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I haven't chimed in before today, but I do think the recent edit war is ridiculous.
Here's the old paragraph:
Both the BCE/CE era names and the BC/AD era names are acceptable, but be consistent within an article. Normally you should use plain numbers for years in the Common Era, but when events span the start of the Common Era, use AD or CE for the date at the end of the range (note that AD precedes the date and CE follows it). For example, 1 BC–AD 1 or 1 BCE–1 CE.
And here's my suggestion, which I think addresses everyone's stated issues.
Blacklined from my original suggestion (should be the same as the unblacklined version just below):
Both the BCE/CE era names and the BC/AD era names are acceptable, but be consistent within an article. When an article only
referencesincludes dates in the CE/AD era, there is no need to use the era name. For dates early in the CE/AD era, it may provide clarity to use the era name but is not required. You should always use era names for dates in the BCE/BC era. When an article referencesincludes dates in the BCE/BC era orboth eras, it may provide clarity to include the CE/AD era names, but is not required. You should always use era names for all datesranges of dates that span both eras. (note that AD precedes the date and all other names follow the date).For example, 1 –AD 1 or 1 BCE–1 CE. Note that AD precedes the date and all other names follow the date.
Current version (I will list edits below as I make them):
Both the BCE/CE era names and the BC/AD era names are acceptable, but be consistent within an article. When an article only includes dates in the CE/AD era, there is no need to use the era name. For dates early in the CE/AD era, it may provide clarity to use the era name but is not required. You should always use era names for dates in the BCE/BC era. When an article includes dates in both eras, it may provide clarity to include the CE/AD era names, but is not required. You should always use era names for ranges of dates that span both eras. For example, 1 –AD 1 or 1 BCE–1 CE. Note that AD precedes the date and all other names follow the date.
Chuck 18:42, 3 August 2005 (UTC) Edited Chuck 21:20, 3 August 2005 (UTC) Edited to address Rl's concern. Chuck 20:37, 5 August 2005 (UTC)
Do articles, or indeed ranges, reference?
First, I'd appreciate comments on why my version (as modified by Maurreen) above is inappropriate. It's much shorter and it preserves what I am advised the current guidance to be. By reducing all references to BCE/CE/BC/AD to a bare minimum, it improves readability greatly. In particular, note there is no such thing as the "CE/AD era" - introducing new jargon isn't desirable.
Second, the intention is to rewrite what is already there so that it is clearer (in particular to those, like me, who aren't familiar with BCE/CE terminology). Chuck's proposed sentence "For dates early in the CE/AD era, it may provide clarity to use the era name but is not required" appears to be new. Something along those lines may or may not be desirable - whichever it is, it's best to discuss a proposed change separately from the rewrite discussion, jguk 19:07, 3 August 2005 (UTC)
To respond in order:
1. I've never explained my views on this, so the charge of POV is necessarily one based on your presumptions. Once the recent Slrubenstein proposal failed a number of editors tried to implement it. I, along with a number of others including RickK and violet/riga, resisted this on the grounds that failed proposals shouldn't be implemented through the backdoor. So not much POV there. My other edits have also been fully in accordance with WP guidance, and are not unlike many other edits made by many other editors - so there's no real reason to single me out. My strongest bugbear on WP is that too many articles are needlessly inaccessible to readers - and that this should change. We should write in a style that appeals to our readers (not our editors, or indeed, non-readers). To me, this naturally leads to an abrogation from taking points of view. The deciding factor isn't (or shouldn't) be my personal view, nor the personal view of any other individuals, but rather on what approach is best suited to our readers. This is no different to a commercial website deliberately adopting an approach that it believes will suit its customers, and if WP is to have as wide an audience as possible, is certainly the direction we should be going in.
As far as your comments that the reference to "Neither date notation..." may be unclear - perhaps "Neither the AD nor CE date notation..." would easily solve that.
2. Whether it's termed "jargon" or not, the phraseology is confusing. I also have no idea what the Ernest Hemingway/William Faulkner generation would mean. Does it refer to people alive at any time Hemingway and Faulkner were alive? Maybe to people alive when they were at their most productive? Those influenced by them who were of similar age to them? Or just people of a similar age? Out of context (and this is a short guideline for which there is no detailed explanation of context), it's difficult to understand. I'm quite willing to bet that if I asked the man on the Clapham omnibus what the BCE/BC era or the CE/AD era are, he'd have no idea at all.
3. I'm not unwilling to discuss the proposed change in the guideline, just stating that I think that discussion should be separate from the rewriting of the guideline. The rewrite is not intended to change anything, but only to make it clearer.
4. I thought the last 2,000 years or so was exactly what the guideline was getting at - though I appreciate that I am relying on what others are saying the current guideline means as (even after all this time) I struggle to get much meaning from it myself. If it's not the last 2,000 years, what is it trying to get at? jguk 07:14, 4 August 2005 (UTC)
It seems I still have to suffer abuse for preventing an attempt by SouthernComfort to subvert the rejection by the WP community of Slrubenstein's proposal. It failed, SC tried to implement it all the same (and was encouraged to do so by Slrubenstein), and a number of editors weighed in to revert SC's edits, and another number weighed in to revert those reverting SC's edits. By standing up to SC's attempt to enforce his view on political correctness, I admit, I expected to be harangued - those who disagree with political correctness and those who stand up to support the community's decisions always are. But surely it's time to leave this to one side? Unfortunately you continue to try to besmirch me - despite the ArbCom clearly not seeing anything grossly wrong with my edits, like you continue to allege. If you want to present a factual account you will note that ArbCom supported my many edits to make date notation consistent within articles - which the vast majority of those edits were. This is hardly surprising, since the guideline clearly promotes this. Furthermore, they noted that editors should not go randomly changing date notation - thereby vindicating completely my stance of reverting those who have attempted to do so. So let's stop this nonsense about there being a "virulent anti-BCE/CE crusade" - the fact is that such a charge has been looked at by independent arbitrators uninvolved in the dispute, and has been rejected. Why can't you accept the ArbCom decision - which resulted in all participants (which included you as well as me) being reminded of the existing guidance?
So please stop this offensive nonsense of accusing me of an "anti-BCE/CE crusade". You are fully aware of the religious overtones of the word "crusade" and have already admitted that you use it deliberately to cause offence to me. What I have done has been pro-Wikipedia. I have supported the WP community's right to decide things against an editor who refused to accept that decision, and I have copyedited in accordance with current WP guidelines. I have also emphasised throughout the importance of putting our readers first - and that all of our own personal viewpoints, whatever they may be, should have no bearing whatsoever. It's just a shame that other users prefer politicking over making an encyclopaedia with as wide a range of readers as possible.
With that in mind, can we go back to trying to rephrase this guideline in a way that everyone can understand? As noted, at present I just cannot decipher for myself what they are saying - and I know I am not alone. I have tried to make constructive suggestions myself already. This isn't trying to get one over on anyone - it's an attempt to make something clear to all. It shouldn't really be controversial, and certainly shouldn't have given rise to all this vitriol. Even Maurreen agreed with my edit (which is probably the first time we've ever agreed on anything). It's a shame others couldn't do the same, jguk 20:12, 5 August 2005 (UTC)
Responding in turn: 1. On the BCE disambiguation page, all interpretations of what BCE stands for should be noted - I added one that I knew about and that was missing. I wasn't aware of or didn't remember the "before the current era" interpretation. That's why I didn't add it. I was surprised at the edit summary, to say the least. How can not adding something you're not aware of be POV? Or to put it another way, if you look for bad faith, you will always find it even where there is none. 2/3/4. What's wrong with eliminating the jargon? The less complicated the constructions we use to describe the guideline, the better. The phrase the "last 2,000 years" pretty much suffices. It differs from what was exactly there before by excluding the years 1, 2, 3 and 4 - not a major concern, surely? Perhaps "since the year 1" would be better. 3. You say my proposed wording makes more changes than yours. The only change that I was aware of was technically excluding years 1 to 4 (see above). However, I admit (and have done above), that really I do not understand what the current guideline means. It uses terminology that (even despite all these discussions) I still have no intuitive feeling for or real knowledge of. So I have had to rely on what others have told me it means. As far as your final comment, I'm quite sure that if I, after all this debate, still fail to be able to understand something, that I am far from alone in not understanding it. At work, if I'm told that someone does not understand a sentence I've written, I re-write it. I don't argue that it's perfectly comprehensible (even when it is!). If one person struggles with it, I assume others will too. Conversely, if I can't understand something, it's a pretty fair bet that others can't understand it too, jguk 21:01, 5 August 2005 (UTC)
1. When I first saw the Common Era page the comments in it quite simply did not stand up to scrutiny. The page is much better now, but has been bedevilled in the past by those who are trying to encourage usage of BCE/CE notation rather than actually report on what is meant by the term and what its real usage is.
2. It is jargon - because it is little understood except for a group of professional historians. The term has no currency amongst the general public where I am - I have never seen it. I do not understand the terminology surrounding it, and I do not believe I am alone in it. It is virtually unknown in India, and from the internet it seems it is not in general circulation in Australia, New Zealand or Canada too. Do you not realise that? You may be familiar with the terminology, those around you may be, but the vast majority of the worldwide public are not! I remain frustrated that those who use BCE/CE notation seem either to be unaware of this, or to ignore it completely.
As with most jargon, using it excludes those who do not understand it (and note that articles written by professional historians for other professional historians contain a lot more jargon that just the date notation). Jargon drives those who do not understand it or are unfamiliar with it away from articles (both reading and contributing). In short, it is a bad thing. Now you and your chums can carry on writing history articles for historians - but they will be little-read by non-historians. As far as the general public is concerned, they may as well not exist. I think that's a shame - history should be for everyone, not just an élite - but if the élite are unwilling to share, then there's little anyone can do. As far as a guideline is concerned, it is absolutely imperative that everyone can understand it.
3. This can be easily resolved with an additional sentence along the lines of "AD precedes the year, whereas BC, BCE and CE go after the year". The second point you have is so obvious there's no real need to spell it out - it's part of the general principle that date notation should be used where to do otherwise would make the date being referred to ambiguous, jguk 07:41, 9 August 2005 (UTC)
Hardship was your word, not mine. OK, Why should readers have to “figure it out”? It is not a matter of “wanting to learn”, what is there to learn? You are, I suggest, mistaken is assuming that this is an issue of “respect for readers from non-Christian cultures”. The use of CE meaning “Christian Era” is already twice as common as “Common Era”. Just do a Google. I asked for evidence to support your contention that “The terms are reasonably commonly used, and are becoming more common all the time”. You offer the article Common Era, an article which does little to recommend itself. Until a week ago it included the false allegation that “It corresponds to Oxford style and is used in the Oxford English Dictionary and ODWR”. You will be glad to know that this falsehood was deleted. The arguments in favor of CE are supported by articles from answers.com and from h2g2. It seems strange to me to see WP depending on another wiki as a reference. Yet the h2g2 wiki has resolved this question itself – in uses BC/AD! Perhaps we should amend the Common Era article here to reflect that reality? --ClemMcGann 09:48, 10 August 2005 (UTC)
Hardship was your word, not mine, just as you referenced the Common Era article. I have yet to hear any valid arguments to favour CE. You mention consensus and mention living within it. I am pleased that you make that suggestion. Hopefully it means that you have adjusted you position. It was regrettable to see unilateral changes to dates. I have made the case for retaining the familiar BC notation on talk pages. I have yet to actually alter any date. I now hope that, in time, you will consider the reputation of wikipedia and the impact that this unusual notation has on our audience. In the meanwhile, lets see how the manual of style can be clarified. Regards, --ClemMcGann 16:38, 10 August 2005 (UTC)
Both the BCE/CE era names and the BC/AD era names are acceptable, but be consistent within an article. Normally you should use plain numbers for years in the Common Era, but when events span the start of the Common Era, use AD or CE for the date at the end of the range (note that AD precedes the date and CE follows it). For example, [[1 BC]]–[[1|AD 1]] or [[1 BCE]]–[[1|1 CE]].
Where it may be ambiguous as to which year in the Julian or Gregorian calendar is being referred to, use either BC and AD notation or BCE and CE notation to make it clear which year is being referred to. However, be consistent - that is, do not mix up BC/AD and BCE/CE notation within the same article. Neither AD nor CE notation should be used for articles dealing with events wholly within the last 2,000 years. Note that AD precedes the year, but BC, BCE and CE are shown after the year. For example: AD 230, but 150 BC, [[20|20 CE] and 135 BCE.
I think this covers the main objections to the earlier draft. The only "change" is that technically the years 1 to 4 are not within the last 2,000 years, but I do not see this as significant, jguk 07:53, 9 August 2005 (UTC)
Some minor edits to Jguk and one major addition:
Where it may be ambiguous as to which era of the Julian or Gregorian calendar is being referred to, use either BC and AD notation or BCE and CE notation to clarify. However, do not mix up BC/AD and BCE/CE notation within the same article. Neither AD nor CE notation need be used for articles dealing with events wholly within the last 2,000 years. Notation should always be used for dates in the BC or BCE era, or for date ranges that span both eras (such as 3 BC-AD 5). Note that AD precedes the year, but BC, BCE and CE are shown after the year. For example: AD 230, but 150 BC, 20 CE and 135 BCE.
Chuck 20:30, 12 August 2005 (UTC)
This is a stupid controversy - the policy should be that both terminologies are acceptable, but changing terminologies on a page is not acceptable. Whatever system (CE/AD) is first used on an article should remain that way. It's a pity so much time is spent doing this rather than worthwhile things... FranksValli 01:37, 22 August 2005 (UTC)
This brings up one of my pet peeves. Assuming wiki links are used, if someone writes "December 7, 1941, is a day that lives in infamy," some will see it correctly with a comma following the year. But some will see it as "7 December 1941, is a day that lives in infamy," where the comma following the year is incorrect. —Wayward 21:45, 11 August 2005 (UTC)
You're right that there are authorities pointing in both directions. I strongly doubt you'll get a proposal for WP to adopt a standard of omitting a second comma past Maurreen though, jguk 13:34, 13 August 2005 (UTC)