OpenID – doomed from the start?

Sorry; Sheila’s not quite taken over yet and there may be a couple more techy-ish posts (especially as I seem to be coming down with a cold and a good bit of geekness is always good to get me feeling like I’ve achieved something).

Read about OpenID when trying to comment on a Livejournal blog earlier today; its an “actually distributed identity system.” What this means is, when you want to post a comment asserting that you are someone – e.g. on this blog, asserting you have your own blog at (or whatever clever domain name you’ve chosen ;)) — you don’t have to register for each blogging system that has instituted a registration policy (qua Typepad, Livejournal, etc) — you take your identity with you.

The rationale for requiring registration in the firstplace has a few motivations. (1) To prevent spammers and identity fraudsters from getting too excited over your blog, and a cynical (2) to allow the blog software owners to expand their user base / do some nifty data capture.

But will it work? The net is littered with ‘open’ schemes for one thing or another. The Windows Live login is the only one that has been useful to me to date, and let’s face it, not many organisations have MS’s purchasing power. So what’ll make people adopt OpenID?

Well, support from all the cool guys out there who require registration – Typepad etc. And fast; if people lose interest in this… And I guess the second thing it needs: for anti-spam / anti-fraud software not to get too clever. WordPress lets ZERO comment spam through. Of course, I virtually have to approve every legitimate comment at least the first time around… but the point is that, if you aren’t worried about identity fraud or spamming, you won’t bother with a registration firewall.

At the end of the day, most users dislike these registration walls (alongside the ‘click here to read more’ buttons in blogs), and so will avoid them. I think. So we’ll see… Comment spam is less of a problem for me than many people (with my mighty 63 comments since this blog’s inception in early 2004).