I am NOT going to pretend to have any answers about this. 

What I’d just like to do is spin this a bit.

I’m seeing a lot of people, myself included, who think changing forums to only show commenter’s real names is a bad idea. These people have listed many, many different reasons why they feel this way, and some of those reasons include personal safety from internet predators.

I’m seeing a handful of people who say that they think it’s not such a big deal. Having their real name out there doesn’t bother them.

What I’m NOT seeing, not one single time, is any commenter saying, “This is a great idea that I have wanted for a while, and I’m glad Blizzard is doing this.”

Not one.

Now, this is where I’d like to spin this discussion, just on this one post.

Yes we know of the thousands of pages of vocal protestors commenting in various fora that they hate this change, and why.

What I want is for anyone who truly wants and approves of this to comment that they do, and specifically why. What specific benefits do you feel that this change will bring to you, realistically?

I’m not asking for people who are ambivalent to comment, people who feel, “Meh, no big deal.” If you don’t have a strong opinion about it one way or another, than you don’t really have a stake in whether this change goes live or not. You’re happy (or passive) either way.

No, I honestly want to know, and hear the voices of, those people (if they are out there) that are really positive towards this change, and why.

Help me to understand.

Because here’s the thing… right now, I’m not seeing a single soul out there vocally saying “Heck yes, bring it on, this is going to be awesome! Thank you Blizzard, I’ve hoped you would do this for a long time now, and there will be nothing but puppies and rainbows here on out.”

So, that raises the second question in my mind…

If not one single paying customer wants this change, and in fact the majority of vocal customers are offended by this change, then why is Blizzard spending so much in the way of time and resources to implement this change?

What, honestly, is their benefit?

Right now, from my little corner of WoW, it looks like all this has resulted in is the loss of customer good will and trust.

But there are many other reasons a company can choose to make a change.

Some people have suggested this is to help Blizzard reduce costs in terms of Moderator employees, by driving the forums to be self-policing.

Is this being done to help bring a more open and transparent identity practise to their forums to help in Human Resources and legal or criminal complaint investigation?

Is this being done because Blizzard has recently implemented a partnership/business arrangement with Facebook, and now they are required to make these changes as part of their personal networking interface with Facebook to abide by their agreement and make money with their business partner, regardless of what the customers want?

I don’t know, as I said. I don’t have answers. But I would dearly love to have more facts and a wider perspective in order to help better understand why they’re doing what they are.

Because let me tell you, their stated reason of making the forums a happier place just isn’t flying over here. I’m not buying it.

50 Responses to “RealID in forums with a different spin”
  1. Sleepysam says:

    Is this being done because Blizzard has recently implemented a partnership/business arrangement with Facebook, and now they are required to make these changes as part of their personal networking interface with Facebook to abide by their agreement and make money with their business partner, regardless of what the customers want?

    This.

  2. Mike Norton says:

    I was on the road traveling for vacation so I could not post or express how I am one of those who is looking forward to this. So you do know one. I even posted a comment on a blog and twitter before hitting the road for our long trip about such things.

    The issue is that its not perfect but it is something that is a step in a direction that those QQing are not seeing. Right now its all flash and little heat in the debate with honestly a new breed of trolls emerging.

    Yes, security is an issue. Is it Blizz’s responsibility to keep us safe? No, within reason. You see, one thing missing from all the posts so far is the component of taking ownership of our own identities and safety. If you feel this is a threat to your saftey, then dont post. While at it dont sign up for Facebook or any other “social media” service. That is your right.

    We all need to remember, as the blues have posted, they have thought this through and they have a much larger picture “BIG PICTURE” that we are not seeing right now. Most of the noise that is being made is, in my opinion, being made from those who see the loss of some perceived entitlement that they can be famous without really being real. I know. . that thought is a little raw.

    Just as I am looking forward to GoogleME and what it means for our social interaction I am looking forward to this change. I do hope people use care and dont friend ever Tom, Dick and Henry only to find out that it was a mistake. Its time for us to educate ourselves on how to be responsible participants in a more open world.

    I have always respected you Jon not because of what you write, although I do agree and enjoy it about 95% of the time, but because I know who you are, at least as much as you tell us who you are. I would rather read you than a blog or post from some young kid who hides behind a name. Perhaps that is just me and my attempt to be as transparent as I can be in my walk on this earth.

    We shall see where this goes. All the trolling and crying might have an influence but Blizzard is not just making a knee jerk decision.

    Thanks for your posts and hope to see more soon.

  3. kattrinsaa says:

    the ONLY benefit I can think of to the RealID system is being able to chat cross game/server/faction..

    for everything else… wait, there’s… (sound of crickets chirping) sorry.. I got nothing.

  4. Don McIver says:

    Only argument that makes any sort of non-money related sense is that by using a real name, the person can’t hide behind their online identity. Thus, it cuts down on trolling.

    I don’t necessarily buy it, but I’m pretty “Meh” about the change. Don’t really care about it one way or the other. I generally don’t say anything on blogs I’m not willing to put my real name behind.

    Don McIver

  5. Manxome says:

    I can’t help you inausmuch that I don’t support the change. But I do very much admire Blizzard’s commitment to the forums and I see them as one of the few companies that understands the potentials of a forum based community. Given this, it makes great sense to try to increase the signal-to-noise ratio on boards that many think are filled with worthless whining and trolling.

    I can also see Blizzard (and perhaps moreso in their identity as Blizzard-Activision) to be very intrigued and forward-thinking in what a social network can do to benefit their customers and profitability. Remember, new ideas are rarely identified and understood by the customers (one of my favorite quotes attributed to Henry Ford is, ““If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”). So I can accept that there is this super-amazing vision and some of the press seems to indicate this is the case.

    But none of this makes me particularly comfortable with the tone of their implementation. I would be 100% behind this were I to be able to go into my RealID account and put a RealHandle on it and have one identity across all Blizzard games that I could chose whether or not to have associated with larger social networks. But my real name? No thanks.

    Of course, I am a 40+ year old gamer and (like it or not) of a generation that approaches all new media with some degree of skepticism and mistrust. I suspect the core demographic of WoW is 16-35 year olds and perhaps the majority of that group is more comfortable with sharing some personal information?

    (Also, keep in mind the implementation of RealID in the game is not that disturbing. The only person who actually has my email address are people to whom I have given it. And they would know my name anyway. Ironically, this is limiting my use of the tool because if there were a RealHandle, ever officer in my guild would have that information instead of a select few.)

  6. Kuh says:

    I would say that this is an example of a “Snuggie” service.

    What I mean is that a lot of the crap you see peddled on TV claims to ‘solve’ a problem, but if you really examine the problem, it isn’t really much of one / the fix is more trouble than what it purports to solve.

    Blizzard is trying to herd their user base into using something – claiming “Oh this will fix X, because you know, you are really bothered by X” (even if you aren’t). Hmmm – continue ignoring idiots as we have been doing since the dawn of teh internets or give up large swaths of our privacy so we can know the ‘real names’ of the idiots and then continue to have to ignore them.

    I think we have to ask “What is in this for Blizzard?” as there really is no immediate value for the actual user (cough, cough Facebook = cough, cough $$$).

    At best, this action strikes me as banditry – it benefits Blizzard (they obviously REALLY REALLY want this) while taking from the users (their privacy) and offering nothing of value in exchange. It’s like a guy saying “I’m going to take your money then leave you with a broken arm in exchange for you giving me your money, isn’t that great?”

    This is a profound shift from the previous, intelligent relationship I felt I had with the company – “I give you $X per month and I get to have fun” – they get money to do their thing, we get to keep having fun = win-win.

    I think the biggest question is if the user-base will be stupid / helpless enough to let Blizzard roll over them like this.

  7. Dreadtusk says:

    Imagine this if you will, Blizzard is internally frustrated with their forums. They view it as a figurative and literal black hole with the amount of customer service effort and money that they put into it. Yet, at the same time, tremendously valuable for feedback (when the trolls don’t shout everyone out.) It’s reputation precedes it and everyone who cares about Blizzard games knows this. Possibly, Blizzard has surveyed their players and found that the reason most people don’t want to use their forums to improve the games is that trolls and annoying children flame/cry/whine/etc. nearly every topic. At this point, most game companies would shrug their shoulders and say, “hey it’s not our business changing the way forums work.” But this is Blizzard, and as we’ve known from years past that they don’t ignore their problems. They solve them and make them better and everyone in the industry looks at them in awe and wonder.

    Now, is this the best solution to killing trolls? No one knows the answer to that. Is it a solution? Maybe. But BBB, I don’t think anyone is going to be excited about tackling a problem like this. It’s like getting excited about possible solution to fighting illegal immigration or any other contentious issue. The benefit is having forums that aren’t total crap. I am not without my apprehensions and I fear people with valuable things to say may not be willing to give up their identity for it. I feel if make it optional, which it looks like they might be doing, It’s going to be either harmless or utterly underused.

  8. Jeffro says:

    If you ever read xkcd, this is very similar to the youTube button that reads your comment out loud before you post it so that you can see how stupid you sound.

    Years ago, I thought that this was the only solution to trolls on the internet.

    I personally don’t believe that the number of online predators is so great that a community of over 4 million people need too worry about their names being made public. I also don’t believe that the concept of having your name associated with WoW is going to harm you professionally like some bloggers.

    I had not been to the blizzard forums in so long I had forgotten about this solution and I am kind of shocked that a major company is willing to try it. I mean this is a HUGE thing, and I’m personally very excited to see what happens in the convergence of a virtual world with the real one.

    Its a huge deal to force this actual closeness between people in an online game, and having made more than a few friend through this game, i’m willing to see it through.

    I believe it will elevate the level of discourse in game and on the forums, and I can see why thats a good thing. This is a very ballsy thing for a large company to do. they are changing the world… of warcraft… and maybe beyond it.

    I for one do not fear change.

  9. KiwiRed says:

    I’m not seeing any real benefit for players either, and the lack of response from Blizz about players concerns has me a little concerned.

    My money is on Facebook (and possibly Activision) having a hand in this, but I can’t help but wonder if we’ll ever get the full story – indeed, I suspect these are merely the opening chapters in the RealID saga. (Well, maybe we’ll get the lowdown in a decade, when we get Ghostcrawler’s autobiography…)

  10. Aindrelin says:

    At first, I thought to myself “Okay, I just won’t post on the forums. No big deal, none of my friends post on the forums, it’ll be fine.” But…Blizzard partnership with Facebook? I didn’t know about that! And after looking it up, what it looks like is it adds your RealID friends to your Facebook friends list? There’s a reason I don’t tell my friends I play wow, and there’s a reason I don’t tell my WoW friends who I am. Of course, I can fix this by not having any realID friends and not posting on the forums, but I really don’t see why any of this is necessary.

    But really, how is this going to stop flaming again? If anything, it’s just going to make flaming a whole lot more personal, depending on how much else is linked to your RealID. In addition to making fun of your class and spec, you can bet your butt Martha Gimberly’s 14-year-old son is going to get some ribbing if a poster disagrees with him.

    And to be perfectly honest, I can barely think of ONE person I want to be RealID friends with. And even then I’m going to have to fix my Facebook, now. Maybe that says more about the kind of friends I have in WoW than anything else, but to me and to many people I know, RealID seems like a massive waste of time. We come into WoW to escape RL. Why would I want to combine the two?

  11. Ted Mazza says:

    I think everyone can agree that the signal to noise ratio on the WOW forums is pretty bad – too many useless posts drowning the few gems that can be found. Some people hide behind their veil of anonymity and behave like complete buffoons.

    I have the extremely unpopular opinion that anonymity on the internet is a Bad Thing ™. I think Timothy Courtney said it best in his blog. In my guild, I’ve been a proponent of sharing our real life names with one another. I think it promotes guild harmony and reduces guild drama significantly – it’s hard to think that priest is out to get you when you know he’s really concerned about raising his 2.5 kids, meeting deadlines at work and paying his mortgage.

    I think that the move to Real ID can help Blizzard achieve the following admirable goals:

    - foster a true community
    - reduce trolling and other nonsense behavior
    - improve the overall quality of the feedback

    They’ll sure lose some posters, but I also think they’d gain some. I never post on or visit the Blizzard forums. With this change, I will. I doubt I’m the only one.

    Ted

  12. kattrinsaa says:

    @kiwired

    there is not a lack of response, i’ve been skimming mmochampion-blue tracker and wryxian has had a busy morning. at 8:02 pacific (about 45 minutes ago by my reckoning) he had this to say.
    *****************
    Q u o t e:
    The solution is simple, and you didn’t answer to that suggestion a single time yet. Just add an UNIQUE alias that cannot be changed to everyone’s battle.net account, and use that one on the forums

    From the perspective of individual representatives, we can only really thank you for your suggestion. It isn’t up for us to make on-the-fly decisions about suggestions, but we can and do take your feedback and suggestions and deliver them for consideration.
    *****************

    the moderators are doing what they can, all we can do is provide enough feedback for blizzard to make an informed decision about their ideas.

    considering that it is 8am on the left coast where blizzard is, the execs are probably not even through their first martini coffee yet. I would expect that they will be getting a summary of the responses to this as we speak. or maybe at their 1030 strategy meeting (or whatever time they do it)

    for those of you that don’t work in a corporate setting, things don’t generally happen instantly, they have to be discussed (in committee) for a while and hashed out before decisions can be made. this topic is all of one day old. in business terms it hasn’t even happened yet.

  13. FelderMoo says:

    Hi there! Short time reader, first time poster ;)

    I’ve been reading a lot of the comments flying around on a lot of the boards in regard to Real-ID. Since the patch in game, I have about 3 Real-ID friends that happen to be REAL friends in RL, that I meet up regularly with. I suspect I’ll add a few more RL friends to my Real-ID list. But, the rest of in-game friends won’t get Real’d.

    The in game side of things is fine as far as I’m concerned, I can see if my RL friends are online and chat if need be to them. Same goes for them, and will be the same when Diablo 3 pop’s up and they’ll see me playing there.

    As to the whole forum side.. Hmmm..

    I guess on this point I’m not so sure on. if I have a problem in game and need to post on it on the Blizz forum, then my real name is splattered for all to see.. instead of a shield to hide behind. I only tend to post if I need some advice, assistance etc. I see a lot of people going on about stalkers. Its a big concern, especially if you are in a group that could be picked on for differences in sex, gender preferences, religious tendencies etc. There is large fear there, especially since there are some vindictive folk out there.

    I can see why Blizzard want to update the forums. Cut down on the amount of in-forum fighting, the trolls and all the other weird and wonderful folk that don’t want to help there, but just add stumbling blocks or cause general harm, again hiding behind a shield of anonymity. I think a lot of the folk complaining about that are folk that don’t want this shield removed. For that I’d be happy to see forums that were civil and useful and not a place for folk to pick on others.

    I guess I’m straddling a fence on this.. one side I can see that being open and honest my rein in some of the more.. idiotic folk out there from bleating out without thinking. the other side, I can see folk doing what they’ve just done on the Blizz forums, and hassled a person in RL all because they thought he was one of Blizz’s own posters. (apart from it the hypocrisy of folk complaining about people doing the same thing, and going out and doing it..) *sigh* Thing is, this was without Real-ID in place on the forums, just using the internet search tools that everyone has available.

    Folk will want privacy no matter what, especially for minors/children that play Blizz games. Okay, I’m fine with the in game side of things, I can pick and choose who’s to know my Real-ID and know about me RL. I’m certainly not about to be an idiot on forums either, well at least I hope not ;) as it is, if I post something defamatory or insulting on the new forum’s, folk will see my real name there.. I’m going to think hard an long about doing that! (not that I would!!! I’m nice honest!!)

    The rest of the reasons for this? I think if we’re to be more open and honest with who we are in game and in forum, I think Bliz need to fess up and prove to us all that there’s nothing untoward going on here. I think we’d all be happier knowing more.

    Well thats my two penneth, sorry for rambling!

  14. Klinger says:

    I’m looking forward to the change. I have MANY alts across many servers and typically play all of Blizz’s games (SC, Diablo and WoW). Having my real name won’t make me have to choose which toon to post under – it will let friends see ALL of my toons on all my games. I don’t have a hide behind any of ‘em. Also, a little self-moderation on the forums is a good thing.

    …and besides that, like Mike Norton said – if you don’t want your Real Name out there, don’t post on the forums. With that, don’t sign up for Facebook or MySpace (is that even around?)…

  15. Nimizar says:

    I’ll take a crack at this, since I *do* see the change as primarily positive (even though I also understand why many existing forum posters are upset by the change).

    Currently, Blizzard are deeply conflicted over promoting the official forums as a resource for new players. Yes, there is some genuinely high quality information posted there. Yes, there are some genuinely helpful people there. But the forums are also populated by a lot of trolls and lowlifes that are just making the forums a less pleasant place to be. Forum regulars may be used to the trolling and just skip over it, looking for the good stuff. But having to make excuses for the behaviour of posters in their own forums has to grate on Blizzard, and they really aren’t a resource they can safely direct new users to (as they don’t know how familiar those users are going to be with internet forums in general).

    So, what to do about it? They’ve been trying moderation for years. It hasn’t worked – the GIFW (http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2004/03/19/) applies in full force when you can just roll a new level 1 alt to get a new posting identity. That doesn’t hide you from the wrath of the forums mods, but wielding the banhammer only goes so far – there’s always another troll. So, what can they do to clean things up? Well, they can’t get rid of the audience – they want to increase the number of people reading the game forums, not reduce it. Getting rid of the people doesn’t really work either, since it won’t be much of a forum if nobody posts. So they’re attacking the only aspect they can really influence: the anonymity.

    There *will* be collateral damage. There *will* be loyal players that take this as an affront and cease posting helpful information, or even cancel their subscription. But the potential payoff is a forum environment that Blizzard can direct new players to without feeling the need to make excuses. The elimination of the anonymity should break the back of the GIFW. There will still be players that are willing to post there, even if some existing posters opt out. If the payoff in signal-to-noise ratio ends up high enough, then the official forums may even become the preferred venue for civil discussions on all aspects of the game, from beginner zones through to complex RP scenarios, high end PvP and PvE, guild management strategies and so on and so forth.

    This policy change is a matter of Blizzard putting their foot down and saying, “No, it is not acceptable to us for our forums to present such a hostile environment to new users. We believe this is the most effective change we can make to do something about that”. The existing forum goers responding with “But the trolls aren’t all that bad!” have become inured to a lot of the noise and hostility, but that doesn’t mean Blizzard have to continue to tolerate it on their turf.

    I’m going to reach back into the WoWwiki archives in order to quote the first post in Tseric’s flameout thread. He wrote it years ago, but I think it beautifully expresses what I see as the real reasons driving this change:

    “When you can understand how a group of belligerent and angry posters can drive away people from this game with an uncrafted and improvisational campaign of misery and spin-doctoring, then perhaps, you can understand the decisions I make. Until you face mobs of psychology, you will not see my side.

    Until you see some bright-eyed player coming onto the forums wanting to know what they should spec as this class, and see them shat on and driven away by petty and selfish people who are simply leveraging for game buffs, you will not understand.

    You will not understand until you have to see it daily, for years…

    Until you understand that many people will trod over you to get where they’re going, or to get what they want.

    Until you understand that so many people will agree, completely, 100% with a loud, vulgar and assertive individual, not because he is right, but because he is making a stand against “the Man”; to take no critical thought in what they say, but simply to hop on board.

    Until you actually try to acknowledge those who do not speak on the forums, for whatever reason they have, you will not understand.

    If you think an archaic business formula like “the customer is always right” works, you fail to understand customers, not a customer. It is a collective. No one person, even myself, is truly above the whole.”

  16. Ming says:

    I personally think Dreadtusk has the right of it. We need to keep in mind, also, that posting on the official forums is, in fact, completely optional. Certainly there are things which are more convenient on the official forums, but there are definitely workarounds if you try.

    I’ve also made a post on the Pink Pigtail Inn which I think is also relevant here:

    I think that the most important thing people are forgetting when trying to discern Blizzard’s motives is that the official forums are an INCREDIBLY SMALL portion of the total number of WoW players.

    Spinks lists that the US forum thread has about 16000 posts. Most people tend to estimate that the entire US WoW population is about 5-6 million, if I recall correctly. If we make the assumption, certainly erroneous, that each post in that topic is made by a different person, a quick bit of math will show that the amount of people who’ve posted in that topic haven’t even reached .5% of the total population.

    There are legitimate issues involved, but I’m sure in some sense Blizzard takes their official forums lightly, because so few of their players use it.

  17. Rauxis says:

    Jettro, you have a very pink view of the world. Internet research is becoming a standard tool when screening job candidates. And believe it or not – most people on earth have no interest in WoW, and I bet there are far more people out there thinking “it’s waste of time” than “nice, a WoW player, it’s a social game that means she has social competencies”. Imagine the reaction if googling for your name returns 101+ WoW posts.

    For me personally – Rauxis is a selfish and haughty cat, freely admitting that “good” or “evil” does not apply to her. When I post on this char (specifically on Druid foren) most often it’s an “in persona” posting. I really do not want to directly associate my real me with this assumed character.

    As to why is Blizz doing it – it’s most certainly for monetary reasons. Revenue of WoW is declining, this will cut costs on the forum maintenance and might bring in new streams as “social networking site”.

    Now to BBBs original question – there where some posts on Blizz forum, and even some new threads started, supporting this change. Most often along the line “no more trolls”. The funny thing about this – Blizz CLOSED all those threads directing them to the one mega thread. This is effectively shutting down ALL discussion, and will impact the positive feedback more than negative ones. It’s easy enough to add a “I’m enraged” post to one thread – but why go the trouble and try to put in something positive if no one can really answer.

    I do not believe this really will help trolling btw (I’d assume trolls will register under a false name; remember, there is NO verification of your account name being done).

    Overall my bet is Blizz will go through with this change, and not care at all on the potential losses. And I wait for the day we hear in the news “kid killed because of ganking in WoW”.

    Rauxis, chosen of CAT

  18. I think that the idea sounds pretty interesting and bold and like a cool concept – in theory.

    After all, Google does this all the time. You have to be very careful actually with how you share things across different products, or it will display your full name. I have three google accounts – one with my real name, one with Miss Medicina, and one with another alias. I had to change the “real name” one so that there would be no cross contamination, as it were.

    It was tricky to figure out, but I was able to figure it out – and I did have the option of changing it.

    Having all these different networking abilities be connected is all the rage right now, and I think it IS a good idea, and a cool concept. This is the newest thing in communication – one name, or login, or alias, or avatar, for all different internet utilities you use. Think of OpenID, and Blogger and Google – it’s not just Facebook.

    But for whatever stubborn reason, Blizz seems to think that your single “alias” you use for everything should be your real life legal name – and this is the part I just don’t quite comprehend. I could see the benefit of connecting Facebook with battle.net – but even on Facebook, you don’t actually have to display your real name. In the past you did, but they learned and changed that. When I agreed to the most recent ToS, I did in fact notice the mention of Facebook, and I found it odd – but since I don’t use Facebook, I wasn’t too concerned. And since, even when I DID use Facebook, I had changed it so it didn’t show my real name, I wasn’t worried.

    So Blizz is simply taking what is conceptually a pretty bold and cool new idea, and taking it to an unnecessary extreme.

  19. Wellsee says:

    In Mike Norton’s reply, I did not see him address BBB’s request of being specific about why he likes the system, what benefits he sees. Instead he basically says people should be careful with their identities.

    I am careful with my identity on the internet. I belong to twitter, livejournal and facebook. My communities in those places have some overlap, but only overlap I allow and want. Why? Because I do different things with them. Facebook is broad and general and I do not use it for very personal information. The other ones are more locked down. Another thing that I am careful about is sharing who knows that I play video games. I am 40 years old and am a professional and have lots of business contacts. I don’t want any of them finding out what I do in my personal time without me sharing it directly.

    Now, I can control whether I post on Blizzard’s forums, and I shall not. I am not a frequent poster there anyway, as I’ve gone there a few times for advice or to use the customer service forums. I have never trolled or participated in a flame war either, not that it matters.

    I worry that this is a precursor to bringing RealId even further into the game. I do not believe this is really about avoiding trolls and reducing moderation costs. Thirty day, six month and year long bans will do that just fine. After all, all along the Blizzard Mods have known who we really are…

  20. Len says:

    The most vocal supporter of the forum change I saw while reading the EU official forums last night basically had the following reason for supporting the change:

    ‘it will stop trolling and make the forums a more pleasant community for those who do still use them’.

    They didn’t mind about their own personal privacy and didn’t seem to have an opinion on how others would be put off participating in the official community that Blizzard seem so excited about supporting. I’m pretty sure they hadn’t been actively campaigning for this change or proposing it to Blizzard, just didn’t mind it.

  21. Phelps says:

    If you feel this is a threat to your saftey, then dont post.

    I think this is exactly what Blizzard intends. I can come to no other conclusion than that Blizzard is murdering the forums.

    Blizzard doesn’t want a busy forum that people post to. Blizzard wants a dying forum that no one posts to, and this is the quickest way to do it — make it so that the forum consists of no one but stalkees.

  22. Jeffro says:

    @Rauxis

    I think you have a very turquoise view of the world, and your interest in role playing above making true personal contact isolates YOU from society at a time when society is becoming more and more connected.

    If the stigma of playing a video game in your spare time is so damning in whatever profession you have chosen, then you really need to stop playing video games and stop hating on the people who don’t mind admitting that they play video games in their spare time. If you choose to be a closeted gamer, then thats your right, but don’t tell me I’m naive simply because we have the same hobby and you happen to be ashamed of it.

    As an Educator, Scientist, and a well rounded person, I have many hobbies that I enjoy on a casual consistent basis. I’m not ashamed of my Origami, nor my ability to play volleyball, nor my interest in watching Science Fiction television shows. Why should my interest in playing video games be any different? As an employer, I have played wow with some of the teaching assistants that I have employed, as well as told students that I teach what server and faction that I play on. I don’t believe that an interest in something needs to be hidden for the sake of image.

    You somehow managed to get your preconceived notions about how people view video games confused with fact, and it might have something to do with the escapist relationship you created with your online personality. I say might because I don’t know you beyond a single forum post. and that single forum post was something that I felt motivated enough to reveal even more personal information about myself ( REAL ME ) such as my hobbies and past to a complete stranger.

    You may not remember Tseric, but he was a real person who lost his job, his primary means of making a living, his way of paying rent, due to the ramblings of a anonymous forum troll named “saltyfetus.” I don’t think Blizzard is primarily motivated by the money in this case, i think they are tired of only talking to the trolls, and tired of the people who try to have honest discussions on the forum being chased off by the trolls.

  23. Tesh says:

    How again will this stop trolls in the first place? Peer pressure doesn’t stop people from posting stupid crap. Unless there’s some bite to the bark of “don’t troll”, bite far beyond public shunning, trolling will continue. Some might even wear it as a mark of pride.

    Trolls can be banned or excised, their accounts closed, but that’s all server-side.

  24. Neil says:

    Tesh hit the nail squarely on the head. This won’t keep anybody safe from trolls, flames, “elitism”, etc. Does anybody really think that the kind of people willing to write pagelong screeds about how terrible someone’s arena rating is will care about the name attached to that post? Of course not. Some of them would be proud to have their real names next to those posts.

    Let’s say I’m the kind of person who gets off on making others miserable through forum trolling. How will displaying my RealId stop that? http://www.cad-comic.com/cad/20100707 makes the point very well. I think the hope that RealId will stop or even seriously hamper trolling/flaming/etc is wishful thinking at best, and delusional at worst.

    On the other hand, here’s who this will drive away from the forums:

    * Women. They’re an already marginalized group among gamers, who as a whole are capable of tremendous misogyny. However, with the current system, they’re able to participate in the WoW forum community behind the veil of anonymity and for the most part avoid gender-based slurs, the “lol girls don’t play wow, stfu noob” spew. That will change with required RealId on forums, and it will be ugly.

    * Stalking victims. Anyone who’s ever been stalked knows that every link between your name’s Google search results and your actual life is a potential security risk. This change will drive away anyone who’s been on the receiving end of stalking, and many people who are members of high-risk groups for stalking.

    * Racial minorities. I don’t know about the WoW community as a whole, but my server/faction is prone to outbursts of anti-Muslim hatred in Trade chat. I’m comfortable posting under the name Neil, because it’s a fairly generic male name, but if my name were Ahmed? I’d have to think twice.

    * People with gaming-incompatible careers. Jeffro, your remarks on that subject were shockingly void of empathy or understanding. I, personally, do not resent you or your decision to play WoW openly. But many of us are in lines of work where we’d be judged very harshly for playing computer games on the side. You may not believe that your interests need to be hidden for the sake of image, but others may have very different needs than your own.

    For example, right now, I am a very openly helpful voice on my realm forums. When someone posts a “hey, I’m new here” thread, I’ll walk them step-by-step through whatever they need help with, whether it’s game mechanics or finding a guild or what-have-you. I like to help people. But if that process would tie my name to my WoW activity, I would absolutely have to stop, immediately. I can’t risk my career over it – and make no mistake, even though I’m in a relatively-forgiving industry, I would absolutely be risking my career if my name were tied to WoW. It’s a sad reality of the job market.

    * People who simply choose to keep their real-life identity and gaming identity separate. This is a perfectly valid personal choice. I keep a Facebook account with my real-life information, and I make connections on that account with my real-life friends. I do /not/ link to my Facebook page on my realm forums, though. I go to great lengths to keep those two parts of my life separate. If Blizzard implements this system, they will remove the ability for people to make that decision, driving them away from the forums.

    To sum up … just because this change won’t hurt you specifically, it doesn’t mean that this change won’t hurt others, and I’m not particularly sure who it’ll help, either.

    -Neil

    P.S. Tseric’s career wasn’t ended by trolling. Tseric’s career was ended by his inability to deal with trolling – which was his career. His job was to hang out on the forums, maintaining an official Blizzard presence and dealing with all forumgoers with equanimity. Ghostcrawler, Bornakk, Nethaera, et. al. do this day in and day out, without fail (GC even volunteered to do this, in addition to his regular duties). Tseric failed in this duty. And while I fondly remember his time on the forums and I regret that he’s gone, he had to reap what he had sown.

  25. Rauxis says:

    Jeffro

    agreed, I have a very bad opinion about our world and society in general.

    Most of your description about yourself I could apply immediately to myself, although I’d had to swap Origami to Tai Chi and volleyball to riding.

    But I have seen applications being removed from the pile because of “we do not want anyone playing too many video games”. We live in a world where perception more and more defines reality. Where head hunters and consultants want to proof their value to prospective employers by pre selecting and generating (internet generated) profiles potential employees. I predict this will also become a standard procedure and for instance one day might impact your credit score.

    Tseric is a real bad example – because this proposed change will make trolling and stalking a specific person so much easier. At the moment you could only “hurt” a CM via the Blizz forum – with a real name behind the alias I could go a completely different route.

    Bottom line – I do not think this change will effectively end trolling. The thread on WoW forum already indicated – many players do not use their correct name when registering in the first place. Even when paying with a credit card, let alone the option of using prepaid cards, there is no actual need to enter correct data.

    Rauxis, chosen of CAT

  26. I’ve heard countless bloggers and players complain that WoW has the worst community. This to me, seems like it is an attempt to break up the anonymity that people use to be rude and cold to others. Isn’t that a step forward in creating a better community? Many of the blog’s I read started due to getting tired of fighting the mob on the official forums. Of wanting to create a cleaner environment for discussion and idea’s to flow… isn’t that what Blizzard is trying to do here?

    Did we think that improving the community wouldn’t come at some sort of a cost?

  27. Rauxis says:

    oh – and if an article I found is correct (no time to verify it)

    CM Bashiok posted his real name; within a short period people had found and made public: important points in his life, telephone number, address, age, preferences, name of wife, name of other people living in the same house, school of his kids, picture of the house. In the mean time he changed the telephone number.

    http://www.gamona.de/games/activision-blizzard,blizzards-bashiok-ist-erstes-opfer-der-real-id:news,1769743.html (sorry, German)

    I really feel deeply sorry for him

    Rauxis, chosen of CAT

  28. Wellsee says:

    Bravo, Neil, bravo. Very well put.

  29. Pidge says:

    BBB and Neil spells out pretty much exactly what I think.

    If the goal is to make forums more civil, the posting of real names seems a fairly weak solution that’s more than offset by significant legitimate privacy concerns for many players.

    At the same time, I think Blizzard is a smart company and must have known this would cause an uproar.

    Therefore, I think Blizzard believes there is some other advantage to this change that is worth alienating a segment of their customer base.

  30. Neil says:

    http://seewhatyoudidthere.com/2010/07/07/realid-changes-the-very-real-ease-of-stalking-in-the-internet-age/

    This is a great read for anybody interested in this issue. It’s about a commenter who said “My real name is [x], I’m not worried about you knowing!” and within twenty minutes got a phone call at work from another reader of that thread who knew all kinds of intimate details about his life.

    It just goes to show how important the barrier between real names and in-game identities can be for some. It may not be important for everyone, but that’s no reason to marginalize the many people for whom it is important.

  31. Pidge says:

    Great link, thanks Neil.

    Very interesting item in the comments from that post too, suggesting possibly this change has to do with Korean law about using real names in forums.

    Hmmm, what country is famous for its love of Starcraft?

    http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/zeroday/2010/07/07/is-korean-law-driving-policy-at-blizzard/

  32. Dave says:

    @ Neil

    I think that’s a good article, but it fails to look at the overall picture. People are getting all up in arms over Real ID, yet I’m sure most of them have an open profile somewhere on the web (Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, etc.). Even to post here, we have to give an email address. How many other sites have you given your email to? How many sites (guild forums, photobucket, audible, iTunes, online shopping, etc) have you registered your name at?

    The truth is, the people who tracked down this guy could of likely done it without their first/last name. Anywhere you say/do anything on the internet leaves a fingerprint. It’s just most people don’t know how (don’t care) to trace them.

    How hard to you think it would be for someone to find out your I.P. address if they really wanted to?

    That being said, there’s no reason to make it even easier for people to find you. And to be honest, I’m more upset that my real ID friends (and friends of friends) can see my email than I am of my name being out there.

    I really don’t see why blizzard doesn’t just have you designate a handle and then use that handle for everything. I think that would still help with forum trolls and be convenient for friends. My only guess as to why they don’t do that is to keep from having yet another registered I.D. Either because they don’t want to store it, or because they think it will confuse us.

  33. Belmann says:

    The sound and fury around this issue has surprised me, and there is an awful lot of misinformation, speculation, fear, uncertainty, doubt and a plague of frogs surrounding it. This was, in hindsight, inevitable.

    My two cents worth of opinion follow. But as a prefatory aside – the threads of discussion here, and BBB’s articles on the topic, seem to be the most civil and considered that I’ve seen. The froth at the Blizzard forums is unreadable, WoW.com is not much better, and the various third-party sites like Slashdot are so polluted with misinformation and ignorance that they make my head ache and stomach churn. Or maybe that’s just insufficient coffee.

    Blizzard have inadvertently ripped the scab off a festering hornets’ nest (damn, I really do need more coffee) that has been bubbling away for quite a long time, and has not yet been resolved: how do we manage on-line identity, when we have a need to optionally link different facets of identity scattered across a plethora of sites; have a need to provide different information to different viewers in each of those contexts; and have a need to unambiguously authenticate our identity? There’s no simple answer, and the more you think about it the more complex the problem is.

    Now, as an archetypal privileged white middle-aged middle class male I seem to have little reason to say anything on this matter (or at least that’s what some of the more vitriolic commenters have asserted), but this has been a personal and professional interest for a very long time. There are a few nuggets of truth in the odourous matrix of this mess that are worth extracting:

    1. leaving aside the bug that can expose names through malicious add-ons, this will only affect people who post on the official forums, which historically has been a very small part of the player base (yes, of course there could be scope creep and the names could be exposed more widely, but that’s hand waving speculation);
    2. The issue can be easily resolved if Blizzard allowed the optional addition of an Alias to their Real ID credentials, and that Alias was used in the forums (and other contexts);
    3. The official forums are so polluted by noise that they are close to useless, and I am certain that they would be prohibitively expensive to moderate – the only effective way to get rid of the noise, the trolling, the “me too, qq” would be to moderate every post, which is just plain silly;
    4. In the real world, and in much of the on-line world, our identities are already compromised and over-exposed. If you use Facebook or Twitter or Foursquare or a credit card or a bank or order tickets on line, or buy from Amazon, or… a staggering amount of personal identifying information is already shot-gun sprayed into the hands of thousands of complete strangers. This (dumb) decision of Blizzard’s is no worse than a lot of privacy malfeasances by companies in the past (which in no way excuses it).

    I’ll touch on that last point again though, so you understand where I am coming from. To begin with, I have been interacting with the internet from a time when I was young and stupid and not aware of these privacy issues. As a result, my identity is already out there, irretrievably and irrevocably. Anyone of you can engage the Google Panopticon and make a fair stab at finding out a lot about me, just by using my real name (Robert Hook) and country (Australia) (both of which were at the website I linked to above), and can make a fair stab at finding my WoW toons, and do with it what you will. I haven’t exposed anything additionally by telling you my name in plain text. This is not necessarily true for everyone, and a lot of people really have a need to keep the various facets of their identity segregated.

    But I think that everyone needs to calm down and wait for Blizzard to respond. They know now that they have proposed something really dumb, that has really upset people – and not just their immediate WoW subscriber base, since this has frothed over into a lot of other arenas, and very much hit the main-stream media. They won’t press ahead with something that is commercially damaging to them, which this probably will be.

  34. Perdissa says:

    I’m really trying to see how Blizzard came up with the decision to proceed with real ID. Typically, a company like this would want to do a cost-benefit analysis before they embark on something like this. At the moment, I’m guessing that the number of people cancelling their accounts is not as many as some are claiming, and many of these people were considering taking a break before Cata anyway. Added to the cost would be the loss of good contributors to the official forums.

    Now, what benefits would they really reap from this? After some thinking, I came up with this:

    As a new player to WOW, going to the forums for the first time is a bit of a culture shock. Unlike most official forums, the WOW forums is a cesspit full of meaningless posts, angry people and flaming trolls. Due to the sheer number of the playerbase, it is inevitable that a tremendous number of people would be making use of the WOW forums. In extension to this, unless moderators rule with an iron hand, it is impossible to keep the place from becoming a circus. The big bosses at Blizzard is displeased with this. They want to increase the quality and decrease the quantity of posts on the official forums. Less cool-story-bro, more positive experiences to be shared.

    In a sense, they will get what they want with this change. A more sterile, quiet environment with a more structured “official” feel to it. Very few posts, most of which are official announcements. Meanwhile, the WOW forum community moves to, I don’t know, Wowhead?

  35. Zahraah says:

    Marketing.
    Real information is much more valuable. Demographics, playing time, system information, software tech specs, other software on your pc – Blizzard have either collected this information actively or passively for a long time. 10% of our customers use *this mouse *this headset. Use *this operating system Im sure is information available, and marketers would pay a fortune to understand the needs of a very large gaming community .

  36. Smashbolt says:

    Everyone saying that being a WoW player is a career killer… I’m sure Blizzard knows this. Partnering with Facebook, and outing many gamers in the process, is an attempt to legitimize WoW as a hobby. Imagine in the future, you are a non-player and your Facebook status feeds start lighting up with as many updates on your friends’ WoW adventures as they currently do for your friends’ Farmville action (Farmville has a larger audience than WoW, larger player base and is generally socially accepted, why wouldn’t Blizzard want in on that?). Seeing that might make you think “huh, my sister, uncle, coworkers and friends play WoW, and they’re not degenerate lowlives” and then the stigma is broken and you try the game.

    Cleaning up the forums (as well as using RealID) are potential first steps toward a future where gaming doesn’t make you a pariah. I’m not sure this is the best way to go about it, but to this point, relying on the gamers themselves to clean up that reputation hasn’t gotten us anywhere either.

  37. Rhii says:

    I won’t pretend to understand what the reasoning *is* but I’m pretty damn sure it’s not to cut back on their moderator force.

    From what I see of the forums the moderation is… not aggressive.

    For a while I was a volunteer moderator on a very large community site. There were about forty of us in all, not limited to the US. We were a visible presence in every sub-forum, and always attempting to lead by example. We did it for love of the community and for a few very small perks (ad free forums, etc).

    These are people who were not paid.

    In short, Blizzard’s forums are not well moderated. Perhaps they have a lot more trolls to deal with, but I doubt it. A clear set of moderation tools, and a no tolerance stance on trolling (including moderation history, and permabans for repeat offenders) keeps things pretty well controlled. Oh yeah, and a single pseudonym per poster. Duh, Blizzard.

  38. Terra says:

    What the RealID thing has the chance (definitely not certain) of creating a real actual community of people who enjoy and play WoW and other Blizzard games. And I don’t mean the usual forums, this is a massive step higher than that. In theory, if the UI etc is done right, it will have a sense of real people talking to each other, giving the feel as if you met someone at an event (blizzcon), or by chance (two people picking out wow books in a shop), where you start talking to each other about what you enjoy, exchanging pleasantries stories, discussing what you like/dislike about the game, changes coming etc, in a much more conversational, real life style than the typical internet forums.

    The massive outcry from people has being almost totally about security/safety. If you did the real life things above, there is also a chance of your safety being compromised, but the chance is very small and most of us aren’t so worried by it and are willing to start up a conversation with someone new (some people do be that worried and don’t talk to new people often). The chance that your safety is compromised is increased by posting online with your real name, but again the individual chance is relatively small, assuming you follow the same general rules as real life. Walking into a bar and shouting out insults to everyone increases the chances of something happening to you very fast, same in posting in these new forums, shouting abuse/insults at people will gather a lot of unwanted/unfriendly attention on yourself.

    The bigger concern with the realID forums is with three things.
    First – Statistics, while the individual chance of anything happening is low, over a large enough population these things do happen. Just like in real life, people get hurt, stalked, etc, it might happen to 1 in 100, or 1 in 1000, but if you got a city of 1,000,000 people then there are 1000 people it has happened too. Similar with wow, if you have 100,000 – 1,000,000 people posting then its going to happen to at least a few people. Its not really any worse than real life, but people don’t really consider things that way and there could be alot of panic/anger when someone does get hurt. People don’t hear about someone getting hurt in their city and cry out in panic in sudden realisation that they are in a city surrounded by 1,000,000 people they don’t know, that someone could be watching what they do and might hurt them too. People have got used to living in cities and have generally got a sense of the statistics that by and large individually you are fairly safe. These realID forums are similarly a city of 1,000,000 strangers, you’ll get to know some, become friends and you’ll occasionally hear about someone getting hurt, but hopefully most won’t suddenly get scared about what might happen at any moment. I’m not sure if thats a good thing or not, but people shouldn’t consider realID forums to be some massive deathtrap, its mearly about equally bad as a large city.

    Second – Especially at the start, there will be people who want to prove a point. In order to prove that the realID can get people hurt, they will hurt people (probably focusing on blizz employees). I’d guess that the amount of people that will be hurt, by people wanting to prove that people can be hurt, will exceed the amount of people would be hurt normally (I realise ‘normally’ isn’t a very pleasant way to describe it, but there are underlying crime rates in a society based on a massive amount of underlying conditions in that society, its something we need to understand exists especiallly in very large, concentrated populations of todays towns/cities/realIDforums, while we try to improve the underlying conditions.

    Third – Again especially at the start, people are used to being anonymous and will act stupid. Basically people are used to being anonymous online and the freedom that gives to say as you wish, to give the real life comparison people are used to being able to walk into the bar and start insulting people without a seconds thought. Some people will be overly used to that, and will not immediately realise that they need to go back to the normal real life manners of conversations and actions. I’ve done similar in real life myself actually, I was writing an email to someone I worked with over a mistake he had made, and I was massively insulting and snide in the email, because I only met him on occasion in person and that lack of face to face contact gives a false sense of distance, naturally afterwards I had alot of backpedelling to do and felt terrible about what I had done. Thankfully I was able to resolve the issue somewhat, but I learnt my lesson, what I say and how I say it, can and should have consequences.

    I’ve gone on quite a bit, so I’ll try and finish up. The aim of the realID forums is to create a real wow community, with interactions between people in a similar way to how people might interact when they meet at blizzcon, or how sport fans meet and talk while watching they team play. Having real names as opposed to fixed pseudo names means that it is massively more likely that people will apply the unwritten rules of real life interactions to the realID forums. Try to realise that blizzard are trying to create something completely new, the realID forums are almost no relation to the the existing wow forums, blizzard are basically shutting down wow forums and separately creating something new. The wow forums as they exist from blizzards point of view contain about 95% rubbish and 5% useful post (and thats being very generous to say 5% are useful). The new realID because of its new structure might only keep 5-10% of the posters of that currently use the wow forums, but it will increase the amount (in numbers and percentage) of useful posts.

    A final slightly point (apologies for being slightly mean) is to ask those that are concerned of the safety issues, are you similar scared to leave your house in real life? If you worry that someone will see you name on the forums and take an interest in you, how is it then that you do not consider equally dangerous that when you walk along a street that one of the many strangers you pass will in the exact same way notice you and take an interest? The dangers and likely hoods are similar. In real life you can’t stay scared all the time and the lack of anything happening causes you to just get used to being around strangers. You subconscious notices if something if something is out of the ordinary so you can generally pick up on if someone if following you or looking at your strangely though not as often as we might like to think we notice. Sorry starting to ramble abit, anyways just to say that the realID forums are best compared to real life interactions with people, that is the goal and overall it is a good one.

  39. If you feel this is a threat to your saftey, then dont post.

    Okay, and when a GM instructs me to post on the Technical Support forums with a traceroute or stack trace for issues that I’m having, my recourse is… where?

    When I have a show-stopping bug in-game and I need to report it, my recourse is… where?

    For as much as people seem to bleat this idiotic line, the forums are not. optional.

  40. Terra says:

    Ok that was massively long, I think just 1 paragraph of it is sufficient for the most part:

    The aim of the realID forums is to create a real wow community, with interactions between people in a similar way to how people might interact when they meet at blizzcon, or how sport fans meet and talk while watching they team play. Having real names as opposed to fixed pseudo names means that it is massively more likely that people will apply the unwritten rules of real life interactions to the realID forums.

    Try to realise that blizzard are trying to create something completely new, the realID forums are almost no relation to the the existing wow forums, blizzard are basically shutting down wow forums and separately creating something new. The wow forums as they exist from blizzards point of view contain about 95% rubbish and 5% useful posts (and thats being very generous to say 5% are useful). The new realID because of its new structure might only keep 5-10% of the posters of that currently use the wow forums, but it will increase the amount (in numbers and percentage) of useful post.

  41. Having real names as opposed to fixed pseudo names means that it is massively more likely that people will apply the unwritten rules of real life interactions to the realID forums.

    How do you reckon? People are already tools on places like Facebook and whatnot, and that’s (usually) attributed to their real name.

    This change will accomplish none of the stated goals. Trolls will continue to troll, and good, quality, contributing posters like B4 and the MVPs and whatnot will just… stop posting.

  42. Manxome says:

    I found the following post at “The Psychology of Video Games” about anonymity, behavior and the Blizzard forums interesting. I think the readers of the comments of this post will find it interesting as well: http://www.psychologyofgames.com/2010/07/07/anonymity-and-blizzard-forums/

  43. bigbearbutt says:

    I like the give and take, back and forth that’s going on here. I know that a few folks took a bit of a confrontational stance, but for the most part it’s staying civil, and I’m keeping my banhammer in the closet.

    I’m going to address one form of rhetoric that’s getting used, however. Take this to heart;

    Before you decide to label those opposed to Real ID as being fearful, or of living in fear, whether it be of change or identity theft or stalking, keep in mind that YOU are attributing YOUR prejudice as the underlying emotion to someone’s decisions and actions. It tells us more about your prejudices, your ignorance, and your naievety than it paints a realistic portrait of the people whose opinions you oppose.

    There is a vast difference between being afraid and taking council of those fears, and being aware of potential dangers, acting to anticipate threats, and take rudimentary precautions.

    If I look both ways before crossing a street, even though the light is my way, I am not being afraid of getting hit by a car and taking council of those fears. I am instead being aware of the fact that drivers can be careless, and it is prudent of me to take what action I can to anticipate a potential risk, and work to minimise it responsibly. If I were, in fact, taking council of my fears, I would be hiding in my home afraid to leave the house for fear of cars.

    People who are speaking out now against a policy of having to publicly reveal their real first and last names in order to post a comment, question, helpful suggestion, or request technical support for their hobby are not taking council of their fears, or fearing change. They are taking the first step to voice their concerns, their reasons for doing so, in the way most commonly known. In many cases, these people are specifying their concerns about personal security.

    A second point I feel I need to make, is that anyone who argues that taking prudent steps to protect your identity from being publicly linked to anything they do not wish it to is doomed to failure because of the existence of social networking sites we “probably already use” is simply being facetious. The fact that YOU have already been careless of your identity, and ignorant of the ramifications resulting from being careless, and that it is too late for YOU to do anything about it does not necessarily indicate that everyone else was equally ignorant.

  44. Andruin says:

    In the post you said: “What I’m NOT seeing, not one single time, is any commenter saying, “This is a great idea that I have wanted for a while, and I’m glad Blizzard is doing this.””

    I think it’s a great idea. I haven’t “wanted it for a while” because it never occurred to me that Blizzard would even consider it. I’m glad Blizzard is doing this.

    That’s two out of three, so you can still say “not one single time.” :-)

    Over and over I’ve seen posts, articles and what-have-you stating that the problems on the World of Warcraft (and many other) forums are caused by anonymity. Now’s our chance to see if it’s true. This is a great experiment, and possibly a very courageous (re “Yes, Minister”) thing to do.

    I absolutely can’t wait to see this implemented.

  45. Zissou says:

    It certainly doesn’t feel like it’s about trolls, for which there would be other (also imperfect) solutions. I’m fairly cynical so bear with me here.

    They don’t want to use a single account alias as the displayable name because it nullifies the tie-in with Facebook.
    e.g. There’s a player out there called John Johnson and he has a Facebook page including all his real-life friends; many of whom are roughly contemporary, possibly with similar free time, possibly with similar disposable income. Activision/Blizzard want access to those people. They want it to be public that he (John Johnson) plays a game called World of Warcraft. Maybe his friends will want to play it too.

    It doesn’t work so well if he creates another Facebook page for his single account alias ‘JJBloodDK’ and uses that as a Wow-only Facebook page, on which he only has friends who are themselves Wow-aliases. There’s little room for expansion.

    The whole point of the Facebook deal is that they believe it’s a doorway to new customers and increased visibility/advertising/continuity. The maths behind it is that there is far more revenue to be gained through this integration than will be lost due to initial (they hope) dislike of the privacy policy.

    The way this has been handled doesn’t fill me with confidence for the future. It won’t be surprising to see the Orwellian definition of optional being applied to the in-game version of Real ID before long. Don’t like it? Don’t play – you’ve got a choice. Or perhaps they will announce a Platinum monthly subscription; for an extra $15/month you can go back to being anonymous and receive a free Robert Kotick in-game pet plus ‘..the Unknowable’ title.

    The suggestion that Blizzard is brute-forcing a solution that will in time cultivate a better quality community is interesting, and admirably optimistic. It may play a part but I doubt it’s the primary motivation. Whatever the case, it’s still removing any meaningful choice for the user. If I want people to know I play Wow I’ll choose to tell them and then I’ll choose through which medium I tell them. I disagree with it being available information by default.

  46. Thromean says:

    “The fact that YOU have already been careless of your identity, and ignorant of the ramifications resulting from being careless, and that it is too late for YOU to do anything about it does not necessarily indicate that everyone else was equally ignorant.”

    Not only this, but if you were careless about your online identity at any point, it is an ongoing process to limit the amount of information about yourself out there. To use a current event analogy such as the oil spill currently in the gulf, a split second accident turns into a 2-3 month long ongoing active drama followed by years of clean up and hopefully a lifetime of increased vigilance to make sure that it does not happen again.

    I googled myself. And in the first page, I found myself, my wife, pictures of our house (with maps, thanks again Google), the fact that i had placed last in a triathlon, that I had posted 10 years ago in a newsgroup, my (locked) Facebook etc. When I googled my toon name, I came up with the various blogs I have commented on and wow forums i have posted. This is what i want. A clear defined distiction between the separate parts of my life as decided by ME. I have the option of never posting in the official forums. And that is exactly what I will do, not post.

    However my concern is this, and it even sounds silly to me now, but how long before someone decides that the RPG portion of WoW the MMORPG is out dated. What if in an effort to crack down on ninja looting in pug runs, Blizzard implements RealAvatar. Now you wont ninja loot because everyone knows exactly who you are in game. It will be John Smith (Feral Druid) , or John Smith (Hunter) . Its the same reasoning. You wont misbehave because everyone knows exactly who you are. Why does it matter if they know who you are? Because there is some form of consequence. Well whats the consequence? Poor rep? Nah your toon already had that if you ninjaed a bunch? Then the only consequence is that some one will find the real you and do something about it.

    Thank you but no.

  47. kaozz says:

    Instead of doing this they could always… not have forums! Really if that is what it comes down to, using real names… We really don’t need them as much as we think. I see this killing the forums off. Sure people will post, more will be reluctant though.

    I agree I have not see one good reason of using real names and not one person excited about it- more of a hate it or tolerate it attitude.

  48. Someone says:

    I can agree with Blizz to some level.

    Among guilds I do see people posting on the forums just to troll, using low lvl alts that are not in any guild or hardly ever online.
    Why? As they don’t want to hear the complaints in whispers when they are raiding.

    One could simply spoil that by making one always post on the toons name they have played on the most for the past few months.

    I would also not mind to be able to choose one fixed name across all games, though having my real name asociated with my wow toons I dislike.
    It would certainly keep me from ever posting anything on blizzards forums.
    Latency trouble, go post on the forums? How about no?
    I’d instead be playing a different game.

    real ID’s ingame are nice, though I’d like the option to not be shown to the friends of friends.
    I’d like to be in control myself.

    I don’t have a facebook account, I don’t want a potential employer to be peeking through the pictures taken of me when I was drunk/sick either.

  49. Gnomeaggedon says:

    It’s not about us.. it’s about them

    The Point of RealID and How to Stop It.
    http://www.reddit.com/r/wow/comments/cnm4p/the_point_of_realid_and_how_to_stop_it/

  50. Solarflash says:

    Everyone has an opinion, but please please please, stop comparing WoW Forums/Gamer ID to social media. Social media is built under the assumption that people already know who you are. Facebook doesn’t mean anything to a stranger who doesn’t know your name. Hobbies have a right to be private. I hate that the professional world frowns upon gaming, despite the masses of data that suggest its a powerful leadership development tool. That doesn’t change the fact that it is still taboo.

    Endangering a customer in anyway should always be a #1 goal of a company. When you risk your customers, you risk your business. You don’t need an MBA to understand this simple concept. Many folks have posted that this is in relation to Facebook and $$$ and in all fairness that is the only possible scenerio that has been made available publicly. Blizzard is a “FOR PROFIT” business, period. They do what they do to make money. If it doesn’t generate additional revenue or reduce cost, they won’t do it. Rule #1 in any investigation or good research…”FOLLOW THE MONEY”.

    This has nothing to do with trolls. A trolls real life name is no more valuable than their gaming identity. They still have nothing to lose, but other, compitent, intellegent contributors have everything to lose. Blizz forums will be a ghost town if this goes through.

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