Name fields and UI

The AdaCamp Melbourne application form began with two fields: Your Name and Your Email. Seems fair enough! An unanticipated problem a few people have had with the forms is that they have entered “Your Given Name” and “Your Surname” instead, presumably trained to do this by umpteen million sites that want data entered that way. This leaves us with no email for them.

I don’t think the solution is to go with the flow, it buys into Falsehoods Programmers Believe About Names and the only thing it would get AdaCamp is the more-or-less correct alphabetising of the attendee list. (Only more-or-less correct: not only do given-surname name orderings vary among two-or-more-name cultures, so does the sort key, see eg Wikipedia’s manual instructing editors to sort Thai people by their given name.) But since we have no need to alphabetise the attendee list, it’s fine.

The best solution, I think, is to perform email address validation, which has its own problems (eg many validators use “is there a dot in the domain part?” which annoys the lucky people who have an email account at a top level domain no end) but gives us what we really need: a way to contact applicants!