Okay, so I admit this is partly my fault, but I think these various websites need to take some responsibility too.
Here's the deal: A little while ago I decided to change some preferences in my Zap2It account. (Zap2It is the online TV listing I emigrated to when I got tired of waiting forever and a weekend for TV Guide's graphics to load. Now, of course, Zap2It has discovered Flash-animated advertising, so it takes forever and a weekend for the...ad...for...Glenn...Close's...new..series...to...load...before...the...listings...will...appear.) This meant logging in, naturally, and that's where the problem began. I put in one of my e-mail addresses and a likely password. And was rewarded with a screen that told me my "e-mail/password is invalid."
Well, yes. But which is it?
I have half a dozen e-mail addresses; in all likelihood I would have used one of my "big three" in signing up. I have more password out there than you can shake a stick at, and while I keep important ones stored (not on the computer, and not in a form that any would-be trespasser is apt to make sense of) there are half a dozen or so that I use for "non-vital" purposes like this one. It's been too long since I did permutations or factorials or whatever they may be to figure out how many possibilities we have here, but it's a bunch.
Of course, there's the "forget your password?" button...which means I have to keep plugging in e-mail addresses until I hit the magic combination. So I got it on the second try--that's not the point! The point is, wouldn't life be simpler if they would tell me which item, the address or the password, I got wrong? It would certainly cut down on the guesswork. And since some (indeed, many) sites seem capable of doing this, I don't suppose it's prohibitively difficult to effect.
And, yes, I could just write this stuff down. But I'm not always in the same location as my password list (seems like a bad idea to carry it around with me). And is it too much to ask that they meet me halfway?