Friday, June 18

40 assumptions the dev of your next MMO will make...

Assumptions about your name that is.
As someone with an ö (alt+148) in his surname I feel this author's pain.

40 wrong assumptions programmers make regarding people's names:
  1. People have exactly one canonical full name.
  2. People have exactly one full name which they go by.
  3. People have, at this point in time, exactly one canonical full name.
  4. People have, at this point in time, one full name which they go by.
  5. People have exactly N names, for any value of N.
  6. People’s names fit within a certain defined amount of space.
  7. People’s names do not change.
  8. People’s names change, but only at a certain enumerated set of events.
  9. People’s names are written in ASCII.
  10. People’s names are written in any single character set.
  11. People’s names are all mapped in Unicode code points.
  12. People’s names are case sensitive.
  13. People’s names are case insensitive.
  14. People’s names sometimes have prefixes or suffixes, but you can safely ignore those.
  15. People’s names do not contain numbers.
  16. People’s names are not written in ALL CAPS.
  17. People’s names are not written in all lower case letters.
  18. People’s names have an order to them. Picking any ordering scheme will automatically result in consistent ordering among all systems, as long as both use the same ordering scheme for the same name.
  19. People’s first names and last names are, by necessity, different.
  20. People have last names, family names, or anything else which is shared by folks recognized as their relatives.
  21. People’s names are globally unique.
  22. People’s names are almost globally unique.
  23. Alright alright but surely people’s names are diverse enough such that no million people share the same name.
  24. My system will never have to deal with names from China.
  25. Or Japan.
  26. Or Korea.
  27. Or Ireland, the United Kingdom, the United States, Spain, Mexico, Brazil, Peru, Russia, Sweden, Botswana, South Africa, Trinidad, Haiti, France, or the Klingon Empire, all of which have “weird” naming schemes in common use.
  28. That Klingon Empire thing was a joke, right?
  29. Confound your cultural relativism! People in my society, at least, agree on one commonly accepted standard for names.
  30. There exists an algorithm which transforms names and can be reversed losslessly. (Yes, yes, you can do it if your algorithm returns the input. You get a gold star.)
  31. I can safely assume that this dictionary of bad words contains no people’s names in it.
  32. People’s names are assigned at birth.
  33. OK, maybe not at birth, but at least pretty close to birth.
  34. Alright, alright, within a year or so of birth.
  35. Five years?
  36. You’re kidding me, right?
  37. Two different systems containing data about the same person will use the same name for that person.
  38. Two different data entry operators, given a person’s name, will by necessity enter bitwise equivalent strings on any single system, if the system is well-designed.
  39. People whose names break my system are weird outliers. They should have had solid, acceptable names, like 田中太郎.
  40. People have names.


  1. Obviously this is annoying for character names.
    There's some argument that people barely fill in correct information on Internet services where name is asked, but those same msiconceptions are made by people setting up things like Billing information.

    Take my last name Schröder. It's German, I'm Dutch. It's been spelled Schroder, Schroeder and Schr¶der or Schr郎der. To this day I have been unable to use my country's Digital ID system DigID because there's someone else with the same first and last name combination. We have different social security numbers and middle names, but the country's official Digital ID doesn't care about those things.

    With that kind of governmental system jsut filling in something else might constitude fraude. Nice huh?

  2. Oh, that is sad! Dutch names are a pain abroad. At least we have no 'de' or 'van' or such that makes it hopeless to fill in any documents. But I have the pleasure to have Latin Baptised names, thanks to my Catholic upbringing. Three of them. Try to put that in any form. Banks, Governments, Utilities are all confused about it.

    The most fun was when I got married. According Kenyan standards your second name becomes your family name once your marry.

    So MMOs are not the only ones that mess thing up :)

  3. /me nods

    Yeah, multpile birthnames are a problem too.
    You'd think Western culture would atleast be able to accommodate the Roman Catholic churches standards.
    I hate names wit 'van', 'der' or 'van der'* in it. Our ticketing system, actually has an optional middle name field, but the data entry people (or more commonly the Active Directory dup of the client's AD) never has so you keep trying to find if someone is called "Knaap, van der" "ver Knaap, van" "van Knaap, der" "or van der Knaap" in that field. Did I mention we can put wildcards at the end of our search-string but not the beginning?

    * van der translates to 'of the' or simply 'of' or 'from'

  4. Ouch.

    I'm lucky my German last name was anglicized years ago as my ancestors came to the 'States. It's unique enough to be distinguishable (I know of nobody else with the same name or anything close to it), but it doesn't have oddball characters in it.

    Still... very few people spell it correctly on the first attempt. I don't mind, but I can only imagine the pain you guys deal with. Blasted lazy programmers!

  5. Worst is when you get a confirmation e-mail from some official (gorvernment or financial institution) digital system and they mangled your last name.
    You can't help but imagine situation where you have to proof that you are who you are and they have the wrong name listed or something. Makes Social Security numbers have sense...