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back to article Rackspace backtracks over toff-proof sign-up process

Rackspace has been forced into a hasty about-turn after it emerged that it was discriminating against aristocrats, power couples and other bigwigs with a sign-up and billing process that refused to recognise double-barrelled surnames. The policy put it totally at odds with a modern Britain that adores Royalty, and prefers its …

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Unhappy

I say

Bit of a rum do, eh old boy?

Cheerio

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FAIL

sponsors abound

Presumably this was an ad for rackspace (everyone's favorite sponsor of el reg) rather than actual news.

Since, indeed, it isn't in fact news.

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Re: sponsors abound

"Presumably this was an ad for rackspace"

They need a new marketing department, then. I know all publicity is good publicity but they can surely do better than an article that says "we're crap".

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alternative title

Small error spotted in web form validation

is it a slow news day?

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Anonymous Coward

You're lucky the validation failed

I have a double surname that is hyphenated (like "Villa-Lobos") in some of my documents and unhyphenated (like "Vaughan Williams") in others. If people ask me which is correct I tell them I don't care: they should punctuate it according to their own style guide. I frequently find myself unable to use websites and have always suspected that in some cases my name is to blame (and in other cases my unusual choice of operating system and browser no doubt). However, I don't usually get a clear and simple error message. The failure is usually obscure and difficult to diagnose. Perhaps I should own multiple credit cards with different versions of my name and try each one in turn ...

I would guess that before comparing names one should remove diacritics from Latin letters, delete all other characters, and normalise to upper case. This is what I've always had done to my name on flight tickets and I've never had a problem when travelling. Presumably the systems used for travel have been heavily tested during use for weird names.

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Yep, keep it simple, and don't second-guess.

Being clever bites you on the ass, but it's way too common.

What bugs me is when software tries to be clever with its data entry, to the point where it rejects valid entries. In a former life, I remember doing localisation assesment the "Welcome" crapware you get on new [insert name of popular computer system]. The code that asks for your phone-number needed to be changed four times: Once to allow variable-length numbers (i.e., almost the whole world outside of the old Bell System), once to allow area codes longer than three digits (UK), once to deal with Denmark that doesn't have area codes at all, and then again to deal with numbers longer than 10 digits (UK).

... all this so that people could put in a bogus phone number?

A friend of mine has one of the best surnames ever for breaking stupid name-splicing algorithms ("X de Y"). I also like to give my address as the charming Dutch town of 's-Hertogenbosch, which causes no end of fun when someone is showing you their spiffy new customer management system.

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FAIL

Same problem us Irish have had for years

O'Connell is, I am frequently told, an invalid name. OConnell let's me get past the validation (and the CC still works too) but is actually the invalid spelling.

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Unhappy

To be sure

I've given up using the apostrophe in my name on my credit cards because it causes so much trouble :(

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Gav
Joke

Your fault

Well frankly it serves you right for having a name that looks like attempted SQL injection.

Friend of mine is called ';DELETE FROM CUSTOMER; You can't imagine the trouble he has signing up for things.

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Happy

@Gav

It's a classic:

http://xkcd.com/327/

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Thumb Up

Bobby O'Tables

is coming for you!

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Badgers

What do you expect?

Rackspace are, apparently and in their own words, the world leader in cloud computing.

A firm which by its own admission is dedicated to all things vague and ill-defined can hardly be expected to recognise value in regular expressions.

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A title

Clearly the proles a plotting something against the beloved arse of crockery.

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Alert

What?

A credit card ?

Doesn't your word suffice ?

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Joke

Re: What?

Indeed. Can't Her Majesty or His Royal Highness vouch for you?

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Pint

Numbers?

We're not all nobs you know. Some of us are just bastards.

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Funny chars in surnames

Having funny chars in your surname can be a nightmare. I have an apostrophe in mine which any computing fule kno can do interesting things to poorly-written code. The amount of times I've got to the checkout on a shopping site for it to barf, and me not knowing if the payment was taken or not.

Grr.

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Joke

Re: Funny chars in surnames

"The amount of times I've got to the checkout on a shopping site for it to barf, and me not knowing if the payment was taken or not."

If you double the apostrophe up and one gets through, start brushing up on your SQL.

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Unhappy

Don't get me started........

My surname has an apostrophe in it, causes havoc with pretty much any electronic sign up form :-)

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Is premature validation the root of all evil?

So they allowed digits, but not hyphens, apostrophes or spaces? Who wrote this system, C3PO?

So they were filtering names, but then insisting that the result matched a third party system for payments?

Perhaps we should start teaching CompSci students *not* to validate data. Tell them it is uncool and only for wimps. The smart ones will realise this is rubbish and do it anyway, but they are precisely the ones that can be trusted to get it right. The idiots will be taken in and we'll be spared their stupidity.

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Anonymous Coward

gritish bas

british gas have been the worst for me.

My email domain includes a hyphen, and after getting me to type it in twice, their site accepted it and promptly removed the hyphen without telling me. It was only when I tried to log in that I found they'd corrupted it. Took ages to work out what they'd done!!

I guess that's what they call progress.

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FAIL

That's bad news...

for anyone with an internationalized domain name using punycode.

The fail's for BG, not you, AC.

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Joke

he he. - try this for a name

http://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/exploits_of_a_mom.png

ttfn

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Grenade

XKCD link

http://xkcd.com/327/

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Reminds me of hte hell that is Apostrophe's in SMTP addresses.

Can't find an RFC to point the moaning "customer" at so have to allow them -- then systems like third-party spam and virus filtering won't accept them in logins and web forms etc. have problems with the address. Never had problems with hyphens though.

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Headmaster

Not to mention...

...Greengrocers' Apostrophes.

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Coat

Re: Not to mention...

Don't you mean Greengrocer's Apostrophe's?

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Anonymous Coward

Keep up with the fashions, old boy!

Surely it's fashionable to write something like "Damon HartDavis" these days. Of course, you then appear like some kind of accountancy firm or Wall Street investment bank after a merger and before a rebranding.

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Go

Even more annoying

Is that there is never anywhere to put your titles before and after your name, or even if they do they don't grant enough space.

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Not just toffs

My wife kept her maiden name when we married, so our kids are named Jones-Smith. I guess that makes them aristocats... :-)

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Happy

personally I'd be moaning...

..that they wanted my credit card details in the first place (which would eliminate the cc name mismatch). Free trial should mean exactly that - and anyone taking credit card information that 'won't be used' is in breach of some law or other...hmm if only the DPA had a section on unnecessary collection of personal information....oh hang on..

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Semicolons are the worse

My surname is ;drop and it causes me loads of problems.

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Z80
Headmaster

@Cameron Colley

Think of it as your punishment for misusing them yourself.

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My apostrophe's are not your's so go away!

My punctuation is second to none.

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I think people should be more chilled about their names

Sometimes I use the hyphen in mine, sometimes not, or use one or other part or even Mr. <wife's maiden name>, whatever seems reasonable at the time. I don't even mind having cards with different names and signatures.

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WTF?

The Curse of Unnecessary Validation

WTF is the point of validating somebody's name? As long as I supply one, my name is whatever I say it is, subject to things like credit card approval. The same goes for other free-form data like addresses.

On a related note, why do web forms make us repeat our email addresses (or, more likely, copy box 1 and paste into box 2)? We're deemed capable of getting a 16-digit card number right without repeating it.

And what's with forms that won't accept phone numbers with spaces or "+" signs? Actually, I know the answer to that one, because I worked on a site where they told me that their auto-dialer wouldn't accept spaces. Is this really the 21st century?

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unnecessary validation

Don't get me started ... oh, too late...

When my sister-in-law got married, she was told that she could legally use any name she liked, and several if she so chose, as long as her intentions weren't fraudulent, so in the UK at least, name validation is pointless to the point of being wrong.

Addresses, I believe, have a preferred form as far as the UK post office is concerned, although I'm pretty sure you couldn't even write a grammar for it, let alone a regular expression.

And before we go, can I just mention that asking a user to divide their name into "title", "forename" and "surname" is almost always an indication that you intend to separate the parts and stick them back together in the wrong order next time to talk to the customer.

Sorry. I'll go and sit down in a darkened room now.

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The email address makes sense.

Your credit card number is checked and an error is returned if it doesn't match the other details you give -- there is no way that anyone can check that you entered your email address correctly (other than asking you to reply to an email sent to it, and even that only means you got the domain correct).

I agree about the over-checking though -- some moron where I work forced SMTP addresses to only be of the form <firstname>.<lastname>@wherever.com so anyone with a slightly different form caused errors which propagated across several systems.

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Happy

Validating email is for their benefit, not yours ;-)

-On a related note, why do web forms make us repeat our email addresses (or, more likely,

-copy box 1 and paste into box 2)? We're deemed capable of getting a 16-digit card number

-right without repeating it.

I think that's because they can validate the, err, validity of the CC number straight away, but if you get your email address wrong, you won't get their crap^h^h^h^h useful marketing material....

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Coat

Damn people!

Having names that don't fit into nice logical well-defined computerised systems. It's just not on really...

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My name is...

slim shady, "Slim Shady so-sick-off-royal-news smith"

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Another side of the coin ...

From the late 1970s thru' the late '80s, I was legally known as "jake"[1]. Just the four letters, lower case. Was on all my legal documentation, from Passport & licence, to credit cards to my taxes. I finally went back to my birth-certificate name in 1990ish, as I could see that this modern, literal, computerized world was going to be rough on the whimsical ...

[1] The actual name has been changed, to protect the guilty :-)

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Badgers

I knew a guy...

in the 80's who said his name was Splodge. He was a bit miffed when his electric bill was addressed tp S. P. Lodge.

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punctuation

I've got an apostrophe in my surname too. It causes no end of problems, but does sometimes throw up interesting SQL errors.. What irritates me, though, is the sites that automatically de-capitalise the letter after the apostrophe. If I take the trouble to type in mixed case, please keep it like that!

Worst incident was when O2 upgraded their website - old version was quite happy with me. New version crashed with lots of errors as soon as I logged in.. it took months before they fixed it - by creating me a new login and misspelling my name - and I could get into my bills again.

My young daughter has a first name with a hyphen in it, as well as the apostrophe in the surname. I can foresee many interesting times ahead with websites...

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To paraphrase Steve Jobs...

Change your name. Not that big of a deal.

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FAIL

VodaFone

I tried to buy a phone from Vodafone and their website refused to believe that an email address ending .eu was a valid one.

I emailed their customer services and their advise was register for a hotmail account!

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Coat

not just toffs

Anyone sensible enough to use NAME+suffix email addresses to enable filters to easily toss inbound mail into appropriate folders tends to find that a lot of sites don't like 'em.

Including a LOT of UK sites whose helldesks claim that + isn't a valid character in email addresses.

Mine's the one with the questionmarks all over it.

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Anonymous Coward

Ah yes, the wisdom of the helldesks.

+ is a perfectly valid character in an email address. Just not in the hostname part. Same for, oh, at signs, spaces, and so on. Quote it and all is well again, except when some script or other, perhaps written in php, decides it isn't.

So why do we even have helldesks, those dens that are supposed to enlighten us but at the same time manage to pull their betters down and manage to make brains rot instantly? Wasn't all this computing technology ment to be "intuitive" and therefore it would be entirely and instantly self-evident what is a valid email address and what isn't?

So much boneheaded stupidity abounds these days that I think this intuitivity premise is a cake of a lie and that odd characters in email addresses acceptance is not really fixable. Then again "most people" grew up on a certain bundled client, which is just about the worst email client there is* and even more these days can't be arsed to write a proper or even readable email.

I'm with Knuth on this one: Email was fun in the 80s. Wish I could get away with not having any email account these days. He can, but I can't afford the replacement secretary.

* it's fine, I'm told, as a companion to that upsell of a collaboration messaging server that so very much is not an email server, but gets universally abused as such. You know the one, it even "enables" the sender to delete sent mail from the recipient's inbox, distressing panicked office drones everywhere when, not if, they find out the hard way that this button doesn't work anywhere but on their own local network. From the same company that brought you a "common internet file system" that is entirely unfit to expose on the public internet. They're not responsible for all stupidity on the internet. Not quite. But if there's a field where they actually manage to innovate it's there.

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Happy

"Just not in the hostname part."

Hmm, but a hyphen is and the domain I use for my email has one.

There are quite a large number of places who seem to think this isn't possible either though. Reading out <something> hyphen <something> dot TLD over the phone sometimes results in; "I can't enter that sir, it's invalid.".

An interesting variation that I have heard here is the helpful offer to replace it with an underscore, which their system will accept. Always gives me a good laugh that one.

I guess a simple DNS lookup to validate the hostname part is considered de trop by some UI builders.

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the hostname part

"An interesting variation that I have heard here is the helpful offer to replace it with an underscore, which their system will accept. Always gives me a good laugh that one."

Be thankful you weren't asked to subtract the second half from the first half.

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