Both spelling correction and autofill commands are ubiquitous in current programs both online and locally resident. My Apple computer has a built-in spelling checker program that works anytime I am typing either into a program or online. From the standpoint of someone who writes constantly, this type of program is more useful than it is a bother. I am used to ignoring the suggested spellings if they are for the wrong word or if my spelling is preferred. You may notice that Tony's spelling of "generalisations" in the above quote, differs from the one commonly suggested in U.S. based spell checkers.
If the suggested standardized place names were nothing more or less than a spell checker, there probably would not a be a problem. But here, the use of the term "standardized" becomes an important factor. There is an implication from the use of the term alone that suggests that a change to the standard place should be made.
I am not going to give an exhaustive list of every program that suggests a standard place name, but a few examples, as Tony points out, might help with explaining the idea.
Who should I pick on first? Well, Ancestry.com is a big company and can probably take the heat. If you are using Ancestry.com's online Public Member Family Trees, you will run into the suggested "standard" place names anytime you enter a place into the program. Interesting, without the full suggested name, the program sometimes cannot find the place at all. Here is an example.
My relative was a resident of Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah in 1930 according to the U.S. Census. Here is a screen shot of the residence information from Ancestry.com:
You will note that the location entry is exact and accurate. However, if I try to find this location by clicking on Ancestry.com's mapping program I see the following error:
You may have to click on the image to see the words, but essentially, the program cannot find an entry for Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah. When I try to edit the entry, the program suggests the standardized place name, "Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah, USA." In effect, any time I add a place to Ancestry.com, the program makes the standard suggestions. However, and interesting, even with the standardized place name, Ancestry.com's map cannot find the city. Here is another screen shot showing just the error message:
It is not that Ancestry.com is forcing me to use a standardized place name, but in suggesting the standard place every time I make an edit, if I didn't know better, it would be very easy to use the program just like a spell checker and accept the standard place name as the rule despite exceptions.
I could go on to list other programs with similar quirks, such as FamilySearch.org, but I think the one example is enough. The problem where Ancestry.com's map does not recognize its own standardized place name is really interesting.