Blizzard Forum Changes Agitate Players

July 6, 2010 -

Those excited about RealID, Blizzard's plan to connect users' real names to their in-game characters, may be a little upset with a policy change to the company's official forums. Judging by the response in the forum thread announcing the changes users are pissed off. Blizzard announced that forum posts in various official game forums will now use the RealID of the user instead of forum names or gamer names.

While this may be a good way to deter over-the-top flame wars and spam (because they'll know who everyone is by name), some users are concerned about having their gaming and forum activities out there for the world to see. Here's the official announcement from Blizzard from this forum thread (thanks to Mendror via the GP shoutbox):

Recently, we introduced our new Real ID feature - http://www.battle.net/realid/ , a new way to stay connected with your friends on the new Battle.net. Today, we wanted to give you a heads up about our plans for Real ID on our official forums, discuss the design philosophy behind the changes we’re making, and give you a first look at some of the new features we’re adding to the forums to help improve the quality of conversations and make the forums an even more enjoyable place for players to visit.

The first and most significant change is that in the near future, 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.

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.

We also plan to add a number of other features designed to make reading the forums more enjoyable and to empower players with tools to improve the quality of forum discussions. Players will have the ability to rate up or rate down posts so that great topics and replies stand out from the not-so-great; low-rated posts will appear dimmer to show that the community feels that they don’t contribute effectively to the conversation, and Blizzard’s community team will be able to quickly and easily locate highly rated posts to participate in or to highlight discussions that players find worthwhile.

In addition, individual topics will be threaded by context, meaning replies to specific posts will be grouped together, making it easier for players to keep track of multiple conversations within a thread. We’re also adding a way for Blizzard posters to “broadcast” important messages forums-wide , to help communicate breaking news to the community in a clear and timely fashion. Beyond that, we’re improving our forum search function to make locating interesting topics easier and help lower the number of redundant threads, and we have more planned as well.

With the launch of the new Battle.net, it’s important to us to create a new and different kind of online gaming environment -- one that’s highly social, and which provides an ideal place for gamers to form long-lasting, meaningful relationships. All of our design decisions surrounding Real ID -- including these forum changes -- have been made with this goal in mind.

We’ve given a great deal of consideration to the design of Real ID as a company, as gamers, and as enthusiastic users of the various online-gaming, communication, and social-networking services that have become available in recent years. As these services have become more and more popular, gamers have become part of an increasingly connected and intimate global community – friendships are much more easily forged across long distances, and at conventions like PAX or our own BlizzCon, we’ve seen first-hand how gamers who may have never actually met in person have formed meaningful real-life relationships across borders and oceans. As the way gamers interact with one another continues to evolve, our goal is to ensure Battle.net is equipped to handle the ever-changing social-gaming experience for years to come.

For more info on Real ID, check out our Real ID page and FAQ located at http://www.battle.net/realid/ . We look forward to answering your questions about these upcoming forum changes in the thread below.

Comments

Re: Blizzard Forum Changes Agitate Players

While I personally would have no problems with my real name being used in online discusions, I have a huge problem with my two children, one 10 years old and one 12 years old using their real names online.  The 12 year old is getting really ready to join the online gamming comunity.   While for the most part, I can protect myself from preditors, trolls, scams, etc.  My children, while having some, do not have all the skills to do so, and using their real names online would make it that much easier for people to pray on him.  Having everything tied together is a good thing.  But, in my opinion having their name public is not.

John Levengood

High Tech Redneck

High Tech Redneck

Re: Blizzard Forum Changes Agitate Players

That's a good point -- 13 is the minimum age for posting on most forums in the States and I can definitely see privacy concerns for minors.

Re: Blizzard Forum Changes Agitate Players

Blizzard's touted solution to your concerns is that you can use parental controls to turn off posting on their forums.

Never mind the fact that many people would be perfectly fine with their children posting on Blizzard's forums if it weren't for Blizzard's plan to violate all privacy recommendations regarding personal information. Or that their solution amounts to "forbid your children from using a feature of our products."

-Gray17

-Gray17

Re: Blizzard Forum Changes Agitate Players

Exactly, part of the fun of playing online games is getting together with friends to go out and do stuff in game. The easiest place for people to orginize that is on the offical forum/boards. Now you take that fun away from your kids, because you (rightfuly so) won't let them post under their real name. Plus there is the real fact that some parents don't care that their child is posting on boards/forums with their real name, and you have an issue waiting to happen.

High Tech Redneck

High Tech Redneck

Re: Blizzard Forum Changes Agitate Players

While I was really happy with the usenet and use of real names on it, I've never been a fan of companies that make up new rules at will. So this is the final straw.

 

I will not be playing StarCraft 2 or Diablo 3. Other game companies will get my money. It's a bummer, really. Because I was actually looking forward to get both games. But not at the cost of losing control over when I want my real name attached, or not, for any reason, without having to explain myself, being questioned, doubted, singled out, or whatever. It's private. It's personal. It's no ones business but my own.

Re: Blizzard Forum Changes Agitate Players

I agree that this is just incredibly stupid on Blizzard’s part. As I mentioned in my blog post (here) I work on keeping my online persona and my real name separate. I even use the same online alias in whatever I do (as common as it may be), so people can know me and relate my online persona to what I am saying.

I don’t want employers, enemies, crazy exes or people that I pwnt in PVP to try and track me down. Real names wont stop the trolling anyway – no more than a single alias attached to your battle.net ID would.

This is a huge privacy issue, I really don’t see it being implemented. And if it is, I will either cancel or since I plan on rerolling for Cataclysm anyway I might just create a new account under an alias.

 

http://www.madeofwinandawesome.com

Re: Blizzard Forum Changes Agitate Players

Something a few people commented: They're pretty sure this violates Canadian and European Union privacy laws. Question is: Does it?

Re: Blizzard Forum Changes Agitate Players

This is a bad direction to take. I was looking forward to StarCraft II and Diablo III, but this ReadID system has made me re-think my purchase decisions. As long as this system is in place, I will not be purchasing Blizzard products.

I have no problem with some sort of 'Global Handle' that ties all accounts/characters of one person together. But displaying someone's real name and e-mail address goes too far. Who wants denied a job because your new boss doesn't like your opinion of the newest game patch? Or wants some stalker to really know that you actually *are* a female gamer? What about identity theft? Or any number of other scenarios. Personally, I just don't like the privacy implications.

Re: Blizzard Forum Changes Agitate Players

You don't have to post on their forums then, if trolling is that important to you. 

Re: Blizzard Forum Changes Agitate Players

If you buy that line about reducing trolling, you should look into the deal recently made between Blizzard and Facebook.

This is absolutely NOT about trolls.  Its ENTIRELY about making more money.  The troll line is just an afterthought, and there's no real evidence to suggest that it will help anyway.

 

Re: Blizzard Forum Changes Agitate Players

What deal between Blizzard and Facebook?

Re: Blizzard Forum Changes Agitate Players

How about Tech support, or Customer Support, or bug reports, or general feed back?

-Gray17

-Gray17

Re: Blizzard Forum Changes Agitate Players

Exactly. People are responsible for their own posts. Use a different name, I don't think they are going to be pulling the name off a credit card (and if they are you have plausible deniability that it's your account as you could be paying for a friend or loved one's account) so how is it any different then making some ridiculous screen name?

Bottom line, take responsability for what you post.

Re: Blizzard Forum Changes Agitate Players

There's this little thing people need to start learning about the internet. It says "If you wouldn't say it to someone in person and be quoted to anyone, you shouldn't post it on the internet."

It's really easy to avoid having stupid stuff you post online from affecting your everyday life. Don't post stupid stuff online.

Re: Blizzard Forum Changes Agitate Players

Or it could simply be untracable to your real person by anyone but the feds? And besides, are you sure you want to give employers the ability to look someone up and decide not to let them get a job because they play Alliance, or voice a personal opinion in a 'private' environment in a harsh manner? Or perhaps a political stance? Supporting the wrong party? Attending GamePolitics? Being able to offer advice on how to build a good tank druid, showing they played a lot, thus making them a 'liability' as far as spending enough time on the job is concerned?

And let's not get started on people who post "man my job is a nightmare, the airco stinks" and get fired for it.

Re: Blizzard Forum Changes Agitate Players

Are you sure you want to work for an employer who takes that kind of hardline iron-fist approach to their job?  If my boss gave me flak for my personal choices and refused to allow any kind of reasonable dialogue, I'd be on the line with the ombudsman.

...Actually, my company doesn't have an ombudsman, but we also don't have interpersonal problems regarding opinions, and the a/c is set at a comfortable level.  The only thing we argue about is who's gonna win the World Cup (Netherlands.)

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Fangamer

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Fangamer

Re: Blizzard Forum Changes Agitate Players

Until such time as Congress or better yet the Courts come down HARD on companies that do google searches on prospective employees and/or discriminate in hiring based upon LEGAL outside interests and activities I'm not sure we really have a choice.

 

And by coming down hard on a company I mean fining/awarding damages so massive they are forced out of business. And before anyone screams I am anti-business or what about all the innocent employees, if the company was profitable, another will rise to take it's place. The employees are already subject to the poor decisions of the owners/managers, be it bad business deals or allowing sexual harrassment to go unchecked or discrimination in the workplace.

Re: Blizzard Forum Changes Agitate Players

"Until such time as Congress or better yet the Courts come down HARD on companies that do google searches on prospective employees and/or discriminate in hiring based upon LEGAL outside interests and activities I'm not sure we really have a choice."

And I can't really see that happening because in most cases it's impossible to prove.

The more likely long-term solution isn't legal, it's social.  Twenty years from now the managers and the HR departments are going to be people who THEMSELVES posted embarrassing things on the Internet when they were younger, and they're going to have a much different perspective about it than people do today.

But in the meantime?  Yeah, I understand people wanting their anonymity.  I choose not to exercise it myself, and I don't think that's limited my employment opportunities, but I understand people's concerns.

Re: Blizzard Forum Changes Agitate Players

Oh I don't intend to ever work for a boss like that. But not everyone has that choice. And I know a case where a girl didn't get a job because of one dirty joke made at her expense that got published online and turned up in a google search.

Re: Blizzard Forum Changes Agitate Players

0-o the whole thing is rather dumb as their account structure has the users real names available to to mod and staff....


I have a dream, break the chains of copy right oppression! http://zippydsmlee.wordpress.com/2010/05/21/cigital-disobedience/


Copyright infringement is nothing more than civil disobedience to a bad set of laws. Let's renegotiate them.

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http://zippydsm.deviantart.com/

Re: Blizzard Forum Changes Agitate Players

To fake an account, they'd have to pay $20 bucks for classic WoW and pay another $15 a month to keep the posting privs.  This is too much for your average troll.

Re: Blizzard Forum Changes Agitate Players

There's also a lot of people going "good thing!" and "we got nothing to hide". Not sure how big the percentage of nay/yay people is.

Many people argue that with the forum account tied to your battle.net account and thus your games, is already enough. A ban would cost you your games, knowing you'll lose 50 bucks or worse would be a good way to reduce trolls already. Real names only encourages fake accounts for trolls and people who care about their privacy.

Re: Blizzard Forum Changes Agitate Players

"There's also a lot of people going "good thing!" and "we got nothing to hide". Not sure how big the percentage of nay/yay people is."

The official sticky thread about this subject on the WoW forums is up to 1105 pages as of this post. I'm not crazy enough to read every single one of the 20k+ posts, but from what I've seen there's maybe one or two posts in favor of the change every few pages, and about half of them come across as trolls themselves, whereas most of the people against it sound fairly reasonable.

Also, just to point out, Blizzard has always done forum bans separately from game bans. If a troll gets permabanned from the WoW forums they can still play WoW. (Granted that they could easily change that, I personally don't think they should)
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I'm not under the affluence of incohol as some thinkle peep I am. I'm not half as thunk as you might drink. I fool so feelish I don't know who is me, and the drunker I stand here, the longer I get.


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I'm not under the affluence of incohol as some thinkle peep I am. I'm not half as thunk as you might drink. I fool so feelish I don't know who is me, and the drunker I stand here, the longer I get.

Re: Blizzard Forum Changes Agitate Players

In fairness, judging by amount of praise versus amount of complaint isn't necessarily an accurate measurement, as people are much more likely to speak up about something they're against than something they're for.

Re: Blizzard Forum Changes Agitate Players

True, but the sheer volume of complaints this is generating is enough to judge by.

The thread is now up to 1730 pages at 20 posts per page. To put that in some kind of context, if you sort the thread list by total number of posts, the next largest thread (about the "additional instances cannot be launched" issue that plagued the game for a while last year) has 188 pages. That thread took over a week to reach 188 pages.

The thread about the forum change has reached nearly 10 times that number in 38 hours.

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I'm not under the affluence of incohol as some thinkle peep I am. I'm not half as thunk as you might drink. I fool so feelish I don't know who is me, and the drunker I stand here, the longer I get.


---
I'm not under the affluence of incohol as some thinkle peep I am. I'm not half as thunk as you might drink. I fool so feelish I don't know who is me, and the drunker I stand here, the longer I get.

Re: Blizzard Forum Changes Agitate Players

"Many people argue that with the forum account tied to your battle.net account and thus your games, is already enough. A ban would cost you your games, knowing you'll lose 50 bucks or worse would be a good way to reduce trolls already. Real names only encourages fake accounts for trolls and people who care about their privacy."

A damn good point, and I would much prefer this over revealing my real name.

I get Blizzard's reasons for doing this, and I hope someday that we can actually have intelligent discussions on the internet as a way for the common people to influence politics. If you've read the Mass Effect codex bits about Asari politics you'll get the general idea. That would be fantastic!

But for a game? I'll take a pass. Blizzard is going all "srs business" and I'm not a fan of this approach to gaming.

 
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