A reversal on RealID
As of this writing, more than 21,000 people have replied on the official forum, with over 192,000 views about the topic and the consensus has been overwhelmingly negative. I read a lot of the responses and I wasn’t swayed by many—but there was one that I found particularly compelling.
One rebuttal to complaints—that I used—was that the forums are an option. If you don’t want to reveal your first and last name publicly then you don’t have to.
There are two key problems with my argument:
1: The forums are a part of the game—no one should feel locked out of that aspect of the game. Yes, one may go to unofficial forums but that’s de facto being shunted to the hinterlands for reasons that are effectively not the fault of the person playing the game. Why shouldn’t everyone be allowed to enjoy the official forums for the game they’re paying to play? No one should pay the same then (effectively) be locked out of parts of the game.
2: Customer service is being moved to the forums so this makes the forums a functional non-optional tool of the game. This was news to me and is a new factor that dramatically undermines my argument. Everyone, at some point, has some sort of customer service issue with a very complex game that’s played over years—or even months. It’s practically statistically unavoidable that you will need to contact someone because of a technical issue, in-game issue, or something to do with billing or other category.
Therefore, it’s unconscionable to relegate a segment (however large or small) to being unable to get customer service support for a paid subscription-based game.
For primarily these reasons I believe having real names in the forums is a bad idea.
Edited to add:
Well, Blizzard undermines one of the undermining arguments, beginning with this quote of someone’s post:
and what about when someone needs technical support, a GM points to the forum, yet they cant post without revealing their real name, which they don’t want to do? They aren’t allowed technical support?
This point would have some legitimacy if the forums were the only means of contacting our technical support staff, however, there are multiple other options to receive support. One option would be using the technical support phone contacts as listed on this page: http://www.wow-europe.com/en/support/technical.html
Another option would be to contact the technical support team via email, which can be done via this support contact webform: https://eu.blizzard.com/support/webform.xml?locale=en_gb
Lastly, there is also the option of reading the forums to see if other players have posted similar issues, or if there is information provided in sticky threads that may help solve the issue at hand.
None of these options require posting on the forums and thus giving out your real name to the public 🙂
Regarding the other argument, Blizzard has this:
The forums have always been an optional extra — something you can choose to participate in if you wish to.
It might be scary to consider posting with your real name, in which case it might be advisable simply not to post in these forums. There’s a whole load of other forums across the internet where you’ll be able to post in a more anonymous way, and maybe you will make a useful and constructive contribution there instead.
Well, that’s a different perspective and of course technically correct. And to be fair, like I said yesterday, I don’t post in the forums any more. Of course, I would very much enjoy it if the quality of the forums was higher.
My arguments against are weakened—but point one is still valid even in its weakened state. People should not be too afraid to post in the official forum for the game they’re paying for, even if it is an optional extra.