I know that this may not be a problem for the vast majority of people, but for those of us who manage multiple websites, many of which have their own social media accounts, having to log out of each account and log back in as a different user can get very annoying very rapidly.
I know there are Twitter clients that allow you to be logged in to multiple accounts at the same time but I would rather not have Seesmic or Tweetdeck constantly checking all of my accounts when I only need to be in them for a few minutes at a time. Also, desktop clients are singular solutions for single websites.
What about Facebook, MySpace, Gmail and dozens of other sites that I use daily that I require multiple logins for? Yes there are extensions for Gmail Manager, but these are again individual solutions for individual sites.such as
As it stands, the best solution I’ve come across is to run multiple browsers, having each one logged into a range of accounts associated with a site I am managing. It is not uncommon to see me with Firefox, Internet Explorer, Chrome, Opera and even Safari open at the same time.
As you can imagine this can become both cumbersome and confusing. As far as elegant solutions go this is an epileptic seizure while walking a tight rope.
What is needed is to either give browsers native support for managing multiple logins to a site or to rethink the information typically stored within a cookie.
As cookies are nothing more than a simple text file that stores bits of information such as user preferences, shopping cart contents, the identifier for a server-based session, or other data used by websites, there is very little reason why websites that use them can’t handle multiple account support on the server side. In fact, there is none.
Take Facebook for example. Lets say I had two or three Facebook accounts. Why not just allow me to log in with a single set of credentials but then provide me with a drop down menu so that I can choose which persona I am performing actions with? We already do this in desktop clients like Seesmic when determining which account we are responding to a tweet from.
Allowing multiple logins wouldn’t even affect discovery of your account for those of you worried about your social networking presence. At the moment sites like Facebook allow you to search for users by email address. A simple options page where you could associate email addresses with your various personas would still allow for the same level of discovery but also allow for the convenience those of us with multiple accounts are looking for.
The only reason I can see for server side non-adoption of logins and personas is that the user numbers for sites will drop as multiple personas will now belong to a single account or login. Yet even this drop in numbers would be negligible when you consider some of the benefits such as making it easier to identify spammers and block them as multiple personas will be associated with a single login.
There could also be side benefits in terms of targeted advertising as sites could build up a more complete profile of my activity instead of having multiple glimpses of my partial activity.
Even though the server side may be the easiest and most sensible place to introduce support for multiple logins to a individual services I believe that it will ultimately be in the browser that we see this functionality natively.
The vast majority of people don’t have multiple accounts on a single service (with the exception of email) and the service providers prefer if individual users have multiple accounts as it artificially inflates their numbers.
It may yet fall to the browser developers to allow us do everywhere, what Yahoo allowed us to do up until at least 2006.