name = name || 'joe';
This is quite common and very helpful. Another option is to do:
name || (name = 'joe');
Well, in PHP, that doesn't work. What many do is:
if ( empty($name) ) $name = 'joe';
Which works...but it's a bit verbose. My preference, at least for checking for empty strings, is:
$name = $name ?: 'joe';
What's your preference for setting values if they don't already exist?