In 2010, Patrick McKenzie wrote the now-famous blog “Falsehoods Programmers Believe About Names”, in which he listed 40 things that were not universally true about names.
Did programmers sit up, take notice and change their attitudes to names? Sadly, not really. We still get asked to fill our names out in online forms which assume we have a first name and a last name (in that order) and which refuse to allow us to continue unless we have filled out both. They assume our names can be entered in alphabetic characters, often only ASCII.
I fear that part of the reason that this blog post had less impact than I hoped was that Patrick did not give examples of how each assumption can be false. But having worked in a previous life on IBM’s Global Name Management product, I can assure you that it’s all true.
Still not convinced? In this post I’m going to list all 40 of Patrick’s original falsehoods, but give you an example (or two) drawn from my experiences working in this space. Ready? Let’s go!