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Here's a pretty old post from the blog archives of Geekery Today; it was written about 15 years ago, in 2008, on the World Wide Web.

Well, I feel kind of dumb.

But, first the good news.

I’ve recently added a new feature to the comments form on this blog. If you have an OpenID identity — and everyone who has a blog through WordPress.com or LiveJournal, or an account with AOL Instant Messenger, already has an OpenID identity — you can now use that to sign your comments on posts at radgeek.com (meanwhile getting a leg up on the comment spam filters).

OpenID is a free and decentralized system for using a single sign-in to vouch for your identity (or, if you prefer, your regular pseudonym) across many different websites. Because it is decentralized, you don’t ever have to turn any sign-in credentials over to this website, and your ID also remains good as long as your homepage exists — unlike single sign-in systems based on centralized providers like Microsoft or Six Apart, it doesn’t get compromised or killed if any one company goes under. It’s a neat project, and very useful for simple ID tasks like signing comments. So I figured I would do my part by enabling the use of OpenID on blog comments here. I downloaded the Alternate OpenID for WordPress plugin to handle the basics, and then set about hacking it to cover the details of how I wanted it to work.

So, the good news is that OpenID sign-ins are, as far as I can tell, up and running and ready for you to use. To use the feature, fill the appropriate URI into the URI field and then mash the button next to your URI to sign in using OpenID. Thus, for example:

After you mash the button, you’ll be shuttled over to your OpenID provider, where they will ask you to sign in, or whatever it is that they do to verify your identity. When you’re done doing that, you should be shuttled back to radgeek.com where you’ll now be recognized by your OpenID address. The OpenID plugin will try to create an intelligent user name to display based on the information you provide it, but if you don’t like the user name it supplies you with, you can click on the user name and edit your name (or any other part of your local record) to your heart’s content. Once you’re satisfied, you can return to the page and post your reply under your OpenID signature. Hooray!

Now, all that said and done, here’s the bad news. While I was tweaking the OpenID plugin, I managed to introduce some changes which, without my knowledge, borked the normal operation of the comments form here. Meaning that if you submitted a comment any time in the last several days, and it hasn’t appeared on the page yet, it’s not because it’s waiting in the moderation queue; it’s because (argh) WordPress lost it, due to said borking. In particular, if you tried to comment on:

… and your comment hasn’t appeared yet on the site, then it’s because I never got your comment. If you can say again what you had to say then, I’d be very glad to hear it; if not, I understand, and I really apologize for the trouble for this bout of blockheadedness on my part.

I wish that I had a more auspicious occasion for unveiling the new feature on the blog.

13 replies to Technicalities Use a feed to Follow replies to this article · TrackBack URI

  1. Randall McElroy iii

    “After you mash the button, …”

    Your Southern is showing.

  2. Anon73

    I posted two comments before, one of them under the Conservatives do it with Class (2) heading. I thought perhaps they were really good, but as I didn’t save them I guess I can’t say for sure. Here’s the short short version: (1), (2).

    Editorial note: The actual comments were moved to original posts. See below. —Rad Geek

  3. Rad Geek


    Thanks. I’ve taken the liberty of moving your actual comments over to the original posts. I guessed that the first of the two comments was possibly intended for Working Within The System comix, but if that’s a boneheaded place to put it, drop me a line and I’ll be glad to move it.

  4. Robert Hutchinson

    This is partly a commenting test, but to elevate it above that:

    1) I’ve been reading for a while now, but haven’t felt inspired to comment on anything in particular. That is not, however, a comment on the quality of this blog, which is excellent.

    2) I’ve seen “OpenID” all over the place, but you’re the first person I’ve come across to ever bother explaining exactly what it was and how to use it for comments. Thanks.

  5. Rad Geek


    Thanks for the kind words!

    At present I think that OpenID hasn’t been explained very well because (1) although there are some big OpenID providers (LJ, WordPress.com, AIM), there are very few OpenID consumers, so you can’t yet use your OpenID to do very much. The few blogs that have integrated it into their commenting system are generally blogs written by and for web technology geeks, basically as an exercise in showing off an implementation of the technology. So it’s presumed that most or all of the people who might conceivably use an OpenID somewhere are people who already understand something about what OpenID is and what it’s for. When (if) it comes into more widespread use, hopefully there will be more deliberate efforts to explain it in understandable terms. Consider the implementation here my little contribution towards doing some of the spreading and the explaining.

  6. smally

    I created a wordpress account to try the OpenID feature. The comment from Anonymous above is mine, which I made after two attempts. For the first two attempts I had already signed in to wordpress, and the “Sign in with OpenID” on this page went through with no problems But strangely, after clicking the Post button, I was taken to your PayPal donation page. What’s up with that?

    I haven’t been able to repeat it.

  7. Rad Geek


    Very strange. I don’t know why that would have happened, unless there were some kind of error with the HTML (the PayPal donation page and the comment form are separate HTML form elements, but if the end of one were broken, then a browser might somehow end up using information from the other). But I just checked the HTML, and it validates just fine. So it’s something of a mystery to me.

    I checked the comment you left and your user account. Everything with that seems to have gone more or less fine, except that WordPress should have done something more intelligent with the information that it got about your name, which would have given you the username “smallylerned” instead of leaving it anonymous. I’ll probably do something to fix that tomorrow evening, if I have the time.

  8. smally

    Rad Geek, thanks for looking into that. WordPress did not even give me the option of supplying a nickname, for some reason.

    As for the PayPal weirdness, I think I know the cause of the problem. Earlier today I installed the coComment Firefox extension. At some stage I disabled it. As a test just now I re-enabled it, and was once again directed to PayPal. I’m tech-ignorant, but my guess is that something about your customized template weirds it out.

    It’s once again disabled, so I’m crossing my fingers (while typing, no less!) that this one will go through.

  9. Rad Geek

    ah, I see. Yeah, the approach that I use for OpenID munges a bit with the standard WordPress comment form, so it’s possible that that might throw off something like coComment’s scripts, which (IIRC) operate by scanning around for standard forms that they recognize.

    I know that coComment has JavaScript code that bloggers can put into their comment forms to integrate the form with coComment, even if users don’t use the GreaseMonkey script or the bookmark. I wonder if that would fix the problem. Well, there’s a project for the evening. I’ll let you know if I find out anything interesting.

  10. Rad Geek

    Well, here goes nothing. I’ve tentatively turned on the coComment integration script. That should mean that, if you use coComment, your comments should go through to coComment automatically, whether or not you use the bookmarklet or the plugin. I think it should also solve the problem that you reported, smally. (Turns out that I mainly needed to give it the right unique identifier for my comment form. Also to lie to it about my blog software, since it makes unfortunate assumptions about the structure of my comments form if I tell it that I’m using WordPress, which would have made the sign-in process go all screwy.)

    I’m not especially thrilled about the ugly little coComment control-bar that the script slaps on the bottom of my comment box, but I don’t think there’s an easy way to change that.

    In any case, I think that everything is working. But I don’t use coComment. So, for those of you that do, I’d be glad to hear feedback on how it pans out.

  11. smally

    Wow, I didn’t expect you to go to any trouble. I would have been happy disabling coComment whenever necessary. But you have, and I really appreciate it. Thanks. I just hope there are other users ’round these parts who will also benefit — otherwise it was all wasted on me.

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