OpenID: don’t provide if you won’t accept

Once again, an interesting FriendFeed discussion has morphed into a thread on a wider issue: OpenID.

OpenID is one of those brilliantly simple ideas that you’d imagine most people would applaud. A single “digital identity”, used for any website that requires a login, rather than creating multiple accounts, usernames and passwords for each site. Here’s the problem: many services allow you to use your account details as an OpenID at other sites, but they won’t accept credentials other than their own. For example, both my WordPress and GMail accounts are OpenIDs, but I can’t login to Google using nsaunders.wordpress.com.

You might ask – why? Is it some sort of “brand loyalty” issue? When I sign up to Service X, is there a contract between us such that Service X provides me with tools so long as I declare myself to be “Neil @ Service X”, as opposed to “Neil @ Service Y”? I’m still logged into Service X, I must be “registered” in some sense as a user and I’m more likely to return if Service X makes my life easier. Where’s the problem?

There must be strategists who make these recommendations to companies. I’d really like to hear their reasoning.

One thought on “OpenID: don’t provide if you won’t accept

  1. Pingback: Identity-fication : business|bytes|genes|molecules

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