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Is there a way to store a custom field value as a datetime so it can be used to order by?

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Yes, you can use jQuery DatePicker and save the date, and use query_post to show the postS in order (code also on github):

<?php
//The Query
// exactly than
query_posts('meta_key=start_date&meta_value='.date("Y-m-d"));
// or
// dates less than
// query_posts('meta_key=start_date&meta_compare=<=&meta_value='.date("Y-m-d"));
// or
// date mayor than
// query_posts('meta_key=start_date&meta_compare=>=&meta_value='.date("Y-m-d"));

//The Loop
if ( have_posts() ) : while ( have_posts() ) : the_post();
 echo the_title();
 echo "<br />";
endwhile; else:
endif;

//Reset Query
wp_reset_query();
?>
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    I would recommend using a timestamp instead if Y-m-d format, as that will easily allow you do add time whenever you wish, also MySQL will be quicker at ordering by a timestamp than it will the MySQL date time format. – Joe Hoyle Aug 22 '10 at 12:14

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