Why, why, why, no protocal?

Okay, I gotta ask, why isn’t there a protocal for the whole Day-Month-Year fiasco?

I have been given the task of making an orderly pile of the receipts to send the accountant as we near tax time.

I am going through shopping receipts for medical supplies for my recently bedridden mother in law.

I have about 7 months worth from all kinds of stores and suppliers.

It is a nearly impossible task since most post the date in totally numeric sequence, i.e. 00.12.30

Now for some examples it's perfectly clear which number is which thing, day, month or year.

But now that we are into the year, 01, well it's going to get more complicated.

It seems to me, day-month-year, or year-month-day are the only choices which make any sense at all.

If we can all agree on other protocals, time zones, weights and measures surely we could get together on this.

Why, why, why, is it so difficult?

You wonder why we don’t agree on a date format when we agree on all the other weights and measures? AAAGH! I had to look up the density of steel yesterday. Pounds per cubic foot? Grams per cubic centimeter? Ounces per cubic inch? The only unit system with some claim to universality and planning is the SI, and NOBODY publishes the density of steel in kilograms per cubic meter. I only know of two formats for date: mm/dd/yy (US) and dd/mm/yy (most everybody else). I only wish the other things were that simple!

Year Month Day makes good sense because it stacks files in date order automatically- all my computer files start with the date in this format so that they stack in date order.

In Europe, including Britain we use Day Month Year and I know that in the US they use Month Day Year. What do you use in Canada?

When corresponding with the US I use either the full date: 3rd February 2001 or 3 II 2001 to make it clear whether I mean the 3rd of the first or the first of the third.

You mean protocol, right?

Protocal is a drug.

The problem, of course, isn’t that there is no protocol. The problem is that there’s too many protocols.

As to why, well, people are stubborn.

You might want to rethink “3 II 2001,” as most Americans would read it as “March 11th, 2001.” Roman numerals are very rarely used to indicate the month over here. (In fact, the only American I’ve ever known who did this was a certifiable nut case who thought he was English.)

Year, Month, Day in Canada, for the same reason you describe above.


There is a protocol. It’s the ISO standard date format, YYYY-MM-DD. FYI, the ISO time format is hh:mm:ss.

Here are the advantages (from that page):
[ul][li]easily readable and writeable by software (no ‘JAN’, ‘FEB’, … table necessary)[/li][li]easily comparable and sortable with a trivial string comparison[/li][li]language independent[/li][li]can not be confused with other popular date notations[/li][li]consistency with the common 24h time notation system, where the larger units (hours) are also written in front of the smaller ones (minutes and seconds)[/li][li]strings containing a date followed by a time are also easily comparable and sortable (e.g. write “1995-02-04 22:45:00”)[/li][li]the notation is short and has constant length, which makes both keyboard data entry and table layout easier[/li][li]identical to the Chinese date notation, so the largest cultural group (>25%) on this planet is already familiar with it[/li][li]date notations with the order “year, month, day” are in addition already widely used e.g. in Japan, Korea, Hungary, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, and a few other countries and people in the U.S. are already used to at least the “month, day” order[/li][li]a 4-digit year representation avoids overflow problems after 1999-12-31[/ul][/li]Of course, just because there is a standard doesn’t mean people will use it. For the US this is no big change, but if you’re used to DD/MM, it’s a little harder to wrap your brain around.

Day Month Year, as a former recent British colony would tend to… except when we use Month Day Year, no doubt due to US influence. Month Day Year is increasing, apparently paralleling the common speech pattern.

Actually, we’re kind of confused about the whole issue. A lot of business systems use Month Day Year, no doubt for the ame reason that we put up with US-English spell checkers in inexpensive software that doesn’t have proper *Canadian *English spell checkers <snarl><mutter><grumble>. On the other hand, a lot of people use Day Month Year.

After checking various bits of paper and ID in my wallet, I find:

Driver’s Licence:
YYYY MM DD (separated by ‘bullets’, all numeric)

Commuter-train ticket (used):
DD MMM YY (spaces, month spelled out in 3-letter abbreviation)

validity and expiry dates on all credit cards:
MM/DD (numbers only, separated by slashes)

money-machine receipt from Royal Bank:
YYYYMMMDD (no spaces, month spelled in 3-L abbrev.)

money-machine receipt from CIBC:
MMMDD YY (month spelled in 3-L abbrev, one space before year)

money-machine receipt from TD Bank:
MMMDD/YY (no spaces, month spelled in 3-L abbrev, separated by slash from year)

money-machine receipt from Canada Trust:
YY/MM/DD (no spaces, two-digit year, all three separated by slashes)

[sup]And to think that TD Bank and Canada Trust are merging… :eek:[/sup]

Receipt from Shoppers Drug Mart:
Month DD, YYYY (month fully spelled out)

Receipt from Rogers Video:
NNNNNN (six numbers, no separators, and I can’t tell which is which because it says 010101… :eek: )

Receipt from Indigo Books:
NN/NN/YY (six numbers in three groups separated by slashes, and I can’t tell whether it’s DD/MM/YY or MM/DD/YY because it’s 12/10/00…)

(And today is 010203, according to how my copy of WS_FTP is datestamping the files it sends to the server…)

This is way too confusing, considering that today is 010203, or 2001-02-03, or 02-03-01, or Feb 03, 2001, 03 FEB 2001 or whatever, according to whichever system one randomly encounters. I can see how logging expenses would get to be a real pain…

Maybe the CRTC or someone should just decree that Canadians use one all-numeric format and stick to it!!!. I nominate YYYY-MM-DD.

Reeply to Fretful Porcupine:

Bad example of mine using that date above, 3 II 2001 as the change in font between the draft and the Message Board takes away the Roman Numeral indication. Try 3 IV 2001. This is not widely used in Britain, but when I worked on collaborative projects with the US, this form was compulsory to avoid misunderstandings in the first twelve days of each month. However, this was 25 years ago.

The great thing about standard protocols is that there are so many to choose from.

All of these examples demonstrate why the 3-letter month abbreviations are so commonly used.

The answer … [cue theme music, score will be obvious in a minute]

The United Federation of Planets Stardates!!

thank you … thank you
[/theme music]