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Wikipedia talk:Timeline standards

In 2002, I took the liberty of adding links to the Current events archives, which are on a per month basis. It looks as follows:

Months: January - February - March - April - May - June - July - August - September - October - November - December

This clearly doesn't work for all years through history, but for 2002 and beyond (up to the current year), this will make sense. Tarquin objected to this change even for 2002 citing a deviation from this template. Thoughts from this group? -- RobLa 00:41 Jan 2, 2003 (UTC)

1456 Year Equivalents

1:Calculated from AD78, beggining of the Saka era[?].
1:Calculated from 58BC, beggining of the Vikrama era[?].

I don't like the year equivalents section. But then I'm not a fan of most years being dominated by inordinate numbers of people who've just been born, so what do I know? Martin

Proposal for new header

Below is a proposal to augment the header with the *_in_music, *_in_whatever. The idea is to come up with a compromise in the debate archived in the Wikipedia talk:Music standards archive 1 (Piped year in music links are evil). This would allow easy navigation the music links without having to link to it directly, and without pushing the content well further down.

Decades: 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s - 1970s - 1980s 1990s 2000s

Years: 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 - 1977 - 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982


  • January 1 - First woman Episcopal priest ordained

end of proposal -- RobLa 19:49 Mar 1, 2003 (UTC)

Why the duplicative links? Everything is still linked on each year page. Or our you proposing to replace the current 'Art, Culture & Fashion' section? --mav

It's for consistent navigation. In the "Piped year in music links are evil", you maintain that music lovers should be linked to pages describing Panama Canal treaties and Supreme Court decisions on Medicaid when they link to a year. That's fine (I guess...I respectfully disagree), but I'm maintaining that it should at least be very simple to get to the year in music articles. As you probably know, I'm as much of a political nerd as anyone, but when I'm surfing around in music articles, I'm far more interested in the 1977 in music article than I am in the 1977 article. This proposal makes it so that the link to the "XXXX in music" article is always in a consistent location, thus making it easier to cut to the chase. -- RobLa 06:25 Mar 4, 2003 (UTC)

Then the redundant 'Art, Culture & Fashion' section should be removed - it is tiresome to have to do double updates (one for the parent year page and one for a daughter page). --mav

I for one have no problems doing this: "Lovenut & the Weird Beards released From Adderal to Zoloft[?] in 1994 (see 1994 in music)", or listing the relevant years in music in a "see also" format at the bottom of the page. While I agree that most of the time, a piped link to "1994 in music" would be exactly what the reader expects, there are borderline cases where this would be confusing and strange to some people (e.g. artists, like John Williams, who are known primarily for their soundtrack contributions), so it is best to be abundantly clear and unambiguous. Tuf-Kat

I like the idea of having a floating table on the right with the year in X links. It looks neat, and avoids wasted space :) Martin

People create articles for dates like 1500 BC or links to non-existant articles like 7326 BC[?]. This seems undesirable to me, since dates so far in the past are uncertain and subject to revision. Most of the articles will be useless because they will contain at most a few events. I think some kind of massive redirection of these dates (and their BCE equivalents) may be helpful, but what to redirect to? Articles like 16th century BC are perhaps not helpful when dates are often approximated to a round number like 1500. -(

IMO specific years before 6000 BC are completely useless since that is before recorded history. Decades are probably better suited for anything from 6000 BC to about 4000 BC due to very inaccurate data. So yes the edit links you talk about should be de-linked and any pages created on those dates should be redirected to probably corresponding century page. --mav

Agreed. Maybe even only centuries. -- Tarquin 16:29 Feb 12, 2003 (UTC)

I changed 16th century BC, 1500s BC and 1500 BC inline with what I wrote in the note on this policy page, by way of an example/proof of concept. Comments? Martin

A related subject is that I find people blindly linking to every date in an article, also when it is a (very) approximate one. Each time I see things like "Around 1200 (...)", I get itchy. Andre Engels 00:45 Feb 23, 2003 (UTC)

I like to switch such things to "In the early 1200s", or similar - though that is a slightly different meaning. Martin

I've implemented and enforced the following, and put a note in Wikipedia:Manual of Style (dates and numbers):

Articles for the year 550 BC and earlier should be redirected to the relevant decade. Articles for the year 1700 BC and earlier should be redirected to the relevant century. Articles for the year 4000 BC and earlier should be redirected to the relevant millennium.

The splits was based on what contents was actually in Wikipedia now. I agree that 1 BC is a better limit than 550 BC, but then someone has to do it. I also found there was no need for decades beyond 1700 BC, probably 1500 BC or even 1000 BC would be better. But whatever is defined, please note that:

Limits like has little value unless all relevant redirects for year pages are in place.

I've also put in millennia links for the BC centuries, because it seemed so relevant. -- Egil 09:45 Mar 31, 2003 (UTC)


Sorry for the rudeness, but removing these entries is such a drastic change, I wanted to emphasize the fact that there is NOT a consensus for doing this. And I only found out that some of you made this decision a few minutes ago, after these entries had been removed.

As Jimbo[?] has stated many times, Wikipedia is NOT written on paper. We have not limit to space. Why do we need to remove all of the articles for the years before 550 BC? The historical record, while attenuated, is still viable enough to make their presence justified back to at least 1000 BC, if not another millenium. The material certainly exists to be put into these articles.

These are the years during which civilizations we all learned about in school such as Egypt, Sumeria, Mesopotamia, Shang & Chou China, the Indus Valley civilization & others flourished. The biblical kingdoms of Israel[?] & Judea[?] cover the earlier half of the first millenium, & many potential users will be looking for entries for those years in order to better understand the Bible. I admit that so far we haven't seen a contributor flesh out the potential of these articles, but by removing them you have just made it that much more difficult for anyone to bring that potential to these articles.

I beg all of you to reconisder this decision. We should not be removing content. -- llywrch 06:02 Apr 2, 2003 (UTC)

No content has been removed or lost. No functionality will be lost. All existing early BC year links have been made into redirects to the relevant decade/century/millennium as the case may be. All content of those yearly articles (if any) have been moved to the relevant decade, century or millennium. If a reasonably accurate year can be defined, then of course the year should be mentioned in the entry for the event. I also see no reason why the article cannot maintain the exact BC link, which is then redirected to the relevant article when following it.

The problem I have is that when someone sees that a link to a given date has no corresponding article, & thus decides to create one, the author has no readily accessible template to create the article. In other words, if I wanted to create an article for 605 BC[?] -- when the Battle of Carchemish[?] occured -- & I tried to modify an article for one of the years in that decade, I would be very frustrated. There is no statement in the entries for the 7th century BC that the articles for the years have been removed -- or why. I would end up being forced to writing a stub stating "In this year the Battle of Carchemish[?] occured." And unless one of you are willing to devote the time monitoring Wikipedia for pre-550 BC entries, it would soon become a worse mess than before you decided to make this change.

As a matter of fact, this was how I discovered that this change had happened. There was no warning, no request for comments. My first response was that we had someone vandalizing these entries & shoving her/his POV down everyone else's throats. And now I worry that making contributions to the Historical Timeline will be that much more difficult.

And there are many more battles recorded in history before 550 BC that could be added to that list.

The reasoning for the change was that the idea of seperate yearly BC entries served no practical purpose. Not as a matter of resources. For one, the frequency of entries is simply not high enough. From one event, one would have to click trough many empty or non-existing yearly articles to find another event. Comparison and settings relationships in time of different events is what the timeline articles are all about. The resolution in time simply has to be such that the average article at least would get a few entries each for this to work in practice. There is no reason to believe that the known history of these ages contain enough information to justify articles by the year.

So when it comes clear that we have enough material to revert to yearly BC entries, who gets to do the work of restoring these entries? And who will want to take the time to sort thru the numerous yearly entries that various people have created, some with a sincere interest, some as vandals, & many who have added either erroneous information or information that is not easily verified. (Don't dismiss the latter possibility: I've found that scholarly & archeological discoveries can take many years to find its way into the general audience.)

The state of Wikipedia BC was such that it clearly demonstrated the problem. It basically contained much useful information in yearly articles that were spread around without coordination.

Finally· there is an argument wrt. how accurate these early datings may be. I will not enter that discussion, but it certainly helps if the "precision" of the Wikipedia entries reflect the expected accuracy. Having larger spans helps comparing events where exact dates are believed to be known to entries which are more approximate in time.

This is disingenious: either enter the discussion or don't. And if you insist on this argument, then when do you decide that historical dates are "accurate enough"? Historical dates for Ireland, Celtic Britain, & Japan are questionable until roughly AD 700[?]. I'd say that outside of Imperial Rome & Imperial China, this is the general case for much of the world. Does this then mean you want to consolidate all of the annual entries until that year?

In my opinion, the argument would be for more lumping, not less. -- Egil 06:44 Apr 2, 2003 (UTC)

I'm not saying that there shouldn't be a cut-off date because of this: I'm saying that 550 BC is too recent a date. And further, there is no explanation what is going on in the Historical Timeline: just this appearance in the middle of the 6th century BC of date entries. If you're going to label me a kook & ignore me, at least make the cut-off start with 600 BC. And publicize your decision to the rest of us.

If you think it deserves wider discission, perhaps you'd like to drop a note on wikipedia:village pump?

Done -- llywrch 19:05 Apr 4, 2003 (UTC)

If the 1550s BC entry ever becomes more than 10K in size, we can consider splitting it up into individual years (see wikipedia:page size). In the mean time lumping together makes wikipedia more useful, not less. Martin

Do you mean that if any decade article becomes more than 10K in size, you'll reconsider, or just that one article? Sorry if this sounds sarcastic, but I believe I could pick any decade to the start of the 3rd millenium BC (e.g. 2000 BC), & pack it with enough events to make it 10K in size. I'd rather start with one from the 7th century BC -- rather than the 29th century BC -- for the obvious reason that I may be wrong & that it correct to roll decades into articles before 1500 BC or 1000 BC.

As an experiment, I went to the Kingdom of Israel article, & found that very few of the year dates given there had links. So, I created links, & the clear majority lacked articles. I believe that this shows that there are a large number of potential entries waiting to be made back to at least 1000 BC.

In my opinion there would be need for, at least, say, 2 to 5 events per year to make yearly articles worth while (i.e. 20-50 events per decade). The matter of accuracy of dates is an additional argument for lumping, that is why I see it unnecessary to enter that debate. In terms of which year to switch, I would agree that 1 BC or even far later would be suitable points - the 550 BC limit was just based on the fact that up to this point someone had made a string of continuous yearly articles. -- Egil 10:01 Apr 3, 2003 (UTC)

So should I turn my attention from the early middle ages (which probably needs it more) to the 7th or 8th centuries BC & prove that there are enough recorded events to revert this decision? -- llywrch 04:14 Apr 3, 2003 (UTC)

I'm happy to concede that at some point in the future, we may need articles on individual dates all the way back to 2000 BC - and possibly beyond! My point is that we don't need these articles now, or for the forseeable future. One thought you may not have considered - it's now easier to add content to (say) 16th century BC by using the "what links here" button, because one only has to check the incoming links for the ten decades, rather than checking the incoming links for the hundred years. I reckon that's an important advantage for non-expert editors. I also feel that a redirect to the decade is more useful for readers than either (A) a red link, or (B) a blank (template-only) article.

Anyway, I'm currently making redirects for the 15th century BC. Maybe I'll change my mind as I start to get more towards modern time and start to see longer decade entries... Oh, feel free to publicise on wikipedia:village pump if you want wider discussion - I certainly don't think you're a crank :) Martin

Thanks. From reading about various troublesome individuals described on the En-Wikipedia List, sometimes I worry that I can't express myself logically enough so that people who don't know me end up thinking I'm one. -- llywrch 19:05 Apr 4, 2003 (UTC)

People who don't think that 431 BC or 492 BC or 590 BC[?] can't be filled with a dozen or more events are simply not familiar with the history of the time, and need to crack a few more books. The articles are only empty because we have few people knowledgeable in ancient history; it would be much cleverer to leave the articles open, and recruit some real historians to fill in the blanks. Stan 23:35 Apr 4, 2003 (UTC)

How is it harder for a "real historian" to fill in a blank that was previously a redirect page, compared to filling in a blank that was previously a non-existent article? Still, I'm happy to stop my redirecting at 600 BC if that's the consensus here. Martin

What is so significant about the 600 BC date? Did the whole world come out of a dark age during that year? --mav

Prior to that time the earth was without form and void... ;-)
I think it was suggested earlier in this page that stopping at 550 BC, halfway through a century, was a bad idea, and a round number like 600 BC would make more sense. Any date is going to be arbitrary to some extent, though. Martin

That was I who suggested the 600 BC cut-off date, because making the change halfway through a century makes the century article look confusing. Moving the cut-off date to 500 BC means that one has cut off too much of Ancient Greek History -- Solon, Pisistratus, the Pre-Socratic philosophers -- everything before the start of the Persian Wars -- which are an important chapter of European History, as well as halfway through the lives of Confucius and Gautama Buddha.

It seems I am probably terribly bad at explaining this. Let me repeat this just once more: WE WILL NOT LOOSE ANY CONTENT NOR FUNCTIONALITY. We will not loose any Greek or Chinese philosopher, Egyptian pharao, nor Roman consul. We will loose nothing. Nada. On the contrary, we will ADD content by being able to extract more contextual information from what is already present. We will simply make it managable to relate these persons and events to each other in time.

Let us take one typical example: Starting at the Pyrgi Tablets, we date the first Roman consuls to 505 BC. Going there, I'd like to find other events that can help me set this date in context. From 505 BC I will have to click through six totally empty articles (towards 499 BC and 507 BC) before I even find two. The relevant beginning of the Roman Republic is a further couple of empty clicks away. If these years instead were collected in a decade, I would at least have three events in my initial entry. This is in fact beginning to be useful information. (Not to speak of the load on the poor Wikipedia servers looking up all those empty articles). -- Egil 07:23 Apr 7, 2003 (UTC)

Are you also going to take the time & create redirects for all of the articles that currently have/or may links to them between 2000 BC & 551 BC? And if you are going to do that much work & create all of those redirect entries, how is that going to ease the load on either the database or on those of us working on Wikipedia content? -- llywrch 22:29 Apr 9, 2003 (UTC)

In any case, we need a notice starting with the century previous to the cut off that the annual entries are intentionally missing, & not the result of vandalism. (Which is what I had assumed at first.) -- llywrch 18:59 Apr 6, 2003 (UTC)

I am very puzzled that it should be a surprise that there is a cut-off date for annual articles. -- Egil

Not all of us are as logical as you. I, for example, assume from experience that theHistoricla Timeline is organized into a hierarchy of millenia > centuries > decades > years. If I look for a given year -- 1500 BC, 550 BC, AD 550 or AD 1550 -- I expect that year to appear the same way, ,no matter whether it is befor the Common Era or in it. When I see variations from that organizational model, I see a defect that needs to be fixed, & will go ahead & fix it -- just as Wikipedia users are expected to do.

In short, more explanation never hurts. It makes Wikipedia more friendly to users. -- llywrch 22:29 Apr 9, 2003 (UTC)

Year articles before CE Moved from Wikipedia:Village pump

Two of the regulars at Wikipedia_talk:Timeline_standards have decided that there are too many small entries for years prior the Common Era/AD 1, & decided, following the guidelines at Wikipedia:Manual of Style (dates and numbers), to start consolidating these into articles for various decades.

In general, I have no objection to this: my argument is that the cutoff date that was selected -- 550 BC -- is not early enough, & that the cutoff date for consolidation should be earlier. (I think it should be left at 2000 BC where it was a week or two ago, but I can be convinced otherwise.)

I made several arguments -- that the material to flesh these articles will be coming; that the consolidation as it is currently done will lead to more work, not less; that questions about accuracy of dating could be applied to later dates -- but I haven't convinced either of them. (In response, I was told that perhaps we need to consolidate more yearly articles -- which I feel would only make this situation worse, not better.)

Martin suggested I bring this concern here for a more general discussion. Am I alone in expressing my objections? -- llywrch 18:58 Apr 4, 2003 (UTC)

550 BC is not a good choice - many Near Eastern year dates before that are considered pretty solid. If it were an easy mechanical procedure to create and link in timeline years as needed, that would address the problem of the hundreds of empty pages all saying "vandalize me". :-) Stan 23:20 Apr 4, 2003 (UTC)

As is mentioned in the discussions on the timeline pages, the main reason for grouping ten years per article is that these ages simply do not (and will not) contain enough entries with known dates to make yearly articles useful. The main objective of the yearly pages is to be able to compare and set in a perspective, one particular event with others. Clicking through a long row of empty or even non-existing yearly articles to find even the nearest event really defeats this purpose. It is much better to have at least a few events per article. The fact that many of the dates are inaccurate is an extra argument, because with more clustering it is easier to compare events with accurate and inaccurate datings. One may still use an exact year in the article link, this will simply be redirected to the relevant decade. I agree that 550 BC is not the best choice. 1 BC seems to be more suited, but then someone must take on the job of rearranging existing content. -- Egil 06:32 Apr 7, 2003 (UTC)

On basis of criticism that 550 BC is a somewhat odd year, I've changed the cutoff to 500 BC. -- Egil 19:27 Apr 12, 2003 (UTC)

I don't like this choice, but you're in luck - I don't feel like reverting the changes today. Stan 21:43 Apr 12, 2003 (UTC)

Order of new books section of years in literature Moved from Wikipedia:Village pump

I can't seem to find the policy on ordering lists (this is in reference to the year in literature topics, specifically the new books sections). I want to order the new books sections for each year, but I'm not sure how to, by author or title? An example, 1877 in literature. Thanks. -- Notheruser 15:47 Apr 8, 2003 (UTC)

whichever you think is most useful.

I'm leaning towards alphabetizing by title, but I'm going to wait for any additional input before I change two hundred pages :). -- Notheruser 23:17 Apr 8, 2003 (UTC)

I'd prefer alphabetically by author's surname, as it keeps books by the same author together. But if you think by title is better and you're going to do the work, well, I won't argue :) --Camembert

I agree with Camembert. But I also won't make a fuss if you decide to order by title. --mav

When I start changing the pages, I'll go with surname. -- Notheruser 00:57 Apr 9, 2003 (UTC)

For my part, I don't think the grouping of multiple titles would be very useful, since most authors won't have published several books in any one year. But what I'd really like, would be two lists, one by author one by title, maybe on a single page, maybe not. But that might be a bit much, granted. -- John Owens 16:33 Apr 13, 2003 (UTC)

Notheruser just pointed me to this page. Sorry--all I saw was the discussion at Wikipedia:WikiMoney before I started. Anyway, I'm about 80 years in so far and I've been alphabetizing by title. With the exception of Tolkien and Stephen King, almost no one is listed already as publishing more than one book in the same year (L'Engle was, but that was a mistake). Anyway, sorry--if I had seen this first I would have done it the other way. Koyaanis Qatsi

Editing individual year entries I stumbled across Tarquin's style guide for the layout of contents of these pages, but I wondered whether there was any particular commonly agreed restriction on content for these. For example, can one just check on pages which link to a year article and slap the events in (with discretion over omitting particularly boring events!) Mazzy

In the absence of some robot spider doing the same thing with limited intelligence, I have been adding to the various "day" and "year" pages as I go along. Very few of them are thickly populated, and if the only thing that happened in 864 was "Khan Boris of the Bulgarians is baptized an Orthodox Christian", then that tells you something, either about 864 or about the state of the Wikipedia.

So, it seems to me you should go ahead and add to the "day" and "year" pages. Wiki on. Ortolan88
I've added an item to 864. It's easy if you look!
Now Boris doesn't need to feel lonely. :-) Eclecticology 11:58 Aug 23, 2002 (PDT)

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