claimID, I am not he
June 25, 2006 6:38 AM   Subscribe

claimID is an online identity management tool, recently out of beta. Essentially it's a way of helping people and search engines understand who you are, but also who you are not. It's closely tied to the OpenID project, discussed briefly in this thread.
posted by runkelfinker (35 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
The best way to hide on the net is to be John Smith. John Smith does not need no stinkin' claimid.

is this a product promo post?
posted by caddis at 6:54 AM on June 25, 2006

It's a gourmet cookie, with it's own delicate blend of Authenticode.
posted by Smart Dalek at 7:05 AM on June 25, 2006

No product promo, caddis, and this isn't about hiding on the net, the opposite in fact.
posted by runkelfinker at 7:34 AM on June 25, 2006

from the about page:
Imagine that you are applying for a job. You know that your prospective employer is going to search for your name online, and since you're a rational person, that worries you. How will your employer know what online stuff is actually about you, and not about that other person who shares your name? And what if the good stuff about you online doesn't mention your full name, or uses a name you no longer go by (such as a maiden name)? How would your prospective employer ever find it? Why do you have to lose out in the eyes of that employer? And the worst part is there's no way for you to easily influence what search engines say about you.

But wouldn't an employer just use google? And for most people, the claimID "influenced" ranked results would just appear slightly before the rest of the results. If there was a smoking gun article about you, it'd probably rank higher than the claimID'd stuff. If 10 years ago you said something in usenet you wish you hadn't said. It will show up.

I have an uncommon name. When people search for it, it is the real me. So the fact that I ran in a few 5K, gave money to a charity and have a linked-in profile is all something I'm not concerned about people finding. I guess this service might help all of the Johsons and Smiths different themselves from the prostitutes and weirdos that share their name.

Now my profile with the NSA is another story. That wasn't me. I told those guys in Miami they were crazy.
posted by birdherder at 7:42 AM on June 25, 2006

This does seem like a useful service. One problem is that there are so many sites that you contribute to, without ever getting near the code for. Since claimID requires an addition to the head section of a page to verify it, it cannot be used that way for profiles (eBay, Blogger, flickr, MeFi, etc) or for any other page where you contribute content without having control of the server (ie. Everything2, Photobucket).

Perhaps there is no way the above forms of verification could be implemented, but it would be nice.
posted by sindark at 8:10 AM on June 25, 2006

I can't even figure out how to verify a Mambo-administered website that I run, since the way Mambo treats the head section of pages is so strange.
posted by sindark at 8:11 AM on June 25, 2006

The problem is most people's ID is already claimed. This made the rounds a couple of weeks ago. Too little too late metafilter :(
posted by justgary at 8:33 AM on June 25, 2006

Wow...a mefi thread about claimID. Very cool. I'm one of the claimID guys and I agree with you, sindark. What we're trying to do with the verification is get it approved as a standard microformat, so that places like flickr, ebay, delicious will just automatically include a microid with your posts. That way a service like claimID (or anyone else, since it is a standard) could come by and verify your pages without you having to edit anything. This could mean no more including javascript for technorati, google sitemaps, etc.

If you're interested in how the architecture of such a system might work, I've posted two lengthy articles over on my blog (and some GPL code to do verification)- we're going to be working in the upcoming weeks to actually get the microformat protocolized.

I also agree with birdherder - nothing is going to stop an employer from googling you. ClaimID is about giving them the ability to explore your identity based on what you say. Just like an employer can do a background check on top of your resume. We can't break how the internet works - but we can let you create a web of trust that people can use to explore what you've contextualized. Its a new thing..but we think it might be useful.

If anyone has q's I'll be following this thread...very exciting.
posted by fstutzman at 8:37 AM on June 25, 2006

Rearrange these words to form a popular phrase:

Looking solution problem a for
posted by reklaw at 9:06 AM on June 25, 2006

fstutzman, how is claimID different from/related to microID ?
posted by dmd at 9:23 AM on June 25, 2006

Uhg. Sorry. I should read a little more first. Ignore that.
posted by dmd at 9:24 AM on June 25, 2006

What I like about it is that you can bring more obscure links about yourself to the forefront. It can save the Googlers some trouble and lets you show them the shiny baubles of you-goodness they might otherwise have missed.
posted by malaprohibita at 9:33 AM on June 25, 2006

Ah this is interesting. One thing I've noticed is that there are all these social networking sites (myspace, friendster, facebook) and psudo social networking sites (flickr, metafilter, etc) that it would be convenient to be able to collate all of that on one site. Which seems like what this thing is trying to do. Neet.
posted by delmoi at 9:40 AM on June 25, 2006

fstutzman, how is claimID different from/related to microID ?

Looks like you already figured it out, but claimID uses microID.
posted by delmoi at 9:53 AM on June 25, 2006

Ok .. Let's see if I understand the mechanism.
A user's email, and the url of the resource with the content will be hashed together to form a unique number, the micro id.
This micro id can then be verified with a verifying site (of which ClaimID is one). I'm assuming (as this isn't well explained) that there is an authentication mechanism between the verifying site and the content owner.
So, if I'm understanding correctly, forforf registers with ClaimID and makes a comment on metafilter at If I'm understanding right, Matt would need some code to generate meta information that would include the hash of forforf's email address and the url of the comment.
So now we have the micro id in the comment, but how does the url "" get to the verifying site? and how is it authenticated as content by forforf?
posted by forforf at 10:01 AM on June 25, 2006

forforf - right now, what you'd do is claim the comment in the verifier site. the verifier would then go an make the verification. since the verification is dependent on a verified email address (the microid spec is more general, could be an iName or XRI), both sides would need to verify the email address.

In the future, though, a site could export an XML file of your claims and feed that directly into the verifier - so rather than claiming individually, the verifier could go and do batch work for you.

The possibilities of microid are really exciting. Jeremie Miller, creator of Jabber, came up with the protocol - you can read more about it at the site or the microid faq.
posted by fstutzman at 10:17 AM on June 25, 2006


One small suggestion: you should add a confirmation of some kind to the 'delete group' command. I hit it by mistake and deleted about ten different links I had added.
posted by sindark at 11:57 AM on June 25, 2006

I tried signing up my username, my first name and my last name and all were "not available". I'm guessing the username had a bad word and that my first and last name have bad chars. *cries*
posted by dabitch at 1:01 PM on June 25, 2006

Woo, I got my name as my username. Now all those other people who have it too are screwed.
posted by smackfu at 1:04 PM on June 25, 2006

Something seems to have gone wrong with the login page ( I just get an Internal Server Error when I try to access it.

I guess that's what open betas are for.
posted by sindark at 1:26 PM on June 25, 2006

@sindark - we do have a js confirmation on group delete - perhaps you've got js turned off?
posted by fstutzman at 1:27 PM on June 25, 2006

@sindark - just gave it a restart. you caught us in the 5 seconds as we restarted rails ;)
posted by fstutzman at 1:28 PM on June 25, 2006


Re: confirmation,

I probably just hit the confirmation by mistake, as well. Red Bull fuelled essay binges will cause such errors.

Re: server,

I am glad to know things are working.
posted by sindark at 1:52 PM on June 25, 2006

Yep, I got my name as my username too. I'm not very clear on this aspect of the service -[username] is great for the early adopters, but aren't the John Smiths-come-lately going to have to put up with or similar?
posted by runkelfinker at 1:56 PM on June 25, 2006

@runkelfinker - Indeed. They could be johnsmith25473 or motorcycledude or jsmith15. We're like any other site on the net that way. But once John starts linking to and verifying his stuff, when he links to claimid from his blog - that's when the good stuff happens. Our site has to play by the same rules as the rest of the net...if we could figure out how to get around that...that would be the ticket.

But seriously, the value is not in having a good name - it is in linking together the stuff you want to show off. Your blog, your, your flickr or zooomr or whatever. Once you've created that web of identity, people can move around it and find out all sort of neat stuff, contextualized - that's what we're trying to do.

Hope this helps. Up in the thread, reklaw called claimid a solution looking for a problem. In a sense, he's right. The 18-22 year olds I study (claimid's founders are grad students in information science, fyi) are putting their identity all over the net, and we're trying to pre-empt the problem by coming up with a solution. Sure, its a dig at us, but I think its better to be honest - even though this stuff is drop-dead simple, its new. And as such, we're trying to figure out the best ways to deal with it. This thread has given me a good workout on trying to explain it, too ;)
posted by fstutzman at 2:20 PM on June 25, 2006

I'm beginning to envy y'all getting your usernames. I couldn't use any of my names nor Dabitch. (It's a real name you know. So is Babitch.)
posted by dabitch at 2:47 PM on June 25, 2006

@fstutzman. Just say no to at signs.
posted by smackfu at 3:08 PM on June 25, 2006

Why is the silhouetted head in the logo at a slight angle?
posted by JJ86 at 4:19 PM on June 25, 2006

dabitch - ask and ye shall recieve. we can probably work something out for you. just drop me a line at fred @ and i can get you the account name you want.
posted by fstutzman at 4:41 PM on June 25, 2006

cool! I emailed.
posted by dabitch at 1:24 AM on June 26, 2006

So how do those of us with existing claimID profiles now edit those profiles? Everything seems to be connected to OpenID now.
posted by etoile at 12:21 PM on June 26, 2006

Huh! I have a claimID profile too, but I never knew about the verification bit. I just added any link related to me.

(It's kinda hard to add a code to verify a newspaper article about yourself.)
posted by divabat at 12:05 AM on June 27, 2006

etolle - just log back in with your username. i think you might have hit us when we had a hiccup yesterday. Our first monday live to the world brought us way more traffic than we had expected...we've since fixed things. Sorry about that. We've always prided ourself in being in beta but really not, but now I call beta cause we've had our share of bugs recently. sigh.

divabat - The verification is fairly new. We mentioned it on the blog a little while back. As for the newspaper bit, I agree. We're working to get MicroID accepted as a standard, but I sort of doubt you'll ever be able to claim things like newspaper articles.

Online trust is like real world trust...there are some things we just have to take on faith - we just base that faith on what we can trust. If I've seen you verify your blog, webpage, flickr, I have a higher standard of trust that you're making a reasonable claim to the newspaper article. Just like in the real world...if I know you, I've met you, I've looked you in the eye...I don't need to see your transcript if you tell me you went to x college. This doesn't solve all the problems, but it does model how we work in the real world.
posted by fstutzman at 2:28 AM on June 27, 2006

Maybe this thread is already dead, but I'll ask anyway.

Am I right in thinking that this service is linked to a particular email address? I use a vast number of email addresses so that I can track incoming mail. For example, my address here is, and I just signed up with

Does this mean that I won't be able to take advantage of this, then?
posted by Squid Voltaire at 8:16 AM on June 27, 2006

Squid - in the near term future we're going to let you verify as many email addresses you want to your claimid. This means that claimid will be able to verify MicroID's created with all of your different email addresses. That functionality is coming, quite soon.
posted by fstutzman at 11:21 AM on June 28, 2006

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