Blizzard's going to post real names on the forums. Excuse me?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Blizzard's going to post real names on the forums. Excuse me?

(Fair warning, this isn't all that coherent. I'm upset and writing from emotion. It happens. ::smile:;)

If you haven't read the news yet, Blizzard posted news today that they'll be implementing a change in their forum posting policies.

"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."

I'm not trying to get on anyone's case personally, but I had an interesting response to Mike Fahey's innocent question over at Kotaku.

"Sure, there are privacy issues involved, but then you can simply not post on the forums, right?"

Let me clarify. I don't post on the forums currently. However, if I get into the Cataclysm Beta I may well be asked to post there as posting is encouraged to help give feedback on the Beta.

Except that, because I have privacy concerns, I won't post.

There are lots of ways you could implement a forum system that allows you to moderate usage and control spam without displaying real names. If you have my account info connected to my Real ID, you have it connected to my email address. So, why do I not have an option to create a username linked to that email address? Are you telling me that Blizzard doesn't have the technology to assure that I'm only able to post from  the account connected to my Real ID and email addy without having my name listed?

I have reasons I leave my name at the door in my online dealings. Not the least of which being an incident in my past that lead to my having to call the police when someone decided it would be fun to break into my hotel room and sneak into my bed on a movie shoot.

So, yeah, I don't use my name and I don't give out my email address easily. And whenever I have the option, I use an alias on forums because I know that, while I don't have have a guarantee of privacy in this day and age, I also don't have to put more information out there than necessary.

Blizz? You've implemented changes like BattleNet without ever giving me another option. But then you suggest an authenticator which is supposed to protect my privacy. You talk about my not giving out my info. You say it's for my protection.

So, explain to me how you forcing me to display my name on your forums is any less of a violation than someone going into my account and taking "fake gold"?

At least if someone takes my fake gold, you'll replace it.

Can you replace my peace of mind if that guy from all those years ago shows up on my doorstep, or whispers me in game, because my name is suddenly connected to my WoW account and out there for crawlers to pick up?

If you can modify the "vote kick" in game based on behavior, you can do the same on the forums if you have the Real ID info for moderators to deal with trolls.

Considering you have to have my real name, address and credit card # in order for me to be able to play WoW (none of which I have to give out to general online sources and generally don't disclose), you should be more secure with my information.

Sure, as Mike said, I don't have to use the forums and -- if this change goes through -- you can bet I won't.

But it's more than that.

If you're willing to compromise people's privacy in this situation in order to make your jobs on the forums a little bit easier, how do I know you won't do it again somewhere else?

And will the question (innocently asked) by someone like Mike from Kotaku then be...

"Sure, there are privacy issues involved, but then you can simply not play, right?"


8 comments:

  1. Well said. This is ridiculous.

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  2. The dangers far outweigh the potential shame benefits. Guessing there are no women on the team--men get told a lot less about the importance of protecting your name, location, etc so that some psycho doesn't show up on your door.

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  3. I don't WoW. I was considering it, but coping with FB's privacy fuckery is as much of that as I can handle. Do I care that I might never have to use the forums? Nope. It's the principle of the thing.

    GGD, you've already covered all the ways in which minimizing trolling/spamming/flaming, etc., could be done. I have no idea why Blizzard decided NOT to do those things, rather than open themselves up to the eventual stalking/murder wrongful death lawsuit and potentially criminal charges.
    (It only sounds like hyperbole, as we all know. My how the world has changed.)
    Using my name is my choice, online. If I ever felt threatened or creeped out, I would immediately stop doing it. To not even give users that modicum of control and choice means Blizz has now surpassed the laissez-fair attitude of Facebook and Google.
    Do Not Want.

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  4. You're definitely right. I can't believe they're doing this. Crazies taking advantage of my information aside, I have crafted myself an internet persona, and, while there aren't very many people who care about or even notice this online persona, I would be kind of devastated if they suddenly all knew my real name. I like being just Eleni.

    The solution of "just don't post" is exclusion. I don't understand why they haven't thought of a better solution, and I hope they change this policy.

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  5. It's Mike from Kotaku!

    I just think it's ridiculous that we've gotten to a point in society where we fear giving our real names will give other people power over us. It's like we're suddenly all demons or something.

    OMG we are all demons!

    Seriously, are we that paranoid that we think that because someone gets our real name they are going to show up at our doorstep? It could happen, sure. I could also look up someone's World of Warcraft name in google, find a mention of them on someone's Facebook, or Twitter, or Blog, and then trace the name back to the real person.

    Back in the late 80's when I first started getting into the BBS scene I picked an online handle for myself, and I imagined that one day everyone would know me by that name, and we'd all live in some William Gibson science fiction virtual reality land.

    Now I'm much, much older, and I kind of like the fact that people know my name online. I enjoy being me. It's fun sometimes.

    But if you don't want to be yourself, or you fear your name will give others power, then by all means, stop playing Blizzard games.

    They're a big, intelligent company. They knew this reaction was coming, yet they decided to do it anyway. If that conflicts with your interests and privacy concerns, then stop playing. If enough people do so, then maybe the company will reverse the policy.

    If not, at least your name will be safe. >.>

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  6. Mike,

    I get your side of it, really. And I actually can see why people think it might be an over reaction.

    But see, right now I have the option to not have my FB indexed so it doesn't come up in a search. I don't put my name out in the world easily and I don't plan to post on the forums.

    And, yeah, fact is, if Blizz decides to take this policy to the point where it means my personal info is available in game, then I'll stop playing.

    If my post came off as snarky at you or you think I was attacking your comments in any way -- I wasn't. And, honestly, as a woman, I do feel more concern about privacy than you might.

    But I don't think they thought this through on that level. Big, intelligent companies make mistakes too.

    It's not about demons or not wanting to be who I am.

    But I'm paying for a service and, as such, I have to have my personal info attached to my account.

    So, yeah, this bugs me ;-(

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  7. Excellent post Geek Girl Diva. Very well said and I agree. I am not happy about this. I have good reasons, that I won't write about online, that involve legal issues that I do not want my real name out there. I love WoW and I enjoy Blizzard products and I wish they were doing this differently. I'll e-mail them since I guess it's all I can do.

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  8. Oh I didn't think you were being snarky! :) No worries! I've been dealing with emails about this all day. One person said they were feeling like a Jew in Poland during World War II. Now THERE's an overreaction.

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