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I'm a junior developer/designer at a startup so I am wondering if it is unprofessional to make designs and use mock data that have puns. The company I work for is not strict and wouldn't mind if the data has some puns in them.

So is it unprofessional to use names like:

  • Skye Blue
  • Anna Littical
  • Teri Dactyl
  • Simon Sais
  • James Bond (or other movie characters)
  • ...

Or is better to stick with 'real' names:

  • John Smith
  • Trevor Rees
  • Molly Reid
  • Kevin Payne
  • Angela Bond

The last 4 were generated by some random website. I have no idea if they exist.

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2 Answers 2

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Whether or not it's perceived as "professional" will depend on how things are perceived at your company. No one else could possibly know that.

I don't think there's any harm in it provided the names themselves aren't of an offensive nature.

I personally, will often use character names from tv shows when I need to represent missing or "still to come" data. Character names can be more obscure without being as obvious.

Put character names in the same piece and the show becomes apparent if you've seen it...

  • Walter & Skylar White
  • Jesse Pinkman
  • Gus Fring
  • Saul Goodman
  • Hank & Marie Schrader
  • Mike Ehrmantraut

If you haven't seen the show.. they simply appear as normal names.

I do tend to use names people would only know if they've watched a show. So, nothing as recognizable as Luke Skywalker, James Bond, Peter Parker, Lois Lane, etc.. If someone happens to recognize a name, it generally means they are a fan of the show and it tends to instill good, familiar, feelings.

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    I would also add that as in all marketing, part of your answer is "Know your audience." Is this an internal audience? If so, and your company is okay with it culturally, go ahead and use whatever names you like. If it's for an external customer, make sure your names keep in line with the branding, culture, and the overall marketing theme. If you offend a potential or existing client, in the words of the ski instructor from South Park, "You're gonna have a bad time."
    – bynary
    Jun 17 at 18:08
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Some things are seen differently at different companies. To me, that is not unprofessional. My company is more loose and art based than strict This, This, This, Not This, Not This. The only thing I would say is to remember to stay out of the copyright zone. So I would say “no” to movie name and whatnot.

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  • I do not believe, in the US anyway, one can not copyright the name of a fictional character. It's the larger work the character may be in which is copyrighted. So, yes, Breaking Bad is copyrighted, but the name "Jesse Pinkman" is not. If your "Jesse" is an pediatrist in Dayton, Ohio and bears no resemblance to a meth dealer in Albuquerque, I think you're okay to use the name. Names may be trademarked, but trademark is not the same as copyright.
    – Scott
    Jun 17 at 19:49
  • @Scott: It's unclear when a combination of uncopyrightable aspects of a work will become copyrightable. If a resume simply uses the name "Walter White" there would be no copyright infringement, but if the person's "job experience" include the improvised manufacture of recreational pharaceuticals, that may become borderline. Fair use protections would likely apply even if the work would otherwise infringe copyright, but one really doesn't have to copy much beyond character names to risk being charged with infringement.
    – supercat
    Jun 18 at 18:18

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