After Hours

World of Warcraft backs off edict that users must use real names

Blizzard, the company that makes World of Warcraft backs down from forum plans. How does this kind of thing happen?

Blizzard, now known as Battle.net, is the maker of World of Warcraft. In a press release they said that they would start dictating that all accounts be identified with gamers' real names.

Called Real ID, it's the company's attempt to curb the trolling and unpleasant behavior that plague's WOW's forum (and every other online forum in the world for that matter). From their first press release:

Our forum has earned a reputation as a place where flame wars, trolling, and other unpleasantness run wild" and that "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.

My first question for Blizzard after I read this was, "I'm sorry, have you met the Internet?" Why on earth would they think that their forum visitors would go for that? Forum members posted some legitimate concerns that went farther than "I can't be the creep I want to be in I'm not anonymous." One member even voiced a concern that it would affect his employment if his present bosses or potential bosses saw the amount of time he spent gaming online.

But then today, in their own forum, Blizzard announced that, due to user feedback, they've changed their minds:

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.

I have a few points for discussion here. How does a company embark on a project without knowing how their end-users are going to react to it? Fortunately, for the WOW forum members, the company was willing to backtrack. But I wonder how many times projects are pushed through, been met with complete derision by end-users, but had to continue because those in charge refused to back down?

Let's hear from you guys. Have you ever had to work on a clearly ill-advised project?

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

10 comments
candytata6
candytata6

wow ..i like it very much. game675.com

burkhardt5
burkhardt5

Weather or not people use their real names or not shouldn't make much difference. World of warcraft does not keep any important personal info, do they? WOW Strategy Guide

blackepyon01
blackepyon01

Blizzard, unlike many other companies I could mention, actually does listen to and take into account user feedback.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

Not a one ever resulted in an real improvement in quality. All any of them ever did was change the terminology and increase the amount of paperwork dedicated to the illusive 'quality' output.

Ocie3
Ocie3

Question: [i]"Have you ever had to work on a clearly ill-advised project?"[/i] Not in IT, fortunately.

Ocie3
Ocie3

There has been a long tradition of writers who adopted "pen names", such as Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) and O.Henry (William S. Porter), under which their works were published. If someone who writes forum messages, a blog, articles for a web site, or an online periodical wants to do that, then what would be wrong with it[b]?[/b] Many people probably have different reasons than those two respective writers did, but we have adopted pseudonyms in Internet News Groups, in bulletin board systems, and now for Internet forums of just about all types. Regardless, it is no more difficult to adopt a "real name" that is a pseudonym than it is to adopt one that is clearly a pseudonym. If I registered with Tech Republic and used the name "Edward Teach", they wouldn't reject it. Nor would they reject the name by which he became infamous, "Blackbeard". :-)

santeewelding
santeewelding

Dream of what bad men do.

johnpall
johnpall

Unlike your remark " Good men Dream of what bad men do."

mas06h
mas06h

As a WOW subscriber, I have been unhappy with a lot of the corporate decision making over there lately. Im glad they decided to step back on this. They seem to be making too many decisions without consulting the end user. Thats good business 101 as far as I am concerned. Make sure your community of users is happy with what you're doing (ESPECIALLY the gamer community). I hope this doesn't become the trend in the industry.

mlakrid
mlakrid

I have no issues with Activision/Blizzard enforcing the no personal attacks rules. When trying to enforce people using realID to show their real names is where they messed up. I would go so far as to say that validating you are who you say you are before allowing you to tie your anonymous ID to the real one would have been fine. In that way they could have easily patrolled and enforeced rules with regards to personal attacks/flames and trolls in general. Mike A! Florida

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