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malevolent design weblog

This blog is now defunct, but you can find more stuff over at my personal site

Using OpenID With Your Own Domain

One thing you can use your own domain for is OpenID. The idea is that you identify yourself to third-party sites using a special URL through which the login process is handled, meaning you don’t need to create endless username/password combinations. More and more sites accept OpenID, and some (e.g. Stack Overflow) are choosing to only accept it.

Various popular services are OpenID providers, but directly using their URLs will tend to lock you in. Luckily, OpenID includes a feature called delegation for pointing one URL at another, meaning you don’t have to run your own OpenID server to have more control.

Choosing A URL

If your web site/blog represents only you, and its URL is unlikely to change or need to represent others, then you might decide to make the home page your OpenID URL. Alternatively, you could perhaps use your personal profile page or set up a subdomain to keep things separate and expandable (e.g. http://openid.yourdomain.com/username ).

The overall idea is to choose something that’s simple, represents you, and is unlikely to change.

Delegating

Here’s how you can quickly add OpenID to your chosen URL using myOpenID, a popular provider:

  • Create an account
  • Set up one or more Registration Personas (under Your Account); these let you selectively disclose information to sites you use
  • Add the delegation tags to the HTML of your chosen page
  • Use your OpenID URL to identify yourself to an OpenID-enabled site; you should be directed to myOpenID to log in

That’s all there is to it, and it’s the same process for other providers except that you might have to dig around to find the right settings/tags. You can switch provider at any time simply by changing the tags, there’s no need to change your OpenID URL.

If you’d rather get myOpenID to host everything (e.g. if you’re worried about someone editing your site and changing the delegation), you can set up a DNS record and use myOpenID for Domains (slightly less flexible, but you still control the URL).


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