Quote of the Day – Your Name May Not Be a Name

Your user name may not be discriminating, unethical or otherwise offensive and may not contain a name.

-LEGO, on changes to their terms of service.

The fine people at The Lego Group dropped me a line to remind me that they have changed their terms of services.


They were concerned apparently because I had not yet read and accepted them.  Literal truth.

You are receiving this email because we have changed our user terms for your LEGO ID and we can see that you haven’t read and accepted them yet.

I haven’t read or accepted them because I haven’t logged on to anything LEGO or LEGO related in a while.  My daughter is now a teenager and far more interested in makeup, clothes, and what her friends are posting on Instagram than getting plastic blocks and building things.  She does occasionally get wistful when she  sees the LEGO minifigures… she keeps the golden C3P-0 on her desk… but not enough to actually dust them off and do something with them.  I should go do another minifigure roundup this year and drag her along.

Anyway, The Lego Group was kind enough to append a short list of the items that they felt were the most important of the changes to the terms.  Number one on the list is quoted at the top of this post, and it makes my head hurt.

I get “discriminating,” though through the quirkiness of the English language and custom, we tend to use that word to indicate a positive.  If you have “discriminating taste” it is a good thing, right?  So I might have phrased that differently… maybe “promotes discrimination” since “discrimination” is the usage that is always negative… but I get what they were shooting for.  Marketing and legal probably spent hours on that word alone.

I can also see “unethical.”  If you pick a user name that makes you look like an employee of The Lego Group, that would be well on the way towards “unethical,” though I still think you have to try and use it to misrepresent yourself intentionally before we get fully in the zone.  Whatever, I get it.

“Offensive” is a minefield in this day and age.  I dare anybody to come up with a workable definition of what “offensive” means in a world where people are offended that somebody has the last name “Lynch.”  But they have to cover themselves, and now they can site this statement if somebody complains about.  Yet again, I get it.

But then we get to the last phrase in that sentence (which should be separated with an Oxford comma dammit) and I start to think that they are trolling me.  My user name, the name with which I identify myself on the LEGO site, must not contain a NAME?

I might understand “must not contain your real name” or “must not include your surname” as stipulations, but they appear to be literally saying, “Your name… it may not be a name.”  That quote at the top, it is directly from the section of the terms to which the user is specifically required to agree.

If I go with all numbers, will that still be a name?  It all seems pretty silly to me.

6 thoughts on “Quote of the Day – Your Name May Not Be a Name

  1. Fenjay

    That sounds a little like the makings of a koan: “When is a name not a name? Only that kind of name may you have.”

    The Oxford comma may be controversial in some quarters, but I think here you are totally right. Without it, it COULD be interpreted to mean:

    Your user name may not be 1) discriminating, 2) unethical or 3) otherwise offensive and may not contain a name.

    So… only if it’s otherwise offensive may it not contain a name? Or something? (Logic is hard)


  2. RohanV

    It’s probably primarily to stop people from naming themselves after celebrities. E.g. TaylorSwift, or KanyeWest. I doubt they mean to stop someone naming themselves Bob.


  3. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Rohan – I think that might be covered by the “unethical” section. Anyway, we can’t say what it really means because it is so vaguely worded it could mean just about anything from specific celebrity names to your own real name to all nouns, which are just names we give to objects.


  4. bhagpuss

    Its gibberish. No question about that. It’s actually even more gibberish than you suggest, too. It doesn’t say that your name may not BE a name but that it must not “contain” a name. So, for example, Calling yourself Atomsmasher would be illegal because it contains at least two names, Tom and Ash.

    What they are actually trying to stop you doing I have no idea. All MMOs ban players from using any names that might infringe copyright or result in legal action for defamation etc but they all manage to explain that with clarity. This is just nonsense.


  5. Balthazar

    While I certainly don’t think the entirety of the ambiguity is attributable to this, I am sure there is some intentional ambiguity here. That way, they can decide for themselves what meets the standard and what does not on a case by case basis and then just refer you to their ToS when you disagree.


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