- Older posts will not be retroactively affected.
- You can choose to only go by your real name and not include your character name.
- Not posting on the forums is considered a viable option.
- Child controls will be available.
Most players hate this. There are over 1000 pages of posts per announcement thread ranting and raving about how awful this is for personal security, etc.
One of my quirks is to try and see things from every angle. I totally get the con angle.
So what about the pro? What benefits would this give the forums, the WoW community, and Blizzard itself that might outweigh all this player negativity?
to help improve the quality of conversations and make the forums an even more enjoyable place for players to visit (source)Um . . . yeah, that actually needs doing.
Is it just me or have I not said on multiple occasions that the official forums are a cess pool of the lowest common denominator of humanity, a place where actual human beings are driven out with relentless cruelty?
the forums have also earned a reputation as a place where flame wars, trolling, and other unpleasantness run wild. (source)^ Yeah, what he said.
It seems to me that requiring everyone to post with their real names will force accountability onto the soulless beasts roaming the official forums, waiting to spring on hapless wanderers.
Removing the veil of anonymity typical to online dialogue will contribute to a more positive forum environment, promote constructive conversations, and connect the Blizzard community in ways they haven’t been connected before. (source)
^ Oh hey. That's what they were thinking, too.
In the immortal Penny Arcade comic, anonymity is the key to internet trolling. (Level 1 alts, anyone?)
It seems reasonable that the only truly effective way to clean up their forums is to remove anonymity. They're not trying to screw over their player base. They want to clean up the horror that is the official forums, which in itself is a noble goal. If we disagree with their method, then we should suggest alternate methods. Preferably effective ones. Because whether or not we like this (and I venture to say we, as a populace, don't), we should be honest enough to admit it'll probably have the intended effect.
What will it mean for you, the average player?
If they go through with it in spite of the negative feedback (and I expect they will), there are a few things you can do to protect yourself when posting on the official forums.
1. Never post with your character attached.
This is an option and I suggest turning it off. If no one knows which character you play, they can't run to your server and harass you (or bug you to be BFFs).
Alternately, if you have enemies who know your character name, they can't put 2 and 2 together unless you do it for them.
2. Never intentionally piss anyone off.
This should be obvious, but if you don't get into raging and violent arguments on the forums, there will be no need for anyone to try and mess with you (irl or otherwise). Don't give people an excuse to hate you. Just don't.
3. Never drop information (casually or otherwise) about your real life.
You shouldn't be doing this anyway. It's dumb. But I'm going to say it out loud (figuratively speaking) for good measure: if you don't give people clues as to where you live or who your friends are or what you look like, they'll have a lot more trouble finding you if you slip up on tip #2.
4. If you're being harassed, report it.
I'm not just talking about reporting to Blizzard. If someone's using the forums or game to mess with you, totally report it. But if it goes outside of the game as well, contact the authorities. Blizzard has proven that they're willing to work with law enforcement, and if the worst happens and you end up being stalked, I'm 99.99% sure Blizzard will give the cops what proof they possess. They have a super-low tolerance for crime.
5. If you're not comfortable, don't post on the official forums.
There are other ways to get yourself heard. Blogging, submitting articles to WoW.com, even posting on your guild forums and letting someone else take up your mantle.
Husband sent me to a comment for an article on this subject. Most of what Nattie says backs up my tips, but she also covers several concerns that a little practical thinking should help you manage (I found the thoughts on parents and children sharing an account particularly interesting).
My final thought is this: Real ID on the forums is not a perfect solution. Unfortunately, there are no perfect solutions in this world, not when you have people bent on getting around the rules as their sole form of entertainment.
You may decide to never post on the forums again. But I promise that the majority of people who continue to post there will be more circumspect in their behavior if this goes through.