[tz] Breach of tzdb charter: Merging timezones is not within the charter

Stephen Colebourne scolebourne at joda.org
Thu Jun 3 01:03:15 UTC 2021

This is a formal request to revert the recent patch to merge country
timezones. I, and others, consider the patch to be utterly
unacceptable. The patch causes meaningful harm to the status of tzdb,
and will cause downstream projects significant pain to effectively
revert the changes - amounting to an effective fork of the project.

Specifically, the patch merges the timezone history of completely
separate countries, effectively wiping places like Norway and Sweden
off the map to replace them by Germany. (Many other countries are also
proposed to be wiped off the map).

The reversion MUST occur as soon as possible, and MUST be before the
next tzdb release.

The tzdb coordinator is expected to operate by this charter:

The TZ Coordinator is empowered to decide, as the designated expert,
appropriate changes, but SHOULD take into account views expressed on
the mailing list.

The criteria for updates to the database include the following:

   1.  New TZ names (e.g., locations) are only to be created when the
scope of the region a name was envisioned to cover is no longer

   2.  In order to correct historical inaccuracies, a new TZ name MAY
be added when it is necessary to indicate what was the consensus view
at a given time and location.  Such TZ names are usually not added
when the inaccuracy was prior to 1970.

   3.  Changes to existing entries SHALL reflect the consensus on the
ground in the region covered by that entry.

   To be clear, the TZ Coordinator SHALL NOT set time zone policy for
a region but use judgment and whatever available sources exist to
assess what the average person on street would think the time actually
is, or in case of historical corrections, was.

I contend that to date, the TZ coordinator has not actively shown any
serious willingness to accept that the proposed changes are
unacceptable to a significant segment of tzdb users. As such, the
coordinator has not taken into account the views of the mailing list.

I also contend that the "cleanup" being proposed is not within the
charter of the project. Point 1 refers to new zones, thus is not
applicable. Point 2 refers to correcting historical inaccuracies, yet
it is clear that the proposed change *adds* historical inaccuracies.
Point 3 refers to changes, but only in terms that reflect what people
in the relevant location would have considered the time zone to have
been, yet clearly the proposed change does not do that. No part of the
charter permits the coordinator to willfully harm the database, nor to
merge timezone regions, nor to increase the number of historical

Justifications for the proposed change based on "consistency" or
"politics" are not rooted in the charter of tzdb and should be
considered null and void.

Given the above, I contend that the actions of the tzdb coordinator
are in breach of the charter of the project, I therefore request that
the changes are reverted immediately.

Stephen Colebourne

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