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Posts with tag privacy

Officers' Quarters: State secrets

Officers' Quarters State secrets MONDAY
Every Monday, Scott Andrews contributes Officers' Quarters, a column about the ins and outs of guild leadership. He is the author of The Guild Leader's Handbook.

Privacy and information security has never been a more relevant topic than right now. With the revelation that the U.S. and British governments have been engaged in unprecedented worldwide surveillance of our Internet communications and phone calls, the threat to our privacy is very real.

As an officer, you are on both sides of such situations. It's up to you what information to collect about your members and about other guilds. It's also up to you what to keep to yourself, what to share with your guildmates, and what to share with the world. Let's look at some of the privacy issues that officers must face.

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Filed under: Officers' Quarters (Guild Leadership)

Breakfast Topic: Does it bug you when others watch you play WoW?

Breakfast Topic Are you uncomfortable when others watch you play WoW
Does it bug you when other people watch you play WoW? At our house, kids grow up using a computer in an open family area. Keeping an eye on what they're doing and who they're doing it with is a natural part of walking from one room to another. My son took this in stride; to this day, he narrates and comments on whatever he's doing, even yelling downstairs (now that's he's over 18 with a computer of his own in his room) when something's funny or surprising. My daughter, on the other hand, is more protective of her privacy. She adores showing off her progress and creations, but only when she's ready -- and you'd better brace for a prize-winning scowl if you should approach before then.

In this day of streaming game sessions, many players are perfectly content to let perfect strangers watch their every in-game move. The horror! I can't imagine enjoying that. Streaming for charity? Negator. Streaming a new character? No, thanks! Immersion is more my style. Unless I'm on TeamSpeak with rest of the gang, I want to sink into the sights and sounds of the zone -- on my own.

Do you have your own private retreat for playing WoW, or do you play in a shared space? Does it make you uncomfortable when other people watch you play WoW? Does it bug you to have to turn your attention outward and talk to people outside of the game when you're trying to play, or do you chatter freely with everyone around you, both in game and out?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics

GuildOx introduces Alt Detection

Guildox introduce Alt Detection
WoW database site GuildOx, which ranks guilds, players and loot from World of Warcraft by reading data via the official WoW API, has introduced a sparkly new service for would-be recruiters.

Thanks to the introduction of account-wide achievements, GuildOx, along with any other site that is smart enough to extract this information from the API, can use the cross-account information to tell you exactly who that new player's alts are that's applying to your guild. So, if someone claims to have amazing gear, and anything else that isn't a linkable achievement on an alt, you can now check it out on GuildOx.

The functionality could allow a guild leader to see if the new person they're picking up is actually the worst trade chat troll on the server, for example. As GuildOx says, this can provide extra insight into applicants when recruiting new guild members. If you think you'd benefit from this, then you can check it out on GuildOx's new service by viewing one of the site creator's characters, and all their alts.

There is, of course, a down side.

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Filed under: Mists of Pandaria

Now approaching two years of Real ID -- did it work?

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It's been just about two years since the Real ID feature was introduced to World of Warcraft. This feature unintentionally created some of the hottest debates when it was introduced, largely because it meant the friends you chatted with on Real ID would be able to see your first and last name. The topic became even more heated when it was announced that player's real names would be automatically shown on Blizzard's forums, something that went over like a lead balloon.

I mentioned from the beginning, on a quiet post on my old blog (Warning: language) that while I thought the feature was interesting enough, it wasn't interesting enough for me to use it. So where do I stand, two years later? I have exactly five people on my Real ID, and they're all coworkers with one exception, a friend I wanted to help out on a cross-server raid. I still don't care for Real ID, but it does come in handy every now and again. I'm still not going to use it widely.

So two years after all the roaring, screeching, and general madness ... how did Real ID go over? Was it a success?

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

Breakfast Topic: Do you use Real ID?

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I do use Real ID. Wait, that's not accurate. I do have Real ID enabled on my account and I do have a friends list, but I rarely use it. Because of It came from the Blog, my real name is known in game. So that kind of privacy is not as much of a problem for me as it is for most players. Still, my friends list is exclusive -- I don't friend everyone and his brother like I do on Facebook.

The Drama Mamas recently covered the problem that arises when you want to have some alone time, but your friends keep inviting you to do things with them. It's hard to say no without feeling like you're hurting their feelings. If Real ID had an invisible mode, this wouldn't be a problem. Captain Obvious has been tapping his foot about that one ever since this feature first came out.

So all of your friends can see your real name and they can chat at you whenever they want. In Diablo III, they can even hop into your game if you don't have that function disabled. But at the same time, you can play on an alt while waiting for your friends to get online to get a group together. They can contact you easily cross-server and cross-faction -- even cross-game. The online privacy issues are huge if you aren't careful, but the convenience of chatting with friends from all over the region is also huge.

Do you have Real ID enabled? If so, do you invite people you don't know in the physical world or do you restrict it to friends who already knew your email address and real name? If you don't use it, why not?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics

Should there be a hide option for RealID?

No matter how much we may love playing with our guilds and friends, sometimes we just want to take some time off and play in single-player mode. However, with the pervasiveness of the RealID system, is it truly feasible to go off the grid to do this? Syl over at Raging Monkeys attempts to tackle this very problem, arguing enthusiastically that we should be allowed this option, that it would not only be convenient but also would benefit those relationships we have built both in-game and out.

Personally, I'm a bit torn on the issue. On the one hand, I can identify with this situation, as I have been there many times before. My own friends would always want to level alts together, but our goals for those characters never quite lined up. I'd find myself creating secret alts on another faction, sometimes on another server -- not only to experience more of the story and lore than I had before, but to just be alone. Of course, this was all before the RealID system was implemented, because after its debut, I was not able to start a new draenei paladin or blood elf rogue without being flooded with questions and, admittedly, a little guilt.

On the other hand, there is a very simple solution to all of this: Put your foot down. If someone asks why you're on Area 52 rolling a worgen warlock (or why you're even rolling a warlock in the first place, yuck), I think we all can agree that the best solution would be to honestly and delicately state that you need some time off, away from all of your in-game obligations -- including those inquiring minds. But is confronting your pursuers really that easy? For some, this type of thing comes naturally, and I for one am extremely envious of these people. For others, confrontation of this sort is not something we want to deal with, and the option to hide from RealID becomes a safe, albeit passive-aggressive, option.

What do you think? Is this a feature that Blizzard should be working on, or should these players find other means of enjoying the game in solitary peace?

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard

Blizzard announces new Battle.net BattleTags

Blizzard has just announced and posted a FAQ about its upcoming Battle.net feature BattleTag, a feature separate from Real ID that connects players across all of Blizzard's games with a screen name rather than your own full name. BattleTags seems to be Blizzard's response to the community's privacy issues with Real ID, in which many players want to make new connections with people they meet in game but are not willing to share so much personal information. BattleTag will eventually have access to all of the grouping and queuing features that Real ID users currently have access to.

Not only will your BattleTag be your identifier across Blizzard games, but it will also be used as your forum handle on the community websites. These handles are not unique, so you could potentially have the same name as someone else, but you'll have an identification number that appears after your name in your profile so that people can find you and send you messages. BattleTags do not interrupt your Real ID friends or any other feature. Again, BattleTags are optional, and you are still able to post on the forums using your World of Warcraft characters or StarCraft II account. BattleTags are rolling out soon in the Diablo III beta and will be available for everyone at a later date.

Personally, this is exactly what I wanted from Real ID, now pared down to a manageable, private screen name. My real friends can stay on my Real ID list, and my online friends, guildmates, and other people can use my BattleTag. This new feature is a great response to players' concerns, and I cannot wait to try it. Hit the jump for the full FAQ and learn all about BattleTags.

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Filed under: Blizzard

Real ID and Battle.net get expanded privacy settings

Blizzard has come through with its promise of updated and more expansive options for its controversial Real ID feature, connecting Blizzard's games through use of real names as identifiers. The new options allow you to opt out of being listed in the "Friends of Friends" of other users, to deactivate the ability to be seen in Starcraft II's Facebook feature, or to turn off Real ID altogether.

To change your Battle.net privacy options, log in to your account's Battle.net management page and select Settings, then Communication Preferences.

Now all we need is an "go invisible" feature on Real ID, like most instant message clients have, and I'll be a happy Real ID user.

The full announcement by Nethaera is below:

Nethaera -- New Battle.net Privacy Settings
We'd like to make you aware of the new Real ID-related privacy options we've introduced to Battle.net. These options provide Real ID users with additional tools for customizing the service based on their preferences, enabling the ability to opt in or out of the Real ID "Friends of Friends" and "Add Facebook Friends" features or to turn off Real ID altogether.

Real ID offers an optional, convenient way for keeping in touch with real-world friends you know and trust, whether they're playing World of Warcraft, StarCraft II, or one of our future games. The "Friends of Friends" and "Add Facebook Friends" features provide you with even more options to stay connected while you play by making it easier for real-life friends to locate each other on Battle.net. You can easily enable or disable these features through your Battle.net privacy settings by logging in to your Battle.net account at http://www.battle.net/.

Filed under: News items, Account Security

ESRB issues apology over email leak

Yesterday, we learned that the ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board) accidentally emailed the names of people who had complained about Blizzard's potential use of Real ID names on the official Blizzard forums. The ESRB has since sent out this apology:
Yesterday we sent an e-mail to a number of consumers who wrote to us in recent days expressing their concern with respect to Blizzard's Real ID program. Given the large number of messages we received, we decided to respond with a mass e-mail so those who'd written us would receive our response as quickly as possible - rather than responding to each message individually, as is our usual practice.

Through an unfortunate error by one of our employees, some recipients were able to see the e-mail addresses of others who wrote on the same issue. Needless to say, it was never our intention to reveal this information and for that we are genuinely sorry. Those who write to ESRB to express their views expect and deserve to have their contact and personal information protected. In this case, we failed to do so and are doing everything we can to ensure it will not happen again in the future.

The fact that our message addressed individuals' concerns with respect to their privacy underscores how truly disappointing a mistake this was on our part. We work with companies to ensure they are handling people's private information with confidentiality, care and respect. It is only right that we set a good example and do no less ourselves.

We sincerely apologize to those who were affected by this error and appreciate their understanding.

Sincerely,
Entertainment Software Rating Board
I am glad that the ESRB apologized, and it is telling that they have also acknowledged how ridiculous the mistake was in light of the subject matter. Suffice it to say, good on the ESRB for not only apologizing but understanding the issues present over online privacy. Hopefully this whole debacle can be used as a teaching moment.

Filed under: News items, Account Security

ESRB unintentionally exposes email addresses of people who filed complaints over Blizzard's Real ID system [Updated]

Update: The ESRB has since issued an apology.

During the recent Real ID catastrophe on the forums, many players decided to appeal to an industry source that might have been able to sway Blizzard to change its mind. These players contacted the ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board) as a Better Business Bureau-type middleman in this situation with their concerns. The ESRB itself has championed such causes in the past with its Privacy Online program, which is designed to help companies meet various privacy laws like the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).

Since Blizzard recanted its decision about the forums, the ESRB faithfully followed up with those concerned.

Unfortunately, in that followup email, the ESRB exposed individuals to a new set of privacy concerns.

The letter and more information after the break.

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Filed under: News items, Account Security

Breakfast Topic: Real ID or Real bad IDea?

When Blizzard first announced the Real ID concept at last year's BlizzCon, it seemed like a promising idea. The ability to keep in touch with real-life friends across realms and even across different Blizzard games seemed like something World of Warcraft needed, what with some real friends being separated by faction or realm. With new games on the horizon, it also seemed cool to be able to call someone playing Starcraft 2 and pull them into Azeroth if you lacked one more member for that heroic dungeon.

Sure enough, when Patch 3.3.5 was implemented, I had a lot of fun hooking up with my real friends on other servers, and it was truly awesome to be able to chat with them even if we weren't on the same faction or even realm. Of course, after a while, it became clear that there was just no way to turn it off -- I always knew what my real friends were up to, from running dungeons to putting up auctions on an alt or griefing lowbies on a character previously unknown to me. This also meant it was impossible for me to jump onto a low-level alt on some low-population server for some mucking around without their knowing. Not that my friends were ever going to intrude or anything, but there just wasn't any real personal time with my Real ID status always being broadcast.

Yesterday, it got even stranger. Blizzard suddenly announced that the new forums would display everyone's real first and last names if they chose to post on them. For some reason, Mark Zuckerberg's idea of opt-in privacy is becoming the norm. The Facebook founder has said that when people share more, the world becomes more open and connected. It's a maverick notion, and people always have the option to keep mum on things, after all. In many ways, it works for social media. And there's the rub.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Account Security

Drama Mamas: Invasion of privacy

Dodge the drama and become that player everyone wants in their group with the Drama Mamas. Lisa Poisso and Robin Torres are real-life mamas and experienced WoW players -- and just as we don't want our precious babies to be the ones kicking and wailing on the floor of checkout lane next to the candy, neither do we want you to become known as That Guy on your server. We're taking your questions at DramaMamas (at) WoW (dot) com.

Captain Obvious says that communication within guilds is a very good thing. But as we've seen before, sometimes too much communication can cause more drama than keeping quiet. It is smart to anticipate problems and make preparations in case they occur. But is thinking the worst of people the same as proactive problem-solving? When thinking ahead to avoid trouble, it is usually a good idea to examine your own motives and see if any prejudices are lurking that color your viewpoint. If it's possible that envy or disapproval are clouding your judgment, it is usually best to keep your mouth closed and your eyes open. I assume the best about this week's letter writer's motives for wanting to prevent drama in his guild. But in this case, motives are irrelevant to the possible drama bomb that would explode from an invasion of privacy.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Drama Mamas

WoW Rookie: Keeping your account safe and sound


New around here? WoW Rookie points WoW's newest players to the resources they need to get acclimated. Send us a note to suggest a WoW Rookie topic.

It doesn't take keyboard gymnastics to prevent your account from getting hacked. As a new player, you're bound to be concerned – and if you do any digging at all, you're also bound to uncover a tangle of acerbic, rather arcane-sounding comments (many of them on posts right here at WoW Insider) about what operating systems, browsers and browser add-ons are most secure.

You really don't have to change your entire computer system simply to keep your WoW account safe. This week, WoW Rookie rounds up a selection of WoW Insider posts that show you how (and why) to keep your WoW account from being hacked and prevent your computer from spilling its beans to the world at large.

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Filed under: Features, WoW Rookie, Account Security

Computerworld on Blizzard's Warden at work

We've covered the topic of Warden in the past, and you've probably already got an opinion on what it does to your computer system. Blizzard runs the Warden program alongside your WoW client, and while it runs it examines what else is running on your system -- if there are any third party programs (either hacks or cheat programs) interfering with the client, it lets Blizzard know, and shuts down the client. The obvious privacy concern here, of course, is that Warden is basically watching what you do outside of the game. And while Blizzard has maintained that the program is simply meant to check for hacks and cheats (they also say that no personally identifiable information is sent back to them, though IPs and other network information definitely are), there's always a chance that Warden could see you doing something you don't want it to.

Computerworld's Security section has a nice long article on all of the implications of Warden, especially in one of the more sensitive areas of security: the workplace. While most of us probably won't ever play World of Warcraft at work, there are certainly companies where installing and playing the game at certain times is appropriate. And it's probably in those situations where Warden could be its most dangerous. If you trust Blizzard with your information, then you'll have nothing to worry about. But if you don't know what Warden is sending back, there's always a chance that it could be something more sensitive than you'd like.

Of course, there is a hard and fast solution to this: don't play World of Warcraft on computers that have anything you wouldn't want shared with Blizzard or anyone else. As Computerworld concludes, it's a choice-and-consequences kind of thing. Warden is up and running every time you play WoW, for better or worse -- if you don't want it watching what you're doing, the only guaranteed way out is to not play World of Warcraft.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Cheats, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Account Security

World of WarCrafts: Voidwalker doorknob hanger

Every Thursday, Shelbi Roach of The Bronze Kettle guides you in creating WoW-inspired crafts using real world mats with World of WarCrafts.

Is your special WoW time constantly getting interrupted? Need to keep people from raiding your domain while you're busy raiding Black Temple? This fanciful doorknob hanger is easy to make and fun for all ages. It's also not too late to add it to your Duskwood Chest for Father's day.

Here is what you will need:
  • Voidwalker Doorknob Hanger Template
  • Foam Doorknob Hanger
  • Foam Sheets (blue, light blue, green, purple)
  • Foam Letters (of the sticker variety)
  • Foam Glue
  • Fashion Beads (mixed colors)
  • Xacto Knife/Scissors
Click on the images below to view a gallery of step-by-step instructions.

Filed under: How-tos, World of WarCrafts

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