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A.D., B.C., C.E., B.C.E.
How curious that these common initials can create such confusion. A.D. stands for Anno Domini and translates to 'in the year of our Lord'. B.C. stands for 'before Christ'. C.E. simplifies to 'current (or sometimes 'common') era'. Leaving B.C.E. as the replacement for 'before the current era'.
Besides the general controversy concerning which set of initials to use, the most common error is to put A.D. after a century. The 9th century A.D. is an absurdity. Centuries and years just don't mix that way. Also, A.D. should always precede the year in question. The plaque marking the moon landing site does read: July 1969 A.D., a cosmic mistake, so perhaps use will prevail and this use will become common.
The general controversy concerns replacing the Christian designations with politically correct designations. This, when examined, is a non-starter. A fellow named Dionysius Exiguus of Scythia Minor devised this dating system in 525 C.E., and eventually it became the Gregorian calendar which is the most widely used in the world today.
The problem begins with the curious fact that the zero did not exist in 525. With no zero point, the year 1 represents no year at all. Additionally, the date is meant to mark the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. Most scholars mark that date some four years later than Dionysius' date.
Many think that replacing the Christian designations for the sake of political correctness is an overreaction. However, these abbreviations came into use in the early 17th century. They are used primarily for their inclusiveness. Greater accuracy is another reason to use the C.E./B.C.E. system. Yet another reason is simplicity.
A plethora of dating systems have existed over the centuries. Most have to do with the start and end points of a king's reign. The Japanese date their years with the name and time-frame of their emperors. If your ego was of sufficient girth, you might create your own calendar.
For example, the Dawg suggests using dog years for the common calendar. The ratio to human years is generally considered to be 7 : 1 (a 2 year old pup is really fourteen). This year then becomes (trumpets sound): the Year of the Dawg 288 C.E.