Tips on username process when using SSO


(Robert McIntosh) #1

This may be a rather specific issue, but I feel like it could be a bigger issue for many Community Managers.

How do you deal with the process of creating usernames for new members when using an SSO process linked to another site - e.g. wordpress or a retail site?

Here’s my dilemma. We are using Discourse for a community attached to a membership / retail site. Members already have accounts on the main site, and so we will use these credentials to authenticate new users in the community. However, we do not currently have ‘usernames’ so we need to create them as we pass them through to the Discourse site for the first time.

We will go with a standard {firstname} _ {lastname} default, but if there are duplicates we will not know until Discourse has created the account and decided to add a numeric, e.g. john_smith2

Unfortunately, the user will not get to choose or approve their name in the process, and will simply be directed to the community threads to start conversations without necessarily confirming their personal details. The choice of a username can be quite important in these social sites (as we’ve seen in recent discussions)

What would be the best way to ensure they are aware of their username and change it, if necessary, as soon as possible to avoid confusion and breaking links (which happens in Discourse)?

  • do we send a specific email on signup?
  • do we put it in the welcome thread on the site?

Wondering if anyone else has had to deal with this issue? I assume it is common to all SSO processes and not just Discourse?


(Robert McIntosh) #2

BTW feel free to delete if too technical / specific - but feels like a best practice and experience issue rather than a feature request or support query with Discourse themselves


(Sarah Hawk) #3

I’ve had to deal with this 3 times in my career to date, so it’s definitely a ‘thing’!

Although all of the cases above had their nuances, my process was the same.

  • We made the change to {firstname} _ {lastname}
  • We emailed all users once with the info and included a link to change their username
  • We made a ‘change username’ link prominent
  • We included a link to change their username in the onsite welcome PM and in all welcome threads

What I learned:

  • Most people won’t care and will go with the new username
  • The majority of people that do care will search for a way to change it
  • A very small minority will be outraged and will email you, at which point you can quickly and easily point them in the right direction

TL;DR it felt like it was going to be a bigger issue than it actually was.


(Robert McIntosh) #4

That is very comforting

Unfortunately we can’t email everyone in advance as this will be a case-by-case basis as they choose to sign up to the community.

I will certainly see if we can trigger multiple alerts to the issue.

I wonder whether there could be a version of DiscoBot that could be created that would be used in these cases - to run new users through their profile on the site BEFORE running through the site basics. Just a Thought - might pitch it on meta.discourse

Thanks - good to know I’m not alone but I found surprisingly little material on actual username processes (that was not just the general process of needing to create them).