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There's a little more discussion of that over on Lobsters: https://lobste.rs/s/fkosun/. The TL;DR is that URIs just didn't work for the mass public. You had to supplement the login form with a NASCAR-esque wall of logos, which was awful for different reasons.

Thus, Portier, and Persona before it, chose to identify users by email addresses. I talk a little bit about that at 9:05 in my PyCon 2013 talk on Persona: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nJff23UdNAI#t=9m05

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