Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Dates and numbers/Date autoformatting

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A good instruction. I edited it a bit for style. I put back the bit at the start about discouraging the use of autolinking, because we went through a long discussion about it, and the consensus was that it's a bad idea, and I think it's good to make this clear to the reader. In fact, I would prefer to state the discouragement even more strongly. There's a need to have a NPOV in the main articles, but not in instructions for using Wikipedia, in my opinion.

I've also edited WP:CONTEXT and the parent article a bit to make this new rule clearer. Teemu Leisti (talk) 12:43, 25 August 2008 (UTC)

I agree that it was a bad idea. This is not the same thing as finding it prudent to deprecate it now. We don't have to order people not to use it, if its disadvantages can presented so as to persuade them not to use it. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 15:33, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
No one is ordering anyone: you just have to have "a good reason" to use it. The page is now much better with "just the facts", as Anderson put it. Tony (talk) 15:55, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
Yes, it looks fine now. My apologies, again, if in my enthusiasm I went beyond what the consensus was. No harm was intended. Teemu Leisti (talk) 06:26, 27 August 2008 (UTC)

No one is ordering anyone?[edit]

The brusque treatment of Anderson, Dispenser, and Daytrivia below lead me to think I won't fare any better, but all the same, some thoughts.

1) "Depreciate," autocorrection via software, and the rude treatment just mentioned is certainly ordering, to the extent capable in this environment.
2) Given that it is, you could at least be clearer about the wording - depreciate, commonly understood, doesn't mean anything like its computer context; the base MOS page needs a link or better still a rewording. Discontinued means the same thing, discouraged is less prohibitive, avoid more; any of them is clearer.
3) While there may well have been very good points made about the reasons to stop linking dates (and even actively start delinking them,) Tony's page doesn't seem to have them. Disliking seeing links is a question of preference and the problems with autoformatting are... a problem with autoformatting, which could be best dealt with by petitioning to remove the feature.
4) Similarly, the "pro-link" 'arguments' presented on Tony's talk page are strawmen, while there are a number of reasons to maintain linked dates. As posters below mention, it's quite interesting and even useful to see what's occurring at the same time as a given event; likewise what else occured on a certain day. Those links are - by their very nature - informative about what else happened at that time, which is the information someone would be seeking by clicking the date in the first place. Most importantly, the date links allow people to improve the date pages by using the "what links here" feature to include things they might have forgotten or never would have thought of.
5) Contra Tony, none of that violates WP:NOT as it currently stands, though WP:Context is a valid argument (NB: Although the discouragement about dates there has been added since this discussion began.)

I appreciate WP:DEMOCRACY (love the irony there) and how frustrating it can be having to repeat your arguments across several pages or against people simply in the wrong; more importantly, it seems clear Tony is far more passionate about pushing through this policy change than I am about the minor benefits the links provide.

Still, I did want to add these thoughts (if there's still a vote or discussion somewhere, I'm a no to these changes as currently explained) and suggest that he be more accurate both about the real problems (some extra server space and slightly faster processing is about the size of it; the autoformatting problems are simply autoformatting problems that could be far more efficiently solved by ... removing date autoformatting) and the real reasons for opposition (above and below). Not doing so is part and parcel of the WP:Civility problems on this page and elsewhere and risk causing people to become more petulant or even militant in their opposition, when I'm sure that's not what he intends. -LlywelynII (talk) 22:15, 2 October 2008 (UTC)

Yes, Tony and others are passionate about this change, and seem to believe it will lead to an improvement of our encyclopedia. My sense is that Wikipedia currently has no stylistic consensus at all regarding dates or date-autoformatting. Thus I currently advocate each editor doing what they feel is best on a case-by-case basis. This isn't an anarchy, though, so we all need to use our best collaborative skills during the chaos that's likely coming. (sdsds - talk) 23:23, 5 October 2008 (UTC)
Are you ignoring the overwhelming consensus at MONSUM and elsewhere? And the generally enthusiastic (or silent) attitude by most editors? I hope that sdsd isn't threatening to cause chaos—we've had enough of that, and want to settle down now that the issue has been resolved. Tony (talk) 00:14, 6 October 2008 (UTC)
No Tony, I'm not threatening anything of the sort! I'm advocating collaboration. I was indicating that in my view, your well-intentioned efforts run a substantial risk of causing chaos. As for ignoring your "silence means consensus" attitude, is it possible you are ignoring something yourself? (sdsds - talk) 00:21, 6 October 2008 (UTC)
I don't believe so. I see no impending chaos, and would like to know about any edit conflicts over either DA or date format. The change has run remarkably smoothly, to my knowledge. Thanks for your comments. Tony (talk) 00:27, 6 October 2008 (UTC)
Again, it seems disingenuous to claim that delinking dates and particularly years has seen any consensus. Afaik, it hasn't: the consensus appears to be that autoformatting is broken; not date or year linking itself. It's autoformatting that should be depreciated, which is a different beast than what's going on here.
Focusing upon "high value links" is simply a stylistic decision (people may only click a limited number of links from a page, but they don't click any of them by accident; those clicking through the years want that context) that reduces Wiki's functionality (admittedly, this is marginal: they can type the year into the search box) and content (more problematic - it's not just a question of reducing people's ability to edit year pages well; but people currently can use the "what links here" to correct for the sometimes paltry state of the year pages). I and others, both on this page and at MOSNUM, are opposed to that trade-off, and there's no consensus I've seen for it. -LlywelynII (talk) 13:57, 6 October 2008 (UTC)
That said, if there are links to that consensus, please do post them on your talk page and here for our edification. -LlywelynII (talk) 13:58, 6 October 2008 (UTC)

Gregorian calendar[edit]

I have added a section about autoformatting being unsafe for non-Gregorian dates. I am not a calendar expert but I think I have enough knowledge to make the point that autoformatting can make a Julian date look like a Gregorian date. Lightmouse (talk) 18:01, 25 August 2008 (UTC)

It's enough to discourage autoformatting into and out of ISO for historic dates. The present text should do that; if it were worth contacting the developers other than to get rid of autoformatting altogether, it would be nice to remove ISO from the list of formats. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:29, 25 August 2008 (UTC)

In what way does a Julian date look different from a Gregorian one? Abtract (talk) 20:12, 25 August 2008 (UTC)

This link may explain it better than I ever could: Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style (dates and numbers)#Gregorian calendar. Hiding T 09:01, 26 August 2008 (UTC)

Abstract, if you mean, you read a date in a document and you're not sure if it's Julian or Gregorian, what about the format would clue you in, the answer is "usually you can't tell". If it is known that the document uses the ISO-8601 format, and the author knows what s/he is doing, then dates like 1582-02-10 would be Gregorian. If the date looks like 10 February 1582, you usually can't tell. You can tell for a few dates, such as 29 February 1700, because the Gregorian calendar didn't have a leap year but the Julian calendar did, so it must be Julian. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 18:19, 27 August 2008 (UTC)

It just has to be mentioned separately, in a manner such as "In this chapter, the dates refer to the Julian calendar, used in Outer Slobobotnia until 1 April 1829 (Gregorian)". Isn't this how regular, printed text makes the distinction? Is there any other way? Teemu Leisti (talk) 22:02, 27 August 2008 (UTC)
Just for your information: after 1752 in Great Britain and her possessions, people would add "(O.S.)" (Old Style or Julian) or "(N.S)" (New Style or Gregorian) after the date to indicate the calendar to which a date referred. Thus George Washington's birthday could be rendered February 11, 1731 (O.S.) and/or February 22, 1732 (N.S.) [New Year's Day was moved from March 25th to January 1st at the same time the calendars were changed.] Historians and biographers treating the 16th-18th centuries often continue to use "(O.S.)" and "(N.S.)" or print both dates separated by a slash. E.g. "George Washington was born on Feb. 11, 1731/Feb. 22, 1732" or "born on Feb. 11, 1731 (Feb. 22, 1732 N.S.)". I've seen somewhat similar treatments the Russian Revolutions of February/March and October/November 1917. Sorry for the sidetrack. Shakescene (talk) 08:32, 14 September 2008 (UTC)
Actually, check Old Style and New Style dates. In some contexts "(NS)" appended to British dates indicates that the date is a Julian date, with the year reckoned based on Jan. 1 being the start of a new year, as opposed to the "old style" where new years began on March 25.--Srleffler (talk) 05:34, 31 December 2008 (UTC)

On the strength of the statement on discouragement[edit]

Tony1 wrote to me on my talk page, and I'm moving the discussion here.

This is the edit history of the introductory statement of discouragement, which I'll abbreviate SoD hereinafter, on the main page's section Date autoformatting, and on the subpage:

editor edit time of main page SoD on main page edit time of subpage SoD on subpage comment
24 August 2008
Greg L 19:32 The autoformatting of dates using the tools shown in the table below is no longer encouraged. 19:27 The autoformatting of dates using the tools shown in the table below is no longer encouraged. The first appearance of the SoD. Greg L created the subpage.
Greg L 19:35 The autoformatting of dates using the tools shown in the table below is no longer encouraged and should generally not be used in articles unless there is good reason to do so (such as in articles that are intrinsically historical in nature). 19:37 The autoformatting of dates using the tools shown in the table below is no longer encouraged and should generally not be used in articles unless there is good reason to do so (such as in articles that are intrinsically historical in nature).
Greg L 19:38 The autoformatting of dates is no longer encouraged and should generally not be used in articles unless there is good reason to do so (such as in articles that are intrinsically historical in nature).
Pmanderson 20:08 The autoformatting of dates using the tools shown in the table below is no longer encouraged and should generally not be used in articles unless there is good reason to do so (such as in articles that are intrinsically historical in nature). 20:11 The autoformatting of dates using the tools shown in the table below is no longer required; many editors would prefer to discourage it. It should probably be avoided unless there is a good reason to use it (such as in articles that are intrinsically historical in nature).
August 25, 2008
Greg L 00:17 The autoformatting of dates is no longer encouraged and should generally not be used in articles unless there is good reason to do so (such as in articles that are intrinsically historical in nature, such as French Revolution).
Tony1 02:24 The autoformatting of dates is no longer encouraged and should generally not be used in articles unless there is good reason to do so.
Sdsds 10:14 The autoformatting of dates is no longer encouraged. 10:16 The autoformatting of dates using the tools shown in the table below is no longer required; many editors would prefer to discourage it.
Kotniski 10:18 The autoformatting of dates is no longer encouraged and should generally not be used in articles unless there is good reason to do so.
Sdsds 10:27 The autoformatting of dates is no longer encouraged.
Tony1 11:05 The autoformatting of dates is no longer encouraged and should generally not be used in articles unless there is good reason to do so.
Sdsds 11:09 The autoformatting of dates is no longer encouraged.
Abtract 11:20 The autoformatting of dates is optional. 11:18 The autoformatting of dates using the tools shown in the table below is optional.
Kotniski 11:40 The autoformatting of dates is no longer encouraged.
Teemu Leisti 12:57 The autoformatting of dates is optional. In fact, many editors discourage it, and prefer that it only be used if there is a particularly good reason, such as in articles that are intrinsically historical in nature. 12:33 The autoformatting of dates using the tools shown in the table below is optional. In fact, many editors discourage it, and prefer that it only be used if there is a particularly good reason, such as in articles that are intrinsically historical in nature. My first edit, with the edit comment in the subpage: "style (in particular, following Strunk and White's advice to "omit needless words")". Tony1 replied to my talk page, saying "Well, when I said that, I didn't think you'd be going back on your "Support" for the consensus wording on the talk page, repeatedly. Very disappointed, and I take back my thanks, I'm afraid. Did you support it, or didn't you? Tony (talk) 15:47, 25 August 2008 (UTC)"
Tony1 13:13 The autoformatting of dates should not generally be used unless there is a particular reason to do so. In fact, many editors discourage it, and prefer that it only be used if there is a particularly good reason, such as in articles that are intrinsically historical in nature. 13:17 The autoformatting of dates using the tools shown in the table below is no longer encouraged and should generally not be used in articles unless there is good reason to do so (such as in articles that are intrinsically historical in nature). Tony1's first revert, with the edit comment: "Going back to Anderson's version: if the consensus version is disputed, further consensus should be generated for an alternative wording of the key statement"
Teemu Leisti 14:12 The autoformatting of dates using the tools shown in the table below is no longer encouraged and should generally not be used in articles unless there is good reason to do so, such as in articles that are intrinsically historical in nature. 14:02 The autoformatting of dates using the tools shown in the table below is no longer encouraged and should generally not be used in articles unless there is good reason to do so (such as in articles that are intrinsically historical in nature). I reverted back my copyediting changes, but left the introductory statement alone, except for style (deleted words "using the tools shown in the table below" and "in articles", and changed the parenthetical statement to a subclause).
Teemu Leisti 14:24 The autoformatting of dates is no longer encouraged and should generally not be used unless there is good reason to do so, such as in articles that are intrinsically historical in nature. 14:23 The autoformatting of dates is no longer encouraged and should generally not be used unless there is good reason to do so, such as in articles that are intrinsically historical in nature.
Pmanderson 15:24 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. 15:17 The autoformatting of dates is no longer encouraged; many editors feel it should generally not be used unless there is good reason to do so, such as in articles that are intrinsically historical in nature. Edit comment on subpage: "rephrase. Deprecation is further than there is consensus for; but many editors object."
Tony1 15:46 The autoformatting of dates should not generally be used unless there is a particular reason to do so. In fact, many editors discourage it, and prefer that it only be used if there is a particularly good reason, such as in articles that are intrinsically historical in nature. 15:20 The autoformatting of dates should not be used unless there is a good reason to do so. Edit comment on subpage: "No. Go take a look at the wording that was given "Support" by an awful lot of people. If you want to propose another wording, start it over again at talk."
Tony1 15:52 Date autoformatting should not generally be used unless there is a particular reason to do so. In fact, many editors discourage it, and prefer that it only be used if there is a particularly good reason, such as in articles that are intrinsically historical in nature.
Pmanderson 16:00 The autoformatting of dates is no longer encouraged. 15:43 (none) Pmanderson removed the SoD from the subpage, and gave this edit comment: "Just the facts here." After this, no one has reintroduced the SoD to the subpage.
Abtract 20:03 The autoformatting of dates is optional.
Kotniski 20:30 The linking of dates purely for the purpose of autoformatting is now deprecated.
Kotniski 20:35 The linking of dates purely for the purpose of autoformatting is now deprecated.
Pmanderson 20:56 The linking of dates purely for the purpose of autoformatting is now deprecated by many editors.
Kotniski 21:05 The linking of dates purely for the purpose of autoformatting is now deprecated.
Abtract 21:10 The linking of dates purely for the purpose of autoformatting is optional.
Kotniski 21:19 The linking of dates purely for the purpose of autoformatting is now deprecated.
Teemu Leisti 03:41 Autoformatting dates should generally be avoided unless there is a particular reason to do so, ... My edit comment: "updated introduction to date autoformatting from subpage ("deprecated" becomes "should be generally avoided") + moved advice on using a non-breaking space from there to here". Tony1 wrote to me on my talk page: "I thought we'd finally settled the issue, but you keep changing the text—the rest of the consensus would, I'm sure, appreciate it if you didn't. I don't understand the edit-summary justification of consistency with the offshoot essay. In any case, I've adjusted the essay to be consistent with the consensus-driven change at MOSNUM proper: the essay is now a retrospective explanation of the mechanism, and has no need at all to explain how to autoformat dates, since dates should now not be autoformatted. The removal of DA will take some time, so the essay is useful in explain what the hell the residual bright-blue dates are. Tony (talk) 03:55, 28 August 2008 (UTC)"
Tony1 03:49 The linking of dates purely for the purpose of autoformatting is now deprecated. Tony1's revert of my change, with the following edit comment on the main page: "I thought we'd settled on "deprecated". I see no countervailing text in the "essay" that requires that change".

Tony1, the table you posted on the main page's talk page, to which I added my vote of support, and which I thought was the "consensus" you referred to, was as follows:

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.

That box says "This should not generally be used unless there is a particular reason to do so", not "deprecated". On the 28th, I edited the main page's SoD from "The linking of dates purely for the purpose of autoformatting is now deprecated." to "Autoformatting dates should generally be avoided unless there is a particular reason to do so, ..."because I thought that that's what you preferred, because you reverted my change of the subpage's SoD the 24th to "The autoformatting of dates should not generally be used unless there is a particular reason to do so.", which doesn't include the word "deprecated".

So, I'm now confused as to how you would like the SoD to read.

Now, I agree with you that "deprecated" would be better than "discouraged". But I also think that the edit history above shows that there is no consensus yet on how strong the SoD should be. Therefore, it's a bit too early to admonish me on breaking the "consensus".

I think a discussion should be started on exactly how strong the SoD should be. I vote for "deprecated". Teemu Leisti (talk) 09:42, 28 August 2008 (UTC)

I'm fine with "deprecated", of course. Tony (talk) 10:07, 28 August 2008 (UTC)
OK, cool. But like I explained, it was earlier less than clear to me what your preference was. Teemu Leisti (talk) 10:40, 28 August 2008 (UTC)
I don't think, as I said above, that the SoD should be here; we should stop sticking guidance away in obscure places so that nobody can find them who doesn't already know about it.
My case against saying "deprecate", while presenting the arguments that autoformatting is a bad idea, is long enough to be a subsection. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 14:53, 28 August 2008 (UTC)

Why not deprecate[edit]

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."

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 14:53, 28 August 2008 (UTC)

Yes, Anderson, you oppose the whole idea of the MoS, and we're all heartily sick of it. Of course you oppose any strong moves to reform the project that might involve ... that c word ... compulsion. Fine, you've had your say. Many people happen to think that this is important enough to require strong guidance. I'm not going to open up a whole chapter of argument with you along the same lines that you love to fight over. Tony (talk) 15:51, 28 August 2008 (UTC)
Is your only idea of MOS mandates and orders? No wonder it works so badly and so many editors ignore it. One catches more flies with honey than with vinegar; and still fewer with a cricket-bat. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 16:57, 28 August 2008 (UTC)
However it is phrased, there will be points on which the MOS should indicate that certain choices depart far enough from our preferred style that all editors are encouraged change it to our preferred style for that reason alone. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 17:12, 28 August 2008 (UTC)
Yes. We should have a reason, though, and our encouragement will usually be more persuasive if editors can tell what our reason is; their compliance will also produce less collateral damage if they understand why MOS encourages something. I agree, however, that there are such points and that autoformatting should be one of them; my concern is what phrasing of the encouragement will be most helpful to the encyclopedia. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:42, 28 August 2008 (UTC)


One of the arguments for linking dates that it would create a metadata structure of times and events. Another argument is that I've also found that the blue color helped me quickly distinguish between numbers and dates, although we've first dropped it for year only numbers and now for dates completely. Shouldn't these be arguments be addressed? — Dispenser 04:37, 30 August 2008 (UTC)

They seem to be very weak arguments, hardly in need of addressing. As has been pointed out, such metadata can easily be recreated. Since when did our readers need 24 August 1999 to be bright blue to distinguish it from a number? We've survived very well for a long time with black text on paper; it's no different on a screen. On rare occasions when it might help, a comma can be used. And we do this, too: "thirty .22 caliber rifles", not 30 .22-caliber rifles". Tony (talk) 06:24, 30 August 2008 (UTC)
Not sure if this is the place but I need to express some of the advantages to autoformatting since I am convinced the disadvantages are not strong enough: For me trying to find all of the ingredients of autoformatting link is like a catalyst for continued research and at times being rewarded with a treasure of information found serendipitously while searching for the date info. Primarily, however, I have found, that in helping students with homework generally initiates from wikipedia and the autoformatting element enables them to readily access a timeline, etc. Just recently, I assisted a student, who was very excited to be able to see what else happened in 1854 with the clickable link provide by another article. The disuse of this autoformatting feature would be sad and I believe turn Wikipedia into another nonclickable document source. The calendar issue would still be an issue no matter what. Daytrivia (talk) 14:33, 1 September 2008 (UTC)
Just remind the students that they can tap four keystrokes into the search box to find a year article. Sorry, those articles represent "diversionary browsing", and providing a blue-splotch magic carpet to them in a single click actually goes against one of the basic tenets of "What WP is not". Tony (talk) 15:15, 1 September 2008 (UTC)
Very true Tony but the "diversionary browsing" and "providing a blue-splotch magic carpet to them in a single click" seems to be what makes Wikipedia so popular. This popularity, in turn, demands discussions like we are having and the unending efforts of editors toward keeping Wilipedia accurate and making it better. I am sure the autoformatting feature will be resolved and accepted one way or the other I just hope we retain Wikipedia's appeal. Daytrivia (talk) 20:58, 1 September 2008 (UTC)
I had an idea for creating a timeline tool, but the overuse of autolinking in citations kills it for the most part. — Dispenser 00:19, 2 September 2008 (UTC)
What I was getting is similar to capitalizing nouns or using punctuation, while neither are actually necessary they both make sentences faster and easier to read. — Dispenser 00:19, 2 September 2008 (UTC)

Discussion moved again[edit]

Sorry to do this a second time, but since the main page has now been protected, and a moderated discussion concerning its contents is now taking place on page Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style (dates and numbers)/Autoformatting proposal, let's move this there. Teemu Leisti (talk) 05:38, 30 August 2008 (UTC)

<Sigh>, I suspect that almost all editors here think we've trodden over the same ground quite enough, over a long long time. Why there's a need to have a little corner bubbling away I don't know. We should move on and get on with the job of ensuring the change is implemented smoothly. Tony (talk) 06:27, 30 August 2008 (UTC)
Because (a) there's no consensus yet on how strongly date autolinking should be discouraged, and because (b) there are other issues connected with autolinking, namely formatting, that are also being contested, leading to the temporary page protection and the moderated discussion on the subject, now taking place on the new discussion page. Teemu Leisti (talk) 10:58, 30 August 2008 (UTC)
Teemu Leisti's attempt to estaplish a new place for discussion has, at this time, been ignored, because the page is empty. All editors have the prerogitive of ignoring this attempt to move the discussion if they so desire. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 19:02, 30 August 2008 (UTC)
Very well. Don't mind me. I'll just shuffle along... Teemu Leisti (talk) 11:35, 2 September 2008 (UTC)

What I want to know is......[edit]

What is current policy regarding wikilinking dates? I have been around and around the mulberry bush in these discussions and still can't see where a policy was agreed to. And yet, the MoS says "The use of full date formatting is now deprecated". Believe me, not every Wiki reader will know what that actually means, so it needs to be simpler/clearer. Could someone state the dates piping policy on this page. Kaiwhakahaere (talk)

To put it simply, don't wikilink dates unless you actually want to link to an article about a date. —Remember the dot (talk) 22:56, 30 August 2008 (UTC)
Riiiiighhhht!. Now, if the MoS said something like "dates are no longer wikilinked unless to an article about that date", that would be much simpler than "The use of full date formatting is now deprecated".Kaiwhakahaere (talk) 23:26, 30 August 2008 (UTC)
Article titles that are full dates are so rare that they weren't considered. How many are there? I see the argument for "September 11, 2001", but what others are there? There may be a case for saying "unless to an article for which the title is a full date". Tony (talk) 03:01, 31 August 2008 (UTC)
I think it's implied... —Remember the dot (talk) 03:06, 31 August 2008 (UTC)
I'm glad to hear it, then, Dot. I'd rather avoid more text than is absolutely necessary. Tony (talk) 03:23, 31 August 2008 (UTC)
Me too, but I'd like to avoid "use of full date formatting is now deprecated". Sure this is the en wiki, but people with en as a second or even third language may not realise deprecate is a latter day computing term. Confusing. Kaiwhakahaere (talk) 03:52, 31 August 2008 (UTC)
Origin in the 17th century. Tony (talk) 15:17, 1 September 2008 (UTC)
I've spoken, read and written English as my first language all my life (even learning to improvise in a theatrical approximation to Elizabethan English), and I pretty well knew the common, ordinary, usual meaning of the word "deprecate". It's only tonight that I found out that it had a distinct meaning in computer programming—and yet another in Wikipedia—both of which meanings are loosely related to but quite distinct from their meaning in ordinary English. There's no way that this would be obvious to those who do not closely follow the development of computer software. Shakescene (talk) 08:52, 14 September 2008 (UTC)

Dates and links[edit]

Why are the dates in articles never linked again ? --AndreaMimi (talk) 13:00, 22 September 2008 (UTC)

I'm responding on the editor's talk page. Tony (talk) 13:10, 22 September 2008 (UTC)

Why not use something like DTS template than just plain text?[edit]

I left a comment at Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style (dates and numbers)#Did I miss something, why are we not suggesting the dts template instead of unstructured text?, but it might be better linked here... dm (talk) 04:49, 2 September 2008 (UTC)

Confused about options and usage[edit]

I'm confused. I saw an edit on MOS about date linking being deprecated and that details are in the page. So I come here to find details and it starts with:

As of September 2008, it has been possible for registered users to choose one of four preferences regarding how dates are to be presented to them. The four choices are:

I thought that there have been preferences for quite some time. OK, assuming that there are preferences now, this page seems to contain a description of several date formats which people use, followed by a description of wikilinking dates. Stirred in are phrases which imply something in this page is past tense as if something is no longer true. And although an impression is provided that articles should contain dates in consistent formats, it is clearly stated that autoformatting exists and that implies that dates appear to be consistent. So where in this "Manual of Style" detail page does it state what style exists and how it is to be followed or used? I'm confused and just hope that the autosigning will show a legible datetime stamp. -- SEWilco (talk) 04:14, 23 September 2008 (UTC)

The preferences sets a preference for two completely different things (which is probably a bad idea): autoformatting of dates in articles, and the appearance of system timestamps, such as you would see in your watchlist. As far as the Wikimedia software is concerned, both continue to function as before. What has changed is the English Wikipedia community has decided that linking dates in articles for the purpose of autoformatting them is a bad idea and shouldn't be done anymore. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 05:05, 23 September 2008 (UTC)
So what is deprecated is linking non-significant dates, while what is obsolete is the autoformatting of dates (because dates won't be linked not all dates will be autoformatted)? -- SEWilco (talk) 05:18, 23 September 2008 (UTC)
Some people feel significant dates should still be linked, others feel readers can look up the date on their own if they want to, and there is no need to link it. If you do link a date, it should be done so that it will not be autoformatted. If you just link the year, no autoformatting will occur. If you want to link the month and day, you could use a pipe, something like February 29. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 05:53, 23 September 2008 (UTC)
Just to confuse things further, I just discovered when editing something rather different on the main article page, that, for all dates since January 1, 2003 you will (willy-nilly) get a link to the specific day in the specific year, for example May 15, 2005, by typing the unbroken string [[May 15, 2005]], regardless of your expressed or unexpressed date preference. However this is not true for the unbroken strings [[15 May 2005]] (15 May 2005) and [[2005 May 15]] (2005 May 15). [[2005-05-15]] will produce a date (according to your own date preference) like 2005-05-15, but not a link to the specific page for May 15, 2005. Glad to try clarifying anything here that's too murky. —— Shakescene (talk) 08:46, 23 September 2008 (UTC)
Now I find things a little different, since [[15 May 2005]] does lead now, through a redirect from 15 May 2005, to May 15, 2005, an article about one specific day. However, when I tried this for August 16, 2006 (groundbreaking day for the New Yankee Stadium), it didn't work. Curiouser and curiouser. —— Shakescene (talk) 02:13, 30 September 2008 (UTC)
I made the new redirect for the 15 May date. WhisperToMe (talk) 03:15, 30 September 2008 (UTC)
Without wanting to be rude or abrupt: Why? That date was just an arbitrary example used in the table to show how all such dates (besides 11 September 2001) work. Now it's atypical and therefore less useful. Will you make similar redirects for 9 November 2003 > November 9, 2003, 23 April 2004 > April 23, 2004 (Shakespeare's 440th birthday), 14 July 2005 > July 14, 2005 (the 216th anniversary of Bastille Day) and all other such dates? Confusedly, —— Shakescene (talk) 04:14, 30 September 2008 (UTC)
1. Redirects are done. 2. Redirects are cheap and in many cases are useful. Now, if at a later point an RFD decides they should be deleted, then that may as well happen. But until then I feel that making these date redirects are useful. WhisperToMe (talk) 04:20, 30 September 2008 (UTC)
I'm probably doing a poor job of making my point. If you want to go ahead and do that for all (or most) of such dates (I was picking random dates, not significant ones, to make my point), then all the more power to you. Even better if, after doing so, you can let us know the magic date when individual days stop having their own pages. But otherwise why just scatter redirects randomly? At least, if you can't be comprehensive, pick days (like the dates of elections, battles, artistic performances, athletic achievements, meteorological events or stock market crashes) that mean something. But, as you say, at the very least no harm done. —— Shakescene (talk) 04:55, 30 September 2008 (UTC)

So, in biography articles, should we still leave the birth and death dates linked? WhisperToMe (talk) 00:57, 30 September 2008 (UTC)

Only if there's some earthly reason to divert the readers. Show me an example, please. Tony (talk) 04:07, 30 September 2008 (UTC)
I think there might be some purpose to autoformat (or to avoid un-formatting) the day & month, since some people like to know who else was "born on the Fourth of July" or (like Adams, Jefferson and James Monroe) died on 4 July, and some date pages do have such interesting details/trivia (depending on your point of view). [For example, I delinked all the dates in a sentence about groundbreaking at New Yankee Stadium except April 26, because the groundbreaking was scheduled for the anniversary of Babe Ruth's death.]
There are already categories for (e.g.) Category:1564 births and Category:1826 deaths, so the years need not be or stay formatted; in fact leaving them unformatted would make clearer what's linked and what isn't. As for the limited number of links to specific whole dates like [[11 September 2006]], I'm not sure what would be best. If two notable, or at least interesting, people were born or died on exactly the same day (e.g. Aldous Huxley and JFK on November 22, 1963), perhaps that's worth rearranging the autoformatting for. But I'd like to hear other people's thoughts and reasoning. —— Shakescene (talk) 04:41, 30 September 2008 (UTC)

Example of chaos[edit]

Tony, or anyone else who shares his view that this change won't lead to chaos, please comment on this diff, showing what some apparently well intentioned editors think is the right thing to do with dates that were perfectly fine the way they were. (sdsds - talk) 00:37, 7 October 2008 (UTC)

The dates before the edit were incorrect; YYYY-MM-DD format is not suitable for running text. Of course, the dates after the edit were incorrect on at least two points. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 00:48, 7 October 2008 (UTC)

Now take a look at this edit. Some editor's "Date audit, script-assisted; see mosnum and fix date formats" changed [[1978-02-22]] to February 2, 1978. Now the article is factually incorrect, thanks to this campaign of "improvements." (Navstar 1 really was launched "22 FEB 78" according to the cited source.) Someone should check their script, eh? (sdsds - talk) 04:47, 7 October 2008 (UTC)

Sd, thanks for pointing this out; I suspect the user has tweaked the script for this purpose, and it clearly needs correction. I've left a note on the user's talk page. Did we notice also that international date format was used (ouch, with "th"), rather than US? It sure did need an audit. Tony (talk) 02:22, 8 October 2008 (UTC)
Actually, I did that entire audit manually, but used the edit summary from the script; 'twas merely a human error. I've since fixed it. Dabomb87 (talk) 02:26, 8 October 2008 (UTC)

Here is another example of a well-intentioned (and highly script-skilled) editor who, as part of this effort, left an article with date formatting worse than it was before the edit. How many of these would it take for you proponents of this to recognize that, however well-intentioned, your edits taken as a whole are harmful to our encyclopedia? (sdsds - talk) 00:03, 9 October 2008 (UTC)

It is only slightly worse, because only a small fraction of readers use autoformatting. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 00:09, 9 October 2008 (UTC)

OK, so what now?[edit]

OK, so what's the bottom line. I still like my dates displayed in the format I prefer, and find other formats to be very "jarring" when I see them, and possibly even confusing when those dates are expressed only in numbers (mm-dd-yy, dd-mm-yy, yy-dd-mm). So if we're not wikilinking dates anymore, how does it know how to display them to me? Or has that user preference between removed as well? GrahamDo (talk) 08:42, 21 October 2008 (UTC)

The community is strongly on-board in dispensing with date-autoformatting, and no featured nominations appear to use it. DA is slowly being removed from articles at large. I'm afraid that you are faced with adjusting to what all of our readers have been seeing since the year dot: raw formatting. The choice of format is governed by rules set out at MOSNUM. The use of ISO dates (all numerical) was and still is strongly disparaged in running prose; unfortunately, some of the citation templates still allow its use (at least one forces it, I believe), and some editors are keen to retain it in reference lists. Tony (talk) 10:27, 21 October 2008 (UTC)
I generally don't like auto-formatting, but on the other hand, I think that existing auto-format should be removed gradually, as paragraphs, sentences and phrases are edited for other reasons, rather than have robots like Lightmouse systematically remove all the auto-formats from—for one example—New York City articles.
(In my opinion, now that auto-formatting's being retired, there's no longer any reason for robots or editors to remove ordinal dates, which are easier to read in the Month-Day-Year format because they provide clearer breaks between Day and Year, e.g.

April 11th, 1123 vs April 11, 1123

[my screen-size doesn't show commas very well.] )
Almost the only time I remove auto-format independently of other edits is when I have the time, opportunity and inclination to try and clean up some of those all-numeric footnotes. —— Shakescene (talk) 11:18, 21 October 2008 (UTC)
But you provide no reasons for going slow ... how long would you like this improvement to take? Three years? A decade? Best to get a move on and improve wiki promptly. Then we can get on with other improvements more promptly, too. Tony (talk) 11:23, 21 October 2008 (UTC)
Somebody could write a User Script which could be added to the gadgets. — Dispenser 14:16, 21 October 2008 (UTC)
OK, I must admit... I never really understood the point of linking dates. It doesn't make much sense to link a date that's not directly of interest to people reading the article. However, date autoformatting is a VERY GOOD idea!! October 27th, 2008 or October 27, 2008 just looks REALLY strange to me (And most not in the US, I'd hazard a guess). But the US are so used to it that 27 October 2008 (My preference) would look equally strange. What about a template, that we start encouraging people to use in articles. Something like {date|2008|10|27} which to me would resolve to 27 October 2008, to others would resolve to October 27, 2008, etc etc? These dates wouldn't need to be linked! —Preceding unsigned comment added by GrahamDo (talkcontribs) 06:19, 27 October 2008 (UTC)
I don't want to get involved in the date linking debate, but auto formatting with a template like you describe sounds like a good idea to me. You can have a bot run to clean up user-entered dates into this format for unambiguous dates. A default format would have to be displayed for unregistered users, but perhaps that could be based on the region from which users are connected. Ost (talk) 13:54, 12 January 2009 (UTC)
The debate is over. Autoformatting lost. Dates will be displayed in one and only one format, independent of who is looking at it. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 17:12, 12 January 2009 (UTC)
Actually, as much as it pains me to say it, there still seems to be significant support for autoformatting. See User:Dabomb87/Summary of the Date Linking RFCs. Dabomb87 (talk) 22:08, 12 January 2009 (UTC)

To expand my previous comment, the current version of autoformatting lost, but there is some support for the general idea of autoformatting. So if a means of autoformatting that is technically advanced enough to have a shot at gathering support is ever devised and tested, it would have to be proposed and garner consensus. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 22:37, 12 January 2009 (UTC)

Ah. Dabomb87 (talk) 22:27, 13 January 2009 (UTC)

Citation templates[edit]

Can I kindly point out that most citation templates use date auto-formatting/autolinking. (I think)

Linking these dates really isn't of any use to providing context for sources. However autoformating is.--ZayZayEM (talk) 02:17, 26 October 2008 (UTC)

Since I don't understand citation templates very well, could you explain the comment above? Thanks. —— Shakescene (talk) 06:01, 26 October 2008 (UTC)
Lolz. I don't really understand the mechanics behind them either. All I know is that I normally put dates in (trying to stick to ISO now) and it autoformats them according to user preference.
Like I say. Autoformating makes sense, but autolinking does not.--ZayZayEM (talk) 06:51, 26 October 2008 (UTC)
I don't agree that autoformatting makes sense. The inflexibility of the citation templates (stupid inventions, IMO) is an issue that should be addressed over the next few months. Tony (talk) 08:54, 26 October 2008 (UTC)
ZayZayEM, please don't mention ISO and Wikimedia date autoformatting in the same paragraph until you read the ISO 8601 specification. The PDF for it can be downloaded at
Are you aware, for example, that if we were to obey the ISO 8601 standard, we would not be able to use that format to mention any year before 1583? --Gerry Ashton (talk) 14:56, 26 October 2008 (UTC)
(1) I think I might understand your distinction between autolinking and autoformatting but I'm still not sure.
(2) Anyway, who's going to keep user preferences on dates to keep the dates readable if auto-formatting is being methodically (and perhaps over-hastily) exterminated by the robots as we speak? If someone wants to use MLA (Modern Language Association) or Library of Congress citation style for some reason, I can see how citation templates might be of some use. I try to fit my own citations to the source and context (newspapers, journals, almanacs, encyclopedias, ordinary books, items listed by author name vs those listed by title or date, etc.), and when practical I try to give both a printed and an Internet source (e.g. a hyperlink and a page number for New York Times stories). For the huge bulk of Wikipedia users who never register, auto-formatting is irrelevant (one reason it's being discontinued), but 90%+ of those users will find ISO dates a significant hindrance rather than a help in looking up (e.g.) the right newspaper story. —— Shakescene (talk) 20:06, 26 October 2008 (UTC)
Leaving discussion. Only attempting to bring awareness to a foreseeable issue in your grand scheme of changing what's been pretty standard on wikipedia for a while. Perhaps you should drop a line to the guys who actually deal with design of cite templates. Whoever they may be.--ZayZayEM (talk) 22:30, 26 October 2008 (UTC)
I have no grand schemes, only questions and preferences. (I'm asking questions much more to get information than to make rhetorical points.) I already spend too much time on a few substantial articles in Wikipedia that I'm chary of getting sucked too deeply or too long into the technical debates, which of course means that by default these issues tend to get argued and decided by those who know more and feel much more passionately about them than most. —— Shakescene (talk) 04:32, 27 October 2008 (UTC)


This unlinking of dates is going about everything the wrong way! If you dislike the dates being in different formats in the article, then just get a bot to change the source code so they are all the same. Just pick the first format used on the page and run with it. Or maybe have a section on the talk page or in the wikicode that informs the bot what format the dates on that page should be in.

I doubt I am the only editor who is correcting the delinking of dates. (talk) 01:39, 27 October 2008 (UTC) (long time wiki editor not signed in for reasons that are irrelevant here)

I completely agree that the date format used within articles should be consistent. However, date linking has very little to do with this - our readers and IP editors like yourself do not see any benefit from date linking, and the benefit given to our registered editors comes at the cost of creating a disconnect between our readers and our editors. —Remember the dot (talk) 01:55, 27 October 2008 (UTC)
This anon user has clearly not engaged with the long debate about the disadvantages of autoformatting. I must ask this person to desist from destructive RElinking. Tony (talk) 02:25, 27 October 2008 (UTC)
Indeed I have not engaged in the debate, but I have read the arguments for and against. I cannot understand how linking, when combined as myself and others have suggested, with a bot or other process to standardise the format of the wikicode, is a disbenefit to anyone. Take a look at wiktionary:user:AutoFormat for an example of a bot that provides great benefit by tidying up formatting for the benefit of users, editors, readers, anons, et al and lets humans get on with their work. Nobody else need care what format the dates are entered in - the bot will tidy up everything as it goes.
Run a bot like this to run through every article as it is edited and standardise the wikicode order of dates (if the preferences stuff can do it, so can a bot). Leave the dates linked to (a) allow the benefits of preferences to editors, (b) provide a useful What Links Here for the year and date articles, (c) provide clear distinguishing from numbers, (d) provide useful links for context of events, (e) provide useful links for causal browsing, (f) stop alienating long term contributors to the project (I've been here nearly 4 years for example, although not much of late I admit), (g) render harmful and acrimonious debates like this pointless, (h) provide all the other benefits of linking that have been identified in the various places this debate has taken place, (i) shut me up. I repeat the bot has achieved your aim of standardising the wikicode for those without a preference set, and far quicker and more reliably than a human can. (talk) 03:36, 27 October 2008 (UTC)
How does the bot know which format to use for a particular article? --Gerry Ashton (talk) 04:02, 27 October 2008 (UTC)
See the very first paragraph of this section, there are several possible methods, e.g. (1) pick the first format used in the article, (2) place a template or other code somewhere in the wikitext of the article or it's talk page (perhaps {{DD-MM-YYYY}} or __Month-DD-YYYY) that the bot understands but which does not produce any output on the page. If the consensus for which to use on a given article changes, just change the code and the bot will change all on it's next pass. It may even be possible to set the preference per category (e.g. I expect most US state articles will want the date in Month-DD-YYYY format) I don't claim to be an expert in bot writing, so there are probably other methods too. (talk) 11:41, 27 October 2008 (UTC)
I see that nobody has deigned themselves to comment further? If you do not want a bot solution (which would seem to offer the benefits of date linking AND the benefits of consistent code), then may I suggest that you use one of the scripts you have been using to enforce the alleged consensus (that I have nowhere actually seen evidence of) to sort the dates into a consistent order without removing the links - that way those people like myself who like to see dates presented in European format can gain the benefit of this in their preferences, while those who don't have a preference/are not able to express a preference, are not inconvenienced by messy code. Do not get me wrong, I agree with the principle that the dates in the wikicode should be consistent within an article, but I do not think that delinking all the dates is the right way to go about it. My first is in ptarmigan (talk) 20:46, 29 October 2008 (UTC)
Are people afraid of discussing this or something? Are all the propoents so hell bent on delinking dates they cannot bear to think that they might be wrong? My first is in ptarmigan (talk) 11:17, 4 November 2008 (UTC)
  • No, we're just sick of repeating the same old facts, and probably wondering whether the anon above is you. Smoke-and-mirror ID never goes down well at these venues. Are you British? If so, have you ever opened a newspaper? Please do, and you'll probably see the so-called US date format all over the place. Tony (talk) 11:27, 4 November 2008 (UTC)
    Ad hominem (sp?) arguments about whether the anon above is me or not is irrelevant. Equally irrelevant is what date format I or anyone else prefers, what date format is used anywhere, and what my nationality is. What is relevant is that with date linking everybody who wants to express a preference about date formats can do so. The arguments against linking dates appear solely to be that they hide a mess of different formats in the wikicode. The proposed solution above shows that the benefits of date linking and the benefits of consistently formatted dates in the wikicode are not mutually exclusive as you seem to believe. If you think I'm wrong, say so and explain why you think I'm wrong. If you think the solution wont work, say why you think it wont work. Neither just endlessly repeating "wikilinked dates obscure messy wikicode and thus must be removed" (yes, this is a paraphrase), nor ignoring comments you don't like, is not explaining why you are apparently opposed to a solution that achieves the end result you apparently want (sane wikicode) while providing the benefits listed above and in several other places. If you believe that this proposal duplicates another one debated elsewhere, please point me to it as I have searched and not found it. If you believe that this proposal is in the wrong place, please point me to the right place. My first is in ptarmigan (talk) 21:24, 4 November 2008 (UTC)

<sigh>there are at least six significant problems in DA. Here's some background reading for you:

Tony (talk) 03:02, 5 November 2008 (UTC)

In reply to User:My first is in ptarmigan: they are not, "Hell bent on delinking dates." They are, however, intent on taking a big step back in date autoformatting. They think it was wrong to use linking to tag dates for autoformatting, and they are willing to sacrifice the benefits that accrue from that mechanism even before any other mechanism is available to use as a replacement. Hopefully one day they will introduce an acceptable mechanism for date autoformatting in MediaWiki wikis, and we can begin to make forward progress again. (sdsds - talk) 04:47, 5 November 2008 (UTC)

The only conclusion I'm drawing from all this is that the announcement of a "consensus" on this issue, and the writing of it into official policy, was deeply premature. I agree that linking all dates might be a bad idea (Because all links need to be relevant to the articles in question), but I don't want to see any dates anywhere on Wikipedia, in any format other than my preference. So write a template? Use the majority (American, I believe on the English Wikipedia) to decide on a default format for anonymous users and those who don't have a preference. It doesn't really matter, as long as those who want it, see all dates in a format that's comfortable to them. My point stands though - who decided that this issue was closed in the first place? Clearly it isn't - I had never heard of this debate until someone de-linked some dates on The Sims 3 article, and pointed to this manual!! :( GrahamDo (talk) 06:25, 5 November 2008 (UTC)
From what I've seen so far, I agree that it was a prematurely proclaimed consensus. Gene Nygaard (talk) 14:10, 16 November 2008 (UTC)

GrahamDo is essentially correct, it is a "deeply" flawed consensus, if it is a consensus of any sort at all. As a matter of process, no one user or small cabal should take it upon themselves to: (a) argue the case for a change, (b) declare consensus has been reached and (c) take a heavy hand in implementing the change themselves using a massive, script-assisted editing campaign. If those things can't all be done by entirely different groups of editors then there is little reason to believe there was a wiki-wide consensus that truly supported the change in the first place. That is not a criticism of motives: to the contrary it is wonderful that a small and dedicated group feel empowered to make a change they feel will lead to a better wikipedia. It is, however, a statement that this attempt to bring about change has strained the bounds of etiquette. (sdsds - talk) 20:11, 5 November 2008 (UTC)

It's a wiki, which has the advantage of suppleness and changeability. That is one of its key advantages. The removal of DA enjoys wide popularity. Just when would be the right time for you to address a practice that had no consensus in the first place? In ... 2025? Let's move on. Tony (talk) 13:18, 6 November 2008 (UTC)
Unfortunately you're unable to display this so-called "wide popularity" (let alone anything resembling "consensus"). Date linking and auto formatting OTOH do have wide popularity and an existing consensus which has yet to be replaced with anything supporting automated removal of date links/formatting. —Locke Coletc 04:55, 7 November 2008 (UTC)
Threatening edit summaries will achieve nothing. Tony (talk) 06:40, 7 November 2008 (UTC)
Neither will ignoring the arguments of those who you disagree with. You have yet to show me somewhere where there is evidence of widespread consensus for delinking dates. Note that this is not the same as a consensus that the wikicode should be tidied. Also I have seen no evidence that along with delinking dates the wikicode is being tidied, this is changing it from a situation where those who have set a preference see consistency and those who haven't don't to one where nobody sees consistency. Please explain how this is of benefit to anyone? My first is in ptarmigan (talk) 20:32, 8 November 2008 (UTC)
All of the edits I've seen that removed the links that cause date autoformatting also reformat all the dates to produce consistency within the article, except for the citation templates. The citation templates are a horrible mess, and the editors who write and use them bear the responsibility for cleaning up that mess. Now, a few edits I've seen made some errors in trying to get the dates consistent, but that can happen with any kind of edit. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 20:50, 8 November 2008 (UTC)
I cannot claim to have examined in detail a huge number of the specific edits, but in many of the articles I have seen that have been unlinked the dates are in a mixture of formats. One I article saw (I forget which now, but something to do with Croatia I think) had international and American formats in the same sentence. I refer you again to my suggestion of getting a bot to cleanup errors like this without the need to go through the hassle of delinking everything without consensus (unless you count 15-14 against as consensus for delinking). My first is in ptarmigan (talk) 23:34, 10 November 2008 (UTC)
It's possible to reformat the dates without unlinking them (and losing the formatting for signed in editors). —Locke Coletc 22:47, 8 November 2008 (UTC)
Indeed that is what the sensible course of action would be. See my suggestions further up this page regarding getting a bot to do this work. My first is in ptarmigan (talk) 23:34, 10 November 2008 (UTC)
Yes, it is. That is what should have been done, not throwing them out. Sure, there should be some other mechanism for autoformatting which is separate and distinct from linking, so that we can do one or the other or both. But until we have that, we should have just fixed the problems without removing the autoformatting. Gene Nygaard (talk) 14:15, 16 November 2008 (UTC)
Tony there was nothing threatening with my edit summary for that edit. —Locke Coletc 22:47, 8 November 2008 (UTC)

Changes to the page[edit]

In the interest of heading off any edit wars, I have reverted the text (as before) to exactly where it was before Sligocki's initial edit. Why? Because there is no need to change the page while the AN/I is under way; that is the only concern at this time. Contrary to some of the edit summaries, this is in no way an attempt to change the guideline, only a request to avoid changing it. (As for OC's note re: "disabled", the feature still operates. Dates wrapped in brackets will still be autoformatted, so we cannot say "disabled" in any case.) --Ckatzchatspy 05:37, 7 February 2009 (UTC)

  • Katz, R U disputing that date-linking for the purposes of autoformatting has been deprecated? Your repeated removal of the mention appears to suggest that sentiment. The community has spoken. Reverting that good faith edit is entirely unwarranted. It is entirely unhelpful for editors to be confused as to its genuine status, so should be laid out just in case they land here for whatever reason. The consensus is not something which is going to be changed by ARBCOM. In case you didn't notice, there is no longer any mention of the function being switched off, per your information, so please do not use that as a lame pretext to revert me again. Thank you for your attention. Ohconfucius (talk) 05:52, 7 February 2009 (UTC)
    • I'm not disputing anything (other than your continued habit of misrepresenting me). I'll repeat my point again, in the hope you'll actually read it: We should leave this alone until the AN/I is over, as there is no reason to change it. As for your reverts, you have once again restored an incorrect version, as the text now suggests that the formatting code no longer works. ("Up until September 2008, there were four possible formats to choose from" and "would have been autoformatted" etc.) Edit warring over this trivial matter is pointless, but I would appreciate it if you could please fix your mistake. Thank you. --Ckatzchatspy 06:04, 7 February 2009 (UTC)
  • Thanks for pointing out the problem, which I have now corrected. Please be reminded that it was a third party editor (apparently completely uninvolved) who put it there, and not a partisan move by opponents of DA. I would maintain, as I stated above, the reason why it should stay is that its absence could lead to confusion as to whether or not date-linking for the purposes of autoformatting has been deprecated. That consensus is unlikely to be changed by anything ARBCOM is likely to decide, even if they block me permanently. Ohconfucius (talk) 06:18, 7 February 2009 (UTC)
  • The editor appears to be accepting WP:MOSNUM as fact, despite it being protected and not reflecting what is currently under discussion. —Locke Coletc 06:36, 7 February 2009 (UTC)
  • You mean that the community believes date-linking for the purposes of autoformatting has not been deprecated?? Please refer to the RFCs - and I believe I don't need to tell you which ones. Ohconfucius (talk) 06:43, 7 February 2009 (UTC)
  • The simple fact of the matter it this: things have changed post-RFC which would make delinking dates unhelpful. UC Bill has code that's pretty much done that would address a great many of the original concerns expressed by MOSNUM regulars. It would use the same syntax as the old auto formatting system, which would make it a simple drop-in replacement. Suggesting to editors that they not link dates (or, even unlink dates, as MOS:UNLINKDATES suggests) undermines that work. That passage doesn't reflect these recent developments. —Locke Coletc 06:56, 7 February 2009 (UTC)
  • That "somebody" being a majority of the community... and again with the unhelpful links. —Locke Coletc 07:34, 8 February 2009 (UTC)
  • Fantasy, just like every interpretation of consensus you have made since I have known you. Ohconfucius (talk) 16:09, 8 February 2009 (UTC)
  • Yes, it must be "fantasy" that a majority supported some form of auto formatting. I'm done talking to you here, it's clear you're disinterested in doing what the community wants and more interested in doing what you want. —Locke Coletc 01:08, 9 February 2009 (UTC)
  • Hombre, Interested, not uninterested, and certainly not disinterested... Ohconfucius (talk) 01:49, 9 February 2009 (UTC)
  • As has been pointed out many times, this dangerous experiment is unlikely to see the light of day: it is completely unnecessary, the community is quite happy without tech-toys; there are several other reasons that it is problematic. In any case, the page here describes the old system, and people have a right to know that the double-square brackets are no longer inserted. I note that Catz is being rude to the point of personal attack in his posts to Ohconfucius. I ask that this hectoring, accusing tone stop. Tony (talk) 13:31, 7 February 2009 (UTC)
  • You left out a critical part, Tony: it's been "pointed out" by the same tired gang of MOSNUM regulars who are adamantly opposed to date auto formatting in any form. Your views, luckily, do not reflect the communities. —Locke Coletc 21:58, 7 February 2009 (UTC)
  • Heck, the things uttered by me and others that are framed as personal attacks or incivility ... you wonder why calling people members of a "tired gang" isn't the subject of a little self-reflection. A home-made rule for everyone else, I guess. I can't bring myself to play that game. But I will play the game of saying to get the apostrophe right, or to write "those of the community". Take your pick. The remarkable aspect of this extended discourse is that you and other editors pushing a certain line don't engage in substantive argument. I include Katz in that, except that he is an excellent writer indeed. Tony (talk) 11:43, 8 February 2009 (UTC)

RFC on date-autoformatting and the linking of date fragments[edit]

These issues have been the subject of an ongoing ArbCom hearing, and a further RFC (after those held in November at MOSNUM) is under way to settle important details.

Which ever way you feel, it’s important that the current RFC capture full community opinion. You may wish to participate. Ohconfucius (talk) 13:54, 31 March 2009 (UTC)

Formatting dates without links[edit]

It seems like it would solve all the problems if there were some tag to identify dates which would not create a link to another article, and then dates set off in this tag would show by default in whatever format they were typed in (so if someone typed <date>May 25, 2006</date> then it would show as "May 25, 2006" to anyone who doesn't have a default formatting set (and it would look identical to the date without any tag), but to people who have a specific preference for reading dates, they would see 2006-05-25, for instance. Any inconsistencies can be fixed by the majority of editors who don't set preferences, or, more simply, by a bot. How hard is it to add an entirely new tag to Wikipedia? Note that date formatting exists beyond seeing dates in articles. For instance, at the end of this post, it says, "Aleph Infinity (talk) 19:41, 18 September 2009". It seems as though changing my preferences doesn't actually change the way this shows, as I just changed to "ISO" format to test and it still looks identical. Aleph Infinity (talk) 19:41, 18 September 2009 (UTC)

  • I agree. I dislike the format of YYYY-MM-DD, it just looks unattractive. A date formatting tag would be an excellent idea. [[ StewieK ]] 02:41, 14 October 2009 (UTC)
  • For a whole host of reasons, the community has rejected the concept of date autoformatting. Please contact me if you want further information. Tony (talk) 03:14, 14 October 2009 (UTC)
  • Tags like those described further clutter up the editing window and bring only marginal benefit. YYYY-MM-DD date formats do no real harm if restricted to the notes and references section. Furthermore, if there is a mix of date formats in that section, they are non-compliant with WP:MOSNUM and are thus susceptible to being harmonised to the prevailing format for the article. Ohconfucius (talk) 09:39, 14 October 2009 (UTC)

There is in fact a MediaWiki magic word for this: {{#dateformat:}}. If you input, for example, {{#dateformat:2010-11-13|dmy}}, then logged-in users who have set a preference will see it in accordance with their preference: 13 November 2010, while for users with no preference set (including non-logged-in users), it will default to dmy format (because of the |dmy at the end). You can also set it to default to mdy, ymd, and ISO 8601, or you can leave out the parameter at the end in which case it will default to whatever format you entered the date in. —Angr (talk) 11:12, 13 November 2010 (UTC)

I don't understand what the utility is. Stewie, you said you dislike YYYY-MM-DD, but would this display that format for readers by default? Tony (talk) 12:08, 13 November 2010 (UTC)
Not necessarily. You can specify what you want it to default to by writing {{#dateformat:2010-11-13|default format}} where default format is one of "dmy", "mdy", "ymd", or "ISO 8601". If you don't enter anything as the default format, it defaults to however you wrote the date yourself. If you type {{#dateformat:2010-11-13}} it defaults to "2010-11-13", but if you type {{#dateformat:13 November 2010}} it defaults to "13 November 2010", and so on. —Angr (talk) 12:52, 13 November 2010 (UTC)

What about BCE dates?[edit]

What about BCE dates?

This is an encyclopedia. Encyclopedias include BCE dates in articles on history, religions and biography.

So the sorting and formatting of BCE dates are important functions to consider in Wikipedia. Which makes their absence from the discussion conspicuous.

For example here:

  1. They didn't sort the date column because the historians who care of the page don't know how.
  2. Also they used BC instead of BCE.

This provides some clues as to what to do:

ISO 8601 prescribes, as a minimum, a four-digit year [YYYY] to avoid the year 2000 problem. It therefore represents :years from 0000 to 9999, year 0000 being equal to 1 BC and all others AD. However, years prior to 1583 are not automatically allowed by the standard. Instead "values in the range [0000] through [1582] shall only be used by mutual agreement of the partners in information interchange."[10]
To represent years before 0000 or after 9999, the standard also permits the expansion of the year representation but only by prior agreement between the sender and the receiver.[11] An expanded year representation [±YYYYY] must have an agreed-upon number of extra year digits beyond the four-digit minimum, and it must be prefixed with a + or − sign[12] instead of the more common AD/BC (or CE/BCE) notation; by convention 1 BC is labelled +0000, 2 BC is labeled −0001, and so on.[13]


  1. There needs to be prior agreement.
  2. There needs to be a function to display March 15, 44 BCE when given -0044-03-15 (or -00440315) as input.
  3. This should be done so that both
a. columns are sortable
b. dates are readable by historians, grade 6 students, and other laypeople.

(I've also posted this in Help:Time functions.) (talk) 19:43, 6 August 2017 (UTC)

If you look at the box at the top of the project page you will see that it is inactive, retained only for historical purposes, and the function which it discusses has been removed from the mediawiki software. Jc3s5h (talk) 20:27, 6 August 2017 (UTC)