I’m not sure what I could say that could properly preface Blizzard’s latest announcement, so I’ll just let their words speak for themselves:
The first and most significant change is that in the near future, anyone posting or replying to a post on official Blizzard forums will be doing so using their Real ID — that is, their real-life first and last name — with the option to also display the name of their primary in-game character alongside it. These changes will go into effect on all StarCraft II forums with the launch of the new community site prior to the July 27 release of the game, with the World of Warcraft site and forums following suit near the launch of Cataclysm.
I read this and my jaw dropped. I passed on the link to others, read comments, reread the post, saw the Blue amendment (old posts will be unaffected), went to lunch and came back. And now that I’m back from lunch, I think I’ve managed to sift through my thoughts and find the relevant bits, beginning with this:
What the FUCK are you thinking, Blizzard?
Yes, I just dropped the f-bomb. Because something like this deserves it. I was fine – and continue to be fine – with the Real ID friendlist because I can choose who knows who I am. Not that I exactly go to great lengths to conceal my identity, but I don’t need some random pug tank calling me by my first name.
A person’s name is their identity. Yes, that sounds obvious but let me elaborate: you’re walking down the street and you hear someone say your first name. Immediately you pause – that name is your personal identifier, after all – and turn towards the voice, only to see someone else approaching the person like old buddies. It may be that person’s name as well, but to the both of you it is something personal.
I’ll admit to only half-listening to my husband at times, but if he says my name he has my full and undivided attention. It triggers something primal, a mental flag that I need to get serious, because whatever is happening warrants the use of my specific identifier. My name is personal, and if I don’t want someone to use it I can tell them to their face.
Blizzard doesn’t have a face. It’s a company that I’ve believed for a long time only wanted the best for its customers. So instead I will say this publicly: Blizzard, I want you to use my name to bill me. I do NOT want you to use my name to tell the entire World Wide Web that I play a tauren hunter, or that my undead mage yells gibberish in battlegrounds, or that my night elf druid has been sitting unplayed for over a year.
Blizzard, it’s not fair that I trusted you with my name, my moniker, only to have you tell me that I have to share it with the entire world to be a part of your forums. And now, I value my privacy too highly to post on your forums ever again.
I understand you want to reduce the amount of trolling on your forums. I don’t have an easy solution for you. But I will tell you that doing this will not only pare out just a few trolls (because the worst ones have no moral difficulty with lying to you in the first place), but additionally serve to alienate the most competent and intelligent section of your fan base. They are the ones who understand the value of their name, and they will shun you.
Don’t do this, Blizzard, I implore you. It will only serve to tarnish your company’s reputation. Or does your name mean as little to you as mine?
Edit 7/7/10: My post on the official thread, response number 19761.