View From the Road: Where Everybody Knows Your Name

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rembrandtqeinstein:

John Funk:
Sorry. I believe assholes should be held accountable for their actions. Saying "but they do awesome stuff, too" isn't an excuse.

What exactly does "held accountable" mean?

Do you believe girls deserve to be stalked because they are girls? Do you believe people should be threatened or have their property vandalized because they have the same name as a child molester?

Or more directly related to the discussion do you believe nobody can contribute to a World of Warcraft forum discussion unless they are max level, have a 2k+ arena rating, have gear score > x? Because that is the "accountability" that currently exists in the WoW forums. Post on an alt and a lot of the responses are "post on your main". Post on your main and it is "lol 1200". (or whatever the hell those numbers mean now, haven't played since BC)

So what does accountability mean other than maybe you will scare off the maybe 5% of the most timid trolls and 100% of the girls?

You can already ignore people whose comments you don't think contribute. I do it all the time. If the presence of a troll derails a thread then that thread couldn't have been that meaningful to begin with.

...it means exactly what I said. If someone says something racist, if someone says something creepy (in your example about stalking girls, a "tits or gtfo," for instance), if somebody just says "lol 1200," then you know who they are. They have to accept responsibility for what they say.

If Blizzard had no objection to the number of subscriptions they would have lost, I think the points here are valid and I agree it would have been an interesting experiment.

Me, I would buy StarCraft 2 regardless, and even if I had to play under my real name I still probably would--though would fear my boss ever Googling my multiplayer rank and seeing how bad I suck.

I'm still sitting on the fence with Cataclysm, we'll see how that goes, but Blizzard attitudes about privacy wouldn't help sway my feelings in favor.

John Funk:
...it means exactly what I said. If someone says something racist, if someone says something creepy (in your example about stalking girls, a "tits or gtfo," for instance), if somebody just says "lol 1200," then you know who they are. They have to accept responsibility for what they say.

No. Knowing their name does nothing to correct the offense.

(Sorry for the double post there is a lot of lag.)

From the metacritic article you linked... I have to say that I know people in real life who sometimes use racist slang. Not often enough for most of their friends to notice, but they still say a few racist things from time to time... Enough that I wonder if they aren't a closet racist.
I also have friends... well, people who are friends of my friends and I hang out with... who will use "gay" freely yet think they're not homophobic or that they're not doing anything wrong. I've even seen one of them use the word "woman" as an insult (with their girlfriends present), which got some small reaction, but still no serious repercussions. They're hardly held accountable a fraction of the time, and when they are, there's no serious repercussions for their behavior. I've talked to several friends, and they've noticed these things too... the problem is, no one cares or feels strongly enough to do anything about it. I think there's a huge problem with certain types of gamers, who are otherwise decent people, but can still use words like "gay" or "rape". I've even seen people with abusive pasts use "rape" as if it were a perfectly acceptable word to describe something as mundane (by comparison to it's effect on your life...) as a video game.

Even if people are held accountable for their actions, they also need more serious ramifications. The internet is not free domain, it's simply ignored much like a black market might stay hidden; all laws regarding harassment and the like still apply, so if you really wanted, it's technically possible to press charges for something someone said over a video game chat. Too bad the internet is "anonymous".

As for the main article, I think it was really good, and it *would* make a great experiment, but probably would cause a lot of harm for a lot of people. Blizzard should just take some of their profits and hire some more moderators, and bring down the ban-hammer on the forums. That or just wipe the forums altogether aside from official posts and restart the whole thing.

John Funk used to write under an online handle, but it was a really obvious one.

was it fun junk ?

I'm sorry but I'm just not as secure with who I am as Mel Gibson is. So I'm going to log onto wow, roll a human, name him Melgibbon, then go to town.

Oh yeah For the Horde!

Excellent article. Here's hoping that the inevitable flames against it don't rise too high!

The process here is identical to the process in business an extended relationship forces people to act polite in their own interests because they could destroy the relationship if they act like the assholes they are but a short term relationship (like a single anonymous post) fosters dickary because the relationship will be terminated right away anyways. There are plenty of wolfs (i.e. idiots) hiding among us keep in check by the need to function in society but allowing them to not have to deal with further consequences brings out their nasty streak if we force them to stay hide behind their facade then they will act polite even if they are raging morons.

From a purely anthropological point of view I really wanted to know what would happen. Would people still be asinine or would they shape up to save face? Do trolls create new accounts with separate billing just to create fake accounts to harass people? Would the forums turn into a ghost town? So many things could happen and with such a large base of users this would be a good study but It's not going to happen. Maybe the outrage over the potential is something to learn from though. People escape on the internet and apparently that's all they care about. "Screw people and feelings I'm a troll."

If you used a pseudonym then did you Fake the Funk?

Matt_LRR:

The fact of the matter is, that it's still your choice. You're choosing to forgo endgame to protect your identity. that's your choice to make.

Well, technically, you're not wrong, but I don't think you're exactly right, either. What the others have taken offense to, I think, isn't the fact that there is no choice, but that the choice is a Morton's fork. If you're honestly concerned about handing out your identity to people you don't know, under the mandatory Real ID system, your choices are:
(a) Compromise your sense of security for the sake of being included in a community that you've come to enjoy.
(b) Retain your sense of security, but in doing so, compromise your ability to participate in said community that you enjoy.

Neither of these are particularly pleasant options for people inhabiting a virtual community whose sole purpose is to help its citizens escape from all the drama and general shittery of the real world. And it's not just the fact that the forum users were being presented with this choice. It's that it was being thrust upon them. But, as has been noted, the anti-trolling portion of this plan wouldn't have had an effect if the whole thing were optional...

I'm glad Blizzard actually took the time to pay heed to its userbase. I'm still pissed at Ubisoft for fucking up its "always online" DRM scheme so bad. Still, I agree with you and Funk in that I think it would have been an interesting social experiment. In fact, I think that, if that's all that this was about in the first place, I should make a note here: huge success. Okay, that was bad. I'm tired. Please forgive me.

It should probably be noted that I'm also with the people who think that Blizzard was trying to turn their forums into the new Facebook. It's not hard to believe, if you look at the rest of the internet, the gaming industry, and even Facebook itself. Microsoft and Sony want a slice of Nintendo's pie. Every other site and its mother is letting you link your Facebook to it. South Park even did a fucking episode about Facebook. But Facebook, too is just a knock-off of MySpace, which is a knock-off of Friendster. I think it's far from a conspiracy theory when the theory in question actually makes perfect business sense, and is being implemented--and already has been implemented many, many times over the course of human history.

Edit: Ah, I remembered something I wanted to add to the whole "Morton's fork" point. My problem with this whole thing, even though I don't play WoW, was the fact that I didn't feel the users should have been put in this position. Ever. If a significant portion of your userbase is being faced with a tough decision that they feel could potentially put them at risk of being stalked or worse, something is very, very wrong. I can understand why Blizzard would want to implement a system like this, but I just can't understand why they actually started to go through with it.

More edit: Note to self: good idea for band names:
Morton's Fork
Buridan's Ass
Superfluous Colons

commasplice:
I can understand why Blizzard would want to implement a system like this, but I just can't understand why they actually started to go through with it.

Well in short, it would potentially make Blizzard and other companies a ton of money. Remember when Gabe Newell from Valve said that gaming is turning from not only playing games but instead a social service? Well could you imagine the amount of marketing one could offer to businesses if you actually were able to sell information of your patrons to other companies? Instead of shooting in the dark at random e-mail accounts why not simply surpass all that and go directly to the person and their name? You'd no longer have to find out if for example Funk was actually Arednt on WoW and Pitts when playing Starcraft II.

Also imagine what kind of special membership programs Blizzard could offer enabling more "social" activities to the community like a B.Net+ program emulating the Xbox live and GFWlive and Steam. They could offer actual clans through their servers that groups of people could pay for. It helps when creating new revenue streams to actually know how big your base is and the best way is to destroy all chance of alter-ego accounts and work off a pure 1:1 scale.

If anything I see it as Blizzard taking that personal information that we gave them to know who we are and now all at once try to destroy everyone's wall of alter-ego and at the same time sell to other companies our information so that they can by proxy sneak past our gates as if we trusted that company instead of Blizzard. It's like being caught naked in the breeze after your house burned down and lost everything and a random guy going you never met before is going door to door trying to sell you some clothes because last week you went to the shoe store and bought some shoes.

Accountability is one thing. I agree they should be held accountable. I still don't see how asking us non asshole types to put our nuts on the chopping block so we can hold those assholes accountable eventually is the right way to go. You say yeah we are pulling off the trolls masks but I say we are pulling off our masks for them. And we will be left with no discussion because everyone will be afraid to disagree with anyone else incurr the wrath.

"Push me into the light, and all you'll get is blood."

Tenmar:
Snip.

I refuse to believe that there wasn't one person at that board meeting that didn't say, "Yeah, but couldn't we potentially piss off our entire fanbase? Isn't a gigantic media shitstorm bad for our stock, if nothing else?" It's times like this that I remember that I am, in fact, an optimist.

The thing is, there IS risk when posting with your real name, even if blizzard wants you to think otherwise. Let's examine the following claims I've heard:

A) There is no risk of real world repercussions when posting with your real name.
Then why would this stop the trolling at all?

B) There is no risk of real world repercussions when posting with your real name but it will cause a sense of accountability and will result in less troll.
This "sense of accountability" is the exact same thing as real world risk. No matter how you slice it, you're putting your neck out there if they went through with this (which I know they didn't so it's a moot point).

In your example John, you said what if Katie's friend the creeper kept harassing her on alts. Would he stop when people could see his real name? That's not what you should be worried about, you should be worried about Mr.Creeper finding out KATIE'S real name and gearing up for a real life confrontation. And don't you dare tell me it can't happen:
http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/2010/05/27/2010-05-27_video_gamer_hunts_down_stabs_man_who_killed_his_online_counterstrike_character.html

squid5580:
Snip.

AC10:
Snap.

I couldn't help but notice that you both have Kirby avatars, and that you both had similar arguments against abolishing WoW forum anonymity. Sirs, please step out of the vehicle. I'm going to need to see some Real ID and proof of post sincerity.

commasplice:

I refuse to believe that there wasn't one person at that board meeting that didn't say, "Yeah, but couldn't we potentially piss off our entire fanbase? Isn't a gigantic media shitstorm bad for our stock, if nothing else?" It's times like this that I remember that I am, in fact, an optimist.

Long term vs short term.

If there is one complain I'm sure any blizzard stock holder would complain about is the fact that while they do release great games the problem is still ensuring that investors will want to fund such projects that could take over half a decade to release to the public. That is if anything a high risk investment even if it is blizzard entertainment.

This is why moving gaming towards a social service industry instead of a production industry is more cost effective ensuring that the company will always have something to sell to the consumer be it membership or new benefits which makes stock holders happy in the short term.

I'm sure there was talk about the fanbase in the company but it is risks like RealID that encourages investors to invest in companies because they are expanding their business that enables even something as mundane as talking on forums with your real identity to make new ways to make profit. Losing some of your fanbase over revealing your identity won't matter as much when your market penetration is just so deep with a game like World of Warcraft. Also remember that while we sit here and discuss the pros and cons of the heart of the issue let us be honest that the 50 year old mom who has a level 80 night elf doesn't understand and doesn't care that her privacy is being violated. Remember that we are a gigantic community now when it comes to video games and I can say that the majority of gamers do not understand their rights as consumers and how big things like this truly mean for them.

Think of it like the apple model and specifically their iphone. You release a great overall product but always leave room for improvement for the next model. Remember you may think you are buying the latest and greatest but that only goes as far as your knowledge of the product. A good deal of what the new Iphone 4 features has been available for well over two years now like the dual camera and video phone calls. You always need to ensure that you don't use every trick in the book because you need to ensure your business to survive by keeping investors investing.

commasplice:

squid5580:
Snip.

AC10:
Snap.

I couldn't help but notice that you both have Kirby avatars, and that you both had similar arguments against abolishing WoW forum anonymity. Sirs, please step out of the vehicle. I'm going to need to see some Real ID and proof of post sincerity.

lol, I'll be honest and admit I really didn't read any replies before I posted mine!
You're right though, I guess us Kirby types just think alike :D

John Funk:
Sorry. I believe assholes should be held accountable for their actions. Saying "but they do awesome stuff, too" isn't an excuse.

Like that asshole that sank Nixon by trolling anonymously in a parking lot?

John Funk:
Dicks should be accountable for the things they do and say that are harmful.

Like Dick Nixon? Even if he could be held accountable only by anonymous tips? So anonymity has a purpose, yes?

John Funk:
Yes, the same 2ch that got a director at Gainax fired over an episode of an anime?

Are you Japanese? Do you post on 2ch regularly? From what my friends in Japan tell me, it and its brother 2chan are ... better than 4chan, yes, but they're still anonymous boards.

Dicks should be accountable for the things they do and say that are harmful.

John Funk:
...it means exactly what I said. If someone says something racist, if someone says something creepy (in your example about stalking girls, a "tits or gtfo," for instance), if somebody just says "lol 1200," then you know who they are. They have to accept responsibility for what they say.

Sticks and stones. You know the rest.

Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, poor minds discuss people.

Now that the quoteage is out of the way... the gainax director, on his blog, described 2ch as "putting my face next to an anus and breathing deeply." Sounds like he was held accountable for what he said, to me.

About "tits or gtfo." Its an anonymous image board. Which means, ideally, no one gives a shit what gender you are unless you want to make a big deal about it. Which means... if you want people to care get your tits out or get the fuck out. Subtextually, its about the inherent sexism of willingly identifying yourself as certain gender when it isn't required. Only two things can happen as a result of revealing your gender. Either no one cares or you get a ton of negative attention of various flavors. Ranging from "show me your tits" to white knighting, "that guys such a dick, show me your tits."

As far as racism? Who cares? Its people sucking and spewing shit that isn't true to feel better about themselves. If they're saying it to get a rise out of people, they're morons. If they believe it, they're morons. You don't need to see their real name to know that.

So, basically, who the fuck cares who says something? The idea of "accountability" is just acting like trolling, racism, sexism, stalkers, etc wouldn't exist if everyone knew your real name.

Also, I liked that bit at the end about "they're still anonymous image boards." As if the container defines the contents. Book by the cover. I know the greater internet fuckwad theory is taken as purest gospel around here, but jesus christ dude. At least pretend you know what you're talking about.

You're not anonymous. Congratulations. If I was getting paid, I'd be using my real name too... maybe thats what you actually mean by "accountability."

Tenmar:
Snip

I really hate that all that these billion dollar business plans boil down to is gambling. A cost-benefit analysis shouldn't be all that the fate of one of the few shining stars of an industry hinges upon. Hell, it shouldn't be all that the fate of the entire gulf coast (I'm minimizing) hinges upon, either.

Cynical skeptic:
Snip.

John Funk:

rembrandtqeinstein:

John Funk:
Sorry. I believe assholes should be held accountable for their actions. Saying "but they do awesome stuff, too" isn't an excuse.

What exactly does "held accountable" mean?

Do you believe girls deserve to be stalked because they are girls? Do you believe people should be threatened or have their property vandalized because they have the same name as a child molester?

Or more directly related to the discussion do you believe nobody can contribute to a World of Warcraft forum discussion unless they are max level, have a 2k+ arena rating, have gear score > x? Because that is the "accountability" that currently exists in the WoW forums. Post on an alt and a lot of the responses are "post on your main". Post on your main and it is "lol 1200". (or whatever the hell those numbers mean now, haven't played since BC)

So what does accountability mean other than maybe you will scare off the maybe 5% of the most timid trolls and 100% of the girls?

You can already ignore people whose comments you don't think contribute. I do it all the time. If the presence of a troll derails a thread then that thread couldn't have been that meaningful to begin with.

...it means exactly what I said. If someone says something racist, if someone says something creepy (in your example about stalking girls, a "tits or gtfo," for instance), if somebody just says "lol 1200," then you know who they are. They have to accept responsibility for what they say.

I posted a question in another thread that has yet to be answered, and I'll posit it to you, John.

Suppose I say something absoultely nasty to you in a forum where real names are displayed. Nothing racist/sexist or legally actionable, but heavily insulting nonetheless. You have my real name. What do you do with it?

If Jesse Finkelstein says something nasty to me on an Internet site, I'm not going to be terribly inclined to care. Big friggin' deal. It's not like I'm going to call his parents, his principal, etc. and tell them just what a snot-faced jerk little Jesse is. I really don't have the time or interest. But if Jesse is supremely offended by something I say, to him or someone else- even if there was nothing intended- well, he's got my name and a good lead on causing me grief. And unless he deliberately posts something threatening to me in return, or slips up some other way, how am I supposed to know it's him?

You say "assholes should get what they deserve". Everyone's an asshole in someone else's eyes at some point.

My primary issue with this whole "real name" thing is that, yes, it will cut down on Internet trolling, for all the wrong reasons. No troll worthy of the term is going to bother exposing his real name on a forum- not when there's so many regular people out there doing it that he can harrass in real life, untracably. To me, not worth it, never will be.

"The Rogue Wolf" is not The Rogue Wolf's real name, but it's the best you lot are going to get.

Cynical skeptic:

John Funk:
Yes, the same 2ch that got a director at Gainax fired over an episode of an anime?

Are you Japanese? Do you post on 2ch regularly? From what my friends in Japan tell me, it and its brother 2chan are ... better than 4chan, yes, but they're still anonymous boards.

Dicks should be accountable for the things they do and say that are harmful.

John Funk:
...it means exactly what I said. If someone says something racist, if someone says something creepy (in your example about stalking girls, a "tits or gtfo," for instance), if somebody just says "lol 1200," then you know who they are. They have to accept responsibility for what they say.

Sticks and stones. You know the rest.

Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, poor minds discuss people.

Now that the quoteage is out of the way... the gainax director, on his blog, described 2ch as "putting my face next to an anus and breathing deeply." Sounds like he was held accountable for what he said, to me.

About "tits or gtfo." Its an anonymous image board. Which means, ideally, no one gives a shit what gender you are unless you want to make a big deal about it. Which means... if you want people to care get your tits out or get the fuck out. Subtextually, its about the inherent sexism of willingly identifying yourself as certain gender when it isn't required. Only two things can happen as a result of revealing your gender. Either no one cares or you get a ton of negative attention of various flavors. Ranging from "show me your tits" to white knighting, "that guys such a dick, show me your tits."

As far as racism? Who cares? Its people sucking and spewing shit that isn't true to feel better about themselves. If they're saying it to get a rise out of people, they're morons. If they believe it, they're morons. You don't need to see their real name to know that.

So, basically, who the fuck cares who says something? The idea of "accountability" is just acting like trolling, racism, sexism, stalkers, etc wouldn't exist if everyone knew your real name.

Also, I liked that bit at the end about "they're still anonymous image boards." As if the container defines the contents. Book by the cover. I know the greater internet fuckwad theory is taken as purest gospel around here, but jesus christ dude. At least pretend you know what you're talking about.

You're not anonymous. Congratulations. If I was getting paid, I'd be using my real name too... maybe thats what you actually mean by "accountability."

Yes, and hmm, why do you suppose he said that, yes? Maybe because 2ch has its fair share of assholes and dickweeds, too? So it isn't a bastion of polite discourse? Yes, he was held accountable for what he said. Good, he should have been.

See, I (used to) regularly post on 4chan's /m/, because I like mecha, found it a relatively sane section of the community, and had a few interesting discussions every now and then. I also saw people being idiots, trolls derailing topics, etc. Anonymous message boards don't automatically equal = bad attitudes, crappy posting, and the like, but it's more likely to happen there than anyplace else on the internet.

Discourse and attitudes tend to become more civil as people feel more accountable for their actions and words. This is a trend, not an absolute - there will be outliers either way. But whereas you dismiss it all as "sticks and stones," I think you'll find that in some cases it has a genuine effect - and why should we encourage it?

The Rogue Wolf:

John Funk:

rembrandtqeinstein:

John Funk:
Sorry. I believe assholes should be held accountable for their actions. Saying "but they do awesome stuff, too" isn't an excuse.

What exactly does "held accountable" mean?

Do you believe girls deserve to be stalked because they are girls? Do you believe people should be threatened or have their property vandalized because they have the same name as a child molester?

Or more directly related to the discussion do you believe nobody can contribute to a World of Warcraft forum discussion unless they are max level, have a 2k+ arena rating, have gear score > x? Because that is the "accountability" that currently exists in the WoW forums. Post on an alt and a lot of the responses are "post on your main". Post on your main and it is "lol 1200". (or whatever the hell those numbers mean now, haven't played since BC)

So what does accountability mean other than maybe you will scare off the maybe 5% of the most timid trolls and 100% of the girls?

You can already ignore people whose comments you don't think contribute. I do it all the time. If the presence of a troll derails a thread then that thread couldn't have been that meaningful to begin with.

...it means exactly what I said. If someone says something racist, if someone says something creepy (in your example about stalking girls, a "tits or gtfo," for instance), if somebody just says "lol 1200," then you know who they are. They have to accept responsibility for what they say.

I posted a question in another thread that has yet to be answered, and I'll posit it to you, John.

Suppose I say something absoultely nasty to you in a forum where real names are displayed. Nothing racist/sexist or legally actionable, but heavily insulting nonetheless. You have my real name. What do you do with it?

If Jesse Finkelstein says something nasty to me on an Internet site, I'm not going to be terribly inclined to care. Big friggin' deal. It's not like I'm going to call his parents, his principal, etc. and tell them just what a snot-faced jerk little Jesse is. I really don't have the time or interest. But if Jesse is supremely offended by something I say, to him or someone else- even if there was nothing intended- well, he's got my name and a good lead on causing me grief. And unless he deliberately posts something threatening to me in return, or slips up some other way, how am I supposed to know it's him?

You say "assholes should get what they deserve". Everyone's an asshole in someone else's eyes at some point.

My primary issue with this whole "real name" thing is that, yes, it will cut down on Internet trolling, for all the wrong reasons. No troll worthy of the term is going to bother exposing his real name on a forum- not when there's so many regular people out there doing it that he can harrass in real life, untracably. To me, not worth it, never will be.

"The Rogue Wolf" is not The Rogue Wolf's real name, but it's the best you lot are going to get.

I do nothing with it. But now your real name is forever attached to that message for all of your friends and family to ever see if they google your name. Hope you're proud of it.

And even if they never DO Google your name, before you post it, you'll know that it'll be out there as coming from you, in public. People who read it will think (Jeez, that (Name) is such a dick). The odds are, you won't post it in the first place thinking about that. Discourse improves as people start to feel accountable for their actions. This isn't something I'm just making up.

The Rogue Wolf:
Snip.

Well, you could always sink to Jesse's level of maturity and tell him he's got a girl's name. Otherwise, I really have no idea what you'd do with that information.

John Funk:

I do nothing with it. But now your real name is forever attached to that message for all of your friends and family to ever see if they google your name. Hope you're proud of it.

And even if they never DO Google your name, before you post it, you'll know that it'll be out there as coming from you, in public. People who read it will think (Jeez, that (Name) is such a dick). The odds are, you won't post it in the first place thinking about that. Discourse improves as people start to feel accountable for their actions. This isn't something I'm just making up.

Which brings up the issue of accounts being hacked, and someone putting words in my virtual mouth that end up indelibly recorded on the Internet. And still nobody's addressing the potential of people being harrassed, attacked, etc. by those "outside the system", whose names aren't anywhere near the forums in question. How is "more civil online discourse" worth that? I'd be too afraid to post anything more specific than "yes" or "no" in a forum like that for the worry that some nutcase somewhere would take offense and make my life difficult. And I like to think that, in the two and a half years I've been on the Escapist, I've proven that I have no troll-like tendencies.

A silence born from fear of unreasonable retaliation is not civil discourse.

I do hope you know, John, that I'm not attacking you over this in some way. I just simply cannot at all understand your mindset about a subject important to me, so I'm going to keep questioning it until either one of us changes his mind or we hit an "agree to disagree" impasse.

The Rogue Wolf:

Which brings up the issue of accounts being hacked, and someone putting words in my virtual mouth that end up indelibly recorded on the Internet. And still nobody's addressing the potential of people being harrassed, attacked, etc. by those "outside the system", whose names aren't anywhere near the forums in question. How is "more civil online discourse" worth that? I'd be too afraid to post anything more specific than "yes" or "no" in a forum like that for the worry that some nutcase somewhere would take offense and make my life difficult. And I like to think that, in the two and a half years I've been on the Escapist, I've proven that I have no troll-like tendencies.

A silence born from fear of unreasonable retaliation is not civil discourse.

I do hope you know, John, that I'm not attacking you over this in some way. I just simply cannot at all understand your mindset about a subject important to me, so I'm going to keep questioning it until either one of us changes his mind or we hit an "agree to disagree" impasse.

Even aside from those (very valid) points, I know that I, personally, feel a certain level of accountability when it comes to my posts, even when there's nothing about my Escapist persona that physically identifies me as who I really am. I read and reread my own posts obsessively, trying to make sure that everything makes sense and is grammatically correct to the best of my ability. I don't necessarily do this because I think anyone will think less of me, but because I know that I will think less of me.

I guess my point is that the people who actually care about whether or not their names are linked to general stupidity on the internet already have internet handles to identify them. Forcing people to use their "real names" wouldn't solve a thing. For instance, I would be identified as "Richard Bartholomew Uht" on the WoW forums. A subsequent Google search for "Rich Uht" would turn up hits, but none of them would be me. For one thing, that's not my name. Even if it were, there is absolutely no way to prove that the Dick B. Uht posting on the forums was actually me.

Now, if they made it harder to make alternate accounts, or post on the forums in the first place (Maybe make it so only people over a certain level in-game can post? Force people to use one name in-game and the same name on the forums? I don't know how the WoW forums work, honestly.) that might lower the trolling rate a bit. Just maybe. I really don't see any way that using real names would do a better job than a combination of that and better moderation.

John Funk:
Yes, and hmm, why do you suppose he said that, yes? Maybe because 2ch has its fair share of assholes and dickweeds, too? So it isn't a bastion of polite discourse? Yes, he was held accountable for what he said. Good, he should have been.

See, I (used to) regularly post on 4chan's /m/, because I like mecha, found it a relatively sane section of the community, and had a few interesting discussions every now and then. I also saw people being idiots, trolls derailing topics, etc. Anonymous message boards don't automatically equal = bad attitudes, crappy posting, and the like, but it's more likely to happen there than anyplace else on the internet.

Discourse and attitudes tend to become more civil as people feel more accountable for their actions and words. This is a trend, not an absolute - there will be outliers either way. But whereas you dismiss it all as "sticks and stones," I think you'll find that in some cases it has a genuine effect - and why should we encourage it?

I remember when /b/ was the only board on 4chan. You know what caused it to become such a shithole? Popularity. As more and more people flooded in, fewer and fewer of them had a even a single thought in their head. A forum/imageboard/whatever is it's users.

Also, this being the internet, anything that offends should be encouraged. The more you're exposed to something, the less it affects you.

Cynical skeptic:

John Funk:
Yes, and hmm, why do you suppose he said that, yes? Maybe because 2ch has its fair share of assholes and dickweeds, too? So it isn't a bastion of polite discourse? Yes, he was held accountable for what he said. Good, he should have been.

See, I (used to) regularly post on 4chan's /m/, because I like mecha, found it a relatively sane section of the community, and had a few interesting discussions every now and then. I also saw people being idiots, trolls derailing topics, etc. Anonymous message boards don't automatically equal = bad attitudes, crappy posting, and the like, but it's more likely to happen there than anyplace else on the internet.

Discourse and attitudes tend to become more civil as people feel more accountable for their actions and words. This is a trend, not an absolute - there will be outliers either way. But whereas you dismiss it all as "sticks and stones," I think you'll find that in some cases it has a genuine effect - and why should we encourage it?

I remember when /b/ was the only board on 4chan. You know what caused it to become such a shithole? Popularity. As more and more people flooded in, fewer and fewer of them had a even a single thought in their head. A forum/imageboard/whatever is it's users.

Also, this being the internet, anything that offends should be encouraged. The more you're exposed to something, the less it affects you.

Sorry, I think that's absolute, to be polite, bunk. Or, rather, if you're going to expose people to it, at least do it where you can get punched in the face and understand the real-world consequences for actions.

The Rogue Wolf:

John Funk:

I do nothing with it. But now your real name is forever attached to that message for all of your friends and family to ever see if they google your name. Hope you're proud of it.

And even if they never DO Google your name, before you post it, you'll know that it'll be out there as coming from you, in public. People who read it will think (Jeez, that (Name) is such a dick). The odds are, you won't post it in the first place thinking about that. Discourse improves as people start to feel accountable for their actions. This isn't something I'm just making up.

Which brings up the issue of accounts being hacked, and someone putting words in my virtual mouth that end up indelibly recorded on the Internet. And still nobody's addressing the potential of people being harrassed, attacked, etc. by those "outside the system", whose names aren't anywhere near the forums in question. How is "more civil online discourse" worth that? I'd be too afraid to post anything more specific than "yes" or "no" in a forum like that for the worry that some nutcase somewhere would take offense and make my life difficult. And I like to think that, in the two and a half years I've been on the Escapist, I've proven that I have no troll-like tendencies.

A silence born from fear of unreasonable retaliation is not civil discourse.

I do hope you know, John, that I'm not attacking you over this in some way. I just simply cannot at all understand your mindset about a subject important to me, so I'm going to keep questioning it until either one of us changes his mind or we hit an "agree to disagree" impasse.

Get an authenticator, problem solved.

...and I addressed the "outside the system" in the actual column.

John Funk:

Get an authenticator, problem solved.

Alright, well, I've seen you tackle this problem from a number of logical standpoints, so how about a more...emotional one. Let's assume, for a second, that Blizzard actually went through with this and it did noticeably reduce trolling on the forums. At the same time, though, many legitimate members stop contributing, for fear of harassment, or what have you.

Is it really okay for Blizzard to punish everyone for the sake of trying out a bizarrely unorthodox solution to a problem that they could attempt to fix in an number of other ways that wouldn't cause a massive amount of their customers to just up and leave? Is it okay for Katie's stalker to have access to her name? What if, like others have suggested, he doesn't PM her, but he does scour around for her on Facebook and MySpace? He's never actually identified as a stalker, but he still gets to do his stalky business. Even if the scenario isn't taken to its extreme and he doesn't hunt her down in person or anything, are you, personally, alright with people like Katie taking one for the team for the sake of less "Twilight is gay" threads?

John Funk:

And even if they never DO Google your name, before you post it, you'll know that it'll be out there as coming from you, in public. People who read it will think (Jeez, that (Name) is such a dick). The odds are, you won't post it in the first place thinking about that. Discourse improves as people start to feel accountable for their actions. This isn't something I'm just making up.

I'm a bit confused about your actual position on this, are you saying there isn't any situation where anonymous speech is appropriate or just not on WoW forums?

Anonymity is necessary when your position is unpopular. What you are advocating is basically censorship through fear of retaliation or to put it more directly mob rule. A person can't take a position on a controversial issue because chances are someone with power over them has taken the opposite position.

As an example I think all cops should be recorded in audio and video while on duty to prevent abuse of power. But I would never attach many name to that position statement of fear of retaliation.

All of the examples you gave previously are ALREADY against the very general terms of service of no posting obscene, vulgar, racist, sexist or (my favourite) objectionable content. Instead of ineffective and dangerous real name outing why don't you advocate for stricter TOS enforcement (something I don't agree with either but at least it doesn't potentially harm anyone.)

commasplice:

squid5580:
Snip.

AC10:
Snap.

I couldn't help but notice that you both have Kirby avatars, and that you both had similar arguments against abolishing WoW forum anonymity. Sirs, please step out of the vehicle. I'm going to need to see some Real ID and proof of post sincerity.

Googling squid5580 will net you more results than my actual name lol. I still haven't found me yet :(

It is too bad Blizzard punked out, especially as the WOW cesspool forums are nominally owned or controlled by them. Even if it was only partially successful, it probably would have been an improvement appreciated by the less destructive of their membership.

Let's be honest, accountability works. Does anyone have the slightest doubt Mel Gibson would have indulged in his latest rant if he didn't, mistakenly it turns out, believe he was speaking privately?

How much more intense when it's internet level anonymity?

As it is now, good people choose to be anonymous to enjoy some level of distance FROM the troglodytes on the web. That makes it feel like the slags are winning, doesn't it?

That said, the WOW universe, based on fantasy avatars that people use to escape and geek out from their real lives must be the absolute worst place to start such a trend. Unless those suspicious this was simply a botched first step toward a Blizz-Book type social site are correct, this really would have flown up their members noses.

John Funk:

Cynical skeptic:

John Funk:
Yes, and hmm, why do you suppose he said that, yes? Maybe because 2ch has its fair share of assholes and dickweeds, too? So it isn't a bastion of polite discourse? Yes, he was held accountable for what he said. Good, he should have been.

See, I (used to) regularly post on 4chan's /m/, because I like mecha, found it a relatively sane section of the community, and had a few interesting discussions every now and then. I also saw people being idiots, trolls derailing topics, etc. Anonymous message boards don't automatically equal = bad attitudes, crappy posting, and the like, but it's more likely to happen there than anyplace else on the internet.

Discourse and attitudes tend to become more civil as people feel more accountable for their actions and words. This is a trend, not an absolute - there will be outliers either way. But whereas you dismiss it all as "sticks and stones," I think you'll find that in some cases it has a genuine effect - and why should we encourage it?

I remember when /b/ was the only board on 4chan. You know what caused it to become such a shithole? Popularity. As more and more people flooded in, fewer and fewer of them had a even a single thought in their head. A forum/imageboard/whatever is it's users.

Also, this being the internet, anything that offends should be encouraged. The more you're exposed to something, the less it affects you.

Sorry, I think that's absolute, to be polite, bunk. Or, rather, if you're going to expose people to it, at least do it where you can get punched in the face and understand the real-world consequences for actions.

The Rogue Wolf:

John Funk:

I do nothing with it. But now your real name is forever attached to that message for all of your friends and family to ever see if they google your name. Hope you're proud of it.

And even if they never DO Google your name, before you post it, you'll know that it'll be out there as coming from you, in public. People who read it will think (Jeez, that (Name) is such a dick). The odds are, you won't post it in the first place thinking about that. Discourse improves as people start to feel accountable for their actions. This isn't something I'm just making up.

Which brings up the issue of accounts being hacked, and someone putting words in my virtual mouth that end up indelibly recorded on the Internet. And still nobody's addressing the potential of people being harrassed, attacked, etc. by those "outside the system", whose names aren't anywhere near the forums in question. How is "more civil online discourse" worth that? I'd be too afraid to post anything more specific than "yes" or "no" in a forum like that for the worry that some nutcase somewhere would take offense and make my life difficult. And I like to think that, in the two and a half years I've been on the Escapist, I've proven that I have no troll-like tendencies.

A silence born from fear of unreasonable retaliation is not civil discourse.

I do hope you know, John, that I'm not attacking you over this in some way. I just simply cannot at all understand your mindset about a subject important to me, so I'm going to keep questioning it until either one of us changes his mind or we hit an "agree to disagree" impasse.

Get an authenticator, problem solved.

...and I addressed the "outside the system" in the actual column.

I am sorry but where did you address this? The only thing I saw that came close to addressing that issue (and it is the major issue here) was "oh Katie's friends can see her WOW stalker". But can she and her friends see him outside her bedroom window? And that is just the tip of the iceburg. DO you honestly believe a good stalker will just keep it in WOW? Or even start it there? Or even some asshole who is now not anonymous will keep the trolling to the forums when he or she finds out your fave color is blue which they think everyone should love purple? Sure it will make the Blizzard forums a better place. What about everywhere else? Not to mention the collateral damage of people who have the same name as the trolls. Or the victims. A quick google search of John Smith brings up some retard post on the forums. My name is John Smith but I have never played WOW before. All of a sudden my name is tied to that and I have no way of disproving it. And I am the one getting 3am pizza deliveries while the asshole who deserves it is kicking back sleeping.

wonkify:
It is too bad Blizzard punked out, especially as the WOW cesspool forums are nominally owned or controlled by them. Even if it was only partially successful, it probably would have been an improvement appreciated by the less destructive of their membership.

Let's be honest, accountability works. Does anyone have the slightest doubt Mel Gibson would have indulged in his latest rant if he didn't, mistakenly it turns out, believe he was speaking privately?

How much more intense when it's internet level anonymity?

As it is now, good people choose to be anonymous to enjoy some level of distance FROM the troglodytes on the web. That makes it feel like the slags are winning, doesn't it?

How would giving them our names help? They have already established the fact they are assholes. It just means they can't be assholes there. It also gives them more information to be assholes in other ways. In places where there is no moderators (like their forums apparently).

John Funk:
an excellent post on Metafilter outlined the potential problems with the change.

The problem with that "article" in my mind is that is by itself rather sexist.
On the one hand she is advocating that most girls in WoW are stereotyped, and at the same time she repeatedly seem to do the same to men herself. Sure she does start off saying a lot of people are not assholes, be the way she presents herself later on makes a whole other subject.

Although a lot of her points are very valid, and I do agree with most of it, it is also based on some "wrongs" it seem at times.

She states that she "... got daily messages from people I didn't know because they liked my forum posts."

This would actually stop with the "new" system, because they were actually letting you opt out of showing your character next to your real name.

And this brings me to my reason for why I thought the real names was a bad idea:

Flamers and trolls on the forums post using "forum alts" so that they will not be held accountable. Sure there are a few who aren't even that smart and post on their mains, but "forum alts" are very common.

So why do they use forum alts? Well its sort of to avoid getting all those in game mails as the metafilter article talks about. It's basically a way to not having to be accountable for what they say.

Sure linking a real name to the post would make some people think twice, but the posts would still not be linked to their character. And ultimately that is what I think makes "forum alts" so "important" to some people.

With a forum alt I can be AURGELMIR the great raider, who's respected and revered in his wow community, the guy every guy wants to be, and every girl wants to be with (which I am not)
But then with my "forum alt" I can be MIRLEGRAU the scourge of the forums, where all filth I spawn makes the guys want to kill me and the girls warn their daughters about. (I am not this either)

And the beauty of this is that I can spawn as much bile I want without loosing my great standing in game.

In the end I think accountability must be held for your in game life, not your real life, since it is in game your actions on the forums might be the most noted.

I think the best point on the Metafilter post JF referenced is that Blizzard would have been changing what is an anonymous space to a non-anonymous one. People are obviously going to have a problem if you are going to completely change the rules of the space when that's not what everyone signed up for.

This one point is reason enough for Blizzard not to force Real ID onto their forums; unless they figured a way to wipe the slate clean and start over without pissing off their customer base (i.e. without deleting everything on the forums up to that point).

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