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jjstar
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30 Oct 2007, 8:07 am

How can you tell if the cookie a site is using is tracking you?


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alex
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30 Oct 2007, 8:25 am

jjstar wrote:
How can you tell if the cookie a site is using is tracking you?


usually cookies are used to track whether or not you're logged in to any given site and if you've chosen the option, to show which forum you're currently viewing (so your name will appear on the "who's viewing this thread/forum right now" list at the top of each thread or forum. You can make yourself not show up in this list by setting an option in your account profile settings, though.


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Triangular_Trees
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30 Oct 2007, 8:29 am

If your worried why not just delete all of your cookies when ever your done with a site you expect might track you



jjstar
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30 Oct 2007, 8:51 am

I do.....but you know how some sites won't let you NOT accept their cookies so you have to keep them?



Triangular_Trees wrote:
If your worried why not just delete all of your cookies when ever your done with a site you expect might track you


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jjstar
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30 Oct 2007, 8:54 am

Where would that be Alex? I tried finding the option without much success. Thanks.



alex wrote:
jjstar wrote:
How can you tell if the cookie a site is using is tracking you?


usually cookies are used to track whether or not you're logged in to any given site and if you've chosen the option, to show which forum you're currently viewing (so your name will appear on the "who's viewing this thread/forum right now" list at the top of each thread or forum. You can make yourself not show up in this list by setting an option in your account profile settings, though.


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alex
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30 Oct 2007, 10:27 am

"hid your online status"


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jjstar
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30 Oct 2007, 10:39 am

OK. Got it.

Thanks!
:) :) :) :) :) :) :) :)


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lau
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30 Oct 2007, 2:46 pm

alex wrote:
jjstar wrote:
How can you tell if the cookie a site is using is tracking you?


usually cookies are used to track whether or not you're logged in to any given site and if you've chosen the option, to show which forum you're currently viewing (so your name will appear on the "who's viewing this thread/forum right now" list at the top of each thread or forum. You can make yourself not show up in this list by setting an option in your account profile settings, though.


I thought jjstar was talking about what are know as "tracking cookies".

Cookies are intended to be just about one site (such as WP) and to record your current session information, or in some cases, a bunch of information to carry across between visits.

E.g. http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/personal.html uses a cookie to hold all the cities you want to display local time for. The web server itself holds none of that. It's all held locally, on your own machine.

However, "tracking cookies" do not just record your interaction with a single site. They are used to carry identifying data in order to recognise what sites you visit. They can also be used to record information when you click on a link on one site, to go to another. That destination site can use the "referring-url" to find out where you came from. All quite nefarious, in some cases.

Anyway, in answer to the initial question, it's impossible to "tell if the cookie a site is using is tracking you". (And, the cookie doesn't track you. A cookie is just a bit of text. It's the site that you visit that tracks you, using information it stores in the cookie.) However, there are some clues. As cookies are actually small text files, you can look at what they hold. It's usually fairly readable. If it isn't, you could be suspicious. Often, it's just trivially encrypted, to allow it to hold punctuation. You may see a messy long "session-id", or some such, which is OK.

The WP site seems to maintain three cookies concerning phpBB2 and MySQL, which I'd guess are fine. There's also a fairly cryptic "user" cookie, which I guess is the session info. Plus "lang" that contains the data "english"! I also have a "phpUserHide" cookie for WP in which my GreaseMonkey script records the WP users I am hiding (four at the moment).

Generally speaking, cookies are innocuous. Even the "tracking cookies" aren't that awful. SpyBot and AdAware don't flag them up, generally. They just report on those that are known to be iffy/intrusive.


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