Do you have to "trick" an online database into handling name data?

I had to trick FindAGrave in handling my mother’s name so that it was searchable.

Mom was a namesake of her mother. So from birth, she was always called by her middle name to avoid being confused with grandma. Only immediate family even knew she was named “Ruth”

FindAGrave really doesn’t like people using their middle name. It also does not allow a nickname to be either the given or middle names. But if the name was entered following guidelines, no one searching by her commonly known name would ever find her.

But I discovered that if both Given and Middle names were entered as a 2 word Given name (with middle name blank), it resolved all the problems. The middle name could now be entered as a nickname. That made it show up prominently in lists. And searching with her Middle name (or her actual given name) in the Given field of the search form finds her correctly.

Have you run into other places in the big online services where their design precludes doing things “correctly”?

I’ve learned to search any and all variations possible, as the “correct” way may vary by culture, accent, language, tradition, illegible records, or human errors.

For example, I’ve dealt with:

My German relatives have two first names, but I incorrectly assumed a first name and a middle name. The order changes when in Germany versus when in the US too, so Anna Maria became Mary Anne.

Similarly, with hispanic names: usually two first names, then father’s first surname, then mother’s first surname. In the US, we typically use one first name and one family name, the paternal surname. So Jose Luis Rodriguez Santana typically gets recorded in the US as Jose Luis Rodriguez, but may also be chosen to use the other surname, or combining surnames with a hyphen.

Lastly, being aware of nicknames or translations of names across languages can help a lot! I didn’t realize that Charles can translate to Karlos, or Carol, or be shortened to Chuck, written as Chas… Theodor can be Theo or Ted or Teddy; Dorothy can be Dora or Dot, or Dotty; Mary can be May or Maria or Mari or Molly or Polly; Margaret can be Marge, or Meg, or Peggy. James somehow can get to be Diego…

So it’s worth checking out common nicknames like above to try as alternate search terms.

I don’t know if this is the solution but it helps. The website itself should have a search engine where you can say if you want to search for variations. On Geneanet, for paying people, we have these choices for some fields.

My own first and last names, without search for variations:

With firstname variations

With both

Search fields and alternate names

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