Something that’s really been narking me for some time now, is the lack of name variability on the web, and in particular on social or community sites.
When I first registered on Facebook, it really brought it home to me. My networks before then had been purely professional, so I only needed to use my current name. I emailed the support and asked how I could incorporate my maiden name (I’m divorced, and Driver was my married name). They said there was no way around this, other than to call myself Thayer Chappell Driver. Which does rather suck somewhat. I would also hazard a guess that this would mess up search results for Thayer Driver, seeing as how they clearly haven’t thought about how to incorporate previous names.
So my problem is thus: I was Thayer Chappell until I was 23, and then I got married and became Thayer Driver. During my marriage my career took off quite nicely, and so in London I am known more as Thayer Driver, than Thayer Chappell. However, everyone I went to school with, worked with or indeed knew pre-marriage and subsequently lost touch with (as you do) wouldn’t know me as Thayer Driver.
I guess I am luckier than most; you don’t meet too many Thayer’s – so if you tie some of my geeky interests and photos with the Thayer part, you could probably work out it’s me.
Another angle is I know at least two people who have been kind enough to share with me their current name is not the name they were born with. These are both males, who chose to change their first names for personal reasons in their late teens. Like me, they wouldn’t want to have their birth name, plus their chosen name on such sites – but people from school, and anyone else from before they decided to change their names wouldn’t know it was them.
Seems to me like a massive oversight from these sites, I don’t know of a single one that allows you to be found through metadata or any other clever means of past names. When you think about all the women whose names have changed through marriage and divorce, possibly multiple times, that is a *lot* of the population. Then add on all the people who choose to change their name for their own reasons, and you’re suddenly left with a startling number who the social web is actually pretty broken for.
I’d be really interested to hear if anyone is developing a service that incorporates personal metadata that can be searched on but not displayed, and also anyone else that’s either found this to be a problem. Maybe you’ve even found a way around it? I’d love to know 🙂
Is this the fallout from lack of user testing across the real social landscape? I often find in my own experience that social services aren’t being built or tested with a variety of typical social users. Perhaps this is a symptom?
Perhaps there is a service just dying to be built here, where you can register your current and past names and places of work. Then you associate that with your openId and it slots onto all the social networks. If you want to build this please feel free. I’ll be happy with just a a coffee and a credit 😉
Look closer :p
Friends Reunited allows for maiden names, probably because they realised early on that when you’re a child you aren’t married.
Indeed facebook does do it; in the relationships tab there is a former name field. But only one, so I guess they don’t approve of multiple divorces.
Re: Look closer :p
Thanks for the reply. That is definitely a new addition to Facebook, that has happened in the last 6 months or so. I’m glad to hear it has though 🙂
And good to see FU doing it for maiden names, but that still doesn’t allow for name changes.
I still think there’s something missing here about capturing personal metadata for use across all the social sites.
Ah yes! I agree
I think we kind of had this discussion before, its true and its a PITA. I married at 31 and so many many people know me by my maiden name but many more new people by my married name. I contacted Facebook and they would have me be known by a stupdendous combination of both surnames. I did notice about 2 months ago they had finally introduced a ‘former’ name field.
LinkedIn has bugged me too, I have changed my name but what about those who only know my old name?
Biggest irk of all however is email! As I use gmail my email is intrinsically linked to everything else I have ever used provided by google (docs, groups, chat etc) I have an email account in my married name but, I just forward everything to my old account and allow myself to send under my new name. Major issue, a lot of people get wierded out because they cant add me on chat or when I add them it shows my old name etc, there is no way to en-masse change my identity, very irritating. And, although gmail allows me to send from another address in the header it still says it was sent from the ‘main’ account, problem – anyone using Outlook (about 80% of the world it seems) sees the old email and much confusion ensues about what I am really called. Bugs me something chronic and I dont know the best way to address it.
Laura Francis aka Laura Griffiths
Right – I could be talking out of my proverbial here (some of the hardcore tech stuff goes over my head), but I think this will all get sorted out when everything opens up.
So (if Google gets its way anyway) instead of Facebook / Linked in et al, we’ll all be using Open Social for our networked applications, the Social Graph API to link us together and Open ID to log in to everything. I guess we’ll start using hcards as our profile definition too – and I think this caters for as many names as we might need.
Not going to happen in the short term obviously but because it’s all open (unlike Facebook) I think it’ll all be much better.
Also, just had a search and found some stuff about ClaimIDs which sort of links into this (allows you to go around the web and claim your various identities).
Rather ironically, I didn’t leave my name!
You need to get yourself an OpenID by the looks of things 😉
Thanks for your comments,
Don’t get married 😉
And what about multiple current names
Some people have more than one “live” name. My wife practices (we’re accountants in practice) under her maiden name but socially goes under her maiden name. Clients and friends may not even realise she has “another” name. I asked a lawyer about this and he says that adopting a married name operates through customary law so pretty much anything goes.
Also a surgeon friend of ours has pretty much exactly the same issue.
Not to mention nicknames and so on.
So much easier for we men: “oi you!” pretty much identifies me wherever I am LOL