[uf-discuss] Formatting arbitrary dates, not part of hCalendar

Paul Wilkins pmw57 at xtra.co.nz
Fri Mar 9 02:15:07 PST 2007

Bob Jonkman wrote:

>I simply want dates occuring within 
>prose to be recognized as machine-readable dates.

Why do you want them to eb recognised as machine readable dates? What 
problem will it solve for the machines?

>This is for both for screen readers and 
>disabiguation of dates such as 3/2/2006 or 02-03-06.

As I'm to believe, screen readers will read out both parts of the date 
information. As such, having the title as 4 July 1776 will mean the 
screen reader will read
"The Constitution of 4 7 76 4 July 1776"

>It's also useful when quoting text with 
>poorly formatted dates, without altering the presentation of the original quote, eg.
>  The Constitution of <abbr title="1776-07-04">4/7/76</abbr>

That is the one example in which the abbr element could be usefully used.

The abbr element doesn't require a class, because there is no problem 
that having such a format will currently solve. The microformat 
principles mention something similar, in that "Lots of corporate 
inventors working with plenty of experience, over-designing a format for 
what //might// be needed some day."

As the title is currently for screen readers or to disambiguate the 
date, it should be kept in a human understandable format.
The Constitution of <abbr title="4 July 1776">4/7/76</abbr>

There is some very useful information from the Manual of Style on the 
formatting of dates and numbers.

The following is a direct quote of the relevant parts.

      Incorrect date formats

    * Do not use numbers to express a month, except in ISO 8601 format.
      Always express a month as a whole word (e.g. "February" /not/
      "2"). Do not use abbreviations like "Feb" unless the available
      space is extremely limited, such as in a table, infobox, or the like.
    * Do not use two digits to express a year unless at the end of a
      range, e.g., "1970–87" (the same for BC). In all other cases, use
      four digits for years and decades after AD 999 (the same for BC).
      Using the less formal two-digit form for a decade is acceptable
      when not ambiguous; for example, when referring to the decade of
      the 20th century known as "the eighties", use "1980s" or, less
      often, "the '80s", not just "80s".

    * Use consistent date formatting throughout an article, unless there
      is a good reason to vary it.

    * Do not use ordinal suffixes:
          o Incorrect: "February 14th" and "14th February"
          o Correct: "February 14" and "14 February"

    * Do not use articles:
          o Incorrect: "the 14th of February"
          o Correct: "February 14" and "14 February"

    * Do not put a comma or the word "of" between a month and year:
          o Incorrect: "December, 1945" and "December of 1945"
          o Correct: "December 1945"

    * Do not use an apostrophe to indicate a decade:
          o Incorrect: 1970's
          o Correct: 1970s

      Direct quotations

An important exception to these guidelines is that direct quotations—the 
word-for-word reproduction of a written or oral text—should /not/ be 
altered to conform to the Wikipedia "Manual of Style". In other words, a 
paragraph such as this (fictional) quotation from a newspaper report is 
fine as is:

    "Tony Blair, responding to critics in his party, said 'The world has
    totally changed since the 11th of September.' He was echoing earlier
    sentiments by Lord Ronald McDonald, who said that 'nine-eleven' was
    the day that the American public woke up to the reality of terrorism."

Paul Mark Wilkins
New Zealand Tourism Online
pmw57 at xtra.co.nz <mailto:pmw57 at xtra.co.nz>
109 Tuam Street
Level 1
Christchurch 8011
New Zealand
+64 3 963 5039

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