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Thread: required information...

  1. #1
    they call me the_jump... le_saut's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2001

    required information...


    I'm interested in finding out what type and amount of information you all collect (if any) from site visitors. (Disregarding log files here for the moment) - i'm talking collection of information here that relates to:

    PC specs found via JavaScript
    Flash Player versions etc

    This can be collected when a contact form is submitted or when someone hits a page of the site.

    What I'm interested in is where you all think the boundaries are in relation to information collection. From my point of view it's ok to collect this if there is going to be an end result to it all.
    In what cases would you link this info to personally indentifiable material (e's, names etc).

    Case #1 - a beta test
    For those invited to do site beta tests, I collect useful info that will help me iron out bugs. I tell a user what info this is.
    -screen stats
    -flash player version
    This is stored and linked in with their comments.

    Case #2 - a contact form
    Do you or don't you collect User Agent info in emails via contact forms?
    I do if I am expecting site feedback - it's useless getting an email saying "The navigation of the site didn't work" if you don't know that they are using Netscape 2.

    What do you think and how far do you go on this subject?
    This came about because I noticed the link to browserHawk in the FK nl. How much information is too much?
    Do my users want me to know what version of the Director plugin they use?


  2. #2
    Monkey Wrangler monsterfx's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2000
    Lawrence, KS - USA
    Well, first I'd say if you are actively collecting information, you need a privacy policy which explicitly states what information you are collecting and how you will use it.

    In general, I don't have any problem with a site collecting freely broadcast information (user agent, etc.), it's more how they use it that I would worry about. If they are using it to help streamline the site to better fit their audience, then that's just a good use of freely available data. If the information is being shared with/sold to a 3rd party without my explicit permission (or at least explicitly stated within a privacy statement - but that's a little shakey), then I have a problem.

    That's my $.02.


  3. #3
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Feb 2001

    about browserhawk et al - some of the information collected via javascripts is a bit flakey and can result in quite annoying site behaviour: as an example, my browser tells any sniffer that my screen depth is 0 bits (in plain words: not even monochrome, foreground and background the same) ... and my online bank, which otherwise does extensive browser and system detection, keeps telling me that I need at least 15 bit colour to really distinguish the red and black figures on white background, and that I should use the windows control panel to change the color settings. I wish noone had ever told the programmers about a javascript that detects screen colors
    As far as observing users: I have added a cookie to a shopping site's log, so in theory I could trace all the steps of a visitor until they finally go to the cash desk. Since the cookie does not carry any information, it cannot be used to track specific customers - but it helped to find a few navigational dead ends where visitors would just start over from the main menu.
    It also discovered a visitor that added a couple of items to the cart and then painstakingly removed one item from the cart after the other, every time asking for the new total, until it was empty

    @monsterfx: could you imagine a site that sells addresses of their non-windooze customers to microsoft or addresses of people using an "inadequate" monitor to a computer shop - I hope this will never happen

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