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

Clive D.W. Feather clive at davros.org
Thu Jun 3 22:03:22 UTC 2021

Stephen Colebourne via tz said:
> This is a formal request to revert the recent patch to merge country
> timezones.

> The tzdb coordinator is expected to operate by this charter:
> https://datatracker.ietf.org/doc/html/rfc6557
> """
> 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
> accurate.
>    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.
> """

None of those are relevant to this matter, and "include" means that they
aren't the only criteria that can be used.

> 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.

Equally, anything like this gets a lot of noise from those against it but -
often - silence from those who think it's a reasonable idea. I think it
would be a good idea for those who support the change to actually say so.

For the record, I'm agnostic on this. I don't think it's wonderful, but I
don't see it as harmful either.

> 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.

Since most zones in the database are amalgamations of pre-1970 zones, such
"inaccuracies" have always been there and some people in the zone would
have not said they were correct. So what? As far as I can see, the zones
are accurate for all of their area post-1970 and part of their area
pre-1970. This change doesn't alter that.

> nor to increase the number of historical
> inaccuracies.

If the data was being changed so that an entry was wrong for *everywhere*
in the zone pre-1970 or *somewhere* in the zone post-1970, then that would
be increasing the number of inaccuracies. But that's not what is happening
here. Nobody ever promised that a zone was accurate pre-1970 for the entire

Clive D.W. Feather          | If you lie to the compiler,
Email: clive at davros.org     | it will get its revenge.
Web: http://www.davros.org  |   - Henry Spencer
Mobile: +44 7973 377646

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