Account time zone sometimes automatically sets itself to Hawaiian Time

Multiple people have reported having accounts set to Hawaiian Time (HST) without ever intentionally setting it:

@kueda said at one point

but it’s not clear to me if he thinks people are accidentally selecting Hawaii as they manipulate the time zone drop-down (not really a bug) vs not making a selection at all and having the system choose Hawaii for them (definitely a bug).

I believe I figured out how at least some accounts are getting set to HST without any action from the user.

Step 1: Use the Android app to create a new account (web account creation didn’t cause this error, I didn’t test iOS). This account now has no time zone set, it registers as UTC (the time zone under date added is the time zone of the account):

Step 2: go to the Account Settings page on the website. Some of the settings show blanks as defaults, e.g. Search place, but Time zone is already on Hawaii.


Step 3: Finish your business on this page – maybe it was to change email notifications or licensing or whatever. Fail to notice that the time zone drop-down already has Hawaii selected.

Step 4: Go to the bottom of the page and save your account settings. Now, without intentionally choosing Hawaii or interacting with the time zone drop-down at all, account is set to HST.


Step 5: Accidentally Lock Self Out of App?


Uh, I would like to investigate UTC too, before I changed the settings I had most of obs with HST but with time there were more and more UTC, also some observations with UTC show no time at all, and only when you edit them it is there while others do show it.

i think these are unrelated to the problem presented in the original post, but…

i wonder if you can remember if these were related to observations created in the Android app? i saw something that sounds similar to what you’re describing (, but i’m not sure what caused this problem.

i think this is related to, which talks about a problem that was fixed, but maybe not for UTC.

I don’t think first is related, I saw those observations with missing date, that problem is new as I understand, while what I describe was quite long ago, but probably still happening, but without changing aone back and experimenting it’s hard to say. I believe those may be done via app, I need to find some of them.
Second one sounds like what it is, thank you, anyway, I hav to edit all of them to change zone.
I think they occur more often… en made a bug report before.

@optilete – would you mind sending a screenshot of what you see on your phone for that observation, and also send a log file to

here are some instructions by tiwane from a different post about how to send a log file:

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Correct, that’s what looks to be happening on the Account Settings page. I’ll see what we do in Android and iOS.

Slightly off-topic, but I’m down for setting time zone automatically as a broader fix (please have a discussion about automatic time zones on that thread, if you have thoughts).

@psium I did sent logfiles but the issue looks a bit like If you import the same photo more often the coordinates or the date will be imported in the end. Sometimes restarting the andrioid app or rebooting the phone will help.

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for what it’s worth, i just went through and checked observers with >1000 observations in my area, asking those with UTC and HST to check their time zone account settings. in my unscientific sample of just under 70 users, there were 9 with HST as their time zone and 3 with UTC as their time zone. of the HST time zone folks, about 2/3rds were Apple app users, and 1/3 were Android app users. UTC folks appeared to be Apple app users or maybe web users (i’m not sure).

Somewhat confusing update: since the new account settings redesign, the procedure I outlined at the top now gets you an account set to GMT-11 American Samoa. Though it’s probably less likely to cause problems than before because there are fewer items on the page and thus users are less likely to accidentally save the American Samoa time zone without noticing.

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