Blizzard hopes its “Real ID” system will create a more positive forum environment and curtail flaming and trolling.
Screen names will soon be a thing of the past on the Battle.net forums, and any post you make will be under your real name. Starting at the end of the month, use of Blizzard’s Real ID will be a requirement in order to post on the Starcraft 2 forums, with the World of Warcraft forums following suit around the launch of the Cataclysm expansion. The forums for older Blizzard games like Warcraft III and Diablo II will be put together in a “legacy forum” section in which Real ID will be implemented.
Blizzard hopes that having some degree of accountability will help make its forums a more pleasant place for people to post, and says that this will apply to staff members as well: “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,” said a Blizzard spokesperson in a statement on their forums.
“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’s going to be interesting to see what effect this has on the Battle.net forums. Anonymity is often cited as a factor in antisocial online behavior, and perhaps removing it will genuinely improve the internet. On the other hand, this may make some people who have always behaved appropriately in the past less willing to post, and some people are going to be jerks whether you know their real names or not.