Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style (dates and numbers)/Archive 52

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Alternative proposal for section "Eras"

Current text:

Normally you should use plain numbers for years in the Anno Domini/Common Era, but when events span the start of the Anno Domini/Common Era, use AD or CE for the date at the end of the range (note that AD precedes the date and CE follows it). For example, [[1 BC]]–[[1|AD 1]] or [[1 BCE]]–[[1|1 CE]].

should be changed into:

Use plain numbers for years in the Anno Domini/Common Era. Only when events span the start of the Anno Domini/Common Era, use AD or CE for the date at the end of the range (note that, for years but not for centuries, AD precedes the date and CE follows it). For example, [[1 BC]]–[[1|AD 1]] or [[1 BCE]]–[[1|1 CE]].

This version clarifies that AD/CE is never to be used when redundant, and is mandatory when disambiguation is needed.--Panairjdde 15:16, 10 July 2006 (UTC)

The styleguide does not recommend one usage over an other when the other is more common on Wikipedia and elsewhere, and when there is reason to believe that it could lead to confusion. —Centrxtalk • 03:16, 11 July 2006 (UTC)
The problem is that nobody ever showed me a single case where omitting AD could lead to confusion. And note this is a proposal for change, since the current text is ambiguous.--Panairjdde 10:39, 11 July 2006 (UTC)
I'll say it again, in case you missed my explanation in the above section. The confusion is not necessarily with another possible meaning. We are not just trying to avoid confusion, we are also trying to encourage clarity. There is a subtle difference.
Even if a sentence like "In 15, Blingyland went to war", its only possible meaning is a year, it is not clear. It will strike most (intelligent and stupid alike) readers as being grammatically incorrect, and it will take them a short while to figure it out — that kind of "What? Err... Oh" that momentarily strikes the reader. Such confusion could be equally avoided by writing, "In the year 15...", but "In 15" does not suffice, as it is unclear.
I point out Centrx's earlier example, (I can't be bothered finding the example but this is the general idea:), "In 15, when Jack was 17, Blingyland to war. By 26, Jack had fought in seven battles," to show an ambiguous case (year or age?) Neonumbers 04:36, 12 July 2006 (UTC)
"Even if a sentence like "In 15, Blingyland went to war", its only possible meaning is a year, it is not clear." According to who? And if you think "In the year 15..." is better, why you do not write it in this way? My proposal just says that "In AD 15..." is redundant and should not be used, not that you can't write "In the year 15..."
As regards "In 15, when Jack was 17, Blingyland to war. By 26, Jack had fought in seven battles," this is a bad style of authorship, and it is not to be solved by adding AD to the years, but writing "In 15, when Jack was 17, Blingyland to war. By year/At the age of 26, Jack had fought in seven battles". This is a Manual of Style, not a mean to recover from bad editing.--Panairjdde 09:24, 12 July 2006 (UTC)
Gee. Just for the record, I'm more than happy to see "In the year 15..." written. I'm also more than happy to see "At the age of 26..." written. I'm just saying that such a clarification is equally well avoided either way. Neonumbers 05:48, 14 July 2006 (UTC)

To understand the "Spirit of the law" (rather, guideline), it really helps to understand the original intention behind the guideline. It is not that using an era notation to indicate which calendar is considered "bad style", "redundant", or improper, as the notations have always been used freely in English writing, at the author's option, whenever he personally feels there is the slightest clarity to be gained for any reason. No, the thinking behind this guideline was not to obviate any supposed "redundance", but rather to minimize bickering, because in this instance, there are two competing styles - AD and CE - and this was done for the sake of neutrality between the two. It's still not considered wrong to use one or the other, and just because there are two valid choices doesn't mean both are always automatically 'redundant'. We can fine tune the cases according to common sense to specify when it is 'redundant' -- but note that even writing just "2006" instead of "2006 AD" is really only assuming as a given, the minimum "common knowledge" of the reader -- of something that is not, technically speaking, "redundant", but rather, more like "widely assumed". ፈቃደ (ውይይት) 15:49, 12 July 2006 (UTC)
CS, this is a proposal for modification whose aim is to define that using AD is a bad style, when it is redundant. As said before, using AD can be the result of bad style, when it is used in the "In 15 AD, Germanicus went to war", in the sense that the author is introducing a un-needed redundancy; or it can be the result of bad style, when it is used in "In AD 15, when Jack was 17, Blingyland to war. By AD 26, Jack had fought in seven battles", because the author wrote ambiguously the second part ("By 26, Jack had fought in seven battles"). Even if the "Spirit of the law" was to reduce the problems due to AD/CE competition, it had a sparkle of rightnes s in addressing this matter, and I want it to come into light.--Panairjdde 20:32, 12 July 2006 (UTC)
Panairjdde, there are a lot of conventions in writing that are redundant, like the final "e" in "choice" & "cheese", but we spell the words that way because it would needlessly astonish the reader if we did not. And in Neonumber's example above, the lack of an era (be it AD or CE) would astonish any reader of English because of the ambiguity. If I read that sentence cold, I would wonder if another system for numbering years was being used -- & I would suspect that the author was using her or his idiosyncratic one.
Although, for the sake of argument, I'll concede this usage is redundant, the accepted practice is to attach it -- or CE -- to all years for the first millenium. I could dig out any number of examples in published works if you doubt me, but if I did that I would appreciate it if you could find any books that entirely omit the use of AD or CE for dates in that millenium. Authors tend to use it less the closer their subject is to AD 1000, but my sense is that writers drop the style more because it sounds pretentious than because it is redundant.
Lastly, what is this obsession you have for removing all instances of "AD"? It reminds me very much about what WP:BEANS warns us to avoid. Yes, you can be bold & could force this peculiar practice upon all of Wikipedia, & maybe accomplish this without having someone invoke WP:POINT against you, but it will certainly lead to a lot of people doubting your judgement the next time you are bold. As I write this, there are 16,569 articles currently listed as badly needing work on Cleanup; wouldn't your time be better spent there, rather than preventing peoplefrom adding "AD" to dates? -- llywrch 22:51, 13 July 2006 (UTC)
Looks like my proposal got no support. Fine. At least acknowledge I am allowed to remove redundant AD is I feel like.--Panairjdde 22:58, 13 July 2006 (UTC)
I'll adopt a realist viewpoint here. If you do remove "AD" and ensure the sentence is clearly worded, then chances are, people won't mind. If you remove "AD" so that a sentence reads "In 15..." then chances are, people will. That said, if you ensure a clearly worded sentence and some people still want to revert your change, I think you'll find most readers won't mind it being there or, for that matter, even care at all, so do whatever you want, but I reckon more productive uses of time can be found.
Of course, if it's something like "AD 1999", then go ahead and remove it. And if it's something like "2nd century AD", then feel free, because in those cases, there's unlikely to be a reason for including "AD". However, always remember that with any style guideline exceptions can and do arise; be prepared to accept (or ask for) others' explanations. Neonumbers 05:48, 14 July 2006 (UTC)
It seems like you are not realistic. All of these started because I removed ADs from an article in which all of the years were AD, and I ensured the sentences were clearly worded. See Montanism and Paul of Tarsus.
Since there is no consensus in claiming that redundancy is a reason to remove ADs in itself, I shall play it safe and allow/add ADs wherever it is possible, even beyond 1st millennium.
Best regards.--Panairjdde 08:31, 14 July 2006 (UTC)

Changing from one measurement system to another

I've recently reverted edits by User:Dryke on London Bridge where they flipped all "imperial (metric)" to "metric (imperial)". I left the following comment on their talk page:

Hi there, I reverted your edits on this article, where you were flipping the order of the imperial and metric measurements. There's no problem listing imperial measurements first in a UK (or US) article and generally you should just leave them the way they are, unless there's another reason to change.

Looking through their contributions they have done this on many UK related articles. I thought there was something in the guideline basically saying to leave the ordering as the original author had it, unless there was a good reason otherwise; but I cannot find anything. There's nothing wrong listing imperial first in a UK related article, and it's certainly not worth the hassle to change things en-masse. Thanks/wangi 13:31, 11 July 2006 (UTC)

The manual (WP:MOSNUM#Units of measurement) does state that if the order can not be agreed upon then the sourced unit should be used first. It also says that US-centric articles will have a reason not to list SI/metric units first and if it is arbitrary to list the metric unit first. I think that wangi has a good arguement for his reverts. Being that many UK centric articles would have been originally published in the imperial system and many people in the UK do not prefer the metric system. Perhaps, the manual should read: Mostly U.S.& U.K.-centric subjects will have a reason to use non-SI units with SI units in parentheses. --MJCdetroit 14:18, 11 July 2006 (UTC)

Thanks, I do feel that when an article has things listed one way, and there's nothing wrong with that listing then it makes sense to just keep it - otherwise you're into the realm of revert-war edits. I'm not going to rv the users other edits, because, well I'm not /that/ bothered... Thanks for the reply, /wangi 15:08, 11 July 2006 (UTC)

I agree with your reverts but for something of a different reason. Whenever we convert from one system to another we introduce inaccuracy/imprecission. Hence wherever accuracy and/or precission is an issue the source units should be listed first. That is wherever this is an issue. The MOS as it reads now suggests the source units be put first only if editors can't agree. There'll always be exceptions to the rule but I suggest the MOS be stronger on this. Something along the lines of "Source units should be put first unless editors have a good reason to reverse the order."
So, what I'm saying is that what's at issue here is something more fundamental than whether the article is U.K.-centric, U.S.-centric or otherwise. What Dryke was doing was distorting information. This should be stopped on articles regardless of whether they be U.K.-centric, U.S.-centric or not.
I'm not from the U.K. but I do know that they've officially metricated. I am, of course, aware too that many people from the U.K. are not overly fond of the metric system but are they the majority or a vocal minority? I don't know for sure. Most of the World is pretty black and white on this but the U.K. is in rather a grey area.
P'haps it would be better still if it read something like this "Mostly U.S.-centric subjects will have a reason to use non-SI units with SI units in parentheses. This may also be true for many U.K.-centric subjects." MJCdetroit writes "Being that many UK centric articles would have been originally published in the imperial system ..." Yeah, well that's all the reason you need to put them first as I'm suggesting.
--Jimp 16:41, 19 July 2006 (UTC)
I agree that the units used to originally make or state the measurement are what should come first. I'd add that this is true even if it means that within an article, some measurements are stated first in English units with conversions to metric units in parentheses, and other measurements are first in metric units with conversions to English units in parentheses. Gene Nygaard 11:15, 5 August 2006 (UTC)
It seems to me encyclopedias exist to sumarize information into a convenient form. I think in most cases it's fine to convert numbers to a single style for an article. One exception to this is when accuracy is important. Another exception is when the number was chosen, and converting will obscure the reasons for the choice. For example, a person unfamiliar with American football might wonder why the field is 91.44 metres between goal lines, but stating it as 100 yards makes the choice more understandable, so 100 yards should go first. --Gerry Ashton 13:23, 5 August 2006 (UTC)
I completely agree with Gerry Ashton. MJCdetroit 00:36, 6 August 2006 (UTC)

"Whit Monday" and "Super Tuesday"

<moved here for additional comments on July 14, 2006> -- User:Docu

As these days always occur on Monday and Tuesday respectively, the articles Whit Monday and Super Tuesday link to Monday and Tuesday. I suggest that we specify here that repeat occurrences of days of the week or months should generally link. -- User:Docu

I don't think it needs an extra mention, the MoS already states that they should be linked if there is a specific reason to do so. -- Centrx 17:35, 5 June 2006 (UTC)
I think it's worth mentioning, just in case someone would want to see samples of specific (or "particular") reasons. -- User:Docu
What do you mean "repeat occurrences"? Rich Farmbrough 08:10 9 June 2006 (UTC).
Those happening generally on the same day/month, such as Whit Monday. -- User:Docu

Ah, I see what you mean now. Actually, this criteria does not directly correspond to exactly what is appropriate for linking. An article could use the word "Monday" multiple times, yet be only referring to a special chronology of events not appropriate for linking, whereas a holiday may very well only have one use of the word and should still be linked. —Centrxtalk 06:53, 15 June 2006 (UTC)

Repeat links to the same word is a different issue, not specifically addressed here. The event would reoccurr on Mondays, not the word "Monday". -- User:Docu
I still don't understand. Can you give some specific example of what you mean. Also I do not know why the guidance has been changed when nobody else seems to agree or understand. bobblewik 18:37, 15 June 2006 (UTC)
A nice sample referred to above is "Super Tuesday commonly refers to a Tuesday in early March.". I changed it as Centrx seemed to agree on the principle to the point that he suggested that it's not worth mentioninng as the page already suggests to link if there is a specific reason. -- User:Docu

Centrx, how should we formulate it to avoid a possible confusion with "repeat occurences of the word itself"? -- User:Docu

I don't know, maybe "Articles that document events that always occur on a specific weekday should link to that weekday" would be accurate, but it seems long. I still think that we should probably just keep the principle that it be linked if it is relevant. —Centrxtalk 08:14, 19 June 2006 (UTC)
As it happens that these are delinked, it's probably preferable to mention it. Similar to your suggested wording, "Weekdays and month names refering to events that generally occur on a specific weekday/month should link." would do. -- User:Docu
The following might describe it even better: "Month names when used to describe that an event/fact regularly occurs in a specific month should link." and "Names of the days of the week when used to describe that an event/fact regularly occurs on a specific day of the week should link." -- User:Docu

</moved here for additional comments on July 14, 2006> -- User:Docu

Thanks for moving this discussion down here, Docu. I personally feel that any formulation along these lines is too prescriptive. I think we should retain the presumption that most links to days and months are not useful, but leave it to editors' judgement to decide when they should be linked. If we start saying "if an event always falls on the same day of the week, the day name should be linked", we will force the creation of all sorts of useless linkages. For example, British General Elections traditionally always fall on a Thursday. But I wouldn't link Thursday, because there's nothing in the Thursday article that adds to the discussion of General Elections.

In short, I think the existing guideline already gives editors sufficient freedom to link when necessary. Adding more rules about exactly when to link or not to link is unnecessary bureaucracy, and likely to cause more problems than it solves.

Stephen Turner (Talk) 16:10, 14 July 2006 (UTC)

Hm .. "Thursday" has already a section on the UK (Thursday#Thursday_in_the_United_Kingdom), thus I suppose that we should link. Maybe we could add "generally" to the wording to show that it's merely a suggestion (as all MoS), leaving it to editors to link or not to link. The current wording has the disadvantage that some misread it as if days of the week should never link. "Tuesday" in Super Tuesday even got delinked with implicit reference to this page. To be less prescriptive, we could obviously just remove the current wording. -- User:Docu

Allowing for linking in the rare cases where it is appropriate is totally different from changing the recommendation from "generally do not link" to just stating that special case where they should be linked. —Centrxtalk • 04:12, 15 July 2006 (UTC)

Just adding the suggested wording to the existing one would be ok for me. -- User:Docu

The more I think about it, the more I don't agree with the proposal, I'm afraid. It seems to me that "events which always occur on the same day of the week" is not a good criterion for identifying whether the day should be linked or not. Whereas the existing guideline — "month and day names should not be linked unless there is a specific reason that the link will help the reader to understand the article" — is.

Doesn't anyone else have a view to express?

Stephen Turner (Talk) 13:10, 17 July 2006 (UTC)

I agree with Stephen Turner. Days of the week and months (like years) should be linked only if there is a specific reason relating to the article for doing so. -- Donald Albury(Talk) 14:38, 17 July 2006 (UTC)


I would like to have the correct intrpretation of "Eras" section. It currently reads:

Normally you should use plain numbers for years in the Anno Domini/Common Era, but when events span the start of the Anno Domini/Common Era, use AD or CE for the date at the end of the range (note that AD precedes the date and CE follows it). For example, [[1 BC]]–[[1|AD 1]] or [[1 BCE]]–[[1|1 CE]].

What does "normally" means here? What are non-"normal" situations? For example, an article with all years AD/CE is "normal" or not? —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 12:38, 25 July 2006 (UTC)

Use era names when there is the possibility of confusion. Most dates on Wikipedia are after 1000 AD, which dates would be very unlikely to be confused. Dates before 100 AD are likely to be confused. In general, it is left up to the editors of an individual article, unless it is likely to be confused. Random passers-by should not change the style that is used on a particular article, or change the style en masse. —Centrxtalk • 22:57, 25 July 2006 (UTC)
Excellent clarification, I support its inclusion verbatim on the page. ፈቃደ (ውይይት) 22:59, 25 July 2006 (UTC)
Despite the fact that I'll get chewed out in fifteen for stating this, I support this as well. Ryūlóng 23:39, 25 July 2006 (UTC)

Why you all hate the common usage of avoiding AD/CE/... at all (as written in this same MoS) except when really necessary? What is so ambiguous in this edit, or in this, or in this, or in this? Why is disseminating an article of ADs going to help the reader?-- 00:57, 26 July 2006 (UTC)

The reason related to Wikipedia practice is that one acceptable style should not be changed to another acceptable style unless there is a substantial, good reason. See Wikipedia:Manual of Style#Disputes over style issues; the Arbitration Committee ruled, on a matter where someone was changing all AD/BC to BCE/BC, that when two styles are acceptable they should not be changed to the other one in the way you are doing. There are separate reasons why I and others have certain thoughts on the use of AD, but this is the reason why on Wikipedia you should not make the sort of changes you are making. It just causes edit wars, it just causes people to get annoyed or angry, and it doesn't really accomplish anything. —Centrxtalk • 01:13, 26 July 2006 (UTC)
A change between AD and CE, or a change between "color" and "colour" would be a change between accepted styles. Changing, for example, "External link" into "External links" is not, because one is the accepted style, and the other is not.
In this case, MoS says "normally they should be plain numbers, but in intervals", and this interpretation is further supported by the fact that in the Years section no year of the common era/anno domini is labelled with CE/AD.
So it is a matter of resundancy (use AD only when strictly necessary), not of acceptable competing styles.-- 01:28, 26 July 2006 (UTC)
It is not a matter of redundancy. It may not be clear as to whether or not the year is AD. It is better to be specific to which year 9 (AD/CE or BC/BCE) than to just say it is year 9. If you say something happened in 1604 or 2003, then it will be generally accepted that the year is from the common era. When you're saying 500 or 7, it's not as clear as the year 2006. Ryūlóng 03:26, 26 July 2006 (UTC)
"It may not be clear as to whether or not the year is AD": really? One of your redits is the following, from the beginning of Paul of Tarsus:
Saint Paul the Apostle (c. AD 9c. 67)
Would really a reader wonder if 9 (which is also linked to 9 "AD", mind you) is 9 AD or 9 BC? The fact is that writing "something happened in 9" already states that it is 9 AD, otherwise it would have been "something happened in 9 BC"! And the comment of yours "[some editors] are stupid [to need such disambiguation]" is not a good reason, because I would support that ineducated people need to see 2006 AD written (remark: this is just to show why Ryulong position is wrong, I do not support such a policy).
More, you (as anyone else) still have to show me how "the Gospel of Thomas have been dated to about 200", or "In 525, New Year's Day was set at March 25", or "From the Parthians, it passed in 226 to the Sassanids" is somewhat ambiguous, needing ADs everywhere to state it is not 200 BC, 525 BC, or 226 BC.
The fact is that in those cases, ADs are redundant, and should be removed, as Manual of Style currently says. Centrx position that "dates before 100 AD are likely to be confused [and] in general, it is left up to the editors of an individual article, unless it is likely to be confused" is only his interpretation of MoS, but nothing in MoS says anything about 100 AD (or 1000 AD, as suggested by others - you don't even get to agree among yourselves).
Is anyone going to address these points?-- 22:57, 26 July 2006 (UTC)

This page clearly states that the use of AD/CE is only necessary in date ranges that begin in BC/BCE. And I agree completely with this guideline. I wish there was a way for users to decide what dating format they prefered to avoid any edit wars regarding CE vs. AD. However, since we don't have that (yet), by removing both AD and CE from positive years, we can avoid those conflicts. Plus, wikilinking to any positive number will get you the corresponding year article (without the use of AD or CE). Finally, we never say "AD 2006", so we should we say AD 124? My two cents.--Andrew c 00:27, 27 July 2006 (UTC)

The most compelling reason to me to use AD 124 is that, though we are used to reading four digit numbers containing no comma immediately as a number referring to a year, three digit number convey no such immediate meaning. Three digit years (or one or two digit) often require a reader to stop and figure out what that number with no units means. I do agree that this would be better handled through user preferences and preferably stylesheet. --Cplot 01:29, 27 July 2006 (UTC)

If AD were truly redundant, the MoS would not have to mention that AD or CE are legitimate uses - according to 151's logic, neither should ever be used. However there are different year numbering systems in other parts of the world, and low-numbered years are especially ambiguous as a result. Eg, is 100 supposed to be 100 AD, 100 AH, 100 AP, BE 100, or something else? Readers could figure it out, but we shouldn't expect them to do that work. Gimmetrow 03:04, 27 July 2006 (UTC)
The MoS does not have an exception for single, double, or triple digit numbers. In fact, it specifically says Normally you should use plain numbers for years in the Anno Domini/Common Era, but when events span the start of the Anno Domini/Common Era, use AD or CE for the date at the end of the range. And look at the examples, not a single one has AD or CE for the positive numbered pages. My edits at Paul of Tarsus and the anon's edits just reflect this policy. However, now that we are discussing the merits of this policy, we can get into if it needs to be changed or not. However, I see nothing wrong with editing pages by removing redundent ADs and CEs per these guidelines (however, on a side note, I see something EXTREMELY wrong with sockpuppeteering and efforts to avoid a ban). --Andrew c 03:45, 27 July 2006 (UTC)
I was specifically addressing 151's argument, which as I understand it claims that any number on its own without an AD/AH/AM/BE/BP/CE automatically means AD. It may for some readers but not all. Ambiguity with small numbered years could be viewed as handled by naming conventions rather than MoS. I agree that redundant ADs are not necessary. Perhaps the first date in a section or long paragraph needs an era ID, and the rest probably do not if the context doesn't change. Gimmetrow 18:34, 27 July 2006 (UTC)
If you state (as MoS does) that all AD/CE years should not bear AD/CE (but in some cases) the readers will understand this use, or get used to it. After all, Wikipedia uses some conventions, and everyone expects that readers will get used to them. An example?
"Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, KG, OM, CH, TD, FRS, PC(Can) (30 November 1874 – 24 January 1965)" does not clearly stated what that list of letters represent (but it is convention to link them, so they can be understood), nor says that the two dates are the day of birth and death.
Other conventions are "fl. 4th century BC", or "c. 1234", in which the user is expected to know what "fl." and "c." mean, or at least to be so smart to click on those links and read the relative articles.
And yet, to make an example, in the case of the sentence "the Gospel of Thomas have been dated to about 200", we can't expect the user to understand that "200" is a year, nor that it is AD/CE and not BC/BCE/AH, neither that if (s)he does not understand, (s)he can follow the link. This is unbelievable.-- 23:59, 27 July 2006 (UTC)
The purpose of the MoS is not to change common practice on Wikipedia. Keep in mind also that Wikipedia is very often read by people doing general searches for information, not by regular users. There is no reason they would know or should be forced to switch between common English usage and Wikipedia usage, and there is no reason why Wikipedia articles should be summarily changed to a non-standard, less clear usage. Also, for the person's letters, I don't think all those abbreviations should remain in the heading, or without explanation. The c. style cannot be misinterpreted by a reader to think that a date was 2000 years earlier than it actually was, and I doubt whether the fl. style should not be used in text anyway. —Centrxtalk • 00:30, 28 July 2006 (UTC)
"The purpose of the MoS is not to change common practice on Wikipedia": Wrong. The purpose of MoS is to define the style in which Wikipedia should be used: for this reason, the MoS sets the "common practice" on Wikipedia. If you don't agree with MoS, gather consensus and change it, untill then, allow people to follow MoS.--BocciDaniele 00:35, 28 July 2006 (UTC)

See also Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style (dates and numbers)#Proposal for section Wikipedia:Manual of Style (dates and numbers)#Eras. There is a proposal there to which User:Panairjdde was the only objector. Remember that the Manual of Style is somewhat to reflect common practice, for consistency, and somewhat to encourage easy reading. Both of these are good reasons to implement this proposal. —Centrxtalk • 18:47, 27 July 2006 (UTC)

Centrx, if you gather consensus, change the MoS and end of the story. But so far, nobody explained (convincingly) why removing all ADs from an article with all years/decades/centuries in the Common Era goes against current MoS, and the editor following the current MoS should be banned.-- 23:59, 27 July 2006 (UTC)
Such changes are not affirmatively supported by the current MoS either, so the relevant guidance is to let both remain as acceptable styles. —Centrxtalk • 00:30, 28 July 2006 (UTC)
Wrong on the whole line. Keeping ADs (in those cases) in neither allowed nor supported by MoS, so, up untill MoS is changed, removing them is allowed and supported.--BocciDaniele 00:35, 28 July 2006 (UTC)
Per Arbitration Committee ruling and long-standing practice, just changing between two acceptable styles is not allowed. If you wrote an entire article and wanted to use your style, then it would be fine; if you were a regular editor of an article and there was no opposition to it, then it would be fine; but in general it is not. The same sort of reasoning would mean someone could just as well change it back, and then you could revert him, and back and forth across whatever dozens of pages; that is not acceptable, so the default is to leave the current style. —Centrxtalk • 00:40, 28 July 2006 (UTC)
I do not see where in MoS it is said that both using or not using AD are acceptable. The only reference to Arbitration Committee I see is to the use of AD as an alternative to CE (or viceversa). Thus changing ADs into CEs is not acceptable, removing ADs is.--BocciDaniele 00:49, 28 July 2006 (UTC)
The ArbCom ruling applies any style situation, not just switching between AD and CE. The MoS does not forbid using AD notation; it does not need to explicitly state on every line that all the possible things that are acceptable. —Centrxtalk • 01:12, 28 July 2006 (UTC)
"The ArbCom ruling applies any style situation, not just switching between AD and CE." Right.
"The MoS does not forbid using AD notation;" Wrong. It clearly says that you should use plain numbers for AD/CE years, but in intervals.--BocciDaniele 01:25, 28 July 2006 (UTC)
The key word is "normally", this does not mean "in all cases", and there was is dispute over this wording in the archives anyway and above. —Centrxtalk • 01:38, 28 July 2006 (UTC)
Normally you should use plain numbers for years in the Anno Domini/Common Era, but when events span the start of the Anno Domini/Common Era, use AD or CE for the date at the end of the range (note that AD precedes the date and CE follows it). For example, 1 BCAD 1 or 1 BCE1 CE.
The key word is "normally", which means "in all cases but in the following exception (intervals)". And the fact that this word was disputed in a non-issue here, since it was inclueded in the MoS, and we must follow it, not another version that could have been.--BocciDaniele 01:42, 28 July 2006 (UTC)

I hae to agree with BocciDaniele on how I interpreted the written guidelines. However, it seems that a large number of editors feel that single, double, and even triple digit years need AD before them. Other editors have brought up situations where the context of a sentence might be confusing such as if another small number such as a day of a month is listed along side (such as 9 January 10... which is the day, which is the year?). I feel that wikilink the year can solve those problems, and I personally still stand strong about my current interpretation of the guidelines (only use AD/CE in ranges that begin in BC/BCE). I feel strongly that a) readers won't be confused by this system (some of the Oxford reference books do not use AD/CE for low number years, so this isn't something unheard of) and b) it will remove the tempation of edit wars concerning AD vs. CE by simply not including either one. I guess a very reluctant compromise would be, for an article like Paul of Tarsus to include one AD/CE at the very first year, and because every other year mentioned is in the common era/AD, have no need to tag them as such because the precedent is already established with the first year. So would the pro-AD folks be willing to accept a guideline that stated something along the lines of "AD/CE are generally not needed, unless used in a range of dates that begins in BC/BCE. For years before 1000, a single use of AD/CE may be necessary to establish the precedent for the remaining years an article. For extremely low years (before 32), and AD/CE may be necessary as well contextually to avoid date confusion." This way the folk who want to remove every instance of AD/CE loose, and the folk who want to see AD/CE everywhere loose. We both give up something in order to gain a stable situation. --Andrew c 15:23, 28 July 2006 (UTC)

I disagree that the style guide should be that rigid. Give editors the freedom and discretion to use AD (or CE) where they feel it is natural, as is normal English writing style. The situation between AD and CE wasn't unstable for the past year before Panairjdde / BocciDaniele showed up with all his socks. ፈቃደ (ውይይት) 15:32, 28 July 2006 (UTC)
Well, the reason I have been reverted by you is because I have been reading the guidelines in a more literal manner than you. I still feel that I did nothing wrong because I was simply following the 'rules'. However, that situation has still lead to conflict between mine and your edits on a number of articles. I felt that having a stricter policy could help settle this, instead of having debates on each and every article. I think content is much more important than this, so the less time spent debating this stuff, the better. Therefore, I thought a more rigid guideline could be set, and then used as precedent anytime conflict arises, as opposed to arguments on talk pages, and debate on the MoS talk page, etc. --Andrew c 15:43, 28 July 2006 (UTC)
The purpose the styleguide is not to impose new standards on Wikipedia articles. If Wikipedia articles largely use a certain style that is no less clear (and having AD is certainly not more ambiguous), then this styleguide changes to either reflect it, or explicitly allow for it. An ambiguous sentence is not a source of authority for widespread changes to articles against the consensus of the editors of those individual articles. —Centrxtalk • 23:44, 28 July 2006 (UTC)

I'm not set in any particular way on this matter, but I think we need to set a style here, to avoid future edit wars, clear up the MoS and allow us to concentrate on more exciting things. I'm not married to this suggestion, but how about setting the standard to any dates before 1000 having "AD" and dates afterward not? Fagstein 20:01, 29 July 2006 (UTC)

Sounds like a start, but I don't think anyone wants to see it used everywhere before 1000 AD. Only in moderation, at the discretion of the user, but normally and ideally, once per article (at first usage) should be enough, except perhaps in more unusual circumstances. ፈቃደ (ውይይት) 20:20, 29 July 2006 (UTC)
I'd agree to something along those lines, as mentioned above. Maybe the rule should be don't change dates, period (unless there are multiple era usages in one article such as CE and BC). I'm not sure if I'd be fond of a rule that forced AD or CE to be at least once in every single article that mentions a date between 1 and 999 (I image someone going around to every artice that doesn't have an era usage and adding one instance of AD, and then someone changing it to CE and then an edit war insues because neither usage was ever used in the article in the first place, so there is no precedent). However, I'd definatelly conceded to having AD/CE used in contextually important sitautions (such as before 32, so that the date doesn't get confusing i.e. 3 October 14). Anyway, maybe we can just let things go as they are, and scold people whose sole purpose in wikipedia is to edit dates? It's not that big deal for me. I just got defensive when I was reverted for following the guidelines. Maybe we should just add a note that says "editing wikipedia for the sole purpose of changing dates is frownd upon" or something? --Andrew c 16:27, 30 July 2006 (UTC)
Two general questions:
  1. Whatever the new MoS version, what is the current policy of the MoS? In other words, with respect to the MoS as today, is AD removal allowed? This question is important because a lot of problems have been started by the interpretation of the MoS, and a user has been banned for his interpretation of MoS, and it is still not known if this/his interpretation is correct or wrong.
  2. Are you proposing to block/ban someone who is applying the MoS? If it is decided (for example) that every year before 1000 is to be written with AD/CE, will you scold a user (only) editing articles to add those ADs?
As regards the matter of dispute. If universally used, the convention of adding AD/CE only to disambiguate would be the best solution. This because it would give non-ambiguity, conciseness, and avoid format wars and other particular behaviours on the matter.
--FosterMe 20:36, 30 July 2006 (UTC)
If having AD notation is an acceptable style, then it would not be permitted to remove it without substantial good reason. That user was not banned for changing style on an article, but was blocked temporarily for changing it repeatedly in revert wars across several articles, and then was permanently banned for trying to evade that block. —Centrxtalk • 05:22, 31 July 2006 (UTC)
I think you are wrong. User:Panairjdde was blocked for this edit; now, either that edit is correct, and in that case the user should not have been blocked, or it is wrong, and therefore his/her removal of AD is allowed.--FosterMe 22:42, 4 August 2006 (UTC)
1)To my understanding, I read the MoS in the same manner as the banned user (i.e. removing AD/CE is permitted), however I do not know the specifics of the case. I find no justification in circumventing a block. 2) I personally would scold anyone who is editing wikipedia for the sole purpose of changing the dates in an article. I can understand wanting to standardize articles and get them up to the MoS, but even that is controversial. It's understandable to make sure AD isn't used in an article that uses BCE and vice versa, but anything more than that seems controversial, and I would simply tell the editor to find a more productive way to contribute. If people are going to edit war and revert and debate this in talk, instead of real content issues, I'd say it's not worth it, move on. My advise, as of right now, would be "if you are thinking about editing the eras in an article: don't". There are articles that do not have an era for years in the triple digits, and I'd hate to see someone going around inserting AD (or CE). And there are article that have AD or CE used for lower numbered years, and other editors would hate to see those removed. It causes too much trouble, and it's basically a non-issue. So just avoid the conflict and edit something else.--Andrew c 06:14, 31 July 2006 (UTC)

Nothing has changed, so I need to ask it again. What in MoS is against removing ADs where it is redundant? If your only answer is the bit about acceptable styles, my question is what is the other accepted style besides AD?--FosterMe 22:42, 4 August 2006 (UTC)

Future year categories

Some anons are adding categories for future years to the articles for those years. In the past week, Category:20112036 had the respective year added to the category. I reverted 20172036, with the exception of 2024, which actually had another article in the category. Is this a good thing. (Is this the correct page to be discussing the question?) — Arthur Rubin | (talk) 16:20, 31 July 2006 (UTC)


Several places, the article Hispania currently uses "AC" (e.g. the caption "Roman Gallaecia under Diocletian 293 AC"). I assume this is meant to be the same meaning as "AD" or "CE". It's not Spanish (that would use "AD" or "EC"). I'm guessing this should be changed, but just wondered if anyone knows what it's about, if only just so that if it has some slight currency we can add a specific note not to use it! - Jmabel | Talk 21:55, 31 July 2006 (UTC)

"AC" is listed here as a synonym for BC. The caption may be a typo. Hispania used A.D. a few times. None of the examples have A.D., but if it is discouraged perhaps the guide should say so more clearly. Gimmetrow 23:49, 31 July 2006 (UTC)
Ironically, shortly after I responded here another editor deleted it from calendar era. "AC" is the latin "BC" and is used in Church latin texts. Gimmetrow 17:33, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
AC is the abbreviation of "before Christ" in Spanish and Portuguese ("ante de Cristo" or "antes de Cristo") and Italian ("avanti Cristo") [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6]. When used where AD would be appropriate, AC is probably a typo. — Joe Kress 05:26, 4 August 2006 (UTC)

date formats

Recently, a user has been going through articles changing formats from M-D-Y to D-M-Y. His rationale is that articles on, say, the Prince of Monaco, should use the format similar to that used in Monaco, rather than that used by the original author and preserved throughout the article's many revisions. To me, this seems to break a convention that has stood since the outbreak of the "date wars", which is that date formats are, essentially, meaningless, and not to be changed on a programmatic basis, since preferences now enable one to see them in the desired format, and since frivolous changes like this are disrespectful to the original author and cause needless hostility. Unlike the person doing this, I'd be interested in the opinions of other, uninvolved editors on this matter: it seems like it is something that should be decided by the community rather than by someone campaigning for one format. - Nunh-huh 23:02, 31 July 2006 (UTC)

In articles specific to one country, it's generally useful to use the format prevelant in that country. The reason is that anonymous users and new users don't have date preferences, so they see whatever is typed. This is stated in the section "Date formats related to topics". However, it shouldn't be changed against the wishes of the majority of editors on that page. Stephen Turner (Talk) 23:08, 31 July 2006 (UTC)
See the discussion here and here as well as on my talk page. --Jumbo 01:10, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
See also the user's contributions to see the extent of his crusade. - Nunh-huh 05:36, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
I agree with Nunh-huh and Stephen Turner.
This is from Wikipedia:Requests for arbitration/Sortan, decided in February, Principle No. 2 --
”Wikipedia does not mandate styles in many different areas; these include (but are not limited to) American vs. British spelling, date formats, and citation style. Where Wikipedia does not mandate a specific style, editors should not attempt to convert Wikipedia to their own preferred style, nor should they edit articles for the sole purpose of converting them to their preferred style, or removing examples of, or references to, styles which they dislike.” Maurreen 06:44, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
Looking at the ArbCom case, it is hard to see any relevance. With articles on people or cities or nations, it is usually quite clear to see which dating style is appropriate, whether American Dating or International Dating. It is ridiculous to think that if the first editor to write (say) the George W Bush article had used International Dating, then all subsequent editors should feel themselves bound to use the same dating style. Likewise, just because one of the many U.S. editors happened to use American Dating on (say) James Joyce does not mean that it should remain that way ever after (it didn't). I find Nunh-huh's description of International Dating as "British Dates" to be misleading. Ireland, France, Israel and in fact the vast majority of nations use International Dating (Day Month Year) format, as opposed to the Month Day Year format used in the U.S., Canada and the Philippines.
However, in cases such as non-geographic or multi-national articles, such as Olympic Games or Grace Kelly it would be inappropriate to make an arbitrary change in date format. In fact I altered the Grace Kelly article to be uniformly U.S. format wikidates, as the original author had chosen U.S. format and I saw no need to change this except to rationalise the formats. --Jumbo 04:08, 3 August 2006 (UTC)

Stephen Turner's reverting of my recent change

I disagree extremely with the revert. It doesn't matter what you, or I, think. The statement concerned what "many editors" think. It's expressed after the opposite view. Unless you can think of a good reason not to, I think the insertion should be reinstated. Tony 16:28, 1 August 2006 (UTC)

The addition made the text very one-sided. It happened to be the side I agree with, but that's not really relevant. Of course you're welcome to propose the change here and try and get consensus on it. Stephen Turner (Talk) 17:46, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
It did read as biased, hence me feeling it necessary to add something afterwards. I think it's best as it is at the moment (the original wording). violet/riga (t) 19:58, 1 August 2006 (UTC)

No, the original that now stands is biased towards the blue case, which comes first and contains more words. There needs to be more balance. Tony 01:52, 2 August 2006 (UTC)

I'm also concerned that the arguments for and against are just a little vague, and that decades and centuries are not mentioned. Here's the current text, with my suggested text below it.:


There is consensus among editors that bare month and day names should not be linked unless there is a specific reason that the link will help the reader to understand the article. There is less agreement about links to years. Some editors believe that links to years are generally useful to establish context for the article. Others believe that links to years are rarely useful to the reader. Some editors advocate linking to a more specific article about that year, for example [[2006 in sports|2006]].


There is consensus among editors that bare month and day names should not be linked unless there is a specific reason that the link will help the reader to understand the article. There is less agreement about links to bare years, decades and centuries. Some editors believe that these links are useful to establish the context for the article, outweighing any changes to the appearance and readability of the text. Other editors believe that they are rarely useful to the reader and thus are unjustified; they advocate that if these links are made, they should be piped to a more specific article that is relevant to the topic—for example [[2006 in sports|2006]].
That too strongly advocates linking to "in x" articles. violet/riga (t) 06:59, 2 August 2006 (UTC)
It's also biased. "outweighing any changes to the appearance and readability of the text" is a rather backhanded attempt at "neutral" phrasing. Rebecca 07:47, 2 August 2006 (UTC)

So, would you be happy with just "changes to the appearance of the text"? Surely you're not saying that linking doesn't change the appearance of the text ...? Whati is an "in x" article? Tony 14:03, 2 August 2006 (UTC)

Thanks for your comments, Tony. On reflection, I agree that the current text is slightly biased towards the linkophiles (as I dubbed them previously) because it doesn't state any arguments against linking. That's my fault, because I drafted it. However, I also agree with Rebecca that your change goes too far the other way, especially because it implicitly states the linkophobe case while purporting to talk about the benefits of linking. I also liked Violet's edit, putting a counterpoint to the "in x" (e.g., [[2006 in sports|2006]]) idea. This idea was added late in the drafting, and was probably overstated, as if it were a solution to be used most of the time.

Putting all this together, I wonder if something like the following would be more balanced and could gain general support?


There is consensus among editors that bare month and day names should not be linked unless there is a specific reason that the link will help the reader to understand the article. There is less agreement about links to years. Some editors believe that links to years are generally useful to establish context for the article. Others believe that links to years are rarely useful to the reader and reduce the readability of the text. Another possibility which may sometimes be useful is to link to a more specific article about that year, for example [[2006 in sports|2006]], although some people find this counter-intuitive.

Stephen Turner (Talk) 14:59, 2 August 2006 (UTC)

Looks good to me. violet/riga (t) 15:09, 2 August 2006 (UTC)

Thanks, Stephen and Violet. The new proposal is better than what is there now, so I support it if it's the only alternative. Bear in mind, too, that the view that is mentioned first has a slight advantage—in this case, it's the linkophile view.

I think that "sometimes" is redundant, and "counterintuitive" is one word. I'll put up with the final clause, but I don't understand it. I'm concerned that other readers won't understand it either (that is, as an expression of a view). In what way do linkophiles believe that piped links are counterintuitive. It needs to be worded so that it's clearer, even if people may disagree with the assertion. Tony 15:16, 2 August 2006 (UTC)

Note that piped links to years that are part of full dates screw up the operation of preferences. One of these won't work the way it is supposed to work for you, if you have your preferences set to either day month year or month day year format:
They should end up the same with preferences set for one of those formats, but they do not. It has to do with the presence or absence of commas. Gene Nygaard 15:30, 2 August 2006 (UTC)
Tony: (1) Personally, I find that the argument that is mentioned last usually has the advantage. (2) "sometimes" is meant to suggest that this solution is often not applicable. (3) I thought it was obvious why they were counterintuitive — you see 2006, but it doesn't link to 2006 but to 2006 in sports.
Gene: You're quite right, of course, and I hadn't considered this. On the other hand, it's hard to explain concisely, and I'm not sure that it's relevant because I don't imagine many editors wanting to do an "in x" link when it's part of a full date.
General comment: However, I'm beginning to wonder if the last sentence should be deleted altogether. I've never been very comfortable with it. If I recall correctly, one person proposed it during the previous debate so I included it to try and represent all views, but I now wonder if it was a mistake. Does anyone want to stand up and defend its continued inclusion?
Stephen Turner (Talk) 15:50, 2 August 2006 (UTC)
Here is the previous discussion: /archive48#Topic-specific year links. People seemed willing to include it at the time, but I would still be happy to see it go now.
Stephen Turner (Talk) 15:54, 2 August 2006 (UTC)
What you are talking about with Tony is that the reader doesn't know when a link to a year is going to take them to an "in X" article rather than the general article for a year, so those links aren't very useful in going in that direction. I think probably the main reason for their existence in the first place, however, is for people working backwards in the other direction. For example, you can use the what links here from 1965 in aviation to find articles in which something significant supposedly happened in aviation in that year. The point is, the significance of links doesn't work only in one direction. Gene Nygaard 16:03, 2 August 2006 (UTC)

Gene—I agree with everything you say. Just trying to engineer some "balance" here on a strangely emotive issue. Stephen, I'm quite happy for the last sentence to be removed, now that you mention it. Just complicates matters, and the manual is full enough already. Tony 16:09, 2 August 2006 (UTC)

PS We don't need both both "may" and "sometimes". I thought "may" was better—it says what you intend—but either is OK. Tony 16:11, 2 August 2006 (UTC)

Gene: Yes, that's a fair point. I guess I just don't like it because that's an "advanced" feature, whereas forward links are a "basic" feature. If writing to make the advanced feature work better causes the basic feature to work less well (in that it causes reader surprise), I don't want to use it. (I'm still not sure whether you think that the sentence should be kept). Stephen Turner (Talk) 16:14, 2 August 2006 (UTC)

Stephen—I guess I hope that all simple chronological links I see are piped, and thus lead to something more relevant than a year-article. That's probably the thinking behind the linkiphobe desire for piped year-links. Does you argument extend to all piped links, which hide their true destination? Tony 01:59, 3 August 2006 (UTC)

Properly used, piped links don't hide their true destination, but interpret what the text means in order to go straight to the right place; for example by bypassing disambiguation choices or redirects. I don't like any piped links that look as if they're going to one place but in fact end up somewhere unexpected. Stephen Turner (Talk) 19:37, 3 August 2006 (UTC)

It seems people are happy enough to change this along the lines suggested. Here is a (hopefully) final proposal. Speak out now if you don't like it, otherwise I'll change it tomorrow! Stephen Turner (Talk) 15:30, 4 August 2006 (UTC)


There is consensus among editors that bare month and day names should not be linked unless there is a specific reason that the link will help the reader to understand the article. There is less agreement about links to years. Some editors believe that links to years are generally useful to establish context for the article. Others believe that links to years are rarely useful to the reader and reduce the readability of the text. Another possibility is to link to a more specific article about that year, for example [[2006 in sports|2006]], although some people find this unintuitive because the link leads to an unexpected destination.
  • Nice. Tony 15:40, 4 August 2006 (UTC)
    • OK, no objections so I've changed it. I do think this version is better than the previous one. Stephen Turner (Talk) 17:20, 5 August 2006 (UTC)

units of measurement

I've added "i.e., outside parentheses" to one of the points, for clarification.

  • Spell out source units in the text, i.e., outside parentheses.

Although there has probably been discussion about this (I haven't scoured the archives for it), I wonder why there's such a strict rule about spelling out source units in full thoughout an article. I've been aware of this rule while editing, but find it regrettable that after the first occurence, abbreviations can't be used, even for simple, everyday units such as kilometres. For example:


16 kilometres (10 mi)


16 km (10 mi)

I'd like to hear the arguments for the current system.

Tony 02:56, 2 August 2006 (UTC)

I don't know about the rest of the world, but in my experience in the USA, units are rarely abbreviated in formal writing. Maurreen 04:10, 2 August 2006 (UTC)
Newspapers, novels, encyclopedias, all have units spelled out and it is clearer. I don't see a reason not to have it recommended. If you don't want to type it out, oh well; but that does not mean there is a need to specifically recommend allowing subsequent occurrences. —Centrxtalk • 04:19, 2 August 2006 (UTC)
Thanks for your responses. No, I'm not suggesting that it be recommended; just permitted as an option, for metrics. This would allow editors to make their own call where units such as "kilometres" occur many times in an article. After the first occurrence, they could choose to write, for example, "16 km (10 mi)". Why the different rule for within and outside parentheses in the first place?
I agree; having the only factor being inside or outside parentheses is silly (and not followed on Wikipedia in actual usage).
OTOH, contrary to Maurreen's observation, names of units of measure are rarely spelled out in formal scientific papers. As NIST puts it, [7]
"7.6 Symbols for numbers and units versus spelled-out names of numbers and units
This Guide takes the position that the key elements of a scientific or technical paper, particularly the results of measurements and the values of quantities that influence the measurements, should be presented in a way that is as independent of language as possible. This will allow the paper to be understood by as broad an audience as possible, including readers with limited knowledge of English. Thus, to promote the comprehension of quantitative information in general and its broad understandability in particular, values of quantities should be expressed in acceptable units using
  • the Arabic symbols for numbers, that is, the Arabic numerals, not the spelled-out names of the Arabic numerals; and
  • the symbols for the units, not the spelled-out names of the units."
The same considerations about independence of language (including variant forms of English with things such as liter/litre and kilometre/kilometer) are fairly important on English Wikipedia. Gene Nygaard 13:56, 2 August 2006 (UTC)
Clarifying myself -- I'm referring to formal writing for a general audience. WP is not a specialty science site. Maurreen 15:38, 2 August 2006 (UTC)
But we do address an international audience, and we have a lot of readers and editors as well for whom English is not their first language. In other words, NIST's reasoning applies more to us than the considerations made by much of the other formal writing for a general audience (often, an audience withing one country or a smaller area within that country) in English that you are talking about. Gene Nygaard 12:37, 3 August 2006 (UTC)

Thanks to Gerry and Deckiller for cleaning up after me. I have more queries:

  • What does the "or" thing here mean: "For example, metre is m, kilogram is kg, inch is in (not " or ″), foot is ft (not ' or ′)."
  • There's no mention of the issue of inserting spaces either side of = and + and the "times" symbol; I'm often correcting this in articles.
  • Where it says that there's the option of inserting "thin" spaces every three digits in large numbers, shouldn't that be a mandatary non-breaking space? (Pretty awful if one straddles a line change ...). I don't know whether this is technically possible.
  • I can't see mention of the "times" symbol, which, strictly speaking, should be used instead of ex. How do you code it on WP?
  • I'm sure that SI rules say that attributive units-values should not be hyphenated where abbreviations are used. This might be inserted after the example of "135-millimeter diameter". For example, "135-millimeter diameter" versus "135 mm diameter". Should they be reminded that, when used predicatively, the two items should not be hyphenated? For example "The diameter is 135 millimeters"?
  • Because this manual is written in AmEng, it should be mentioned somewhere prominent that other varieties, including CanEng, spell -er as -re, don't you think? For example, "kilometre" versus "kilometer".

Responses would be much appreciated. Thank you. Tony 03:57, 2 August 2006 (UTC)

With respect to situations where symbols may be used outside parentheses, the standard IEEE/ASTM SI 10-1997 states on page 14 "Symbols. To avoid ambiguity in complicated expressions, unit symbols are preferred over unit names." --Gerry Ashton 04:38, 2 August 2006 (UTC)
Tony wrote "I'm sure that SI rules say that attributive units-values should not be hyphenated where abbreviations are used." That is correct, according to NIST's Guide for the Use of the International System of Units (SI)]. Checklist item 10 mentiones 35-millimeter film and 25 kg sphere as correct, and 25-kg sphere as incorrect. --Gerry Ashton 04:47, 2 August 2006 (UTC)
Tony asked what the word 'or' means in the manual's sentence "For example, metre is m, kilogram is kg, inch is in (not " or ″), foot is ft (not ' or ′)." I think it means that neither straight double quites nor slanted double quotes are correct symbols for inch, and neither straight single quotes or slanted double quotes are correct symbols for foot. I'm not the manual is right about this. --Gerry Ashton 05:14, 2 August 2006 (UTC)
Elaborating a little on Gerry Ashton's explanation -- it means not to use any variation of the quotes to indicate inches or feet, that the quotes are not Wikipedia style. Maurreen 06:00, 2 August 2006 (UTC)
Ah, now I get it. I'd like to make it a bit clearer in the manual (which I'll try later). So, now I think I understand why there's a rule against abbreviating units outside parentheses, on subsequent occurrences. It's because abbreviations in the US system are not very recognisable, e.g., "mi" and "in", although "ft" is better. So, perhaps this concern unconsciously prevailed when the matter was originally discussed. But metric abbreviations are very recongisable, e.g., "km" and "mm'. I'd like to propose that the rules allow the option of abbreviating metric units outsdie parentheses after the initial spelling-out. IMV, it's excessive to spell out big words such as "kilometre" again and again, which is what I see in some articles. Tony 06:26, 2 August 2006 (UTC)
Kilometre isn't really that big a word. You'd see bigger problems if everyone spelled out units such as "micrometers per meter kelvin". Gene Nygaard 14:20, 2 August 2006 (UTC)
Re: "Where it says that there's the option of inserting "thin" spaces every three digits in large numbers, shouldn't that be a mandatary non-breaking space? (Pretty awful if one straddles a line change ...). I don't know whether this is technically possible.
No, the manual says do not use that style that gives you the option to use non-breaking spaces - always use the style with commas. Rmhermen 04:19, 3 August 2006 (UTC)
But it says: "This is different from the SI/ISO 31-0 notation style, where punctuation marks are not used, but as an option, a thin space may be inserted every three places." I did reword it a few days ago, but I don't think that I changed the substantive meaning. Tony 06:15, 3 August 2006 (UTC)
PS Here's the previous version: "Note that this is different from the SI/ISO 31-0 notation style where no punctuation mark, but a thin space can be used every three places." Tony 06:20, 3 August 2006 (UTC)
Thin spaces break in some very common platforms (*cough* Microsoft Internet Explorer *cough*). The MOS should never recommend using them in an article.
Anyway, as discussed many times before, the ISO technical format for thousands separators differs from English-language conventions, and don't belong in a publication for a general audience. Michael Z. 2006-08-03 06:29 Z
OK, looks like a good case for removal. Tony 06:34, 3 August 2006 (UTC)
A "thin space" is just a bad idea. If there is not a comma, then there should be a non-breaking space. This should be changed.--MJCdetroit 18:07, 3 August 2006 (UTC)


I disagree with " i.e., outside parentheses" added to "Spell out source units in the text." My understanding of the original was that it referred to the main body of the article, the prose, in contrast to such things as tables. Maurreen 15:44, 2 August 2006 (UTC)

Maurreen would be correct in that it did refer to the main body. That's why you don't see square kilometres and square miles spelled out in infoboxes.--MJCdetroit 15:58, 2 August 2006 (UTC)

Does that mean that it's incorrect to write "10 miles (16 km)" in the main text? Tony 16:15, 2 August 2006 (UTC)

I see what you mean by 'outside of the parentheses' and whether that example is incorrect. You make a very good point! I would say that the 'converted values [i.e. inside of parentheses] should use abbreviations or symbols'. I think there is some confusion in that the source unit may get switched, especially in US centric articles if the source unit is metric. I think that the word source should be removed from the sentence. So the sentence would read "Spell out units in text". There are two other sentences that deal with unit order. I think that a sight re-ordering of the sentences would help clarify things.--MJCdetroit 17:37, 2 August 2006 (UTC)

Symbol v. abbreviation

I have rewritten Wikipedia:Manual of Style (dates and numbers)#Units of measurement to use the word symbol in preference to the word abbreviation. Some of the statements were written as if these were two different things, and they are not. Symbol is universally used in preference to abbreviation in every SI standard or official document I've seen. In ordinary English usage, when referring to customary units, symbol or abbreviation seem equally acceptable, so I chose the word that works for both SI and customary units. --Gerry Ashton 04:26, 2 August 2006 (UTC)

I disagree.
  1. These are not used interchangeably in my experience. There is an example in the previous talk section: "For example, metre is m, kilogram is kg, inch is in (not " or ″), foot is ft (not ' or ′)."
  2. And much of the world is not familiar with SI. Maurreen 04:40, 2 August 2006 (UTC)
Are you saying that the symbol for an inch is in and the abbreviation for an inch is "? ==Gerry Ashton 04:50, 2 August 2006 (UTC)
No, that is the opposite of what I am saying. Maurreen 04:58, 2 August 2006 (UTC)
So are you saying that I could call both in and " symbols for inch, and I can also call them abbreviations for inch? If so, I think there is no disagreement, I just think its better to use the word symbol in this section of the style manual, because it will make the people who prefer SI happy and won't disturb the people who prefer customary units, right?
I don't think you were expressing a preference for in vs. " as a symbol for inch, and I have no preference. Since the US is the only large industrialized country still officially using customary units, I think it would be up to NIST to define official symbols for customary units, but they seem to have lost interest in customary units, and I don't imagine they will do so. In the absense of official standards, we can do what we want. --Gerry Ashton 05:09, 2 August 2006 (UTC)

The short answer is, your change has either changed meaning or made the meaning less clear. If that is what you want, so be it. Maurreen 05:19, 2 August 2006 (UTC)

You don't have to take my word for it. Any dictionary should do. Maurreen 05:21, 2 August 2006 (UTC)
Lets set aside the question of what symbol and abreviation mean, can you point out what text in the current manual is unclear and what you think it should say? --Gerry Ashton 05:29, 2 August 2006 (UTC)
The short answer is that I think it was better before your change.
I'm not how you are not understanding me. In normal usage, I don't recall anyone ever using the words or concepts "symbol" and "abbreviation" interchangeably.
This is an abbreviation: in. These is a symbol: "
The following is either unclear or contradictory: "Use standard symbols when not using the full name of a unit. For example, metre is m, kilogram is kg, inch is in (not " or ″), foot is ft (not ' or ′)." -- The quote mark is common or standard -- You tell people to use a symbol and then tell them not to use the symbol.
It should say something like: "When abbreviating, use standard abbreviations. For example, metre is m, kilogram is kg, inch is in (not " or ″), foot is ft (not ' or ′)."
And --- "Do not append an s for plurals of unit symbols. For example, kg, in, yd, lb not kgs, ins, yds, lbs." -- Should say "... plurals of unit abbreviations. ..."
Preference is less important than clarity. Thanks. Maurreen 05:49, 2 August 2006 (UTC)

Since it seems to have caused confusion, I have reverted my change. Then, I undid an August 1 change by someone else. There was a phrase "put a space between the value and the unit symbol abbreviation." I changed "symbol abbreviation" to just "symbol" since a symbol is too short to abbreviate further. --Gerry Ashton 05:53, 2 August 2006 (UTC)

Thank you. Maurreen 06:00, 2 August 2006 (UTC)
Be forewarned that if you ever try to call an SI symbol an abbreviation in the vicinity of a scientist or engineer, your apt to get some disagreement. Official NIST documents, and standards from organizations such as IEEE, ASTM, and ISO always call the short form of SI units symbols and never call them abbreviations. --Gerry Ashton 06:06, 2 August 2006 (UTC)
That's because in general, abbreviation is a broader term; the "symbol" terminology is used to clarify their invariant nature: not including language-specific changes in the plural, not changing capitalization, being written without a period (full stop), being the same in all languages (including those not written in the Latin alphabet and including a couple of Greek letters even in Latin alphabets), etc. The same considerations that apply to metric usage apply to any other units of measure; the major difference is that there might not be universally agreed upon symbols in other cases.
Note that "sec" is an abbreviation of second; it is not the SI symbol for a second. While the rules for SI usage don't apply to it, nonetheless we at Wikipedia ought to stick to "ft/s" rather than "ft/sec" or "fps" for feet per second. The Russian "см" is an abbreviation, but the proper SI symbol for centimeters remains "cm" even in Russian. Furthermore, I'd not classify "mph" as a symbol, but I would so classify "mi/h" or even "mi/hr". Gene Nygaard 14:14, 2 August 2006 (UTC)
Yes, Tony we have had this discussion many times before—the most recent from archive 49.
As far as the question regarding using in for inch and ft for foot (not " or '), you may not understand ″ and ' because of where you live in the world. If you lived in the USA, UK, or Canada, you would know that they are more or less short-hand symbols used everyday for inch and foot. I would also mention that # is often used instead of Lbs for pounds. While I use those symbols everyday, Wikipedia would not be an appropriate forum for their use due to the academic and worldwide nature of it.
I agree with Gene Nygaard, mph is an abbreviation not a symbol like mi/h. However, I would never want to see mi/h used in favor of mph because the word 'symbol' as apposed to 'abbreviation' is used in the MOS. The symbol mi/h is rarely seen in common use; just look at your speedometer.
I again agree with Gene Nygaard in that kilometre or square mile or most anything word referring to measurements are not that big and should be spelled out in text—every time. There should of course be exceptions to this rule such as the example provided by Gene of "micrometers per meter kelvin". In that case use the symbol (or abbreviation) with each use after the first use.
As for calling the short form of an SI unit a symbol or an abbreviation around a scientist or engineer. Symbol is the "official" term according to the said sources above. However if you said abbreviation around me (a chemical engineer), I'll know what you mean.--MJCdetroit 17:00, 2 August 2006 (UTC)
The "option" is part of ISO's standard; not our MoS. In other words, if you are writing in ISO style, you have the option of using the spaces. It has nothing to do with us. — Omegatron 18:28, 3 August 2006 (UTC)
My turn to flog this horse! Here's how I would rephrase the section:
==Units of measurement==
* Use digits and unit symbols (or standard abbreviations) for values in parentheses and for measurements in tables. For example, "a pipe 100 millimetres (4 in) in diameter and 16 kilometres (10 mi) long" '''or''' "a pipe 4 inches (100 mm) in diameter and 10 miles (16 km) long".
* Use standard symbols or abbreviations whenever possible. For example, metre is m, kilogram is kg, inch is in (not " or ″), foot is ft (not ' or ′), and [[Avoirdupois|pound]] is lb (not #).
Now for the why.
Non-SI units of measurement generally do not have symbols. This is the case with U.S. customary units and Imperial units, for example. Hence the distinction and rephrasing. --Urhixidur 15:41, 7 August 2006 (UTC)

impending proposal

I'd like to set out here a raft of micro-changes based on the discussions in "Units of measurement" and related subsections here. I'll put this together soon, and number them so that people can comment on individual proposals. Tony 06:37, 3 August 2006 (UTC)

Currency conversions

Would it be a good idea to recommend that pre-euro currencies (French franc, Irish pound etc.) be given conversions to euro as oppossed to any other currency. The reason I ask is that I've seen several articles where estimates of francs and deutschmarks in particular, have been converted to US dollars, despite the fact that their successor is almost as widely used as the dollar, but more importantly, has an absolute rate. Since the rate will never change, wouldn't it be better if the Manual of Style at least reccomends that estimates to pre-euro currencies be given in their successor? The other reason I say it is that I've noticed another group of articles which have just have no conversion at all. I just think it would help if it was in the Manual of Style, unless someone can see a reason not to. It seems crazy that amounts of money be given in a currency that no longer exists. - Рэдхот 13:18, 6 August 2006 (UTC)