Before I go to bed, here's a blog post I wrote a while ago and never published, on names and responsibility in software:


Good grief, the wack-a-mole one has to play with systems.

Old post from my blog on adventures with software, systems, and names.

I was much more tolerant back then.

@emma oh yeah. it's very annoying.

this is a great post, thank you!

@tindall I think even "legal name" could be confusing to immigrants who might have a different legal name in each country. Also, this is probably why most medical systems ask for date of birth, for disambiguation. Identifying people is hard.

@tindall Something I would add is that the concept of a legal name is country dependent. The UK has no such thing. Names which people might be thinking of when they say "legal name" are the names on a passport, driving license, voting register, or what the tax office calls you. These can all be different. Really the name the software needs depends on what it will be used for which as you already said the software should tell you.

@tindall I think I would not recommend a database field called legal name for this reason. Even in countries where such a thing exists I suspect such a field will be abused with assumptions such as that name equaling what is on various documents.


1) This is great. Thanks for writing it.
2) I noticed a typo: “Experiance” should be “Experience”.
3) I feel like this expresses a general principle of giving users more context about how a piece of information we’re asking for will be used. Parallels for gender, but I’m sure other things as well.

@benhamill thank you for reading it! And yeah, that's definitely a typo 😅

@tindall god I hate legal names, I wish the government just gave everyone a globally unique ID number.

@tindall This is absolutely wonderful. We recently realized how fucked up it is to have "name" and "preferred name" as the default, whether tech or paper forms, so we're glad to see we're not alone in this.

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