First, Google sparked a furor by banning pseudonyms from Google+ under its “Real Names” policy. Its next row, now warming up in Australia, is the banning of real names that happen to lie outside the programmers’ assumptions. An Australian journalist and commentator, who changed his legal name to the mononym Stilgherrian many …
He's not the only ione
See here for another rant from another ex-pat Australian having the same argument with G+.
Falsehoods Programmers Believe About Names
Google are becoming the Enron of online services - arrogant enough to believe they are the smartest guys in the room, but actually not.
Programmers believe some weird things about email addresses too. Ironically, Gmail's feature which allows users to receive mail at username+<any phrase here (no spaces)>@gmail.com is one which catches programmers unawares. I'm often told that my email address is invalid when a plus sign is included. One site allowed me to sign up with a plus sign but won't allow me to log in with it. Their marketing guys keep spamming me about lovely things I'd like to buy from them (yes, to my valid "+"@gmail address), but their programmers won't allow me into the store.
Most programmers can't be bothered to work that RegExp out, it's what I use for email address verification - and yes, it allows '+' in the username space as per the RFC specs. It's based on one from Hexillion.
That + sign
I believe that the + being "illegal" in mail addresses is because the people (and I use the term advisedly) who wrote Exchange didn't actually bother to read the relevant standards (RFC821/2 and their successors). Unfortunately this mistaken rule has propagated into other bits of software where the programmer simply cannot be bothered to do the job properly.
Google's "you must have two names" stance is only slightly misguided: the vast majority of people do have at least two names, one or more given names and one or more family names. It's not as bad as X.400 though which took the view that a US naming convention applied world wide. It doesn't, not by a long, long way.
The "firstname.lastname@example.org" is a valid part of the smtp email address spec (no I can't quote the RFC for you, but I do know it's right). But hey when has that ever stopped lazy/cheap/clueless/hardpressed* devs..??
*delete as appropriate.
It's pretty pathetic, isn't it?
Especially as Google+ is also ignoring W3C's "best practices" for personal names:
"If designing a form or database that will accept names from people with a variety of backgrounds, you should ask yourself whether you really need to have separate fields for given name and family name.
This will depend on what you need to do with the data, but obviously it will be simpler, where it is possible, to just use the full name as the user provides it."
Exactly. You don't need this first name, middle name or last name nonsense. You just have one big field to accommodate it all, and you fill in the name as you want it. It's elementary programming, especially if you make the field Unicode. If really, really, really (and I mean REALLY) necessary, the W3C suggests you provide an extra field for Latin transcription of your name, so guys like "Σωκράτης" can have their names in English-friendly "Socrates". (Not that it matters - "Socrates" is actually his full name, so Google+ would find him verbotem.)
The gossip I'm getting is that most Google programmers think Google+'s naming policy is fucking stupid, and have been sharing the kalzumeus link provided above with each other and with their team leaders. However it is upper management - particularly Vic Gundotra, Google's VP for social - that is pushing the policy hard. Why? I have no idea, unless Vic's worried about the loss of the advertising dollar.
To mean, it seems such a waste of effort. Using your energy to create a new technology (like Sir Tim Berners-Lee did for the WWW) - wonderful! Using your will to create a new operating system (as Dave Cutler and Linus Torvalds both did) - groovy! But staking your reputation on pushing a corporate policy that (a) is broken by design, and (b) killed a lot of goodwill that people had for Google+? It's the sort of thing that gives managers a bad name.
The RegEx you're using to check your punctuation could do with updating.
E'Gads! Tis what one gets, forsooth, when befouled with "RegExp English" Circa 1560!
Still, 'tis a step to the fore from Chaucer edition I was, but until recently, benighted with!
not as simply as it sounds.
If you use that method, how do you know whether someone whose name is "Sarah Jane Smith" is F M L, or "F F" L or F "L L" and the answer is, without having a first-name field elsewhere, that you don't. Even better is the arrest records where there are people listed whose middle name is NMN.
I think I'm going to change my name to NFN NMN NLN (Just call me 'No')
You only have to have two names if you enter the U.S. I went to college with a guy from Indonesia who only had one name. The made up last name on his student visa was the letter M, which he chose to put him in the middle.
Up until this year, I've had trouble with my state drivers license because their computer system didn't allow spaces in names.
Can enter US with one name, but not register at The Register
Actually, I can enter the US with one name quite happily. I even have a US visa. The database requires both given name and surname to be non-empty, but you put your mononym into the surname field and "FNU" as the given name, for "first name unknown ".
A bit backwards, I know, but it's a well-known procedure amongst border control staff and airline staff and has never caused any reaction stronger than a knowing nod and a polite "Welcome to America, Sir."
Nor have I had problems travelling to Thailand or Tanzania.
Almost everywhere, and with almost every organisation, the reactions range from polite curiosity to concern that they're unable to enter my name correctly. Google has been the only organisation that has ever simply asserted that I am wrong and told me to change. And that is what gets up my nose.
Besides, in Australia they are legally required to record my personal information correctly.
Since the number of replies to that article is so long I did not want to add my misconception to it (since I would have to read all of them to see if someone had already added it). Mine is base on an old Science Fiction novel I read years ago (and which I have somewhere in my collection since I recently purchased a used copy to add to my collection since I wanted to use it in an article as well as reread it). The name of the novel was "The Man Whose Name Would Not Fit". The plot was about a computer database being developed and implemented which had an assumption that a person's last name could not be longer than some limit (lets say 25 letters - forget the actual limit). The system allowed for hyphenated names (the author was British so took care of that case) but failed to accept a 26 character hyphenated last name. The story told of the outcome for this person and the problems that it caused.
And on the flip side, we have sites insist on using your email address as the login--you find this out after you've created the account, and now "email@example.com" is my user name, and I have to type the whole thing every time I want to log in and shop for flatware. (OK, bad example. You get the point though.)
I've all but given up on the + suffix, as it seems like I get spam regardless. :)
The local part can be a quoted string containing whitespace and control characters.
Check the RFCs.
...and kinky! But I prefer FFM myself, thanks for asking!
That was my point, I think.
I've been dealing with this type or problem since I was in 3rd grade. On test forms, applications, etc. My name as variously been either too long or contained an illegal character (space), or both. Only in the last year has my states drivers license database been updated to allow names that contain spaces.
Re: Can enter US with one name, but not register at The Register
We started out by allowing mononyms for our registration system. So few people signed up from countries where mononyms are common that we abandoned this idea. No-one has complained yet.
I should try to join
Australian here with two given names and no family name (the FN field on my birth cert is a dash). Every government department, bank, et.al. deals with this differently, which suits me fine - tracking me across disparata databases requires human intervention.
Have another mono-namer here where I work too. It's common enough that when I was a student, the student union already had an in-place procedure for forcing uni admin to acknowledge lack of a family name.
Why no FN? Is there an interesting story behind that ?
Fiction I once read
Mentioned a guy named Hen4ry (the 4 was silent).
He did it to screw with people using data entry systems that restrict their input fields to alpha-only.
I imagine that
the only person inconvenienced by that in any way at all was the idiot himself.
I imagine that no one was inconvenienced on account of how it was fiction.
thank Tom Lehrer
But you'll have to search for the album, I don't remember....too many tangos.
Idiots abound. Work around it.
Thirty five years ago, I had the name "jake", all lower-case, as my legal name on everything from my tax returns to my passport to my driver's license. For several years. Caused no end of headaches for "the authorities" ... which, as a young man who understood database programing, I took great delight in.
Then I grew up, no longer having time to "be pulled aside" by petty officials. Today, I use the name my parents gave me on legal stuff. I'm the same dude, with the same Social Security number, regardless of handle ... but everyone who knows me still calls me jake.
 Name changed to protect the guilty ...
You have seen the light! You are a conform-again citizen! Hallelujah!
"but everyone who knows me still calls me jake."
You sure about that?
You haven't read many of my posts here, have you?
I legally switched back to my given name after a BrightYoungThing[tm] at an airline ticket counter in Perth, Australia, said "Oh, you mean like Cher, Madonna and Sting?" ...
Yes, I'm sure about that. But that's just folks who know me.
My friends, on the other hand, generally call me "you fuckin' fuck".
Us greasy bikers are funny that way :-)
It's a shame they're not honest about the policy.
They continuously say "the name you commonly go by in real life", but then insist on most occasions that this name be a variant of the name on your license/ID. In Australia and the US, I think England as well you can legally go by any name you like as long as it is used consistently. Any name one chooses to use is effectively their real name. Even if your birth certificate/passport etc don't have this name, you can still use it when applying for a bank account, filing a tax return, or in a court of law.
This is why you'll often see people talking about Google's policy referring to a "wallet name" rather than "real name", because Google insists that it be a variation on the name on the ID that one generally keeps in their wallet.
Stilgherrian has a hope of getting his account re-instated because he will have just that ID available to show them when they ask. Other people like me however who go by a name that is in no way shape or form related to their wallet name (and I do actually go by "Bastard Sheep" in real life) do not have that option. We will be forced to either have our accounts suspended, or be forced use a name nobody actually knows us by which completely defeats the entire purpose of a social networking site.
Naming Errors writ large
"In Australia and the US, I think England as well you can legally go by any name you like as long as it is used consistently"
Not only England (which has not existed as a separate country for 300 years), but also Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. I suspect you meant "United Kingdom" (to use one of the short-form names), often abbreviated more to "UK".
Scotland and England are both part of the UK, but they have separate law books. Scottish law is a quite different beast to English law. I have no idea if Scottish law is the same as English law on THIS matter. It probably is, but you can't just assume that just because they're both part of the UK; they're different on quite a lot of other matters.
Stop being a pedant
He probably didn't mean UK, as law is not consistent across the UK.
You have English Law in England and Wales, Scots Law in Scotland and Northern Ireland Law in Norn Iron.
In Scotland for example you do not require a deed poll to change your name, you pretty much just have to inform others (banks etc) of the name you will henceforth be known as.
The imperative "Stop assuming"
Followed by "he probably"
that is all
I see your pedantry...
...and raise you another pedantic comment:
Scotland and Northern Ireland, as noted by others, have their own laws, and Wales, being a principality, is technically part of England. This is an entertaining 'fact' whenever one finds the need to wind up a Welshman.
"technically part of England"
I'll trump your pedantic comment - constitutionally, England and Wales are two parts of the same country, whose name is "England and Wales" (a bit like "Trinidad and Tobago"). Thus there is actually no such country as "England" (or "Wales" either).
Yeah America, stop generalizing!
The last clockwork Welshman passed away in 1963. All Welshmen are now either gas- or electricity-powered and require no winding.
It does seem from the comments here that some of the English are still using the old key-and-mainspring system though, and they no longer come with a stiff upper lip.
"Not only England (which has not existed as a separate country for 300 years), but also Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. I suspect you meant "United Kingdom" (to use one of the short-form names), often abbreviated more to "UK"."
I was unsure if it was the entire UK, just sections of it etc so decided to go with the smaller entity as a safer option. :) I do appreciate you clearing it up for me that it is the whole UK though. Thankyou.
But why Google+ ?
Why use any Social-Diarrhea [TM] sites?
Maybe he likes to stay in touch and stuff
re: Go Stilgherrian
"But why Google+ ? Why use any Social-Diarrhea [TM] sites?"
Yeah, you're right, it's definitely Stilgherrian's fault...
I'm totally using that term from now on as it perfectly captures the flow of crap in my newsfeeds.
...are selected by you. I could no doubt get the same by following the RSS of your comments, if I chose to do so.
What? No XKCD?
I'm surprised at you lot:
“The Names Policy requires that you use the name that you are commonly referred to in real life”
I have almost used the name TafT long enough for even my UK passport to take it... (Something like 12 years of common use) but that would fail on account of it beeing a mononym (well OK it is a Acronym as well).
Prior to that I got one of the names I was Christened with added to my passport as although it did not appear on my Child Passport or my Birth certificate I had been using it long enough for it to count as my legal name...
I, and most people I know, don't use Google +
their 'real name' policy has driven lots of people away who don't want to use their real name, but the arrogance of zgoogle to reject people with real names that don't comply with their narrow view of what a 'real name' should be is quite astounding.
Commonly Referred to?
“The Names Policy requires that you use the name that you are commonly referred to in real life” - I am very very rarely referred to in real life by my real name. Only my work colleagues and parents would do so, most of my family and friends use various nicknames I have developed over the years and in social contexts with those groups I will introduce myself with those same nicknames.
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