I'm thinking of eliminating the middle name field in a form I'm designing. What factors should I consider that tell me if it is beneficial to not ask middle name?
It's really very simple.
Ask what is absolutely required and product will break without that. Not just about middle name, but for any kind of user input, ask yourself this:
"Can the product work without this piece of information from the user?"
If the answer is even borderline close to positive, skip that field. Getting response from a user stops the flow and forces the users to add the data. The best approach is to avoid asking for data.
In my opinion it is always better to ask for a Full Name in just a single field instead of presenting three different fields to users.
As a full name can be easily separated at backend in order to use it for proper salutation and validations. As being user centric we always have to be at user’s standpoint. There are users who don't prefer to share their middle names but for a few users their middle names are as much significant as their initials.
So, it would be good if we leave it on the users itself that what they want to share and what don't.
Middle names are useful for disambiguation in name matching. For example, you may have many John Smiths, but only have one John Jordan Smith. The more fields you add, the greater the certainty of the match (e.g. John Smith, whose date of birth is 12/29/95 who lives in zipcode 12345 is much more unique than just John Smith.)
If you have a way of uniquely identifying the user without using the full name(account number, social security number, email address, telephone number, etc), then middle names are superfluous.
It totally depends on the product and the people going to connect with them.
Getting any information in form from user can help in targeting the audience in marketing if it is a bussiness based product. Basically it can help in analytics and give you pattern or rather i would say any gathered information lead to a pattern which helps in getting the marketing trends. So I think getting a middle name is not bad at all rather you can make it as an optional field.