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Forgive me if this isn't the kind of question the meta was meant for, but how does a Stack Exchange Open ID work? Is it the same as a normal Open ID? If not, how dos it differ?

Is there a central database that each of the Stack Exchange websites connect to that holds the user information? Is the Stack Exchange Open ID free for any website to use, or is it licensed for only Stack Exchange sites? Is it "top secret"?

I also want to say that I'm not looking for any potential exploits, nor am I wanting to "steal or rip-off" the idea of Open IDs (though I may be interested in participating in it). I just find the idea of a universal login very interesting and useful.

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Kevin explained it in great details here hope that's what you are looking for? – Shadow Wizard Jun 12 '13 at 6:25
@ShaWizDowArd: No, that's StackAuth. The OP is asking about – Manishearth Jun 12 '13 at 6:26
@Manishearth yep my bad... still small chance the OP here meant this so waiting for his response. :) – Shadow Wizard Jun 12 '13 at 6:27
I'm asking about the ID itself. I believe Manishearth has answered my question, but I'm going to do a bit of research before I accept it or otherwise give productive feedback. I'm just looking for general information on it really – Mister Dood Jun 12 '13 at 6:30
up vote 2 down vote accepted

It's a normal OpenID. It doesn't seem to have any special treatment from the SE codebase, except for:

  • It knows the location of the "change password" link and will show it under My Logins
  • It shows it as a major OpenID provider under the login page. However, the login process is the same in the backend AFAICT except that if you aren't logged in to, it will ask you to log in in an iframe.

Yes, it's an OpenID, so any website can use it as a login. That's what OpenID is for.

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I'm not sure if it's a normal Open ID. I'm attempting to sign in at what looks like the Open ID website using my Stack Exchange credentials, and the user name is not a email. I also don't see my logins to the Stack Exchange sites in the login activity, yet I see my logins to JSFiddle and the such. – Mister Dood Jun 12 '13 at 6:40
@MisterMelancholy: That's not how OpenID works. provides an OpenID, not the openid. It's an open protocol, so any other site can generate their own openids. – Manishearth Jun 12 '13 at 7:10
For example, try logging in to with the openid url ""; – Manishearth Jun 12 '13 at 7:11
@MisterMelancholy: OpenID works like this: Any website can set up an OpenID server. If you are logged in to that website, you can go to any openid-enabled login/create account form, enter the URL of the OpenID endpoint, and log in. – Manishearth Jun 12 '13 at 7:13
So StackExchange, Google,, Wordpress, etc all have OpenID servers/endpoints. – Manishearth Jun 12 '13 at 7:14
I think I get it now. It's not a "universal" account, but an account created on and hosted by a particular organization. That Open ID hosted by that particular organization can be used on any website that accepts Open IDs to log in. Is this a little more accurate? – Mister Dood Jun 12 '13 at 7:38
@mister pretty much.. – Manishearth Jun 12 '13 at 9:01

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