StatsCounter, DH & Cookies


#1

DreamHost does not automatically insert a stats counter in web pages.

If a cookie is being sent from you web site, either you have an .htaccess file or a CGI script or possibly even JavaScript code setting the cookie.

Yeah, don’t put counters on your web pages, you’re both overreacting and we don’t even know what is going on yet to determine if there is a problem.

There is no need to jump to conclusions. If you don’t know how your web site works you should just say so instead of thinking DreamHost is doing something you don’t know about. Another thing is nobody can really help you if you don’t provide information. You have neglected to tell us the URLs to the images you are posting in comments or the link to her MySpace page. If you don’t want to post it public say so.

If you want to know if a cookie is being set, you can submit the image URLs to http://web-sniffer.net/

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#2

I deleted my posting since it seems to have perhaps been perceived as accusatory. I apologize for that to everyone.

I am only a person with limited knowledge that came to this forum seeking guidance. I am also human so perhaps my phrasing doesn’t always come out as I hope. But I also don’t think that my tone was rude. I had smilies in my posting and I tried to solicit help with kind words.

When a domain that I hosted on DH had html code for an invisible counter on the bottom of the page, I assumed that DH perhaps used it for the statistics they automatically provide their customers with. But perhaps that was a wrong conclusion since there are too many variables involved. But at the time that did seem like the most logical conclusion.

I myself have never installed any kind of stats counter on my web page invisible nor visible. That is why I was here asking for help.

I don’t think I am overreacting by asking the DH community for suggestions, but that is only my opinion. We’re all entitled to our opinions. :slight_smile:

I wasn’t trying to jump to conclusions I was just trying to piece together what little information that I had - with the little knowledge that I have. Not everyone that hosts with DH is knowledgeable about every aspect of web hosting. Sometimes when problems arise one must must make a guess as to why something happened in order to begin to troubleshoot.

I didn’t provide URL information out of respect of the person that is concerned about her privacy.

I wasn’t rude, I didn’t curse, and I don’t believe that my posting was offensive. I am only human and I was only seeking some help.

Thank you for your help. Thanks for your time.


#3

All that is understood, so now the question remains: Did you get the answer(s) that you need, or do you still need help understanding what is going on?

As I can no longer see your original post, I don’t know how well your question was answered (not to question Atropos7 at all). If you need further help with this, post again with your remaining questions. :wink:

–rlparker


#4

The statistics DreamHost provides via their Analog stats program are derived from the contents of your http logs that are maintained on the server, and use no cookies.

That’s understandable, but it does make it hard to view the code of the site and see what is actually happening. :wink: If you wish, you may PM me with the url involved and I’ll look at it; that is your choice either way. :slight_smile:

–rlparker


#5

Thanks for your response rlparker. I sincerely appreciate it. You’ve always been very kind and patient with me.

I’m still pretty iffy about what happened, but I think I might be closer to an explanation! :wink:

I downloaded my html files from previous web hosting companies. I used the index.html file, stripped of all text and images with only table outlines left, as a template for the files I now host with a new domain w/DH. Little did I know that the stat counter html code was present from a previous web hosting experience. :wink: I sincerely assumed it was necessary code that DH used for stats. So that was my fault for not knowing any better.

I decided to test my theory out with a fresh html page and uploaded it to a domain at dream host that I haven’t used anywhere else. And the counter code wasn’t there.

So, I don’t have any more questions about that, but…

I guess the only questions I have now are.

  1. In your opinion are statistical counters a bad thing to consider for a web page if it utilizes cookies?

  2. If a website uses a statistical counter w/cookies how should a webmaster inform their visitors? Is there a proper protocol?

  3. Should a webmaster altogether avoid anything with cookies. Although is this even possible since some shopping carts utilize cookie technology?

I’m sorry if my questions didn’t make sense.
And I’m sorry about the length of this message.

Thank you once again for your help rlparker. :slight_smile:
You’ve managed to make this gal smile. :wink:


#6

No problem! It does look like you got to the bottom of the “how did that counter get there?” question, so I’ll not comment further on that. :wink: As for your other questions:

Opinions vary wildly on that, but I suppose my opinion is as valid as any others’, so since you asked, I’ll share mine. “Statistical counters” of any kind, in 2007, are , if not actually a "Bad Thing"™, at least an amateurish and unprofessional thing. They actually provide little useful or reliable information (are easily manipulated by site owners), don’t generally reflect accurately the number of “visitors” (“hits” are a different thing), and have generally fallen out of fashion on modern websites.

Maybe in 1997 they were a bit of “dynamic content”, but are now pretty much a web cliche (kinda like an animated globe graphic or an animated spider web). If you want to track your hits or visitors, there are far better, and private ways to do it so that only you see the numbers. That said, if you are going to use one, you will need to use cookies, or sessions, or some other tracking mechanism - all of which store information about your visitor (in one way or another).

There is a generally accepted protocol, and you should inform your users. The most generally accepted method for describing your use of cookies, session information, log file activity, etc. is in your site’s “Privacy Policy” - there are many example of these policies and appropriate verbiage on the web - just google and read a few of them :wink: .

Thanks to folks like double-click, there are lingering, and somewhat justified, concerns with much of the public regarding the nature, and use of, cookies. Used properly, a cookie can be a "Good Thing"™, as it can greatly enhance the usability of a site, remember shopping cart contents, previously viewed messages, etc., but peoples’ acceptance of them varies greatly. I think the best practice, if you use cookies, is to clearly explain why you use them and how they are used - your visitor can then decide if he/she want to accept, or reject, your sites’ cookies. :wink:

Frankly I think that would be an overkill in many circumstances, and you are correct that many shopping carts and other software that provides “interactivity” uses cookies (or sessions). Cookies are not the only method to provide for interactivity and the preservation of “state” on a website, but all such technology does track or record, even if temporarily, some information about the visit (either on the users; computer via a cookie or on your server via sessions, etc.). There has to be a balance between the functionality that is gained by the use of the technology, and any visitor resistance to that technology.

Often, if the functionality is benevolent and understood, users will elect to knowingly allow the cookie. A cookie, in and of itself, is not necessarily evil - it’s all about how you use them. Does that help at all?

In summary, my advice is that, unless you need the counter (and I really can’t imagine why you would - DH provided stats are much more useful), you should drop it altogether. That will make your site more “modern” and reflect better on your design sensibilities. A for cookies and other visitor tracking technologies - use only what is helpful to your visitor, or your own business, and do it transparently by clearly describing what you are doing, and why, in your Privacy Policy.

All of this, of course, is “just my opinion” and YMMV …now all those that disagree with what I’ve said can “open up” and join the conversation! :wink:

–rlparker


#7

I’d like to weigh in on this if I may.

I don’t believe that the data you can gather from these sorts of things is going to offer anything significantly useful beyond what you can already get from yourdomain.com/stats/ really. If your intention is to use the cookie to correlate data with your main statistics, that is a wee bit of an invasion of privacy. To give you some perspective, let me quote you a paragraph from my own TOS/privacy page:

What specific individual users are doing when they visit your site isn’t really helpful data as far as site optimization is concerned, and the loss of the customer “feel safe factor” probably doesn’t make it worth it either.

You should absolutely inform your customers of anything like this. Apart from being a courtesy, it also helps to indemnify you. Having some sort of TOS/Privacy page that covers all sorts of issues (usage data, copyright, etc.) is a good idea, and it should be something that is linked from every page of your site (in the footer, perhaps). Please don’t copy this wholesale, but you are free to cull my policy page for ideas. You should consult your own lawyer for specific language appropriate to your organization, of course.

Cookies should only be used for user convenience, like when you browse to a site and it says, “Welcome back, user24!” or something that personalizes a page, etc. For everything else (particularly e-commerce applications) it is better to use a combination of session data and database tables for passing and storing data. You should make it possible for a user to utilize your site with cookies turned off. If they do this, you can always give them a message like, “To personalize this site, please ensure your browser accepts cookies.”

These are all important and valid questions that you have asked. As the web has evolved, the answers to the questions have similarly evolved, and are likely to do so in the future.


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#8

rlparker,

Great suggestions! :slight_smile: Thank You.

Just to notate something. The statistical counter wasn’t the typical everyone can see my numbers on the bottom of the website type of a counter. It was invisible and supposedly tracked hits, stats, and other info. That’s why I didn’t even know it was there it was invisible. lol I’m sorry that I didn’t explain that very well. I was trying to keep my long-windedness to a minimum. And it’s way past my bedtime. :wink:

yes, I think I’ll just stick with what DH offers. :slight_smile: yay DH!

I was planning on explicitly disclaiming how the shopping cart utilizes cookies via the privacy statement so it’s good to see that my thinking on that at least makes sense to one other individual. :wink:

I do value your opinion rlparker. Thank you for taking the time to help. You’ve been tremendously helpful.

User24


#9

scjessey,

Great remarks as well. Thank you for sharing your perspective, experience, and examples with me.

I will take all of this info and put it to good use. It is relieving to know that my thinking wasn’t way off of the mark about full disclosure in the privacy statement. Sometimes quality validation from those that have been there and done that is all that is needed.

Once again thank you everyone.
Goodnight

User24 :slight_smile: