Obligatory Pissed Off About Real ID Post.

By | July 6, 2010

Speaking just for myself, not for Threnn or Bricu here, though I would like them to chime in if they have thoughts.

The long and short of it, as everyone’s likely heard, is that post Starcraft 2 Blizzard will be implementing RealID on the forums. What does this mean? Your name will appear next to your posts in lieu of your avatar. I understand the reasoning behind it – trolls will stop being trolls, Bliz won’t have to moderate as much.

But. BUT.

In a perfect world, everyone out there is a balanced, rational human being who pays their taxes, goes home, logs on to have “a great time!” and keeps the spirit of the game positive for everyone around them. The fact is, we’re surrounded by people who /are not those things/. Stalking and cyber bullying are real threats. Thanks to this new system, if you post something on a forum people don’t like? Internet creeps have your name. It’s a great platform for taking in-game grief out of game. It is, essentially, a stepping stone for aforementioned cyber bullying and stalking.

I’m not okay with it. Most people I know are not okay with it.

Another facet I am not okay with? Is that a lot of issues are “referred to forums”. An online friend of mine had a problem they called the customer service number about, and were essentially redirected to a forum for a solution. With this new system in place, that player would be FORCED to give out his name to get his problem resolved.

I’m not okay with that either.

The onus is now on us, the people who pay the monthly fee, to get our voices heard.

Start here. And please remember, as my mother always said, you get a lot more flies with honey than vinegar. Calling the guy sorting through the feedback a fucktard probably won’t get a damned good point made.

I will repeat: if you don’t like this forum change? Do yourself and everyone else a favor and make change happen.


8 Comments

nosedive51 on July 6, 2010 at 8:39 pm.

Maybe it’s because I have a very common name but I’m fine with it. A name doesn’t ID you anymore than a handle does. Matter of fact there are more people in the world that share the same name as you then there are people that have the same handle. If anything your name is more vague.

Maureen Lycaon on July 6, 2010 at 8:54 pm.

I’ve just sent in my complaint. As matters stand now, I won’t be taking part in forum roleplay or otherwise posting on the forums.

It amazes me that Blizzard would do this, and I wonder how much input Activision had into this policy. It’s something I’d expect from a sleazy company such as Acclaim.

falconesse on July 6, 2010 at 9:28 pm.

But a name does ID you. Your name, if I can make an assumption from following the link to your website, identifies you as male.

Mine identifies me as female. Others’ names will give a clue to their race/nationality. Like Yva said, it’s perfectly fine that you’re okay with your name being out there, and that your name’s common enough that someone googling you will come up with hundreds of hits all over the US.

Being “identified” on the internet doesn’t have to mean that someone has your address and phone number and is coming over with a baseball bat. It might simply mean that people know someone else’s gender, or that he/she is of Asian/Middle Eastern/Latino/etc descent. If no one on the internet was ever misogynist or racist, well, that might not be a problem. But people are. Your WoW handle doesn’t tell people your RL gender. It doesn’t open you up to racial slurs. And yes, sure, great, if someone calls you a name on the WoW forums, you can report them to a mod.

Mods don’t have much power outside of the WoW forums, should someone decide to take it offline. It’s easier to find someone than you might think: not everyone’s name is that common. I just did a search for three of my friends whose names, while not all that unusual, certainly aren’t “John Smith.”

All three of them were the first hits on google. Just by typing in their names. Not their characters, not the states they live in, nothing else about them.

Some women on the Thread of Doom over on the general forums mention that they’re concerned about stalking and harrassment. This isn’t people running around and flailing about worst-case scenarios; it’s women who have come forward and said, “I have been stalked. I have been harrassed online, and it’s been carried to real-life, flesh and blood confrontations. I don’t want my real name out there because I don’t feel safe.

Those concerns are legitimate. Just because some people aren’t worried about stalking or harrassment, that doesn’t negate the fears of the people who are. Matter of fact, when someone suggests that the people expressing those concerns are overreacting, what they’re doing is called silencing. Fair warning: commenters trying that here will be called out on it.

There are other concerns, too. Ones that could affect anyone. Employers will do web searches for prospective new hires. Do you want the first hits they see to be posts you made theorycrafting on your capped warlock instead of your linkedin profile? (There’s a blue post out there that says google won’t be caching the forums, but there are so very many ways around that, the reassurance is laughable.)

Blizzard states that using real ID names will lower the number of trolls. It might deter a few, but I’ve already seen at least one person (a Feathermoon poster who is prone to the occasional troll-post) state that having his name out there wouldn’t stop him from trolling. I don’t think he’d be alone in that.

By implementing the realID names, they’re losing quality posters as well. Two of their MVPs have stated that they will stop posting if it goes through. Respected forum-goers, whose constructive contributions to the community have been recognized not just by their peers, but by Blizzard CMs as well.

I’m nervous about Nethaera’s statement here, in which she states “We put a lot of thought into this change and have a long-term vision for the Real ID service and wanted to make sure that we communicated ahead of time and very clearly as to what will be changing and how.”

Long-term vision? Really? What else is coming down the road that’s tied into this RealID system? Why can’t we be allowed to opt-out of it — truly opt-out, that is, not just “don’t post if you don’t like it.”

I’ll be curious to see if the comments on their thread — as of this moment, 11,400 comments and still climbing — will effect any change. I’m truly hoping so.

Corise on July 7, 2010 at 2:50 am.

I sent in my objections. The thing I don’t understand is, if their primary objective is to build a strong and positive community, why on Earth would they try to implement something that alienates such a large part of said community? It doesn’t seem to be a very popular move at all… the best reactions I’ve seen have all been pretty lukewarm, along the lines of “eh, whatever, it doesn’t bother me.” I haven’t heard too many people going, “Woo, rock on! I’ve always wanted to have my real name displayed on the forums for everyone to see!”

Also, for the record – there are far more people who share my avatar’s name (33, at last count) than my real-life one. My surname is quite unusual. A Google search for my first and last name reveals that there is one person who shares my name in Illinois; the other search results are all me, as far as I can tell. So yeah, for some people, having our names out in the public IS a big deal, potentially, in more than just the sense of identifying our real-life gender and ethnicity and such – which, as Falconesse points out, is a very real and valid concern, as well. (I don’t exactly keep my gender a secret, but I also don’t broadcast it publicly to everyone and their brother, because I have been cyber-stalked before; thankfully, it’s never spilled over into real life.)

And honestly, I’m probably not as careful with my real-life identity online as I ought to be. Someone who was determined enough could probably find enough of a digital paper trail to connect my name with my WoW account. Does that mean I want to make it that much easier for every random stranger who reads the WoW forums to make that connection? Heck no. That’d be like saying there’s no point in locking my door at night since an intruder could just break a window to get in.

A friend of mine also pointed out this part of the Code of Conduct:

“Distribution of Real-Life Personal Information

This category includes:

* Releasing any real-life information about other players or Blizzard Entertainment employees

If a player is found to have participated in such actions, he/she will:

* Be permanently banned from the World of Warcraft forums”

Bit of an interesting incongruity there, isn’t it…?

Bricu on July 7, 2010 at 12:08 pm.

The great thing about a social network: I can chose who I want to be social with. I don’t care who my friend-friends are. I don’t want joe average troll on the forum to find me. I don’t want to make it even easier for a rage-filled guy, who harasses other players, AND WHO LIVES IN MY CITY to use RealID to narrow his search and find me.

Blizzard should focus more on content and improving the in-game experience. The social aspect of WoW will work itself out.

Itanya Blade on July 7, 2010 at 12:30 pm.

This is from the EU forums, posted by Wyrixian. Wyrixian has been much more vocal than the NA moderators. I think this response is telling:

“We have been planning this change for a very long time. During this time, we have thought ahead about the scope and impact of this change and predicted that many people would no longer wish to post in the forums after this change goes live. We are fine with that, because we want to change these forums dramatically in a positive and more constructive direction.

It’s been very obvious over the last few years that the forums are an exceptionally valuable source of information both for players and for us to gather feedback. There are many threads on this forum now, and over the last few years, that people have been constructively discussing many aspects of the game. They’ve received new wisdom and have then been able to go back to the game and enjoy it further with the new knowledge acquired through the forums.

These threads, however, can often be lost amongst a great deal of other threads that are basically filled with trolling, name calling, flaming, off-topic conversations and that’s just a small amount of some of the content that has been found in these forums over the years. We don’t want that anymore, and we believe the Real ID change will bring about a lot of the improvement that we are hoping for.

There’s a lot of scare-mongering going on about the change, but there seems a need to make something very clear. The forums have always been an optional extra — something you can choose to participate in if you wish to. With our Real ID changes for the forums, this is still the case. The only difference will be, if you do choose to participate in the forums, then you will do so by using your real name. But only after you’ve been warned and accepted this in advance. ”

Basically, they are okay with people not posting. They don’t want us to post.

Julie on July 7, 2010 at 8:47 pm.

I’m not okay with this this change.

I don’t use the official forums much, but this change means that I will not be using them at all. My name, which I never thought of as being particularly unique, reveals all of my personal information when typed into -free- people search sites. I’m talking my address, all previous address, my family members names, my mother’s address, my phone number…pretty much everything about me.

I have been stalked in real life. I have been stalked online. But instances were scary, but at least with the online one, all I had to do was change my privacy settings on a couple of websites and change a screen name around. I can’t change my real name, and RealID won’t let me change my privacy settings.

As for the “cleaning up the trolls” aspect of this, I think it’s pretty obvious that these changes are not about keeping trolls off the forums. It’s about implementing Blizz’s new “social-gaming service.” I don’t want this. And it won’t stop trolls either. Maybe they won’t feel as inclined to troll on the forum, but hey. No problem, they can’t just look up my personal information and troll me in real life. Sorry, I don’t want some idiotic jerkface to have my number because I disagreed with him on the new resto druid changes.

I guess I just find this kind of heartbreaking, because I love WoW. I love the lore, I love my friends, and I love the incredibly amazing RP that I’ve had here. I don’t want to lose those things, but I don’t want to lose my privacy either. And in the end, the safety of me, and my family, comes first.

Bricu on July 8, 2010 at 2:58 pm.

They are missing the point. I have my finger on the “cancel” button. I already canceled my SC2 preorder…

I think we should push Activision harder.



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