# ID for notes; time-stamp ID is useless.

I've read a lot of resources about Zettelkasten, and there are many things I'd like to address, but this post is about prefix ID for notes. Ok, I don't understand why you would use the popular timestamp thing. Sure, you know when the note was created, and you fixed the issue with duplicate titles (which, really, who experiences?) Other than that, what? Then you have this unclean 12-digit number in front of your note title; amazing.

I've been trying to use Luhmann's 1,2,3b,3c etc., system, which works fine, but there is no convenient way to use it (I am using Obsidian). I used this 12-digit timestamp on hundreds of notes, and it's simply useless. I need something else!

Yes, I researched other solutions, but they were not convincing and too geeky, as I recall. I wonder if someone had the same experience as me. The 12-digit timestamp prefix is missing the point of the Zettelkasten, IMO. I'm looking for alternatives and am eager to listen to others' experiences with ID prefixes methods for Zettelkasten. Thanks!

• This forum is full of discussions about Zettel identifiers and their use/meaning/sense/purpose/customization/etc. It‘s definitely worth searching existing threads about it.

Here are some posts that try to explain why note identifiers can actually be very useful:

https://forum.zettelkasten.de/discussion/comment/5465/#Comment_5465

https://forum.zettelkasten.de/discussion/comment/5545/#Comment_5545

• edited November 2022

12-digit timestamp prefixed IDs.

When I started building my ZK, like you, timestamp IDs were "simply useless" until they weren't.

When I follow links on the trail of an idea, and I see two links having to decide which rabbit hole to jump into, the date is sometimes the deciding factor. If one is relatively recent and one is older, I'll choose the older one, thinking that the more recent one is still in some memory recess. If both are older, I'll gravitate to the most current, thinking that it will have deeper links to it.

I'm one of those idiots that creates duplicate titles. My ZK has grown over the years. The opportunity for recycling note titles has only increased because I'm still capturing ideas in the same schemas I was back at the beginning.

The most important aspect of the time-based IDs is the ease with which I can script my Spaced Repetition Review Process. Sure there are other methods for getting the notes creation time if you don't use a remote file server like DropBox to sync two machines as I do.

You're right, prepending the UID is plain ugly and chews up valuable screen real estate on a MacBook. You might consider post-pending the UID. This is how my ZK looks. I don't, but one might get away with an 8-digit timestamp.

Post edited by Will on

Will Simpson
The quality of our thinking is directly proportional to the quality of our reading. To think better, we must read better. - Rohan
kestrelcreek.com

• @szfkamil in Obsidian you don't need any IDs. Obsidian takes care of adapting links when you change the title of a note. It works perfectly fine for me this way.

• I am looking for a way to make certain characters lightgrey, og even white to make your zettel more readable and nice looking.

It could be:

• the [[]] characters and [[with 12 digits]]
• The ugly 120 character long Hookmark-links (which I used in combination with UID, because they - in principle can't be trusted alone).

The must be a way to to that in Archive theme.
It could also be a feature in software itself, since it is not be destroying any data. With the option to change colour in both title and the text itself.

• @nistude said:
@szfkamil in Obsidian you don't need any IDs. Obsidian takes care of adapting links when you change the title of a note. It works perfectly fine for me this way.

Obsidian is great for at lot of things. But when you let Obsidian take care of links, it also means that if Obsidian goes, your links are gone. A great function in The Archive is that everything is the text and filesystems.

• @pro2type said:

@nistude said:
@szfkamil in Obsidian you don't need any IDs. Obsidian takes care of adapting links when you change the title of a note. It works perfectly fine for me this way.

Obsidian is great for at lot of things. But when you let Obsidian take care of links, it also means that if Obsidian goes, your links are gone. A great function in The Archive is that everything is the text and filesystems.

I use Markdown files with Obsidian as I would with Zettlr or The Archive (if it was available on Linux). Letting Obsidian update links when I rename a file / retitle a note is just a convenience feature for me. YMMV.

• I have tested all new notes with the prefix creation date (YYYYMMDD_Title) during June.
Doesn't look nice, is a hindrance when linking...etc.

That was not a good Solution for my hole "Zettelwirtschaft"

But for the chronological assignment of a term in some situations very practical.
There are already enough arguments pro and con listed here.

Didn't want to block my way and keep the signature for different application areas in one form.

## My solution

to allow me both approaches in the future:

In the note header the creation date is in the format

"Created:: [[20221128]]"

inserted
(with Obsidian automated with template)

This keeps the creation date visible as information and also accessible for search functions.
Dataview can build dashboards and lists with it

## For the future

If Obsidian goes down, or I change my mind, I can use this field with a text program to create future formats and also reconstruct the links.

• I have my system, consisting of a Luhmann-like ID, a separator, and a timestamp which works for me. However, it has been an object of a priori animadversion.

Erdős #2. ZK software components. “If you’re thinking without writing, you only think you’re thinking.” -- Leslie Lamport. Replies sometimes delayed since life is short.

• @pro2type said:
I am looking for a way to make certain characters lightgrey, og even white to make your zettel more readable and nice looking.

The must be a way to to that in Archive theme.

You're in luck. Edit your color for the links in your theme in the entry. This will affect all links and tags. I'd worry about converting to "even white" as if they were complexly hidden you would seemingly be sent off to a random link by clicking in what appears to be white space:

"link": {
"color": "#8f9bb8"
},


Sadly, finer-grained control of The Archive's theming is not available.

Will Simpson
The quality of our thinking is directly proportional to the quality of our reading. To think better, we must read better. - Rohan
kestrelcreek.com

• @rl911 said:
My solution
In the note header the creation date is in the format
"Created:: [[20221128]]"
This keeps the creation date visible as information and also accessible for search functions.

Putting the Date Based ID in the header, not in the file name, and using the filename for the link is an interesting idea. I might try this. I think the creation date is super important and useful, but it is messy visually. In my setup, I've been using the UID as the link rather than the title of the note. This way, I simply don't have to worry about the note's title changing because the UID/link will always remain the same. The software I use (The Archive) doesn't use a database where it can monitor file name changes. I have since discovered that this is not the only way that note name changes can be synced. But I'm a long way down the path I'm on, and it would be hard to retrofit my ZK. If I was starting new, I'd feel different.

Will Simpson
The quality of our thinking is directly proportional to the quality of our reading. To think better, we must read better. - Rohan
kestrelcreek.com

• You're in luck. Edit your color for the links in your theme in the entry. This will affect all links and tags. I'd worry about converting to "even white" as if they were complexly hidden you would seemingly be sent off to a random link by clicking in what appears to be white space:

`
"color": "#8f9bb8"
},

Great. I will work a little with that. Thanks.

• @Will @pro2type This might be slightly off topic, but I think links in The Archive search the file names for the text in the link ( @ctietze - is that right?). Some other software uses the first line of the note for this purpose, rather than the file name. So, if you really want to be "universal" in terms of using different software to access your notes, you want some congruity between your file name and the first line of your note. For this reason, I have my UID in both the file name and first line of each zettel.

• @GeoEng51 Links are "just" searches, so they search anything -- but automatically displaying a good find relies on the file name. If e.g. the file name doesn't start with the searched phrase (aka the content of the link), it won't be selected for you.

Author at Zettelkasten.de • https://christiantietze.de/

• @szfkamil I've had those thoughts as well. But, a ZK is just a database, and in a database every entry needs a unique ID. I'm not familiar with Obsidian, but I'm fairly sure that it uses a unique ID, it just hides it from you. You can use your title as unique ID. Which is inconvenient to if you want to change your title, or when, like me, you tend to create duplicate notes. You can also just number your notes: starting at 000001 provides you with a million IDs, enough for a lifetime. The timestamp ID is just another convenient way to do it. Timestamps are also used a lot in archiving data etc. Also remember that in a ZK it's no so much the individual note and its title that matters, but the links (through the unique IDs).

• @Will said:

But I'm a long way down the path I'm on, and it would be hard to retrofit my ZK. If I was starting new, I'd feel different.

The longer I work with my new (from 2020) and old slips (1978-2020)the more valuable the older slips become to me.
Provided they are easy to find in the crowd and link to the current ones when needed.

I found the approach with the "digital date stamp" while searching for the most automatic addition of the existing slips.

The creation date field in the file system has proven to be relatively robust over the various moves from system to system.

The experiences with super great technical systems have taught me not only to care for backups, but also to maintain some simple, methodical redundancies :-)

• The difficulty of this matter is to extend ones time frame of perception far into the future. It is a re-occuring mistake to underestimate how things develop years into the future.

Better have and not need instead need and not have.

I am a Zettler

• I use both simple numeric IDs (differently from Luhmann, I write 1.1 instead of 1a for a Folgezettel) and timestamps as metadata in the same Zettel, but for my physical Zettelkasten. It's a pretty rudimentary versioning system (aided by paper clips) to help me resist the temptation of getting rid of Zettels, and when I transcribe my notes to my digital mirror, I avoid the "ugly timestamp title" issue.