[tz] [PATCH 2/3] Replace some zones with links when that doesn't lose non-LMT info.

Russ Allbery rra at stanford.edu
Wed Sep 4 19:19:36 UTC 2013

Stephen Colebourne <scolebourne at joda.org> writes:

> Secondly, I'm not speaking on behalf of myself, but on behalf of Java
> development generally.

That's quite a mantle for you to be assuming for yourself.  I have to say
that I would be very reluctant to make a similar claim.  I'm not sure I'd
want to be responsible for expressing the opinions of the entire Java
development community as a self-appointed spokesperson.

> Thirdly, I note that the leading supporters of Paul's approach are from
> an academic background (Paul, Guy, yourself). With respect, I wonder if
> that academic background insulates from the needs of enterprise
> software, primarily stability.

I'm not that horribly interested in a war of credentials, but perhaps some
additional professional background would be helpful for context.  I am,
professionally, an IT architect and software developer for the central IT
department at Stanford University.  I'm not sure whether you count that as
an academic background or not, but my day job is running a large
hetergeneous server infrastructure.  My professional specialty is
authentication systems, which tend to care very deeply about accurate
time, but my involvement in this mailing list is out of personal interest
and curiosity.

I am also a member of the Debian Technical Committee and one of the
editors of the Debian Policy documentation, so I'm reasonably familiar
with distribution packaging issues, although I am not personally involved
in the Debian packaging of the tz database or in time zone selection
during the Debian installation process.

That said, I want to make it clear that I don't speak for Debian, let
alone for Linux packagers in general.  I'm participating, as I hope all of
us are, as an individual with some interest in helping the project make
the best decisions that we can make, and to provide support to Paul as the
primary maintainer.

> Fourthly, it seems to me that the recent batch of changes are far in
> excess of what has happened over previous years. For example,
> https://github.com/eggert/tz/commits/master/backward shows that the
> backward file was modified a number of times in the past few years, but
> almost always for changes to the spelling or naming of zone IDs
> (something which I've not opposed, even though I know CLDR finds that
> problematic).

I think it's important to distinguish between two different things that
are happening.

There have been quite a few changes made recently on a trial basis in an
attempt to address some of the geopolitical concerns.  I have no specific
comments on that other than to say that I wholeheartedly approve of and
support the *process* that Paul has been using in trying to reach
consensus on how to address those problems, including floating trials and
then backing them out when people disagree with them.  I'm personally
frustrated by people treating every proposed change as if the world might
end; by all means, argue your side of this debate if you have strong
opinions, but some of the comments have bordered on accusing Paul of
acting in bad faith, and that's not sitting well with me.  I have my own
opinions about the origin of the recent flood of geopolitical concerns
(and they're much harsher than Paul's, which is one of the reasons why
I've been sitting on my hands and letting Paul handle it, much better than
I would have).  But I think it's important to remember that Paul is making
a good-faith effort to address issues that have been raised, and to act
and debate accordingly.

However, apart from that set of changes, from where I sit, you and a small
number of other people have gone beyond that argument and have now started
objecting to nearly every change Paul makes for any reason, including
changes that would have been entirely uncontroversial in previous years.
And that's what I'm taking exception to.

> Finally, I'm NOT asking for all historical data to be frozen. I'm asking
> for no historical data to be changed UNLESS the replacement is a clear
> enhancement.

The bar that you're setting for "clear enhancement" is not consistent with
how this project has ever been run in the past.

> In summary, given the importance of the data set, and how it is
> currently being abused, I have no choice but to pusue my objections.

You are bringing far too much drama to this situation, in my opinion.
Paul has demonstrated repeatedly that he's not only open to reasonable
discussion, he's open to reverting changes even when people aren't able to
express coherent objections but are just upset.  None of this is the end
of the world.  There are some very hard problems around the intersection
of geopolitics and time zone selection, but there are also multiple layers
of correction and UI between the core database and those issues.  And the
changes that people are worried about have not been in any official

I understand why you want there to be a single tz database run according
to your criteria, but that isn't an option on the table.  There can be
multiple tz databases, of which one is run according to your criteria, or
there can be one database where you provide only one point of input among
many other people.

The contributions you have brought are very valuable.  It is very useful
to have someone deeply involved in the project who understands and cares
about Java's use of the database, particularly since some of those uses
are quite different than the typical POSIX use of the database (which was
its original raison d'etre and still tends to shine through, although the
project has grown beyond that).  I would certainly prefer for you to
continue to collaborate here.  But from where I sit, the recent
discussions have felt like more of a hostile takeover than a
collaboration, particularly when you casually dismiss all the work Paul
has done over the past several months.  That is what prompted me to speak

Russ Allbery (rra at stanford.edu)             <http://www.eyrie.org/~eagle/>

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