Oh, the innocent and wide open hippie romping internet lost! Now we diligently must make sure we are not infecting our own sites with those nasty cloaked tracking devices, not only the googly analytical stuff, but others crumbs of cookies we may not even be aware of.

Audrey Watters, as she does so well, outlines her approach that sums as “what tracking provides is hardly worth it”. D’Arcy Norman follows with a look at his own site, and some decisions about what blog bits might be discarded.

I have a bit of a habit of mostly following What D’Arcy Does. So those little chicklet social media icons? They likely dribble dabs of tracking. So do a lot of media embeds (when you make a call yo a remote server, they can pretty much insert any kind of goobers in your site).

Also, Michael Feldstein outlines the E-Literate Policy on Cookies and Tracking. Tom Woodward seeks a simpler, mininmalized approach to his blog.

I’m not quite as formal as making policies here at CogDogBlog. I think you need committees or bylaws for that kind of stuff.

My first cut was cut all the social media sharing chicklets from the site, first by disabling the ones in the JetPack Social module, and also de-activating them from my theme.

I mean, c’mom, if you do not know how to share a post of mine in twitter or G+, I’m not sure I need to have you sharing my stuff. Are we that +1 like lazy?

Then I did do some self checking on my site with the Firefox Ghostery tool. I did not see too much, the most action I saw was on posts with vimeo media embeds. I saw stuff related to “Conviva”. It also looks like my theme has twitter button an facebook connect scripts loaded because of my theme. I can look where to zap those.

It’s harder to sort out what all this cruft is doing.

I could not find any traces related to the WP-stats module of the JetPack plugin. Does this mean they are doing things differently than tracking via cookie?

It is a question now of, do I get much worth out of looking at my WordPress stats? It’s not like I am trying to justify my traffic to anyone. That’s on the table for possible discarding.

2010/365/337 Mom Shapes Her Cookies
Creative Commons licensed ( BY-SA ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

Here’s what I think about cookies, not quite a grown up policy. I approve mostly of the kinds of cookies baked by moms and handed out to strangers. Personally, I have to eat sugar free cookies, but I did support the kind sold by Girl Scouts (curse those macaroons because they are so tasty).

On a personal blog, I am not funding much justification for cookies. I really loathe blogs where the URLs are all crufted with Google UTM tracking cruft on the end. I always chop them off before sharing. I am to chop all URL parameters not needed to display a post.

Snow Shoe Tracks Away
cc licensed ( BY-SA ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

As far as tracking, the only kind I will do if you happen to leave something at my house, I may track you down and return it. Or I may track down your email address to thank you for a favor. That’s about it. The only tracks we like here are romps in the woods and snow.

But it is worth a more thorough review of the stuff we add to our sites. Because of all the needs for services to do the “M word” our own needs are to be nore wary and savvy about what stuff gets injected into out sites.

This concludes “policies” on cookies and tracking. Cookies are yummy and tracking is what we do outside.

UPDATE (minutes later): I just deactivated the JetPack plugin, **** stats and all the other stuff I don’t even need/use. This blog might go on a diet! That broke my theme. F**** WordPress used to be so simple.


Top / featured image : Those are the cookies baked once by my Mom cc licensed (BY-SA) flickr photo by cogdogblog: http://flickr.com/photos/cogdog/5230276753

The post "Our Approach to Tracking and Cookies" was originally assembled from spare parts of a 1957 Chevy at CogDogBlog (http://cogdogblog.com/2015/03/tracking-and-cookies/) on March 23, 2015.

7 Comments

  • Aaron Davis

    I remember when I started , I used to get so caught up in the addition to stats. However, one of the incidental things that happened when I moved to WordPress was that I did not know how to activate the statistics. So for a month or so there was no jetting around, instead I just wrote away. I finally did find Jetpack, but during that time I also happened to read a great post by Danah Boyd https://medium.com/message/my-name-is-danah-and-im-a-stats-addict-93f7636320bb. Subsequently, I rarely take note of how much traffic is passing through. There is no point. I write what I write, sometimes people give me feedback, and I continue on my way.

    Now I am off to shutdown a few more add-ons. Thanks Alan.

  • Pat

    Does loading google font not count as tracking?

  • Tim Owens

    This is probably worthy of a post of its own but we use cookies on Reclaim Hosting and outline that in the privacy policy. I’m not so sure the onus of responsibility here is on websites. Audrey herself says she makes use of tools to limit the tracking of information and browsers are making those tools readily available to people who want to make use of them (in the case of Firefox even making it default). But the narrative that cookies are a bad thing is not necessarily cut and dry. Cookies help me know what time zone, OS, and browser someone is using when they submit a ticket telling me something isn’t working. Cookies tell me what search terms they’re using on our documentation which I review weekly for ideas on new things to write. I do agree this stuff may be less useful for a blog but it’s also important for people to realize that while, yes, turning off cookies will prevent pieces of data from being tracked, that can also lead to a degraded user experience for them.

  • Ken Bauer

    ” I always chop them off before sharing. I am to chop all URL parameters not needed to display a post.”

    I am glad to know I am not the only one that does this. Thanks Alan, I am reviewing my own blog now. Time to put the blog into the garage for some emissions testing.

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