Letters After we published this story - My name's too rude for MS Passport - you've given us a fascinating insight into the role of the service as an arbiter of public decency. Specifically, into the criteria Hotmail admins employ for accepting user names.
Who gets in, and who doesn't?
Well, in addition to scanning for offensive strings, some names contain reserved words, or keywords goes the theory. So 'Maillard' is banned because it contains the string 'mail'. Jesse Towner thinks this is why our "vautour" pseudonym was rejected - because it contains 'auto', and why she couldn't register as her surname contains the string 'own'. Then again we heard from a Vautour in Canada who had successfully used her surname - suggesting that there are geographic inconsistencies too.
But now things get really confusing.
Aaron Stafford discovered that his surname contains a reserved word. ' And reader Sam Haddow couldn't register using his full surname, which is baffling indeed. Danish reader Mads Bahrt was told 'Mads' contained a reserved word. Keith Downer thinks he was declined because of a drugs connotation.
Then again, it's remarkable what Passport does accept.
From: Tracie L'Slut
I read your article about Microsoft Passport, and while I could understand why they might raise a red flag at the name 'Woodcock', can you BELIEVE that they never said a -word- about my uhhh, 'handle'?
Amazing isn't it?
Funny article, btw - I enjoyed it!
Bye for now!
Remarkably, we also heard from "Clit Commander" , from "Osama Bin Laden" and "Major Wanker", and even a "Viagra", who are all using Passport accounts with these dubious names.
And you have to have some sympathy for Claire Cumming, and all the other legitimate Cummings out there, who can't get Passport accounts.
Perhaps I should spell it the old way, Comyn, but I don't see why I should. I'm glad my name means 'Dishonest Sheep Dealer'
Like Claire, Dr Mark O. Stitson, has also been turned down, and we suspect has little chance of gaining admission.
Like James Woodcock, reader Katherine Bearcock was quite angry about being declined:-
I contacted my sister to find that she had had the same problem. There must be hundreds of people in a similar position with names such as (quick look in the local phone directory) Alcock, Peacock, Cockburn, Cockerill etc etc.
The funny thing is that about a year ago I did have a Hotmail account with my surname used as part of my address. Other providers don't seem to have this problem - my parents and I have other accounts with our names included. I realise that MS might not want people to be creating rude email addresses but this checking system seems to be over zealous in some areas and totally lacking in others
Which sums it up nicely.
On a related note, Phil Payne pointed us to this posting to an IBM mainframe discussion list, which which was flagged as offensive by Bell Helicopter.
"It seems to be the word 'bitch', as in 'bitch and moan'," writes Phil. "Which means that this software is merely keyword scanning. You would think that a product with its pretensions would at least employ some kind of AI language model on sentences picked by a keyword scan. It seems very primitive for the money it costs.
"Check also the old days - when AOL first started it was impossible to create an account in
Scunthorpe. God knows what 'Cockermouth' would have done. To our eternal shame, Bowdler was an Englishman."
And completely off-topic: Peter Kopcinski writes to tell us that his wife - Mariola Maria Beresniewicz-Kopcinski - was refused a New Jersey driving license because it was simply too long for them to manage. Maybe they're using an eight+three naming convention?
Thanks to all who've written in.
"Cans spam. Eventually, commercial pitches for recycled printer cartridges and barnyard porn can be stopped before they hit your inbox - while unsolicited mail that you might want to see can arrive if it has credentials that meet your standards."
…in the words of the indulgent puff-piece in the current edition of Newsweek.
Great idea. But if Passport's random selection criteria are anything to go by, we're not holding our breath. ®