Starting on July 27, the forums for World of Warcraft and Starcraft II might just be a nicer place to visit. Internet forums, especially those for video games, can be- well, horrible at times. Flame wars, trolls looking to stir up trouble by insulting something you love, and colorful combinations of words that would make English professors tear their hair out in despair are just a few of the problems that come when you give certain people an open forum with no consequences and built in anonymity. That may soon change.
Battle.net, the online system used by both World of Warcraft and Starcraft will soon introduce “Real ID”, a new online forum framework that will require forum posters to list their real names. The official reason is that it will help increase the sense of community, as people are allowed to make real connections, with real people, etc., etc. That all may be true, but it is also a move to stop people from turning a question about leveling up into a discussion on your Mom’s sexuality.
The World of Warcraft and the Starcraft thread have both gained a reputation for unfriendly forums, with the greeting of “Dear ___” typically being replaced with something along the lines of “You’re an idiot and here’s why”, or something that involves calling the original poster a loser. The forums are not for the feint of heart, or more importantly from Blizzard’s point of view, they are not helping the company’s reputation.
Blizzard poster Nethaera had this to say on the Battle.net forums regarding the change:
The official forums have always been a great place to discuss the latest info on our games, offer ideas and suggestions, and share experiences with other players — however, the forums have also earned a reputation as a place where flame wars, trolling, and other unpleasantness run wild. Removing the veil of anonymity typical to online dialogue will contribute to a more positive forum environment, promote constructive conversations, and connect the Blizzard community in ways they haven’t been connected before. With this change, you’ll see blue posters (i.e. Blizzard employees) posting by their real first and last names on our forums as well.
The change will not affect in-game characters, just people posting in the forums. Perhaps the forums will become a place for the best discussions on classical philosophy and the true existential nature of life. Or maybe no one will post anymore. This will definitely worth checking back on.
It is an interesting experiment, possibly worthy of sociological research. Will people, when faced with the reality that their name will be attached to their horrible posts slow the tide of irresponsible posting? What do you think posters? Will this have an affect? Sound off below, and please be gentle…