Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style (dates and numbers)/Archive 92

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Archive 85 Archive 90 Archive 91 Archive 92 Archive 93 Archive 94 Archive 95

Proposal to merge this page with MOS

It was only a matter of time since most of MOSNUM was pasted into MOS central that the question of what to do with this submanual should come up. The disadvantage in keeping both separate, or in removing what are, IMO, sections that are too important not to be at MOS, is that regular housecleaning is required to harmonise the duplicated sections; and that valuable discussions here are isolated from the broader MOS community.

There are four options, as far as I can see.

  1. Delete this page wholly, moving the remaining sections that are not duplicated to MOS. This is the quick and dirty way, except that some of the unduplicated sections might be regarded as too abstruse or, indeed, unstable, for inclusion in MOS.
  2. Delete this page wholly and create in its place three new submanuals: Magnitude prefixes, Geographical coordinates, and a merger of Old_Style_and_New_Style_dates and MOSNUM's "Calendars" section, with links at MOS to these submanuals. The autoformatting and links section belongs in the newly reorganised Links section at MOS.
  3. Keep this page and remove the duplication from MOS.
  4. Keep the status quo.

Comments? Tony (talk) 03:37, 4 December 2007 (UTC)

  • You forgot
3. Keep this page and remove the duplication from the main page.
Gene Nygaard 05:02, 4 December 2007 (UTC)
  • Note: Proposal was updated to reflect this. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 19:30, 4 December 2007 (UTC)
  • As an editor I like this page the way it is (I do not see myself taking an active interest in MOS - it's too broad for me). On the other hand, I can see the advantage to the *reader* in incorporating the MOSNUM text in the main manual, but maintaining a faithful duplicate in MOS sounds like a thankless task. I suggest the following compromise:
  • Keep this page as a master MOSNUM
  • Paste its contents at periodic intervals into MOS, discarding any interim edits that may have taken place in the relevant sub-section, which I will call NUM@MOS
  • Insert a warning in NUM@MOS to discourage edits made directly there, explaining that the master is held at MOSNUM
Thunderbird2 18:15, 4 December 2007 (UTC)
  • I like Thunderbird2's idea. —MJCdetroit 18:59, 4 December 2007 (UTC)
  • Just for the record, the maint.-free way to do that would be with a transclusion. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 20:15, 5 December 2007 (UTC)
  • 3a. Remove the bulk of the duplicated material at MOS, and just summarize the key, most common issues there, and prominently direct people to MOSNUM for more detail. I agree with Tony1 that the MOSNUM content at MOS is just too much, and too hard to maintain in synch with the real MOSNUM (and add a further point that we have generally been treating MOS as trumping its subguidelines, which can present problems when MOSNUM does something smart and MOS isn't updated to go along with it), but I also agree with Thunderbird2 that we need to keep general editors in mind, not just editors of the MOS pages; MOS should cover the basics in sufficient detail to be useful to the average editor of a page about a video game, rock band or feline species. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 19:22, 4 December 2007 (UTC)
That’s exactly what should have happened (and I tried in an overly bold way) when MOSNUM content was partly reincorporated into MOS few months ago: only key rules (shoulds, we don’t have musts) without exceptions (mays) and overly specific details. I fear this is not (though hope it is) feasible, because even if we cut it down now, there’ll be people who consider their pet exception to be too important not to be on the main MOS, and so the excerpt will grow back again into an inconsistent twin. Christoph Päper (talk) 22:49, 4 December 2007 (UTC)
I would prefer it if there were no duplication. Each guideline would only exist in one place. I would be prepared to accept larger pages if we could reduce the number of pages and duplicated content.
My second preference would be for no double editing. Each guideline would only be editable in one place and read-only in any other place. I do not know if we have the technology to support this but I have seen something like it with a template.
We could review duplication and large content across the whole of the manual and submanuals. For example, links are addressed in at least two important places.
If a piece of guidance does not address a significant problem, if it will not have an effect on the editors that cause the problem, or if it would have been eventually solved by the wiki, then it is not adding value. Lightmouse 20:41, 4 December 2007 (UTC)
  • I agree that the duplication is undesirable. However, the reason that much of MOSNUM was duplicated in MOS is that its content is so important for general editors. Having information on dates and numbers sequestered over here discourages people from consulting it, and separates expert discussions from the mainstream at MOS talk. I see no problem in making MOS very large—larger than it already is. The normal considerations of size for articles are to do with the readability of a topic. The purpose of MOS is not as an entire read-through document, but as a resource for specific consultation via the ToC. Summarising MOSNUM at MOS will further discourage editors from coming here ("I've looked at numbers in MOS, so that's clearly the important stuff—I don't need to treck to MOSNUM before nominating my FAC"—no, the devil is in the detail for our topic). To provide mere links to MOSNUM downgrades the importance of our topic for those who go to MOS: that is inescapable. Tony (talk) 00:41, 5 December 2007 (UTC)
Well, we can't just throw up our hands about this. MOSNUM needs to have its most important points summarized in MOS, while having MOS make it very clear, in each place, that people needs to see MOSNUM for the devilish details. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 08:18, 5 December 2007 (UTC)
  • MOSNUM needs to stay since there are many specific details relating to this topic that would bloat MOS if moved there. Fnagaton 12:03, 5 December 2007 (UTC)
I like SMcCandlish's proposal better than my own. Thunderbird2 (talk) 13:54, 5 December 2007 (UTC)
Yes I agree. I think that just looking at the edit history for MOSNUM and the talk page shows this isn't a sleepy backwater but is instead a vibrant very much alive section. Fnagaton 16:38, 5 December 2007 (UTC)
I too like SMcCandlish's thinking on this matter. —MJCdetroit (talk) 17:14, 5 December 2007 (UTC)
I am a dyed-in-the-wool centralist. That is, I am one who prefers to see guidelines collected in one place, so that they can be maintained efficiently and kept free of inconsistencies, and so that editors can find the guidance they're looking for without a time-wasting chase that may still end in uncertainty. So of course I support moves like Tony's to diminish the role of MOS's "satellites". I support merging some of them into MOS; but reluctantly I accept that this can't be achieved for all of them.
I therefore agree with SMcCandlish, too. In this case, and perhaps a few others, the satellites need to be brought into a closer orbit around MOS; MOS should summarise recommendations crisply, and where necessary and refer editors to the detail at the relevant satellite. We must then work to coordinate and rationalise discussion at the various talk pages that are involved. This will be much easier if they are few, and if all of them are known about by all editors involved in developing MOS guidelines. This is certainly not how things are right now.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 03:42, 10 December 2007 (UTC)

Linking full dates

There has been a conflict at Talk:Swedish language over the linking of retrieval dates of web references specified in footnotes and has lead to rather pointless low-intensity revert war. The problem in my view is that linking any date that happens to appear in an article, whether it's relevant to the topic or not, isn't helpful to readers. The arguments for linking all dates have thus far concentrated on the wording of the various guidelines and the fact that it has to do with formatting, not linking per se. Personally, I think the general wording of the guidelines (and the fact that they're guidelines, not policy) is enough to allow obvious exceptions, but apparantly some users feel that this might actually require changing the guidelines.

Peter Isotalo 13:01, 7 December 2007 (UTC)

I'm not exactly sure what point you are trying to make here but my understanding of your position as expressed at Talk:Swedish language is that you are opposed to date wikilinking, EXCEPT where the date has direct relevance to the article in question. That seems like a reasonable principle to me. As I said at SL Talk, when I first came to wiki it took me quite a while to realize the date wikilinks had no relationship to the article, it was pretty annoying, and I think it's bad practice. Date wikilinking for the handful of people who want to use date preferences does not seem to me to be a valid reason to sprinkle every article in wikipedia with useless and irrelevant links.
BTW Peter I think you'd be better off opening this discussion at Village Pump Policy, as I've found these individual policy pages in general get very little traffic. Gatoclass (talk) 13:12, 7 December 2007 (UTC)
I have a script that unlinks all date fragments (solitary years, solitary months etc). I think full dates should not be linked either but the script leaves full dates linked in accordance with guidance. It is easy to use. Feel free to use it directly or take pieces of code from it. Ask at my talk page if you want to know more. Lightmouse (talk) 13:56, 7 December 2007 (UTC)
I think linking full dates so that they auto-format is important. I like having all dates converted to my preferred format, and good God, I don't want to imagine the edit wars between the DD-MM-YYYY and the MM-DD-YYYY camps, not to mention the ISO 8601 YYYY-MM-DD guys, if we stop auto-formatting. TomTheHand (talk) 14:58, 7 December 2007 (UTC)
But how many people actually use those formats? Almost all the dates I come across are in the form day month year, or month day year ie 5 January 1985, or January 5 1985 - and few people care which of those two are used. Gatoclass (talk) 15:20, 7 December 2007 (UTC)
While it is unquestionable that auto-formatting provides some benefit, the manner in which is implemented incurs some disadvantages. The vast majority of readers won't see any benefit and can (as have been noted) be confused by the seemingly irrelevant links. As for edit wars, I suspect they could be handled in a similar manner to variations in spelling. Consistency within an article and standardization of the format should be done in any case, since so few users (I suspect no more than a few thousands) will see the dates autoformatted. henriktalk 15:25, 7 December 2007 (UTC)
I agree with those that think it is time for a change. The concept of autoformatting is fine but the design and implementation has created a cure that is worse than the disease. Furthermore, those of us that do not have the disease have to take the cure and accept the nasty side-effects.
Confused editors make many errors (e.g. [[5 November|November 5]]). Some errors make articles unreadable for those that use autoformatting e.g. by creating the format: '15 November-18'. We should abandon this design. In the short term, we need a bot that is fast and comprehensive enough to find and fix the many errors. Lightmouse (talk) 15:44, 7 December 2007 (UTC)
I doubt that I'm the only editor who frequently goes between languages and countries, where different date formats are used in the different sources I read, so yes, date formatting to allow for user preferences is essential for clarity. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 06:26, 10 December 2007 (UTC)

I disagree that anything needs to be changed until the autoformatting can be implemented without the wikilinks. Confused editors make many errors, and changing guidelines will not help that, nor will confusion or other side effects (whatever they are) be lessened; there will be only a loss of the benefit provided by auto-formatting. (See also WP:OVERLINK#Dates.) -- JHunterJ (talk) 18:38, 7 December 2007 (UTC)

Either most of the responders here have missed the point of the original post, or maybe I have. It seems to be asking about linking full dates in footnotes, especially those that specify retrieval dates. Although I favor autoformatting of dates in the running text in the body of an article, I am not convinced it's needed in the footnotes. As long as those dates are in a consistent fixed format within that article, I'm happy. People who are analyzing the references will probably not be impeded much by dates that are not autoformatted to their liking. And I don't think the original post here was trying to instigate an uprising against autoformatting in general, so calm down, please. Chris the speller (talk) 18:58, 7 December 2007 (UTC)
I don't see any disadvantage to autoformatting dates in footnotes (at least, no disadvantages that are footnote-specific). I don't know why footnotes would be an exception. TomTheHand (talk) 22:00, 7 December 2007 (UTC)
Since Wiki automatically links *most* dates in citation templates, consistent display of dates according to user preferences for all readers requires that those not in cite templates be linked, or you end up with a gibberish of dates in differing formats, which makes a difference when you're reading an article about a country that uses one format with source that use another. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 06:26, 10 December 2007 (UTC)
Chris, your summary reflects the issues presented in the discussion at Talk:Swedish language, but it does not reflect the way Peter framed the issue when he opened this thread. He did, in fact, raise the more general point here of whether dates should be linked: The problem in my view is that linking any date that happens to appear in an article, whether it's relevant to the topic or not, isn't helpful to readers. I would agree with that assessment if we had an autoformatting mechanism that worked without wikilinking the dates, but we don't. Hell, I would also favor picking a default format and applying it to wikilinked dates when unregistered users are viewing an article. It would be a monumental headache to enforce consistency in date formats without any autoformatting mechanism at all, so I certainly don't see that as a solution, because I do value consistent formatting (not just for dates). --Tkynerd (talk) 23:58, 7 December 2007 (UTC)
Some months ago, I decided to encourage WPians not to use the autoformatting function, because it is dysfunctional in several key ways. The arguments appear in the archives of this talk page and elsewhere. A move signed by 85 WPians to ask Bugzilla to FIX the biggest problem—the entanglement with the linking functionality—has thus far failed; this is more reason to discourage its use and put up with the several major formattings for dates, just as we do the varieties of spelling. Tony (talk) 00:29, 8 December 2007 (UTC)
Boycotting the function makes sense for those reasons, but when some dates are formatted, all dates should be formatted for consistency according to user preferences. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 06:26, 10 December 2007 (UTC)
Boycotting the autoformat feature in order to convince the devs to fix it sounds awfully POINTy to me. TomTheHand (talk) 01:14, 8 December 2007 (UTC)
Agree with TomTheHand; in addition, I'd like to know more about this move to get developers to fix this, but I don't think their decision (if it's actually a decision rather than just prioritizing other development needs) is a good reason to ignore the guidelines. --Tkynerd (talk) 01:35, 8 December 2007 (UTC)
No, you're wrong: I'm not trying to make a point in discouraging people from using the dysfunctional system. I'm discouraging people from using a dysfunctional system. MOSNUM says that it is "normally" used. Well, sorry, it's not normal to persist with such a dysfunctional system. End of story. Tony (talk) 04:20, 8 December 2007 (UTC) PS Here are the links to the Bugzilla thing: [1] and [2]. Here is the petition: Wikipedia_talk:Manual_of_Style_(dates_and_numbers)/Archive_D1#A_new_parallel_syntax_for_autoformatting_dates. Tony (talk) 04:29, 8 December 2007 (UTC)
You are missing the import of the word "normally" in that guideline. It obviously does not mean that using wikilinking to autoformat dates is a "normal" method of doing so, or that it is ideal or functional; it means that full dates should normally be entered by editors in such a way that the MediaWiki software will autoformat them. If the developers change the method by which this is done in the MediaWiki software, the last half of the sentence (which explains the method) will need to change, but the first portion (which includes the word "normally") will not, even if the developers choose to implement date autoformatting that requires editors to precede each date with a random number that will change every day. The point is simply this: full dates are normally autoformatted. Your argument is pharisaical at best. --Tkynerd (talk) 05:14, 8 December 2007 (UTC)
As long as MOS continues to recommend the wikilinking of full dates for user preferences date formatting purposes, this should be done across-the-board, including in reference citations, otherwise it is inconsistent and undermines the concept of date formatting. That is happens to be in a ref citation instead of an infobox or a prose paragraph is irrelevant. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 06:09, 8 December 2007 (UTC)
It undermines MOS to recommend a dysfunctional system. It says that MOS "is not set in stone and should be treated with common sense". I'm using common sense, and will continue to advise WPians not to autoformat. Tony (talk) 08:37, 8 December 2007 (UTC)
I am with Tony on this. Editors keep adding errors that break autoformatting (e.g. piped year links in full dates, date ranges that become '5 November-6', [[5 November|November 5]], '5th November'). If there was any real enthusiasm for autoformatting, then high speed bots would fix these errors faster than editors make them. I don't believe people actually care much about whether autoformatting breaks, it merely exists as an answer to anyone that complains about dates just as we have an answer to the 'color/colour' conflict. Lightmouse (talk) 10:59, 8 December 2007 (UTC)
[editconflict] I think we're talking past each other, T. I agree that the autoformatting system sucks, because it operator overloads the wikilinking system to serve an unrelated purpose, with very undesirable results [plus the easy-to-make errors Lightmouse highlights, no pun intended]. Last I looked, MOS (or MOSNUM, rather) advised, or was at least neutral on the idea, that complete dates should be wikilinked for autoformatting. My point above is that we are not making some special exception that reads "except in reference citations". MOS[NUM] does not say that, and until this was posted here I was unaware of anyone making up that non-existent distinction. As with everything else MOSly, "be consistent within an article". If editors at an article have agreed by widespread consensus on its talk page that date autoformatting is hosed, and the article in question should not and does not use it in the article's main prose, then good for them, and don't add that formatting to ref. citations. If, as is much more probable, an article does wikilink full dates, then do so in ref citations too, and if it wikilinks partial dates, remove those links, where ever they are, since they serve no purpose at all. Hope that makes more sense. SMcCandlish (talk) 10:59, 8 December 2007 (UTC)
I also have always agreed that we should have a better system as Tony proposes, but until we do, dates need to be displayed consistently according to user preferences, which means they need to be linked consistently, including in footnotes. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 06:26, 10 December 2007 (UTC)
I'm thinking along the same lines. While I would prefer if full dates were linked only when they were relevant (which in the case of web reference retrieval dates would mean never), I'm not going to go around campaigning in random articles by reverting the main authors on their choice of style. But this is exactly what happened in Swedish language, and used up far more talkpage space than it was ever worth.
Peter Isotalo 11:40, 8 December 2007 (UTC)
Please see WP:OWN. There is no author who has special privileges to decide how an article looks. Lurker (said · done) 15:56, 8 December 2007 (UTC)
There is however a custom of respecting the initial author's wishes when it comes to certain things with multiple right answers and some stylistic matters, for example things such as spelling variations and measurement systems. henriktalk 16:26, 8 December 2007 (UTC)
In the Swedish language article, no one has argued over the stylistic matters that you've mentioned, such as spelling variations and measurement systems. But since you brought it up, the primary author, User:Peter Isotalo, has been inconsistent with which variant of English he uses (AmE spelling vs AmE & BrE dates). –panda (talk) 18:51, 8 December 2007 (UTC)

I think the policy should be changed so that dates that have the months spelled out are not wikilinked - because, after all, such dates can never cause confusion. I refer to date formats such as 5 July 1989 or August 9 2004. The ONLY dates that should be wikilinked are the ones in formats that can become confusing such as 05-07-1989 or 2004/08/09. Gatoclass (talk) 15:31, 8 December 2007 (UTC)

Doing that would result in a mish-mash in the article and in the footnotes. Currently, dates are displayed according to user preferences no matter how they were entered by the original editor. If you link some and not others, you end up with gibberish. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 06:26, 10 December 2007 (UTC)
There should be no dates with the months spelled out because this means that users cannot choose how these dates are displayed. Using date linking, users can choose whether they see months as numbers or spelled out. We are supposed to be here for the readers, not to impose our own views on how dates should be displayed. Lurker (said · done) 15:56, 8 December 2007 (UTC)
Exactly, we're here for the readers, which is in my view the strongest argument to remove the date links as excessive linking disrupts the flow of reading. Practically no readers will see anything but what the editor put in the article. As the 8th most popular website in the world, maybe a hundred million people view wikipedia articles every day. There are 5 million accounts, and if 1% has set the date preferences, that's 50 000 people. Assuming 1 in 1000 readers find the links confusing or irritating, that's still twice as many people every day as those who will benefit from the date preferences. henriktalk 16:26, 8 December 2007 (UTC)
That is a whole lot of highly speculative reasoning there. Just as with varieties of English, there have been considerable tedious tendentious edits to make dates display "correctly" as judged by the editor. Date preferences short-circuit such pointless disputes. Granted, perhaps there could be a better mechanism for implementing date preferences that did not involve linking, but until such a replacement is available, I don't see any reason to change the current practice. olderwiser 16:58, 8 December 2007 (UTC)
I don't think it's highly speculative at all, I think that assuming only 1% of casual users find the date links annoying would be a considerable underestimate. I would guess a majority of casual users would find date wikilinking annoying, because they are not privy to the esoteric function behind it. Most people will quite justifiably assume that if there's a link on the page it's because the link goes somewhere useful and relevant, and are bound to be irritated to find it doesn't. By contrast, the number of people who actually know about date preferences, let alone make use of it, must be miniscule by comparison. Gatoclass (talk) 19:15, 8 December 2007 (UTC)
Well, the figures I used are indeed pure speculation. I could very well be off by an order of magnitude in either direction. But I simply tried to illustrate the point that we have many more readers than editors with date preferences set. henriktalk 19:20, 8 December 2007 (UTC)
From the point of view of the casual reader unless a survey is done we will not know if linking dates is annoying. But what we can guarantee is that dates in the form of DD MM YYYY and MM DD YYYY will be misunderstood by a lot of people. What is worse if they have read one article general article with which they have some knowledge that uses MM DD YYYY and contains a date they know and then follow a link to another page, for example a biography of a person mentioned in a general article, and if that uses the other numerical format then they are almost bound to get it wrong. At least with DD MONTH YYY or MONTH DD, YYYY, linked or not they may find one format jarring to look at, but they will not get the date wrong. With spelling one can tell (or assume that those dumb Wikipedia authors don't know how to spell), but with numeric dates readers have no way of knowing at a glance what format the date is in and this can easily be misleading, particularly those who have not had much exposure to English written by those who write in a different English dialect. --Philip Baird Shearer (talk) 07:24, 10 December 2007 (UTC)
How does linking dates in the notes/references disrupt the flow of reading? They're not included in the normal flow of text that someone would read. –panda (talk) 18:51, 8 December 2007 (UTC)
In notes/references sections, it creates a huge, ugly blue mess. Tony (talk) 23:13, 8 December 2007 (UTC)
In notes/references, unlinked dates create an ugly mess of different date formats entered by different editors. You end up with something like:
  • Article name, BBC, 2006-01-10. Retrieved on September 5, 2007.
  • Article name, BBC, March 5, 2005. Accessed 2006-05-04.
And, is that October 1 or January 10? SandyGeorgia (Talk) 06:26, 10 December 2007 (UTC)

Here is the bug in which implementing date syntax independent of linking is discussed: [3]. -- PatLeahy (talk) 17:53, 8 December 2007 (UTC)

For those who treated me as though I had 3 heads for reading the original question as pertaining to dates in references/footnotes, take note of these: 1) The {{Cite web}} template recommends this format: "cite web |url= |title= |accessdate=2007-12-09 |format= |work= ", and this date format does not conform to this guideline. 2) The edit war on the Swedish language article switches between British-style dates (but not linked, as the guidelines call for) and ISO-style dates, which do not conform to this guideline. These 2 editors, after completely ignoring this guideline, come to this talk page for resolution. Here it is: follow the guideline, using wikilinked British-style or American-style dates. Chris the speller (talk) 01:08, 9 December 2007 (UTC)
Not following, Chris the speller; the cite web template automatically links the accessdate parameter; it does follow this guideline. The full date is automatically linked so user preferences work. It doesn't automatically link the date parameter unless a full date is entered, because the date is not always a full date (could be only a year or a month-year combo). SandyGeorgia (Talk) 07:37, 10 December 2007 (UTC)
I agree with the spirit of what you've written; I just want to point out that even ISO-style dates are formatted correctly (for registered users) if they are wikilinked. That obviously doesn't solve the problem of formatting for unregistered users, though. --Tkynerd (talk) 02:10, 9 December 2007 (UTC)
Yes, ISO-style dates do autoformat correctly, but the guideline discourages them, except that they "may be useful in long lists ...", so is a collection of footnotes a list? Apparently the people who maintain the Cite web template think so, but McCandlish feels that dates in footnotes should get the same handling as dates in the running text of the body. I don't think the ISO dates give any advantage, since the elements of the footnotes don't fall into vertical alignment anyway. What I do know is that if the guideline had been followed for all dates in the Swedish article (all as linked British-style dates), there would have been no edit war. Chris the speller (talk) 04:30, 9 December 2007 (UTC)
Chris, no one has said a single word about any inconsistency between spelling and date standards over at Talk:Swedish language. The arguments have consistently been to link or not to link full dates, including the retrieval dates of web refs. If you think applying American-style dates (without the linkage) would solve the issue, you're welcome to try your hand at it.
Peter Isotalo 03:56, 10 December 2007 (UTC)
Peter, what are you talking about? I never mentioned spelling. Perhaps you took my user name too literally. And I didn't mention the discussion that's on that talk page. I mentioned the edit warring, in which I saw Lurker (2 days ago) changing from unlinked British-style dates to linked ISO-style dates. And I don't "think applying American-style dates (without the linkage) would solve the issue". I know that using linked British-style dates (or, if you prefer, American) would solve it. But no, I'm not going to join in the edit war. In one of your edit summaries, you mentioned that there is no consensus on that article to switch formats. If there is no consensus by the editors of an article to depart from the guideline, then there's no reason not to follow the guideline. Chris the speller (talk) 16:45, 10 December 2007 (UTC)
Actually, consistent formatting of dates was brought up on 27 November 2007 [4] and 28 November 2007 [5] [6] in Talk:Swedish language. –panda (talk) 05:55, 10 December 2007 (UTC)
Dates should be consistently formatted in the article and in the footnotes so that user preferences work on display. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 06:26, 10 December 2007 (UTC)
panda, there was not a peep in there about mixing American spelling and British date formatting, but rather the insistance that this should be achieved with wikilinking. No one ever opposed consistent date formats in the article.
Peter Isotalo 10:50, 10 December 2007 (UTC)
Is that why I specifically stated: "Regarding inconsistent dates, you have used both day-month-year and month-day-year, which is not consistent"?[7]panda (talk) 19:12, 10 December 2007 (UTC)

I just looked at Swedish language, and saw only one problem in the footnotes, here:

  • Aronsson, Cecilia Norrländska låter bäst (Swedish) Dagens Industri 2005-05-03. Retrieved on August 24, 2007.

That's ugly; is that all this is about? And is that May 3 or March 5? The external jumps in the text (see WP:EL) are gone, too, so it looks like some progress is being made. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 07:46, 10 December 2007 (UTC)

    • Oops, I see I was wrong on the External jumps, and they're still there, making the article look like a blog or a collection of links (see WP:NOT, WP:EL). SandyGeorgia (Talk) 19:37, 10 December 2007 (UTC)
      • Yes, I reverted that change because I saw absolutely no point in simply adding an additional click for anyone who wanted to check out those links. They're not sources, but caveats that are clearly explained in the preceding paragraph. Did you even read that paragraph? Did you follow the links? I would really appreciate if you tried not to apply the MoS so darned rigidly all the time. And I find your likening the article to a blog because of a few external links to be pretty darned condescending. Peter Isotalo 09:16, 11 December 2007 (UTC)
  • Sandy, just like using one variety of spelling consistently within an article, I don't see what is so hard about formatting dates consistently within an article, and dispensing with this ugly, problematic linking entanglement. Don't forget that 99% of readers have to put up with all of the disadvantages of the inflexible bright-blue splotches with no benefit. In fact, they're quite likely to see inconsistent formatting in an article, since when the self-chosen few who set their preference edit articles, they don't care what format they add, forgetting that most readers won't see the autoformatting. Tony (talk) 10:01, 10 December 2007 (UTC)
  • Sandy, with all due respect to your efforts to uphold consistency, none of the problems you bring up here have to be solved with wikilinking. It might come as a shock to those favoring this particular solution, but it is actually possible to format dates consistently in the same way you achieve spelling consistency: you simply edit the text like any normal prose without having to resort to template dinkiness and other technocratic methods. As hinted by Tony, Swedish language is now currently displaying the wikilinked ISO-style dates as YYYY-MM-DD to the overwhelming majority of our readers (who logged in). Peter Isotalo 10:50, 10 December 2007 (UTC)

Full dates need to be linked so that readers' preferences will work. Obviously it would be better if another way of correctly doing this could be found, but, until then, what's to argue about? --John (talk) 19:41, 10 December 2007 (UTC)

Unless I'm completely misreading this, I think that the point is that we are not in a position to necessarily accept what the developers provide if it does not suit what our needs are, and that we can in effect reject a developer-provided solution by deprecating its usage. That said, I think it would be major faux pas to pursue this issue very far along those lines. A certain amount of rebellion gets the point across, while an excessive amount will make us look like shitheads. We need to get the "this just really does NOT work" point across in a way that is not antagonistic to developers who have really worked hard to implement what was in fact asked of them. The WP community, not the coders, is at fault on this one. We collectively asked for a simple but in retrospect rather boneheaded fix. If we are now asking for a better one, some contrition is in order on our part. I.e. Please fix this, like thus, because we didn't ask for the right solution the first time. The MW developers didn't screw this up; we did. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 09:10, 11 December 2007 (UTC)
Well, I certainly didn't screw it up, and probably most or all of the developers weren't there at the time this folly was perpetrated. I'm just irritated by the response until recently by Brion Vibber, the developer who seems to have been presiding over the issue (Bug 4582). His original rejoinder was:

[Coupling the linking and autoformatting syntaxes] was done in part to encourage linking of dates so they can be used as useful metadata.(1 December 2006)

Um ... right. Perhaps Brion is taking the issue more seriously now. His latest post is more encouraging:

My personal recommendation would be to remove all date

autoformatting and let a sane manual of style recommend the fairly standard international English form, eg '4 December 2008'. Of course that's too simple

and obvious for Wikipedia. ;) (4 December 2007)

Tony (talk) 10:29, 11 December 2007 (UTC)

Another reason to support user preference/autoformatting of dates is WP:CSB. Having an MOS "consensus" decide on one format (be it American, non-American, ISO 8601, or maybe even NATO DTG) would result in some sort of systemic bias and general WP:NPOV problem. Better to fix the user preferences technology than to waste it. Perhaps it's time to raise this at WP:VP/T, and escalate as necessary at other appropriate places. Dl2000 (talk) 03:04, 12 December 2007 (UTC)
"Systemic bias"? "NPOV"?! We're talking dates, not Gdanzig! The habit of over-linking everything for the sake of a few thousand registered users that actually care about tinkering with their settings is an infinitely more pressing issue than whether a particular editor writes 4 December or December 4. No one of consequence outside of the community gives a damn what we use as long as we're not ambiguious and consistent within the same article.
Peter Isotalo 10:48, 12 December 2007 (UTC)

All dates should be auto-formatted by the software

The absolute best way to do this would be to have the software do the formatting for us, with no wiki tags or busywork.

Autoformat anything that's unambiguously a date ("4 December 2008", "2008-12-04", but not things like "1/2/3"), and then use nowiki tags for the few exceptions, the same way RFC 1234 and ISBN 1029384758 Parameter error in {{isbn}}: Invalid ISBN. are auto-linked, but can be overridden for the rare exceptions (RFC 1234). — Omegatron 01:44, 12 December 2007 (UTC)

Well, certainly not with the current rubbishy output. No way. Tony (talk) 01:58, 12 December 2007 (UTC)
What "rubbishy output" are you talking about? --Tkynerd (talk) 02:51, 12 December 2007 (UTC)
I think Tony's talking about what has been the number one complaint since this debate got started, namely the complusive wikilinking.
Peter Isotalo 10:51, 12 December 2007 (UTC)
I think it's obvious that Omegatron's comment refers to having the software automatically format dates without requiring wikilinking. No "rubbishy output" involved. --Tkynerd (talk) 12:48, 12 December 2007 (UTC)
Obviously. — Omegatron 16:43, 16 December 2007 (UTC)
Yep, that's exactly what we've been getting at. The problem is that the developers don't seem to want to go there, believing they've already provided us with a perfect solution. It will take an active (if gradual) rejection of the provided solution before we get a better one, or we'd already have a better one, because this is hardly a new issue. I think that if MOS begins be making the links optional, and insists on using (in real code, not wiki-autoformatted results) consistent formatting within an article and per WP:ENGVAR, we can later slightly deprecate the autoformatting, then completely deprecate it - let consensus change over time - and then finally get the developers to it right the second time. I doubt they will do it before we've gone through at least most of that process. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 02:20, 15 December 2007 (UTC)
The problem is not that the devs are jerks, it's that when this was previously brought to their attention it was done in an unclear and eventually fairly rude way. Given that this is not a matter of core functionality, and that it was not clearly expressed why this bothered people, they were justified in judging this as a minor bug report. They asked if anyone that disliked the status quo was willing to contribute code; no one stepped up. When one of the devs did play with the date formatter and asked for feedback, he didn't get it. Rather than attempting to bludgeon date formatting to death from MOS and creating a big(ger) ungodly mess, it would probably be a good idea to bring this back to the devs with a clearer explanation and perhaps even some prototype code. That would mean hammering out a single course of action first, though. — Aluvus t/c 03:01, 15 December 2007 (UTC)
The problem was clearly explained to the devs at bugzilla:4582, and they declined to make changes to the software because of the additional mess that would create. Brion, the lead developer, recommended:
My personal recommendation would be to remove all date autoformatting and let a sane manual of style recommend the fairly standard international English form, eg '4 December 2008'. Of course that's too simple and obvious for Wikipedia. ;)
The idea (backed by brion) is to put all dates into either "25 December 2007" format for "December 25, 2007" format, with a consistent format used throughout an article. Once that is done, date wikilinking will no longer be necessary because the dates will be consistent and unambigous. I already wrote a script that will do most of the transition, but we need consensus to use it. —Remember the dot (talk) 03:10, 15 December 2007 (UTC)
Brion Vibber's suggestion was to use one date format (specifically, the "British" format) for the entire project. You may observe on this page what a large fight there is over which is the One True Format. And no, the discussion on the Bugzilla page is anything but clear; it is pulled in several directions at once, with different people putting forward contradictory suggestions. I read that already familiar with what people disliked about the current system, and still found it confusing. It is obvious from reading that page that some of the devs agreed, right from the start, that the current system was problematic; but there was no clear mandate from users to "please do X". That doesn't leave them with a clear way forward. — Aluvus t/c 04:16, 15 December 2007 (UTC)
Right. There are too many conflicting opinions on what is the best way to technically implement user date preferences. By far the simplest way to do it is at least similar to Brion's suggestion: use either the British "25 December 2007" or the American "December 25, 2007", depending on what the subject of the article would use. There is no One True Format, but there are two equally clear and unambiguous formats. If we switch to using those formats almost exclusively, then it would remove the need for date wikilinking. —Remember the dot (talk) 04:25, 15 December 2007 (UTC)
Using a single format is the easiest technical solution (other than doing nothing, which of course is the path of least resistance), but no one has yet explained how it would be the easiest social solution. That there was (and is) so much conflict about how to go about this speaks to the lack of meaningful discussion and consensus-building on this whole morass, not to the actual difficulty or complexity of the problem itself. If the original Bugzilla report had said "please make dates not show up as links", we would not be having this discussion now because people's primary complaint would have been resolved some time ago. But to screw up in reviving this on Bugzilla and then decide to throw out the whole system because fixing it is "too hard" is irrational. — Aluvus t/c 07:07, 15 December 2007 (UTC)
Agree, this does not provide an easy social solution. I personally have no trouble with a British admiral's bio using 25 December 2007, or an American admiral's bio using December 25, 2007, even if autoformatting were not available, but what about Spanish admirals? Picture two Spanish admirals living in the same era, with one bio written by an American and one by a Briton, each using their natural date format. This would look bizarre to a reader comparing the two, unless autoformatting was used. This is another reason for slowing down the drive to kill autoformatting. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Chris the speller (talkcontribs) 18:31, 15 December 2007 (UTC)
We already do just that when deciding whether to use British or American spelling, and it doesn't bother anyone. —Remember the dot (talk) 18:35, 15 December 2007 (UTC)
  • I take this "to screw up in reviving this on Bugzilla" as extremely offensive. Have you bothered to read the representation that was made? It was kept as simple as possible, and in essence said EXACTLY what you claime it didn't. It asked for the date autoformatting and the linking systems to be decoupled. Go read it. How dare you frame all of my hard work, and that of others, and the will of the signatories, as a "screw up". Go screw yourself up.
Now, the fact that such a simple, plain message has been ignored by the developers strongly indicates, as SMcCandlish has said, that we're not going to get a technical solution from them.
Vibber's and others' suggestions that a single format be used throughout is not on. It would be like enforcing US or British English throughout. I'd leave. That is why allowing one format to evolve, consistently, in each article, just as for the variety of English, is, IMV, the only way to go. Tony (talk) 09:03, 15 December 2007 (UTC)
I read the entire discussion several times, which is why I am now telling you why it went as it did. "Decouple the systems" and "don't render dates as links" are very, very different requests. As are "don't render as links when the link has a colon in it", "autoformat all unambiguous dates", "autoformat all dates outside the <blockquote> tag", not to mention "autoformat dates and also manipulate them based on the user's IP". None of these are inherently bad solutions (though the IP thing, while neat, is probably very impractical), but they are very contradictory. Repeatedly, I have seen blame placed on the developers for not caring, or not acting quickly enough, or what have you. But the truth is that they were handed a very ambiguous feature request, couldn't hash out what people really wanted (because the people asking didn't know what they wanted), and ultimately the whole process stalled. This has been presented to us here as proof that virtually any technical solution is infeasible, which is not the case.
Furthermore, I would like to point out that your own emotional attachment to this issue is not helpful. The changes you are seeking to implement would impact the entire project (as well as all projects that use its content) in a substantial way, assuming people outside MOSNUM adhere to them. Such decisions should not be made on the basis that you are pissed at the developers. In your haste to kill a system that you personally don't like, you are pushing us toward a solution that has not been adequately explained or examined, and may be just as bad in the long term. — Aluvus t/c 22:51, 15 December 2007 (UTC)

use either the British "25 December 2007" or the American "December 25, 2007", depending on what the subject of the article would use.

Or use just one of those, and have the software autoformat the display of any instances it sees, as per user preferences, instead of my suggestion of having the software recognize any date format, which the devs seem to think is impossible. — Omegatron 16:49, 16 December 2007 (UTC)

A way forward

I have a suggestion that may help. Let's agree on a date format that is easy for everyone to understand, regardless of nationality, and start using that format exclusively without the confusing wikilinking. I suggest:

"December 25, 2007" or "25 December 2007" (either is fine) for dates that appear in prose, and

"25 Dec 2007" for dates that appear in footnotes.

Let's not muck around with "12-25-2007" versus "25-12-2007" versus "2007-12-25", or ask that editors add brackets for the extremely small number of users who are staunchly opposed to human-readable dates. Let's keep it fully human-readable and as simple as possible. I know that it will take time to transition articles to consistently use human-readable, non-wikilinked dates, but there's no rush, and in the end it will be worth it. —Remember the dot (talk) 19:03, 12 December 2007 (UTC)

If you want to follow one standard, what would be more logical than follow the existing world standard ISO 8601, in the form of 2007-12-25. This is not ambiguous or confusing in any way and quite easily human readable. Furthermore it neither favo(u)rs the US or UK preference. −Woodstone (talk) 20:28, 12 December 2007 (UTC)
Trust me, using the ISO standard can be potentially confusing. Not all countries conform to this standard and I've even heard that this issue has lead to all-out lawsuits between business partners in countries that use different standards when contracts have accidently been breeched. And why on earth would we have have to decide on one standard anyway? Both are completely unambiguous and even less linguistically "political" than "flavour" vs "flavor". Claiming that it actually matters to readers if we place the date before or after the month is pretty much setting up the battle over an issue that has absolutely no encyclopedic consequence.
Peter Isotalo 20:50, 12 December 2007 (UTC)
The logical thing to do is to pick the date format that is the easiest for the average reader to understand. "2007-12-25" is not as intuitive as "25 December 2007". That's not to say that "2007-12-25" is a not good date format for some applications (such as computing), but it's not the most human-friendly format. —Remember the dot (talk) 22:53, 12 December 2007 (UTC)
I like that idea. I think we could initially change the guidelines to either allow an unlinked but clearly unambiguous format, such as the ones you proposed with the month spelled out, or wikilinked dates as they appear today. An article should of course use a consistent format throughout, but it would allow a non-linked format for those who find the links distracting. henriktalk 22:56, 12 December 2007 (UTC)

Does anyone actually use YYYY-DD-MM? And what would that date system be called? I can imagine DD-MM-YYYY being confused with MM-DD-YYYY but I personally don't know anyone who uses YYYY-DD-MM, which could possibly be confused with YYYY-MM-DD. –panda (talk) 22:07, 12 December 2007 (UTC)

The idea I suggested is to completely sidestep the issue by spelling out the name of the month, thus making it very clear which part of the date is the day, which part is the month, and which part is the year. I think that this is the simplest solution and the one that is most likely to take hold. Changes to the software would make it hard to see which dates will be autoformatted and which will not, and thus will greatly compound the problem of people not bothering to wikilink the dates. But if we adopt a simple, common date formatting policy, we wouldn't have to wikilink the dates or use any other kind of special wikiformatting. —Remember the dot (talk) 22:26, 12 December 2007 (UTC)
I was just asking a general question, that's a little off-topic, because Peter brought up in Talk:Swedish language#Date autoformatting is sick and not being fixed that we should use unambiguous dates and he implied that ISO dates were ambiguous. So I was just trying to figure out what can be confused with the ISO format (YYYY-MM-DD). I've probably posted this in the wrong place but I don't know where it should go. –panda (talk) 22:38, 12 December 2007 (UTC)
The ISO "2007-12-25" style is unfamiliar to most readers, which may lead to confusion. I would like a system that is as clear as possible. "25 Dec 2007" would be a good choice for an abbreviated date format, and "December 25, 2007" is a good choice for dates in prose. Both of these are very clear and easy to understand, as opposed to the unfamiliar and potentially confusing "2007-12-25".
In other words, it's not a question of ambiguity per se, but rather a question of being in a familiar format that is easy for the reader to understand. —Remember the dot (talk) 22:50, 12 December 2007 (UTC)
The reality is that any article that has a British, Australian, etc. subject matter generally uses the british date format, "25 December 2007" in the source text. See John Major for example. You aren't going to be able to convince people to change this; like spelling variants, this is something that's deeply ingrained in national culture. It's really not worth fighting. Also, bear in mind that something like [[2007-12-25]] results in Wikilinks being made to the appropriate year and day articles... if the reader is confused, they can click on it. -/- Warren 23:48, 12 December 2007 (UTC)
Concur with Warren. Also oppose "25 Dec 2007", both because it is missing the dot in the abbreviation and more importantly because we shouldn't abbreviate just for the heck of it. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 00:31, 13 December 2007 (UTC)
The goal is to be clear enough that no user has to follow date wikilinks to figure out what the date is. About the "25 Dec 2007" format: that was just a suggestion, and if we'd like to avoid using it then that's fine. I'll respond to the American vs. British date formatting issue below. —Remember the dot (talk) 01:44, 13 December 2007 (UTC)
  • It's like enforcing US or UK spelling throughout, rather than consistently within an article. Why not do the same for date formatting? an article uses either one or the other consistently, except in direct quotations. So the same rules apply (see MOS on variants of English, except that connections with a country might be a little looser; but I should imagine that a clearly US-related article would use the most common date formatting in that country, for example). What could be simpler, more consistent with existing practices, and less likely to spark internecine disputes? Tony (talk) 00:43, 13 December 2007 (UTC)
Yes, that's a good point. This suggestion fits perfectly into existing guidelines for both dates and spelling: use "December 25, 2007" for articles that use American spelling and "25 December 2007" for articles that use British spelling. The only difference is that other date formats, such as "12-25-2007" or "25-12-2007" should be avoided, and as long as we avoid those harder-to-understand formats no date wikilinking should be necessary. —Remember the dot (talk) 01:44, 13 December 2007 (UTC)
This ignores the fact that many American readers don't want to see 25 December 2007, and many British readers don't want to see December 25, 2007. Americans don't just read American articless, and the British don't just read British articles. Even if they did, there are articles pertaining to other countries where the format is whatever the first editor chose, so plenty of readers will be unhappy. The autoformatting was developed to solve these problems, and it works in the vast majority of cases, or did until the recent missionary activity by Tony, Lightmouse, and a few pals. Chris the speller (talk) 02:22, 13 December 2007 (UTC)
This really needs to get fixed on the developer side. I think we'll see a big revolt if MOS tries to suddenly deprecate the wikilinking/formatting of full dates. We need a replacement methodology in place. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 03:04, 13 December 2007 (UTC)
How many Americans do you think have such of a problem understanding "25 December 2007" that they would use preferences to force it into "December 25, 2007"? How many British would have a problem with "December 25, 2007"? English speakers have no problem understanding spelling variations, and no problem understanding this kind of date variation either. For this reason, few of those who are regularly logged in to Wikipedia actually use the date preferences.
And after date preferences are turned on, it creates a disconnect between what date-preference editors see and what other users see. For example, say an American editor is set to use American date preferences and they type "December 25, 2007" into an article that uses British spelling. The American might not care that the date is typed in different format because to them, all the dates are forced into American format. But anonymous users and users without the date preference set would see inconsistent date formatting. This is only one of the many reasons why date formatting does more harm than good. —Remember the dot (talk) 03:17, 13 December 2007 (UTC)
Pay attention! I did not say that Americans are dullards unable to understand 25 December 2007, I said that they don't want to see dates in that format. I think that hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, prefer to see dates in the format that they're used to, and a great many use the preference settings to achieve that. Can you prove me wrong? Not for a second do I buy the ridiculously low estimates that Tony and his followers repeatedly claim for utilization of this feature. Even if it were a paltry 100 readers, I don't think that 3 or 4 zealots have any right to take that feature away from 100 readers that are content with it. And your last argument has no teeth; I use the date preference setting for American-style dates, but I manage to fix and clean up mixed-format dates and nonstandard dates in articles of both flavors. Chris the speller (talk) 04:12, 13 December 2007 (UTC)
I'm glad that you can clean up mixed-format dates even when using date preferences. Still, I think that there may be users who are not so adept. You're right; that's a fairly minor point.
My question is: is the date preference feature, used by a minority of users, enough of a benefit to outweigh the overlinking, the clogged "What links here" pages for articles like 2007, the confusion of new editors, and the extra time spent making sure that dates are wikilinked? The majority of editors are doing a rather large amount of work compared to the benefit that the minority receives. If we stopped using confusing date formats like "12-11-2007" then we could stop wikilinking (saving a lot of time, effort, and confusion) without significantly impacting the reader's experience or ability to understand the encyclopedia. —Remember the dot (talk) 04:44, 13 December 2007 (UTC)
  • (Outdent) Oh really, Chris, why, then, hasn't there been open rebellion by Americans over the autoformatting of the dates we all see by far the most often: in our signatures? They're all in the British/Australian/Irish/NZ/South African format. I'm sure most North Americans haven't even noticed. And to take your argument to its logical conclusion, British readers would take objection to US spelling in WP. We have all happily accepted the varieties-of-English thing, which—aside from a few silly attempts to mass convert articles to different/inappropriate varieties—seems to work just fine, with consistency-boundaries around each article and intelligent rules about country-relatedness and not arbitrarily changing the variety once established. Now give me one good reason that comfortably reading "behavior" if you're British, or "behaviour" if you're Canadian, is in some different category from reading "23 November 1927" or "November 25, 1927" if you're from the other planet. It's just so trivial. Both formats are perfectly—effortlessly—comprehended by all English speakers. Who cares?
  • But what I do care about is:
  1. the ugly blue splotches,
  2. the inflexibility,
  3. the cluttering of wiki-edit pages with square brackets,
  4. the unthinking spill-over into the linking of non-autoformatted chronological items (the 1990s),
  5. the fact that almost ALL readers of WP have to endure significant inconsistencies in formatting within articles, because they're covered up by the autoformatting, and we don't bother to fix them in the blind belief that they're ironed by autoformatting. They're not. What must appear very sloppy editing practices are exposed for all to see, and WPians are oblivious to it. At least that aspect would be cleaned up if an article is de-autoformatted. In relation to this, User talk:SandyGeorgia has just written on her talk page: "... with all the cleanup I've done at FAC and FAR, I can tell that with the exception of the few articles that are written largely by a single editor using a single style, most articles are a mish-mash mess of different formats added by different editors....".
  • Now, let's take an example. Which would you rather read below? US spelling is used, so ... we'll just use US formatting for the full dates. Non-North-Americans, please get out your magnifying glasses and your calculators: take great care translating month and day: it's hard, so WP provides tables and equations to assist you in working it out.

Poe traveled to West Point and matriculated as a cadet on July 1, 1830. In October 1830, John Allan married his second wife, Louisa Patterson. Poe soon decided to leave West Point by purposely getting court-martialed. On February 8, 1831, he was tried for gross neglect of duty and disobedience of orders.

  • or this:

Poe traveled to West Point and matriculated as a cadet on July 1, 1830. In October 1830, John Allan married his second wife, Louisa Patterson. Poe soon decided to leave West Point by purposely getting court-martialed. On February 8, 1831, he was tried for gross neglect of duty and disobedience of order.

  • Allowing people not to autoformat dates (since, let's face it, there's zilch chance it will be fixed for some time) is entirely reasonable and wouldn't impose obligations on developers to redo the citation templates: leave them as they are in the reference lists at the bottom of articles, at least for the moment. And I'm not suggesting a mass conversion; just a dropping of the insistence on autoformatting. Tony (talk) 13:23, 13 December 2007 (UTC)
I agree with Remember the dot/Tony. Dates should be treated like words that are spelled differently in American/British English. Use British English in British articles (colour/25 December 2007) and American English in American articles (color/December 25, 2007) . It works for prose and it will work for dates. Dates like 2007-12-25 should not be used because they can be confusing and not instantly comprehensible (e.g 1886-2-4, 1990-12-11, 1982-05-04 versus 4 February 1886, December 11, 1990) as months and days are not always clearly distinguishable. This way, we don't need auto formatting. One thing is clear, dates should not be linked. Kameejl (Talk) 14:17, 13 December 2007 (UTC)
I cannot comprehend how anyone could see a risk of interpreting 1886-2-4 to be anything else than the second month. That format (even though it only partially conforms to the standard) is never used to mean the fourth month anywhere. The ISO standard also specifies that the incomplete date "October 1830" from the example above should be written 1830-10, so that the quote would read consistently as:

Poe traveled to West Point and matriculated as a cadet on 1830-07-01. In 1830-10, John Allan married his second wife, Louisa Patterson. Poe soon decided to leave West Point by purposely getting court-martialed. On 1831-02-08, he was tried for gross neglect of duty and disobedience of order.

Woodstone (talk) 14:54, 13 December 2007 (UTC)
The problem with the ISO standard, other than the unattractiveness, is that readers may not recognize a month-year combination as such. "December 1910" is perfectly plain to everyone. If we were to use "1910-12" instead, how many readers would interpret this as the years 1910 through 1912? Yes, you should know it's not a date range by my use of a hyphen instead of an en dash, but that's far from common knowledge and I don't expect it from the average reader. Pagrashtak 15:44, 13 December 2007 (UTC)
Its probably a bigger issue that should be discussed just here, but not linking dates, and having a common style within articles does seem like a reasonable way to go until a 'better' way of achieving auto formatting can be programmed into the media-wiki software. --Neo (talk) 14:30, 13 December 2007 (UTC)
Woodstone, it's not as straight forward as you might think. Some countries use MM-DD-YYYY (USA) and some others use DD-MM-YYYY (Western Europe). What would you think of 10-03-1990, or 1990-10-03 if you'd have no knowledge of ISO 8601? What would you think of March 10, 1990, or 3 October 1990 if you'd have no knowledge of ISO 8601? Kameejl (Talk) 22:53, 13 December 2007 (UTC)
That I'm well aware of. But no-one uses YYYY-DD-MM. That's why 2001-02-03 is never confusing, even if you don't know ISO 8601. −Woodstone (talk) 23:03, 13 December 2007 (UTC)
If you don't know ISO 8601 then you don't know that nobody uses YYYY-DD-MM. If you don't know ISO 8601, you look at a date in that format and think "I have never seen a date in this format in my life, and I do not know what it means." TomTheHand (talk) 23:05, 13 December 2007 (UTC)
Yes, readers can figure out what 2001-02-03 means, but "3 February 2001" or "February 3, 2001" is more natural to them. We're trying to make this as easy as possible for the readers. —Remember the dot (talk) 02:23, 14 December 2007 (UTC)

It's important not to underestimate the brouhaha that may result in the community over a simple change to date formatting (once a decision is reached here), and there's the additional issue of the inconsistent mess across the cite templates and how they handle dates. We should bring aboard some bot programmers, or at least ask someone like Gimmetrow for an opinion. I'm not fond of the idea ... "25 Dec 2007" would be a good choice for an abbreviated date format, and "December 25, 2007" for prose ... it introduces two contradictory formats in one article, and may just bug and confuse people. I hate the ISO format (just my 2 cents); it's ugly in prose and I always have to stop and think whether Venezuelan articles might get it wrong, and if you leave off the zero it doesn't format, and so on. I do think some editors on either side of the pond will object to being forced to write dates "the other way", so I like Tony's idea of using dates just as we use varieties of English; each article is either British or America throughout. Remove the linking, expect that each article uses one format consistently, either December 25, 2007 or 25 December 2007, in prose and footnotes alike. I think we could get acceptance for this, but it would need to be carefully presented, as everyone has an opinion. Most of our articles are a mish-mash, so editors not logged in to Wiki are seeing a jumbled mess. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 04:36, 14 December 2007 (UTC)

For the sake of argument, let's just talk about what will be the best solution here, and then ask for broader community input. After the above discussion, I totally agree that each article should use the same formatting in prose as it does in footnotes. For example, if it uses "December 25, 2007" in the prose, then the footnotes should follow the same convention, no abbreviation.
I am currently developing a JavaScript tool to assist in the transition. My vision is to have two simple buttons: "Reformat dates in American style" and "Reformat dates in British style". The editor would then click the button, the wikilinked dates would be reformatted, and the wikilinking would be removed. —Remember the dot (talk) 05:26, 14 December 2007 (UTC)
I just want to be clear what exactly the proposal is for. Is it only about choosing either AmE or BrE style dates or is it about choosing either AmE or BrE for an entire article? For example, there is an article where the text is written in AmE but the dates are in BrE. –panda (talk) 15:18, 14 December 2007 (UTC)
My proposal, which seems to have at least some support here, is to use a date formatting that is consistent with the variety of English used in the article, dispensing with the autoformatting schmuck and in the process ensuring that 99% of WP's readers, who have no set format in their preferences, are not faced with sloppy inconsistencies that are largely concealed from WPs by their rather exclusive autoformatting system. It's very simple and consistent with other principles of WP. Tony (talk) 15:41, 14 December 2007 (UTC)
While I think the proposal is a good idea, there is no "international" or ISO English so the proposal would preclude using the ISO date format in all articles. I personally like ISO dates since they're unambiguous (which is not the same as unfamiliar) and short, using the least amount of space when compared with AmE or BrE dates, which is a plus in places like the references. They're also used quite widely in WP, primarily in references. Also, as another editor pointed out, if anyone is not sure what the date means (as long as they are linked), they can always click on the link and find out. If you can fit ISO style dates in there somewhere, then the proposal would be even better. –panda (talk) 17:00, 14 December 2007 (UTC)
I like the ISO format too in many cases, but I think that the best solution here is to just spell everything out. The ISO format can still be used in some cases per the existing guidelines, but in prose and footnotes everything should just be spelled out for maximum clarity. The added space we take up doing spelling things out is a downside, but the added clarity and consistency makes up for it. —Remember the dot (talk) 17:46, 14 December 2007 (UTC)

If this is decided to go forward, I strongly suggest that we set up templates to do this, instead of spelling it out. {{dam|2007|12|11}} to give American format w/o wikilinks, {{dbr|2007|12|11}} for british no wikilink, {{dsh|2007|12|11}} for short no wikilinks, and each with an additional |l parameter to include wikilinks for day and year. The reasoning four-fold:

  1. A bot should be able to easily move any existing correct date to one of these formats (two sweeps, first for all dates, second to move to the dsh for any dates within templates).
  2. We gain more control when we wikilink. Yes, dates that should be wikilinked for sure can be written to take advantage of standard user-prefs, but then you're going to have possibly two different forms on the page.
  3. Say someone converts dates in an article in good faith in article to American form, but its realized the article should really be in British form. Search and replace of "dam" for "dbr" is very easy to do, and vice versa
  4. If we ever resolve the bugzilla issue such that auto-wikilinking of user-pref formatted dates can be disabled, we can repurpose the templates to handle those cases without requiring a large project-wide bot changeover. (One is still needed at the start, but this also prevents one at the backend should the problem be resolved.

Just an idea... (and while I'd like the template names to be shorted, "db" is already in use). --MASEM 17:26, 14 December 2007 (UTC)

It's a good idea, but it's still overly complex. It makes wikitext even harder to understand, and many users are just going to not bother with the template. It also eliminates only one disadvantage of wikilinking: inconsistent formatting, and the JavaScript tool I'm working on will be able to fix that too (using regular expressions), and more easily.
A bot to force dates into a particular format is not a good idea because there are always things that shouldn't be reformatted, such as dates in quotes. —Remember the dot (talk) 17:46, 14 December 2007 (UTC)
Or have the software autoformat ISO dates as per user preferences wherever it finds them, and use them anywhere autoformatting is desired, as a more limited implementation of my autoformatting request. — Omegatron 16:52, 16 December 2007 (UTC)
I've just waded through this lot. I can see only one sensible solution, which is to follow Tony's suggestion: follow the lead of the first main contributor. That principle seems to work well with spelling, so why not with dates? Thunderbird2 (talk) 17:49, 14 December 2007 (UTC)
I too have to concur with Tony, but I warn that we'd better do this more formally, with an RfC and advertising the proposed change more broadly, or people are going to completely flip out. Also want to echo who ever's comment it was that the numeric style is a no-go, because it is not readily understood by everyone, and the ambiguity of something like 2007-08 vs. 2007–08 simply isn't acceptable. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 01:20, 15 December 2007 (UTC)
Problem, sorry, I just noticed this comment from Tony: My proposal, which seems to have at least some support here, is to use a date formatting that is consistent with the variety of English used in the article, ... Venezuela uses American English and British dates; date formatting and variety of English will not always be the same. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 01:22, 15 December 2007 (UTC)
Thanks for pointing that out. We can clarify the guideline to say to use British dates for articles related to countries that use British dates, and American dates for articles related to countries that use American dates.
So does it work to simply remove "English-speaking" from the current wording ("Articles on topics with strong ties to a particular English-speaking nation should generally use the more common date format for that nation.")? Tony (talk) 01:50, 15 December 2007 (UTC)
Incidentally, my script to automatically reformat dates now supports wikilinked ISO-format dates, so we now have an easy way to make a (gradual) switchover. We should agree on how to rephrase the guideline, and then get an RfC started to get broader community input. —Remember the dot (talk) 01:29, 15 December 2007 (UTC)

Transitional script now available

I've put together a script that can assist in the transition to unlinked but consistently formatted dates. Try adding the following to your monobook.js:

importScript('User:Remember the dot/Date format unifier.js')

When editing a page, this script adds two new items to the toolbox, "Format dates American style" and "Format dates British style". It will then scan the page for wikilinked dates of either style, and reformat them in the target style without the confusing wikilinking. It does not yet handle ISO-format dates.

If needed, the tool could be modified fairly easily to reformat unlinked dates. However, I do not want the tool doing this by default due to dates in quotes etc.

What do you think? —Remember the dot (talk) 22:17, 14 December 2007 (UTC)

Don't do this while editing the page; do it after the page has been rendered, for display only. Identify dates in plain text and reformat them. Use an unambiguous format for all dates if it's too difficult to make it recognize general cases. — Omegatron 16:54, 16 December 2007 (UTC)

By the way, the script has only been tested on Firefox 2, though it should also work on Internet Explorer 7 and Opera. —Remember the dot (talk) 22:38, 14 December 2007 (UTC)

Your script didn't seem to work for me. Tested on Chairman of the Central Executive Committee of the All-Russian Congress of Soviets and it didn't change any format, only delinked one repeated date. Ultimately this problem should be addressed the same as how PMID 123456780 and ISBN 0-905715-24-1 work. (I thought ISO did the same thing, but apparently not?) Gimmetrow 00:28, 16 December 2007 (UTC)
Ah. It doesn't handle [[December 25]] [[2007]]. It's expecting dates in the format [[December 25]], [[2007]] (note the comma separator). I can fix this if you'd like. —Remember the dot (talk) 01:59, 16 December 2007 (UTC)
You probably should, because date prefs insert the comma and many editors type dates without them. (Yes, it's not ideal for non-logged-in editors...) Gimmetrow 02:15, 16 December 2007 (UTC)
Fixed. Please let me know if you find any other problems with the script. I should have an ISO-only (wikilinked or not) script available shortly. —Remember the dot (talk) 05:17, 16 December 2007 (UTC)
  • Date autoformatting hides inconsistency in the raw dates for logged-in editors. Changing the entire autoformatting system isn't going to happen overnight, but it should be within reason to have the raw dates in an article formatted consistently. That's what I thought your script would do, but apparently it also delinks. Since you've already done this work, could you have this (or another) script keep the date links but format to US or UK style? Gimmetrow 15:24, 16 December 2007 (UTC)

Possibly stupid question (template mechanics)

I know just enough about how templates work on WP to be dangerous in the sense that I'm trying to think that if we can figure this out to make a template {{d|2007-12-14}} and {{dl|2007-12-14}} to produce unlinked but user-pref formatted dates and linked, user-pref formatted dates, respectively (those don't have to be the template names of course). Given that I'm sure someone's looked at this before via templates, I figure I may be reasking an earlier question but it can't hurt. Looking at the Mediawiki help, the extensions seem to be there: we can assign a value to a variable, we can use string manipulation to strip out parts of that text, and we can format a date per user-specifications. It would seem to be that it should be possible to create the standard wiki-linked date from #date and then process it to remove the wikilinks if these aren't desired.

Again, I know the issue has been brought up before at WP:Date Debate though I haven't seen anything that outlines technically why it cannot be done by templates, so I'm sure more experienced eyes have tried to work this possibility out. Is it because some of those MediaWiki extensions are not enabled in WP or something I'm missing in the template mechanics? --

I think it's possible (I can see a way to do it), but I don't think it's worth the hassle. Once we eliminate the confusing date formats there shouldn't be much of a need to reformat dates at all. As soon as we start talking about a more complicated solution then it's headaches all over again. —Remember the dot (talk) 21:32, 13 December 2007 (UTC)
I played with this yesterday, and yes, there's no way to do it using templates as WP is currently configured (per Special:Version). The various MediaWiki extensions that allow for string manipulation are not installed, and there's no equivalent aspect from any of the other included extensions. #time gets us to the point of [[2007]] [[December 14]] (in user-pref date format) but I can't remove the square brackets without additional functions. --MASEM 15:26, 14 December 2007 (UTC)

The #time m:ParserFunction doesn't produce wikilinked code: 20 January 2018 vs. January 20, 2018. Gimmetrow 01:20, 16 December 2007 (UTC)

Unfortunately (for what I was trying to do) #time doesn't adjust for user date prefs; however if you give the format code, say [[d F]] [[Y]] then it gives wikilinked code, when then the auto date formmatting steps in and adjusts it. --MASEM 01:25, 16 December 2007 (UTC)
Is the thought to make a template which formats dates according to prefs? If it were possible to have a user-defined string available as a Magic Word, you could do something like {{#time: {{USERDATEPREF|d F Y}}|September 11, 2001}}. But this seems like a roundabout way to deal with this problem. And, #time only works for 1970 to 2038. Gimmetrow 01:48, 16 December 2007 (UTC)
Yet another piece of javascript code could probably remove the links for those who want less blue text. Gimmetrow 01:56, 16 December 2007 (UTC)

Added text

Before someone bites my head off for adding text to this guideline, I'd like to explain myself. I added text to state that date formatting should be consistent throughout an article's prose, and should generally follow the nationality of the subject. This is what we do already, the only difference is that now it's explicitly stated in the guideline. I did not remove the autolinking requirement or say that ISO dates are forbidden. —Remember the dot (talk) 22:17, 16 December 2007 (UTC)

BC/AD vs. BCE/CE dating style

Propose changing the manual of style to add the following:

On articles on specifically Christian subjects not shared with other religions (e.g. Jesus, Chrism, Old Testament), the BC/AD dating system may be used. On articles on specifically on non-Christian religions or subjects shared with multiple religions (e.g. Ten Commandments, Hebrew Bible, Pharisees), the BCE/CE dating system is preferred.

Best, --Shirahadasha (talk) 21:23, 10 December 2007 (UTC)

This has been proposed before. The problem is that BC/AD is used secularly, very widely so. It was even (and occasionally still is!) used in scientific contexts until the rather recent invention of the BCE/CE nomenclature. I vastly prefer BCE/CE, for the same reasons it was invented (i.e. to reduce the pushing of a religious point of view), but I don't always get my way here. <sigh> — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 01:21, 11 December 2007 (UTC)
I don't think that our fists have healed completely from the last time someone proposed changing this. It is well written at the moment and we should leave well enough alone. —MJCdetroit (talk) 04:32, 11 December 2007 (UTC)
Strongly concur, on a WP:NOT#BATTLEGROUND basis, even if I would like to see it settled out some day. I firmly predict, and would even lay real money on it, that 5 years from now WP will pretty consistently use the BCE/CE system, but we're just not there yet. I take a Bene Gesserit kind of long view on things like this. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 09:00, 11 December 2007 (UTC)
I agree too. It's not worth the fight. Tony (talk) 10:32, 11 December 2007 (UTC)
I have no wish to spark debate over the merits of either notation, but I must say that I get the feeling that this is a rather uniquely American controversy. To someone who has been raised in a thoroughly secular environment, the suggestion that the modern use of BC/AD instead of BCE/CE would somehow constitute a religious statement (let alone a POV) is highly exaggerated.
Peter Isotalo 13:44, 11 December 2007 (UTC)
The proposal does not apply to "thoroughly secular" contexts. It applies specifically to religious contexts where connotations and sensibilities are different and which can use specialized language to reflect this. As an analogy, in an ordinary article there might be no need to be concerned that a statement about charm or flavor would be interpreted as a statement about physics. No doubt a person from a nonscientific environment would similarly think the idea of confusion exaggerated if not silly, and in most article contexts such concern would be inappropriate. But in physics articles this is indeed possible, and a non-physicist can't really tell when physicists would infer a physical meaning and when they wouldn't. Many words have both ordinary and specialized meanings. Caution is appropriate to take into account otherwise ordinary words' specialized meanings in a field for purposes of articles on subjects in that field. Religion is no different from physics in this regard. The proposal is limited to specifically religious subjects. Best, --Shirahadasha (talk) 18:21, 12 December 2007 (UTC)
Note: The proposal is limited to articles specifically on the subject of religion. Articles on secular subjects remain unaffected. In the specific context of articles on Judaism or Islam, BC/AD dating is often perceived as a religious statement. Best, --Shirahadasha (talk) 14:06, 11 December 2007 (UTC)

Use of terminology like 2nd Century AD is incorrect. AD means something like "Year of the Lord", so how can you have 2nd Century in the Year of the Lord?. Periods like 2nd Century need neither AD nor CE, they stand on their own without clarification. (talk) 21:58, 9 January 2008 (UTC)

Modified proposal

Given the feedback so far, how about we qualify the exception to make clear it is limited to specifically religious subjects:

Exception limited to articles specifically on religious subjects: On articles on specifically Christian subjects not shared with other religions (e.g. Jesus, Chrism, Old Testament), the BC/AD dating system may be used. On articles on specifically on non-Christian religious subjects or subjects shared with multiple religions (e.g. Mohammed, Ten Commandments, Maimonides, Pharisees), the BCE/CE dating system is preferred.

Best, --Shirahadasha (talk) 18:08, 12 December 2007 (UTC)

  • Oppose: Sorry, I know you mean well, but I still oppose. If you want to change format from BC/AD to BCE/CE bring it up on the individual talk page, gain consensus and do so. I would think that you would not have any problem doing so on an article about something Jewish or Islamic in nature. —MJCdetroit (talk) 21:05, 12 December 2007 (UTC)
  • Neutral Weak support, prefer broader solution: I like this in theory, as far as it goes, but fear that in practice it will just big a big battle. I'd rather see us settle on BCE/CE across the board, including for Christian topics, because the consistency would be more important than the POV of keeping Christians who like BC/AD happy. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 00:50, 13 December 2007 (UTC)
  • Weak support. I'm actually with SMcCandlish on this. I think Wikipedia should take a stand. It's enough that Christian partisans have calibrated the world's universal dating system at 0 = their God's alleged year of birth. Why can't they be happy with that? Why also rub it in, with a reference to their Christ in dates? Sometimes the obvious needs to be stated, so here goes: The world is large and various, guys. Live with it, and allow the language to be secular and tolerant of difference, by adopting a uniform non-religious system for dates. But in practice we'll never succeed with this one; hence my weak support for the alternative proposal – which also will not succeed.– Noetica♬♩Talk 03:23, 13 December 2007 (UTC)
  • Comment if you look at the Jesus page it says that he was born between 7 and 2 BC where 0 BC is when he was born.... Given this shouldn't all articles especially religious ones use BCE/CE? Otherwise we should have two sets of dates of set by 7-2 years. Shniken1 (talk) 03:55, 13 December 2007 (UTC)
I can't fully parse your first sentence, but anyway most Christians who are even aware of the fact that most Biblical scholars argue for a BC date for Jesus's birth, simply do not believe it. It's a faith matter. AD one starts right after the birth of Jesus, and that's just that. The fact that they're probably factually wrong isn't going to stop them from insisting on BC/AD dates for Christian and other topics. That's one reason I say MoS should just insist on BCE/CE dates and have done with it, because the types who will demand BC/AD dates on a religion basis will insist upon it more generally as "right". — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 02:12, 15 December 2007 (UTC)
  • Weak Oppose - if this is just an issue for religious based articles then surely it can be left to relevant religious wiki-projects to develop their own guidelines on the subject. --Neo (talk) 14:24, 13 December 2007 (UTC)
Both WP:WikiProject Judaism and WP:WikiProject Islam had done this. It had been argued that religion wikiprojects don't have the authority to establish dating conditions different from the manual of style with its first-to-edit rule. One very simple compromise would be to make clear that Wikiprojects can have a different rule. Best, --Shirahadasha (talk) 22:17, 13 December 2007 (UTC)
It should not be phrased in terms of WikiProjects; too many WPPs already have inflated ideas of their importance and supremacy over "mere" editors, and this really has to stop. It should be phrased in terms of editorial consensus at the article to which it would apply. In most cases, where a WikiProject is genuinely active and isn't acting like an exclusive private club, what the WikiProject wants and what the editors of in-scope articles want, regardles off their project participation, will align. Where they do not align, the MoS sure as heck should not be giving the project some kind of authoritative edit that it simply doesn't have under policy. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 02:12, 15 December 2007 (UTC)
  • Oppose. CE and BCE are not widely understood in Britain. They are best avoided. --Zundark (talk) 16:36, 13 December 2007 (UTC)
  • Weak support – You don’t need the first sentence, perhaps: “In articles on religious subjects not exclusive to Christianism the common era dating system is preferred.”
I further propose to rename – for all Wikipedian purposes – the weekdays except for Monday and Sunday, and (at least) the months January, March, May and June, because all of them are not religiously neutral. Christoph Päper (talk) 19:37, 13 December 2007 (UTC)
I am not suggesting that Wikipedia take its own advocacy position against common usage based on abstract principle and would not recommend doing so. I am only suggesting addressing actual existing perceptions and issues. There may possibly be articles where references to the Sun's day or the Moon's day (or for that matter Tyr's Woden's, Thor's, Fria's or Saturn's days) might be taken religiously as well. But we don't have to deal with it unless it comes up. Best, --Shirahadasha (talk) 22:17, 13 December 2007 (UTC)
I’ve got an issue with being called German (or Allemand, Niemcy etc.) instead of deutsch, no speaker of English cares about my feelings.
Yes, you have to deal with the implications of your proposal. What better time than now? Christoph Päper (talk) 03:17, 14 December 2007 (UTC)
This is getting a bit silly. Hardly anyone knows the actual origin of our weekday names, the religions they derived from died centuries ago (yeah, yeah, I know about Neopaganism), and they don't have anything to do with a world in which radical Christianity is trying to prevent the teaching of science in schools, and radical Muslims are blowing up people all over the place on the basis of them being Christians. More to the point, no such system of replacement weekday names is accepted, which is not the case for the BCE/CE replacement for the BC/AD system. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 02:12, 15 December 2007 (UTC)
  • Oppose. It's not our job to advocate. Given the vitriol this topic generates, I'm rather inclined to avoid the terms altogether. Feezo (Talk) 00:29, 15 December 2007 (UTC)
Huh? How would propose to talk about BC/BCE dates then? — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 02:12, 15 December 2007 (UTC)
I'm saying it's not worth the drama. Arbcom's ruling is fine. Feezo (Talk) 02:57, 15 December 2007 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Tony (talk) 06:35, 19 December 2007 (UTC)
What is the official policy on this(if one exists) & where can I find it? <Fennessy/talk> 19:07, 21 December 2007 (UTC)
  • Oppose. The Jesus article is not specifically Christian, nor even specifically religious. Using only BC & AD on the Jesus article would mean wikipedia takes the position that it is OK in the Jesus article to say Jesus really has a uniquely legitimate claim to being called both Lord & Saviour/Messiah/Christ. Someday, not too many years from now, CE/BCE will be the standard (unless some other standard/abbreviation that currently has practically zer0 support comes along to replace CE/BCE) --JimWae (talk) 19:54, 22 December 2007 (UTC)
    • One thing that would help would be if there were some HTML markup that could become part of user preferences. This would not settle the issue for those without preferences set, but it might provide an opportunity for light rather than heat on the topic. Perhaps Jimbo will someday decide which would be the default for wikipedia for those without preferences set, or he could just let editors incessantly hash it out. One thing the HTML markup would need to recognize is the use of both [AD/CE]on some pages --JimWae (talk) 04:11, 24 December 2007 (UTC)

Sorry Jim but you're talking utter rubbish in your first point above. On your second point - good idea, but this was suggested ages ago and for some reason it was decided not to implement the suggestion. (talk) 21:55, 9 January 2008 (UTC)

Proposed MOSNUM text for optional autoformatting

Dear colleagues, pursuant to the discussions above, I propose the following replacement of the opening text (i.e., the five bullet points and table) in MOSNUM's Dates section; this incorporates and thus would replace MOSNUM's Autoformatting and linking section. For the subsection on the non-autoformatted display of dates, I've drawn heavilyl on MOS's Varieties of English section. In this respect, the proposal is merely the logical extension of that long-standing policy to dates.

Here's the proposal, for which I seek your feedback.

Tony (talk) 00:09, 15 December 2007 (UTC)

  • Therefore, if autoformatting is used, the raw formatting within the autoformatting syntax must be consistent throughout the main text of each article.
do we want to say that the raw formatting should be consistent in either case (autoformatting used or not used)? Also, can you emphasize somewhere that this include prose (text) as well as footnotes/references? SandyGeorgia (Talk) 00:38, 15 December 2007 (UTC)
Sandy, the need for within-article consistency is stated in both "Autoformatting" and "Without autoformatting" subsections. I will add a point about footnotes and references now. I presume that it won't suddenly require work by developers, yes? Tony (talk) 01:36, 15 December 2007 (UTC)
This proposal really don't solve anything...editors are still going to debate whether or not articles should use wikilinking. We really need to just come out and say that editors should be using unambiguous, unlinked dates. As I mentioned above, I already developed a JavaScript tool to assist in the transition, so editors can quickly and easily get dates into the new format. —Remember the dot (talk) 00:44, 15 December 2007 (UTC)
Remember the dot: I agree with your goal, but politics is the art of the possible, and I think that banning autoformatting is going to upset a lot of people, who'll end up derailing any change. The proposal allows your bot to work (although it would be diplomatic first to ask contributors if you think they may be sensitive about it). Banning autoformatting immediately makes just about every article in breach of MOS and will require time and application to return to compliance. It's too dramatic.
On the contrary, I'd be willing to insert a "provided there is consensus on the talk page" clause if people are going to object to the current optional proposal. But I'd rather do that only if it's a deal-breaker. That's how we achieved change WRT the use of unconverted metrics in scientific articles. Tony (talk) 01:36, 15 December 2007 (UTC)
  • The use of WikiMedia's date autoformatting system for full dates, and days and months, is optional.
I want to put my strong opposition to this entire proposal on record. Looking through the debate above, I think I'm correct in saying that none of the proponents of change have been editing (at least under their current account names) much before mid-2005. I was here in mid-2003 and remember the disputes which resulted in the creation of the present date preferences system and can see no reason why they would not restart if routine linking of dates became deprecated. Sure, the present system isn't perfect, but until the developers can be persuaded to produce something better it is not so badly broken that it needs to be thrown out completely. Leave the present MOSNUM text alone. -- Arwel (talk) 01:17, 15 December 2007 (UTC)
(1) I think you're underestimating the number of problems in the current autoformatting system, the complexity of addressing them, the fact that most of WikiMedia's developers are voluntary and are apparently not thrilled about the prospect of trying to address these problems, and the need to shepherd any new system through an approval process further up the chain once it has been developed.
(2) As for the disputes nearly five years ago, well, I guess they occurred in the absence of well-drafted rules such as we have now to manage the Varieties of English issue. This proposal embodies an analogous set of rules that are a logical extension of this to date formatting. Your fears, I think, are unfounded. Tony (talk) 01:36, 15 December 2007 (UTC)
I think you are substantially overestimating the problems with the current autoformatting system, and sensationalizing some of the most minor. I also want to emphasize that a moderate solution (making dates no longer behave as links and perhaps some other fixes) is probably quite technically feasible. In fact, it probably would have already been implemented if the original Bugzilla entry (or any of its various resurrections) had simply asked for this directly. As for the "varieties of English" bit, I would hesitate to call that "well-drafted" and I would point out that I still see edits that change one dialect to another with some frequency. — Aluvus t/c 03:52, 15 December 2007 (UTC)
  • OMG, it 'DID' ask for this directly, plainly and simply. You clearly haven't read it. See SMcCandlish's entry below, too. Tony (talk) 14:11, 15 December 2007 (UTC)
  • First you say I'm overestimating (I can cope with that accusation), but "sensationalising"? That's rather out of proportion with the reasoned arguments I've put, isn't it?
  • Do you really think the system is going to be fixed any time soon? Please let's not kid ourselves about the developers' attitudes or the technical challenges of fixing all of the issues (although the main one, linking entanglement, may be feasible – but I'm suspicious that no one has been able to do it. See Rob Church's and others' attempts, documented at Bugzilla, and Vibber's implication that it was quite a task).
  • It appears to me that you're seeing the issue very much from a logged in editor's perspective, whereas all that really counts is our readers' experience, and only a tiny proportion access the autoformatting function. And worse, are you claiming that the autoformatting system is not' associated with inconsistencies in formatting within articles that SandyGeorgia has pointed out from her large sample of clean-ups? Are you claiming that the absence of rules and the masking of the raw formatting by the auto function isn't allowing messy inconsistency for all but the self-selected few WPians who don't see the raw formatting in their display? I see none of these issues addressed in your comments. Tony (talk) 14:11, 15 December 2007 (UTC)
  • You've made two sweeping claims about the "National varieties of English" section in MOS without specifying the reasons: just why are you asserting that it is poorly drafted (details, please), and can you provide (recent) examples of imbroglios that remained unresolved despite the application of the guidelines? Please remember that the text underwent an overhaul only six months ago.
I agree that the disadvantages of the current system are being blown way out of proportion here. I feel that autoformatting is an important feature, and I think its advantages outweigh its disadvantages. TomTheHand (talk) 04:25, 15 December 2007 (UTC)
Tom, you may feel that it's important and that the advantages outweigh the disadvantages, but others don't share your view. Why do you insist on forcing your view on everyone? What is wrong with enabling you and others to use it not to use it by consensus on an article-by-article basis, given a set of carefully conceived guidelines? Tony (talk) 14:18, 15 December 2007 (UTC)
How can you say that others don't share Tom's view (with italics, no less)? How many times have I stated the same thing, and how many more times do I have to say so? As many times as you and a few other anti-formatters state (with no evidence) that few readers have specified a preference for date format? Chris the speller (talk) 18:13, 15 December 2007 (UTC)
  • I see that my statement was ambiguous; I meant that "not all people share that view". Tony (talk) 03:19, 16 December 2007 (UTC)
Tony, you may feel that it's important and that the disadvantages outweigh the advantages, but others don't share your view. Why do you insist on forcing your view on everyone? — Aluvus t/c 23:28, 15 December 2007 (UTC)
  • I'm not forcing any view on anyone: I want editors to be given the option to use autoformatting or to avoid it by following a set of rules for the choice of format and consistency in an article. The current system forces everyone to use autoformatting. That is what you appear to want to retain. Tony (talk) 03:19, 16 December 2007 (UTC)
  • My impression is certainly that you would quite like to force all dates to be de-linked. We keep hearing about the "rubbishy output" of linked dates and the implication that you support a less severe solution only because of the "politics". But set that aside: unlinked dates force people to read dates in a format they may not like (or worse, understand). This is the entire reason for the autoformating system. Ironically, a mixture of linked and unlinked dates would force people with a preference set to see inconsistent dates. Additionally, the general tone of this discussion (and of previous discussions on this topic) is of a few people that quite dislike date autoformating trying to force everyone else to throw it under the bus. — Aluvus t/c 05:31, 16 December 2007 (UTC)
  • I am tiring of your accusations that I, or anyone else, would like to "force" people to not to autoformat. You really are brushing against dishonest (or is it consistently careless?) misrepresentation of my views. At the moment, everyone is forced to use the autoformatting. In what way am I forcing all dates to be delinked? Please show me where I've said that. It will soon become acrimonious if you tell lies and distort what I say. And where, pray let us know, do I "keep" talking about the rubbishy output? I wrote that ONCE, and ONCE ONLY. "Keep hearing" means that I say this continually. Now if this is the way you engage in a debate, no one will take you seriously. It really is offensive. Tony (talk) 12:59, 16 December 2007 (UTC)
Aluvus is not the only person who had the impression that you would like to do away with autoformatting. You "advise WPians not to autoformat". If a sufficient number of your converts remove links from full dates, won't it bring more chaos to the articles, perhaps creating a situation so difficult that more editors will agree to any new paradigm? Perhaps changing the guideline to recommend not linking full dates? I feel that is what you are after. Wouldn't that in effect "force" people not to autoformat? It would force me, because I follow the guidelines. Chris the speller (talk) 16:35, 16 December 2007 (UTC)
Listen carefully and read my lips: My statements concerning discouraging people from using autoformatting have been in the light of the long-term stasis on the issue and the apparently slim chance of getting the developers to fix it any time this century. I have never been interested in "forcing" people not to do what they are forced to do now. Once its use is optional, my role in pushing for change will shift to:
  1. supporting further representations for technical improvements to autoformatting (despite my pessimism on that count, but perhaps once the developers see that WP has lost enough confidence in their four-year-old "solution" to end compulsory usage, they might be more inclined to act) and
  2. insisting on within-article consistency where autoformatting is used—this is currently in a bad state largely because of the autoformatting system.
My stance is the very opposite of forcing anyone to do anything; please do not misrepresent it. By analogy, at the top of this talk page you'll see the debate on making unit conversions optional in science-based articles. There, the antagonists held that this would be the first step on a slippery slope. Um ... it hasn't happened after the option was introduced. We've moved on, mission accomplished. Tony (talk) 01:52, 17 December 2007 (UTC)
The idea behind my JavaScript tool is to eliminate confusing and inconsistent dates. Having this whole date formatting system is not truly necessary in order to have perfectly understandable dates. As for the inconsistency that would stem from transition from wikilinked to unlinked dates, we could ask the devs to just disable date preferences. That request is simple enough that they would probably go for it if we demonstrated consensus to do so. —Remember the dot (talk) 05:45, 16 December 2007 (UTC)
Please see my comment above, added in my previous edit, as regards the way this was brought to Bugzilla. But as for the rest:
  • You have personally made quite a big deal out of the inability to autoformat something like "August 15-16" or "the night of August 15/16", when in fact the former can be solved with "August 15 to August 16" and the latter is an edge case that I have never seen in any article (and can be worked around with "the night of August 15/August 16"). I don't doubt that there are a handful of articles where this may crop up, but I also don't doubt that there are very few of them. Nor that a simple rephrase (or even "the night of August 15") can generally make this a moot point. You keep bringing up edge cases like these even though they are at best very minor limitations.
  • I agree that these are less important considerations. Tony (talk) 03:19, 16 December 2007 (UTC)
  • The developers' attitude appears to be "we agree that something should be done, what should it be?" Unfortunately they have not been presented with any consensus on what should be done.
  • More than 80 WPians asked them to develop a simple syntax for a separate, non-linked autoformatting. During the several weeks in which the petition was open, not one person opposed. I even notified a prominent antagonist to the delinking of chronological items; she did not stand in the way. I don't know why this doesn't represent, in your words, "consensus on what should be done". It was quite clear on Bugzilla, and we left it up to the developers to select the actual syntax, on the advice of several techy participants. Tony (talk) 03:19, 16 December 2007 (UTC)
  • Consensus that "something should be done" is not the same as consensus that "exactly this should be done". Again, read the Bugzilla page and look at the wildly different ideas being presented. All of that confusion should have been resolved before the feature request was revived. — Aluvus t/c 05:31, 16 December 2007 (UTC)
  • Choosing a site-wide default date format for autoformated dates (and allowing editors to override it with date preferences) would moot any concerns about inconcistency due to autoformating. I am also very confused by your implication that a "self-selected few WPians" use date autoformating, when you have previously claimed the exact opposite.
  • I see edits and edit conflicts over national spellings with enough frequency that I do not bother recording specific instances. These are generally fairly brief (because some third party cites WP:ENGVAR and/or temporarily protects the page), because ENGVAR has its positives. But I hesitate to treat it as a model that should be used as a basis for other policies. It is an "OK" policy that works within the limits of Wikipedian culture, but one must not ignore its drawbacks and simply duplicate its thinking. — Aluvus t/c 23:28, 15 December 2007 (UTC)
Right, and it's become clear that developers aren't going to do anything for us about this, because the consider the matter already solved. What actually happened is that the solution caused more problems than it fixed. The only way to get a better solution appears to be to actively reject the first one. I think this is a perfectly rational thing to do. We gave the solution the benefit of the doubt, tried it for a couple of years, and it has proved unworkable. Consensus can change – the fact that there was a consensus several years ago to try this out does not mean we are stuck with it forever. WP is not a legal system, and is not bound by precedent. I also resent the implication that over two years of near-daily service to Wikipedia is somehow not enough to come to sensible conclusions about what is good for Wikipedia. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 01:50, 15 December 2007 (UTC)
I'm sorry if you thought I was denigrating your contributions, that was certainly not the intention. The point I was attempting to make is that those of us who have been here longer can remember why we got to the present situation. Yes, consensus can change - until fairly recently we routinely wikilinked to stand-alone years, and I am glad that we got rid of that pointlessness, but the displayed format of dates is something which is deeply culturally ingrained in the readers, and as we found in 2003 this is something which rubs people up the wrong way to an incredible degree which is why autoformatting was created. When you say the present system is unworkable, I think that you are simply wrong; OK there are difficulties with expressing date ranges, but on the whole autoformatting's advantages outweigh the disadvantages. You can quite justifiably insist on using the same format within an article, for the benefit of people who don't have preferences set, but to remove routine autoformatting for those who have stated a preference will cause one hell of an argument, particularly if it's seen as the hobbyhorse of a dozen or so individuals affecting hundreds of thousands of articles. -- Arwel (talk) 12:37, 15 December 2007 (UTC)
I'm still sputtering at Arwel Parry's response. I've never had much use for WP:WBE and editcountitis, but considering that a huge portion of mine are in article cleanup, perhaps that list is useful on this occasion. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 01:55, 15 December 2007 (UTC)
Edit count and time in the project are quite different things. It is very easy to say a solution sucks when you never really experienced the problem it is meant to solve. As someone that was not present at that time, I value the thoughts of those that were there. This is one of those instances where seniority is actually relevant. While I would like to hear from other "old timers" (no offense intended), I am not so eager to dismiss what Arwel Parry has said. — Aluvus t/c 03:52, 15 December 2007 (UTC)
  • I support it. Nobody uses the date preferences anyway. Over-linking is confusing. We can handle conflicts about date formatting if it pops up. We don't need a technical kludge to shut up a few noisy people. --Apoc2400 (talk) 16:27, 15 December 2007 (UTC)
Somebody obviously uses date preferences, because we're arguing about it. And I know of one for a fact - me :-) RossPatterson (talk) 17:56, 15 December 2007 (UTC)
Can we get statistics on:
  • Registered versus unregistered users.
  • Registered users that have set a date preference.
Lightmouse (talk) 16:49, 15 December 2007 (UTC)
For every one person like me who edits Wikipedia, I see countless others who use Wikipedia but edit anonymously or not at all. Only a couple thousand people have made substantive contributions to Wikipedia articles according to this, compared to the millions of people who read the articles we write. —Remember the dot (talk) 17:48, 15 December 2007 (UTC)
Well precisely. WP is not for us to read, but for the vast numbers of people all over the world who consult it—millions a day, isn't it? That is what concerns me about this debate: it's as though what WPians see on their screen is much more important than what our readers out there see. I care much more about those people at large, millions of them, who see blue splotches everywhere but no autoformatting—and in many cases have to put up with inconsistent formatting from one paragraph to the next, because for us, this is ironed out. That is why I've received comments from general readers to the effect of "WTF, why are all of the dates blue, and sometimes they're not even formatted consistently?". Tony (talk) 03:01, 16 December 2007 (UTC)
Have the software use a default date format for those with no preferences, ask the developers to alter the date parser to display dates as plain black text. Problem solved with no further effort. — Aluvus t/c 05:31, 16 December 2007 (UTC)
That still doesn't resolve the problem of editors being thoroughly confused at the inconsistent date formatting they would see when editing articles. It also would still produce inconsistent formatting if some editor didn't bother to wikilink, and would result in a terrible debate over whether the default formatting should be "25 December 2007" or "December 25, 2007". —Remember the dot (talk) 05:39, 16 December 2007 (UTC)
Do you believe that a great number of editors are "thoroughly confused" by the date formats they currently see in the edit box? I haven't noticed this as a common complaint. I'm not sure this is a matter of "confusion" so much as aesthetics. And yes, dates that aren't linked may be different... but then if the autoformat system dies and someone fails to adhere to whatever date format a specific page uses (and a portion of them won't), you have the exact same problem. Except one that is harder for bots to sort out, because they have to evaluate which format is "right" for a given page. And if you think a debate about what date format is the default (which partisans can simply override and not be affected by) is scary, imagine the same basic debate, spread out over millions of articles. Heck, imagine a debate over whether to keep autoformating that involves people that don't visit MOSNUM. Dropping autoformating has its positives, but "avoiding big horrible debates" is clearly not one of them. — Aluvus t/c 10:14, 16 December 2007 (UTC)

Alvulus, you pontificate in the expectation that the developers will race to do whatever is asked of them. They won't, and we ample evidence of that. Tony (talk) 12:59, 16 December 2007 (UTC)

One instance of the devs failing to read people's minds is "ample evidence"? Of what? — Aluvus t/c 05:18, 17 December 2007 (UTC)

Let's start small

I propose that we start small. Let's change the citation templates, like Template:cite web and Template:cite news, to discourage use of the ISO format in favor of a format that is more clear. Currently these templates automatically wikilink dates that are in ISO format, in defiance of Wikipedia:Manual of Style (dates and numbers)#Dates which suggests avoiding ISO.

Existing ISO format dates will continue to show up, but will not be automatically wikilinked. I will provide a JavaScript tool that enable users to quickly convert all ISO dates in an article to [[25 December]] [[2007]] or [[December 25]], [[2007]] format. This option leaves open the possibility of delinking those dates at a later time. —Remember the dot (talk) 17:58, 15 December 2007 (UTC)

No no no. ISO format should be encouraged everywhere, recognized by the software (or a Common.js script?) and then displayed in the user's own preferred format when they view a page. — Omegatron 17:00, 16 December 2007 (UTC)
Most users browse anonymously and do not have the luxury of user date preferences. —Remember the dot (talk) 21:15, 16 December 2007 (UTC)
So give it an international default. — Omegatron 04:29, 31 December 2007 (UTC)
Wikilinks to dates in ISO format in the {{cite web}} template are displayed according to a user's date preference. I would not encourage changing all of those ISO dates to one format or the other. --Pixelface (talk) 12:47, 16 December 2007 (UTC)
How is this "starting small"? Starting small would be agreeing here on a course of action, then getting people that don't read MOSNUM to take a look at it, and then beginning to gradually implement it. Editing high-visibility templates is not "starting small". Additionally, linking ISO format dates is not in disagreement with MOSNUM; MOSNUM simply states that ISO dates are generally not used. They are used in those templates because linking an ISO date is very easy; if you try a different date format, you will find that it is linked improperly (the entire date is a link). If there is wide acceptance for not linking dates, then these templates will eventually just drop linking altogether.
Getting templates to support arbitrary unlinked dates (which in fact many don't, because they want to link the date) will eventually be important, but is something that should be addressed only once it is clear that there is general support for not linking dates. Changing these templates when there is not even consensus on this page to drop or revise the policy on date linking would be ridiculous. — Aluvus t/c 23:52, 15 December 2007 (UTC)
The idea behind starting a discussion here was to reach consensus on whether or not to do this. It's not like I just slapped {{editprotected}} on all the templates. And I'm not asking to remove the wikilinking entirely at this point - just to stop using ISO-format dates on templates in favor of using familiar and unambiguous (and wikilinked) formats. —Remember the dot (talk) 01:07, 16 December 2007 (UTC)
Further investigation indicates that {{cite web}}'s behavior is actually odd and inconsistent. It will pass a non-ISO date in the "date" paramater just as given, even if it is not a proper date format of any kind. ISO dates get linked, other data is passed as given. This matches the behavior of {{cite news}}'s date parameter. For the accessdate, however, it will apparently just turn whatever you give it into a link. This matches the behavior of {{cite}}'s date parameter.
This means that {{cite web}} would have to be altered before non-ISO dates could be entered into the accessdate parameter, and {{cite}} would need to be altered as well; just changing the documentation to encourage other formats is not adequate. Using your script to change dates out of ISO format (linked or otherwise) would also not be adequate. Other templates mostly seem to be "dumb" as regards dates, so it makes no difference for them.
In any event, given that the only format they seem able to automatically link correctly is ISO, and your second paragraph indicates that you specifically want them to stop linking ISO (for some reason), yes you are asking for the templates to remove their automatic wikilinking entirely. — Aluvus t/c 04:59, 16 December 2007 (UTC)
Regarding the cite templates, {{cite web}} and {{cite news}} only add wikilinks to the date if it can be wikilinked simply. Compare
This bit of logic is not currently extended to the accessdate. It's a relatively recent addition even to the date. Gimmetrow 05:05, 16 December 2007 (UTC)
Yes, I'm aware of how the templates work. I was actually the one that got the date parameter to automatically wikilink at all. It hasn't been a month since this behavior was added, so there aren't too many articles that use it. At the time it seemed like a good idea, but now I see that it would be better to encourage more human-friendly dates.
I recommend that we remove the autolinking function from these templates entirely, and then use a semi-automated script to reformat the ISO dates. The script will add wikilinking per the current guidelines. For example, [[2007-12-25]] would become [[December 25]], [[2007]] if the American formatting style is selected. This shouldn't be as controversial as removing the wikilinking entirely. Most of the users who have commented preferred avoiding the ISO format, which suggests that the community would support this idea. We would still need to advertise the discussion more before making the change. —Remember the dot (talk) 05:16, 16 December 2007 (UTC)
The script for reformatting ISO dates is now available. Add
importScript('User:Remember the dot/ISO date format unifier.js')
to your monobook.js and let me know what you think! —Remember the dot (talk) 05:31, 16 December 2007 (UTC)

I've left a message at the village pump asking for input. --Pixelface (talk) 14:14, 16 December 2007 (UTC)

And from the MoS, 'ISO 8601 dates (1976-05-12) are uncommon in English prose, and are generally not used in Wikipedia. However, they may be useful in long lists and tables for conciseness and ease of comparison.' This describes the reference list to a T. Why change what is not broken and allowed? Vegaswikian (talk) 20:24, 16 December 2007 (UTC)

Discussion fork

This debate is getting increasingly hard to follow, partly because of the number of strands, and partly because of a technical discussion concerning the detailed mechanics of automated links. To the extent that I can follow the discussion at all, it seems to me that Tony is suggesting that, where there is consensus, editors be permitted to write articles with internally-consistent dates, at least as an interim measure. Have I understood correctly? If so, why should any reasonable editor disagree? Thunderbird2 (talk) 14:21, 16 December 2007 (UTC)

2nd'ed. I came here from the VP and expected to see a proposal. Instead I see total chaos. I do not care to read this entire talkpage. Someone please make some sort of summary of what the problem is all of a sudden, why it needs fixed and what the proposals to do so, actually amount to. --TheDJ (talkcontribs) 14:37, 16 December 2007 (UTC)
I've given a better explanation of the proposal at Wikipedia:Village pump (policy)#Proposal to reformat ISO dates in footnotes. —Remember the dot (talk) 21:15, 16 December 2007 (UTC)
Hey Remember the dot, that's just going to fragment the discussion even more, and ensure that newcomers will have no clue WTF is going on in this debate. That's a recipe for failure to reach consensus. People will say they couldn't follow all the frayed threads and blind alleys in this thing, and in the unlikely event of there being some sort of an outcome, will quite justifiably not respect it and not comply with it. You need to keep things structured, focused, and centralised. I'm interested, myself. But I really don't get it, yet.
I think you should now move the discussion entirely to Wikipedia:Village pump (policy), or keep it entirely here. Either way, let's have a summary for newcomers: of the proposal itself, and of people's opinions of it, OK?
– Noetica♬♩Talk 09:30, 17 December 2007 (UTC)
As far as I'm concerned, the discussion concerning my proposal is now taking place entirely at the village pump. In any case, it doesn't look like it'll achieve consensus, so it's pretty much dead anyway. But thanks for the advice! —Remember the dot (talk) 16:56, 17 December 2007 (UTC)
Yeah, forking this discussion was a bad idea; see WP:CONSENSUS on forum shopping. I am marking the VP thread closed, and redirecting it back to here. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 01:20, 20 December 2007 (UTC)
WP:CONSENSUS says "An editor who thinks there are good reasons to believe a consensual decision is outdated may discuss it on the relevant talk page, through a Request for Comment, or at the Village Pump or Third Opinion to see what points other editors think are important, and to compare and examine the different viewpoints and reasons." Asking at the village pump is not forum shopping. --Pixelface (talk) 00:42, 31 December 2007 (UTC)

ISO format dates in citation templates

The discussion below was moved here from WP:VPP.

There is also a discussion going on at the the talk page of the numbers manual of style (oldid) where it's been proposed that editors stop using ISO-format dates (such as 2007-12-16) in citation templates like {{cite web}}. When an ISO format date is placed in the date field and wikilinked, (like [[2007-12-16]]), it will be shown according to a user's date preferences. Some editors are saying we should stop doing this. Input from the community would be appreciated. --Pixelface (talk) 14:07, 16 December 2007 (UTC)

I can't imagine how allowing the end-user to display the date in a fashion of their own choosing can be considered a bad thing... EVula // talk // // 18:55, 16 December 2007 (UTC)
I honestly don't see the problem with using ISO dates in citations. With autoformating, so long as the dates are wikilinked, there shouldn't be a problem. And even without autoformating, the ISO dates are far more compact. This isn't a case where readability is huge concern, such as it would be in-text. --Farix (Talk) 19:38, 16 December 2007 (UTC)
Please keep ISO dates in the template parameters. — Omegatron 04:30, 31 December 2007 (UTC)

I've given a better explanation of the proposal below. —Remember the dot (talk) 21:13, 16 December 2007 (UTC)

Proposal to reformat ISO dates in footnotes

The discussion below was moved here from WP:VPP

There's been quite a bit of discussion at Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style (dates and numbers) over the use of the ISO date format (2007-12-25) in footnotes. The general feeling is that ISO dates are unfamiliar to most readers, which could lead to confusion. Because of this, I propose that we:

  1. Change the citation templates to allow for date formats other than ISO.
  2. Use a JavaScript tool (which I have already written) to quickly reformat all ISO dates into a more human-readable format. For example, [[2007-12-25]] would become [[December 25]], [[2007]] if the user editor selects that the article is to the use American date format, or [[25 December]] [[2007]] if the user editor selects the British date format.
  3. Once the conversion is close to completion, change the citation templates to no longer wikilink ISO dates. This would encourage editors to convert the remaining ISO dates, as those dates would no longer be automatically wikilinked.

The JavaScript tool is available at User:Remember the dot/ISO date format unifier.js, but it will not work properly until the citation templates have been tweaked to allow non-ISO dates. —Remember the dot (talk) 21:10, 16 December 2007 (UTC)

The above originally suggested that the users would be enabled to see their preferred format. It is however the editor that makes the choice. I can see the edit wars coming, reverting back and forth between formats. This is not a proper solution. Is there not a technical way to format according to the user's windows date settings? −Woodstone (talk) 21:40, 16 December 2007 (UTC)
User date preferences will still work. This proposal only changes what anonymous users and users without date preferences will see. Articles will basically follow the same guidelines we use for spelling: British for British articles, American for American articles, and whatever the first main contributor used for everything else. —Remember the dot (talk) 21:49, 16 December 2007 (UTC)
I checked the JavaScript reference, and I do not believe that there is any good way to accurately guess what the user's date preference is. Web browsers do not appear to share this information with web pages. —Remember the dot (talk) 22:57, 16 December 2007 (UTC)
  • The discussion at WP:MOSNUM has focused primarly on readers, most especially anonymous readers, and the inconsistent presentation of dates in articles they read. This is due not to the inconsitent manner in which they are entered, but rather to the lack of a default date preference on the English Wikipedia. Much of the argument could be resolved by giving a specific preference to anonymous users and users who have not expressed a preference. I strongly suspect that it wouldn't actually matter what preference was chosen, just that there actually be one. The MediaWiki software as it currently runs here is capable of doing this. I therefore propose, in counter to Remember the dot's proposal, that we establish a default date preference on the English Wikipedia of 'mdy both' (i.e., "16:12, January 15, 2001"), although I would not oppose the other obvious choice of 'dmy both' ("16:12, 15 January 2001"). RossPatterson (talk) 21:42, 16 December 2007 (UTC)
Setting a default preference for anonymous users would lead to a terrible discussion over whether we should use "December 25, 2007" or "25 December 2007" as the default. It would be like saying we're only going to use American spelling from now on. It would also cause a discrepancy between what the source text of articles say (2007-12-25) and what users actually see (December 25, 2007). —Remember the dot (talk) 21:49, 16 December 2007 (UTC)
ISO dates have been perfectly acceptable on Wikipedia because it is a universal format as opposed to the date-month or month-date format. The only case where it may benefit to spell out the date is when it is in text of the article. But this change in footnotes and citations just trivial, fruitless, and without any real point. --Farix (Talk) 22:54, 16 December 2007 (UTC)
The idea is to eliminate confusion by presenting dates in a format that users are more familiar with. Eliminating confusion is quite worthwhile. —Remember the dot (talk) 00:16, 17 December 2007 (UTC)

Here is an example of how this change would work.

Before: Wikipedia:Citing sources. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (2007-01-02). Retrieved on 2007-01-02.
After American formatting: Wikipedia:Citing sources. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (January 2, 2007). Retrieved on January 2, 2007.
After British formatting: Wikipedia:Citing sources. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (2 January 2007). Retrieved on 2 January 2007.

After reformatting, the dates become significantly easier for the average reader to read and understand. —Remember the dot (talk) 00:23, 17 December 2007 (UTC)

How many readers actually read what is in the references? Not very many, I would assume. These changes seem arbitrary and irrelevant and appears to be more of a WP:IDONTLIKEIT regarding to ISO dates. This is a solution to a problem that doesn't really exist; therefore I would oppose prohibiting or reformatting ISO dates in references. --Farix (Talk) 00:41, 17 December 2007 (UTC)
It doesn't matter whether ten people or ten thousand actually read the references. We have a way to improve those readers' experience with no negative effects. Why shouldn't we take it? ISO dates are very rare, especially in reference works like encyclopedias. Consequently, the reader has to stop and think about what the date means before they can understand it. That is not ideal. —Remember the dot (talk) 02:22, 17 December 2007 (UTC)
I strongly object to this change. WP:ENGVAR, which is part of the basis of this reasoning as I understand it, was designed as a solution because there is no right answer for English variations. Dates, on the other hand, when treated as data rather than as prose, have an official international format which we can use - ISO. That's why we use it in the first place. We offer the ISO date customization in the preferences for registered users because it is convenient, when dealing with an individual user, to allow them to choose the format in which they would like to see dates. This is not the case for unregistered users, whose IPs are often shared by many users. ISO dates are not hard to understand, and our use of them is consistent across references. Our wikilinking of ISO dates can be corrected with a single edit to each template that does this. I see no need for our use of this to change. The format is also noted as being appropriate for list-style entries such as where it is placed. I see no problem with using this format - this appears to be a solution in search of a problem. If we could reliably give users date preferences which they would be most likely to prefer, that would be ideal, but in the meantime we should live with an acceptable standard where possible rather than some confusing and unneeded mélange of formats across articles. Nihiltres{t.l} 03:38, 17 December 2007 (UTC)
No, that is not an "official standard" applicable to our use in Wikipedia. There is no such thing. The ISO standard is much, much more limited in its scope. You are applying it to areas which that standard does not address; we can imitate it in more general contexts, but that does not make it an official standard in those contexts. It simply is not applicable here; there is a good reason why your preferences page doesn't give that ISO standard number. Gene Nygaard (talk) 11:03, 4 January 2008 (UTC)
Readers who do look at the references will have to stop and "think" about the formating of the references anyways, so the formating of the date isn't going to mater. And having them think "a little more" isn't a bad thing either. Also the ISO date format is acceptable on tables as well and hasn't posed any problems. So there is no need to suddenly attempt to wipe them out. This is very much like an WP:ENGVAR issue and should be left well enough alone. If you really want standardization of dates, then I would suggestion adopting the ISO format since it is the only internationally recognized standard for formating dates. --Farix (Talk) 04:20, 17 December 2007 (UTC)
Oppose - The compact ISO date format is documented for citation editors. Making editors choose from several formats is not an improvement. If display based on user preferences is wanted, that display ability should be added instead of forcing changes away from a standard format. -- SEWilco (talk) 04:38, 17 December 2007 (UTC)

I don't want to have to type out the month every time I cite something and worry about whether the day should come first or second. It's easier to type 02 than February. There's a lower risk of typos. When I'm signed in, [[2007-12-25]] appears to me like "December 25, 2007" because I've set my date preferences to display it like that. When I'm not signed in, [[2007-12-25]] appears to me like 2007-12-25. If you put your cursor over "12-25", it displays in the status bar at the bottom of the browser. Unregistered users can still see that 12-25 means December 25 (although they may not realize that until they mouseover it).

For articles that were nominated for the 65th Golden Globe Awards, I've used this reference frequently, the list of nominations:

<ref>{{cite web|url= |title=HOLLYWOOD FOREIGN PRESS ASSOCIATION 2008 GOLDEN GLOBE AWARDS FOR THE YEAR ENDED DECEMBER 31, 2007 |accessdate=2007-12-16 |date=[[2007-12-13]] |}}</ref>

Now you're saying I have to figure out if the day should come first or second on every article I use that citation in?

It needs to be determined how many unregistered users have complained about stuff like 2007-12-25 before ISO dates are disallowed from citation templates. --Pixelface (talk) 06:55, 17 December 2007 (UTC)

Well, for one thing, that shouldn't be in ALL-CAPS LIKE THAT, and "" is not the publisher, but the domain name of the publisher's web site, so you are using the template incorrectly. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 01:42, 20 December 2007 (UTC)
If you had gone to the URL, you would see that the title is is all caps like that. You don't think is the publisher? I think I'm using the template just fine. --Pixelface (talk) 00:46, 31 December 2007 (UTC)

I strongly oppose this proposal. We should be using ISO dates more often, not less. If you don't like the default user preference for formatting, get the developers to change it to something else. — Omegatron 04:32, 31 December 2007 (UTC)

I have two concerns. First, some citation templates have a provision to include a quote. Date formats within quotes should not be changed. Does remember the dot's Javascript know to not mess with dates within quotations?
Second, SMcCandlish's comment illustrates that citation templates are generally inadequate because they do not follow any style guide; each template contributor does his own thing. There are style guides (APA Publications Manual, for one) that specifiy that the capitalization of a title in a citation should be altered to follow the style guide's preferred capitalization. I imagine there are other guides that say to use the capitalization in the title as it appears in the publication, although I can't think of such a guide at the moment. But since the citation templates are not based on any style guide, there is no answer to the question of whether the Golden Globe related title should have been in all-caps or not. Since citation templates are inadequate, a date "solution" that confines itself to fixing citation templates is also inadequate. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 04:55, 31 December 2007 (UTC)

wp:units cf WP:UNITS

WP:UNITS is the shortcut to the MOSNUM section on units. I have noticed recently that wp:units does not link to MOSNUM, but to an archived discussion entitled Measurements Debate. Assuming this is not deliberate, does anyone know how to fix it? Thunderbird2 (talk) 08:20, 17 December 2007 (UTC)

Seems to work now. Thanks for fixing it, whoever you are :) Thunderbird2 (talk) 09:20, 18 December 2007 (UTC)
Thank Crissov. Jɪmp 15:19, 18 December 2007 (UTC)
I have to observe that there is no consensus in favor of "wp:something" shortcuts to begin with, and they tend to get MfD'd. I guess it is nice that the two are consistent now, but wp:units should probably just be deleted. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 01:05, 20 December 2007 (UTC)

Dates in English-speaking nations.

The MOS currently says, "Articles on topics with strong ties to a particular English-speaking nation should generally use the more common date format for that nation."

What I want to know is, why is this limited to English-speaking nations? That's just bizarre. ISO dates aside, which are common in Asia, all nations use either day-month-year or year-month-day, regardless of whether the month name is April or Avril or Aprile or Abril.

Gerry Ashton says, "is an English language encyclopedia, and should always use one of the English-language date styles, even if writing about a country where English is not spoken." Well, of course. No argument there. My point is that even where English is not spoken, we may easily determine what date format that nation uses and render it in one of the English language styles. --Pete (talk) 01:22, 18 December 2007 (UTC)

If we happened to come across a country that used a date style that was unfamiliar to English-speakers, say, 18 XII 2007 for 18 December 2007, we would want to use one of the English language date styles. Also, someone might read it to mean that we should use the calendar that is in common use in a non-English speaking country, as well as the date style. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 02:01, 18 December 2007 (UTC)
There is no doubt that we should use one of the English-language date styles in our articles. This is an English-language encyclopaedia, after all. But I can't see why the 1 Avril 2007 of France cannot be directly translated to 1 April 2008. Is this not plain common sense? --Pete (talk) 02:25, 18 December 2007 (UTC)
If the customary date format in a country is similar to an English-language format, by all means use it. But unless we can find an authoritative source to say that every country in the world uses a date format that is similar to one of the English language formats, the MOS should either stay as it is, or become longer and more cumbersome, and suggest using the English language format that is closest to the format in the country. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 03:19, 18 December 2007 (UTC)
It's pretty easy to find out what format a country uses. Some nations, such as Canada, routinely use both formats. I'm proposing that the MOS become shorter, by eliminating the words "English speaking" from the sentence quoted in the first post in this thread. The MOS used to have a list of nations, and then that was changed to a link to a list showing which nations used which format, and more recently we seem to have lost that list and we've gained this "English-speaking" restriction, which doesn't appear to have been discussed at all. --Pete (talk) 04:17, 18 December 2007 (UTC)
Gerry, are you a ham? "18 XII 2007" is the date-form commonly used in that community specifically because we don't all share the same language and sets of month-names. Here's hoping it doesn't get used on Wikipedia! RossPatterson (talk) 02:55, 18 December 2007 (UTC)
Yes, and I have seen this notation on QSL cards, but didn't know if it was specific to hams, or was customary in the country where the sender lived. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 03:19, 18 December 2007 (UTC)
ISO dates aside, which are common in Asia, all nations use either day-month-year or year-month-day, regardless of whether the month name is April or Avril or Aprile or Abril. Um, no: the U.S. uses month-day-year. --Tkynerd (talk) 03:03, 18 December 2007 (UTC)
Yes, absolutely correct. And that's what I meant to say. Thanks for pointing it out! --Pete (talk) 04:17, 18 December 2007 (UTC)
The Roman numeral month format is also found on many ITU communications ( Dl2000 (talk) 05:47, 18 December 2007 (UTC)
  • (Outdent) Ah, just as I was about to tweak the text according to the point raised here, I realised that the issue is partly solved by the first guideline: Two date formats are acceptable .... Is it necessary to complicate the text by adding that "In articles that are related to other countries that commonly use one of the two acceptable guidelines above, that format is generally used."? I'm unsure this level of detail is necessary, but let us know if you foresee problems, say, with an article related to Hong Kong or Nigeria. Tony (talk) 12:19, 18 December 2007 (UTC)

Default date format

It would be useful to avoid the "English-language nation" issue and instead consider a default date format to take care of:

  1. Nations where date formats are unclear, unknown, inconsistent, or otherwise not fitting the two main date format choices;
  2. The many WP articles which have no identifiable national identity.

There are compelling reasons to consider the international/little-endian format for the default (e.g. 18 December 2007) as opposed to American/middle-endian format (e.g. December 18, 2007):

  1. d-m-y/little-endian format is in a logically progressive order;
  2. d-m-y format is most prevalent internationally, in English and non-English nations alike;
  3. Many international agencies such as the UN go with little-endian dates in their communications e.g.

Note that the "endian" stuff, and something of an international date format overview, can be found in Date and time notation by country. Dl2000 (talk) 05:47, 18 December 2007 (UTC)

This would solve a lot of problems, but create a lot more. Personally, I've grown up with day-month-year, and it makes a good deal of sense to have units in progressive order, rather than month-day-year, which chops and changes. It would probably make even more sense to have dates in year-month-day order, which is how I often label batches of computer files for ease of sorting.
However, the simple fact about Wikipedia is that although it is a global project, most of the editors and readers are Americans, because that is where the internet is, mostly. If the default order was day-month-year, it would look odd and foreign to most. I'm not going to try converting the US to a more logical date format; it would work about as well as converting to a decimal system of measurements instead of the archaic pints and feet and pounds and miles and stuff currently in use. That's a task for other people.
I think we've got to find the best possible compromise, and we've pretty well catered for it with autoformatting, kludgy though that is, and presenting dates in the format best fitted to the subject. --Pete (talk) 11:15, 18 December 2007 (UTC)
The d-m-y format, without pesky punctuation, is by far the better format, IMV. But I think it's wrong to impose it on American readers throughout WP, just as imposing British spelling would be wrong. That is why I proposed the "country-related, otherwise first major editor's choice adhered to" rule, which mirrors our longstanding policy and practice for variety of English. It's consistent with WP's existing practice and makes perfect sense to me. I don't know why people are proposing that everyone be forced to use one date formatting. Tony (talk) 12:12, 18 December 2007 (UTC)
To be clearer, the suggestion was not to impose the default d-m-y on American-related articles which can (and should) continue to use m-d-y. Again, this would be a default to help with cases such as the "non-English nation" situation which started this whole thread.
Regarding the practice of "first major editor's choice adhered to" - wouldn't that risk some potential conflicts with WP:OWN?
The ideal and ultimate solution remains to implement an upgraded autoformatting mechanism that generally addresses the linking and date range concerns of late. Part of this upgrade could allow unregistered readers to set the date pref. Dl2000 (talk) 03:09, 19 December 2007 (UTC)
Ah. Yes, I agree entirely. American format dates for the U.S. (and the Phillipines), International format dates everywhere else. Canadians can pick their own. --Pete (talk) 03:33, 19 December 2007 (UTC)
I assume it's pretty much impossible without dev interaction to geo-locate anon-IPs and provide a reasonable default date format for them (should we able to get auto date formatting working without auto linking)? --MASEM 15:22, 18 December 2007 (UTC)
Well, that's a useful solution, and it would be nice to have, but probably uneccessary. Most people can understand what date is specified when the month is named rather than numbered, regardless of whther it is the first or second term. Even if you are used to one format, the other isn't total gibberish. For articles about the U.S., I think it's reasonable that people see one format, for articles about European nations, another. Prefs can hide this, but for readers without accounts, we're not going to flummox them entirely. It's comparable to the British/American spelling thing; seeing "harbour" instead of "harbor" (or vers vica) isn't going to confuse any but the dimmest bulbs. --Pete (talk) 19:26, 18 December 2007 (UTC)

"Strong national ties to a topic Articles on topics with strong ties to a particular English-speaking nation should generally use the more common date format for that nation." It's still not quite right. Venezuela has strong ties to the US and uses American English, but its dates follow the British format. We need to reflect local customs, which don't strictly adhere to ENGVAR. The current wording still sounds like "that nation" refers to the US, rather than local Venezuela custom. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 04:45, 19 December 2007 (UTC)

I think "topics with strong ties" means more like Politics of the United States being a topic with strong ties to the US, not Venezuela - i.e. it's talking about close relationship of topics, not diplomatic closeness of non-english-speaking nation to english-speaking ones. —Random832 13:33, 20 December 2007 (UTC)

Date format fixer scripts

I've lost track of which script does what now. Could Remember please list them here in one spot? Also, does one of them take linked dates, format them consistently to US or UK, and leave them linked? Gimmetrow 16:49, 18 December 2007 (UTC)

Suggested change to make text more accurate

The phrase relating to autoformatting:

  • "It works only for users who are registered,"

is somewhat misleading. I propose that it says something like:

  • "It works only for users who are registered and have set a preference,"

Comments? Lightmouse (talk) 17:35, 20 December 2007 (UTC)

Support: This is true and I'm sure that there are a good number of us who haven't set preferences (the likes of whom probably don't have much time to make noise on policy talk pages). Jɪmp 00:43, 21 December 2007 (UTC)
Support: What you say is true. I recently opened bugzilla:12318 requesting that a default date format be set for the English Wikipedia, which would render both variations moot, but until and unless it is acted on, the change is right. RossPatterson (talk) 03:01, 21 December 2007 (UTC)