OpenID is wildly convenient for users, which is good for vendors, but is that motivation enough to really spur its adoption? Cutting-edge social bookmarking service Ma.gnolia stopped issuing new user credentials last night and now requires new users to create a Ma.gnolia account using an OpenID from somewhere else.
Why? Because 75% of new accounts being created there lately have been created by spammers using automated tools. Spammers took over Ma.gnolia. Now, the company is using OpenID as a system of 3rd party verified identity and using the superior spam blocking skills of services like Yahoo! and AIM to clean up the Ma.gnolia ranks. Spamfighting could be the incentive that puts many other vendors over the edge to leverage OpenID.
As of this morning Ma.gnolia still hasn't made any official announcement about the move, but it's being discussed online by leaders in the OpenID movement and OpenID vendor Vidoop spelled out the verified identity logic in a post on their blog. ("Once Incremental Step for Ma.gnolia, One Large Step for OpenID")
There are at least a few ways that people have discussed using OpenID for spam control online and this is just one of them. Others are working on ways to use OpenID and FOAF (friend of a friend) together to fight spam. OpenID has also got potential to act as an anchor point for activity data portability. There are many possible uses beyond simple single-sign-on. That's just the easiest way to explain OpenID and the most clear value proposition today. We'd love to read about other ways people are using OpenID in comments; it's something we keep our eyes peeled for in the "best of" Data Portability and Semantic Web feeds offered in the RWW Toolkit for Key Issues of 2008.
This is just one of many examples we've seen of really great ideas that need more than one layer of incentive to really take off. Semantic markup is another - there's lots of great reasons to leverage semantic web technology, but the recent announcement that Yahoo! will index semantic markup will likely be the tipping point.
Keep your eyes on Ma.gnolia to see how this strategy, and a whole lot of other steps they are taking to leverage emerging standards, play out.