Editor's note: Now you see why we insist on people using their real names on Bitmob! And we actively encourage it, too, with contests that are only open to qualified users with legit names. -Shoe
Checking my email, I see a notification that someone replied to my Battle.net forum post. I can't wait to read the intelligent, moving comments that will attempt to urge me away from my non-excited stance on Starcraft 2. Instead, I am met with 10 messages that could be summed up by combining the acronyms STFU, FUUU, and "STFUUUUUUUUU!!!" — responses that shouldn't have been surprising in the least bit. It's the Internet after all. Anonymity-based web forums are playgrounds for trolls.
Blizzard was hoping to remedy this when they announced that real names would be displayed on the Battle.net forums. After an unexpected outbreak of backlash from Blizzard's online community, however, it was decided to keep the anonymity — a decision that will ensure the continued hostile and non-user-friendly nature of this forum board.
A game's community is oftentimes as important as the game itself. If that group is filled with trolls hiding behind jpegs and usernames (especially when multiplayer is involved), l am far from encouraged to play. Such annoying board members who post needless obscenities and start arguments for no reason would logically flock to games played only by greifers (gamers with the goal of ruining everybody else's fun).
It's one thing to be in the middle of a Halo 3 deathmatch and have your sexuality questioned and ridiculed but another thing entirely for the same thing to happen in a setting meant for intelligent discussion. The Penny Arcade "Internet Dickwad Theory" (Normal Person + Anonymity + Audience = Total Dickwad) is hardly limited to gaming — their associated communities get infected as well. Blizzard had planned to excise anonymity from that equation, and just like how the equation "2 + 2 = 4" does not feature the same result if "+ 2" is removed, a normal person with an audience is just that: A normal person with an audience. No dickwads.
Defendants of forum board anonymity claim that the inclusion of real names would break the fourth wall and take them out of the experience. Well, if I want to submit my serious opinion under the pseudonym of Doctor_Mind_BendR_38 so that I can more easily believe I do have a PhD in bending minds, then I could — but my serious opinion wouldn't be taken seriously with such a name. Because readers can't take my writing seriously and because they can't be held accountable for their words while posting under names such as BieberFan1, comments on my post will be nothing but statements about my mother's weight.
Maybe one day I'll post my thoughts about Starcraft 2 under my birth name, Jazz English, on Battle.net. It will spur rich, intelligent discussion and responses that will better both the community and the game itself. Until then, I think I'll stay away from the anonymous parts of the Internet. Besides, I heard that Bitmob is ahead of the game in regards to accountable posting: I'll post my thoughts here instead!
Seeing that Bitmob is often a place of wonderful discussion, I encourage you to tell me what you think about all this in the comments!