The date is most likely generated in some obscure timezone you've never heard of, so it's quite nice to be able to find out what the time was when the article was sent.
gnus-article-date-user). The format is specified by the
gnus-article-time-formatvariable, and is a string that's passed to
format-time-string. See the documentation of that variable for a list of possible format specs.
gnus-article-date-lapsed). It looks something like:
Date: 6 weeks, 4 days, 1 hour, 3 minutes, 8 seconds ago
To make this line updated continually, set the
gnus-article-update-date-headers variable to the frequency in
seconds (the default is
gnus-article-date-original). This can be useful if you normally use some other conversion function and are worried that it might be doing something totally wrong. Say, claiming that the article was posted in 1854. Although something like that is totally impossible. Don't you trust me? *titter*
See Customizing Articles, for how to display the date in your preferred format automatically.