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

Mark Davis ☕ mark at macchiato.com
Tue Apr 2 10:14:12 UTC 2013

The abbreviations only really make sense is where people commonly deal with
multiple timezones, such as in broad countries like the US or AU.

> (She insisted that it was Pacific Standard Time all year round.)

Yes, a lot of misunderstandings, even in those countries.

> if an offset needs to be expressed, use +/-HHMM.

That works for single points in time. It does not, however, handle
repeating meetings. For example:

  Mondays at 8:00 PT

You can't really express this with offsets in any way that would be more
understandable than the full name. One could try:

   Mondays at 8:00 GMT-7/8.

But nobody is familiar with that: leaving people to guess that you mean -7
most of the year, but -8 from Nov to mid March.

Mark <https://plus.google.com/114199149796022210033>
*— Il meglio è l’inimico del bene —*

On Tue, Apr 2, 2013 at 11:19 AM, John Haxby <john.haxby at oracle.com> wrote:

> On 02/04/13 09:30, Alan Barrett wrote:
> > 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.
> I suspect that there isn't any consistency.
> In the UK where we have just one timezone, commonly abbreviated to GMT
> and BST depending on the time of year, we *still* have problems.   I've
> had people refer to UK time as GMT regardless of the time of year (this
> is especially confusing around March/April and October/November).
> The man or woman on the street doesn't care about the abbreviation.
> Apart from GMT (use and misuse) people usually refer to "summer time"
> and "winter time", or, around the weekend of the clock change "old time"
> and "new time".
> In the US, it seems to be common to refer to ET and PT (Eastern,
> Pacific).   I'm not a US resident, but I've seen TV trailers refer to
> that quite a few times.    I also vividly recall a US manager insisting
> that the time of a meeting would be 10am PST, just after the switch to
> PDT.  (She insisted that it was Pacific Standard Time all year round.)
> Most people don't use timezone names beyond "what time is it for Aunty
> Clara in New Zealand/Canada/far-flung-country-of-choice?"   Many of
> those people that really do car what time is it have multiple timezone
> clocks that display a city name.
> I would happily get rid of the abbreviations completely and, if an
> offset needs to be expressed, use +/-HHMM.
> jch
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