What we’re about to say has nothing to do with anything, so feel free to use the comments for an Intellectual Free Fire Zone.
For the past few days your Curmudgeon has been waging a private — and futile, and rather silly — war on cookies. You know what they are, pesky pieces of code that every website you visit somehow manages to send to your computer. And the things stay on your computer!
Well, we’re not gonna put up with it, so we’re on a “virtually no cookies” campaign. We permit only about a half-dozen to remain on our computer — they’re from WordPress and a few other places we’re usually logged into. Except for those, we’ve been deleting all other cookies after visiting a website.
It’s not difficult to do. Using Firefox, one must first click on “Tools,” then “Options,” and then “Remove individual cookies.” You’ll see a list — probably a very long list, so you’ll have to scroll down and delete them one at a time. But be careful not to hit the “Remove All cookies” button because then you’ll have to log in again to whatever sites you regularly use. (Yes, we’ve done that.)
We have no idea what horrors really lurk out there on the internet, because we only visit university websites, science journals, newspapers, reliable reference sources, and only a few other blogs — including a handful of creationist sites. But even with our limited choices, we frequently accumulate a dozen or more cookies after clicking on only a couple of sites. It’s a constant struggle to stay cookie-free.
What we’ve discovered during this peculiar campaign is that some websites are relatively well-behaved. NCSE, for example only adds a cookie for their own site, plus one more — presumably to track when a visitor returns, so that he’s not counted as yet another unique visitor for the day. That’s understandable, but we’ve been routinely deleting even those cookies after every visit. Does that mess up their statistics? Maybe, but it’s trivial, so we don’t worry about it.
Other sites behave differently. WorldNetDaily adds six cookies. The Time Cube — which we almost never visit but we did just now to see how they behave — adds no cookies at all. That place is unique in many ways. We wouldn’t be able to determine any of this if we weren’t almost free of cookies before visiting a site.
But some websites — and remember, we only visit “safe” places — always add a ton of cookies, including several of these: ad.attitude.com, adtoany.com, addthis.com, ad.auditude.com, apis.google.com, badge.stumbleupon.com, disqus.com, doubleclick.net, gravity.com, outbrain.com, po.st, quantserve.com, scorecardresearch.com, sharethis.com, statcounter.com, and static.addtoany.com.
Those are the most common cookies we encounter that aren’t specific to a particular website. Some are related to advertizing (which we never see because we use an ad-blocker) but we really don’t know what they do, so we ruthlessly delete them after every visit.
And there’s more. After visiting some sites, cookies from unrelated and unvisited sites often show up, like: aol.com, linkedin.com, tumbleupon.com, twitter.com, and youtube.com. We have no idea why websites add those cookies. The internet is a mystery.
What does this mean? Probably nothing — nothing at all. Will we continue our crusade against cookies? Maybe, we’re not sure. Anyway, that’s all we have to say on the subject, so let the Free Fire Zone begin.
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