A Nature News article last week talked about the confusion that happens if a number of authors have the same or similar names (Scientific publishing: Identity crisis). This is apparently a special issue in China because of the difficulties transliterating Chinese characters into English and the use of only a limited number of surnames. The Nature Nanotechnology – Asia Pacific and Beyond Forum has a discussion about this topic (What's in an Asian name?).
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://front-matter.io/mfenner/are-names-important