RealID – Do you hear them now Blizzard?

Now isn’t this interesting?  Of course the blogger is correct, as all he did was use Google, Facebook, and used (it appears) a few publicly available internet databases.  That he searched for information on people who’s names we already know is irrelevant to his point that others will do exactly what he did for the people in game they’ve had issue with at some point.  If you think this doesn’t happen then you need to climb back in that hole you’ve been living in for the past decade.  I have a Facebook page but I have the privacy policies set tightly so that my information is only shared with a small number of friends.  But you know, that was my choice.  And choice is what Blizzard seems to not be getting here.

Except they do get it.  They’ve said as much.

We have been planning this change for a very long time. During this time, we have thought ahead about the scope and impact of this change and predicted that many people would no longer wish to post in the forums after this change goes live. We are fine with that, because we want to change these forums dramatically in a positive and more constructive direction.

It’s been very obvious over the last few years that the forums are an exceptionally valuable source of information both for players and for us to gather feedback. There are many threads on this forum now, and over the last few years, that people have been constructively discussing many aspects of the game. They’ve received new wisdom and have then been able to go back to the game and enjoy it further with the new knowledge acquired through the forums.
These threads, however, can often be lost amongst a great deal of other threads that are basically filled with trolling, name calling, flaming, off-topic conversations and that’s just a small amount of some of the content that has been found in these forums over the years. We don’t want that anymore, and we believe the Real ID change will bring about a lot of the improvement that we are hoping for.
There’s a lot of scare-mongering going on about the change, but there seems a need to make something very clear. The forums have always been an optional extra — something you can choose to participate in if you wish to. With our Real ID changes for the forums, this is still the case. The only difference will be, if you do choose to participate in the forums, then you will do so by using your real name. But only after you’ve been warned and accepted this in advance.

And

A lot of legitimate and understandable concerns are being raised. It would be hard for myself or any caring individual to not empathise with the fears and concerns people have. But amidst these concerns there is also a bit of something going on that I can’t easily describe with other words, but I’ll try.

Posting on the forums with your real name will be optional — yes, in the sense that the options are simply post and show your real name, or do not post and you keep it confidential. If people are happy to post and do not feel intimidated by this, then great — hopefully they will also post constructively (though it’s fair to say, this isn’t a given). It might be scary to consider posting with your real name, in which case it might be advisable simply not to post in these forums. There’s a whole load of other forums across the internet where you’ll be able to post in a more anonymous way, and maybe you will make a useful and constructive contribution there instead.

If you really do read all posts in this thread and others, like we are doing, then you will see some examples of what I was meaning by “scare-mongering”. There are posts from some people who are either confused by the changes or generally uncertain, and they are getting understandably scared and then posting in a way that scares other people in the process. With such a change as we have outlined, it is completely understandable that people can and do feel this way. Describing the process of scaring others and raising the level of general fear as “scare-mongering” does not in any way diminish people’s validity in doing so, nor does it dismiss the usefulness of anyone expressing themselves in any way, including in a way I might describe as “scare-mongering”; the term simply describes it for what it appears to be.

You see? Anyone with trepidation or outrage over this upcoming policy change is simply fear mongering. While many are indeed completely naive about the information available about them, they are protected by obscurity. In the IT field that’s called security by obscurity, which of course is no real security at all. But it works in that no one know to look for you specifically. Run your mouth on the forum, or piss someone off in game — hey that bastard keeps undercutting my auctions (just go read Gevlon’s blog for the hate mail he gets regularly) — and you might just find out how far some people are willing to take things. They only have your name right? Ever hear of social engineering? Look it up some time. Google is as much your friend as it will be for that special someone looking for you too.

Using social engineering skills to locate you physically is the extreme (I hope). But don’t think for a moment that it’s the only possible action that can transpire out of all of this. Imagine all of those embarrassing bits of information out there that you’d rather keep separate from your gaming persona. Instead they’ll be be posted and brought to the attention of those folks you raid with three times a week. And don’t think that THE GUILDS won’t be using Google as a further tool to see if you are GUILD material. Hey, the sky’s the limits baby.

For a major company Blizzard and Activision sure seems to have completely missed the boat on this one.  And on the heels of very public melt-downs by Facebook over nearly the same issues.  When Blizzard would have desired the coverage about RealID to be positive it’s instead virtually unanimously negative.  That sort of thing goes viral very quickly and will only leave a lasting, nasty, black-eye on a company that here-to-fore had a very good reputation.  Of course we know what and who is driving this (cough Bobby Kotick) but it’s Blizzard that’s going to pay the price.

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