Why can't we have ONE method for writing dates!

This is maybe a question or maybe it belongs in debates, but what the Hell is wrong with the human race that we can’t just agree on one single system for writing dates with numbers?

At present, there are three ways to write, say, January 10, 2004.

You can write it Year-month-day, as many scientists and intellectuals do, as in 04-01-10

Or Month-day-year, like most Americans, as in : 01-10-04

Or you can do it day-month-year like most Canadians and Europeans: 10-01-04.

My question is, in a day and age when we can talk to somebody on the other side of the world and send them a document in 10 seconds, why is it not possible for good ol’ homo sapiens to get his shit together, hold an international meeting, and just decide on a method that is THE good one. Frankly, I do not care a rat’s ass which method they choose. As long as we are all rowing in the same direction.

Otherwise, what are you going to do in 2012 when you see the following date on a document: 10/02/04

Is that October 2, 2004, or February 4, 2010, or February 10, 2004?

Simple: you’re going to look for the nation of origin and other dates in the document and infer the appropriate format.
(Or, if the document is electronic–as many will be–you can click on the properties of the document to see which selection has been chosen.

(I tend to agree that a uniform date would be preferable, (my inclination is 2006/07/18 to make sorting and indexing easier in text), but I don’t think civilization will fall. Heck, we have dates from the middle ages where we cannot necessarily be sure which year they meant, depending on whether the year began on January 1 or March 1.)

Pfft! Haven’t you learnt anything from the Y2K bug? Writing 2004 as ‘04’ is wrong, wrong, wrong!

If you do the sensible thing and write the year in full, then the ‘intellectual’ approach (2004-01-10) is, in my opinion, the best way. It is unambiguous, unless there are people around who write dates as YYYY-DD-MM (which wouldn’t surprise me – there are plenty of people around who like making my life more difficult). As an added bonus, sorting YYYYMMDD dates in numerical order also sorts them in chronological order. HURRAH!!!

On preview, tomndebb has stolen my point about sorting. Yeah, he’ll do that.

If it was as easy as that, we’d have done it already; Skynet would be able to resolve the issue in a nanosecond, but as long as there are humans, with opinions, in the mix, then there’s going to be disagreement and distinct lack of resolution.

In fact, there is an internationally agreed standard for dates (YYYY-MM-DD), it’s just that not everybody chooses to adhere to it.

I have to confess the “Year first” format annoys me no end, but I’m quite partial to the DD/MM/YYYY.

I’ve never written the date MM/DD, even though I often speak the date out that way. (It’s about 60% saying it as DD/MM and 40% MM/DD, before anyone asks…)

I’ll just add that for a computer programmer, date formats can be a frigging nightmare; in some cases, you can find yourself in a situation where the program code wants the date in one format and the database engine expects it in another; usually, these things are configurable to region, but not always - SQL (or some implementations of it) expect dates in American format, regardless of where you actually are (this might not be the case any longer, but it is with the archaic development suite I have here).

This really has not brought western civilization to its knees, and it no more than a trivial inconvenience.

Other than setting up a World Datewriting Command, with fines and jail terms for people who do it the wrong way, it’s pretty silly to suggest anything can be done.

When I’m writing anything for an international audience, I always either write out the date: April 1, 2006, or else use the old “VMS” date convention: 1-APR-2006, both of which are unambiguous. In fact, I often do this in general, just so I don’t have to think about it.

But getting the human race to agree on something? Nevermind the order of the month, day, and year – try getting them even to agree on a CALENDAR! The non-Christian parts of the world aren’t going to like the Christ’s-Birth-Centric one; the scientific community won’t tolerate one that doesn’t correspond to actual astronomical years; nobody except residents of the given country like those calendars that count from the reign of the current leader; repeating calendars make it hard to refer to events outside the current cycle; and calling all years “the Year Mickey” lacks a certain specificity.

Well I guess you could ask why doesn’t everyone just have one alphabet? Or one language, it certainly would make it easier for everyone.

I’ll say. All those Foreigners should get with the programme and learn English! Look at them in their Foreign Countries, sitting there at their cafes and their bazaars, talking away in some Non-English language… who knows that they’re talking about. Might be plotting against us… eyes narrow :smiley:

I’m kidding, folks!

To add another method, many research studies note the date as DD/MMM/YYYY (so today would be 21/JUL/2006) to avoid confusion when the day is at the 12th or less.

I write out the date, as 22 July 2006. If people want to use dates for sorting they must provide the format to be used. Many, if not most, forms already do this.

Like David Simmons, who served a much longer and more honorable tour than I, I learned in the military that the only way to write dates is “22 July 2006”.

Well, it was longer ago.

I write today’s date as 060721, no slashes or hyphens. I started doing this in spreadsheets, and it’s so easy, I just use it for everything now (and no one at my bank has complained). And years prior to 2000 are preceded by a decimal, to save typing the extra two digits each time.

Believe me, you served longer than I did.

I’ll throw an even bigger wrench in the works: not everyone uses the same calendar!

In my particular experience, I’ve had to schedule around Ramadan, in a month which seems to be irregular around the Gregorian calendar (usually falls in November-December). The Islamic calendar has different months, with different days associated to each month by, IIRC a lunar-based cycle. I can’t exactly say what the Chinese, Tibetan, or Antarctican calendar looks like, but they all use a slightly different basis of timekeeping.

Thus being, with different cultures involved, I highly doubt you’ll ever get a “standard” timekeeping benchmark and calendar to be standardized in our lifetimes.

However, I would suggest we all switch to “Stardates”. That decimal system would be much, much easier.

So which countries refuse to use the Gregorian calendar based on religious objections?

That’s ridiculous - all scientists I know use the Gregorian calendar. I’m an astronomer and I don’t know of any system of “astronomical years.” There is a system called Julian dates, and it’s common to convert calendar date to Julian date for calculations, but I don’t know anyone who writes Julian dates in logbooks.

Like Japan? They do use that system for many government documents, but for most daily use they use the Gregorian calendar.

I’m not even sure what that means…

NASA and DoD mission clocks typically read YYYY:DDD:HH:MM:SS.00 - that is, they skip “month” entirely and just say which day of the year it is. Totally unambiguous! :smiley:

Arrrgh. That is: YYYY - DDD - HH - MM - SS.00 (and further if you need the precision). Darn my :)lies to :mad:ck!