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IBM's Teri-is-a-Girl-and-Terry-is-a-Boy Patent

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the how-about-lee-and-robin dept.

Patents 277

theodp writes "The USPTO has granted IBM a patent for utilizing naming conventions to assign gender-based avatars for instant messaging. A user named Teri, IBM explains, would be given a girl avatar, while a user named Terry would be provided with a boy avatar. The three IBM 'inventors' were stymied by users named Pat, who as a result will be assigned a 'generic, genderless human figure image as his or her avatar.' Way to honor that significant-technical-content patent pledge, Big Blue!"

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English names only? (4, Insightful)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | more than 5 years ago | (#25633833)

What about odd spellings?

Re:English names only? (2, Insightful)

catch23 (97972) | more than 5 years ago | (#25633893)

Yeah, what about Xie Hua? Is Xie a male or female?

Re:English names only? (3, Informative)

amRadioHed (463061) | more than 5 years ago | (#25633975)

Xie would be the last name. Unless you mean is Xie Hua male or female. Either way, Hua sounds feminine to me.

Re:English names only? (5, Funny)

camperdave (969942) | more than 5 years ago | (#25634177)

Either way, Hua sounds feminine to me.

You haven't seen many films about US marines, have you?

Re:English names only? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25634731)

"Hooah" is used in the Army. The Marines say "Ooh-rah".

Re:English names only? (1, Informative)

catch23 (97972) | more than 5 years ago | (#25634415)

Why would Xie be the last name? I know someone by this name, and Hua happens to be the family name (I'm Chinese btw). I also know someone by the name of Xie Chen. (obviously Chen is the last name here). In the first case, Xie Hua is a guy, in the second case, Xie Chen is a girl.

Re:English names only? (3, Interesting)

catch23 (97972) | more than 5 years ago | (#25634439)

Also I might note that in some cultures, there is less of a male/female oriented names. My sister and I were named off of a variant of the jade stone, which probably has little to do with me being male, or my sister female.

Re:English names only? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25634371)

Better question, what kind of avatar would xx13g0l4zxx get?

Re:English names only? (4, Funny)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 5 years ago | (#25634407)

A gay furry.

Re:English names only? (1)

Sebilrazen (870600) | more than 5 years ago | (#25634435)

A blonde gay furry.

Re:English names only? (2, Funny)

bersl2 (689221) | more than 5 years ago | (#25634473)

The application says "anthroponomastic", not "anthropomorphic"! Get it right!

Re:English names only? (5, Funny)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 5 years ago | (#25634503)

Doesn't matter. Anyone who calls himself "Legolas", l33t-crypted or not, deserves a gay furry avatar[0], and I'll stand by that assertion until the day I die.

[0] Unless his parents gave him that name. Then he can be forgiven if he goes Menendez.

Re:English names only? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25634685)

Isn't that like saying a gay gay?

Re:English names only? (2, Insightful)

Bieeanda (961632) | more than 5 years ago | (#25633917)

You mean like my aunt Terry, who would be categorized as a man by that system?

Re:English names only? (3, Insightful)

mackyrae (999347) | more than 5 years ago | (#25633959)

Or my step-mom Terry?

Re:English names only? (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 5 years ago | (#25634097)

Or the character Theresa "Terry" Dolittle from the movie Jumpin' Jack Flash?

Re:English names only? (4, Insightful)

Nasajin (967925) | more than 5 years ago | (#25634137)

I was going to say that Marilyn Manson might get annoyed with the automated gender mixup, but then I realised that he probably wouldn't.

Re:English names only? (3, Insightful)

ozamosi (615254) | more than 5 years ago | (#25633985)

My name is Robin, which is basically exclusively male here in Sweden (I've never met any females called Robin, but it's among the top ten most common boys names), which is mostly male in England, and which is mostly female in the US.

Oh, and I run all my software in (US) English.

I'd like to see the software that figures out the gender of all the Robin in the world!

Re:English names only? (5, Insightful)

orclevegam (940336) | more than 5 years ago | (#25634189)

Likewise Kyle, which although often male, is occasionally used as a female name. Then there are those that come up with entirely new names, or that use nicknames, or handles to contend with. Yeah, sorry, this sounds like it's utterly useless, you've taken what once was a simple question of "Are you male or female?", and turned it into "Based on your name our software thinks you're X, is this correct?". All they've done is taken a simple question and reworked it so that it makes a potentially embarrassing/insulting/annoying assumption about a person, which then needs to have steps put in place to insure that it's made the correct assumption, all for the sake of avoiding a simple binary question.

Re: New Names (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 5 years ago | (#25634453)

Yeah, what about all those Dion/Dionne pairs? (Male/Female).

However, 70% of names with "sh" in the last syllable and 4 vowels are female. (Laetisha, I'm lookin' at you honey!)

Re:English names only? (2, Interesting)

phatvw (996438) | more than 5 years ago | (#25634033)

Why such a narrow patent? Why not patent an algorithm recognizing the patterns in English names in general to be applied in any User-interface rather just in an IM client?
Also what is this bit about a "database storing anthroponomastic information to perform the anthroponomastic analysis of the username of the first user to determine the probable gender" Is that a table of known names vs gender stats based on public records? Or is it name fragments and endings matched to probability of gender? For example if a name ends in "A" its probably female, but if it ends in "T" its probably male. If they are using an algorithm which decomposes the name, that's kinda cool, but if they are just looking it up in a table of public records, thats pretty lame IMO.

Re:English names only? (2, Interesting)

seanalltogether (1071602) | more than 5 years ago | (#25634427)

And if its just a table of public records with gender assignments, is the following logic really patentable? "SELECT gender FROM names WHERE name=$name" if(count == 0 || gender == "neutral"){ return neutral.jpg; }else if(gender == "female"){ return female.jpg; }else{ return male.jpg; } I hope my psuedocode isn't breaking the law!

Re:English names only? (1)

phatvw (996438) | more than 5 years ago | (#25634543)

Nice mix of SQL and C pseudo code there :) Expect to hear from IBM's lawyers about licensing their patent shortly :)

Re:English names only? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25634691)

Why not patent an algorithm recognizing the patterns in English names in general to be applied in any User-interface rather just in an IM client?

Algorithms per se are one of the judicial exceptions to the statutory eligibility of process claims. In other words, you can't claim an algorithm directly.

Re:English names only? (1)

PaulBu (473180) | more than 5 years ago | (#25634753)

Reminds me of a little project I did for one of my CS classes: try to predict nationality by last name. Was going along the same lines, take names, enclose in, say, $ and ^ (to mark beginning and end), then chop into up to 5 or so character blocks and accumulate frequencies of different blocks by nationality (learning data pulled from different countries universities phonebooks).

Worked surprisingly well too...

Paul B.

Re:English names only? (-1, Offtopic)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#25634035)

"The USA was founded on avoiding taxes. "

False.
Try again, dip wad.

Re:English names only? (-1, Offtopic)

camperdave (969942) | more than 5 years ago | (#25634309)

Ahem! [ushistory.org]

The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
...
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

The Declaration of Independence disagrees with you.

Re:English names only? (3, Insightful)

Naturalis Philosopho (1160697) | more than 5 years ago | (#25634405)

Keep reading. It's about tyranny, not taxes. Why do some people find it so hard to distinguish between symptom and disease?

Re:English names only? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25634555)

It's about tyranny, not taxes.

If you want an equal mix of tyranny AND taxes you should come back here to England.

Re:English names only? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25634725)

The Declaration of Independence disagrees with you.

The problem was taxation without representation, not taxation per se.

RTFP (3, Informative)

The Amazing Fish Boy (863897) | more than 5 years ago | (#25634411)

The whole point of the patent is that it's for cross-cultural communication, not just for English names only. It's not a totally unreasonable idea. It sounds like it looks the user's gender up based on where they are from and what their name is. Odd spellings would likely be classified as unisex, unless there were a general rule for naming conventions (e.g. In North America, names ending in 'i' are likely to be female.) Furthermore, you could build up your 'odd spelling' database by recording the gender people select for themselves.

The example ozamosi posted below [slashdot.org] would be covered fairly well by this patent: Robins in North America would be classified as female, but Robins from Sweden would be classified as male.

My criticism of the invention's effectiveness is that it's not completely fool-proof, and would inevitably assign the wrong gender for people with the spelling typically adopted by the opposite gender. It might be a worse "faux pas" to address a male as female (or vice versa), than to leave assumptions of their gender out of the picture. Of course this might vary from culture to culture, and I really don't know about that. It might be more effective to just force the user to input their gender, but this would have to be done on every client, which could be problematic.

Of course, I'm not sure whether we should be assisting the enforcement of "societal conventions" based on differences in gender, but that's a different topic from the invention's effectiveness.

By the way, here's the relevant part:

an expansive list of names compiled from those used in many different cultures catalogued according to gender (that is, male, female, or unisex), a list of rules for associating a username not included in the list of names with a particular culture, and a list of rules derived from naming conventions that are employed in many different cultures catalogued culturally, linguistically, nationally, regionally, and/or according to other relevant anthroponomastic criteria.

Re:English names only? (2, Interesting)

Naturalis Philosopho (1160697) | more than 5 years ago | (#25634483)

What about odd spellings coupled with gender ambiguity...like Jayne Cobb?

Re:English names only? (1)

aztracker1 (702135) | more than 5 years ago | (#25634523)

I'm still trying to figure out how you can patent something based on facts and statistics...

Don't they watch SNL? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25633847)

Pat is a girl.

Re:Don't they watch SNL? (1)

Theoboley (1226542) | more than 5 years ago | (#25634171)

Pat's real name is Patrick. Therefore making him a guy

Uh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25633851)

Who-did-what-in-the-what-now?

Oh...yay (1)

MaxwellEdison (1368785) | more than 5 years ago | (#25633923)

I'll be given a genderly ambiguous avatar as my real name also can go either way.

!!!SPOILER!!!

MaxwellEdison is not my real name!

I know! I'll name myself AFGNCAAP! [wikipedia.org]

I know a Terry... (2, Informative)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 5 years ago | (#25633941)

who is going to be very irritated when it's assumed she's a boy.

Re:I know a Terry... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25634025)

who is going to be very irritated when it's assumed she's a boy.

Have you ever considered that maybe he's just gay?

Re:I know a Terry... (1)

SpottedKuh (855161) | more than 5 years ago | (#25634039)

[I know a Terry] who is going to be very irritated when it's assumed she's a boy.

Yet I imagine that mistake is still preferable to calling her generic and genderless.

Re:I know a Terry... (1)

QuasiEvil (74356) | more than 5 years ago | (#25634183)

And I have an ex-girlfriend who goes by "Mel" (real name Amelia) who's probably also going to be annoyed at being mis-identified.

Strange (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25633953)

The filing date is February 28, 2008.

The only way a patent gets through that quick is 'Accelerated Examination' (decision in 1 year or less).

Re:Strange (2, Funny)

eln (21727) | more than 5 years ago | (#25634319)

Apparently IBM is in a big hurry to start offending people by misrepresenting their genders.

Standard Behaviour (2, Insightful)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 5 years ago | (#25633961)

Like most companies, IBM is only 'not evil' when it's extremely convenient, or there's some marketing value to be had.

Re:Standard Behaviour (4, Insightful)

nine-times (778537) | more than 5 years ago | (#25634623)

Geeze, here we go again. Listen, patenting stupid crap isn't evil. *Suing* other people for your stupid crap patents is evil. Countersuing other people for violating your stupid crap patents after they've sued you for violating their stupid crap patents is simply a business reality these days.

Big companies like Apple, Microsoft, Google, IBM, and Novell have to patent any little thing that floats into their heads that the patent office will let them patent. They all do it, and the purpose is mostly for the sake of maintaining a defensive-patent war chest to keep the other big companies at bay with mutually assured destruction.

Start complaining about them being evil when they sue someone.

So, what did they decide for... (2, Informative)

msauve (701917) | more than 5 years ago | (#25633965)

the name Bambi?

It's commonly thought of, and used, as a girl's name, but in one of its most famous uses (the movie) it's a male name.

Re:So, what did they decide for... (4, Funny)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 5 years ago | (#25633979)

Oh deer ... we never thought of that.

Re:So, what did they decide for... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25634135)

D'oe

Re:So, what did they decide for... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25634253)

if you hadn't posted anonymously, i'd fawn all over you.

Re:So, what did they decide for... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25634315)

Even if he's anonymous you could have tipped him a buck.

Re:So, what did they decide for... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25634689)

Hey, you shut the buck up!

Re:So, what did they decide for... (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#25634221)

They'll get the stripper Avatar~

Terry? A female coworker of mine is named Terry... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25633973)

She's in her fifties.

The three IBM 'inventors' were stymied by users named Pat

Obviously some people don't watch SNL [wikipedia.org] .

And what about Francis? Or all the meaningless new-age names you get these days?

If you wanted to be cool you would download census data for the user's age, find the user with geolocation, calculate the frequency of male & female names, then use the most likely choice. Oh, and do it in real time.

Re:Terry? A female coworker of mine is named Terry (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25634079)

Francis is a boy. Frances is a girl. HTH HAND.

No one uses boring avatar names (3, Insightful)

Gizzmonic (412910) | more than 5 years ago | (#25633995)

Give me a break, no one uses names like "Jill" and "Steve" for their avatars! They use names like xXDeath_StalkerXx and KillMurder_415 and awesome stuff like that. This patent ain't worth a case of Bawls.

Re:No one uses boring avatar names (3, Insightful)

e9th (652576) | more than 5 years ago | (#25634101)

Unless the names are xXDeath_StalkeretteXx and KillMurderess_415, assigning a male avatar is probably a safe bet.

Re:No one uses boring avatar names (1)

aardwolf64 (160070) | more than 5 years ago | (#25634219)

They only use names like that because "Jill" and "Steve" were taken a LONG time ago.

Jill31923913 and Steve12384238432 @aol would tend to disagree with you... :-)

Pub Pat (1)

manastungare (596862) | more than 5 years ago | (#25634003)

Maybe they should ask these guys [pubpat.org] ? May I suggest this [pubpat.org] as an obvious avatar for Pat?

Pat?!? (1)

insane_membrane (1366135) | more than 5 years ago | (#25634007)

Just like the Pat from SNL? Gender-neutral ambiguous is right! Another case of life imitating art?

Have to post anon here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25634017)

But what about african-american names? They are largely made up. IBM can not possibly keep up with that sort of innovation in naming.

Re:Have to post anon here (3, Interesting)

Dzimas (547818) | more than 5 years ago | (#25634525)

All names are made up, when you get right down to it. We have traditionally used a fairly small set of Anglicized names in North America, but that's changing. There are lots of kids of all colors with some fairly creative (and occasionally bizarre) names. The most popular male baby names in the USA include Jaxon, Jaden and Xander. Popular girl's names include Alyssa, Ashlyn and Caitlyn. These are hardly traditional. Common "Afro-American" names are merely an evolving sub-set of modern names. Most importantly, many follow fairly predictable patterns... Jada, Tierra and Imani have a and i endings, denoting female. Darnell and Darius have masculine endings, and names starting in De (as in DeShaw) are male while La denotes female (LaToya).

I know A guy (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#25634023)

with the first name Tracy. I wonder what they assign him?

This is just trouble waiting to happen. When ever you try to assign gender on anything except the Chromosomes it will fail.

Re:I know A guy (1)

MaxwellEdison (1368785) | more than 5 years ago | (#25634141)

When ever you try to assign gender on anything except the Chromosomes it will fail.

Even then you can't be sure. Example? Bill Kaulitz [billkaulitz.cz]

Not even that. (5, Informative)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 5 years ago | (#25634169)

When ever you try to assign gender on anything except the Chromosomes it will fail.

Actually it fails pretty spectacularly when you try to determine it based on chromosomes, too. There are XY women with androgen insensitivity syndrome (AIS), and both XXY and XYY men. In many cases, especially those of AIS, they may go their whole lives without knowing that their chromosomes convey something different than their sex organs.

And using sex organs starts to fail as well when you get into intersexed and transgendered people; someone's sex organs may not match the gender they 'pass' as in social contexts, or that they prefer to be treated as.

It is anything but a black and white issue.

Re:Not even that. (0)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#25634267)

A) That is rare
B) More detailed test sort that out. The real problem comes into play with the low quality tests they use for sports.

It is anything but a black and white issue.

true, but genetics is a close to accuracy as we can get, at this time.

I am speaking for scientific accuracy. If you want to dress like a woman, or add body modification, or whatever I don't care; however be ware that there are good reasons for scientist and medical personnel to be aware of the birth gender.

None of which addresses the fact that using names is stupid.

stupid (1)

uberjoe (726765) | more than 5 years ago | (#25634043)

My mom is named Terry.

Re:stupid (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25634231)

Your mother is so Terry, IBM thought she was a man!

"Way to honor that significant-technical-content" (1, Insightful)

DavidR1991 (1047748) | more than 5 years ago | (#25634061)

Maybe I missed something, but the link in this article shows IBM will "sharply reduce business method patent filings and instead stress significant technical content in its patents". If you actually care to read the patent filing a little bit, it actually does seem to have a technical basis (e.g. repetition of letters used to scan for feminine names). Whether that's 'significant' or not, who knows, but it's still not a business method. Stop hurting big blue for no reason :(

Hmm (1)

Kingrames (858416) | more than 5 years ago | (#25634067)

What about Kingrames? would they erroneously give me a pharaoh's hat and pimp cane?

Re:Hmm (1)

mr_mischief (456295) | more than 5 years ago | (#25634347)

Maybe they'd assume it was a typo of Ving Rhames, in which case you'd get a nice suit, some wire-framed dark sunglasses, and an air of awesomeness onscreen.

Re:Hmm (1)

hotdiggitydawg (881316) | more than 5 years ago | (#25634739)

Maybe they'd assume it was a typo of Ving Rhames, in which case you'd get a nice suit, some wire-framed dark sunglasses, and an air of awesomeness onscreen.

Or an appropriately small, pixelated version of a certain scene from Pulp Fiction. Possibly resized and resampled by (wait for it)....

Bringing out the GIMP!

Patents (1)

MikeV (7307) | more than 5 years ago | (#25634071)

I have a feeling if they didn't patent it, someone else would have and then trolled for license fees. IBM ain't no saint, but while our patent system is still hopelessly broken, sometimes the only way to ensure freedom is to get the patent application in before the next person does.

Yea but I'm Foxxy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25634081)

Can I have a tail?

Male / Female checkboxes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25634103)

Is that too hard to do? Or has someone already patented that?

Explanation required for this sh#t (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 5 years ago | (#25634129)

A lot of prominent organizations on the internet are somehow posting in /., clearing doubts about the stuff they do - either openly, like some, or anonymously, like some others.

i wouldnt even want to think that ibm thinks they are above us. im looking forward to someone explaining the bullshit going on with those patents either openly, or anonymously here.

What about me? (1)

lwsimon (724555) | more than 5 years ago | (#25634139)

My first name is Lyndsy -- its a family name going back generations. I'm a guy.

I'll be damned if I'm wearing a dress on their IM system.

Re:What about me? (2, Insightful)

mr_mischief (456295) | more than 5 years ago | (#25634375)

Anyone who implemented this would probably be smart enough to let you change the avatar during the sign-up process. This is a way to placate the ladies who get all upset that the systems tend to default to male avatars which is slightly more accurate than randomly assigning one or the other. A checkbox before the avatar default is chosen I'd think would be even more accurate, though.

Re:What about me? (1)

demonrob (1001871) | more than 5 years ago | (#25634505)

Your name ends in a Y, they think you're a male. Do you have a problem with them thinking that? Rename yourself to Lyndsie and then you can be damned in a dress.

Leslie, Tracy, Sam? (2, Interesting)

camperdave (969942) | more than 5 years ago | (#25634145)

I wonder where that leaves, Leslie Nielson, Tracy Lawrence, Charlie Dore, Alex McKenna, and the like.

Re:Leslie, Tracy, Sam? (1)

dwye (1127395) | more than 5 years ago | (#25634305)

> I wonder where that leaves, Leslie Nielson, Tracy Lawrence, Charlie Dore, Alex McKenna, and the like.

With Michael Learned (Mrs. Walton from "The Waltons" series, for those forgetting).

BTW, as I read the patent, one of the rules make "Penny" a man's name, as well :-)

Re:Leslie, Tracy, Sam? (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 5 years ago | (#25634469)

Not to mention Sean Young and Stacy Keach

Some call it innovation (1)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 5 years ago | (#25634153)

I call it worthless.

Re:Some call it innovation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25634693)

CREATE TABLE `topsecret` (
    `name` VARCHAR( 255 ) NOT NULL ,
    `gender` ENUM( 'M', 'F' ) NOT NULL ,
PRIMARY KEY ( `name` )
)

Brilliant! Call the lawyers!

What's That? It's Pat. (1)

Scarletdown (886459) | more than 5 years ago | (#25634165)

The three IBM 'inventors' were stymied by users named Pat, who as a result will be assigned a 'generic, genderless human figure image as his or her avatar.'

Congratulations! It's a patent!

Umm, sexist? (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 5 years ago | (#25634271)

Umm, I can't see this having any practical application. Not only that, but since when was a name a reliable method of gender determination? The TSA can't even get it right when they're looking right at the person -- in real life. And let's not even get started on intersex conditions, cultural differences, etc.

IBM just patented itself a lawsuit, nothing more. Move along.

What's worse, is that it's done dumbly (4, Interesting)

Cajun Hell (725246) | more than 5 years ago | (#25634293)

It's amazing that they analyze [wikipedia.org] the name so hard. I would just throw a database at the problem. It's inconceivable that IBM doesn't have a shitload of demographic databases around, which already have name-sex pairs. Just select sex, count(*) where name='terry' group by sex. If the ratio is overwhelming in one direction, choose that, and if the margin of error is too high (and I'd set that pretty low to avoid pissing off Miss Pat), pick neutral. That would work with any language, too (assuming IBM has a database for that culture).

Re:What's worse, is that it's done dumbly (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 5 years ago | (#25634581)

You can also quite easily take into account ethnicity.

"Jean", American. FEMALE
"Jean", French. MALE

You can also quite easily take into account age.

"Sam", 12 years old. GENEREIC
"Sam", 56 years old. MALE

You can also quite easily take into account surnames.

"Mary Valentine" FEMALE
"Merry Brandibuck" MALE

You can also quite easily take into account titles and suffixes.

"Princess Shackba" FEMALE
"Tam Jr." MALE

If you've got the data, add in known pseudonyms, or middle names.

"Chris" AKA "Christopher". MALE
"Pat" AKA "Patty" AKA "Patricia". FEMALE

Just about any serious database of people will have all the information except for ethnicity, though public (such as at a university) databases typically have it.

If you're guessing and only have a first name from a webform, you can fidge about and work the origin IP, email address used, etc. to guess a country of origin. You can also skew the expected age up or down based on the content of your site/service.

This isn't rocket science, and it's not patent-worthy.

I once knew a Teri.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25634335)

...and she assured me at the time that she was a girl too! Cost me $50 to find out that was NOT the case.

Two years later tho, and woohoo, Teri was finally a girl. Cost me $100 to confirm it - damned inflation !

I guess the point is, why bother ? Go generic and let people modify their avatars as they choose. In situations where they guess correctly, people wont care, but it will irritate the life out of those people where they get it wrong - and complaints will flow for a situation that was totally avoidable.

Dont pigeonhole people - its a generally negative experience for them, even if you get it right. They feel like they've been played.

And a patent ? My god, what for!?!? Take a name, compare it to a list. Return boy. If its not there, compare it to another list. Return girl. If its not there, Return gender-bender.

What other whiz-bang algorithmic add-ons can there be.. or is the patent about the way they "source" the names (*cough* troll facebook *cough*) ?

I dare you.... (2, Interesting)

Atriqus (826899) | more than 5 years ago | (#25634357)

IBM, I dare you find a name where there's no one also by that name of the opposite sex.

Re:I dare you.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25634575)

So true. My wife's name is Engelbert!

Re:I dare you.... (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 5 years ago | (#25634587)

Superman.

Re:I dare you.... (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 5 years ago | (#25634605)

Batman.

Re:I dare you.... (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 5 years ago | (#25634643)

He-Man.

Re:I dare you.... (1)

taucross (1330311) | more than 5 years ago | (#25634733)

Trannyman.

Re:I dare you.... (1)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 5 years ago | (#25634607)

I dunno, but in my experience, I've never met a girl named Jeff, Thomas, or Richard. Still, some parents go out of their way to ruin their children's lives with bad names. On the same vein, I've never met a man named Betty, Julia, or Karen. You might be able to stretch the point by going cross-cultural. Their very well might be names from other parts of the world which sound similar to common North American/European names, but which are gender neutral or gender-reversed from their American/European counterparts.

One fun observation about names and gender. In the USA, Ashley is almost always a female name, it seems like, but in England (and maybe France?) Ashley is usually a male name. I wonder what the origin of that difference is?

Re:I dare you.... (1)

yarbo (626329) | more than 5 years ago | (#25634655)

Dweezil

now that your nigger is president (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25634381)

can we finally get rid of the racist shit spread by the federal government? the united states has government sponsored racism in the form of grants to the naacp and equal opportunity legislation.

YRO? (1)

dwye (1127395) | more than 5 years ago | (#25634599)

How is this about "rights"? Especially since the patent claims that the user can override the selection, later?

If you ask me, this belongs in Idle

I'll one up that (1)

taucross (1330311) | more than 5 years ago | (#25634663)

I have patented a process that assigns an avatar gender to a name with One-Clickâ. The One-Clickâ process trounces the IBM competition with its capacity for user-configurable customisation and laser beams.
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