Yesterday, a parent forwarded me a link to a “most popular baby names of 2010” list being promoted by a popular baby website.
She thought it was the real thing. I had to break it to her: The list wasn’t what she thought it was.
This was her response:
Who comes up with this list then! What a load.
I mentioned fake popularity lists last year, and I’ll mention them again this year.
Those lists aren’t real. They’re not the “most popular baby names of 2010” as most people would interpret the phrase, i.e., the most popularly-bestowed baby names in the U.S. in 2010.
The lists merely reflect the preferences of users at particular websites. That’s it. They’re likely the a site’s most searched-for names, but who knows. And the site’s users could be anyone, including people who don’t (and never plan to) have kids, people looking up names simply because they sound interesting, people living in Timbuktu, etc.
The real list is the one put out by the Social Security Administration every May. It represents names given to U.S. babies within the previous calendar year.
Smaller lists released by states, cities and hospitals are reliable as well, though of course they represent much smaller populations.
I wish the baby sites were more explicit about what their so-called “most popular baby names” lists really represented, because those lists confuse a lot of people.