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Net Marketers Worried as Cookies Lose Effectiveness

CmdrTaco posted about 9 years ago | from the only-a-matter-of-time dept.

Privacy 556

Saint Aardvark writes "The Globe and Mail reports that Internet marketers are worried about the decreasing persistence of cookies. Almost 40% of surfers delete them on a monthly basis, says Jupiter Research -- a fact one marketers attributes to incorrect associations with spyware and privacy invasion. United Virtualities' Flash-based tracking system is mentioned as a possible substitute...though they don't mention the Firefox plugin that removes them, or talk in any meaningful way about why people might want cookies gone. Still, the article is a good overview of life from the marketer's perspective."

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The other side of things. (5, Informative)

XorNand (517466) | about 9 years ago | (#13127504)

Going to play the devil's advocate here, because I know how most of the rest of you feel:

I used to be the web architect for a .com a few years ago. I created a custom metrics program that intergrated into into our (also custom) ecommerce application. To track users, I gave them a single, persistant cookie that contained only a GUID. I used this information to determine our converstion ratio (number of visitors to buyers), figure out the top paths through the site, determine percentage of traffic that was return visitors, etc.

All this stuff was entirely anonymous unless they purchased something from us. But, even then their site history was really only incidently linked to their contact info because we never correlated the data together. Why would I? Knowing that "John Smith" visited our site 3 times a week isn't really any more insightful that knowing that "User #5233258" visited us 3 times a week. The data was only useful in aggregate. For example, knowing that the last page 20% of people visited was our contact page, yet only 10% of those people actually submitted the form would make me reevaluate that page. Maybe the contact form wasn't very user friendly? So, I'd tweak it and then recompare the metrics.

The whole point of my tracking was to better serve our visitors and eventual customers. I wanted to make it easier for them to do what they came to our site to do. Or it would help us target our advertising for effectively. If a lot of people clicking through from a banner ad we had on Site A tended to buy Widget B, we'd decide to modify the banner ad to specifically highlight Widget B. Maybe my attitude is different than most, but I can't be unique. I never looked down upon our visitors, feeling that I was hearding cattle together to be slaughtered, or at least ripped off. Quite the opposite. These visitors wanted to be on my site, elsewise they wouldn't have dropped by. It felt pretty cool that so many people were coming to a site that I was responsible for managing. These people were supplying my paycheck and I had to make sure that they preffered our site to our competitors'. If a lot of visitors deleted that single cookie I used, that made that job much more difficult.

Does that still make me evil?

Re:The other side of things. (-1, Troll)

jez9999 (618189) | about 9 years ago | (#13127528)

Article: -1 Dupe, -1 Flamebait (Most Slashdotters will proceed to bitch on about how it's their machine, and ad companies have NO part in their lives, aside from funding half the services they regularly use).

Re:The other side of things. (2, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | about 9 years ago | (#13127572)

Cookies are fine for storing login information. If a user wants to keep a persistent cookie to make their visits to my site easier they are free to click the box. If they only want a session ID then they can login, use the site, and leave w/o a cookie.

Why do companies think that it is important to not tell a user up front that they are going to get a cookie w/o logging in?

Yeah, they might have been paying your wages and you were just doing your job but I don't see how aggregating statistics need to be done via cookies. Can't you do it through your logs?

MOD ME UP (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13127594)

Thanks,

Re:The other side of things. (3, Insightful)

Miros (734652) | about 9 years ago | (#13127595)

I think you make some really interesting points. From one aspect, you are tracking users by depositing information on their computer. While you claim this information could not be used to identify them elsewhere, it's certainly a concern with less careful web developers at the cookie helm. At the same time, you make an interesting point about how a store owner may want to track how their users use their site, what brings them there, and what they look for. If you think of a real store, the owner would certainly be able to do this easily by simply watching the customers (many do, many even ask if you want help to see what it is that you're looking for). Really, without some tracking mechanism like this, web shops would have to depend entirely on user feedback to determine how easily their customers are finding products on their sites, and how many visitors turn into buyers. I think both of these pieces of information can be quite critical to obtaining success.

Yes, yes it does. (5, Insightful)

Otto (17870) | about 9 years ago | (#13127600)

only incidently linked to their contact info because we never correlated the data together ...
Does that still make me evil?


Yep.

If you have the *ability* to do it, then somebody in your organization eventually will decide that it sounds like a good idea.

This is why all my browsing is cookie-free (or rather, cookies being allowed on a whitelist basis and everything else removed on browser shutdown). I don't want you to have that ability to track what I do on your site for very long. Regardless of whether you use that ability or not, I don't trust you to behave properly with that information. Why should I? I don't know you.

Re:Yes, yes it does. (5, Insightful)

Miros (734652) | about 9 years ago | (#13127658)

If you dont trust the website, why would you ever give it personal information anyway? In the above poster's example, he said that they collected personal information about users when they would buy something (when else?). I'm sure that you're not suggesting that you buy things from websites that you dont trust.... SO, what are you saying exactly? You sound paranoid.

Why not? (2, Insightful)

Otto (17870) | about 9 years ago | (#13127762)

I'm sure that you're not suggesting that you buy things from websites that you dont trust....

Why not? Buying things online means, at worst, giving out info from a credit card. If they prove untrustworthy, then I call up the credit card company and reverse the charge. Trust does not have to be involved to engage in a purchase. You buy from people you don't any basis of trust for all the time.

However, WTF would he need to know I came back to his site later? WTF would he need to know that I visited his site several times over a period of a week and eventually purchased something? Why would he need to know what products I looked at each of those times I visited? That information could be used to build up information about me that I might not want him to have. He doesn't have need for that information, and since I don't trust him, I should attempt to deny him the ability to collect that information.

Furthermore, if he's a marketer, he can place his ads on several sites and track me via cookies from site to site. He can see what sites I frequent, he can see my reading habits... once I buy something from a site, he can track that and correlate all this to my identity.

I'm not paranoid, because I don't think anybody is actually doing this sort of thing at the moment. However, the capability is there. I remove cookies to make this sort of thing that much harder to accomplish. Not because I think they are doing it, but because the potential is there for them to do it.

Re:Why not? (2, Insightful)

Miros (734652) | about 9 years ago | (#13127826)

Do you shop more than once at the same store? gas station? cvs? etc? What is the differnce between a cookie, and a clerk who recognizes your face? I mean, I completly understand your love of privacy, and I believe that it is your right to keep that information to yourself if you want to. But at the same time, your WTFs ask for a why; the why is simple. If they know their customers a little better, they can improve their business, just as any salesman who recognized a regular customer would. But if you feel better always being a stranger then I dont see any problem with that. But ultimatly, most users would probably enjoy the massive improvments in customer expierience that could be achieved using this information.

Re:Yes, yes it does. (2, Insightful)

tgd (2822) | about 9 years ago | (#13127672)

Thats rediculous.

Do you insist the security tapes are turned over when you shop at stores? Do you pay only in cash? Its hard to pay cash online, but presumably you use credit cards. Why do you trust them with your info? Its easy to track where you shop with that.

Do you know the people at your bank? At Visa/MC? The processor? How about the people at the stores you shop at? Do you not use any of those shopper cards at the grocery store (I don't)? No Costco membership, or library card?

You know, you're logged into /., do you trust the people there with knowledge of what stories interest you? Have you SEEN their editing abilities? I'm not sure I would!

Re:Yes, yes it does. (5, Funny)

justforaday (560408) | about 9 years ago | (#13127751)

Have you SEEN their editing abilities?

They have editing abilities?

Re:Yes, yes it does. (0, Flamebait)

snorklewacker (836663) | about 9 years ago | (#13127835)

> No Costco membership, or library card?

Actually, thanks to the USA PAT RIOT act, most libraries wipe your record as soon as you check a book back in.

Tinfoil hat security... (4, Insightful)

MosesJones (55544) | about 9 years ago | (#13127759)


Why should I? I don't know you

Do you know your bank? I mean apart from the front-end office that takes your money?

Do you know VISA, AMEX, Mastercard or whatever credit card you use?

If you have the *ability* to do it, then somebody in your organization eventually will decide that it sounds like a good idea.

And this is paranoia on crack... it assumes that people will ALWAYS do the wrong thing and will ALWAYS try and screw you about, and that customer profiling NEVER results in a better service.

Feel happy in your paranoia, me I just assess risk on a site by site, and business by business basis.

Re:Tinfoil hat security... (1)

Otto (17870) | about 9 years ago | (#13127807)

Feel happy in your paranoia, me I just assess risk on a site by site, and business by business basis.

How in the hell is that any different from what I actually said? I delete all cookies, and whitelist the people I trust to not delete their cookies. Is that any different from "assessing risk on a site by site basis"? Once I feel comfortable that he's not going to abuse this info, then I might whitelist him. Until then, why in the hell would I want to give him the capability to track my browsing easily?

Re:The other side of things. (4, Interesting)

Compholio (770966) | about 9 years ago | (#13127611)

Knowing that "John Smith" visited our site 3 times a week isn't really any more insightful that knowing that "User #5233258" visited us 3 times a week.

Then why isn't user 123.456.789.012 good enough?

Dynamic IP's. (5, Informative)

KitesWorld (901626) | about 9 years ago | (#13127719)

How many visitors are on an old dial up connection or connecting via proxy? I.P. numbers simply aren't a reliable way of providing usage statistics.

Re:Dynamic IP's. (2, Interesting)

Compholio (770966) | about 9 years ago | (#13127841)

How many visitors are on an old dial up connection or connecting via proxy? I.P. numbers simply aren't a reliable way of providing usage statistics.

Well, then get the marketers to push for IPv6 - which has absolutely no support for dynamic addresses. Plus, with a delete-age of almost 40% I imagine that using your IP is just as effective as a cookie.

Re:The other side of things. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13127753)

Because user 123.456.789.012 might be 1000 computers behind NAT.

Re:The other side of things. (1)

TERdON (862570) | about 9 years ago | (#13127812)

Actually, it can't. That's not a correct IP. It's correct form is x.x.x.x (as above), where x255 (not as above).

Re:The other side of things. (5, Funny)

Loonacy (459630) | about 9 years ago | (#13127848)

Because IP addresses don't go that high, duh.
(Although I completely agree with the general idea.)

Re:The other side of things. (4, Informative)

Enigma_Man (756516) | about 9 years ago | (#13127855)

user 17.123.23.5 might be 30,000 computers, that's why. IP addresses are not a good way of tracking individual users because of network routing / NAT etc.

-Jesse

Re:The other side of things. (2, Interesting)

afidel (530433) | about 9 years ago | (#13127613)

If you really ARE looking at agregate statistics then how does deleting the cookie really impact your analysis, other than slightly inflating your unique visitors numbers? I would think that things like best path through the site could be determined from session cookies, no need for them to be sustained. If you want to track return purchasers just associate their account with a cookie and if they return to purchase again just reassign them their original GUID or combine the GUIDs into one trackable metric. I don't think tracking me makes you evil, and in fact if I actually use a sites resources like customizable pages I am unlikely to remove their cookies. I personally only block cookies from cross site marketers that are trying to obtain some kind of privacy invading profile of me and my habits.

Re:The other side of things. (1)

killercoder (874746) | about 9 years ago | (#13127643)

Let me answer.........short answer........no it doesn't make you evil - it makes you lazy.

The exact same thing can be accomplished without a cookie by evaluting your logs and reviewing what pages are requested in what order from what IP.

Cookies by themselves are open to abuse by people that don't understand their implications.

Cookies won't go away, but I refuse to use them

Re:The other side of things. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13127790)

IP address are no good because a number of ISPs use proxy servers unbeknown to the person browsing. Been there, done that. Wasted a lot of time on it :(

Re:The other side of things. (2, Interesting)

mikes.song (830361) | about 9 years ago | (#13127655)

The problem is when this info is used to generate a price.

So you don't know that John visited, but you do know that "User #5233258" visited three times and looked at the same item each time. He must be interested. Lets use that info to charge "User #5233258" 15% more on his fourth visit.

Oops, he didn't buy. Lets correlate that data and sale it to the government.

Oops, looks like the hackers already broke in, correlated the data, and sold it on ICR.

Re:The other side of things. (1)

sentanta (619440) | about 9 years ago | (#13127659)

Keep in mind that it is possible to tie that anonymous cookie back to a real-life customer (with a set-up slightly different from what you described), and that still is not a bad thing if you are visiting a site like New Egg. If they saw that you had been browsing a Digital Camera page, maybe their next direct mail piece will be a coupon for a Digital Camera rather than a Notebook. I understand that there are some disreputable sites out there, but to me helping companies learn a little bit about my interests is a good thing. I am not deleting my Google cookies because they are at least attempting to personalize their search based on my interests; that is exactly what I want these companies to be doing.

Re:The other side of things. (2)

temojen (678985) | about 9 years ago | (#13127678)

I have no problem with one site tracking my motions through their services. What bothers me is services that track me through multiple unrelated sites, some of which have my personal information on file.

Re:The other side of things. (2, Interesting)

Saven Marek (739395) | about 9 years ago | (#13127680)

Yes. Simply put, my sense of privacy says that I do not wish to be tracked, in any way shape or form.

Your presumption that it is OK to do so and that because you want to make your site better you somehow have the right to presume that is arrogant and misled. I'm an anonymous visitor and I wish to remain anonymous. I do not want you recording any information on my IP, me, my browser, cookies, where else I've been on your site and how long I was there. I do not want to be given a customer number or an entry in a database. I do not want you to keep any record of where I go, whatever label you might put me under.

Disobeying my wishes is disrespecting your customers, and you wouldn't have a returning customer in me.

Re:The other side of things. (4, Informative)

Enigma_Man (756516) | about 9 years ago | (#13127691)

I have a similar story. I design / manage the website for a company, and we had a reasonably big problem with using cookies for internal "tracking" purposes. Not to track customers in the "evil" way, but just to keep track of things in their shopping cart, and other similar info to what you stated. The problem we had was with people having cookies shut off. At first, we'd just not track them at all, and the shopping cart would ask them to turn on their cookies, and gave some quick directions, and links to detailed directions for different browsers. A lot of people seemed to be totally turned off by this, based on the amount of people that read the instructions and then didn't even start shopping.

What we ended up doing was using alternate methods for tracking users as they browse around our site, mainly using links with generated tails attached to them that were unique to each visitor. Like, instead of linking to index.cfm in the navigation window, It would be index.cfm?user=5012345, and we'd keep track internally. Obviously this isn't a safe use for a shopping cart type thing, but we used other methods to secure that.

Mainly, I just wanted to say that there are methods other than cookies that work just as well.

-Jesse

Re:The other side of things. (2, Informative)

digidave (259925) | about 9 years ago | (#13127845)

Congratulations on inventing a less useful form of session variables :)

Re:The other side of things. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13127702)

No it doesn't. I'm gonna jump right in and reply because like the rest of us that have written CGI we have to face the problem of session tracking. When your business requires that the customer give you a lot of information you cant upset them by asking them the same stuff every time they use the site. Some kind of tracking ouside the session is very desirable, nay essential for certain website ideas to work at all without logging in.

The problem is that we let marketeers get their hands on this technology. Who was the bright spark that told some PHB you could track customers habits and browsing patterns with cookies. Control freaks cant help themselves, cookies have been abused and now we lose them as a tool for serious problem solving. Whatever the replacement, as long as marketeering Golgafrinchans get their mits on it then it will be abused to achieve unsavoury aims and people will disable it. There is no technological problem here, only one of human nature and the lesson of not giving access to powerful technologies to idiots.

Re:The other side of things. (1)

danzona (779560) | about 9 years ago | (#13127722)

I have to vote that you are more evil than not evil.

Of all the things you list, the only one that requires you to write a cookie is to be able to say that "John Smith" visited our site 3 times a week.

How much value does that add to the user? Speaking for myself, I rejected cookies because I felt that any value that this might add was more than negated by cookie abuse.

Re:The other side of things. The Reason (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | about 9 years ago | (#13127794)

Does that still make me evil?

Yes.

The reason for yes is because you are advocating sane uses for cookies. The marketers complaining about the loss of their cookies aren't complaining because they can't tweak their site as easily. They're complaining because they feel -- rightly or wrongly -- that they are more effective when they can track customers regardless of how the customers themselves feel about it!

The customers are voting with their feet, or in this case their Cookie Cutters. 40% are already so annoyed at how the Internet treats them that they delete their cookies at least once a month in the hope that this will reduce the insulting behavior at least a bit. And if 40% are actually doing it, you can bet that more would if they knew effectively how to do so.

So yes you are evil for advocating the keeping of a tool that is being misused to annoy many customers while seeking out gulible ones to take advantage of. It has got to be an low-numbered rule of business that you don't succeed by annoying your customers so much that they attempt to change their behavior to avoid further such annoyances.

You got your answer.

Re:The other side of things. (1)

Kjella (173770) | about 9 years ago | (#13127805)

But, even then their site history was really only incidently linked to their contact info because we never correlated the data together. Why would I? Knowing that "John Smith" visited our site 3 times a week isn't really any more insightful that knowing that "User #5233258" visited us 3 times a week. The data was only useful in aggregate.

Except then you take your list of customers, and sell those lists for targeted spam (or just a valid address), or let third party sites use that cookie to deliver targeted ads, and you see that this data has value, not only in the aggregate. And the more details (viewing habits, purchase histroy) you have, the more valuable. Many companies saw this and tried to turn a profit on it, at the same time building up what in aggregate is a massive invasion of privacy. To stop that, my cookies expire when I close my browser (except a few perms like my slashdot cookie). Just because you never correlated data doesn't mean others didn't.

Maybe now... (2, Interesting)

Miros (734652) | about 9 years ago | (#13127513)

Maybe now marketing companies will try to discover new ways of generating usage statistics beyond catching, tagging, releasing, and tracking innocent internet users via cookies. This could be an excellent opportunity for innovation in the space resulting in better privacy and better statistics.

floto (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13127518)

hola vengo a flotar

Sadly (2, Insightful)

guildsolutions (707603) | about 9 years ago | (#13127525)

If someone has money, you have no privacy.

Its a mircale that marketing firms are not claiming to 'own' the cookies and sue you if you delete them for destruction of property.

Hmmm (2, Interesting)

DarthVeda (569302) | about 9 years ago | (#13127605)

Seems like there was some lobbying effort once upon a time to make them the company's property. Obviously it did not get anywhere. Or maybe I'm dreaming, but I could swear I remember something along these lines in the past...

Ah here it is. (1)

DarthVeda (569302) | about 9 years ago | (#13127684)

HR 2281 [vt.edu]

I assume this has long since been defeated. Otherwise it would "prevent computer users from protecting their privacy online by removing cookies from their computer. Additionally, if cookies are used as a copyright protection system it would be unlawful to manufacture a device that removes the cookie from the system."

Re:Sadly (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13127624)

I own my computer. Your right to store 'your' cookie ends with my right to do with my hardware as I see fit.

Marketers are asshats who believe the world owes them a stage.

Re:Sadly (1)

tktk (540564) | about 9 years ago | (#13127663)

Yeah...and then we sue them back for tresspassing on private property.

it begins... (1)

SolusSD (680489) | about 9 years ago | (#13127781)

great... I hope no marketing firms read this thread.

Re:Sadly (1)

Nos. (179609) | about 9 years ago | (#13127820)

If someone has money, you have no privacy. Like most things, depends where you are. We have pretty strong privacy legislation in Canada.

Its a mircale that marketing firms are not claiming to 'own' the cookies and sue you if you delete them for destruction of property.
Again, probably depends where you live, but I doubt it could happen in most countries. This example is about a physical piece of property, but I'm fairly certain that same laws would apply to cookies (IANAL). I came home one day to find a sample bottle of some hair or skin product in my mailbox along with contact information for a local sales agent. I checked, my wife was interested, so I threw out the contact information and through the bottle in the bathroom and forgot about it. A week or so later, along comes this sales agent asking if we tried it. I said no. She said we either had to pay her $20 for the product or return it to her. Under Canadian law, I am under no obligation to either return or pay for the product since it was placed in my posession (my mailbox) without any agreements to any such terms.

Misleading article (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13127526)

Cookies are delicious delicacies.

Re:Misleading article (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13127840)

Cookies are delicious delicacies.

As opposed to redundant redundancies?

Flash cookies (1)

vandon (233276) | about 9 years ago | (#13127535)

Didn't macromedia already put out an article on how to disable 'flash cookies'?
Just wait until they pay MS a bunch of money and IE comes with a cookie-type system you can't disable.

Re:Flash cookies (2, Insightful)

TheSloth2001ca (893282) | about 9 years ago | (#13127660)

Go Go Gadget Firefox!!!

Incorrect association? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13127536)

Since the marketeers want to use their cookies to spy on me, I'm not sure what's incorrect about those associations...

Monthly basis? (1)

superpulpsicle (533373) | about 9 years ago | (#13127540)

Try getting rid of cookies on a daily basis. I know of at least 2 people who used the "saved password" feature in IE6, and had their password stolen. I tell them to first use Firefox. Then I tell them to never save anything. Leave the smallest cookie/cache possible. Delete at will.

Re:Monthly basis? (1)

AutopsyReport (856852) | about 9 years ago | (#13127711)

How is Firefox better than IE in terms of the "saved password" feature? Firefox still prompts you to save your passwords for any site you enter one in. Whether using IE or Firefox, this is an independent security issue of the browser being used.

Re:Monthly basis? (1)

utuk99 (656026) | about 9 years ago | (#13127733)

Every time you close your browser is even better. That is one of the first options in Fire Fox that I set after I install it.

So wait... (4, Insightful)

DrEldarion (114072) | about 9 years ago | (#13127542)

Hrm? They track you through the cookies, yet comparisons to "spyware" are unjustified?

Re:So wait... (1)

linzeal (197905) | about 9 years ago | (#13127729)

I forgot the name of the program but there was an extension early on in firefox that randomly changed properties of cookies known to be used for tracking. Anyone remember what I'm talking about?

Personally... (3, Funny)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | about 9 years ago | (#13127548)

I blame the Atkins craze for the sudden diminishing of cookies. On a side note, as a general rule, I'm pretty happy with any behavior that makes marketer's lives more difficult. Just one of those rules of thumb.

Re:Personally... (1)

Short Circuit (52384) | about 9 years ago | (#13127770)

I blame weight-loss craze in general for the proliferation of worms...

Cookies are good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13127549)

People can complain all they want, but cookies are necessary to make surfing experiences less problematic. I'd rather be able to come back to a site and have it know my preferred settings, than have to always revert back to some default state.

Most people crying about privacy issues are just Chicken Littles.

Re:Cookies are good (2, Interesting)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | about 9 years ago | (#13127697)

People can complain all they want, but cookies are necessary to make surfing experiences less problematic.

Oh yeah? I have my Mozilla configured to ask me, if a site wants to install a cookie, whether I want to let it or not. Usually, I just click DENY more or less automatically. Once in a while though, I do that and a realize the site doesn't work without cookies so I go and explicitely re-enable cookies for it.

How often does that happen? I'd say about 10 times this year, no more. And I can tell you, I click on the DENY button about 50 times per day, because just about every website owner and his dog wants to set cookies.

So, "cookies are necessary" my hiney. I don't buy that...

Let me guess.... (1)

snofla (236898) | about 9 years ago | (#13127551)

the death of the Internet is imminent?

Incorrect Association? (1)

goldspider (445116) | about 9 years ago | (#13127571)

"...a fact one marketers attributes to incorrect associations with spyware and privacy invasion."

Maybe I don't get it (as I'm not a marketeer) but I'd say that associating tracking cookies with privacy invasion is quite appropriate.

Re:Incorrect Association? (1)

3CRanch (804861) | about 9 years ago | (#13127616)

maybe the difference could be that they are tracking/monitoring/whatever your usage on their site vs. spyware that tracks your overall usage.

I'm not sure if I'd mind them knowing that I prefer page X on their site. Its a lot different then spyware watching all my activities and generalizing my usage for potential advertisers to exploit.

Don't delete cookies (5, Informative)

i.r.id10t (595143) | about 9 years ago | (#13127577)

I don't delete 'em. I log in to various sites that use them (that I want to use them), then I close the browser and then make the cookies.txt file read-only (chmod or chattr, or attrib). Get the benefit for sites I want the customizations on, don't get the tracking

Other than login "convenience" (1)

raile (610069) | about 9 years ago | (#13127583)

What's a user's impetus to keep cookies around for more than a session? And if everyone followed security best-practices, they wouldn't even do that.

The fine grained site opt-in/session-based control of cookie lifespan has been let out of most browsers' Pandora's Box, and I can't see it going back in.

Spyware (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13127598)

Many less technical people make no differentiation between cookies and spyware. When you are told you need to run three anti-spyware programs to get most, but still not all, of the spyware out afflicted users just get very intolerant. People are changing their habits because of spyware, that's how sick they are of it.

Thanks (1)

vivekg (795441) | about 9 years ago | (#13127606)

Thanks! I just deleted all cookies from FireFox :D

However, I find cookies very dangerousness on Public computer located in cyber cafes and libraries; so it is best to delete them.

Re:Thanks (1)

appavi (679094) | about 9 years ago | (#13127808)

Actually you dont have to manually remove the cookies. If you setup the option of Keep Cookies until I Close Firefox then Firefox automatically clears the cookies when you close the browser. I have this option setup.

In Firefox 1.1 has an option called Sanitize. Sanitize is invoked it clears the cookies, cache, history, saved form/password info. ya you can customize the items you want sanitize. you can also set the firefox to execute Sanitize option whenever you exit firefox.

Flash tracking? like hell (4, Insightful)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | about 9 years ago | (#13127610)

Flash-based tracking system is mentioned

It doesn't seem to have dawned on marketers that many, many people already associate Flash with "annoying advertising", "high CPU usage for nothing" and "general nuisance", and that it is disabled in many browsers as a consequence.

Speaking for myself, Flash is disabled. When I need it occasionally (that is, when I happen to want to play this [princeofpersiagame.com] about once a year), I re-enable it. But otherwise, I've yet to see a website sporting Flash that doesn't use it for useless eye-candy or advertising.

Re:Flash tracking? like hell (1)

metternich (888601) | about 9 years ago | (#13127825)

I've always felt that Flash was very aptly named. Annoying things that "flash" on your screen... No thanks.

That's not the intended purpose of cookies (5, Informative)

dpbsmith (263124) | about 9 years ago | (#13127612)

Cookies were intended to allow sites to serve users by providing a convenient method of preserving client-side state.

They're intended to do legitimate things like let a site remember who you are so you don't need to log in every time you visit it, or assign a transaction code to make it easy for things like shopping carts to work... and prevent you from double-ordering if you click the "Order" button twice.

They were never intended for the purposes to which marketers have misappropriated them.

It's just another example of information being ostensibly collected for a purpose the user approves of, and then being secretly used for purposes the user is unaware of and might not approve of, and it justifiably makes people angry.

That's not the intended purpose of my daughter (1)

interiot (50685) | about 9 years ago | (#13127739)

And PSP UMD disks were never intended to illegitmate things like porn. And PSP was never intended to play MAME. People should never misappropriate things, they should only do things that are strictly in accordance with the original author's world view.

Marketer's perspective? (0, Redundant)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | about 9 years ago | (#13127620)

a good overview of life from the marketer's perspective

I'll be interested when the overview of life from the marketer's perspective is "OH GOD IT BURNS IT BURNS MAKE IT STOP PLZ!!"

Ahhh...Jupiter Research (1)

NadNad (550015) | about 9 years ago | (#13127625)

Nothing warms the cockles of my heart like hearing a spammer bleating about how it's the user's fault a broken model of electronic commerce isn't working.

My Hosts File Thanks You (1)

no soup for you (607826) | about 9 years ago | (#13127633)

The same United Virtualities that caused me to enter into my hosts file because it kept crashing firefox (1.03 with FlashBlock 1.2.9)?

127.0.0.1 sp21.unitedvirtualities.com

I can't wait.

Marketers should have to work for their money (1)

one_who_uses_unix (68992) | about 9 years ago | (#13127634)

I think that his complaints are mostly on target - the problem is with his perspective. He thinks that the users "owe" him the ability to effortlessly track them.

This is simply a variation on an ancient marketing problem. How do I get people to see what I want to sell and convince them that they need it. The only difference is the technical context.

Belly size (1, Funny)

AutopsyReport (856852) | about 9 years ago | (#13127650)

Judging by the size of the average American belly, I can't see how cookies have lost their effectiveness.

DNC List (1)

DisasterDoctor (775095) | about 9 years ago | (#13127651)

How do I signup on the Federal Do Not Cookie List?

Re:DNC List (1)

Compholio (770966) | about 9 years ago | (#13127778)

How do I signup on the Federal Do Not Cookie List?

Actually, such a thing (in reverse) would probably make a good Firefox plugin. We'd need someone(s) with enough bandwidth to host the global list of evil cookie users but then when people report someone as abusing the cookie capability everyone would get to benefit.

Deceptive ratings (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13127654)

Still, the article is a good overview of life from the marketer's perspective.

I came to this website in good faith based on its publicised Immature rating, and now I find that clicking a link can unlock disgusting insights into a marketer's perspective. Children reading this could become desensitised to marketing and then go on a marketing spree themselves. Wait until Hillary hears about this.

Good Thing (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | about 9 years ago | (#13127674)

that Internet marketers are worried about the decreasing persistence of cookies.

And this is a good thing, make no mistake! I don't exist simply to be prey for marketers, regardles of how they may want to feel about it! Anything that disrupts them is good.

Sigh, when will marketers actually read Kotler? (0, Offtopic)

TERdON (862570) | about 9 years ago | (#13127675)

Standard marketing litterature at the universities:

Philip Kotler et al: Principles of Marketing.

There is ONE thing you should learn of that 850 pages book:
4P: Product, Price, Promotion, Place .

If you don't have all of them, you aren't going to get your product sold - unless the rest of the market is even worse. When are actually "marketers" trying to get me to buy their products with something else than Promotion (ie commercials)?

------------

#ifdef Flame_RIAA
The record companies are among the worst here. They only have one right, and three totally wrong. They do get the "promotion" part. But the other three...

Product: we want decent non-DRM digital files, not plastic pieces or DRM shit.
Price: Too expensive. Pirating is gratis (except for the unusual catch of **AA).
Place: You insensitive record company clods, we want to buy our music online, with instant delivery through download!
#endif

Marketer's perspective? (1)

Migraineman (632203) | about 9 years ago | (#13127681)

"Life from the marketer's perspective" goes something like this, perhaps?

Exploit others ...
Exploit others ...
Exploit others ...
Gotta pee ...
Exploit others ...
Oooh! Something shiny! ...

a bit different (1)

3CRanch (804861) | about 9 years ago | (#13127703)

Maybe the difference could be that they are tracking/monitoring/whatever your usage on their site vs. spyware that tracks your overall usage. I'm not sure if I'd mind them knowing that I prefer page X on their site. Its a lot different then spyware watching all my activities and generalizing my usage for potential advertisers to exploit.

Cookies are a SOMETIMES thing! -- Cookie Monster (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13127727)

Even the Cookie Monster on Sesame Street has been forced to admit, "Cookies are a SOMETIMES thing!"

The spyware-cookies connection (1)

kawika (87069) | about 9 years ago | (#13127728)

Most antispyware utilities also remove tracking cookies by default, and most users never change the defaults, so tracking cookies are being removed. If there wasn't so much truly dangerous spyware out there today, the nuisance caused only by tracking cookies wouldn't be the effort to fix. But as long as users bought something that cleans it all up they're going to use it.

Also, unscrupulous antispyware companies are sometimes using tracking cookies to scare users into buying something. Just put "spyware" into Google and look at the ads, then run one of their free scans. The more they detect, the more they scare users, and the better their chances of making a sale.

What it comes down to for both spyware and cookies is the same thing. What is the benefit TO THE USER of having this stuff on their computer? If there is none then it should be gone and the marketeers should figure out a better incentive.

Fun with Cookies (5, Interesting)

RagingChipmunk (646664) | about 9 years ago | (#13127732)

Every once in awhile I like to toy with the cookies. I'll edit their content - flip some bytes, add lots of corrupt text, delete sections. Occasionally, I'll flip all the cookies to "Read Only". Its fun to see a site occasionally puke from bogus cookie data.

Isn't that the point? (1)

tuxedobob (582913) | about 9 years ago | (#13127735)

I thought the point of deleting cookies was to screw up marketing and people leaving pieces of themselves on your computer that you don't want?

Pity the poor suitwankers. (1)

lheal (86013) | about 9 years ago | (#13127752)

[suitwank]
It's tough enough getting rich without people hiding. Don't those cookie-deleters know that it's all about relationships? What do they think, we'll sell information about them to a spammer? We use only legitimate email marketers.
[/suitwank]

I don't want a relationship with an online vendor. I don't want a relationship with a car salesman. I just want to be shown a product and given a price. I'll decide if I want it.

I don't mind good service, but that's not what the suitwankers [wikipedia.org] want to do with my information. They uniformly want to sell me something I don't want. Remember what I bought so you can fix it if it breaks or I want an upgrade, but don't try to sell me something just because I bought something else.

Tony Soprano said it best. (2, Funny)

base3 (539820) | about 9 years ago | (#13127764)

"That cookie shit makes me nervous."

Well (1)

cmdrTacyo (899875) | about 9 years ago | (#13127788)

This is straight whack you idiots cookies are just sugar and chocolate (re more sugar)

So I ate some cookies
Bought'em with my winnings from the bookie
Made a honest living cause you a crook-G
And you'll mod me down cuz you shook-G

I backup my cookies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13127789)

I never understood the paranoia surrounding cookies.

Without cookies, browsing the web would be slow frustrating. I dont want to enter my pw everytime i read slashdot for example. So it's saved, and has been since 1998 or 99.

Everytime I backup files, my cookies are also backed up. I have cookies from as early as 1997.

Occasionally i'll go through them and delete the ones i no longer need or the ones that belong to sites that no longer exist. I'll also delete ad server tracking cookies (although i rarely have any since i filter all web sites and strip them of ads), but to delete all your cookies once a month seems insane.

Then again, some people format their computers once a year or so and could care less about starting over, whereas I have obsessive compulsive disorder and cant stand change so I take screenshots my desktop and different menus and printouts of directory listings, etc so that whenever i do start over i can get it looking EXACTLY the same as it did before, even if that means creating empty directories just to keep the tree looking the same

ok maybe im crazy so my points dont matter to most people, but dammit cookies arent evil!

"Marketers Worried As Cookies Lose Effectiveness" (1)

pyst-off (901249) | about 9 years ago | (#13127791)

Earlier this week, I read Nabisco is having the same problem with entire batches of Oreos.

Self-contradictory (1)

Goalie_Ca (584234) | about 9 years ago | (#13127800)

Almost 40% of surfers delete them on a monthly basis, says Jupiter Research -- a fact one marketers attributes to incorrect associations with spyware and privacy invasion.

We really want to track where you've been but IT'S not spyware or privacy invasion. Really!

Cookies have their place... (2, Informative)

pj-allmod (822913) | about 9 years ago | (#13127809)

...just ask sessions. I think there needs to be a term defining the difference between reality and the responses on Slashdot. Of course computer nerds are going to be up in arms about using cookies to track info, the rest of the planet, however, is wondering why a computer site has an article referring to baked goods.

Why do they need to persist until 2035? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13127815)

Some cookies are reasonable to accept because they actually do help keep track of client-side status during a website visit. Or even repeated visits. A cookie which persists more than a few months or even a few weeks probably outlives any utility as a status tool. Why, then, do websites continue to try to get me to accept cookies which have five or ten or even thiry year lifespans? I automatically reject cookies which are set to live longer than I probably will.

get your hands out of MY cookie jar! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13127823)


Lately, however, the effectiveness of cookies is being threatened, and experts say that could have a damaging effect on on-line marketing in general.

No, the effectiveness of cookies is being threatened by your using them for a purpose they were never intended -- stalking me. I won't have it.

They're not YOUR cookies, they're MINE. The ability to leave a "tiny text file" on my computer was put there for MY benefit, not yours.

Cookies hold passwords for some sites. My cookies holding my passwords. Others hold information about how I want the page displayed.

Using my cookies to sleazily stalk me for the purpose of marketing isn't why I've enabled them.

"The more people that delete cookies, and the more frequently that cookies are deleted, the more it will adversely affect campaign performance," echoes Jay Aber, president of ad network 24/7 Canada Inc.

So tell me, Jay, why should I give a flying fuck? Why should I not jump for joy at this news?


Mr. Aber notes that publishers and advertisers primarily use cookies to accurately measure a campaign's reach and effectiveness, limit the number of times a consumer sees a specific ad, and deliver "targeted" advertising to users based on their surfing habits and preferences.


I don't want to be measured. As to "limiting the number of times a consumer sees a specific ad," that's just laughable. How many times have I seen the mortgage dacghsun(sp)?


According to Mr. Peterson, the increase in cookie deletion can largely be attributed to consumers associating what he calls "harmless little text files" with spyware and the invasion of their privacy on-line.


So he has one brain cell left. Look, Peterson, we don't WANT to be tracked, targeted, or stalked for marketing "their surfing habits and preferences."

Get the hell OUT of my computer.

"...places Macromedia Flash MX files on users' computers that can't be as easily deleted"

That's just plain evil. Burn in hell, scum.

Proportionality, anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13127831)

Amount of porn on the internet ~ People downloading it ~ Amount of cookies being deleted on a monthly basis

Too Bad (4, Insightful)

kenp2002 (545495) | about 9 years ago | (#13127852)

I hear many people complaining about EVIL marketers. Most marketing companies are rather decent people trying to find you the customer who wants their product. A VERY small % of marketing companies are shady info-whoring bastards. Targetted marking is a rather nice thing as far as I am concerned. When offered to provide interests, and the resulting ads, I find myself visiting the link. WHAT I HATE is misdirected market, you know assholes that call you about new siding on your house when you live in an apartment, or my favorite (being a married old fart) getting ads for tapons and crap like that (because the wife occassionally does some surfing under my ID).

It's too bad a small group, as usual, ruins it for the majority.

too long expiration dates (1)

SuperBanana (662181) | about 9 years ago | (#13127854)

What pisses me off the most about cookies is that they accumulate. Why?

Take a look in your cookies pref page / file. Look at the expiration dates. I've found a huge percentage of sites, especially advertisers, use a date at least 10 years in the future.

I'm unlikely to be using the same computer in 3-4 years, much less 10. Some sites even go for "2040". WTF? What's the point? If I don't visit your site within 6 months, I'm unlikely to gripe too much about having to reenter a username/password...so why are you making my system store a cookie for you for a couple decades?

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