My final two cents on RealID

RealID is finally here.

Here is a link to the FAQ.

When it first came out I posted about my concerns for privacy, particularly for kids playing on a parents account. My outlook is still similar, but in chatting with others it has changed a bit.

Keeva over at Treebark Jacket (a wonderful site, go check it out if you haven’t already) did a little experiment. She played around with the feature and found out exactly what a friend of a friend could see about you. The short version is that all they could see was your name, nothing more.

Not your online status.

Not what character you are playing on.

Not even what characters or games might be associated with that name.

Just a name, that’s all.


Here are a few things Real ID will do.

  • Allow you to chat with folks on your RealID friends list across faction, game, and server.
  • It may (though I doubt it) allow you to chat cross region as well. We won’t know for sure until next week.
  • It will give your name, online status, and character information to those you have friended.
  • It will let friends of those friends see your name, and nothing more.
  • Allow you to set a status message. (I think the choices are Available, Busy, and Away)

Here are a few things it will not do.

  • It will not broadcast your login information to everyone and their neighbors dog.
  • It will not let anyone other than those you individually approve to see your online status.
  • It will not associate a character name with a real name unless you have actually friended the person.
  • It will not allow you to selectively turn off the feature per character, game, or server.

There are a few things I wish it would do.

  • Have an additional mode of Hidden in addition to the status messages currently available.
  • Give me the option to use my name, a handle, or both together. Face it, more people in WoW know me as Dechion than Brad. (There I went and did it, you all know my name now. I’ll never sleep soundly again.)
  • Allow me with parental controls to block access on a per character basis (both in WoW and in other games).

In short, it is much better done that it originally sounded. Based on the information we had when the feature was announced it appeared to be far more open than it actually is. Hell, even with an up to date FAQ Keeva  had to run her own experiments to find out what it actually did.

The lessons we can learn from this are twofold.

  1.  Don’t panic until something bad actually happens. It turns out many of the concerns I originally had were groundless, they were merely based on a poorly worded blue post and FAQ.
  2. When reading announcements for upcoming features one can generally assume that the final product will require experimenting on to find out how it actually works. Never rely solely on Blizz’s FAQ’s or blue posts.

Will I be making use of the feature?

Possibly, I am not really sure yet. Though it’s much more likely than it once was.