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A Cookie Is Simply Data, Used By A Website

If you're a repeat customer at some restaurants or shops, you may notice that your return status is appreciated by the staff.

Maybe the coffee shop will make your coffee extra strong, or the waiter will bring you your meal a little more promptly, because they recognise you - and want you to know that they appreciate your patronage.

As you surf your favourite blogs and websites, you may notice similar treatment. Being recognised as a return "customer" is frequently flattering, and may encourage you to return yet a third, fourth, ... time.

Out of the millions of Internet "customers", your favourite blog or website recognises you - and makes your visit a little less impersonal. But how does this happen?

Many websites record your visit - and store records of your visits, on your computer.

Your visits are stored, in each browser, on each computer, in tiny files called "cookies". It's such a cute name, for such a serious feature. And it's a feature mistrusted by some countries - now with an automatic Blogger blog banner notice.

Cookies let you login only once - even if returning, repeatedly.

When you publish a comment, on some blogs, you may notice that you are required to login, to post a comment. Returning later, you may not have to login, again.

Cookies let you store comments, even as you interrupt to login.

You may spend time carefully composing a comment, then hit Publish. If you are not logged in, you may have to do so, to continue. For most people, after you login, you come back to the comment entry screen, hit Publish, and you're done.

Where did your comment stay, while you were logging in? For that matter, how did the comment script know, after you had logged in, who you were? How you login determines what icon goes with the comment, when published. Maybe you've noticed that, from time to time.

Cookies store data, from one screen to the next.

The answers to all of these questions is "cookies". The comment, between entry and publishing, was stored as a cookie. And your identity, provided when you loggedin, became part of your comment - after it passed as a cookie.

The comment text is stored as a "first party" cookie - because the cookie is created, and read, under "". Your identity is determined under "", when you login - and is made part of the comment under "", when you finally publish. Your identity is stored - and passed - as a "third party" cookie.

That is all that cookies are. Website data stored, on your computer. Even the evil "third party" cookie is stored data - just data created under "", and read under "".

The problem with "third party" cookies involves data created under one domain, and read under another less trusted domain. But why are you surfing, to a website that you can't trust?

Let large websites remember your visits - make life simpler.

If you want to use Google, and other large websites, effectively, you have to allow them to store data on your computer - and retrieve the data, later. And that is how cookies are used.

To own - and operate - a Blogger blog, it would be wise to learn how to deal with cookies. If you have a problem, one of the simplest settings to check / correct is the browser cookie filters - then you may need to check / correct the browser script filters.


Yettah Jones said…
very, very nice! i never knew the cookie was actually stored, i thought it was something accessed 'out there'. i learned something!
D7ana said…
Thanks for de-scarifying cookies.

Also - I find leaving comment a way to get back some comments for my blog.
Yettah Jones said…
thanks! i have a question that I know you can answer, but it has nothing to do with this post, nor does it have to do with blogging, per se. do you have a place where normal people can ask just techie questions? please, if possible, let me know. i dont know if it is ok to leave an email address here or not, so i will just hope for the best! Thank you so much for all you do!
Chuck Croll said…

You can post in The N Zone, for general technical questions.

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