BattleTags: Digging Deeper

Well, it’s been about ten days since I last wrote in this space, mostly due to work stuff, family stuff, oh, and yes, illness. (On Thursday, I started sneezing so much someone could haven mistaken me for a pregnant Bajoran.)

At that time, I had pondered whether the “Show my Real ID on Friends of Friends lists” option would extend to BattleTags, since we still have no controls specifically for BattleTags.

The answer, it would appear, is no.

list

Yup. That’s Majik’s “People You May Know” list and, 15 screens down, at the very bottom, where there are no mutual friends connecting him and those individuals that “he may know”, I’m right there. (In order to get this screenshot from him, I had to actually tell him my BattleTag or he wouldn’t have confirmed it for me. :P)

As to why this is a big deal, I can understand why some people don’t think it is… But to me, it’s just another way of showing me that Blizzard doesn’t care about our privacy. The lack of control, the lack of refinement of the tools, these are things that, were they fixed, would have me thrilled to use BattleTags. That’s ultimately where I’m coming from: I want to be able to use BattleTags within World of Warcraft without giving up my privacy.

Since I can’t do that, I don’t want to use BattleTags. More, I don’t want anyone to be able to associate me with a BattleTag.

Think about it. With someone’s BattleTag, you can search for them on the official Hearthstone, Diablo 3, Starcraft 2 AND Heroes of the Storm forums, all without being their “friend” on BattleNet. Just how long do you think WoW’s character-based postings are going to last when all of their other properties are using BattleTags?

Then, with someone’s BattleTag, you can spam them with requests, even if they still turn you down. Someone who knows someone else’s BattleTag can also post this sort of thing to various forums, which will cause an uptick in spam requests.

Then we have this story from Jemmy

My husband decided to disable his RealId to see what would happen. He doesn’t play WoW any more and I’m the only active RealId person on his list, everyone else is btag. So I disappeared off his list, and he cannot add me back on using my email. So far so good. So then he sends me a btag friend request, which I accept. My RealId name appears on his friends list. Not my btag, my RealId name. He shows up only as his btag, but I show up as a RealId name.

What’s up with that?

It’s true that these are not exactly the most harmful or most efficient ways to harass someone, but they’re there. More, this is just what people can do with your BattleTag ID right now. What happens when WoW’s forums adopt the BattleTag?

What happens if BattleTags become visible in WoW, even to the extent that they are currently visible in Hearthstone? Right now, after you play someone in Hearthstone, you get their BattleTag and you get the option to request to add them to your friends list. What if some genius idiot at Blizzard decides this is a good plan for LFR or the LFG groups in WoW? “Did you enjoy playing with FAKENAME#0000? Add them to your BattleTag list and play with them more often!”

Again, with proper, granular controls that existed on an IM program in the late 90s, BattleTags would be brilliant. But without any kind of control whatsoever, I have to opt out of their use. I was a less-effective guild recruiter without using BattleTags, because I didn’t want prospective recruits to know every detail of my Blizzard gaming habits. I’m sure I come off as an aloof snob when people want to exchange BattleTags with me. There are actually a lot of people with whom I would like to connect over BattleTags, but none to the point where I’d like them to have an unfettered view of my gaming. I don’t want anyone to know about my Undead baby rogue on that PVP server. I don’t want anyone to know what I’m doing in Hearthstone. It’s my decision whether or not I share these activities with others — or, at least, it should be. Once you give someone access to you via BattleTags, you don’t have that decision any longer. That privacy is gone. All because Blizzard doesn’t seem to care enough to even install the most basic of privacy controls.

It’s a worrying privacy creep and it just continues to show me that, perhaps, my love affair with World of Warcraft and Blizzard in general, is truly over.

(You’re welcome to comment, welcome to disagree, but bear in mind my Comment Policy.)

ETA: Related podcast: Episode 19 of the Kurncast: Privacy Creep

Blizzard, Why Do I Still Have to Talk About This?

Dear Blizzard,

I have been playing your games, in some fashion, since the original PC version of Diablo. I played Diablo II, as well as at least one expansion. I eventually found my way to World of Warcraft in October of 2005 and the rest is basically history. I played until November of 2012 and then took a break for approximately 17 months.

I came back to the game shortly after the Warlords of Draenor pre-purchase came out. I pre-purchased Warlords, then four hours later, I resubbed to the game.

As I write this, I have about 68 hours on my current game card and, to be honest, I’m not really inclined to fork over another $15.

It’s not because of the sexism and even homophobia and misogyny that I have seen in the game — although those exist.

It’s not because you nerfed my class to the ground — although my main raiding character was a paladin for the majority of my playing time.

It’s not even because it’s going to take over a year between content patches — although that’s a truly abysmal production schedule and if I had been raiding this whole time, I would have surely quit in disgust by now.

It’s because @YAWoWB on Twitter said this:


I wasn’t exactly sure what Rooster was talking about, until I opened up my own desktop app. Now, let’s be clear: I have precisely 0 BattleNet friends and my RealID is turned off. But I still clicked on “Add a Friend” and was rewarded with this piece of nonsense:

addafriendblog

 

Now, to be fair, because I have RealID turned off, those are all BattleTags. But that’s my brother’s BattleTag, my friend Majik’s BattleTag… and the guy above Majik? That’s one of his friends. Something like two years ago, I played Diablo III with Majik and his friend, for a period of approximately THIRTY MINUTES.

Then, Blizzard, I gasped out-loud at the possibility that my BattleTag is floating around out there like that. See, you have a flag in the BattleNet account options to not show up like that… except that it’s for RealID, not BattleTags (click for a bigger version):

friendsoffriends

Now, one might think that, possibly, since there are no preferences for one’s BattleTags, that perhaps they follow the rules laid out for RealID, but, honestly, I have no idea if this is the case.

As my brother is the father of a newborn and I don’t actually know Majik’s friend, my thought was immediately to get him on his computer and then have HIM click “Add A Friend” and see if I showed up. Unfortunately, he was asleep when I texted him (multiple times), since he has to be up at 5am and I think I might have woken up his wife with my constant texting…

So I’ll have to post again with the results of this test.

But, honestly, Blizzard. It’s 2014. Why do I have to be angry with you about your complete and utter lack of social controls?

It’s been nearly two years since you posted that “Appear Offline” was “coming soon”. TWO YEARS, Blizzard. That’s longer than Mists of Pandaria has been out! And your inelegant (to say the least) “privacy” controls are still absolutely laughable. I say this as someone who has been in the online community industry for over a decade. In this day and age of Facebook privacy screwups, of cloud hacking, of nations spying on their own citizens, you’re really going to continue to deny your users the ability to properly manage their online/offline statuses? You’re going to make it easy to find people who don’t want to be found?

Look, I get that community makes your product stickier. Believe me, I do. People come for the games and stay for the people. I know! And you want to compete with Steam, I’m guessing, right? Guess what? STEAM HAS AN OFFLINE MODE. And a variety of ways for users to manage their privacy. And Steam hit the 75 million active user mark last January.

Why, why, why do you continue to eat away at the privacy of your gamers? Why don’t you understand that, when I play your games, I don’t really want to announce to a dozen people that I’m on a rarely-used alt on a server I never visit? Why don’t you understand that I don’t want people to know all of my alts? That I don’t want prospective recruits to know all of my alts? That I don’t want people to necessarily know that I’m in one of your games?

These are fundamental questions for me. I am increasingly disturbed by each and every privacy issue that comes up when it comes to BattleNet and Blizzard’s games.

You know, Blizzard, there was a time when I loved BattleNet. Those times were back in the late 90s when I was playing Diablo. Ever since RealID came out, I have learned to loathe BattleNet. I resent it. I resent people expecting me to share my RealID/BattleTag with them. I hate that people I barely know are all “hey, whats ur btag???” because “lol its just ur btag”. I hate that I can’t even post on the Hearthstone forums without my BattleTag being exposed for all to see. I cannot believe that I cannot remove a BattleTag from my account and I am just as incredulous about the fact that there are no distinct BattleTag privacy options available to me.

Blizzard… it’s time. It’s time to fix this mess.

Yours sincerely,

Kurn

State of Kurn’s Corner

So, hi. I’ve finally moved my blog over to my new webhost. If you got here after going to kurn.apotheosis-now.com, please note the new address: kurn.info/blog. I believe that I have ensured that all old links point to the appropriate new links — not just because of the domain name change, but because of the URL change to the entries themselves. I swapped from a numerical system (which drove me crazy – I always had to look up which entry belonged to which number) to one with the titles of the posts in it.

I probably should have done that, like, five years ago. Hopefully that works out okay. Let me know if it doesn’t!

Anyhow, welcome to the new home of Kurn’s Corner. I know that I’ve been excessively quiet of late and that is, truly, not my intention. Now that I’ve moved everything over, I plan to tweak the theme a bit and, you know, actually write occasional blog posts.

I have things to say, obviously, like always — I want to spend some time talking about healing. I want to talk about Warlords. I want to mention my thoughts on a bunch of other things…

But that’s going to have to wait. For now, we have a new webhost, a new URL and I’m looking forward to writing here, every so often.

Thanks so much for reading. I promise to have something relatively interesting to read soon. In the meantime, check out my podcast, the Kurncast: http://www.kurn.info/podcast/

Episode 12 of the Kurncast… is not here.

Yes, Episode 12 of the Kurncast is out and nope, it’s not here. I have finally migrated it over to:

http://kurn.info/podcast

It WILL be on iTunes and Stitcher Soon ™ but in the meantime, please head over to that address to listen to all episodes (new and old) of the Kurncast. :)

Thanks!

Episode 11 of the Kurncast

I swear to God, I’m going to move the Kurncast to kurn.info next week. I promise. I’ll also go about adding it to things like iTunes and Stitcher once I’ve done that. Promise!

This week, I talk about my forthcoming changes in my schedule, my idiocy regarding my farm(s), I lament the possibility of giving up my Ancient Sinew Wrapped Lamina and talk about the Curse of Naxxramas “adventure” for Hearthstone.

As always, if you’re looking for a new webhost, please do consider bluehost and I’d appreciate it if you used my affiliate link below. :)

Changes Coming

For those of you who are unaware, I haven’t had a full-time, steady job in quite some time. I was in university for longer than I probably should have been, supplemented income with web clients and such, had a fortunate thing happen to me which allowed me to not worry about money for a while and, since graduating from university, I’ve been looking for work.

While looking for work, I’ve explored different avenues for making money. Among them, my guides. I’ve also done some web work and have complained (at length) on Twitter about some nightmarish clients.

Today, I was officially offered a position for full-time work in my field (!) (no details for you guys yet, sorry!) and, because I am not stupid, I accepted it.

What this means for me:

  • Working Monday to Friday from 9am-6pm
  • Going to bed no later than midnight Sunday-Thursday
  • ZOMG A STEADY PAYCHEQUE
  • A distinct lack of this thing called “free time”

What this means for you:

Definite interruption in content production. Specifically:

  • Changes to the podcast schedule. I’ve been releasing most episodes on Sunday night/Monday morning. This may change to something like Sunday afternoon or Monday evening.
  • A delay in my guides. I wanted to release my Raid Leader’s Guide in August/early September. That is almost certainly not going to happen now. As of right now, before even starting work, I’m thinking we’re looking at late October/early November. On the plus side, it will almost certainly beat Warlords of Draenor to release. ;)
  • A delay in my Sneak Peeks. I generally write for my guides and then look over the content and select 2000-3000 words for sneak peeks and release those every week. Well, most weeks. With the interview process and such this week, I had no time to write, much less release a sneak peek. The best way to be kept up to date on my guides and sneak peeks is by signing up for my announcement list. With an upcoming bizarre schedule, I’ll do my best to aim for a new sneak peek every two weeks, but I can’t promise anything yet.
  • Possibly more blogging (?!) just so I have an outlet to talk about WoW stuff — assuming I have time to still play WoW.

Crap. I just realized that I may not be able to pull an all-nighter when Warlords comes out. That’d be a first for me. (Well, not really. I wasn’t here for the launch of Mists, but that’s because I was in Italy.) Oh, well, a steady paycheque makes a lot of things worth it. ;)

Anyhow, that’s what’s going on with me. I’m very careful about keeping my “real life” away from my “WoW life” and I didn’t give out any of my WoW-related stuff to my new employer, but I want to remain very vague about things anyhow (hence all the [REDACTED] tweets on Twitter!).

So that’s what’s going on with me. I’m really excited about this and will spend some time planning stuff out. With any luck, there won’t be too large a disruption to stuff you’ve come to expect from me.

That said, there should be a new Kurncast this Sunday night/Monday morning, by the way, and look for content (YouTube?) about the new Naxx “adventure” in Hearthstone after it comes out on Tuesday! (I’m seriously so excited about PVE coming to Hearthstone. I realize this makes me a little sad. I’m okay with that.)

Hope you’re all doing well. :)

No Kurncast This Week

Due to (good things redacted), my schedule is haywire this week and there’s a lot of uncertainty. I wanted to have Episode 11 of the Kurncast up last night, but I did two full takes (17m and 20m) and hated them both, so I was going to do it tonight.

Buuuuuuut. (Good things redacted) happened and that leaves my week pretty much up in the air. Plus client work, plus other stuff, so I won’t have a Kurncast this week.

Depending on how the week shapes up, I might not end up having a Raid Leader’s Sneak Peek, either! We’ll have to see how it goes.

Kurncast will be back next Sunday night/Monday morning. Thanks for your understanding! :)

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