Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style (dates and numbers)/RFC: Unresolved date delinking and autoformatting issues

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This Request for Comment is now closed. Please do not modify the archive below and instead participate in discussions at WT:MOSNUM. Thank you!
One of the most fundamental principles on all of Wikipedia is that the “community consensus” is the most important thing. Whatever the community consensus is on a matter, is always the right thing to do. This is the fundamental principle adhered to by Wikipedia’s founder. Much debate has, and continues to transpire, on the issue of date formatting. A point of contention is that previous “Requests for comment” (RfCs) were not clear on some important points. The following RfC should clarify some important matters:
This RfC will end at 01:48 on 26 February after having run for 30 days.

Date autoformatting[edit]

Proposed motion of consensus regarding Autoformatting dates that has a *default* for all regular (I.P.) readers:

We adhere to the fundamental principle that all editors should see the same article content as regular I.P. users. The Wikipedian community does not want to have date formatting tools in articles that creates a default format for a given article for all regular I.P. readers to see, and which then provides a custom view per the preferences setting that would benefit only A) registered editors, who B) have set their date preference to something besides “No preference”.

For example, an article on United States Declaration of Independence might have a special magic word {{DATEFORMAT:MDY}} that globally sets dates in that article. This technique would further require that dates in an article be tagged with something like [[July 4]], [[1776]]. When done this way, all dates in a given article could appear in the “July 4, 1776” format for all our regular, everyday, non-registered I.P. users (which is the vast majority of our readership). Registered editors however, who don’t like looking at the date format that everyone else sees can be spared from this default. They could set their preferences in order to see only “4 July 1776.” We feel that this is unnecessary effort that does not benefit our I.P. readers any more than merely writing out “July 4, 1776”. We see no need whatsoever to make it any more complex.

Further, per Wikipedia:Why dates should not be linked, there is an advantage to ensuring editors see precisely what our I.P. readership sees. The community embraces the notion that we should not be burdening editors and page code with tools that only provide special views of article content for registered editors. The community believes that for the vast majority of circumstances, regular dates in body text should be simple fixed-text dates in a format chosen per MOSNUM guidelines governing that issue.

Position on this issue and statement[edit]

  • Support If we are going to have tools where the default for an article is “February 2, 2008”, then that is all I.P. users (99+% of our readership) are going to see. We might as well just write it out. We have no need whatsoever for special tools just so some editors here can be spared the shock of being exposed to a date written out in your less-than-desired format. We will all survive just fine looking at the same article content everyone else sees. Not only that, it’s better when we do. If there is something wrong with our current guideline governing the choice of date format to use in articles, then we need to improve it. If there isn’t anything wrong with the current guideline, but some editors here simply can not tolerate being exposed to the date format all our I.P. readership has to look at, well, I have no sympathy for them. I can handle looking at dates in either format. I think they can too. If the default for an article is “February 2, 2008”, then that is all I.P. editors are going to see so we might as well just write it out. An autoformatting tool also isn’t going to improve consistency of format to an article. If we are dealing with an editor who is going to add the wrong date format to an article that is already written consistently in another format, we’re not going to somehow prevent that by offering to “teach” him or her to use special double-bracket templates. Greg L (talk) 01:48, 27 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Support. Plain text dates are fine. Autoformatting is a mass tax to spend on a few. Lightmouse (talk) 02:11, 27 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Support. Auto-formatting of dates introduces more problems than it purports to solve. The complexities presented by the number of different date formats used on WP (as an example, have a look through the various examples in the date columns here) risks causing the syntax for date-formatting to be so complex as to place it beyond the reach of the average WP editor. It has been demonstrated that the formatting of dates can be solved satisfactorily without technical intervention.  HWV258  05:13, 27 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Support. Writing plain text dates in the appropriate format for the article one is editing is simple, clear and provides the same results for every user. Correcting wrongly-formatted plain text dates is simple, clear and provides the same results for every user. The autoformatting gizmo currently proposed is extremely ungainly: the use of "linking syntax" for a nonlinking function is unnecessarily confusing, the proposed approach to properly punctuating autoformatted dates is extremely convoluted, and the "benefits" of the proposed gizmo are minimal at best. Sssoul (talk) 07:30, 27 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Support—Autoformatting has proven to cause more problems than it solves by hiding inconsistency & ISO formats from the very people who would otherwise be fixing them and/or, worse, leading people to even believe that the inconsistency & ISO formats are fine since the autoformatting will fix them anyway. JIMp talk·cont 09:56, 27 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Weak support. I hope this isn't pushing to forbid registered users from using custom stylesheets and scripts, but date autoformatting unlike them changes the actual text, not just the formatting. It is no more useful than an option allowing registered user to decide whether to see color or colour, whether to see spaced en dashes – like this, or unspaced em dashes—like this, whether to see italic or roman d for the differential, whether to see equations for quantities in the SI or in the CGS in electromagnetism articles, whether to see actor or actress to refer to a female thespian, etc. -- Army1987 – Deeds, not words. 11:48, 27 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Support—There is overwhelming consensus that the community has evolved to take a conservative line on the use of DA, and, indeed, on the linking of chronological items (with rare exceptions). It's extraordinary that this must be affirmed yet again. Tony (talk) 14:59, 27 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Support — The complexity of the solution and burden of using it are not worth the potential benefit to a few editors. −Woodstone (talk) 16:12, 27 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Strong support. It's just an accident that date formats are covered in WP:MOSNUM#Full date formatting rather than WP:ENGVAR. Date formats need to be consistent with the variant of English used. As long as we have the current system where the variant of English varies between articles, the date formats need to vary with them. In an ideal world, from the POV of our readers, we would have a mechanism that adjusts the spelling (or even the choice of words) as well as the date formats to the reader's preference. It would make sense to implement such a complete solution as something to be used in featured articles (but certainly not in the average stub). But the partial solution that is currently being proposed makes no sense, introduces unnecessary complexity, and further reduces the wiki simplicity that is the main reason for Wikipedia's success. --Hans Adler (talk) 16:56, 27 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Support Still don't see the use. The fear of edit wars are overblown, IMO, and even if they occured, most editors would understand the date-formatting guidelines. As an aside though, this proposal creep is starting to get annoying. Dabomb87 (talk) 03:47, 28 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Support "The Wikipedian community does not want to have date formatting tools in articles that creates a default format for a given article for all regular I.P. readers to see, and which then provides a custom view per the preferences setting that would benefit only A) registered editors, who B) have set their date preference to something besides 'No preference'." The boldface sentence before the quoted statement contradicts the quoted statement. My reason for support is that editors should not be forced make an extra effort to put in markup that benefits only a small fraction of the readership, nor should editors have to rely on others to add markup to their dates later. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 17:20, 28 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Although phrased in a way in which Greg thinks is obviously true, it does seem to prohibit custom CSS. Further, Wikipedia:Why dates should not be linked is an essay, which may or may not separately have support. Or is Greg proposing that this RfC support the essay? In that case, I oppose it emphatically. IP users should be allowed (some of the) customization tools used by editors. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 21:39, 29 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Support first paragraph only, the other two are not implied by it. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 03:08, 30 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Bill's analysis table and comments especially in Autoformatting III shows that there are additional benefits of Date autoformatting compared to plain text. DA will provide a better reader experience for those with preferences set at the editor expense of adding a magic word on a page and wiki markup around dates. Editors will also see benefit by only having to check the date format once per page as long as dates are marked up. Infrequent editors could learn the simple syntax as they did with date linking or they can still edit in plain text with experienced editors marking up dates entered unmarked (just as they would do for dates manually formatted incorrectly). —Ost (talk) 17:14, 30 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Support As I have said what...in a good million discussions like this, there are very few needs to link dates. Those exceptions can be made, but mass linking is unneeded as it distracts the reader from the content of the page, IMO falling under "overlinking" in which the dates add no significant value to the article by being linked. §hepTalk 21:27, 2 February 2009 (UTC)
  • Support. Consensus is already more than clear from the previous RFCs. Phil Bridger (talk) 21:49, 3 February 2009 (UTC)
  • Support, a few squeaky wheels aside, consensus is already more than clear from the previous RFCs. Tim Vickers (talk) 23:02, 10 February 2009 (UTC)
  • Support. Why should a few special readers be able to view dates in a different format? The authors chose a date format that fits with the rest of the article. This feature is confusing for new editors and a burden on every editor just for the benefit of a few readers. -- SWTPC6800 (talk) 04:04, 14 February 2009 (UTC)
  • Support. Consider this approach simpler. Markup should be restricted to universal needs. Here.it.comes.again (talk) 08:02, 14 February 2009 (UTC)
  • Support. I see no advantage and many disadvantages to having editors chose a date preference when the millions of general readers of the Wikipedia do not see this. If editors see a special date format, this will interfere with their ability to see and remedy mixed and confusing date formats. I object to any unnecessary linking, as it makes reading articles more difficult for me. I fully agree with the position expressed in Wikipedia:Why dates should not be linked. —Mattisse (Talk) 00:22, 16 February 2009 (UTC)

Debate and further discussion[edit]

Comment from Goodmorningworld
Not gonna vote, !vote, or debate in this RfC. The community has already spoken, it needs to learn to ignore Locke Cole. That is all.--Goodmorningworld (talk) 17:11, 27 January 2009 (UTC)

More helpful, the community needs to learn to ignore MOSNUM. This has obviously turned into a cabal where the many use their position to constantly berate and attack the few. —Locke Coletc 04:23, 28 January 2009 (UTC)
More helpful still would be to recognise that the people above are all experienced editors of good faith, who know the community. You are welcome to contribute if you drop the victimhood. Tony (talk) 07:48, 28 January 2009 (UTC)
We already asked the community for their input. We don't need the wise sages of MOSNUM to tell us what they said... —Locke Coletc 08:16, 28 January 2009 (UTC)
Excellent point. A topic ban may be necessary. --Hans Adler (talk) 08:09, 28 January 2009 (UTC)
A topic ban for whom? —Locke Coletc 08:16, 28 January 2009 (UTC)
For you. --Hans Adler (talk) 13:26, 28 January 2009 (UTC)
On what grounds? —Locke Coletc 13:49, 28 January 2009 (UTC)
Major disruption, probably caused in part by failure to compensate for the false consensus effect, leading to an AGF breakdown in the face of unexpectedly strong opposition. --Hans Adler (talk) 18:54, 28 January 2009 (UTC)
The situation is more symmetric than I thought when I made this comment. The way I think about this didn't change much since I made it, but I would not make it again. --Hans Adler (talk) 09:55, 1 February 2009 (UTC)
I've not caused disruption, Tony1 and Greg L have caused disruption. As to false consensus effect, that actually better describes Tony1/Greg L/etc than it does me. I've said there's a consensus for not linking dates solely for auto formatting. But they seem to take issue with the idea that a majority of the community desired "some form" of auto formatting and are projecting their desires, as well as attempting to discredit the RFC as "tainted". It would be helpful if they would engage in serious discussion with an eye towards compromise rather than trying to get their way on everything to the exclusion of others. Also, AGF is not a suicide pact, that was wore down about a few weeks ago (hence why I sought arbitration). —Locke Coletc 03:23, 29 January 2009 (UTC)
That was not after a proper discussion of what that would entail. I am sure most people were not aware that the purpose of date autoformatting is displaying UK style dates to British readers in articles that use US spelling, and US style dates to American readers in articles that use UK spelling. In other words: The purpose of date autoformatting is to produce inconsistencies. Most voters probably didn't know this because WP:ENGVAR is actually not very well known. --Hans Adler (talk) 13:41, 29 January 2009 (UTC)
No, the purpose of date auto formatting is to make dates more consistent within articles, offer choices to editors (and later, readers) and unlink dates without having bots/scripts needlessly unlinking them by hand (which could take years). As for UK vs. US English, I see your point, but this is no different than how it already is under the current auto formatting system (the one we have now, which has been around since 2003). In other words: editors already seem to accept this as a non-issue, otherwise more people would have opposed. —Locke Coletc 14:03, 29 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Some people around here go around saying MOSNUM is only a guideline and not binding. I say 'fine', if only they would then leave alone those editors who seek to make articles MOSNUM compliant, but alas, that is a pipedream. Editors got taken to ANI, AN3, ARBCOM for that. Using the opposition's own language, that appears to be the real "cabal us[ing] their position to constantly berate and attack" those who oppose them. Ohconfucius (talk) 09:09, 28 January 2009 (UTC)
  • I really did think everyone was done bitching about this. Dear god. The community already came to a consensus and we shouldn't have to keep proving that a million times over. §hepTalk 21:29, 2 February 2009 (UTC)

Other proposals[edit]

[none so far]

Date linking[edit]

Proposed motion of consensus regarding date linking: Per Wikipedia:Why dates should not be linked, it should be a rare date indeed that is linked in regular body text. All links should be particularly topical and germane to the subject matter. Links to lists of historical events that have little to nothing to do with the subject matter at hand should generally not be made. It should be specifically noted that if there is a particularly relevant historical article, such as in a science-related article and mention is made of something that happened in 1795, then in article’s See also sections, editors can add entries such as “• 1795 in science”. Similarly, if there is a historical article, such as French Revolution, and if a date is mentioned, such as 1775, the See also section can have an entry like “• 1775 for a list of other notable events of that year”, or a well-aliased entry titled * [[1775|Other notable historical events of 1775]] and which will appear like “• Other notable historical events of 1775”.

Position on this issue and statement[edit]

  • Support I think it should be a very rare date that is linked to historical trivia in body text. Links should always be particularly relevant and topical to the subject matter. Links to historical trivia—especially the “on this date throughout history” date articles like January 28—are virtually never germane to the subject matter and, as one can see at Sewer cover in front of Greg L’s house, too few users who are researching a subject are ever going to take the time to actually read such extraneous information—there are only seven recipients so far of the Sewer Cover Barnstar. There are better ways to alert readers to particularly relevant historical articles, like entries in the See also sections. Greg L (talk) 01:48, 27 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Support Overlinking of dates will reduce when autoformatting is removed. It is largely a transitional issue. Once autoformatting is gone, most of the side-effects will be gone (e.g. fewer people will say "I thought all dates had to be linked"). Most people want fewer links. Even three years ago mass action to delink dates got (70-80% support from those that voted. Lightmouse (talk) 02:15, 27 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Support but I'd propose a link such as:
    See also
    • 1775 for a list of other notable events of that year
  • I strongly dislike hiding article titles from links in "See also" sections. (I think piped links should be used only if a grammatical reason prevents the real title from being used – which is never the case in mere lists of links such as "See also" sections and disambiguation pages; and even then, the real title should be obvious.) Imagine someone reading a print-out of the article, seeing a link, and deciding they want to read that article. If they connect to the WWW, go to en.wikipedia.org, type "Other notable historical events of 1775" into the search box and hit Go they won't get to the right article; with my wording they'd type "1775" and find it. (Lousy example, but I've seen worse instances of hidden links, even worse than the examples at WP:EGG.)

    But better still would be renaming the 1775 article so that anyone could figure out what it contains by looking at its title.

    -- Army1987 – Deeds, not words. 11:40, 27 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Support, along with the proposal to rename date pages to something like "List of notable events of [date]". Sssoul (talk) 12:30, 27 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Support. The "See also" option, in fact, makes it much more likely that the reader will follow such a link; there, they are highlighted by their appearance together in a dedicated section. Unlike inline links, which assume the reader will interrupt mid-sentence to divert to another article, at "See also" a piped and other explanation can be provided as a service to the readers. It makes such good sense. Tony (talk) 15:04, 27 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Support — Almost no date links add value to an article. Especially the MD (or DM) links. There is no relation between events on the same calendar dates in different years. −Woodstone (talk) 16:18, 27 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Support. Most date links serve no purpose other than directing traffic to an almost completely nrelated article that arguably shouldn't exist in the first place. --Hans Adler (talk) 17:12, 27 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Strongly oppose. Not useful, not helpful to Wikipedia, and never consensus; just the same half-dozen enthusiasts repeating themselves. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 01:05, 28 January 2009 (UTC)
    • In particular, Oppose this draft. I see no reason to override our general rule that See also is used only for links which have not yet been worked into text. (Much here I agree with, but this is not an effort to work out consensus, but an effort to declare victory despite the absence of consensus.) Septentrionalis PMAnderson 02:51, 30 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Support. I've moved completely to one end of the spectrum on this one, as I believe that dates should never be linked. A "See Also" section adequately covers the situation where a date-list page needs to be brought to the attention of the reader. Alternatively, WP provides a simple search mechanism that allows readers to locate a date-list page if required.  HWV258  01:25, 28 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Support The reasons have already been stated countless times. I am not sure whether is Pmanderson is opposing because he supports date linking, or whether he just doesn't like the idea of this RfC. As an aside though, this proposal creep is starting to get annoying. Dabomb87 (talk) 03:51, 28 January 2009 (UTC)
    • Because I support linking dates when useful to the readers, as I have said often. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 16:23, 29 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Strong Oppose From a historical point of view, what is happening at the same time as an event is important for context. Not all users will find those links useful but they will simply ignore them. Just because you personally don't find a link useful don't assume that will be true for all users. We should not channel users into accessing information in specific ways.Dejvid (talk) 13:58, 28 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Weak support I beleve the word rare may be too strong; "occasional" would be a better word. In any case, it should be very unusual to link the same date more than once per article. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 17:23, 28 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Strongly oppose per Septentrionalis and Dejvid. Stop being patronizing and presumptive toward our readers and let them decide what links they want to follow. As a side note, Greg L's endless linking to his little sewer thing is entirely useless. It has no practical relevance whatsoever. — Hex (❝?!❞) 02:10, 29 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Strongly oppose. Date RfC#2 Q4 makes it clear that this does not have consensus, so this question qualifies as asking the other parent. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 21:43, 29 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Oppose Chronological hotlinks should be inlined just like geographical hotlinks and other context links are. The wording which selects 1794 in science as a typical example for piping is misleading -- I count only 7 1794 in X articles listed at 1794 -- 5 are all just different "art" topics, while for unknown reasons "Archeology" is no longer a science, not that the article actually exists.[1] There are far more that seven WP:Categories even in the broadest sense. Even within this one broad category, a stub like 1501 in science is pretty useless to have around as a stand-alone article. -- Kendrick7talk 22:15, 2 February 2009 (UTC)
  • Support. I have yet to see an occurrence of a date or a year in an article where linking helps the reader in any way. Phil Bridger (talk) 21:52, 3 February 2009 (UTC)
  • Support. Wow, never an easier one. After clicking through the links to find they are basically just trivia dumping grounds I've trained myself to ignore them. They almost NEVER have anything to do with the article. It's incredible to see a frustration that seem unresolvable being resolved. The system works! Augustz (talk) 06:49, 10 February 2009 (UTC)
  • Support. Ever since my first days here, date links seemed to me the most unprofessional-looking and useless habit in WP. There should be a link only if there is some specific reason why someone interested in the event should also be interested in the general overview of that year. 99% of the time, this just isn't the case. --Zvika (talk) 16:55, 10 February 2009 (UTC)
  • Support only in See Also sections, although I also don't see the need to pipe links in See also sections. Tim Vickers (talk) 23:06, 10 February 2009 (UTC)
  • Support. I've often wondered why we need to link to dates but I simply did it since it seems to be a tradition. I'm now not linking to dates at all if I don't feel the linked date article will provide further relevant details to the current article, which is almost all the time. --seav (talk) 03:43, 13 February 2009 (UTC)
    • Clarification. I'm referring to dates as month-day or month-day-year. As for years, I think years should not always be linked but that some of them are indeed relevant, e.g., linking to the first instance of 1939 in the article World War II (though I wouldn't mind if the link wasn't there). I also prefer promoting such topical year articles like 2007 in music by linking to them in the proper context, whether in the body of a music article or in the "See also" section. --seav (talk) 01:23, 16 February 2009 (UTC)
  • Support Per Seav. I never understood it either, and is happy that I don't have to link years and dates anymore.--HJensen, talk 18:56, 13 February 2009 (UTC)
  • Support Links should be used only when they take the reader to a topically relevant page. Date links added solely for the purpose of date formatting have the negative effect of bewildering the average reader. --Orlady (talk) 22:15, 15 February 2009 (UTC)
  • Support Rarely is a date article relevant. Often date articles are slanted toward a particular subject, like the hisory of Western Europe or Western science. The date articles are usually too long to read meaningfully. Further, a date article takes the reader away from the encyclopedia article being read and off on another subject. The reason for not allowing external links in an article is to prevent the reader from leaving. The ability of irrelevant wikilinks to distract is also great. —Mattisse (Talk) 00:30, 16 February 2009 (UTC)
  • Support per Seav and Orlady. Its a fairly pointless exercise in general. Ben MacDui 08:30, 23 February 2009 (UTC)

Debate and further discussion[edit]

Other proposals[edit]

Bot-assisted compliance[edit]

Proposed motion of consensus regarding bots de-linking dates: Automated and semi-automated bots may be used to de-link dates as long as the community consensus is clear on the matter and the bot is written to limit the scope of its activities to only the sort of dates for which there is a clear community consensus on. Specifically, if there is a clear community consensus that dates in regular body text should very rarely be linked to regular historical trivia articles, then bots may properly de-link them. Those few bot-delinked dates that should not have been delinked can easily be hand restored (even though they should might really be better done as an addition to a See also section). Further, there is no need for operators of bots to seek approval from anyone else for permission to operate their bots. Bot operators, like most of the rest of us, are volunteers and their bots are prolific tools for automating many housekeeping chores on Wikipedia and our articles benefit greatly from these bots and their operators. Beyond date delinking, for which the community consensus should be particularly clear on, beyond the obligatory compliance with Wikipedia:Bots/Requests for approval, all bot operators are required to do is ensure that their bot activity is as compliant as possible with the guidelines of MOS and MOSNUM.

Position on this issue and statement[edit]

  • Support There are millions of linked dates on Wikipedia. That is simply too many for any human to manually address. Bots are the only practical way to address this. Greg L (talk) 01:48, 27 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Support. Dates were linked by bots, scripts, and by user training "all dates must be linked". Even three years ago mass action to delink dates got (70-80% support from those that voted. Lightmouse (talk) 02:03, 27 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Support. Thousands upon thousands of pages have been delinked via bots in the previous months—with proportionally few complaints (and most complaints being speedily and satisfactorily dealt with). It is obvious that there is mass-community support for date-delinking (from Wikipedia:Consensus: "Silence implies consent if there is adequate exposure to the community"). Due to the sheer number of linked dates at WP, an automated way of removing the date links is the only practical way to move forward.  HWV258  02:48, 27 January 2009 (UTC)
    • Comment. The statement that "most complaints being speedily and satisfactorily dealt with" is unsourced, at best, as at least three of the primary delinkers removed complaints without comment or moved them to WT:MOSNUM, where they were also ignored. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 04:10, 14 February 2009 (UTC)
  • Support—We've seen an overwhelming support for the delinking of dates, with so much work to be done using bots is the only practical approach. JIMp talk·cont 09:41, 27 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Is "[f]urther, there is no need for operators of bots to seek approval from anyone else for permission to operate their bots" a motion to abolish WP:RBA? If yes, strongest possible oppose. If not, the wording should be made clearer. You aren't proposing that anyone should be able to create a bot and do what the f*** they want with it to massive numbers of articles, without asking any permission first, are you? BTW, is it appropriate to open an RfC on an issue which is currently under RfAr? -- Army1987 – Deeds, not words. 12:00, 27 January 2009 (UTC)
Army1987 asked if this is a proposal to abolish WP:RBA. It isn't. Lightmouse (talk) 15:06, 27 January 2009 (UTC)
  • I addressed this in the wording. Thanks Army. Greg L (talk) 05:10, 28 January 2009 (UTC)
  • the sentence Further, there is no need for operators of bots to seek approval from anyone else for permission to operate their bots still sounds as if you're proposing to do away with existing bot-approval forums & processes. could that sentence please be amended? because some readers won't make it all the way to your final sentence to learn that that's not what you mean. Sssoul (talk) 07:24, 28 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Support—Greg, Lightmouse, Jimp, HWV258—they all talk a lot of sense on this matter; each has a different type of expertise that sees these issues in a slightly different way, but the overall response is the same from them. I also support the movement to take the longer-term view of automated assistance for editors, see, of course, Dr Bill Wedermeyer's speech to the last WikiMania (link on request). Tony (talk) 15:09, 27 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Support — Bots have so far done massive delinking without significant specific complaints. They are the best way to remove the blue sea. −Woodstone (talk) 16:20, 27 January 2009 (UTC)
    • Comment. This is a lie. There may have been no "significant specific complaints" that you were aware of at the time, but there were significant (IMHO) specific complaints about LIghtbot which were never resolved. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 04:10, 14 February 2009 (UTC)
  • Support Cases that dates should be linked are rare enough that it wouldn't be too much trouble for editors to relink those dates manually. Alternatively, those articles that need linked dates could be avoided by bots altogether, as they are largely under one umbrella (chronological items, holidays, and some historical events that are globally relevant). As an aside though, this proposal creep is starting to get annoying. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Dabomb87 (talkcontribs) 03:55, 28 January 2009
  • Oppose Whether a link is appropriate depends on the theme of the article or even the section of an article in which it lies and hence needs a human to decide.Dejvid (talk) 16:14, 28 January 2009 (UTC)
This is not the issue for this RfC. The community now has consensus that a vast number of dates on WP have been linked unnecessarily, and unlinking these is far too big a job to be done manually. Bots are essential to get the job done, however it will be necessary for some manual intervention to fix the occasional problem after the bots have done their job. This is the system that was used successfully last year when (at least) tens of thousands of articles were delinked by bots. Please reconsider your vote in this light (failing that, I challenge whether your Oppose is germane to the RfC). Thanks.  HWV258  22:54, 29 January 2009 (UTC)
Yes, it is an issue for this RfC. Because some year links are still relevant, a bot will remove some appropriate links. Bot approval, according to their charter, does not include bots which violate policy, so a delinking bot would not be approved without a violation of the bot policies. This has already happened.... — Arthur Rubin (talk) 04:10, 14 February 2009 (UTC)
  • Oppose The issue of bots creating a defacto prohibition against any date links by automated edit-warring against manual edits, when the manual edits comply with MOSNUM and the automated edits do not, is not addressed by this statement. No statement that does not address the issue is acceptable. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 17:26, 28 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Strongest oppose. This is edit-warring and strong-arming, using extremely stupid software (this is not an attack on the authors; computer programs are not intelligent) that will never be able to do a good job. — Hex (❝?!❞) 02:12, 29 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Support argument, oppose premises and result. There still isn't consensus that almost all dates should be unlinked, and a bots should not be used for tasks in which they would have a significant error rate. If there were consensus that all dates should be unlinked, then a bot would be proper. But even a clear support on question 2 above wouldn't support the statement that all dates should be unlinked. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 21:46, 29 January 2009 (UTC)
    • Also note that there have been "thousands and thousands" of dates delinked by bots, and there have been hundreds of reversals. As some of the bot operators delete complaints rather than archiving them, we don't know that there weren't thousands of complaints. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 23:17, 29 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Oppose per Arthur Rubin. Bots should be used for non-controversial and consensus tasks; this task is currently under Arbitration, which is about non-consensus as we get. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 02:48, 30 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Support - I dislike that people went ahead with this RfC now, but this is something that ought to be established. If ArbCom says that delinking dates has a consensus, bots are the only way to go about it. Using a special template for the 1/10,000 dates that need to be kept is not that difficult. NuclearWarfare (Talk) 17:07, 1 February 2009 (UTC)
  • Oppose Since there's no such consensus for this delinking to begin with, per Athur Rubin, this whole matter is moot anyway, but I thought I would chime in. Next we'll be proposing air traffic guidelines for flying pigs, you know, just in case? -- Kendrick7talk 20:45, 2 February 2009 (UTC)
  • Oppose for the extended wording that includes no approval. In agreement with the context of use of bots for the task, however, all bots should be tested and approved prior to use. -- billinghurst (talk) 04:58, 3 February 2009 (UTC)
  • Support. A few editors questioning the perfectly clear consensus reached in previous RFCs shouldn't be able to prevent this method of improving the encyclopedia. Phil Bridger (talk) 21:57, 3 February 2009 (UTC)
  • Support First of all, it looks the some of the Opposers didn't read the text of the proposal? It says, more or less, that this would only take effect after consensus has been made on whether or not to link dates (presumably from everything we've discussed and this Rfc?). I see no reason why bots shouldn't enforce the MoS, as long as they pass BAG approval (and anyone else who comments at the BFRA) at BRFA there should be no need to discuss the matter with anyone else; there's absolutely no need for one bot task to need extra approval while the others don't. It should be noted that no bots are delinking wile the injunction is in place, when it is lifted and consensus goes either way then bots should be able to go about their business. I believe the "no approval" section is referring to the approval of a group on top of BAG. §hepTalk 04:28, 8 February 2009 (UTC)
  • Support The proposal is only if consensus is reached. Once we have consensus why not have tools that assist in improving things? The delinking task feels like it may be very significant. Augustz (talk) 06:52, 10 February 2009 (UTC)
  • Support. I did a test on what links to the year 2003.[2] One of the first articles was Aardvark. What was the notable event in the Aardvark world in 2003? It was some spurious date link in a reference. Removing this date linking cruft is going to require bots. -- SWTPC6800 (talk) 04:07, 14 February 2009 (UTC)
    • Hasty generalization. You found an irrelevant date link; so what? Like every other facet of article content, if it's of poor editorial quality, it should be removed at editors' judgment. Discretion is not something that can be programmed into a bot. And Wikipedia is not working to a deadline.Hex (❝?!❞) 17:24, 20 February 2009 (UTC)
      • The excess of superfluous date links is widespread in Wikipedia. Moving on from Aardvark, the short article on the Dutch band zZz has the following years linked: 2001, 2002, 2005, 2007 and 2008. I don't think adding these date links was part of a meticulous decision to provide context to the article. -- SWTPC6800 (talk) 19:45, 22 February 2009 (UTC)
  • Support I have been fully supportive of Lightmouse's bot and the work done by the bot before the injunction. I believe that whatever problems occurred were relatively few and can be remedied. Lightmouse has always been fully responsive and cooperative when I have approached him. As pointed out above, most year links are irrelevant to the subject of the article. —Mattisse (Talk) 00:37, 16 February 2009 (UTC)

Debate and further discussion[edit]

Counter-proposal: Linking of years[edit]

Any year may be linked to, once (in accordance with our guidelines preventing overlinking), in an article. The determination of whether any particular year should be linked is an issue of editors' judgment, as with most other links in the encyclopedia, and should be debated on article talk pages if necessary. Wikipedia readers should be treated as adults who are capable of deciding for themselves how they wish to browse the articles of this project - purposefully, casually, or randomly, as they see fit.

Position on this issue and statement[edit]

  • Proposed. — Hex (❝?!❞) 02:30, 29 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Oppose There are to many articles to have these discussions manually, and I have yet to see proof that a year link aids the readers' understanding of the subject matter of the article. Additionally, this proposal creep is starting to get annoying. Dabomb87 (talk) 03:12, 29 January 2009 (UTC)
  • I like how you say it's annoying when someone puts forward a proposal you disagree with, but nowhere else. — Hex (❝?!❞) 11:54, 29 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Fair enough, I will copy it onto my other posts. Dabomb87 (talk) 13:27, 30 January 2009 (UTC)
  • We should trust our editors to decide whether a link is relevant instead of wasting their time (and ours) challenging them. —Locke Coletc 03:25, 29 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Support, of course. Editors should be trusted to decide what links are relevant to articles and per WP:CONTEXT. —Locke Coletc 03:25, 29 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Support, this is generally the overarching time measurement of significance which has historically been valued by most record keepers. DaBomb, no one forces anyone to click on a hotlink. -- Kendrick7talk 05:47, 29 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Comment We already have the answer to this. Three years ago (70 to 80% of people that voted supported mass-delinking of years. Lightmouse (talk) 11:29, 29 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Wait, what? This is an unbelievably bizarre assertion, as if all the intervening events of the past three years, and especially the last few months, never happened. Even more bizarre is that you are claiming a consensus, when only slightly further down the same page there's a massive outburst of opposition that caused your bot request to fail, yet you're not counting it in your figure. Please don't try and mislead the readers of this discussion. (Sorry, but I'm all out of good faith assumptions for you.) — Hex (❝?!❞) 12:07, 29 January 2009 (UTC)
  • I count 22 opposed (52%) and 20 support (48%). How does that equate to 70-80% support? Further, one contributor to that discussion noted that you were canvassing with your bot (leaving links to the bot approval in your edit summary). Those results are meaningless. —Locke Coletc 12:20, 29 January 2009 (UTC)
Oppose User:Talrias, User:Rmhermen, User:Francis Schonken, User:Mathwiz2020, User:Ambi, User:Robth, User:Noisy, User:Zocky, User:Calton, User:Neier, User:Android79, User:Ravedave, User:Ianbrown, User:Worldtraveller, User:Anthony DiPierro, User:avriette, User:Jooler, User:Tangotango
Support User:Sam Korn, User:Daycd, User:Wetman, User:Fritz Saalfeld, User:Kirill Lokshin, User:Vsmith, User:Kaldari, User:JWSchmidt, User:Dalbury, User:GraemeMcRae, User:Cyde, User:Stephen Turner, User:Wackymacs, User:Quadell, User:Stroika, User talk:Duk, User:Tony1, User:R. S. Shaw, User:Tempshill, User:Hmains, User:AntonioMartin, User:ALoan, User:Neonumbers, User:Gheorghe Zamfir, User:Matt Crypto, User:Bkonrad, User:KillerChihuahua, User:Rich Farmbrough, User:Michael David, User:Joke137, User:HappyDog, User:VirtualSteve, User:Thincat, User:Gflores, User:Srleffler, User:Haukurth, User:Dave souza, User:EWS23, User:Ali@gwc.org.uk, User:Jclerman, User:AYArktos, User:Quiddity
I hope I haven't miscounted the raw data, but that looks to me like: of those that voted, 70% supported mass delinking of dates. Lightmouse (talk) 18:40, 29 January 2009 (UTC)
I was looking at Bobblebot 2. Hex is correct that between the two there's clearly not as much support as you're claiming. At any rate, both discussions failed to reach consensus (at that time) and were closed. —Locke Coletc 18:57, 29 January 2009 (UTC)
I see, you were looking at an earlier proposal. If you add the two together, you get 65% support for mass delinking of dates. I am simply providing data. Do with it what you will. Lightmouse (talk) 19:21, 29 January 2009 (UTC)
You still haven't explained why you think a poll conducted in 2006 has any relevance to this issue. — Hex (❝?!❞) 23:11, 29 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Support. This treats a link to a year like any other link; if those who write an article don't like year-links, they don't have to make any. Sensible, moderate, and I applaud Locke Cole for supporting so much less than what he would really prefer. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 03:07, 30 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Articles with lists of events of what happened on a particular date or year are never germane-enough to warrant the linking of a date. In the rare case when attention needs to be drawn to an article with a list of events, an entry in a see-also section is more than adequate. As soon as the door is opened to suggest that the linking of some dates is okay, it will be a never-ending debate as to which ones are appropriate on a page. Let's close the door and get people to focus on the enormous amount of useful editing to be done on WP.  HWV258  05:17, 3 February 2009 (UTC)
I believe our year articles can be written to provide good overall WP:Context, see 1345. If policy wonks want to insist on having a never ending debate (à la how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?) that's fine, but that's hardly an an excuse to force the rest of us to edit as if this issue were only black or white. -- Kendrick7talk 07:07, 3 February 2009 (UTC)
Let's make sure we are talking about the same thing here. Many date-linkers are not suggesting going to a page like 1345, instead, they are suggesting linking to a page that pretty much gives a list of events that occurred during a year, such as 2008. (The date-linkers also find it necessary to link to things like 1 Jan—a pointless link in my humble opinion.) By suggesting that articles such as 2008 can be edited to eventually "provide good overall context" is providing a reason why all years should be linked in WP—a situation that was overwhelmingly rejected by the RfC process. The point that relevant dates can be linked in a "See also" section continues to be unaddressed, as does the point that for the handful of readers who would ever have cared what else happened in a particular year, they can enter four digits and simply click the "Search" button. The problems with date-links (and there are many well documented problems) simply do not outweigh their use. In terms of "policy wonks" and "never ending debate", could you please have a look at the article on Handel and explain exactly which of the approximately 100 year references should be linked (and why)? I think I can pretty much guarantee a ferocious response to whichever ones you select.  HWV258  22:02, 3 February 2009 (UTC)
Yes, it seems clear that HWV258 will continue to respond ferociously against date links, although many editors like them. That's a self-fulfilling prophecy, and so meaningless. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 06:18, 4 February 2009 (UTC)
I will continue to promote the many arguments against the linking of dates, and as is your want (and displayed by your reponse), you can continue not to address those arguments. (When you have some spare time, you may care to grab a dictionary and investigate the meaning of the word "ferocious".)  HWV258  21:39, 4 February 2009 (UTC)
You've got it backwards: year de-linkers are the ones arguing 1345 and all other years should never be linked to, because too many articles link to 2008. Regarding your Handel request: er, no. I'm not a policy wonk and don't care for endless debates. Per WP:BURO and WP:KISS, we simply don't need hard and fast rules for every possible edit, and I would leave Handel to the editorial discretion of his memorialists to figure out which years are of notable connection to his life. And, as has in fact been addressed repeatedly, I don't find the idea that we could or should de-link everything because readers can simply use search box to be germane -- this project has always been a hypertext encyclopedia and inline links are the normative way of connecting articles. -- Kendrick7talk 20:39, 4 February 2009 (UTC)
I can't follow your responsive argument regarding 2008 and 1345. Perhaps you could re-read my original point, and then rephrase yours—as your response doesn't demonstrate anything being "backwards". I didn't suggest that you were a "policy wonk", nor that you care for "endless debates". The reference to the Handel article was made so that you might appreciate some of the anticipated problems that will be encountered if the green light is given to linking certain types of dates. Nothing in my original point refers to "hard and fast rules" or "every possible edit". Could I respectfully suggest that if you are going to respond, you take a little more time to fully appreciate the points you are responding to. As it stands, you are extending my arguments and then responding to those extensions. The point regarding the search box is that it provides a mechanism that justifies fewer dates being linked than is currently the case.  HWV258  21:54, 4 February 2009 (UTC)
  • support The year something happened is as basic as fact about it as possible. If anything in an article should be linked, it is such information. In fact, i support this also to articles for individual days, but I don;t think there is consensus for it. I think there is for years. The more detailed metadata of this sort we can index in Wikipedia the more useful it is. I don't know on what basis anyone can confidently say that other people won't use. DGG (talk) 03:40, 9 February 2009 (UTC)
  • Support - it's a no-brainer as far as I'm concerned. Deb (talk) 20:19, 11 February 2009 (UTC)
  • Oppose This would allow/encourage an excess of links to recent years such as 2003 or even 2009. How does this improve the reader experience? -- SWTPC6800 (talk) 20:02, 22 February 2009 (UTC)
  • For your information, there's more to Wikipedia than Pokemon articles. -- Kendrick7talk 23:53, 22 February 2009 (UTC)

Comment by CBM[edit]

Continuing to have more and more RFCs will result in diminishing returns rather than improved information. The previous, well-advertised RFCs are sufficient to move forward. Continuing to poll the same issues with a new RFC so soon after the last ones is likely to result in a more biased sample, not a more accurate one. We can't expect many editors have the energy to respond to repeated RFCs on the same topic. This RFC, moreover, is so baroque that I have to create a new section simply to express this view. — Carl (CBM · talk) 03:58, 27 January 2009 (UTC)

Support. We aren't going to learn anything new from this RFC that we couldn't learn by looking at the last two held only a month ago. What's needed now is calm discussion, not more attempts at taking the discussion off course by posting inflammatory commentary about the prior RFC (witness Tony1's dissection and Greg L's commentary further up and in the recent archives). —Locke Coletc 04:12, 27 January 2009 (UTC)
Like saying "Boo" to Cole is "a personal attack", writing a scientific analysis of the RfCs is "inflammatory". Right. Tony (talk) 15:12, 27 January 2009 (UTC)
Your analysis was biased, and you were warned of this when you started working on it. You chose to push forward anyways. It serves no useful purpose other than to demonstrate your unwillingness to accept the results of the RFC. —Locke Coletc 21:56, 27 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Oh, gee… Tony is biased. And you would have us believe that one unassailable oracle of *truth* is Locke Cole? Is that right? OK, I’ll be sure to contact you whenever I need the unbiased facts. Thanks. But, pardon me all over the place if I suggest that an *even better* way to discern what the community consensus is on points of dispute is to just ask the community. How’s that for a thoroughly cosmic concept? Greg L (talk) 22:58, 27 January 2009 (UTC)
  • No I wouldn't, as evidenced by the fact that I haven't written some long diatribe trying to tell people the results of the RFC. —Locke Coletc 23:10, 27 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Locke Cole, I am willing to accept that Tony's analysis may be biased. Heck, I wouldn't be surprised if my brief summary was biased. But if you keep mandating that, would you provide some kind of detailed analysis or summary yourself, instead of denouncing other's well-intentioned efforts to collate the information gathered (something I have been wary of since the start of all this RfC business)? Dabomb87 (talk) 03:58, 28 January 2009 (UTC)
  • To what end? I've come to my own personal conclusions about the RFC results, I don't need to go around imposing my personal view on people fully capable of coming to their own conclusions. Besides, it's not helpful to continually try and analyze something that already happened. This isn't an accident, we don't need to call in investigators to determine the cause of peoples !votes. I can clearly take away the following three things from the RFC: 1) People want to deprecate dates linked purely for auto formatting. 2) People would like some form of auto formatting (the caveat being that it addresses many/most of the problems in the old system). 3) People think date links are appropriate "sometimes". Anything trying to go beyond that is unnecessary and counter productive to moving forward. Especially lengthy essays on alleged flaws in the RFC. People need to accept the results instead of trying to attack them as invalid. —Locke Coletc 04:19, 28 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Dabomb, if you're accusing me of bias, please put up the reasons/evidence/arguments; point to parts of the methodology or conclusions that are non-scientific or unbalanced. Tony (talk) 07:52, 28 January 2009 (UTC)
    • Let me expound: If given detailed evidence, I would accept such a statement [that Tony's analysis is biased]. But since the people who disregard it have not given specific examples and have instead chosen to make general statements, I see no reason why it should not be legitimate. Dabomb87 (talk) 13:50, 28 January 2009 (UTC)
Thanks, Dabomb. Yes, you hit the nail on the head WRT these vague, sweeping denouncements of the analyses and the use of contaminated data to support claims for consensus. Tony (talk) 07:43, 31 January 2009 (UTC)
Nothing has been contaminated Tony, and your analysis is inherently biased. Please stop putting it forward as some real evidence that the results are flawed. —Locke Coletc 07:51, 31 January 2009 (UTC)
So you keep saying, but this mantra will convince no one. What is required is a detailed critique of the analyses is you want to deride it: substantive, reasoned argument of specific aspects rather than empty, sweeping condemnation. Sorry, but that's the way the world is, except, perhaps, for party-political ads. Tony (talk) 01:21, 1 February 2009 (UTC)
Logical fallacy: Negative proof. —Locke Coletc 08:09, 1 February 2009 (UTC)

Amendment proposal: bot-assistance compliance[edit]

Resolved: the bot-assistance compliance proposal is amended by adding the sentence "Fully automated bots shall honor the {{Bots}} template, but semi-automated scripts need not honor it. Neither fully automated bots nor semi-automatic scripts shall be used to add {{Bots}} or to add date-delinking bots to existing {{Bots}} templates. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 18:37, 2 February 2009 (UTC)

Oppose If a date-delinking bot isn't compliant, {{Bots}} is the only way for an editor to get the bot to leave a set of articles alone. Why would we need to forbid editors from doing this via a semi-automated means? -- Kendrick7talk 20:33, 2 February 2009 (UTC)
The meaning of "if a date-delinking bot isn't compliant, {{Bots}} is the only way for an editor to get the bot to leave a set of articles alone" eludes me.
The purpose of adding {{Bots}} (set to prevent particular date-delinking bots from editing the page) is for pages with a few well-considered date links. Since human judgement is required to do this, any mass addition of the template would inicate the person adding the templates in bad faith. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 21:22, 2 February 2009 (UTC)
So you are saying editors can't use automated tools in good faith? -- Kendrick7talk 20:20, 4 February 2009 (UTC)
I am saying the history of this issue shows a few editors on both sides will sometimes use automated tools in bad faith. Deciding whether a date article is relevant to an article requires human judgement, which can't possibly be exercised at a rate of several articles per minute. Given the time required to properly assess each date, there should be no need to use automated tools. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 21:03, 4 February 2009 (UTC)
  • This template isn't really supposed to be used in articles in the first place. Not all bots are currently required to comply with {{Bots}} and they shouldn't be forced to without considerable discussion among current botops, BAG, etc. I think just by the fact that the template isn't supposed to be used in articles makes this proposal moot. §hepTalk 04:35, 8 February 2009 (UTC)

Comment by Ckatz[edit]

I echo CBM's thoughts above, in that the RfC Greg has just posted is not likely to achieve any positive benefits. Further to this, the wording of the RfC is quite clearly biased to reflect one particular position, and as such cannot provide any reliable information. Finally, there is an active and productive discussion and development session under way with regards to a date formatting solution. Without a resolution to that development cycle, an RfC cannot accurately present information for community members to comment on.

Accordingly, I would respectfully ask GregL to withdraw his RfC immediately, and hold off on reopening it until a a reasonable period of time has been allowed for the development/discussion cycle to complete. --Ckatzchatspy 05:24, 27 January 2009 (UTC)

I agree that this RFC is not written neutrally and may not ask all the questions that need to be asked. It should be withdrawn temporarily until it can be polished and we can make sure that is contains all the questions we need to ask. Karanacs (talk) 15:26, 27 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Some Chinese officials wish that its citizens wouldn’t discuss Tiananmen square, claiming it causes disorder and, as Locke said, “anarchy.” The role of arbitrators on an ArbCom is to settle disputes. They look towards facts and we do not delegate policy decisions to a handful of arbitrators, as if they are somehow expected to read tea leaves to divine sound policy for Wikipiedia. The only thing that cuts it on Wikipedia is “community consensus”. Period. Jimbo, Wikipedia’s founder, holds this principle closer to his heart than any other: that the ‘community consensus’ on matters is always the right thing to do. This clear-as-glass RfC is the way Wikipedians go about establishing community consensus and we’re doing this because editors differ in their interpretations of the previous RfCs.

    If you, Ckatz, perceive that an RfC conducted in a venue that is a marketplace for the exchange of ideas somehow threatens the peaceable social harmony of the collective, go take it up with Jimbo here. As to the rest of your message, I take great pride in pronouncing that I agree with nothing you wrote above. Beyond this, I wish you happy editing. Greg L (talk) 17:39, 27 January 2009 (UTC)

  • Greg, no-one is seeking to deny you your right to post an RfC; the problem here lies in the timing and the rather one-sided structure. One would think, though, that if you really want the RfC to be taken seriously, you would listen to the concerns your fellow editors have expressed about it. --Ckatzchatspy 21:46, 27 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Whoa … whoa! Fact check: This RfC does not have a rather one-sided structure; the structure is carefully crafted to precisely drill down to the crux of three disputes that have been raging over the interpretation of past RfCs. There’s no need whatsoever for bickering and for going to mediation and arbitration just to see which camp had the better read of the community consensus; one simply looks at the points of contention and then asked the community again to speak precisely to those issues.

    Frankly, now: for the most part, the only editors who have “expressed concerns” about this RfC (if you can count Locke Cole’s deleting it minutes after it was posted as “expressing concern”), is because they full-well knew that the true community consensus on these very specific issues is contrary to what they’ve been saying it has been. BTW, that’s last sentence there isn’t a “personal attack”; it’s truth. Greg L (talk) 22:27, 27 January 2009 (UTC)

  • Where has Ckatz said anything about "what the community consensus on these very specific issues is"? Link, retract, or be shown a liar. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 06:27, 4 February 2009 (UTC)

Comments by Masem[edit]

Two comments: First, I strongly recommended waiting until the ArbCom case is completed. I don't expect ArbCom to be making any content decisions (that's usually not their prerogative) but they may issue statements that will influence how further discussion takes place. Second, I don't understand the point of this RFC at this time; the last two questions duplicate the two from Tony's RFC, and given that active development of a new DA system is in progress, the first appears to stymie its resolve. There absolutely needs to be an RFC, once the new DA system has completed debugging and testing, before it could be added to WP, and that's where I would expect a fuller discussion can be had. But right now, it's being tested on a non-production site and seeking input to see what needs to be improved. We should not make any judgements on its ultimate use on WP until it is ready to be judged as such. That RFC still might end up "took much work for all editors to satisfy 0.1% of them", which is completely valid, but that should be decided by the community at large once they can evaluate the whole system. --MASEM 15:14, 27 January 2009 (UTC)

I don't understand the point of the proposals either (but I made my statements just in case). Just like excessive blue links dilute the valuable links in an article, these excessive proposals are redundant and distracting. We have to go with what is most useful. The two MOSNUM RfCs of November and December 2008 are the best indicators here; it's a shame that nobody can decide on what their result was. Meanwhile, the rest of Wikipedia moves on... Dabomb87 (talk) 03:17, 29 January 2009 (UTC)

Comments by Arthur Rubin[edit]

I don't see a possible benefit to this RfC. A "support" decision doesn't support any proposed action. Furthermore, this RfC has even less reporting to the community then the August 2008 one. It would be better if this were withdrawn. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 22:27, 27 January 2009 (UTC)

I concur. Isn't it fascinating how all the proposals are attracting yes-votes from the same group of MOSNUM regulars that have been claiming consensus during the date linking arbitration (a position almost entirely discredited)? — Hex (❝?!❞) 02:14, 29 January 2009 (UTC)
It also demonstrates the cabal-like nature of behavior here by regulars of MOSNUM. Despite the community having majority support for auto formatting (and support for linking dates/years "sometimes") they still believe they can overrule that support with a MOSNUM local RFC consisting almost entirely of votes by regulars here. —Locke Coletc 03:27, 29 January 2009 (UTC)
Please let's wait to have another RFC until there is some resolution regarding the contentious aspects of and /or behavior related to this topic, resulting from the RFAR. Thanks, Lini (talk) 01:32, 30 January 2009 (UTC)

When will we be free of this interminable discussion[edit]

Seriously. Isn't there an ongoing RFAR? Protonk (talk) 18:12, 1 February 2009 (UTC)

Advantages of year linking[edit]

For less common (and more ancient) years, there is an advantage to date-link as sources from various periods (all meeting the reliability threshold, but knowledge has expanded or thoughts revised since) may not mesh and whether the Second Samnite War began in 327 BCE or in 326 BCE is in doubt even in our own article, much less cross-checking the articles on the battles, participants, and geographies involved - which can be done much more easily with year links than trying to figure out all conceivable articles associated with 327 BCE (or 326 BCE) and try to see if they have the correct date. Obviously, that's less important the more recent we get: I assume that we need not check 1914 to make sure that WWI started then and that all the articles reflect the proper year. Carlossuarez46 (talk) 23:02, 6 February 2009 (UTC)

  • Good, and novel, point.
  • Linking also has the advantage, until 326 BC is complete, of permitting users who want to identify passing references to that year by WhatLinksHere. (It shares this with all other links, of course; but this topic is infested with arguments which would make WP no longer hypertext.) Septentrionalis PMAnderson 00:53, 7 February 2009 (UTC)
    • Is that such an important function that we cannot use the search box instead? Dabomb87 (talk) 01:03, 7 February 2009 (UTC)
      • It is a real advantage, and the search box will not do this well; many users who try to do this by search box will get to 326 BC, others will get a list of all articles which use 326 and BC in different sentences, and those who do the search as well as possible will still miss articles which have "326 BCE", or simple "326", in the text.
      • Any hyperlink can be replaced more or less well by a search; no one suggests, however, that Wikipedia cease to be hypertext. Using this argument in this special case is special pleading. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 15:05, 7 February 2009 (UTC)
  • I would think that any user knowledgeable enough to use the WhatLinksHere button, wouldn't need a hyperlink to use it. Most (anon) readers however have never used the Whatlinkshere button, and will simply wonder why a year should be linked. --Steven Fruitsmaak (Reply) 19:44, 9 February 2009 (UTC)
    • WhatLinksHere doesn't return a result unless the hyperlink exists; and this is (as CarlosSuarez said originally) useful for editors too. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 23:37, 9 February 2009 (UTC)
    • Anyone ever thought of conducting surveys on anonymous users? Seddσn talk 11:05, 12 February 2009 (UTC)
      • It's been suggested at the RfAr. How to get them to see it and respond has not been dealt with. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:15, 12 February 2009 (UTC)