What are cookies?

Cookies are small pieces of data, stored in text files, that are stored on your computer or other device when websites are loaded in a browser. They are widely used to ‘remember’ you and your preferences, either for a single visit (through a ’session cookie’) or for multiple repeat visits (using a ‘persistent cookie’). They ensure a consistent and efficient experience for visitors, and perform essential functions such as allowing users to register and remain logged in. Cookies may be set by the site that you are visiting (known as ‘first party cookies’), or by other websites who serve up content on that site (‘third party cookies’).

Cookies are used for a variety of different purposes. These include those that are ‘strictly necessary’ for technical reasons; those that enable a personalized experience for visitors and registered users; and those that allow the display of advertising from selected third party networks. Some of these cookies may be set when a page is loaded, or when a visitor takes a particular action, such as clicking the ‘like’ or ‘follow’ button on a post.

Examples of cookies set for users:

ab – used for AB testing of new features.
akm_mobile – stores whether a user has chosen to view the mobile version of a site.

Cookies we use

Below is a description of each category of cookies that are in use, along with specific examples.

Strictly Necessary

These are the cookies that are essential for websites to perform their basic functions.

Examples:

cookietest – checks if cookies are enabled to provide appropriate user experience.
twostep_auth – set when the user is logged in using two factor authentication.

Functionality

These cookies are used to store preferences set by users such as account name, language, and location.

Examples:

akm_mobile – stores whether a user has chosen to view the mobile version of a site.
botdlang – used to track the language a user has selected to view popular blogs in.
wordpress_logged_in* –
 used to check whether the current visitor is a logged in WordPress.com user.
wp-settings-{user_id} – used to persist a user’s wp-admin configuration.
wp_sharing_{id} – used to track whether or not a user has already performed an action.

Performance

Performance cookies collect information on how users interact with  the website, including what pages are visited most, as well as other analytical data. These details are only used to improve how a website functions.

Examples:

ab – used for AB testing of new features.
nux_flow_name –
identifies which user signup flow was shown to the user.
signup_partner_ref – tracks the source of new user signups.
signup_referrer – tracks the source of new user signups.
tk_ni|tk_ai|tk_qs – collection of internal metrics for user activity, used to improve user experience.

Third Party/Embedded Content

Third party applications and services to enhance the experience of website visitors such as social media platforms including Facebook and Twitter (through the use of sharing buttons), or embedded content from Youtube and Vimeo. As a result, cookies may be set by these third parties, and used by them to track your online activity. We have no direct control over the information that is collected by these cookies.

Controlling cookies

Visitors may wish to restrict the use of cookies, or completely prevent them from being set. Most browsers provide for ways to control cookie behaviour such as the length of time they are stored – either through built-in functionality or by utilizing third party plugins.

To find out more on how to manage and delete cookies, visit allaboutcookies.org. For more details on advertising cookies, and how to manage them, visit youronlinechoices.eu (EU based), oraboutads.info (US based).

It’s important to note that restricting or disabling the use of cookies can limit the functionality of sites, or prevent them from working correctly at all.