Standing on the shoulders of the giants to solve chicken and egg problem while building web community

When building community sites, we will always have the problem of chicken and egg. Nobody gets involved into your community if they don’t have critical mass, and critical mass wont get built if users don’t join the web community. How are you going to solve this problem? I think it can be solved to some level by “Standing on the shoulders of the giants”. One way is single signon.

idselectorBut the true single sign on for the web doesn’t exist yet, but bigger players on the web have so many users that, we can consider them as sso providers. Allowing our users to use one of the established service providers userid/password pair gives us the advantage of converting their users into ours. It also reduces the pain of creating Yet Another User Id/Pw for the user, reducing the entry barrier for our users.

In my personal experience at ubuntuAtWork.org, I have seen 45% increase in registration after we opened up register/login using FB Connect. There are many other success stories.
Solutions:
In the market we have three big compitators

  • OpenID : Platform and vendor independent. Standards set by an open standards committe. Big internet companies like Google, Yahoo, etc are supporting them. OpenId is a distributed identity provider and has the biggest user base in the world. The usebase also includes the users of gmail, ymail, wordpress, LJ etc
  • Facebook connect: Facebook is worlds biggest social network as of today. It has free APIs for the usage.
  • Google Friend Connect: is the compitator to Facebook connect. It has bigger user base in India considering the people on orkut and people using gmail (yes, gmail over took Yahoo recently in India)

Integrated solution: Combination of OpenId and facebook connect will give us bigger advantage. It gives us a large internet users we could target. Drupal the platform used by many communities by default supports OpenId at core. And its not difficult to use it on the wordpress and Joomla. Facebook connect is a simple API, the required modules exist for drupal to implement this.

If the user still wants to cerate pw, he can still do it. (anyway he needs to setup a userid).

Challenges: Challenges of implementing SSO is not in technology but in user interface. Making it easy for the user to register or login is big challenge. Some of the widgets/present implementation can help us in this regard.

References:

Image Credit: Idselector.

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