You must've have come across this phrase while reading articles in a magazine or newspaper. Usually, when it is a real life story with certain personal or embarrassing details, the actual name of the person isn't divulged and another random name is used. At the bottom of the article there is one single note for all the changed names as the newspapers have to mention it to ascertain it's genuineness. Hence, when you read the article, you go with the flow and you don't care about the names used, 'cos even if the names are common, in all likelihood you wouldn't know the person mentioned in the article. And you don't care.
That makes sense.
But many a time I come across articles where the sentence goes like this.
"Ramya, an electrical engineering student from BITS (name changed on request), was walking back to her hostel after class when..." This would probably be followed by a few other people whose names had been changed and this would be mentioned in brackets for every name changed, all in the same article.
I find this a little stupid, and frankly I don't understand the purpose of mentioning it every time, instead of just writing it once in small print at the end of the article. Somehow I find myself concentrating more on the names of the people than the incident itself while reading the article. And then I start commenting on why they had to use such a weird name, with a pseudo initial as well! There are so many nice and pleasant names, but no, they find the most obscure names on the planet and print it.
Just a random post - I'm just amused that at times, I concentrate more on the names than the actual important content in the article. ;)