What would it take to make OpenID mainstream?
OpenID is a great idea in principle, but the UI and the explanation as to why it is good are currently not tailored for general use -- what do you think it would take to make OpenID work for the general public? Can this be solved with technology, or is the problem so intrinsically hard that we are stuck with difficult explanations/multi-step registration procedures, numerous accounts, or poor security?
It needs to be much simpler: involve less knowledge of the concepts, and require fewer steps - preferably zero. When the technology works with little or no assistance, it'll take off.
The mechanics of OpenID credentials, providers and suppliers shouldn't need to be exposed to the user. People talk about educating the masses of internet users, but that's never going to happen - the masses never stop being stupid. If you want to appeal to the masses, you need to bring the technology down to meet their level instead. When a Google-affiliated site picks up that you're logged into Google and silently uses that account, it works without you ever having to tell it who you are. The fact that OpenID is so clumsy in comparison is why the big providers like Google are still avoiding it, and why the general public won't adopt it.
I think the developers of OpenID messed up when they used a URL rather than an email address for the IDs. People know what email addresses are, they already have one that's associated with them (or can get one easily), and email providers like Google and Microsoft are happy to adopt a role as portals. In fact, an automatic translation from email address to URL is all it would take:
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I think it'll take a huge buy-in from a site that millions of people use; for example, MySpace is soon supporting OpenID, so now the number of users that OpenID supports has just jumped by a huge amount. If more of the high activity sites on the net follow this lead, there you go!
It will take all the popular sites supporting it and making it transparent to the user.
"You can make a useraccount here, or if you use MySpace, Google Mail, Hotmail, etc then you can sign in using OpenID."
Don't sell it as a new service, sell it as being able to sign in using a different ID from another site.
The issue, however, is that with everyone supporting it each user will now have a myspace id, google id, etc. Now if they sign onto stackoverflow with their myspace id then later with google they may be perplexed that stackoverflow doesn't recognize them.
I wonder if openid has a solution for linking openid accounts so they are one and the same - I doubt the technology allows for it, since they are essentially independant signing authorities. Google would have to share data with Myspace and vice versa to enable that...
I don't think it will become mainstream. I think Ted Dziuba gets it right when he says it solves a "problem" that most people don't consider to be worth solving.
It will have to get a hell of a lot simpler, with easier-to-remember IDs.