OpenID: Could They Make This More Confusing?

I’ve been hearing about OpenID, and it seems like a good idea in theory – so I thought I’d check it out. I head on over to the OpenID site, and I click on the “Get an OpenID” link. I’m taken to a page that says the following:

Surprise! You may already have one. If you use any of the following services, you already have your own OpenID:”

One of the sites they list is Smugmug (, where my username is jasondunn. So my OpenID should be jasondunn, right? Ok, so how do I manage it? I head over to myOpenID, and I click on the “Sign In To Your Account” link, because the main OpenID site told me that if I’m signed up with Smugmug I already have an OpenID. I try logging in with my Smugmug username and password, and that doesn’t work. So I decide to create a new OpenID account from scratch, which I complete successfully using the username jasondunn. So how could I take that username if it was taken first at Smugmug?

None of this makes any sense.

  • Vinny

    Because your username at Openid is:

    and at Smugmug it’s:

    Usernames for My OpenID are the domain name and other services usually require some variation of the domain name also which is how they account for jasondunn being in use with one service by one person and in user by another person on another service.

    You don’t “manage” the smugmug one; they’re just providing authentication services to sites that support OpenID, just like AOL, Flickr, and a bunch of others.

  • Hrm…I must have completely misinterpreted the purpose of OpenID. I thought it was a Passport-like universal login system. In fact, that’s how they describe it:

    “OpenID is a free and easy way to use a single digital identity across the Internet.”

    To me, that means a single username and password. So do they really mean that Smugmug ACCEPTS OpenID, not that by having a Smugmug account I already have an OpenID?

  • steven

    Jason, you’ve got the right idea. Once you have an OpenID it’s good for any site that supports it, but your OpenID is a URI. For example my OpenID is You should check out this video it’s my favorite explanation of what OpenID is.

  • Ah…it’s all clear to me now. What I didn’t grasp was that there were multiple identity providers. Now it make sense…

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