Author Avatar Web Disasters VIII – Bullies & Assailants

by Webnme2 on Mar 20th 2010


1. A Flood of Cookies

Cookies that help a site owner complete a transaction or customize content for a visitor are one thing. Cookies launched to track the activities of a visitor are another. I just looked at my cookies folder and found that I had about 1800 cookies. Wow! Some of them were for websites that I’ve never visited and for ad services not related to any website where I’ve done business. About 30 of them registered as spyware cookies designed to track my activities on the web. Well over a thousand were there to track my exposure to ads and a few hundred were to track my visits to particular websites.

Dumping several cookies on a visitor is akin to bully behavior because it is not consensual and at best a sign that the launching site does not care about visitor privacy.

If you need cookies to run a site, consider using session cookies that do not persist after the visitor leaves your website.

If you need to use persistant cookies, you don’t need to have the expiration date last 20 years. The expiration date needs to be reasonable.

If you run a site, you need to be responsible for the cookies launched by your advertisements. If a cookie from an ad is not associated with a machine readable privacy policy, you are dumping on your customers and treating them with disrespect. Your customers need to be able to know what the privacy policy is for the issuer of any cookie that is put on their system. Kudos to Amazon for including a link to machine readible privacy policy in all their new ads.

2. Pop-ups

Pop-ups can provide a useful way to display information and can help a web visitor, but if you use them you risk website failure because many visitors will be using pop-up blocking software.

Too many idiot sites have resorted to bombarding visitors with multiple popup windows to other sites and advertisements making visits disruptive and irritating to visitors. Visitors in turn have had to resort to pop-up blockers. Thumbs up to Google for including a pop-up blocker as part of their browser toolbar. Mine has blocked some 1379 pop-ups in the last three months.

3. Hostile Actions

Sites that attempt to launch Active-X controls or other browser help objects really deserve a special place in web hell. Sites that have added scripts to make these things popup multiple times and then provide a prompt with javascript to try to get you to install an unnecessary program that includes spyware, trojans, keystroke loggers, or other malware need to be pushed off the web as irresponsible assailants.

About Webnme2

The author's first experience with computers was with Fortran IV. Wow that's ancient. After graduate school, he taught history for a number of years at a community college before becoming an attorney. In 1997 he changed careers to become a web developer/designer with an interest in all things web related. He currently maintains several dozen websites. This is his personal blog. The opinions expressed are his own.

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