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Does the Webmaster greet you by your Firstname, Lastname or Full Name in wrong order?

Updated on February 6, 2010

'Concatenation' is a simple concept. It means to link things together. Programmers of a dynamic website normally supply two or three fields, let you fill your first name, middle name(optional), and surname, then concatenates strings to become full name, then return to Web site user, the Webmaster very "politely" greets me by my first name, or address me by my last name, or thanks me by my full name (in wrong order). This will cause problems in different cultural environments.

For example, if you have a first name Louis and a last name Armstrong and you concatenate them, you get Louis Armstrong. This particular concatenation has a third element - the space between the first and last names. That's perfectly fine for Western people. But I am Chinese, traditionally, Chinese use our name in surname+firstname order.

Twitter lets me fill my name as one, thus no problems will be caused regarding the first and last name order.

In Facebook, you can input your First name, Middle name, and surname separately, and you are provided additional choice: display your full name in one of two forms which the website has generated for you:

  1. Firstname + surname
  2. Surname + firstname

This is not so intellegent, but a quite good solution. Blogger has the same solution as facebook, it provides three fields: First Name, Last Name, and Display Name. The display name is used to sign your blog posts. Blogger has been incorporated into Google, becoming one of many Google products, we can sign in blogger using Google account, but Blogger profile hasn't been changed.

Google profile solves this culture-sensitive issue more gracefully and intelligently. Google profile provides two fields for me to input my First Name and Last Name, when I input my name in Chinese characters, Google displays my name in Surname+First name order without space between them; when I input my name in Romanized Chinese Pinyin (a roman-based transcribing system), Google displays my name in Firstname+Surname order with a white space.

The changing of name will affect other Google products, such as Knol, in my case, a dash is added between my name in Chinese Pinyin, no dash added between my name in Chinese characters, this is used as part of my Knol article URL.

This cultural sensitive name displaying format is also not perfect, of course, because, Google can't tell the difference between Chinese Pinyin and Western language.

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