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Should you be anonymous online?

08:49 UK time, Thursday, 8 July 2010

A row is erupting after Blizzard - the publishers of the popular online game World of Warcraft - announced that users on its site forums would have to post under their real names. Should your online identity be anonymous?

The firm say the move is to put an end to heated online arguments and topics started purely to cause trouble. Vameras, one of the site community managers, says the forums have become "a place where flame wars, trolling and other unpleasantness run wild".

However users are reacting angrily, citing concerns about safety and privacy.

Is it an invasion of privacy? Does anonymity create a more negative forum environment? How do you promote constructive online conversations? How do you feel about your own online identity?

Comments

Page 1 of 5

  • Comment number 1.

    Why not just ban those causing trouble and leave everyone else alone?

  • Comment number 2.

    Should your on-line identity be anonymous?

    Yes.

  • Comment number 3.

    If all that's visible is your real name, what difference will it make? Finding someone in this country from just their name is nigh on impossible. What these users should be asking is why they feel the need to remain anonymous. If you say something online, you should also be willing to say the same thing to someone in person.

  • Comment number 4.

    Well... it's easy enough to construct aliases online. One can be anonymous if one wants to.

  • Comment number 5.

    Should you be anonymous online?

    On the one hand some people do hide behind their anonymity to behave utterley obnoxiously online, to the point where I suspect that if you chose to communicate like that in real life, you would be diagnosed with a personality disorder.

    They know there will be no consequences, no need to display courage with their convictions and so they hey take delight in pushing things as far as they can.

    Whilst I believe that people should always have to take responsibility for their actions the other side of the coin is that their are some right nutters out there in cyberland, I've been threatened myself and sen others threatened in various forums.

    I know the majority of these threats are made by cowardly wind-bags using the courage of the internet, but you never know if you might attract a genuine psyco, so, in those circumstances anonymity does provide protection.

    On the whole though I think its cowardly nutters, expressing their rage at daily life who probably benefit most.

    And yes it does make the internet a more negative place.

  • Comment number 6.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 7.

    I have played a couple of online games over the years and have generally found that those that break the rules have thier accounts suspended and for serious breaches thier accounts have been banned (both forum and game wise).

    I have never (nor do I ever intend to) post my real name and location on such forums as as much as I like sharing information/hepling other gamers or participating in debates, I do not wish to to forgo my privacy. If game forums forced you to reveal your real name and location, then I for one would never post on them again.

  • Comment number 8.

    So people can be unpleasant to each other. Wow WOW, what a revelation! And to think your game is all about the pleasantries of life....

    Anonymity is a choice that should be respected.

  • Comment number 9.

    Everyone should be entitled to whatever degree anonymity they wish in online communities - we spend hours lecturing kids on the safety of their details online, yet it's OK to be blasé with the details of adults? Trolling is a fact of life on the internet and there are 2 ways for community administrators to deal with it: eject troublesome repeat offenders or just say "all right, anything goes". Doing this just makes Blizzard look weak and incapable of handling the massive attention their title has generated.

  • Comment number 10.

    Should your online identity be anonymous?

    That depends on what you're trying to do. If you're a doctor promoting some research then you should use your real name because otherwise it might call your research into doubt. If you're leaking restricted governmental information in order to make the government stop whatever illegal badness they're up to then you should not use your real name because otherwise it will make it very easy to catch you and shut you up.

    If you're on the WoW forums you should definitely be anonymous because otherwise some idiot with more muscle than brains will probably try to hunt you down and give you a thud up the bracket.

    This move, though, is a case of using a sledgehammer to crack a walnut: If Blizzard are having problems with their forums perhaps they should try a more aggressive moderation policy?

  • Comment number 11.

    Those of us protesting this idiotic decision are doing so because not only does it put our own identities at risk to anyone who decides they want to have a bit of fun with Warcraft players, but because it puts at risk vunerable members of society whose only crime is to enjoy an online game and want to talk about it.

    I am internet savvy enough not to go around giving out personal details on Facebook or Friendface or whatever. But not everyone is. There are minors playing this game, some of whom are naive enough to believe it when "John Smith" will help them in game if they give them their MSN contact details.

    Then there are female players. In game admitting you are a woman will lead to poorly executed attempts at flirting at best, and outright stalking if you are not so lucky. So why on earth would any sane woman want her real life details given out freely?

    Blizzard even had one of their employees reveal his name, to prove the system safe. Within fifteen minutes his address, parents names, girlfriends name, likes dislikes, last job he held, even his driving offences were revealed to everyone. Not only that he and his family recieved numerous threats and another gentleman who was unfortunate enough to share the same name found himself being harassed for reasons entirely unknown to him.

    When we signed up for this game, when we gave our contact details to Blizzard they assured us they were for their use only, that they would not be given to third party companies nor other users. This change is make a lie of that promise. And if we cannot trust them to honour their original contract, how on earth can we trust them now.

    And the real question is, will Blizzard take responsibility for those harmed by this change? Will they be compensating families who get harrassed because their son plays an online game? Will they be compensating those who get abused for the sole crime of having the same name as someone who does play the game? Somehow i think not.

  • Comment number 12.

    1. At 09:39am on 08 Jul 2010, Mike from Brum wrote:

    Why not just ban those causing trouble and leave everyone else alone?

    because the internet makes banning anyone nearly impossible since with few tweaks on anyone's computer you can post from 15 different ip addresses or 15 different ip addresses one at a time. All the posts seeming to come from 15 different geographic origins.

    If some is determined enough they will be anonymous, but making post attached to irl real world people opens them up to all sorts of identity theft and attack issues.
    It is no win when comes keeping people from being nasty to each other online.

    As real world example how draconian did the laws set out by European governments have to be to even put dent into soccer hooliganism.
    If people are intent on miss behaving not much with stop them.

    Also would this action not fall foul of EU data protection laws.

  • Comment number 13.

    I've always used my real name online and will continue to do so. I generally haunt discussion groups and stand on the principle that if I'm not prepared to put my name to something I say, I shouldn't say it. Anonymity makes it too easy to treat others in a way one would never do if one were speaking face to face. It also makes it too easy to treat one's interlocutors as faceless enemies rather than participants in rational debate.

    In other contexts - perhaps gaming - I can see that anonymity may be desirable for some. We have become such a cowardly nation that we fear our bosses may find out we've spent hours of our own time playing "World of Warcraft" rather than doing unpaid work for them. But again, if doing something online might cause embarrassment, don't do it if that troubles you.

  • Comment number 14.

    My full identity is available on Ebay as I am registered as a business seller. I have no problem with this.

    What I am beginning to have a problem with is the use of the BBC ID. I am often being libelled by another user on another BBC site. I am unable to contact this man direct.

  • Comment number 15.

    3. At 09:41am on 08 Jul 2010, Andy wrote:
    If all that's visible is your real name, what difference will it make? Finding someone in this country from just their name is nigh on impossible. What these users should be asking is why they feel the need to remain anonymous. If you say something online, you should also be willing to say the same thing to someone in person.

    Finding someone from just their real name may be almost impossible, however finding someone from their real name and I.P. Address is very simple. Posts on forums and playing online games will afford someone the opportunity to attain that information.
    or to put it in lay mans terms when you post or play a game online your computers address a number is recorded from that number you can trace the isp server you are connected to resolving my ip will give you a server less than a mile from my house. If you had access to my real name too then it probably wouldnt take too long to find me by searching Real name and location.
    It has been done before Mathew Pike 20yr old from the uk was killed by a german computer gamer.

  • Comment number 16.

    The context of this discussion is that Blizzard forums are extremely negative and very hostile to female and LGBT players. While I feel comfortable sharing my locked down facebook page with friends, putting my real name in to a gaming context on WoW forums makes me really uncomfortable.

    To deny that female gamers experience a lot of misogyny, or that mainstream gamer culture is often extremely sexist, racist, ableist and homophobic is really dismissive. While we can 'save ourselves' from being directly targetted, this change on the Blizzard forums means we can no longer participate in the biggest game community in the world (for a single game) without revealing our real name to millions of players. This is effectively silencing the voices of marginalised groups, barring the few who make the active choice to make themselves visible (or post out of the ignorance of the dangers of online stalking.)

    If you've ever been on facebook, you will know that many people are happy to post horrible things with their real name attached; this won't make the WoW forums any better than a single, unique user ID rather than allowing the level 1 troll culture to flourish. Real ID and Real names are not a magic pill that will make trolls go away, instead they will become a convenience to trolls, enabling them to cause damage to the professional and personal lives of those who just want to talk to other gamers about WoW on the forums provided by the company that makes the game.

  • Comment number 17.

    Perhaps if the BBC HYS website had followed the same, path we would not have got such outrages views being voted for.. As people would think twice before putting their name to clearly outrages views, just hoping for a reaction..

  • Comment number 18.

    In the Internet anonymity is a double edged sword. One one hand it allows people to state opinions and take part in legal activities without necessarily revealing who they are. At the same time the bad part about Internet anonymity is that it allows people to state opinions without revealing who they are.

    People making multiple forum accounts purely to provide support for their main accounts' view point in an argument, multiple accounts to spy on other guilds, multiple accounts to make it appear as a lot of people want a particular feature when in fact they don't.

    While removing anonymity would definitely solve a lot of problems, they are not problems that need solving quite often. With regard to anonymity on game forums, I think anonymity is more important than preventing flaming, etc.

  • Comment number 19.

    It's their site, and they can have whatever rules they want on it.

    If you don't like it, don't join it.

    Problem is that every Tom, Dick and Harry thinks that they "own" the internet and that they can do whatever they want on it. It is a commercial relationship - live with it.

  • Comment number 20.

    No you should not have to give your real name if you do not want to. People often want to say they disagree/agree with something without being picked on for their views. However if they are abusive, or aggressive, then they should be taken off the site by the site owners. If the site owners do not want to monitor their site properly then they should not be able to run a site.

  • Comment number 21.

    I can see why they would be embarrassed to admit to playing these games, and so why they don't want to reveal themselves.

    Perhaps they should engage with the real world a little more?

  • Comment number 22.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 23.

    I've been a WoW player since the day it launched in the EU. I've been a strong supporter of many of Blizzard's policies until now. But this... This is upsetting.

    World Of Warcraft is a fantasy game. It's a community and for some a character outside and removed from their every day lives. We're not, by and large, privacy obsessed, but isn't it nice to come home and have something fun to do that's not linked to work, free from any entanglements and just something for you?

    Real-ID on the forums doesn't remove that, per se, but it does erode it. Many of us have seen Blizzard renege on promises before relating to the forums and now, with this announcement, their store of trust and good will has been exhausted.

    Anonymity isn't really the issue here, they say it's to combat harassment and offensive behaviour, but as has been suggested to them, a user chosen unique ID would do that just as effectively without eroding our privacy or separation of life and gaming. A unique ID would address the same issues, remove one level of anonymity and still allow the player base to keep WoW as a private experience. It's a compromise that the player base seem quite pleased to make, given the alternatives.

    Sadly it seems that thus far, Blizzard are dancing to a different tune than that of their customers. Some think it's just greed, others think it's orders from Activision, there's even rumours of an internal schism between those who create World of Warcraft and the "business" side of things.

    We'll have to wait and see where it leads us, but I am not holding out hope.

    Thecowking.

  • Comment number 24.

    People have a freedom online particularly in blogs that means no matter what your skin colour or gender or whether you wear religious clothing or not, you are all equal when you post your comment. However this anonimity means normal dicourse rules and manners are often forgoten because you do not see the other persons reaction, so it is far easier to be negative.

    At the end of the day if you want to remain private don't enter the forums.

  • Comment number 25.

    All it will take is some sad individual who has a grudge over a game to have the determination. And yes these people exist. Even if you stick in your own clique and don't talk to anyone else.
    If you have a unique name that isn't something such as John Smith you can be tracked to a point, there are even sites which show who has been searching for your name.

  • Comment number 26.

    "3. At 09:41am on 08 Jul 2010, Andy wrote:
    If all that's visible is your real name, what difference will it make? Finding someone in this country from just their name is nigh on impossible. What these users should be asking is why they feel the need to remain anonymous. If you say something online, you should also be willing to say the same thing to someone in person."
    ______________________________________________________

    Sorry, Andy, but with all of the social networking sites that abound, where peer pressure has meant that almost all people under the age of 30 have accounts on all the usual places - Bebo, Facebook, Friends Reunited, etc. - it can be relatively straightforward to find out a lot of information about an individual. As an example, my daughter is one of the uniques on Facebook, as nobody else shares her name - how easy is it for someone to collect information about where she lives, what she enjoys, and loads of other stuff?

    I believe that the WOW site has a duty of care to its participants. They must allow anonimity and they must patrol the forums for those breaking the house rules. Loss of privilege for first offence, temporary suspension for second, and permanent blocking of user and IP address for third. If a public (or university) IP address is used then the relevant authorities are informed and they can find out who was using the system at the time of any incident.

    It's sad, but in this day and age, and I'm as bad as most, we leave digital fingerprints all over the internet and clever people can follow them like breadcrumbs. Giving out your real identity is simply asking these people to cause you trouble in the real world.

  • Comment number 27.

    ...too much time on their hands.

    It's always puzzled me why people get so het up with others on the net since they have no idea who they are dealing with.

    Perhaps they take themselves too seriously.

    I would think by taking away the anonymity 'Warcraft' will be taking into the real world.

    ['''Verily they'll track me down,
    use my Warcraft identity,
    for their dumb mission,
    and with sick, red-faced smile on my shoulder,
    like Long John's Silver Parrot,
    give Flinty Eye.

    apologies to ''How I Wrote Elastic (Song) Man'' The Fall.]

  • Comment number 28.


    In other contexts - perhaps gaming - I can see that anonymity may be desirable for some. We have become such a cowardly nation that we fear our bosses may find out we've spent hours of our own time playing "World of Warcraft" rather than doing unpaid work for them. But again, if doing something online might cause embarrassment, don't do it if that troubles you. -AndrewMorton

    That's not the reason at all.
    People holding pathetic grudges is the reason and I doubt that many people are embarrassed about playing computer games anymore.

  • Comment number 29.

    Anonymity should be the defacto standard of all online communication with people you don't know in real life.

    Anonymous; Just doing it for the lulz.

  • Comment number 30.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 31.

    The great thing about the internet is that it's size means you can vote with your feet with great ease.

    Personally I like forums with real names assigned, but thats preference. Besides which, as mentioned, it's easy to dupe account information - just because you are speaking to a 'John Smith' doesn't mean that's their real name anymore than 'bigmelons69' is.

    Back on topic: - It shouldn't be mandatory but then again it's not something to get overly worked up about. Should the WOW community not like this, I'm sure the affected members will break off and join a new forum. It's the internet, stupid.

  • Comment number 32.

    Providing you're not doing anything illegal there is no reason for the law to intervene one way or the other in terms of online anonymity.

    However, a site owner has a right to state terms and conditions of use and if they require real names then so be it. Either comply or don't use that site. This is why I never really understood all the fuss about Facebook privacy. I absolutely support a site owner's right to set whatever terms and conditions they like (as long as they're legal of course) but I also absolutely support a site user's right to choose not to use a site and have their account fully removed.

    Broadly speaking - and subject to the user operating legally as mentioned above - I see no problem with anonymity online. In these days of ID theft and spam it might actually be a good thing.

  • Comment number 33.

    How are they going to check if it's your real name or not, I mean, some people really are called "Ivor Biggen" or "John Thomas".

    Are they going to check passports or something?

  • Comment number 34.

    "a place where flame wars, trolling and other unpleasantness run wild" -
    On a site called World of Warcraft? Surely not.

  • Comment number 35.

    Arguing on the internet is like wrestling a pig in s***; after half an hour you realise the pig's enjoying it.

  • Comment number 36.

    I don't really see how Blizzard will enforce this. What proof of identity do they have for their forum posters anyway ? Even those who pay for their account by identifyable means (a credit card or whatever) are not nescessarily using their own card (I'm sure lots of kids have their parents' card paying for their monthly subscription).

    Nobody is forced to take part in the discussion forums or to respond to inflammatory content in them - the harm from abusers on the forum is far smaller than the potential for harm from giving out your real name (especially if you have an unusual name that may be a lot easier to track down - fortunately all the abuse for me gets sent to a house DJ in london or a football commentator in Australia).

  • Comment number 37.

    3. At 09:41am on 08 Jul 2010, Andy wrote:
    If all that's visible is your real name, what difference will it make? Finding someone in this country from just their name is nigh on impossible.

    ---

    Depends on the name - if you google my name you'll get pages about an obscure comic book character first, follow by several business directories none of which have anything to do with me.

    As i don't do social networking i've never found the real 'me' through google.

    Due to circumstances beyond my control my real name is effectively anonymous.

    If on the other hand i was called 'Dave Zeitgeist', I'd probably use a psuedonym.

  • Comment number 38.

    Well, yes you should be allowed to be anonymous on this occasion. However as usual the masses have action taken against them for the less reputable behaviour of a minority. What is described in the article sounds a bit like online bullying of a type. If people are to reveal their real identity would that note allow the aggressor to pursue some one by looking elsewhere? I.E. if someone was having one of these disputes in the game, then could they not also pursue their vendetta via facebook or something if they new the other persons true identity? Thus the problem could spill out to other areas of a persons life.

    Surely a complaint can be lodged about a persons online behaviour, a quick look would reveal if the allegation is true or not by

  • Comment number 39.

    Well done Blizzard!

    It about time something was done to tackle the problem of trolling and so called “flame wars” that plagues so many online communities. I’ve said for ages that the internet has its dark side and the anonymity that the internet provides makes it very easy for spineless, childish people to attack, intimidate and generally cause grief to ordinary well intentioned people. I’ve seen some very decent, close knit online communities torn apart by the actions of trolls so personally I’m all for this.

    Hopefully those other sites and online communities that have persistent problems with trolling will take this idea up and this is the start of a long overdue crackdown.

  • Comment number 40.

    My Concern with this is i do believe forcing u s to reveal our real name on th e forums can lead to a breach of our data protection, it is not hard to use a persons real name and one of their in game character names and there you have it you can have a slew of information about the person, people have already proved this when one of the blizzard employees put his name up and within 30 mins all his personal details were posted online, and at this time i believe that some certain message boards online are using it as their personal play thing revealing more and more information about him.

    this alone warrants the change to be stopped

  • Comment number 41.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 42.

    21. At 10:15am on 08 Jul 2010, D wrote:

    I can see why they would be embarrassed to admit to playing these games, and so why they don't want to reveal themselves.

    Perhaps they should engage with the real world a little more?

    Yeah, this isn't the 80's.

  • Comment number 43.

    In the case of World of Warcraft you're actually more likely to be "anonymous" if you use your real name as opposed to your in game name just purely because you can pretend to be anyone in the game if you use your real name. Using your Character name it also lists which realm you are on as well and you're probably more likely to be victimised by people who don't like whatever you've written on the forum because they can find you. There's probably many people with the same name as me in the world, the only issue you might have is if your email address is forename.surname@generic_email_sender.com (fill in the blanks with sensible things obviously)
    If you want to be anonymous, don't use public forums - simple as.

  • Comment number 44.

    14. At 10:06am on 08 Jul 2010, Lynn from Sussex wrote:

    What I am beginning to have a problem with is the use of the BBC ID. I am often being libelled by another user on another BBC site. I am unable to contact this man direct.


    I'm not a lawyer but as your true identity is unknown to everybody on here I doubt if you could successfully sue someone for libel?

  • Comment number 45.

    The internet makes it so easy to trace people now that I think a lot of these people causing trouble, shielded behind their computers, would be too scared to post in fear of being tracked down under their real name.

    I'm not saying I would, but Jonny psycho on world of warcraft who didn't like you slagging him off might just find your facebook, find your hometown, find where you're hanging out etc.

  • Comment number 46.

    This row mainly started as a result of the decision to make dungeons battlegroup wide. Prior to that point, dungeons had been realm-specific, meaning you only ever grouped up with people from your own realm. In this way, behaviour was governed by the community, they were doing the job of the gamemasters themselves by keeping everyone inline with social responsibility. Sure, there was chaos sometimes, but the community ensured that bad people paid for their sins with social retribution. That's the best form of policing and it's what's truly lacking in todays real-life society.

    Blizzards response to the problems with battlegroup dungeons was (sadly) to introduce a Facebook app and then the big one - Real ID. This started off as an optional feature in all Battle.net games (including Warcraft) and allowed users to play using their real name. It's recently been announced that the system will be moved onto the forums, but not as an optional service but compulsory! Every new game from now on (starting with Starcraft 2 and later in the year Cataclysm) will have a forum which uses compulsory Real IDs.

    These Real IDs are flawed by design and are being introduced for the wrong reasons. The major flaw in them is that they use your battle.net login ID (which also serves as your game login ID). If you want someone to add your Real ID to friends, you have to give them your login ID. In the event of a dispute between the two of you (which happens all the time, as many account hacks are done by friends disputes), there's nothing to stop them attempting to log into your account with your login ID (which you gave them) and forcing your account to be temporarily banned due to incorrect logins.

    Your Wow login ID is also your email address, another security flaw, and it shows your real name to the other person. Battle.net games are fantasy games, people don't want to be known by their real names. When they login to a Battle.net game, they want to be known by their chosen fantasy name, not their real name. Using real names just spoils the mood. It won't stop bad people from being bad either, it'll just make it more personal. This means the bad people will react in a more personal way and are more likely to look to real life to solve their concerns. It's far more upsetting when someone harasses you using your real name, and this is what will happen and people are going to quit subscribing due to this. They can take their characters being harrassed but they certainly don't pay for their real life to be harrassed, and that'll be a step too far for a lot of people.

    Things such as trying to hack email accounts, looking for photos, blogs, address information - everything that you have posted online on a legitimate site with your real name, a bad person will be able to find by searching. This was proven when a Blizzard employee posted his real name online in the forums. In no time at all, he was bombarded with links to his photos, contact details, mobile phone number, lists of blogs he's written on (which he assumed would not be disclosed to Battle.net players at the time), etc.

    Blizzard were quick to respond and in their usual fashion, they deleted the entire thread. This is how they respond to things like this, brush the bad news under the carpet, pretend it doesn't exist, but it never stops them in their plans. After the incident, some of their staff started telling people that no Blizzard employees will have their real name shown. However, they quickly realised how disastrous this statement was as it demonstrated the flaws of their system. So they changed their mind and now (for the moment at least) real details of Blizzard staff will be exposed on the web when the system goes live.

    Personally, I have a feeling that they'll use fake names without telling us. Wow players (World of Warcraft) get very heated up about their game, and when they don't like a decision made by Blizzard, they really, really hate it. They feel so strongly that a game which they put so much effort and time into over the years has suddenly taken a direction that they don't want to go. Wow players feel like the game belongs to them, and most of them don't want to get into social networking while playing, and reveal lots of personal details to complete strangers on the Internet. They log into Facebook to share their real life, they log into Wow to share their fantasy life. They don't want to the two worlds combined.

    Blizzard say that they've noticed that social networks (they highlight Facebook) encourage proper communication between people by exposing their real identities. It's true, that while there are security risks, people on Facebook are generally nicer than people on Wow, both in-game and on the forums. But that's because they're not playing a virtual life in-game. They don't have the same emotions. Facebook people are only playing real life, and real life is pretty boring. You talk about your music, movies, shopping, trips to the supermarket, and little else.

    Facebook users play Wow too, and when they do, they spend weeks, months or years levelling up characters and decking them out in armor which they've grinded for, joining a guild, building their experience, only for them to join a battlegroup dungeon and be ensued by chaos. But the reason this happens now is because of Blizzards decision to make dungeons battlegroup-wide, if they had stuck to realm-specific dungeons then we wouldn't have this social responsibility issue.

    The players (including the Facebook users) take these sorts of issues up on the forum. They're very worked up when they post so it doesn't always come across well. Replies to a lot of posts are often from people who are fearful of change, they love the game they've put much effort into, they fear anything which may come along and kill it. Using real identities won't encourage people to be nicer on the forums, if there's something they don't like, they're going to say so.

    What it will do is discourage people from logging into the forums at all, since they'll know that every time they post, their real name will be published and the whole thing will be searchable from the web. This isn't going to bring social responsibility to the forums. Blizzard just don't seem to understand that a community is best governed by itself. To do that you have to let the community grow.

    You don't help the community by lumping the entire battlegroup together and then telling them to play as strangers, where you can't add friends, you can't talk to each other outside of the dungeon group, you basically just group with someone you don't know or care about for 15 minutes out of your life and then go back to your own community. It's madness to think that system would ever get any better than it is today, real names or not. That's been the biggest social killer in Wow ever.

    I've cancelled my Battle.net account because I can see where this is going. Blizzard say they are listening to peoples concerns, but they've had more uproar over the Real ID system than anything that they've ever introduced, but the system seems to be here to stay whether we like it or not. That's not very good listening, is it?

    Personally, I don't think it'll stop here either. I think it's only a matter of time before we move into compulsory Real IDs across all of Battle.net, both on the forums and in-game. You can't really have one side using compulsory Real IDs but then leave the other side using in-game character names. I think eventually, everything will be Real ID based and your real name will be shown everywhere whether you like it or not.

    All everyone ever wanted was a way to communicate cross-game, with privacy controls of their own to state which games they would be available on, and the ability to appear offline to people they didn't want to talk to. Everyone plays lots of characters in Wow, all we wanted was the ability to talk to people regardless of their character.

    One major problem with battlegroup Dungeons is that you can't talk to your dungeon group party when the dungeon if finished, as you all originate from different realms within the game. This is a major barrier to community forming and allowing this sort of communication, while not adding much social responsibility, would at least have allowed bonds to be created cross-realm. It would only have done good things for Wow.

    But Blizzard have used a sledgehammer to crack a nut. Instead of allowing us to make a global ID that we can use in any game, they force us to use our game login ID, our real name, a list of all our characters in every Battle.net game with no option to exclude any, a list of all our friends real names, etc. It's just too personal to have any effect on making the community better in Wow as it won't be used.

    Making it compulsory on the forum will just encourage people not to post there. I like to think that I post intelligent and well thought out forum posts but I certainly won't be posting there if it means revealing real-life details to everyone in the world, searchable by anyone. I wouldn't be posting here on the BBC website if it exposed my real details either. Does that mean my posts have any less value because they're posted by Wowstation and not my real name? Of course not.

    People take Wow very seriously, as I said, and I think it's only a matter of time that once Blizzard employees are forced to use their own names, that people are going to make disputes personal. Their real lives, their families, everything is put on the line when you bring the real world into the game world. I don't think this is the last we'll here of Real ID in the BBC news and the next time it might be due to something much more serious.

  • Comment number 47.

    The point is there is absolutely no need to force people into using their real names. A gamer handle attatched to the account would serve exactly the same purpose.

    As for those of you who say there is no danger in letting people see your real name, I have to respectfully disagree. A Blizzard poster gave the forums his name to prove how safe it was, within minutes they had names of his family, his address, maps to his house and had forced him to delete his facebook page. Thankfully, this was not done with malicious intent, just to prove how wrong he was.

    The problem we have is most of the people saying it's fine are holding the rest of the community to their standards. If I could guarantee everyone who would see my name was as sane and balanced as me I wouldn't have a problem, but this is a huge game with a massive online community. Just as in real life, a proportion of those people are going to be unstable and possibly dangerous.

    It has also been said that the forums are 'optional', well, not really actually. If you want technical support you have 3 choices, a webform (usually at least a two week backlog, sometimes more), a premium rate phone number which more often than not directs you to the forums (good luck reading an error log over the phone) and the forums. The In-game customer support forum does not have a corresponding phone number and aside from ticketing in game (there's a character limit and a backlog and in some cases they also send you to the forums)there's no way of getting help.

    Finally as a female gamer I am apalled by these changes, Blizzard have basically said 'put up or shut up' and dismissed all of the valid concerns we have brought up.

    'We have been planning this change for a very long time. During this time, we have thought ahead about the scope and impact of this change and predicted that many people would no longer wish to post in the forums after this change goes live. We are fine with that.'
    - Wryxian, Blizzard poster.

    They are fine with excluding people who care about their online safety, yet haven't given a single, solitary reason why they passed over unique gamer handles as a solution and jumped straight to real names (World of Facebook is not an excuse, Xbox live manages perfectly well with gamer handles).

  • Comment number 48.

    Publishing your name is fine if you're called John Smith, or something else that's popular. If you're name's something unusual (let's say Eugene Hindenburg-Smythe), then a quick google search will bring up your primary school, your town, your facebook profile or anything else where your name is published. I've chosen anonymity on this site for example;
    a) because I have an unusual enough name for it to actually be me at the top of search engine rankings
    b) Because although I want to contribute to debates such as this, I don't want a potential employer referring to my opinions on this site when trying to assess my character.
    For example, one comment I posted regarding the smoking ban is now totally irrelevant, as I have given up. I don't feel quite so strongly in favour of smokers any more, but no-one could tell that by reading my original post, submitted a few years ago. I've changed, but my post is set in stone. Therefore I asked the BBC to close my account and remove posts, then came back with an anonymous user name. Not because I have anything inflammatory or nasty to say, but because I have the right to privacy if I so desire.
    People's opinions normally mellow with age, so being judged for a comment you made on a games forum 10 years ago is not acceptable. The internet has made it harder than ever to keep private and work life apart. Lazy employers essentially 'interview' you using google nowadays - if you're Facebook profile shows you as a party animal, you don't get the job (for example).
    If a search for your name shows an argument you had with another WOW player, a potential employer is going to juge you based on that. However, if you're an animal on the football park at the weekend, going about abusing all the other players, you get to keep that to yourself because it's not published. An argument over an online game is the same as an argument in sport - however only one is used to judge you, provided of course that you actually use your real name. "What happens on the park stays on the park" is a term used in amateur football alot - Blizzard should adopt the same policy.
    I've not even touched on the safety of kids or vulnerable groups, which is yet another argument for anonymity. This is a cop-out by Blizzard. Increased moderation means increased overheads, so instead they've decided to abuse the privacy of users to save a few pennies. More moderators and better enforcement of the rules are the way to have a productive and friendly forum - this HYS forum for example isn't particularly condusive to trolling or any other form of online misbehaviour. You only get out what you put in. Leave your forum as an unpoliced wilderness, and you'll attract nutters and all sorts of abuse. Bring in a few marshalls and the nutters roll off with the tumbleweed to another site.

  • Comment number 49.

    TBH if Bliz spent more time actually doing something about all the Griefers, Trolls and Flamers (like Ban them)Rather than inventing new and amusing ways to rip off their customers, using the forums would be a more pleasant experience. Usually it takes them 2-3 days to respond to a players complaint by which time the offending nabcake has changed their details and gone. Unfortunately Bliz at some point (probably around the release of TBC) stopped caring about how their customers were treated both by the company and by each other. Of course people would prefer to post anonymously (see most of the names here on HYS) Thats the reason our characters are not called by our real names either (Hey, Blizz, maybe thats the next step, personally I'd love to see and orc warrior called Kevin!) It's a sad fact of the game that there are a large number of wasters out there who have nothing better to do than make attacks on people based on race,age,gender and particularly sexuality and making these people post under their real names is unlikely to cause tham to stop, what it WILL do is make it easier for griefers to find their targets. If Blizzard insist on continuing with this ridiculous Idea then I suggest their gaming community insist that all web masters, forum masters and particularly in game GMs should also have to post under their full names.
    I am a girl and I play WOW........sue me :)

  • Comment number 50.

    Your Internet Service Provider keeps a record of your daily activities, anyway. If people want to play games etc anonymously, let them. If they misbehave, they can still be traced.

  • Comment number 51.

    For those that don't know World of Warcraft, it is rated 12+, it is not an adults only game. So youngsters will also have to show their real name.

    Warcraft signed a deal with Facebook to "integrate" and "improve the social gaming experience". No prior consultation with the 11 million existing customers who play WoW.

    Game players see that it is the thin end of the wedge, and eventually they will probably have to play the base game showing their real name.

    Online gaming should not be forced to be a social networking site where you show Real ID, and expose yourself to the world, thus prejudicing privacy and potentially safety. This is what 10,000s of users are complaining about.

  • Comment number 52.

    It's Vaneras, by the way, not Vameras.

  • Comment number 53.

    A very bad idea. As others have said, the risks from online stalking make this a very, very dangerous route to go down. I've met quite a few girls that play WoW, but I doubt they would if their real names were plastered all over the forums.

  • Comment number 54.

    Obviously DoleBoy is not my real name, I chose to remain anonymous and would not wish my real name, Ken Barlow to be known to all and sundry.

  • Comment number 55.

    I believe it is an invasion of privacy.

    One of the great things about the internet is that it has allowed people from certain minorities to find information that in some cases has literally been life saving. For example, what about a Gay or Transgendered person trying to come to terms with who they are, the internet is a great resource for this person, it allows them to gain an understanding about what they are going through, and offers them the ability to make contact with people in a similar position, people who understand and who will not be prejudiced against them. All without the fear of their Family, Friends or Wokplace finding out, at least until they are comfortable with them knowing.

    Lets face it many people do things online that they would not want other people knowing about, whether it is looking at pornography, researching certain medical conditions, exploring their sexuality, watching Susan Boyle on youtube for the 20th time etc.

    The problem with what Blizzard/Activsion are doing is that they are potentially linking a persons history in the game to their real life name. Now, as a transgendered player of WoW I am left feeling very frightened about what information might be revealed even if I cancel my account, which I've already done. It was frightening to see that in order to cancel the account I had to agree to new terms & conditions, which included giving them the right to display my full name on the forums. What about those posts made ages ago in support of LGBT issues ? Are these suddenly going to appear under my real name for friends, family and work colleagues to see. What about those characters who joined a LGBT friendly guild and are now linked to my real life person ?

    In effect Blizzard have taken the responsibility they have to protect their customers privacy, and handed it over to the masses on the internet. The forums have already shown what a frightening amount of information these people can find, how long will it be before someone goes through the guild roster for a LGBT guild searching for these people in real life to abuse.

    So now I have the fear of being 'outed' by a game, even though I've cancelled. Regardless of what you may think of a persons lifestyle, surely everyone has the right to be able to live without these kinds of fears, surely Blizzard has a responsibility to disclose how they plan to protect players, rather than just adopting the 'If you don't like it don't post' line they currently are.

    - A very concerned and former WoW player.

  • Comment number 56.

    Due to a computer glitch the US Amazon website displayed the real names of their reviewers..... it was amazing how many glowing reviews of books had been written by the author. In effect this computer glitch revealed fraud. I DO buy books based on Amazon reviews.

    If the BBC did the same (and I post under my real name) I wonder how many of the little nazis with their nasty racist comments would be too ashamed to post their bile?

  • Comment number 57.

    Wow, a discussion about a move by popular online community about changes to their functions that have serious and profound impact on the nature of online communities as a whole and it hasn't yet descended into petty meaningless insu-

    "Nietzschean_acolyte wrote - "WOW forum users should get a life""

    Ah, so close.

    Anyway, I'm not entirely sure what this is to meant to achieve? First of all, unless they're going to demand full ID from users then how are they to prove it is their real name? Secondly, unless they're going to enforce the same rules in the main game too, will this not completely divorce their in-game persona from their forum identity which entirely defeats the team (sorry, guild) based nature of the game? And if they are going to enforce the rules in game, a little bit of the magic might be taken away if, instead of 'Vexorg the Destroyer' charging into battle against the encroaching orc hordes it's 'Jim'.

    Plus, save for a couple of extremely rare, but very high profile exceptions, it doesn't matter whether you use your real name or a screen name, you are still effectively anonymous to the vast majority of users given how few of them will ever actually meet you.

    The huge majority of screen names are picked because they sound cool or have some personal meaning to the user. Penny Arcade's Dickwad theory of Online Anonymity will still cover this as, to the vast majority of online users, matching a real name to a real person given how few other details will be available will still be borderline impossible, so as a deterrent to trolling and abuse it will be virtually ineffective.

    All these measures will do is stifle the creativity of gamers who want to charge into charge across the epic lands of Azeroth (I think that's where Warcraft is set) to defeat the armies of destruction with a name a little more awe-inspiring than 'Kevin'.

  • Comment number 58.

    Real names?

    What you mean people with names like 'Arctic Blizzard Wolf' and 'Lion Hunter Maximus' are made up?

    How bizzarre. I'll have to change mine back to MoonGiggly PugDog, I just thought it sounded silly

  • Comment number 59.

    It's probably dangerous because it makes it very easy to track people down. Someone's name coupled with their i.p address and a directory search would probably uncover everything about them.

    Not worth it.

  • Comment number 60.

    Give us a break - who gives a tinker's cuss what name these gamesters play under. So what if playing it results in heated online arguments.

    There are so many interesting topics we could be discussing on HYS - come on BBC let this suject die a death.

  • Comment number 61.

    An ideal system would be:

    You are forced to sign in to the system. You have the option for the system to keep your identity anonymous. However the system does not need to hide the identity from administrators - just the other users.

  • Comment number 62.

    World of Warcraft is a 12+ game (for those who aren't aware) but I think even a 14-15 year old needs some moderation, and their parents should be keeping an eye on what they do when online. Some parents put their children at the computer and it keeps them quiet so the parent can cook/clean/do parenty stuff and don't moderate it at all which is when all the trouble an abuse begins because they do what they like. But how is this different to a group of kids that go down your street every day and throw rocks at your door? If you confront them about it, they'll go "my name is none of your business" or give you a false name. They're not stupid.
    Chris wrote:
    Really?!!! How sad is this?!!! Children, children, children - don't we think it is about time we grew up?!!!
    I don't think it's time to grow up - games are for the young at heart in my opinion. I think it's time we stopped wrapping the kids up in cotton wool. Yes you should make sure that on social networking sites, on mmorpg's and other online media that your children aren't victimising/being victimised by particularly malicious people BUT they have to realise that be they 12 or be they 112 they will be bullied or victimised at some point. I do think it is the responsibility of the parents, however, to teach their children how to be safe online.

  • Comment number 63.

    Brilliant!
    Gunmen on the run.
    Terrorists beating extratition because of un-elected europeans.
    And the BBC wants us to talk about Space Invaders?????
    Is it bring your kid to work day???

  • Comment number 64.

    Stop wasting time with silly, irrelevant news like this & post debates about real issues.

  • Comment number 65.

    Basically, this is all about the right to chose. A debate which has been raging for many years - the right to vote (or chose not to) for both men and women, etc. At the end of the day we should all be given the right to chose to remain annonymous or not. I completely agree with all who say ban those who misuse the forums. Yes, they may only register under a different name but what is stopping these companies from banning them again?

  • Comment number 66.

    I don't see any reason why you should have to use your real name, surely a unique ID would be just as good for identifying trolls and the like.

    WoW is a fantasy game and people want a name that reflects their character in the game, having to use your real name would detract from that aspect of it.

    Also, to the person who said that it is very hard to identify someone from their name alone, that very much depends on what your name is. If for example your name is John Smith, then that is true, however, I believe I am one of 2 people in the world with my name (according to Google) and with just a simple Google search I know, I know the town the other girl lives in, what she does and what her email address is (the latter I know as it is very similar to mine and I keep getting emails meant for her!) With the accessibility of the internet, I would not necessarily want potential employers or collegues to be able to associate forum comments with me, not that I would write anything bad, but there has to be a separation between your worklife and your home life.

    I personally don't play WoW, but I know people who do (and contrary to popular belief they are quite well adjusted members of the community), if I did partake, a change like this would make me very wary of continuing my involvement

  • Comment number 67.

    No-one is prevented from using their real name.
    Anonymity does permit more extreme views but on the other hand it more easily permits views which are genuinely held and no less valid but may not be politically correct. For example an identifiable head teacher or nurse may not wish to be openly critical about an aspect of their work for fear of reprisals yet may have an important point to make that the authorities would rather hide. Courtesy is another issue. You may have a strong point of view but would not want to offend friends, relations, or neighbours who you knew thought differently.

  • Comment number 68.

    There's no point in giving any real details to a website if they don't have a good reason to need it (and that's a good reason for *you*, not them - e.g. if you're ordering something they need to know where to send it). People will just make up real-sounding names instead of whatever they're using now.

  • Comment number 69.

    "HYS should be devoted to grown ups - :)"

    It does somewhat lessen the impact of your point when you end your post with a smiley face.

  • Comment number 70.

    There are many misconceptions regarding internet anonimity, no-one is truly anonimous on the web to those who know where and how the information can be determined, so posting under a false name only works on the simplistic level.

  • Comment number 71.

    You should have the choice to be anonymous, and Blizzard are removing that choice. All other social programmes provide privacy controls of some sort.
    Online gaming is also different – emotions tend to often run rather high, and not everyone who plays the game deals with that in a rational way. There are 11 million WoW players - it is likely that some of these would harass other players in real life if they had the opportunity, and there are already examples out there of where this has happened. A unfortunately significant proportion of the WoW community are not nice people. Providing real names is likely to open the following groups up to increased harassment online (both in WoW, and through tracking down facebook etc pages) and offline (it is easy to track down those with unique names):
    Women - many women have gender neutral names online, to avoid harassment (which unfortunately does occur on a regular basis across the player base). Displaying their real names instantly “outs” them.
    Ethnic minorities – unfortunately racism in one form or another is alive and well, and displaying a real life name that suggests the individual is non-white may increase harassment
    Religious groups – given the current sensitivities, names that link people to specific religious groups are likely to open that person up to abuse.
    There are other valid reasons for wishing to be anonymous – risk of being rejected from jobs (it happens) if employers discover you play online games, teachers, military personnel etc. It also flies against all privacy advice for protecting children online. Finally, there is the security risk – posting real names makes it easier for scammers to identify your email address or log in details.
    The key thing here is choice - you should not be forced to provide your details to 11 million strangers. The WoW forums are part of the community (not to mention the technical support) and it is wrong to exclude a high proportion of your player base (see groups above) who feel they would be put at risk by participating. There are also other, safer, ways to manage trolling, including enforcing the use of a single handle (which does not have to be your rl name)and more proactively banning unpleasant posters.

  • Comment number 72.

    YES

  • Comment number 73.

    6. At 09:47am on 08 Jul 2010, Johnnybgood wrote:
    Seems rather "childish" arguing over a dumb game.


    Grow up.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    I agree just a game, never could understand people arguing about football either, or about fiction, look at all those people who argue about religion.

  • Comment number 74.

    Surely this is down to the webmasters to moderate and control. Anyone causing abuse as opposed to expressing a genuine opinion in a civilised way should be warned and then banned.

    Unfortunately and not wishing to sound snobbish but doesn't the nature of the site and games attract a fair percentage of these types of people?


  • Comment number 75.

    What is someone's "real name" in the first place?
    Plenty of people go by different names in different situations. It's hardly uncommon for people to be known by names which appear nowhere on their birth certificate. So long as there is no intent to deceive (and it isn't obscene) it's perfectly ok in the UK, to be called anything you like.

    Actors specifically have to have to have unique names for their work. The same happens with musicians, authors, podcasters, etc.

    Anyway does anyone really think that trouble makers will comply with such a rule?

  • Comment number 76.

    Would it not make a bit more sense that each user that signs up has to enter identifying information but only the company can see, other users only see a nickname and then if someone says something particularly bad it gets reported to the company and they forward the evidence to the users local police department for prosecution instead of anonymous users with a fake email address that are practically untraceable??

    It may work this way already, who know, i don;t use the site or game myself...

  • Comment number 77.

    This game is as addictive as hard drugs.Personally,after seeing what it did to my son I would have it totaaly banned.True identity makes no difference bar the fact that the idiots who play the game can be twice as offensive.

  • Comment number 78.

    An anonymous letter should be treated with the contempt it deserves. An anonymous posting on HYS
    should be treated in the same way. What are those hiding under silly pseudonyms afraid of?

  • Comment number 79.

    Well, I play WoW occasionally myself. I rarely post on the Forums, although I've often visited them looking for playing tips or help sorting out crashes and bugs.

    I've got to say; this problem could probably be much more effectively solved if Blizzard employed a little more agressive moderation on their boards. Of course, no moderator can be everywhere all the time - there are hundreds of boards on the WoW community forums, after all - but often, offensive posts (and I mean, really offensive posts, laden with expletives and often racist, sexist or homophobic, not simply a couple of kids having an argument over the game) can sit around on the forums for days, being constantly "bumped" to the top of the page, without anything being done about it despite member complaints.

    Apart from anything else - I'm not even sure the use of real name is going to stop some people. Don't forget - in the event of a problem, Blizzard already knows, more or less, who you are. Players have to provide accurate credit card and address details in order to sign up for a game account, which you need in order to post on the forums. (Only Blizzard themselves can see this information, of course). But the point is - the names are available now, to the relevant "authorities", and this isn't stopping people behaving badly. I'd be willing to bet there'll be a fair few people who will be just as prepared to hide behind their real names (particularly if its a fairly "common" one) as they are behind the names of their WoW characters.

    I'm not generally in favour of releasing too much personal information on the internet, for safety reasons - although I'd be willing to consider it if I thought it would help solve some problem.

    In this case, though, I'm pretty sure that it won't.

  • Comment number 80.

    Firstly, people have all kinds of legitimate reasons for not using their real names on an online forum, from female gamers worried about being harassed, to people in high-profile jobs who simply cannot afford online harassment, to parents trying to protect their children. Beyond that, people shouldn’t even need a reason to keep their identity private if they wish, it is not an unreasonable request by any stretch of the imagination. In everyday life we respect people’s right to privacy, and have laws to protect that privacy. That does not mean that they are ‘cowards’ or ‘have something to hide’, it just means they wish to play a game and express an opinion without opening themselves up to the risks of online harassment.

    Anyone who wishes to maintain their privacy and still take part in the online Warcraft community has now just been taken complete out of the loop. They cannot make use any of the beneficial services the forums provide (e.g. vital things like tech support!), let along provide feedback to Blizzard or take part in the online community at all; all over a perfectly reasonable desire not to be harassed. And some will be harassed, even if they are the minority. Online stalking and bullying is a very real problem, and the Real ID system is hardly helping with that issue. Furthermore Blizzard may be able to get rid of some trolling with Real ID, but only by driving the majority of all forum users away. Even then RealID will not get rid of dedicated trolling and harassment, because people will still be able to make accounts with fake names. It’s as easy as using a free 10-day game trial to set up a new account.
    Let’s face it, Blizzard have failed for years to stop scammers, goldsellers and hackers making fake WoW accounts, they won’t be able to stop the trolls either! These are serious issues that need to be dealt with, but RealID is not the answer, there are plenty of alternatives, already in use by other online communities to control this kind of problem. Blizzard just seems to be using forum trolls as a scapegoat to push their new system upon us. Bear in mind that the RealID system was only introduced a couple of weeks ago, where we were told it was completely optional. Now we’re already seeing the system become mandatory for certain features. How long will it be before Blizzard demands that all of it’s 11 million customers start using RealID? Don’t believe me, then look at how they made us all switch over to their new battle.net system.

    Finally, it’s all very well for people to sit on the sidelines and make comments about online games being ‘childish’, but I consider such behaviour to be pretty childish in itself. The majority of WoW players are adults in the ir 20's and 30's, not kids, they jjust like playign a game. Grow up and stop being prejudiced. You may mock because it isn’t an activity you enjoy yourself, but if it happened to you I doubt you’d be as complacent. Imagine if Facebook (or another service you use) suddenly decided to change the option of keeping your email and phone number private, and made it mandatory for you to make this information public in order to use their services. Would you be sitting there making light of the situation, or would you actually want to have control over who sees your private information online?

  • Comment number 81.

    49. At 11:01am on 08 Jul 2010, RubbishGirl wrote:
    If Blizzard insist on continuing with this ridiculous Idea then I suggest their gaming community insist that all web masters, forum masters and particularly in game GMs should also have to post under their full names.

    I think this is an interesting point - are blizzard going to "protect their workers" by allowing them to be anonymous or are they going to make them follow the same rules as the players?
    WoW is losing popularity as it is, without them coming up with "genius" ideas like this one
    All I'm going to say is, I wouldn't want to be the person making that decision right now.
    I left WoW because I didn't like the lifestyle choice that comes with playing such a consuming game that is World of Warcraft. People will read this and think that people who dedicate all their time, money and effort to a game like this are stupid - and go ahead, you think that. But until you've been consumed by the world that is World of Warcraft you won't understand what it's like. In the end, you remind yourself every day that it's just a game, and that's not enough you still go on there every day and do the dailies, talk to your guild, spam over trade and general chat and do all the dungeons. It's a pointless existance but somehow... satisfying. This is why your children don't do their homework and fail school - because they're sucked into a world where they are cool and it's just better then reality.
    I have thought about going back, many times, with these ideas though I think I'll be staying well away...

  • Comment number 82.

    I've noticed that some people seem to say "What's the big deal about revealing my real name?". I can't help but think that these are people who have little idea just how much information there is on the internet, about practically everyone. Stored virtually indefinitely.

    Have you ever been at a job interview where you've been told you were googled? Now take half of the ones you've been at where you weren't told, and you most certainly have been checked out there as well, probably at more than half. Despite gaming becoming more acceptable slowly, there is still a massive stigma about it, and MMOs in particular.

    I, for example, have cancelled my account with world of warcraft over this. I simply don't want to risk my -real life- prospects over a game I play in my free time. That goes for everything I do online, not WoW. I take great care not to link my facebook page, for example, with any of my gamer aliases, simply because I KNOW there are people out there who can and will do a variety of the following:

    Investigate my online history, and possibly deny me even a job interview.
    Investigate my online history, and possibly pursue very real ways of getting to me instead of namecalling on a forum.
    Investigate my online history, find out about me and proceed to disturb or ruin my real life based on what they could find, if they should be malicious.

    People need and deserve places where they can be anonymous. Complete knowledge of all things that everyone does is not in the interest of any honest, good human being. Unfortunately, we all know how many there are of those nowadays.

  • Comment number 83.

    This is a game site? so its all children playing I think they should be anonymous you don't know who's hanging around those sort of sites.

  • Comment number 84.

    I ALWAYS USE MY REAL NAME Mr Wonderful Reality.

    Or at least my name from planet Zog

  • Comment number 85.

    While I find most of the HYS contributors have a alias/pen-name At least for this thread you could have asked the contributors for posting with their real names.

  • Comment number 86.

    As someone who enjoys playing games both online and offline, I don't think that it matters. It is very unlikely that those you are playing with will ever get to meet you personally. Anyone causing trouble should be banned, and the rest of us left to enjoy ourselves. It is not as if you need to supply a photo, you can use any immage and invent any name for your charactors. Lets just remember that this is game playing, not taking part in a United Nations discussion, or giving details of your policital views.

  • Comment number 87.

    I am a World of Warcraft player myself, and I am extremely upset about this decision to force us to use our real name on the official forums.

    The official line from Activision-Blizzard is that "Posting on the forums is optional, if you do not want your name shown, don't post" (that is a near-direct quote from one of the community managers (CM's) ). However, this overlooks the fact that quite often when one have a technical issue and ask a Game Master (GM)or call the official help line, one is told to go post the question on the Technical Forum.
    In addition, World of Warcraft has a long history of security breeches, where players have been "keylogged" or "hacked" (processes whereby a malicious third party take control of your account). If an account should be subjected to hacking or keylogging, the chance of it being used to post new keylogging links on the forum is quite large. In that case, the users name will be visible to the entire community and the rest of the internet, without his or her consent.


    The possible ramifications of this forced change to forum identification is quite horrible. Many of us who play this game are professionals who are consciencious about our work, but nontheless do not wish that our private gaming habits shall become visible to our boss and co-workers. In short, we value our privacy.
    Far more terrible is the possible consequences if a child should somehow post with his or her real name, and become a target to an internet predator because of this. We all know how careless children may be with giving personal details, and this system will make it all the more easy for people with evil intents, as the childs name will already be avaliable, and verified, by Blizzard. This may not be a problem for someone called "John Smith", but should your name be "Felizia Schowaldtsen", it may become a serious concern.
    Women gamers will also be put at risk, as we already know, there is sadly a lot of men who will not respect any woman's wish to be left alone. Much the same could happen to anyone with a non-European sounding name. This change could jeopardize them all.

    E-bullying is the term used where someone is targeted for malicious attacks upon their person online. of all the possible consequences, this is far the most certain to occur. Those familiar with online gaming sites know how heated the discussions there can become, and how vicious the attacks may be. Attacks which will be all the more vicious once the "bullies" have the real name of their victims.


    Activision-Blizzard claims that forcing posters to show their real name will ensure a "safer, more enjoyable atmosphere". However, their users STRONGLY disagree. On the U.S. forum, it took only 24 hours for the official thread about the planned changes to reach over 20 000 posts, a response unmatched in the history of this game, and perhaps in the history of online gaming. The vast majority of these posts expressed strong resistance to this change being made, yet Activision-Blizzard has so far made no response to the thread.

    A response was made on the identical E.U. thread, by the Community Manager "Wryxian", I quote:

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

    He furthermore dismissed the concerns people had posted in the thread as, and I quote: "scare-mongering"

    Now, note that I do not blame him for this post, as he in all likelyhood only posted what his superiors told him to. However, this shows a blatant disregard for their customers and the opinions thereof, not to mention the legitimate concerns connected to their planned changes. And this upsets me very much.

    At the writing moment, the U.S. discussion thread has reached 1827 pages with 36 526 posts, the vast majority of which still expresses deepfelt concerns about these changes.
    A lot of those posting in the thread has asked why, since Activision-Blizzard already know the real-life identity of their posters, it should be impossible for people to be allowed to post from an unique alias connected to their account. Several posters are speculating that the real reason for this is not a desire to reduce bad bahviour on the forums, but to prepare for the upcomming merger between the player account and Facebook, with whom Activision-Blizzard has reputedly entered into contract with.

    There is still no response from Activision-Blizzard to these concerns and speculations.


    We, the players and the people who pay the salaries of those working at Activision-Blizzard has raised our voices in an unprecidented uproar of protest. Across all the official forums in Europe and America, hundreds of threads containing well over 50 000 posts have been made, and the voice of the great majority (over 80% according to polls and calculations) is clear: We who use the forums do not wish this change to take place, as it jeopardzie not only our privacy, but our future job prospects and our very safety.

    We have already raised our voices in protest, but nothing indicate that we have been, or will be, heard. So now, a lot of us are voting with our wallets instead.


    I have been a World of Warcraft player for five years. I have maintained A and B levels in my studies, I do not troll, flame or harrass other players, in-game or on the forums. I post useful information and try to help new players as best I can. I love the people I have been lucky enough to get to know in this game, and I have greatly enjoyed the game itself.

    I have been a World of Warcraft player for five years. Today I cancelled my subscription.

  • Comment number 88.

    As much as I hate to say it, the moral question here (does anonimity provide a shroud for people to hide behind?) is completely mute in this debate.

    The WOW forums are open for non-members to read and AFAIK this isn't going to change to a closed-community-only system after the switch over. This means that peoples names won't just be available to their gaming peers, but every single user on the internet.

    It would be extremely easy for me to write a simple program that grabs ALL of these names and data mines to find all available information associated with that name. This done programmatically (read: very fast, and with very little effort from me). I could write a prgoram that does that, and I am not a "professional-hacker" that would do this sort of an attack for a living.

    All you need is one stolen identity for this system to be worse then the current system.

    It really ISN'T as simple as saying that I should be prepared to back up anything I say with my own personal details. Simply because hackers and the likes that will abuse this system, do not care, what it was you saying in the first place. All they want from you, is information about who you are.

    This is a disaster waiting to happen and I seriously hope Blizzard change their mind sooner rather than later.

    On a side note, Blizzard are going to implement this change for the new game Starcraft II when it comes out later this year, it'll be interesting how this damages the sales of said game as a lot of people (admittedly, myself included) are now considering not buying the game as the purchase will force our private details to be made public.

    There is a reason for the terminology "Private Details".

  • Comment number 89.

    "Finding someone in this country from just their name is nigh on impossible."

    Actually, it's quite easy I tracked down an old university friend who I had lost contact with after they had gone to work in America for a few years using the Internet. They had moved back to England and it took me less than 5 minutes to find them and email them about meeting up again. The search also yielded their address and phone numbers as a by-product!

    It is possible to hide but as doing this requires a lot of extra effort few people do it, at least if you use a pseudonym or only post on anonymous message boards online you will probably be safer.

  • Comment number 90.

    Should you be anonymous online?

    You should be whatever you want to be online. I don't see what it has to do with anybody else.

  • Comment number 91.

    I think they're going the wrong way in making people reveal their real names. I have seen a lot of bullying, trolling & more sinister stuff going on in online gaming. The people who administrate the forums can easily see who is causing trouble & can ban their IP address from using their sites. I feel this is more about the site administrators abdicating their responsibility of moderating their forums rather than putting the power back in to their users hands.

  • Comment number 92.

    74. At 11:28am on 08 Jul 2010, RonC wrote:
    Surely this is down to the webmasters to moderate and control. Anyone causing abuse as opposed to expressing a genuine opinion in a civilised way should be warned and then banned.

    Unfortunately and not wishing to sound snobbish but doesn't the nature of the site and games attract a fair percentage of these types of people?

    &&&&&&&

    So whats the excuse for HYS?

  • Comment number 93.

    This is one of the most idiotic things blizzard has come up with. And for those of you crying that its hard to find people with a name, no its not if you want to see how easy it is to find someone on line in this day and age just go and watch the documentary Erasing David.
    Putting my full name into google, brings up some school names database which I wasn't even aware I was on, that contains my home town, which school I went to, all on the first link. Meaning anyone could turn up in my small town looking for me. No I'm not saying that its going to happen but its always a possibility, and having already been victim to an on line stalker its worries me.

    And then comes the issue of hacking, what if someone hacked my account and the posted key loggers on the forums under my name? there are just so many ways this will go wrong for people and I don't see how blizzard can justify this.

    But they're not listening, they don't care, they're going to change it no matter what people think, you can see it from the blue posters. "you don't have to post here"

    Basically as its stands blizzard say "shut up or don't post"

  • Comment number 94.

    Haha! "Derek Postlethwaite, Shadow-warrior and Mage". What if you change your real name to "Conan T. Barbarian" by deed poll or something?

    Seriously, while I would never play WOW ot its ilk, there are fora out there in which people who have been flamed by you will hunt you down via google and steal your identity. Personally I try to be nice on the internet, but I do sincerely believe that a lack of eye-eye contact and body language and a million:one chance of ever meeting the person you are abusing tempts people to misbehave more than they would in real life. Using your real name does not really address these issues, it just makes people feel vunerable. There are plenty of alternative MMORPGs out there, and more appear every year. I think that Blizzard will probably live to regret this, and you may even see some back-pedalling in coming weeks.

  • Comment number 95.

    I have no problem with it, I don't play WoW, so it's not a problem how they choose to communicate or by what names.

    You could call yourself Dave Smith and could still be fibbing. What's the real difference between that and calling yourself Vixen or Trojan

    The latter sound like Gladiators.

  • Comment number 96.

    As further information on how easy it is to track someone down from their name:
    http://seewhatyoudidthere.com/2010/07/07/realid-changes-the-very-real-ease-of-stalking-in-the-internet-age/
    Unfortunately amongst 11 million players, there are likely to be a few people who either through mischief or genuine maliciousness, would harass people. A risk of increasing harassment even slightly is a risk too far.

  • Comment number 97.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 98.

    @Andy: "If all that's visible is your real name, what difference will it make? Finding someone in this country from just their name is nigh on impossible. What these users should be asking is why they feel the need to remain anonymous. If you say something online, you should also be willing to say the same thing to someone in person."

    It might be fine if you have a common name. It'd be nigh on impossible to find "John Smith" of York online, if that's all you knew. But one of the WoW forum moderators posted his name - Micah Whipple. There's not that many Micah Whipples in the US. Within five minutes, his Facebook and Twitter accounts were found, along with his home address, his phone number, his favourite music, TV shows and films, his age, his parents and siblings names and ages, the fact he lived with his mother and that he'd had a run-in with the police in 2004 for failing to provide his driver's licence.

    Read this to see just how easy it is:
    http://seewhatyoudidthere.com/2010/07/07/realid-changes-the-very-real-ease-of-stalking-in-the-internet-age/

  • Comment number 99.

    I completely agree with what someone has already mentioned - I play some online games (sad I know, but it's better than watching Eastenders!) and as SOON as someone knows I am female, I get two reactions;

    1. OMG that girl shot me, what a cow! She must be cheating because girls can't play games! Lets all gang up on her!

    2. Ohh a girl, I better flirt and try and get some online action!

    If I want to avoid this, I need a generic, or even a male, alias. Having that taken away would make me seriously consider not playing these games anymore. Why would I want some of these losers knowing my real name?!

  • Comment number 100.

    31. At 10:33am on 08 Jul 2010, Tom Dolan wrote:
    just because you are speaking to a 'John Smith' doesn't mean that's their real name anymore than 'bigmelons69' is.


    Wow, do you think you could arrange a meeting between me and bigmelons69?

 

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