Monday, December 31, 2012

Stats And The "Don't track ..." Option, Used With Multiple Browsers And Shared Computers

The controversial nature of Stats and the "Don't track ..." option, which requires a third party cookie to enable the option to work, continues.

Even with all possible cookie filter properly set, and a consistent cookie clearing policy established, some blog owners persist in reporting that there are problems with Stats inconsistently observing the setting to not track their pageviews.

Not all blog owners realise that the Stats "Don't track ..." cookie is unique to each different browser - except when cookies are shared between computers.

Some browsers use cookies which are maintained as part of the personal profile, on the local computer - and some people may have cookies which are shared between multiple computers.
  • Computers which are shared by multiple people may have multiple sets of cookies.
  • Computers which are part of a local network may have a single set of cookies, per person, shared across multiple computers.
  • Some blog owners may use multiple Blogger accounts.
Each of these possibilities will create differing cases where the Stats "Don't track ..." cookie, like other cookies, may or may not be present when a given person is surfing to the blog in question - and which will cause Blogger to count (or to not count) pageviews from the browser being used.

Some computers are owned by, and used by, multiple people. The operating system will encourage each different person to maintain her / his own settings and styles, and to identify herself / himself when starting the computer. The settings and styles are maintained in a personal profile - and most browsers maintain the cookies as part of the personal profile. If two people, who share a computer, also share a blog, each person will have to select "Don't track ..." consistently - or face having inconsistent counting of pageviews, when reading the blog.

Some local networks, where various computers are shared and used locally, may use profiles which are maintained in common between the various computers. Changes to the profile (including cookies), made on one computer, may transfer to other computers. Clearing or setting cookies on one computer may affect presence of the same cookies, on another computer - and may again cause inconsistent counting of pageviews, against blogs involved.

Some blog owners may use multiple Blogger accounts. Similar to the issue of blogs shared by different people / used on shared computers, blogs read on computers used by people with multiple Blogger accounts will have the "Don't track ..." cookie present, irregularly. This, too, will cause inconsistent counting of pageviews.

Finally, as noted, clearing of cookies will affect presence of the "Don't track ..." cookie - and will cause unexpected counting of pageviews. This inconsistency will be more common with computers shared by multiple owners, and with computers shared across a local network.

Many blog owners use only one browser, and one computer - and own and use their own computer, exclusively. Any blog owner, noting inconsistent effectiveness of the "Don't track ..." option, however, may do well to at least consider the above issues, occasionally.

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