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The issue of how to represent dates seems to be fairly problematic for people. This isn't yet a proper help article, but is based on a conversation between two contributors.

A: Why the U.S.-convention date system, with that peculiar ordering [also loved by journalists]: month, day, year? Or should we start entering distances as: feet, inches, yards?)

B: Where are you having problems with date formats? On my watchlist is says "20:16, 4 March 2012", and in articles I've been using templates such as:
{{BirthDeathAge| |1823| | |1897|11|9|yes}}
...where "yes" indicates dmy format.

B: Log into the wiki, then click on "my preferences" near the top right of the page. Select the "Date and Time" tab and set the date format how you like it. Now click "Save".

A: No, it was the templates to which I was referring. I'll go back and recheck, but the one I tried to use was in "month day, year" format. I had to abandon my attempt in any case, as it's only possible to add date of death in the info box if one knows the date of birth (unless I'm missing something).

B: I've added [a] date of death using:
{{BirthDeathAge| | | | |2007|7|24|yes}}
i.e. without a birth date. I just like the way that does everything just by changing parameters. There is also a dedicated Template:Death date:
{{Death date|2007|7|24|df=yes}}