Steamboat Springs Me is a member of the Community Color family of sites. The goal of this project is to promote local web development and community awareness in select towns in the Mountain West.
This collection of sites was created by a single person who is trying to be a good netizen. I am not interested in collecting personal data, but I am interested in the flow of data through my site and the overall user experience.
Cookies and Third Parties
My code does not set cookies for casual users; However, I occasionally use advertisements from Google, Commission Junction and Linkshare or widgets from companies like Youtube and Vimeo. Some of these large sites maintain detailed user profiles and track computer usage between sites.
The box below shows current cookies set by this site. I do not set cookies for most users. If people register and log in, I will set a cookied called rmSession that hold a session ID. This lets people update the site. If you visited a page with a third party ad, or of you logged in, you will see data from a cookie. (Cookies from Google often have the name __utma and __utmz.)
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The media vilifies small sites for using cookies. The EU actually requires that web designers apologize for using cookies. But, small sites aren't the problem. The problem is multi-billion dollar advertisers who maintain huge user profiles. These companies can maintain the profiles without a cookie.
Your web browser and any "browser helper object" that has attached itself to your browser provides a greater security risk than a small web site that sets a cookie. If you are truly concerned about privacy, turn off all browser helper objects and scan for spyware.
An IP Address is a unique number assigned to computers that let them communicate. The IP Address of my web server is 22.214.171.124. The IP address currently assigned to your computer is 126.96.36.199. I assign a unique id to each IP address that visits my site. I assigned the number 572384 to your IP.
The main thing I do with this information is to keep track of hackers and robots that general hundreds of thousands of computer calls. I will often see a robot calling the login page thousands of times. This indicates a brute force attack against my site.
Realizing that people are upset with larger advertisers. I decided to replace the big advertisers with small local advertisers.
My Local Advertising Program works as follows: I assign each page on my site a target. I invite advertisers to create ads for these targets. I charge a "listing fee" of $25 to start running the ads. After displaying the ad 100,000 times, I will ask for another "listing fee."
100,000 is a huge number. It can take several years to display a targeted ad 100,000 times.
Each page displays at most one ad. I record the ad viewed with information about the page. I report the total page views along with the IP IDs to the local advertiser. I do not give advertisers access to the translation table between IP addresses and IP IDs. So, they cannot track your ad.
I publish information about the advertising program on the advertising page. I am transparent about who buys ads. The astute reader will notice that, being transparent about the advertisement, means that I am not protecting the privacy of my advertisers.
The Community Color programs allow people to list links, events and publish other information. These advanced features require that users register and login to the account.
The registration page asks for an email address and password. I encrypt the password with secure seeded hashing program that is difficult to decrypt. I record the email addresses on a dedicated server with a single log in. I send relatively few emails.
I will send emails to verify a password change, to bill for advertisements and in response to queries. Occasionally I send emails to the contact page on web sites to review the link to the site.