[OpenID] "declining OpenID usage"

Chris Messina chris.messina at gmail.com
Sun Apr 5 19:51:49 UTC 2009

On Sat, Apr 4, 2009 at 2:56 PM, Tony Stubblebine <tony at crowdvine.com> wrote:

> Chris, thanks for CC'ing me on this.

And thanks for following up!

> 1. We're completely bought in to the idea of the open stack. In a lot
> of ways, CrowdVine is an anti-eyeballs business. We're judged on the
> number and strength of the connections we make for conference
> attendees. The open stack reduces barriers to making those
> connections.

Good to hear! Would love to hear how we could help make the UX for the Open
Stack work better for you!

2. I was inspired to look at the numbers after seeing Eric Reis talk
> at Web2. He's pushing measurement so that you can have a conversation
> that's based on data rather than opinions. A lot of people have told
> me that our numbers are low because of our UI. That's an opinion. It's
> easy to find supporting arguments for that opinion, but it should be
> just as easy to prove the opinion with some numbers.

I generally support this (speaking from real world numbers rather than just

I think that we lack a lot of core metrics in the OpenID community and so
our conversations fishtail all over the place without being anchored to a
clear, distortion-free view of the world.

While we know we're still early stage getting this technology off the
ground, there are enough implementations that COULD be sources of data that
it's a tragedy that we haven't organized ourselves around making this
potential resource available for inspection.

3. Nobody has shared a single bit of data with me, which makes it seem
> that nobody knows what they're talking about. If you're not measuring
> how are you going to know when you hit on a better design? Are there
> any OpenID consumers on this list? What is your adoption rate? Have
> any of your design changes made any bit of difference? If I switch to
> a better design am I going to move from 1.5% adoption to 1.75% or am I
> going to move to 10%?

Janrain is one of the few services that has published numbers from their
work with various OpenID relying parties:


I wish more companies, including the one that I work for part-time, provided
more of this kind of information.

4. A lot of people have reacted to our numbers being low, but very few
> people have reacted to our numbers going down. We get to take regular
> snapshots of nearly identical communities and we've mostly seen a
> decline in usage. For example, we had two large conferences that were
> a year apart in the same city. The first year adoption was 8% and the
> second year adoption was 3%.

I can't explain why your numbers are going down — but it would be
interesting if we were able to do a study or survey to find out why —
especially from folks who used OpenID in the past but didn't use it again.

I could imagine that audiences are becoming more mainstream and are thus
overall less familiar with OpenID, but that's just guessing. It could also
be that the value for using OpenID wasn't obvious, but that's a separate
issue that needs to be addressed.

It is worth pointing to some of Janrain's case studies (again, lacking other
corroborating resources) that suggest that OpenID has in fact increased user


Examples: "Mixx observes a ten-fold increase in registrations via OpenID",
"PropertyMaps sees registrations increase by 200% after deploying OpenID and
today 25% of registrations occur via OpenID", "37 signals now has 15% of
it's users logging in with OpenID".

It's also worth pointing out what's required and what's not; today, most
sites require email addresses, so that's what gravitated towards, since it's
the familiar. If you required OpenID, you'd obviously see a different story,
but you may also setup an impenetrable barrier for some.

Now that you've run the numbers, I'm curious to see if you'd be willing to
work with us to do measurements over time, using a variety of OpenID-driven
interfaces, from RPX to VidoopConnect to other approaches, like the
developing pop-up approach? As you said, you're curious as to why the number
went down; well, what if we took steps to see if we could bring those
numbers back up by tweaking the interface or discoverability of OpenID?


> --tony
> On Sat, Apr 4, 2009 at 10:13 AM, Chris Messina <chris.messina at gmail.com>
> wrote:
> > It's a little like Wetpaint removing support for OpenID from their site,
> > when the UI looked like this:
> > http://www.flickr.com/photos/factoryjoe/2478951850/
> > ...and was NEVER able to resolve my perfectly valid and otherwise usable
> > OpenID URL.
> > That said, I think that adoption of OpenID largely comes down to making a
> > better user experience and improve how we communicate the value of using
> > OpenID.
> > While you make a valid point Johannes, I think that we've largely failed
> so
> > far to provide a proper prescription for how to EFFECTIVELY implement
> > OpenID. Even if you're compliant with the spec, as Crowdvine is, their
> > implementation leaves much to be desired — the fault of which is not
> > entirely theirs.
> > Fortunately, we've recently approved the User Interface WG, the first of
> its
> > kind for OpenID, and from this group, we should get a spec that helps
> > implementors get more out of supporting the protocol.
> > That said, OpenID doesn't sell itself, and every site that supports
> OpenID
> > today — for better or worse — is a sales opportunity that we should be
> > capitalizing on to tell the story of OpenID.
> >
> > I have some ideas for how to address this but rather than be reactionary
> in
> > this particular case, I think that we should look at the data that Tony
> has
> > presented, consider it, think about what percentage of OpenID usage would
> be
> > a good target and then find other sources of data that either corroborate
> or
> > dispute his numbers. We unfortunately have been unsuccessful at getting
> data
> > from the larger OPs (I'm looking squarely at Yahoo, Google, and AOL) on
> > OpenID adoption or usage; on the flipside, Facebook has a great story for
> > adoption of its Connect product with data to boot so we're currently at a
> > data disadvantage to contrast Tony's findings with those from the wider
> > community.
> > Chris
> >
> > On Fri, Apr 3, 2009 at 12:56 AM, Johannes Ernst
> > <jernst+openid.net at netmesh.us> wrote:
> >>
> >> See http://blog.crowdvine.com/2009/04/02/declining-openid-usage/
> >> I would like to propose a concerted effort to
> >> 1. identify negative OpenID experiences by existing adopters, like this
> >> one
> >> 2. "crowd source", to the OpenID community, the analysis why they may be
> >> seeing what they are seeing
> >> 3. engage with the site to improve their implementation.
> >> For example, when checking out their site, I noticed that the two forms
> >> for creating an account (username/pass vs. OpenID) look almost the same.
> See
> >> screenshots below. This does not communicate to the user at all that
> there
> >> is any advantage, on that site, to use OpenID. It can clearly be done
> much
> >> better, and most of us know how, but they apparently didn't... so
> negative
> >> experiences are published, and that can't be a good thing.
> >> I'm afraid that unless we combat these kinds of things heads-on, a body
> of
> >> "knowledge" will emerge that OpenID "isn't used".
> >> (It also may well be that the numbers are not good even for good
> >> implementations. In which case we might need to make substantial
> >> improvements to more than just our ability to teach sites how to
> implement
> >> OpenID well. It would be useful to try to solicit those numbers, too.)
> >> Anybody agree / disagree?
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >> Johannes Ernst
> >> NetMesh Inc.
> >>   http://netmesh.info/jernst
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >> _______________________________________________
> >> general mailing list
> >> general at openid.net
> >> http://openid.net/mailman/listinfo/general
> >>
> >
> >
> >
> > --
> > Chris Messina
> > Citizen-Participant &
> >  Open Web Advocate
> >
> > factoryjoe.com // diso-project.org // vidoop.com
> > This email is:   [ ] bloggable    [X] ask first   [ ] private
> >
> --
> CEO, CrowdVine
> 707.953.3868
> www.crowdvine.com
> blog.crowdvine.com
> www.twitter.com/tonystubblebine

Chris Messina
Citizen-Participant &
 Open Web Advocate

factoryjoe.com // diso-project.org // vidoop.com
This email is:   [ ] bloggable    [X] ask first   [ ] private
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