Falsehoods Programmers Believe About Me

I’m sure we’re all aware of the excellent article Falsehoods Programmers Believe About Names by Patrick McKenzie. It’s a wonderful list of everything that programmers assume when designing systems that handle names.

I changed my name recently, so I’ve had the fun of updating my name on every system that knows who I am. To add additional complications to the process, my new last name is Scottish Gaelic (MacDhòmhnaill), and I go by both Skylar and Skye. Here is what I specifically have had to deal with so far.

I wonder how many of these points will be the same as points from Patrick’s article, which was published seven years ago?

  1. My name is not going to change. (Oops.)
  2. OK, names can change, but email addresses never change, right?
  3. OK, fine, email addresses can change, but I’ll never need to change my username, surely?
  4. I have only changed my last name.
  5. I have only changed my first name.
  6. I have not changed my middle names.
  7. I have the same number of names as I did before.
  8. Both my first and last names are one uppercase letter followed by a series of lowercase letters.
  9. I am going to capitalise my name the same way every time I type it into anything.
  10. My full name can be rendered in ASCII.
  11. You think you know how to spell MacDonald/MacDhòmhnaill better than I do.
  12. MacDonald and McDonald are the same, right?
  13. Scottish Gaelic is the same as Irish Gaelic.
  14. My name is in a language other than English, so I must also speak that language.
  15. You assume MacDonald is what it says on my ID, because that’s the name I’ve given you.
  16. You assume I go by MacDhòmhnaill, because that’s what’s on my ID.
  17. You assume that, even though I’ve told you “MacDhòmhnaill is on my ID but I go by MacDonald”, it’ll be basically fine if you just use MacDonald/MacDhòmhnaill for everything.
  18. Your system knows the difference between ‘legal name’ and ‘preferred name’, so everyone’s must.
  19. I have changed my name everywhere.
  20. I have changed my email address everywhere.
  21. I have changed my email address everywhere to the same thing.
  22. I want to change my name everywhere.
  23. I want to change my name everywhere at the same time.
  24. The name ‘Skylar’ is a boy’s name.
  25. The name ‘Skylar’ is a girl’s name.
  26. The name ‘Skylar’ is at all gendered.
  27. The name ‘Skye’ is at all gendered.
  28. Names are gendered.
  29. This name might not be gendered, but most names are, so you’re going to have to pick a gender for this name.
  30. The fact that I’ve changed my name means I’ve changed my gender or pronouns.
  31. The fact that I’ve changed my name doesn’t mean I’ve changed my gender or pronouns.
  32. The fact that I’ve changed my name means I’ve got married.
  33. The fact that I’ve changed my name means I’ve got divorced.
  34. OK, OK, fine, the fact that I’ve changed my name means that I’m in a civil partnership now?
  35. The title I’ve given you matches what I’ve put in the gender box on the form.
  36. You can’t have an ‘ò’ in a domain name.
  37. You can have an ‘ò’ in a domain name without encoding it in punycode. (You know, how IDN works.)
  38. If you’ve encoded a non-ASCII character with punycode, problem solved—you don’t need to display it in Unicode on the frontend.
  39. I’m going to remember to enter my email address in punycode.
  40. I’m going to remember that your system is smart enough to deal with Unicode and enter my email address not in punycode.
  41. I’m going to remember the punycode version of my name, and not have to look it up every single time.
  42. You operate a lot of different systems, sure, but they all know about punycode and IDN. Right?
  43. I’ve changed my name, so I must have changed my email address.
  44. I’ve changed my email address, so I must have changed my name.
  45. I’ve changed my personal details, so I must have changed my phone number too.
  46. I own macdhòmhnaill.com, so I must own macdonald.com as well.
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