We get very attached to our online pseudonyms. But how unique are they, and what if you come across someone with the same name and a bad reputation?
Dear Drama Mamas,
I regularly comment on a certain WoW-based blogging-slash-news site under a given username that I've been attached to for many years. The site is read by a lot of people, and I've told quite a few stories there regarding events on my home realm, and today I had the unfortunate pleasure of overhearing mention of someone with a name near-exactly the same as mine whilst on an alt. But not in a good way. The doppleganger name was being addressed with disdain and malice (hate, even). I did a bit of digging on the armory and discovered that the character in question wasn't some fresh low-level character--it was 85, moderately geared, and even shared classes with my main that I had indeed, come to mention on occasion. What makes this slightly more interesting is that none of my characters share the name I use on the site--the name is unique to that location only.
I tried to find reasoning as to why the name was being used in the first place--the name wasn't one you would pull out of random name generator, and its contents weren't words you would usually mince together, let alone replace vowels with, meaning the odds of his name being anything but intentional little to none. At this point I was left wondering if there is anyone who I have possibly wronged to deserve any sort of malcontent. I wondered if it was possible someone was doing this intentionally to get back at me. Upon reflection, I couldn't think of a soul. I like to believe myself a very "neutral-please-all even if it kills me" sort of person, but even so, not a one. I then considered if maybe the name was a gesture of affection, but then decided against it. I provided help where I could, sure, but rarely if ever did anyone voice their thanks or approval--fans would be nothing short of ludicrous.Drama Mama Lisa: Ow, Perplexed Original. I have to break something to you: This isn't about you. Really, it's not. You may be perplexed, indeed -- but original? Hardly. P.O., there are more than 11 million players in World of Warcraft. Let me assure you that in light of those numbers, it is most certainly possible that quite a few someone elses somehow ended up with something similar to your unique snowflake of a website user name.
Either way I've reached a creavace in my line of thought: I'm not sure how to address the situation. I haven't spoken to anyone about it yet, as I want to keep it on the down-low before I know precisely what to do myself let alone if I want anyone else involved. I'm not sure if I should confront my would-be-clone--and if so, how I would even go about doing it (I admit I'm not the best at confrontation, though I can be blunt).
Don't believe me? A quick check of the email address used to send this letter to one particular "certain WoW-based blogging-slash-news site" uncovers a user name that's being used by some 89 other players listed in the World of Warcraft armory. Perplexed, that's ... not original. The chances that someone else will use some variant of a name that's already being used in the exact form you chose for yours some 89 times ... Perplexed, that's just not remarkable. Really.
OK, so what if you're talking about some other website, and some other email address, and some other user name? I'd say the same principle applies. In a game world filled with millions and millions of players, the chances are extremely unlikely that you are the only zebra of your stripes.
But even so -- even so! -- what if someone out there did spy your name on a website and then intentionally create a character of your class named similarly to you? What if that player did level all the way up to 85 and plays regularly? What should you do?
Exactly what you have been doing: nothing at all. You claim to have a clean record of behavior, and there's been no sign that this other player even knows or cares that you exist. Your best response is to keep up the clean living. The buzz on your realm isn't confused buzz about you; these gossips clearly have their facts straight and are talking about the other guy, down to the correct spelling of his name. Furthermore, there's no indication whatsoever that the guy is out to besmirch your reputation; he merely picked a name he thought was cool and is going about his business (albeit in his own unsavory way). There's simply no issue here.
Leave the poor guy alone, P.O. It sounds like he's making enough social messes of his own. He doesn't need harrassment from some dude with a similar name added to the pot. Take a big breath, ChickunLittul -- the sky's safe and sound in Azeroth today.
Drama Mama Robin: Perplexed, from your letter it seems that no in-game characters are named after your blog pseudonym. So your evil twin would have had to read the same site and also read the comments. If he did, it is far more likely that he liked your pen name and borrowed it. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery after all.
For the sake of argument (and since I completely agree with Lisa and have nothing else to add on that score), let's say I'm wrong and you do have a character with a form of your nom de plume on that server. I agree that a slight misspelling can cause some confusion. We don't always remember the spellings of player names that we group with or even guild with. But the doppelganger would not only have to be the same class but also the same level -- and probably even the same spec.
If you, Perplex, are a resto druid while Perplexx is a moonkin, I doubt there will be much confusion on the part of his victims, if any. A bad PUG experience is always described as one where "that tank, Perplexx, sucked" or "the lousy DPS of that feral druid, Perplex or something, slowed us down" -- not "I remember his name was Perplex, but I don't remember his class or the bad thing he did."
Now, if you are both level 85 troll resto druids who tend to pug a lot, being called Perplex and Perplexx might be an issue. Even then, a guild tag makes a big difference.
As we have said a bajillion times before, you can't change other people, but you can control how you react to a situation. So if his poor in-game behavior is really affecting your reputation, then pay for a name change. Yes, it would be nice if he were the one to change, since he's the bad guy, but it's just not going to happen.
To reiterate for your actual situation: Leave the guy alone. Continue not mentioning it to anyone. Enjoy your own good reputation and keep it up. And try not to think about it; it's just not worth stressing over.
Dodge the drama and become that player everyone wants in their group with a little help and insight from the Drama Mamas. Play nice ... and when in doubt, ask the Drama Mamas at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read Robin's section of this post on how to get your letter answered and please remember that we cannot answer privately.