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#593 unified date representation


At the present moment, whenever a date/time
period/epoch is referenced within a Wikipedia article,
various notations are used, and they are also
unportable with respect to language and calendar systems.

It would be nice to have a special tag for a date
specified to a given degree of accuracy (i.e.,
referring either to a particular date or even
date+time, or to a particular
week/month/century/millenium/epoch or some interval,
like XIV-XVII AD).

(I am purposefully omitting any concrete implementation
details and markup details at this stage, preferring to
reach full agreement on the desired functionality
first. If you want it in XML, I can easily prototype a
DTD encompassing all the features once the agreement is

The markup should allow specifying the date according
multiple calendar notations (such as
Julian/Gregorian/Russian Orthodox, or Arabic, Jewish,
Mayan or whatever else - the system should be designed
in such a way that adding another notation should not
affect the existing dates specified in the notations
already supported).

Aside of the way the date is *specified*, there should
be a possibility to attach an attribute to the date
that would signify the native calendar system for the
date (rationale: a national/religious recurring holiday
is celebrated according to the given calendar).

Now when a Wikipedia article is rendered, depending on
the language it is in, a given date is translated as
follows: 1) it is coerced from the originally specified
notation to the native notation for the article
language (as long as the attribute forcing a particular
notation is not set) 2) the current language/locale is
used to express the particular notation (also maybe as
per the current user's preferences environment) 3) in
case of the mismatch about the native notation for the
article context and the native notation for the
specified event/period, the date might be represented
twice (this behavior might also be affected by the
current user preferences). E.g.,
in an English Wikipedia article about an event native
to the Hebrew calendar:
26/Jul/2004 (9th of Av, 5764)

This would simplify trans-article date formatting
decisions within a language-specific Wikipedia greatly,
and would also facilitate easier translation of
Wikipedia article portions.


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    This proposal needs a lot of discussion and thought before it can
    be implemented. There are some difficult issues here. It would
    be better to work out a detailed proposal before anyone
    implements this.