Saturday, October 1, 2011

Critiquing Popular Baby Name Blogs & Sites

Just so we're clear, my perfect baby name website (or blog) would have polls, the option to make a list of first and middle name combos that people can vote on, the option to save names I like to a separate list, forums where I can talk about names, popularity charts with information from every year since 1880 (or whenever, it's really time-consuming to make these) even if that name has never been in the top 1000, and the number of births for every name, even if there were only 5, and the widest variety of names with accurate meanings and pronunciations. I'm sure others would add famous namesakes to this list, but I'd just like to know of any bad associations.

Also, the very first site you go to when trying to pick a name is the Social Security Administration. The second should be

This "critique" does not apply to any portion of a website that does not pertain to baby names.

1. Nameberry
A great place to talk with other name-nerds and expectant moms on the Nameberry message boards, but the website itself doesn't tell you how to pronounce names. A handful of names don't have meanings or origins either. That said, getting advice from the multitude of helpful users is priceless. They will give you ideas, critique your lists, and help you with any naming problems. They also have great blog posts.

2. Think Baby Names
When writing a post, this is where I start. Their information is always accurate, they have a large selection of names to browse through, rarely don't have a name I'm looking for (unlike other sites), and they have a popularity chart for top 1000 names. However, there are no polls, message boards or other name related stuff.

3. Nancy's Baby Names
This site is written much like a newspaper, with articles and snippets of information and stories from history both past and present. However, I like to visit Nancy's A-Z list of how many babies were born in 2010 with each specific name. It must have taken her a year to alphabetize all those names and put the numbers with them.

4. Appellation Mountain
This site has unique information about baby names and very detailed, accurate individual posts on names. Offered here are some rare names, stories, and articles.

5. Bewitching Names
One of my favorite blogs, Bewitching Names is a combination of baby names and Pagan/Neo-Pagan/Wiccan naming info. She offers a lot of rare names and personal insight, with a few themes here and there, such as Harry Potter names.

I used to love this site, back in the day. I thought it had so many names I never encountered before, and if anyone chooses to put a picture of their baby on the website, everyone can see that child under the specific name. However, I soon found that some of the name meanings were inaccurate and they don't have all of the information I'd like to know. So I began to only use it for the option to create a list of first and middle names (together, unlike Behind the Name where you can only list individual names) that other people can vote on. IF you give them the link directly. Otherwise, you have to pay for a membership, and I'm sorry but it's really not worth it. You also have to subscribe (pay for a membership) in order to use most of the features on their message boards. I know they have a lot of other stuff on their site, though, like a due date calculator and celebrity baby names. My favorite feature is their list of the top 50 most popular cat names. But seriously, $28 a year for the same service I can get on Nameberry? Please.

7. Behind the Name
I was drawn to this site for their amazing polls. You can only make up to 5 polls per 24 hour period, so make them count. But it is so much fun! Besides voting and getting votes, this site is also known for their excellent name etymologies, the meaning and origin of a name. They have quite a selection of names to browse through with accurate meanings, however, their message boards are much harder to deal with than the Nameberry forums. And you can compile a list of names for other people to vote on, but you can't pair first and middle names you're interested in.

8. Baby Name Genie
Visit this site for a little humor and to vote on names other people are considering. There is a baby name generator that will give you ideas based on your last name and the baby's gender, then there is another generator for middle names, and another for first names. I love that it lists the full name with middle initial and all three initials. And a feature original to this website is the "Baby Name Test Drive" which shows you how the name you are considering will look in the real world. I must say this one is awesome. Then there is a community with message boards that I haven't tried out yet.

9. Parent's Connect
Here you will find accurate meanings and interesting information from people who took surveys about their own name in order to help people thinking about using that name. Includes a popularity chart if the name has been in the top 1000. However, the video advertisements that play can be very annoying.

10. Baby Name Wizard
Explore popularity trends and potential sibling names, although I really never like their suggestions for sibling names. Some of you probably own Laura Wattenberg's book, The Baby Name Wizard, and it is a very good book, but alas misses quite a few names. As for her blog, there is some interesting stuff there.

11. Waltzing More Than Matilda
This blog features celebrity baby news (which is always useful because even if you don't care about celebrities and their naming trends, you may want to know what they're up to so you can avoid copying a celebrity baby name). There is other news/articles and baby name related information as well.

12. Nook of Names
The author of this blog now has a book out: Llewellyn's Complete Book of Names, and it is a great read. The book and blog are geared towards Pagans and those of alternative religions, and, as she puts it "independent thinkers of all sorts." Both book and blog are so well researched and informative.

13. Names From the Dustbin
Another site with no-so-wearable names from times past, but there is great advice here and there and some interesting articles. I expect to see some gems on here at some point. There is already one: Euphemia.

14. Mer de Noms
Click on the "Data" link for great popularity tables, that I believe no one else has. (It's always great when a website or blog features something you can only get there.) Click on the link "Get Started" to see some posts original to the blog. There are also articles on pop culture, naming and sibsets. Keep in mind the writer is not in the U.S. and she covers naming popularity from England and Wales. That said, there is even useful info for those in the U.S.

15. Marginamia
This blog features names picked from unexpected places, such as websites, blogs, designers and shops. There are also random "name consultation" posts.

16. For Real Names
I love that by browsing this blog you can see if anyone has used the first and middle name pairing that you're considering for your own baby. This blog only posts the names of actual babies born, and will tell you where those names are coming from.

17. Nymbler
This is where you can go if you're starting at the beginning, have a few names you like, and would like to find more that are similar in order to build a longer list of names to choose from. It gives you a lot more options for similar names (to build your list or for potential siblings) than The Baby Name Wizard.

18. Baby Namer
And here's one I stay away from because it's a little bit like Wikipedia, you never know if the information is accurate. It is not up-to-date information (a 1990 census isn't cutting it for 2011),  and you have to hunt down any interesting facts, if there are any. For more popular names, the meanings are often sloppy versions. For example, for Joan they have "God's grace" instead of "God is gracious" and they list Ivanka as a variant, even though Ivanka is a direct variant of Jane, and they neglect to inform you that Joan is the female variant of John. They also miss quite a few names.

20. Baby Zone
Don't expect too much here when it comes to names, as there isn't any in-depth information, unless you really hunt down the good stuff, like the Nameberry posts. Some name info is lumped together (like Bettina with the nickname Liz). Some origins and most meanings fail to appear.

21. Baby Center
Stick with, since most of this website is confusing, and the pop-up ads are annoying. There are options for polls and name lists, but Behind the Name and already has you covered. No pronunciation help.

22. Swistle Baby Names
This blog is mainly for name consultations - people asking advice on what to name their baby. There is a wait list, but check it out anyways if you're in desperate need of naming advice...maybe someone else already asked the same question.

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