Facebook Connect, the system the company has long discussed as “Facebook on sites all around the web,” enters general availability today and we’ve got one big question – should website owners use Facebook or OpenID to authenticate and learn about their users? Will Facebook become a dominant identifier online? Will the OpenID community lose out to the company’s proprietary system or will this challenge breathe new life into the movement for open source, standards based, federated user identity?

Open Source vs. Proprietary technology isn’t just about desktop software anymore – now it’s about our identities and social connections, all around the web. We’ve published a mind map below displaying our understanding of the contrasts between these two identity systems. If you’d like to add our thoughts to that map, you can.

This battle isn’t about “single sign-on” – it’s about the payload that comes with it (friend networks, personal data, maybe more), it’s about the developer communities, usability and ownership. It’s very important to the future of our user experience online and it’s a fascinating study in contrasts.

The mind map above illustrates our understanding of the relative merits of these two leading identity solutions. We thought it was an effective way of discussing a complex situation succinctly. We created it collaboratively using MindMeister. (disclosure: Mindmeister is a recent RWW sponsor)

We haven’t drawn a conclusion yet about who we think will win. We like Facebook Connect, but we like OpenID better. We’re cheering for both, but louder for the open source, open standard solution. We think Facebook’s odds are better, but perhaps the OpenID community will rise to the challenge now that it has such a formidable competitor.

Do you think we’ve missed anything really important? If so, feel free to edit the mind map on this page: Identity: FB Connect vs. OpenID (You’ll need a MindMeister account to do so.) Below you can see a click and drag embedded display of the latest state of this map that our readers have updated with their thoughts. You can see it full screen here. Update: A big thank you to the several of you who have gone in and made changes! That’s awesome!

Facebook Connect vs. OpenID is going to be a big decision that every website owner should consider. What do you think the relative strengths and weaknesses of the two systems are?

Thanks to the Vidoop crew for the conversation this morning that inspired this post.

See also:What if Amazon and iTunes Implemented Facebook Connect?