Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style (dates and numbers)/Archive D2

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Years and dates archives

Date preferences and Jogersbot's massive undoing of edits

Few editors expressed feelings that context is more important when linking full dates than allowing date preferences to work and therefore labeling my bot activity as harmful and unwanted [1] [2]. Were there any discussions specifically about this? I was sure that full dates is a clear-cut case and current consensus is reflected at Wikipedia:Manual of Style (dates and numbers) and Wikipedia:Piped link. I didn't mean to do anything controversial so if there is nobody here to back me up I will stop running the bot. Jogers (talk) 11:27, 1 February 2007 (UTC)

I've moved the discussion from Wikipedia talk:Bots/Requests for approval:

A number of editors have expressed concerns about

which was approved recently (27 January). See concerns raised at User talk:Jogers, WP:AN/I raised by User WhyADuck, Talk:Timeline of aviation, Wikipedia_talk:AutoWikiBrowser#More_on_dates. I and other editors do not agree with the work the bot is doing. It is undoing a lot of editors' work.--Golden Wattle talk 20:51, 31 January 2007 (UTC)

A lot of these concerns comes from misunderstanding its purpose. I would never suspect that it will cause so much controversy. I only try to help here. As I mentioned on several occasions both Wikipedia:Manual of Style (dates and numbers) and Wikipedia:Piped link are perfectly clear about the issue. The reason for linking full dates is to allow reader's date preferences to work, not to provide context. Jogers (talk) 21:04, 31 January 2007 (UTC)
Obviously the people who are linking the year in dates to year in topic articles do not agree with the proposition that "the only reason for linking dates is to allow preferences to work" - there are apparently at least 4,500 articles where many editors had made this deliberate choice - not an insignificant number. As discussed elsewhere with User:Jogers, I believe the majority of date preferences will be set to show either 11 September or September 11 format depending on whether US or Commonwealth English applies. These preferences are supported if the day and month are linked regardless of whether the year is followed. The view fails to work only when the less likely preferences "16:12, 2001 January 15" or "2001-01-15T16:12:34" format are chosen.--Golden Wattle talk 21:19, 31 January 2007 (UTC)
It is not obvious for me that it's a deliberate choice in 4500 articles because so many editors don't seem to understand how date preferences work. Jogers (talk) 21:38, 31 January 2007 (UTC)
The editors made a deliberate choice to link to a year in topic article. People are respectful of spelling differences and consequently of month/day or day/month preferences,probably less interested in pandering to yyyy-mm-dd preferences as it is a barely literate way of writing; as date format it has a point in other contexts (eg sorting lists of dates) but not in a narrative context. By bothering to put in a piped link instead of the easier straight date link which takes work, I think it can be concluded that I am not the only one who has made a deliberate choice from time to time. Your bot is undoing the work of 4,500 deliberate edits.--Golden Wattle talk 22:21, 31 January 2007 (UTC)
It would be nice to have a unified style, perhaps a discussion can take place at the manual of style page. There seems to be an existing consensus there. HighInBC (Need help? Ask me) 22:23, 31 January 2007 (UTC)
There are ongoing disputes in various places, there is not an existing consensus, there is a previaling stance that has not been overturned - see for example recent discussion at Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style (dates and numbers). Given the continuing irritation about this subject, a bot that does whole scale changes forcing a viewpoint does not seem appropriate. I will also raise concerns that the user failed to respond to my comments raised 07:49, 31 January 2007 until I blocked the bot some 15 minutes later asking him to respond to discussion raised. This bot is performing a task about which there is not unanimous agreement.--Golden Wattle talk 22:31, 31 January 2007 (UTC)
What exactly concern you about my reply? Jogers (talk) 23:26, 31 January 2007 (UTC)
The delay; you persisted with your edits despite objections and merely ignored the query until I blocked you. Your bot claims to be supervised - why persist in such edits and not respond when somebody queries your actions.--Golden Wattle talk 00:14, 1 February 2007 (UTC)
The bot is supervised meaning I check almost every edit it makes but it runs in automatic mode. Jogers (talk) 00:17, 1 February 2007 (UTC)
Also, I don't see any disagreement about the guideline that full dates should be linked in a fashion that allows date preferences to work at Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style (dates and numbers). Jogers (talk) 23:39, 31 January 2007 (UTC)
In response to I don't see any disagreement about the guideline that full dates should be linked ... at that discussion alone there are the comments: "Mass edits which solely remove (or add) date links across many articles are discouraged, as with any mass minor edits"; "There is no consensus for that particular guideline"; "The reason the language is vague is because there isn't a consensus for any stronger language."; "As for the 'preferences' thing of rendering dates in alternative styles - that leaves me cold."; "These "mostly supportive" comments consist of two for and two against. We discussed this to absolute death last year, ..... the current version reflects that there really is no consensus on all of these issues, and reflects the ability for people to use their own discretion." "doesn't seem very likely that this proposal is going to gather a broader consensus than the previous one" "My view is that the elimination of YEAR in X|YEAR links would be a mistake" This does not read like a conversation without disagreement - it is civil but there is no consensus. There are many other places where similar discussions have been held.--Golden Wattle talk 00:14, 1 February 2007 (UTC)
Surely there is a lot of disagreement in this discussion but it concerns mainly relevance of links to partial dates, shortcomings of current date preference scheme and the issue of piped links to "years in something" in general. Nobody suggests using piped links in a way that breaks date preference. Jogers (talk) 00:21, 1 February 2007 (UTC)
What are you talking about? There's a whole section at Wikipedia talk:Piped link entitled "Disagree with year-in-x no-piping suggestion" which discusses this! Usage of such YiX piping clearly implies that such a link would take precedence. What really alarms me is that Jogers is using his bot to force his perspective. As a bot operator, I would have expected him to respond with something like "Oh, there's a bunch of people concerned here, maybe I need to back off and discuss this further". Instead, he allows the bot to continue until an admin blocks it. Bots are great, but the owners need to be really sensitive to other editors when the bot's effect is negative, even if the owner doesn't agree. Akradecki 00:56, 1 February 2007 (UTC)
This is precisely what I'm talking about. The guideline used to recommend not using piped links to "years in something" at all and it caused a lot of disagreement. I don't really feel that it is only my perspective. Most concerns were raised because of lack of understanding so I continued to run the bot after they were addressed. Only you and Golden Wattle seem to strongly disagree about the matter. As HighInBC pointed out above there is existing consensus here but consensus can change so consider discussing this at Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style (dates and numbers) maybe and I suspend my bot activity until you get some feedback. Jogers (talk) 10:53, 1 February 2007 (UTC)
I took a look at the bot's contributions, in order to repair the damaged aircraft articles, and was amazed at how many articles it had changed. Doesn't that make you stop and think? When it comes to a "consensus" about any issue discussed at Wikipedia, at most you'll usually have a dozen or so editors participate. On this issue, you're changing the work of hundreds of editors. Don't you think that mass quantity alone represents a really big group out there who use such piped dates as a tool? That's far more than just a consensus...that goes into the realm of a supermajority. In other words, there's a lot of editors out there (and don't just attribute it to ignorance, please) who have built this tool into the encyclopedia, and who are you to make such a massive edit, thinking that you've got it right and hundreds of editors have it wrong? I'll post my comments to the MOS page like you suggest later this morning. Thanks for standing the bot down. Akradecki 15:06, 1 February 2007 (UTC)
The mass quantity of incorrect date formatting doesn't really make me think that it's a deliberate work of some "supermajority" who decided to break reader's date preferences in thousands of articles being perfectly aware of how it works and what are the Manual of Style recommendations on the issue. Your strong feelings about this keep surprising me. Jogers (talk) 15:56, 1 February 2007 (UTC)
Why would it surprise you that mass edits which undo a lot of work, mine included, shouldn't be taken seriously? So you think it's just an accident that hundreds of editors deliberately type the longer YiX link? You don't think they intentionally put the link there to improve the navigabilty of the subject? YiX is a tool that a lot of folks use, and I'm disappointed that you can't see that. In our case, there are certain historic events, such as first flights, that are documented this way. Each YiA article has a whole section for first flights, and so it is a natural tool to link a first flight date in an article to the YiA entry. I'm really trying hard to assume good faith in your efforts, but your continued insistance on your position being the only correct one, and the lack of any expression of concern about all the work your bot is undoing, borders on arrogance. Please pardon me if that comes across as a personal attack, it's not meant to be, but quite honestly, Jogers, I can't think of a politer word to describe the lack of respect you're showing, even in the above comment, for the work of others.Akradecki 18:02, 1 February 2007 (UTC)
Everything I did was in good faith. Fixing date preferences seemed like a good thing to do and I already did a lot of changes like this manually without any problems before. I don't have anything against linking to YiA entries in aviation articles when it's relevant to the context. The problem I see with your approach is that you don't provide any solution to the problem of these links conflicting with reader's date preference though. The reason I've been insisting on my position for so long is that I felt that whole this discussion came from misunderstanding my bot's purpose. Also, Manual of Style clearly supports my assertions. I'm sorry if I were arrogant, I didn't mean to. Regards, Jogers (talk) 19:25, 1 February 2007 (UTC)
I appreciate your work in good faith, but this discussion didn't come from a misunderstanding of your bot's purpose but rather a clear understanding of its effect, which is to undo a massive amount of work by hundreds of editors. I fully agree that there's a problem with user preferences, but why must user preferences be treated like a universal absolute? For instance, there's a general misunderstanding out there that image thumbs can be sized...they shouldn't, because that, too, interferes with user preferences. But, there are exceptions, specifically thumbs that are used for infoboxes. The higher purpose of the userbox usage outweighes the generic system function of user preferences. Same here. When a date is configured for YiX, it is for a purpose, and specific purposes like that should take precedence, at least until someone can fix the way the system works so that the user preference will work whether or not the date part is linked to the year part, or, better yet, the system is made to recognize the text "year in XXXX" as a part of the year's number text, and treat it accordingly. Yes, there's a problem, yes it needs to be addressed (preferably with a software fix), but to allow a bot to continue to undo all that work seems quite unwise. Once a fix is found, how were you planning on putting all those YiX links back? Akradecki 21:03, 1 February 2007 (UTC)
The issue about date preference is not specifically under discussion in that sense but the comment "As for the 'preferences' thing of rendering dates in alternative styles - that leaves me cold." doesn't indicate support. For those editors, including me, who use the links in the way we do, you may wish to consider that we are doing so with some thought. As per my comments above, date preferences in yyyy-mm-dd format are not useful in a narrative particularly and as an editor I am not interested in supporting text that includes that form. Date preferences for day month or month day still do work with the way I choose to link (sometimes); ie I do support the first part of Wikipedia:Manual of Style (dates and numbers)#Dates containing a month and a day.
For yearless dates, the MOS only deprecates the same because context might be lost. It does not mention date preferences as a reason for including the year.
The issue will only be solved when the debate or fix on A new parallel syntax for autoformatting dates is resolved. In the mean time mass edits changing dates is deprecated[3] - why is a bot doing it?--Golden Wattle talk 00:53, 1 February 2007 (UTC)
You've just taken a sentence out of context to make a point. The editor said: As for the 'preferences' thing of rendering dates in alternative styles - that leaves me cold. Linking dates as a way to make the MediaWiki recognise them as such is an ugly mechanism. If we must do that, there should be some other kind of markup that doesn't result in an ugly link. A lot of people agree that the current data preferences scheme is far from perfect and hopefully it will be changed at some time in the future. It's not the same as saying that the current data preferences scheme is bad and it shouldn't be used at all. Anyway, why don't you take it to Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style (dates and numbers)? I think you could get more feedback there if you are not happy with current guidelines. Jogers (talk) 11:03, 1 February 2007 (UTC)
Since this discussion is not really about how the bot performs a function, but about the function the bot performs, perhaps it would be better suited at the relevant manual of style page. Either a consensus already exists there, or one can be discussed. HighInBC (Need help? Ask me) 19:28, 1 February 2007 (UTC)
Much better location for this. Now, my opinion is that this bot is performing a valuable function in unifying the style of Wikipedia. I see no consensus to disallow this function. I believe it is in line with the current consensus, which while some object to it, remains. HighInBC (Need help? Ask me) 21:17, 1 February 2007 (UTC)
Not to argue, but can you point me to a place where this consensus is clearly enumerated? Because I've read quite a bit of the debate both here and at Piping, and I have yet to find overwhelming consensus. What I find is a lot of debate, and a lot of disagreement. And, don't the hundreds of editors who use the YiX feature as a tool count as a collective consensus in their own right? By characterizing the response as "some object to it" ignores what consensus is, and more importantly, that consensus can change, especially when folks realize the effects of a guideline. Remember, folks, we're talking guideline here. By definition, it's not a hard-and-fast rule, but having a bot enforce it like it is seems extremely unwise.
As to the actual issue about date formats, use of YiX links and user preferences, surely there's a way to fix the system so that all interests can be accommodated. I'd like to see the discussion focus there, rather than rehashing the bot issue. The damage done by the bot is done, and has been reverted in some cases. Those that want to make a case that date formats should trump all other interests should step up and make a case for why that's so much more important than useful YiX links. And, as I said at the beginning of this paragraph, if someone can point to a talk page where real consensus was expressed, I'd really like to see it. Akradecki 02:54, 2 February 2007 (UTC)

Hi. I've only skimmed over the above discussion, so correct me if I've misinterpreted the situation or something like that.

I would consider Joger's interpretation of the guidelines to be correct. Linking dates, at this point in time (hopefully that'll change soon), is primarily to allow preferences to work. While links like 2006 in music are okay if 2006 is standalone or in something like February 2006 in music, if they are part of a full date, it should be written 21 February 2006.

However, (s)he should take care with the effects of making such changes automatically, as the target was chosen for a reason — it was merely misplaced. One suitable solution could be: 21 February 2006 (see 2006 in music), which is even preferred by some editors when not working with full dates (e.g. "released in 2006 (see 2006 in music)"). Another suitable solution could be to recast the sentence or move the link such that the topical year link can be in a different place, but still part of a sentence.

I would not encourage edits that remove the target of links to pages like 2005 in aviation completely — rather, I would encourage that the best of both worlds be sought. Neonumbers 04:46, 2 February 2007 (UTC)

This is a great solution. Easter egg links are usually bad anyway, because people assume they just point to the year page and don't follow them, especially when they're part of a full date — your solution actually shows people where the link goes. But changing them in this way may not be possible for a bot. Stephen Turner (Talk) 05:25, 2 February 2007 (UTC)
I bet that nobody will fix this in several thousands articles by hand. In fact, the editors who raised concerns about the bot activity don't seem to be interested in fixing this at all. Jogers (talk) 14:37, 2 February 2007 (UTC)
Jogers, that may simply be due to the fact that people are waiting to see the resolution before possibly wasting their time reverting what may get re-reverted again anyway. I am curious, though, as I asked in the Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style (dates and numbers)#Year linking and delinking section above, isn't there a way to modify the coding so that both the user's date preference AND the "year in x" links will both work? This would seem to be an excellent compromise outcome. Askari Mark (Talk) 19:03, 2 February 2007 (UTC)

But the editors that raised concerns about the bot activity didn't believe that what Jogersbot was doing was fixing it. I'm not siding them, I'm just saying that one needn't and shouldn't come at the sacrifice of the other. It goes for both sides.

Would it be possible to change:

On [[21 February]], [[2003 in film|2003]], John Smith directed a film.


On [[21 Feburary]], [[2003]] (see [[2003 in film]]), John Smith directed a film.

by bot?

It's not the ideal solution (the ideal would be to work the link elsewhere into the sentence/paragraph), but it's better than removing the "in film" part altogether. Neonumbers 10:46, 3 February 2007 (UTC)

I agree that this is not an ideal solution but it is possible to do by the bot. Jogers (talk) 12:07, 3 February 2007 (UTC)
Tossing my opinion here. What Jogers's bot has been doing is completely in line with existing guidelines. Given the current state of date formatting that relies on user preferences and wikilinking, it is incorrect and inappropriate to link the year portion of complete date to a year in topic. I've no objection to year-only links to topic articles, although the easter egg factor and clarity of linking is something to consider. I think Neonumbers's suggestion for separating the year in topic links from the complete date is a workable compromise. olderwiser 12:42, 3 February 2007 (UTC)
Jogers's work is following the MOS. I am surprised to see this much opposition. I have not run into it when I removed some of these links myself. While I don't think the Easter egg issue is that convincing, the preferences functionality is a very important issue. Rmhermen 20:18, 4 February 2007 (UTC)
I doubt that can be done safely by bot. I suspect there would be too many exceptions that would require you to read the whole sentence and surrounding sentences. Stephen Turner (Talk) 17:17, 3 February 2007 (UTC)
You are right. I've just realized that. Jogers (talk) 12:26, 4 February 2007 (UTC)
The problem I have with separate annotation of "(see Year in X)" is that in writing articles about aircraft, we typically end up identifying a number of historical events: first flight, initial and final delivery dates, service entry, retirement, notable events in its operational history, etc. Accordingly, you would have it popping up several times, making it an eyesore as far as readability goes. Still, I find Neonumbers' proposal much preferable to the current situation. It's also far preferable to repeatedly having to try writing unawkward single or multiple sentences to capture the preference-linked date on the one hand and the "year in x" year (or date) separately. Askari Mark (Talk) 22:10, 4 February 2007 (UTC)