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World of Warcraft and Starcraft trolls live to see another day after Blizzard drops plans to force users to give their real names in posts. The move seemed necessary, though, to prevent nasty privacy implications and to prevent ruining the fantasy experience.  (Source: South Park Studios/Comedy Central)
Amid threats of account cancellations company decides not to force users to post with their real names

Blizzard, maker of the world's most popular paid-subscription MMORPG (World of Warcraft), and one of the most successful real time strategy franchises, Starcraft, shocked its millions customers this week when it announced plans to force them to use their real world names on its message boards.

The company claimed the move was necessary to promote a "positive" atmosphere and prevent internet trolling -- the time honored tradition of making a fool of yourself and others via rude remarks on the extranet.

Users were not happy.  First and foremost they complained that Blizzard -- a leader in private fantasy entertainment -- was ruining both the privacy and fantasy that draws many to a game like WoW.  Further, they said that the use of real world names could create many hostile situations from workplace discrimination to stalking of WoW's large female contingent.

Blizzard didn't have much helpful to say on these issues.  Initially it merely warned customers "the message boards are optional".  That only further provoked the anger of the hundreds of thousands of active users that frequent the company's message boards.

Faced with a growing list of threats of account cancellations, Blizzard finally saw the writing on the wall and gave up its burning crusade against forum trolls.  In a forum post its CEO Mike Morhaime writes:

0. Regarding real names in forums 07/09/2010 09:47:41 AM PDT
Hello everyone,

I'd like to take some time to speak with all of you regarding our desire to make the Blizzard forums a better place for players to discuss our games. We've been constantly monitoring the feedback you've given us, as well as internally discussing your concerns about the use of real names on our forums. As a result of those discussions, we've decided at this time that real names will not be required for posting on official Blizzard forums.

It's important to note that we still remain committed to improving our forums. Our efforts are driven 100% by the desire to find ways to make our community areas more welcoming for players and encourage more constructive conversations about our games. We will still move forward with new forum features such as the ability to rate posts up or down, post highlighting based on rating, improved search functionality, and more. However, when we launch the new StarCraft II forums that include these new features, you will be posting by your StarCraft II Battle.net character name + character code, not your real name. The upgraded World of Warcraft forums with these new features will launch close to the release of Cataclysm, and also will not require your real name.

I want to make sure it's clear that our plans for the forums are completely separate from our plans for the optional in-game Real ID system now live with World of Warcraft and launching soon with StarCraft II. We believe that the powerful communications functionality enabled by Real ID, such as cross-game and cross-realm chat, make Battle.net a great place for players to stay connected to real-life friends and family while playing Blizzard games. And of course, you'll still be able to keep your relationships at the anonymous, character level if you so choose when you communicate with other players in game. Over time, we will continue to evolve Real ID on Battle.net to add new and exciting functionality within our games for players who decide to use the feature.

In closing, I want to point out that our connection with our community has always been and will always be extremely important to us. We strongly believe that Every Voice Matters, ( http://us.blizzard.com/en-us/company/about/mission.html ) and we feel fortunate to have a community that cares so passionately about our games. We will always appreciate the feedback and support of our players, which has been a key to Blizzard's success from the beginning.

Mike Morhaime
CEO & Cofounder
Blizzard Entertainment 

The move seems a smart one for Blizzard.  After all, stopping trolling at the cost of ruining the company's fantasy gaming experience and opening itself up to potential lawsuits from privacy implications seemed like a horrible idea for the company.  It's good that at least one company can see the writing on the wall -- or perhaps the forum.


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Two forums
By ChrisHF on 7/10/2010 9:55:10 AM , Rating: 5
I know it sounds stupidly simple, but why wouldn't they just create a second forum for people who want to use real names in the hope of less trolls?




RE: Two forums
By dflynchimp on 7/10/2010 10:49:31 AM , Rating: 4
Double the resources, diminishing returns.

Bad idea to split your user group up, and tbh I think most people would prefer not to use their real names.

Besides, trolls aren't exactly a new phenomenon of the interwebz.

Just deal with the trolls in the old fashion way: infractions, bans, and IP bans. That or ignore the troll, pretend their posts don't exist. That's what gets under their skin, that no one pays attention to them.

If you respond to a troll, you're asking to be incensed.


RE: Two forums
By rudy on 7/12/2010 12:49:39 AM , Rating: 1
I personally do use my real name and would love for any companies to force all people who participate to do so. Now I do not think that they should exclude people entirely from the game just set up a system where there is sort of a verified player base. In MMORPGs that would be worlds only verified players can participate in, and in FPS games a server setting that would boot anyone not on the verified list.

This would cut down on a ton of cheating and everything else. If players abuse something and are banned or suspended they cannot just pop back in with new account.


RE: Two forums
By zmatt on 7/12/2010 7:47:39 AM , Rating: 2
That sounds a lot like DRM, except instead of rights management it's privacy management. DPM. I doubt that would go over well. Game companies don't have any business knowing who buys their games. Some games carry a social stigma if you play them, WoW being a good example. If those players knew that their identity wasn't anonymous then they probably would not play given the risk of being made a pariah.


RE: Two forums
By jtemplin on 7/13/2010 1:47:11 AM , Rating: 2
i love taking anonymous pot shots at suckers like you on the internet. oh wait...


RE: Two forums
By spartan014 on 7/13/2010 2:56:22 AM , Rating: 2
A troll by any other name... :-)

http://tinyurl.com/2d6waw3


RE: Two forums
By callmeroy on 7/13/2010 9:18:21 AM , Rating: 2
First some disclosure of sorts I am a long standing WoW player of 5 years and I do post on the blizz boards (under different character names).

I think it was a good move for blizz not to publish first and last names on the boards...for reasons that I personally think are obvious and shouldn't need explaining (privacy).

However one thing that I always thought was rather strange from a company that certainly is bringing in some money and has captured a huge audience of dedicated (if some what obsessed) fans....go to their forums...they are pretty generic for a billion dollar "world famous" game company IMO.

They currently don't even allow you to rate/mod posts...AND the search engine it has is only like a year and half - two years tops old..you go back just to early-ish 2008 the forum didn't even have a real search engine.

Now blues (for non-WoW fans.."blues" are posts from official Blizzard employed community managers, the community just calls them "blues" because that's the color of their posts) have claimed they are working on upgrading the forums in time for the upcoming expansion to allow rating posts...but c'mon...seriously Blizz you are concerned about trolling but for 6 years you don't even have tools on the forums that at least help visitors notify or curtail troll posts...but yet you'll go right to the "hey lets use real names" idea?

Definitely a smart move for them...


RE: Two forums
By Reclaimer77 on 7/10/2010 11:02:59 AM , Rating: 5
Blizzard is fully capable of hiring more forum moderators. I mean please, give me a break.


RE: Two forums
By kaosstar on 7/10/2010 12:26:35 PM , Rating: 5
That would require them to hire more moderators. The "new" Blizzard isn't willing to part with any of their treasure for community support, or other inanities like customer service. Hell, my account was hacked 5 days ago, and I still haven't gotten a response from Blizzard. That would be too much to ask.


RE: Two forums
By Motoman on 7/10/2010 12:33:14 PM , Rating: 2
On the vast majority of online forums, moderators are unpaid volunteers. There would be googols of people willing to be unpaid moderators on an official Blizzard forum.

Oh, and good decision Blizzard. Not that everyone wouldn't have just stopped using official forums and used the bajillion other WoW forums on the net.


RE: Two forums
By EricMartello on 7/10/2010 2:10:01 PM , Rating: 5
Yes, just what we need...more nerds on power trips as forum mods on official sites. Better they leave that to paid employees who are doing it as a job and don't view it as their life's calling.


RE: Two forums
By Motoman on 7/10/2010 7:12:55 PM , Rating: 2
...as opposed to the nerds on power trips playing the games?


RE: Two forums
By callmeroy on 7/13/2010 9:26:47 AM , Rating: 2
I play the game and even I thought that was funny I have to admit...why ....because hate to admit it...he's right...

there are seriously some players that really do take the game FAR too serious...

Last night was the first time i raided a full raid in almost 3 months I'd say (definitely more than 2). But it was with the most laid back members of my guild -- no pressure, joking around...killed some baddies had fun and logged. That's how I like the game --- fun and light hearted as you can be with still being "good enough" to kill the baddies and clear the place.

Shame that more gamers just don't play games with that spirit of fun and relaxation -- which what I think games are supposed to bring us.


RE: Two forums
By quiksilvr on 7/10/10, Rating: -1
RE: Two forums
By jeff834 on 7/12/2010 4:07:14 PM , Rating: 2
Do you honestly think a majority of the people working as paid employees aren't nerds? I know a few of them...you'd be pretty wrong.


RE: Two forums
By n0ebert on 7/10/2010 2:52:34 PM , Rating: 5
An easier solution would be that they would open access for users to see all characters under the posters account.

What would this solve? During my time playing WoW, I know many players created level 1 alts to do their trolling. If there was a way to track them back to their main character when making the post, then there's a decent chance many will stop posting inflammatory comments.

Posting your real name is silly and unnecessary. Showing that level 1 users characters allows those who read his posts to know just who he is in game. Especially given many guilds' policies on posting on the wow forums under their guild tag.


RE: Two forums
By BZDTemp on 7/11/10, Rating: 0
Bobby Kotick
By Danish1 on 7/10/2010 3:54:50 PM , Rating: 2
and Thomas Tippl are no doubt crying themselves to sleep this weekend.

It's sad how quickly Activision brass are destroying Blizzard with their mindless crusade for milking every last possible buck out of their customers.




RE: Bobby Kotick
By Danish1 on 7/10/2010 4:03:02 PM , Rating: 5
Also do note the official reason of wanting to curb trolling was nothing but a lie.
If thats what they wanted they would have forced their users to use a single main nick (SC ladder name/WoW main character) to post on because that's the identification that matters within the community.

No, it was all about making money on Facebook integration but the new profit uber alles Activision-Blizzard is not below lying to their customers faces.


RE: Bobby Kotick
By bodar on 7/10/2010 10:21:51 PM , Rating: 1
It's sad, really. I'm all for Blizzard going forward with this RealID/Facebook integrated crap, but players need to have a choice in the matter. Give people a good enough reason to do it and many will (well, not me), but forcing the change just pisses everyone off and alienates your current player base.


RE: Bobby Kotick
By The0ne on 7/11/2010 8:59:26 PM , Rating: 2
The Blizzard you knew of is gone. Greed is in the plan now. I'm waiting for the awe in the new games but frankly I'm been disappointed. Innovation seems like a thing of the past.


lol dey trolld us
By raumkrieger on 7/10/2010 10:42:30 AM , Rating: 2
I think we all just got trolled by Blizzard.

Anyways, I don't know what they were thinking. Eliminating anonymity wouldn't have stopped the trolls. The only sure-fire way to get rid of trolls is to ignore them.




RE: lol dey trolld us
By Kurz on 7/10/2010 10:57:46 AM , Rating: 3
Ban stick?


Well that didn't take long.
By Hiravaxis on 7/10/2010 11:01:31 AM , Rating: 2
I figured Blizzard had more intestinal fortitude than that.
I guess the almighty dollar still rules supreme.




RE: Well that didn't take long.
By ssjwes1980 on 7/10/2010 3:21:02 PM , Rating: 3
When you get 50k responses in one forums post in 1-2 days you know you got to do something...

Most the people I talked to about it in game had no idea they where going to force this (real name usage) on to people using the WoW forums. Every response I got from it was wtf, are they insane, and Ill never use that again and hmmm hows WoWheads forums looking...

O and out of the 50K I saw maybe 1-2% supporting it... Usefull idoits


Oh well...
By piteq on 7/10/2010 11:04:53 AM , Rating: 2
Maybe they've seen this...? :)

http://www.cad-comic.com/cad/20100707

I guess the uproar must been quite meaningful, since I can remember my own efforts to make Blizz aware of some annoying bug plaguing some hardware/software combos (it manifested as slight stutter every 15 seconds). I dug as deep as my lame abilities allow, including running debuggers, tinkering with process threads and such. I never managed to get it acknowledged at their side, despite lots of people sending reports and supporting the cause. I finally stopped playing for almost a year or so, and when I recently revived my account, I had different hardware setup, working without a glitch.




Not Anonymous
By Mitch101 on 7/10/2010 12:32:26 PM , Rating: 2
I use my real name on steam. Makes my friends easier to find me and works better for online co-op.

I believe using real names you would have a better community of people helping and less trolls. I could be wrong but people are less likely to be total tools when they can be identified.




FOR THE HORDE
By readmnweep on 7/11/2010 12:11:58 AM , Rating: 1
Perhaps they're doin a "George W." to take attention away from the fact that EVERYONE INGAME IS GETTING RAPED BY HACKERS.




RE: FOR THE HORDE
By readmnweep on 7/11/2010 12:37:02 AM , Rating: 1
and since im quitting this addictive time killer in a couple weeks ima troll like a mf :)


By meef on 7/11/2010 9:04:05 PM , Rating: 2
The only way to post on this NEW forum section is to link your (numeric) I.D. to your battlenet/blizzard account so they can trace it back to an active user account and NOT disclose to the general public who it is. Blizzard gets what they want, simplifies there responsibility on the forums by only having to monitor the auditable dev forum and users are protected because the only thing posted to the public for each poster is the numeric ID, so female or male, makes no difference. It would be untraceable to anyone outside the company provided it never got hacked.

This would leave all the trolls on the normal (not monitored by blizzard developers) OR they risk there own account by trolling these new audited dev forums. If they are a dedicated troll, they might open a new account that means nothing to them, however, they just gave blizzard more $$ to do so.




Titles
By Visual on 7/12/2010 6:44:51 AM , Rating: 2
Damn, what's with the titles and your attempts at a pun?
I stood there for a second trying to understand the whole concept of "Burning Crusade" vs "WoW"... for a second even got a glimpse of hope that they might be bringing vanilla back... but the surrounding words made no sense.




No More Trolls?
By Hogger1 on 7/14/2010 8:41:27 AM , Rating: 2
Darn. I was hoping Blizz was getting rid of the trolls. Maybe without the trolls us Alliance could actually win WG. Tenacity X4 FTW!




Dumb mistake
By AstroGuardian on 7/10/10, Rating: -1
RE: Dumb mistake
By Murloc on 7/10/2010 9:51:22 AM , Rating: 4
it isn't illegal.
It may be unfair, but not illegal, otherwise facebook should be closed.

Don't see any conspiracy in this, it was just a bad idea that got killed.


RE: Dumb mistake
By Motoman on 7/10/2010 12:35:33 PM , Rating: 2
Seconded - nothing illegal about it. They would be perfectly within their rights to specify that you have to use your real name when posting on their forums - you could then have just decided not to use their forums if you didn't like it.

There are plenty of forums on the internet where real names are required...often in clubs or associations specifically so that someone *can't* post some inflammatory message and not be identifiable for it.


RE: Dumb mistake
By icanhascpu on 7/10/10, Rating: -1
Nothin to hide
By EricMartello on 7/10/10, Rating: -1
"I'm an Internet expert too. It's all right to wire the industrial zone only, but there are many problems if other regions of the North are wired." -- North Korean Supreme Commander Kim Jong-il














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