RE. Summary: picking safe user names?

Subject: RE. Summary: picking safe user names?
From: "Hart, Geoff" <Geoff-H -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
To: "Techwr-L (E-mail)" <TECHWR-L -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>, 'Ead Ni Domhnaill' <ead_ciara -at- hotmail -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 19 Jun 2000 09:00:24 -0400

Ead Ni Domhnaill summarized advice on picking user names for documentation

<<Famous Dead People>>

Just make sure that they've been dead long enough that they don't have
survivors who are likely to take offence at your appropriation of their
name. Paul McCartney might not object to appearing as the resident of Penny
Lane who uses your tax software, but he might quite properly object to being
used as an example of how to download pirated Beatles songs at (and for the record, this is not a URL that I've
checked, and I'm not recommending that anyone goes and tries it out). He
might also object to having his name used in a context that might suggest he
endorses your software, or using Linda McCartney's name in _any_ context,
since he's likely still mourning her.


Same note.

<<Your own name and variations of your names>>

Just clear it with your (non-)pointy-headed manager. I've known a few who
felt this was wildly inappropriate.

<<Names of Pets (?)>>

One hint: don't use my uncle's name for his cocker spaniel, "Tache le
Salaud" ("Spot the bastard"). <g>

<<Sports Figures>>

Same note as for dead people, only more so, because there's a temptation to
use living players or recently dead people whose children might object. As
an alternative, consider using literary figures (e.g., Sherlock Holmes, 12
Baker St.), but again, be wary of the author's "moral rights": the context
of usage must not reflect badly on the author or the character or use the
character in the form of an unpaid endorsement. You can often get away with
this as an "hommage" or as satire, but that's a delicate legal issue.

--Geoff Hart, FERIC, Pointe-Claire, Quebec
geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca

"Technical writing... requires understanding the audience, understanding
what activities the user wants to accomplish, and translating the often
idiosyncratic and unplanned design into something that appears to make
sense."--Donald Norman, The Invisible Computer

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