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See also UseMod:WikiSuggestions/Timezones

Add TimeZone to the UserPreferences?. Times that are not in GMT are almost meaningless to me. -- DaveHarris

What part of a ViewPoint necessitates proper TimeZone formatting? I'll also disagree that proper use of GMT removes meaning. It depends on your TimeZonePerspective?. For instance, my Meatball diary entries (on my namepage) have times relative to me because it makes more sense that way. -- SunirShah

It's not about formatting. It's about me not being able to remember what named timezone this site is in, what time difference that name currently means, and not wanting to do the mental arithmetic (modulo 12 or 24) to figure out what the real time was.

I'm not sure what you mean by "proper use of GMT". I mention GMT because it is my local TZ. Different users would have different TZ's - that's what I'm suggesting. Where someone else's TZ is used, I agree the author's TZ would be more useful than that of the Wiki's host (if they are different, of course). -- DaveHarris

A proper format is something like

    Tue, 11 Jul 2000 11:32:47 -0400 (EDT)

which is somewhat opaque to the reader, but it's accurate. Your comment about doing the arithmetic in your head makes me realize just how second nature it has become to adjust times in my head. When I was trying to buy an expired domain, I was tracking timezones and swearing up and down that it was June 18 even though it was only 17 Jun 2000 19:00:00 -0500 (EDT). Got some looks for that! -- SunirShah


I've considered individual timezone features, but it always seems like too much work. Local time is a pain to use, especially when one throws in DaylightSavingsTime?. (For instance, Australia is changing their DST rules for the 2000 Olympics. If anyone mentions LeapSeconds? I might scream. :-)

Proper handling of local time could be a bigger project than the rest of the wiki, and one I don't really care to handle right now. The previous host of UseModWiki was in a different timezone, and I still used the server-local time. If someone knows of a good timezone-handling Perl module, I'd be interested. (Even with such a module, the user interface would need some work.) In any case, I need to implement user preferences in general before I can implement any specific user preferences. --CliffordAdams ("In other words, time zones will cost you a lot of Gummi Bears." (Wiki:GummiBearsConsideredHarmful))


If you haven't noticed, lately (today is August 9, 2000), I've been timestamping things on this Wiki like

12 December 1997 09:34 (EDT -0400)

or something similar to that. However, I find that unnatural. It is more natural for me to say

9:34am December 12, 1997

but that loses the timezone context as Dave mentions. So, maybe

9:34am (EDT -0400) December 12, 1997

but even then, it is usually useless to list times in the local timezone. So perhaps

1:34pm December 12, 1997

is better when this information is unnecessary. But then it is unclear which timezone, so we'll have to go back to specifying it, such as

1:34pm (UTC) December 12, 1997

Even then, the date format

December 12, 1997

is not internationally preferred. In fact, the best way to go if we want to be culturally neutral is the technical format

12 December 1997

even though it's kind of foreboding. Very nerdy.

At anyrate, we've returned to the time format I was using at the top as the optimal choice from a cultural independence point of view. But it looks ugly.

Given the confusion, it is obvious that I'm thinking too hard about such a simple problem. I think what I'll do is tag net.articles with the technical timestamp in the articles' preferred timezones and keep my personal timestamping to my preferred style. -- SunirShah


Writing
9:34am (EDT -0400) December 12, 1997
Doesn't actually tell me what time it was unless I do a lot of mental arithmetic. It certainly doesn't tell me what time you thought it was unless I also know your local time zone.

Probably, for a date 3 years ago, I don't care. Relative times would do. For comparing times it suffices to use a standard TZ throughout, eg UTC.

It's all moot until user preferences are added; I wouldn't rely on each individual author doing the right thing. -- DaveHarris

Personally, I'm most often interested in the local time of the person writing. People writing at 4:31am local time are either awake much too early or much too late. Most of the time, however, wiki contributions don't need a specific time (or even a date) within the text.

When user preferences are implemented (which I'm working on today), I may add the preference to show relative times. For instance, RecentChanges might show "(37 minutes)" or "(3 hours)" instead of the server time. (This isn't very useful for previous days, however--I don't think it will matter much whether one says "4 days, 7 hours ago", or just a date and local time.)

I *might* be able to let people specify their local offset, but I'm not sure how well that will interact with some day-based code. Maybe I should just display the raw timestamp numbers and let everyone suffer equally. ;-)

If anyone knows of another web site which handles this issue well, I'd like to see it. I can't recall any sites which give the users a timezone option. If I could see a good example, maybe I'll get more ideas. --CliffordAdams

The years have passed and by now we can have more experience in these matters. I think for a wiki, the local time is not important. There are only two situations, where some sort of time related information is required: First, On RecentChanges, we want to know the order of changes, and how long ago, more or less, changes were made. Second, eventhough the local time at which an entry is written does not matter, it may matter when writing an OnlineDiary. But there, users that think it important can always add a manual, local timestamp. -- AlexSchroeder


I've just implemented relative timezones in the testing version of Meatball (as one of the user preferences). The user enters the relative time difference (in hours) between their local time and the server time. All wiki-generated dates/times are then displayed with that offset. Send me mail if you'd like to try it out (and I'll send you the testing URL). --CliffordAdams


The right way (tm) to do that is like in MoinMoin: using a macro with UTC inside, getting rendered to viewers localtime:

-- ThomasWaldmann [[DateTime?(2003-01-31T23:59:59Z)]]

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