Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Dates and numbers

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WikiProject Manual of Style
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Use of "@" vs. "at"[edit]

The at sign "@" is a widely recognised shorthand for "at" itself. It is widely used in units and measurements, where these are made at some other condition. A typical example would be an engine's power rated as "125 bhp @ 3,000 rpm".

Does WP / MOS have any preference for "@" vs. "at" ? I note a large series of changes at present to replace it with the long form. [1] @TKOIII: Andy Dingley (talk) 17:28, 21 March 2019 (UTC)

Andy, I would agree with you in the diff you quoted. In running text it is arguable which is the better, but in tables like that use "@". After all, no-one can claim that "140 hp (104 kW) at 5500" is a sentence. Perhaps TKOII will be changing tyre sizes "83 mm (3.3 in) x 86 mm (3.4 in)" to "83 mm (3.3 in) times 86 mm (3.4 in)" next? I'd just revert with a polite explanation on the talk page. Martin of Sheffield (talk) 17:55, 21 March 2019 (UTC)
The short answer is no, as of now there's no MOS recommendation on this. (Someone should check the archives -- I'm going to pick up my nephew from school right now.) The longer answer is that I sense the makings of another hyphen–endash war in this, but before battle lines are drawn here at the MOS/MOSNUM supreme court, let's see what editors come up with as arguments either way in the lower courts of individual articles. EEng 18:05, 21 March 2019 (UTC) P.S. I'm pretty sure part of the answer should be tables only, not in running text, but that's just an aesthetic intuition.
Hello, I see i've been mentioned. I made the edits switching from "@" to "at" in many car articles after observing that many articles that were created in the time since I had started editing Wikipedia had adopted that format and that articles using "@" in their performance tables had become, at least to my best knowledge, a minority. I vaguely remember there being some sort of style guideline that expressed preference for "at" instead of "@" in plain text but in tables I do believe it is still a grey area. I prefer the full form of "at" as I believe it is less jarring on the eyes, a problem i've had with articles using "@" since I started editing Wikipedia. This especially comes into effect when tables are formatted like "125bhp@3000rpm". Also, I don't see the need for abbreviating a 2 letter word into a 1 character symbol, it just feels unnecessary to me. I can see the case for changing "times" to "x" as that saves time and space but I don't see how "@" does the same as it only saves you 1 character. Of course, I am not an expert in the manual of style and I will respect whatever decision those who are agree upon but I just wanted to voice my rationale behind making the edits and make a case for their inclusion. TKOIII (talk) 19:14, 21 March 2019 (UTC)
It's not about saving space, it's about saving space 50-100 years ago in printed books. A stylistic habit which by now has become the accepted and more commonly recognised form of laying out such a table. For WP to start using "at" is now the unfamiliar formation. Andy Dingley (talk) 22:28, 21 March 2019 (UTC)
I would say that the "@" symbol is not formal and may not be understood by everyone to boot--we are a generalist encyclopedia. This is even true inside of a table, where the addition of 3 characters consistently should not cause any grief (and allows for better wrapping properties on different screen resolutions). Better in fact in tables to separate the two parameters into two columns to make it obvious what each value is. Outside of tables there are no width restrictions, so "at" should always be preferred. --Izno (talk) 20:30, 21 March 2019 (UTC)
I would suggest to you that anyone who does not understand "@" is also unlikely to understand "bhp" and why bhp is given at a particular rpm. Personally I find "at" the odd, jarring way to write in a table like this, reminiscent of a badly translated Far-Eastern manual. Martin of Sheffield (talk) 22:45, 21 March 2019 (UTC)
Yes, the units should be indicated more-fully as well. ;) --Izno (talk) 22:58, 21 March 2019 (UTC)
  • I'd say that linking first use of bhp in the table should be enough. Andy Dingley (talk) 20:53, 23 March 2019 (UTC)
  • Linking an obscure unit such as bhp is essential. I see no reason not to always spell out "at" when that is the intended meaning (it's not always). Dondervogel 2 (talk) 21:56, 23 March 2019 (UTC)
Everyone understands @ in "foo@bar.baz". Not everyone understands "23,000 widgets @ $4.89 per". So, don't use @ as a substitute for "at" in anything MOS:NUM would address. It's not normal English, but accounting jargon.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  02:04, 8 April 2019 (UTC)

Signed 1[edit]

"Nouns following the lone, unsigned digit 1 are singular, but those following other decimal numbers (i.e. base-10 numbers not involving fractions) are plural (increased 0.7 percentage points; 365.25 days; paid 5 dollars per work hour, 1 dollar per travel hour, 0 dollars per standby hour; increased by 1 point but net change +1 points; net change −1 points; net change 1.0 points)." I know that the forms "net change +1 points; net change −1 points" follow the rule as stated, but they just look and read WRONG. Am I the only one who thinks that this should be changed? For comparison, the "net change 1.0 points" reads fine, but when we are dealing with a single, undivided point the plural jars whether it is positive, negative, or unsigned. --Khajidha (talk) 12:57, 1 April 2019 (UTC)

For me, it seems to sound fine plural at -1, but maybe not everyone. Why is 1 so special? Gah4 (talk) 00:53, 13 April 2019 (UTC)

National ties[edit]

"Articles related to Canada or Israel may use either format with (as always) consistency within each article."

Israel has been added to what were (when I looked a long time ago) explicit instructions either way only for majority anglophone countries; the rationale was/is that that's where you get emotional reactions from other editors. So ... if Israel is specified (it's not majority anglophone), how is the guideline different for Poland? I do copious amounts of date-format fixing by script, so I have a lot of experience. "Retain" is the default policy for all non-majority-anglophone countries and for Canada, which is—let me think—about 80% mdy, 20% dmy. Tony (talk) 05:17, 5 April 2019 (UTC)

How much of a contribution does one need to be a "major contributor" per DATERET[edit]

Borderlands 3 was recently converted from a redirect to a stub by Sandstein upon the game's first announcement this last week. Sandstein opted to use dmy dates for this, though the other articles related to the topic have traditionally used mdy, but the series has no strong national ties outside of its developer, so this seems reasonable. Over several consecutive edits, this was the state of the article after Sandstein's initial work.

The date format selection has been challenged by others, arguing that Sandstein's work is not a "major contributor" and thus the dates should be normalized to mdy; this created a brief edit war. I and others on the talk page disagree, that while Sandstein's work only ended in a stub, that still added things like an infobox, sectioning, references, categories, and other details.

Is what Sandstein did considered sufficient to be the first "major contributor"? Is there any other guidance for how much effort is expected to be the first major contributor for purposes of DATERET? --Masem (t) 15:03, 6 April 2019 (UTC)

I repeat: date formats are the tools of Satan. EEng 16:55, 6 April 2019 (UTC)
I'd generally prefer to see some sort of rule against drive-by date format changes. I don't have a problem with someone challenging date formats while they're in the middle of making major improvements to an article, presenting solid reasons on the talk page, but anyone who contributes nothing to particular articles is swooping in and only engaging in a date format battles on those pages ... — Rhododendrites talk \\ 15:24, 7 April 2019 (UTC)
MOS:DATERET together with MOS:RETAIN make this clear. EEng 16:04, 7 April 2019 (UTC)
And no, we're not going to provide additional weapons to the WP:VESTED crowd ("my opinion means more than yours because I edited the article more/longer than you", a WP:OWN failure).  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  02:01, 8 April 2019 (UTC)
Yes. Thanks, Masem. I came here to open the same thread (I'm involved in the thread at Talk:Borderlands 3). I'll repeat what I said there: "Major" is relative, but I have no trouble conceiving of the person who starts the article as the first major contributor (i.e. the first person to add a couple paragraphs and a couple sources). In this case, we have an article and someone has started it and has contributed most of the content to it. That person is, in my book, the first major contributor. — Rhododendrites talk \\ 15:24, 7 April 2019 (UTC)
That's not what it means, and it's not about the opinion of the "first major contributor", it's about the state of the date formatting that was established in the first non-stub version of the article. And this is just a fall-back position, a status quo ante to revert to if a discussion fails to produce a consensus for one format or the other. It is not a "I got here first so I have more editorial rights" point, nor a "this can never change" ossification.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  02:01, 8 April 2019 (UTC)
Yes, he's the first major contributor. It doesn't mean that the date format cannot be changed; it just means that a clear consensus is now required to change it. The whole point of the rule is to avoid edit warring. And Satan. We changed the format of one featured article to dmy after a consensus was reached. (On a visit to the US earlier in the century, an American friend of mine started a new page in the guest book at an attraction, writing the date in dmy format, as is normally for us military types. A whole busload of Americans then bitched and moaned about having to use that date format.) Hawkeye7 (discuss) 02:27, 8 April 2019 (UTC)
That's not what it means - What are you replying to? Nobody has said anything resembling "I got here first so I have more editorial rights". Unless there is a consensus on the talk page or strong national ties, we stick with the format used by the "first major contributor". This section exists only to sort out a particular case where that particular phrase has been called into question as it applies to someone who creates/starts a page. — Rhododendrites talk \\ 04:42, 8 April 2019 (UTC)
I want to stress that the reason to clarify is that in this specific case, there was edit warring over the date format because of how the phrase "first major contributor" was to be read. Hence the need to establish what generally should that be defined. --Masem (t) 05:06, 8 April 2019 (UTC)

July 20th, and preferred time zone.[edit]

Everyone remembers July 20th except people in time zones where it was July 21st. I suppose most events should be specified in the time zone where the event occurs, but the moon doesn't have a time zone. Does WP have a preferred time zone? Gah4 (talk) 00:47, 13 April 2019 (UTC)

What a dumb question. We should use the time in space, obviously. EEng 00:52, 13 April 2019 (UTC)
You mean stardate? Gah4 (talk) 00:57, 13 April 2019 (UTC)
There is no time in space. That is to say, there is no chronology that may be calibrated. --Trovatore (talk) 00:58, 13 April 2019 (UTC)
  • I think WP does not have a preferred time zone, but it was an American mission so there's at least some basis for arguing that we should not actively prefer a time zone (say, GMT) that doesn't touch the United States. --Trovatore (talk) 00:57, 13 April 2019 (UTC)
    It seems that Apollo 11 uses UTC. With mission control in Houston, one might make an argument for CDT. As above, though, I suspect those in the far eastern time zones remember July 21st. Gah4 (talk) 01:12, 13 April 2019 (UTC)
    I think the example carries within it a built-in problem along these lines, in that it wants an event which "everyone" remembers. I know! Let's use the date someone reached one of the poles! EEng 01:16, 13 April 2019 (UTC)
    Or we could use the date Satan took Trump's soul. Does Hell have a time zone? EEng 01:18, 13 April 2019 (UTC)
    In Hell, it's always 2:Late. --A D Monroe III(talk) 01:22, 13 April 2019 (UTC)
  • I was basing my original reversion on the time I saw on Google, later confirmed this time around by the time listed on Apollo 11. I am vastly amused by the reverting note this time around. :^) I have no opinion on choosing a different date, but I would suggest that the editor in question probably has better thing to do than to fiddle with dates that are only questionably wrong. --Izno (talk) 01:32, 13 April 2019 (UTC)
    So, Izno, which time zone are you in? Does Google correct for time zones? This comes up here sometimes, as my wife was in a July 21st time zone, and so remembers that. A few years ago I was in NZ for New Years, which is almost the first place to see the new year. Last year in Hawaii, almost the last. Time zones can be lots of fun! Gah4 (talk) 01:52, 13 April 2019 (UTC)
  • I just notice the continued changes to the article. Reminds me that when asking someone what countries they have been to, it is usual not to include countries where you didn't get out of the airport. That is, you didn't touch actual soil (or street or sidewalk). Would Kennedy have been satisfied to have Neil Armstrong land on the moon, but not get out of the LM? Funny questions. Gah4 (talk) 02:00, 13 April 2019 (UTC)
  • For global and extraterrestrial events Zulu time is preferred. This is UTC+0000 always with no DST. See here for a (very) brief history and connection to US timekeeping for military and aviation. Martin of Sheffield (talk) 09:49, 13 April 2019 (UTC)
I don't really buy that just because the US military uses Zulu for some specialized purposes, that determines the date of an extraterrestrial event from an American perspective.
In any case, as Donaldd23 points out, the landing was unambiguously on July 20 in both all American time zones and in Zulu time. You need to go to at least UTC+04:00 to get the 21st date — roughly meaning Asia and Oceania. --Trovatore (talk) 19:24, 14 April 2019 (UTC)
It's not just "the US military ... for some specialized purposes" but also the world-wide aviation industry, for GPS and for Computer networks. See Universal Time#Versions subsection UT1 for more information. Martin of Sheffield (talk) 21:27, 14 April 2019 (UTC)
UTC is a very convenient expedient to avoid having problems with time zones. That's why (for example) I myself keep my camera set on UTC. It's not valid to infer from that that it's "preferred" for "global and extraterrestrial events", and none of your links support that claim as far as I can tell. --Trovatore (talk) 21:32, 14 April 2019 (UTC)
  • Why not just use a different example for this MoS item? The statement, as show with the discussion above, presents issues that are addressed in WP:WHATPLACE. – The Grid (talk) 20:21, 14 April 2019 (UTC)
    • Well, barring something that happens at the stroke of midnight on the International Dateline, every event will have this problem to one extent or another. The Moon landing is a nice thing to tip our hats to. We could maybe rephrase to mitigate the problem, avoiding the "everyone knows" formulation for example. --Trovatore (talk) 20:28, 14 April 2019 (UTC)
"Some elderly Americans remember ..." (talk) 07:12, 15 April 2019 (UTC)

Spacing in MOS:COORDS[edit]

Currently there is an example

For the city of Oslo, located at 59° 55′ N, 10° 44′ E:

{{coord|59|55|N|10|44|E}} – which becomes 59°55′N 10°44′E

Notice that the text has spaces after degrees and minutes, but the template output does not. Which variant is correct? And if both are, how to choose between them? (The MOS:UNITSYMBOLS and MOS:NUM#Specific units tables only say that there should be no space between the number and the following angular unit. The example "23° 47′ 22″" has spaces after, but does not discus them.) — Mikhail Ryazanov (talk) 01:27, 23 April 2019 (UTC)