Statistical Entrails Reading

Paul Madsen points out this Chris Messina post about a study of OpenID usage and awareness among Mechanical Turk users. Paul makes some interesting distinctions about SAML being envisioned to be invisible to the end-user while OpenID was invisioned to be a “branded”.

Personally I believe that OpenID adoption will happen en-mass not when it is branded by OpenID, but co-branded primarily by a small set of large identity providers. A lot more people are “aware” they have a Yahoo account or LiveID account than an OpenID ID.

But what I find absurd is all of the statistical entrails reading that is happening to determine what the OpenID adoption rates are when a couple of large identity providers could simply just tell us. Why don’t the big OpenID identity providers simply publish OpenID authentication stats on a monthly basis?

The providers must have those stats internally. The fact that they are not published says a lot more than any studies about brand awareness.

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2 responses to “Statistical Entrails Reading

  1. I think there are two responses to what you’re saying here:

    1. the big providers have barely turned on OpenID so far (I’m thinking Google and Microsoft primarily), so it’s a little early to think that their stats will be that useful. Even with that, I think that there would be a rather disheartening reality to ID-centric advocates if such stats were released now, because I can bet you that NO ONE (when compared next to their many millions of customers) is using their OpenID accounts. In other words, 1% of 1% of users using their Yahoo! OpenIDs wouldn’t do much for our cause for spreading the protocol…

    2. extending from that point, the reason why we did this study was because people were extrapolating doom and gloom from Yahoo’s research, which suggested that no one had heard of OpenID, on reports from nine people. Our research considered the awareness of 301 people, which hopefully is more enlightening.

    In any case, I agree that OpenID providers should be tasked with sharing the stats they have about the use of OpenID, and it’s something I’d like to see the OpenID Foundation help facilitate. Of course we have to start somewhere, and that was the goal of this first effort!

  2. While I agree that Google and Microsoft are just getting ramped up, Yahoo has been an OpenID provider for a while now.

    Even if the total usage levels are relatively small, they could indicate increasing awareness and adoption if they were increasing at a substantial rate month over month.

    We should always strive for transparency and honesty.

    I do agree that the doom and gloom over OpenID is unwarranted.

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