Human Time Format Gone Wrong

In general it’s good to use the human time formats (1 hour ago, 2 months ago, etc.) that you see in many of the new web applications. In general, the detail level is up the shorter the time span.

Of course it requires that the algorithm be correct. Look at this example from Jaiku on what not to do:

9 Responses to “Human Time Format Gone Wrong”

  1. Malmberg Says:

    As january has 31 days which is about 4,3 weeks I dont think Jaiku is completely off :-)

  2. Human timer Says:

    Me neither. 1 month < 4 weeks !

  3. Human timer Says:

    Damn you, shift key!!!

    Of course, I meant: 1 month > 4 weeks

  4. Simon B. Says:

    Since everybody else stole the first part of my planned comment, here’s the other part: …but Jesper is right that “2 months” would most probably have been exact enough. And maybe a mouse hover would reveal the exact date, complete with a calendar view of that particular month to show the relation between then and now…?

  5. Jesper Rønn-Jensen Says:

    Thanks for comments Malmberg, Human timer, Simon B.

    Correct that January is more like 4.3 weeeks it’s not completely incorrect.

    My point is, however, that all time calculations in months should not include weeks. 3 months is correct enough in the context. Why would you care that it’s “almost 3 months ago” or “2 months and 4 weeks ago”. No.

    The “human time formats” are an appropriate improvement to avoid time calculations like “1 year, 3 minutes and 40 seconds ago”

  6. Månhus » Länksprutning - 30 January 2009 Says:

    […] Human Time Format Gone Wrong […]

  7. Dave Says:

    Rounding the time elapsed up is incorrect.

    When referring to a past event, people tend to say that something happened “at least” two months and four weeks ago (and when the speaker doesn’t specify “at least”, it is assumed by the audience).

    Rounding the time period up would lead to factual errors in the most common scenario.

    (At least, that’s how things are typically interpreted here in the US. I could see it being an interpretation that varies across cultures.)

  8. Matt Says:

    I don’t know guys, when i see 2 months 4 weeks my brain says, this is dumb and wrong. i don’t see an issue with rounding up when its that long ago anyway.

  9. Alex Frost Says:

    Yes maybe it looks a bit incorrect, for huma reading but for programmers its right… As Malmberg noticed in general 1 month is about 4,3 weeks so i suppose when 30 days passed the date format will be >3 month ago<