LiveJournal and OpenID

Well, I think I’m taking a huge step that I’ve been contemplating for a long time and finally decided to jump into. Those of you on LiveJournal might notice a new friend request later this weekend. That request will not be from a regular user, but one with a weird little orange “I” next to the name: OpenID Logo The name associated with the account is “netninja.com.” This is me taking another step away from LiveJournal. Lots of people complained the last few time LJ f’ed up: when they suspended accounts based on nebulous concepts of “adult” content, when they silently dropped the free-non-ad-supported account level. Lots of people said “I’m closing my account.” I am not aware of anyone that did. There was that laughable “strike” that was about as effective as everyone not buying gas on a particular day, but that was it. I have always thought of myself as an early adopter, so consider this to be me trailblazing a path away from LJ that others can later follow. It’s not a cold-turkey “I quit,” but is a big step away. I joined LiveJournal in 2001. It was pretty cutting-edge back then. The developers had cool ideas and implemented them. Seven years later, LJ just feels stagnant. Decisions are made by an unseen committee inside of a Russian corporation. New and cutting-edge ideas don’t seem to be surfacing. Lots of new themes are available and there are increasingly more ways for someone else to monetize my content, but that’s about all I see. As a result, I’m taking yet another step away from LiveJournal. The first step was to set up my own blog and configure it to cross-post to LJ. This step involves OpenID and dropping that cross-posting.

This OpenID account does not mean that I will stop participating in the LiveJournal community. I can’t write journal posts with OpenID, but in all other regards it acts as a regular free account. I can be friended and unfriended. I can read protected posts. I can write comments. I can even have a handful of user icons. I’m not leaving LiveJournal–I’m just changing how I access it.

LiveJournal users will also notice that my cross-posting to http://brianenigma.livejournal.com/ will cease to function in a few days. While the syndication never actually broke and the code behind it was quite solid, the solution has always seemed a little too “string and sealing wax” to me. The established norm for that sort of cross-posting has always been RSS. You’ll always be able to read entries directly at Netninja, you’ll always be able to subscribe to the RSS, and because an RSS feed is available, you can see those entries directly in LJ by adding brianenigma_rss as a friend.

In Summary

* The UserBrianEnigma account is being deprecated.
* My new LiveJournal login will be OpenIDnetninja.com. I’ll be reading and commenting.
* My posts will be available on LiveJournal at RSSbrianenigma_rss

Posted in: Dear Diary

8 thoughts on “LiveJournal and OpenID”

  1. Plate o shrimp.

    I just signed up for openid as well – but didn’t know why. Mostly to stake out my claim as “dmax” like I have everywhere else on the intertubes.

    So, what good is it? What do I do now? (Go and read about it like everyone else does, dmax, you moron.)

    Honestly, I am totally not getting it. I’m finding that, despite my claiming an openID of dmax and a claimID account of dmax – I can’t get into LJ without using those specific names, therefore meaning I have to start the LJ account all over again?

    I’m missing something, if you could point me to something explicative.

  2. You might remember, back about 5 or 6 years ago, websites were trying to promote a service called Microsoft Passport. There was the promise of only having to remember one username and password, which would work across all websites. It would be integrated with a “wallet” with your credit card numbers, so you didn’t have to laboriously type those in each time you wanted to buy something. It would also be integrated with all your online banking so that your same password worked with all of your financial information. And it was all to be written, centrally hosted, and controlled by Microsoft. As you can imagine, that plummeted spectacularly.

    OpenID is sort of the distributed Open Source version of that. There are two kinds of pieces: servers and consumers. The server is where you manage your username, password, and something similar to web cookies (the records that you’re logged in to that site over there, and that other site, and so on.) The consumers are websites you go to that ask for your username and password (or, in this case, your OpenID URL.)

    OpenID servers are starting to become more and more common. If you have a LiveJournal username, you have an OpenID URL that points to LJ servers. If you’re a Yahoo user, there’s a way to use that as your single-sign-on with a Yahoo-based URL. There are plenty of packages that let you set up your own server (which is what I did on netninja.com). You can have OpenID accounts on all of these servers, but in the spirit of single-sign-on, you’d typically want to stick with only one.

    Websites with OpenID client functionality are a little more rare, but are starting to appear. When you go to log in to one of these websites, you simply type your URL (in my case, netninja.com) and you’re temporarily redirected to the server to say yes/no (and possibly set up other details) and then redirected back to the original site. If you’ve used any Flickr toys or certain Facebook apps, you’ve probably seen a similar thing where you’re temporarily sent to Flickr to authorize. LiveJournal, obviously, supports signing up as an OpenID user. There are a few WordPress blogs around now that use OpenID for posting comments (e.g. TinyScreenfuls and hopefully mine, soon). This is nice because it’s not as spoofable as an anonymous comment and not as invasive as having to sign up for yet another account somewhere.

    So, yeah–if you want to use LiveJournal as your OpenID provider/server, there’s nothing you need to do. When you run across a site that lets you log in with OpenID, just give them your LJ URL. If you want to use LiveJoural, but authorizing through some other OpenID server (as I’ve done), then yes–you effectively have to start from scratch. LiveJournal doesn’t provide a way of associating a 3rd-party OpenID account with an existing LJ user. Or, at least, not yet. (And with how they’ve been operating, I don’t expect such functionality any time soon.)

  3. yep. I’ve attempted the same and failed miserably – there’s no way to get timely notifications. Now I’m thinking of hacking some client which allows LJ posting and backup/restore to backup from one RSS (from blogger) and restore to an LJ account.
    This would not be complex to write a bit of java code to do the same, scrapenpost, I would name this project. 😉

  4. to jes5199.com
    yeah, im looking for some kind of local HTML2RSS converting solution right now. maybe like a FF plugin that would check for updates every N minutes and then upload them somewhere as an RSS feed update over FTP.

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