Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style (dates and numbers)/Archive 49a

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Dashes

Birth–death

The MoS seems to approve of the very non-standrad of "[space][hyphen][space]" between birth and death dates; why is that? Surely the en-rule is pretty well the universal standard (and without flanking spaces). --Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 08:13, 25 April 2006 (UTC)

I agree. Thin spaces are OK too, but hard to type. Stephen Turner (Talk) 08:32, 25 April 2006 (UTC)
  • Most style manuals say no space; however, exceptions are made when the items either side themselves have internal spaces, most commony, dates: 1 March – 14 April. Tony 09:39, 25 April 2006 (UTC)
Ahhh. That. There was a big dash vs. hyphen debate some time back, before I came, I think. If you haven't already seen it, there's an entire MoS on it at Wikipedia:Manual of Style (dashes).
If you ask me, I fully agree that the en dash, without spaces, should be used for number ranges (or maybe just birth/death to avoid confusion with the minus sign). But in promoting the removal of hyphens as dashes, there'll be heaps and heaps of opposition.
The main opposition is that they're hard to type. For me this is not an argument but for others it is. Some say that – makes the wiki markup hard to read, though it could be argued that these handy links below the edit box nullify this argument. A few argue that it is a de facto standard for the dash — but if you ask me, this is an encyclopedia and should be suitable for print. Any bid to get rid of hyphens used as dashes has my support. Neonumbers 10:16, 25 April 2006 (UTC)
Can't we just drop the examples with hyphens from this page, without actually mandating anything explicitly? Stephen Turner (Talk) 10:49, 25 April 2006 (UTC)
Yea, sure. Works with me.
The incident I was thinking of is in /archive33#Hyphens and En Dashes Sitting in a Tree. To use en dashes without recommending them was my suggestion then, feel free to track down related edits to that discussion in history... (I'm too lazy)... I can't remember what came of that discussion, to be honest.
Anyway, yeah, don't see why not. Neonumbers 12:55, 26 April 2006 (UTC)
I've just had a look at the project page, I find it odd that we offer alternatives for a trivial matter like whether or not there should be a space on either side of the en dash [(12 February 180919 April 1882) or (12 February 180919 April 1882)]. Can't we just pick one and stick to it? Doesn't matter which, but consistency is better than less consistency... Neonumbers 12:55, 26 April 2006 (UTC)

I'll register my preference for sticking to "(12 February 180919 April 1882)". --Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 20:29, 26 April 2006 (UTC)

I've been bold, and removed the alternatives. In doing so I found that there were also some inconsistencies (different sets of alternatives being given at different at different places), and I've also given the alternatives "BC" or "BCE" and "born"/"died" or "b."/"d."). I hope that that's OK. It reflects common usage in articles. --Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 15:49, 29 April 2006 (UTC)
Thanks for doing that, it's a definite improvement. The only thing I disagree with is the use of b. and d. for born and died. I don't deny that it happens, but it seems a bit sloppy to me, or as if space was at a premium. May I revert that change until we've discussed it? Stephen Turner (Talk) 18:13, 29 April 2006 (UTC)

I prefer a space bcause of things like (12 – 19 February 20) vs. (12–19 February 20). En-dashes should be preferred, but it doesn't greatly matter if another horizontal bar is use, someone will change it in due course. Rich Farmbrough 23:19 29 April 2006 (UTC). (earlier)

  1. With regard to b. & d., I included them because, first, they're at least as commonly used as "born" and "died" in articles, so far as I can see, and secondly, the abbreviation is pretty standard in reference works. I'm not committed to it, though.
  2. With regard to the space, the "12–19 February" form shouldn't be used, because it gives rise to peculiar forms for people with preferences set, for example, to the U.S. style ("12-February 19"). Both dates should be linked and given in full. --Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 21:41, 29 April 2006 (UTC)
Yes, but my particular someone was born sometime in the year AD 12, and died 19th February in the year 20. Even if you dare to link the bare year 12 you get (1219 February 20) (with European preferences). Rich Farmbrough 23:19 29 April 2006 (UTC).

Oops, I wasn't looking carefully enough. Good point. --Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 11:36, 3 May 2006 (UTC)

This has been discussed to death. The only consensus is to abide by the principle of wikilove and not to steamroller over the status quo. -chocolateboy 03:07, 3 May 2006 (UTC)

Chocolateboy (talkcontribspage movesblock userblock log) reverted the changes that I made with an edit summary claiming that they were "unilateral" (and after that aggressive move came here and preached "wikilove"). As the above discussion indicates, I raised the issue, it was discussed, and then I made the change. That's the reverse of "unilateral". Chocolateboy's action, on the other hand, certainly counts as unilateral.--Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 11:36, 3 May 2006 (UTC)

The edit summary calling Mel's edits "unilateral" was indeed lacking AGF. Especially as Mel's prior edit summary specifically said "see talk". Just because there has been prior discussion, does not mean the issue has been settled forever, or that all pertinent facts have already been decided upon with finality.
Finally, calling User:Chocolateboy/Dashes the "status quo" is misleading. A quote from wiki: "Politicians sometimes refer to a status quo. Sometimes there is a policy of deliberate ambiguity, referring to the status quo rather than formalizing the status." The status quo in this case obviously favours the hyphen because it is a single keystroke, whereas dashes require html. The easier/common path is not always the right path. --Quiddity 18:25, 3 May 2006 (UTC)

Thanks for that. With regard to the issue of the format, I can find no manual of style or other respectable book on English that countenances the use of a hyphen to join dates. Does anyone know of one that I've missed?

I've just reverted an addition that forbade (in bold) the editing of an article in order to change a hyphen to an en-rule. While I can see that some users might not have the energy to type more than one stroke, so have to use hyphens, it's a little odd to insist that others with more energy aren't allowed to bring articles into line with normal typography. --Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 22:07, 3 May 2006 (UTC)

I don't consider it that important -- (oops, I mean —) I'm trying to stop a revert war, since there doesn't seem to be consensus for either Mel's or Chocolateboy's position. — Arthur Rubin | (talk) 23:25, 3 May 2006 (UTC)
Chocolateboy is the only user who supports his position, whereas six—now seven—users have expressed support for preferring en dashes. - Centrx 00:05, 4 May 2006 (UTC)

Dates ought to be joined by an en dash. This is standard typography in English. Looking through Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style (dates and numbers)/archive33#Hyphens and En Dashes Sitting in a Tree and all the discussions linked at the top of it, Chocolateboy is the only user who seriously opposes recommending en dashes over hyphens, likewise in this current discussion. The recurrent main concern was that it less easy to type –, and that – clutters the text when editing, which is no longer a problem with the symbol box below available (Unicode characters?). I see no reason why it would not be preferable to have these hyphens changed to en dashes, or why doing so should be discouraged in the MoS. - Centrx 00:05, 4 May 2006 (UTC)

Dates are pretty easy to parse (and already parsed for m:Dynamic dates). Why can't the software just recognize the various date - date variants, and render them all the same way (with an en dash)? This is a wiki, after all... — Omegatron 00:06, 4 May 2006 (UTC)
---
Why can't the software just recognize the various date - date variants, and render them all the same way (with an en dash)?
It can :-)
Chocolateboy is the only user who supports his position, whereas six—now seven—users have expressed support for preferring en dashes
Wik, Eloquence, Dori, fabiform, Tarquin, Jamesday, Angela, RickK, grendelkhan, Pcb21 [1], the BBC, h2g2 [2], Wikipedia policy [3] [4] [5], and the vast majority of Wikipedians disagree. [6]
I suggest dash advocates familiarize themselves with prior discussion of this issue rather than playing to the gallery ("chocolateboy this", "chocolateboy that"). Let's try to stay ontopic.
Neither 6 nor 60 militant minoritarians are enough to overthrow the de facto and de jure consensus (the argument that the status quo somehow reflects the laziness or cluelessness of the majority of Wikipedians is as familiar as it is contrary to the spirit of Wikipedia).
Wikipedia policy is evolved bottom up by Wikipedians, not imposed top down by a tiny, albeit resourceful, minority.
chocolateboy 20:52, 4 May 2006 (UTC)
As I recall, User:Wik left under less than noble circumstances on his part but regardless he is no longer on Wikipedia and his reasoning was that what is is equivalent to what ought be. From the first page you link to, the objections of User:Eloquence, User:Dori, User:Tarquin, User:RickK, and User:grendelkhan are limited specifically to objections about using HTML entities like –. User:Pcb21 does not explicitly state a preference, but he does mention that the usability of the policy is often ignored in these debates, a concern which may be resolved by the relative ease of inserting and editing Unicode dashes compared to the case at that time. User:Angela states a preferences of hyphens over dashes. This user does not there give a reason but in another comment states that consistency within articles is preferable above all. So, all but one of these users you mention express no objection to using en-dashes, as the Unicode '–' does not clutter the text like –. I have left a message asking clarification on the only objecting user's talk page, at User_talk:Angela.
Regarding BBC and H2G2, the link is broken and goes to this very page here, but searching on google - site:wikipedia.org dashes bbc - yields Wikipedia_talk:Manual_of_Style_(dates_and_numbers)/archive_dash_discussion, which simply has a statement by you asserting the same thing you assert here: that the BBC and H2G2 use hyphens in intervals instead of dashes. I find no mention in the BBC Styleguide [7] of the use of dashes or hyphens, and I am unable to find a date interval (1911 - 1943 or 1911–1943 or 1911-1943) on the BBC news website [8]. As for H2G2, which is owned by the BBC, it has the following page English Usage in the Edited Guide, which states that "okay, we can't do real en-dashes and em-dashes, so hyphens will have to do". So, they lament their inability to use proper formatting and settle for hyphens.
As for the other links, Wikipedia:Policies and guidelines says nothing about dashes, and neither does Wiki is not paper. Please explain how these apply to the current discussion. Wikipedia:Manual_of_Style#Dashes links to Wikipedia:Manual of Style (dashes) states that an en-dash "indicates duration, such as when you could substitute the word "to" (as in a range of dates)". That is, it explicitly recommends the change that is proposed for this dates and numbers styleguide here.
The status quo is not necessarily what ought to be recommended, and the statistics you refer to, being 2 years old, may not even be the status quo. How is it not reasonable that a user in the quick of editing would use a hyphen instead of an en-dash, when he would think an en-dash better if he knew how to insert one or had cared about it? This does not imply some domination by elites who think the masses lazy and clueless. Why ought not the "de jure" MoS be changed to conform to the higher right of being a good encyclopedia, Wikipedia:Five_pillars? (Although the "de jure" MoS you link to is the same one that explicitly states that en-dashes are to be used for intervals, as proposed here.) So, again, what is the reason for not using en-dashes? - Centrx 23:13, 4 May 2006 (UTC)
En dashes look much better. Ardric47 02:54, 5 May 2006 (UTC)

Despite being the only person in this discussion to insist on the acceptability of hyphens, and thus having to appeal to absent friends in a discussion long ago, Chocolateboy is still reverting to his preferred version, with an edit summary referring to the Talk page... --Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 11:32, 5 May 2006 (UTC)

Despite being the only person in this discussion to insist on the acceptability of hyphens, and thus having to appeal to absent friends in a discussion long ago
The last discussion was a few months ago, and none of the participants were my "friends", whatever that means. Disparaging their integrity in this way (heaven forbid they should have been speaking honestly) does nothing to consolidate the already untenable position of those who wish to overthrow the status quo:
I have just taken a look at some of the links to guidance given here. Phrases suggesting that a hyphen is not MoS compliant seem very odd. Bobblewik
I don't see what all the fuss is about—I thought this was only an issue before we had Unicode. Most editors can only easily enter hyphens, and that's fine, but en dashes are typographically correct, so I change incorrectly-used hyphens whenever I am copy-editing. I type literal dashes (hyphen: - en dash: – em dash —), so it doesn't ugly up the wikitext or inconvenience other editors. Michael
In the meantime, the solution of "Wikipedia:Manual of Style (dashes)#Dash guidelines for Wikipedia editors" seems one to recommend: "editors are encouraged to be accepting of others' dash preferences and not to modify a chosen style arbitrarily in the same way as they would refrain from arbitrarily changing "artefact" to "artifact" (or vice versa)."
Thus, this page should offer samples of both solutions. User:Docu
As I said above, let's lose the personal slams and gallery playing, and address the issue (see Centrx's thoughtful post above for an example of this). Certainly a perfunctory and inflammatory comment of this kidney does not justify this revert.
chocolateboy 07:04, 12 May 2006 (UTC)
"Absent friends" is a common English expression; here, it's simply a light-hearted way of referring to people not present.
The overwhelming consensus among people participating in this discussion is for the en-rule and not the hyphen to be given in examples here. That's the reason for reversing your unilateral revert. --Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 09:15, 15 May 2006 (UTC)
  • Thank you, thank you, Mel Etitis, for reverting the hyphen thing. Please let's agree to keep it to n dashes, which is consistent with most US and UK style guides, and looks so much better. Tony 04:04, 14 May 2006 (UTC)

People who currently appear to support using traditionally-mandated typography for hyphens and dashes:

  1. User:BenFrantzDale: "I agree." (with "do what you like, but x is preferred. don't revert if people change to x.")
  2. User:Centrx: "Dates ought to be joined by an en dash."
  3. User:Chameleon: "if a dash (—) is meant, a dash should be used; if a hyphen (-) is meant, a hyphen should be used."
  4. User:Chowbok: "My ideal policy would be that we always use proper em and en dashes, but I think mandating hyphens would be a better solution than 'do what you like, but don't change anything'."
  5. User:Doug Bell: "I second the agreement with Omegatron's recommended wording." ("do what you like, but x is preferred. don't revert if people change to x.")
  6. User:Elf: "The statement that hyphens are now acceptable substitutes for other types of dashes had been added to the main page. . . . I just do not believe that this is the case."
  7. User:Grendelkhan: "I agree that a distinction between hyphens and em-dashes should be made."
  8. User:Hajor: "I'd wholeheartedly support making spaced endashes policy. . . . editors [should be] free to convert any double-hyphens they come across to any of the above three types"
  9. User:Jeffq: "Support." ("1) it's okay to put in hyphens or em/en dashes; 2) it's okay to replace hyphens with em or en dashes, as appropriate; and 3) it's not okay to replace em or en dashes with hyphens")
  10. User:Marshman: "Stop putting in ASCI dashes anywhere. . . . I use only ndash and mdash and will change any ASCI dashes I encounter to the correct form"
  11. User:Mel Etitis: "Surely the en-rule is pretty well the universal standard (and without flanking spaces)."
  12. User:Mzajac: "I’ve come late into this debate, but I’m pleased with the way it seems to have turned out."
  13. User:Neonumbers: "Any bid to get rid of hyphens used as dashes has my support."
  14. User:Omegatron: "They should be allowed, but can be changed to a proper dash by anyone who wants to."
  15. User:Quiddity
  16. User:Rich Farmbrough: "En-dashes should be preferred . . . if another horizontal bar is use, someone will change it in due course."
  17. User:Seav: "I'm with the mdash-ndash camp on this one."
  18. User:Simetrical (that's me)
  19. User:Stephen Turner: "I agree."
  20. User:Stevenj: "Using hyphens can be excused as ignorance, but purposefully using en dashes when you know an em dash is called for is a sin against typography."
  21. User:Tannin: "An excellent proposal. I heartily endorse it."
  22. User:Tillwe: "I like the 'blank en-dash blank' proposal (written " -- " or " – ", possibly automatically transformed)."

People who appear to object to the HTML character entity notation (now obsolete), but don't seem to have expressed an opinion on Unicode characters:

  1. User:Eloquence: "The average non techie reader has no idea what the sequence of characters "–" is supposed to mean. . . . This kind of stuff should be kept at a minimum."
  2. User:Pcb21: "That huge and technical debate (still) seems to say that a software update will convert simple minus signs that everyone has one their keyboard into these funny entities that are not at all intuitive."
  3. User:RickK: "I've been against them for some time now as they make editing difficult. Use '--' instead."
  4. User:Tarquin: "I must insist that we NOT use HTML entities in raw wiki markup."

People who currently appear to not support changing the originally-entered format, or who want to mandate hyphens:

  1. User:Angela: "I prefer hyphens to any form of dash, but I'd be far less opposed to the spaced endashes idea than to emdashes."
  2. User:chocolateboy
  3. User:Docu: "In the meantime, the solution of "Wikipedia:Manual of Style (dashes)#Dash guidelines for Wikipedia editors" seems one to recommend: "editors are encouraged to be accepting of others' dash preferences . . . """ (bigness omitted)
  4. User:Francis Schonken
  5. User:Jamesday: "Simply, the online style for almost everyone is to use - for everything. Since we're a wiki, we do have to accept that change in style expectations, because it's not practical for a few people to force everyone to do what they want."
  6. User:RomaC: "There can be problems displaying em dashes (and curly quotes for that matter) with some OS and character sets -- that is a reason why perhaps there should be tolerance for the double hyphen (and straight quotes) option."
  7. User:Wik

People whose positions seem uncertain to me:

  1. User:Bobblewik: "I can't tell the difference between the variants. . . . Phrases suggesting that a hyphen is not MoS compliant seem very odd."
  2. User:Dori: "I also don't like ndashes as they make editing harder." (from a time when HTML character entities were necessary)
  3. User:Fabiform: "I don't see what the problem with them is personally. It makes editing easier and looks fine when rendered to my eyes." (from a time when HTML character entities were necessary)
  4. User:Kosebamse: "Fair enough. Still, everything except minus signs looks plain ugly on a monitor . . . Ah well... I like to see myself as a bibliophile and book maniac and could not agree more that good typesetting is A Good Thing." (doesn't give a consistent personal opinion, is mainly concerned with personal formatting problems)
  5. User:Susvolans: "Just because dash characters are your long-standing pet hate doesn’t mean you can change project pages to fit your prejudices." (not sure if he's objecting on procedural or substantive grounds)

So I'd peg that as 20:6, or about 78% support. That's enough to pass a policy, let alone a guideline. I'm reverting Chocolateboy until further notice (but adding a note of the dispute). —Simetrical (talk • contribs) 04:13, 17 May 2006 (UTC)

By the way, failing to use standard typography doesn't indicate opposition to others' converting your nonstandard contributions, any more than misspelling a word indicates opposition to others' correcting your spelling. That list of hyphen usage is a complete red herring; you need to ask people their opinions, not put words in their mouths. —Simetrical (talk • contribs) 04:16, 17 May 2006 (UTC)
Note that at last one of those arguing against seemed to think that it was the em rule that was being suggested. --Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 18:47, 5 June 2006 (UTC)

Thanks for compiling it, but there's some Floridan footwork in that count (which excludes the last discussion, some comments on this page, and of course, the majority of Wikipedians). Try reclassifying it along the lines of those who explicitly require HTML entities versus those who don't. The spelling analogy is inaccurate for two reasons. Firstly, the majority of Wikipedians are not misspelling uninformed idiots. Secondly, we accept both Commonwealth and American spellings on Wikipedia, and don't chastise either camp as cluebies in need of correction:

In the interests of Wikipedia:Wikilove, editors are encouraged to be accepting of others' dash preferences and not to modify a chosen style arbitrarily in the same way as they would refrain from arbitrarily changing "artefact" to "artifact" (or vice versa).

chocolateboy 09:10, 17 May 2006 (UTC)

You are correct that I left out that discussion. It has now been taken into account, leaving the percentage against you at a mere 73%. I can't see any comments that I left out on this page.

"Try reclassifying it along the lines of those who explicitly require HTML entities versus those who don't." Huh? Nobody's talking about HTML entities. We're talking about literal UTF-8 dashes: —. They can be found just below the edit window. Opinions on HTML entities are irrelevant.

"The spelling analogy is inaccurate". The point remains that using hyphens is not inherently an endorsement of not switching over to traditional dashes. Someone could use hyphens because they don't know how to enter dashes. You don't know people's motives for using hyphens.

And finally, that little quotation of yours was originally accompanied by exactly the text you removed and are trying to restore: "Editors who do not want the bother of keying in HTML entities, or prefer to maintain the readability of the wikitext, are free to type their dashes in this fashion. However, subsequent editors are free to convert any double-hyphens they come across to any of the first three types described above . . ." So don't quote me that as though it supports your position. —Simetrical (talk • contribs) 05:28, 18 May 2006 (UTC)

I don't have a problem with Unicode dashes of either kidney in either wikitext or the rendered HTML, as I've said before. I dislike HTML entities in wikitext, but on the one or two occasions I've seen them added as original contributions, I certainly haven't changed them. What this or that policy page originally said (the addition you quoted was added by two [9] [10] editors (including you), and reverted by two [11] [12] editors (including me): it's hardly the status quo as demonstrated ad nauseam above and below), however, is not germane to this discussion. There are actually at least five (not two) camps (you enumerated four, but treated them as two): those who advocate hyphens only in wikitext; those who support HTML en and em dashes entities only in wikitext (anyone?); those who support dashes, and whose distinction between HTML entities and Unicode (in wikitext) is unknown - most people on your list; those (such as User:Michael [13]) who argue that hyphens can/should be replaced with Unicode en dashes (in wikitext); and those who, like me, Angela (?), and many others I've cited (again) ad nauseam, who oppose HTML entities in wikitext on the grounds that it violates the definition outlined in the Wikitext, Wiki, and Wikipedia articles ("simplified alternative to HTML", "can be edited by anyone" &c.), and who also (in my case) believe that simplified Wikitext can be (rather than should be: I'd prefer a user preference) rendered as supposedly "correct" (not according to the BBC, the AACU, Elsevier, H2G2 &c. web style guides) dashes in HTML, which was also "originally" the official policy: "In the interests of Wikipedia:Wikilove and pending a proposed update of the Wikimedia software that will automatically convert strings of hyphens into the appropriate correct en and em dashes". The only reason we can't all braid each other's hair is that it conflicts with the table syntax.

chocolateboy 21:03, 2 June 2006 (UTC)

Response to Centrx

Hi, Centrx. Thanks for your detailed response.

I was hoping to re-run a query against the database before replying (hence the delay), but haven't had a chance. I'd need to install the latest "bleading" edge version of perl (which overcomes the recursive regex engine issues - and other lame excuses :-). It's not really a quickie. I really hope someone else fancies having a go...

As I recall, User:Wik left under less than noble circumstances

Could you clarify what relevance this has to this discussion?

his reasoning was that what is is equivalent to what ought be.

(Yes, I guess he was probably a "he" :-) The sentence read "Ranges of dates are given with a spaced or unspaced hyphen or en dash (–). See Wikipedia:Manual of Style (dashes)."

Hardly surprising that he or she would concentrate on what is done on Wikipedia rather than what is recommended by print style guides (see below).

From the first page you link to, the objections of User:Eloquence, User:Dori, User:Tarquin, User:RickK, and User:grendelkhan are limited specifically to objections about using HTML entities like –.

Dash styles generally (and dash styles in dates) are (obviously) related. Hence the "See Wikipedia:Manual of Style (dashes)."

User:Pcb21 does not explicitly state a preference, but he does mention that the usability of the policy is often ignored in these debates, a concern which may be resolved by the relative ease of inserting and editing Unicode dashes compared to the case at that time.

I don't have a problem with UTF-8 dashes of either kidney (and, as far as I know, I've never attempted to censor those who prefer to contaminate wikitext with HTML entities). What I have argued against is the deprecation of the status quo (see wikitext for the rationale):

Wikitext language or wiki markup is a markup language that offers a simplified alternative to HTML and is used to write pages in wiki websites.
User:Angela states a preferences of hyphens over dashes. This user does not there give a reason but in another comment states that consistency within articles is preferable above all. So, all but one of these users you mention express no objection to using en-dashes, as the Unicode '–' does not clutter the text like –. I have left a message asking clarification on the only objecting user's talk page, at User_talk:Angela.

I can't find a response to your query. She's certainly not alone in thinking that wikitext should abide by the rules outlined in the wikitext article. See the discussion of Cite.php here and here for more of the same.

Regarding BBC and H2G2, the link is broken and goes to this very page here, but searching on google - site:wikipedia.org dashes bbc - yields Wikipedia_talk:Manual_of_Style_(dates_and_numbers)/archive_dash_discussion, which simply has a statement by you asserting the same thing you assert here: that the BBC and H2G2 use hyphens in intervals instead of dashes. I find no mention in the BBC Styleguide [14] of the use of dashes or hyphens, and I am unable to find a date interval (1911 - 1943 or 1911–1943 or 1911-1943) on the BBC news website [15].

As far as I know, the BBC never uses en dashes. See here for a date range example.

As for H2G2, which is owned by the BBC, it has the following page English Usage in the Edited Guide, which states that "okay, we can't do real en-dashes and em-dashes, so hyphens will have to do". So, they lament their inability to use proper formatting and settle for hyphens.

I don't draw a distinction between the dash/hyphen policy in dates and the dash/hyphen policy overall, but you (apparently) do, and h2g2 explicitly addresses date formatting in the following wise:

In the case of number series such as 'in the years from 1998 to 2000' and 'Serves 4 to 6 persons', if you'd like to use hyphens to indicate the sequence, annotate the numbers like this 1998 - 2000, and 4 - 6, ie a combination of hyphens and gaps. [16]
As for the other links, Wikipedia:Policies and guidelines says nothing about dashes

It treats of the bottom-up vs top-down policy issue mentioned ad nauseam in previous discussions:

''You are a Wikipedia editor. Since Wikipedia has no editor-in-chief or top-down article approval mechanism, active participants make copyedits and corrections to the format and content problems they see. So the participants are both writers and editors.
and neither does Wiki is not paper.

Likewise:

Some standards of writing that apply to paper don't really apply to Wikipedia. Jimbo Wales has said that Wikipedia needs its own style standards, but these will evolve to suit its needs and abilities. He adds, "And of course, the open nature of the software means that enforcement only comes to the extent that we authors care to enforce it."
For example, CMS (the Chicago Manual of Style) tells the writer or editor to briefly gloss, or explain, the first use of an abbreviation (as just demonstrated with "CMS"). Jargon can be treated similarly. This treatment makes a lot of sense on paper: If an article mentions an arcane subject or if it uses an abbreviation or jargon, the reader may need to know more about it, and so giving a full name or a cross-reference will help find it. But Wikipedia has something even better than a parenthetical gloss of just a few words: an electronic link to a thorough treatment of the subject.

I conducted a search for web style guides that mentioned both dashes and hyphens and found two that recommended hyphens (I couldn't find any that deprecated hyphens or only recommended dashes). [17] [18] Certainly not an exhaustive search, and certainly not a definitive argument, but what is decisive is that Wikipedia doesn't adopt print style guide conventions. We don't use illogical quotation. Although many (North American?) Wikipedians interlard their Wikitext with two spaces after every period full stop, these are ignored by all browsers. We don't use the CMS (and most other style guide) convention of Title Case (or title case :-) headings. We hem and haw (and umm and arr) over dumb/smart quotes....

The status quo is not necessarily what ought to be recommended

The sentence in question neatly bypasses such religious wars by documenting what does happen on Wikipedia rather than what should happen in print style guides. Changing it to deprecate (i.e. not mention) hyphens is a call to war to change the majority of Wikipedia articles.

the statistics you refer to, being 2 years old, may not even be the status quo.

You may well be right. But, like I said, I tried to find the time to update them and failed. I will gladly shut the hell up if it turns out that most Wikipedia pages now use dashes rather than hyphens. Are you prepared to make the corollary pledge?

How is it not reasonable that a user in the quick of editing would use a hyphen instead of an en-dash, when he would think an en-dash better if he knew how to insert one or had cared about it? This does not imply some domination by elites who think the masses lazy and clueless. Why ought not the "de jure" MoS be changed to conform to the higher right of being a good encyclopedia, Wikipedia:Five_pillars? (Although the "de jure" MoS you link to is the same one that explicitly states that en-dashes are to be used for intervals, as proposed here.) So, again, what is the reason for not using en-dashes?

There are two reasons. Firstly, Wikis are supposed to be written in a simplified language called Wikitext. Ultimately, it doesn't matter what H2G2 or the BBC or Elsevier or the AACU say. Wikipedia is a Wiki. Wikis are written in Wikitext, which is supposed to be easy to read, write, and edit. HTML entities are not part of that equation. The second reason is that Wikipedia policy is determined by Wikipedians, not the small but perfectly-formed minority who squat on Wikipedia policy pages. The readers and writers of this page are, I'm sure, for the most part, clueful and passionate and well-informed and right about print conventions. The conventions adopted on Wikipedia (sentence case headings, hyphens, and under-construction verdicts on quotation marks and citation styles) are decided by the majority of Wikipedians. If you want to say (as always happens) something pejorative about the majority of Wikipedians, then please, let me start: the majority of Wikipedians (unsurprisingly) don't have this page on their watchlist. Until they do, I suggest we all abide by the status quo until someone else can prove by algebra that it isn't.

chocolateboy 21:41, 16 May 2006 (UTC)

Chocolateboy: I think this issue seems to be centered on the interpretation of guidelines. They're not obligations, they are suggestions for how to format things for consistency. So joe-user is welcome to use hyphens or dashes or endashes or..., but us punctuation nuts are welcome to go around cleaning up irregularities. At least, that's my highly-summarised perspective on the abstract issue.
Specifically, i recommend endash usage because it is longer than a hyphen. Using a hyphen between years just looks silly to me.
2000-2001 vs 2000–2001. And the reasons explained rationally/formally at Dash#En dash. -Quiddity 22:52, 16 May 2006 (UTC)

Hi, Quiddity. I hear you. But two points: 1) That's not what Wikipedia:Manual of Style (dashes) says; and 2) this discussion (Birth–death;) [sic] looks silly to me! I don't think the "it looks silly to me" argument works for either of us :-)

By the way, describing yourself as a "punctuation nut" is cheering (and sweet), but contestable. Do you really think I'm Joe Anti-Punctuation? And like I've said many times before, the "Joe Public" is an idiot thing is... familiar...

chocolateboy 23:10, 16 May 2006 (UTC)

1)what part of my reply are you referring to? (and which diff? ;)
2)oops, sorry, meant to add: it looks silly to me, because it's too tight. I'd be adding a space on either side continually (2001 - 2001), which is just the third variation we're trying to eliminate!
I wasnt implying random-user was an idiot at all, i was implying it doesnt matter if s/he uses a hyphen instead of an ndash when writing an article. Noone is going to chastise an editor for using a hyphen instead of a dash! It's easier to type so we'd pretty much have to expect them to use it. We're just saying that this is the guideline that we normalise to, for a clear and simple standard, as arbitrary(or not) as putting a space between "8 cm".
It's like a math geek going around fixing hyphens ( - ) to − ( − ) as appropriate. -Quiddity (punctuation Geek ;) 05:00, 17 May 2006 (UTC)

Chocolateboy's approach appears to make more sense IMHO. So, I'm officialy changing from "no opinion" to that approach. --Francis Schonken 08:15, 17 May 2006 (UTC)

Response to Chocolateboy

User:Wik: In general, voting and superiority in numbers is not good reason around which to form style or policy. In particular, if superiority in numbers is the basis of an argument, then if one of that number is not merely just 'yay' or 'nay' as most voting ends up becoming, but is also a user that has demonstrated himself to be vandalistic and engage in behavior not suitable to forming an encyclopedia, then that user's "vote" does not even meet the minimum requirement of being an upstanding member of Wikipedia.

Objections of several users: These users specifically object to the clutter and difficulty in editing that results from using HTML entities. These users express no objection to the general use of en-dashes in articles; there is a distinction between objections related to the form of editing articles and those related to the displayed content.

In what way does the article Wikitext state a rationale against "the deprecation of the status quo"? I see no reason why this would be true. That article outlines no rules about wikitext. What are you talking about?

Without knowing the reasoning of the BBC in using or not using en-dashes where appropriate, or even whether there is such a policy, we do not know whether the reason they may use hyphens rather than en-dashes is relevant to Wikipedia. The discovered reasoning for H2G2 is that they cannot, or think they cannot, use real en-dashes, and therefore all statements about hyphens and dashes must be considered in that light.

Wikipedia:Policies and guidelines: The "top-down" there regards an "article approval mechanism" whereby articles are submitted to an authority and must be approved by that authority in order to be published. En-dashes would be a "format problem" that an "active participant" would correct, according to principles that are separate from any explicitly approving authority.

Wiki is not paper: The reason for recommending the use of en-dashes where appropriate is not based on adhering to standards that apply only to print. The reason for a certain style format should not be just because it is the opposite of what is done in print. What is the alternative newly available on the Web, as in the example of parenthetical descriptions? What is the logical principle, as with logical quotations, of using only hyphens?

Conclusion part: Again, HTML entities are not being recommended here; they are not necessary and objections about HTML entities are not relevant to recommending or not recommending en-dash use where appropriate. Regarding the status quo, how is the status quo a measurement of "What Wikipedians want"? How do you know that many of the hyphens now on articles are not there because they were inserted at a time when HTML entities were a difficulty, and that the original authors would not prefer that they be changed to en-dashes?

Status quo statistics: The gathering method you used would greatly overcount hyphen usage in dates because it registers a hyphen usage if that hyphen is between any link. I have taken the statistics again using a database from about a week ago, which counts hyphens and dashes between linked dates (that is, linked four-digit numbers), but there are several problems with the accuracy of the results. First, there may be some inaccuracy in the figures because this does not count three- or two- or one-digit years, but these years are likely the minority of year usage, and this may not substantially alter the actual ratio. Second, this method and your method also, would not count unlinked dates. Third, this method would not count intervals of full dates, with the month.

Most importantly, and here is the show-stopper that must be corrected before I try again, when I will fix the above problems as well, I could not figure out how to grep for Unicode characters, I tried using "\u2013", but this did not work at all. However, excluding Unicode characters, that is excluding a large portion of the en-dashes on Wikipedia, hyphens were about less than three times as common as en-dashes in date intervals. In order to be more accurate though, I must find out how to grep for Unicode characters properly, and then I will also fix the other problems. - Centrx 18:14, 17 May 2006 (UTC)

---

Hi.
I'm not sure why we're supposed to be either damning or praising User:Wik personally, which is why I questioned the animadversion.
In general, voting and superiority in numbers is not good reason around which to form style or policy.
If that is true, then we are all damned for reasons outlined by George Orwell.
These users express no objection to the general use of en-dashes in articles; there is a distinction between objections related to the form of editing articles and those related to the displayed content
Yes, I agree.
That article outlines no rules about wikitext.
Please re-read the first sentence of that article.
We could speculate that H2G2 has decided that it's inappropriate to require non-technical editors to use HTML entities in their submissions. I don't think it matters what their rationale is. The point is that it's an encyclopedia style guide that says: "keep it simple".
Wikipedia:Policies and guidelines applies to everything in Wikipedia: "Title Case" vs "Sentence case" headings; "Logical Quotation" vs "Illogical Quotation". Wikipedia policy is decided by Wikipedians, not the Chicago Manual of Style for reasons outlined by Jimbo Wales and Ward Cunningham. If you're really unsure why this is the case (rather than expressing a personal preference for... I'm not sure what exactly), then here are some links: Wikipedia:Writers' rules of engagement, Wikipedia:Please do not bite (or disparage) the newcomers, and, of course, the aforementioned Wikitext, Wiki and Wikipedia articles.
The reason for recommending the use of en-dashes where appropriate is not based on adhering to standards that apply only to print.
I gave four examples of web style guides that mandated hyphens rather than en dashes. As I've said before, I don't have a problem with HTML entities or UTF8 dashes in the rendered HTML, but - just for the record - I'd appreciate it if you could list four web (not print) style guides that mandate either HTML entity or Unicode dashes.
As for your other points (about the accuracy/inaccuracy of the statistics), apart from the obvious contradiction ("the policy adopted by the majority of Wikipedians is irrelevant" vs. "they are not the majority!"), I certainly welcome an update. I haven't had time. And when I have had time, people such as you (who I broadly agree with) resort to the familiar "who cares what you (the majority of Wikipedians) think?" argument.
chocolateboy 21:56, 2 June 2006 (UTC)
"Wikitext language or wiki markup is a markup language that offers a simplified alternative to HTML and is used to write pages in wiki websites."? What does this have to do with this dash discussion?
Where is the H2G2 styleguide that says "keep it simple"?
Policies and guidelines in Wikipedia:Policies and guidelines apply to everything on Wikipedia, but where is the policy or guideline there that applies to this discussion?
You have cited no styleguides that recommend the use of hyphens where it is not necessary. Clearly, some BBC sites use hyphens for intervals, but that is not the same thing as a uniform, mandated styleguide. The H2G2 styleguide explicitly states that en-dashes would be better in intervals. The Wikipedia styleguides say nothing about en-dashes; while they say it is not necessary to use print formatting where it is not appropriate, it may nevertheless be appropriate to do.
Common use is not the same thing as a "policy adopted by the majority of Wikipedians". Regardless of whether hyphens are majority use, en-dashes would still be a substantial minority use and if they are appropriate style, then they ought to be recommended. While you may differ with that, your argument rests on the fact of "common use". If, in actual fact, it is not the majority use, then your argument would be totally void rather than just mostly unfounded, and you would be compelled by your own argument to accept en-dashes. This is not a contradiction. -- Centrx 22:08, 5 June 2006 (UTC)

A little request

Hi guys, and sorry for jumping so late into the thread. As I have seen in many other Wikipedia discussions the amount of words spent on the issue is absolutely overwhelming, so that anyone who doesn't happen to follow the discussion right from its start would need *hours* to keep up. Could, please, someone having a good understanding of how the discussion has evolved make a little summary? Thanks a lot, Gennaro Prota(talk) 17:30, 7 May 2006 (UTC)

The argument for en-dashes is that it is proper, standard English typography. The argument against en-dashes is that hyphens are more commonly used, but this is based on 2-year-old data that overcounts hyphens that are not used in dates and are thus irrelevant to this discussion. In long-past discussions, an argument against was that the – HTML entity cluttered the text when editing, but now that Unicode characters are available, which appears as – rather than – even when editing, this is no longer a concern. - Centrx 20:58, 8 May 2006 (UTC)
Thanks Centrx. As to HTML and Unicode entities, they may clutter the text but, well, that's *source* text. I'm mostly in favour of them, as it may be sometimes very difficult to spot errors otherwise. See for instance this discussion. --Gennaro Prota(talk) 22:25, 8 May 2006 (UTC)

n dash

I notice that someone has just added 'spaced or unspced hyphen' as acceptable to defining range. I completely disagree with this. Most English-language style guides insist on an n dash. It's much clearer. I think it should be reverted to n dash alone. Tony 06:47, 12 May 2006 (UTC)

seconded. as before... -Quiddity 07:46, 12 May 2006 (UTC)

I don't know, a point all of you seem to be losing out of sight that is that it is not a good idea to make guidelines that give contradicting recommendations.

So, preferably

and

would better not be contradicting, no?

I really don't have a preference on the matter of the use of dashes and hyphens in article text, but I object to making guidelines inoperable while contradicting. --Francis Schonken 08:54, 12 May 2006 (UTC) (updated 10:26, 15 May 2006 (UTC))

If we believe our own wiki article dash, the propoer separator in ranges is an en-dash. −Woodstone 13:40, 12 May 2006 (UTC)
Yes, but the proper equivalent of the en-dash in fonts that don't include it is the single hyphen (spaced or otherwise). Some people can't—or won't—use en-dashes (usually due to browser limitations); the guideline needs to account for this. Kirill Lokshin 12:15, 15 May 2006 (UTC)
I disagree with this — anyone can type – Stephen Turner (Talk) 16:10, 15 May 2006 (UTC)

(After edit conflict)
I've just started a thread at Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style (dashes), in which I said: "Editors wouldn't of course (indeed, couldn't) be forced to use it, but I can't imagine why any editor would complain because a hyphen had been corrected to an en-rule." --Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 16:12, 15 May 2006 (UTC)

Changing [[History of the Soviet Union (1985-1991)]] to [[History of the Soviet Union (1985–1991)]] wouldn't be OK of course, if this turns a blue link into a red link. Afaik, there have been previous attempts to systematically move all pages to the "en dash" variant, not met favourably (at least I heard nothing about it for several months, and doesn't seem like consensus to me). So please make clear what has to happen with such "ranges" in links:
  • Convert to piped link - in that case I'd think this new rule unnecessary rulecruft;
  • Make redirect from "hyphen" to "en dash" variant - in that case I don't agree for common names principle;
  • Make redirect from "en dash" to "hyphen" variant - seems a bit of an artificial construct to me, as if we were writing Wikipedia for bots & semi-bots (well, are we?)
  • Leave the choice to the editor - would lead to mess and overlord edit-warring (aka wheel-warring) unless we also add the rule that the choice of the first editor should be respected. In that case, the formulation of the "dashes" MoS is currently OK, and the "dates and numbers" MoS should be brought in line with it.
But I have no preference. Only, the rules should be clear and not contradicting. --Francis Schonken 16:44, 15 May 2006 (UTC)
Article titles seem like a special case to me because you want to be able to type them into the search box quickly. I would say the version with the hyphen should always be present, either as the article title or as a redirect to the en dash version. Stephen Turner (Talk) 17:02, 15 May 2006 (UTC)
I agree with Stephen, but would go furhter an say that the article name should be with a hyphen, people are of course free to put in a redirect from an ndash if they wish. The trouble with ndash and mdash; is that they are hard to type on most keyboards. As Francis pointed out if someone wishes to alter such things in an article and it affects a page name link in the article, they can always use pipe link in which case there is no need to alter the page name or create a new link --Philip Baird Shearer 22:35, 16 May 2006 (UTC)
Obviously some people can't enter n-dash too easily, but they can be lumped with people who don't know the guidelines as people whose contributions should be corrected by editors in a position to do so. Nobody's going to RFC you for using hyphens, since many don't know how to easily enter dashes. Client support for n-dashes has been universal for years and years. As for article titles, there's no reason to make any exceptions; obviously redirects would be created from hyphens. —Simetrical (talk • contribs) 03:24, 17 May 2006 (UTC)