Real ID on Blizzard forums, the good and the bad *Updated AGAIN!*

*update* Real ID is canceled on official forums Blizzard most definitely listened, and it’s a good thing!

So, Vaneras over on the EU forums just informed us that Real ID will be making an appearance on the forums. Needless to say there is a slew of comments slinging around about this. Some people love it, some people hate it. Some say it will be the new life of the forums while others think that this marks their imminent death. So I thought it would be good to talk about it a little bit here.

First off, lets talk about the current state of the forums. There are some good threads there. There are some helpful guides and bits of information. But for each helpful bit there is a counterpart. People that just show up to cause issues, scream drama and pick Internet fights. I know a lot of people personally who avoid the forums just to avoid those specific people. This is a sad thing though, as the forums are set up to help build the community and not to be a source of drama or argument. On a personal level I hate having to weed through 15,000 posts of people complaining to get to the 1 that has a valid point in a discussion. This is obviously an exaggeration, but you get the idea.

Let’s face it, the Internet is a place where people can hide behind a fake name and say and do whatever they want with little to no recourse. This can be simple complaining out outright just being an ass-hat.  This Internet anonymity is what Blizzard is trying to take away I think. How many times have they posted a proposed class change only to have intelligent well thought out responses from posters get drowned out by the wailing masses? How many times has a person asked for advices on gear or spec or spell priority only to be called a noob for pages on end? It happens, trust me I know.  So I can see what Blizzard is trying to do here, by eliminating the ability to hide behind a character name, that person is held accountable for what they said or do.

Quick story here. I know a guy who in real life is one of the kindest people I’ve ever met. Intelligent, well spoken and would give you the shirt off his back. When he logs into game or on the forums however, he does a complete 180. He yells at people, argues incessantly, turns into a complete womanizing bigot and has a completely abrasive personality. This sounds extreme but it is a lot more common than you think. When you don’t have to be held accountable in real life for your actions, the rules change. The Blizzard forums have been plagued by this from day 1.

By adding this level of accountability Blizzard I’m sure is hoping to cut down on the forum slop by discouraging the trolls from posting, and making people think twice about just posting empty whining.

There is however another side to this coin. There are a ton of people who try very hard to separate their real life from their game life. They post helpful guides to trade-skills, or how to level efficiently on the forums for general reading. They offer insight to class changes and constructive criticism when people ask for help. This group of people also has something to lose by this change going live, as does the community in general if they stop posting. Some people like the anonymity of their toons as a way to just separate their lives into distinct parts. If they stop posting because of this change, that will be very sad indeed.

Some are concerned for their safety. They fear stalkers and real life harassment and fallout from the forums following them into real life. As a person who has worked in internet security for a long time, I can tell you the chances of this are pretty slim. A persons name alone does not provide a ton of information. It does not for example provide your address and township. Your internet providers work very hard to keep that information private as do most websites, banks etc. It is in Blizzards best intrest as well to keep this information private, and so far they have done a pretty good job of it. Unless you have a one of a kind name and are publicly listed in an international phone book or public websites with your pertinent information, the chances aren’t too great that your name will give up enough information about you to harass you outside of your online personae.  I understand the concern there,  it is a valid reason for being against the change. But it can be rather difficult to find someone .

Another argument is that this goes against the originally stated purpose of Real ID. It was toted as an optional, convenient way to keep track of your friends across servers and even games. Some people feel that being forced to use it to interact on the forums violates this and removes the “optional” portion of the feature. This is a valid argument as there is no way to circumvent this at current.

There are also those of us that this has absolutely zero effect on. Those of us that already live in the public eye and have our names out there will see no change in how we do business essentially. Me personally, doesn’t phase me one bit. My name is out there from the For the Lore podcast and Having my real name show up on the forums isn’t a big deal at this point. I also have the good fortune to have a name that is not exactly unique. Joseph Perez is the Steve Smith of Hispanic names. Try looking it up in the phone book sometimes, it is rather hilarious.

Here are some facts to remember about this

This will only affect the new forums created when SC2 and Cataclysm launch. Old forums and old posts will remain untouched (for now, hopefully this won’t become retroactive)

Blue Posters are not immune to this, and will also be showing their real first and last names

Having your name does not compromise your account security. Email, password (and hopefully you’re using an authenticator) are what let people in. Even if you call Blizzard customer support and say you are “so and so” you have to provide a LOT of proof of identity.

So what do you think? Do you love it? Do you hate it? Will it be a new beginning for the Blizzard forums or will it mark its death?


Let me clarify something real fast. While the change doesn’t affect me personally I still do NOT like it. I understand what they are trying to do with it, but I don’t think it was thought out enough. On facebook I can go silent, I can turn off chat and no one has to know I’m on. I can hide details like my email, phone number and location, and if I so choose I can change my name on the account. Here we don’t have the option. I do NOT like the idea that choice is being taken away from the gamers. We choose to play this game and who to interact with. Why do we not have a choice in this? I think that the overwhelming response people are having to this is a good thing and hopefully Blizzard will see it and make some changes. But again, I am NOT for this change, but I don’t think it needs to be attacked with nukes instead of calm rational discussion. It is a lot easier for people (i.e. Blizzard) to dismiss an over the top emotional response to this (which don’t get me wrong, it’s a perfectly valid response from us as users to be passionate about this change) as opposed to when people calmly lay down why they don’t agree with it. That’s all.

90 thoughts on “Real ID on Blizzard forums, the good and the bad *Updated AGAIN!*”

  1. I’m one of the super helpful constructive guide writers that gets completely screwed over by the forum change. It looks like I have to decide between posting my guides on the forum and having any resemblance of privacy. I’m leaning towards abandoning the forums and only posting guides on my blog.

  2. It’s not so much that I FEAR stalking or harassment, it’s that it’s actually happened to me. Given my first name and knowing what I looked like, a customer at my workplace found my last name, my phone number, and two different (school) email addresses. He drove by my house and followed me to college. I spent my first semester of college working with state police in two states & campus safety to get him off my back.

    Relatively rare? Maybe. Probably, even. But facilitating that sort of behavior in a move to get *trolls* off the *internet*? Doesn’t really seem worth it to me.

  3. I’m out of the forums, I post with my online persona to separate the professional from the online and from the gaming me. I do not want random people at work googling my name and picking up my pasttimes, it’s something I don’t get at work either where there’s a culture of sharing your pastimes and family details in powerpoint at the start of presentations.

    I’ve been keeping different sections of my life separate for the 15 years I’ve been on the net, I’m not going to stop now.

    So, Blizz, sorry but I’m out of the forums and I’ll be looking at deleting my history if it looks like you’re going to make it retrospective on all my existing posts.

  4. This is nothing more than Blizzard being lazy. They could have cleaned up the forums years ago, but choose not to. Now they are going nuclear. There are other ways to accomplish this.

    They could do like other forums and give you a handle, and only one account to post one. They should have done away with being able to post on every toon you had years ago.

    I just wonder what the next “optional” feature of this RealID crap will be next.

  5. I’m with Lissanna on this. Although it is extremely easy to find out who I am through my forum posts on my main, blog, twitter etc, there are times I have participated in forums like Guild Relations on low level characters to ask questions or participate without getting my real self or my guild name involved. (Non trolling of course)

    I for one will probably be participating less in that manner.

    Some people go to great lengths to keep their gaming life a secret/separate from real life for various reasons – for those of us with distinguishable real names doing a Google search and having those two worlds suddenly collide can be very daunting indeed.

  6. @Kilae that is a little bit different though. That person already knew what you looked like and where you worked. That made it easier to filter the information to find you. I am sorry that happened to you though =(

    having a persons name in a game where there are over 12 million active accounts doesn’t really help all that much though, but I understand the concern.

  7. I don’t buy for a moment that this is anything to do with forum moderation. Places like EJ don’t have any issues with forum manners because they mod the hell out of their forums and enforce their rules. Blizzard could totally do that, they have no issue with resources.

  8. Sorry, I’m one of those people with a unique name. Because of that I try to keep my internet presence minimal but these days… you can’t. If someone had my name, they could almost certainly find out enough about me to make me miserable.

    And vice versa, if a prospective employer or client is googling my name from my resume, I really don’t want Blizzard forums coming up. Even if I’m being rational and insightful, I don’t want someone who’s trying to decide whether to trust me to code their 5-9s secure data processing tool to see that I spend hours a week playing a resto druid, or leveling alts. I… just don’t. That should be my prerogative to decide.

  9. Lodur, here’s the problem:

    This is a hot-button issue for a lot of people, and you’re dismissing it out of hand. “As a person who has worked in internet security for a long time, I can tell you the chances of this are pretty slim.” – That’s not helpful. All it does is pad your ego (“Look at me, I know what I’m talking about”) and make the people who are legitimately, possibly-irrationally* reacting to this ignore you (“He thinks he knows what he’s talking about, but he clearly doesn’t understand my perspective”).

    People are allowed to not want their name associated with their WOW account or broadcast around by people they trusted to keep it safe, regardless of how common their name is. There are legitimate reasons, both rational and irrational*, to feel that way. By saying “it’s not a big deal”, you’re trivializing those reasons instead of trying to empathize with and understand them. If that’s what you’re going for, fine – but I don’t think it is.

    Here’s an objection that I don’t think I’ve seen anyone else bring up: Let’s say that my minor child plays WOW with his own account, but I pay for it on my credit card. When he goes to post on the forums (and please do not give me the smug clearly-not-a-parent “you should be paying attention to how he uses the internet” line), whose name shows up as the RealID? Do I have to give permission before he’s allowed to post? If those posts are showing up under my name, do I have any recourse if he decides to go on a three-page profanity-laced rant that I don’t necessarily want showing up when the president of the PTA googles my name as a potential member of the bylaws committee?

    I am someone who uses his real name almost everywhere these days. I have no compunctions about continuing to use the forums if this change goes live. I still think it’s a bad idea that hasn’t been fully thought out by Community Relations.

    * I’m using “irrational” here to mean “not obeying rational objections” or “not under conscious control”; to illustrate, a phobia is an irrational fear. There’s no judgment intended.

  10. “Unless you have a one of a kind name and are publicly listed in an international phone book, the chances aren’t too great that your name will give up enough information about you to harass you outside of your online personae. There is a very very very small chance of it sure, but it’s not likely.”

    True, it is a very small chance. But think of it this way. Do you lock the doors of your house when you leave? Presumably, you trust your neighbors at least a bit more than an average stranger.

    What about locking your car? Do you double check to make sure they are locked if you have to park in a dubious neighborhood? Chances are still very small statisically that your care would be stolen/broken into, but you make sure to protect yourself. The locks are not there to stop the truly criminal, they are there to remove the temptation from the average guy.

    To me, the Blizzard forum is the same as the slightly seedy neighborhood.

    It’s about having the right to protect yourself and still avail yourself of the forums as a resource and to contribute back to the community.

  11. I understand the intent of this change, but I have no clue as to why anything thinks it’s going to work.

    Look at it this way. The name Lodur is really no different from the name Joseph Perez. Even if your name was uncommon, there is still a lot of practical annonimity involved. Most of the WoW players don’t know you from adam so you can post practically anything you want without real concequense (assuming you were not a promenant blogger of course). So real names won’t prevent most of the trolling or stupid posts out there because it really doesn’t matter for most peole if your forum name is IPwnEDU or George Sherman.

    Now on the Privacy side this is were blizzard is going to get into trouble. Most of us don’t have a realistic threat of having our privacy threatened by this. I doubt anyone is going to look me up and try to find out where I live or do anything strange to me personally. However, it is a different picture if you look at wow players as a group rather then as individuals.

    While it is highly unlike that any particular individual will be the focus of Stalking or other threats, it is a certainty that when real names become available that some wow players will be threatened as a result. When you have 11million players that is inevitable.

    If you doubt me I will give you an example. My guild used to have a picture thread where guild members would post pictures of themselves. One of the female members of the guild posted a picture of herself. Unfortunately one of the guild members was a little obsessed with her and was able to determine where she lived based upon the picture and from what I understand showed up on her door step. No one was hurt, but think of what can and likely will happen if all of our names are available to the public? Incidents will be few, but one would be enough in my opinion.

  12. @Chris Anthony I am not dismissing it out of hand. I understand the reasons people do not want it, or do not like it. Nor am I attempting to pad my ego. I am however reacting to the people that believe this change will cause the world to explode.

    I agree it hasn’t been thought out completely. There are a TON of options that should have been considered and openly discussed. Perhaps I should have been a bit clearer that they are all valid concerns, and they are.

  13. I don’t think it’s something to get super upset about but I do think people who are concerned have very valid points.

    I would also say that woman get harassed a lot more than normal in this game as well. Is it fair to “out” the ones who try to keep some sort of privacy? Not really.

    I just think it should be a choice. Not everyone wants this to be a social community. I think a lot of people do prefer to keep the two lives separate.

  14. As I was talking to you about this earlier over Google Talk, I thought that I would voice my opinions here. I’m very much like you in the sense that my name is actually rather common among the human race and so I’m honestly not terribly bothered about it getting out. Nickie May is not the most unique of names! (heh!)

    My bigger issue is that people on my realm finding out that I’m female as we’ve got a ton of chauvinistic pigs and sex crazed teenage boys. I have more than enough issues with avoiding the creeps and so for them to find out that I’m female is a little more than I’m willing to handle right now. I’m not as well known as Joe or Matt…but I’m fairly popular on Twitter and around the internet, my server is the only place I can really be Synysta/Fiorra/Melevelia/Lysix and I quite like that. The people I have on my Real ID are my actual friends and I always intend to keep it like that. I don’t think I get that option anymore though 🙁

  15. Joseph, I mean that that’s how that attitude comes across. You’re not doing it consciously, but that’s the effect of stating your credentials before your opinion. I apologize for offending you by implying that you meant to behave that way; I don’t think that’s the kind of person you are.

  16. @Lodur Agreed. I mean, my daughter is 5 and there’s no way that I would ever let her play (even though she loves to try!). My best friend has a 10 year old though and it’s under his name and he pays for it using his credit card. Thank goodness that the account is not in his son’s name because it only takes that little amount of leverage to find that 1. He’s 10. and 2. That’s his RL name on the forums.


  17. @Chris Anthony No offense taken, I attempted to clarify a bit in the paragraph. Thank you for pointing out how it read, sometimes it is hard to be your own editor.

  18. I’ve also had a stalker. Harassed my family, harassed my friends, would try and send me IMs if I was offline in case I was invisible, compared my last post time against the last visible post on LJ to see if I was hiding stuff… I’m fairly free with my name online, I’ve got no real issues telling a good portion of my guild who I am (heck, I’m splitting a hotel room at BlizzCon with some of them come October) but *I* want to control who sees my name. I usually only post on the forums for technical issues and bugs, this change is likely to drive me away from even that support just on the principle of the matter.

  19. I hate this. I’m female, I’m an information professional, and I’m here to tell you that, no, really, I _can_ find out all sorts of things about you from just your name. John Smith is fairly safe. I’m not. Google my real name and you’ll find one Canadian lady and me, and my professional papers, and my work address/phone/email. My professional affiliations show up, and my committees, and with a little digging a valid address.

    I’m a librarian. I live in the public eye, and I’m expected to maintain a standard of conduct in public. One of my close friends in game is a teacher. The same applies to her. This is job threatening.

    Blizzard has just moved from a behind curtains policy to a public eye policy. And I cannot afford it.

    I may yet create a new account with a fake name and see if I can transfer my most beloved toons. I don’t think I can trust Blizzard to not sell or leak my billing information at this point. That I won’t be posting in the forums again goes without saying.

  20. Guess what, I DO Have a one of a kind name listed in the public phone book.

    In fact, I’m the only one with my name in my entire country. How is blizzard going to protect my right to privacy? Names should be k-anonymous. If you worked in security you should be familiar with the practice.

  21. The most painful part of this policy is that it won’t work.

    I did a little searching around the forums and I’m very quickly discovering that the majority of the trolls are fine with the new system and undaunted by it.

    It’s the intelligent, nice, helpful folks who are balking and running at the sight of it.

    This does not surprise me. It might, however, surprise Blizzard after they implement and do a giant facepalm at their lack of understanding of their own audience.

    So what’s the real purpose behind this? I don’t see the advantage. Other than maybe now we can turn the tables and make the trolls’ real lives a living hell.

  22. Agreeing with my fellow female players on the anonymity end of it, i also have to disclose a little bit what i do for a living. I work for a company who handles defaulted US student loans- a huge portion of what my work is is called Skiptracing. Not using any special tools, given a real name (depending on how common it is) and i can give you addresses, phone numbers, work ect… its amazing how little people realize how much of themselves they leave out there for others. So, im the only one in the US with my name- yeah ill probably be posting a lot less.

  23. I very rarely posted on the forums, but I’ll certainly keep away from them now. As with so many others, I work in a job where that sort of thing is, at best, looked down on. Regardless of how right or wrong people’s perception of my hobby that is, I don’t want someone googling my name to find I post as an undead mage on some MMORPG forums. I certainly have no intention of tying my online persona to my real life one – I’ve done my best to anonymise myself ever since I’ve started playing online.
    It’s not because I’m a troll, or fear persecution in whatever form – it’s just that I, like many, think the real life and my online life should remain seperate. In a time where online privacy concerns are a huge talking point, I think it’s a really ill thought out move by Blizzard to implement this policy.

  24. I once didn’t get a job because during the interview they managed to wrangle out of me that I played world of warcraft (they kept hammering why I felt I spoke good English). For them that equalled: gaming addict that will fail miserably at work because she spends too much time behind the computer and is out of touch with reality.

    I am currently trying to find a new job. And the last thing I want is that they google my name (which is not so common) and it pops up on the Blizzard Forums. Heck. I don’t even use those forums, but it’s a valid point for most ppl out there. And next to that: isn’t rule no1 that every child gets taught these days: don’t give out your name? I fail to see why Blizzard feels they should do that for me instead…

  25. I’m definitely less concerned about hacking and more concerned about my name being “out there.” I refuse to believe that there isn’t a compromise solution that protects my privacy but deters trolls.

    The system we have now allows anyone to post on a throwaway alt without any consequences. That is “true” anonymity. Delete the alt and move on. That is what creates trolling, not the absence of a “real” name. If you had the SAME name every time you posted, and it doesn’t matter what that name is, would the same trolling occur?

  26. I would assume that somewhere within the terms and conditions that I agreed to when I signed up to play WoW there was a clause that allows Blizzard to release personal information about me to the public. Since most people don’t read all the fine print, myself included, the normal reaction is to be upset with Blizzard creating a system where some of your real life information is released without your approbation.

    As difficult as it is to predict the future, I for one will never post on the official forums under these new conditions. My name, my identity, is important for me to keep to myself and only release to those I wish to have it. I would hope that if enough privacy-minded people speak up on this issue that Blizzard can find another way of trying to deal with trolls and the like without driving away the sources of some of the most productive discussions on their forums.

  27. You are absolutely wrong about the dangers that this presents. Would someone have to be really obsessive to figure out dangerously specific information about someone based on just a name? Sure. The thing is, stalkers are obsessive by definition. That’s why they stalk.

    Even at that, there are other things that can be done. I don’t want someone calling up my employer making (false) complaints about me based on something I said about a game on an internet, and that wouldn’t be hard to do. I work hard to keep my internet and professional life separate. This would destroy that effort.

    This is one of the silliest and poorly thought out things I can think of Blizzard doing. It’s the sort of boneheaded, non-game related things that I usually associate with other MMO operators (like Mythic and the “bill your customers 30+ times in one month” type of mistake.) The only conclusion I can come to is that they are intentionally sabotaging the forums because they are too much trouble. That’s the only conclusion that makes sense, because I can’t imagine that the majority of people who are capable of making intelligent, well thought out posts would be willing to take the risk of exposing themselves on that forum.

    The idiots and trolls, on the other hand, won’t think twice.

    This doesn’t even get into the legal side of things, BTW. I would be really interested in how Blizzard Legal approved this, given the minefield they are laying of US laws about minors on the internet, European privacy and personal data laws, and the simple liability — legal, moral and media-wise — of what happens whens some whack-job kills or rapes someone based on their Real ID info.

    One in a million chance? There’s 12 million people playing this game.

  28. I have a friend who will never post on the forums because of this?

    Why? Because if you google her name, THE ONLY PERSON YOU GET IS HER. The only people with her last name in the country are relatives. Asking her to post on the forums now is asking for trouble. I am aware that the odds are slim for MOST of us of getting hassled, but my friend with the weird name? She’s just asking for trouble.

    I don’t have a weird name, but I have no intention of putting it on the forums just because Blizzard fails at stopping level one alt forum trolls.

  29. “So I can see what Blizzard is trying to do here, by eliminating the ability to hide behind a character name, that person is held accountable for what they said or do.”

    Accountable to whom, exactly? Why does Joe User need to know my real name? For what purpose does he need that?

    The only people I have to be held accountable to are Blizzard and the proper authorities.

    If Blizzard really wanted to cut down on trolling (and I seriously doubt this is going to affect that much, at all), they could have simply created a “nickname”, tied it to the account, and then to all of the toons you have. Or, they could simply make you choose one single toon to post from.

    Real names aren’t the way to solve this problem.

  30. “Another argument is that this goes against the originally stated purpose of Real ID. It was toted as an optional, convenient way to keep track of your friends across servers and even games. Some people feel that being forced to use it to interact on the forums violates this and removes the “optional” portion of the feature. This is a valid argument as there is no way to circumvent this at current.”

    I thought this was an interesting comment.

    Not only is WoW itself a voluntary service, but it’s forums are to an even greater extent (on many levels) a VOLUNTARY service. Stating that there is no way to “circumvent” this, implies that the forums are an implicit human right, and that there is no possible alternative, and that forum interaction is somehow required.

    I don’t think you really need to go that in depth to point out that there are countless other vary large, very specific WoW forums devoted to topics from general to specific. Or to point out the fact that forums not a guaranteed service, and are not required or obligated, nor are you obligated to interact with them if there is a problem with their service.

  31. If you wish to keep your anonymity all this means is that you have to give up your blizzard forum addiction. This isn’t a big deal, everything else about real id is still optional.

    No-one is suddenly going to walk around Azeroth with a ‘lol i has bewbs’ sticker slapped across their forehead. Your anonymity is still under your control.

  32. No other game forum or any online forum that I can think of has had to resort to forcing you to use your real name. How is that Blizzard thinks a game dictates this necessity?

    This is about monetization of the user base, plain and simple.

  33. I am not a fan of the real ID changes. I do post on forums, non trolling, and in a what I like to think is helpful manner…I try to help any resto druid I see. I will not be posting with my real name. Some people know my real name in game, some people who I play wow with are my facebook friends, some are my real life friends, some email me jokes occasionally. The common thread is that I chose to share my personal information with people who I developed a relationship with.
    I do not like the idea of a boss googling me (I google everyone when I am looking at hiring them) and coming up with oh look she gives resto druid advice on wow forums. Hmmm I click this link and I see her armory page. Oh look at her achievements she plays this game often. Maybe it’s a stretch but many perspective employers look at wow as a liability not an asset and I should make the choice if I want anyone to know I play.

  34. @Berry

    Ok, if I am to believe your credentials as a professional who has apparently published several professional papers, i find this statement, “I don’t think I can trust Blizzard to not sell or leak my billing information at this point,” to be a little ridiculous. That is a textbook example of the slippery slope fallacy and really adds nothing to the discussion.

    In response to all the people worried about giving their full name to strangers, I’ll say the same thing I did on the forums. Every day, I, and millions of other people, give complete strangers my full name. Every time you hand someone a credit card, a check, a business card, etc. you are giving them access to the same information you’d be using on the WoW forums. In fact, these people also know what you look like and can make a good guess as to the general area that you live in. If your fear is a stalker, or something similar, these everyday transactions should be much more terrifying than an online forum.

    To add to that, every time I buy something on ebay, I not only give them my full name, they get my address as well. Just food for thought.

  35. I’ve always participated in the wow forums in some way, but this change going live will put an end to it for me. Don’t try to tell me that it’s hard to get detailed information about someone from just a first name.

    My name is not that uncommon. I am a business owner and a quick goggle search came up with my business website, my business Facebook page, and my former high school and college affiliations. For a modest fee ($9.95 I think it was) I could pay to get a personal address and phone number.

    My private Facebook page is set extremely private and didn’t come up, but why would I want to do that for my business? Facebook is a free way to advertise a business and you want it public but I don’t want every WoW obsessed nerd knowing what I do outside of game.

  36. I’d rather maintain my Blizzard anonymity. It’s odd as my Blizz forum signature is “You expect nice helpful people in these forums. These forums are where nice comes to die.”

    There are a lot of jerks on the forums (Sometimes I fall into it and become on of them.) but here is one thing I like about the forums. It protects my right to be wrong, to make mistakes, and to miss the mark without feeling like a moron for doing so.

    It’s not fun to realize 10 or so posts into a thread that you’re just dead wrong about something. (And sometimes more posts than that!) It’s embarrassing and stripping away at that anonymity means that I, John, am an idiot. That puts a lot more sting to it then say I, “Lolegolas” am an idiot and a terrible hunter. Or I, “Srsbsnss” don’t have an in depth understanding of the game.

    If Blizzard wants to clean up the forums employ more moderators. It’s not a job that requires a college degree with years of programming or a lengthy resume after all. Blizzard should ban more people from the game for outrageous flames and comments, lock threads sooner, and generally act like the forum owner (which they are). Doing this would generally bleed the forums of some of the nastiness while protecting my right to game as “Haxxorslol” and not as John.

  37. I’ll have to say, I am not comfortable posting with my real name on the forums. I didn’t really know how to articulate it until reading your article. I definitely want to keep my professional and personal lives separate. This disallows me from doing this, so forum posting will lose out for me.

    I won’t be posting on the official forums when this change goes live. I’ve seen some of the requests for guest articles on and thought I might have something to add to that conversation. I have never even written anything because my real name would be included.

    I believe that the internet first and foremost should stimulate the construction of new information and understanding. Perhaps there are issues involved that I am not aware of, but there are fansites that do a very good job of moderating their users’ posts. This is a draconian measure that will suppress a free flowing conversation. I laud Blizzard’s goal, and I will be happy if RealID cleans up the forums. But I won’t be posting there.

  38. Hm. Well, see, the thing is, some of us don’t generally mind attaching our real names to things. But some of us also have unique enough names that when our name is Googled, the first page and a half of results are links to our pages.

    I’m not a famous or well-known-in-ANY-circle person. But my name is unique enough that the first page and change of a google search brings up results that are my sites and comments. From there, you can get to my personal blog, and from THERE you can very easily get info on what town I live on, what kind of place (and there aren’t many like it in my town) I work at, and enough info, really, to stalk me quite efficiently, either online or in real life.

    Now, I know that having all that out there opens me up to stalkers whether or not I post with my name on the WoW forums. But I also know that I am not a very well-known person, and that my personal stuff is read by very few people outside people I know at least moderately well. And I know that while the chances are slim, I have seen some of the most hate-filled and (frankly) terrifying displays of anger on the WoW forums of anywhere else I’ve spent time. I have gone to great effort keeping my WoW blog and account separate from my personal stuff, and I want to keep it that way, especially due to my rather unique name.

    The chances of being stalked may be slim, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen. The chances of finding someone’s information just from their name might be extremely low, but it doesn’t mean it can’t happen. And most names (barring famous/well-known professional people) might not be unique enough for a Google search to turn up a page and a half of results about JUST THE PERSON YOU’RE GOOGLING, but some names are that unique.

  39. I’m not too worried about stalking and what-have-you… although if I had ever been in that position, I am sure I would feel differently.

    However… I am in a profession where it is likely that I’ll have professional writings published online. If someone is searching for me in connection with a journal article, I’m not going to be particularly thrilled to have them bring up WoW forum posts instead. I can definitely envision myself needing to make sure that professional writing is easily accessible, and that you don’t have to filter through a lot of other things to get to it. That’s one of the functions of the internet handle. I really would prefer it stay that way.

    I’m not a big forum poster as it is, so it doesn’t impact me all that much. But I can absolutely understand why others would object on those grounds, and I think that maybe Blizzard is still stuck in the mindset that all their playerbase are highschool/college students who don’t have a professional reputation to protect.

  40. One problem is that we may see even more drastic changes in the future.

    As Pastor Niemoller might have said: they came for my Friends list. And I didn’t object because I talk to my Friends on IM. Then they came for my forums. And I didn’t object because I don’t post, Then they came for me.

    I’m half tempted to buy a new WoW box and game card with cash, register myself as Mr G Khan and go on a guild bank robbing spree since everyone will trust me now because they know my real name.

  41. I just think that if you look at your facebook profile without being logged in, you can see location, name and photo. All that will be shown on th forums is yur name and we do not know if it will be full or for example J. Smith (I know they have said they are using full names but it is still in development) and to be honest if you are registered to vote or have signed up for numerous things online or IRL then your name and address are there anyway. I get the worry about stalking but if someone can’t be arsed to log in and send you whispers or letters they surely aren’t gonna go mad on google and rock up to your front door. The wow community just needs to relax a bit more. If you truly do not want to use your name (your choice and I do respect it) don’t post, post on other sites you know Blizzard check. Just don’t have your email with your full name and a facebook account and worry about your name on a wow forum as it is less information on display.

  42. This is just about the dumbest thing to come out of Blizzard, ever. I never QQed about nerfs and sparkleponies, but this is… I have to wonder if they were thinking when they decided this.

    My name is fairly common – my surname fills 5-6 pages of the phonebook in the city I live in. But I *don’t want people to know it*, it’s as simple as that. “Jen” exists because of two reasons:
    – easier to pronounce by English speakers
    – not an indication of my real name and nationality.

    I might be wrong or bigoted, but with a few exceptions, all Romanians I met in game were dumb trolls. I have no problem disclosing my nationality on my blog or to my guild, but posting on a forum under my real name will just bring a lot of 13-year old tough guys swearing at me in Romanian. (They already do that in ICC /1 – cussing people when there’s a football game on, for example – and when I told them to cut it out, they called me a whore and similar things.)

  43. Here’s my problem with your post. You say “A persons name alone does not provide a ton of information.” Yet I gave my first and last name to my guild leader/good friend (someone I trust with my info), and she dug up my full name, my parent’s names, names of relatives, my address, my phone number, part of family member’s email address, past addresses for my parents as far back as 20 years ago, five or six listings of the house I live at (with pictures) and a map to get there – all of this in about 15 minutes’ worth of work. She didn’t pay anything for this information. If she had paid even $5, she could have had dates of birth, criminal records, 40 years of past addresses, and apparently social security numbers.

    All of this with work from 3 people finding sites. Do this for yourself – go to and search for your name. Then try to tell me a name alone doesn’t give you a ton of information.

  44. My biggest issue is that my real name is personal information, which I gave because of the online privacy policy that states that “Blizzard will not forward your information to a third party without your permission.” The public basically is a third party. If Blizzard still intends to use the forums to make sure they can communicate with the community, it is odd that they will force you to show your real name then. It is a poor marketing design that will only hurt the game

  45. Thanks, Lodur, for posting a well rounded article on the topic with pro’s and con’s, when most of the posts on other blogs or forums everywhere stand near one extreme or the other. Hopefully it will settle down and become more constructive within a few days.
    By the way, I’m one of those who like the different parts of their life as separated as possible ; and therefore, I’m siding with the “against” party.

  46. lodur.

    if you think this is an awesome idea, take one of your lesser known alts, hit a pug, and announce that you’re female IRL.

    now. imagine that you *really are* a woman and only 6 people in north america have the same name as you. i know that you won’t actually be able to understand how dangerous it is to exist and be a woman at the same time but i think you might be able to come up with a twentieth of what it means with some effort.

    now change it so you have a name that is not commonly associated with white faces, and think about that. (yes it IS double jeopardy if you’re a woman with a very ethnic sounding name.

    now make it so a simple google search on your name reveals that you’re gay. or devoutly religious. or you’re disabled. or you’re a public figure. or you have strong political opinions. or you take pictures of yourself dressed as a klingon or some green dude named thrall.

    after doing this, the only real response to this realID change is “holy snap, this idea REALLY SUCKS.”

  47. @non serviam I have not said I thought this was an awesome idea. not once, no where in the post do I say I’m for this change.

    As a matter of fact I do NOT like this change. I was simply discussing it. I think it’s a bad idea and one that should have been thought out more on blizzards part.

  48. When the announcement was made, to prove a point, Bashiokk revealed his identity because “the chance of harm was really slim” and one of the internet blogs found out tons of his personal information and posted it. A slim chance yes, but it takes only one dedicated fellow.

    RealID itself is fine; that it shows friends-of-friends’ names is not fine.
    That forum trolls will be averted is fine; that insightful posters are self-banned is not fine.

    The latest comments from the CMs/Developers also have the feeling of “too bad if you stop posting, but it’s a sacrifice we are willing to make to get rid of the trolls”, even though they can also simply state to ban forum trollers from the game as “accountability”.

  49. I’m another one with a unique name. While I have little personal fear of RL harassment, I still don’t want my name out there, because on the off-chance someone did want to come after me I’m really, really, REALLY easy to find. (Literally, they could narrow me down to my city of residence in under 5 seconds).

  50. Knowing full name and surname will make it easier to get your address and other required info. down to your bank account number.

    Name and Surname will give anyone means to search for you. And a lot of us put a lot of stuff on our face book accounts for example. Or personal websites.

    and it will not combat trolls. They will create other accounts with made up names and keep on trolling. the only solution to trolling is moderation. Nothing else can do the job. Give topic owners right to moderate them and it will be solved. if topic owner wants to argue with trolls he will, it’s his right to do so. If he chooses to ban him from this topic, he will as well.

    Liberty – Power to the people! 🙂

  51. I think they should find different solutions to the forums, I am not supportive of this change at all.

    And I’m sorry but I’ve been harassed on the internet before, by people that would post my private information with no remorse, so yes there are people out there who do those kinds of things “just because”. It’s not terribly difficult to hunt down someone’s information or pictures on the internet, especially if it’s tagged to a real name. Forcing this change will only make it worse for some people. There are WORSE trolls out there than the ones on the WoW forums, and I don’t think they are taking that into account.

  52. I felt pretty positively about the change, but the thing that people are saying here that is really making me rethink my position is that this won’t actually discourage trolls. It’s so obvious that I really find it hard to believe that I bought the blizzard line that it would. If they want to discourage forum trolls, they can police their forums like elitistjerks does, and hand out bans like candy at Halloween. Alternately they could force people to post under the name of their character with the most play time, rather than real name. A google search on my name doesn’t turn up anything close to me. My in game persona, however, is the first hit on the US armory. I have to think about the good of my guild when I say things under the name Sthenno.

    I do feel like the security concerns are exaggerated. But on the other hand, while posting on the WoW forums will probably be significantly less dangerous than crossing the street under this new system, with 12 million people doing it (much like crossing the street) something very bad is going to happen to someone.

    Personally I’ll probably still post on the forums if I have something to say (the only forum I’ve ever posted in is the suggestions forum – batting 2 for 3). But I won’t be using the option to associate my character with my forum post. I’ll just post as a random person with a suggestion about the game. I do have the benefit, though, of having a pretty anonymous real name.

  53. “As a person who has worked in internet security for a long time, I can tell you the chances of this are pretty slim. A persons name alone does not provide a ton of information. It does not for example provide your address and township. ”

    Slim does not mean “none.” From what I can tell, I have a unique name in the states. If someone wants to find me, all they would have to do is type it into to get my current address, city, and zip code. A simple Google search will turn up my current (and past) places of employment.

    Now granted, that’s a rarity. But you’re dealing with millions of people here. 1% still means 100,000. (My #1 concern is actually one of employment – I don’t want potential customers looking me up and finding a posts about Warcraft … the anti-gamer bias is still strong. Same reason I don’t mention Warcraft on Facebook or any site that uses a real name).

    Also, I don’t for a second buy that this is totally about stopping forum trolls.

    Blizzard is looking to expand their customer base through social networking sites. Using RealID on their forums will likely make the transition easier.

    As far as it goes, it’s easy for me – I just won’t post on Blizzard’s forums when this goes live. But I think it’s a bad move on Blizzard’s part, because I think they’re going to drive a LOT of good posters off of the forums.

  54. Hi

    Thanks for your article i think it took up both sides well but I still would like to say that I am one that thinks you are wrong about that you cant find much out from a name. I googled 4 of my game friends names and not only did I find out that one had a company ( address, website phonenr and all) I also could find their kids names, their addresses and what studies they had made ( this was for 3 of them.) One a 16 year old I could not find so much about part from a pic on facebook. Still 75% hit is a bit scary. My own name and my fiances also has links on the internet.
    Did you read the Us forums yesterday when a GM posted his name? 30 min and his personal info was posted. Blizz then removed the posts involved. why do that if its so safe?
    Even if this only would create issues for 1% of the gamers that posts isent that to much?
    But hey its up to us to post or not right? Well some people might be on for a ruf wakeup call if they do.

  55. A person’s name can very well lead to real life harassment. Using web sites like the White Pages or Dex it’s very easy to narrow down a person’s location based solely on the persons name.

    Then add that to the person’s casual comment about the weather or something pertaining to their home state and you can narrow the focus even further.

    Using only Dex as a search source and content from the few posts I have made over the years on the forums, especially the realm forums I was able to narrow a list down to 6, one of which was my home address and another which was my work address.

    It doesn’t take much to track someone down.

  56. Lodur often feels to me like a voice of reason is a crazy World (of Warcraft). Adding a breakdown of logical comments about this situation is just what everyone needs to be reading right now.

    That said, “Opt-in” is a scary concept, in some ways. It puts expectations on players to use real ID or not be “real friends” and it pushes folks toward being overly public. Ask anyone who made a Facebook account after friends pushed them toward it.

  57. >>This is about monetization of the user base, plain and simple.

    Exactly. With these two recent changes it’s not hard to predict the future. If Blizz were really trying to combat trolls and griefers they would look at and use any of the previous solutions from the past 20 years of the public Internet.

    >>When the announcement was made, to prove a point, Bashiokk revealed his
    >>identity because “the chance of harm was really slim” and one of the internet
    >>blogs found out tons of his personal information and posted it.

    That information about him WAS ALREADY OUT THERE! It wasn’t freshly created the moment he revealed his real name.

    What Blizz will do is link that existing info about you to your existing WoW persona, and vice versa. That’s what will be freshly created – the linkage. Stop emphasizing that bad info about you exists on the Internet – Blizz has no control over that.

  58. I felt like the real names on forums issue was a bit overblown, but reading these comments has made me think about it again. First of all, I am a little surprised at myself for buying the line that this will reduce trolling. There’s actually no reason to think that at all. First of all, a lot of people are pretty anonymous even if you know their name (and that they live in North America). Secondly, a lot of stupid trolling is probably done by people who really wouldn’t think twice about how they are representing themselves.

    For those of us who care about what other people think of us, we have quite a bit invested in our character’s names. If you google my real name you get nothing that even resembles me. If you armory my character’s name I’m the first one on the list. I already have to think about the in-game outcomes for myself and my guild if I choose to post anything.

    I actually think it would be far more effective (if the purpose was actually to reduce trolling) to just force people to post under their character with the most play time.

  59. Just spend 5 minutes on I searched for my real name, and as long as you know what time zone I live in (I could easily have mentioned in passing six months ago what time it was at the time I posted) you’ll know which of the 10 results is me. Thankfully, it isn’t ACTUALLY me, rather the listing for my parents when I still lived with them, but they still live there today and who’s to say that a homicidal maniac wouldn’t just go attack them instead as a way of getting to me? Or a less homicidal maniac start sending them hate mail and prank phone calls because of something I said?

    Some of my friends were not listed on that site, but some had unique enough names that they were the only match. It is EASY to find personal information about people using only their first and last name. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of websites just like this one out there that will give you this information for free as a way of enticing you to pay them for even more personal details. I’ve used such sites legitimately myself in the past to track down people I was best friends with when I was growing up who now live in completely different cities with different phone numbers.

    While it is true that it is unlikely that someone will get this obsessed, and very few people are crazy enough to hunt you down, all you need is ONE person who wants to come to your house and stab you because he disagreed with what you said on the internet. I’m not willing to take that risk for a video game.

  60. Personally, I’m against it. It seems like Blizzard to try and name and shame people who misuse the forums and it’s a shame that everyone else has to pay for this. It seems like a very weak case for such a dramatic move.

  61. I think in principle trying to clean up the forums is a great idea. Basically because of all the chaff that’s on there it’s not the go to resource and community builder that Blizz want it to be. I would guess that the vast majoity of folks would use sites like WoM and for info and to discuss news before using the official forums (I know I do).

    On the privacy sidethe real issue for me is that (cerainly on google uk) my work info page from work is the third hit when you google my name, and that has contact details for me, my boss and the department I work in that necessarily have to be on the internet. The big thing for me is separating my professional (ie ‘real name’) presence on the internet and my personal/recreational/private presence assocciated with things I do in my spare time. I don’t think it’s unreasonable for me to want to compartmentalise.

    Mind you I don’t think I’ve ever actually posted on the official forums (I’m easily intimidated) so in a practical sense this will have not effect on me. However, I still think it’s fundamentally wrong.

  62. This post really appalls me. Reading things like “A persons name alone does not provide a ton of information. It does not for example provide your address and township” from a supposed internet security provider really makes me feel both angry and amused at the same time.

    See, if a person’s name is John Doe, that’s fine. Your theory sticks.

    But if someone’s named Nichole Amerreto.

    Natalie Barese.

    Miles Cheong.

    It becomes quite a can of worms. If people look up real names, they frequently can find their Facebook. Maybe their work had a potluck. Maybe they have a Twitter where they’re named “Natalie” and they just tweeted about “my 80 Paladin.” From there you can find Natalie’s Facebook, or at least her hometown. Maybe her character is evena name she uses for play stuff, like “Bunnybuns.” Maybe she Livejournals about Bunnybuns every month or so.

    Sometimes a name can even be really obvious, that if you Google them, you get about 10 real phone numbers and that’s it (thanks to Pipl, etc). You also get ages, so you can generally guess well (i.e. poster seems younger, they’re probably that 22-something Natalie Barese).

    The point is, you find a lot of information. And you have her name. And finding her location will take most people under 5 minutes.

    It’s a real threat, and while mostly just harassment will come of this, I can pretty much foresee at some point something translating into real life. People already ordered the Blizzard employee dozens of pizzas. What will they do when someone, who is a female, comments about how the new armor design makes her uncomfortable? Call her a prude, find her phone number, call her at work to ask if she wants to suck them off? Send her condoms?

    This post is disappointing, and you should feel bad.

  63. RealID could make or break the forums. Yes, I think it will cut down on trolling, (which I love) but I can also see some people running the other way as well. People like the anonymity the net affords. My other fear is that Blizzard is shooting itself in the foot. Big WoW players are usually pretty computer savvy, and it wouldn’t take too many enterprising programmers long to set up a whole new, completely anonymous forum to dominate the need. I’ll be very curious to see what happens.

  64. Put simply, this policy will drive away vastly more legitimate, helpful, mature posters from the forums then it will the trolls. This lessens the value of the forums, lessens the involvement of the players in the community and in the game, and ultimately weakens the game as a whole. Silencing your Minor players, silencing your female players, driving away your mature and helpful players isn’t the answer.

    Notwithstanding the fact that I find the thinly veiled threat of “don’t post stupid comments or you will be harassed by your fellow gameplayers” to be an extremely odious and hamhanded way of dealing with bad posters. Just because someone posts “L2P noob” and catches a sicko on the wrong day is not enough of a crime to justify months of potential harrassment or other retributive punishments in REAL LIFE.

    I’m a 37 year old professional, I like contributing the odd time to game forums with ideas, quips, opinions and such. But it’s just a game and I need my privacy from the thousands of other users I don’t want knowing my real name. And yes, it’s rare enough that one could likely narrow down who I am – if I wasn’t already so paranoid about privacy that my Facebook account is locked solid and I am unlisted in the phone books. Popular bloggers, media personalities, sports, tv and movie stars, etc probably don’t have this luxury.

    Sadly I will never post on a Blizzard forum again when/if this change is put through. It’s a loss to me and a loss to them. And ultimately, when thousands of constructive voices are silenced, it will be a huge loss to their game environment.

  65. “having a persons name in a game where there are over 12 million active accounts doesn’t really help all that much though”

    What if that person has another site with personal information and has upset one of those people shown on youtube smashing stuff due to wow related frustrations? Now they magically have a previously unavailable link between the toon that caused the percieved pain and the person behind it. Also, what of those people (like me) who have unique names, name searches that return 100% relevent hits on google and have peers that look down upon gamers. Now my ability to put food on the table has vanished. In that sense, yes the world will explode for some.

    My concern is not that they are asking us to disclose rl info on the forums. That can be easily avoided. The concerns is that this is a precursor to much larger changes that will integrate RL info with a lot of other game features. It is coming sooner or later and quite frankly I am not surprised byt he tone of this article given the background of the scribe.

  66. Pfft…
    I’m sorry, but: anonymity is everywhere on the net. And yet not every forum has to deal with trolls.
    You know why?

    Well…part has to do with the subject. Some subjects (like WoW I guess XD) just invite more trolls than other. But another important reason are the people who are in charge of the forum. Often aided by their lackeys.
    Having a good set of rules and people who uphold them makes all the difference.

    My favourite forum has no trolls whatsoever because the moment that people break the rules their post gets deleted and they get a warning. They go in the wrong for the second time and their account is locked. I’ve never seen any of the GM’s on the WoW forum do that.

    One can argue that the wow forum is HUGE but all that would mean is that individual gm’s just have to work a little bit more, or maybe Blizzard should hire more of them.

    I can imagine Blizz not wanting to do that though.
    So introducing this system as a way to have more “social control” on the forum looks more like a money saver to me XD.
    It might work well, but from the looks of it this this system will create more problems than it will solve. If it will solve any problem at all.


    P.s: Sorry if I have already mentioned something said earlier. I didn’t feel like reading it all.

  67. although stalking and identy theift may be rare,
    if it can happen to one person, then this is one person too many,
    the only way I feel that blizzard will find this out is when (god forbid) that someone is stalked, attacked, and seriously injured and the company faces a very big lawsuit.

    an easy way to avoid trolls is to ban level 1’s from posting and have all characters on an account visble via a tab on the forum.

  68. What concerns me is the partnership with Facebook. There are enough security issues with Blizzard now, I think my dog hacked into my neighbor’s account and stole his mage. But adding Facebook to the mix with the idea of “data sharing” down the line just gives me the willies.

  69. I went ahead and made parental controls and opted out of the Real ID for slightly different reasons than most people. (Stupid that I have to set it up that way and an adult can’t have privacy, but oh well) I teach and while I like the conversation and rapport with some of my students that develops with some WoW discussions, they do not know my realm, guild or character name. I don’t know theirs. I want to keep it this way. I don’t need instant messages from students or posts from them while playing and I REALLY don’t want them to start trying to be my “friend” or commenting on how long I was on-line last night. I’m pretty sure they don’t want me knowing how much they are playing or asking them if their project is done or why aren’t they studying for tomorrow’s test. This is the same reason I don’t have a Facebook page/account . If I can’t keep my name out of the game, then I stop playing completely.

    The forums bothered me simply because it seemed an unnecessary risk to individuals. I never post there, and won’t even with the Real ID taken out. Blizzard had to know that people would be upset with having their information exposed and that it might cost them players. I just don’t think they counted on the sheer number of people who were prepared to stop playing all together if this went through.

  70. I’m incredibly glad they decided to retract their decision to implement RealID on the forums. Its such a relief to know that Blizzard actually listened – it restored my faith in them a little bit.

    Now recruiters can go forward and not worry about declining players who may be just a tad too unstable…

  71. My boss is adding me on SC2!!!! This is a pure nightmare.

    Now I have to quit the game since I can’t tell him no and can’t let him see I’m there all the time either


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