Thursday, May 26, 2005

Blast Those Cookies

A few weeks ago I read a news item over at the web site. The author was trying to stir up businesses to take a stand on how to overcome the problem of Internet users deleting the cookies web sites place on users' computers. Now, I understand that some of these cookies are really important if you want to get customized home pages from Google or Yahoo, or want to shop again at where they would still know what you've bought in the past. And for web sites where I really want what they offer, I reluctantly accept their cookies.

But, here's the problem. No one tells us what those cookies do. Why the heck must Yahoo store 8 cookies on my computer in order to update my Yahoo home page? Why can't they do it with one? What is wrong with the cookie system?

Anyway, here is what I wrote to the columnist at in response to his article:

I'm one of those people who deletes most cookies except for myYahoo and a couple of other sites that I want to keep functioning like I want them to. The reason I delete all other cookies (and I do this several times a day) is because I don't know what the cookies are doing. There should be some way for cookies to tell users what they are for. The current cookie technology doesn't do that now.

I'd rather be safe than sorry. I'm happy to have people I trust track my behavior to customize things for me better, but I want to know what each cookie is doing. When a web site adds five or six cookies after just one visit, there is some kind of overkill going on. Now I'm speaking as an ignorant consumer. I don't know what each cookie means. If I did know, I'd probably keep most of them on my computer.

Why can't cookies include a short note about what they are doing? That, to me, would solve the problem. Now the cookies are in some sort of Greek code that tells me nothing. It shouldn't be that difficult to include a note what the cookie is meant to do. Or am I crazy? Is it really too complicated for cookie creators to accomplish that little thing? If I knew how they worked, I could probably institute this new procedure in about five minutes, probably less. Why don't cookie spreading web sites do this now?

End of letter.

It seems to me a simple customer service issue. It should have been resolved many years ago. Just like email spam should have been resolved years ago. All they have to do is institute system where your home address is available whenever you sent out an email. I know there might be a few complications in instituting this, but not many. And what person would spam if his home address was included. I certainly wouldn't. I wouldn't want all the angry people calling me at all hours of the night. I might be naive, but some solution like this should be able to cut spam by 90%. That would be an incredible relief for all of us.

With so many incredible minds working in the software and Internet industries, you'd think a few of them would have sat around a boardroom table and instituted new standards for email that would lock out spam and viruses. If there are people in a position to make changes for these standards, I'd be happy to volunteer my time to help them set up a system that works. Just call me: 641-472-6130. The best time to reach me is in the afternoons, Central time.
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