Tobold's Blog
Thursday, July 08, 2010
The threat of RealID

Yet another thought on the RealID on forums story: Why does Blizzard assume that if RealIDs are published on the WoW forums, the quality of the forum posts will improve? What exactly would prevent you from posting a nasty and offending troll post on the WoW forums under your real name, if your name is sufficiently unique?

Obviously the real name does not in any way increase Blizzard's powers of forum moderation. Whatever name you used on the forums, Blizzard already knew your real name. Thus the hoped for effect is other players preventing the troll from posting. And how will they do that? Well, they still have absolutely no forum moderation powers. The only thing they gain is the knowledge of the troll's real name. And for that knowledge to be a threat sufficiently strong to prevent the troll from posting something offending on the forums, it must be possible for other players to hurt the troll by the use of his real name.

If, as some people say, there is no danger to you by your real name being shown on your posts, then how exactly would displaying that name diminish the troll posts? The threat of real life consequences are an inherent part of the RealID on forums plan. That real life consequence might be minor, like somebody sending the troll's mother a link to show her what language junior is using on the internet. But if there was no threat of real life consequences, then the RealID wouldn't diminish troll posts at all.
If, as some people say, there is no danger to you by your real name being shown on your posts, then how exactly would displaying that name diminish the troll posts?

Because humans aren't always rational.
The Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory isn't true, because people fear being exposed to real life dangers if they behave like an asshole without anonymity.

That was a nice try. But why don't you concentrate on the real problems with RealID, in place of these 'twists' ?
As you know Tobold, the forum moderation garbage is a red herring and distraction.

The whole thing is an ill conceived corporate ploy to monetize on our privacy.

The way to improve forums is with moderation and community rating posts up and down for helpful or not.

Foolish remarks are trolls are quickly hidden and helpful or insightful remarks rise to the top. This has proven to work on a number of top forums like LeagueOfLegends, digg, etc.

I know that on the servers I've played on, my wife and I often underwent harassment people making new alts to bother us all the time and say disgusting or inappropriate things. All based on some in game guild or loot drama? Or because you find out someones gender?

God forbid any of these psychos knew our real names. Even if all someone wants to do is scare you, real-life fear shouldn't be a factor in an enjoyable pastime. I don't want to expose my or my wife's real persona to strangers in a way that is connected with the fictional activities of my avatar.

This provides no benefits and a great deal of concerns for any user. What about your average college d00d who raids, doesn't care about any of these concerns, etc? Well how will you feel when the raid guild insists you join their realID friend? When they are keeping track of you to make sure you log on when you are supposed to? No more playing on another alt, or other Blizzard game without all your friends of friends whispering you... no more hiding. No safety.
Because, Nils, it won't affect trolling at all because either people 1. Don't care because they don't think privacy is a concern and continue to act a fool, or 2. make a dummy account and troll harder than ever.

It's the earnest, naieve, honest users, attention-seekers, and anyone who may gather the attention of a deviant, deluded, or sadistic person that concerns me.
Well, I'm pretty sure the way they intended it to control trolls is the unified posting identity.

If someone can look at all your other posts and see you're an idiot you can get flamed pretty hard pretty quickly. You also have a one stop ignore button.

So easily could've been done with a unified alias though. Why must some business chunder head think "we gotta do social... like facebook!"
I partially agree. An asshole is an asshole and if I were a true asshole I wouldn't care about posting under my real name or not.

What's curious is that having a common nickname I use on various websites actually makes it easier to find out more information about me then if I used my real name.

It's certainly not hard to find out my real name. A simple google of Bigeyez will net you my Escapist profile which has my name, birthdate and current city I'm residing in, and even links to my Steam and XBL profiles. From there it's a hop skip and jump away from finding my Facebook/Myspace pages.

Whats funny is that thats with my name being a very common one. In fact googling my name alone will NOT find you me, but instead a medieval poet with my name! (and tons of other people with my real name)

So in a way, me using the name Bigeyez everywhere can lead to more people finding the real me, then if I used my own name! Anyways I'm just rambling and completely off topic so I'll just stop now. =p
People aren't rational, and the correlation between reduced anonymity and better behavior is relatively well understood. There's going to be outliers, of course, but it's pretty much a given that most people will be more civil to each other in such an environment.

The idea's still terrible of course, because the trade-off is the privacy/potential harassment issues, and a little more civility can't be worth all that, can it?
I'm not sure trolls are Blizzard's primary motivation for making this change. There are more effective ways of dealing with trolls that would have been much less offensive to the players and generated much less negative pr.

I think this has to be part of something bigger, and trolls was an attempt to make this part of it more palatable.
@ Scotth

Like someone else mentioned on one of Tobold's other posts on the subject. I firmly believe this has more to do with Blizzard trying to tap into other markets then it does with defending the forums against trolling. Especially with this being linked to I can easily see blizzard trying to get more notice by linking things like forum posts to a similar system thats already available for the armory. INC more Facebook WoW spam IMO.
You are looking at this from the wrong direction. Blizzard doesn't really care about forum trolling. Sure, they expend some money paying customer support people and having reps make blue posts about nonsense, but the costs there are a drop in the bucket. What they are interested in is the creation of an inter-game persistent social network a-la xbox live but with the same sort of social advertising prospects as facebook. Reducing trolling is a side game.

If the goal was to reduce trolling, your comments would be germane. Requiring users to give their real name has too much collateral damage. It would be simpler to decide to rigorously moderate the forums, force accounts to post from one character, and ban players 'in game' when they are banned from the forums. Look at a forum space like Elitist Jerks, where constant moderation has created a relatively safe space for debate.
Amusingly even on your blog you don't allow anonymous posting ... only posts with an id that is just as *real* as that for WoW...

Doesn't that prove that you need RealD?
It's a great point, in order for real id to achieve it's purpose 'create a better forum community' it must also carry some sort of threat to the owner's name being revealed in the first place!

Personally I will not mind having my real name associated with my character and blog. I'll just have to report quite a bit of facebook spam.
@djinn Not really. Here, unlike at (including the WoW forums) there is moderation.

It should also remembered that the "new" forums will provide the ability to vote posts/comments up and down. (Tried that for about 3 days on my own blog, and hated it. Talk about a gradeschool mentality!)
Apologies in advance for the added comment; just checking out OpenID from within Gruml (Mac feedreader).

Don't be silly. Tobold wants buggers ta pick a name and stick with it - he ain't requiring everybodies to post with they's real life names. If Blizz chose to go this route with they's forums, none of this talkifyings would be going on.
It is entirely true that there is an established relationship between perceived anonymity and acting like a selfish jerk. It has nothing to do with real consequences or rationality but is a consistent response regardless. RealID if implemented just as they suggest it will be will reduce the level of junk on the forums. I don't think that makes it a good idea and there are a plethora of problems with it but if they do shove it through it will clean up their forums to some extent. I made a big post about it on my blog today if anyone wants to read more.
This comment has been removed by the author.
Epiny is not my real name. It is my online name tied to a fake gmail account. I got the idea from Tobold. My name comes from the Solider Son Trilogy I read while in Iraq.

Warhammer Online already runs this way. You post under a master account and can then select which character is showed with it... your actual posting name is the master name though.

It's a perfectly good system. This change Blizzard is doing has nothing to do with actual moderation on their part. They already have all of your info, they could ban trolls, they don't. It's the social networking boom they are trying to get in on.

The biggest problem with how the new forums will work, to me, is that I can log in, with a real id, never post and see everyone's real names. I can then cherry pick, based on my amount of boredom, someone for what ever reason I so desire and look them up. I retain my anonymity.

There is an old saying in the USA, though I have been scared to use it based on the amount of international people here... but here goes.

If you outlaw guns, then only the outlaws will have guns. The point being that the law abiding citizens already follow the rules, and will continue to do so in what ever changes Blizzard makes. The trolls, or law breakers, will continue to do so. By implementing real id you are just giving them another weapon to harass the community.

(please don't make this about guns)
RealID, what makes having the real name show up any different from an unique identifier such as Tobold. Only one shot(per account)to mess up posting privileges without exposing a real name isn't enough? Y'know, trolls won. They got Blizzard to spas out and force people to use their real name. So now the trolls can take it one step further and troll people IRL(the actual target or just someone with the same name), don't even have to face moderation from Blizzard anymore.
Yeah, this will end well...
I also believe there is a motive hidden in this nonsense.

With the next possible Bliz MMO and release of Diablo/Starcraft... I think Bliz will attempt to create a fixed brand loyalty by adding social network foundation to all their releases.

However this does not excuse the release of real names... and I still can not think of a single well thought out reason for why we need to have our names published.

As for moderation of the Carbon Retentive Aggregate Pile that is commonly reffered to as the official forums... we are kinda locked into using them.

Blizzard may argue, don't want your name published, don't use the forums.

But how many times have I asked for in-game support to be only told use the forums by some halfwit GM.

So in essence we may be forced to reveal ourselves when we encounter a game issue that cannot be dealt with in-game or can't be assed to wait 2 hours on the phone.

I personally believe and quite passionately that Blizzard have not demonstrated in the slightest a sound, solid and morally responsible reason for forcing users to be identified en-masse.

The likes of Blizzard should learn from the gaffs of attempts like this with Gmail/Buzz. Folk signed up to an email account not a social networking site.

I signed up to a game, not a who's who of WoW.

Are there any online petitions aimed at forcing Bliz to back down?
A suggestion to alternative moderation.

Allow a select number of WoW players to moderate general and realm forums.

Bliz are not prepared to moderate their cesspit forums and pay for it. It would take too many paid employees.

Give selected players a bonus of free accounts in order to moderate.

With minor abilities to edit profane language and report posts to a core small team of paid bliz employees.

4 or 5 players per realm, and same for the other general forums.

Selected from already friendly and helpful posters.

The core team can the IP/Account block anyone from posting (read only), warn abusers or hand out small bans.

Most big forums rely on moderators selected from their user base.

The problem has become one, simply because Blizzard has always let the forums be a pretty hideous place to seek help. If they had teeth at the start... I don't think we would have had this problem.
Trust blizzard they know what there doing, and if you dont like posting using your real name why dont you use some other forum.
There is an old saying in the USA, though I have been scared to use it based on the amount of international people here

If you are scared of outing yourself as an American, then how do you think the guy whose real name happens to be Mohammed is feeling about RealID?
No Alex, it's a conspiracy from Blizzard to make money.

To make money off of my privacy.

I was happy to give Blizzard money for games, for server transfers, race changes, name changes, shiny ponies, pets, trading cards, and anything else that fell under the umbrella of entertainment.

I liked using forums and being a member of the community.

However, I have a job in which my privacy in real life and online is important, and the two aren't meant to go together.

Why can Blizzard not be satisfied by making money in traditional ways?

Why should I be told to Blindly "trust" them to reveal my name to the world in relation to playing their game?

I admit when some of the new things they do are cool, IE being able to message my wife or brother regardless of the server or account they are on. But sharing names with friends of friends?

All I'd have to do is become realID friends with the friend of someone I wanted to stalk, and suddenly I have all their information.

Did you know that in real life theirs an expectation of privacy? My wife works at a hospital, and does medical tests for people. Patients she works with do not have the privilege of knowing her full name.

I work with the mentally ill. If I let any member of the public know simply the name of someone I work with, my organization could get sued and I could lose my job for violating privacy. What's in a name?

A lot.
"Trust blizzard they know what there doing"

Because a large, faceless multi-national corporation has only my best interests in mind right?
Alex said...
'...Trust blizzard they know what there doing'

this. this is what we're afraid of.

when blizz decides to force everyone to expose their real names in order to get tech support, it's 'Trust blizzard they know what there doing'...

when blizz decides to link everyone's armory to their realID, it will be 'Trust blizzard they know what there doing'...

when blizz decides to use realID and facebook to track people's internet use, it will be 'Trust blizzard they know what there doing'...

when blizz decides to sell your personal info to fuck-knows-who, will it be 'Trust blizzard they know what there doing'?

because by then it will be too late.

no, Alex. i don't trust blizzard. because -I- know what they're doing. they're trying to make money. and i know they don't give a good goddamn about you or me or anyone else. just the money.
Marcko: "Personally I will not mind having my real name associated with my character and blog."

Odd, I seem to remember you being rather annoyed when Gevlon published your work e-mail. How are things at Boeing?
I just have to post this quote from Jarod Lanier's "You Are Not a Gadget."

"The only hope for social networking sites from a business point of view, is for a magic formula to appear in which some method of violating privacy and dignity becomes acceptable."

I will try to find the entire excerpt and maybe send it to Tobold in an email.
Funny, I remembered I had written about this earlier, like back in February, and here's the post.

What you say is true, John Gabriel's theory would quickly be disproved by RealID anyways.

Point of fact: My wife trolls me in real life, mostly to see how my head hurts when what she says makes no sense.

I do the same thing to my friends, and Tobold does it to us (like when you claimed to be Gevlon). Point or not point, trolling exists without anonymity.

Found this, don't know how related it may be.
The theory goes that by attaching a persons real name to what they post on the internet it will make them post more responsibly. If you could do a survey of the age range of trolls I wonder if that would back up this theory.

The average age range of a troll being also the age range at which responsible behaviour is the norm?

The more worrying aspect of this theory is that the threat of real life consequences will stop a number of inflamatory posts. Think about that for a moment are the people behind Real ID on the forums suggesting people take action against people that write such posts. To me that seems to be the implication.

I think we may see some interesting court cases at some point in the future.
You know, i logged into Battle Net today, and right at the bottom it is written :

*Your full address is not displayed here for your privacy

hahaha ! Blizzard forgetting their own suggestions for the RealID !
Cant edit comments ...

check under the "contact and shipping information" for the little privacy gem.
Hey Alex,

Your words would carry much more weight if your Blogger profile wasn't blocked...

That's what most people would want from blizzard. Opting out with just one click...
And I'm sure the Blizzard foruns will be so polite and clean after this...

For example, London is now a city with almost no crime since they implemented CCTV everywhere.
We won.
bahahaha Stabs that was really funny :D
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