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How Many Different Ways Can You Screw Up A Name?

March 18, 2014

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

That’s the official name of the Mormon Church. It’s often abbreviated as the LDS Church, or, of course the Mormon Church. To the members, it’s often just “The Church.”

I once had occasion to see a portion of the directory of the employees of the Church. I attended church with the guy who was responsible for maintaining the directory of Church employees. There were several thousand names in their directory. Much of the directory information was autofilled. However, the field for employer was entered by the employees. They could type in whatever they wanted.

You wouldn’t believe the variations they came up with.

You mean like LDS Church, or Mormon Church?

Well yeah, but they also misspelled every word in the name except “the” and “of.” They misspelled the name of the savior.

Which one?

Both.

He said the employer field had over 100 different entries. He said that some of the mistakes were obviously simply a mistyped word like “chruch.” But, the surprising ones were “ladder” for “latter,” or “Crutch” instead of “Church.”

So, I asked him,

Why didn’t you fix it? Obviously, you knew what the right value was?

I didn’t own the data.

What do you mean?

Our policy stated that if a field is configurable by the user, then only the user can change that field. I knew the values were wrong, and my engineers could have easily solved it. But, corporate policy prevented us from fixing.

Yup, he identified a problem. He even identified the solution. It would have taken about 30 minutes for one of his engineers to write a script and update that field to the correct spelling. But, policy prevented it.

So, the “right” answer was to leave the “wrong” data.

I suggested that perhaps policy was being misapplied if it insisted that you leave bad data in your system.

He didn’t disagree.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife and thirteen children.

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3 Comments
  1. In a case like that I think you need to own taking it to the right person o get the policy fixed.

    • It’s a matter of where you want to spend your political capital. The screwed up name was only visible inside the org. But, yeah, seems pretty silly to not fix an error simply because someone else made the mistake.

      • Good point on the political capital. I had not considered that to be a political issue, but I imagine that there is always some political cost to a change.

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