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Jul. 7th, 2010 @ 11:54 am [OOC] Another RealID post...
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By this time, most WoW bloggers have weighed in on the upcoming changes to the official WoW forums. Like 90% of the playerbase, I think that this move is a very bad idea. However, since I can't really add anything to the already weighty discussion, I wanted to comment on something else that has been bugging me.

Okay, change of plans, ladies and gents. I followed the advice and decided to let my voice be heard. So I posted on the official forums and here is what I said:

I have made a couple of comments on my various forums of choice, but I've finally been convinced to comment here as well. I don't have anything to say that I'm sure hasn't been said several times already, but maybe my voice will have a little bit of weight.

In short, I feel like this move is a very bad idea.

As children, we are taught 1 very important lesson: don't talk to strangers. This is an all-encompassing rule and as we grow up, we learn that this rule must be bent in certain circumstances. After all - everyone is a stranger until we meet them! But one of the corollaries to this rule is "Don't tell strangers your name." I still remember getting the lecture from my mom about what to do if someone drove up while I was walking home. I was never supposed to tell them my name if asked, and if told that my mother was ill, or some other major emergency had happened, I was never to get into the car, but to run straight home. I think we might have even had a secret code that, if there had been an emergency, the stranger would have known.

Let's fast forward. I'm a grown up, playing online games. And yet, these lessons that I have learned as a child still play a major part in how I keep my life secure. For example, when I log onto my bank account, there is a special key that they show me. Without that key, I have no way of knowing if they really are who they say they are. Isn't that just a new twist on the secret code that my mother and I decided on as a child?

Then it comes to "don't tell strangers your name." And, honestly, it's much bigger than that. I was once fired because of something I wrote in a blog. It was entirely my fault (I was young and stupid), but it taught me the hard way that for everything I ever write online, I need to ask myself "do I care if this gets published on NBC or CNN tomorrow morning?" No one writes stuff and says, "Hey, so-and-so is going to stumble upon my blog tomorrow and read this, I just know it!" The truth is, you never know what people will find out about you. So, you have to be careful about what you reveal and who you reveal it to. Because information is something that, once given, cannot be taken back.

I have been in the situation of wanting to take back something that I said, or wish that I'd locked a blog post to friends-only. I make those mistakes. I think we all do, because we are human. But they are mistakes that we have to live with, because, as I said, we can't undo them. So, what happens when you, as a company, make that mistake? Are you absolutely sure that this information that you are providing is completely, 100% safe, and that there's no way it could get into the wrong hands? Because, once you make this step, you can't go back.

I know I, personally, will not be posting on the forums if/when this is implemented. If I have a problem with the game, the in-game GMs will have to help me with it personally, because I won't be willing to come to the tech support forums for answers. Because how can I know that, if I apply for a job, I won't get rejected because a google turned up my name as a gamer - something we know is still thought poorly of in many job markets?

Then there's the argument that your name is already readily available... my argument is the same as that which many people have made already. Yes, it is true. Your name is already readily available. But it's like a number. It's like saying that your house is 3. 3 what? 3 bedrooms? 3 doors down? 3 hundred square feet? You have to give the name context before it is valuable. And context-by-association is one very good example. Context-by-relationship, if you will. Because we are a species that thrives on relationships. If someone walked up to me and said, "Jane Trivey died yesterday." I'd go "....who?" A name doesn't mean anything to me. If, however, they replied, "You know, so-and-so's mother?" Or "She was a childhood actress in (insert movie here)." Or even "She works on the 5fh floor with so-and-so." Then her name has context for me. I can create a mental map of my relationship with her, this woman that I had never met. She is no longer a name to me, she is someone. The same thing happens here. It isn't my name that is valuable. It is the fact that my name would now be attached in relationship to a gaming site to the entire world - without me having any say in the matter if I choose to post on the forums.

From what I understand, this is what you are attempting to do - force us into relationships. But... you aren't a social networking site. You are a gaming manufacturer. There is a reason that I don't say certain things to my facebook friends. And why I keep my LJ locked to friends only. The problem is, you aren't allowing us the liberty to control what information is being given out. Facebook and LJ do. Facebook allows us to decide who is going to be our friend. LJ lets you friends lock all posts, even in communities.

So... please. I know I don't post very often on the forums, but I won't post at all if my real name shows. I may not be 8 years old any more, but I'm still not comfortable with telling an entire world of strangers my name.

So, what do you think? Did I keep it rational and (sorta) concise?
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