[tz] Ambiguous abbreviations for Australian timezones when daylight savings is in affect

Alan Barrett apb at cequrux.com
Tue Apr 2 08:30:34 UTC 2013

On Tue, 02 Apr 2013, Tobias Conradi wrote:
> Seems we have some common ground missing anyway, since your 
> requirement is not understandable to me. And you refuse to 
> explain it, when asked "Why?"

I thought that I had explained my position many times, but let me 
try once more.

It does no good to come to the tz project and say "those 
abbreviations are illogical" or "different abbreviations would be 
more useful", because the tz project is not in the business of 
choosing logical or useful abbreviations.  The tz project is in 
the business of documenting existing practice, so if you want the 
tz project to change its abbreviations then you have to show what 
the existing practice actually is.  If the existing practice is 
inconsistent, then you have a problem.

As I see it, the situation is something like this:

(0) A fundamental principle of operation of the tz database is 
that it does not set policy for timekeeping anywhere; it merely 
attempts to document existing practice.  It is not in the business 
of choosing useful or logical abbreviations; it is in the business 
of documenting the abbreviations that are already in use.

(1) The tz database has some abbreviations for Australian time 

(2) Somebody comes along and says "Those abbreviations in (1) 
are wrong!  Here's a link to a government web site (A) that uses 
different abbreviations."

(3) Somebody else says "Oh yeah?  Here are links to different 
government web sites (B) and (C) that disagree with (A)."

(4) Somebody else says "Oh yeah?  Here's a link to another 
government web site (D) that agrees with (A)."

(5) Somebody says "As long as there's disagreement in Australia, 
the tz project should make no changes to the abbreviations in 

(6) Somebody says "But the web site (A) is an official publication 
of the central government, and the web site (B) is from some 
unimportant department."

(7) Somebody says "The web site (A) is irrelevant because it is 
directed at tourists, it's not an official standard of any sort."

(8) Somebody says "The web site (A) is irrelevant because the 
central government has no jurisdiction over time zone names, that 
power lies with the state governments."

etc., ad nauseam.  I have left out many steps and paraphrased the

As long as different people can point to different web sites that 
say different things, and there is no overall summary, this matter 
is unlikely to be resolved.

I have no decision making power here, and I have no wish to lay 
out a set of necessary conditions, but here's a stab at a set of 
sufficient conditions:

     Provide a list of what abbreviations are actually in use by
     the people in Australia, and what abbreviations are legislated
     or standardised or recommended by governments or industry
     bodies or interest groups.  If there is inconsistency,
     then present a report on the relative frequency of use of
     the different abbreviations.  If the report shows a clear
     consensus in favour of one set of abbreviations, then those
     are the abbreviations that the tz project should use.

So far, we have identified that there is inconsistency, but I have no
idea which abbreviations are in wider use.

--apb (Alan Barrett)

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