[whatwg] <time> element feedback

Ashley Sheridan ash at ashleysheridan.co.uk
Tue Aug 31 13:19:07 PDT 2010

On Tue, 2010-08-31 at 16:09 -0400, Aryeh Gregor wrote:

> On Tue, Aug 31, 2010 at 3:53 PM, Ashley Sheridan
> <ash at ashleysheridan.co.uk> wrote:
> > 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.
> What do expect the browser to do in this case?  Flip it to 12/01/2010
> if appropriate, or rephrase it like "January 12, 2010" (or "December
> 1, 2010")?  The former would make things much worse, because now
> rather than having to guess whether the *page* is using American or
> British convention (usually not too hard), you have to guess what
> convention your *browser* thinks is right (and it might be someone
> else's computer, a public computer, . . .).
> If the author wants the latter effect, on the other hand, why don't
> they just write out the date that way to begin with, since they aren't
> actually looking for it to vary between viewers?

Because as I mentioned, content authors tend to be quite lazy, and leave
default settings on. So lots of English people end up using American
spelling, and American date formatting, because that's what their
software does by default. I could find you 10 people who didn't know how
to change this setting in MSWord for every one you found who did.

However, I think readers should be given the choice still with this. If
the content authors don't want their precious dates to be read as dates,
then don't mark them up as such. A date should be something that can be
understood by a variety of media, including search engines, screen
readers, even as part of a web snippet that seems to be a popular thing
at the moment. If it's in an ambiguous format then there's no point it
even being marked up as a date at all.


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