Comments: Flickr and Yahoo and Identity Management

FYI -- Flickr is merely using the Y! ID for login purposes, it doesn't otherwise change your identity on Flickr.

So if you're "photojoe" on Flickr and "joeblow468" on Yahoo!, you'll still get to be "photojoe" -- you'll just have to login to the system with "joeblow468." But once you're in, it's all the same.

Yahoo! simply did a poor job of communicating this.

Posted by Nathan Arnold at September 1, 2005 01:28 PM

Any chance of a correction on this Mary? Several people have picked up on it ...

Posted by Stewart Butterfield at September 2, 2005 03:02 PM

Factual errors are not cool. Not fixing factually errors is double plus uncool.

The Yahoo/Flickr changes have nothing to do with identity- its only the login procedure, which is now done with an email address. Of course, you probably don't remember logging to flickr, since they let you stay logged in indefinitely.


Posted by ryan king at September 3, 2005 06:26 PM

Hi Nathan, just returned from being out of town for the weekend, and so see changes above, to reflect your point. Yes.. what is changing is the login portion of my ID at Flickr, not the front end ID. However, from a user perspective, asking for an ID to authenticate, that is not in keeping with my front end ID, is problematic, and was the point I was trying to make above.

Stewart, I'm not sure what you are talking about. I did an immediate update to my aggregator, and all of my search feeds from Technorati etc show no new posts talking about this blog or linking to it. So I'm not sure what you mean about lots of people talking about whatever the problem is that you are talking about. Can you point me to their posts and also let me know what you want changed or updated?

Also, I'm sure this has been difficult for you, and I'm sorry that the whole flap thing has happened. I'm sure it was stressful and not what you intended. But I think it points to a lot of interesting problems that could be solved around identity and logins, which if corrected, might cause users to feel much better about their Yahoo ID's and use them better than some of us are now. Figuring those out would be very interesting.

Ryan, thanks for the comment. What can I say? I don't know what factual error you are talking about either, but leaving comments with misplaced certainty, and a narrow technical perspective about the bigger problem which is difficult to deny, on my blog is not a good way to behave, nor does it make me feel motivated to do whatever you are asking for (would you mind explaining the problem?) It certainly doesn't make me feel very good about conversing with you. I would love to have you here helping to figure out and articulate issues, but would you mind acting kindly and articulating problems instead of just telling me that I'm doubly uncool?

After my lovely weekend away, I came home to your comment and it kind of ruined the good mood.

Also, the Flickr/Yahoo issues have everything to do with Identity, as I explained above. I login with something that authenticates me (currently my own email, which is a digital representation of me and contains my name). That login ID takes me to my outward facing Flickr ID (also my name). Both are representations of me, digitally, though only one is public.

I feel some discomfort over the change asking for a Yahoo backend ID for authentication (the current one is a bad representation of me) to mix with the front end representation of me of something I like. I'm going to solve this by making yet another Yahoo ID, if I can think of something no one has used in 10 years ... this is in order to have the login portion of my ID at Flickr continue to be something that I like and am happy to have joined with the Flickr front end ID which I like very much.

This is what I tried to explain above.

I still have no idea what you are talking about, that is factually incorrect, but if you could explain it, and I agree that it's incorrect, I'd be happy to correct it.


Posted by mary hodder at September 5, 2005 08:29 AM

You've found one of the places it showed up: -- here's another:

What I was talking about: we didn't "reset" anyone's cookies. Per the thread on Barb's blog, I don't know who you were talking to at Yahoo who said that we did (but would like to know :) -- I guess you could have all been at a location that gets to the net through a cookie-blocking proxy? Not sure.

As for the larger point, I don't see how anyone could read what you wrote here and come away with any other impression but that you had to change your screen name on Flickr. I've read your longer explanation in the comments so I understand what you are trying to say now, and now I've noticed that you added a parenthetical note: "the backend authentication ID, though my front end ID stays the same". So, that's better, I guess, though I doubt that any but the most observant reader would get what you mean (it sure *seems* like conflating credentials and screen name, especially since you use an email address to sign in to Flickr).

The underlying point is well taken, even if I would have preferred a presentation that was a clearer, given the circumstances :)

Posted by Stewart Butterfield at September 6, 2005 07:45 AM

Hi Stewart,
Thanks for letting me know.

I was totally mystified yesterday, trying to figure this out. I actually had several people read it, throughout the day, that I was randomly on IM with, including Doc Searls, Kaliya Hamlin (both Identity Gang folks), Dave Sifry, Lisa Rein, Ana Vasconcelos, and we were all totally in the dark.

No one could tell me what was wrong. And I sent them to the Social Software weblog to read post and comments as well and we could not figure it out.

Thanks so much for telling me. I've made another update in the post, noting the change and the corrected information, and will leave comments at the Social Software weblog as well.

Really sorry for the confusion, and for stating something that wasn't true. I really thought that since the Yahoo person had confirmed it, it was correct. However, rather than get them in trouble, I will just let them know. I think it's best, yes?

Also, sorry that my post was not so clear last Thursday. Clearly I needed the three days off to rest and recoop. But part of the issue for me too is that in blogging this, writing about it, I learned a lot about identity, defined the differences with uses of identity, but also the coupled singularity for users between their login ID and their front end ID, and talked with a lot of people over the weekend at my camp (Save the Man, where we protest the burning of the man, and dang it, we failed again..). So really, getting clear on this has been very fruitful, and sharing that out, discussing it, in person and on the blog is for me, is what blogging is about. It's iterative. It's a discussion, and I think we blog because we have questions, often, not just because we have answers.

Anyway, again, sorry for getting that information about the cookie reset wrong, and I'll let other's know, including the people I was with last Monday.


Posted by mary hodder at September 6, 2005 08:25 AM

I would suggest you to recommend Openid instead of iname.
Openid ( ) "is a decentralized identity system, but one that's actually decentralized and doesn't entirely crumble if one company turns evil or goes out of business."
OpenId is a more decentralized, open way of having an identity.
Paying Iname for letting other people call you mary is something that goes against decentralization, end-to-end, peer-to-peer communication, the Web spirit, openness.
"As a critical part of its mission Identity Commons is offering a time-limited opportunity for individuals to register a global i-name (opens new window) for 50 years for only $25 USD."
Wow, I should ask Identity Commons "can i be called by other people"?
I think OpenId makes much much more sense. What do you think?

Posted by paolo at September 18, 2005 03:01 PM