[tz] Belarus is listed in MSK timezone

Robert Elz kre at munnari.OZ.AU
Thu Apr 2 16:32:59 UTC 2015

    Date:        Thu, 02 Apr 2015 17:38:52 +0300
    From:        Dzmitry Kazimirchyk <dkazimirchyk at gmail.com>
    Message-ID:  <551D547C.2010200 at gmail.com>

  | It makes an absolute sense. The problem here is that Belarus (as to my 
  | knowledge as a local) doesn't have habitual time zone abbreviation 
  | (other than maybe GMT+3/UTC+3),

I believe that, and what's more, I suspect that it is true in most of the
world - most of the abbreviations that are in the tz database were entirely
invented here, and are more or less unknown in the areas of the zones to
which they apply.    The only reason they exist at all (aside from in those
comparatively few countries with multiple zones and which use abbreviations
to reference them, and western Europe (the EU area) which can almost be
regarded as a country for these purposes) - for everyone else, the time is
simply "the time" and if one ever wants to refer to some other time (other
than GMT/UTC) is is mostly "the time in some place or other".

Ideally, we'd simply make the things go away - but we can't, they're
required because of the interface requirements (API definitions) of the
functions that use the data - there must be something to return as the
"timezone name" (because these interfaces were developed in the US, of
course, and it's one of the countries that does use timezone abbreviations.)

So, when there isn't one that is used, we just make one up - and hence,
the controversies sometimes about what should be used where - anyone and
everyone can argue about naming, because there's almost never one really
correct answer (some answers might be better than others, given certain
judgement criteria, but it is rare that one is right and all others are

But in another message you said ...
  | MSK unlike many other time zones is in fact

which illustrates a complete misconception about what MSK is.   It is not
a timezone.   It is a (meaningless) label that we attach to a timezone.
Furthermore, should Russia decide to alter its times (again) and MSK
(in Russia) represent a different offset from UTC, that would not mean
that any other users of that same abbreviation need alter, regardless of
what offset from UTC they happen to have (the things are NOT unambiguous,
never have been, and never will be.)

Unfortunately, sometimes here we have people who attempt to be "helpful"
and give these strings some meaning (and to do that, change them when offsets
alter), in an attempt to appease some broken software that's attempting to
parse them - that's entirely counter-productive, and should be mercilessly
squashed whenever it is encountered.   Instead the broken software should be
corrected.   If (useful) time zone information needs to be attached to
dates/times (which it often does) it should be in the UTC+3 or +0300 form,
not "MSK" or anything like it.

Anything using the abbreviations should be fixed - for your purposes, I'd
have assumed that if you were going to tell people some name for the time,
you'd want that to be in Cyrillic in any case, and not latin characters.

Note that nothing I've said has any bearing on the question of what 
abbreviation should be used for the time in Belarus - I don't care, and
nor should anyone else, that is, unless it were (along with all of the
others, for all zones) be simply turned into XXX (literally "XXX") as
an attempt to make it clear to people using it that they really shouldn't.


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