I'd like to propose a new rule that ordinals should be placed either in the First Name or Suffix fields, and not in the Middle Name field. A great advantage to this is that it helps prevent bad merges, where two people are only distinguishable by their ordinal as middle names are often ignored or lost.
Actually for merges and searches ordinals work better in the middle name field, not the first name. I just proved it to myself. I had James l in first name - 467 tree matches, not what I wanted. I put it as James l (middle name), and the number of tree matches became far more reasonable and accurate.
I see the more fields filled in, the less merge errors, and that includes Middle Name.
BTW I don't have a strong opinion here ... my natural preference is for ordinals in the suffix field but I realize that's English centric.
What merge issues are you seeing? Could it be because Middle Name is set to "off" in "user preferences?" I had that by mistake / Geni default for a couple of months, put all kinds of middle names in the first name field. I'm still fixing that in my own tree. :)
That might have been the intent behind populating the Suffix field with l, ll, ll originally ... which doesn't seem to be working for some languages.
And there's the point about having all name fields filled in to reduce merge error.
And there's the display order issue i.e., Charles l "The Bald" of Bavaria vs. Charles "The Bald," l, of Bavaria.
I like the idea of ordinals as a separate field, but there are problems with different numbering systems and also with the area.
May be there should also be a field to specify which numbering system is used?
I started an new discussion about titles, numbering and area (before I saw this one): http://www.geni.com/discussions/101031