World of Warcraft forums are "where flame wars, trolling, and other unpleasantness run wild", says Blizzard, the publisher of the mega-online game. And it thinks it knows how to get everyone to behave more nicely.
With the next iteration of its Battle.net forum, the company is to publish users' real names in full on official forums. Removing anonymity will "contribute to a more positive forum environment, promote constructive conversations, and connect the Blizzard community in ways they haven’t been connected before".
Existing posts are not affected, but many WoW subscribers are concerned about the privacy implications of the move. Emails complaining about the decision are already flooding in - to El Reg's inbox - so one can imagine the furore on Battle.net forums.
As one Reg reader says: " So every man, woman and child who plays World of Warcraft or the upcoming Starcraft 2 will only be able to post on their forums if they're perfectly happy for anyone who may want to know what their name is. The mind boggles at the security implications from social engineering passwords, email addresses and account names or even safety if people have ex partners or stalkers etc. And then there's the idiots who you meet in the games themselves who can now take their abuse to real life with just a little googling and rare name or background info."
No doubt, Blizzard has considered this and is willing to wave goodbye to anonymous forum participants: damn the traffic - or dam the traffic? It simply wants people to behave themselves, to create a new and different kind of online gaming environment - one that’s highly social, and which provides an ideal place for gamers to form long-lasting, meaningful relationships. "
Anonymous for Obvious Reasons
Meanwhile at El Reg forums, we will continue to accept anonymous posts, while accepting that sometimes participants can be more shouty than they would be otherwise.
Of course, a lot fewer people hang out at El Reg than at Battle.net… and also our commentards talk about their jobs from time to time. We think they should be able to do so without fear of being sacked.
So will Blizzard stem the Troll tide? Is it at the vanguard? Many newspapers are considering banning anonymous comments too - The American Journalism Review outlines the arguments in favour of such a ban here.
Comments as always, welcome. But real names this time, OK?