Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Stats And Third Party Cookies

The controversy about "third party cookies" in general, and about Google Stats and their use of "third party cookies" in particular, never ends. Some Bloggers do not yet understand the issue.
I do not allow third party cookies. I do not believe that third party cookies should be involved, at all. Blogger needs a simple setting in Stats that say "Do not track my visits."
And here is another case where people look at a forest, and ignore the trees.

Blogger created a simple setting saying "Do not track my visits.". Since the vast majority of your readers have Internet service that provides a dynamic IP address, the setting is stored on your computer, so your computer can be identified. The setting, stored on your computer, has 2 advantages.
  1. Even with your computers IP address constantly changing, your computer will be consistently identified as your computer.
  2. Since you, reading your blog, contribute but a small amount of traffic against your blog, your readers computers don't waste time loading a script that would do nothing but ask if this computer is the owners computer (and which again, because of dynamic IP addressing, would be inaccurate).

So, the setting "Do not track my visits.", and "This is my computer." are hosted in cookies, stored on your computer. But wait, there's more.

The cookies that say "Do not track my visits.", and "This is my computer.", are created in a script running under "blogger.com". We use "blogger.com" to run scripts that let us setup and maintain our blogs, and control our settings about how we maintain our blogs. We need to trust "blogger.com", and to allow "blogger.com" scripts, that store cookies, to run on our computers.

We (and other bloggers) publish blogs to "blogspot.com" (or whatever non BlogSpot domain we may publish to). Since our blogs contain code which we (and other bloggers) may create and modify, we should not trust "blogspot.com" (or whatever) to the same extent as we trust "blogger.com". We do not allow "blogspot.com" scripts to run, on our computers.

So, we trust "blogger.com", but we do not trust "blogspot.com" (or whatever). Blogger uses multiple domains, to keep our computers safe.

The cookies that say "Do not track my visits.", and "This is my computer.", are created in a script running under "blogger.com", and are read in a second script running under "blogspot.com" (or whatever). These are third party cookies.

If you block third party cookies on your computer, your computer cannot read these cookies. When you view your blog, from your computer, Stats will be unable to read these cookies, and your visits will be counted. Similarly, if you occasionally - or regularly - clear cookies, you'll also have this problem.

This is simply not a problem which Blogger caused, nor is it one which Blogger can fix. This is a problem which you caused - and which only you can fix, when you enable third party cookies, and review your practices for clearing cookies.

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3 comments:

Jan said...

The "do not track my pageviews" button doesn't work.

Mycologista said...

HOW TO FIX IT is what we don't understand!

John Nieuwsma said...

I find stats incredibly helpful. Personally I have had no problems so far.