marahmarie: my initials (MM) (Default)

To everyone who apologized to me over the last few weeks for not having an OpenID to leave comments with on my blog: Please. Don't bother. You did nothing wrong. There is nothing for me to forgive you for, since OpenID is, in fact, useless.

I thank every one of you for leaving me those comments about your various and sundry lack of OpenIDs, though, because your apologies led me to ask myself, "What the heck's so darn special about having an OpenID, anyway?"

Well, I started it, didn't I?

I know a few of you mentioned it simply because I scolded a Microsoft MVP one day for not using OpenID to leave me an otherwise anonymized comment, so I understand the fault lies with me for starting that line of thinking among you.

After several MVPs left me defensive and/or apologetic comments saying, in essence, [paraphrasing] "I don't have an OpenID to comment with, so just give me a break", I decided to investigate exactly what an OpenID would bestow you with if you did.

Thanks to your comments, revelations...

What would an OpenID bestow you with if you had one? The answer?

Absolutely nothing.

You might as well leave an anonymous comment for all the difference using an OpenID makes. It tells me less than any of you did, but in a much more convincing way. Using it to convince me you're "real" is like Satan using a formal contract to convince me the Brooklyn Bridge is mine.

As usual, I become my own guinea pig to prove a point.

To prove that OpenID is useless, last week I signed up for another, fake, OpenID account.

Off we go to OpenID Land...

Here's how OpenID works:

  1. Go to
  2. Click the little button that says, "Sign up for an OpenID".
  3. You're whisked off to this page:
  4. Enter any name in the world you want, including the legitmate names of other people who are not you, as long as their names are not yet taken.
  5. Pick a password.
  6. Confirm your password.
  7. Sign up for some anonymous email address that no one knows about except for you, my soon-to-be Brooklyn Bridge contract writer, or use an anonyous email address that you just "happen" to own.
  8. Pass the Captcha test (if you fail it twice just pound hard on your keyboard; it will accept any string of characters you enter).
  9. Agree to the Terms of Service, which probably stipulate that you have broken Federal Law by signing up for a fake user name.
  10. Click the little button that says, "Sign up!"
  11. And that's it! You're now ready to piss me off much more than you would've if you'd simply left me an anonymous comment. Try it sometime - if you really want to know.

Now, don't get me wrong. There are ways in which your use of OpenID can be perfectly legitimate.

For example, over at Ron's Rants, there's a guy who's name is Ron. He is a shining example of legitmate OpenID use. He uses his real name on his blog, and signs into my blog with his Ron's Rants OpenID to authenticate his comments, so I never have any doubt that Ron is who he says he is: "Ron". Very simple. Works very well.

I use OpenID the same way Ron does. While "Marah Marie" is not my real name, it's the only name I'll use on the Internet to associate with others in a "known" way unless someone is paying me to write content for their website, so everyone who "knows me" online knows me by that name. I also associate it with my two website URLs. Very simple. Works very well.

Any other use of OpenID besides the above examples is just you trying to pull a fast one on me - isn't it? Don't bother. I check IDs, just like a bouncer checks them at a club, and if I even somewhat suspect anything fishy or unverifiable about your name, website, or identity, you'll sink lower in my eyes than any anonymous commenter ever will.