Name sorting - middle name (Janelle Monae)

Tags: #<Tag:0x00007fcb4b778648> #<Tag:0x00007fcb4b778468>


I noticed the sort name for Janelle Monae has been changed twice this year. It appears that Monae is actually her middle name, but I would suspect that most people would sort her under ‘M’. I’ve also seen this with Elis Regina who used part of her name not including the last and is sorted under ‘E’.

I can see both points, and don’t want to start some sort of revert war. What’s the general consensus?


I have queued a fix and added some comments in the most recent error edit.


First, in our heads, we need to separate the artist name from the legal name. They are two separate statements even though, in this case, they contain the same names.

If John Smith used artist name Frank Black, would we even question that Black, Frank was correct? Of course not. So, then, why is would Janelle Robinson be any different for Janelle Monae.

Her artist last name is Monae. Her legal last name is Robinson.


That would be the other thought. I think Alicia Keys would be the best example. Alicia is her real first name, if she went by Alicia Augello instead of Alicia Keys, would the sort be handled differently?

And what’s the best way to determine this? I had a back and forth over the artist Com Truise (which is an alias). It had been sorted as ‘Truise, Com’ but I pointed out that it was always treated as a single name ‘Com Truise’. Whereas artists such as Alicia Keys and Janelle Monae are often referred to with their ‘artist last name’.


I would go with the “duck test” - if the artist name looks sufficiently like a real first + last name (or other combination, depending on culture) that most people would assume, with no other knowledge, that it is, then treat it that way.

In Janelle Monae’s case, the New York Times and The Economist both refer to her as “Ms. Monae” which further weighs in the same direction.


That’s the way I typically feel, but wasn’t sure if the “duck test” would go against the rules here.

Then again, until I started using MB I sorted Dave Matthews Band under ‘D’.