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.

Editor's Picks