Posted by: Jess Riley | October 8, 2008

The Naming Policy

When it comes to the roleplay servers, one of the things that I find uncomfortable is the Roleplaying Policy. This isn’t so much because I disagree with there being a policy; I just don’t feel it is as effective as possible as it is currently written and enforced.

For starters, there’s a general point about roleplay. Part of the policy states that:

Absolutely no out of character (OOC) or non-fantasy related dialogue should take place in the /Say, /Yell, or Party chat channels.

Hold on. On this very blog, we have advocated using Party chat for OOC dialogue. While I am completely aware that for some people, this breaks the immersion, I personally believe that it is an effective way, when used appropriately, to acknowledge that there are real people behind this characters. That’s not the issue here; my point here is that I have never seen this actually policed anywhere. Even beyond the matter of Party chat never having been policed in my experience, I have seen any number of people using /say for OOC communication, and I never thought that was a particular problem. Even on a roleplay server where I would really prefer they didn’t do it, I wasn’t aware it was against policy, and I have a sneaking suspicion that I’d get laughed at if I reported anyone for it.

In short: yes, it’s immersion-breaking, and most people would really like if it was cut right down. But honestly? Almost everyone I’ve played with breaks it at one time or another, so I don’t feel it’s a very strictly enforced policy at all. Maybe this is an ‘enforce it or lose it’ example; I don’t know.

My main point here, is about roleplay names. In addition to the standard naming policy, there exists the policy that roleplay characters must not have:

Any Non-Medieval or Non-Fantasy names (i.e. Slipnslide, Robotman, Technotron).

This is the most vague and loosely worded policy imaginable. What on Azeroth constitutes ‘non-Medieval’ and ‘Non-Fantasy’? Certainly, the examples given do, but there are many borderline things that I’d really like to see cleared up. Names that we would consider ‘mundane’, for example – some were clearly coined in more recent times than medieval (Madison, for example), but I wouldn’t be surprised if there were those who didn’t know that.

Further, what about names clearly derived from mythology? While the standard naming policy prohibits names with “any connotations of major religions or religious figures”, I’m not sure whether this should mean that we should assume that names clearly derived from Roman mythology fall under this category (or, for that matter, whether these are presumed to be ‘non-Medieval’). Guinevere was a major player in Arthurian legend – is this a reference to “very well known people, characters, places, or icons”, or is this acceptable?

Generally speaking, from what I have seen in play, anything which is borderline seems to be acceptable. On the other hand, Sean’s most recent post is calling for more active enforcement of the naming policy on roleplay servers.

My stance on this? Too many borderline cases are slipping through unnoticed, but enforcement of the policy as it stands now would be virtually impossible, as it is frankly vague and subjective. The policy would have to be rewritten to more accurately reflect exactly what is or is not permitted before we could enforce it properly.


  1. What on Azeroth were Blizzard on when they wrote that? The regular naming police is very reasonable, if memory serves, but this is ridiculous, plain and simple.

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