Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Anonymity and Blizzard

There is a minor tempest stirring about Blizzard exposing real identities in their forums removing the customary anonymity. It seems to upset women the most. They don't want to be treated differently for being women. Somehow the hypocrisy of that escapes them but one can counsel those who as Duran Duran said in Barbarella, "... find horrible the idea that one could do to me that which I do to others." In other words, if you are in a game where bad behavior is the norm, you're supporting bad behavior and accept that is what you are supporting or get out. The dustup over the Streamy's this year is an excellent example of what happens when 'wink-wink' suddenly bursts out of the privacy of production rooms and into real-time. Then those promoting that behavior get caught up close and personal, and the time for cute protests are over. You made the bed, as they say.

Some time ago I made it clear that anonymous postings would be o-filed here at LaMammals. Why? People used anonymity to cause harm for political and work reasons. Since I couldn't filter fairly, I decided the best policy was a transparent one that was easy to implement.

I understand better than some the problems of a real public personna, yet I've pretty consistently followed the rule that I won't use pseudonyms and if I am in an environment where a pseudonym is assumed, I think the better course is to get the hell out of that environment.

Do you require a face mask to go ice skating? A public identity at a public event is assumed. What is it about gaming on a public server that requires anonymity? You can’t choose who you ice skate with in a public rink but the dangers of someone taking an inordinate interest in you there are likely higher than in a game. Will people track down an ice skater? They certainly will and have. Should the rink be held responsible? Certainly not.

This brouhaha says more about gamer culture than civil rights. Marketing wise, it may not be wise because when targeting a demographic for a sale, one usually doesn’t try to cure them of say racism along with the sale. On the other hand, providing a room where people in hoods and robes can come and freely commit acts of racism is frowned upon and likely the owner of the establishment would find themselves party to a legal action.

Is a game forum diffferent from such a room?


Anonymous said...

Hey Len, I completely agree... it really isn't that difficult to come by a (free or rented) uri, using blogger or facebook or linkedin or whatever, that you can use as a source of truth to identify yourself, and then use open authentication or whatever sort of federated authentication is available.

I understand some people's need for anonymity, but am entirely suspect of it. Is it a gender issue? I'm rarely surprised to discover someone on a forum is a gender different from my assumption; on the other hand, I am often surprised to discover someone whose opinion I respect is a tweenager - if there is a benefit to anonymity, I believe it is as a foil to prevent ageism.


Len Bullard said...

There are many issues one of which is to use it to keep one's different social networks apart.

I noted an article earlier today where a Buffalo, NY newspaper is now requiring real names and registration for commenters given some racist commenters. Eschewing anonymity is one way to temper incindiary trolls. As noted above, I got rid of anonymous commenting some time back when it became evident some folk would use it for their own agendas.

Some gamers thrive on trolling and I do believe that is in part due to the nature of the games they play. While Blizzard did back off on their goal, they did it with a proviso that they would reinstitute it if they believed it necessary thus giving the forum members a chance to self-modify their own behaviors.

Anonymous said...

If trolls were put on salary, they would probably cease to achieve satisfaction from their incendiary behaviour ;)

And using a pseudonym is one step closer to furryism.

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