OK, what the hell?  I just threw up in my mouth a little.

Apparently, the post-cataclysm forums will be “Real-ID only.” That’s right, if you wanna post, you’d better be prepared to fork over your real name.  Fortunately, it won’t be retroactive to the current forums.  Raise your hand if you went through and deleted ALL your old posts anyway?  Yep, I did.

In a way, I feel like the situation with the quality of the posts on the forums is one of Blizzard’s own making by allowing posts by character name.  In most forum environments, you choose one handle.  That forum handle is your only identifier, and you don’t get an alternate identity.  No posting on a “level 1 alt”.  No pretending to be someone else posting in the same thread to agree with your own character.

An obvious solution to trolls is to simply give each person a unique handle, as other forums do.  People are likely  to speak respectfully if there is some form of accountability.  Someone who has the same “name” day in, day out, is not “anonymous”, and will gain a reputation for good or bad posts.

Before Real ID

After Real ID

My prediction: Blizzard will lose a lot of quality feedback from those unwilling to expose their real names.

  • Those who have a lot to lose from exposing their real names are professionals who want to protect their careers.  Lawyers, CEO’s, and Doctors will not want their names to come up on a google search in the WoW forums, because it may make clients/patients view them in a negative light.
  • Many women are very unwilling to expose their real names due to potential stalking risks that men do not have.
  • People with common names will still have the benefits of anonymity and will not be on an equal footing with those who have uncommon names.  A “John Smith” has little to lose by exposing his real name.

Blizzard in effect is creating a specific subgroup for feedback that is not representative of the player base.  While admittedly forum posters are already a subgroup of the players at large, this change further whittles down and homogenizes that subgroup.


Privacy Creep: Real ID on the Forums. — 17 Comments

  1. Precisely. As a professional woman with an uncommon name – no way in hell I’ll be posting on Blizzard’s forums any more.

    • Yep.  Also, I was deathly afraid it would be retroactive and associate my name with posts *I* didn’t make when I was hacked!  (Fortunately, I don’t think the hackers were posting as they were too busy stealing my phat lewts.)

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      • Go to any bar in Tinley Park, Illinois pretty much, ask for River…they’ll know who I am, and point you in the right direction

        Now is that a good thing…or a bad thing…I don’t know.

      • I am making a logical leap that non-cougar wimminz would be offered beer.  Not sure about the Aussie gnome.

  3. I’m not liking this even more than I don’t like the (voluntary for now) RealID system. I really don’t like the implications of where this could go. What’s voluntary today could be required to play WoW tomorrow (battle.net account anyone?). I can’t fathom why Blizz thought this could be a good idea. If they’re so set on getting rid of trolls and ending flame wars, I’m sure there could be another less stupid solution found.

  4. I don’t like it. I posted mainly on the EU Priest, Druid, Healing, PvP and Battleground forums. Now the only thing I feel is relevant to all that is whether I have experience playing Priests and Druids and whether I PvP. Basically do I have any point of reference for what I’m saying. All of that can be found out from my armoury and I tend to always post on the same character for continuity . What my real name is, is of absolutely no relevance what so ever. Neither is my gender or nationality, all of which could be figured out from my name.

    Despite being an adult in all legal senses, my parents would go crazy if they knew I played WoW. Having my real name thrown up WoW related stuff in google or other searchs is a pretty big no no for me. Add to that the fact that I had a bad episode with a creepy stalkesque guildmate when I first started playing who did all sorts of weird stuff to try and find out my real name as well as threatening me with physical violence and I have to say I’m disgusted at Blizzard. The last thing I want is him turning up on my doorstep.

    I gave them my real name in good faith five years ago. I trusted them with that information and now it seems if I want to keep my privacy in-game, I can no longer contribute on the forums. Then of course there is the implications for the future. Where will this end? Will Cataclysm bring RealID in-game? Will our characters all be flagged by our real names? Obviously that would be the end of WoW for me and I suspect many others, but who knows what’s going on their heads right now.

    What really annoys me though is they are claiming they are doing it because of flaming. Really? The biggest and most annoying “flamer” on my old realm forums was well known by his real name. Add to that most of the flame threads I’ve seen have been locked and or deleted within twelve hours..

  5. It also chills out anyone who works for the government or is in the military.  You play an online game?  Goodbye, security clearance!

    Do any women work for Blizzard in a decision-making capacity?  The whole decision reeks of upper-class white male privelege.

  6. blizzard is really getting serious, I mean posting real name now in the forums??? I mean really?, probably just way of minimizing there work to deal with the hackers? gold farmers? etc, one day blizzard will find out where you live and knock on your door “your under arrest for spamming gold in trade chat” ahaha! whatever. i sound like it doesnt make sense but omg! lolx

  7. Have you seen the lame responses they’ve been giving people who voice concerns? “It’s optional, you can choose not to post on the forums” Well, that’s a nice choice to make. Not post at all or share my name (which also tells them my gender and quite possibly nationality – not exactly but close enough).

    While I don’t mind sharing my first name and nationality with people in my guild or others that I play with a lot – I definitely don’t want any random person on the WoW forums to know it.

    I really wish they change their minds on this. Cause I have to admit I find it a horrible idea. What’s next? Mandatory Real ID in game?

  8. At this point, that’s exactly where I think RealID could go, Saga. First, RealID is introduced. You can opt not to have RealID friends if you don’t like it (and I don’t…though I am friended with 2 RL friends and we only have each other as friends). I like the idea of RealID, but the lack of customization puts me off. NOW, Blizz is saying, “Want to post on the forums? RealID or GTFO!” I’m kinda scared that come Cata, or just at some point in the future, they’ll make it mandatory to log on, or your RealID and character names will appear side by side in game automatically, and you can’t opt out.

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  11. So….Activizzard has rescinded on forcing the forum-real-id thing.
    HOWEVER.  I’d like to point out how interestingly this functions:
    1. Blizz pushes in-game real ID on us
    2. Outcry ensues and continues to grow, so the snake (blizzard) thinks, “Hmm, what if we use our smoke-and-mirrors-media-saavy and do this:  We announce that now the forums will require it, then as people outrage about it, we do a 180 and throw ’em a bone, and “Let them win.”
    3.  Now players have think they’ve won the battle, outrage is doused, and with the lack of willpower and resolve wow players are famous for, they forget all about it
    4. A month or two later, real ID is forced through on all fronts anyway.
    5.  Kotick and Zuckerberg sit in a jacuzzi in the bahamas, rolling in money
    6.  The first wave of serious wow-related cyber-crimes REally begins
    7.  Many many people still play wow…  they grow accustomed to this real-id.  They no longer care for their own human rights, privacy, or even Freedoms that their forefathers died for.  Eventually, the REAL government decides that society is now ready (having been groomed for it over time through social networking and online gaming)… for their National Real ID card.  (Something that has already been tried and rejected in the past)
    8.  Say goodbye to your Freedoms, you’ve all chosen to lose it, so you could play an illusion, and throw your lives away.
    -ex female wow player, all characters deleted