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Wikitravel talk:When to use dates

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Using dates in guides to clarify when something has been reviewed/noted/stated.[edit]

Swept in from the pub

Couldn't find anything about this but I'm sure it's been asked... Not all areas are covered and necessarily up to date. When traveling to a country that has a history of civil unrest it would be particularly useful to know when the author that is giving the information got it time wise. "Was it last month or last year that the government started really cracking down on bribes?" Is there a preferred/acceptable way to be able to put in dates that things have been confirmed in the articles or is just looking at the article history the only way? Thoughts on this in general too! :) Jordan 17:29, 1 August 2007 (EDT)

Time-sensitive information can and should be tagged with disclaimers like "As of June 2007". Jpatokal 22:17, 1 August 2007 (EDT)
But not "This hotel was reviewed in June 2007." Gorilla Jones 22:38, 1 August 2007 (EDT)
Why not, by the way? --DenisYurkin 07:15, 2 August 2007 (EDT)
I believe that the original reason why not was that date stamps would fill up our lists with ugly non-travel-related information. But I have been thinking, couldn't we include date stamps in the listings templates? We could format the templates so that the date stamp only shows up when you are editing, not when you are just reading the guide. I wouldn't want to make date stamps mandatory, but I think that they would be useful—there is a reason why this keeps coming up. --Peter Talk 12:20, 2 August 2007 (EDT)
A collection of reviews of hotels and restaurants, written separately by individual reviewers, could have date stamps. This isn't that. The date stamps would still clutter the guides and make the signal-to-noise ratio worse. And if we're putting dates on restaurant and hotel reviews, why shouldn't we be doing it for museums and parks? Why shouldn't we be doing it for public transportation and basically every bit of the article for the exact same reason? (And suddenly we're Wikipedia with thousands of those stupid 'fact' tags, except ours are 'date' tags.) Once they're in there, nobody updates them. When I overhauled the Hanoi guide earlier this year, there were several "This information current as of 2005" lines. What better way to show readers that we're not an up-to-date travel guide?
Say I visit a city using Wikitravel's guide. I go to Major Museum X and have a nice time as the guide said I would. Why would I think to log on to Wikitravel and change the date of the listing to indicate that it's still current, when nothing else needs to be updated? Of course I wouldn't. So, after four years, we have a listing for Major Museum X, which has a date that's several years old, and we have New Minor Museum Z, which has a date that's less than a year old because it's not very interesting and nobody bothered to add it until now. As a reader, I am led to believe by the date stamps that I should have more confidence in the listing for New Minor Museum Z than Major Museum X. And in that way I've been misled by my Wikitravel guide. Gorilla Jones 13:46, 2 August 2007 (EDT)
I think we should save it to some kind of "policy FAQ: why we are not changing this or that". --DenisYurkin 16:26, 2 August 2007 (EDT)

Dates in edits[edit]

Swept in from the pub

There are always some additions that are dated. Comments like "Entry to the museum is $4.50 (March 2010)", or "Construction is blocking the main road into town (April 2009)". My tendency has been to remove the dates from these comments. Is there a policy anywhere, or a contrary view? --inas 19:28, 20 April 2010 (EDT)

I think the dates are generally helpful since it's often difficult to tell how old the info is, and in some places prices change frequently - for example, a traveler to Iceland would want to know if the prices they see in an article are pre- or post- financial crisis. Similarly, in cases of construction it's generally a safe bet that if construction closed the road in October 2008 that it's probably open now, whereas without the date there wouldn't be any way to infer road condition without actually visiting. I don't think we need them everywhere, but particularly for out-of-the-way destinations I'd be in favor of keeping them around. -- Ryan • (talk) • 19:39, 20 April 2010 (EDT)
I think in places where prices change frequently, it's better to just note that and give the price as an average. In that situation, the year would not be too bad to keep. In the example of museum entry, though, I wouldn't keep the date (especially if there is link to the museum website). The construction comments should be listed with a time frame, such as the one on Himeji Castle. That is very helpful, but if the completion date were not there, it wouldn't be very useful at all. ChubbyWimbus 20:36, 20 April 2010 (EDT)

One of the previous discussions on this: Wikitravel:Travellers'_pub/August_2007#Using_dates_in_guides_to_clarify_when_something_has_been_reviewed.2Fnoted.2Fstated. --DenisYurkin 02:52, 21 April 2010 (EDT)

If a piece of information is somehow temporary, I think we should give some indication of the time. But it would be really messy to put in dates for all kind of information. Also, if some information has not been updated for a couple of years does not necessarilly mean that it is outdated or that no wikitraveler has reviewed that information and found it ok, so time stamps would make WT look less up to date than it really is, --ClausHansen 03:42, 21 April 2010 (EDT)
I think that is the issue I see with them, although you express it better. If I see a tag that says "Entry to Museum $4.50 (April 2009)", and I know that the price is still the same today, do I have to update the date tag? I think we should reserve the date tagging to truly transient things, and not for things that change organically over time. --inas 19:02, 21 April 2010 (EDT)
I feel like having the dates kind of defeats the purpose of the wiki and is counterproductive except in the cases where a time frame is given, as stated above. It's better to simply change the price if you see that it is outdated rather than updating every page monthly to verify that it's accurate and update the month/year. ChubbyWimbus 22:15, 21 April 2010 (EDT)
What about summarizing the consensus on the above in a relevant policy article? --DenisYurkin 14:39, 22 April 2010 (EDT)
I'm completely against this commercial argument. A price with no date is nearly useless, because the reader doesn't know how much it may have changed, and no comparison is possible between such prices. The timestamp is very useful to the contributor too. I leave in Mongolia and contributors for this country are not so many. Mongolia's 3rd biggest town doesn't even have a page! The MNT/USD changes, sometimes drops suddenly, the USD/EUR rate changed much this year. Some travellers write the prices in USD, others in local currency. There has been an economic crisis. The inflation is more than 10% a year. I try to maintain my town's information up to date, and, if I see a price more than 1 year old, I may ask if it's still valid. But don't rely on me to analyse the history to find the prices date one by one. If you make it difficult, I'll just stop writing and updating prices at all. After all, I have the prices I need in my diary and I speak Mongolian to read Mongolian websites or to ask. What we could think about is a more discrete, but easily accessible way to timestamp, such as a bubble title appearing when the mouse goes over the price, thanks to a template. What do you think of this? We could also think of an easy way for a traveller to validate any piece of information as being "still valid" without going to the edit page etc. I'm thinking of something like the "add a translation" system of, or even easier than it: just a box to check meaning: "I can confirm that it was recently like this.", and checking would update the timestamp without changing the datum. 13:14, 23 October 2010 (EDT)
I continue to agree with those arguing that it should be OK to include a date when giving prices or time-sensitive information such as road closures. If no one has updated a listing in four years it's helpful to both readers and editors to know that a price may be out of date, and I'm not convinced by the argument that this "defeats the purpose of the wiki". To give a specific example, I'm 100% sure that some of the prices in the article for my current home town of Culver City are probably out-of-date, but I couldn't tell you which ones without doing research for each and every business listed on that page; if some of those prices had old dates, however, ("$70 a night (as of August 2004)") then I'd be more likely to try to find updated prices for those that were out-of-date. -- Ryan • (talk) • 15:00, 23 October 2010 (EDT)
I also continue to agree that it is always better to include timestamps in prices, and i'm backing up's opinion that prices without a timestamp are next to useless. If i see an outdated price anywhere i am tempted to try to update it, but like Ryan i am not willing to go trough every single buisiness on a page to see if it is or not. Swissbelg 08:28, 24 October 2010 (EDT)
I think we need to find a mid-point between letting the travellers know how out of date prices may be and cluttering the guides with dates everywhere. I add dates only when I am writing stuff that's based on research (and not my own experience) and the given price is out of date by two or more years. I don't add dates to info based on my own experiences at all, since I work my travel notes into Wikitravel within two months at most after I've lived them. I just trust (or want to believe?) someone else—a local or a traveller to the area—will come along and fix them until the prices become so out of date that they are useless. I don't really see a reason for adding dates every and each listing in destinations with stable economies—it's really not possible for the prices to double up overnight. I think (but only think) travellers already take (or at least should take) any price in our guides with a grain of salt, since they are already (or ought to be) used to guidebooks that are up to five years out of date, and any price (again, at least in stable economies) should be enough to give a rough idea, no matter how out of date they may be. Yes, Wikitravel aims to be an up-to-date guide, and that's a noble goal, but I don't think it is 100% achievable, at least not with the current volume of userbase. – Vidimian 09:57, 24 October 2010 (EDT)

New article[edit]

Tried to summarise the above discussion and current practice into this article. --inas 20:56, 20 May 2010 (EDT)

Dates on cultural events[edit]

The "Dates on cultural events" section reads: "For festivals and other cultural events that occur on the same date every year, list the date. If they occur on different dates each year, try to list the date information as generically as possible, e.g. The first Sunday in October." I disagree with this advice; I think we should list known dates where available, as I've done throughout the Walt Disney World articles (ex: Walt Disney World/Epcot#Annual events, Rochester (New York)#Festivals). LtPowers 08:24, 21 May 2010 (EDT)

Are you saying you think we should list what date the first Sunday of October is, into the future? I agree if there is no way to list it generically, then sure, lets list the actual dates we know. The Melbourne Cup runs the first Tuesday in November - every year. Why put in an actual date in when this is accurate, and won't get outdated? --inas 23:30, 21 May 2010 (EDT)
Sorry, by "as generically as possible", I was thinking "mid-March" or "early October". I have no problem with "the first Tuesday in November". LtPowers 08:55, 22 May 2010 (EDT)
Cool. I've removed the word generic, and tried to clarify the text with specific cases. --inas 19:33, 23 May 2010 (EDT)

Unanchored relative time descriptions considered harmful[edit]

A frustration I've had in reading Wikitravel are unanchored relative time descriptions. Examples include "in recent years", "recently", "in the last several years."

As time passes these become increasingly outdated and inaccurate. The most extreme example I've found so far was in Bogota.

Before edit, text added in 2007

The safety of bus travel in Colombia has greatly improved in recent years, and nowadays ...

After edit in January 2015

The safety of bus travel in Colombia greatly improved prior to 2007, and nowadays ...

The before edit text date was found by searching the archives. In 2007 or 2008 a traveler would know of a recent change. In 2015 they know the situation has almost 10 years of history. Considering the US State Department warnings against bus travel in Colombia, this is important context for the reader.

I suggest we add to the style manual sections on dates an encouragement to avoid relative descriptions and encourage ones based on a date.

I'm raising the topic here for discussion before making such a change.

MichaelRpdx (talk) 14:09, 19 January 2015 (EST)

Great point! We can utilize syntax from the time formatting page to make sure we have a well-rounded approach to proper date mentions. Let's hold tight to see if any other community members have additional thoughts and input! IBcaldera (talk) 14:39, 19 January 2015 (EST)
I definately agree that we should discourage the use of relative descriptions, but we should also not encourage the use of dates, as this way the articles become outdated very quick. In above example I would just say that the safety of bus travel has greatly improved (without any time reference), and nowadays..... etc. Adzas (talk) 15:00, 19 January 2015 (EST)
Astrid, I think you've hit the nail on the head! That's a perfect way to address our problem. The last thing we want is older dates dating the guide. MichaelRpdx, any thoughts? IBcaldera (talk) 17:44, 19 January 2015 (EST)
Certainly that approach will make the issue a moot point. However, I do believe the readers should have some direct way to determine the freshness of the content they may attempt to rely on. MichaelRpdx (talk) 18:15, 19 January 2015 (EST)