[whatwg] <time> element feedback

Ashley Sheridan ash at ashleysheridan.co.uk
Tue Aug 31 12:53:00 PDT 2010

On Tue, 2010-08-31 at 15:40 -0400, Aryeh Gregor wrote:

> On Tue, Aug 31, 2010 at 5:25 AM, Martin Janecke <whatwg.org at kaor.in> wrote:
> > Besides, <time>2010</time> in a British news article would allow users e.g.
> > in Japan to have these dates displayed as 平22年. That's clearly an advantage
> > over the number 2010 alone.
> I would say the opposite.  If they can read the English news article,
> they'll necessarily know what "2010" means.  But they might not be
> able to read Japanese.  Maybe they're borrowing a Japanese person's
> computer, for example, or maybe the browser's idea of the user
> language is otherwise wrong.
> Also, content that behaves differently based on the browser settings
> of the viewer is confusing and can cause hard-to-debug problems.
> Users will think that the author of that British article actually
> wrote out a Japanese date, and be completely at a loss to explain why.
>  Even if they can actually understand the date, the incongruity will
> look like a bug.
> It could be outright misleading if there are two year display formats
> that look the same but actually have different meaning.  A plain year
> number in Arabic numerals like 2010 could refer to any number of
> totally different year-numbering conventions, and the only way to tell
> them apart currently is the page's context.  Having the browser change
> the number to some convention that doesn't match its surroundings
> makes it impossible to guess the convention.
> And finally, it just looks weird.  I would find it extremely strange
> to have all dates on pages I'm reading replaced with Hebrew dates,
> even though I understand those just fine.  I wouldn't want that at
> all, and I find it hard to believe that many actual users do in real
> life.
> Basically, any kind of attempt to have browsers localize dates that
> are actually displayed in content is a terrible idea, and the spec
> should remove all mention of any such thing.  I'm pretty sure I've
> said all this before, though.

I think localisation does have a valid use though. Consider a page
written in English with the date 01/12/2010. Is that date the 1st
December, or the 12th January? The only clue might be the spelling of
certain words in the document, but even then, the most popular office
software in use at the moment defaults to American spelling for its
spell-check feature, even if bought in England, which leads to words
being spelt wrong and giving the reader no good clue as to what the date
might be.

Localisation in this case would mean that I could read the document and
easily figure out what the date was.


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