News: Blizzard fights back against forum trolls

Since the birth of the internet, there has been a blight steadily growing, spawned from the womb of anonymity and craving the delicious nectar of lolz. The common forum troll feeds on your tears and uses their incredibly insightful social observations to shake your self esteem to its foundations (or confuse you with drivel). This disease is one without a cure, something that we have to live with like an unfortunate case of forum herpes that starts as chatroom crotch itch and flares up when you least expect it while you innocently try to enjoy your favourite multiplayer games.

However, Activision Blizzard has announced something which has their customers up in arms and has the trolls quite upset. The change that they will be rolling out with Starcraft II is the implementation of their RealID system on their official forums. This will also hit the World of Warcraft forums just before the launch of Cataclysm. As of writing this, the forums that announced the change has over 800 pages of responses.

RealID is a new feature of the Blizzard Battlenet service that lets you add people to your friends list using their real name so you can talk to them no matter which Blizzard game they are playing. Think of it like XboxLive, PSN, Steam etc but exclusively for Blizzard titles. What makes RealID something to fear for forum trolls is the fact that they have announced that in the future all posts you make on the official forums will be made using your real name. With anonymity gone, the trolls lose their power.

There are some implications of this system that are legitimately problematic though. Publishing the real name of your customers online has all kinds of potential hazards including identity theft, harassment, and other real world issues that could jeopardise the safety of online players. That being said, if you are concerned with the risk, you don’t have to use the forums.

It is good to see Blizzard trying to curb the negative elements of their customer base and attempting to bring their forums under control. However, it is a massive minefield that will potentially alienate their customers and turn their forums into an internet ghost town. Fan sites will likely be the place where any vital Blizzard related discussion will occur because even those who play by the rules don’t want the world to know who they are. If that occurs, the valuable feedback that Blizzard gets from their forums will decrease. It is a risky move for sure and one hell of a slippery slope which will be interesting to watch come into effect in the coming months.

If you have ever spent any time on a Blizzard forum, you will understand why they have made this move but whether this is the right way to go remains to be seen. With no screen name to hide behind, could this be the beginning of an online utopia where intelligent discussion reigns supreme and the death of trolling? Of course not, but at least there will be one safe haven for those who just want to talk about the games they enjoy.

What do you think about his change? Is it a good idea or the worst idea in the history of bad ideas?

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  • http://twitter.com/Northy179 Northy179

    i'm against the real ID thing both ingame and in forums. I can see several likely scenarios becoming every day occurances:

    1) Remember that kid who got owned on CoD or something and ended up hunting the guy down in RL to attack him? getting ganked in game could have the same affect.

    2) A lot of girls play, a lot of dumb girls, this is just stalker bait

    3) account theft will rise now that everyones details are so freely available…

    Sure, it may discourage idiots from spamming crap in the forums but with something as big and popular as blizzard games with such a scary dedicated fanbase… security issues are a big concern…

  • Angelus

    yeah im of two minds about it. I think it is good to try and stamp out trolling but whether this is the right way Im not sure. In the end, if I am really concerned about my privacy, I just wont use their forums. Of course, my name is plastered all over the net so one more place wont hurt :)

  • PSIress

    I'd stop playing blizzard games for these very reasons, if I did play them in the first place.

  • Nachos Justice

    What I find interesting is the prospect of journo folk being outed in such instances… I don't know about you, but I don't want the world to know that I suck at a particular game or judge me for a typo in the forum or whatever. The privacy aspect concerns me, but the concept of my ever-spreading name being tarnished scares me the most! :P

  • Angelus

    yeah but you fail at most games nate… oooh snap.. yeah there is a certain level of that too. i remember back when I used to play Socom II, Sony blacklisted me because of comments I made on the Socom forums. I was told by the sony rep, “either you are a journo or a gamer, you cant be both”. I chose gamer and sony stopped sending me games to review.. lol

  • http://twitter.com/Northy179 Northy179

    yep, its already a mess, in game i can rightclick on any of my friends and see the real first and last name of all their friends and they can find me the same way… so my privacy has already been invaded AND i have recieved friend requests on facebook from people in my guild, i'd rather that not happen…

  • Nachos Justice

    Considering what you classify as 'games' DJ, I don't take much offence to what you just said :P. That's BS from Sony. Isn't the common belief that we're (at the very least) apt gamers, which is part of why our opinions matter more than the average Joe?

  • Angelus

    Turn of events… public outcry makes blizz change their mind.

    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 conversation threading, the ability to rate posts up or down, 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/miss… ) 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

  • popshott

    Blizzard is doing it wrong, get more mods and enforce some new rules. Open up new forums if needed. Here is a good example of what they should do

    http://www.facepunch.com/index.php

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