And now, Blizzard just announced new changes that will do away with anonymity on the official forums as Battle.net 2.0 closes in on its launch. Highlights are posted in bold.
Battle.net Update: Upcoming Changes to the Forums
Recently, we introduced our new Real ID feature – http://www.battle.net/realid/ , a new way to stay connected with your friends on the new Battle.net. Today, we wanted to give you a heads up about our plans for Real ID on our official forums, discuss the design philosophy behind the changes we’re making, and give you a first look at some of the new features we’re adding to the forums to help improve the quality of conversations and make the forums an even more enjoyable place for players to visit.
The first and most significant change is that in 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. These changes will go into effect on all StarCraft II forums with the launch of the new community site prior to the July 27 release of the game, with the World of Warcraft site and forums following suit near the launch of Cataclysm. Certain classic forums, including the classic Battle.net forums, will remain unchanged.
The official forums have always been a great place to discuss the latest info on our games, offer ideas and suggestions, and share experiences with other players — however, the forums have also earned a reputation as a place where flame wars, trolling, and other unpleasantness run wild. 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.
We also plan to add a number of other features designed to make reading the forums more enjoyable and to empower players with tools to improve the quality of forum discussions. Players will have the ability to rate up or rate down posts so that great topics and replies stand out from the not-so-great; low-rated posts will appear dimmer to show that the community feels that they don’t contribute effectively to the conversation, and Blizzard’s community team will be able to quickly and easily locate highly rated posts to participate in or to highlight discussions that players find worthwhile.
In addition, individual topics will be threaded by context, meaning replies to specific posts will be grouped together, making it easier for players to keep track of multiple conversations within a thread. We’re also adding a way for Blizzard posters to “broadcast” important messages forums-wide , to help communicate breaking news to the community in a clear and timely fashion. Beyond that, we’re improving our forum search function to make locating interesting topics easier and help lower the number of redundant threads, and we have more planned as well.
With the launch of the new Battle.net, it’s important to us to create a new and different kind of online gaming environment — one that’s highly social, and which provides an ideal place for gamers to form long-lasting, meaningful relationships. All of our design decisions surrounding Real ID — including these forum changes — have been made with this goal in mind.
We’ve given a great deal of consideration to the design of Real ID as a company, as gamers, and as enthusiastic users of the various online-gaming, communication, and social-networking services that have become available in recent years. As these services have become more and more popular, gamers have become part of an increasingly connected and intimate global community – friendships are much more easily forged across long distances, and at conventions like PAX or our own BlizzCon, we’ve seen first-hand how gamers who may have never actually met in person have formed meaningful real-life relationships across borders and oceans. As the way gamers interact with one another continues to evolve, our goal is to ensure Battle.net is equipped to handle the ever-changing social-gaming experience for years to come.
For more info on Real ID, check out our Real ID page and FAQ located at http://www.battle.net/realid/ . We look forward to answering your questions about these upcoming forum changes in the thread below.
Blizzard is making changes to the community to make it a more safe, happy and productive environment. I rarely search the forums because I have a hard time sifting through all the filler posts that often offer little additional insight beyond trolling.
With these changes, I see an extreme decrease in random posting because of the lack of, what Nethaera refers to as the “veil of anonymity.” The fact that everyone’s real, full names will be posted online along with their selected primary character with every post may make people hesitate.
On the other hand, the fact that threads will be better organized and rated will probably increase the flow of readers. This increased accessibility and reduced difficulty of reading through the threads will likely bring in more people. Additionally, the grouping of comments will make it easier to spot all the ‘on-topic’ posts.
Blizzard has some good ideas on how to update its systems and keep things new, improved and fresh. Along with Cataclysm, I cannot wait for Battle.net 2.0 to be released. I’m happy that they included that the changes on the World of Warcraft forums will happen before Cataclysm.
What does everyone else think? Will these changes influence the forums for the better, as Blizzard hopes, or will people continue to spam the forum servers with ‘junk’ topic posts?