Community Wishlist Survey 2019/Wikidata/Date handling improvements – additional precision and correction of translations in interface

◄ Back to Wikidata  The survey has concluded. Here are the results!

  • Problem: On Wikidata, it is still not possible to add dates with precision better than the day or dates with time zone information, which prevents Wikidata from accurately recording when events occurred; and dates are still incorrectly localized for most languages (e.g. "4 8 1961" in Chinese), which obviously impedes a lot of contributors in understanding what they actually mean. These issues can harm the ability of editors to add data, making them problematic for data consumers as well.

    While "data entry is impossible" is self-explanatory, it's probably worth explaining just how complicated and irritating the date formatting issues are. On Wikidata dates can be shown with different precisions, from "day" (the current limit) to a billion years. Each of those precisions has to be translated correctly, and BC dates and AD years before 100 should be handled specially. This doesn't really work right now – "2 January [in] 1 AD" is shown as "1. január 2" in Hungarian (interpreted by readers as first of January in the year 2), and it's obviously even worse without displayed month names. Centuries and decades are also shown haphazardly in several languages because the software doesn't allow for things like grammatical inflection, though this is more of an irritant than an impediment.

    Although these are nominally separate issues, fixing either of them would involve changing the way Wikidata's interface handles dates, so it could be more effective for them to be worked on in tandem, and it would avoid duplication of work.

  • Who would benefit: primarily Wikidata contributors
  • Proposed solution: fix the irritating UI problems; add functionality which is needed to enable data entry and data storage
  • More comments:
  • Phabricator tickets: Selection of some tickets. I have added bold to the ones that seem the most impactful. I'm not expecting all of them to be resolved but it would be nice if work could be done on all of them.
    • phab:T57755 – Allow time values more precise than day (15 October 2013)
    • phab:T63909 – Make use of before and after in Time datatype (25 February 2014)
    • phab:T63958 – Use existing $dateFormats to format dates on Wikidata (26 February 2014)
    • phab:T95553 – Full stop in messages such as Wikibase-time-precision-century is incorrect in English (9 April 2015)
    • No tickets yet:
      • Translate date formats correctly
      • Correct grammatical inflection for dates (e.g. decades in Hungarian)
  • Proposer: Jc86035 (talk) 08:38, 30 October 2018 (UTC)


Originally this proposal was broader in scope, so many of the comments discuss separate issues. Jc86035 (talk) 11:51, 17 November 2018 (UTC)
  • Allowing date/times more precise than 1 day will have to make some provision to distinguish all the existing dates, which in reality are in local time (despite what documentation says), from dates created after the implementation, which would need a time zone. Jc3s5h (talk) 11:25, 19 November 2018 (UTC)


  •   Support Jc86035 (talk) 05:20, 17 November 2018 (UTC)
  •   Support, however I would like to use this opportunity to express my disappointment against the limited ability of the community tech team which lead to the rejection of many aspects of this proposal and also many other proposals. Especially with the amount of donation WMF have been gathering from users each year. C933103 (talk) 06:43, 17 November 2018 (UTC)
  •   Support ديفيد عادل وهبة خليل 2 (talk) 11:44, 17 November 2018 (UTC)
  •   Support Shisma (talk) 12:30, 17 November 2018 (UTC)
  •   Support wikidata definitely should handle date/time better, it's an important datatype for many purposes. ArthurPSmith (talk) 16:41, 17 November 2018 (UTC)
  •   Support Micru (talk) 17:04, 17 November 2018 (UTC)
  •   Support Thibdx (talk) 17:58, 17 November 2018 (UTC)
  •   Support Liuxinyu970226 (talk) 01:22, 18 November 2018 (UTC)
  •   Support Jklamo (talk) 03:42, 18 November 2018 (UTC)
  •   Support Psychoslave (talk) 04:20, 18 November 2018 (UTC)
  •   Support NMaia (talk) 11:00, 18 November 2018 (UTC)
  •   Support Viswaprabha (talk) 23:35, 18 November 2018 (UTC)
  •   Support Sabas88 (talk) 09:08, 19 November 2018 (UTC)
  •   Support Zeromonk (talk) 09:27, 19 November 2018 (UTC)
  •   Support Dhx1 (talk) 12:48, 19 November 2018 (UTC)
  •   Support Geraki TL 14:01, 19 November 2018 (UTC)
  •   Support Hibm98 (talk) 16:52, 19 November 2018 (UTC)
  •   Support Concise date formatting is surely needed. Vulphere 12:52, 20 November 2018 (UTC)
  •   Support Novak Watchmen (talk) 15:08, 21 November 2018 (UTC)
  •   Support Gce (talk) 17:33, 21 November 2018 (UTC)
  •   Support Pasleim (talk) 18:17, 22 November 2018 (UTC)
  •   Support Snipre (talk) 10:49, 23 November 2018 (UTC)
  •   Support KaMan (talk) 16:46, 23 November 2018 (UTC)
  •   Support Nvrandow (talk) 20:10, 23 November 2018 (UTC)
  •   Support Sannita - not just another sysop 00:35, 24 November 2018 (UTC)
  •   Support Matěj Suchánek (talk) 09:44, 24 November 2018 (UTC)
  •   Support Yxh1433 (talk) 14:21, 24 November 2018 (UTC)
  •   Support Ranjithsiji (talk) 22:30, 25 November 2018 (UTC)
  •   Support Afaz (talk) 00:08, 26 November 2018 (UTC)
  •   Support I don't exactly agree with all the sub-points but in general, yes, data handling problem should be fixed. VIGNERON * discut. 10:28, 26 November 2018 (UTC)
  •   Support The current data handling system is a mess. While we are at the project of changing it it would be good to implement in full. ChristianKl❫ 12:35, 26 November 2018 (UTC)
  •   Support I hope this will be fixed in the next few decades… Tacsipacsi (talk) 17:30, 30 November 2018 (UTC)