Using dates as tags. Does it make sense?

I had the idea of using tags in the form #date/YYYY/MM/DD, and I think they can be very useful for a number of reasons I’ll elaborate on below. I’m not sure however if this can have any drawback. In fact, I’m somewhat surprised of not having read any post on this topic, which perhaps it is a hint that this is not such a good idea after all.

My point for using dates as tags is:

  • I can see in the tag panel a hierarchical tag #date, which can be expanded/collapsed to show the full date, or only the year/month, or only the year. This allows me to quickly find for example all notes tagged in the same month.
  • In can attach several “date-tags” to the same note, which is useful when the note is evergreen, and I want to trace the dates in which it was revisited.
  • Using the file creation/modification timestamps is not as flexible. Using “date-tags” I can create today a note about something happened the last week, that for whatever reason I forgot to capture then.
  • It can replace a “daily note”, if the only purpose of this daily note is to act as an index to gather all notes created the same day (which is my case most of the time)
  • Querying tags is fast (because Obsidian indexes them)
  • Using dataview it is possible to create “monthly summaries”, or “timelines of interests” and all kind of fascinating stuff.

The main drawback I can think of is the proliferation of tags (one per day), but at least the will not clutter my tag panel, because all are child of the master #date tag.

What do you think about the idea?

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What meaning are you tying to the date tag? For instance, you mention three different purposes: note creation date, note revisit date, and date of a specific event. When you’re searching for a specific date, how will you tell the difference between the three in the search results? Or does that not matter? If it did matter, you could use different tag hierarchies (e.g. cdate/YYYY/MM/DD).

For the purposes of tracking creation dates, some plugins may rely on the actual file creation date. So, you may lose out on some niche features. The search plugin offers sorting by file creation date. I suspect the graph timeline uses file creation date as well. Because of this, I use a script to set the file creation date based on text within the note.

huh…! I only learned right this minute that tags could be nested in this way. I really like how it groups things together, so you narrow in on years or months.

I think if it works for you, it’s a fine idea.

I think I did not make myself clear. I mentioned creation date and modification as examples of the kind of dates that are not really meaningful to me. The meaning I associate with the tags is the date in which the text added to the note was meaningful to me.

For example:

  • I have a note to track the status of a certain issue (e.g: car accident and insurance). Each time there is an update on the issue, I edit the note to add information, and “date-tag” the corresponding paragraph.
  • I discover a new fact, or have a new insight about something for which I had already a note, so I edit the note to add the information and “date-tag” the paragraph.
  • I find a new interest, so I start a new note for it, and “date-tag” this new note.

This way, when I later search for a tag like: #date/2021/10 I get a listing of the kind of things that occupied my time/mind in that month. A kind of personal “Zeitgeist”.

I see this as a kind of journaling, without having to write specific journal notes.

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Ah, that makes sense.

What about the number of tags on each note itself? You may need to visually separate them from your other tags.

If you use this to replace your existing daily note, will you lose any context? For example, do you write an entry in your daily note that says “made X modification to [[note]]”. If that matters for your workflow, you’ll lose that unless you migrate that to the note itself. I’m sure you already considered that though.

Using dates as tags sounds like a good recipe for clutter.

I personally like to keep track of dates, but I don’t need them to be dynamically graphed by Obsidian itself. So I ended up just using them as fields in the frontmatter.

For example, the template I use for articles or technical cards I save starts with this :

---
creation date: <% tp.file.creation_date() %>
source: 
author: 
date: 
---

The date field is the date at which the piece I’m saving was published. It helps me keep track of the point in time at which this information was relevant, as things can evolve with updates and so on.

As far as I’m concerned, dates are part of metadata unless you’re talking about notes that are the consequence of a date (like daily notes).

YAML metadata can be queried with Dataview, which I think might fit your use-case.

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Likewise. I wouldn’t have a use for it with dates, but it does create some interesting options with the tag pane.

That sounds like great idea. I might start doing that now.

Also, in case this helps someone, you can make a template file with one line of content #date/{{date:YYYY/MM/DD}} and then assign a hotkey to quickly insert today’s tag anywhere.

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I suspect you could leave out the word ‘date’ and just type #{{DATE:YYYY/MM/DD}}. I do that in Bear, and it works. But it does clutter up tags.

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I use the #date/ part precisely to avoid clutter, since this way all date-related tags are under the hierarchy “date”, which can be collapsed in the tag pane.

I’m still deciding whether to use daily notes as indexes for notes taken on the same day, or this date-tag approach. I don’t like very much the daily note approach because that would create “fake links” in my graph, because it will have “true links” that relate ideas, mixed with “fake links” that only tie ideas to dates. I also have to consider which approach would make easier the creation of dataview summaries (or even, eventually, graphic timelines).

Thank you all for the comments. This is a great community. I’ll try this approach for some days and see how well it goes.

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