Having participated in several elections recently, I've been puzzled why I never seem to know when they are ending. Last week when I was a candidate I even planned my evening around being home in time for the results to come out only to discover I was a day early. For todays election I started a countdown in an election chat room. After a few hours I realized that my personal calendar event and my countdown didn't match.

It finally dawned on me why all the mixups: The StackExchange elections page can't count. Down that is. Note this screen-shot taken at UTC 17:05 when the countdown should have just crossed into the 3 hour zone:

Countdown at UTC 17:05

  • Normal people counting down 5 time units:

    5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 0! And we have a winner!
  • Stack Exchange counting down 5 time units:

    4, 3, 2, 1, 0, -1! And we have a winner!

Can we get rid of the part of that where we have to wait one more unit of time (day, hour, whatever) and have the machine display maths fit for human consumption?


It's not that there's an extra unit; it's that it's rounding down.

  • 00:00:01 to 00:00:59 says 1..59 seconds
  • 00:01:00 to 00:59:59 says 1..59 minutes
  • 01:00:00 to 23:59:59 says 1..23 hours
  • 24:00:00 to 47:59:59 says 1 day

So in your case with 02:55 remaining, it said 2 hours.

Assuming it always has to round in some direction, I prefer this rounding down. You were frustrated to learn you had to wait another day. Imagine the frustration of realizing it had happened a day earlier and you'd missed it!

  • 1
    Yes I realize it is rounding down. The problem is that isn't the way most humans do it. If I ask "how long until dinner" and get an answer of "2 hours", I'll be sitting at the table for an hour. You don't need to round up just to "cover your bases and not miss anybody". You could indicate which direction it was being rounded. For hours, you could just add a minutes counter. For the days, saying something like "2 days 10 hours". If you do round, indicate which way it is (e.g. with "less than 2 hours"). – Caleb Jul 1 '14 at 17:57
  • Well if all you did were reverse the rounding, 1:05 would say 2 hours, which to me feels wrong. I could get behind a "less than" descriptor, but that's not what your post asked for. – mhlester Jul 1 '14 at 18:04

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