Thursday, December 11, 2008

account rot

I feel a gradually growing sense of nervousness and guilt over the growing trail of accounts I have opened on various web-based services, then abandoned. You know how it is... you try out a service, but 95% of the time you lose interest or find a better one eventually. Then your account just sits there forlornly, quietly counting the months since your last login.

I'd back up and delete the old accounts, but many of them don't provide convenient (or any) account deletion options, and most of them I have just plain forgotten.

What's the harm? Well, I do have a very young nth cousin named Catherine Devlin who is probably going to curse me in 15 years for squatting on her account name EVERYWHERE. Assuming she doesn't want to be "WebkinzBellybuttonLint" or something. Worse, there are just a couple sites where I got the username "catherine" - which is awesome, except when I ended up not using them, leaving a choice username to gather digital dust.

Plus, there's this feeling that any of those accounts is potentially crackable, creating risk of a very mild form of identity theft. OK, I don't care that much if somebody's leaving comments as me on IMDB, but it still doesn't seem quite right.

This is one thing I love OpenID for - my account at has a nice listing of everyplace I've used it. Alas, that represents maybe 0.1% of the services I've signed up for in the past 10 years.

Anybody have a solution? I should probably start a centralized record of all my newly created accounts, but what about the ones I've already forgotten?


Anonymous said...

I hope you'll be able to get a good answer. In the meantime, I agree about OpenID goodness. It's just nice to not have to re-do my profile *every* website and forum...

Anonymous said...

She thinks she's going to inherit your silverware and that antique dresser. What she's actually going to get is far, far better. :-)


Michael Bernstein said...

Catherine, what about FriendFeed? It's apretty reasonable way to aggregate all your different accounts in one place.

Michael Bernstein said...

I'm 'webmaven' on FF, BTW.

Anonymous said...

I used to run into this all the time. I have strong passwords on all my sites. I have a (paper) notebook with all my usernames and passwords. I used to keep them on an index card, but I ran out of space. It's not the best solution, but it's works. Try remembering T9*>QY:cdee3y after 6 months without using it. Nobody will ever crack that password and you won't forget it. Just don't lose the notebook.