AOL and “63 Million OpenIDs”

First Microsoft's announcement with JanRain, SXIP and Verisign at RSA.  Now news that AOL has launched an experimental system and announced it will support the next version of OpenID. 

The world streams by at breakneck speed.  We're getting some real momentum on this convergence thing.  I hear the identity big bang coming towards us.  Here's a fascinating post by panzerjohn at

Yesterday, I blogged about AOL's work-in-progress on OpenID. It generated a lot of positive commentary. I realized after reading the reactions that I buried the lead: There are now 63 million AOL/AIM OpenIDs. Anyone can get one by signing up for a free AIM account. This is cool.

To address Paul's concern in Please delete my aol OpenID: We definitely want the user to be in control of their online presence. At the moment, the OpenID URL at redirects you off to an AIM Profile. That's not necessarily the long term experience, though I think it should be one of the default options. George Fletcher has pointed out that it would be even better if we could redirect people off to whatever page they wanted, as long as they could verify that they owned the page. My take is, if you don't actually use the OpenID URL, it doesn't really exist. The same way a Wiki page doesn't exist until you edit it. On the other hand, having people go in and kick the tires to uncover issues is exactly why we're talking about this. So let us know what you think.

Another important point is that you can point at the AOL OpenID service from any web page you own in order to turn its URL into an OpenID. The minimal requirements are basically that you have some AOL or AIM account, and that you add a couple of links to your document's HEAD:

link href=”” mce_href=”” rel=”openid.server” 

link href=”” mce_href=”” rel=”openid.delegate”

We added this to our blogs product in a few minutes minutes and it's in beta now. You can also support YADIS discovery which gives additional capabilities. See Sam Ruby's OpenID for non SuperUsers for a good summary.

The detailed status from yesterday's post:

  • Every AOL/AIM user now has at least one OpenID URI,
  • This experimental OpenID 1.1 Provider service is available now and we are conducting compatibility tests.
  • We're working with OpenID relying parties to resolve compatibility issues.
  • Our blogging platform has enabled basic OpenID 1.1 in beta, so every beta blog URI is also a basic OpenID identifier.  (No Yadis yet.)
  • We don't yet accept OpenID identities within our products as a relying party, but we're actively working on it.  That roll-out is likely to be gradual.
  • We are tracking the OpenID 2.0 standardization effort and plan to support it after it becomes final.

(I should clarify that I really work in the social networking / community / profile / blogging groups at AOL rather than the identity group per se. You can look to see what I actually do on a day to day basis over at my personal blog.)

This is amazing stuff.

Published by

Kim Cameron

Work on identity.

3 thoughts on “AOL and “63 Million OpenIDs””

  1. Wouldn't it be a violation of law 3 to encourage all those folks to use their AOL OpenID? AOL would be able to track their movements in cyberspace, wouldn't they?

  2. Unfortunately in OpenID any IDP (OP) can track the user's movements in cyberspace unlike in Cardspace where the RP can opt to not identify itself to the IDP. (Kim, please correct me if I am wrong – can the user opt to not provide the RP info to his IDP ? )
    Even with OpenID2.0 the user can opt to hide his true identity at the RP and ask for an anonymous id to be returned to the RP. But still the OP knows where the user is going. This problem is nothing specific to AOL – please forget the unfortunately done past mistakes.
    This is where we are eagerly waiting to see how the Cardspace can help OpenID in these security and privacy aspects.

  3. NSi OpenID2.0 his user identity and through an anonymous request for Reverend Father to be the return of the Reverend Father.

    OP is known, however, the user goes. AOL Not everything that is the problem – I would like errors in sick one day.

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