Battle.net Forums To Demand Real Names

By Jim Rossignol on July 6th, 2010 at 7:08 pm.


Big news for Battle.net users, and possible important implications for net privacy as a whole, via this posting from Blizzard:

anyone posting or replying to a post on official Blizzard forums will be doing so using their Real ID — that is, their real-life first and last name — with the option to also display the name of their primary in-game character alongside it. These changes will go into effect on all StarCraft II forums with the launch of the new community site prior to the July 27 release of the game, with the World of Warcraft site and forums following suit near the launch of Cataclysm. Certain classic forums, including the classic Battle.net forums, will remain unchanged.

More thoughts below.

On the one hand, I can see the value of real names, and I’ve been on forums where they are mandatory. It’s mature, and possibly healthy for net use as a whole. But it does eat into net privacy, particularly that distancing of personal identity that we’ve all enjoyed for a long time with games. I certainly enjoyed not being Jim Rossignol from PC Gamer And Rock, Paper, Shotgun for most of the time I played Eve, for example (people not always comfortable with journalists, etc). Other people might find themselves attracting unwanted attention for quite different reasons. There are plenty of reasons why having your real name available to people you played videogames with might not be safe, or appropriate.

Nevertheless Blizzard seem certain it is in their interest, and that of the players. for their forums to feature real names. It seems that the move is an attempt to improve the atmosphere on the Battle.net forums, and to create a more mature “social network” feel to the service.

The official forums have always been a great place to discuss the latest info on our games, offer ideas and suggestions, and share experiences with other players — however, the forums have also earned a reputation as a place where flame wars, trolling, and other unpleasantness run wild. Removing the veil of anonymity typical to online dialogue will contribute to a more positive forum environment, promote constructive conversations, and connect the Blizzard community in ways they haven’t been connected before. With this change, you’ll see blue posters (i.e. Blizzard employees) posting by their real first and last names on our forums as well.

Perhaps it will do that, but I can imagine situations (as mentioned above) where it would discourage posting for one reason or another. It could well simply create more shadow forums alongside it where privacy is supported.

So what do you think, readers? Real names on RPS comments? (I jest. OR DO I? No, I am joking. Maybe.)

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257 Comments »

  1. Freud says:

    Good thing I changed my surname to xBackstabberxSWE then.

    • Freud says:

      On another note, it is of course a stupid move. All it will do is reduce willingness to use the forums over there. Some of us don’t use Facebook because we enjoy the separation of real life and our online activity.

      Anyways, this will get changed when a retarded kid with a non-generic name will get harassed for things he writes on the forum and someone mail orders tonnes of latex products in his name.

    • Ovno says:

      Damn right, watch me register with my screen name as my real name, suddenly your new policy is useless….

  2. Zaphid says:

    Thank god battle.net forums are largely redundant, unless they add stuff like “make 5 posts to receive an in-game pet”, people can ignore them. Still, I’m not comfortable with tying my name to my gaming identity, I play games to escape from RL, not to drag all that baggage with me.

    • battles_atlas says:

      That’s the thing – there is no danger that the internet as a whole is going to go down this route. People who think that the days of anonymity on the net are limited are failing to grasp that the internet isn’t the same as the physical world. In the physical world there are very real barriers between your work and (possibly several) private personas. They take place in different places with different people.

      Such barriers don’t exist online without alter-egos. A prospective employer can’t google the drunken bollocks you were talking in the pub two nights ago, but if you did the same on a forum in your own name they certainly could. Does anyone really think politicians and business elites earning multi-millions a year would endorse a model that allowed the rest of us to see that they are just as stupid, offensive, and partial to videos of penguins wanking as the rest of us are? Society would have to become honest. Never gonna happen.

    • warth0g says:

      please post link to the penguins wanking video

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      Penguin in this case means elderly overweight white male.

  3. pkt-zer0 says:

    Linking your real name to your in-game username is optional. So it seems you still get to keep your privacy in games, just not on the forums.

    I think this is a pretty good idea, overall, but we’ll see.

  4. Fargmot says:

    Forcing people to use real names to increase intelligent discussion makes sense to me. I mean, look at how well it works on Facebook.

    • Mad Doc MacRae says:

      +1

    • Mad Doc MacRae says:

      Or perhaps I should say

      Mad Doc MacRae likes this

    • Premium User Badge

      Bozzley says:

      You have to sign up to Facebook to see content though. You don’t have to sign up to see the WoW forums (dunno about the Starcraft 2 forums). Some people might not want anyone being able to Google their name and see they play WoW by default. Of course, as Jim noted, they could always use another forum.

    • Drexer says:

      I’ll be keeping an eye on this. I can’t say I definitely agree with it, but I wish to see how trying to improve the forums this way will affect the trolls and the more annoying members by putting them into the same conditions as real life where they have to own up to what they say(more or less).

      I do agree that animosity is an important part of the internet, but calling it ‘sacred’ is pretty much regarded with the same indifference as most other things that are called ‘sacred’ by the general populace.

    • kyrieee says:

      No you don’t

      http://youropenbook.org/

    • Kommissar Nicko says:

      @Drexer: I do agree that animosity is an important part of the internet, but calling it ’sacred’ is pretty much regarded with the same indifference as most other things that are called ’sacred’ by the general populace.

      Surely you mean anonymity? Because everyone knows that more than anonymity, animosity is the holiest of holies on the internets.

  5. robrob says:

    This is my real name.

  6. HexagonalBolts says:

    Osama’s bricking it

  7. Vinraith says:

    And they’re going to enforce this how, exactly? How do they know what your real name is?

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Credit card?

      (As in, your account is linked to a credit card. Use the name on your billing. And, yes, that opens up other issues.)

      KG

    • Vinraith says:

      @Kieron

      That works for adults who pay for their own accounts, which is only a specific subset of their user base. What about minors? What about people that have someone else pay for their account (gift recipients, for example)? Why wouldn’t anyone that wanted to occlude their identity simply claim to be one of these two categories, even if they weren’t?

      The whole thing strikes me as unenforceable and consequently meaningless. Someone mentioned Facebook above and is exactly right, not only does using one’s real name not stop people from acting like idiots, it also doesn’t stop people from signing up under a false name anyway.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Vinraith: Yeah – the issues I was talking about.

      It’s an interesting one. In my experience, forums with a hard REAL NAMES ONLY are always better behaved than the general free-for-all. It’s not even if they have to be people’s actual real names – having people actually have names which sound like human beings alters the way people act. But the only places which really have tried this are relatively small scale*.

      KG

      *Relatively being the key word. The Warren Ellis Forum had the rule and was actually pretty massive… but it’s not Blizzard’s forums.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Kieron

      Interesting. As mentioned, my only experience with “real name” driven internet discussion is Facebook, which certainly looks like the same old mess to me. This business on battle.net should be worth watching, if only as a psychological experiment.

    • Arc says:

      I’ve heard it said elsewhere that presumably, if you don’t use your real name, it will be almost impossible to recover your account if it gets hacked.

    • Serenegoose says:

      Yeah, eh… if they used the name on my card, I would cancel my account there and then, what with the bank I’m with apparently not accepting statutory declarations of change of name as evidence that I changed my name. However, they don’t seem to – someone else payed for my game until recently, with their card, and when I talk to people on warcraft it uses -my- name, and not theirs. I’m not sure what I think of it, it seems completely unnecessary.

    • Premium User Badge

      skalpadda says:

      Another major thing I see is that WoW is rated 12 (and 11 in some countries I believe), in which case the account will probably be in the name of the parents if they pay for it. Would you want people googling your name to find your kids’ inane comments about WoW written in your name?

      Also, should names of underaged people be posted on the internet in any case? I mean I’m sure it’s not a legal issue for Blizzard as the parent who signs for the account is entirely responsible for it, but it seems dubious as most children won’t bother reading (and many won’t understand) the terms and conditions and parents won’t be able to stop them without constantly monitoring their kids when they’re on their computers.

    • Sonic Goo says:

      It’s the name you entered in the ‘your name here’ field. Not the one on your credit card (let’s not start any false rumours here). Though I imagine people who filled in asdfasdafdf aseffeadf or A.Hitler might have some problems. (As mentioned, you often need to prove you’re the person on the account to get a compromised account back.)

    • Eamo says:

      There must be someone out there with a real name that violates the naming policy. Wonder what will happen to the “Jesus Power”s and the “Christian Gaywood”s of the world. Having their account banned with the reason “Real name violates Blizzard naming policy” has to be on the cards for a few people at least.

    • Psychopomp says:

      RealID just uses the name you registered your account under, that is all.

    • dethgar says:

      You already have to provide proof of identification when trying to get a stolen account back. They require you sign and certify a legal document and provide a copy of your photo ID. I tried it with my old WoW account and just gave up when they asked for all that info. I had already provided them with information about the credit card used when I signed up for the account, and answered the secret question(to no avail, since the registered email had been changed). Soon they’ll want a copy of your birth certificate and a phylactery of blood just to log in.

      Also, don’t forget the ever looming grin of Kotick. This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone.

    • Premium User Badge

      phuzz says:

      I was teasing my WoW playing flatmate about this, and apparently Blizzard don’t have his name correctly (he is registered using our other flatmate’s surname), not sure why this is.

      Personally I don’t care, my name is pretty un-googleable, ahh the benifits of being a smith

  8. Anonymous Coward says:

    And will they do to prevent entering false names?
    Certainly they won’t be able to check the identity of everybody?!

    kind regards
    John Doe

  9. DeckerZero says:

    Hey Dimpleweed I’m gonna kick your ass when I see you in school man, I knew it was you who camped me in gnomeregan you dirty !”#&&#”.

    - Yours Truly,
    Your Friendly Neighborhood Jock

    • DeckerZero says:

      And the next day some poor guy named John Dimpleweed will get his ass kicked by a jock, he never even touched WoW, but for a coincidence, he was unlucky to share his name with another fella who indeed did play WoW.

      Breaks my heart.

    • Sonic Goo says:

      Not if mr. Dimpleweed turns out to be some tattood ex-con muscledude. :)

  10. Cross says:

    All the more reason to detest those suckers at Blizzard.

  11. Jim Rossignol from PC Gamer says:

    How will they ensure people tell them their REAL real names, do you have to send a copy of your ID card to Blizzerd? If they want to make the conversations more mature they could achieve that with better mods too.

    I certainly don’t want to use my real name in the forums i participate. Once i’m rich and famous, my political opponents would surely use it against me.

  12. Ian says:

    Using Real Id in-game does this too. Real Id is otherwise quite spiffy, but some people are irked byu it a) sharing real names rather than an lias or name of a specific in-game character, b) that you need to give folks your e-mail address and c) that there’s no way to set yourself as “Offline”.

    Ultimately for me it sorta falls into the you-don’t-have-to-use it bracket, but at the same time it turns people away from it when the whole point is surely to get more people using it and keeping in touch across Blizzard games, etc.?

  13. Heliocentric says:

    I thought if you were under 13 people can’t ask for this stuff? No tech support for tweens?

  14. john says:

    In order to be a success with the ladies (that don’t look like they live under a bridge) it is normally necessary to conceal yout passion for computer games, thus the thought of someone googling me and having my ravings about the dps to build time ratio of a firebat being imba is frankly terrifying.

    One of the best things about the internet is the way it has helped to promote free speech without the constraints of conformity, and additionally, given the preponderance of complete and utter fruit loops who play Starcraft, what are Blizzard going to do when someone is able to track down the other party a forum feud and ends up beheading them or something?

    • Alaric says:

      In order to be a success with the ladies … it is normally necessary to conceal yout passion for computer games…

      Please, please tell me this is a joke. Because if it isn’t… if you really believe that…

      /sigh

      You know, I’m not the bleeding heart type, but I am shedding a tear for you as we speak. =(

    • Warskull says:

      @Alaric: There’s truth to what he’s saying. Early impressions are a big deal and you don’t necessarily want a discussion of Paladin arena tactics or optimal raid composition to be one of the first things people find about you when they Google. It may give people a one dimensional view of you. People tend to stereotype gamers.

    • Guus says:

      Would it be odd if I said I don’t want people to google me for info at any moment? Just the idea makes me raise an eyebrow.

    • Alaric says:

      In that case I would be a unique exception, which I obviously do not believe that I am.

      If you google my name, the first page will display a link to my blog at the Adrenaline Vault, a link to one of my reviews at there, a link to my site (where I talk about games a lot,) a link to my Twitter account which I set up to let people know when my gaming articles are published, my ‘review’ of Betrayal at Krondor over at GoG.com, an ATI vs. nVidia thread on Facebook that I posted in, and finally another Facebook thread where I am defending net neutrality.

      According to your logic, I should still be a virgin. =))))))

    • Adam Bloom says:

      If your lady is googling you during a period of first impressions, she’s probably not the type to be instantly turned off by nerdiness.

      Just a thought.

    • Xercies says:

      @Adam

      you just said what i was going to say lol.

      But yeah i would be a bit weirded out if my potential partner was googling my name to get juicy secrets. to be honest i wouldn’t trust them…they can ask can they not. Some things i wouldn’t mind saying for example.

    • Starky says:

      Not so true anymore – everyone, even the most tech un-savvy people can goodle, or facebook you (if you have some of your profile public).
      They are mainstream.

      Not everyone on the other hand appreciated geekery of WoW levels – Hell, I did my best not to reveal I was a massive geek to my current GF until at least the 4th or 5th date.

      Hell, we had sex before I admitted that I was a gaming/movie/tech nerd – and that is the way it SHOULD be, hehe.

    • Lilliput King says:

      Just saying, there are quite a lot of people with my name, and it isn’t even a very good name.

      it only goes some of the way to identifying you in this day and age.

    • Azhrarn says:

      The odd thing with that is, that were someone to google me, they’d find a ton of hits about someone about 20 years older, in the same field of work as myself, with an awful lot of articles to his name and a teaching position at one of the leading universities in our country.

      In other words, utterly useless. The first entry actually about me is 4 pages in. =D

    • Hidden_7 says:

      Googling people has always seemed pretty unproductive to me. I would hate to think that anyone I’ve met has ever googled me in an attempt to learn more. They’d end up finding a twitter page of someone who’s not me, but has the same name, who I happen to find pretty reprehensible. So… that’d be a shame to be judged on that.

    • Tei says:

      “Not everyone on the other hand appreciated geekery of WoW levels – Hell, I did my best not to reveal I was a massive geek to my current GF until at least the 4th or 5th date.

      Hell, we had sex before I admitted that I was a gaming/movie/tech nerd – and that is the way it SHOULD be, hehe.”

      Another reason, is that now we know Starky had sex with his GF before the 4th date. Is called inference, wen with data A and B, we can infere data C. Maybe not everyone want to share with the world C, but is easy to infere from A and B.
      Is worse. You can share A with the world, and a friend can share B… TADA!!. the world knows C.

    • DrazharLn says:

      I wouldn’t belittle the power of google to find out about specific people. Using only a username and email account a friend and I were able to find (correctly) more information that your average schmuk displays on facebook:

      Full Name
      Address
      Vote in last US election
      Employment history and profession

      There was some other stuff, but I forget what exactly.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      “Not everyone on the other hand appreciated geekery of WoW levels – Hell, I did my best not to reveal I was a massive geek to my current GF until at least the 4th or 5th date.

      Hell, we had sex before I admitted that I was a gaming/movie/tech nerd – and that is the way it SHOULD be, hehe.”

      Wait. I’m gonna oversimplify. You think lying in the beginning of a relationship is a good thing? Basically, for sex?

      I guess I’m not young enough to appreciate this sort of thinking anymore.

  15. Razz says:

    I’ve been a WoW player pretty much since the start, and I can say with little doubt that this idea is getting probably the biggest backlash Blizzard’s ever gotten. Which is saying something, as the vocal minority for WoW gets pretty frickin’ vocal when they don’t like something. The official forums thread on the US site alone got over 2000 posts in 2 hours. That’s one post every 3 or 4 seconds, man.

    I can’t see them going through with this, honestly. It’s just too big of a deal for players. Also it’s really fucking stupid, although I personally don’t mind that much as I never post on the forums anyway.

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      That might be impressive if WoW only had 20,000 subscribers. With 10 million or so subscribers, not so much.

    • Starky says:

      News is only just starting to trickle into awareness (for example this article was my first knowledge of it) – I suspect this may wake up that sleeping beast that all corporations, political groups and organizations fear to anger…

      The silent majority.

      Once Blizzard open this can of invasion of privacy worms, they’re just opening themselves up for a shitstorm.

  16. Freud says:

    There have been a few cases where people have been killed over in-game MMO disputes. Imagine the PR nightmare for Blizzard if in the future they are the ones that helped a killer find his victim.

  17. Alaric says:

    Yes, this will reduce people’s desire to post, but you know what? That’s a good thing. Maybe, just maybe, the hordes of drooling imbeciles who live on WoW forums will be thinned at least a little bit. Maybe some scumbag will think twice about posting his racist rant, or some other bullshit, if he knows that his real name is going to be attached to it.

    Sure it’s not perfect, and people will still post all sorts of rubbish, but maybe just a little less.

    And as to privacy, which is in fact important, I have the following to say. Those who wish to remain completely anonymous, a decision I both understand and respect, will simply avoid Blizzard forums, just as they avoid Facebook right now.

    Alaric Teplitsky.

    • Premium User Badge

      Stijn says:

      Or put up a plausible, yet fake name? I’m not sure how they’d enforce using your real real name, unless you link it to a credit card or something, but that’d create a lot of issues as mentioned above.

    • RC-1290'Dreadnought' says:

      When you are concerned about your privacy, using Facebook is still fine, because you can choose who can view your content. That’s a little bit more difficult on a forum.

    • Alaric says:

      @RC, that’s true, but on the flip side, Facebook has actual information about you. This forum would only have your name. Quite literally so. Unless, that is, you post your private info there, which you probably shouldn’t do regardless of whether you are using your real name or not.

  18. Mac says:

    Will you get banned if you have names like the following:

    - I used to work with a uy called Alan Dick … his parents must have had a right laugh when they thought about him using that name – Mr A Dick
    - Cockermouth
    - Twathe

    Can you imagine recieving a notice that your real name is against their naming policy, therefore you need to change it.

    • Mac says:

      uy=guy

    • Eamo says:

      I owe Mr Mac an apology. I seem to have made a reply above asking the exact same question without realising it had already been brought up. Give “delete” button plox.

  19. Something Weird says:

    Another good reason to avoid Blizzard like a plague. Really, they declined like never after joining Activision. R.I.P. Blizzard & Gaming.

    • minipixel says:

      Blizz has always been like that. I’m surprised nobody remembers the email sniffing fiasco from 1998, done by Blizzard on Starcraft players.

  20. Tei says:

    Bad idea.

    What is on the internets, stay on the internets.

    What if a minor make a political/religious/game stament ( like “I like Bioshock, Is kind of a good game”) the dude will be forced to live with that comment his whole life.

    So, is a HORRIBLE, BAD, IDEA, to use your real name on the internet. Even using a nickname is not good enough.

    So this like like Blizzard forcing people to publish his credit card number, and choosing his password in paypall as a number of 3 digits.

    IS. VERY. STUPID.

  21. Flint says:

    If it has even a chance to improve the cesspool of idiocy that the official WoW forums are, bring it on.

    • The Dark One says:

      We should revive Hitler and have him oversea the expunging of all undesirable posters.

  22. measurements says:

    I thought it was a risky move when they made battlenet changes so that your sign in was your email address. My old username for my wow account (nothing like the characters names) was completely unknown and I never typed it in so it was pretty safe on the ol’ account hijacking scene. Suddenly it’s my email address. Seems like giving account stealy types a boost up, as does profligating your full name about the place.

    And yet, if you’re playing wow and think that there’s something worth loosing in your account (other than the monetary value of a lich king enabled account which is around the thirty quid mark, I guess) then you should probably chill out. And get one of them code dongle thingums.

    I think you can achieve a better forum atmosphere with this change but you could probably do the same with some strict moderating for a bit. Delete nonsense posts, prune all empty statements. Come down hard on idiots and let persistant abusers barely get the chance to be persistant.

    tl;dr (so glad to be typing on a keyboard instead of a shitty blackberry) What about account safety, forums could just be moderated better/harsher.

  23. Bart Stewart says:

    It’s interesting that a number of the objections so far have criticized using real names on the grounds that it won’t elevate the content of discussions. But that’s a straw man; it’s not something that requesting the use of real names is intended to achieve. The point is to be able to reliably associate comments with a real person, not to encourage more scholarly conversation but to discourage the juvenile, hyper-emotive flameage that prevents people from even trying to have a friendly exchange of different thoughts.

    I don’t know how well it will work. I suspect that, to be effective, other Official Gaming Forums will also have to move to a “real names” policy. And that seems unlikely.

    Still, instead of preemptively looking for reasons why Blizzard’s experiment must (somehow) fail, why not give it a chance and let’s see how well it works to improve the signal-to-noise ratio? As long as no one is forced to post (and thus reveal their real name), it’s worth trying.

    • jalf says:

      What? The objections raised are that “putting your name out there where everyone can see it can lead to all sorts of nastiness”.

      Up until your post, no one even *mentioned* that “it won’t elevate the content of discussions”. Sorry, you were talking about straw man arguments? ;)

  24. ruaidhri says:

    oddly enough, I used to post very regularly on the old PC Gamer UK forums under my real name. it sort of bothered me years later after I sobered up and got a proper job that I did it, but at the time it didn’t at all. although I was constantly drunk and indiscreet, using my real name did temper some of the more ridiculously extreme thing that I might be tempted to type. For me it was a positive calming influence.

    disclaimer – it never did anything to improve my ability to spell, or say anything of actual merit. And still doesn’t.

  25. Antsy says:

    It throw’s a spanner in the workings of Penny Arcade’s Internet Behaviour Equation and is therefore a great thing. Those forum’s swing madly from reasonable and informing to cesspit at the best of times.

  26. ChampionHyena says:

    Hell.

    No.

  27. TheSombreroKid says:

    lol Activision aren’t too smart, are they?

  28. Clovis says:

    I don’t see how the name thing will improve the forums, except that you can have only one account that can easily be banned/suspended. Is that the idea? But, of course, you don’ t have to use your real name, you just have to have the account tied to the credit card.

  29. Merus says:

    This is apparently inspired by South Korea; it’s de rigeur for internet services (like Battle.net) to require real names.

    Most people use the same nickname everywhere. Surprise! It’s not much harder to harvest your identity from your nickname than from your real name.

  30. William Main says:

    I can’t see anything massively wrong with this. If anything it may decrease the smacktalk that comes from anonymity via usernames.

    :P

  31. Zogtee says:

    The idea that real names will create more civilized forums seems flimsy to me (Anon 4ever). I’ve been on all sorts of forums over the years and the only thing that helps is strict moderation. I wish forums would introduce a system where, if you break the rules, you are banned for a week. Do it again and you are banned for two weeks. Do it again and you are banned for a month. An so on. Trust me, people would calm the fuck down very quickly.

    • Freud says:

      A forum that is related to WoW is http://elitistjerks.com/forums.php Elitist Jerks, which is a forum that is dedicated to discussing WoW from a theoretical perspective (as in how to maximize your dps or how to beat bosses). They have a zero tolerance for idiocy, whining and bad grammar. They warn and ban for any offenses.

      This of course makes it a bad forum for goofing about but a good forum for discussing WoW from a theoretical perspective. It works but I suspect it also requires more work than your normal forum moderation staff would want to put in.

    • Zogtee says:

      Maybe that would a good idea? A couple of sub-forums with rock-hard moderation to keep things civil and a couple of goofy forums with loose moderation (or none at all), where people could let rip on each other.

  32. Kester says:

    While I like the idea of people being accountable for what they write – as Kieron says above, it does improve behaviour – I am not impressed with using your real name. It causes a particular problem for people with unusual names: I have a first name/surname combination that I know is unique in the UK, and quite possibly in the world. I went through a period of actually using my real full name when signing up for forums and similar, figuring it was a grown-up and responsible thing to do, only to discover that whatever forums you post on then swamp all other search hits for you on the internet. With a lot of employers doing quick internet searches for candidates, I really didn’t want them to read a bunch of posts I’d made about various hobbies, even though none of them were controversial. I’d much rather have searches for my name turn up professional activities than hobbies, as it creates a much better impression. I certainly wouldn’t want them to turn up posts on the battle.net forums, which are generally pretty awful.

    I would be fine with, and even support, Blizzard giving people a single account ID which cannot be changed. But any forum enforcing real names has ideas above its station and I would stay away from that place forever.

    • jalf says:

      What he said.

      As far as I know, I don’t have anything particularly controversial posted on the internet, but I don’t necessarily want it all to be pooled together. I don’t want anyone to know *everything* about me just from a quick Google search. My comments on RPS, to take an example at random, aren’t really relevant to a potential employer or a girlfriend, are they? I know I used to post some rather cringe-worthy newbie posts on gamedev.net that I don’t think a gamedev studio needs to see if I apply for a job with them. ;)

      And I don’t even have crazy stalker ex-girlfriends, or a nazi boss who spies on my private life, nor do I have any disputes with crazed WoW fanatics who might just take it personally if I do anything to spite them. But a lot of people do. Such people have a fairly good reason to treasure their privacy.

    • Cooper says:

      I have a similar situation with a (probably) unique name. You google me, you find my otherwise near non-existent web presence. Only me.

      I’ll reiterate my point from my other post. Some people have unique names, other less common names, some very common names.

      A “real name only” policy enforces a hierarchy of anonymity, which is never a good thing in any social interaction.

  33. Urthman says:

    Sounds like a great way to find some ladies who are into video games and offer them the pleasure of my company! What could go wrong?

    • Kester says:

      Oh God. D:

      I hadn’t even considered this aspect.

    • 2ds says:

      Yeah this is the first thing that came to mind for me, I think if I was a girl and I wanted to play WOW, I’d probably prefer to do it without people knowing me real name, and stalking me on facebook, it will happen.

  34. Premium User Badge

    Sagan says:

    If they somehow manage to enforce this I won’t be posting there. It isn’t very hard to link this name to my real name, but I know for a fact that there are multiple people out there calling themselves “Sagan,” and I like that you can’t be sure whether it was really me who posted something stupid.

    Also very relevant and only a couple of weeks old:
    http://borderhouseblog.com/?p=2535

    • Premium User Badge

      Sagan says:

      Meh no-one is going to copy+paste that so here it is again as a link:

      http://borderhouseblog.com/?p=2535

      It’s a story about stalking because someone found out the real name of a woman in WoW.

    • Alaric says:

      Oh please. This proves what exactly?

      That there are stalkers? We knew that already. Plenty of people get stalked (or killed) without ever having played WoW or posting on any forums, or creating a Facebook account. Does playing WoW increase a woman’s chances to get stalked? I’d like to see some data in support of that please.

    • jalf says:

      @Alaric: I’d have thought it was obvious: it proves that if you’re being stalked, there’s a big advantage to not having to put your real name on the internet.

      It simply proves that there are people with very valid reasons to hide behind usernames online.

    • Alaric says:

      I don’t buy that.

      If a person is already being stalked, posting “OMG nerf DKs!” under their real name, will not make them more stalked, nor will it give the stalker any new information about them.

      If a person is not being stalked, then by how much does having their name listed on a WoW forum, increase their chances of getting stalked? I don’t know, but am willing to bet it is not statistically significant.

    • Premium User Badge

      Sagan says:

      @ Alaric:
      By linking this I didn’t want to say that people will get stalked because they put their names online. I simply wanted to say that there are a lot of assholes online who you don’t want to know your name. And this story proves that there are valid reasons for that beyond simple paranoia.
      I know that problems like those reported in the story are rare, and even after using your real name online they will continue to be rare, but they are one reason why you wouldn’t want to use real names.

    • Alaric says:

      All right, I agree, there are legitimate reasons for not wanting your name and personal information all over the Internet. But in this case it’s just your name. Unless you post some information that identifies you, it’s just as anonymous as any online nickname.

      I bet there is a woman out there who’s name is Jane Offenbach. I totally dreamt it up just now, but with six billion people in the world there’s gotta be at least one. As of this moment her name is now online. Let’s say you are a dangerous psychotic stalker, and you now have her name. What exactly does that entail?

      Also, posting on WoW forums has always been strictly voluntary. If anyone is genuinely worried about this stuff, they have an option to not post at all, thus keeping their complete and utter anonymity.

  35. wedge says:

    Horrible Idea. If people want to use their real names, go nuts. Do not force it

  36. TheSombreroKid says:

    It amazes me at how many people here don’t understand, or care about, the importance of equal disclosure (everyone knowing equally as much about each other) on the internet, which internet anonymity was used to enforce. Having your identity openly visible on the internet puts you at a disadvantage.

    The possability of childish bickering didn’t affect freedom of speach laws and it shouldn’t affect internet anonimity, the right to anonimity is the only way freedom of speach can be enforced on the internet.

    • Tei says:

      It only takes a call at 3:00pm with “You brother Sam has a accident, and we need blood of type 2+1 quick, and maybe some skin transfer, please come to hospital XYZ”. The burglar will wait for you to abandon your home really worried, fucking scared, and wen you return, your whole home will be destroyed by the burglar.

  37. Hypatian says:

    I was already worried about RealID, because I have a bunch of people from the http://www.gamerswithjobs.com community who I’d love to be “cross-game friends” with (i.e. like Steam), but who I don’t feel comfortable giving my real life name to. I divide the world into family who game (they know my name and phone number), personal friends who game (they know my name and my phone number), online friends who game with me in many games (they *might* know my name, but I don’t go out of my way to give it to them, and they certainly don’t know my phone number), and online friends who were okay in one game but I don’t want them following me around to other games (innumerable, know me only by my handle).

    Not being able to “cross-game friend” someone without giving out my real name was already something that upset me: here’s this lovely feature that I don’t want to use. But I figured Blizzard would see the light before or shortly after release and change that. Now, it looks like they’re going the other way instead.

    I don’t know whether this will result in relatively fewer forum trolls or relatively fewer intelligent forum posters. But, I think it’s safe to say that it will result in many fewer posters of both varieties.

  38. rocketman71 says:

    Yet another reason not to buy from Blizzard.

    Official tournament forums, pro competition, etc?. Ok, perhaps there. Regular forums?. No, thanks.

    Wasn’t going to buy anyway, so no big loss, and I can’t think Blizz’s reputation can sink any lower by now, so…

  39. Volomon says:

    Someone will end up getting hurt and killed. MMOs can be quite vicious especially on the more competitive circles. When someone gets PVPed to death and or harassed in game they will find you. The name just makes it that much easier way to easy in fact. Because they’ll eventually hunt down your email, your ip, you address, your phone number, who your mother is, who your father is, where you work. I’ve seen this done with nothing more than a picture of a person, everything from IP address to where see goes and what she eats. Imagine giving the same individual your name.

    I see nothing but disaster. At best this will end up on national news, at worst someone is going to pay the price. I just hope no one gets molested or raped in this social experiment.

  40. Gorgeras says:

    Can I just point out that prior to my own banning, I attributed the bad atmosphere of WoW and Blizzard forums down to those most responsible for them: the blues. Three times I had managed to successfully appeal against suspensions and bans on grounds relating to inappropriate and abusive conduct by blues and their extreme tolerance of ‘the malignant militia’ who trolled every thread critical of Blizzard. They didn’t distinguish between flames, whines and even the most gentle and slight criticism. They were always there pushing the boundaries further back and then when the OP inevitably snaps, a blue closes the thread and that OP isn’t seen for a week.

    It’s a similar story with WoW’s RP servers: all the ‘RP nazis’(a pejorative that was tolerated for nearly a year whilst just plain old ‘nazi’ was not) were characterised as wanting a stronger RP policy. We didn’t: what we wanted was for the existing rules to actually be enforced. They never were. If players tried policing the servers themselves through rather passive ostracism and ridicule of the non-RPers that saturated the servers because they were ‘more mature’, something akin to saying you love the countryside but when you go there you leave your rubbish, the GMs quickly clamped down *on the roleplayers*.

    Blizzard got the communities they deserved and even pro-actively encouraged; now they’re whining and their fix is to introduce an unpopular and intrusive gimmick.

    • Zogtee says:

      I was in WoW from the beginning, from beta and into the game proper, when it was released and I was also on their forums from the beginning. I stayed for about two years, quit, and then rejoined a couple of years later.

      The moderation on the WoW forums was almost non-existent those first years. People would flame, troll, and insult each other all over the place and no one seemed to care. On my second tour in Azeroth, things had improved marginally, but there was still a lot things going on that I would have slammed down on without hesitation. When it comes to the WoW forums, they have themselves to blame and maybe that’s what they’re trying to avoid with SC2.

      /me lives out my dream of being a mod

      BTW, will I have to create an account with Battle.net, if all I want to do is play SC2 single player? Because that may very well put me off buying it or maybe I will look for other solutions.

    • neolith says:

      Yes, you will need a Battle.net account to play singleplayer.

  41. Hypatian says:

    Posting again to add: It’s interesting and worth noting that a number of WoW forum community volunteers have publicly come out against this (I’d search up a link, but the WoW forum thread off the announcement where I saw them saying this is… way too big to search. I only saw it because it came up at the same time I was commenting to add my two cents to the thread.)

    Their feeling is that their position of recognition within the community makes them bigger targets for the net.kooks that are out there, and they want no part of that. (This is speaking of unpaid volunteers that Blizz has recognized and marked as “VIP”s so that other people will recognize their posts as trustworthy. In general: well informed, well spoken, and prolific posters. As far as I know, they have no powers of any sort, although moderators might move a little faster if they see one of these guys report forum abuse.)

    • Duoae says:

      @Hypatian.

      I also dislike this form of “highlighting” in general. It smacks of favouritism and popularism. Same as on Kotaku. Plenty of people who gain “Stars” post as much crap as everyone else…. and plenty of people who do not have stars make consistently thoughtful comments.

      The best systems do not glorify good behaviour but condemn bad behaviour.

    • Starky says:

      I think you’ll find that the best systems do BOTH.

    • Duoae says:

      @Starky…. so, you’re confident that every good user is rewarded? That’s not been my experience in those systems.

    • Starky says:

      Bad implementation of a good concept is not the fault of the concept.

      Study after study has shown that when it comes to the question of carrot and stick, the answer is carrot AND stick.

      I used to run a fairly large gaming forum (and anime forum, and a roleplaying forum (Whitewolf mainly, V:tM and such) and a couple of others that all ran into at least 1000+ regular users – around 4-10k posts a day.
      So yes I’m sure that with good top down community management the correct method to keep a online community polite, and mature is a system of reward and punishment.
      For example, on a forum I used to run for my clan/guild/community (200+ members, 20 or so servers, CS, CS:S, Natural Selection, Battlefield 2 and more…) we used to punish people with temp bans to the servers, but reward them with VIP server perks (reserved spot, mini-bonuses – like free amour in CS, so on).

      And it was pretty damn good while it lasted.

    • Duoae says:

      @Starky,

      I think that while in theory and in the right environment it can be a good idea….. in practice the rate of positive feedback and poor moderation and bias per person will effectively nullify this theory.

      For example, being a good citizen is not rewarded in any way other than being a good citizen. I don’t get any perks for not robbing that guy who lives on the corner in some estate somewhere – nor should i. I feel that the same should be true for online communities…. otherwise you’re likely to end up with an imbalance where people are ‘overlooked’ when they should be given the positives or, and even worse, corruption or favouritism gives some of those good citizens more than the other good citizens. I’ve found that it’s much rarer for bad behaviour to be overlooked or deferred than good behaviour. Again, just because you had experience of one situation where it worked well does not mean that translates to the rest of the environment. GWJ and RPS are examples of self-selection to a certain extent (as was perhaps your former CS community) but the logic behind how they are run does not necessarily extend to the rest of the internet because of these inconsistencies…

    • Starky says:

      But people ARE rewarded for being good citizens, and I’d argue that simply not being a bad citizen doesn’t make you a good one – just average.
      Community awards, employee awards, recognition awards and news articles, charity functions held in honour of, so on ans so forth – the list of rewards for good citizens (those who make an effort to do good things for their community above and beyond simply “not doing bad”) is s long and varied one. Sometimes tangible rewards can be had, but most of the time it is simply emotional validation, or respect.

      So on you don’t get perks for simply not being an asshole/criminal/rule breaker – but people who make an effort to improve the quality of any community earn rewards, and in real life they are rewarded too (though not as much as they should be imo).

      It’s not black and white, but a scale and most people sit firmly in the middle and earn no reward or punishment – the goal of any community leader should be to encourage more people into the side of the scale that has people actively participating in efforts to improve the community, and minimize those who would do things that harm it.

    • Duoae says:

      @ Starky,

      Again, all those rewards only reward one person of many. The reward isn’t the factor that is making these people behave in that way. It doesn’t need to exist… and it’s very existence overlooks and effectively demeans the efforts of many people who do similar things but are never recognised for them. You can’t even begin to try and argue that the situation is fair.

  42. spinks says:

    Pity the person who has the same name as a convicted murderer or paedophile.

  43. Duoae says:

    Hmmm. Opens the door for :

    - harassment outside of the forums and also possibly into real life in the form of:

    *physical attacks
    *defamation
    *racial and sexual harassment
    *psychological harassment

    I’m not a fan of this or any sort of forced un-privacy policies. Your identity is one of the most important things about you and making it public and vulnerable in a situation were crazy anti-social people can (and do) become psychotic towards other people (which has resulted in attacks and killings) is not a good thing.
    The sexual and racial harassment needs little comment…. there’s little enough reason for most women or people with a racial background to “out” themselves on the internet and, last time i checked, Activision-Blizzard do not moderate or control the whole of the internet or real life…. at least not yet. I’m sure it’s on there 10 year plan somewhere.
    Psychological harassment is a little harder to define but can range from prank calls to actively destroying someone’s life through little invasions.

    Imagine some random person turning up at your house Jim Rossignol of The Willows, 13 Heartcrest Lane, Wiltshire, SN8 5WA….. People in the public eye choose to open their lives up to these dangers (i don’t for an instant argue that they look for or deserve them) but normal people do not.

    • Duoae says:

      Another thing i just thought about….

      What about people with the same name? It’s not as if people are all unique sets of 18 alpha-numeric codes.

      How do you tell the difference between Bill Smith and Bill Smith? How would they allow for this?

  44. Daniel Rivas says:

    I like using my real name on the internet. It keeps me civil.

    I try not to post something I’d be ashamed of if I said it in real life. It just about works.

    • Duoae says:

      Does that say more about you or about people who can post in a civilised manner without such a requirement?

      Also, what do you think of this being forced on users?

    • Daniel Rivas says:

      Hmm. Well, I can play nice in anonymity, but I do prefer talking in an environment where people use standard names. As Kieron points out above, it doesn’t even have to be their real names.

      I’m not too fussed with Blizzard forcing people to do this, but then I don’t use their forums, and I’m not familiar with what they’re used for. If it’s tech support, I think I see it as a good thing. However, there’s obviously concerns that people will shy away from that, which is troubling. I think the best solution is for Blizzard to make it very clear that there won’t be repercussions for using a fake name. That obviously relies on this being the case, of course.

      The availability of anonymity is extremely important to me, though. Speaking in hypotheticals, if use of real names became enforced by law in some way, I’d obviously be against that. If use of real names on the internet became much more the norm, I dunno, I’d maybe be against that too, pleasant or not.

      Note: You really don’t get too much anonymity if you have a distinctive username, especially if you, say, have a Twitter account using said username, which either provides a real name there and then, or at some point links to a facebook account or to friends with a facebook account.

    • Feanor says:

      I bet your real name is really Terry McGee or something.

    • Daniel Rivas says:

      Damn it, Faenor. I guess you found my Facebook.

      :(

  45. Styngent says:

    In my experience I tend to find that the maturity avaliable in a forum is directly linked to its subject matter. I think publishing “real names” is a bit of misdirection. I imagine the vast majority of WoW users would feel more threatened if their account status was brought into question over their social activity. If your in game identity is linked to your forum account and blizzard truly want to encourage a more responable and mature attitude they could simply threaten with something tangible to the game users rather than the rather wishy washy idea that someone may be held to account in real life somewhere down the line.

    Of course you’d need to visit the old ethics – profit scale first.

  46. Joe Maley says:

    http://www.joemanna.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/HLIC/d9f52e0469398513ad24e5b0935ffa61.jpg

    This is awesome. I love accountability.
    This could easily turn current online gaming into civil online gaming, because we could finally put names to trolls.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      Except that it will weed out the bad/dumb trolls.

      The smart ones will just get smarter.

  47. Starky says:

    Another potential PR nightmare from this will be the 20-30% or so of their player base who are female yet choose to leave that fact anonymous – like several female players I used to know – most of whom only revealed that fact to me after a few weeks of being in my guild. Which I’d like to think was a good reflection on how I acted, and expected other guild mates to act with the female players, that being, not like drooling 15 year old nerds.

    Still, I can imagine if real names become public (especially if it becomes searchable on something like the armoury) lots of people would quit.

    I no longer lay WoW, but am planning on getting Starcraft 2 – I’m no that bother about people knowing my real name – after all anyone who wanted to find it out probably could…
    Still bad move by Blizzard I think.

    They’ll also get some MASSIVE, massive bad PR the first time someone uses their forums to track another player and hurt/abuse them in some way.
    Which will happen, I can see it now, Blizzard forum flame war turns into real life assault…

  48. Kandon Arc says:

    Given how games like WoW are percieved in the popular media, is it really something you want a potential employer to know about you? I can easily see an employer looking at 2 identically qualified candidates and picking the one that doesn’t play WoW.

    • Kandon Arc says:

      Also, it’s kind of scary when reality follows satire: http://www.thenoobcomic.com/index.php?pos=378

    • Zogtee says:

      I really do not want that. Employers are already searching the net to find out more about the people they’re looking to hire. If they see someone spending a lot of time playing games online, that may well screw you out of a job.

      One more thing, does Blizz intend to moderate in-game talk as well? You might behave on the forums, but if you can say what you want in-game and you know if the people you’re playing with are women, or black, or whatever, then… yeah.

  49. Seras says:

    I can think of a few examples of why this is a horrible horrible idea:

    -french CS player that got stalked and stabbed.
    -general harassment of female players no longer able to hide their gender.

  50. Uhm says:

    On the plus side, women can put a name to their fantasy murder victim.