Creating a Digital Identity with OpenID and WordPress

Posted by: TomS on April 16, 2011 @ 4:05 pm

OpenIDOpenID is an open standard for a distributed system that allows users to authenticate with a single identifier on sites across the internet.  For a while now, OpenID has promised to become the tool that lets internet users login to all sites using a single account, and recently, with many of the big web comapnies (Google, AOL, Yahoo, MyOpenID) becoming OpenID providers, and many smaller sites starting to support OpenID authentication, OpenID is coming into its own.  Yes, its still fragmented, yes there’s many sites that still don’t use it, but things are getting better, and for me, there’s enough value in it now, that I want to use my blog as my OpenID for my internet persona.

I have a couple unique requirements for what I’m trying to do, so let me set that up first.  I have a public online persona that I use for this blog and other sites online related to running and technology.  I have no illusions of privacy.  I am sure anyone who is determined enough can find out plenty of personal information from my activity, but in general, most people that come to this site are looking for content about the information I post.  I would rather not broadcast my personal information to all those people so I try and keep my public online accounts separate from my personal ones.

That being said, its a pain to manage multiple logins and passwords, log in and out of sites, and so on.  OpenID can be really useful with this task, and that’s what I’m trying to do: use my WordPress blog at as my digital identity for public web activity and convert as many accounts over to it as possible.  BUT, I don’t always want to remember a second password for my public persona, so I’d still like to be able to login with my private personal OpenID, without broadcasting it to the world.

So here are my requirements:

  • Set up my blog as an OpenID provider.
  • When authenticating at my blog, be able to login using OpenID authentication from another provider (i.e the OpenID I use for my personal activity).
    • I don’t necessarily want to do OpenID delegation here, since it will publicly broadcast my other OpenID.
  • Be able to manage my user account settings on my blog, so I can switch between other OpenID providers I use to authenticate.
    • This gives me portability in the future if I decide to switch OpenID providers.

As usual, WordPress already has all the tools I need available in its extensive plugin library.  Here are the steps I followed to get this up and running.