On a registration form I have a single input called Full Name. The strings are parsed with http://code.google.com/p/php-name-parser/ so if a person enters their full name middle or any quantity of strings it's handled just fine and the app creates the user in a billing system with it's API.

The form validates and checks for two strings in the field otherwise it won't post. I'd like to remove this validation but a last name is required by the API. You cannot post an empty last name to the API.

Users are signing up for a trial so I don't want them having to deal with many form fields. The only place the last name shows up visible to the user is in their account settings page. If they end their trial and start a paid plan they'd have to enter their billing details which asks with two fields for their First, Last, and other billing information.

What is an alternative to submitting "Doe", "Default", "Empty" in place of them not filling in their last name?

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    Can you explain why you're trying to remove the full name requirement in the first place? I don't see any particularly good reason for it, it's creating more work for you, and you'll have to bug the users for it later anyway if they stick around. Why not just do it up front? Any filler value you choose is only going to get progressively uglier as you start having to deal with a database full of "John Doe1[2, 3, 4]", "Bob Doe1[2, 3, 4] etc. – Su' Oct 15 '12 at 16:01
  • @Su' I was hoping for some solution to let visitors register with only a first name without throwing a validation error if they didn't enter a full name. Right now it's forcing both a first and last. I agree it's more work and would look like *hit filling it in with a random last name. Changing it from how it is would take time and money that you're right about. I just wanted to speed up the registration process for anyone who used just a first name. – Anagio Oct 15 '12 at 16:06

Are your visitors going to have a user/account name in addition to their "proper" name? If so, get a username only for trial purposes(or even just use their e-mail address) and only ask for full profile information once they decide they want to actually move to a paid plan. This is less invasive all around(since they may not even come back), and doesn't manufacture extra work for you. Plus, if you use the e-mail address option, you have a bit of contact information for them if you want to send a reminder poke later on for marketing purposes or whatever. (Anybody who really don't want you to do this will probably just lie about the address.)

[Adding after response to my comment above]
I figured you were earlier in the development. It wasn't clear you were already more or less locked into an implementation. As far as having to put something in the field, I'm not sure there's any pretty solution. Given the situation as you mention, I'd actually lean toward putting some kind of gibberish in the field, just to be absolutely sure it won't collide with a real name. (So, eg. "sdafasaddsafds") Then you'd have to build in logic to always hide that value from users. This way, if they choose to stay with you and edit the field they won't see any weird value but can still provide their own on the edit form. It's a nasty solution, but should be kinda safe.

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    Required reading for anyone doing things with names: kalzumeus.com/2010/06/17/… Particularly if your users aren't all in "western" countries. – paulmorriss Oct 15 '12 at 16:16
  • That's a good idea to take basic info store it in our system, and only post to the billing systems API when they decide to become a paid member. Users will have a unique sub-domain assigned to their account, they enter the name when registering. The login to the system is the persons email address which they have to activate before gaining access. It weeds out people sending fake emails and verifies they're the owner. I'll have to figure time/cost and see what changes need to be made to handle trials on our end. Hiding the gibberish is simple enough to not popular their account settings form. – Anagio Oct 15 '12 at 16:20
  • Definitely some good ideas – Anagio Oct 15 '12 at 16:24
  • @paulmorriss one thing at a time, but this is how zendesk handles international registrations ja.zendesk.com click on signup.... On their american site it won't accept those characters – Anagio Oct 15 '12 at 16:25

Ask them for "name or id" and if they just full in ID, use that as the last name.

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