Human Names

Human names cannot be sanely validated.

It is incorrect to assume that every person in a system has a name. Newborn babies don't always have names, and in some cases it takes time for them to be named. Even for adults, who usually do have names, it's a bit intrusive to insist they give it out.

When it's useful, software should let people add their full name. No restrictions should be enforced, but it might be wise to ask for confirmation for strange names, as they might contain typos ('strangeness' metrics should probably be defined per-language).

Names should be stored exactly as provided. Remember that names are language-specific so getting character encodings right is critical.

A brave system might try to address people by nickname, but it would be difficult to get right. It could construct nicknames by splitting the full name on word separators for the user's specified language (usually whitespace characters), then choosing the first or last string based on the cultural convention for the language in question (e.g., in English family name comes last, but in Chinese it comes first). In languages that have no word separators, a nickname cannot be safely inferred so it should be left undefined unless the user chooses to add one. Any messages in the program that use the nickname would therefore require variants that do not use it.

Users should be able to edit and remove their names at any time without side effects. If a program supports nicknames, it should let people change them.

Systems that bill users will need to collect a name at billing time, but they should not require one until then.

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