Facebook de la Majuscules
February 2, 2011 5:04 PM   Subscribe

Why doesn't Facebook allow uncapitalized names?

I have an uncapitalized prefix in my surname as I'm sure a significant sum of people in the world do. Facebook disregards this and automatically applies capitalization. Is this a technical/database limitation? Arbitrary policy decision? Either way, it's ridiculous; it's rarely a problem on other websites. I've asked Facebook about it a few times and got the stone wall. What's the deal?
posted by sunshineunderground to Computers & Internet (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Because facebook loves standardization.
posted by geegollygosh at 5:15 PM on February 2, 2011


Because they want you to use your "real" name. And now the semantics debates begin.

Their definition of "real" includes capitalization.
posted by GuyZero at 5:18 PM on February 2, 2011


Like so many things, I'm sure it's just easier (for them). Facebook has 600 million profiles. Adding just one option like this probably translates into millions of additional processing cycles and hundreds of tech support hours. Facebook would rather spend their time adding new features that increase revenue.
posted by 2bucksplus at 5:18 PM on February 2, 2011


Probably for the reasons 2bucksplus mentions, and to avoid people with myspace names like ~~SunSH!nE UndErGroUNd~~
posted by sanko at 5:29 PM on February 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


2bucksplus pretty much has it. I often spell my name with a number (as seen in my username) and Facebook used to allow that. They stopped this in 2007 and automatically changed my name to klin instead of k8lin.

Since this was quite awhile ago, they actually responded to emails. I had a lengthy email exchange with them where they basically explained to me that allowing me to put a number in my name would cause lots of extra work for them since it would require creating an exclusion just for me (or something along those lines).
posted by k8lin at 5:35 PM on February 2, 2011


It used to be possible. I am absolutely certain my best friend from high school used to have an uncapitalized name on fb. I remember because it filled me with rage, because I can only spend so much time being mad about Sarah Palin.
posted by jenlovesponies at 5:35 PM on February 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


Arbitrary policy. And yes, that means James van der Beek has to misspell his own name.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:38 PM on February 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have two friends who for some reason have their surnames spelled with two capital letters in a row on Facebook (though not in real life).

My theory: Facebook simply favours excessive capitalization .... except in their own logo, where they fail to live up to their own ham-fisted standard.
posted by astrochimp at 5:47 PM on February 2, 2011


Data point: My husband's name (on Facebook) is uncapitalized (first and last), so apparently they a) used to allow it, and b) didn't go back and change it for at least some users.
posted by deadcrow at 5:55 PM on February 2, 2011


Why doesn't Facebook allow uncapitalized names?

They do, at least in some circumstances.
posted by alms at 5:58 PM on February 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


My theory: Facebook simply favours excessive capitalization .... except in their own logo, where they fail to live up to their own ham-fisted standard.

They wouldn't let me have a name with 2 capital letters in a row, so I think that rules out this theory. :-) They told me there were too many capital letters, wtf.
posted by elpea at 6:16 PM on February 2, 2011


But alms, that's a Page, not a Profile. I've noticed that quite a bit -- that the same standards don't apply to each.
posted by pixiecrinkle at 6:29 PM on February 2, 2011


pixiecrinkle, her profile also has her name in lowercase. Unfortunately, I can't link to it because it's private. But in any case, it doesn't change the fact that Facebook doesn't let people do this in the general case.
posted by alms at 7:12 PM on February 2, 2011


Are you talking about the URL for your profile? Mine is all lowercase: http://www.facebook.com/david.friedman
posted by dfriedman at 7:17 PM on February 2, 2011


I doubt the rule makes things easier for them in any technical way. For every exclusion rule, they have to add another clause to their is-this-a-valid-name function, which makes it more complicated and harder to QA. And it adds to the amount of user feedback they have to deal with, due to people disliking the rule.

There must be a business-related reason, as others have alluded to.
posted by Hither at 7:23 PM on February 2, 2011


Why do they force you to use a real name at all? When they first started, this was actually not as obvious as you'd think. Myspace let you call yourself whatever you wanted, and most people didn't even use their real names.

They force you to use your real name, and capitalize it, for the same reason they have a plain white background: it looks more professional. I'm fairly certain that is the only reason. It reduces chaos on the page and makes it easier for more people to use the site longer, which is Facebook's only goal.
posted by malapropist at 7:49 PM on February 2, 2011


It's because Facebook's entire theory is that of multiple-choice identity: you don't get to be yourself in freeform, you have to fit yourself to their pre-defined options and data entry requirements. (For a fun example, compare MeFi's gender field with Facebook's; MeFi's doing it right here, which is why I use it and refuse to use the other.)

Allowing you to be outside the rigidly defined boxes might allow some personality to shine through, thus making it more difficult for advertisers to automatically file you into pre-determined boxes.
posted by criacow at 8:30 PM on February 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


They force you to use a real name so that people can find you and link to you. If everyone started using something different it would be impossible to find anyone. How else would Bob from high school know that Jimbo is registered on the site as HoTsTUFF47 otherwise?
posted by mr_silver at 1:19 AM on February 3, 2011


They may "force" you to use your real name, but when I signed up (when it was for US college students only) I used Darth [firstname]. After sign-ups when public it took me about 6 months and numerous name change requests to change it to my real name. Now I look at my friends list and about 10% have changed from real names to using obvious fake names, like "Disco-pants [surname]".
posted by EndsOfInvention at 1:53 AM on February 3, 2011


They've simply made the decision that seeing "James Van Der Beek" is less aesthetically offensive than millions of profiles like "JAMES VAN DER BEEK" or "james van der beek" or "jAmeS van dEr bEEk", essentially saying that they can't trust their userbase to use it responsibly so they've taken it away. (And seeing how some people on facebook type, I don't entirely blame them.)
posted by Rhomboid at 5:45 AM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


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