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# Convention for dates

FYI the two really niggardly issues I wished to comment on, but not make a big deal about, were in the Vaclav Smil article: first, dates like “2/10/2010″ only make sense to US imperialists and are a combination of confusing, irritating, and ambiguous to every other person on the planet...

I replied:

I am responsible for both, at least in part:

In the Azimuth Project I usually enter dates in a format like "2 October 2010", which is comprehensible to everyone, even Americans. In this partcular case I typed "2/10/2010" because:

1) I read that date in a Canadian newspaper and could not remember whether they used the US system or the rest-of-the-world system.

2) This particular date makes sense either way, since both 2 and 10 are less than 12.

3) I was feeling lazy and hoped someone else would figure it out and pick up after my mess.

I urge everyone here to use the "2 October 2010" system, because it's the only one that 1) everyone can easily understand and 2) follows the world majority system of "date-month-year".

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1.

I'm going through the old discussions looking for conventions and helpful pages for beginners and found this discussion.

The other format you might consider is the ISO 8601 international standard:

2003-11-09

It happens to be very useful for computer sorting so is the format most often used by programmers as one can sort dates as text and get the right results. It is also the convention in much of Asia and some European countries as well. I have found that most non-programmers can easily read it too as it seems to be more and more popular on the internet.

It is a bit more compact and might be an acceptable alternate format. What do you think?

Comment Source:I'm going through the old discussions looking for conventions and helpful pages for beginners and found this discussion. The other format you might consider is [the ISO 8601 international standard](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ISO_8601): 2003-11-09 It happens to be very useful for computer sorting so is the format most often used by programmers as one can sort dates as text and get the right results. It is also the convention in much of Asia and some European countries as well. I have found that most non-programmers can easily read it too as it seems to be more and more popular on the internet. It is a bit more compact and might be an acceptable alternate format. What do you think?
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2.
edited January 2011

Since I've spent time training people to use 9 November 2003, I prefer that to 2003-11-09. The advantage of writing out the name of the month is that nobody can possibly become confused about whether 11-09 means November 9th or the 11th of September.

Of course, eliminating all possibility of confusion is more important than making sure everyone does the same thing.

I am constantly tearing my hair out because I like a certain standard bibliographical format and every new Azimuth member has their own preferred format. I'll post something about this on the forum in a minute, and I've just added some information here in the HowTo page.

If you use my standard format, I will love you. But again, it's even more important to include all the information than to include it in my favorite format!

Comment Source:Since I've spent time training people to use 9 November 2003, I prefer that to 2003-11-09. The advantage of writing out the name of the month is that nobody can possibly become confused about whether 11-09 means November 9th or the 11th of September. Of course, eliminating all possibility of confusion is more important than making sure everyone does the same thing. I am constantly tearing my hair out because I like a certain standard bibliographical format and every new Azimuth member has their own preferred format. I'll post something about this on the forum in a minute, and I've just added some information [here](http://www.azimuthproject.org/azimuth/show/How+to#References) in the [[HowTo]] page. If you use my standard format, I will love you. But again, it's even more important to include all the information than to include it in my favorite format!
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3.

You anachronistic anglophilic non-metric people ;-) sorry i couldn´t resist. but I see your POV. From a computer POV the the ISO is preferrable but as this is a global wiki with human writers and readers sofar I suggest we stick with 9 november 2011.

Comment Source:You anachronistic anglophilic non-metric people ;-) sorry i couldn´t resist. but I see your POV. From a computer POV the the ISO is preferrable but as this is a global wiki with human writers and readers sofar I suggest we stick with 9 november 2011.
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4.
edited January 2011

In one of those twists of history, at least these days England (the "anglo" in anglophilic) is both metric and follows the European convention for dates. The world needs an equivalent term for America: puritophilic? (as I guess the Puritans are to America as the Angles are to England)

Comment Source:In one of those twists of history, at least these days England (the "anglo" in anglophilic) is both metric and follows the European convention for dates. The world needs an equivalent term for America: puritophilic? (as I guess the Puritans are to America as the Angles are to England)
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5.
edited January 2011

It took me a certain mental effort to switch from the American 9/30/2010 to the more rational 30-09-2010. At this point I could easily switch to 2010/09/30, but I know that if you don't spell out the month, about half of your readers will get it wrong when you write something like 06/07/2010 or 2010-06-07.

I've also largely switched from Fahrenheit to Celsius, living here in Singapore. That was even harder, since one spends years developing an instantly ability to know that it feels like 65°F or (noticeably warmer!) 68°F, and redeveloping that ability for another system is an unpleasant chore.

However, the air conditioning systems here are in Celsius, so that helps a lot.

Comment Source:It took me a certain mental effort to switch from the American 9/30/2010 to the more rational 30-09-2010. At this point I could easily switch to 2010/09/30, but I know that <b>if you don't spell out the month, about half of your readers will get it wrong</b> when you write something like 06/07/2010 or 2010-06-07. I've also largely switched from Fahrenheit to Celsius, living here in Singapore. That was even harder, since one spends years developing an instantly ability to know that it <i>feels</i> like 65&deg;F or (noticeably warmer!) 68&deg;F, and redeveloping that ability for another system is an unpleasant chore. However, the air conditioning systems here are in Celsius, so that helps a lot.