Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style (dates and numbers)/Archive 45

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Note: This extended discussion on the linking of dates, during March and April 2006, is 171 kilobytes long. It therefore occupies archives 42 through 46.

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The second-level header section "Ambi's reverts" continues from archive44.

Ambi's reverts (continued)

Request to stop delinking dates in order to avoid additional distraction

PLEASE stop removing date links (especially en masse) UNTIL we have a clear decision from this discussion. (I speak as someone who fully supports the delinking). We don't need this added distraction. Thanks :) --Quiddity 19:54, 25 March 2006 (UTC)

No one is "removing dates en masse" Sunray 20:10, 25 March 2006 (UTC)
Thanks for the clarification. However, the discussion does not change the current wording of the guideline. Actions need only be consistent with that. Making en masse changes is essentially what this discussion is about. But surely manual changes to an article that one is editing are fine. Sunray 20:24, 25 March 2006 (UTC)
I was trying to use formal "lawyerly" language, primarily in the hopes that the 2 main culprits en masse editors would take the hint and stop delinking for a while, in order to stop provoking emotional arguments, like this whole "ambi's reverts" section, and get back to discussing it rationally. isnt irony great! --Quiddity
It's been several months now since the first person said "can you stop for now and let us discuss rationally". The rational discussions aren't working; people are too hard-headed. At what point do you just say, "Okay, you can adhere to the guidelines"? --Cyde Weys 00:03, 26 March 2006 (UTC)]
Ambi's last edit on this page was:
"Don't you find it a problem that you're trying to change - in your own words - a widespread norm by enforcing your own views on people? Ambi 06:23, 21 March 2006 (UTC)
Isn't this ironic given she is the one going around making all the reverts? A serious question though, James F and others keep talking about this "widespread norm" that was agreed upon three years ago. I'd like to read that discussion does anyone have a link to it? At present i have not seen bobblewick make any edits that seem to break the spirit of the "widespread norm", my interpretation of this being that it states "date links are appropriate when linking to relevant content". I have no problem with this policy but so often the linked date is irrelevant. Supporters of linked dates are not discussing this issue and to block other users who are trying to address the issue is just destructive if they are not prepared to explain themselves. David D. (Talk) 00:14, 26 March 2006 (UTC)
If it is such a widespread norm, then why do we need two people with an automated program and an obsession to run around changing what everyone else has implemented across the rest of the encyclopedia? It is not in common use, and this was, as revealed above, covertly slipped in by Bobblewik some time ago. I'm up for compromising on this, and SlimVirgin's (although I disagree with it to an extent) would go a long way towards this. Or otherwise, you could do as Cyde suggests, stop discussing, "fuck consensus" and do your own thing, in which case I will revert you. Simple. Ambi 02:27, 26 March 2006 (UTC)
If it is such a widespread norm, then maybe you could explain which dates can be delinked. At present your editing patterns suggest no dates can be delinked. James F. refers to some consensus that dates back to three years ago. As yet, no one has said what this consensus is: All dates can be linked; all dates should be linked; don't overlink dates but mulitple dates links are fine; something else. Which is it? David D. (Talk) 13:45, 26 March 2006 (UTC)
The old consensus was that all dates should be linked. And the reason that it needs hard work to get to our current MoS is that many people (including myself) linked every date in sight at that time. Rich Farmbrough 20:30 26 March 2006 (UTC).
Interesting. If this is the consensus (ALL dates linked) then I disagree with it and I believe many other users do too. To date there has been an implication from James F. and Ambi that not all dates have to be linked. Yet no one has been explicit about what this means. i want to hear more about what they believe can and cannot be done with regard to delinking. It is not enough to say that the consensus is obvious becuase it is not. David D. (Talk) 20:49, 26 March 2006 (UTC)
I think there's clearly not a consensus, because you folks have issues with this, but established practice has been to link all dates. This is not to say this necessarily should be the case - while there are plenty of times when date links provide useful context for particular events, there are indeed plenty of times when date links can be superfluous. The solution, I think, is to make a judgement call. - and not to go killing the entire lot on sight. Ambi 22:56, 26 March 2006 (UTC)
Ambi said: "The solution, I think, is to make a judgement call. - and not to go killing the entire lot on sight." Yes, absolutely! I think we are getting somewhere. There just might be an emerging consensus (whoops, perhaps I'd better not get carried away!). Sunray 01:03, 27 March 2006 (UTC)
That's ridiculous. There's no consensus to link all dates. If there were, our policies and guidelines would reflect that. Instead, they reflect something entirely different. They say that only date links that add meaningful context or work with date formatting preferences are required. Ambi is going around reverting valid edits according to some made up consensus that is entirely not reflected in the actual policies or guidelines. Ambi, if you think all dates should be linked, then go ahead and try to change the guidelines. In the meanwhile though it is entirely unacceptable to be mass-reverting edits that do conform to the guidelines. --Cyde Weys 01:07, 27 March 2006 (UTC)
Hey, Ambi didn't say that the consensus was to link all dates. She said that it had been established practice. Clearly it had been for some people. She goes on to say: "This is not to say this necessarily should be the case..." Sunray 01:27, 27 March 2006 (UTC)
Cyde, the only consensus we had on this page was in fact to link all dates, back in the mists of time. When Bobblewik inserted his contentious wording that was the beginning of this disagreement, and it snowballed into the problems it has caused recently. The problem was exacerbated by Bobblewik using a deceptive edit summary and not discussing it on the talk page; I'm sure if he had participated in the decision-making process properly someone would have noticed and this discussion would have taken place much more amicably several months ago. At the current time, our guideline on this issue does not reflect the opinions of Wikipedians on the issue - mainly since we are fragmented on how to handle this. If you are of the opinion that it should say what the last existing consensus was in the meantime - feel free to re-insert the old wording, from pre-April 2005. Talrias (t | e | c) 06:49, 27 March 2006 (UTC)

Please see, in this context, Wikipedia:Bots/Requests for approvals#SmackBot_and_AWB_operated_by_Rich_Farmbrough --Francis Schonken 10:41, 26 March 2006 (UTC)

Regarding "judgement call", which is an idea I like very much, I know that my latest proposal didn't exactly use that wording, but I suppose it is sort of included in it (in the "on a by article basis" I mean):

P8 - Francis' new proposal (trying to take account of some of Talrias' remarks) 
There is no consensus whether the general principles of Wikipedia:Only make links that are relevant to the context apply for dates. However,
  • it is good practice to link all dates that respond to your readers' auto-formatting preferences;
  • it is good practice to link separate months, days and years when relevant to context;
  • it is good practice that editors look for consensus on over/underlinking issues on a "by article" basis.

Would that be a good replacement for the present content of Wikipedia:Manual of Style (dates and numbers)#Avoid overlinking dates? I mean, even if the P8 formulation were put there as a "temporary solution", I wouldn't need an express "permission" for it I suppose: as far as I can see it evenly describes the points we agree upon, and the points we don't agree upon. --Francis Schonken 09:36, 28 March 2006 (UTC)

I think that the wording of the second point is too positive, or might be carelessly read that way (starting with: "it is good practice to link separate months, days and years ..." Tony 13:17, 28 March 2006 (UTC)

This would be a good solution, and I'm fine with Tony's suggested modifications as well. Ambi 01:03, 29 March 2006 (UTC)
See above for proposal P8b --Francis Schonken 08:04, 29 March 2006 (UTC)

Sidenote: repeated year/month links?

Quick question: does the guideline in the MoS for links that says not to repeat an internal link within the same article (except where an important link is distant from the previous occurance) apply to solitary year and solitary month links as well? (In other words, is it acceptable to link "1995" when another "1995" was linked in the last sentence, or the last paragraph?) Neonumbers 10:47, 29 March 2006 (UTC)

Simple question, no simple answer: reading half of the over 100 kb of text above will show you that there's no ready answer to that question. We're working on it. Feel invited to join the efforts. --Francis Schonken 10:57, 29 March 2006 (UTC)
Really? I was under the impression that the argument was links vs. no links, and that no-one had ever considered repeated links. I was trying to ask a question independant of but related to the above debate, in the hope there might have been agreement on at least something. Another way to put it is:
Are year links an exception to the guideline that says not to repeat an internal link within the same article? The question applies in the hypothetical situation that year links are permitted/encouraged (and is hence primarily directed towards those who believe that.) Neonumbers 11:10, 29 March 2006 (UTC)
See, e.g., #Dates in tables above (is the answer to your question different when talking about tables?)
Also the #Ambi's reverts section above discusses that the "old" consensus (still applicable according to some) was to link all years, even if repetitive in the same article.
Another example (not yet on this page): List of Bach cantatas by liturgical function has undergone some transformations in this sense over the last months [1]; [2]. How justified or objectionable such transformations were w.r.t. existing guidelines can be seen as a matter of debate.
My current preferred version of what should go in the guideline (P8b, see above) starts with: "There is no consensus whether the general principles of Wikipedia:Only make links that are relevant to the context apply for dates. [...]" - Avoidance of repetitive linking of the same expression on the same page is as much part of the "general principles" of WP:CONTEXT as any other of the "linking of dates" issues discussed on this talk page. Again, feel free to join in working towards a consensus solution. --Francis Schonken 11:37, 29 March 2006 (UTC)
So we can't even agree on that. Wow. I'm now beginning to face the brutal reality that consensus on this can never be achieved, not even in the smallest instance. (Incidentally, the "dates in tables" link was irrelevant, however the "Ambi's reverts" link was not.) Thanks for your reply, Francis, very much appreciated (dunno how I missed that). Neonumbers 09:20, 30 March 2006 (UTC)
A less ambiguous response: For what reason was the First of the "1995"s linked? Was it contextually helpful? An example would help us give even more specific responses.
And i see no valid reason to link individual months at all, except in the context of the origin of the name (ie link August when discussing Augustus), and similarly obvious circumstances. --Quiddity 23:24, 29 March 2006 (UTC)
This is besides the point — I just wanted to see if there was agreement on even this level. I've been involved in this debate before, I know there's constant argument on the larger scale. Neonumbers 09:20, 30 March 2006 (UTC)
I would say yes to your original question. In fact I would say bare year links should be treated like other links, in almost every respect. Rich Farmbrough 18:29 8 April 2006 (UTC).

Examples of when to link and not link solitary links

I'm trying to figure out when it is 'contextually relevant' to link a year. I'll give a couple of examples, and there can be some discussion (and maybe put it on the project page). I understand that even more context is needed in some situations, but maybe it'll be useful. GfloresTalk 23:44, 29 March 2006 (UTC)

  1. Born in 1458, he did this...
  2. Foo was formed in 1998...
  3. In 1999, they toured Europe...
  4. This occurred between 1583 and 1602...
  5. She visited this place in 2004...
  6. Person donated money in 1995...

Nope, none of these is remotely useful. 1458 starts with:

24 January - Matthias I Corvinus becomes king of Hungary
Foundation of Magdalen College, University of Oxford
George of Podebrady becomes king of Bohemia
Pope Pius II becomes pope
Turks issue a decree to protect the Acropolis after they conquer Athens.

If a reader really wants to read this unfocused information during her/his reading of a particular article, why not just type the four digits into the search box at the side, press return, and hey presto. But why?

The only useful date links, IMV, are piped ones that lead to focused articles such as '1995 US electoral scandal|1995' for the last. Tony 02:48, 30 March 2006 (UTC)

I completely agree.
Your last example though, raises the very thorny issue of when to obscure links with piping. eg. Someone could read your example as a rationale for adding '1995 in music|1995' for every year in a long discography. I don't know what the solution/guidelines to this issue is. --Quiddity 03:06, 30 March 2006 (UTC)
Bah. Giving a list of instances where links are obviously fairly useless and then trying to claim on tht basis that all links are useless is hardly very convincing. There are plenty of occasions, particularly in historical and biographical articles (mostly concerning older people) where date links may be entirely useful for giving context. None of these, however, make your "list". Ambi 04:08, 30 March 2006 (UTC)
It would be marvelously useful for your own case, to provide a list (even just 3) of instances/examples of where a date should be linked.
Here are the first 5 articles I got for "random page". (some suprisingly good examples)
(please don't fix any of these yet, so other people in this thread can see). discuss. -Quiddity 05:31, 30 March 2006 (UTC)
And once again, he cites a bunch of really freaking obvious examples and tries to make a general statement based on those. Did you read what I said above? Date links in articles about historical events give important context to those events by giving broader information about the period. Date links in quite a number biographical articles can prove useful too - say, Ghenghis Khan (again, providing a wider context to his achievements) or Bob Dylan (where information about the period may be highly relevant to his music). Date links about organisations may prove useful, too - say, for a political party, showing the context of the times in which it was formed. It really is a matter of making a judgement call. You can cite really obvious examples to the cows come home, but that doesn't make the generalisation any less wrong. Ambi 06:20, 30 March 2006 (UTC)
And i'm suggesting that you get specific. What exactly was obvious about the links in the 5 above - are they obviously all wrong? obviously correctly linked?
Should the intro to Bob Dylan have the "1960s" and "1980s" linked? or links that are piped to eg."1960s in music"? or left unlinked?
In George W. Bush should the 3 unlinked years in the 2nd paragraph be linked?
Think long term. Bush will be just as relevant to world history as Khan in 200 years (for better or worse). Wikipedia might be around that long; We're trying to create guidelines.
What should be linked? Stop arguing with individuals and address the topic; or point to where you/anyone expressed your view most clearly and with examples... --Quiddity 06:45, 30 March 2006 (UTC)
We're discussing a general guideline. I suggest you use common sense and let me use common sense. Problem solved. Although personally, I'd say that both 1960s and 1980s should be linked for Dylan (1960s definitely, because the period had a lot of influence on his work, and linking one but not the other looks silly), and the three also for Bush, for the reasons you state. Ambi 06:51, 30 March 2006 (UTC)
your thread reply started "Bah. Giving a list of instances where links are obviously fairly useless...". I'm wondering what specifically about my examples made them useless; but the links in the articles you used as examples useful.
My hypothesis is that you would like, as would I, more uses for all the metadata that is incorporated into this wonderful site; such as autogenerating timelines that were as useful as these look. But in the meantime, many of us feel that having all those years linked looks slightly ridiculous, even once you get used to wikipedia, and especially to some potential newcomers.
Your arguments above were (analyti/logi-cally) appeals to contextual importance and aesthetics, and above that to article's subject's relative-importance. But every article and link is contextually important if the article is important to the reader. We live within time and so it is always relevant!
So, summarizing, Is your stance that every year should be linked? --Quiddity 08:06, 30 March 2006 (UTC)
No, as would be perfectly obvious if you had read what I said. I'm not disputing that date links are rather useless in the random examples cited by you two (although I don't really care either way), but that there are plenty of other examples where date links do serve a useful purpose, as in the examples I noted - for which I explained why. Ambi 21:45, 30 March 2006 (UTC)
If it were perfectly clear I wouldnt keep asking for clarification ;-)
You seem to be saying: only articles you consider important, should have all dates linked, so that you can click on the links that you want to; but unimportant articles can have any or all dates linked/unlinked, you "couldnt care either way". But that is irrational and non-helpful, so i'm assuming that I'm misunderstanding you, and I'm asking you to clarify what you mean in some sort of abstractable but concise summary, that will help solve all this debate.
This (text) is a hard medium to gather insinuation through! --Quiddity 22:08, 30 March 2006 (UTC)
No, I'm saying that a judgement call needs to be made as to whether a date link is helpful. I was asked for examples of where a date link may be helpful, so I gave examples. Where links don't really serve a useful purpose, as in the random examples above, I don't object to their removal. Ambi 22:15, 30 March 2006 (UTC)

For Gnossienne (an example I mentioned above) I finally resolved to use these links:

These Three Gnossiennes were composed around 1890. A revision prior to publication in 1893 is not unlikely, [...]

The article contains many more dates (separate years, as well as full dates), none of which I thought useful to link. Anyone having a problem with my "common sense" judgement for this instance? (If so, please discuss at talk:gnossienne) --Francis Schonken 07:23, 30 March 2006 (UTC)

For my part, I don't see the relevance of linking even those two years. I am still willing to concede that some years may deserve linking, but I have yet to see any that I would link. -- Donald Albury(Talk) 13:58, 30 March 2006 (UTC)
I agree. I can see no reason to link years ever (eg 1493). however, Decades do provide a good overview (1490s), and should be linked at editor's discretion (but not autolinked by default).
When the date-pref bug is fixed, I will be among those proposing a mass delinking of almost all date-pref-rationale linked-dates. There is no reason for ANY of these dates to be linked: The Rolling Stones discography.
A seperate issue, that we should address later, is when, and how often, to advise using piped links? eg ((1990 in music|1990)), or ((1990 in Australia|1990)) etc, which i can see having a lot more potential benefit. --Quiddity 19:13, 31 March 2006 (UTC)

Anyway, "link all dates that respond to your readers' auto-formatting preferences" does not seem to work:

So, proposing version P8c:


P8c - Francis' new proposal (no consensus on linking all full dates either) 
There is no consensus whether the general principles of Wikipedia:Only make links that are relevant to the context apply for dates. However,

Anyone thinking this is not a good rendering of the present lack of consensus? --Francis Schonken 20:02, 31 March 2006 (UTC)

support. (though i would like to add " only link dates.." to the first line). Does this mean we'll be continuing to discuss the issue here and/or somewhere else? or are we putting this in, and trying to ignore the issue for afew months (or till it becomes a problem again)? -Quiddity 04:36, 2 April 2006 (UTC)
Maybe, for this guideline, let it rest some time, and see whether it becomes a problem again. I suppose the discussion will move towards the interpretation of "relevant to context" applied to dates. This MoS page would recommend to discuss that on individual articles' pages; if an over-all description of "relevant to context" for dates would be required (I don't know if that would be possible or soon agreed upon...), I'd have the discussion not here but at Wikipedia talk:Only make links that are relevant to the context (that would be specific principles for linking dates in that guideline then) --Francis Schonken 08:19, 2 April 2006 (UTC)
Tentatively support, though the preferences issue remains with full dates. Ambi 05:13, 2 April 2006 (UTC)
Well (but I'd put that in Wikipedia:Only make links that are relevant to the context#Rules of thumb for linking and not in the date & numbers MoS), I suppose one could say something like:

Unless for lists (e.g. List of Bach cantatas by liturgical function), tables (e.g. Köchel-Verzeichnis) or other pages where linking every date may become encumbering (e.g. gnossienne) full dates (i.e. dates composed of day, month and year) are preferably linked according to the description in Wikipedia:Manual of Style (dates and numbers)#Usage of links for date preferences; [...etc...]

...but I don't know if that would be a kind of formulation on which agreement is soon to be found... --Francis Schonken 08:19, 2 April 2006 (UTC)
I'm really sorry to say this, but I don't think P8c represents the majority view, let alone the consensus view. I say this because I think there is widespread agreement that WP:CONTEXT applies to year links as well as to any other type of link. In fact, the first bullet point of P8c seems to agree that the context of the link is important, and thus contradict the rubric. It seems to me that the actual disagreement comes over what WP:CONTEXT means in practice. Some people (like me) feel that year links are almost never useful to understand the context. Other people feel that year links are often useful to understand the context.
I think there is hope for a compromise proposal along these lines, but I think it would say something like "Treat year links according the guidelines in WP:CONTEXT; link a year if it's relevant to the context, don't link it if it's not relevant to the context".
Stephen Turner (Talk) 08:51, 2 April 2006 (UTC)
I'll support this. Of course, I have yet to see a situation where I think a linked year is relevant, but I can live with some links. I do worry about how this will be put into practice. Will I have to start a discussion on the talk page before I can remove a year link? Can I revert someone for adding a year link without seeking consensus on the talk page? Can I challenge an editor to justify the relevance of a year link? In other words, what will constitute good manners in dealing with year links? -- Donald Albury(Talk) 12:47, 2 April 2006 (UTC)
Just edit. There's no need to be particularly militant about it either way, and it's bad manners to get into revert wars - particularly in areas you wouldn't normally edit. Ambi 12:50, 2 April 2006 (UTC)
IMHO, that leaves us where we have been: Some editors link isolated years, and other editors unlink them, and that includes some editors who think every year should be linked and others (like me) don't see why any (isolated) year should be linked. So, in effect, there are no guidelines. Maybe we just need something like P9: There is no consensus on whether or not to link years that are not part of a full date. -- Donald Albury(Talk) 13:49, 2 April 2006 (UTC)
Which brings us back to the most common way that similar issues have been resolved on Wikipedia. Leave them as the original author set, and don't go out of your way to either delink or link. It's done a fine job of stopping edit warring over BC-BCE (or at least, led to those who absolutely insist upon doing so being sent before the ArbCom). Ambi 13:59, 2 April 2006 (UTC)
I guess that means that I can revert when someone links years that were not previously linked without providing any rationale (which I see happening fairly often). -- Donald Albury(Talk) 14:40, 2 April 2006 (UTC) your own risk. "Risks" include being perceived WP:POINT, WP:OWN, evading proper "edit summary",... None of these apply automatically of course. Before a pattern develops (which fellow-wikipedians might reproach you about later in the process), you might however consider using the talk page of such article to sort out such issues, instead of blind reverts. --Francis Schonken 15:01, 2 April 2006 (UTC)
So an editor can blindly link years without a discussion, but I can't revert those links without a discussion? That strikes me as a bias for linking years without justification, and I don't think there is consensus for that. How is trying to make articles look cleaner a violation of WP:POINT? And as Ambi said above, the precedent of the AD/CE, BC/BCE controversy would be to make any change in year linking without consensus objectionable, and subject to reversion. -- Donald Albury(Talk) 15:38, 2 April 2006 (UTC)
You only asked what you could do de-linking-wise. Don't make it sound as if I said anything about the other editors. I had no idea you wanted that question answered too: most people only speak for themselves, and are sometimes perceived uncivil if not. Because you asked so nicely, I'll try to give an answer to your implied question nonetheless (although this all appears self-evident to me): if people start linking years randomly that were not previously linked without providing any rationale, they do so their own risk. "Risks" include being perceived WP:POINT, UN-WP:CIVIL, evading proper "edit summary",... None of these apply automatically of course. Before a pattern develops (which fellow-wikipedians might reproach them about later in the process), they might however consider using the talk pages of such articles to sort out overlinking/underlinking issues, instead of arbitrarily starting to link years. --Francis Schonken 16:15, 2 April 2006 (UTC)
Thank you for your answers. We don't appear to agree where the line on linking years should be, but I don't think further pursuit of this question will be particularly fruitful for now. In any case I tend to be more cautious in my actual editing than I am in these discussions. I'll go back to my editing. -- Donald Albury(Talk) 18:32, 2 April 2006 (UTC)

The second-level header section "Examples of when to link and not link solitary links" continues into archive46.

The third-level header section "P8c" continued into archive46.

discussion continued from /archive44 < (long discussion)
> discussion continues in /archive46