From the mouth of the dragon.
The RealID changes to Blizzard's official forums are unequivocally unethical and potentially dangerous. The community response on their official forums -- as well as nearly every fansite -- is huge and overwhelmingly negative.
Blizzard's stated goal is to help reduce trolling on the forums. The idea is that when a poster has an identity they can't escape, they're less likely to threaten their reputation. Their other, less-discussed goal is the creation of a Blizzard-owned Facebook which they can directly monetize and which can also provide an advertising platform for future games.
They're doing this entirely at the expense of your personal privacy. If you want to use a service you had used in the past, you now have to be willing to post your real name to the public alongside every post.
Here's where the problems are:
This move probably will get rid of trolls. It is certain to get rid of a lot of good posters, too. Unfortunately, the forums are also one of their main avenues for both customer and technical support, and users are often redirected to them even while on the phone w/ those departments.
- Employment -- Posting to Blizzard's forums will now show up for any employer doing a search on your name. Given Blizzard's search engine rankings, you can bet this will be pretty high up on the list of results. No matter how unfair, many employers will look on this negatively.
- Women -- Many women playing the game choose to conceal their gender to avoid harassment. Whether fair or not, posting publicly with their real name will not only be uncomfortable for some but could very well lead to direct sexual harassment in and out of game.
- Minors -- Any parent will need to be far more concerned about their children's activities on Blizzard sites than they currently are. This is especially true in any case where a child's real name can be found or their address can be tracked.
- Uncommon Names -- Anyone with an uncommon name can much more easily be tracked.
- Security & Hacked Accounts -- Blizzard is not doing a good job safeguarding accounts. If they have another breach in their account system, it won't matter how clean your own computer is -- a malicious user could be posting under your name, leaving a permanent and damaging trail.
You will never see another post from me on their forums. I've already given my name out via other platforms, but those were my choice, and those were done in a setting where I can completely control how a potential employer views it. I know a number of other good users who are being faced with this same decision and coming to the same conclusion.
You don't need to be a security or privacy rights advocate to understand how bad this can be for you or your friends on a personal level.
Seriously, why should good posters be punished because of trolls? Definitely not a smart move.
How I wish this was a dirty April Fools joke given out a little late.
It's unfortunate that Blizzard is prepaired to lose alot of loyal Blizzard fans over idiotic moves like this.
Totally agree with this. This is a total mistake by blizzard that will do nothing but destory the communites, and maybe even games, they have created.
Nice how Blizzard won't take the time to moderate their forums, they want us to do that too. First gold spammers, then battleground afk'ers and now trolls? Who needs to take responsibility of what now?
This will be very interesting to watch. To see how far Blizzard is willing to go until they snap out of it, and if they snap, what their backup plan is. Also, interesting to watch the community's reaction beyond this initial outcry.
But I agree, of course. Never going to post under my real name. I expect the forums to pretty much die out from this, which sucks for the tons of developper feedback we've been witnessing since WotLK.
If you want to stop people trolling on your forums, there are much less controversial methods available (restrict posting to once per day, make people choose an account alias of there own etc). in effect, what is happening now. It's just people are sensitive about there own name. If I could say "I want all posts made on this account to be made under the alias of "Fetzie" (my current main) I would have zero problems with the idea. But I have been active on the official boards for the past 3 years, I know what kind of people there are there. I do not want those people to know my name. I have no problem telling guildies what town I live in, what my email address is, but to give those people that data? I for one will not be posting on the new version of the WoW forums.
Technical expertise can be found elsewhere if something goes wrong. I haven't needed to post in the GM moderated forum for an issue of my own yet (I have helped others on that forum). If I want to talk about a topic I have TankSpot, MainTankadin, the Blue Panda forums, MMO-Champion, all of which do not publish my personal details for all to see.
I can see this greatly effecting those who are testing new content also. Especially the beta forums. If I was a beta tester I would not be posting anything in the forums for the simple fact that beta testing does not give them permission to post my name. Even if they changed it to First name, last initial.
If I'm posting in a public forum the ONLY thing that readers need to know about me is the Character or Forum name that I wish to post as.
Only my friends know my real name.. and due to the line of buisness that I'm in and also my personal life I don't wish for it to be any other way.
My RL name is very rare. In fact if you know my first and last name you will come up with only one result on facebook. I will not be posting on any Blizzard forums if my real name appears. They should just have made a permanent "nickname" for all of battle.net
I don't know why they are taking "this" route.
I fully agree with Ciderhlem. And while I agree with the issue of privacy being comprised, what scares me more is that I could put my future at stake for simply playing a video game. What if my future employer googles my name and sees my recruitment thread I bumped multiple times a day? What if someone in a gay and lesbian friendly guild gets googled by their employer? I don't post on alts and I never say anything questionable, but even playing video games in itself can be questionable in the eyes of many employers. I'm frankly scared of this change, and while being pretty laid-back about most changes, even ones I dislike, Real ID may eventually be the reason I quit playing.
Maybe Blizzard thinks this is a strong business move, but I desperately hope they look at these communities and see that the response is almost fully negative. They are chasing off a lot of us, and the more they do with Real ID, the more people there are who will leave. This isn't good.
On the note of trolls, why can't they just make all accounts under one character? That way, even if you're posting on an alt, everyone can still see your other 80's? Your privacy isn't compromised and the troll population has been decreased.
I'd have to say this is overall a terrible move. Many people play World of Warcraft not just for fun, but as an escape from the "Real World". Having your real world brought up on the forums or the game itself is just not what many paying customers want OR need. Why this can't just be used between good close friends instead of the entire public is beyond me. Give people serial numbers like ICQ to give out and then let them assign a battle.net alias instead of their real name. Completely stupid Blizzard, just completely stupid.
Very well written.
A lot of privacy concern had risen from the introduction of Real ID and the lack of an "alternative name" that can be attached to battlenet accounts.
I am surprised they ignored all the concerns, considered the launch of Real ID to be a success, and is now attempting to cross another threshold.
I hope Blizzard will finally realize what a mess they have gotten into from that 10k+ negative responses across various medium. I know my privacy has already by compromised since I started using the Read ID service to connect to my friends over SC2 (no other ways to reliable add friends) and in WoW even though I had been extremely careful about who to make real ID friends with.
My first post on the forums to say I whole-heartedly agree. I've cross-posted something I wrote in response to someone else on the issue.
It's not a matter of pride or people hiding who they are. We don't have to deal with this anonymity problem generally in our real lives. Each place we go is compartmentalized generally with relatively little overlap.
For example, I can go out to the bar with friends and we have our conversations, our modes of speak, and a shared level of knowledge that we feel comfortable sharing. We may go to our therapist and have a different set of conversations and shared knowledge. We then go to work, to the gym, to a store, etc.
The issue with the internet is that these places aren't compartmentalized. They're cross-referenceable. A name is one of the ways to draw together all the threads. The anonymity on the Internet allows us to take back some of that privacy that the Internet is inherently not designed to provide. This doesn't mean that people should misrepresent themselves wherever they choose to associate, but it does mean that I shouldn't have to use information that unnecessarily connects my different associations online.
In a future Internet that behaves this way, should someone need to fear when they go post on some medical forum or legal forum for advice and guidance, and then that gets dredged up when someone posts on a discussion board or another gaming board?
Just because someone knows your name, doesn't end your life. Clearly it doesn't. It doesn't guarantee that your identity gets stolen. It doesn't necessarily mean anything. But it's a lot more threatening than people give it credit for. It's just a sign of the time, perhaps. In an age where the day after someone like Joe the Plumber appears on the scene, Internet sleuths can find out if he owes back taxes, ever had any tickets, whether he's a real plumber, etc and cast serious aspersion on his character and his life, do we really want to turn a blind eye while companies like Blizzard help with this?
Think about the politicians who end up having to drop out of races because of something they wrote in college. Politicians and celebrities have to go through therapy and training to deal with the increased scrutiny and decreased privacy that they typically have. Attaching our personally identifiable information to things we do online is just one step towards making that the norm for everybody.
The answer to this is persistent aliases. Let me choose how I want to be called, but make me stick to it and not arbitrarily change that. That's fair. Now, I'm accountable for what I write, but I have no fear that what I say no matter how innocuous can be linked back to something else. If someone wants to write in a thread about Gay Gaming or something like that, they don't have to be worried that that gets traced back to their facebook, to their work, or wherever.
There're far larger philosophical and practical considerations to this than just the exact repercussions of Blizzard posting your name next to your whine about TvZ balance. Sometimes you have to look one step farther on these things.
All that really needed to be done is to show all characters linked to a post. So if you post on your main, people could see posts from your alts as well. Hiding behind level 1's would be worthless.
I also don't see how this stops trolls from using fake names when creating a battle.net account. Making a battle.net account is free too, so I don't understand how this would deter anything Starcraft II trolling.
Everything is FABULOUS with warrior tanks again.
There are also those people who, harboring no malice or ill intent, prefer to remain anonymous online. In many ways, being anonymous can be extremely freeing. Those who normally worry about racial, religious, or sexual harassment, just to name a few, can escape and say what they like as an equal. The age, gender, and nationality of each poster is viewed as roughly the same. If you choose, you can reveal things about yourself relevant to your argument. If not, you can be another of the faceless masses yearning to speak free.
By attaching real names to posts Blizzard will undoubtably see a reduction in spam, flame, and trolls. They will see that reduction if you count by volume. What will also happen is that the trolls that remain will have access to more information, even with just your name. The quantity may go down, but the quality, for lack of a better term, will skyrocket. In very short order, even those who have something helpful to add, or those who genuinely need assistance from Blizzard will stay away. The quality of the game will suffer along with the community.
I actually feel bad for the community managers and other Blizzard employees for two reasons:
1. I can't imagine that all Blizzard employees would want their real name out there to the world. But yet they are forced to post if it is in their job description to do so.
2. I can foresee many forum/community employees at Blizzard losing their job over this. Once the RealID system is put live, I'm almost positive that the forum use will plummet, and there just won't be a need for all of those community managers to stick around.
But after the overwhelmingly negative response, I have hope Blizzard forgets this system, or at least modifies it heavily. I personally don't see the problem with giving someone a one month ban for trolling on forums.
I dont feel bad for them at all. If at one time they felt it was a good idea, when it backfires right in their face, they will learn it wasnt. It might be learning the hard way but everyone at one time in their life learns something the hard way.
The weather is here, wish you were beautiful.
Forum waste land comes to mind, seeing that most are far from even tolerating it.
Implenting a social community structure or actually enforcing it on people who use games to break from their daily routine to just have some fun time, under an alias. Where they can be whoever is one of the attractive points in playing mmoRPg's and suddenly being linked to real life social structures again and possibly hindered by it is far from a succes story.
It's one thing to be offensive it's another to just be yourself after 8 hours or more after your daily routine and then go on a game forum and then possibly face real life repercussions for doing so.
Sure people are less likely to troll, but that's because people will be less likely to post in general as you don't want your name showing up on a game forums under a simple google search where you said something less political correct or even seen 'nerdy' as let's face it. While gaming has moved away from basement lan parties only it's still a very taboo subject.
While you don't have to care for what other people think, your future employer might google your name. Might make the link and the consequences are yours. A risk i'm not sure many are willing to take and if those people are your regular constructive posters and testers.
I'm fairly certain if people want to be part of such social networks they already are by now and if they want their friends to know they play online video games as a pass time, they already let them know.
RealID in it's core is a great idea to let everyone chat across every game without typical boundries, but WoW is not Facebook or Myspace.