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  • The individuals who post here work at Intuit and are some of the best and brightest. The opinions expressed here, while probably right and certainly smart, are their own, and are not necessarily reviewed in advance by anyone but the individual author. Sometimes, the author is audacious and decides to post an opinion without a buddy reviewing it, and at other times, he or she may seek counsel of a friend. Regardless, these opinions do not necessarily reflect the view of Intuit or any other person or company. Although, since these people are smart to begin with, Intuit might agree with them - or might not.
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November 30, 2005

Excuse Me. Do You Work Here?

During one of my post high school jobs, I wore a dorky uniform with an ugly hat. At lunchtime, I'd take a break in another store at the mall, still sporting my employer's garb. It always amazed me how people would mistake me for another store's employee.

It seemed silly that anyone shopping at Montgomery Wards, as one example, could think I worked there when my uniform had a totally different look and feel. The customer wouldn't necessarily start the conversation with "Do you work here?," which would have ended it. Most of the time, a person would just ask me -- out of the blue -- the price of something or the location of girl's apparel.

Most of the time I was nice and I'd tell the truth. Sometimes I'd point them to the register for help, so they could see the difference in uniforms. Sometimes I'd say apologetically, "I don't work here." They'd be embarrassed and slink away.

But one time, I remember a man getting angry because I couldn't help him. I tried to explain I didn't work there, but he wasn't listening. Just to get out of the situation, I decided to be a smart alec and send him walking in just about any direction I could -- to the bathroom, to the parking lot, what ever. He probably grumbled under his breath and ranted to his friends that another stupid salesperson sent him on a wild goose chase.

And me? Well, I laughed and proudly shared my antics with my friends, who also laughed. Ah, the arrogance of youth. As an adult, I'm pretty sure some bad eventually caught up to me for that one. And so, I've learned to behave myself.

Okay. Fast forward to the present.

We started noticing -- members of the Team, that is -- some users had signed up for accounts using Zipingo-themed screen names. There were lots of reasons for this. Being a beta site, we're still troubleshooting.

But what about the user? Were they aware of the issue? Probably not. I believe most users are honest. ZipingoMandy didn't create an account with malice in mind. Mandy just thought it would be cool to have that screen name when posting ratings or using the forum.

Some users like to keep track of their different Web accounts this way, so along with the branded screen name there might be a similar email address, probably a disposable one, if they're concerned about spam.

And then the trouble starts. Other users might think these users work for Zipingo. Like the customers who thought I worked at Wards, any innocent person can make a mistake about who really represents a business or Web site. It's not always clear.

There could be some miscommunication going on, especially if neither party explicitly says, "Do you work for Zipingo?" or "I work for Zipingo." That means, we've got to disallow these types of names, something we've been monitoring but haven't acted upon until recently.

Yes, I'm ZipingoKim. But I'm legimately connected to Intuit and Zipingo, so it's expected that I would have a screen moniker like this. If someone reads my forum posts, I'm identified with a tiny Z bubble, a variation on the Zipingo logo. Users who don't notice that Z could think that anyone with Zipingo in their name is a company representative.

Currently, there would be no bubble next to my screen name if I posted reviews, so it could be even more confusing to users. By the way, I don't post any ratings or reviews as ZipingoKim. I don't want anyone thinking I represent Intuit's viewpoint when I comment on a business.

Anyway, to make a long story short...if you get an email from Zipingo Support about your screen name, please don't shoot the messenger. But do feel free to reply if you have anything to share. And I promise, if we change your screen name, your ratings won't go away so your contributions to our community won't be lost.

I'm listening.

~ ZipingoKim


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Mary Sunshine

How about letting the user change his own user name? eBay lets users do that. If users picked a poor name when they signed up then they wouldn't want user name history to be public, like on eBay. But I'm not selling anything through Zipingo so you should keep user name history private.

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