Sunday, January 16, 2011

The World Wide Blogger Culture, And Date Formatting

The 21st Century is the beginning of new experiences for mankind. The Internet in general, and Blogger blogging in particular, are providing opportunities unparalleled in history - people of all nations and locations are coming together, casually and freely, to get acquainted. And with the opportunities come many challenges - some major, and others seemingly minor.

One seemingly minor issue, with a significance which may not be realised by everybody, is how we write the date. In the USA, we generally write it as "mm/dd/yy", which stands, in computer speak, for "Month / Day / Year". A variation here is "mm/dd/yyyy", which denotes the year entered, and includes the century - which is also an important detail.

Some Europeans use the "dd/mm/yy" format, and would write today's date as "16/01/2011" or "16 January 2011". Most blog owners in the USA would write "01/16/2011", or "January 16, 2011". As a techie, I am in the habit of writing "2011/01/16".

The Blogger Settings - Formatting - "Archive Index Date Format" and "Timestamp Format" setting together offer hints of the opportunities - and challenges - provided by Blogger. Look at the wide range of choices offered.
  • Date Header Format
    1. Jan 16, 2011
    2. January 16, 2011
    3. Sunday, January 16, 2011
    4. 1/16/11
    5. Sunday, January 16, 2011
    6. 1/16/2011
    7. 1.16.2011
    8. 20110116
    9. 2011/01/16
    10. 2011-01-16
    11. 16.1.11
    12. Sunday
    13. Sunday, January 16
    14. January 16, 2011
    15. 16 January 2011
    16. 16 January, 2011
  • Archive Index Date Format
    1. 1/1/11 - 2/1/11
    2. 01/01/2011 - 02/01/2011
    3. 01/2011 - 02/2011
    4. 2011/01 - 2011/02
    5. 1/1/11
    6. 01/2011
    7. 01.2011
    8. 201101
    9. 01.11
    10. 2011-01
    11. 2011.01
    12. January 2011
    13. 2011/01
    14. 01/11
    15. 11_01
    16. 01_11

Having provided the background details, I will give you an example of the ambiguity problem. If I enter "12/1/11" is that to be interpreted as
  1. January 12, 2011.
  2. December 1, 2011.
  3. January 11, 2012.

The need to state the century is significant too. "12/1/30" is similarly ambiguous.
  1. January 30, 1912.
  2. January 12, 1930.
  3. December 1, 1930.
  4. January 30, 2012.
  5. January 12, 2030.
  6. December 1, 2030.

One place where this ambiguity is relevant is when entering the date for "Scheduled Posts". Complaints of posts that were published immediately (though scheduled for later publication), and posts that did not publish (and were found with a status of "Scheduled", in "Edit Posts"), are occasionally seen in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken.

If you look in "Post Options", which is left and below the post content window in Post Editor, you'll find the "Post date and time" dialogue. The default selection there will vary
  • "Automatic" (for new posts).
  • The date and time when the post was published (for posts already published).
  • A future date and time (for a post scheduled to be published).
The first box beneath "Set date and time" contains the relevant date (published, or scheduled). Besides observing the current content of the date box, there is nothing to indicate the appropriate date format, that is expected by the dialogue.

It does not take a lot of imagination to see what would happen, if a European blog owner was to enter "7/1/11" (meaning 7 January, 2011), and wind up with a post scheduled for publication July 1, 2011.


(Update 2012/06/30): Blogger has redesigned the date setting wizard under The New Blogger GUI, and eliminated the ambiguity - but not without some criticism.
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2 comments:

Traxy said...

The date system used seems to be set to whichever system your account is set to. Mine goes by DD/MM/YYYY, but the account I use for work blogging has MM/DD/YYYY because it mistakenly believes the account to be American (and I can't figure out how to tell it not to, as everywhere I can find it says UK).

Ali ─░kizkaya said...

New interface comment system. A disaster totaly.
Very difficult to comment.
But me too I have a issue with date changing facility and date formating.
Kind of egoism done by Google to us.
Pushing in to our nose something bad PAR FORCE