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From: "Daniel Seriff"

> > I've been asked on another mailing list to collect "dummy names" from
> > other cultures. In Anglo-America, the names "John Doe" and "Richard Roe"
> > (and female equivalents with "Jane") are used in the legal system and
> > elsewhere for people whose names are not known.

> I've heard "John Q. Public" and "Jane Q. Public", but this seems to be a
> rather stilted '40s & '50s American usage. It sounds like you'd hear it
> on an old WWII news reel, referring to all the folks working at home in
> the factories.

In my idiolect at least, John/Jane Doe would be the name attached to a
cadaver or missing person whose identity was unknown. John Q. Public refers
to the average American man in the street, thus when you stick a microphone
in his face and ask John Q. Public to opine on a given topic, you're trying
to gauge how average, Mom's-apple-pie Americans feel about it.