Incorrect Datetime Bug Fix

Download: WordPress Plugin Directory

This plugin was create to work around a problem that -I have to assume- only occurs after a database migration, where certain configurations in MySQL lead to several odd symtoms including but not limited to:

  • Loss of ability to create new posts
  • Loss of ability to update posts
  • Admin interface reverts to lowest settings such as the ‘Publish’ button says ‘Submit Draft’.
  • Errors regarding invalid timestamps
In addition, this problem is often accompanied by an error like the following:
WordPress database error: [Incorrect datetime value: ‘0000-00-00 00:00:00’ for column ‘post_date_gmt’ at row 1]

INSERT INTO `mg_posts` (`post_author`,`post_date`,`post_date_gmt`,`post_content`,`post_content_filtered`,`post_title`,`post_excerpt`,`post_status`,`post_type`,`comment_status`,`ping_status`,`post_password`,`post_name`,`to_ping`,`pinged`,`post_modified`,`post_modified_gmt`,`post_parent`,`menu_order`,`guid`) VALUES (‘1′,’2011-08-23 03:32:43′,’0000-00-00 00:00:00′,”,”,’Auto Draft’,”,’auto-draft’,’post’,’closed’,’open’,”,”,”,”,’2011-08-23 03:32:43′,’0000-00-00 00:00:00′,’0′,’0′,”)

The inability to pass zero dates breaks the ability to actually create a new post, but it also seems to have the odd secondary effect of confusing the heck out of nonces (noces are a security feature), probably because they too rely on timestamps.

This plugin strips out the sql_modes listed below from @@SESSION, thereby eliminating the problem while only effecting database sessions WordPress starts and not the whole database.

Explanation and history of the problem

The cause of this problem stems from an old (soon to be deprecated) odd behavior/feature of MySQL which WordPress came to depend on. My understanding is that it stems from problems in MySQL with regard to using the MySQL NOW() function in some contexts – so as a workaround it was decided that if a date of all zeros was entered on a column that was set as NOT NULL, then that date would not be rejected, but instead would be converted to the current date – to mimic NOW().

Subsequently this method was marginalized as generally a bad idea – and now values exist for a setting called sql_mode, which turn this behavior off and force errors when a null value is passed to a NOT NULL field. In many cases when there is an actual DBA in charge of the database, they will assign these values to the production database to force what outside of MySQL would be normal SQL behavior.

There are 3 sql_modes which will trigger the error by disabling the ability to enter zero dates.

It’s worth mentioning that the ALLOW_INVALID_DATES mode does NOT solve the problem, even though by the name of it, it would seem that it might.

The solution

This plugin solves the problem with minimal effect to the database environment. All this plugin does it check to see if the sql_modes in question are set, and if they are, it removes them.

Importantly, this plugin changes @@SESSION.sql_mode and not @@GLOBAL.sql_mode. By changing sql_mode via the session, it only takes effect on each specific connections WordPress makes with the database rather than changing it for the entire database permanently – as such this will have no effect whatsoever on any applications that might happen to be using the same database.

Other manifestations, alternative solutions.

WARNING: Whenever applicable, consult your DBA before making any changes to production databases.

This problem may (I have no idea) in fact be more common during installation. The errors are different, and although I have seen them, I do not have them handy at this time. In any case, if the sql_modes are set during installation – the process will fail from the start – because of this, it is my presumption that anyone encountering the errors as described above – has probably recently migrated to a new database, or perhaps recently acquired an enthusiastic new DBA who has made some changes.

This plugin DOES NOT FIX this problem for those encountering during installation – thats impossible because WordPress ignores all plugins during installation – so there is no way to hack around it via plugin and fix it before installation occurs.

If you are encountering this problem during installation you will need to find an alternative way to remove the modes. If this is a production environment this may require the cooperation of a DBA who may not like the idea. If met with resistance, I suggest the asking for the modes to be temporarily removed for installation, and then set back after its dont – at which point this plugin will handle the problem from then on.

If your encountering this locally, or on a environment whose database you have access to modify, you will want to make as few changes as possible, so go to whatever interface you use (command line, phpMyAdmin, whatever) and run this line of SQL:

SELECT @@GLOBAL.sql_mode;

This will show you all the sql modes currently defined. Copy all them them but if you have NO_ZERO_DATE, NO_ZERO_IN_DATE, or TRADITIONAL remove them. Then update sql_mode with the remaining modes as such:


Please don’t simply use the sql_mode definition I have shown above, this is only an example – be sure to use the modes from your database configuration. Remember to keep everything together NO SPACES ALLOWED in the definition.

Finally, if your just working locally and don’t care about these sql_modes, you can just clear them all.

SET @@GLOBAL.sql_mode = "";

This will do the trick but is absolutely not recommended as a fix for production sites that might share environments.

Irrelevant Note: I struggled with naming this plugin, and settled on the terminology seen in the error message.

7 Comments on “Incorrect Datetime Bug Fix”

  1. Steve Scotti says:

    Hi Eddie!
    Earlier this year, your plugin fixed the “inability to post” problem I was having with the website I maintain (and being not-to-WP-savvy, I was stymied for quite awhile!). A few days ago I upgraded to WP 3.5 and started getting an error that only went away when I deactivated the plugin. So I again have the “inability to post” problem. Will you soon be updating the plugin to be more compatible with 3.5?

    • eddiemoya says:

      I’ll look into this. Thanks for reporting it. Can you describe the error your were getting and what you where doing/what pages you were on when you got them?

      • I had just upgraded to WP 3.5, and then immediately got this error at the top of the WP dashboard…

        “Warning: Missing argument 2 for wpdb::prepare(), called in /opt/www/html/peninsula/wp-content/plugins/incorrect-datetime-bug-plugin-fix/incorrect-datetime-bug-fix.php on line 36 and defined in /opt/www/html/peninsula/wp-includes/wp-db.php on line 990”

        It looked like I could still publish posts in spite of this error as long as your plugin was active. However, the display of the pages (visited using link from dashboard) was very strange – not everything displaying and the spacing way off. This was using IE as browser. When visiting page (and not logged in as admin) using Chrome, you’d get the the same error at the top of the page, but pages looked almost normal otherwise. Hope this helps, thanks! BTW, do you have an idea why they don’t just fix WP so the plugin isn’t needed?

        PS. I can reactivate the plugin for you if that helps, just let me know. Thanks again!

      • eddiemoya says:

        Thats a very odd error to be getting, it may result in me submitting a ticket to core. I’ll reply to this thread with any update.

        Regarding fixing core WordPress to solve this problem.

    • eddiemoya says:

      Hey Scotti, the bug you reported has been fixed in Incorrect Datetime Bug Fix 1.1, the new version is now available for download. Thanks for the bug report

  2. Thanks! I’ll be able to install the update later this week.

  3. Rich says:

    Eddie, thank you SO much. This was exactly our problem. Executing the update as you recommended fixed the issue. Sometimes I love WordPress, but man, sometimes it sure is unwieldy…

    Anyway, THANKS! 🙂

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