I was looking at an old post, and noticed how we display dates from a certain amount of time ago:

Answered May 10 '11 at 10:56

This is very non-futureproof design. How will people living in the melted remains of society in 89 years know the difference in age between a question from 2009 and a question from 2109?

This is a glaring issue that will really detract from my experience using this site in less than 90 years.

  • 13
    There is no reason to ask this question now as opposed to in 2099.
    – pppery
    Commented Aug 7, 2019 at 22:43
  • 5
    That's quite a bit of user retention if 102 year olds are still using the site Commented Aug 7, 2019 at 22:57
  • 11
    I also suspect that the internal date system's probably something else. Commented Aug 7, 2019 at 22:57
  • 10
    I demand to fix this issue or present a usable workaround no later than in 85 years. Commented Aug 7, 2019 at 23:03
  • 9
    We always default to showing the least necessary information. For example, we often don't say a year at all if it's the current year. So, it follows that once the four-digit year doesn't match the current century, we'll start showing "'011". :D
    – Catija
    Commented Aug 7, 2019 at 23:05
  • 6
    As pointed out in comment to another question, this already appears in some situations: Why not perma-ban instead of suspend an account for 75+ years? The user in question is suspended until 2292, shown as '92.
    – Martin
    Commented Aug 7, 2019 at 23:12
  • 7
    I've been talking about this problem as far back as '94, Commented Aug 7, 2019 at 23:16
  • 3
    The real question is, are we going to be affected by the 2038 problem? ;p Commented Aug 7, 2019 at 23:35
  • 3
    People won't actually consider this an issue until it's closer than literally almost 90 years from now. -1 Commented Aug 7, 2019 at 23:55
  • 4
    The full information is in there (is in the HTML content). Try to hover over that very the date (nice red hand circle) and you will see a full date and at 1 second resolution, e.g. 2011-05-10 10:56:19Z. It is a string and is not subject to reinterpretation 7900 years from now (provided it is remembered what the Gregorian calendar is or was). The accumulative error of that calendar by then will be a little over 2 days compared to the tropical year. Something was apparently learned from Y2K. Commented Aug 8, 2019 at 1:03
  • 3
    Thank for reporting! This will be fixed in 6 to 8 weeks.
    – rene
    Commented Aug 8, 2019 at 6:28
  • And yet, no one mistakes May 10 '11 with May 10 1911. How come? Because technology has advanced so much in the last 30 years, we know that '11 must refer to this century. What makes you think that people in the future will confuse May 10 2111 with May 10 2011? That far ahead in the future, looking at SE websites will be like looking at daguerreotype photos Commented Aug 8, 2019 at 13:11
  • 7
    Is this fun? I think this is fun. This is fun, isn't it? This is fun. We hate fun.
    – user1228
    Commented Aug 8, 2019 at 15:20
  • 9
    To be fixed in 6-8 decades. Commented Aug 8, 2019 at 16:44
  • 2
    @Mari-LouA Have a look at this screenshot. Probably an old suspension, right? I'll tell you one thing, though: that screenshot was taken this year, in 2019. Confused, eh? Commented Nov 26, 2019 at 3:36

2 Answers 2


Now they will

Date in far future
Worried about two digits?
Fret no more, all good

  • Four digits for dates... Makes a lot of sense to me. Thanks, Mr Ellis.
    – PM 2Ring
    Commented Feb 8, 2022 at 19:52

Despite some users making comments that "this question won't be relevant until decades from now", there is one case where this actually ends up being a problem today.

The same date format you mention, that is used for posts, is used in a lot of different places in the system (e.g. comments, revisions, etc.). One of those places is the expiration date and time for suspensions.

There have been a few cases lately where really long network-wide suspensions have been applied, specifically suspensions with an ending time after 2100. One case where this ended up becoming really confusing is this one, where a user was suspended until 2118, but the timestamp simply showed "'18", which made users think that it was a bug, that a suspension was supposed to expire but for some reason didn't.

Without a way to represent dates after 2100 in the current global timestamp format, it will create confusing cases like this.

Yes, I'm also aware of this other case of a user suspended until 2292 but the timestamp only showing '92, but that's much less confusing than the other one.


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