RealID, Battle Tag and Privacy Issues in WoW

A few days ago Blizzard announced BattleTag being implemented for Diablo 3 and eventually to World of Warcraft.  I wish they'd had this instead of RealID!  But I have finally gotten used to RealID and overcome some of my invasion of privacy issues that come with RealID.

How many of us play this game so we are not judged by our race, our gender, our name (what were my parents thinking when they named me Gertrude?)  Having an avatar and hiding your identity were perfect for concealing those things.  Of course having those things also makes the paedophiles, sleazies and stalkers come out in droves as well...

When RealID first came out, I asked a few of my good friends in game to RealID - after all, we already knew each other's names, phone numbers, addresses, emails etc, so it wasn't that much of a difference.  It also worked well for communicating cross faction with your friends who play icky Alliance or on other servers and you want to chat to them about your raid, or ask them how to do something.  But then what about raiders you wanted to keep track of, who were on alts or on other servers?  The only way to track them was to realID them and so I had to let my privacy guard down a little for that.

In recent times, I have had some really funny RealID requests.  I did a random and the tank spoke French and his English was poor and people were running around like crazy when they guy clearly had difficulty understanding them.  So I tried to make him feel at ease by talking in simple English and whispering him in French (using the online translator) about what to do.  It went smoother after that.  And at the end of the run he asked me to realID so he could dungeon with me again.  What the hell!!!  I don't know you from the stalker on TV!  So I politely declined and left group to avoid any other dramas.

So I ended up relaxing my privacy constraints a little, with RealID.  However, I don't have my real picture on my blog and I am not on Facebook so people can't search for me to see what I look like.  And I assumed that people who are on Facebook don't mind people looking at them - after all it's out there for anyone to say.  But I was wrong.  Just because I relaxed my privacy constraints, doesn't mean others think the same and I forgot that some people would still have those privacy issues.  I will probably get shot down for this but posting pics on Facebook is like if a girl wears super revealing clothes.  You can't help but look.  And you shouldn't get upset if people look, but obviously they shouldn't be doing anything beyond that like touching, making comments etc.  But that's just my opinion.

Yesterday I upset someone by commenting that their Facebook picture was very attractive.  That person was horrified that I knew their real name and was very upset about it, and had such a hissy fit I thought they would gquit on the spot.  I did my best to calm them down, but after 20 minutes of that, I felt like I was backpedalling and instead of feeling apologetic, I was starting to feel irritated that a complement turned into this horrible rant.  Now I found out this person's real name from someone else who I was RealID'd with (and I did ask that person which one of his realID friends was that person).  Why did I ask?  Because I was curious and had heard that the person was nice looking.  Was that a mistake?  I don't think so, people are just naturally curious.  Was it a mistake to tell the person I looked at their picture?  People hold to the belief that won't you don't know won't hurt you, but for myself, I would rather people tell me they are looking at me than sneaking around looking at me.  Just like if they are talking about me, I would rather they tell me to my face (like I do - brutally honest at times I can be) than sneak around saying it behind my back.  But back to topic - I could have told that person maybe after I knew them better.

BattleTags would solve all that.  You can see if anyone is online from their BattleTag and they can still be tracked just like realID but without knowing their personal details like name and email address.  It's a good move by Blizzard I think, and I wish it had been like that the whole time.  Because there is a whole lot of etiquette and potential upsetting of people with the whole realID thing.

For example:
  • You haven't realID'd someone but they know you have realID'd a whole bunch of other people.  And they can see your name on those lists.  That person gets upset so you have pressure to realID them
  • You decide you want to have some privacy so you remove people from realID.  They get upset because you have removed them and it's like you're not their friend anymore
  • Someone asks you to realID and you decline.  Or vice versa.  Are you ever the same friends again?
  • A person that you like and have realID'd has realID'd somebody you DON'T like and that person could look you up and start ranting at you, yelling abuse at you, or griefing you.  Nasty stuff.
BattleTag improves that a little, but it doesn't improve the whole hiding thing.  Don't you ever feel like you're just annoyed at EVERYONE and you want to go play somewhere (ie hide on an alt) and nobody knows where you are?  I wish you could just have the option to appear offline to everyone like you do on MSN, so you can essentially hide from everyone if you wanted to. 

But back to my guildie and invasion of privacy.  It was my own fault for upsetting them.  I forget that just because I consider everyone in my guild as some sort of extended family and treat them as such (nag, scold, comfort, listen to rants etc) doesn't mean other people feel the same way. 

So what was the point of this post?

It was mostly a reminder to myself to take it easy when handling people.  My enthusiasm for getting to know new guildies is unparrallelled and I really do like to know more about the people behind the pixels.  I just forget that not everybody thinks the same as I do.


  1. The only person who has my realID is my husband.

    After my very first GM stalked me online (he used to read my PMs to other guildmembers on our forums and used the email address I registered with to find out my real name amongst other things), I've become a bit cagey about handing out too many personal details.

    Although, my photo is on my blog (it's not on the front page though so not sure how many people see it), it's also been on my old guild forums (different GM)and I've told a few people my real first name so they could probably find me if they really really wanted too.

    I think battletags are a great idea and I'm glad that Blizzard are implementing them.

    Not sure I'd have a hissy fit about someone discovering information I'd posted on the net though. If you don't want anyone to know what you look like unless they meet you face to face, don't post photographs.

  2. @Erinys - I wish Battletags was how realID had always been. Yeah your stalking scenario is everyone's nightmare with online things. Thanks for dropping by and leaving your thoughts!

  3. Yes, it would have been a lot better had they started with Battletags. I have a ugh, very distinctive rl name, doubt if there are many of me so I didn't want to use realID in it's current form.

    But I find it strange that someone got upset that you viewed their picture on Facebook, I mean if you put something on the net it can't very well be considered private anymore.

    My Facebook page is in my dog's name, with his picture, he said he didn't mind, lol.

  4. @Ancient - I am not on Facebook, because I don't want to people to search for me or find me. I am happy to share all sorts of WoW info though about my character and my personal interests! I think that was very kind of your dog to let him use his name :)


Post a Comment

I hope these comments work! Not sure why people can't comment lately, it makes me sad :(