This was the bane of social networks and somehow this made into developer tools everywhere.
Human beings are not computers. We cannot compute 4 days ago on the fly especially if there are potentially dozens of “4 days ago” entries in a build list. We don’t write “4 days ago” into logs because that would prevent us from quickly and efficiently figuring out what was wrong.
“But you can hover over a thing” adds friction. Why should I hover over something when it’s much easier for the UI to go ahead and display the unadulterated date? Why make us hover over a small and inconsistently sized target?
A very quick and easy example: a continuous deployment pipeline. A few deploys a day. Errors start showing up in logs at
2020-04-04 15:23. Which deploy was that? Let’s hop over to Circle CI.
5 min ago, 1 hour ago, 1 day ago, 1 day ago, 1 day ago, 1 day ago, 2 days ago, 2 days ago Wait what? I need a build/deploy that happened right before
The weirdness of this situation is that it’s harder to display “X ago” than to display a date. So why bother?