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It didn’t take long to get from Thunder Bluff to the Echo Isles – Ankona took advantage of a wyvern so she could think and plan before getting to her destination. She had information to confirm with the spirits – was Gromnor dead? Was he really in the northern part of the Eastern Kingdoms, somewhere […]

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Real ID – Epic Fail
comment 20 Written by on July 7, 2010 – 8:48 am

The short version:

Starting with Starcraft II and proceeding into WoW just before Cataclysm, all posts made on the WoW Official Forums will be done using your RealID, which is to say, your real first and last name.

Obviously, this is… not so good.

The posts I’ve liked best so far:

  1. Saresa, from Destructive Reach – RealID – A Forum Compilation
  2. Chas, from Righteous Orbs – Seriously Not Okay
  3. Yva, from WTT:RP – Obligatory RealID Post as well as Falconesse’s comment (#3)
  4. Blue Ink Alchemy – The Rise and Fall of Blizzard – Battle net and Facebook

So here’s the thing, cats and kittens. Lots of people are OK with this change. And that’s fine. Their “okayness” doesn’t change, diminish, or otherwise in any way change my (and other people’s) “not-okayness”. Particularly since my issue is as much one of safety as it is one of comfort. (I’ve found mostly people either don’t care – “whatever, it doesn’t bother me” – or don’t like it. Haven’t seen a lot of people overjoyed by the change.)

If you feel safe using the new “my real name is on the forum with all my posts” thing, that’s fine. I’m glad you’re that secure in trusting either your name’s popularity, or the internet’s ability to overlook you.

I don’t feel safe, both for reasons of hacking and for reasons of stalking/harassment. I’m fortunate that I don’t have any creepy stalker exes that are out to get me online. I’m also not transgendered, and I have a relatively common, US/European sounding first name. But I have dealt with people online who took harassment out of game and into the greater internet – and that was pretty unnerving. I’m very thankful that, in both cases, neither person had my real name or my location.

Could someone find that out about me? Probably. But that doesn’t mean I’m OK with broadcasting it to every gold-seller and creepy window-licking asshat out there. (As Corise said, that’s like saying there’s no reason to lock my door when I leave the house because a burglar could just break a window and get in.)

I’m also not OK with broadcasting that I play a video game to every potential employer that knows how to use a search engine. In many fields, video games (especially MMO’s, and DOUBLE especially Warcraft) are not viewed well. In fact, they’re viewed as proof that you’re lazy, unproductive and immature. Whether that stereotype is correct or not, it exists, and ignoring it doesn’t make it go away or not affect you.

Sure, I could just never use the forums. But when the WoW customer service people regularly send you to the forums because “they can help you there”? I’ll be pretty stuck. That’s no longer a choice – other than a choice not to be able to fix your game so it’s playable if you want to control who does and doesn’t have your name. (And before someone brings up Facebook, my Facebook account is on a pretty short leash. I untag pictures of myself, it’s only visible to people I trust, and I pretty ruthlessly delete things there. Could you find me if you tried? Probably, but you’d have to try pretty hard, and you couldn’t see much of anything about me – not even a profile picture – unless I accepted you as a friend.)

The #1 rule of the internet is “Don’t give your real life information to strangers.” Unfortunately, Blizzard doesn’t seem to understand this. In fact, it’s against the Blizzard ToS to give out someone else’s personal information – including their name.

I think I’ll take a cue from Aely on this one.

[5.OOC] Beltar: Aely’s Hammer of What The Fuck Were You Thinking

So, what can we do about it?

Two things:

  1. Post on the original forum thread. The Devs are reading that thread. Don’t make a new thread, it’ll get deleted. And you may have to try more than once. That thread is already over 1000 pages long, so the forums are pretty busy.
  2. Send Blizzard a customer service email via this page: https://us.blizzard.com/support/webform.xml?rhtml=y&locale=en_US

And remember – being a rational, cool headed human being will get you a lot farther than ranting. Be firm, be polite, be clear, and be concise (I usually fail on that last one). Ranting and raving gets you pegged as a looney and the type of troll they’re trying to stop from posting anonymously.

It’s possible Blizzard will still go through with this, and it’s entirely possible we’ve only just now seen “Step 2” in the RealID slippery slope.

In fact, given that Blizzard has already announced that Battle.net 2.0 is going to be integrated with Facebook, I seriously doubt anything will change at this point.

Regardless, we don’t know any of that yet, and until we do, let’s wait and see what happens. This change hasn’t happened yet, and there are a lot of people expressing their discontent (and in some cases, canceling recurring accounts. If this is to that level for you, it’s DOUBLY important that you send a message via either the forum or the customer support page).


PS – I’ve seriously considered closing comments on this post. I have no desire to hash and rehash this, but enough of you have sent me links to it (apparently to make sure I know what’s going on) that I felt a post was necessary. I’ll hopefully be posting some fic later, so we can all move on with things. The only way to change this is to contact Blizzard about it, so please, do so (I have) and we’ll get back to RP and the more fun parts of the game.

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20 Responses to “Real ID – Epic Fail”

  1. If I was a Blizzard CM who posted on the forums semi-regularly, I wouldn’t be happy about this at all. Judging from past experience of watching people like Eyonix and Tseric whip the mouth-breathers in the class forums into a frenzy with just a post, the current crop had better be very good at protecting their privacy.

    This is just…I don’t know what bugs me more.

    (a) that they’re selling this as an anti-forum-troll measure;
    (b) that they may believe that it might WORK as an anti-forum-troll measure; or
    (c) that this is just the first step in more “social” use of RealID and exposing RL names.

  2. Poor Bashiok has already gotten the first taste of what this is going to bring. As horrified as I am by these changes, I feel for the guy.

    By Verdus on Jul 7, 2010 | Reply
  3. I also feel for the guy who shares Bashiok’s name and home-state that the forumites found and initially latched onto. There’s no way to know how many people tried getting in touch with that person, but I’m betting it was at least a handful.

    Which means that not only was a Blizzard employee harrassed for putting his real name out there, but someone who’s not even involved in all of this was, as well.

  4. I posted my own thoughts on this, but:

    I’ve been thinking about this almost all night, and I might be with one of the Riders on this when I say it might be the end of my account, if this idea hasn’t taken a grand step back by the time Cata or the Cata 4.0 patch comes around.

  5. What brings me hope is the near-unanimity of those who oppose it. I’ve only seen one blogger that is actively in favour of this change, with a couple being fairly neutral and dozens opposed.

    Let’s see how Blizzard handle this one. Are they really going to press ahead with it despite the opposition of the player base? And, if so, how many will quit?

    I’m really torn right now. I dearly want to explore Cataclysm, but I will not stand for mandatory Real ID, for the same reason that I refuse to join Facebook.

  6. I tried cancelling my recurring account last night.

    The web server was overloaded and kept just refreshing to the same page, the one on which you give your reason for cancelling.

    So I called.

    Their phone queue was full and the system told me to try online instead.

    I’ll admit I had a little giggle.

    I’m so desperately hoping they fix this, because the absolute last thing I want to do is give up my WoW community and have to avoid Diablo III to boot. But I really don’t know that I can do business with a company willing to play so fast and loose with their customers’ information. Or, at the least, willing to cut out the voices of those who don’t want their information given up.

    By Shad on Jul 7, 2010 | Reply
  7. I dislike this move on many levels. Although consistent, nontransient, unique identifiers are necessary components to building stable, civil communities, “real” names are wholly irrelevant to that end. And as many have pointed out, “real” names can be contrary to that goal.

    Modern humans–especially modern ones–are familiar with and adept at mechanisms for keeping various spheres of their lives–and various aspects of their selves–separated. There are many valid reasons for doing so. Emotional reasons, social reasons, psychological, intellectual, logistical, practical reasons. *Lots* of valid, nonsinister, ordinary reasons. Psuedonymity is often the best means of doing that. In the post-web world, I’d argue it’s often the only way of doing that.

    This notion that everything a person does–physically, virtually, professionally, capriciously, socially-must be coded in a database under a single linked identifier is odious. That everything a person does must be filtered through that single linked identifier and the service that encodes it is ugly. It’s wrongheaded and I hope it devastates the businesses that think it’s the wave of the future.

    By quoting someone else on Jul 7, 2010 | Reply
  8. Names matter, Real names doubly so. I would be fine with an alias, but I literally have a magnetic lock at my office in case an ex-client or ex-husband of a client tries to come kill me. As I said in my blog, I am a single legal aid lawyer, in a small office, in a middling size metro area. Azeroth is not prepared for the darkness that will flood the world once people with real lives like mine have to drag that crap into the fantasy land. Sargeras will look like a Kindergarten Teacher by comparison. Think about it, police, social workers, psychiatrists, doctors, Azeroth is not prepared for it. It can’t be.

    I have to hear about stuff that cannot be said in the official forums, on a daily basis. I have been stalked and harassed. And I am a man, though I play a girl in game, I shudder to think what will happen to women who play.

    As long as it stays just the forums, okay, but real names in game, NO THANKS.

  9. I know that you need more than just a name to do all sorts of crazy things; my name, your(s) (anyone’s, really) is already “public”….but this still leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I’ll still play because I never post on the forums and there are some good friends I have made and met in real life playing WoW. Why don’t I even have the option of opting-out of this? I feel forced into this in the manner of “you’ll do it and you’ll like it”. I just don’t like it I guess. Again, as I said, I’ll still play because of my love for the story of the game.

    By Zhire on Jul 7, 2010 | Reply
  10. Actually Zhire, you don’t really need much more than a name. A name gets you started, and from there? That’s really all someone who’s determined to figure you out will need – add in that a simple google search will turn up other things about you, and people can find out a lot of information in less time than it’s taken me to type this. For instance, say this RealID thing goes live, and someone decides to figure out where you live – and at one point somewhere on the internet (perhaps on Facebook, or in another post) you mention a weather phenomena in your state… now they have a name and a state, and it gets more specific from there. If you own a house, your address and phone number are online as well.

  11. There is a very simple way to not post your real name under the new system.


    Just as I had the choice when filling in this form as to what name and email I provided, everyone has the same choice with Real-ID, you DON’T have to use it.

    Don’t sign up and nothing in the WoW world changes for you. If you just HAVE to use it and can’t stop your self? Well guess what, Blizz doesn’t KNOW what your name is only the one you tell them, and they don’t care what CC pays for your account. You want to stay hidden? Well change your personal info on the Real-ID to your toon names not your real name.

    Now to distract you.

    <—– Hey look a squirrel

    By TheChoiceIsYours on Jul 8, 2010 | Reply
  12. Actually, if you put your personal info on your blizzard accounts with a false name, and your account gets hacked, you can’t prove that you own the account, and therefore won’t get anything back. It may even be against the ToS to use a fake name to sign up for a Blizzard game.

    And no, I don’t have to use it. But I’m still upset about the community that is being silenced for no reason other than Blizzard’s desire for more dollars. We are Blizzard fans because they make good games, not because they make Facebook. If i want to use Facebook… I’ll sign up for an account. If I want to use Twitter, I’ll do so. When I log into WoW, I want to play a game, not wade through a bunch of social medial bullshit that I honestly don’t give a flying f-sharp about. I care intensely about controlling what aspects of my life are available to other aspects of my life, and I’d honestly like that to continue. Blizzard is making that increasingly more difficult. Now, instead of posting on the tech forums, I have to wait on a phone call for hours. Instead of being able to interact on the roleplay forum, I have to take it… somewhere else? Where else? There’s not an independent roleplaying community yet.

    Plus? What happens when RealID becomes mandatory in game? This is their second announcement in 2 weeks. What if they make Facebook integration mandatory – they’ve already signed a merger of some sort with Facebook for Battle.net 2.0.

    Speaking out about this is the only way to get anything to change. I’m glad you don’t have a problem with it. Other people do.

  13. Another excellent link – I agree a lot with Shade, especially on the part about logging in right now.

  14. News Article about Real ID. As suspected (and rather unsurprising, given the weakness of the original argument) this ain’t about trolling.

    “After a rather hostile reaction from the community of players, the studio revealed that it would be continuing to talk to players about the system but that it would nonetheless go ahead with its implementation.”

    “Our goal is to create a social gaming service that players want to use.”

    And more reading – the USA Today Interview on what Battle.net and Facebook integration will look like.

    “Our goal and vision in this partnership is to really to cross-populate the social networks and to easily find and add your friends from Facebook onto the new Battle.net service as the first step and extending it to other features in the future.”

    So my question is… what are those other features? Just how far is this going? Blizzard’s given me no reason at all to trust them anymore about this.

    From the Battle.net Terms of Use


    1. Massive.
    Blizzard’s Games and the Service may incorporate technology of Massive Incorporated (“Massive”), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Microsoft Corporation (“Microsoft”), that enables in-game advertising, and the display of other similar in-game objects, which are downloaded temporarily to your personal computer and replaced during online game play. As part of this process, Massive may collect some information about the game and the advertisements delivered to you, as well as standard information that is sent when your personal computer or game console connects to the Internet including your Internet protocol (IP) address. Massive will use this information to transmit and measure in-game advertising, as well as to improve the products and services of Massive and its affiliates. None of the information collected by Massive will be used to identify you. For additional details regarding Massive’s in-game advertising practices, please see Massive’s In-Game Advertising privacy statement at http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=122085&clcid=0x409. The trademarks and copyrighted material contained in all in-game advertising are the property of the respective owners. Portions of the Service are © 2008 Massive Incorporated. All rights reserved.
    2. Facebook.
    If you are a registered user of Facebook you may use your Facebook data to enable you to find your Facebook friends on the Service. Your Facebook account is subject to separate terms and conditions provided by Facebook. Note that if you have a Facebook account, your Facebook friends will be able to associate your screen name with your real name on the Service when they use the Facebook friends feature. You hereby acknowledge that Facebook is not responsible for any liability as a result of your use of the Service.

    So it ain’t just Facebook folks… it’s in-game advertising too. Tell me again why I should believe that there is any sort of desire to make a /good game/ in this anymore?

    Security Risks with RealID – both with the forum implementation and the current ability of any addon with the proper script to reveal anyone’s RealID who hasn’t enabled Parental Controls.

    Oh did you miss that? Yeah, you don’t have to USE RealID. It comes automatically enabled, and the only way to turn it off is to pretend to be your own mother and turn on Parental Controls on your account. If you don’t do that, any predatory addon (and I don’t know which ones, this is still pretty new) can find out your name AND your battle.net login email.

  15. “Other major issues which rise from this:

    A person choses to “opt-out” of forum posting. Their account is hacked. The hacker steals not only their gold and items, but makes a forum post. Now the hacker can steal their name, additionally their name is now on the forums against their will. This can’t be recovered even by deleting the post, the name has already been out there.

    What prevents marketing companies from creating accounts simply to collect the names of gamers to spam them or make sales lists? Take a new company… and you want to get access to a list of thousands of names and contacts? $15 a month is a steal. ”

    From here: post 38657

  16. The answer, for me, was simple. I disabled my recurring payment. My account’s active until October, and unless/until there’s a major about face on this, I’m done with WoW. I have no delusions that posting on the forums with my real name would be the straw that broke the camel’s back. If you know my name, I’m pretty easily found on the interwebs, being a freelance writer and a generally easy-going, helpful Usenet using individual. Every single time my name got stored in the giant swimming pool of data that is the world wide web, it was my choice to put it there. The “Tits or GTFO” attitude that Blizz has thrown back at people with serious concerns about this change is disgusting, and I’m not interested in supporting it.

  17. You want to stay hidden? Well change your personal info on the Real-ID to your toon names not your real name.

    I tried that when RealID went in as a chat tool. You can’t. Your RealID is a static, unchangeable field that is populated either from the name you first used when you signed up on the service or from the credit card you use to pay for your account — I’m not sure which, since I did both at the same time (signed up and entered credit card information).

    If anyone else knows of a way to change their RealIDs, I’d be perfectly happy to be proven wrong on this. But I most definitely did try this a few weeks back, and could not even type in the box where my “real name” goes, let alone delete characters from it.

  18. Right now the only way to change your RealID name is to go through Blizzard customer service, which includes providing several forms of ID that your new name is your real actual name. I know someone who recently got married, and changing her RealID name to her new married name was such a pain in the butt that she didn’t bother completing it. Even fixing typos in your RealID name is difficult.

    So no, you can’t just “change your personal info” on your Real ID.

  1. 2 Trackback(s)

  2. Jul 7, 2010: WTT: [RP] » Open Thread: RealID
  3. Jul 7, 2010: RealIDiocy « Achtung Panzercow

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