Blizzard Entertainment will be making a major change to its forums
later this month. Starting with the launch of the new StarCraft II community site before the game's launch on July 27, anyone posting or replying to a post on official Blizzard forums will be doing so using their Real ID -- which is the first and last name on each user's Battle.net account. Although some may see it as an invasion of their privacy, the idea, according to the developer, is to remove the veil of anonymity typical to online dialogue which often leads to "flame wars, trolling and other unpleasantness."
Real ID is a feature of the new Battle.net service that allows players to communicate with each other over different servers and games. The change will reportedly promote constructive conversations and help the Blizzard community connect in ways that weren't possible before. But this could also alienate many good forum users who simply don't feel comfortable linking their comments to their real identities -- thus bringing forum participation down.
While this is a departure from the more traditional approach of assigning forum moderators to make sure the conversation remains civilized and on-topic, it's certainly not the first time something like this has been attempted to cut down on trolling. Several high profile blogs and newspapers have opted to turn off comments altogether, while others, like the Wall Street Journal in particular, currently require commenters to use their real names.
Sure, there could be some privacy concerns involved, but then again you always have the option of staying out of the conversation. What do you think? Will Blizzard's move really bring players together and encourage thoughtful dialogue between them or will this simply make the forum quieter and more inhibited?