Every person that I've introduced to Stackexchange has had the same question/problem... that is they are confused by options to log using "gmail" or "hotmail" and assume that this is an email harvesting site that will fill up their inboxes. They then skip the login screen and are forever in "view only" mode.

Given that all OpenID providers send the email address (except for Microsoft LiveID/Passport), what is the best way to educate new users that by logging in using the gmail account that I don't have access to their email data?

  • 1
    I usually just see "sign in" or "connect" using twitter or your "google account", no specific references to emails. The OpenID sign in dialogs from the owner service's site should explain what privileges your service does/doesn't require (Google, Facebook and Twitter all do this)
    – Ben Brocka
    Commented Feb 4, 2012 at 18:11

1 Answer 1


It's an idea similar to Amazon Payments or Paypal. It's a secure way to insure that they are them without requiring that this site store yet another password/personal info that might get lost/eaten by hackers. Basically it's a way of saying "Here, this dude is legit because I am a big ole megacorp and have done my homework". It's precisely a way to stop people like you (no offense) from getting email addresses and the like and getting it hacked/stolen later.

It's a bit like an encrypted identity cipher on a secret message, only the actual originator of the authentication actually knows if you is you. It then vouches for you. The best real world analogy would like a embassy in a foreign country. You are issued a passport by your home country that then lets you travel freely within that particular foreign country.

  • Good analogy. It's probably not a coincidence that Microsoft's service is actually called Passport (or used to be called)
    – PersonalNexus
    Commented Feb 4, 2012 at 6:31
  • This is informational, but it doesn't answer the question of what type of GUI is most appropriate. Commented Feb 8, 2012 at 16:54
  • I answered this on programmers, I wasn't looking at it as a GUI problem but a user education problem. I'd answered it as "using a passport analogy" is the best way to educate them. I don't see the word GUI anywhere in the question. If it's a GUI issue I'll remove this answer.
    – user7492
    Commented Feb 8, 2012 at 19:02

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