OpenID Vendor Lock-In (sort of)

Continuing my previous post about OpenID and Vendor Lock-In, a reader of this blog named Andrew commented on the previous post about a problem he had with MyOpenID.com and Zooomr. He has some valid points here which I wanted to highlight in this post (he also had some points that I think can be easily fixed or that are actually a non issue). You can also read my complete answer to Andrew here.

Prior to discovering the whole idea and notion of OpenID Andrew registered to Zooomr. Zooomr’s accounts are actually OpenID accounts which they provide, so every Zooomr user also gets an OpenID account that he can use on other OpenID supported sites.

Zooomr delegates the management of the OpenID to MyOpenID.com through their affiliates program. (UPDATE: Apparently, this is not true. For some reason I thought it was the case, but it is not)

After Andrew got to know OpenID he wanted to truly own his identity by using his own domain (either use delegation or run his own server, whatever he chooses), but now he could not use his identity in Zooomr since Zooomr doesn’t have the notion of supporting multiple OpenID identities tied to the same Zooomr account.

In fact, he is tied to his OpenID identity in Zooomr for using Zooomr and since he got a Pro4Life account this identity will never die.

In my previous post I’ve suggested a couple of ideas to avoid OpenID vendor lock-in. I now want to add an additional point:

  • Sites should support the ability to associate multiple OpenID identities so that a user can add, remove and switch the identity used to access a certain account in a certain site.

Jyte and claimID, for example, support the ability to add multiple OpenID identities and associate them with a single account of each site respectively. You can then login to these sites with each and every one of the OpenID identities you have associated with your account.

9 thoughts on “OpenID Vendor Lock-In (sort of)”

  1. Kristopher,

    The video blog in the link you sent is great, and although you didn’t get into the details as to what is going to be I do hope multiple OpenID identities will be supported :-)

    Keep up the good work!

  2. I don’t know if I like that idea. Seems a bit much. If I can ever get OpenID working at my site, I’d like to allow a user to edit what OpenID is associated with their account, but I don’t know if I’d want them to be associating multiple ID’s to it. It’s a cool concept, but really…why? I mean, a big part of the beauty of OpenID is that you don’t need multiple ID’s. Allowing multiple ID’s would just be encouraging users to create the same mess they’re trying to get out of.

  3. Devon,

    When it comes to blogs you are probably right, there is no need for multiple identities.

    The problem starts with sites that are OpenID providers (not just consumers like most blogs) such as Zooomr, AOL, claimID, LiveJournal and the rest.

    Not everyone allows everyone are OpenID consumers (AOL are not consumers, just providers).

    Besides, please will need to get an OpenID prior to joining sites and, like Andrew which I talked about in the post, they only started to get to know OpenID after they already have various accounts and want to “unify” it to another OpenID account that they want to use.

    Another think that I think sites that are starting to support OpenID is to “migrate” or enable association of OpenID for existing non OpenID accounts, thus allow users to consolidate things into one account.

    All that I have said here falls into the multiple OpenID accounts idea I’m talking about. Sure there is going to be one default one that is being actually used (take a look at how the fine folks at claimID did it), but we should be able to manage the various accounts in a normal manner.

    It will take some time for people to either get a .name account like the ones FreeYourID.com provides or get a website/blog that they own and can use without fearing vendor lock in.

    Until we reach to that point (and it will take time) I think we should allow the users to have all the necessary freedom in choosing which OpenID provider they want to use and enable them to quickly and effectively switch (or migrate in the case of accounts that are not OpenID enabled) without too much hassle.

    Don’t forget, vendor lock-in is one of the things OpenID tries to solve. We don’t want to go through that path again.
    Vendor lock-in is one of the things that some people are afraid off in OpenID and there is no reason to avoid that if we can (and we can) give the users the freedom they want.

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