HackThisSite.org News: UPDATE: Concerning our port to LDAP

by: Kage, 07:01 pm Wednesday January 26th, 2011

There will be some very important changes to HackThisSite in preparation for our migration to using LDAP for authentication. Here are some things we wish to accomplish with this migration:

- Uniform location for login controls, portable to any system that supports LDAP (which is almost everything!).

- Segregation of authentication mechanisms and data from other site content

- Removal of the current terrible system and its difficulties (non-standard password storage, poor username control)

- Allowance for display name changes that won't break anything!

In order to achieve these goals, we had to verify that existing usernames will not "collide." By this, we mean, take two names for example: Ha-cker and HACK-ER. Since the new system will strip all non-alphanumeric characters from usernames for logging in, those two names collide.

We have discovered that, as of Jan 26, 2011, 6,079 usernames collide. This only accounts for less than 0.7% of our userbase, but is still a very large number. We will be sending out E-Mails to everyone on this list if they have logged in since Jan 1, 2010, alerting them to this situation. If you receive an E-Mail, it will contain some information on how to rectify the situation, but we have not yet considered all options. More E-Mails may go out in the future to inform those users of more options.

Edit: A different solution has been determined, and rather than porting all users into the new system, a user-converter will be in place. For at least 24 months, a system will be in place to allow users to port their old HackThisSite account (the current user base) to the new system, or generate a new fresh account. In either case, should a user's login name collide with existing entries, the standard approach will be taken: require the user to simply provide a different, non-colliding name.

In short, this means no one will need to worry about if their name collides or not anymore.