Where’s the Date, Man?

Mark Berry July 2, 2011

Enough with the calculated time spans already.

It seems like more and more blogs and discussion posts are going towards the format “Written x days/weeks/years ago” rather than specifying an actual date. My question is:  why?

Missing Date 1

Yes, date stamps on posts are supposed to give an idea of how fresh the post is. But they should also tell me the exact date when an article was written.

Not to brag, but I’m pretty good with Gregorian dates. I know that July precedes August, for example. If you tell me that an article was written on July 15, 2008, and I see another article was written on August 1, 2008, I can tell which article was written first! (I know, it’s a gift.) However if you tell me that both articles were written “almost three years ago,” I have no clue.

Missing Date 2

What I’m not good at is doing date arithmetic in my head. Quick, what is today minus 2145 days? Let’s see 2145 divided by 365 is … 5.877 years ago … so what month was that?

Maybe “freshness” dates on Facebook and LinkedIn are okay, from “a few minutes ago” up to about “4 days ago.” But if you’re writing anything that you hope will be relevant for more than a week, man up and put a real date on it for cryin’ out loud.

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