Sign up form discriminates against people with short surnames

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/02/01/sign-up-form-discriminates-aga.html

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Somewhere Li Po is crying. And drinking, definitely drinking.

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and also
https://www.kalzumeus.com/2010/06/17/falsehoods-programmers-believe-about-names/

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eh?  

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:frowning:

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Imagine the trouble Cher has filling out forms …

oh, not agaaaaaaaaaaaain

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Q?

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We had trouble hiring someone with a Native Hawaiian name because the name was too long to fit onto a Social Security card, which truncated it according to their standards. The name on the card didn’t match up with the name given on the application, so automatic flags went up and a massive workaround had to be implemented. Since this is Hawaii, you would think that this was a known issue and could be easily corrected, but NOOOOOOOO!!

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The “Falsehoods Programmers Believe…” series of posts by various people are something I love to keep in mind and judge other (programmers,applications) on.

Patrick McKenzie’s “About Names” you posted was the original and classic (prompted by John Graham-Cumming who was blocked by an app complaining about the hyphen in his name…), but also “About Time” which is full of pitfalls and did you know timezones and Daylight Savings and OMG, and also “About Addresses”.

But here’s a curated list of all the articles organized by topic and I’m just going to bookmark that.

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This is what happens when you allow programmers to decide on business rules.
We have a patient information system that doesn’t allow apostrophes in names. When questioned, the software company couldn’t see the problem.

Edit: And don’t get me started on an input rule that says “two people of the same sex can’t be married to each other”. Not a business rule; some programmer thought it would be a good idea to implement it.

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Those falsehood lists are great. As a software engineer I’ve used them to explain to product managers why things like names are complicated.

I remember a college application with a checkbox “Check here if you only have one name”.

And never forget about Mr. Null https://www.wired.com/2015/11/null/

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One of the bankers at my local branch comes from a culture that generally uses just one name, so she has to write her first (only) name twice on pretty much every form.

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Let this remind us: Diversity. Matters. We can blame “programmer’s rules” for this, but those are rules derived from their own, apparently limited, experiences. More experiences = better, more inclusive rules.
That said, two-letter family names are actually pretty common, so it’s not unreasonable for whatever developer was responsible for this to fucking have a clue.

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Came here to post the Falsehoods Programmers Believe About Names link, and am so glad you did. I cannot believe how many fuckwit programmers try to argue against the point in this article by using an argument that more or less boils down to the utterly self-serving and smarmy “Well it wouldn’t affect me because of my name.” I know people in more than one of the categories in the article, and they have an unusual set of skills for coping with corporate and government bureaucracies intent on denying their existence.

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Why is it that everyone knows all the other things about a program come from the business, but when something stupid like names comes into it, everyone blames the programmer?

I’d bet anything that the minimum length of names and the first name - last name comes from the business, and they couldn’t be budged. And frankly, the just don’t care about the people who it doesn’t work for, because it’s such a small percentage.

The programmer may or may not know that it’s wrong. Doesn’t matter, because it was probably tested and it “worked” based on what the business wanted.

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In my experience as a programmer, I’d have something to say about this to members of the business team. By say something, I mean put in writing, try to get it changed, and if some idiot in upper management still wanted it like that, that written decision would be circulated as widely as possible as a CYA. I wouldn’t want my team to move forward on a bad design and shortsighted thinking, only to be blamed later for the bug reports coming from QA (or God forbid, the customers).

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Hey, there’s only so much room on a punch card!

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