Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style (dates and numbers)/Archive 99

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Date preferences and non-breaking spaces

I have heard that dates and years should be linked so that there is a non-breaking space between the date and the year (e.g., January 11,<non-breaking-space>2007). However, it seems that inserting the non-breaking space breaks auto-formatting of dates per the user's preferences. Should there be a non-breaking space there? —Rob (talk) 15:52, 27 April 2008 (UTC)

I have heard that a non-breaking space there breaks the autoformatting (more evidence of "suckitude", as Stanton mentions above). - Dan Dank55 (talk)(mistakes) 16:12, 27 April 2008 (UTC)
Can't a hard space be incorporated in the autoformatting? There would be no need for a manual insertion then. Waltham, The Duke of 11:04, 29 April 2008 (UTC)
This autoformatting is in such terrible need of an overhaul and so little progress seems to have been made inspite of the pleas of dozens of editors. I'm sure hard spaces could be incorporated but I wouldn't hold my breath. &nbsp; does break the autoformatting. Use {{nowrap}} instead. JIMp talk·cont 01:33, 30 April 2008 (UTC)

Just added a "Manual of Style" cat

For the proposed distinction, see WT:MOS#New category. Feel free to revert, and comments are welcome, but please post them over there. - Dan Dank55 (talk)(mistakes) 16:08, 27 April 2008 (UTC)

P.S. Quick explanation: there are 67 pages in the style guidelines cat, and we can't keep track of them all, and shouldn't even try. But clearly, MOSNUM is one of the pages to keep track of; thus the new cat. - Dan Dank55 (talk)(mistakes) 17:05, 27 April 2008 (UTC)
P.P.S. I've decided to revert myself when the page protection expires. WP:MOSNUM is more in the category of a subject-specific style guideline; that is, the average editor won't have to read it ahead of time, they can wait and read it when they need it. - Dan Dank55 (talk)(mistakes) 17:23, 30 April 2008 (UTC)

Currencies query

(originally asked at MOS) Do the three-letter ISO currency codes go before or after the value? That is, do we write CZK 55,555 or 55,555 CZK? Shouldn't this be stated in the MOS?--Kotniski (talk) 09:53, 18 April 2008 (UTC)

It strikes me that this question just begs for generalizing a template like template:USD or template:GBP. If dated, user skins should someday be able to roughly render currencies into a user's preferred currency too using FOREX histories.LeadSongDog (talk) 18:10, 18 April 2008 (UTC)
Kotniski, common usage is that the codes precede the value. Askari Mark (Talk) 18:38, 19 April 2008 (UTC)
Right, I'll do that for now. Does the ISO have anything to say on the matter? Is there a basis for stipulating something in the MOS?--Kotniski (talk) 16:17, 22 April 2008 (UTC)
This is what the EU wants everyone to use when it comes to the euro. As seen in the table, EUR precedes the value in English but comes after it in all other official EU languages. Of course, we wouldn't have to obey this if common usage were contrary though. There's also a short and ancient discussion at Talk:ISO 4217/Archives/2013#Before or after?. -- Jao (talk) 17:55, 22 April 2008 (UTC)
That's depressing. Brussels seems to have chosen new multiplier codes for currency use ("m EUR" for million euro, "bn EUR" for billion euro). I suppose "M" and "G" weren't creative enough for them.LeadSongDog (talk) 15:57, 1 May 2008 (UTC)

Numbers as figures or words

Is there really a dispute here? I didn't see anything on the talk page that signifies one and wonder if the tag was left in this section by mistake? Karanacs (talk) 21:07, 22 April 2008 (UTC)

I actually have something to say about it. The section header currently states: numbers of more than one digit are generally rendered as figures, and alternatively as words if they are expressed in one or two words. I remember some time ago that I was either told by another user, or I found it myself, that two digit numbers should be expressed as words in prose. Should two digit numbers not generally be written as words in prose?-- 00:02, 23 April 2008 (UTC)
The dispute was largely between two editors who aren't around at the moment; pushing various rules of thumb ranging from spell out all numbers from zero to nine to spell out all numbers from zero to one hundred, and on the other side, use figures if spelling out would take three words or more. All these have numerous exceptions (we specify some of them), but the two editors got into a revert war over the One True Way here.
There isn't a magic rule; it depends on innumerable considerations of euphony and clarity, and varies from subject to subject (if you are discussing a large number of X, use figures: 16 aircraft carriers, but sixteen sheep). Septentrionalis PMAnderson 01:31, 23 April 2008 (UTC)
Would it be too bold to suggest that spelling out of numbers is a practice that over time should either be abandoned or (better) automated? Here's why: By avoiding numeric representation we hugely complicate every article translation task, introducing a great many unnecessary errors of fact simply for stylistic considerations. While we like to use a practice that follows existing style guides, we've chosen to follow ones which for the most part are unilingual English, not at all like the polyglot wiki environment. Ideally, I'd like to see a system of templates something like this:
{{ord|99|t}} to render "ninty-ninth", {{ord|3|T|fr}} for "Troisieme", {{ord|4|n}} for "4th", {{card|88|t}} for "eighty-eight", and so forth. Default behaviour would be to render in the specific language of the wiki, while a parameter allows other choices. Reactions? LeadSongDog (talk) 16:13, 25 April 2008 (UTC)
  • Yes. Far too bold. We exist for the convenience of our readers, not the convenience of translation bots. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:12, 25 April 2008 (UTC)
I have done a little work on {{numtext}}. It did cardinals before I got to it. Now it does ordinals, e.g. {{numtext|12|ord=on}} gives "twelfth". I don't see a great deal of point in making the template multilingual (though it's possible) since a template on one wiki doesn't work on another until its duplicated there. JЇѦρ 19:44, 25 April 2008 (UTC)
I'm puzzled how getting the facts correct would constitute an inconvenience for our readers. Possibly for editors, but with care, I think it could even be made fairly simple for us, as with the date rendering preferences in skins. wp:Multilingual coordination is a tricky business at the best of times. It's not helped by referring to volunteer translators as bots - please don't. I'll admit the template approach seems clunky, but it's a starting point for discussion. As Jimp's illustration with template: numtext shows, the approach is not exactly a novel idea. LeadSongDog (talk) 21:29, 25 April 2008 (UTC)
If you're talking about human translators, without bot assistance, then there is no reason at all to change our practices; humans translators must always recognise that idioms in different languages are different. Even for bots, your reason is insufficient: English idiom varies between words and numbers for many reasons, some of which we list here. Our purpose is to write for our readership, not to make a convenient pidgin for translators; we are optimized for general readers, not for specialists. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 21:48, 25 April 2008 (UTC)
  • What is "getting the facts correct" supposed to mean? There are no facts here; merely the turbulent streams of English practice, which will vary from day to day and person to person. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 21:51, 25 April 2008 (UTC)
Perhaps I was insufficiently explicit. I'm not referring to a change in what the end reader sees, but in the wikitext source that we edit. If a human translator is converting an article, say, from "soixante douze" to "seventy two", I submit they are far more likely to err in the process than if they simply copy/paste {{ord|t|72}} unchanged, so that the English wiki reader sees "seventy two" as expected. Multiply the number of times per day that a number is translated and it becomes a significant source of errors. The "facts" I referred to are simply the numbers, which are the same in all languages, as opposed to the varying rendered representations of the numbers. When we introduce errors in a translation, these errors are liable to remain undetected. There just aren't so many translators available, especially for the dozens of more obscure languages, that independent detail checks get carefully done on every translated word. LeadSongDog (talk) 06:16, 26 April 2008 (UTC)
That seems deeply insufficient. Translators who are too careless to translate "soixante douze" to "seventy two" will make dozens of other errors in the space of an article; this is why mechanized translation fails. We should not go out of our way to protect them from this one at the cost of making the article harder to read for our English-speaking readership, which is our purpose. Indeed, this will make all articles read like bad translations from the Foolandish, as the price of escaping actual error in the few which are indeed bad translations (and will still read like it). We doubtless need better translators, and more ruthless purges of badly translated text; but this is not an acceptable solution. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 15:50, 26 April 2008 (UTC)
I'm not suggesting ANY change to the text that our readers see. Just how we code it. LeadSongDog (talk) 16:20, 26 April 2008 (UTC)
Huh? spelling out of numbers is a practice that over time should either be abandoned or (better) automated. Since English usage cannot be automated (we have not even finished an informal and subjective checklist), this is a proposal to radically change present usage to never spell out. Please rephrase to what you meant to say. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:09, 27 April 2008 (UTC)
OK, I'll try again: I do not believe that editors should need to manually spell out numbers in one, let alone dozens of languages when editing. We have better use for their time and efforts. We should provide in software a functionality equivalent to what spreadsheets and databases have long provided, so that a date or number is recorded numerically in the source text and an editor's formatting choice causes the software to render it in the way the editor desires for presentation to the reader. This has the auxilliary benefits of facilitating translation, range-checking, style change rollouts, user preference skinning, etc. It is squarely in keeping with WP:BTW as it helps to regularize the content, yet it puts no new constraints on the styles presented to the reader, except that the chosen style must be capable of description. Play with number formats in an Excel cell for a while and you'll understand that there are very few (if any) formats we'd want to present to a reader that can't be auto-rendered. Consider the power of being able to search for and identify every article that refers to a specific date or range of dates in a single query. We don't have that now because we don't regularize the data underlying the presentation, thereby rendering translation and searches intractable. How many years now have we been unable to correctly code date ranges so the don't get messed up in one skin or another? We can and should aim to do this better. LeadSongDog (talk) 07:18, 28 April 2008 (UTC)
The key question here is: does anyone else support this? If not, it has no chance of being consensus, since at least I strongly oppose it. I will also explain my reasons for doing so once more for the record.
  • I strongly oppose the attitude that we should do anything which places costs on our millions of readers to save translators the trouble of manually typing a number, as opposed to cutting and pasting it. English conventions often exist for good reasons, and are always the expected convention. Our readers have better uses for their time and effort than to try to figure out some new-fangled convention imposed for our convenience.
  • Anybody who searches for an article by date range is a fool: there are too many other ways to express the same information (In the next ten years, During the Napoleonic era, from 1837 to 1901....).
  • The only proble with coding date ranges is the autoformatting system. That was an unwise concession to those who were squeamish about ever seeing a date in the manner to which they are not accustomed; we should treat it as we treat AD/BC or other differences in idiom. "We are large, we contain multitudes." It should be abolished. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 14:17, 28 April 2008 (UTC)
So how would you expect a reader to know 1/5/2008 from 5/1/2008 then? Contextually? LeadSongDog (talk) 14:36, 28 April 2008 (UTC)
Both should be avoided, like other forms of needless ambiguity (except possibly for an article which uses one system consistently for many dates, and has several days over 12). Months have names. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:58, 29 April 2008 (UTC)
If we follow that line of reasoning, today would be "The first day of May in the fifty-fourth year of the reign of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second" (to use the short form). We might discover that users find that a bit unwieldy. The article we are discussing is about "MOS:dates and numbers", not "MOS:names of dates and of numbers".LeadSongDog (talk) 16:18, 1 May 2008 (UTC)

Spurious "American"/"non-American" (or "British") divide

This page several times posits a divide between "American" and non-American" (or British) usage. I would make three related points about that:

  1. the divide is totally spurious and tends to rest on an assumption that British or "Commonwealth" forms are normal for "non-Americans", which is not correct. There are actually a lot of different forms of English grouped under Commonwealth English and Canadians, for instance, often use "American" forms, rather thjan anything that might be called "Commonwealth English" (or (non-American English).
  2. Styles like (e.g.) "Month-day" are not "American"; that is the format used, for instance, in Australian newspapers and magazines.
  3. British English and American English, in fact, have commonalities that are not shared by other forms, such as an aversion to the metric system and the use of "-ize", whereas -ise is almost universal in other countries (e.g. Australia)

Grant | Talk 03:25, 27 April 2008 (UTC)

1. I agree; Canadians and their queen must be puzzled by the term "Commonwealth English". It's a straighjacket term that should be avoided. 2. Only some Australian publications use the month day comma year format, and why they do so is beyond me; elsewhere in that country, the neater, more streamlined format is used, as in the UK. 3. "-ise" has become much more common in the UK, despite the refusal of the OED to swap its first and second spellings. The zed is fast becoming a hallmark of North American spelling. TONY (talk) 08:08, 27 April 2008 (UTC)

  1. No comment
  2. Month-day-year is such a daft order that I fail to see how it ever took root. It appears that it has done so nevertheless. I have the impression that it is rare outside the USA.
  3. "-ise" has always been the norm in the UK. Well, "always" is a long time ... at least since the 1970s, but I suspect much longer than that.

Thunderbird2 (talk) 08:59, 27 April 2008 (UTC)

"Month day, year" is simply an abbreviation of "April the 27th, 2008", which is not in any way "American". I have worked as a journalist in both Australia and the UK and I can assure you that "M D, Y" is almost universal in the print media in Australia. It is also frequently used in the UK, such as the datelines at the top of news stories (e.g. a story from today's Observer). Grant | Talk 13:14, 27 April 2008 (UTC)

I think one big problem is rather the assumption that there is a monolithic Youess and a monolithic Youkay way of doing things, and that once these are written down in a coherent sort of way then Youessians and Youkayans (if nobody else) will be happy.

It clearly ain't so. Let's look at the Youkay. For one thing, while -ise (where at all possible) is indeed the preferred spelling of many Britionaries and Brits, -ize is preferred by the OED and many other Brits.

I find "month-day-year" absurd but the Guardian seems to use it consistently.

Brits in general don't seem to like the metric system for distances, speeds, quantities of beer, and certain other purposes, and I rather guess that the Daily Mail demographic doesn't like it at all; but other Brit groups seem to get on well with it.

And those are just a few of the Brit-internal inconsistencies. There are more. And I'd be surprised if there weren't analogous inconsistencies in the US and A. -- Hoary (talk) 14:17, 27 April 2008 (UTC)

It is certainly inaccurate to say there are only a US or UK way of doing things. Also, in the US certain things like pop are inconsistent. Cans of pop are measured in ounces, where as bottles sized one liter+ are measured in liters. So maybe a topic specific styles should be used. The basic goal should be to clearly communicate the facts. Rds865 (talk) 17:04, 1 May 2008 (UTC)

Please can we have semi-protection?

During the past several days we've had multiple new users appearing (most of them Tor users that have been indefinitely blocked) making reverts and edits. Would adding semi-protection help stop IP anonymous and new users from editing? While I hate to close this page to legitimate new users who have something productive to contribute I also think the sock related vandalism is not helping this topic. Fnagaton 11:27, 29 April 2008 (UTC)

There hasn't been anything subtle about the socks. I just created a sock report for Zimbian, and if they post anything more in this discussion, I'll have them checkuser'd and out the door. - Dan Dank55 (talk)(mistakes) 12:19, 29 April 2008 (UTC)
Thank you. Fnagaton 12:55, 29 April 2008 (UTC)
then 'checkuser' me. I am new but you are being uncivil, you must stop nowZimbian (talk) 12:35, 29 April 2008 (UTC)
"Dmcdevit (Talk | contribs) blocked "Zimbian (Talk | contribs)" (account creation blocked) with an expiry time of indefinite ‎ (troll)" Fnagaton 14:16, 29 April 2008 (UTC)
Given the above recent Tarapotysk and CharlesFinnigan instances too, I've submitted a (semi) at RfPP.LeadSongDog (talk) 21:37, 1 May 2008 (UTC)
I'm assuming the semi you submitted was meant to be for the actual page, and not this one ('cause I don't see any disruption here). Anyway, the main page has been protected for a few days now; that'll end in three. If vandalism starts up again, resubmit. Cheers to you all, and keep up the good work! Master of Puppets Call me MoP! :) 05:56, 2 May 2008 (UTC)