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What are "cookies," and are they safe for me and my computer?

"Cookies" are small "blocks" of text that are created and used by web sites to help them during your "session".

Cookies originate at a website, and are sent to your browser to be stored for later use. If a site has sent cookies to your browser, then, each time you ask for a page from that site, your browser will automatically send the cookie back to the site with your page request. Cookies only contain information that a web site has put into them, which the website then uses to help make the site provide more function for you.

A web site can only get cookies that originated from itself. A site cannot get the cookies that originated at other sites, and it can't get any information about you or your computer through the "cookies" mechanism.

In our case, when you logon to the CoffeeRoom boards, we send a cookie to your browser that contains your your nickname and email address. When you ask for another page, or to post a new note, on one of our boards, then our cookie (and only our cookie) is automatically sent back to us. When we recieve the cookie, then we know that you've already logged on for this session and we don't ask you to logon again. (Conversely, of course, if your browser is set to -not- accept cookies, then we must ask you to logon again every time you ask to look at a page. Your browser will only send us our cookies back. We can't get any other site's cookies and they can't get our's.

Our cookies are set to "expire" when you turn off your browser. We send you a nice fresh cookie when you come back to the Coffeerooms and logon again.

You can actually look at cookies that have been sent to your browser, and see what they contain. Netscape stores unexpired cookies in a file called "cookies.txt", and MSIE keeps them in a subdirectory (under Windows) called "Cookies". You can look at the cookies.txt file, or at the Microsoft cookies files with any text editor (such as "Notepad").