Should Notch Respect Your Minecraft Privacy?

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Should Notch Respect Your Minecraft Privacy?

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Mojang wants your Minecraft usage data, but Notch is asking if that's ok with you first.

Anybody running an application, service or even game will tell you that data is king. Knowing what your users are doing with your product or how they are viewing your content will allow the creators to adapt to the needs of the playerbase easier and quicker. But gamers can be a touchy bunch regarding their information. The slightest whisper of an application reporting data to its "corporate overlords" is enough to set the boards aflame. So Mojang has a bit of a dilemma; Notch would like to know what players are doing with his game, but he doesn't want to risk the backlash. What did he do? He set up a poll asking his loyal followers if they would object to Minecraft collecting data and sending it to his servers in Sweden for collating.

"We have no idea how you're playing the Minecraft," Notch wrote on his blog today. "Right now, the only way we can figure out roughly what people are doing with the game is to track logins. Once you're logged in, we have no idea what happens."

In order to figure out more about how people play the game, Notch proposes adding some code to send a packet of information every ten minutes. "This would work by having the game connect to minecraft.net and send some anonymous and non-private data about the game, such as current game mode (single player, multiplayer), operating system (windows? mac?), how long you've been playing for (so we know how long a game session is), and whether or not you're playing the downloaded game, or the applet on the webpage."

Notch promised he would share the data he gleaned from this process with the community so there was some kind of transparency. And there would absolutely be no personal data shared, in case you were worried Notch was looking at grabbing those pics of your Aunt Sue. "Naturally, the data sent will be fully anonymous, so it wouldn't contain any session information or your user name, and it wouldn't send any sensitive information that you might not want to share."

Oddly enough, the poll results so far show an overwhelming support for this plan. As of this typing, 86.26 percent of the responders (or 27,872 votes) for said "Yes, that sounds cool!" while only 13.74 percent or 4,438 votes said "No, that sounds evil!"

I guess no matter what Notch says, he still gets indie cred.

Source: Word of Notch

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It's not that odd that they'd support it. Most peoples gripes is when it sends more than is needed without asking for permission first.

I've not played Minecraft in forever and it wouldn't bother me that he knows that I just wonder around single player adventure mode when I did.

At least he's nice enough to at least try to get an opinion instead of just outright doing it like so many game publishers do. That, I think, is a good thing to do. :D

Say what you want about Notch, but the at least the guy is nice enough to politely ask for your info first.

This is how you should do this sort of thing.

Not really seeing a problem so long as the data it collects strictly sticks to Minecraft and doesn't try to steal said pictures of Aunt Sue.

It might be an idea to have a tick-box for it though so if you don't want to share you don't have to.

To be honest I'm not surprised most users so far have voted "yes", when people want privacy it's generally to protect passwords/bank details/collection of Thomas the tank engine porn from becoming public, not what they get up to on Minecraft.

I'm neither suprised or objecting to this.

Though, if he has a problem with me using Mods, THEN we're going to have issues.

...*Fingers crossed he brings stuff from Redpower 2 into the vanilla game*

Quite frankly, I think Notch could ask for Minecraft players' first born children and they would give them to him.

Full Disclosure: I'm not a Minecraft player.

I don't play Minecraft but it doesn't surprise me that the response has been overwhelmingly positive so far.

Notch went about doing this the right way by asking permission first. Doing this will lead to him getting feedback (both from the poll and from emails) so that a policy can be put in place that the users are comfortable with and that gets him the information that he needs.

Notch, you're doing everything right so far. Even this. The reason that the unanimous vote is yes is because the gamers trust you. Don't lose that trust, man.

I like statistics so I'm all for this. I'm sure there'll be some interesting little factoids coming from it all.

Yeah, the concensus appears to be to let Notch get the data. We've got him to thank for the game in the first place and he came out and explained personally what was gonna happen. Shame that kinda approach is so rare.

It's the anonymity that's important to me (and it's important in legal terms too, if my computing lessons taught me anything close to the truth). If that is maintained, I don't think he even has to ask, though it's nice that he did.

Wouldn't a better idea than a poll like this just be an option when you first log in, though?

"Send anonymous data to Mojang? Y/N" - Everyone wins.

The obvious solution is to just have the system be opt-in, something that a million other apps already do. The fact that such an overwhelming majority said they'd be OK with sharing their data means Mojang probably won't be missing out on any crucial data by not knowing what those 13% are up to.

The only things they'd have to do to make it "okay" by me:

- Make it a selectable option in the settings
- Set it to "off" by default

There. In plain sight for all to see, and it does nothing unless you tell it to. Happiness ensues!

I, for one, welcome our new blocky overlord.

OT:

The Rogue Wolf:
The only things they'd have to do to make it "okay" by me:

- Make it a selectable option in the settings
- Set it to "off" by default

There. In plain sight for all to see, and it does nothing unless you tell it to. Happiness ensues!

That was pretty much my thought as well. The fact that the date is kept anonymous also helps.

Id be fine if it were an "opt in" sort of thing.

So long as i can turn it off or on at will, im completely fine with it.
But thats how you know Notch is a BAWS. He asks before he peers into your life.

Ask and ye shall receive.

He asked for permission, explained what data he was planning to get and what he was going to do with it, and was planning to share it with the community. Of course feedback would be positive.

This is the kind of transparency that sorely lacking these days.

Wait, so Notch wants to know how long I play Minecraft and what kinds of things I build and how often I get killed by creepers? But that is sensitive information that would be really embarrassing to be let out to the public! I do important things on Minecraft that others simply cannot know about! I am wholeheartedly against this invasion of our all-important privacy. How dare he even suggest such a thing!

...

I've never seen any problem with sending anonymous usage data. Especially if it's something as meaningless as your platform and game mode.

I've never played minecraft, but Notch has earned a lot of respect from me. I wish those big publishers were more like him.

Greg Tito:

Oddly enough, the poll results so far show an overwhelming support for this plan. As of this typing, 86.26 percent of the responders (or 27,872 votes) for said "Yes, that sounds cool!" while only 13.74 percent or 4,438 votes said "No, that sounds evil!"

It's really not that odd, the poll has been up for barely over half a day. What sort of people do you think are the ones likely to be following Notch's blog? And following it closely enough to notice updates within a few hours at that.

I'm sure you get all sorts, of course. But I wouldn't consider it a great stretch to suggest that those who worship at notch's feet are far more plentiful in that particular location than elsewhere. And all of that aside, this is pretty lightweight in terms of evil software overlord habits, only the most diehard whiners are likely to truly be opposed.

And on topic, I don't particularly care. Nothing relating to minecraft that makes any difference to me if it was shared, especially not if it's anonymous to boot.

Sounds good, I imagine this data would go some way to adjusting mob levels, drop data and so on. The poll location is pretty key though; the only people likely to initially see it are pro-notch peeps so the vote ratio is hardly an odd factor.

TBH if I was Notch I wouldn't have bothered asking but instead made the data harvest process optional, similar to when you install certain apps and it prompts you to ask if its ok to send anonymous info back to the company. Those who objected could simply press No and vice versa.

I have no qualms with this. Its basic data tracking and he's asking. Nothing like origin crap.

Maybe once he sees how many people play in Multiplayer, he'll finally add multithreading to the the server software.

Just have a pop-up that asks if it's cool to send data and what the data is, simple as pie.
Of course it's very luring to hide all sorts of spyware within your games, but it's also the best way to drive people off.

Rossmallo:
I'm neither suprised or objecting to this.

Though, if he has a problem with me using Mods, THEN we're going to have issues.

...*Fingers crossed he brings stuff from Redpower 2 into the vanilla game*

He said he's going to bring in official mod support, so I doubt he'd have much of a problem with it.

OT: I think this is a great idea. It allows him to get features from mods or something like that, and it will most likely allow him to optimize the game to further benefit the largest demographic.

I can't see why anyone would object to this. It's a way of product improving which doesn't force us to answer a bunch of questions where none of the answers really fit. I have no reasons why any developer/publisher shouldn't utilize this. If Volition knows that I love Fight Club, Fuzz, Insurance Fraud and Mayhem while I don't like Crowd Control and use that in order to create a sequel based on what I like and what I don't I'd be thrilled.

The type of data being gathered is so harmless I can't imagine why anyone would care. And it ought to improve further updates.

Absolutely you can.

But, you know... prepare to be underwhelmed by my underwater house

Nah, I don't have a problem with sharing the type of info Notch is looking for. Not much different than Mozilla asking to send data related to a crash or error in order ot gather more info.

Far better than lying about it or misrepresenting what info will be taken, like most game companies would do.

I'd say that's absolutely fine. Go for it notch...

"We have no idea how you're playing the Minecraft," Notch wrote on his blog today. "Right now, the only way we can figure out roughly what people are doing with the game is to track logins. Once you're logged in, we have no idea what happens."

I do think its great that he asked before doing it, but I am sorry its not information he needs.

Cause if you want to figure out roughly what people are doing with the game... Look on your forums, and all the various other websites regarding what people are doing with the game be it in game projects, servers, modding, etc. So Im sorry, No Notch, you DO have other ways of doing it, so you have no justification for trying to be intrusive.

Seriously no good can really come of this as no good ever comes out of people wanting to take data. Besides that, Notch has repeatedly illustrated hes just going to do whatever he wants to do with the game anyway So realistically having that data serves no purpose.

EDIT:
The fact that so many people from this generation are so apathetic to freely giving up their information is beyond distressing and explains a LOT.

Hmmm why doesn't he just do what 2K did with Borderlands?
They just have a prompt come up at the main menu explaining what they're gathering and asking if you want to opt-in or not.

Anyway I opted into the Borderlands thing so I certainly have no problem with Notch gathering similar statistics too.

Sure, notch. I don't mind. What you'll see is me making huge strip mines and building random buildings and the occasional giant cock and balls.

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