Should we use less ambiguous ways to refer to dates and times for Orca activities?

One of our core values is inclusion, and with the amount of activities in the Orca ecosystem picking up, we will need to make it easy to coordinate with folks around the world.

A challenge that has been coming up on occasion is communicating meeting times. Today, many of our members are in the US, and often Eastern Time and US date formats are used as defaults for discussing meeting times. This causes confusion in a few ways:

  • Sometimes people use the term EST to refer to a meeting time, even though the US is now on Daylight Saving Time. This would be confusing to those in locations that do not observe Daylight Saving Time, or may observe it at different times of the year.
  • The use of a 12 hour clock could become confusing in the future, as we will likely need to schedule meetings outside the normal US work day to accommodate contributors from other regions of the world.
  • The use of the MM/DD/YY format is confusing to those in Europe who default to DD/MM/YY.

The result is that we waste time and potentially degrade the experience of contributors from other parts of the world.

I recommend that we agree to use less ambiguous defaults when referring to dates and times for Orcanaut activities. Following these 3 guidelines would eliminate ambiguity:

  • Use Universal Coordinated Time (UTC) for the communication of meeting times. Please note that we could continue to use the capabilities of tools to localize time zones to individual participants where that functionality is available - this would just be the default in cases where we are unable to do that.
  • Use a 24 hour clock to express hours and minutes.
  • Use the YYYY-MM-DD format for communicating all dates. This not only avoids confusion between US and European date formats, it also provides the benefit of sorting in chronological order when the date is used to start a file description.

While each of these changes will require a bit of adjustment for us today, the benefits in the long run would more than compensate. That said, I’d welcome any concerns of questions regarding this to further strengthen this idea before formally proposing it. I intend to propose this in about a week or so and would appreciate feedback during that time if possible.

3 Likes

Very thoughtful suggestion and totally in support of this. I know you’ve brought this up before too.

Different parts of the world have different dates for switching daylight savings, which makes things even harder. We saw this just recently, when the US switched, while Europe had not. This lead to a ton of confusion around the starting time of events.

It’s hard to change habits, but I want to make an effort to support this, so please call me out if I refer to times in ET lol.

Also want to share some tools I’ve come across that might be helpful:

Friend Time

  • Discord bot that converts times mentioned in messages to your local time by reacting to the message
  • It has a downside, in that users must have DMs turned on (I added a suggestion that they add an option for ephemeral messages; worst case we can fork the code and have it send an ephemeral message instead of DMs)

Savvy Time

  • Chrome extension time converter
  • Highly recommend this one tbh
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Yes please. UTC

I’ve used unix code for dynamic timestamps inside Discord. These will show up as the correct timezone for each user based on their location.

<t:COPIED_TIMESTAMP_HERE:FORMAT>
4 Likes

That’s awesome. No idea that existed as a feature.

Just tried this and it seems to work great - thanks @Cadena! For Discord posts, that’s even better than using a standard format because it is tailored to each person’s preferences while being consistent. Nice!

To make it easy to get the timestamp for any date.

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