It has been pointed out that using object names to drive tools is generally a bad approach and that custom attributes are the way to go.
I've done enough name-driven stuff to see the wisdom in this, but I am new to custom data in MAX.

My task: I have a rig system where there is simple 'export' skeleton driven by a more complex 'control' skeleton.
I only want to export the simple 'export' skeleton (to minimize our bone count in the exported FBX data.)

my first impulse is to name the bones with some kind of prefix (EXP_rootBone, EXP_spine01, ,...etc)
and use a script to select by name > export selected

Is this the sort of task that custom attributes can faclilitate? how would this be approached?

would you apply a "export =true" custom attribute to each bone?
or perhaps store a list of export bones in a dummy root node on each rig?
or perhaps store a pointer to some external json/xml data for each rig?

I am not sure what the wise approach is...