Blizzard Entertainment, makers of the wildly popular World of Warcraft online game recently started an online forum tempest when they decided to start showing users’ online account names when they posted messages to their game forums. Blizzard explained they were making this change to their online forums because their “forums have also earned a reputation as a place where flame wars, trolling, and other unpleasantness run wild.”
It’s not just Blizzard’s forums though. Almost every forum I know that allows anonymous comments is filled to overflowing with abusive nonsense. Whether it’s GoComics (http://www.gocomics.com/); local newspaper online forums; social bookmarking sites like Digg and Reddit; developer mailing lists, or, alas, my own blogs and Web sites, all too often instead of intelligent conversation about the subject du jour I find non-stop ranting, sweating, and insults. Oh, and the occasional bit of spam.