The Fakery Index (warning: Math)

[name]Just[/name] for fun, I decided to develop an index of fake children posted in the birth announcements section of nameberry. Obviously this index will never accurately capture all real, or all fake, children. I wanted to see if the forums’ becoming ‘tougher’ on trolling was having any effect.

I went off a few hypotheses. If you have issues with these premises, please recalculate according to your own.


  1. The nameberry user population is no different, biologically speaking, than the general human population in terms of percentage of male versus female conceptions or percentage of multiple births. Liking names does not influence one’s zygotes.

  2. Parents expecting multiples might be expected to be more excited about naming them, so sociologically we might see a larger proportion of multiple parents than the general population. I am willing to grant a 25% or so increase.

  3. 99% of the nameberry user population is female, and given that the girls’ forum generates literally double the traffic of the boys’ forum, women appear to enjoy dreaming up fake female children more than fake male children. Therefore the excess percentage of female births is a good marker of fakery. Likewise, multiples are seen as more “special” and a more interesting naming challenge, and the excess percentage of multiple births is a good marker of fakery.

A. Natural frequency distribution of gender in the human population: 49% Female, 51% [name]Male[/name]. Y-bearing sperm are lighter and swim faster, hence a slightly higher number of boy babies than girls.

B. Natural frequency of twinning: 1/80 pregnancies (1.25%). Real frequency of twinning in the US, due to assisted reproductive technology: 3.31%

C. Natural frequency of triplets: 1/6400 pregnancies (0.016%); Real frequency: 0.14%.

I’ve disaggregated the results by the last 5 quarterly babyberry reports. What do you think: are we getting better? We started cracking down in the fourth quarter of 2012, so look at 4/2012 & 1/2013 versus the earlier data.

EDIT: including second quarter 2013!

Girls: (61) 49.2%
Boys: (63) 51.8%
Multiples: 7 twin sets: G/G: 2 G/B: 4 B/B: 1; proportion of girls: 57/43
Pregnancies: 124 singletons, 7 twins. Proportion of twin pregnancies: 5.3%

Girls (76): 54%
Boys (64): 46%
Multiples: G/G: 4; G/B: 4; B/B: 2. Proportion of Girl babies in Twin Sets: 60/40
Pregnancies: 120 singletons, 10 twins. Proportion of twin pregnancies: 7.6%

Girls: 59: 54%
Boys: 50: 46%
Multiples: G/G: 4 G/B: 4 B/B: 1. Proportion of Girl babies in Twin Sets 71/29
91 singletons, 8 twins: Proportion of twin pregnancies: 8.1%

Girls: 56: 57%
Boys: 41: 43%
Multiples: G/G: 4 G/B: 1 B/B: 0; G/B/B: 2. Proportion of Girl babies in Twin Sets 83/17
81 singletons, 5 twins, 2 trips: Proportion of twin/triplet pregnancies: 5.7%; 2.3% [multiples: 8.0%]

Girls: 84 61%
Boys: 54 39%
Multiples: G/G: 3 G/B: 5 B/B: 2 Proportion of Girl babies in Twin Sets: 55/45
118 singletons; 10 twins: Proportion of twin pregnancies: 8.5%

Girls: 75 [64%]
Boys: 42 [36%]
Multiples: G/G: 1 G/B: 3 B/B: 1; G/B/B: 1. Proportion of Girl babies in Twin Sets [50/50]
104 singletons, 5 twins, 1 trips. Proportion of twin/triplet pregnancies: 4.5%; 0.9%; total multiples: 5.5%

5 quarters total:
Girls: 76 + 59 +56 +84 +75 = 350 [58%]
Boys: 64 + 50+41+ 54 +42 = 251 [42%]
Multiples: GG 16 GB 17 BB 8 [75/25] trips 3
Singeltons 514 Twins 38 Trips 3

** Edit 6 quarters total:

Girls: (61) + 76 + 59 +56 +84 +75 411 [56.6%]
Boys: (63) + 64 + 50+41+ 54 +42 314 [43.4%]
Multiples: G/G: 18 G/B: 21 B/B: 9; proportion of girls: 59.3%
Pregnancies: 124 singletons, 7 twins. Proportion of twin pregnancies: 5.3%

Girls in Natural Population: 49%
Boys in Natural Population: 51%
Excess Girls = Observed/Predicted = 350/294 = 119% or 56 extra girls
Missing Boys = Observed/Predicted = 250/306= 81.6% or 56 missing boys

514 / 38/ 3 = 6.8% / 0.5%
Twins in total population: 1/80 (1.25%); US: 3.31%
Triplets in natural population: 1/6400 (0.016%); US: 0.14%
Excess twinning: 205%
Excess triplets: 357%

1 Like

Highly entertaining and it’s good to see numbers attached to this - I firmly say that there are still many, many fakes running around, possibly that we have people making up more believable stories, but I am a skeptic in most area’s and I am very unlikely to believe what most people say. (not meant to hurt people’s feelings, that’s just how I am).

The 3/12 data, that would be for basically the “summer” months, am I correct? [name]Just[/name] looking over the data and trying to figure out which reports would fall during the summer - when most kids have off of school and are bored, maybe there is a correlation?

Yeah, they’re like fiscal quarters. 1/2012 = [name]Jan[/name], Feb, [name]Mar[/name]; 2/2012 = Apr, [name]May[/name], [name]June[/name]; 3/2012 = [name]July[/name], Aug, Sept; 4/2012 = Oct, Nov, Dec

wow, interesting, and a lot of work.

Honestly the fakery doesn’t really bother me at all.
I’m here to have fun and learn about interesting names, and possibly help a person once in awhile.
If a few threads are fake, what difference does it make?


Also, I was thinking: While people are getting more and more creative about girls’ names, boy name trends are usually more classic, tried-and-true type names. Is it possible that perhaps parents are sticking to family names, etc. for their sons and seeking help elsewhere (enter Nameberry) for girls? It would explain the disproportionate gender ratio. [name]Just[/name] a thought.


In defense of the disproportionately high number of multiples, I think there are more factors that may play into this than just “excitement”. Two or three babies are much, much harder to name than one. As you noted, multiples also correlate with fertility procedures and it makes sense that a woman who has worked long and hard to get pregnant would’ve had a lot more time and motivation to become involved with boards like these. As for the higher incidence of girl babies, it’s been touched upon many times on this blog and others that parents feel they have a lot more creative leeway when it comes to girls, whereas for boys they feel restricted to a more conventional set of names: thus the uptick in discussions on the girls’ board versus the boys’.

All that said, I agree that fakery is an issue on this site. Grab your pitchforks, Berries! To the castle!

It’s more than just a few fake threads, though, that’s the thing. I think that it breaks down the integrity of the board and casts an air of doubt over other members who ARE truthful. I’m not saying you need to tell us everything about yourself, put your name out there or say anything about your life but don’t make stuff up, either.

What bothers me is not really the ones who are super transparent and just post a few times and move on - but I have been on “name” forums for close to a decade and I can tell you from personal experience that some of these people take it REALLY far! I have seen people do everything from fake the death of children to become very close, personal friends with people only to be outed and the people who reached out and became friends with them were left there scratching their heads and feeling taken advantage of and quite frankly - creeped out - because this person who they shared friendship and personal stories with ended up not being who they said they were.

I had one girl on another site come on and make up this complex story about her being 16 and pregnant and trying to get through everything, for some reason she reached out to me specifically (and a few others) and we took pity on her and really tried to give this girl emotional support. She eventually slipped up and upon some investigation she ended up NOT being who she said she was, she was not pregnant, was not going through any of the emotional issues that she made up and it just left everyone she had gotten close to feeling very sick and betrayed.

It’s not as innocent and harmless as people make it out to be.

Interesting, blade! I’m glad someone did this. It’s cool to see quantitative stuff about nameberry itself rather than individual names. Next someone should compare the pre/post-crackdown numbers of people who actually got called out/confirmed as trolls (as in got their thread closed, etc.)

Why do you obsess over this? Yes, there are trolls. They will probably all never go away. It’s rediculius to obsess over this this much.

Boredom? Some people enjoy math? Why not, lol.

It hurts the blog and its members, that’s why. They may not ever go away but that doesn’t mean their numbers can’t at least be diminished some.

Thanks for the info. Very interesting!

Why “obsess” over baby names? Most people find a barely post-pubescent girl’s membership on this site to be odd, frankly. Who cares?

I like to try to describe and predict human behavior. It’s a beautiful thing, to apply an algorithm to meaningless noise and suddenly see a pattern.

As for the “why care about fakers” argument: I don’t know about [name]Blade[/name], but speaking for myself I have kind of an obsession with frauds and cons throughout history, from alchemy to art and identity theft. These kind of forum personas also exist at a really interesting apex of internet culture. And hey, who doesn’t enjoy calling someone out when they try to sell you a heap of bull?

Oh, I know that some people can take it too far, but I don’t know how you could really police it unless the same person is making hundreds of threads from the same computer. It’s easy to lie on the internet and I think most people do it relatively harmlessly. I’ve never personally lied about my life, but for those who do I imagine it’s just a need for attention.

I do agree that there’s a big difference between someone who lies and says “I’m pregnant” rather than “I’m looking to conceive in the next 5 years” and someone who makes hundreds of “joke” threads or leads people on for months on end with a complicated backstory.

LOL, I was totally one of those 14 year old girls with notebooks full of names and combos…

Somehow I never felt the need to make up babies. I saved that for my [name]Harry[/name] [name]Potter[/name] roleplay forum. :oops:

Oh, I agree - I think a lot of them are just harmless teens. But I still can’t help but think in the back of my head “What if this person is a creepy 65 year old man looking to infiltrate a group of pregnant women and teen girls”.

Again - overly suspicious on my part.

I think the reason why some of us don’t like the fakery, as quite often, it starts off as asking about names but then some drama follows.

There was one poster claiming to be expecting multiples (I think it was triplets or possible even quads), and what started off as asking about names (harmless enough) became more sinister, when she started to share stories of health complications and asking everyone to pray for “her babies”. Berries were investing emotionally into her story. However, she ended up making it so far-fetched, it soon became obvious it was fake and she was outed.

The fact that fakery over names, can easily lead to something else, that’s why I think some of us prefer to see it nipped in the bud.

And lets face it, people don’t need to fake such stories, because Nameberry isn’t a parenting site where non-parents might feel awkward posting about names. This is a name site, so anyone can post about names, so no-one would be “laughed at” for simply posting about their “dream quad names”.

Edited to add: Thanks [name]Blade[/name] - great stats.

Wow. I understand that it might be fun to fake sometimes, but the deaths? That seems quite extreme. Once I saw a thread where a user claimed she was having quintuplets, and she already had twins. That made me chuckle.

aw man I was like “alas, math!” and then all of the numbers went whoosh right over my head like first order derivatives or possibly an airplane

I don’t understand why people think they need to concoct some bizarre fantasy life or create phantom children/fetuses in order to discuss names. Is it that they’re gluttons for feedback and think the best way to max out the number of replies to their threads is to lead other posters to believe they’re expecting? (Incidentally, do posters who claim that they are expectant parents get more replies to their threads? My gut says yes, but listening to my gut is no valid form of statistical analysis.) Is it some kind of vicarious living/wish fulfillment thing? Or do they just get a rush out of screwing with people?

I don’t mind fakers too much unless they start to get creepy. For example, when people try to pass off pictures of other people as themselves/their family: that is creepy. Ugh