"Real names for friends: Your Real ID friends will appear under their real-life names on your friends list, when you're chatting, communicating in-game, or viewing a character's profile. Real ID friends can also see who's on one another's Real ID friends list, making it easy for players to connect with other people they know.
Cross-realm and cross-game chat: With Real ID, friends can chat cross-realm and cross-faction in World of Warcraft, and will be able to chat across future Blizzard games such as StarCraft II.
"Rich Presence": See additional real-time information on your friends list about what your Real ID friends are up to in World of Warcraft and upcoming games like StarCraft II.
Broadcasts: Broadcast a short status message for all of your Real ID friends to see, whether you want to issue a call to arms or let your friends know about an important change of plans."
Friend once, see all characters: Real ID friends will automatically see all of each other's characters on their friends list--even characters created in future Blizzard games--helping players stay connected with the people they enjoy playing with most."
Now, I have to say, that all sounds pretty cool. Where the issue with this service arises is when it goes from being a voluntary sign-up to being a mandatory way to regulate forums. Just yesterday, Geekosystem.com reported that Blizzard, in an effort to do away with forum trolls, flame wars and juvenile behavior, is seeking to eliminate poster anonymity all-together by making Real ID the standard for all of its discussion areas.
"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."
I'm all for dropping the ban hammer on trolls, whiners and the like. I also agree that many a forum would be better off without the constant negative posts by people with an agenda. That being said, I have never thought that clever or not so clever codenames thought up by inter-geeks was the real issue. Sure, fewer people will post if they have to use their real names--but it isn't like Negative Nancy is standing face to face with another poster when telling them to "expletive this" or "expletive that." Real name or alias: mean is mean and these types of people will still exist.
Most users of forums choose nicknames to recognize a favorite phrase, character, team or any number of things that they identify with. It is so ingrained in the cool internet culture that to forcibly say NO MORE on any site is just unnecessary. Sure, CaptainDookie911 might not be an appropriate name for the Wall Street Journal forums or the CNN comments section, but on a video game, comic book or pop culture site, it's all in good fun. It's like forcing Spider-Man to go around without his mask. Trust your users to be adults, code names or not, and just ban the ones who break the terms of the sight. It's called moderation.
Yasar: Guy took the words right out of my mouth...
Update: According to Consumerist, it appears that Blizzard has caved to user outcry over its plans for Real ID.