[edit] [purge] Template-info.svg Template documentation


Add {{When}} after a time period to indicate that the time period is vague or ambiguous and would be clearer by being reworded more precisely. Do not use for disputes: If the date in question is disputed (controversial, unlikely, impossible or otherwise more problematic than simply needing clarification), use {{citation needed}}, {{dubious}}, {{disputed-inline}} or some other dispute template.

After placing the template in the article, it is a good idea to create a new When heading on that page's talk page, so as to provide a forum to discuss the unclear time reference.


The following are some examples of unclear time references.

A vague present

Wikipedia pages will exist for decades, and any reference to the present "now" will be incorrect or misleading in a year or two. Sentences tied to the present that are likely to grow out-of-date are revealed by words such as "currently" and "now" and phrases like "is in talks" and "is planning". Sentences about future intentions ("will acquire Saab") and the present perfect progressive ("has been recording a new single") are also suspect. They will eventually need to be rewritten with introductory phrases such as "As of 2007, "In April 2007", etc.

Other time references may also be vague or ambiguous. Words like "recent" or similar may need clarification. Is "recent" used to mean last week, last month, last year, last century? Such wording may not be obvious to the reader unless it is clarified or reworded.

International ambiguity

A date written in the format nn/nn/2009 may mean different things in different countries. To some, 1/4/2009 means "1 April 2009" (UK), to others, "4 January 2009" (US).

Seasons used as times

Seasons are local phenomena and their usage as a substitute for dates, month names and the like is an example of systemic bias.

This usage often manifests itself in phrasing like the following:

  • (some event happened) in the (season) of (year).
  • (something was completed) by [the] (season) [of (year)].

Most commonly, such phrasing uses Northern Hemisphere temperate zone seasons interchangeably with month names or other times, and this can be the source of confusion for people in the tropics or in the opposite hemisphere.

Google can be used to find some examples of such references efficiently, and this suggests that a bot can be written to work in a similar manner. A Google search like "the spring of" typically returns several thousand hits, of which maybe half are phrases like "the spring of [year]". This suggests that tens of thousands of pages in the English-language Wikipedia may be in need of attention to remove this ambiguous phrasing.


In direct quotations, do not change any of the above. Instead give an explanation in square brackets:

The statue is inscribed "1/4/2009" [1 April 2009]

See also

  • {{Year}} (asks for a specific year)
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.