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opposition splits TheAudience
into two halves. You are writing for your audience now. If a discussion is active on the site at the given moment, then the others interested in the discussion are keen to hear what you have to say. Consequently, it's tempting to write material that depends merely on the current events on RecentChanges
. Nonetheless, there will be readers in five years looking upon your words with curiosity. Don't depend on relationships built through RecentChanges
is very transient. Write for the future readers too.
If your statements have temporal content, add temporal context. If you add local temporal context, your words will lose no meaning. Therefore, put the date inline. As in, "These days, in April, 2001, I feel as if the current political climate has become too tense."
If your statements have no temporal content, don't put a date in at all. As in, "Goedels theorem is..."
In short, there are two reasons to TimeStamp contributions:
- Viewpoints can change over time.
- Information is outdated over time.
However, this does not necessarily require timestamps:
- Extract the discussion to abstract pages that will allways be true. Give examples with local temporal contexts: in Version X of Y, for example...
- If your statements can only make sense today (e.g. the news qua the news), it's probably best to not write them. If you can, rewrite them to provide the necessary local temporal context.
Furthermore, timestamps have negative effects:
- By choosing to explicitly timestamp a comment, you are strongly suggesting that the comment cannot exist without the temporal context. Do it carefully.
- Timestamps mark pages as essentially dead. The lack of timestamps provides the nice illusion that all pages are still fresh. This invites contribution and promotes PageChurn.
- Timestamps make reading the comments more difficult. They don't flow with the text.
Not everybody agrees, however:
- The illusion that all pages are still fresh is a DeceptivePractice.
- Providing timestamps to contributions is a lazy way to avoid adding local temporal context. Of course, laziness is not an excuse.
From the StyleGuide.