WoW. There went your anonymity. |

WoW. There went your anonymity.

Erasing privacy
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Edit: As of July 9, Blizzard has said that at least for now, real names will not be required on the forums.

I've talked here about privacy on Facebook. And that's one thing--a place where in general, the people you friend are likely to already know your real name. But how would you feel about everyone who so much as passes by your favorite message board knowing you as Merle Schwarz instead of clawfoot78?

If you play World of Warcraft and enjoy the forums, you're about to find out exactly how you feel. Blizzard has decided the best way to deal with trolls, the scourge of message boards everywhere, is to force everyone to use real names. I'd call that the online equivalent of denying recess to all the kids because there's that one who threw spitballs at the substitute. From the announcement: the near future, anyone posting or replying to a post on official Blizzard forums will be doing so using their Real ID -- that is, their real-life first and last name -- with the option to also display the name of their primary in-game character alongside it.

Oh, good. Not only can you reveal your real name to all your gamer friends, whom you're not necessarily interested in outing your real life to, but you can also associate it with your character's name. So everyone knows exactly who you are, in and out of game.

If you can't think of why that's a big deal, the third comment into the thread (linked above) by Patientzero explains it all quite well.

I believe in transparency. It's the open source way. But it's all about how you apply transparency. And obliteration of privacy is not the same as transparency.

About the author

Ruth Suehle - Ruth Suehle is the community leadership manager for Red Hat's Open Source and Standards team. She's co-author of Raspberry Pi Hacks (O'Reilly, December 2013) and a senior editor at GeekMom, a site for those who find their joy in both geekery and...