Dr Nic

Why supporting multiple OpenIDs per User is useful for users…

Web apps/services go down for maintenance (expected or erroneously) all the time.

What happens when your “sign on to all apps everywhere” OpenID server goes down for an hour? You might not be able to login to any site.

Your users may not be able to log into YOUR app.

MyOpenID is going down on the 12th of September (see below) for an hour.

Allowing them to login with multiple OpenIDs might alleviate any difficulty users have using/buying your stuff.

Even if they have clicked “Allow Forever”, and it appears that they never revisit their OpenID provider again when logging into your site, they actually still do via the wonders of HTTP redirection, and those zippy quick InterTubes we take for granted.

Supporting multiple OpenIDs in your app isn’t much more effort than supporting one OpenID. You just need an extra table and a form for creating them.

The Plaxo article on multiple OpenIDs per user kind of makes it all appear a bit daunting, IMO.

But with the sweet Ruby OpenID gem and starting points like Ben Curtis sample app or my multiple-openid sample app, it might take only a 1/2 day or a day to educate yourself about OpenID, and hack it in to one of your apps.

Say, like your blog. Please.

This is a notice that MyOpenID will be having a maintenance
outage starting at 08:00 on 2007/09/12, Pacific Time.
The outage may last as long as 60 minutes, but is expected
to be considerably shorter.

The reason for this outage is:

   Database upgrade

During the outage, the MyOpenID website may be unavailable or
unresponsive, and users will be unable log into OpenID-enabled
websites using their MyOpenID accounts. The latest information about
this and other MyOpenID events can always be found on

We apologize for the inconvenience. If you have any questions, please
contact us at support@myopenid.com.

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14 Responses to “Why supporting multiple OpenIDs per User is useful for users…”

  1. Ironic says:

    Doesn’t having more than one openid account defeat the purpose of having one to begin with?

  2. Dr Nic says:

    @Ironic – no. The core idea of OpenID is to be a sign-on mechanism. A subsequent extension allows personal information to be sent to an application when first creating an account. But after that, the application is in charge of its own collection of user data, and OpenID is back to being for sign-in purposes.

  3. Squeegy says:

    On http://thewinespies.com/ we opted to have 1 OpenID login, but account recovery sends you a link that you can use (once) to log you in.

    This works in the case of OpenID server failure, or a lost password. I think email makes a pretty good backup for this sort of thing.

  4. Brian says:

    @nic: What are you thoughts on security? I read just last week about a server being spoofed.

  5. Dr Nic says:

    @brian – from my understanding, is the same problem that users might have if the actual site itself was spoofed. E.g. if you logged into ebay directly at a spoof site.

    I didn’t read the details of the openid server spoofing – I’m not sure how/why the user was redirected to a phony login portal.

  6. If the OpenID service is down why not revert back to the standard web app login? Allow the user to retrieve their password (and possibly username) based on their current OpenID.

    The added benefit to this approach is that the user is still using the same identify on the system and not another OpenID.

  7. Blueberry says:

    I like Squeegy’s comment, emailing a one use login link with a short expiry time is a good alternative that keeps things reasonably simple. But overall, supporting multiple OpenID’s is a positive thing and the email login should only be used if supporting multiple id’s would be too difficult.

    Or.. support both!

  8. Dr Nic says:

    @martin – yeah, that’d work for users.

    It’d be nice if you could specify a list of delegates in your head section, but the “is it live?” check is a human one and not done by the consumer app, so I guess that won’t work.

    So, changing your openid delegate is a manual task for each user. I guess that’s annoying.

  9. Dr Nic says:

    @squeegy + blueberry – I agree, I like that solution too.

  10. [...] Pero los que más me han llamado la atención son acerca de utilizar varias direcciones OpenID por usuario en una misma web. En junio, Simon Willison comentó en una conferencia que es posible utilizar OpenID para demostrar quienes somos en otras webs. Por ejemplo, con una cuenta OpenID de AOL podemos demostrar en cualquier web quienes somos en AOL, por lo que podrían enviarnos mensajes instantáneos. Poco después Dr Nick expresa las grandes posibilidades que le ve a este sistema, que tan sólo necesita permitir que los usuarios puedan añadir múltiples direcciones OpenID a su cuenta. Aunque pueda resultar útil puntualmente, creo que es complicar la vida al usuario. Realmente si AOL permitiera utilizar el OpenID que se desee, bastaría con utilizar el mismo en ambas. Automáticamente cada web sabría que la otra cuenta le pertenece al mismo usuario. Si no, para poder hacer una integración efectiva necesitaríamos utilizar varias direcciones OpenID en cada web, con sus consiguientes autenticaciones (una contraseña por cada una, si se tratan de proveedores o cuentas distintas). Y aún no hemos tenido en cuenta las APIs. [...]

  11. hecpeare.net says:

    ¿Única dirección OpenID o varias?…

    En los últimos meses he leido varios comentarios a favor de la utilización de diferentes identidades o direcciones OpenID (Si desconoces que es OpenID, en la Wikipedia está muy bien explicado).
    Algunos de los comentarios giran en torno a la posibili…

  12. [...] Why supporting multiple OpenIDs per User is useful for users… [...]

  13. Manual trackback about implementing the “one user many identities” with the OpenIdAuthentication plugin: http://ananasblau.com/2008/11/7/openidauthentication-in-detail