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Jenny Levine (staff)'s picture

How should ALA display names on ala.org and Connect?

Hello, WAC --

ITTS needs your input as we move forward with the project to combine Connect and ala.org profiles.

On Connect, we display your first name and last name as the author of any content you post. In the case of common names, we needed a way to distinguish between one "Jane Smith" and another, but we're very limited in the type of information we can guarantee is in a member's record.

So when we first built Connect, we went with two options for displaying names.

  1. If there's a middle initial, we add it to the name. Unfortunately, because of the way usernames work on the site, we have to add it at the end of the name, which is a little weird but at least it provides differentiation.
  2. If there's no middle initial, we add the state abbreviation on the person's address at the end. We weren't thrilled about using a designation related to location, but it's one of the few fields we can guarantee isn't empty in a member's record.

Since I have both a staff account and a member account, I made my first name on my ala.org profile "Shifted Jenny" in order to distinguish my member account from "Jenny Levine," my staff one. This past year, a second "Jenny Levine" became a member, so her username on Connect is "Jenny Levine NC."

Now that we're combining profiles, we're re-examining this issue to see if we can improve the situation, so our question is how would you like the names of content authors to display?

Let's use Aaron as an example. If another Aaron Dobbs joins ALA, we'll need to visually distinguish his name as an author on Connect content, ala.org comments, ALA blogs, etc. from our chair's content in all of those same places.

What's the best way for us to do that when it's just a name as part of a byline?


Aaron Dobbs's picture

I'd suggest going straight to the states step (skipping middle initial)... but even then, if people move do their state indicators change?

A "better" way might be to add a "preferred username" field to whatever the master record is... I know, another nightmare (a new field in the database) to dread.

Too bad there is no good reason to auto include a miniature of their headshot/profile pic and just leave their full name as their byline.


"Always remember everyone is working to make the organization better in their own way."
-Eli Mina, ALA Parliamentarian

David Vess's picture

How about adding to the process you already have?  Sounds like you already have an algorithm brewing around middle initials.  Could you add other things, like affiliation?  So for me, James Madison University will come up behind my name.  Ugh, what a puzzle.    You could also add the states step and/or drop the initials and still come up with a few other things that might distinguish people.

I like the idea Arron has of a mini image.

Will the name always be clickable and lead to a profile page across systems?  If so, then maybe you don't need to worry about this at all.  Anyone can click to see if it's THAT guy or the other one.  ;-)