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?"