Auto-filled date incorrect

Dear All

We have 3 variables in our survey, used on ODK Collect, which auto-fills today’s date, a start time and an end time. However on some occasions the auto-collected date is in the past whereby the date in the end time and the user entered date is correct. What could be causing this issue?

Our XLS form is:

Here is a search on the kobo Toolbox dashboard

Here is the interviewer’s own call log from their device showing the correct date and time

Here is some downloaded data with the same issues

Best wishes


Kindly please be informed that if you happen to edit your data it saves the time you edited the data. Suppose you collected you data on November 17 and submitted the same to the KoBoToolbox server on the very same day. You then edited your submission on November 19 and saved it. You will receive November 19 as the interview_end date.

Hi @Kal_Lam

Yes that would make sense, however I don’t think it explains the situation we are having. Take for example the screenshot of the downloaded data where I highlighted

a new entry for StudyID 40350004, The interview_Date appears as 19/09/2020 whereas the interview_end and call_attempt1 both appear 02/12/2020 (yesterday), How would this scenario occue when it is a new entry to the kobo collect app?

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Yes, as said earlier the end date i.e. 2020-12-02 is still later then the start date i.e. 2020-09-19 and it does not show the future date. If it was a case where the end date was earlier then the start date or say it showed a future date it could definitely be an issue.

Sorry @Kal_Lam,

I am not sure I understand your explanation. A new entry for this particular studyID was entered yesterday however the auto-collected interview_date is incorrectly putting the date as 19th Sept which is clearly wrong. Why would this occur?


Could you kindly share with me the following through a private message so that we could have a closer look at your case:

  • Username
  • Project name
  • Server

sure i have just sent it, let me know if you don’t receive it

Could you also let me know the _id that you say is an issue?

well there are multiple IDs with this issue: you can choose any of these and enter them under the StudyID column
403500_04, 408870_02, 410990_01, 411736_02, 411824_04, 411916_03, 413437_03, 415620_01
415811_02, 419665_06, 423321_01, 424989_01, 426101_04, 427035_02, 427513_04, 432896_03, 452650_03, 462291_02

There is one possibility that could have affected this. If your device’s date is distorted (is either in a past date or a future date instead of the current date) it will capture the distorted date and hence you could capture date in your dataset that was way before the survey project was created or deployed. So kindly please ensure that your device’s date are correct while collecting data.

Yes I also thought that would have been the case but the teams have assured me that the device date and time were correct.
Do you think there is any other reason?

I guess it’s the device date distorted as those metadata captures the device’s date and time and not the server’s date and time. To ensure the server’s date and time please check out for _submission_time.

OK i will go back to the team again and tell what you have said though they have already said this wasn’t the case.

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Hi @cp622
Looking at this particular scenario, I am afraid we will end up on a loop where we (@Kal_Lam and I ) indicate that the issue seems to be something with the device clock being set or off and the interviewer indicating that it was not. Consequently, we would not reach a conclusion around that particular case/s.

I however wanted to point out a broader element that allows you to mitigate the issue in the future. If you check the system start and system end assuming they were picked from the metadata (start and time respectively), you notice that this picks the device time. This is a clear pointer to a wrong clock time on the data collection device. Sometimes, it is easier to also add a visible interview date that can be entered by the interviewers, and if you see a discrepancy between the manually entered and calculated dates, then there is a potential issue with the validity of the manual entry by the interviewer. As for now, I would encourage you emphasize this to the data collectors.

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Hi @stephanealoo

Thank you for looking into this, Yes I guess I do not have the interviewer’s devices but they have assured me the devices time and date in settings were up to date. The meta-data/auto-collect data are interview_date interview_start and interview_end columns A B and C in the screenshot I attached. There is a user entered date column H call_attepmt1 which clearly states 02/12/2020 and somehow the meta-data interview_end (column C) includes this date but columns A and B do not.

I will re-iterate to the interviewers to check their devices settings before they start interviewing and track whether the issue persists. Though they have told me they had already checked their device for this issue.

I still think it is strange that interview_end is correct but interview_date and interview_start are not.

Best wishes



I am glad we agree on this

Unfortunately, you and I are quite limited when we do not have the devices in question with us. So we have to use alternative approaches to trouble shoot.

On this last issue, see my logic below

You start an interview with the wrong date (start date recorded), and midway you change your system date. The end result is the end date will be that your end date will reflect the changed date, This is the only logical explanation since all the time and dates on the form in question are all dependent on the device as opposed to the system.

All the best, and looking forward to supporting you even further.


1 Like

Thanks @stephanealoo, I will share this conversation with the team and see if they can monitor on their side,

Thanks for your help and @Kal_Lam



I am having the same issue. I collect the metadata from end, today, and _submission. My “today” is always one day behind. I have not edited anything and things are uploading quicking.

Welcome back to the community @bjm2103! Would you mind checking the date of your device you have collected data with. Sometimes the distorted date in your device should also trigger this sort of issues.

Hello, I did it on my phone again this morning. The phone was correct. “Today” was wrong. It was one day behind. I tried my computer just now. The computer has the correct date but “Today” was 10 days behind. We have stopped using “Today” and now strip out the first 10 characters from “End” to get the correct date. Good luck tracking this bug.