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Hey Internet, Help Us Name Our Baby!

My familyFive years ago, I used a Google Form to ask friends, family, and random readers of my blog to help us pick a name for our first-born child. Before I knew it, it was picked up by some other blogs, then news sites, then suddenly I was doing radio and TV interviews. We ended up with over 10,000 votes from all around the world.  Two months later our daughter was born, and the Internet had helped us pick the perfect name – Athena.

While it was certainly fun to be on TV and show off Google Forms, the best part of the experience was seeing all the great positive energy my little baby name project created.  People seemed to really enjoy this story of a geeky Googler asking the Internet to help name his kid, and were excited to vote, discuss suggestions, and pass the story on.

We are expecting again and we’d like to harness some of that positive energy for something more meaningful.  We are raising money for Save the Children so we can bring our new son into the world while helping kids around the world.

My wife and I (along with some other Googlers) have pledged to donate $1 for each vote –   see details in the FAQ.  For $1, Save the Children can provide one complete polio vaccination course for a child.  Just by voting, you will be helping a child in need.  If you would like to join us and donate $1 of your own, please go to this OneToday campaign.  Google OneToday makes donating to a good cause easy and fun.

If you’d like to help us name our baby and support a great charity at the same time, please vote on the Google Form (see below).  If you want to follow the votes and find out which name ends up on top, please go to my blog or follow me on Google+ or Twitter.

And if you ever need to name a baby of your own, I highly recommend Google Forms.  Setting up a form or survey is easy, and the results are automatically put into a spreadsheet for you as they come in.

Questions?  See the FAQ post or leave a comment below.

Baby Name Vote FAQ

1. What does the money go toward?

For every $1 donated, Save the Children can provide one complete polio vaccination course for a child.   Save the Children is an international children’s charity that works in many countries around the world, and we asked them to create a campaign for early childhood medical care.  I think this is a really great cause to support because it is one of the most efficient ways to help with the amount of money we are able to give.  My wife is a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner who has seen how important early childhood medical care is, first hand.

Our Family

2. So, no matter what happens, you are going to use the top-voted name for your son?

I have been on the Internet waaaay too long to make a promise like that.  We’re not going to burden our son with a name like Mr. Splashy Pants or Marblecake.  We will definitely use the votes to narrow down our choices, and I am a big geek so I will be doing a bunch of statistical analysis too.

3. What’s the timeline?

The poll launched April 7th, we’ll be keeping it open for a couple of weeks.  The baby is due May 19th.

4. What are the names?

You’ll have to go to the poll and vote to see them :)

5. How does my vote become a donation?

All you have to do is vote, and we’ll take care of it.  Between my wife and I, a group of generous Googlers, and Google’s amazing employee matching program, we have pledges to donate up to $14,000.   If we don’t get enough votes to “use up” all the pledges, I’ll let the Googlers who pledged above the vote amount decide if they’d like to still donate.  You can also go to this OneToday campaign and contribute $1 of your own.

6. Are you crazy?

Actually, this worked surprisingly well last time.  It blew up into a big sensation mostly by accident and overall the response was very positive.  I’m an Anti-abuse Engineer at Google, so I was ready for a fair amount of spamming and abuse.  It ended up being less than I expected – most people thought it was fun to vote and suggest names.  I don’t know exactly how things will go once we launch, but I’m somewhere between “reasonably optimistic” and “uncomfortably excited.”  I’m also really hopeful that many voters will decide to join us with a small donation of their own, so we can raise as much money to help children as possible.

7. What name won last time?

Olivia got the most votes, but we ended up naming our daughter Athena.  Why?  As we got 1000s of votes, I noticed that the order of names in our poll was becoming very similar to the order just by popularity in the previous year.  That’s not very interesting, so I did a linear regression to find the names that were voted for more in my poll than could be explained by popularity in the U.S.

How to link to an individual question in Google Moderator

The Obama administration’s just finished “Open for Questions“, where the President answered questions suggested and voted by the general public over the web. This is pretty cool – political openness, interaction, and democracy via the web. It’s also interesting to me because the site uses Google Moderator, a product we use at work all the time.

What’s not quite so cool is that Moderator apparently doesn’t play well with the rest of the web. I’m not sure why it was designed this way (and if I did know, I probably couldn’t tell you anyway). The design is the exact opposite of unobtrusive javascript. That’s fine for highly interactive web apps but it would be nice to see the mostly text content in Moderator made searchable just like any other collection of web pages.

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