One of the advantages of OpenID is that it enabled you, the user, to consolidate various accounts on various web sites into one (or more, if you have more than one OpenID) identity. Of course you get the side benefit of having only one login and password to use, but for the sake of this argument, that’s a side effect :-) .

This is a choice that was never available prior to OpenID, and when it does exist in the form of Google Accounts/Yahoo BBAuth/Microsoft Passport Live ID it allows you access to the provider’s web sites and assets and a handful of 3rd party sites that supports that vendor’s authentication protocol.

One of the arguments I tend to hear when telling people about OpenID is:

great! now, instead of having multiple accounts we will have multiple OpenIDs.

While the above statement is true to some extent, the value of OpenID in this context is that it gives you the choice and ability to consolidate your identity (or identities).

You can even go further and use a service like claimID which will allow a person view your claimID profile to really know if the identity on a certain site is really you (only if you want to expose this information, of course).

In addition to that, since OpenID is decentralized and is not owned and controlled by a specific company, every site that consumes OpenID (which makes if, of course, an OpenID consumer) will allow you to use your OpenID, regardless of its affiliations.

Therefore, if people will ask you “Why should I use OpenID?” tell them it gives them:

  • The choice (and therefore the power) to own their identity
  • Choose who will help them provide their identity (either by running their own OpenID server, using delegation with their blog or web site, or – if all goes well – have all the OpenID consumers support multiple OpenID. Read more here and here)
  • Consolidate various accounts THEY want to consolidate into one (or more) account(s)

And they can do it all without destroying or changing the current model of accounts available on web sites since they can still create an account on each site they visit (at least those that require or encourage accounts).

It gives them choice and having choice is always a good thing!