vote was flawed and can be interpreted a great many ways. But it is clear that this is a very divisive issue so IMO we need to respect both styles. --mav
This is illogical. The divisiveness of the issue is not overcome by "respecting both styles", since the inconsistency within Wikipedia caused by doing so is itself divisive. Because that is the case, I am not happy with your recent edit of the Wikipedia:Manual of Style (dates and numbers) page -- it does not reflect the current distribution of opinion, it only reflects your own. --Eloquence 00:20 22 Jun 2003 (UTC)
The votes were 15 for keeping the mm/dd status quo
21 for making dd/mm the standard
10 for encouraging the use of dd/mm
8 for allowing the use of either (no preference) - hardly "only 8 votes for such a compromise"
2 for keeping mm/dd as the standard, allowing either in entries.
That lot seems to indicate to me a general preference for dd/mm. Arwel 00:14 22 Jun 2003 (UTC)
I agree (keep in mind that each user can vote multiple times, though, so it's not as clear as you suggest -- 15 voted for keeping the current standard). I would be perfectly happy with letting Sean Barrett run his datebot to change existing dates to the British format. This, of course, needs to be announced on the mailing list first and would cause more votes, which would be a good thing. A separate ballot would also be possible. In the meantime, the previous standard should be used. --Eloquence 00:20 22 Jun 2003 (UTC)

I do have my doubts about converting all the dates to "American" format -- I thought Wikipedia_talk:Manual_of_Style_(dates_and_numbers) had agreed that we could use either dd/mm or mm/dd and mm/dd/yy in an article about a British event simply looks very wrong to me, so I'm changing them back. --Arwel 18:50 21 Jun 2003 (UTC)

As you can see from my user page, I am not an American. However, I like to have consistency in Wikipedia, and so do most people on the page you linked to -- while there seems to be a growing preference for the dd/mm format, the current standard is the mm/dd format, and it is counterproductive to use different formats in different places. British date format for articles about British events? So should I write "17. June 1953" in an article about a German event? Or do just the Brits get preferential treatment because they also speak English? That doesn't make sense to me.
If you want another date format, please work for its adoption before using it in articles. --Eloquence 18:58 21 Jun 2003 (UTC)

Sorry, Eloquence but you are wrong. This was debated some months ago and it was decided by a vote that either mm/dd//yy or dd/mm/yy could be used. That is why there is a growing preference; it was agreed and as a result most non-Americans (and many Americans) now use dd/mm/yy. I have not used mm/dd/yy since I think March. It was decided that an article should be left if possible in the form written, but that where possible it should also be in the form used in a country. While this seems contradictory, I think in practice it means that biographical entries should be as entered by users, historical articles should use the form of the country being described. Just as we apply British english to British articles and American english to American articles, so it makes sense to apply British (well actually world) dating to British articles and American dating to American articles.

I am somewhat surprised that you did not know about the dating decision. It was voted on and agreed some months ago, to the relief it must be said of non-Americans (I for example never ever used American dating except on wiki!) who could now use their native format. In fact many historical articles have been changed to the native style. All dates were provided with redirects so that ether format would work.

As a result and in view of the decision taken I have reverted this article to the relevant form of date. As this is an article about Britain I have reverted this article to British english dating. That is the agreed and correct form. FearÉIREANN 19:49 21 Jun 2003 (UTC)

You write as if there was some kind of consensus on the matter. Neither Wikipedia:Manual of Style (dates and numbers) nor the talk page report such a consensus. The current opinion on the talk page is that the style should be changed to DD MM, closely followed by the opinion that the existing policy should be kept. The official MoS recommendation is still to use Month DD YYYY. I can accept using the British format in imported articles, but as soon as an article has been changed to reflect MoS, it should not be changed back.
The MoS exists to provide a consistent style across all Wikipedia articles. It makes no sense to have different styles for different topics. This is not the UK-pedia, and the preference for British dates is pointless. For the record, I also think that allowing British spelling in articles about British subjects is annoying and should stop, but we should at least be able to agree on a consistent date format. Everything else looks unprofessional.
I have no objection against changing the recommended date format and don't have an opinion as to which one is stylistically preferable. What I care about is consistency. Let's keep Wikipedia as consistent in style as reasonably possible to convey the impression of a professionally edited publication, and not a hodgepodge of different styles that is typical for a website whose users cannot agree with each other. By the same logic with which you want to use British style dates in this article, I could use German style dates in an article about a German subject (that is, "17. June" instead of "17 June"). Or is this just a British/American thing? In that case, I don't think that articles about UK subjects should be written in UK style, and all other articles in US style. Do you? --Eloquence 20:19 21 Jun 2003 (UTC)

1. Personally as most of the world does not use American english and in fact dislike it being forced on them, I think US english about be restricted to US articles.

2. Yes there IS a consensus, a clear and unambiguous 100% consensus to use both. If it isn't mentioned that is because those people responsible for conducting the vote on the issue failed to amend the rules accordingly,( ie an oversight), in which case I will rewrite the rules to reflect the consensus that was reached. (I know from personal experience it is possible to have agreement on an issue and inadvertently forget to put it onto the revelant rules page until someone who does not know about the rule makes an issue of it and the relevant oversight has to be amended.) But the vote took place, the issue was debated, a consensus agreed, a program written to facilitate the implementation of that consensus, a request made to delay implementing the consensus until the program was ready, then a message saying 'program in place. Both alternative date systems can now be used.'

3. As to this not being UK-pedia. Nor is it US-pedia. /dd/yy is a format rarely used outside the US. In fact outside the US its usage is restricted to a small number of areas, (eg newspaper dates, due to pre-computerisation cataloguing reasons in that case). The vast majority of people in the world use dd/mm/yy. So if wiki was going to apply one style, it would have to be dd/mm/yy as that is the worldwide system used and is also widely used in the US.

4. Re German dating. The issue decided was whether to use dd/mm/yy, mm/dd/yy, yy/mm/dd, all or a couple. It was decided by clear consensus (and reflected in the resultant computer program created to implement the decision) that dd/mm/yy and //mm/dd/yy could be used, and nothing else.

The consensus decision is that British english and British dating is used in British articles. American english and american dating is used in American articles. It is a perfectly logical compromise. If either was going to be dropped it would American dating as that is only used by a minority of english users.

The decision was reached. Hundreds of wiki users have been using dual dating for months now. It is unfortunate that you seem not to know of the decision. Given that most non-Americans have been using dd/mm/yy for months I would have thought even those who did not know of the original debate would have noticed and got the message by now. If it was not as of yet mentioned on the wiki manual of style that was an accidential failure to up date it to reflect the new agreed consensus. However any attempt by users to revert articles to the previous universally applied format of mm/dd/yy will simply be reverted, just as any attempt by people to force American english on pages written in British english is constantly reverted. Dual dating is the agreed format for recording dates and has been so for months, as other users will confirm if check with them. FearÉIREANN 20:53 21 Jun 2003 (UTC)

Repeating something does not make it any more true, no matter how often you do it. The talk page lists several options, and the number of votes next to each option. The option "Allow both Month Day, Year and Day Month Year, express no preference" received only 8 votes (as opposed to 21 for changing the policy, and 15 for keeping it the same). Of the listed options, none suggests to use British style in articles about British subjects, and US style in all others, which seems to be what you are proposing. You speak boldly of a clear and unambiguous 100% consensus, of which I see no record. Please point to the record, or stop reverting articles, and keep them in the proper form in accordance with our manual of style. --Eloquence 21:00 21 Jun 2003 (UTC)

FCOL this is getting ridiculous. When it was suggested that a program could be written to allow both for fomats to be used, that was agreed to as a compromise, in that it allowed for the use of one or other date formats. That was the decision. It was then suggested that we simply follow the rule as it is applied in the naming conventions. Leave article in the form written, but aim to achieve a form of language or dating relevant to the content of the article. It is clear as day, it is the agrement which wiki members have been using for months. If the MoS has not been correctly updated then I will update it. Please do not try to force your preferred date onto other users when it was decided that the two formats could and would be used. As to reverting, any article in which you or anyone else tries to force American english or American dating onto when it has been agreed to use British english and British dating will of course be reverted by any and all users who find it. Or maybe you think that hundreds of users who have been faithfully following this agreeent all dreamt it up, that hundreds of users on wiki are collectively hallucinated the agreement and all collectively turned into trolls to vandalise wikipedia dates?

Frankly if you did not notice that a consensus had been reached on this issue months ago, that is your problem. If you choose to be the Rip Van Winkle of wiki that is your right. But the issue was decided on and has been implemented. Any attempt ro bulldoze your preferred language into articles in flagrant breach of the agreement reached simply will not be let stand. Issue closed. FearÉIREANN 21:29 21 Jun 2003 (UTC)

FearÉIREANN, before I begin here I'd like to make clear that I'm on your side of the substantive part of this issue with regard to the dating convention.
However, I strongly recommend that you not update the Manual of Style unless you can specifically point to the source that states when and by whom this consensus was reached. It's no different than having a reputable source for an article. Eloquence made a simple request, and I think he deserves an answer. All such discussion is web-archived, whether it be on talk pages or on the mailing list.
Hephaestos 21:38 21 Jun 2003 (UTC)
The datebot was written by Sean Barrett to change the content of existing pages from one format to the other. He never ran it on the entire Wikipedia, only on the ship pages [1]. If I recall correctly, there was some argument about convention regarding the date style for ship pages being changed to DD MM, but the MoS has no record of it.
I am hardly alone in my dislike for inconsistent style, and the voting results as documented on Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style (dates and numbers) back me up in that assertion. We have a datebot, we can convert the existing style to another one -- I would agree with that and the voting results support it. So why do you not ask Sean to run the datebot, after a mailing list discussion on the matter? That seems like the most reasonable approach. --Eloquence 21:57 21 Jun 2003 (UTC)

And at any rate if the British style of dates is used they don't get commas. I can't tell you how many of those I've run into just today. - Hephaestos 00:22 22 Jun 2003 (UTC)

Apologies if I was a bit narky earlier. I've had a rather stressful few days (a major edit lost because of problems getting a save on wiki, (it took me 26 minutes at one stage to get Mav's page to open!!!) the hassle over Joe Canuck and an ear infection on top of everything that has for the last 48 hours left me in constant pain - which had just reminded me to take more painkillers!). From my understanding of the debate, the voting itself proved inconclusive. I and others involved kept asking 'so what is the position?'. Because of problems over page size (and that damned I Explorer that makes it impossible to enter pages over a certain length) the debate was continued on in the various user talk pages and the messages that went around said that the datebot was up and running and could be used for all dates. I, Arwel and others were told that we could from that moment on move to the dd/mm/yy and almost immediately most non-US users abandoned the mm/dd/yy format. In fact I was one of the last to abandon that, because I wanted to make sure that it was OK. I am a bit of a fanatic about uniformity, as my work on the Wikipedia:Naming conventions (names and titles) shows. So I wanted the position to be clear.

All the messages I received along with others said that because it was obvious that many people wanted to change, the best solution was to allow both date systems to be used, subject to the situation that as with BE and AE only one style be used in an article, which I have rigidly followed, on occasion changing all dates in some articles to the mm/dd/yy format when the articles were originally written that way or when the article was on an american topic. In addition there was no question of the dual system causing problems, since we spell out months rather than use numbers. While dd/mm/yy may look odd to users of mm/dd/yy, the latter looks distinctly odd to most of the rest of the world who don't use it. Indeed its use reinforced the image that wiki is an American encyclopædia for Americans, with the rest of the world being expected to follow a dating system that even many Americans don't use. (On my eMac, for example, the dating system is linked to country. I made a point of checking what the menu options were. Only the US had mm/dd/yy on my computer, all the rest of the world bar two I think, showed up as dd/mm/yy. Those two were shown as yy/mm/dd/)

To be honest, I hated using mm/dd/yy. It is a form I never ever used except on wiki. Most Americans I know don't even use it. When I was told categorically that both format could be used I abandoned using mm/dd/yy. I made a point of telling people that as that was the agreed format, it should be put in naming conventions pages and the MofS and I was told that that was in the process of being done. (I was already updating another naming conventions page to include a consensus achieved elsewhere, and to be honest am fed up being the one having to 'word' changes to conventions. So I left it to others to make the change.) At this stage, even if we wanted to we could not go back to simply using mm/dd/yy on wiki; a large number of users now use dd/mm/yy and from what I have seen lately at least 50% of new users are using it, with mm/dd/yy only being used with the odd exception by americans. In any case, the MoS is, as it itself makes clear, not obligatory. At this stage there is no question of my returning to use mm/dd/yy. I find it as irritating as being expected to write american spellings like 'amature', 'fetus', 'behavior', etc. If all I am being asked to do with to 'write american' to produce an american encyclopædia for americans, then you can count me out. This is supposed to be a world sourcebook. Non-Americans are already up in arms at demands from Americans that American english rather than British english capitalisation rules be followed. Non-Americans go ballistic every time an American tries to turn something written in British english or Hiberno english into American english. One user (I won't use the language I described him by when I saw it. Suffice to say it cast doubts on the marital status of their parents) a couple of days ago not merely sought to turn an article on an Irish topic into American english, using American spelling and American capitalisation, but even went so far as to americanise my comments on the talk page. (His changes were reverted, and a rather strong message left on his talk page.)

In conclusion, as far as Arwel. I and many many others were concerned, we were told it was perfectly acceptable to use dd/mm/yy. Even if it turns out we were misled, there is no question of returning to use mm/dd/yy. As the MofS makes explicitly clear, its mm/dd/yy is not obligatory. I do not intend ever to use that format again (not juts on wiki but in life), other than when writing on US topics or in creating uniformity in an article where that was the original form used. Any effort to 'americanise' articles will not be accepted. In the area of capitalisation, many non-americans were brought to the brink of quitting wiki altogether by having their work americanised to follow american capitalisation rules, rules most of the rest of the world was taught were grammatically incorrect. Americanising British english in articles is guaranteed to trigger edit wars, with BE users reverting articles as often as necessary to ensure the BE they were written in is the form the article remains in. The same is true of dates. To attempt to force AE-style dates on article written in BE is guaranteed to cause edit wars. If American english users want an american english encyclopædia they can always go off and write one. But this is a world encylopædia, not an American one. if AE user want to be treated with respect, and have their capitalisation, spelling, linguistic structure and dating shown respect, they better get use to recognising that most of the rest of the world uses a different form of english to which they should show respect also. Non AE users will continue to write in BE, spell in BE, capitalise in BE and use dates in BE on wiki, whether AE users like it or not.

One final point: people who are so concerned about uniformity should look at the vast areas of wiki other than dates where not just is there no uniformity but where elementary grammatical rules that apply in all forms of english are being disregarded. I have spent most of the last three months trying to turn articles in any form of english, trying to create some degree of uniformity in title use, etc. There are far far more problems than dates, especially when dates, because they are spelt out, cannot confuse people. FearÉIREANN 01:03 22 Jun 2003 (UTC)

I know how you feel about the ear infection. I have no idea why there are so many nerves in the canal! Not that the amount of pain makes any difference in how a person treats it, as it's out of reach of most aids. "God" should be killed. Anyway, I'm not sure why or how you're using national teachings as a defence for any special capitalisation; it's not about what nation teaches what, but how things should be. So I'm boggled by your odd and wavering use of capitals. Languages are names, not words, so they should be capitalised. So should nationalities. lysdexia 01:49, 14 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I am a sucker for uniformity as well, and I care most about order where chaos is the most visible. Thousands of our articles contain dates, and when, clicking from one article to the next to a third one, I see alternating date styles, this simply looks unprofessional. As an occasional copyeditor, I also find it highly annoying to first always have to check whether the article is about a British subject and to then adjust my style accordingly.
An encyclopedia is more than an index of pages -- it should try to follow a consistent style throughout. We succeed in this to an already marvelous degree, given that thousands of our contributors are anonymous IP numbers who we will never see again. We have full intro sentences, bolded keywords, separated "see also" and "external links" sections, fairly standardized rules on italics etc. Generally, two medium-sized Wikipedia articles tend to look at least very similar. But stuff like the date style separation breaks this uniformity.
A compromise is only a compromise if both parties to it are at least slightly unhappy. The current solution is very favorable to the British speaking segment of Wikipedia, and unfavorable to the rest, including relatively neutral parties like myself. As a German, I still prefer the "March 21" style, because that's what I read the most and what sounds most natural to me. But I could live with and would follow the "21 March" rule gladly. In return, it would be nice if the British users would accept "Americanization" of their spellings, at least where a Google test shows a clear preference of the US spelling. Yes, I know, terrible, horrible, evil, etc. -- but if you're not at least cursing a little bit, it's not a compromise. ;-)
Still, these issues should be treated separately. Instead of referring to unspecified and unquantified talk page agreements, we should get a clear record of the preferred date style, and then establish it consistently across all wiki pages. As a separate matter, we could vote on the spelling issue. Perhaps it turns out that I am relatively alone in my desire for wiki-wide consistency here, but in the case of dates the current vote outcome shows that I am clearly not. Sean Barrett has written the datebot to convert all dates to a single standard. The technology is there if we want to use it.
What we should avoid is the impression that a few influential Wikipedians can change the existing policy to their liking, and that the recorded votes are ignored. Yes, people may make decisions you do not agree with. The German Wikipedia, much to my dismay, recently decided to prohibit fair use of images. Still, I will respect their decision -- that's always part of the deal. If the community process works, avoiding it will, on average, result in worse decisions than not doing so. The individual decision makers will almost never be able to see that their decisions were wrong. That's why respect for the community process is important -- or you have to argue for its abolition and replacement with something else entirely. --Eloquence 01:39 22 Jun 2003 (UTC)

Eloquence seems to be unaware of the decision some months back to allow the usage of both dd/mm/yy and mm/dd/yy

I was also unaware of this decision. The decision to change this policy should be taken on this talk page. A selection of Wikipedians getting together to decide policy on an unannounced user talk page (or worse, IRC or private email) is more fitting to a cabal than a genuinely open project. Martin 01:39 22 Jun 2003 (UTC)

Because of problems over page size (and that damned I Explorer that makes it impossible to enter pages over a certain length) the debate was continued on in the various user talk pages and...

If a page gets too long, archive it. "various user talk pages" are not the correct place to formulate policy. I really feel strongly about this. You didn't even have the courtesy to provide a link here, let alone update us with the results of your deliberations. Martin

there has to be some flexibility on this issue as well as spelling. As it happens, I rarely use dates, but I could live with US dates in US articles, just as I would be prepared to use AE spelling where it seemed appropriate. For example, Gray Whale, which is a Pacific species, rather than "Grey Whale". If we want to make it more professional, a better starting point would be to put references to 1876 bible encyclopedias and comments on the lines of "can anyone add to this..." as hidden text, so it is only seen by editors. jimfbleak 05:48 22 Jun 2003 (UTC)

Archived. 22 June 2003