As noted earlier this week, Blizzard Entertainment (World of Warcraft, Starcraft, Diablo) announced that they were going to force everyone who posted on the official game forums to be identified with their real first and last names. Ostensibly done to reduce the number of rude, obnoxious and other such postings by not allowing players to hide behind a veil of anonymity, the changes would make it very, very easy for other people to obtain real-world information about other players.
After much outcry (almost 50,000 posts on the subject in less than 3 days!), and no few examples of why this is was a bad move, Blizzard announced Friday morning that they were stepping back from the proposed change. Blizzard Community Manager “Nethaera” posted the following message from Blizzard CEO and co-founder Mike Mohraime:
I’d like to take some time to speak with all of you regarding our desire to make the Blizzard forums a better place for players to discuss our games. We’ve been constantly monitoring the feedback you’ve given us, as well as internally discussing your concerns about the use of real names on our forums. As a result of those discussions, we’ve decided at this time that real names will not be required for posting on official Blizzard forums.
You can read the rest of the message from Mr. Morhaime on the official Blizzard WoW forums.
I am personally glad that they have backed away from the stance. I appreciate their stated reasoning behind wanting to make people post messages under their true names instead of some pseudonym. People are more likely to avoid posting rude, obnoxious and assaultive messages if they have to sign their own name to them. At least, that’s the thinking. Some of the more passionate trolls would still persist, I have no doubt.
However, the risk of abuse for the innocent message board members in such a system is too high, as one person was able to easily show with about 15-20 minutes of searching. On the blog “What’s in a name?”, the author uses public information searches on the internet to show just how much is available if all you know is someone’s first and last name.
From the wedding albums of Blizzard employees (turns out that Mr. Morhaime had that message posted on Friday, during his honeymoon … now that’s dedication!), to where their homes are located and how much those homes are worth, to where their children go to school, to the Facebook pages of their spouses. Yeah, folks, it’s all there. All you need to do is know someone’s name.
I do notice that the pictures of the Blizzard coder and his new wife have been taken down. Also, I see that several of the Blizzard employees have now removed all the information on their Facebook profiles as well as either deleting or password-protecting their personal websites and blogs. They must not have liked having millions of irritated people reading their wedding diary, or reading about what television shows and bands their wife likes …
I find it ironic that Blizzard should dislike people looking up such personal information about them when it is solely based on the the same things they want to make available to everyone.
“The lady doth protest too much, methinks” – Shakespeare.