Home > Expansions, Failure, PTR/Patches > WoWbook: Do Not Want; RealID needs major refinement (and a dose of common sense)

WoWbook: Do Not Want; RealID needs major refinement (and a dose of common sense)

With last week’s patch 3.3.5, the RealID system was implemented into WoW, which allows you to add folks to your friend’s list via their email address (rather, the one they use for their battle.net account) and you can then see them online no matter what character/server they are on (and later on this will let you see them if they are on Starcraft 2 and Diablo 3, among others). I like the general idea behind it; it’s really nice for keeping in touch with a friend on a different server and/or faction. I’m not fond of the “friend of friend” feature where you can see the RealID of anyone you’ve friended. If that were removed from it, then RealID would be nearly perfect; I would also like the option of using some form of alias for a RealID…I want to call it an account name, but that’s a misleading phrase to describe it. Perhaps something akin to a Xbox Live Gamertag, rather than using our real names.

Then we get this nugget of info over the weekend:

Recently, we introduced our new Real ID feature – http://www.battle.net/realid/ , a new way to stay connected with your friends on the new Battle.net. Today, we wanted to give you a heads up about our plans for Real ID on our official forums, discuss the design philosophy behind the changes we’re making, and give you a first look at some of the new features we’re adding to the forums to help improve the quality of conversations and make the forums an even more enjoyable place for players to visit.

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. The classic Battle.net forums, including those for Diablo II and Warcraft III, will be moving to a new legacy forum section with the release of the StarCraft II community site and at that time will also transition to using Real ID for posting.

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.

We also plan to add a number of other features designed to make reading the forums more enjoyable and to empower players with tools to improve the quality of forum discussions. Players will have the ability to rate up or rate down posts so that great topics and replies stand out from the not-so-great; low-rated posts will appear dimmer to show that the community feels that they don’t contribute effectively to the conversation, and Blizzard’s community team will be able to quickly and easily locate highly rated posts to participate in or to highlight discussions that players find worthwhile.

In addition, individual topics will be threaded by context, meaning replies to specific posts will be grouped together, making it easier for players to keep track of multiple conversations within a thread. We’re also adding a way for Blizzard posters to “broadcast” important messages forums-wide , to help communicate breaking news to the community in a clear and timely fashion. Beyond that, we’re improving our forum search function to make locating interesting topics easier and help lower the number of redundant threads, and we have more planned as well.

With the launch of the new Battle.net, it’s important to us 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. All of our design decisions surrounding Real ID — including these forum changes — have been made with this goal in mind.

We’ve given a great deal of consideration to the design of Real ID as a company, as gamers, and as enthusiastic users of the various online-gaming, communication, and social-networking services that have become available in recent years. As these services have become more and more popular, gamers have become part of an increasingly connected and intimate global community – friendships are much more easily forged across long distances, and at conventions like PAX or our own BlizzCon, we’ve seen first-hand how gamers who may have never actually met in person have formed meaningful real-life relationships across borders and oceans. As the way gamers interact with one another continues to evolve, our goal is to ensure Battle.net is equipped to handle the ever-changing social-gaming experience for years to come.

For more info on Real ID, check out our Real ID page and FAQ located at http://www.battle.net/realid/ . We look forward to answering your questions about these upcoming forum changes in the thread below.

Update – Text updated to include more current and correct information regarding legacy forums and their use of Real ID. “The classic Battle.net forums, including those for Diablo II and Warcraft III, will be moving to a new legacy forum section with the release of the StarCraft II community site and at that time will also transition to using Real ID for posting.”

No, no, NO. This is a TERRIBLE plan if it is going this route. I am not going to sit here and make up countless examples of how this can go wrong in VERY bad ways; this thread on EJ sums up a ton of them, and in a fairly clean manner considering how angered many folks are over this. There was a slew of threads on Arena Junkies, one of which pointed out the first Blizzard “sacrificial blue lamb”, whose Facebook, HOME ADDRESS, and FAMILY MEMBERS became known through lots of searching after getting his RealID. I could probably find that information again, but it’s not information I have any use for, other than it proves a point, which is that RealID could be used for very bad intentions. It’s crazy stuff like this that fuel my reasoning for not having a Facebook account at all.

I have about a dozen folks on my WoW friendlist with their RealIDs. I either know them personally or I’ve been gaming with them for years now. As much as I trust those folks, I am seriously contemplating removing all of them from RealID due to it’s current implementation. It’s safe to say that when RealID is required to post on official Blizzard forums, I won’t touch them with a 10 foot stick.

While I am heavily critical of the direction RealID is going, I do believe there can be a way to implement such a feature to where it allows players to interact and form social networks without handing out all of their personal information on a silver platter. Bulleting the points I just made:

  • Alias – Instead of plastering our real names all over the place, an alias could be used instead. Call it a Battle Tag or whatever.
  • Remove the “friend of friend” feature. I only care to disclose my RealID to the exact person I disclose it to, not to them and everyone else they know via RealID

I couldn’t tell anyone how to implement those ideas on a technical level, but I honestly don’t believe it would be difficult. Regarding my second bullet, perhaps the ability to disable that feature is in game because I don’t think I’ve looked through all the options, but I have a hunch that disabling friend of friend isn’t there.

I can only hope that some more thought has gone into this RealID system, because quite frankly, I see little thought or care within it.

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  1. July 7, 2010 at 3:02 pm

    Simply providing an alias or “tag” instead of using real names would seem to have all the benefits with none of the risks. I’d be very surprised if that is not what Blizzard eventually decide on. With the sheer scale of backlash over the proposal I can’t see them going ahead with it in the current form.

    Removing “friends of friends” from RealID would be a good start, but they also need to uncouple your battle.net login from RealID contact details – it makes no sense in the world of account stealing to have to share your battle.net login email address with *anybody*. Just because you’re friends with somebody doesn’t mean you can be certain their computing environment is as secure as your own. And while we’re talking shopping lists, enabling a privacy mode where we can hide our online presence or at least the existence of certain characters would be sensible. I wouldn’t use it myself, but there are a lot of good reasons for it.

    • July 7, 2010 at 4:51 pm

      It’s almost as if it (the coupling of RealID with your battle.net email address) is a ploy to get more people to purchase authenticators. I have an authenticator on my account (due to becoming an officer, then GM, of my previous guild), so I’m not sweating being hacked, but that isn’t to say authenticators make your account invincible (because they don’t).

      Privacy mode would be nice, too, but I’m not too concerned if people know I’m online. I have had days, though, where I just want to log on an alt (or create a new one on another server) and putz around, which this RealID system won’t allow.

  1. July 7, 2010 at 11:46 pm
  2. July 14, 2010 at 12:37 pm

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