Naming a blog is like naming a baby. * Those of us who have gone thorugh the baby-naming process recognize some subtle strategic issues that arise.  Each spouse searches for names in books, online, in the garden, etc. and when a good idea comes up suggests it to the other spouse.  Then there is some discussion and possibly the name is put on the shortlist and the process continues.  At some point a name has to be chosen.

Here is where the strategy comes in.  Suppose there is a name you really like and you think your spouse might find acceptable, let’s say Hercules.  You put Hercules on the shortlist.  But now suppose you come up with another name that you know your spouse likes better than the first one but which boders on unacceptable for you.  Let’s say “Brad.”  Do you suggest Brad?

At first glance it seems obvious you should hide Brad in the drawer, lock it tight and throw away the key.  But its not always clear.  By suggesting Brad you might convince your spouse that you are playing ball and you might get points for that and it might even improve the chances of a baby Hercules.

In fact, I think something like this would be a property of an efficient mechanism.  In economics we think about situations like this and how to design the rules of the game to deliver an acceptable outcome, in this case a baby whose name will not scar him for life.  The unusual feature of this particular problem is that the alternatives, i.e. the possible names, are not given in advance but have to be suggested in order to be considered.  If I keep “Brad” a secret, chances are my spouse won’t think of it and I won’t have to worry about it.

So the key issue in designing the rules of this game is to give each spouse enough incentive to reveal the names that they might otherwise try to keep secret.  After all, taking into account both spouses preferences, Brad might actually be the best name if say my spouse really likes it much better than Hercules.  And in that event we want to give it a chance to be selected.

How would we design the rules to give that incentive?  The only way to do this is to “pay” a spouse who offers an additional name by increasing the chance of that spouse getting his preferred choice.  And in practice the goodwill your spouse feels when you suggested Brad has exactly this effect.

*In answer to your question, Sandeep is the Mommy.

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