Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style (dates and numbers)/Archive D6

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Years and dates archives

Note: I have added nowiki's to correct some broken templates. Please see earlier versions of this page for the correct content. — Carl (CBM · talk) 15:04, 13 December 2009 (UTC)

Gregorian calendar

Dates like 1582-10-10 appear to be in ISO 8601 format. This is especially true for autoformatted dates, because the user preferences window indicates this format with the text "2001-01-15T16:12:34", which is unmistakably in the ISO 8601 format. The ISO 8601 format requires the use of the Gregorian calendar, and for dates before that calender was introduced, the proleptic Gregorian calendar. Browsing a few articles suggests that many editors do not understand this convention, and are therefore presenting incorrect dates to readers. Also, a date in a non-numeric format such as 10 October 1582 will generally be presumed to be in the Julian calendar (since it is before the introduction of the Gregorian calendar) so if it is autoformatted, the meaning of the date changes depending on the reader's preference setting.

Please note that discussions on this matter have been quite amicable and this RFC is only to attract a wider audience.

--Gerry Ashton (talk) 17:46, 18 August 2008 (UTC)

I have moved the recent addition:

Because readers who are logged in and have set a date and time preference to "2001-01-15T16:12:34" will see what seems to be an ISO 8601 format date, and because ISO 8601 format only uses the Gregorian calendar (or the proleptic Gregorian calendar before that calendar went into force in various areas), articles autoformatting any date before the adoption of the Gregorian calendar in the area discussed in the article should explicitly state that the proleptic Gregorian calendar is used in the article. A date in any calendar except the (proleptic) Gregorian calendar must not be autoformatted.

to here for further discussion, because it affects so many article and we should give careful consideration to whether this should be addressed separately from a general removal of links on dates --Philip Baird Shearer (talk) 11:55, 18 August 2008 (UTC)

The MOS contains the text:

  • A date in any calendar except the (proleptic) Gregorian calendar must not be autoformatted.

Does that mean that autoformatting is not safe for dates prior to 1583? Lightmouse (talk) 08:56, 17 August 2008 (UTC)

The proleptic Gregorian calendar means this very thing: that it is used for dates in areas which did not have the Gregorian calendar then. The guideline refers to different calendars. But yes, editors should be more careful for these dates.
I suppose this complication is yet another reason why we would be better off without auto-formatting. Waltham, The Duke of 09:14, 17 August 2008 (UTC)

Hmm. This is worrying. Are you saying that all the current links for dates prior to 1583 are safe? It is just editors that create new links that need to watch out? Lightmouse (talk) 09:26, 17 August 2008 (UTC)

No; I cannot possibly claim that the Manual of Style is adhered to in every single article. Quite the contrary. What I am saying is that, as long as we use auto-formatting, it is not restricted to dates after 1583. If by "safe" you mean "foolproof", then yes, it is unsafe to use auto-formatting for dates in a calendar other than the Gregorian. But again, I don't think anything is foolproof in Wikipedia. (And we're aiming to remove auto-formatting anyway; we might as well start from the more dubious dates.) Waltham, The Duke of 10:28, 17 August 2008 (UTC)

I agree. There are general problems with autoformatting that apply to all dates. I was not aware until now that dates prior to 1583 have a specific error condition that will almost certainly remain uncorrected. I propose that the current text:

  • Because readers who are logged in and have set a date and time preference to "2001-01-15T16:12:34" will see what seems to be an ISO 8601 format date, and because ISO 8601 format only uses the Gregorian calendar (or the proleptic Gregorian calendar before that calendar went into force in various areas), articles autoformatting any date before the adoption of the Gregorian calendar in the area discussed in the article should explicitly state that the proleptic Gregorian calendar is used in the article. A date in any calendar except the (proleptic) Gregorian calendar must not be autoformatted.

is changed to:

  • Dates prior to 1583 must not be autoformatted. This is because autoformatting of dates that are not Gregorian or proleptic Gregorian can cause an error that is almost impossible to detect.

Lightmouse (talk) 10:41, 17 August 2008 (UTC)

The guideline is wrong, as is the proposal. For example William Shakespeare died on April 23 1616. If what you are saying is true then nearly every date article on Wikipedia will need changing, and the dates of events in the general articles will have different dates from those in the date articles. It will also effect categories for births and deaths of those born around January 1. Indeed for some years Christmas day will not be in the right year let alone on the right day.--Philip Baird Shearer (talk) 11:02, 17 August 2008 (UTC)

I think it was Gerry Ashton who inserted this yesterday. Gerry, can you assist in this discussion? Tony (talk) 11:08, 17 August 2008 (UTC)
The problem, which is what I had in mind when I edited the guideline, is that a reader is apt to presume that a date that looks like 1582-10-04 is an ISO 8601 date, especially after reading this guideline and viewing the date and time preferences window. Since ISO 8601 dates by definition use the (proleptic) Gregorian calender, 1582-10-04 is 11 days before the introduction of the Gregorian calendar, and would have been designated 24 September 1582 on the Julian calender which was in use on that day. Because the potential for errors is so great, and because readers who have chosen the ISO format have a definite statement about the calendar just by the format of the date, which other readers lack, it is wise to confirm to the ISO format readers, and to inform the other readers, that the proleptic Gregorian calendar is in use.
I am not aware of any fault in the automatic formatting that causes dates before 15 October 1582 to be displayed incorrectly.
Since ISO 8601 only uses the Gregorian format, any attempt to use that format and at the same time state that some other calendar is in use is an unacceptable contradiction.
I'm cheap, so I have not purchased the official version of the ISO 8604 standard, but here is a quote from a version that is on the web:
The introduction of the Gregorian calendar included the cancellation of the accumulated inaccuracies of the Julian calendar. However, no dates shall be inserted or deleted when determining dates in the proleptic Gregorian calendar. NOTE In the proleptic Gregorian calendar, the calendar year [0000] is a leap year. EXAMPLE The Gregorian calendar was introduced on 15 October 1582. In the calendar set by this standard the calendar day preceding that calendar day is referred to as 14 October 1582. In the Julian calendar that calendar day is referred to as 4 October 1582.
--Gerry Ashton (talk) 18:06, 17 August 2008 (UTC)

Philip, I'm not sure what you mean by "if what you are saying is true then nearly every date article on Wikipedia will need changing". Could you explain? What is a "date article"? --Gerry Ashton (talk) 20:06, 17 August 2008 (UTC)

By date article I mean under the article "date day" things that happened on that day will need adjusting if we are to say that such and such an event happened on that day. For example what was the date of the Battle of Agincourt? The article says "25 October 1415", as does the day date of October 25. We should not adjust such a date to the Gregorian calendar --Philip Baird Shearer (talk) 22:18, 17 August 2008 (UTC)
More to the point, because there is ambiguity, articles should say which calendar dates are expressed in. We must not assume that readers are familiar with MOSNUM.LeadSongDog (talk) 13:16, 18 August 2008 (UTC)
a reader is apt to presume that a date that looks like 1582-10-04 is an ISO 8601 date, especially after reading this guideline and viewing the date and time preferences window - I'd say that less than 1 in 1000 readers knows what an ISO 8601 date is, and less than 1 in a million readers will have read this guideline. So let's not do anything based on what readers know about either of these things - in fact, I'd give long odds that the vast majority of readers have no idea what the difference is between Julian and Gregorian calendars (and yes, that is certainly covered in one or more classes in high school, or earlier, but that doesn't mean that people remember what was taught). -- John Broughton (♫♫) 20:01, 19 August 2008 (UTC)

Random832 asked at the Village pump (policy) page "for what years should the Julian calendar be applied? Between 1582 and 1923 it is ambiguous." It depends on the subject matter of the article, but whatever is done should be explicitly stated in the article. If it were me, and the article was not connected to any particular location, I would make the transition at 1582. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 18:22, 22 August 2008 (UTC)

Shakespeare: a particular error

When reading Wikipedia's William Shakespeare article with date/time preferences set to ISO 8601 format, we read:

William Shakespeare (baptised 1564-04-26 – died 1616-04-23)[a]
a. ^ Dates use the Julian calendar, used in England throughout Shakespeare's lifespan. Under the Gregorian calendar, which was adopted in Catholic countries in 1582, Shakespeare died on May 3.[187]

So the format of the date proclaims it is in the Gregorian proleptic calendar, but the footnote proclaims it is in the Julian calendar, so the article contradicts itself. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 18:17, 17 August 2008 (UTC)

The article does not use 1564-04-26 it uses "26 April 1564 – died 23 April 1616". If one sets date format in one's preferences one will see "baptised 1564-04-26 – died 1616-04-23" but there is nothing to say that that is a Gregorian date and the footnote makes it clear that Julian dates are being used -- as is the norm for dates in England before the Calendar (New Style) Act 1750 and the changes bought in in 1752.
Gerry Ashton, you are making the assumption that is not born out in fact of how dates are entered in Wikipeida. If an editor enters the date as 1616-04-23 and the event took place in England they are assuming the Julian calendar not the Gregorian calendar date, and the link goes to the common English events of that date one of which is the death of Shakespeare. This is made clear in this guideline in the section Calendars. There is nothing in the preferences that says that the style yyyy-mm-dd is an ISO 8601 format it only says:
  • No preference
  • 16:12, January 15, 2001
  • 16:12, 15 January 2001
  • 16:12, 2001 January 15
  • 2001-01-15T16:12:34
To alter dates would be very time consuming and complicated, for example Charles I executed on 30 January the articles Charles I of England, High Court of Justice for the trial of Charles I and the day say January 30? The Battle of Hastings says October 14, as does the article October 14. If we were to alter this Wikipeda would be at odds with just about every secondary source that is published on these topics. And No I see no problem with autoformatting to October 14 from the Battle of Hastings article any more than November 5 from the Glorious Revolution (An auspicious date for the landings because of the Gunpowder Plot):
  • 1605 - Gunpowder Plot: A plot led by Robert Catesby to blow up the English Houses of Parliament is thwarted when Sir Thomas Knyvet, a justice of the peace, finds Guy Fawkes in a cellar below the Parliament building.
  • 1688 - Glorious Revolution begins: William of Orange lands at Brixham.
Or October 25 to the 1917 October Revolution. Much easier to add a warning to those using the format YYY-MM-DD in this guideline --Philip Baird Shearer (talk) 22:18, 17 August 2008 (UTC)
The association between dates in the format 2001-01-15 and ISO 8601 is quite strong, and the association between the format 2001-01-15T16:12:34 and ISO 8601 is so strong as to be practically unbreakable. Furthermore, many editors and readers seem to think such an association within Wikipedia does exist. If Wikipedia made a futile attempt to break the association by posting some text somewhere, it would amount to a truly idiotic and uncalled for novel standard. I suggest going through all the date articles with a bot and removing all the autoformatting. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 22:42, 17 August 2008 (UTC)
Also, I take the view that a date in an article is entirely wrong if it is wrong for any possible presentation using any possible user preference. If it is right for a user using no preference, and autoformatted into an error for a user with the 2001-01-15T16:12:34 set, it is wrong. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 22:45, 17 August 2008 (UTC)

There seems to be a conflict of what is expected of autoformatting:
1 - That it correctly interprets and formats the date, which is NEVER going to happen. Any date from 1582 until the date of Gregorian switchover in the relevant locale, you'd also need to know which calendar (Gregorian or Julian), which implies a need to incorporate location into the date. And which date is being used for new year, 25 March or 1 January?
2 - That it formats a text string into the format preferred by the reader. While I can see the point that it's not going to help most readers, it will help registered users, those who are more likely to get into edit-wars over date format than casual readers. If autoformat forestalls edit wars I'm all for it. Bazj (talk) 23:57, 17 August 2008 (UTC)

Again, Bazj, you're promulgating this fear of edit-warring without evidence that it has already occurred or is likely to occur. Apart from the power of the ArbCom ruling, emblazoned at the top of MOSNUM and elsewhere, to lead to the quick, clean hosing down of any dispute that did occur, I put it to you that the community has moved on from such systemic edit wars. I hope this is not fearmongering! Tony (talk) 00:17, 18 August 2008 (UTC)
Bazj's post illustrates the danger of the passive voice when he writes "what is expected of autoformatting". Just who is doing the expecting? In the absence of an explicit statement, I assume that since we exist to serve the reader, the reader is doing the expecting. A reader who registers and sets a preference to 2001-01-15T16:12:34 will either not know what to expect (due to ignorance of ISO 8601, the finer points of the Gregorian calendar, or both) or will expect dates to be in the (proleptic) Gregorian calendar. Any date that does not satisfy that perfectly reasonable expectation is wrong. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 00:31, 18 August 2008 (UTC)
"Any date that does not satisfy that perfectly reasonable expectation is wrong." The date is not wrong -- it would be wrong (as it would not be supported by most reliable verifiable sources) to use Gregorian dates for British events that happened before 1752. Wikipedia is no alone in making such compromises. This NASA source say "All eclipse dates from 1582 Oct 15 onwards use the modern Gregorian calendar currently found throughout most of the world. The older Julian calendar is used for eclipse dates prior to 1582 Oct 04. Due to the Gregorian Calendar Reform, the day following 1582 Oct 04 (Julian calendar) is 1582 Oct 15 (Gregorian calendar). ... here are a number of ways to write the calendar date through variations in the order of day, month and year. The International Organization for Standardization's ISO 8601 advises a numeric date representation which organizes the elements from the largest to the smallest. The exact format is YYYY-MM-DD where YYYY is the calendar year, MM is the month of the year between 01 (January) and 12 (December), and DD is the day of the month between 01 and 31. For example, the 27th day of April in the year 1943 would then be expressed as 1943-04-27. We support the ISO convention but have replaced the month number with the 3-letter English abbreviation of the month name for additional clarity. From the previous example, we express the date as 1943 Apr 27." Which is similar to the wording we use in this guideline. BTW that NASA source links to a page called Calendar Dates that links to a Swiss site which includes this page that says: "The ISO 8601 date format may be used both with the Gregorian and with the Julian systems (and with many other calendar systems). Dates in the Julian calendar are marked with 'J', and those in the Gregorian calendar (when this is made explicit) are marked with 'G'." --Philip Baird Shearer (talk) 10:46, 18 August 2008 (UTC)
What I mean by Wikipedia had warnings about ISO is in this guideline:
  • Dates "ISO 8601 dates (1976-05-31) 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." (also given in WP:MOS#Dates
  • Calendar "Dates before the adoption of the Gregorian calendar on 15 October 1582 are normally given in the Julian calendar. The Julian day and month should not be converted to the Gregorian calendar, but the start of the Julian year should be assumed to be 1 January (see below for more details). ... "Dates of events in countries using the Gregorian calendar are given in the Gregorian calendar. This includes some of the Continent of Europe from 1582, the British Empire from 14 September 1752, and Russia from 14 February 1918 (see the Gregorian calendar article). ... The dating method used in a Wikipedia article should follow that used by reliable secondary sources. If the reliable secondary sources disagree, choose the most common used by reliable secondary sources and note the usage in a footnote."
I think that this gives sufficient warning (similar to the NASA eclipse web article above) that autoformatted ISO looking date strings will use both Julian and Gregorian date depending on what is the normal method of describing dates for a given topic. --Philip Baird Shearer (talk) 12:08, 18 August 2008 (UTC)

The Swiss web site mentioned by Philip is the personal web site of Peter Meyer. Ordinarily it would be considered unreliable, although I have seen it mentioned favorably in a number of places. In any case, he has no authority to change an ISO standard that explicitly says it uses only the Gregorian calendar. Furthermore, section 3.4 of the standard, "Characters used in the representations" does mention single letters with special meanings, like "T" and "Z", but does not mention Meyer's "J" or "G". The instant you put a "G" or a "J" onto what would otherwise be an ISO 8601 date, it becomes a Peter Meyer date.

Wikipedia does indeed say we should ordinarily use either the Julian or Gregorian calendar, whichever was in general use in the area described in the article. That's the right thing to do. (What to do in an area that used some other calendar is not so clear.) Wikipedia also strongly implies that dates in the YYYY-MM-DD format are ISO 8601 format, and even if we didn't imply it, readers would infer it anyway. Thus, every article that presents a date in the YYYY-MM-DD format is proclaiming that it is in the Gregorian calendar. If the article has a note to the contrary, the article contradicts itself.

We could attempt to create the "English Wikipedia Standard Date Format" and try to explain how it might be either Julian or Gregorian, depending on the country discussed, but that would be a terrible idea. It would be better to just not use the ISO 8601 format, or autoformatting, for any date preceeding 14 September 1725, as well as any date in the Julian calendar after that date. I'm starting to think this needs wider attention, perhaps at the Village Pump. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 17:25, 18 August 2008 (UTC)

Straw poll on all-numeric dates, meaning & warning

Since three days have passed since the last comment in this thread, I think it's time to sum up editor's conclusions.

The purpose of this straw poll is to find out if editors opinions on two questions:

  1. Within the English Wikipedia, are all-numeric dates like "1582-10-09" governed by ISO-8601?
  2. Should the Manual of style (dates and numbers) contain a prohibition against using all-numeric dates like "1582-10-09", or autolinking such dates, unless the date is in the Gregorian calendar or proleptic Gregorian calendar (except direct quotations, combined with appropriate explanation to the reader)?

Note that the below chart does not allow ~~~~ signatures to be used. You must copy/paste or hand-edit your signature. For assistance in writing your signature, you may copy the time below in red from the preview window after refreshing while in edit mode:

08:27, 20 September 2018 (UTC)

Y = yes, N = no
Editor ISO 8601 governs dates like "1582-10-10" Prohibit such dates & autolinking if not in (proleptic) Gregorian calendar
Gerry Ashton 23:52, 21 August 2008 (UTC) Y Y
User:Blank ? ?
User:Blank ? ?
User:Blank ? ?
User:Blank ? ?

Comments for all-numeric dates, meaning & warning straw poll

ISO 8601 is the best-known standard for this format, and there are many mentions within Wikipedia MOSs and cite templates of these dates being ISO or ISO 8601. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 23:58, 21 August 2008 (UTC)

  • Gerry, your understanding of the issues around dates in the proleptic Gregorian calendar, and of ISO 8601, clearly exceeds that of most editors! Regarding the "many mentions within Wikipedia" of 'ISO dates,'" I fear we must interpret these as, "dates expressed in the ISO form, i.e. YYYY-MM-DD" and not interpret them as having much else to do with the ISO standard. As regards this poll: isn't it "obvious" that editors wishing to use dates in a calendaring system other than Gregorian should avoid auto-formatting entirely? (sdsds - talk) 23:22, 24 August 2008 (UTC)
  • Unfortunately, it is hard to tell if other editors are avoiding the use of autoformatting when a date is in a non-Gregorian calendar, because many articles that use pre-1582 dates do such a bad job of stating what calendar is being used, you can't tell if the editors got it right or wrong, except by looking it up in a reliable source. In the handfull of articles I looked at, the sources were hardcopy, and I didn't own a suitable book to look it up in. The articles with titles like August 24 are especially bad about indicating which calendar is in use, although they don't use autoformatting much. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 23:35, 24 August 2008 (UTC)

Again calling for date linking to be deprecated


Although the discussion always seems to go off at various tangents when the issue is raised (like when I raised it above), I still see no argument of any weight against deprecating the linking of dates (except in special cases), and plenty of arguments (and apparent consensus) in favour. If no-one can come up with a valid counterargument, I'm going to start feeling bold and editing the guideline accordingly.--Kotniski (talk) 10:57, 16 August 2008 (UTC)

I do not think we are anywhere near the stage of changing the guidelines as yet there is definitely no agreement as far as I can see to depreciate the use of date linking. It looks like from the arguments that we are heading for a do it on an article by article basis. I still think that the way forward is a software change that would enable dates in articles to be put in which ever format people want and then for them to be formatted for display according to user preference or according to browser preference for unregistered users. The constant changing of dates by people as has been noted above causes a significant number of history revisions on articles, this will continue as people will put the dating in in their normal manner no matter what we prescribe here. By changing the software to correctly do the actual formatting for the user means that the format in the article source is irrelevant. This will cut out the need for changes to articles where the only change is from '2 August' to 'August 2'. Those that want to use ISO dates can do as people will not see them as such unless they chose that preference or have a browser set for that preference. The software could also be changed to display or not display the links to the date articles and so solve the problem of too many blue links that some people have. Keith D (talk) 11:29, 16 August 2008 (UTC)
I see no earthly point in doing it on an article-by-article basis. I mean the linking; obviously the style of date will be consistent only at article level. But one we've decided (as I believe we have) that there is no virtue and much vice in linking dates for the sole purpose of making autoformatting work, then this surely applies to one article as much as to any other. So let's change the guidelines so that edits which remove date links (which nearly everyone agrees are improvements) are not detrimentally reverted on ENGVAR-type grounds. What the developers may do with the software in the future is not foreseeable enough to be of much concern to us - personally I hope they don't waste any of their valuable time over this issue when there are many far more significant improvements waiting to be done.--Kotniski (talk) 12:29, 16 August 2008 (UTC)
Well, predictably, I fully support Kotniski's call. However, I don't think reversions are on any rationale basis, let alone ENGVAR. Perhaps leave a little room for autoformatting while generally recommending it not be used? That might save angst in quarters where folk will become very upset at losing their blue-splotch dates. Tony (talk) 13:15, 16 August 2008 (UTC)

Excellent idea Keith! Please go ahead and change the software. We're not heading for an article-by-article basis: this is where we're at. The delinking being done on this basis has been generally met with a positive response. The arguments for it are strong. Those not in favour of depreciating autoformatting seem to think it can be fixed. If you've been following the issue, you'd understand why those in favour of depreciation have given up hope in having it fixed. We're everywhere near the stage of changing the guidelines. Let them be changed but heed Tony's call about allowing a little room to move (at least for now) for those who still think it's a good thing. JIMp talk·cont 14:00, 16 August 2008 (UTC)

Not sure I understand what is envisaged by this "a little room to move" - can you or Tony be more specific? --Kotniski (talk) 15:15, 16 August 2008 (UTC)
Well, that could be achieved in a number of wordings; for example, by including the word "generally", or "unless there is good reason to use it", or some such. This would soften what might otherwise be an imperative, and would avoid suddenly turning the vast majority of articles into MOS breaches while at the same time legitimising the change-over. Tony (talk) 15:33, 16 August 2008 (UTC)
Although there are still some "pockets of resistance", I wonder if Tony1's reasoned arguments behind the change can be posted somewhere as "pointer" to the direction being advocated. FWiW Bzuk (talk) 15:39, 16 August 2008 (UTC).
  • Jimp, Tony: I think you’ve got some inertia going here in identifying what needs to be done and are doing good work in finally fixing MOSNUM. Loose the links to random trivia that is usually beyond tangential to the articles. Formatting by itself (without linking) seems perfectly workable tool when employed properly under current guidelines—but with one caveat: Except for the [[2005-06-08]] method, which isn’t for producing ISO formats, but was intended to take an ISO-formatted input with which to output dates with spelled-out month names *but it only does so for registered edtiors* (terribly unwise since 99.9% of readers see numeric-only dates). I suggest a bot be made that goes in to articles, looks for any other hard-coded dates to see how they are formated (14 Feb or Feb, 14), and which then converts the ISO-input dates to hard-coded ones. Greg L (talk) 20:54, 16 August 2008 (UTC)
Earlier on this page SandyGeorgia had indicated some formatting problems in the citation template that precluded the use of any other format than ISO dating, which is still an prospect of take this information "with a grain of salt" as previous efforts to have the templates adjusted have not been well received. An attempt to have MLA-style templates was simarily rebuffed, so don't hold your breath. FWiW, now, have I mixed enough metaphors in one statement? Bzuk (talk) 21:48, 16 August 2008 (UTC).
  • Disagree - The work being done, albeit well intentioned, to remove markup that indicates some text may be automatically formated, is a step in the wrong direction. What wikipedia (enwiki, and elsewhere) needs is more markup indicating text which can be autoformatted, not less! (sdsds - talk) 00:43, 17 August 2008 (UTC)
Sd is concerned that meta-info will be lost forever if we say good-bye to double square brackets in dates; I've explained on his/her talk page that identifying raw dates is a piece of cake for a script if need be in the future. I don't know how this point was lost. I don't think there will be much enthusiasm for more markup in search of a problem that doesn't exist. Tony (talk) 00:54, 17 August 2008 (UTC)

Here's the text: I think this is the insertion we're looking for (in italics) in the "Date autoformatting" section. It will promote the simplification of wikitext, an increase in the salience of our high-value links, and the reduction of colour-clutter in our article text. It's a good example where a straight move towards simplicity in process immediately improves the product.

A combination of day-number and month can be autoformatted by adding square brackets ([[5 November]] or [[November 5]]; [[5 November]] [[1989]] or [[November 5]], [[1989]]). The square brackets instruct the MediaWiki software to format the item according to the date preferences for registered users who have chosen a setting and are logged in. This should not generally be used unless there is a particular reason to do so. Careful consideration of the advantages and disadvantages of the autoformatting mechanism should be made before applying it: the mechanism does not work for the vast majority of readers, such as unregistered users and registered users who have not made a setting, and can affect readability and appearance if there are already numerous high-value links in the text.

I've also inserted the US style into the example, for users who do have "a particular reason to do so"; I don't know why that was ever left out. Tony (talk) 00:51, 17 August 2008 (UTC)

Looks good. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 03:12, 17 August 2008 (UTC)
I would oppose this change. Aside from the addition being obviously false at the moment, since autoformatting is the current dominant practice, it is a step in the wrong direction to legislate personal preference in this manner. Providing the facts neutrally and leaving editors to use their best judgment is ideal. Christopher Parham (talk) 03:39, 17 August 2008 (UTC)
Christopher, I'm willing to change "is not generally used" to "should not generally be used" if people wish it. WRT your claim that the wording "legislate[s] personal preference", I, for one, am thinking only of our readers at large: if it's my personal preference to present the best formatting and linking environment for them, yep, I'm guilty as proven. I suspect that the "personal preferences" of the huge number of people forming a consensus here also place the needs of our IP readers uppermost. (I don't doubt that the opposition of such a skilled editor as you is well-intentioned, however.) Tony (talk) 05:58, 17 August 2008 (UTC)
Strongly support the change (though perhaps with additional information for the uninitiated to explain why legacy breaches of the rule are to be widely found - although hopefully bots will soon be getting to work eliminating these). It is not personal preference - it reflects widespread consensus reached on the basis of very strong arguments. And "providing the facts neutrally" is not what MoS is about - it's here specifically to make recommendations in matters where consistency across WP is desirable.--Kotniski (talk) 07:05, 17 August 2008 (UTC)
I also support the change. Opposers say that we could improve auto-formatting to a system acceptable by all; what we should be asking, however, is "Do we need it?" If you approach it as if auto-formatting were suggested now for the first time, you'd see that its benefits would not justify the trouble of applying it. As a proposal, it would sink. Features in Wikipedia should have a good reason for being there—let us not allow inertia to dictate our actions. Waltham, The Duke of 10:22, 17 August 2008 (UTC)
Moreover, those with the intrest to have it improved have not the power and those with the power have not the intrest. JIMp talk·cont 11:39, 17 August 2008 (UTC)

Support It's time to rid WP of these links to nothing of worth. JIMp talk·cont 11:39, 17 August 2008 (UTC)

Support Lightmouse (talk) 11:50, 17 August 2008 (UTC)

  • Harmful, unless... As Tony and others well know, there are many ways to use markup other than wikilinking that allow dates to be auto-formatted. Confusing the two is a convenient simplification that is simply unwarranted. MOS should indicate that if an editor wishes to unwikilink dates, that editor should use appropriate markup, such as <span class="wpAutoDate">17 August 2008</span> to allow the date to be appropriately formatted for presentation to readers. This kind of markup is automatically generated by e.g. {{date}}, isn't it? How can there be consensus when this hasn't been discussed? (sdsds - talk) 19:41, 17 August 2008 (UTC)
The Date template documentation says "dates between 1901 and 1969 will be displayed incorrectly (see bugzilla:11686). " Therefore this template is unfit for use. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 20:02, 17 August 2008 (UTC)

Support, if editors haven't read the comprehensive discourse already taken place, maybe they should familiarize themselves with the discussions on this page as well as the archived material. This discussion has now moved along, autodate formatting offers few advantages to the vast majority of readers/users who use wikipedia. The proposal, immediately above, of using markup such as <span class="wpAutoDate">17 August 2008</span> would put the onus on editors removing wikilinks although the case was not made for why we are keeping them in the first place. No one is advocating removal, merely deprecating the use of a format that is not that useful. FWiW, I would still favour the wikilinking of dates to lists such as the "year in film or "year in aviation." Bzuk (talk) 19:52, 17 August 2008 (UTC).

They are unlikely to familiarise themselves with any discussions unless there is a link to them. Would it be sufficient to take His Grace's list, make it into a subpage, and link to it, with a statement like Many editors find autoformatted date-links a net harm to Wikipedia. ? That's a deprecation. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:38, 17 August 2008 (UTC)
Bzuk: Piped links such as "year in film" and "year in baseball" are quite a separate issue from DA; this proposal will not impinge on them. Tony (talk) 00:10, 18 August 2008 (UTC)
On the contrary, it will affect them positively; not only will the removal of linked dates make the important links more visible, but the general de-linking will also expedite the removal of the remaining single-year links, and with it the confusion between them and the piped links you describe. Waltham, The Duke of 14:28, 18 August 2008 (UTC)
  • Strongly Oppose. Most of the arguments *against* auto-formatting are actually arguments against the blue-links, not the auto-formatting. As Sdsds says above, we're nowhere near consensus on changing the guideline. -- SatyrTN (talk / contribs) 22:02, 17 August 2008 (UTC)
Well, trivial blue links are bad, but there are at least six disadvantages, some of them highly significant. See His Grace's list. Tony (talk) 00:10, 18 August 2008 (UTC)
See also the talk page thereof for a few arguments against auto-formatting in general. Waltham, The Duke of 14:28, 18 August 2008 (UTC)
  • Oppose. The removal of auto-formatting is just inviting edit-wars. Bazj (talk) 23:29, 17 August 2008 (UTC)
Bazj: Can you point to a single instance of edit warring over date formats, even though autoformatting has been removed from many articles? Please provide a link to these instances here. Just as for the two basic varieties of spelling, WP has come to manage the selection and maintenance of one type very well indeed. What evidence do you have suggesting that the binary system for dates would spark wars whereas the binary system for spelling doesn't?Tony (talk) 00:02, 18 August 2008 (UTC)
Hasn't got there yet but the edits on the 14th & 16th Aug on Pope Leo XIII were heading that way. Autoformat at least lets User:Thomaq and User:Skyring see what they want to see. Bazj (talk) 11:10, 18 August 2008 (UTC)
Right, thank you for that, Bazj. I see that this article was a bit of a mess long before this debate ensued, with multiple MOSNUM breaches (mixture of US/international, autoformatted / not autoformatted, unspaced em dash in the dob/dod range, if you please, and wrong nav-box ranges at the bottom, still). And I'm afraid that in your attempts to reinstate autoformatting, you've got the syntax all wrong (e.g., 31 December, 1903). We go back to the first 12 months of the article history and see that there was a sole US-formatted date; I think that wins out, since any preference in Italy at that time seems irrelevant now. Either way, it should have been worked out at talk according to our long-established guideline "In the early stages of writing an article, the date format chosen by the first major contributor to the article should be used." I'll deal with all of these issues now, retaining DA for the moment, in US format. However, your comment "Autoformat at least lets [the two editors involved to] see what they want to see" I believe misses the entire point: our readers see the raw format, and it is they who matter, not what these two editors see! Tony (talk) 11:54, 18 August 2008 (UTC)
For the last month I have created a number of new articles within two of the most "strictly-adhere-by-the-letter-of-the-law" project groups, WP:FILM and WP:AVIATION. First of all, in the nature of full disclosure,I am not a neophyte editor. However, the articles have been the subject of interest to other editors, both new and from the ranks of veterans. I did not detect any sign of edit warring over the format of "no autodate links", much the opposite, the two project groups accepted the format without any visible reaction. I posted extensively to both project forums, to find mild interest in the direction I was taking but no real opposition, either. FWiW, I believe it is time for a change, and the majority of editors will accept this format adjustment without any problems. Bzuk (talk) 00:45, 18 August 2008 (UTC).

Support. Autoformatting doesn’t benefit the vast majority of readers. There was simply never any proper justification for creating a tool where only registered editors can see the editorial effect so 99.9% of Wikipedia’s readership see only a default style that could have been set in fixed text. Further, using the tool introduces the disadvantage of generating links to random irrelevant trivia. Even though the tool is widely used, that’s no reason whatsoever MOSNUM can’t call for editors no longer *adding* them to new articles and for explicitly allowing editors to change from autoformat to fixed text. Further, bots can later be made to do that drudgery for us. Greg L (talk) 03:56, 18 August 2008 (UTC)

Support. I have yet to see any compelling reasons for auto-formatting. So a few users can avoid seeing "16 November 2003" in some articles and "November 16, 2003" in others? They (or rather, we) still are the exact same users who think there are no problems with seeing "colour" in some articles and "color" in others, so what harm could date format differences do? Among the drawbacks of auto-formatting, the most serious is the hiding of inconsistencies from precisely those who would be most likely to fix them. My suggestion is to apply WP:ENGVAR to date formats while wikilinking only extremely relevant dates, and then the whole date (November 16, 2003), which would make for meaningful backlinks. -- Jao (talk) 13:04, 18 August 2008 (UTC)

Comment As I pointed out before without autoformatting there is no longer a reason, other than personal preference, why other alternative date styles can not be used within an article, providing of course they are used consistently within the article. So we can look forward to articles with "16th November 2003" in them. --Philip Baird Shearer (talk) 15:57, 18 August 2008 (UTC)
I don't see any reason why deprecating linking/autoformatting need affect what date formats are approved in the MoS.--Kotniski (talk) 16:49, 18 August 2008 (UTC)

Support - Agree completely with the rationale of Jao above, and others. There are no compelling reasons to continue autoformatting, to my knowledge. —Mattisse (Talk) 15:27, 18 August 2008 (UTC)

Support - Tony's proposal (with the "should" modification) states it clearly and benefits the greatest number of readers. If and when the developers decide to introduce coding to allow everyone to select a preference and to display so automatically, we can get by without. Askari Mark (Talk) 18:52, 18 August 2008 (UTC)

Support - many good reasons already given above. I also support Jao's idea: "My suggestion is to apply WP:ENGVAR to date formats while wikilinking only extremely relevant dates, and then the whole date (November 16, 2003), which would make for meaningful backlinks." Teemu Leisti (talk) 13:20, 20 August 2008 (UTC)

Support Tony's proposal above. Autoformatting as it is currently implemented does not have the kind of benefit that might justify its use, given that the blue links in articles should be of high value to the reader. EdJohnston (talk) 13:44, 20 August 2008 (UTC)

Support - plenty of good reasons to get rid of auto-formatting and none to preserve it. The auto-formatting hackery (and hacks to work around hacks for those hacks) is superfluous. Editors ought to write dates without adornment and without ambiguity; 'August 22, 2008' or '22 August 2008', just like they might write any other three words. Its not rocket science. -- Fullstop (talk) 17:21, 22 August 2008 (UTC)


I believe that a reasonable person would determine that there is overwhelming consensus to add the following sentence to the section “Date autoformatting”:

This should not generally be used unless there is a particular reason to do so.

The movement from mandatory to optional has occurred, in various forms, over more than two years. This has come to a head in the discussion here and elsewhere over the past six weeks, culminating in calls from numerous experienced editors for further movement. Their arguments are plainly set out here; in addition, I submit that the views expressed in favour of removing DA by some 50 other editors, most of whom are not regular participants at the MoS talk pages, be taken into account as secondary evidence of wider consensus in the project. Their comments have been cut and pasted into a central page here. In addition, the current seeking of consensus was flagged at the Village Pump.

Arguments have been put against the move, apparently based on the following good-faith motivations.

  • A frustration that WikiMedia could be lobbied again to improve the DA mechanism rather than dispensing with it ("throwing the baby out with the bathwater"). This appears to be particularly prevalent in users with IT/programming skills who value templates in general on WP.
  • A desire that WPians not have to read the "other" format.
  • A fear that edit-wars will ensue.

I put it to you that there is ample evidence on this page and elsewhere of compelling rebuttals of the opposing views. A number of people began the debate on the negative side and switched to strong support. Users Ckatz, EncMstr, BillCJ and Francis Shonken have expressed their opposition to the move, but have not contributed to the debate on this page; except for EncMstr, whose views are of the first type above, it has not been easy to locate and encapsulate substantive arguments by these users (F Schonken would only refer, repeatedly, to this debate from two years ago).

I will insert the sentence into MOSNUM forthwith. Thank you all for your contributions. Tony (talk) 01:38, 23 August 2008 (UTC)

There is a good aspect and a bad aspect to the interaction between autoformatting of dates and citation templates. The bad aspect is that the people who code the templates will have to be pursuaded to stop autolinking dates. The good aspect is that if they are pursuaded, many of the dates in citation templates will change at once. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 02:45, 23 August 2008 (UTC)

Proposal by Seddon

Having read through the various discussions I would like to offer a middle ground outcome when it comes to auto formatting. There is still the option of improving the auto formatting methods but this is a an option until that is worked upon. This may suffice until that time.

  • When using May 15 or 15 May no wiki linking is to be used as common sense prevails here that no matter where in the world you are you should be able to understand the date.
  • When using May 15, 2008 or 15 May, 2008 and other variations based on the same style for the same reasons as above, no wiki linking should be used.
  • When using ISO or US date standards in the format 2008-02-04 and 2008-04-02 and other integers between 1-12 used in this format, wiki linking should be used due to the easy confusion. For those who are not logged in, the link to the date will remain allowing this to be clarified.

This removes redundent wikilinking where it is not necessary but allows clarification where it is obviously needed. Seddσn talk Editor Review 01:51, 18 August 2008 (UTC)

I don't understand the third bullet. Are you suggest there is any standard anywhere in which the first group is the year and the last group is the month? I've never heard of such a standard. Are you suggesting there is a difference between the US and ISO interpretation of "2008-02-04"? I live in the US, and don't know of any difference in interpretation (except that some Americans might not know what to make of it).
Also, in the second bullet, I would not use a comma in "15 May, 2008" --Gerry Ashton (talk) 03:06, 18 August 2008 (UTC)
I don't think i quite understand your question in regards to the 3rd bullet. Could you clarify for me? Its a little late so my brain isn't working. Seddσn talk Editor Review 04:14, 18 August 2008 (UTC)
I understand your question now :) I also believe a mistake was made on my part as you have pointed out. There is no standard but i feel misinterpretation is possible. Seddσn talk Editor Review 05:03, 18 August 2008 (UTC)
The third bullet makes no sense to me at all. Also, please explain it from scratch. Please say what you think each example means, giving a spelled-out month. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 04:33, 18 August 2008 (UTC)
ISO dating should simply not even be in the question. Your first statements concur with others on the unnecessary need for autodate linking, leave it at that. FWiW, there is enough evidence that ISO dates cause too much confusion. Bzuk (talk) 05:07, 18 August 2008 (UTC).
So prehaps converting all ISO dates to some other format by the whatever it gets changed to first method, then leaving all other dates without formatting? Seddσn talk Editor Review 05:49, 18 August 2008 (UTC)
  • Support - This proposal as written is clear and understandable, and should be implemented, especially as regards ISO dates. That is, MoS should discourage editors from removing wikilinking around ISO dates. Moreover, per enwiki best practices, if the dates in an article (or table, or whatever) are already in ISO form, other editors should make their edits conform. (sdsds - talk) 03:46, 19 August 2008 (UTC)
  • Oppose - The date articles (for example, 18 August) are often very badly referenced; we should try to pretend they don't exist and avoid linking to them as much as possible. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 03:54, 19 August 2008 (UTC)
  • Oppose , it again brings in the conundrum of ISO dating. FWiW Bzuk (talk) 12:18, 19 August 2008 (UTC).
Basically, little or no support for this proposal, but moving it here to keep up the continuity of the discussion. FWiW [[[User:Bzuk|Bzuk]] (talk) 12:18, 19 August 2008 (UTC)).
  • Comment. For those who oppose autoformatting of ISO dates (or ISO dates altogether): how would you execute this edit? I believe it is warranted; it replaces a non-standard date format with a standard one. Automatically, with a (reasonably simple) regex. (Done through wikEd, incidentally.) I could have omitted the wiki links, but what purpose would that serve? In this way, editors can at least see their preferred date format, while the non-editors will see wikilinked ISO format, which is not a big problem. So, how would you do it? I'm interested. GregorB (talk) 12:48, 19 August 2008 (UTC)
Perhaps you have not seen the comments on this page about the confusion as to ISO dating. Those unfamiliar with the format will not be able to understand the sequence of mm/dd or dd/mm while the vast majority (one editor has estimated it at over 98% of Wikipedia users) do not have date preferences set on their browsers. What the autoformat date linking does, is accomodate the tiny proportion of experienced editors, but for the vast unwashed, it produces an undecipherable blob of numbers, or a blue link that gets them to date articles that often have no relation to the article context. FWiW, the entry that was provided as an example could have been written out in "clear" rather than ISO, sure it shows up properly on my browser but it won't on the typical user's browser who will shake their heads and wonder what is that? Bzuk (talk) 13:03, 19 August 2008 (UTC).
Once ISO dates are wikilinked, there is no confusion (i.e. the date is not ambiguous), which is true for both editors and non-editors. Other things being equal, marginally useful links are a small price to pay. You did not say what would you do instead. Leave it as it is? "01-02-2007" - that's a non-standard, ambiguous date. In this particular case it's February 1, 2007 - granted, this is the best solution. but I don't have a magic wand to change it, and I guess I'm not masochistic enough to do it by hand, introducing errors in the process. What to do with existing digits-only dates, ISO-style and non-standard ones? My position is that in these particular cases wikilinked ISO is the best temporary solution. GregorB (talk) 13:24, 19 August 2008 (UTC)
I did mention that I would have formatted the note in "clear" which is to say, written out as 1 February 2007. BTW, to someone unfamiliar with the format, reading "01-02-2007", is it "February 1, 2007" or "2 January, '07" and as a Polish editor pointed out in the WP"AVIATION PROJECT group as to the uncertain nature of determing the date, why have it all, and the entire project group now deprecates ISO dating. FWiW, digit only dates are very rare in English prose and look decidedly odd in Wiki text. At this point, wikilinking all dates into ISO would be as much a problem as simply writing out the dates in the first place, as to make the wikilinking work, all users would have to be reading the format accurately by having their preferences set. I'm not even going to bring up the differences in date format between regions. Bzuk (talk) 13:44, 19 August 2008 (UTC).
Yes, I'd write it in clear too, but as I said, I don't have a magic wand... I did not say that digit-only dates are not rare in English prose (they are) - they are not rare in Wikipedia articles, unfortunately. To summarize my point: 1) "clear" dates are better than 2) wikilinked ISO dates, which are in turn better then 3) non-wikilinked ISO dates, which are in turn better than 4) non-standard gunk (e.g. Kazushi_Sakuraba#Mixed_martial_arts_record). It's difficult to convert #4 to #1, but it should be reasonably easy to convert it to #2, with at least some benefit. GregorB (talk) 13:59, 19 August 2008 (UTC)
I would write your analysis as: 1) "clear" dates are better, use them. 2) See #1. There is no large-scale advantage to using a date system that the majority of users will not find as a benefit. Remember we are not writing for ourselves, and if readers do not use or need autoformat date linking, then we should not be using it. Bzuk (talk) 14:15, 19 August 2008 (UTC).
I have a feeling that we didn't understand each other. I got it, "clear" dates are the best, but are you actually volunteering to fix Kazushi_Sakuraba#Mixed_martial_arts_record with "clear" dates? I guess you're not, and I'm not volunteering either. Saying "don't use ISO for new stuff" is fine, but what about the old non-standard stuff? If the choice is leaving it as it is or converting it to wikilinked ISO - and let's face it, it is currently the only reasonable choice for countless existing tables in Wikipedia articles - then I'd opt for the latter. GregorB (talk) 14:48, 19 August 2008 (UTC)
Actually, I am at work right now in rewriting all dates in Wikipedia to a consistent style. I will get back to you in 20 years or so. No, of course, it's illogical to try to change everything that is in place but an effort to use common sense protocols will make a difference for the future. What is being advocated here is the deprecation of autodate linking as it is of limited (or dubious) benefit and a better system already exists. FWiW Bzuk (talk) 14:54, 19 August 2008 (UTC).

Oppose: If ISO dates are ambiguous, there's a better solution than linking: don't use them. There are only two advantages of ISO dates I can think of.

  1. They are short and of a standard length. With ordinary dates, however, if instead we abbreviate the month name to three letters, it's not much longer and a leading zero can be added where necessary to standardise the length.
  2. They sort chronologically. The only way to make use of this on WP is in a sort table. There are ways to get ordinary dates sorted correctly.

So don't link ISO dates, better just avoiding them. JIMp talk·cont 15:43, 19 August 2008 (UTC)

Oppose. Instead, I support Tony's proposal, for reasons already enumerated. Teemu Leisti (talk) 00:53, 21 August 2008 (UTC)

Oppose. To the extent that DA is to be deprecated, Seddon's middle-ground proposal is OBE; as for ISO dates, the rarer they are, the better. Askari Mark (Talk) 02:42, 23 August 2008 (UTC)

Datestyle citation template proposal

Following MOS decission that linking dates not automatically the prefered approach, discussion had at the Cite XXX family of templates about removing autowikilinking, but allowing the option of a per-article only-if-a-consensus basis of selecting US or International style of dates approapriate for article topic and so make references use a consistant style of dates as appears in the actual text of an article. Discussion centred on Template talk:Cite web to add a datestyle parameter, but with plan to then role-out across the citation templates.

First attempt had to be nearly instantly reverted, as others not using the templates as we (i.e. largely myself) had appreciated and actual implementation proved not quite what others had expected. So after some very helpful discussions and a number of alternative suggestions (and large number of examples set out), I think the proposal is ready for re-implementation. However we lack a breadth of other editors' input, so seems sensible for me to post a heads-up here, as the cite templates clearly must be subserviant to MOSDATE :-)

As a few quick sandbox examples for an updated cite web:

With current default with no datestyle set
{{User:davidruben/sandbox4|author=Author |title=Title |url= |date=August 24, 2007 |publication=Pub |accessdate=2008-08-18 |datestyle=}}

Author (August 24, 2007). "Title". Retrieved on 2008-08-18.

Where datestyle=mdy
{{User:davidruben/sandbox4|author=Author |title=Title |url= |date=August 24, 2007 |publication=Pub |accessdate=2008-08-18 |datestyle=mdy}}

Author (August 24, 2007). "Title". Retrieved on August 18, 2008.

Where datestyle=dmy
{{User:davidruben/sandbox4|author=Author |title=Title |url= |date=August 24, 2007 |publication=Pub |accessdate=2008-08-18 |datestyle=dmy}}

Author (24 August 2007). "Title". Retrieved on 18 August 2008.

see Template talk:Cite web#Review of current and sandbox coding - examples and now Template talk:Cite web#Proposal to go #2 - thank you David Ruben Talk 23:14, 18 August 2008 (UTC)

David, thanks heaps for your work on this. It looks good, but only as far as my untrained eyes can see. I do wish we could drop the "on", which in a list of many is quite unnecessary. I see a lot of non-citation refs that have no "on". Tony (talk) 00:01, 19 August 2008 (UTC)
  • Thats all well and good for Cite web, since the publication date and especially the access date are very likely to be in the Gregorian calendar. It is not acceptable for Cite book, since a fair number of books will have publication dates before the Gregorian calendar was adopted. I believe your code should reject dates in the YYYY-MM-DD format prior to 14 September 1752, and require that any such date be in a format in which the month is written out in letters. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 00:14, 19 August 2008 (UTC)
    Sorry not an issue can address for time being as mediawiki can not format (using #time) dates outside of range 1970-2038. So for all dates outside of this range, all that any template can currently do is to leave the input unaltered. Hence we can process "|date=1984-10-24 |datestyle=dmy" as 24 October 1984 but for "|date=1884-10-24 |datestyle=dmy" just as 24 October 1884 and likewise if "|date=24 August 1884 |datestyle=dmy" this must be just shown "as is" i.e. as 24 August 1884, or even if an editor enters "|date=uncertain but after 1792 |datestyle=dmy" as uncertain but after 1792. David Ruben Talk 03:42, 19 August 2008 (UTC)
    So if 'datestyle' parameter was introduced at {{cite book}}, then for now the 'date' parameter will still be entered by editors in the suitable format for the article (US or International) as they currently do, and whether or not 'datestyle' parameter is set will make no difference if the date is before 1970 (hence "|date=12 January 1624 |datestyle=dmy" or "|date=January 12, 1624 |datestyle=dmy"). But {{cite book}}'s instructions do allow for 'date' to be entered in ISO format and so where this might be after 1970, then at least 'datestyle' might show in a style consistant to dates within the article text and with other references that might use {{cite web}} or perhaps {{cite journal}} etc. (hence "...<ref>{{cite book....|date=1981-12-20|datestyle=dmy}}</ref>....<ref>{{cite web ...|date=2008-07-26 |accessdate=2008-08-18 |datestyle=dmy}}</ref>" migh appear in a more uniform manner). If at some future time mediawiki gets improved, then dates within cite book that predate 1970 might be also be displayed in a fixed consistant style as set primarily by user preferences (if set) or else as a default style set by the article's editors. For now I agree cite book for older publications wont appear any different with 'datestyle' enabled, but it may at least nudge towards greater consistancy throughout an article and across different cite XXX templates appearing within an article. David Ruben Talk 04:02, 19 August 2008 (UTC)
  • David, consider also a template that is not in the American Psychological Association (APA) style, but uses the Modern Language Association (MLA) style widely used in referencing works in the social sciences. The style consists of: Author (last name, first name). Title. Place of publishing: Publisher, date. Or failing that, at least a Harvard style template of Author (last name only) date, page. With these templates we are perpetuating the American Psychological Association myth of most-in-use. As for the need for citation templates, a great number of editors do not favour their use, and if anything, an effort to completely discard them would not be out of place. FWiW, I would support a outright deprecating of citation templates as they represent the worst of the "garbage in, garbage out" axiom. Bzuk (talk) 00:19, 19 August 2008 (UTC).
    Citation templates are of course optional, users are equally justified in choosing to manually mark-up references. The proposed 'datestyle' parameter discussion therefore only applies where an editor is choosing to use a citation template and aims to offer greater flexibility for them. That said, in biomedical articles where I mostly contribute, the use of PubMed and User:Diberri's markup generator tool are extremely useful. Citation templates have, IMHO, two major advantages, firstly the ease of initial markup creation (using automated tools described) and secondly, as you point out, if we could all agree to change citation formats (dropping for example the "on" in "accessdate" parameters, or deciding that 'author' or perhaps the 'title' should be in italics) then a simple template tweak takes care of this for us. However, as I say, using a citation tenplate is optional, and the 'datestyle' is just an attempt to help give greater flexibility for editors who elect to use the templates (a mediawiki feature to set a per-article variable that might be read and used by all templates appearing in the article would be a simpler option, but that is just mediawiki wishful thinking for now).David Ruben Talk 03:42, 19 August 2008 (UTC)
    Bzuk, it's the American Psychological Association, not Psychiatric; I meant to point this out before. I HATE their reference formatting with a vengeance. It hasn't changed in a long time, and contains illogical quirks and lots of redundant punctuation. Moreover, they make packets of money by changing a nut and a bolt in their manual and forcing all of the institutions to buy their new edition every few years. Not happy.
    More generally, I remain to be convinced that any citation template is superior to plain old manual WYKIWYG: What You Key in Is What You Get. The great advantage is local editor control and stability (whereas templates can suddenly change remotely, in the shadows. Tony (talk) 07:55, 19 August 2008 (UTC)
Tony1, thanks for the correction, the Psychological typo may have been inadvertent or as a subliminal aspect of my bias. I know that the dominance of the APA style dates back from my University days when professors literally enforced the style on legions of unsuspecting students. At the time, the MLA guide was prevalent but as a number of profs explained it, they were tired of having to explain the format and APA was so much easier. BUT, the overall question of citation templates remains, what they were there for in Wickywacky land was as an aid, not as the "be all and end all" that some editors have claimed. FWiW Bzuk (talk) 12:14, 19 August 2008 (UTC).
Well, I flatly declined my psychology supervisor's advice to toe the line with APA; my primary supervisor was in music, so that gave me a freer reign. I have no reason to disbelieve the explanation I've heard somewhere recently that citation templates were originally devised for newbies, and for WPians who weren't used to the demans of research references. My line is that compared with learning how to write prose, choosing a (manual) format for references and applying it consistently is a doddle; in fact, the relatively clerical task of checking through a manually constructed reference list is a good sop to the intensity of writing article prose. Tony (talk) 13:07, 19 August 2008 (UTC)
And as SandyGeorgia offered in a previous statement, one other consideration for "trumpeting" citation templates was that it would be a time-saver, which she concluded was not the case. In trying out the citation templates when I first encountered the Wiki world, I found them not only cumbersome, but rife with "bugs" that made them less than useful. I agree with you, the cite templates are not "cost effective" and their use should be more than entirely optional, but that's another story... FWiW Bzuk (talk) 13:16, 19 August 2008 (UTC).

A concern for the future

First off, I completely understand most of the reasons to remove date linking - the wikilink function is being overloaded with date autoformatting to distasterous results, as normally happens with badly thought out overloaded operators. Approaching the mediwiki devs resulted in no immediately plans to correct this. As a result, it does make sense to remove this function.

However, are we 100% that there will never be some extension or addition to Mediawiki that will give us the ability to autoformat dates via some other means (template/magic word, whatever)? My understanding is that if there was a magic template that took in any recognizable date format and spat out the date formatted to the user prefs (with some mechanism for non-logged in users and per page to see a consistent date format), we'd be all over that in a heartbeat. Let's assume the template also dealt with date ranges, the Gregorian calender per-1600 issue, IP geo-tracking, etc, in that it is a magic bullet for date autoformatting. (I don't know the programming for this extension, but I can see the template creation being rather easy as long as the extension is flexible as such). My concern thus is if there is going to be a possibility of date autoforatting via a sensible means, we are going to want to go back to that, and thus to do that we will need to re-iterate through all articles to find such dates. The mechanism being done now is stripping an easy (despite the illogical nature) method of computer-assisted detection of dates such that if we convert to this hypothetical scheme, it's going to take a lot of extra work.

Presuming that we haven't ruled out a future mediawiki change, my suggestion is that any dates stripped of wikilink presently need to be wrapped instead with a dummy template, "date" or "d" or something short. Presently, that template would simply regurgitate the date (no formatting at all), but the key is that now a script/bot can identify dates. This gives us a lightweight placeholder for all dates such that we can readdress the possibility of autoformatting in the future, with the turnaround to reconvert dates to autoformatted ones rather trivial - it would just be a matter of modifying this "date" template. Only if we are 100% sure that mediawiki will never have this ability can this aspect be ignored. However, my impression is that there's still room for such an addition. --MASEM 13:45, 20 August 2008 (UTC)

I don't see any harm in doing this. If the template is quick to type, it might encourage people to use standard date format too. But personally I see no value in further development work towards date autoformatting; the benefits are too minuscule to justify the effort and the additional complexity.--Kotniski (talk) 14:28, 20 August 2008 (UTC)
Bearing in mind, the "don't flog the dead horse" points brought up throughout this set of lengthy "strings", at this juncture, I would approach autodate formatting with some apprehension. FWiW Bzuk (talk) 15:23, 20 August 2008 (UTC).

What makes this really galling is that someone actually did the development work to auto-format the dates without link-syntax. It just needs testing and implementing Rich Farmbrough, 01:37 21 August 2008 (GMT).

I'm highly suspicious that that someone did the work for such a development and didn't bother testing it. My guess is that s/he ran into problems at an early stage. But the community has moved on from that issue: now, it's a matter of who needs to autoformat dates (no one, IMO), and why we should persist with a technical feature that delivers a nebulous advantage. I want to deliver control to editors, not developers, and WYKIWYG is a quick, simple way of achieving this. Tony (talk) 03:02, 21 August 2008 (UTC)
Tony, the log of the submission of the patch/module (whatever) is in the bug history. I'm sure they tested their own code but the devs have their own testing/release regime (quite rightly). Incidentally the bug is in the top 50 by votes. Rich Farmbrough, 13:41 26 August 2008 (GMT).
I agree with Kotniski on the fact that unlinking the dates could present a technical problem in the future. Hard-coding anything makes it more difficult to change, if/when the time comes to change it. As you can read about in the Duplicate code article, duplicate code (which can be compared to removing wikilinking from dates) makes it difficult to fix any bugs in the code or change functionality (which can be compared to running a bot/script to change dates to conform to a future policy). I would like to see this get discussed further in WP:VP (tech). — OranL (talk) 21:24, 25 August 2008 (UTC)

Guys, it should be a no-brainer that editors on WP should be viewing the text as our readers out there view it. I have no idea why people wish to spend more than 15 seconds of their valuable time discussing it. The differences are just so trivial, and both forms are readily comprehensible by all anglophones. Tony (talk) 14:16, 26 August 2008 (UTC)

suggestion: further discussion on the new subpage's talk page

Now that the subpage on date autoformatting has been created, I suggest further discussion of its contents take place on its talk page. The content seems to have settled in the last couple of days, except that there's still no consensus on whether to say that autoformatting is "deprecated", "discouraged", or what have you. (I'm placing this notice simultaneously in all the topics that deal primarily with autoformatting.) Teemu Leisti (talk) 10:18, 28 August 2008 (UTC)

Proposal to move autoformatting table to its own page

The autoformatting table is a detailed explanation of how a tool works, not style guidance. The convert template is mentioned in MOSNUM and we provide a link to its explanation page. I propose that we do the same with autoformatting i.e. the details are moved to an explanation page that we mention in MOSNUM. Lightmouse (talk) 22:26, 21 August 2008 (UTC)

  • I was thinking the exact same thing this morning. I wholeheartedly agree. Greg L (talk) 22:47, 21 August 2008 (UTC)
  • I took the liberty of adding the footnote-style note regarding the bottom option in advance of any move. Greg L (talk) 23:31, 21 August 2008 (UTC)
Excellent idea. Tony (talk) 04:34, 22 August 2008 (UTC)
  • Tony, I was sort of waiting for you to move the page since you are more knowledgeable about the details and the mechanics of doing so. It is clear to me that the mood of editors has shifted significantly over the last month or so regarding autoformatting of dates and the consensus is clear that their use entails significant disadvantages. So I’ve moved the Date autoformatting section to its own page. This avoids having new editors think these tools are ones in “good standing” that are tacitly endorsed by virtue of being prominently featured right on the MOSNUM page. Providing the information—as to how they work and how they were employed—on a separate page preserves the necessary documentation to refer to in deciding how to proceed forward. Please jump in and correct my errors and omissions of my move. Greg L (talk) 19:47, 24 August 2008 (UTC)

I think this was a good move, and helped edit the new subpage a bit. Now that it's there, I propose further discussion of the subject be moved to the subpage's talk page. Teemu Leisti (talk) 14:48, 25 August 2008 (UTC)

suggestion: further discussion on the new subpage's talk page

Now that the subpage on date autoformatting has been created, I suggest further discussion of its contents take place on its talk page. The content seems to have settled in the last couple of days, except that there's still no consensus on whether to say that autoformatting is "deprecated", "discouraged", or what have you. (I'm placing this notice simultaneously in all the topics that deal primarily with autoformatting.) Teemu Leisti (talk) 10:18, 28 August 2008 (UTC)

Deprecating date autolinking vs. removing date autolinking

I think it’s pretty clear from the preceding discussions that a consensus exists for discouraging further application of DAs. Furthermore, when it’s clearly explained why it’s being deprecated, many originally dissenting editors have changed their mind. Considering that this is a major change in the expected appearance of Wikipedia articles, I think this MOS change should be presented in the VP, along with the rationale. Furthermore, I believe a simple statement of the rationale should also appear in the passage in MOSNUM because when people understand the rationale, they’re more disposed to accept it.

That said, there is another related issue that I don’t believe there is consensus on (and reading Masem’s recent posts, it is assumed by some as also a given), and that is the issue of mass removal of existing DAs. As can be noted by the protests of Tony’s trial removals in several articles and a few other editors’ personal crusades, the jury is out on that issue. Implementing such large-scale removals without a consensus of the community as a whole – vice a limited number of interested parties here – can be expected to be no less disruptive than that incurred over the mass deletions of non-free and a majority of fair-use images (which at least had legal reasons behind it, not merely stylistic ones). Face it, a lot of work has gone into inserting them (in accordance with what most editors have understood to be the preferred approach), and ripping it all out at once, with little or no input (much less warning), will lead to a lot of unnecessarily hurt feelings and the loss of a number of discouraged or angry editors. Wikipedians hate being dictated to by a minority of experts.

Accordingly, I’d encourage asking the community’s preference for eliminating them. Mass, perhaps bot-automated, removal is one option. Another is to leave them to the consensus of the editors of each article to decide. (Then they become part of the solution.) I’d prefer the second option to be the default until such time as there is a public consensus for the former. Askari Mark (Talk) 03:16, 23 August 2008 (UTC)

Another option to offer is that of turning off the ability of logged-in users to specify a preference. That is, offer the option of forcing the .01% to see what the 99.99% are forced to see. Then perhaps change will happen on its own! (sdsds - talk) 05:17, 23 August 2008 (UTC)
Bots already remove unwanted linking from date fragments; now that linking whole dates is deprecated too, it seems only logical that the same bots should remove those links as well. It might be a good idea to announce the change loudly to the community, via all the centralized discussion pages, maybe even with one of those notices that appear automatically at the top the screen sometimes (I know they're called something but I don't remember what). That way, when the bot starts removing the links, people will understand that it's the result of a much discussed and widely accepted change, and should be generally less hostile. Improvement of the encyclopedia must in the end take precedence over a few editors' sensitivities.--Kotniski (talk) 08:03, 23 August 2008 (UTC)
Yah; I'll start by adding to the notice of the debate earlier in the week at the Village Pump. Tony (talk) 12:49, 23 August 2008 (UTC)
  • Deprecation should commence at once. Having *special* ways of looking at editorial content for just we privileged editors was a slippery slope we never should have headed down. The notion of making such tools was brain damaged from inception as it was predicated on the faulty assumption that these tools, which enable editors to look at Wikipedia’s editorial content in any special way they prefer, would reduce editwarring, and this would somehow make Wikipedia a better place. No, it didn’t. Making these tools makes as much sense as pulling the window blinds down so you can’t see all the illegal aliens hoping the fence next to your ranch; it only masks the problem and solves nothing.

    As a result, the “[[2005-06-06]]” format was made. Why? I have no idea. Whoever thought that one up should be blocked for a week for damaging Wikipedia. It has only recently dawned our our consciousness here on Talk:MOSNUM what we’ve been doing all along with tools such as these. We editors think we’re getting June 6, 2005, but virtually the entire English-speaking world sees 2005-06-06 in all its linked-to-worthless-trivia glory (and all its ambiguousness). This particular format is where deprecation should begin and it can’t possibly happen fast enough for my taste. Anyone who thinks Wikipedia is doing anyone a favor by making 99.9% of our readership parse out a date like that is just fooling them-self.

    We editors need to be looking at all the exact same editorial content as the rest of our readership. If we aren’t, we’re just pulling the editorial blinds down on problems that need to be addressed here on MOSNUM. Greg L (talk) 17:55, 23 August 2008 (UTC)

P.S. While we’re at it, can’t someone here get in contact with the developers and get the My preferences → Date and time → Date format deleted? Now that will give editors here the “Ah haaa!” they need on this issue. It has the additional virtue of hastening the process of our getting the most simple and sensible rule possible on MOSNUM to guide editors in selecting date formats for Wikipedia’s articles. Such a rule-set doesn’t need to be at all complex. Further, this entire issue of date formats is really relatively minor in importance; I personally don’t have any problem looking at “6 June 2005” nor “June 6, 2005”, and clearly, neither format is the slightest bit ambiguous for our readership. Greg L (talk) 18:14, 23 August 2008 (UTC)

Um, the rhetoric has been a little over the top for quite a while. Autoformatting was created to solve a problem with interminable edit wars between two groups of editors who did have a problem looking at June 6, 2005 when they wanted 6 June 2005 or vice-versa. Undoing the formatting is already starting some edit skirmishes. I don't like the links myself, but I like a stable Wikipedia a lot more. The obvious (to me) and quick solution to most of the problem would be to have the software autoformat [[June 6]], [[2005]] but render it without links. "[[June 6]], [[2005]]" would appear without links as "June 6, 2005" for those preferring MDY, "6 June 2005" for those preferring DMY, "2005-06-06" for those prefering ISO, and "June 6, 2005" for registered users without a pref and for those not logged in. A creative solution might even add a new preference to render dates with or without links (default no). Gimmetrow 21:00, 23 August 2008 (UTC)

  • “Autoformatting was created to solve a problem with interminable edit wars between two groups of editors…” That’s the very source of the problem Gimmetrow. Nothing is solved for our readership by painting over edit-content conflicts by making special translation templates just for so we editors can pretend certain things don’t exist. We editors should always be looking at *precisely* the same content 99.9% of our readership reads.

    You might argue then that we should simply then make the translation tools work for all readers—including unregistered I.P. editors (as you’ve already written here innumerable times). And I’ll say again: if you think you can convince the developers to make a wholesale change to the architecture and underpinnings of Wikipedia’s servers so they look to our readers’ I.P. address and spoon-feeds custom content depending on which country the readers’ live in, be my guest. Go ahead and try. Those of here with experience in these matters know that nothing at all like that will happen anytime in the foreseeable future.

    Besides, all that effort just so someone from the U.S. can be sheltered from the shock of being exposed to “6 August 2005’' is simple foolishness that isn’t worth the fuss. There’s nothing at all wrong with looking at either “August 6, 2005” or “6 August 2005’'; both are absolutely unambiguous and clear. All the editors who were battling over this can act like grownups and follow a simple guideline for choosing the most article-appropriate date format. And I’m sure you can survive perfectly well if you actually have to read what regular I.P. readers see; I know I can. Greg L (talk) 21:57, 23 August 2008 (UTC)

Feeding content based on IP address would require major changes, but rendering a wikilinked date without a link wouldn't take much. Wikilinked dates are already interpreted by their own bit of code - removing the links is just a small bit more code. The end result would be everyone seeing what the text says except those who've elected a preference. Oh, I'm not sure why you keep bringing "unambiguous" into this. Gimmetrow 23:23, 23 August 2008 (UTC)
  • Gimmetrow: please inform us of any "edit skirmishes", because I'll be along there promptly to hose them down. The guidelines are quite clear as to which should be used, and editors who get some nationalistic kick out of arguing about them need to move on and do something useful. "Back off and raise the issue here" will be my advice, if they can't work it out locally. It's very simple in most cases. Tony (talk) 02:04, 24 August 2008 (UTC)
  • Gimmetrow: Since when did we editors become so sensitive that we are unable to look at dates in the format that I.P. readers see? Or is it that we aren’t all that sensitive, but we’re all so profoundly *special* (pronounced with a squeaky baby voice), that we ought to have special tools just for us that give us a privileged view of Wikipedia pages? Anyone who thinks that they are above having to look at what 99.9% of Wikipedia’s readership sees should sign below and present their I am *extra-special* license for inspection. We don’t need these tools and by no longer using them, Wikipedia’s articles will be better written. Greg L (talk) 02:26, 24 August 2008 (UTC)
Indeed, and stripping bare the dates so that we see what our readers see is having the bonus of bringing to a head the proper formatting on an article-by-article basis. This has to be a good thing, but we rely ... expect that editors are psychologically steady enough to manage the issues with maturity. It's no longer 2003, when cream-bun fights over dates probably encouraged some developer to come up with that in-house solution in the first place. It partially blinds us, and we must not return to it. Tony (talk) 05:32, 24 August 2008 (UTC)

Greg L, you have convinced me that date delinking is a bad idea. Gimmetrow 23:00, 24 August 2008 (UTC)

suggestion: further discussion on the new subpage's talk page

Now that the subpage on date autoformatting has been created, I suggest further discussion of its contents take place on its talk page. The content seems to have settled in the last couple of days, except that there's still no consensus on whether to say that autoformatting is "deprecated", "discouraged", or what have you. (I'm placing this notice simultaneously in all the topics that deal primarily with autoformatting.) Teemu Leisti (talk) 10:18, 28 August 2008 (UTC)

Clarification of wording

Our well-established guidelines for which of the two standard date formats should be used in an article, here, say this:

*Articles related to other countries that commonly use one of the two acceptable formats above should use that format.

This is all very well for articles, say, on contemporary Venezuala, which uses US spelling in its English, but international date format; however, I've heard editors say that "hey, this medieval topic shouldn't be in US formatting", or "Beethoven should be changed to international" (it was a couple of months ago, on that very basis).

I think this is an unintended consequence of the guideline that wasn't thought through at the time. I'm not at all comfortable with the implications of the current wording: I believe it should be left up to the editors of each article to decide (usually on the basis of the first editor's choice), as is widely the case until the occasional editor points to this guideline. It matters nought to me that 19th-century Russian composer Tschaikovsky is written in US format.

May I propose an addition to stop this happening? It's longer than I'd hoped for, but I think it does the trick:

*Articles related to other countries that commonly use one of the two acceptable formats above should use that format. (However, this should not be interpreted as requiring per se the conversion of US to international format where a topic, particularly a historical topic, is largely connected with locations in non-anglophone countries that do not or did not use the modern US format.)

My only misgiving is that there may be widespread support for transforming such articles to international format; I've yet to see this expressed, though. Your thoughts, please? Tony (talk) 05:31, 23 August 2008 (UTC)

The above proposed addition is not a clarification, but a change of meaning. It seems natural to me that an article about a person who never set foot in the U.S.A. should not use U.S.A. date format. −Woodstone (talk) 09:52, 23 August 2008 (UTC)

My only misgiving is that there may be widespread support for transforming such articles to international format. I can't see a problem with this. In fact, Wikipedia being an international effort, why not have all dates in international format? --Pete (talk) 10:31, 23 August 2008 (UTC)

The current guidance is:
  • Articles on topics with strong ties to a particular English-speaking country should generally use the more common date format for that nation; articles related to Canada may use either format consistently.
  • Articles related to other countries that commonly use one of the two acceptable formats above should use that format.
I find the current guidance difficult to parse. I propose that the bullets be simplified to read:
  • Articles on topics with strong ties to Canada can use either format
  • Articles on topics with strong ties to a country other than Canada should generally use the more common date format for that country
This does not affect Tony's proposal. Lightmouse (talk) 11:02, 23 August 2008 (UTC)

If it's acceptable, for example, for all European historical articles that use US format to be changed to international, it's fine by me. In that case, the current guidelines are quite satisfactory. Tony (talk) 12:41, 23 August 2008 (UTC)

The current guidelines "don't parse". Lightmouse's suggested wording is less confusing. Why should "strong ties" be required for English-speaking countries other than Canada, but not for others? --Pete (talk) 16:13, 23 August 2008 (UTC)

I see no reason to extend this beyond English-speaking countries, for which it was intended. An established style should be left alone. Don't most editors have more important things to do? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:32, 23 August 2008 (UTC)

If an article has clear ties to a country—English speaking or not—it makes sense to use the same sequence of elements as in the language of that country. It minimises risk of mix up and looks more coherent. Also alignment to the variant (UK, US) of English chosen might be good. It can be expected that these two criteria do not often conflict. −Woodstone (talk) 21:25, 23 August 2008 (UTC)

Whether they conflict depends on the meaning of "clear ties" (which is another reason to avoid it). Do most Popes have clear ties to Italy? or is the Catholic Church an international organization? Either is arguable, but many of the Papal articles have been written in American; the Catholic Encyclopedia uses a mixed style(23 August, 2008).. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 23:48, 23 August 2008 (UTC)

Yes, most popes have clear ties to Italy. Being born in Italy and living in Italy all their life and being an Italian citizen is kinda convincing. We're talking about biographical articles here. --Pete (talk) 00:28, 24 August 2008 (UTC)

People that care about the sequence used in countries can create a separate page defining those countries where the dmy sequence is not the more common format. Mosnum itself does not need to get involved in such details. Lightmouse (talk) 11:59, 24 August 2008 (UTC)

I wonder if this can be considered reliable. Waltham, The Duke of 23:33, 24 August 2008 (UTC)
Date and time notation by country is helpful here. Linking from that article I find a detailed project to get dates and other formats sorted out for use in internationalising applications. For example, I look at Russia, and I find that they use day-month-year format for the Gregorian calendar. Look at line 2648 here. --Pete (talk) 00:47, 25 August 2008 (UTC)

I don't think we should care what format is used for dates in countries that don't use English. In any case their dates are not going to look English. Does the fact that Poles write 1. kwietnia 1968r. mean that when writing about Poland we should write 1 April 1968 because that's most similar to the native format? Does this also mean that we should use "color" rather than "colour" in writing about Poland because it's more similar to the Polish word "kolor"? I think the established ENGVAR rules about spelling can be carried over to date formats too.--Kotniski (talk) 07:19, 25 August 2008 (UTC)

Notice of move regarding Date autoformatting

All: Seeing no opposition to the proposal, and seeing a clear consensus regarding the wisdom of date autoformatting, I moved the Date autoformatting section to a subpage. Please see Proposal to move autoformatting table to its own page. Greg L (talk) 19:50, 24 August 2008 (UTC)

And now Wikipedia:Autoformatting redirects there. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:56, 24 August 2008 (UTC)
  • Thanks, Pmanderson. Greg L (talk) 19:58, 24 August 2008 (UTC)

suggestion: further discussion on the new subpage's talk page

Now that the subpage on date autoformatting has been created, I suggest further discussion of its contents take place on its talk page. The content seems to have settled in the last couple of days, except that there's still no consensus on whether to say that autoformatting is "deprecated", "discouraged", or what have you. (I'm placing this notice simultaneously in all the topics that deal primarily with autoformatting.) Teemu Leisti (talk) 10:18, 28 August 2008 (UTC)

The nature of the autoformatting debate

A bit farther up the page, Tony1 commented that some of the editors opposed to deprecating DA - myself included - had not participated in the discussion. Frankly, attitudes such as what Greg L and others have been expressing are precisely why I've not participated. What, exactly, is the point, when one can only expect to be ridiculed, mocked, and treated like a child? Terms like "spoon-feed", "privileged" and "act like grownups" have no place in this discussion, and serve only to alienate anyone who disagrees with the "deprecate" opinion. Furthermore, why has the ludicrous notion that editors using the settings are somehow a "privileged elite" been tolerated in this discussion? Administrators - who are selected by the wider community and entrusted with the ability to delete pages and block users - are considered to be regular editors with extra tools (a description I agree with). How, then, does clicking on "register" and using the preferences make one "privileged" or "elite"? When did reading the instructions become a stepping-stone to a higher "status"? --Ckatzchatspy 20:04, 24 August 2008 (UTC)

It is the case that we no longer require it; also that many editors (including myself, although weakly) would prefer to discourage it. I think we should say as much. I do not think we should deprecate it without a very large consensus; although the reasons why editors oppose it can be found on the subpage. Would you add reasons to use date links? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:14, 24 August 2008 (UTC)
  • Ckatz, my intention was not to insult any editor here, but to expose the fallacies inherent in their continued advocacy of using autoformatting tools. There is nothing wrong with we editors having to look at what 99.9% of readers see, and there are important advantages of doing so. Without autoformatting, we editors will no longer be insulated from date formats that are inappropriate for a given article. For instance, if I am reading an article about the French Revolution, I need to be able to see that there are inappropriate date formats in that article; not insulated from that reality with computer-controlled blinders because I set my preferences for “July 1, 2005”. Greg L (talk) 20:18, 24 August 2008 (UTC)
It's editors, not just administrators, who are seen as the privileged elite, by virtue of having the luxury of date preferences. The 99% of Wikipedia users who are not editors with registered accounts are the people we should be thinking of when we talk about how to present information. I turned off my date preferences a long time ago so that I could see what most people are seeing. --Pete (talk) 21:46, 24 August 2008 (UTC)

First, it is indeed pleasing to see this discussion properly characterized as a "debate!" (We don't have a "dispute" about this, nor do we have a "consensus." We have well-intentioned and reasonable editors who currently disagree, and are working together cooperatively towards a solution that will promote the best interests of our collaborative project.)

A fundamental assumption underlying the position of some editors is that we can discuss this all we want, and we can change the behavior of editors, but we can't change the underlying functionality of our project (the English-language Wikipedia website). Readers of those editors' contributions might perceive attitudes varying from frustration and resentment to resignation and acceptance. Those experienced editors encourage readers to tilt at windmills if they wish, but they don't expect any solutions to be forthcoming.

I don't share that view. but I would like to see it made explicit. Please, would those editors who do hold that opinion make explicit that they are shaping a MOS guideline, and thus shaping the behavior of all editors, specifically because they cannot shape the website software? Once that view is clearly stated, and we reach (reluctantly, for some of use) consensus on it, we can hope this debate will lead to a collaborative consensus for future action. (sdsds - talk) 21:59, 24 August 2008 (UTC)

I’m afraid I have to agree with the main gist of Ckatz’ real complaint – and it’s rife among both sides of “the usual suspects.” The amount of rudeness and verbal abuse are indeed an impediment and a discouragement to participation in MOS-related debates for many editors who find their way to these pages and wish to make a constructive contribution. When you have to read through pages and pages of mainly diatribe and personal attacks to glean what the basic issues and arguments are, when you do reach the end of it all – should you not give up part-way through – you find yourself asking yourself, “Do I really want to get involved? Is dealing with this crowd worth my effort and frustration?” I know I do, so I usually limit my participation to those issues relevant to things I work on. We would all do well to assume AGF first (and more often, despite past disagreements), treat each other with more respect and greater civility, and keep to critiquing arguments, not criticizing the persons who make them. Askari Mark (Talk) 22:15, 24 August 2008 (UTC)
Nicely expressed! And when it comes to the, "pages of mainly diatribe," Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style (dates and numbers)/Date autoformatting is another one we can start to fill! Perhaps that's where further discussion of this set of issues belongs? (sdsds - talk) 22:25, 24 August 2008 (UTC)
You haven't perused the ISO debates, have you? :( It has, sadly, become a commonplace here, not limited to just the DA issue. The more experience we have as Wikipedia editors, the better we should model here the behavior that WP seeks to encourage. Askari Mark (Talk) 22:47, 24 August 2008 (UTC)

←I'm very sorry that the debate has occasionally become emotional. As one of the main proponents of the reform, I'd like to apologise to anyone for whom the enthusiasm of those in favour of the change was experienced as emotionally negative and distrustful. What more can I say? Only that heat has been expressed by both sides: a quick look at User talk:Colonies Chris/Archive/2008/Aug demonstrates that; or don't look at it, and let's move on. We can only try to minimise strong language here, since passion is always going to try to burst out of committed people. Tony (talk) 02:49, 25 August 2008 (UTC)

suggestion: further discussion on the new subpage's talk page

Now that the subpage on date autoformatting has been created, I suggest further discussion of its contents take place on its talk page. The content seems to have settled in the last couple of days, except that there's still no consensus on whether to say that autoformatting is "deprecated", "discouraged", or what have you. (I'm placing this notice simultaneously in all the topics that deal primarily with autoformatting.) Teemu Leisti (talk) 10:18, 28 August 2008 (UTC)

Date wars revived

Articles related to other countries that commonly use one of the two acceptable formats above should use that format.

This is extraordinarily strong, and is currently being used to flip the format on hundreds of articles. Indeed, one dedicated editor seems to spend his time doing nothing else. As Tony has pointed out, if the alternative to autoformatting is Date Wars, removing it will not be popular; it may not be desirable. We should tone this down, at least to recognize our long-standing rule that established styles should not be lightly changed. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 23:30, 24 August 2008 (UTC)

COMMENT:I agree with PMAnderson on this. I was just involved in a protracted discussion with one editor who is enforcing this as a policy instead of a guideline throughout WP. I tried to point out other pages that would fall within his POV editing, that indeed did not follow with his enforcement practices, and he did not see the contradiction to his POV, but promised me he'd be tackling them soon. Maybe a new designation should be made, "Date Warrior" to range throughout WP enforcing this perceived policy. Nothing like editing an article and going to save it, but having to redo the edit because of a "Date Warrior" edit conflict. The above referenced portion of dating, if policy, would then seem to force use to determine what dating conventions a particular non-English speaking country uses, then enforce that dating throughout an article where the country is part of the content, when in fact this is English WP. Perhaps adding a tag on the top of the article that states what date MUST be used to conform to "policy" and preventing date wars? I do know date wars are as disruptive as any other kind of warring on an article and this referenced portion just opens the door for this kind of disruptive behavior.--«JavierMC»|Talk 01:16, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
I've raised the suggestion of a template at the top of an article's talk page previously. That way we could avoid counterproductive date-warring. It's reasonably straightforward to determine what date format a country uses - Calendar date has a good list - and stick to it in relevant articles. I'm not sure what use it is to attempt to restrict date format choices to articles about English-speaking nations. 14 July is 14 Juillet is 14 Juli is 14 Juilo - the point to note is whether the day comes before the month or not, and use that order in English. --Pete (talk) 01:30, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
The community has previously rejected proposals for templates announcing variety of English in an article; I'd rather avoid this with dates, too. I'm inclined to agree with Anderson that upheaval is just what we don't want right at the moment, especially, Pete, if it means a continual trickle of edit wars. I must ask you again to be prepared to back off where there are local objections, and to utterly refrain from edit-warring on date formats. Of course, this issue has been with us for a long time; it appears that the strong move away from DA is concentrating our minds on what our readers have been viewing for years. And, by the way, DA removal is revealing wrong date formatting in more articles: for example, in the group of September 11 articles, I've found the opposite format in some of the infoboxes, if you please, for this iconic date. No one picked it up, blinded by their date preferences. Manually corrected now. Tony (talk) 03:33, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
Hang on. I'm in the right on this one. Day-month-year is the correct format for the article. How come you're rousting at me but not PMAnderson? If he hadn't commenced edit-warring on this, we'd have the article in the correct format with no hassle. You're right about incorrect date formatting cutting both ways. I went through U.S. presidents a while back and found some dmy dates which I corrected to mdy. --Pete (talk) 03:52, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
I want everyone to take a breath and step back from the prospect of date-warring until the dust settles. Tony (talk) 04:08, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
When an article concerns a non-English speaking country, I think the date format in the native language is irrelevant. After all, we don't place adjectives after nouns when writing an English language piece about Paris, so why should an English language article imitate the date format of a non-English speaking country? The article should be written to be as easy as possible for English speakers to read; one hopes natives of the country of interest can find a better article in their native language and won't even need to read the English Wikipedia article. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 04:53, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
That's what I was trying to put into words, Gerry. I'm unhappy about any move to mass convert US to international date formatting in all articles that might be argued are rooted in a non-anglophone country. I think more debate is required, so while I appreciate Pete's wish to pursue what he sees as a logical connection, I exhort him to hold off until the MOSNUM community has had more time to think it through. Tony (talk) 06:52, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
Think about units of measurement. We use the units of meaasurement of the country. In an article about Paris, we use metres and kilometres. Language is irrelevant. Likewise date formats. Putting day before month or the other way round is dependent on the country, not whether the natives speak English or not. --Pete (talk) 08:44, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
No, that is not what we say: In general, the primary units are SI (37 kilometres (23 mi)); however, US customary units are the primary units in US-related topics, and it is permissible to have imperial units as primary units in UK-related topics. This deals only with the US and the UK, both English-speaking countries. Articles about Paris are likely to use kilometers as principal measurements , because they are more likely to have been written by Europeans (and that measurement is more likely to be verifiable); but nothing here mandates a shift for any exceptions. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 14:37, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
You don't get the point. That's what we should say. The reasonable choice for a date format is following the sequence of data elements of the country an article has strong ties to. It is unnerving to see U.S.A style dates on typical European subjects. And how about India: not an English speaking country, but it would be absurd not to use the English date style. −Woodstone (talk) 14:57, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
India is an English-speaking country; English is one of its fourteen official languages. ENGVAR therefore applies; in fact, that is why we use Mumbai and other such forms - because Indian English does. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 15:36, 25 August 2008 (UTC)

The point here is that an editor, Pete, came to an article that was well into using a dating convention of month-date-year from the beginning, placed a comment on the talk page, well over a week after the established convention, espousing that a day-month-year convention should now be adhered to because Georgia and Russia use this dating. A few editors agree and a few opposed, no consensus, rather more like a vote, and began changing the established convention. 2008 South Ossetia war is already involved in a rather heated NPOV debate concerning the substance of the article. Established editors of this article have been using the month-date-year convention and all of a sudden, on a on-going, multi-edits per day, even edits per hour article, we now have to deal with a dating war. This is counter productive. Whether the non-English speaking country uses month-day-year or day-month-year, overrides the established convention? This is not an article on The United States (month-day-year) or on The United Kingdom (day-month-year). Are Georgian's and Russian's going to come to English Wiki to read about the conflict instead of articles written in their own languages, as opposed to English speaking readers? I don't see the point of engaging in a date war, against an articles established dating convention simply to satisfy an obscure MOS. Continuity of style within the article should be the hallmark, and not the exception to enforce a MOS that does nothing, I repeat nothing, to improve the article substance.--«JavierMC»|Talk 21:31, 25 August 2008 (UTC)

Since the present text does not seem to represent consensus (even Tony and I join in deploring a rush to conversion) I have removed it. If anyone can think of a reasonable moderate version, fine by me. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 22:54, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
I've restored the text. There's no consensus for removal. Please find a clear consensus before modifying the Manual of Style. I also note current discussion on the wording here. --Pete (talk) 23:01, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
And before I could put in the compromise language I thought of as I edited here; my, that's a fast reversion. Javier, Tony, Gerry, Kotniski, and I all object to your campaign, and I doubt His Grace approves of it. If this continues, a Request for Mediation may be in order. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 23:11, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
Please don't make changes to long-established wording without gaining prior consensus here. Especially for changes that you know will attract opposition. That's just manners. We're a community of editors, we all have to get along, and on this project page, it is important that we find consensus. --Pete (talk) 23:52, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
The compromise wording proposed was If the article has strong ties to some other country, and the country consistently uses a particular date format, it should be considered for use in the article. As I said, I see five who disapprove of Skyring's Date Warring, at least as inexpedient; does anyone other than our revert warrior disagree with the proposed text? It may, I admit, be more tolerant of format switching than Kotniski is. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 00:55, 26 August 2008 (UTC)

←Perhaps. Anderson: first, allow me to copy-edit it: If an article has strong ties to another country that consistently uses a particular date format, that format should be considered for use in the article. Now, my misgivings:

  1. Are you not concerned that the lattitude in which the statement is cast might just as well be an invitation to edit wars? (Editor A: I'm considering international format for use in this article." Editor B: "No way; I'm considering US format.") Better to make it "should generally be used"; or if you want to drag out the old phrase "should generally be used unless there is a good reason not to"; at least that would focus discussion by requiring editors to put up "a good reason" for the use in the article of a less usual or foreign format for that country.
  2. I want know that there won't be stream of uprisings by US users/readers by the (?many) US→international conversions that will be made to articles that have nothing directly to do with the US. I suppose there won't, but can we have some input on this? I'm also swayed a little by the fact that there's a huge amount of English-language text already on the Internet and in hard copy written by Americans with US date format. And personally, although I much prefer the neatness and logic of the international format, I think it's too trivial to get into disputes about. Tony (talk) 02:19, 26 August 2008 (UTC)
I'm concerned that Wikipedia, as a global, international project, is a friendly home to editors who consistently work to exclude internationalisation. While this is the English-language Wikipedia, it is disengenuous to point to French, German, Chinese Wikipedias and say that those are for everyone else. We're the biggest and we have articles that others don't. In depth and breadth of coverage, we're way in front. People come to us from all over for information, and sometimes they stay to edit. We should be welcoming and accommodating to editors from everywhere. Portraying the world in American terms (with a few grudging sops tossed to the British) is just plain wrong. I'm not going to support anything that takes away from the global aspect of Wikipedia. --Pete (talk) 03:01, 26 August 2008 (UTC)
But whatever happens, it's written in English. See my example above in the previous thread on this topic - when choosing between "color" and "colour" we don't take account of which of these spellings is closer to that of the subject country's language. Why should we consider such things for dates? It's not as if either of the two formats is hard to understand. It seems to me we should just apply the same rules for dates as for spelling: use the subject country's variety if it's an English-speaking country, otherwise stick to the variety whose use is established for that article. This should at least not lead to any new edit wars.--Kotniski (talk) 12:01, 26 August 2008 (UTC)
I agree with Kotniski. Why can't Americans write about Russian topics using US date format; no one's stopping their using US spelling. Many academic journals in English write about anything under the sun with US spelling and date formats. Let's cool it. Tony (talk) 14:35, 26 August 2008 (UTC)
I've already expressed the same idea as Kotinski and Tony. I would be open, however, to treat countries as English-speaking if they use English-speaking for spelling and date purposes if they frequently use a particular variety of English to communicate amongst provinces or regions that speak different languages or dialects. This would certainly apply to India, and perhaps to China. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 15:04, 26 August 2008 (UTC)
It's not just a matter of English speaking. Dates behave more like units. Articles with strong ties to a metric country should use metric units. If the country uses day/month, the article should use day/month. Sources are more likely to be that way, the best experts and the most interested readers would be used to that way. It does not make sense to impose the standard of a very few countries on articles related to the rest of the world, just because someone from those countries started an article first. This is an international platform and the international styles should have some preference on international subjects. −Woodstone (talk) 15:54, 26 August 2008 (UTC)
I don't agree with the comparison with units. We use metric units because imperial ones are not understood by everyone. However anyone who can read English ought to be able to understand either of the two main date formats. And as for "imposing the standard...started an article first", that's exactly what we do with spelling, and as far as I know what we've done with dates up to now. I'm no lover of month-day-year, but this is an English encyclopedia, and that style is one widely used and universally understood in the English-speaking world, so it's hardly unreasonable to allow its use.--Kotniski (talk) 16:10, 26 August 2008 (UTC)
The comparison to units does not hold, because customary American units are actually different units from SI, not just different names for the same thing. Also, one can view the dating system in non-English speaking countries as including the names of the months as well as the order in which the elements are presented. If one wishes to view the month names and presentation order as an indivisible system, then we would never use a non-English dating system in an English language artice. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 16:12, 26 August 2008 (UTC)
What an odd idea. Month names and presentation order aren't an indivisible system. For example, the following are both valid dates: 12 March 2008 and 12/3/2008. One has a month name, the other doesn't. I can't think of a nation that doesn't use month numbers in common use. --Pete (talk) 01:27, 29 August 2008 (UTC)

(unindent) It just looks exceedingly odd to see U.S.A. style dates in an intrinsically European article like Robert Schumann. It detracts from credibility. I must have missed when the rule for the English variant changed, but a while ago it said to use the variant practiced most in the related country. So generally, an article bound to European subjects would mostly use U.K. style spellings. That gives a much more coherent style. Units, spellings and dates can be combined. U.S.A. style spellings, units and dates in articles related to the U.S.A. (and a few other countries), U.K. spellings and international units and dates in most other country related articles. −Woodstone (talk) 18:17, 26 August 2008 (UTC)

Well, we could do a Treaty of Tordesillas and divide the non-Anglophone world between perceived preference for UK and U.S. English, but I think we know what interminable arguments would ensue from that... Anyway there doesn't seem to be anything like that at WP:ENGVAR at the moment (I don't know if there used to be). If the subject is not related to an English-speaking country, we are told to stick with the style originally used in the article in question. It might be possible to improve on that principle, but I don't think the community is ready for another revolution quite yet. And what we do with spelling, we can also do with dates. We could make the link explicit in fact - month-day-year not to be mixed with UK spellings - but I'm not sure that's necessary.--Kotniski (talk) 19:46, 26 August 2008 (UTC)
I am perfectly willing to consider moderate language such as Tony's If an article has strong ties to another country that consistently uses a particular date format, that format should be considered for use in the article. His misgivings that it would lead to date wars are a valid worry; and it doesn't seem to satisfy anyone more than saying nothing. If anybody wants to suggest such phrasing, I would probably support.
But the phrasing we began with clearly has no claim to represent consensus of editors. MOS's authority consists of the consensus who support it, and there is none here. (Unanimous agreement by editors should be able to change format; this is implied by our heading, but if anybody feels that silence prohibits them from asking "shouldn't this article be dmy, for such-and-such reasons?", we can repeat it here. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 23:05, 26 August 2008 (UTC)
Your changes have no consensus, that is quite clear. I see several editors with markedly different opinions both in this section and others. You are far too hasty in changing the text of the Manual of Style, especially when you have been requested on multiple occasions to find a consensus. The existing text, whilst obviously not to your liking, has implicit consensus through WP:SILENCE, and I ask you, once again, to put your own personal POV to one side until you can find a wording that all of us are if not happy with, at least able to accept. I support Tony's position - let us get the deprecation of autoformatting settled before finding other ways to make the whole issue needlessly complex. --Pete (talk) 01:16, 27 August 2008 (UTC)
This is a dilatory falsehood. Tony did not say we should postpone this until autoformatting is settled, and there is no reason to do so: Skyring date wars on autoformatted and non-autoformatted text alike.
Five editors agree that the present text is undesirable; there is no consensus for it. More objected to Skyring's date warring at ANI. This leaves no alternative but dispute resolution. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 02:31, 27 August 2008 (UTC)
The appeal to WP:SILENCE, which is neither policy nor guideline, is disingenuous. Very few editors have looked at any given sentence of every MOS page; those who have not looked at this one are silent, not through consent, but through lack of information. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 02:48, 27 August 2008 (UTC)
With the wording of this section still in dispute and trying to reach a consensus, why is Pete still raging throughout WP diff, making changes when no consensus has been reached? Is this the way consensus works? We still continue with the disputed MOS? Should I apply my POV throughout WP as well, or wouldn't this be considered warring? Seems to me all further changes should be put off until a compromise is reached to avoid further conflict on articles to prevent this from happening. Could someone please explain this to me? I'm confused. I'm not trying to inflame the situation, I'm just seriously confused about the mechanics of consensus on this point. Thanks. --«JavierMC»|Talk 18:17, 27 August 2008 (UTC)
Heh. "Raging through WP"! Making a few minor corrections is the reality, none of which attracted any opposition. Quite clearly there is as yet no consensus to change the wording of the section, but we are discussing changes and there are several views expressed. You should not take your own personal opinion as reflecting that of the whole wikicommunity, even if you believe in it very deeply and strongly. Especially not then. --Pete (talk) 05:12, 28 August 2008 (UTC)
Once again you add to my comment something that I didn't even intimate. Where in my question did I try to make my opinion reflect that of the whole wikicommunity? I asked for clarification, and oh boy did you give it to me. The next step would be to begin to bash me right? I wouldn't want to miss any of the steps. Oh well.--«JavierMC»|Talk 05:28, 28 August 2008 (UTC)

Straw poll

Please vote for all you can approve.

A. Articles related to other countries that commonly use one of the two acceptable formats above should use that format. (the disputed, strong text.)
B. If an article has strong ties to another country that consistently uses a particular date format, that format should be considered for use in the article.
C. Silence.
  • Option D for sure :-) - this straw poll has to be the most confusing I have ever come across - why not have a straw poll for Canadians and another for the rest of the world? --Matilda talk 09:56, 27 August 2008 (UTC)

Definitely first choice (talk) 13:53, 27 August 2008 (UTC)

  • E. Enough with the polling already. Lets have some reasoning instead.LeadSongDog (talk) 19:46, 27 August 2008 (UTC)


I can't make head or tale of this poll. I've long since become accepting of the fact that in many ways, other people's minds work differently to mine, so if other people can get a clear result out of it, let me know and I'll try to follow along if there's a consensus.

I've suggested other words elsewhere, and here's my reasoning for saying why neither proposal above is the best.

  • This is the English-language Wikipedia and we are consistently high in ratings. If I enter a word into Google, typically the English-language Wikipedia article is at or near the top of the list. We are ahead of any other language Wikipedia, not by a few points or even a healthy margin. No, we are several times as big as our nearest wikisibling. I don't think that German or French or Swahili Wikipedias are ever going to challenge that supremacy. Not if every German-speaking webizen wastes away in front of their keyboards pouring their brains out. Maybe the Chinese could do it, and maybe they will in due course.
  • But I don't think so. I think that we're so useful a resource, and while English is about fourth on the list of languages by native speakers, it is far and away the most widely used on the Internet. Add in people who speak it as a second language, English comes out on top in the real world too. I think that because English was (and is) the major language of the Internet in its early days, it will remain so, without some major cultural upheaval.
  • So I think that the English Wikipedia will remain on top, even as computers and the internet penetrate all of humanity, because all those English-as-a-second-language folk will turn to the English Wikipedia as a useful resource, offering topics that are either not available in their own language Wikipedias or not covered in such depth. From Star Trek to Existentialism, we've got the best coverage of all the Wikipedias.
  • Which is why I think that it is important that we welcome editors and readers from not just English-speaking countries (i.e. the U.S. and the British Commonwealth nations) but from everywhere where there are speakers of English. France, Uruguay, China and Kiribati. All webizens are welcome, not because they inflate our numbers and push us further up the rankings, but because they will create and improve English-language articles on topics that they know about, but your average Californian college student doesn't. We might have an article on every podunk small town in Minnesota, but there are whole provinces, mountain ranges, forests, artists, cultures and industries in the wider world that are just stubs or redlinks here. If they are mentioned at all.
  • We should have tools and conventions in place for these people. If they use diacritical marks in their names, we should accommodate them as best we are able. If they use metres rather than yards, we should use metres in relevant articles. We should have templates for easy conversion. This is not a matter of varieties of the English language, it is all the elements that matter to outsiders so that they feel that they are insiders here.
  • I include date formats in this set of familiar elements. While I don't think we are ever going to include ISO dates in written text - because it is poor English practice - I think the order of elements in full dates is something that people can and do feel strongly about.
  • I now turn to what one editor has termed "Date Wars". Why do some editors feel that articles about Georgia and Russia (for example) must be written using American Dating just because whichever editor first used a date in an article used American format? Someone in the early days of Wikipedia compiled a list of popes, and for ever after all these Italians are dated in American format?
  • Why is it so overwhelmingly important to some editors that they will edit war over dates, edit war over the wording in the Manual of Style, make personal attacks on their fellow editors, file ANI reports, consider RfCs and create massive disruption because they want American dates retained in articles that have zero connection to the U.S.?
  • My position is that if a nation uses day month year as its preferred format, then that's an excellent reason to use that in articles with strong links to that nation. I don't think that it is important what language the nation uses, because we are going to use the English month names in our English text, but the order of elements matters, and it matters most of all to readers and editors from that nation. Make them welcome, happy, satisfied contributors and we reap the benefits of their local detailed knowledge in our international repository of knowledge. Impose American standards and formats on them, abuse them and wikilaw against them, and they will go away, telling their friends that Wikipedia is a Yank wank full of dogmatic deadshits (or colorful Russian words to that effect).
  • I must insist on strong links as a condition for changing a format. If a French person makes a trip to Disneyland, that isn't good enough to change format to American. Or vice versa. They loved Jackie Kennedy in Paris, but she keeps her American dating format. If an article has a multinational aspect, such as WW2 or the UN, then we use whatever format the article began with. That's common sense, and we avoid editors seizing on tangential national links to impose their preferred format on articles that don't need it (with all the potential for edit-warring and disruption that this causes).
  • I won't insist that consensus be required before making controversial changes. That's plain good wikipractice and should happen automatically, though I can't refrain from noting that one particular editor insists on making controversial changes to the Manual of Style without gaining consensus.
  • Nor do I insist that one style or the other is mandatory. Not should use, but should generally use. Special cases will always emerge, and we don't want to give too much ammunition to those who see Wikipedia as a battleground.
  • Where there is dispute as to which format should be used, then that can be agreed on the article talk page, or the discussion page for a nation. Canada is a prime example, and we don't need to spell it out, because the community of editors has long agreed that either style is acceptable.

So that's my reasoning, and I like to think that my proposed wording is in line with the best practices of Wikipedia, especially in that I have carefully considered suggestions and criticism made here by my fellow editors. And finally, here is my preferred wording:

Articles on topics with strong ties to a particular nation should generally use the more common date format for that nation.

Reasoned comments? --Pete (talk) 00:51, 28 August 2008 (UTC)

Who are these hypothetical non-English speaking editors or editors with English as their second language that are reading an article related to a non-English speaking country, that upon seeing a dating convention of month-day-year, are "telling their friends that Wikipedia is a Yank wank full of dogmatic deadshits (or colorful Russian words to that effect)"? Where are the talk page entries where they have expressed that because the dating convention does not follow the non-English speaking countries convention, they have disregarded the entire article as useless diatribe, written by someone who obviously can't know anything about the subject matter, simply because they used a month-day-year dating convention? Because I come from a country of 303.8 million people, and of those who are attending or have been educated in the American school system or taught by someone educated in that system, we should therefore only contribute to English Wiki on subjects directly related to the United States, because using your reasoning, if we write on any other subject matter, and use an American dating convention of month-day-year, our contribution will be discounted by every non-English speaking native or English as a second language editor, or for that matter British editors, as simply "Yank wank full of dogmatic deadshits ...". But of course, if we use the dating convention of that non-English speaking country that is included in our article, it is miraculously transformed to a substantive article. Frankly, this offends me greatly. I'm a Mexican-American where my first language was spanish. In all my 44 years of life, I have never experienced intellectual bias based on my American taught use of month-date-year, nor have I ever expressed a bias on the reverse. Your reasoning, as expressed above, seems to somehow espouse an anti-American tilt on this English Wiki on a most trivial bases such as dating convention.
I believe, as long as the article does not have strong ties to an English speaking nation, that the dating convention used at the start of the article is sufficient, as long as it is consistent throughout the article.--«JavierMC»|Talk 03:08, 28 August 2008 (UTC)
In the current context, this is a view I have some sympathy for. Why allow US spelling in such articles if we're going to turn around suddenly and ban US date formatting in them? Tony (talk) 03:43, 28 August 2008 (UTC)
Nobody is talking about banning U.S. date formats. Certainly not me. But this is the English language Wikipedia, and we are talking date order, not whether we use English language month names or French. As for Javier's hyperbole, it takes my breath away. Hasn't he read the comments of other editors on this very page? Eurosong says:
  • I speak also as a reader when I say that if I come across a website with an exclusively American feel to it, then I feel like I'm only on someone else's website as a visitor, and it's not something that I will be involved in myself. With regards to editors... well, all editors once started out as readers, and they continue to be so. Without editors, there would be nothing for the readers to read :)[1]
Some Americans believe that the world loves them and those few who don't, don't matter. They should go to Paris, speak only English, insist upon American terminology for everything from coffee to commodes, complain angrily and loudly when thwarted, and see how rude the French become. Me, I find that if I speak a little French and smile a lot, I get on very well. In this global Wikipedia of ours, anything that helps us get along is good for us all. --Pete (talk) 04:36, 28 August 2008 (UTC)
D'accord. ;-) --Malleus Fatuorum (talk) 04:44, 28 August 2008 (UTC)
I don't think your reply, Pete, answers any of the questions I posed concerning your reasoning, maybe because what I wrote was all considered hyperbole, huh? Did I say I was lobbying for the use of American dating in articles exclusively? You see, your way of dealing with other editors comments, is to try and make light of their view as opposed to yours. I read your reasoning word for word, and in my reply I asked where you derived your surmises. Eurosong's statement hardly qualifies it. But enough of my hyperbole, eh? Let other editors respond to your reasoning. Perhaps they will agree with you and then you can praise their intuitiveness. Oh yeah and those "some americans" and Paris. Well, if they were to act in such a rude manner, then perhaps they should stay in America, confined to their mobile homes, watching Jeopardy!, and try to improve their worldliness before they even think to visit their local Piggly Wiggly, cause they ain't right in da head. :) --«JavierMC»|Talk 05:14, 28 August 2008 (UTC)
Don't know what brought on this sudden attack of anti-Americanism. This is an American-originated and American-hosted project, after all... It shouldn't come as that much of a surprise to anyone to see American-formatted dates (not that this format is entirely foreign to any other English-speaking nation anyway). Personally I prefer dates the other way round, and am all for being inclusive, but I don't see that this inclusiveness should somehow exclude Americans. --Kotniski (talk) 08:32, 28 August 2008 (UTC)
Nobody who knows me well would accuse me of anti-Americanism. One may gain some idea of my feelings towards America here and here. Anti-American? No. Anti-chauvinist, anti-boorishness, anti-arrogance certainly. Javier, I called your response hyperbole, because that's what it was. None of the scenarios you envisage nor the arguments you advanced are ones I espouse. Indeed, I reject them utterly. I cannot see why anyone should insist that an article about a German concentration camp or an Italian pope or a French palace should have American format dates when the connection to the U.S. is zero. European date formatting is just plain common-sense. And manners. And in accordance with the Manual of Style. Why change it? --Pete (talk) 10:34, 28 August 2008 (UTC)
I am one of those non-native English speakers who edits on this English language wikipedia. I have remarked before that whenever I see U.S.A. styled dates in a typical European subject it is really jarring and detracts from credibility. Why not just show some respect for the habits of other countries and adopt their date style in relevant articles? This is already accepted practice for units of measurement. A strong argument, I miss from the "reasoning above" is that sources are likely to have the date style of the related country. −Woodstone (talk) 12:34, 28 August 2008 (UTC)
Example, please. (In fact, most European subjects will have English sources on them in both Commonwealth and American; of these, some will have sources primarily in one or the other, largely by chance.) Septentrionalis PMAnderson 14:22, 28 August 2008 (UTC)

A modest proposal

Woodstone proposed on talk that we fold this into ENGVAR: Articles in British (and other Commonwealth) English use the International format; articles in American use American. I have some reservations about this; as Tony says, actual usage isn't that neatly divided - and it would have to be phrased carefully to avoid the implication that we have to use the same format in text and in the footnotes. But the idea is certainly worth discussing; others may be able to solve the problems: the slight mismatch between this and the US/Commonwealth division can probably be dealt with by a well-placed normally. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 14:27, 28 August 2008 (UTC)

Could you give a source for your "slight mismatch" comment, please? --Pete (talk) 17:37, 28 August 2008 (UTC)
Talk page comments don't have to be sourced. Sept's (or Anderson's - I never know how to refer to people who sign themselves something different from their user name) proposal seems sensible to me. Those who claim they find US-style dates "jarring" in articles on e.g. European subjects will surely have no ground to complain if those same articles already contain US spelling (a clash between date and spelling, though still not that important, would surely be even more jarring than the clash between used and imagined date styles).--Kotniski (talk) 18:32, 28 August 2008 (UTC)
Either name will do for me. Just don't call me late for dinner. (In fact it's Woodstone's proposal, and I had qualms when he asked me about it; but it makes a certain amount of sense.) Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:42, 28 August 2008 (UTC)
But where is the evidence? So far as I can see, use of SI units or not, American or British English, and day forward or month forward date formats have consistency for only one nation: the U.S. Everywhere else, I see a mish-mash of styles. Even in articles intimately linked to the United Kingdom, it is fairly easy to find examples containing American spelling or American dates. For example, Buckingham Palace. A Featured Article, no less! --Pete (talk) 00:58, 29 August 2008 (UTC)
  • As Skyring should recall, Tony commented on this matter when it came up at ANI; he remarked, as one of many reasons to not push this, that the American military used the "international" style and many non-American newspapers, the "American". Both jibe with what I remember. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 21:32, 28 August 2008 (UTC)
  • The Sydney Morning Herald does, both on its website and on our image of its print editon. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 21:35, 28 August 2008 (UTC)
So does [" The Times"], but I don't see anybody seriously suggesting that articles about the United Kingdom should use american format. --Pete (talk) 00:58, 29 August 2008 (UTC)
You asked for a source; you got one. I said and meant slight mismatch. What is your point? Or are you merely arguing? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 02:41, 29 August 2008 (UTC)

On thinking about it, it seems reasonable to make the section on formats a corollary to ENGVAR; this is unlikely to be abused to prohibit ISO formats in footnotes, and if it is, we can deal. We can add date to ENGVAR later. I therefore propose,

Articles written in a national variety of English should generally use the more common date format for that nation; articles in Canadian English may use either format consistently. Articles on topics with strong ties to a particular English-speaking country will therefore normally use the corresponding date format. and tweaking the title to correspond. Should generally use is the existing verb. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 12:57, 29 August 2008 (UTC)

Linking, specifically

Where exactly above was the resolution to "discourage" date linking? The reasons expressed in #Date autoformatting don't make a lot of sense. What exactly are "articles that are intrinsically historical in nature"? And this sentence seems very much wrong: "As such, the very individuals who are largely responsible for ensuring editorial content is correct and appropriate in articles, are unable to see what the vast majority of readers see." If it's claimed that few editors set a date pref, then the majority of editors do see exactly what readers-not-logged-in see. Gimmetrow 23:50, 24 August 2008 (UTC)

  • E.g. French Revolution, which has been added to the text. I don’t know what percentage of editors set their user preferences, but the editors who have strong interest in this issue and have been weighing in here on Talk:MOSNUM typically have been setting their user date preferences and it is these very editors (those who have a keen interest in date formats) who most need to be looking at what everyone else is seeing. Some of these editors have mentioned that they recently set their pref to “No preference” as a result of this debate.

    With preferences just for we editors, we could go ape-shit with this whole concept of having *special* content just for us. We could have UK/US preferences enabling us to code just so we don’t have to look at spelling we happen to disapprove of. Do you think this would make Wikipedia a better place? Clearly not, as magic x-ray glasses that work only for editors only whitewash over editorial disputes that need to be properly dealt with via well crafted MOS guidelines. Greg L (talk) 00:29, 25 August 2008 (UTC)

Yes Greg, {{dialect|US|Commonwealth|color|colour}} would be an improvement to Wikipedia. It doesn't mean that right away things will look better on a screen in a schoolhouse in West Virginia, but one day, even without user preferences or server-side location detection, the administrators of the information systems for that schoolhouse might configure their assets such that the spelling which they want West Virginia students to learn is shown to them. (Note that this might not involve the internet or web browsers at all; it might just be a CD they have pressed for use in their educational program.) Without the markup, we give those system administrators a much more difficult task! Helping West Virginia farm children whose schoolhouse doesn't have internet access (a random example, BTW)? Yes! That definitely is a (little) piece of what Wikipedia is all about! (sdsds - talk) 01:42, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
  • No, it’s not an improvement. A tool that benefits just editors (one in a thousand readers) is no improvement whatsoever to Wikipedia; it’s just an improvement for one-thousandth of Wikipedia’s readership. While we’re at it, why don’t we have slaves peel our grapes too? Were we to actually make the foolish tool I described above, we wouldn’t even be able to see when “colour” is being used in an article on the U.S. flag and similar content-related errors; articles would always look hunkey-dory—to us only. Or with respect to the present issue (dates), when we think the world is reading June 6, 2005, but virtually the entire English-speaking world sees 2005-06-06 in all its hard-to-parse, linked-to-worthless-trivia glory. Such problems goes away when editors stop thinking of themselves as a privileged class and actually have to read what we’re writing (*oh dear!*). The only solution is to A) make these tools work for all readers (a complex task that isn’t in the cards any time soon), or B) stop making and using them altogether. Greg L (talk) 02:39, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
Greg you still don't quite grasp how the date formatting works. I see two equal perfectly clear (ISO) dates in the example you give above. But as much as I hate to lose my ISO preference view, I agree that autolinked dates were not a good idea. −Woodstone (talk) 08:14, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
Greg, I don't know how familiar you are with West Virginia but the imaginary schoolchildren I mention there are not employing slaves to peel their grapes. They are trying to larn to reed and rite beeter. The imaginary educator who extracts a CD full of Wikipedia for these children wants to use any available markup to present text that further's the education of those schoolchildren. It has nothing to do with "logging in" to a "website." It has to do only with the markup in our text. (sdsds - talk) 06:34, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
It's a bold change, but entirely in line with the consensus above. It improves the flow and focus of MOSNUM to have the table and associated information that is now of only marginal utility to WPs sequestered on a linked page. Tony (talk) 02:26, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
Moving the table is irrelevant. The text now in MOSNUM (permalink above) is almost certainly incorrect. Since Greg L is presented that as the reason behind date delinking, the logical conclusion is that delinking dates is the wrong course of action. Gimmetrow 02:45, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
  • The only thing that is certain is you like autoformatting, like having your preference set to a particular way so you can see things many regular readers can’t see, and you don’t like deprecating this silly tool in the least—that much is a given and I can accept it. No one said change on Wikipedia is easy—particularly for an ill-thought-out tool that has been around for three years. As for your fallacious claim that anything written there is non-factual, clearly state your case. Are you saying it doesn’t give editors a view of editorial content that regular folk don’t see? It’s clearly true that it does. Are you saying the tools don’t link to mind-numbing trivia that rarely has anything to do with the articles containing the links? That much is also true. Once again, I tire of you style of complaining about this & that. I find you to be repetitive and your arguments aren’t substantive or supportable. I’ll let someone else step in here and deal with you now. Goodbye. Greg L (talk) 02:55, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
Oh, you "tire" of my "style"? Fine. Demonstrate the truth of each of the following propositions:
  • "Its benefits can only be seen by..."
  • "Thus, the very individuals who are largely responsible for ensuring editorial content is correct and appropriate in articles are unable to see what the vast majority of readers see"
  • " the use of these formatting tools tends to produce overlinked articles."
You might be able to manage the third one, but since you start above with "The only thing that is certain is you like autoformatting, like having your preference set to a particular way so you can see things many regular readers can’t see, and you don’t like deprecating this silly tool in the least—that much is a given", I rather doubt it. Gimmetrow 03:41, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
Greg L, the sentence "the very individuals who are largely responsible for ensuring editorial content is correct and appropriate in articles are unable to see what the vast majority of readers see" is not only blatantly false, it is contradicted by the very sentence that precedes it: if an editor sets his date format to "No preference", then he sees exactly what the non-editors see. GregorB (talk) 12:16, 25 August 2008 (UTC)

To see the "benifits" of WP autoformatting you must be logged in and have your preferences set. This is easy to demonstrate: just log out and see what happens; then log in, reset your prefs to "No preference" and see the same thing happen ... and here's an idea: leave your prefs that way so you're not one of those editors "unable to see what the vast majority of readers see." So, are registered editors "a small minority of Wikipedia’s readership"? I don't know that I can prove that beyond reasonable doubt but considering that WP so often appears so high on web searches (e.g. Google), I think it's more likely true than not. Of these registered users how many have their date prefs set? Well, again, hard to say but a new editor will be bound to ask something along the lines of "Now why all these links to nothing of any worth?" and they'll find out and probably go set their prefs if they haven't already done so. They'll happily go editing for years before it dawns on them "Oh, with my prefs set I can't see the mess that the rest of the world sees, perhaps I'll remove them." Indeed this is something which seems a rather new realisation even amongst those of us following this autoformatting issue. Thus "the very individuals who are largely responsible for ensuring editorial content is correct" (editors with prefs set) can't see this mess that the World sees and thus don't fix it. Remove your date preferences everyone, I urge you, that is if you really want to be an editor here. Is it truely disputed that "the use of these formatting tools tends to produce overlinked articles"? Any article with a link to something unconnected to the topic at hand is, by definition, overlinked. These date and year articles have little to do with the vast majority of articles. Autoformatting on WP must be done via linking. Is this not as solid a proof as any reasonable intellegent being might ask for? JIMp talk·cont 07:04, 25 August 2008 (UTC)

Date linking has some formatting consequences for everyone, not just logged-in users with a pref setting, and that's only the narrow consideration of the format itself. At least one reason autoformatting exists, if not the main reason, is to reduce edit wars - and that benefits everyone. Finally, while there is some point to the "overlinking" argument, articles routinely link a lot of other info "unconnected to the topic at hand". Cities, for instance, are routinely linked - does the same "overlinking" argument apply to them too? Gimmetrow 12:28, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
Gimmetrow—within reason, yes it does apply to the names of geographical locations; see MOSLINK. The dilution of our high-value links by an encroaching "sea of blue" has been a problem on WP for some time. We've moved away from the original scattergun "link anything you please" approach to the notion of disciplined linking or smart linking, in which a little care is expected in prioritising what and what not to link. The boundary between these will often vary depending on context and editor; whether to link "France" (hardly ever), "Paris" (usually not), "Bordeaux" (probably—depends), or "Gironde" (almost certainly) does require, inter alia, an assessment of how well-known these items are likely to be to the readers of the article and English-speakers in general. It's what you might call a "wiki-skill", which we should proudly encourage all WPians to take seriously as a rather special, if not unique, part of this encyclopedia. Tony (talk) 13:03, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
Yes, I know. My point is the focus. It looks like date links are the focus when the same principles ought to apply to other types of links. But there doesn't seem to be a comparable movement to deal with the other types of links. Gimmetrow 13:16, 25 August 2008 (UTC)

You are right. There is not the focus of attention. There was never any policy saying all cities should be linked. Nor was there any tool that formatted city spelling variants while also linking. If you delink seventeen links to London, people won't complain. If you delink seventeen links to 1990s people formally complained but few do now. Lightmouse (talk) 13:22, 25 August 2008 (UTC)


So this happened overnight and its really bothering me. Sure only registered users can see the dates, but thats a nice touch to having an account. It shows you the date in the style you are used to. In general, it is linked in the style that the topic is about, like european for a european article. Its nice to see it the way im familiar with. My problem is that users are now mass taking out the links so now there are things like "13 May 2008" with no commas. What a mess. I think it was stupid to change it, it wasn't a big deal in the first place. Why are you inconveniencing registered users? Now we have to go around cleaning up the mess. I am really upset about this. Grk1011/Stephen (talk) 14:11, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
Stephen, it didn't happen overnight. The issue has been evolving over more than two years. Yes, debate has come to a head in the past month, but it's not sudden.
"In general, it is linked in the style that the topic is about, like european for a european article"—I don't think so: one problem in autoformatting is that logged-in, preferenced WPians see all US or all international, regardless of the topic. I find it funny to read about September 11, 2001 in international format. That's why I turned off my preferences to start with.
I feel you're placing a rather high value on what you're "used to", when our readers out there, who are the whole point of the project, see the raw formatting. Doesn't figure.
International formatting takes no comma, so the example you gave is correct; there is no mess on that count. In fact, the only mess to clean up is what date autoformatting has concealed from us (not our readers), and I do this in a high proportion of articles I see. Can you please bring to our attention any glitches you find? Tony (talk) 14:27, 25 August 2008 (UTC) PS you may be interested in reading this essay. Tony (talk) 14:28, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
Ahh, you edited during my response. Please tell me that we are still linking the dates in references and citations right? Because those should all be consistent. I think now its "2008-08-25", but it'll show me "August 25, 2008" Grk1011/Stephen (talk) 14:37, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
Indeed we are. Please see Format consistency in MOSNUM, which says that internal consistency within refs is required, and internal consistency within the main text is required. Easy! Now, have we cleared up the issues you voiced before? Tony (talk) 14:40, 25 August 2008 (UTC)

It might be a reasonable step now to not endorse any autolinking, but specifically deprecate ISO dates in text. The vast majority that does not autoformat is probably more disconcerted by them than by seeing British or American format where they would have expected the other. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 14:42, 25 August 2008 (UTC)

Well then I'll bring to light that the citation gadget auto-links. Grk1011/Stephen (talk) 14:46, 25 August 2008 (UTC)

I see that the text has been made identical with the subpage WP:Autoformatting. The purpose of making that subpage was to move the discussion of autoformatting away from here. I have substituted the summary:

Date autoformatting is a system by which dates which are wikilinked can be configured to the preference of readers who have accounts, are logged in, and have set their preferences on this question. Making such links is not required anywhere on Wikipedia; they have practical and aesthetic disadvantages, and many editors would prefer that the system not be used at all.

I think this at least has the advantage of asserting nothing that is widely disputed, and explaining what autoformatting is. If someone wants to include a stronger deprecation, please consider proposing it on talk first. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 15:27, 25 August 2008 (UTC)

Tony has reverted a moderated wording of WP:Autoformatting, citing a poll in his edit summary. What poll? The page hasn't existed for 24 hours.
And should we be deprecating things on subpages of this subpage of MOS, anyway? Let's keep WP:Autoformatting for facts and arguments on autoformatting which are too bulky to fit here. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 15:48, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
I shall repeat here that recommending something on a page that is itself a recommendation is a rather weak way to deal with this matter. There is consensus on this page to move away from any way of official endorsement of auto-formatting, which is what I suppose Tony was referring to as a "poll"—erroneously, because we are not voting here. Consensus is as much formed by arguments as it is by individual supports and opposes, and many arguments against auto-formatting have yet to be refuted. Waltham, The Duke of 22:09, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
  • I have not used the word "poll". Where did you get that idea from, Anderson? Tony (talk) 01:46, 26 August 2008 (UTC)
We have moved away from endorseent of autoformatting; and a good thing too. The question is whether it should be deprecated, as opposed to saying that there are arguments against it, and that many editors dislike it. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 22:12, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
How many editors dislike it?OranL (talk) 22:24, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
Some would do; I don't think it makes the guidance any different. Around here, the half-dozen towards the top of the page who would abolish most linking of dates are a good many. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 22:41, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
So, are you suggesting that a half-dozen editors make a majority, and therefore can form a consensus for all of Wikipedia? — OranL (talk) 22:53, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
I do wonder what the purpose of the "optional" phrasing would be, Mr Anderson. Reach the intended target slower? Or let some people retain date links so that someone else will remove them? I do not understand.
OranL, I suggest looking at the middle of the page, where there are more than half a dozen supporters, and a link to a page full of representative support towards de-linking. Furthermore, because consensus is not only voting but needs arguments, I invite you to read my essay on the evils of auto-formatting. Comments are most welcome at the talk page. Waltham, The Duke of 23:05, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
I have read your essay, but I do not think that much of Wikipedia has read your essay. I do not think that a few dozen editors have the right to say that since a few dissenters' arguments have been refuted, that this represents a consensus of any kind. — OranL (talk) 23:13, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
  • Yes. This is a major change and affects all of the English Wikipedia. -Fnlayson (talk) 23:43, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
Are we then to wait until the thousands of users of English Wikipedia stumble upon this discussion, each individually offering their pros and cons, then somehow, in some fashion, someone (because someones going to have to do it) weights the validity of all arguments in favor and opposed to determine what if any consensus has or has not been reached? Then of course there will have to be a consensus that a consensus for/opposed has in-fact been reached, which then leads to whether the consensus of the consensus is a consensus, and so on. It would be like stepping onto an infinite line to find the end, when the first clue should have been the fact that it is so labeled "infinite" because it has no end. I'm confused as to when consensus will ever be met? It has to have worked before because all changes on content are to be reached by consensus or does everything on Wikipedia remain in flux? Editors, I'm sure, have come here, read some of the arguments for and opposed then probably thought "I'm not even going to touch this" and went on to happily continue editing as is their want. Someone has to be first. Not me, I'm too new to be BOLD and take the step. So therefore, I'm totally confused. :) --«JavierMC»|Talk 00:23, 26 August 2008 (UTC)

←Oran, don't be fooled by Anderson's "half dozen", first put about at VP. I think I counted double that above, and there are of course the scores who have voted with their feet in actively supporting removal, or in expressing favourable comments. Their comments are gathered here. I see no groundswell of opposition in the community, but sniping from a few disgruntled users who find themselves significantly outnumbered and, in particular, are short of good arguments. Tony (talk) 01:52, 26 August 2008 (UTC)

LOL. After months of discussion, the first argument put forth, presumably the strongest, was almost certainly wrong - and it's still in the guideline page. Greg L's response probably set back any hope of date delinking by 6 months to a year. And it looks like you're still missing things with the script: [2]. Gimmetrow 03:35, 26 August 2008 (UTC)
Which is why I am doing things manually. Slower, but more complete. (Though I cannot say that I have been very productive in the mainspace lately... But that's largely irrelevant.)
In any case, I am not sure why there should be such difficulty writing good reasons to deprecate auto-formatting when there are so many of them. Let's work here towards resolving the problem, shall we?
So. There seems to be a contradiction between the statement that a very small minority of Wikipedians use date settings, and the one that most of the people responsible for the good style of articles will see different things from most readers. I believe that could be explained by the widely held belief that a small core of dedicated users maintains the encyclopaedia. Personally, I believe this is correct; maintenance is very different from contributing new content, for which unregistered users are at least as much to thank as editors with accounts. However, it is not easy to support with hard facts that the editors with date preferences on are the ones with the greatest influence on our articles' style, so an alternative wording might be warranted.
I was about to write what this alternative wording might be, but seven hours have passed and I'm really sleepy. More tomorrow (if I remember; if not, be rude to me on my talk page).
PS: I hope that you will excuse my removing the bullet from your post; it interfered with indentation, and it would not look good if I used bullets for my multi-paragraph analysis. Waltham, The Duke of 23:10, 26 August 2008 (UTC)

Why not deprecate

Why not say "deprecate"? Because what we want out of this is a wave of editors saying "Date formatting is not a good idea, and this is why. Can we change this page, please?" We do not want "Out of my way, peasants! I'm on a mission from MOS, and I'm going to delink this page whether you like it or not."

His Grace's ancestors may well have done things the second way, but it's not civility nowadays. ;> Experience suggests that the line between these two is, all too often, whether the wording of this page can be read as a mandate. This is why I oppose mandates in general. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 15:57, 27 August 2008 (UTC)

That is exactly what happened to me. I did a long article linking the dates, and the next day, ALL MY DATES WERE UNLINKED? I was very confused! I went here, but I don't see what evidence there is that dates are no longer linked. All it says is "this happened on August 24". I don't call that evidence.--HandGrenadePins (talk) 11:18, 29 August 2008 (UTC)

There was a series of very long discussions leading to that. Surely we are all quite used to having other editors and bots make changes to "our" articles - I sometimes get momentarily annoyed when it happens to me too, but in the majority of cases I see the logic of it (or at least lack of dislogic) and accept it cheerfully. It's so much a part of Wikilife that it can hardly be regarded as uncivil, and certainly nothing to get worked up about.--Kotniski (talk) 11:37, 29 August 2008 (UTC)
HGP, I'm providing some useful links on your talk page. Tony (talk) 12:01, 29 August 2008 (UTC)

suggestion: further discussion on the new subpage's talk page

Now that the subpage on date autoformatting has been created, I suggest further discussion of its contents take place on its talk page. The content seems to have settled in the last couple of days, except that there's still no consensus on whether to say that autoformatting is "deprecated", "discouraged", or what have you. (I'm placing this notice simultaneously in all the topics that deal primarily with autoformatting.) Teemu Leisti (talk) 10:18, 28 August 2008 (UTC)

Just a side note to anyone who might be harbouring lingering fantasies of turning back the clock on this one: I'm surprised at the high proportion of articles with faults in raw date formatting and format selection that I've uncovered and either (1) fixed manually, (2) fixed using a script, or (3) left a note for local editors to deal with on the article talk page or in an edit summary. These issues occur in all topic areas, but are not uniform in their incidence: the auditing of dates in some topics requires hypervigilance, and in others is less of a problem. Tony (talk) 04:11, 29 August 2008 (UTC)

Non-Gregorian calendars

I do not understand the stuff about Gregorian calendars but it worries me that I might not be able to rely on an ISO format as meaning an ISO date. If this is true, should it be added to The use of these tools has two disadvantages:? Lightmouse (talk) 12:41, 25 August 2008 (UTC)

ISO dates use the Gregorian calendar by definition. If it's non-Gregorian, it's also non-ISO.RockyMtnGuy (talk) 14:31, 25 August 2008 (UTC)

If that is true, then autoformatting must be forbidden for non-Gregorian dates. Lightmouse (talk) 14:52, 25 August 2008 (UTC)

No, ISO autoformatting becomes questionable for non-Gregorian dates; although sensible readers will realize there is a problem and read 03-15-15001500-03-15 according to context, as they would read March 15, 1500, or 15 March 1500. But we may want to discourage ISO autoformatting anyway for other reasons. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 15:53, 25 August 2008 (UTC)

We are not talking about '03-15-1500' because it is not a valid autoformat and is not valid ISO format. My question is only about valid ISO formats such as '1066-10-09'. Take it slowly for me because I don't understand the stuff about Gregorian dates. Let me try the question the other way. Is autoformatting safe for non-Gregorian dates? Lightmouse (talk)

My apologies. You see how disconcerting ISO dates are for me, a fairly experienced user; I have reversed the example above to make it clear. Yes, they are safe, on either of two conditions:
  • That they are disabled or deprecated for producing ISO dates, which I would prefer.
  • That anybody who sees an ISO format before 1752 be willing to consider the possibility that this does not represent a Gregorian date, no matter what the ISO specification says. (This problem is likely to arise again in a few millennia when the Gregorian calendar diverges from the astronomical dating, but we can deal with it then.)
  • The Gregorian calendar is a refinement of the Julian calendar. The calendar skipped 10 days at its introduction on 15 October 1582, in order to realign the seasons to the year. The ISO calendar does not have this skip, but just counts backwards without skip. The Gregorian (and Julian) date before the skip in the calendar is 4 October 1582. That day is ISO 1582-10-14.
  • The conversion done by autoformatting blindly converts dates. In case of preference setting ISO, the month goes to its number, the sequence of elements is rearranged and dashes are added. For any date before 15 October 1582, this gives an incorrect ISO date, since before that date, there will be a difference of 10 days.
    • No, the difference depends on the century; the Gregorian calendar has fewer leap years, so the two shift with respect to each other. This is as true projecting backwards as now. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:28, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
      • Forward from the adoption of the Gregorian calendar, the ISO date stays equal to the Gregorian date. Going backward, the difference (with the then Julian calendar) increases slightly up from 10 days. −Woodstone (talk) 18:09, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
      • No, it decreases as you go back, until the third century, when the Julian and projected Gregorian calendar are identical. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:48, 28 August 2008 (UTC)
  • The Gregorian calendar, proclaimed by a Pope was not immediately accepted in many countries. So dates after October 1582 may also show a difference.
  • Conclusion: using date autoformatting to produce or accept ISO is not safe for older dates. −Woodstone (talk) 16:47, 25 August 2008 (UTC)

Thanks. I do not care about the calendars, nor do many editors/readers. All I care about is that a tool created for somewhat aesthetic reasons is safe. Your explanations are clear enough to show that there is a reasonable chance of a concealed error prior to 15 October 1582 and a non-zero chance of error even after that. This is an important and very specific issue. I have added something to Wikipedia:Manual of Style (dates and numbers)/Date autoformatting. Regards Lightmouse (talk) 18:16, 25 August 2008 (UTC)

Moved from Lightmouse talk page: begin

If you don't understand or care about calendars, please don't edit instructions dealing with them. Autoformatting before 1582 is perfectly safe as long as ISO is not involved. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:04, 25 August 2008 (UTC)

Moved from Lightmouse talk page: end

Please can people look at the edit history of Wikipedia:Manual of Style (dates and numbers)/Date autoformatting. The issue that I believe is important is that editors need to be told that autoformatting is unsafe and specifically must not be used before a certain date. I am confused by the changes that Pmanderson is adding about ISO itself being a problem and his statement above which sounded unpleasant to me. Can we all agree the wording whilst remaining polite? Lightmouse (talk) 19:19, 25 August 2008 (UTC)

PMAnderson's statement "autoformatting before 1582 is perfectly safe as long as ISO is not involved" assumes a software improvement that has not yet occurred, that is, the removal of the "2001-01-15T16:12:34" from the My Preferences → Date and time menu. So long as that option exists, a date originally written in a format that implies the Julian calendar, like "4 October 1582", may be presented in a format that is required to be in the Gregorian calendar, like "1582-10-04". --Gerry Ashton (talk) 19:36, 25 August 2008 (UTC)

But then ISO is involved; that unfortunate reader is formatting into ISO. We need two steps; discouraging linking of ISO dates before 1582, and warning readers not to autoformat into ISO while trusting that the date of the Battle of Hastings will be converted from 14 October 1066 to 1066-10-20, which won't happen. How many readers do autoformat into ISO? Any that do that will trust autoformatting at their own risk. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:43, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
There is a chance we might get the message across about choosing the "2001-01-15T16:12:34" preference to an editor, especially if the editor is in the habit of contributing to articles about the relevant era. I see hardly any chance of getting the message across to a pure reader, who expects the computer to just do what the My Preferences → Date and time says it will do. After all, not being an editor, the reader is unaware that the date markup does not contain any information about what calendar the date is written in.
Anyone who autoformats is an editor. Non-editors can't. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:07, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
(edit conflict) Also, even though the warning would be grossly inadequate, I take the position that any warning to readers that is located anywhere except the My Preferences → Date and time menu does not count at all. Since the warning is not in place now, ISO autoformatting is unsafe now. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 19:53, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
This is a concern about a reader who
  • Autoformats, and is therefore an editor,
  • Is autoformatting into ISO
  • Reads an article about the Renaissance or before
  • Knows that ISO implies Gregorian.
  • Does not realize that this can be a problem.
That's five very narrow conditions, implying a reader of unusual tastes and unusual cluelessness. How many editors autoformat into ISO? Of those, how many will assume that 1066-10-14 is Gregorian (and know the difference)? Of those, how many will be unaware of the dangers involved? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:04, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
But, yes, ISO autoformatting is unsafe now. It will only hurt this small subclass. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:22, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
It is a (very?) small subset of readers who will be affected. But since autofomatting is of limited usefulness anyway, what is the benefit of permitting formatting that will cause outright errors, even if not very many people see the errors.
On a somewhat different tack, one of the arguments that those who line autoformatting use is that in the future, it will be easier to recognize dates automatically and do useful things with them, treating them as metadata. Today, computers are not even up to the level of being stupid; it will a very long time before they will be smart enough to decide what calendar a date is in (in running text with just wikilinks to help). So we do a service to those who like autolinking by not entering metadata that is likely to be misinterpreted by software. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 20:28, 25 August 2008 (UTC)

In what way do the two calenders produce dates that look different? Abtract (talk) 20:14, 25 August 2008 (UTC)

They don't, except insofar as ISO format must be Gregorian (for which I should like a source, btw). 14 October 1066 and October 14, 1066, can be either Gregorian or Julian; but the reader would be entitled to presume that date to be Julian, unless the article says otherwise ("14 October 1066, in the Gregorian calendar" or some such), because it's before Pope Gregory. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:20, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
So what's all the fuss about? Abtract (talk) 20:27, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
PMAnderson, your source isISO 8601:2004(E) from ISO (zip-pdf, 228KB) --Gerry Ashton (talk) 20:33, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
Abstract, consider the date the bull promulgating the Gregorian calender, Inter gravissimas was signed, February 24, 1582 in the Julian calendar. To correctly write this in the ISO 8601 format, I would have to write 1582-02-14, because that is the same day expressed in the proleptic Gregorian calendar. Since it s more-or-less customary to write dates (with the month given in letters, not numerals) in the calendar in effect at the time and place being discussed, February 24, 1582 is understood to be Julian and 1582-02-14 is officially Gregorian (although it is probable that many people do not understand that). --Gerry Ashton (talk) 20:40, 25 August 2008 (UTC)

Gerry, thank you for that document. One of the things it says is: The use of this calendar for dates preceding the introduction of the Gregorian calendar (also called the proleptic Gregorian calendar) should only be by agreement of the partners in information interchange. Anybody who chooses to autoformat into ISO, therefore, should not presume that xe is seeing proleptic Gregorian dates unless xe is party to an agreement to do so. Since xe will not be (Wikimedia will not so agree), this is a non-problem. Why do we need to worry about hypothetical editors who assume half a standards document is binding on us and the other half isn't? We are not the Fool-killer. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:47, 25 August 2008 (UTC)

Another way to look at that document is that it requires mutual agreement between all Wikipedia editors and all readers who choose the "2001-01-15T16:12:34" option on the My Preferences → Date and time menu. I think the discussion so far is that there is no such agreement among editors. I don't know for sure what the readers with that option selected think, but I'd bet a jumbo-sized coffee that they have not agreed either. In the absence of such agreement, Wikipedia developers and editors should use the means at their disposal to prevent non-Gregorian dates from being rendered in the ISO format. The means available to editors is to not wikilink any date in a non-Gregorian calendar. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 20:57, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
That's killing a fly with a sledgehammer (and is about as likely to work). It would be much simpler to file a bug report against conversions into ISO; that might actually be approved. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 21:03, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
Bug number 15311. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 22:04, 25 August 2008 (UTC)

Could someone please point me to the consensus for "deprecating" the use of this tool? And, as an aside, why on earth are you guys worrying about a distinction in date format that almost no-one reading it will understand? Surely all the "standard" format is saying is "this is the date using the calender in force at the time"? Abtract (talk) 21:28, 25 August 2008 (UTC)

A person who does not understand the distinction between the Julian and Gregorian calendar can't write historical articles before about 1752 (depending on what region the writer would like to cover). A reader who does not understand the distinction will be OK, so long as he/she only wants a general idea of the dates, and errors of 10 days or so are unimportant to him/her. I imagine there are some readers out there who would like to know exactly which day certain events occurred. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 21:34, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
Does anyone ever translate from one calender to another or do all writers stick to the date in the calender of the day? Also you didn't show me the consensus which I assume is massive since this is a large change. Abtract (talk) 21:38, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
The whole discussion was focused on ISO dates, but actually revealed an unsolved underlying problem about dates in general. When an article has a date roughly between 1582 and 1752, it is rather ambiguous if it must be interpreted as Julian or Gregorian. Ironically, converting the date to ISO would remove this ambiguity (since it must always be Gregorian). So the most fundamental way would be to modify the autoformat functionality to require specification of the calendar meant and convert accordingly. Incidentally, the current faulty conversion occurs both into ISO as out of ISO. −Woodstone (talk) 21:53, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
Which should be handled, article by article, by being clear at each point which is meant. There are several standard devices for doing this (chiefly such expressions as "February 14, 1582 (February 24, Gregorian)") and using them as necessary is an aspect of editorial competence. Some articles use footnotes saying "In this article, all dates are Julian, and the year begins January 1." (or whatever).
Abtract, translation is rare, except for such cases as the English (Julian) against the French (Gregorian) in the early 18th century. In those cases, some authors will choose one calendar and convert. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 22:01, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
One potental problem is that when a famous person's birthday is observed as a holiday, the day is often chosen by converting the person's Julian birth date into Gregorian. Another potential problem is an article involving two countries which converted on different dates. Such articles are often about wars, in which the timing of troop and fleet movements may be critical. Such articles might also draw on primary sources from the two sides, written in different calendars. What fun. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 22:15, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
Good editors, none the less, write such articles; George Washington has a footnote on the matter. This is a question of content, not style; not our pigeon. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 22:19, 25 August 2008 (UTC)

Abstract mentioned "also you didn't show me the consensus which I assume is massive since this is a large change." Although I have come to see autoformatting as more trouble than it's worth, even if it is restricted to avoid Gregorian/Julian ambiguity, I'm not leading the charge. For example, I have no plans to remove autoformatting from any article unless that article has either a Gregorian/Julian error, or a hodgepoge of different date formats. So someone else will have to point you to the consensus. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 22:41, 25 August 2008 (UTC)

Yes indeed; I'm posting a note on Abstract's talk page now. Tony (talk) 07:15, 26 August 2008 (UTC)

Question from a confused but experienced date editor
I thought I had this clear in my head but now I am confused. On the basis of what I read here, I thought that it was unsafe for me to apply square brackets to dates like '10 September 1471'. See the text that I added in the history of Wikipedia:Manual of Style (dates and numbers)/Date autoformatting saying autoformatting must not be used for dates prior to 15 October 1582. I thought the text was a fair summary of what people said here but PManderson said If you don't understand or care about calendars, please don't edit instructions dealing with them. Autoformatting before 1582 is perfectly safe as long as ISO is not involved and has changed the guidance to say text several times and it now says that ISO dates before 1582 should not be wikilinked. Few people actual enter ISO dates and will ignore this guidance if it only applies to ISO input. PManderson clearly knows more about calenders than I do, as he says but I would like somebody just to double check the answer to this question. If editors carry on writing dates like 14 October 1582, will autoformatting adjust the days so that it becomes the correct ISO date for any reader that selects ISO as a preference? Lightmouse (talk) 10:07, 26 August 2008 (UTC)

The autoformatting is just formatting, not converting. Month name and number are mapped and the elements are shuffled. So any date before 15 October 1582 (and in many countries much later) will give the wrong date (if input or output are ISO and the other is not). However, I personally have ISO as preference because it makes dates so much clearer and I accept that the resulting older dates are not ISO conform. I personally am not worried much about 10 days difference 400 years ago. Especially if it's not even sure what calendar the original date was in. −Woodstone (talk) 12:20, 26 August 2008 (UTC)

What's wrong with linking the dates, eh?

I've just recently discovered that the policy expressed on these pages appears to have changed to advise against linking the dates, on the gounds that "the majority of readers aren't logged-in users with preferences set", and that "there's no point in linking to useless articles about dates, which have nothing to do with the article in question".

Now, I agree with the second point: but the fact that the linking of the dates is a clickable link to another article is merely just a by-product of the main purpose of linking dates, and surely does no harm.

The fact that it's only the minority of people who are logged-in editors who have set preferences should be irrelevant. Even if 999 people out of 1000 don't benefit from the date linking, the fact remains that 1 person does. And it's likely that that one person is someone who does care about date formatting. Why take away the preferences of that person, merely to reduce the number of links? I mean, what harm does it really do to have useless links?

Of course, ideally the software could be written so that it was possible to format dates according to user preferences, but to not make them clickable links. But as it is, who really cares about the redundant links?

I know that some people think this is a non-issue, but to some other people it is quite an important one. The fact is that the USA is the only single country in the world which uses Month, Day, Year as a standard format. Now, my point here is not to discuss the merits or logic of International vs. American date formatting. I fully respect that there are millions of Americans who have grown up with M/D/Y format, and are in no hurry to change - and nor would I want them to. However, to the rest of the world it simply appears odd.

One of the wonderful things about Wikipedia is how internationally-spirited we are: recognising differences between countries, and finding ways to cooperate. It makes it a richer website, to have everyone working together rather than imposing their own nationalistic views on others. One of the things I especially like is the policy on national varieties of English, which states that there is no single correct form of English, and all are accepted - but where possible, internationally-neutral words should be used instead of ones which are specific to one country to the exclusion of others. It's the right way to go, as it encourages cooperation and reduces edit warring - which is time-wasting and destructive.

My point here is that we should similarly keep the capability for different users to view dates as they wish to. The policy is respectful to everyone, and inclusive. If we get rid of this preference possibility, then we open ourselves up to edit wars - where new (and old) editors will feel uncomfotable with a formatting unfamiliar to themselves, and try to "correct" it - and then of course other editors change it back. We can avoid all this simply be keeping the date linking - and a few redundant links are a very small price to pay for that. EuroSong talk 12:40, 26 August 2008 (UTC)

The main problem I think is that date linking doesn't work. Let's say I have a sentence "The conference ran from 12-15 March 2008." There is no way to autolink that without some readers seeing "from 12-March 15, 2008." Additionally, the main people who set preferences are editors, so an article written for example, Mark Trethowan ([[15 March]] [[1936]]–[[April 23]], [[1974]]) was a fine gentleman, "Mark Trethowan (15 March 1936April 23, 1974) was a fine gentleman", looks fine to anyone with preferences set, but looks jumbled to anyone who doesn't, which is the vast majority of readers. Orderinchaos 13:07, 26 August 2008 (UTC) [Code for "Mark Trethowan" example inserted by me, for reader convenience. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 14:26, 27 August 2008 (UTC)]
There's a simple solution to that. For situations where it's imperative that the visual formatting is done in a certain way, then those examples may simply be exempted from linking, or piped links can be used. It's done easily enough. For your first example I would either use: "The conference ran from 12 March-15 March"; or "The conference ran from March 12-15" (in an article with strong links to the USA); or "The conference ran from 12-15 March" (in an article with no particular USA inclinations). Piped links can be used when there's a particular reason to do so: for example, "4 July celebrations", or "September 11 attacks": where these particular dates are always said in a particular manner, when used in their contexts. There are many options available for these instances, and we should not dismiss the whole concept of linking dates just because of them. EuroSong talk 13:27, 26 August 2008 (UTC)
Aside from the points below, doing [[12 March]]–[[15 March]] [[1892]] doesn't actually work. For anyone with US-style dates set, this will render as 12 MarchMarch 15, 1892. All of this stuff has been covered many times before, in the archives of this page. The only thing that has changed is there is a critical-enough mass of editors agreeing to be WP:BOLD and just deal with the problem, sorry that we may be that the developers spent a lot of time working on a deeply broken date formatting system. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 14:39, 27 August 2008 (UTC)
Um, for the record, [[12 March]]–[[15 March]] [[1892]] formats as March 12March 15, 1892 when the preference setting is MDY. Gimmetrow 01:12, 28 August 2008 (UTC)
Date linking does not provide any particular benefit to an article as it usually provides a link that is not in context. The fact that a very tiny proportion of users require a date system of their choosing, tends to bolster the argument that autodate linking provides a negligible benefit to the project. FWiW, the "overlinking" of common words, proliferation of redundant citations along with the virtual "sea" of blue autodate links makes for a very difficult format. If we really don't need to link the date (other than a link to a specific list, i.e. year in film) then let's not do it. Bzuk (talk) 14:26, 26 August 2008 (UTC).

Response to Eurosong: "Even if 999 people out of 1000 don't benefit from the date linking, the fact remains that 1 person does. And it's likely that that one person is someone who does care about date formatting. Why take away the preferences of that person, merely to reduce the number of links? I mean, what harm does it really do to have useless links?"

  • No, what we've found is that, by and large, Wikipedians either don't care about what format they read and/or are quite pleased to have autoformatting removed. There's a small minority who react negatively to removal.
  • Reducing the amount of blue text is highly desirable, to minimise the dilution of the high-value links we'd like to encourage our readers to use. The "seas of blue" is quite a problem in some articles. Removing useless links is an obvious way of improving the situation and making wikilinking work better.
  • Why go to all of that html gymnastics in piping links (your last example) when we'd rather just read the plain black text in either format. No one has ever objected to plain black dates after their signature, which happen always to be in international format. Eurosong, if you'd like more information, please let me know and I'll post an info package on your talk page. Tony (talk) 14:27, 26 August 2008 (UTC)
Thank you for your response Tony. I'd be interested to know if these conclusions were reached by consensus? If so, would you be so kind as to direct me to that discussion? I might have missed it.
You say that by and large people don't care about the format. Can you tell me how this conclusion was reached? I'll tell you how it is from my point of view: I'm happy to contribute towards Wikipedia as it is because I do feel welcome here. Despite the fact that it's hosted on American servers, and the founder is American, what I like is how there's a spirit of international cooperation, and how things tend to be done in such a way as to be inclusive rather than exclusive. Now, in the English-speaking world, the USA is only one country - and it happens to be the odd one out when it comes to things like date formatting. However, my fear is that with the disproportionate numbers of American editors, the flavour of Wikipedia can change so much that it begins to feel like an American website instead of an international one. If this began to feel like an American website, then I would feel less welcome here, and less inclined to contribute. If all the dates are de-linked, then it's quite obvious that the vast majority of them will be left in American format. Unless we start to apply the guideline that they should only be so if the articles are intricately connected to the USA? But that would be cumbersome to sort, and it would leave all articles open to edit warring. I think that all this can be avoided by simple linking. You speak of reducing blue links. But why.. is it that much of a crime to have them, in this special case? EuroSong talk 17:24, 26 August 2008 (UTC)
Eurosong's post seems to focus on making editors feel welcome. I think that should be a secondary goal; the primary goal should be making readers feel welcome. The vast majority of displayed dates are in whatever format the editors entered them, because most readers don't log in and set preferences. A distressingly large number are either in the YYYY-MM-DD format, which is not suitable for running text, or in a mish-mash of formats. I think the developers grossly failed to think through this feature. It deserves to be totally abandoned. If the developers want to come up with a well-thought-out system, I believe the burden should be on them to develop it and gain a consensus for its adoption. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 17:54, 26 August 2008 (UTC)
My point stands for readers as well as editors. I speak also as a reader when I say that if I come across a website with an exclusively American feel to it, then I feel like I'm only on someone else's website as a visitor, and it's not something that I will be involved in myself. With regards to editors... well, all editors once started out as readers, and they continue to be so. Without editors, there would be nothing for the readers to read :) EuroSong talk 18:09, 26 August 2008 (UTC)
I strongly disagree with Eurosong's statement "if all the dates are de-linked, then it's quite obvious that the vast majority of them will be left in American format". If all dates are de-linked, the vast majority of date presentatons will be left unchanged, except that the colour will change from blue to black. If Eurosong would like to advocate new software that would convert wikilinked dates to a particular format for readers who have not expressed a preference, advocate that, not just the useless retention of wikilinking on dates with no software change. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 18:20, 26 August 2008 (UTC)
Concur with Ashton. I believe based on the evidence my eyes gather, though I don't have a means of conclusively proving it, that the number of editors (and readers) who prefer the largely American date format is about the same as those who prefer the "British" or "international" format. The US has a huge population, but the UK, Australia, NZ, Singapore, Hong Kong, Cameroon, South Africa, Jamaica, etc., etc., etc., all combined, all mostly prefer the other format (Liberia is probably the only major exception, since their English is derived from the US not the UK, while minor exceptions with small populations would be Guam and other US island territories), with Canada being allegedly a fence-sitter. There are a tremendous number of articles on general, non-national topics that are written in British or more generally Commonwealth English, including their date formats. I don't see any particular evidence of an overwhelming US bias, except historically (e.g. most WP:POLICY is in US English, because of where WP started and the early overwhelming majority of American editors). — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 14:22, 27 August 2008 (UTC)

←For what it's worth, in my view it's not worth it to make everyone add brackets around dates (adding one more thing for editors to remember and cluttering the underlying code) for the benefit of a tiny fraction of our readers. Where the benefit is so small and questionable at that, and the amount of work required to do it is so large, it'd be better to just let it go. —Remember the dot (talk) 01:36, 28 August 2008 (UTC)

With about 800,000 article having linked dates already the "amount of work" is not large - moreover the purpose of the MoS is not to "make everyone" do anything, it is set standards towards which articles can be moved to provide a "good" and consistent look and feel. The average content editor, who writes parts of maybe two or three articles, cannot be expected to absorb the MoS - changeable as it is. That is a job for the editors who do know it, including gnomes and bots. However it is reasonable to cite the MoS - trouble is this occasionally leads to it changing for no very good reason. For example it used to espouse a.m. and p.m. now it is am and pm I believe. Well I had changed all the occurrences to the then preferred style, maybe lightmouse or someone has changed them all back. There are good reasons for both styles, but flip-flopping is a real waste of people's energy. Rich Farmbrough, 05:38 29 August 2008 (GMT).

We don't have to rush out and start delinking dates like mad. Rather, we should just not bother with it from now on, especially when writing new articles or significantly expanding old ones. —Remember the dot (talk) 06:38, 29 August 2008 (UTC)

Richard, either dotted or undotted is fine: Wikipedia:Manual_of_Style#Times. RTD, we can't possibly expect all articles to suddenly dispense with date autoformatting; however, the fact that quite a few people are carefully running a bot to delink is highly beneficial, for three reasons: (1) it advertises (by links in the edit summaries, and other advice provided on talk pages in the process) the existence of the new guideline—this, one hopes, will gradually coopt WPians in general into the task over months or years; (2) it does at least make the change for those articles where it is run—typically FAs, GAs, and other important articles; and (3) it enables the script-writers to iron out any remaining technical issues. Rushing and and madly delinking, as you put it, would require thousands of articles a day to be treated; this is just not going to happen. Tony (talk) 07:53, 29 August 2008 (UTC)

I think I agree with Rich Farmbrough on what he says about the reasons for the MoS. Just to set the record straight about am/a.m. - I can't recall ever tackling that. Lightmouse (talk) 10:29, 29 August 2008 (UTC)

ISO red herring

Frankly to suggest that by formatting a date ISO style we need to comply with the relevant ISO standard seems a little over the top. Other date formats undoubtedly comply with other international standards on the formatting style without necessarily agreeing on content issues. Rich Farmbrough, 14:18 26 August 2008 (GMT).

I imangine some common-place date formats do indeed comply with some standards, but the formats came first and the standards came much later. I don't know whether YYYY-MM-DD format dates were in wide use before ISO 8601 (or any preceeding standards by the same organization) was developed, but there seems to be a widespread perception that the format and the standard are linked. Furthermore, the my preferences → Date and time menu gives the relevant option as "2001-01-15T16:12:34". I think it's save to say that the "T" in the middle marks the format as exclusively ISO 8601. In addition, the instructions for several of the widely used Cite templates specifically refer to ISO 8601 in the instructions, and so does this Manual of Style (dates and numbers.
If we wish to violate ISO 8601, at the very least we would have to expunge all mention of it from all our manuals of style and template instructions. If the popular linkage between this format and ISO 8601 is strong as I think it is, we would have to go further, and create our own standard for the format, and clearly inform our readers of it. I don't think that's possible. I think it is far better to go with the standard and adapt our content to comply with it.
If we were to summarize our actual defacto policy, it would be "Wikipedia was developed and written by the same propeller heads who brought you the year 2000 computer date problem, and who don't think any date prior to January 1, 1970, is worthy of serious consideration." (I can get away with calling people propeller heads because I am one.) --Gerry Ashton (talk) 15:26, 26 August 2008 (UTC)

I can understand people being willing to tolerate a small potential for date error in return for an aesthetic benefit. What I can't understand is having two different statements of the technical problem. As I understand it, the technical problem applies to all non-Gregorian dates even if input in US format. The other viewpoint is that the technical problem only applies if the date is input in ISO format as described in this change. Can the calendar cogniscenti look at that and see which viewpoint is correct? Lightmouse (talk) 16:07, 26 August 2008 (UTC)

I have changed the wording mentioned by Lightmouse to say that dates before 1582 should not be wikilinked. In addition to the problem of the reader who is unaware of the risk of error, there is the issue of the reader who fully understands the situation, and applies the following reasoning:
"Well, the editors must know what they are doing. They they wrote the date as [[4 October]] [[1582]], and they know it could be presented to some other readers as 1582-10-04, and they know that format means it is in the (proleptic) Gregorian calendar, so the date must be in the proleptic Gregorian calendar, despite the fact that most publications would have used the Julian calendar and written 24 September 1582".
In other words, if we allow ISO 8601 format for non-Gregorian dates, readers must assume Wikipedia editors are incompetent in order to properly interpret old wikilinked dates. Regrettably, this is a largely true assumption, but do we want our guideline to in effect recommend regarding editors as incompetent? --Gerry Ashton (talk) 16:53, 26 August 2008 (UTC)

The technical problem arises in two cases, in articles before 1582:

  • Dates input in ISO without an accompanying statement that they are Gregorian.
  • Julian dates input in either conventional format and autoformatted into ISO. If they are expressly Julian, ISO may become a contradiction; I'm not convinced that the understanding that all ISO dates are proleptic Gregorian makes sense in the presence of an explicit statement to the contrary. If they are implicitly Julian, ISO makes them erroneous.

Dates autoformatted from one conventional format to the other are not a problem. Dates which are clearly Gregorian are never a problem, any more than 2008-08-26 is. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 23:09, 26 August 2008 (UTC)

National ties

Here's the current wording on date formats:

  • Articles on topics with strong ties to a particular English-speaking country should generally use the more common date format for that nation; articles related to Canada may use either format consistently.
  • Articles related to other countries that commonly use one of the two acceptable formats above should use that format.

This has had consensus approval for some time, even if only through WP:SILENCE. Discussion on change is ongoing, spread over several sections on the talk page, and apparently inextricably linked with the deprecation on linking dates.

I see multiple proposals of preferred wording, with none having overwhelming or indeed majority support.

Lightmouse proposed:

  • Articles on topics with strong ties to Canada can use either format
  • Articles on topics with strong ties to a country other than Canada should generally use the more common date format for that country

Pmanderson proposed removing the second guideline entirely:[3]

  • Articles on topics with strong ties to a particular English-speaking country should generally use the more common date format for that nation; articles related to Canada may use either format consistently.

Tony proposed (with misgivings):

  • If an article has strong ties to another country that consistently uses a particular date format, that format should be considered for use in the article.

My own proposal is based on the following.

  • I think that "English-speaking" is a red herring. It is not the names of the months that are sparking debate. It is the order of the date elements.
  • Wikipedia is an international effort and the English language Wikipedia should be a happy home for English-speaking readers and editors from all nations, not just those that have English as an official language. If we have an English-speaking Brazilian (or Chinese or Egyptian) editor, we should have the appropriate tools and conventions available for them to contribute without them feeling that this Wikipedia is an American production with some British flavouring.
  • We should not make blanket conversions from one format to another without good reason, and a strong national tie is a good reason. Where an article has strong links to a diversity of nations with different formats (eg. WW2 or the UN), then we should keep existing styles.

Here's my proposed wording:

  • Articles on topics with strong ties to a particular nation should generally use the more common date format for that nation; articles related to Canada may use either format consistently.
  • Where opposition to format change emerges, the established style prevails until consensus is found for change.

One point to note is that nobody thinks that the order of the elements of the date will present any confusion to readers. If it is February 14, 1789 or 14 February 1789, everyone is clear as to which day in history we are talking about. So we are really talking about preferences for format in

  1. what format people prefer to see for themselves
  2. what format editors wish all readers to see

There seems to be general agreement that forcing all readers to see dates in American format or International format is a bad thing, and agreement emerged that the format should be linked to the article. Articles about the U.S. should use month day year, and articles about the United Kingdom should use day month year. Articles about Canada should use either format, with the proviso that established formats should not be changed without good reason.

Autoformatting solved the problem of what format editors prefered to see for themselves. Now, with autoformatting deprecated, this again becomes problematical, and we are going to have editors previously shielded from "the wrong format" by their preferences, exposed to it in all its chaotic application through Wikipedia. It is important that we get these guideline(s) right, otherwise we are going to see editors changing date formats to whatever they see as a fair thing. --Pete (talk) 03:01, 27 August 2008 (UTC)

This is not a MOS issue; it's a WP:VPT or even matter. The developers need to be convinced by the Wikipedia (indeed Wikimedia) community at large to implement a different way of marking up date autoformatting (or simply detecting it on-the-fly, no markup needed) that does not cause pointless wikilinking. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 14:11, 27 August 2008 (UTC)
  • Support proposed wording put forward by Skyring (Pete) --Matilda talk 07:04, 27 August 2008 (UTC)
Not sure this wording really adds anything (obviously if there is no opposition, the change will happen anyway), but maybe you could add it as an option under the #Straw poll up the page.--Kotniski (talk) 07:17, 27 August 2008 (UTC)
I agree with both Pete and Kotniski. Well said, but the proposed second clause looks rather redundant. Still, I am now more certain than before that my primary preference in the poll should be "silence". Waltham, The Duke of 09:23, 27 August 2008 (UTC)
  • Replace the word "deprecated" with "optional" - or even recommended - this would enable us all to see what we want to see, problem solved. Abtract (talk) 10:43, 27 August 2008 (UTC)
Why would we do that? The entire point of this exercise is to deprecate a practice that has been a pain the butt from the very start. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 14:11, 27 August 2008 (UTC)
This appears to be off-topic in this section; since it deals with deprecating autoformatting in general. But my reasons for not deprecating are over here. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 16:11, 27 August 2008 (UTC)
I'm generally happy with the extant wording, other than as noted in new topic below about date formatting in reference citations, and the need for one other clarification. "Where opposition to format change emerges, the established style prevails until consensus is found for change" is unnecessary, since this is how Wikipedia consensus-based editing works across the board anyway. We needn't add admonishments, in random places, to adhere to policy. Unless we have hard proof that Canada is wildly inconsistent in its use of date formats, we needn't mention it as a special case. I lived up there for a couple of years (recently), and did not walk away with any particular impression in this regard, which is kind of curious. I think I've been editing WP so long that I no longer see one date format or the other as preferable; it's like I don't even notice them at all, my brain just automatically parses them. :-) — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 14:11, 27 August 2008 (UTC)
  • I would accept Skyring's new formula Where opposition to format change emerges, the established style prevails until consensus is found for change, although I would prefer silence; I don't see much practical difference between the two: we already say, in the heading, that we prefer to stick with established styles, and consensus always will overrule MOS. We should shorten these pages when feasible.
  • I very strongly oppose, as a license for edit-warring and disruption, broadening the preceding clause beyond the English-speaking countries; they have a special position here because this is the English Wikipedia.
  • Unless consensus is found may tend to abate excessive zeal. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 15:41, 27 August 2008 (UTC)
Comment there are many countries where the sequence practice is ambiguous, it's not just a Canadian issue. Australia, Jamaica, Cayman Islands, Singapore, Japan all come to mind as places where good English practice has been corrupted by the insidious effect of Redmond's main export. Bermuda, I trust, is still holding strong ;/) LeadSongDog (talk) 16:30, 28 August 2008 (UTC)

Date formatting

One of the major objections to auto-formatting linked dates seems to be that most users see a mishmash of date formats and only the tiny percentage of users who are logged in get the auto-formatting.

So why not change that?

Pick a format and have linked dates automatically displayed in that format for un-logged users. Granted, there would doubtless be disputes about what format to pick. I'd suggest a US standard on the grounds that Alexa seems to indicate that more traffic comes to Wikipedia from the United States than all other 'English speaking' countries combined, but it really doesn't matter. The primary benefit would be in showing a consistent format, whatever it may be. Yes, it would be better if we could query the user's browser preferences for the format or base it on the location of their IP address, but this would give all users consistent date formatting and could be set to a default format most of them are comfortable with. Better yet would be removing the links, but still autoformatting unless a specific date is marked to not do so. However, all of these things, including disabling autoformat, would require code changes. If code changes need be made I'd vote for changes which remove or reduce items of dispute... rather than just shifting which side of the dispute the soothsayers currently deem 'consensus'. --CBD 10:51, 27 August 2008 (UTC)

This assumes that our readers care a hoot about which format they see (as long as it's consistent within the main text of an article, and within the ref list). Tony (talk) 11:28, 27 August 2008 (UTC)
Well, I thought of the following... Change MediaWiki software so that: 1) autoformatted dates do not generate wikilinks, 2) the default display for such dates is e.g. American format (m d, y), 3) there is a new command (e.g. {{DEFAULTDATEFORMAT:xy}}) which overrides that default on a per-article basis (so it's posible to put{{DEFAULTDATEFORMAT:UK}} in the e.g. Winston Churchill article, and have all wikilinked dates in it displayed as d m y). But this idea is certainly not original, it's not too simple, still has some pitfalls, and ultimately does not offer that much of a utility over simply delinking all dates. GregorB (talk) 11:33, 27 August 2008 (UTC)
Read the history of the problem, anyting wiht "Change MediaWiki software" as part of the solution seems to be a waste of time. However while we're thinking out-loud, browsers do send a language preference string to servers, which I believe includes national/regional varieties like "en-us", this miht be of use in a hypothetical MediaWiki fix. Rich Farmbrough, 13:18 28 August 2008 (GMT).

"Format consistency" (dates) section has problems

That section needs work. Presently it appears to imply that all date formats (for whatever purpose) in all reference citations must be in 2008-01-27 format, because all of the {{Cite}}-family templates format accessdate in this manner, and all the dates in the refs must be consistent. The date parameter of these templates is an open field, and I think most editors have been doing either [[January 27]], [[2008]], or [[27 January]] [[2008]]. Many of them also support year, month and day parameters (and format them a particular way that differs from template to template; some of of these will either have to be stripped of this functionality, or it will have to be changed in all of them to use 2008-01-27 format, unlinked. This is all assuming that what the section seems to be saying is what it is saying. It could well be the intent that publication dates be formatted in the same way as the article prose, not in 2008-01-27 form. I'n not really sure (and more to the point, no one else will be either).

Furthermore, the new version of the guidelines need to state more explicitly that the 2008-01-27 form is not used in main article prose, only 27 January 2008 or January 27, 2008. Right now it gives those two formats, but does not specifically deprecate 2008-01-27.

I've made a few minor clarity/consistency twiddles since the change, but have not attempted to resolved the above issues, since I'm not sure what the consensus actually is! — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 13:59, 27 August 2008 (UTC)

I am switching all of my uses of {{Cite}}-family templates to use the accessmonthday and accessyear parameters instead of the accessdate parameter. I saw SandyGeorgia using these and they get rid of the ISO format dates.
Here is an example:
{{cite journal | last = Mims | first = Forrest M. | year = 1984 | month = November | title = The Altair story; early days at MITS | journal = Creative Computing | volume = 10 | issue = 11 | pages = p. 17 | url =| accessmonthday= August 16 | accessyear= 2008}}
It produces this:
{{cite journal | last = Mims | first = Forrest M. | year = 1984 | month = November | title = The Altair story; early days at MITS | journal = Creative Computing | volume = 10 | issue = 11 | pages = p. 17 | url =| accessmonthday= August 16 | accessyear= 2008}}
-- SWTPC6800 (talk) 04:59, 28 August 2008 (UTC)
Are these the templates themselves or just your use? We should add another param to the cite templates (fmtdate=us|int) so that we can also apply those dates right there per the topic's correct language. I can easily see a script to convert date/accessdate isos to the daymonth and year fields respectively akin to Tony's main article body delinker. --MASEM 17:53, 28 August 2008 (UTC)
I use the standard Cite templates. The instructions can be found here: Template:Cite_web. -- SWTPC6800 (talk) 18:07, 28 August 2008 (UTC)
Ok, couldn't tell if you made the edits at the template itself or just your use.
That said, I think that we can help the date issue in references easily via one change for us/int date versions and a script to help convert. --MASEM 21:36, 28 August 2008 (UTC)

SWTPC6800's approach does not help for newspaper stories (whether paper or online) because it is customary to give the full date for those, not just the month and year. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 21:41, 28 August 2008 (UTC)

I made no changes to the templates; I just followed the instructions on how to specify a non-wikilinked date. They work for full dates as found in newspapers and weekly magazines.
{{cite journal | title = Practical Television | journal = Time | volume = 11 | issue = 4 | date = January 23, 1928 | url =,9171,731439,00.html | accessmonthday= August 3 | accessyear= 2008}}
{{cite journal | title = Practical Television | journal = Time | volume = 11 | issue = 4 | date = January 23, 1928 | url =,9171,731439,00.html | accessmonthday= August 3 | accessyear= 2008}}
{{cite journal | title = Practical Television | journal = Time | volume = 11 | issue = 4 | date = 23 January 1928 | url =,9171,731439,00.html | accessdaymonth= 3 August | accessyear= 2008}}
{{cite journal | title = Practical Television | journal = Time | volume = 11 | issue = 4 | date = 23 January 1928 | url =,9171,731439,00.html | accessdaymonth= 3 August | accessyear= 2008}}
-- SWTPC6800 (talk) 01:00, 29 August 2008 (UTC)

Edit-warring on national ties.

I think it's about time the page was protected until consensus is agreed on the wording. I can't see anyone's proposal having support enough to warrant a change to the status quo. Changing the wording to your preferred version and hoping nobody notices a controversial change is no solution. Neither is edit-warring until one side drops from exhaustion. That's not the way we do things here. At least it's not the way things should be. --Pete (talk) 23:59, 28 August 2008 (UTC)

(Later) I've made a request for protection. It is obvious that a dispute exists and we should sort it out ourselves, rather than force some poor admin to trawl through the mess to make a decision via AN/I. --Pete (talk) 00:21, 29 August 2008 (UTC)

It is obvious that one editor, perhaps two, disagrees with the majority. That is not usually cause for page protection. It is also obvious that Skyring reverted three times and then called for protection; that's not done. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 02:38, 29 August 2008 (UTC)
You have repeatedly deleted text without consensus when there are several alternate wordings being discussed. Looking at the history of the wording, inserted by Tony in December last year, you let it ride for nine months, despite being a frequent contributor to this page. Why is it suddenly something you needed to edit-war over? I suggest it is because you noticed that I was changing articles on European subjects to European date formats, and you couldn't bear the thought. You edit-warred over my changes, which were in concurrence with the MoS, and then you edit-warred over the Manual of Style. --Pete (talk) 04:27, 29 August 2008 (UTC)
You have repeatedly declined to recognize that WP:Consensus can change. There is considerable evidence that it has, most clearly the #Straw poll above, but also the discussion at ANI; there is no evidence the old consensus, whoever it was, remains. Changing established formats is disruptive; you successfully disrupted the article on the South Ossetian war for some days. Please stop. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 13:00, 29 August 2008 (UTC)
I disagree with your assertions above, I don't see consensus support for any option, but we now have an opportunity to find a solution that doesn't involve edit warring. Hopefully one that both of us, all of us, will feel part of. --Pete (talk) 00:05, 30 August 2008 (UTC)

User suggestion acted on

Acting at the suggestion of User:Ssilver at my talk page, I've added a footnote in the date autoformatting section indicating that it's an important and recent change. No substantive change. Tony (talk) 04:02, 29 August 2008 (UTC)

An excellent idea, which should cut down on the drama. A link to some part of the discussion, or the subpage, should help. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 13:01, 29 August 2008 (UTC)

I further tried to clarify the section. New readers will not need to know about "autoformatting", they just need to know not to blue-link dates. Also, I think the $10 word "deprecated" is unnecessarily obscure, and it would be better to say something like "discouraged" or "should not be used - see WP:OVERLINK". Best regards, -- Ssilvers (talk) 13:59, 29 August 2008 (UTC)

Deprecated is a term of art around here; it suggests that whatever it may be is an evil thing, which editors are free to treat as vandalism. But I have suggested that this be toned down elsewhere. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 14:05, 29 August 2008 (UTC)
The enabling text of such a significant improvement in the readability and visual appearance of articles, not to mention the greater utility of our wikilinking system through a reduced level of dilution, needs a strong statement. User:Kotniski's use of "deprecated" was the ideal choice, in my view. Although for many points, MoS and MOSNUM fitly use less strong language, in this case, "discouraged" is too weak.
It's not as though there will be public lynchings and stonings of editors who are caught with autoformatting in their articles. Far from it; we need to take the community along with this, through continued explanation, responses to enquiries, local audits of dates, and automated asssistance under human supervision. Tony (talk) 14:20, 29 August 2008 (UTC)
We tried other wordings, but people kept playing aruond with them, so in the end we had to tell it like it is. "Deprecated" to me isn't that strong; it means that it's not now considered a desirable thing to do, although previously it was, hence examples of its use can still be found and should not surprise.--Kotniski (talk) 14:32, 29 August 2008 (UTC)