Weeding the Namipedia garden
Over on Twitter (http://twitter.com/BabyNameWizard) I regularly ask followers to act as a "Baby Name Jury." The names on trial stand accused of maybe not deserving a page in Namipedia. I tally the thumbs up and down, and the name page faces its fate.
Before we convene the next Jury, I think a meeting of the Legislature is in order. That is, I'd like your input on the rules and criteria for accepting new names.
Here's the challenge. Community submissions are part of Namipedia's lifeblood. The thousands of new names that users have added make the site vastly richer. I'm thrilled that you can now go to Namipedia to learn about the Albanian name Besnik, or get sibling ideas for Irish Gaelic Aoibheann. And check out the thorough entry for Atreyu, a name that originated in a fantasy novel.
But as the site grows up, the need to weed becomes more urgent. Think about it: every new name added is one that was not popular or notable enough to appear before. So the bigger Namipedia gets, the more obscure the new names inevitably get. (Have you ever picked up one of those books that proudly offer "100,000 names for baby"? It's like reading the phone book...if you live in a city where most people have names like Alykzzandra and Doberman.) To make browsing and searching Namipedia worthwhile, we need to maintain name quality.
The question is, how should we judge quality? Is it about likely appeal to prospective parents? (Namipedia is a baby name encyclopedia, after all.) What about global or historical popularity? Cultural significance? The amount and quality of background information provided? Do we open the doors to any spelling of a popular name, or to any name from the Bible no matter how obscure? Is it enough that a name be used somewhere, even if it sounds bizarre to English speakers?
Here are some sample user submissions. Where do you think Namipedia should draw the line -- and what instructions would you give users when they submit new names?
Kreative spellings: Kelci (F), Azaleaha (F)
Word & place names: Dresden (M), Caress (F)
Biblical obscurities: Hamutal (F), Bashemath (F)
Historical obscurities: Cairbre (M), Mariot (F)
Book, movie and video game characters: Varian (M), Samwise (M)
Invented for style: Jalandra (F), Shannessy (F)
Fringe names, heartfelt commentary: Bobbygene (M), Kyy'Ron (M)