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Title explains all.


SE currently supports logging in with GitHub, Google and Facebook.

In terms of tracking user behavior, Apple seems to be a better login option to me than Google and Facebook.


Reverting to the concerns stated in response to the question:

  • What benefit it will have?

    With users having an option to use a different login service than FB/Google/GitHub, I think they will be able to keep their privacy. At the very least they will be able to decouple their activity on Stack Exchange from Google and Facebook.

  • The feature development is going to cost time.

    I can't argue against that. If there are other pressing items to work on in the pipeline, go ahead with them. However, I have worked on security and authentication myself and fairly understand the time this login option can take. Most of it is research than development. I found that after I implemented the first one, others were quicker to implement. I have never implemented Signing in with Apple, but if Single Sign-on with Google and FB is present, Apple should not be hugely different.*

  • Is that option going to benefit a substantial number of users?

    That's better answered by people working at SE. Or those of use who have access to site's analytics, they can see how many users are accessing SE network from macOS/iOS/iPadOS. I think if properly implemented, a majority of SE users on Apple's OSes will gladly make the switch. A "proper" implementation could be along the lines:

    1. Allow new users to Sign in with Apple;
    2. Give the current users an option to move to Signing in with Apple;
    3. After migrating the existing users delete their older login info;
    4. Alternate to step - 3, have people create new account by Signing in with Apple and then merge their current account with that.

    This way they retain the profile and rep but trackers can't link their activity on SE with their activity elsewhere on the web. Apple's users are generally very quick to adopt the latest. This is something that Apple proudly states in their events too.

    Of course this is based on the faith that SE does a good job of deleting PII that users have provided earlier.

  • We had to de-ship Open ID.

    Yes, in hindsight it may well turn out that Signing in with Apple was not as popular as thought. So this effort becomes a risk that doesn't pay off. I'd still say.. try it out. When this has been implemented and a blog on SE about this feature demonstrates it to users, SE will have a huge chunk of happy users.

    As people are becoming more and more aware of their privacy online, when they will see an option that gives them convenience (Single signing on with Google / FB / GitHub (aka Microsoft)) and an option that gives them convenience and privacy (Single sign-on with Apple), then if they can pick the second option, they will pick it.

    Even if the existing users do not migrate, the new users will use it because for them Signing in with Google or FB is exact same effort as Signing in with Apple.

  • Creating an account on SE sells you out to only SE.

    Not true. There are multiple trackers embedded in SE pages. In fact on this very page that you are reading there is one tracker each from the following:

    1. Google;
    2. Quantcast;
    3. comScore.

    On a 'Hot Question' on a Stack Overflow page that I opened, apart from the three above, there were two trackers from Google.

    However, it is true that to block those trackers you do not need a full-fledged Sign in with Apple. Latest Safari (v 14.0.1) blocks them today. If you're not on Safari, you can install DuckDuckGo extension on whichever browser you are using and hide your ass.


To make a stronger case of why this option is something to be taken seriously and could be well worth developers' time, this is a screenshot of the latest spam I received. The only place I have even used the word 'vacuum' is in a comment I made on this question itself. Otherwise I have no issues with my vacuum cleaners and have not spoken about them to anyone.

Because I visited this page a few times to respond to the activity on it, 'selling a vacuum cleaner' was identified to be a critical thing for me by data harvesters.

enter image description here


*Feel free to correct me. As I said, I have not implemented Signing in with Apple in my software.

  • Why? What benefit will it have? – Shadow 10 Years Wizard Nov 13 at 19:00
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    @Shadow10YearsWizard: I like to think it is difficult to track user behavior with Apple’s login. – displayName Nov 13 at 19:01
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    I disagree, but please add it to the question and expand about it. – Shadow 10 Years Wizard Nov 13 at 19:05
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    A previous request that didn't survive the roomba: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/354856/… – rene Nov 13 at 19:35
  • @rene: Couldn’t see because it’s been vacuumed. However, the support request seems a very logical thing to me. Don’t understand the objection to it. Apple has explained how it prevents tracking. Google and Facebook are, on the contrary, precisely known for tracking people. – displayName Nov 13 at 19:40
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    And you believe Apple just because they claim to refuse to give privacy info to the authorities when asked to? Good for you, I don't believe them. Also, privacy isn't the only issue here, like all feature requests it's matter of cost (to SE in terms of dev time) vs. benefit, and many people think the cost is too much for too little benefit, so prefer to not have that feature because of it. – Shadow 10 Years Wizard Nov 13 at 20:36
  • For the record, I do not believe any of the things @Shadow10YearsWizard said I believe, in the comment above. But I'm not responding to it because starting an argument over beliefs is futile. – displayName Nov 16 at 4:01
4

You missed one option that is also available and only sell you out to Stack Overflow: create an account on Stack Exchange itself.

If privacy is a concern then adding Apple as login a provider seems a bad argument.

Adding login options costs developer time. If these options are added they need to benefit a substantial number of users. Unless there are statistics on how much that option might be used by (new) users I don't see pressing reasons to add that option now.

We used to have Open ID but that got de-shipped 2 years ago: Support for OpenID ended on July 25, 2018

I'm not convinced this needs to be done in 6 to 8 weeks.

| improve this answer | |
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    Heh.. I didn’t miss that option. In fact, that’s the one I use. But you’re wrong.. that option does not sell you out to ONLY Stack Overflow/Exchange. Users still get sold out to multiple other players. That’s because of the Google and Yahoo and Quantserve et al trackers on the website. Hence I asked for Sign in with Apple. It manages to confuse those trackers embedded in the Stack Exchange pages. – displayName Nov 13 at 20:03
  • @displayName no matter what you use to sign into your account, it's still your account. Apple SSO can't control what trackers see on SE's domain. – TheWanderer Nov 14 at 4:21
  • @TheWanderer: Semi-valid point! But there's one more reason to provide users with the option to Sign in with Apple. In case Stack Exchange gets acquired and it becomes a part of Google, people who are signed in with Apple will not be discernible because the email ids are randomized, unlike the option of creating an account on SE itself. – displayName Nov 14 at 5:53
  • @displayName yet again, you're still logging into the same account. Your email address may be hidden, but Apple can't hide an account from the site that account belongs to. – TheWanderer Nov 14 at 15:06
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    @TheWanderer: But the hidden email address means that Google cannot link all of that activity with your profile. With an openly known email address, Google can link the info with you and make inferences about you depending upon your interactions with others on the site. This includes making inferences like: ‘Are you someone who doesn’t get along with others?’, ‘What’s the programming language you are not proficient in?’ etc. – displayName Nov 14 at 15:55

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