Wikivoyage:When to use dates

No travel guide can ever be completely up to date. Prices increase regularly, borders close and reopen, airlines commence and discontinue routes.

Our wiki format allows us to respond to these kinds of events promptly. In theory, this means that our information can be kept current by updating it regularly as events happen, while maintaining a clean and concise guide. The reality is that it can take a while for some destinations to be revisited and for the information to be updated in the guide. Meanwhile, knowing whether information is current or dated can be very useful to travelers using the guide as well as editors updating it.

We need to find a balance between adding a date to all facts and maintaining an uncluttered travel guide. This is a guideline to help achieve that balance.

Dates on listings edit

Many of our templated listings have the "lastedit" field populated by some date. This date is automatically filled with the current date when a new {{listing}} is created or when the listing editor is opened and "mark listing as up to date" is checked.

Please don't change these to today's date unless you have verified the information, preferably in person.

Listings created from secondary sources, or from information on a venue's own website, should leave the "lastedit" field blank.

A listing may contain a {{dead link}} template with a date; these are placed by an automated robot script when a link to an external site ceases to function. These need manual verification, which can end in a few possible outcomes:

  • Retrying the link works, or finds another page on the same site which works and belongs to the venue. Update the link, remove the "dead link" template and its date stamp.
  • The link is dead, or points to a cybersquatted web page, but a web search finds another page for the venue which is being updated (even if it's just a timeline on a social media site) or a telephone call is answered as the business, who responds to "What is your web address?" by saying the site is gone but the establishment remains open. Remove the dead link, the "dead link" template and its date stamp. If contacting the venue directly verified the rest of the info, the "lastedit" field may be updated to the current date - otherwise leave it alone.
  • The link is dead, a telephone call yields "the number you have dialled is not in service" or reaches a wrong number, a web search only finds other copies of the same outdated content with the same outdated contact info, or other sources are reporting the venue as "permanently closed". No need to update any date stamps, just remove the entire listing including the dead link and the template.

Dates on prices edit

Prices for attractions change regularly.

If the underlying currency is stable, as a general rule we don't append a date to a price. When a price changes, we update the guide without retaining any previous pricing information. Listing prices as ranges or approximations (€100-€125, about €100...) is generally safer than listing them with false precision (€99.95) as they inflate over time.

As most prices in Wikivoyage appear in {{listing}}s (which already have a "lastedit" field to indicate when the entire listing was last verified), a separate date stamp for the price is usually superfluous.

Exceptions may apply in circumstances such as rapid currency devaluation where prices are volatile. For example, in cases of hyperinflation (or the replacement of an old, devalued currency with a new one) it may be relevant to note whether a price is prior to or subsequent to the movement.

Occasionally, a destination article's body text mentions a specific commodity in an otherwise-stable economy as volatile in price (such as fuel) or controlled by one uniform market-wide rate which changes annually (like exact-change local transit fares, postage stamps or metered taxis). If prices you're posting today will be wrong a year or two from now, you may need to make a judgement call on whether to indicate a dated price or simply omit the exact numbers.

Dates on cultural events edit

For festivals and other cultural events try, if possible, to specify the date in such a way that is valid for any year.

  • If the event falls on the same date every year, then list the date without a year. Albanian Independence Day celebrations are held 28 Nov every year
  • If the event is held relative to another date or event, specify that. The Melbourne Cup is held on the first Tuesday in November or The celebration of the ringing of the bells is held the first Sunday after Easter.
  • If the event is always held on a weekend, the exact dates will vary. Field Day is the last full weekend in June is more useful than "In 1960, it was held on June 25th-26th".
  • If the event is held on a different date every year, then list the precise dates including the year. If the event is always held at a particular time of year, then you may want to list that too. The tulip festival is held in early spring, (12 Mar 2014).

Opening times edit

Dates and times are used to indicate scheduled opening times. When an attraction or establishment is only open on certain dates (seasonally or otherwise) these dates should be included in the guide.

Permanent closure or cessation of service edit

The general rule is, once an establishment has closed the listing should be removed. Don't just append the information that it has closed. When popular or iconic establishments, which are documented extensively in other travel guides or on the web, have closed it may be appropriate to mention this in the guide. It may make sense to leave a note in a <!-- document comment --> or on the talk page if there is a risk that subsequent editors will re-insert a defunct listing upon finding it from other, outdated sources.

Similarly when flights, bus routes, and other services are discontinued, the information should usually be removed. An exception exists when the route was popular, documented elsewhere, or remote. For example we probably don't list bus route changes in a major city, just update it to reflect the current situation. However, if the ferry Lonely Planet says services a small Indonesian island no longer runs when you attempt to catch it, then that is worth listing with the date on which that occurred.

Our goal is to give only current information to the traveller, including old information only when it is useful to avoid being misled by information commonly available elsewhere.

Transient information edit

If a piece of information is somehow temporary, then a date should be added. For example, if a road is closed by construction then you should add the date you know it was closed. If possible add any information you have about the reopening. Once this is no longer relevant to a traveller, it should be omitted from an article.

Force majeure edit

Occasionally, a destination has been utterly destroyed by war or natural disasters. We may have many listings of places which were well worth visiting before disaster struck, but lack a full damage assessment. Our information is dated if there's no way to be certain which venues are still standing or functional.

In rare cases, we have put entire destinations (like Aleppo) into the past tense: "X, Y and Z were the main hotels serving the city before the war". They might be operating, they might be damaged, they might be gone. If that's all we know, we say so.

In the worst cases, a destination like Hatra might be removed from the guide entirely (the UNESCO heritage was obliterated by extremists). This is rare; usually we mark the unverifiable information as "dated" due to war or disaster, then attempt to determine survivors after the event is over. The dated info is then verified, updated or removed.

Warning and COVID-19 boxes edit

The ominous red boxes which label war zones and dangerous destinations need to be dated as the political situation in the most volatile regions will change dramatically over time. For instance, {{warningbox | His Royal Britannic Majesty George III advises travellers against visiting Boston due to a deadly armed insurrection in the region. | lastedit=1776-07-04}} gives a date indication to signal clearly to future readers that the warning should be updated if and when the dangerous revolt has ended.

Similar considerations apply to natural disaster information, which becomes obsolete after the affected areas have a chance to rebuild.

The same applies for the yellow COVID box, however, it should be only used to inform travellers about the Covid situation in the area it is used in. Restrictions may be added in, however, it should not become a list.

See also edit