How do you stem the tide of a forum flooded with flame wars, trolling and other unpleasantness? Just do what Blizzard is doing for the official forums for StarCraft II and World of Warcraft: Display posters' real names.
Blizzard poster Nethaera breaks the news to fans in the Battle.net forums: their internet anonymity will soon be a thing of the past. Going into effect with the launch of the new StarCraft II community site before July 27, with World of Warcraft following suit as the Cataclysm expansion nears, all posts and replies in official Blizzard forums will contain the Real ID, which is the first and last name on each user's Battle.net account.
Real ID is a feature of the new Battle.net that allows players to communicate with one another over different servers and games. It was recently introduced to World of Warcraft, and will be part of StarCraft II at launch.
So why the forum 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.
It may go against everything internet forum posters believe in, but it strikes me as an amazingly simple and effective solution to a problem that's been around for years, and I'm not just talking the flaming and grief.
I've been playing MMO games for more than a decade now. I spent a good couple of years in EverQuest, interacting with the same people every day, yet I don't know any of them. They were my closest friends at the time, and they've all completely disappeared from my life now that I don't play anymore. This change could keep that from happening to Blizzard fans.
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.
Sure, there are privacy issues involved, but then you can simply not post on the forums, right?
So what do you guys think? Who wants to see their full name displayed in the Kotaku comments?