Yummy cookies: how many can you eat? (And why is Google such a Cookie Monster?)

If you visit this blog, you get a total of 8 cookies placed on your computer from blog.kerika.com – unless, of course, you block all cookies, in which case you probably aren’t a Kerika user. Of these, just 2 are of any use to us: they help us with Google Analytics.

The other 6 are placed there because we use the WordPress software to publish this blog. We haven’t any use for them, but haven’t gotten around to turning the off because that would require us to fiddle with various PHP files.

And if you use the Kerika software, you get a total of 6 cookies from kerika.com. Of these:

  • 2 are from Google Analytics. They help us understand which of the nearly 80 pages that currently comprise kerika.com are of real interest to people. These cookies are called _utma and _utmz.
  • 1 comes from the fact that we use CometD, an open source implementation of the Bayeaux protocol, for our real-time communications. We haven’t any use for this cookie, but haven’t gotten around to turning it off. This one is called BAYEUX_BROWSER.
  • 1 is related to our use of Jetty, an open-source, Java-based Web server. We haven’t any use for this cookies either, but, as with CometD, we haven’t gotten around to turning these off either.

And, finally, we get to the two cookies that are of practical use to us:

  • The claimedID cookie helps us identify you as a registered Kerika user, and
  • The tabs cookie helps us bring you back to the projects you had open when you were last using Kerika.

Sorry about all those useless cookies.

That’s the problem with using third-party software like WordPress, CometD and Jetty: each comes with its own platter of cookies, and to turn them off requires one to dig into the code for each of these systems. Frankly, it doesn’t seem worthwhile, at least in comparison to fixing bugs and delivering new features, which is where all of our energy goes!

But, in comparison to other software vendors, our use of cookies is far from excessive, and that’s because we are not in the advertising business. Google, on the other hand, is very much in the advertising business, and taking a look at the Chrome browser cookies on one of our development machines, here’s the very impressive count we found for the original Cookie Monster:

google.com 43 cookies
accounts.google.com 5 cookies
apis.google.com 1 cookie
checkout.google.com 4 cookies
chrome.google.com 2 cookies
code.google.com 3 cookies
docs.google.com 12 cookies
groups.google.com 4 cookies
mail.google.com 29 cookies
plus.google.com 2 cookies
plusone.google.com 2 cookies
profiles.google.com 2 cookies
sandbox.google.com 2 cookies
support.google.com 8 cookies
talkgadget.google.com 1 cookie
tools.google.com 1 cookie
www.google.com 19 cookies
www.googleadservice.com 1 cookie
translate.googleapis.com 1 cookie
deployment.googleapis.com 2 cookies
fastflip.googlelabs.com 1 cookie
igoogle-skins.googleusercontent.com 1 cookie

That’s a total of 144 cookies! And when it comes to local storage, Google has a fairly big footprint:

clients6.google.com Local storage
mail.google.com Database storage, Local storage
news.google.com Local storage
plus.google.com Local storage
www.google.com Database storage, Local storage

There’s a lot of controversy about Google’s announcement that they will merge data collected from their various services to provide more targeted advertisements. If that means they have figured out how to consolidate information gathered by 144 cookies from 22 different services – well, one can’t help but be impressed at the technical challenge they have taken on!