Compsci 82, Fall 2009, Cookie Assignment

for help with checking/counting cookies

You may work with one or two people for this assignment. The group submits the main results, but to get credit each person must complete a Blackboard survey related to the cookie assignment. Your credit is based on two parts: completing the survey earns you two points. Turning in the group cookie report earns up to two points. This assignment, like others in Compsci 82, is worth four points.

Browser Choice

You should use Firefox for this assignment. In theory it's possible to use Internet Explorer or Safari (or Google Chrome or Opera), but in practice Firefox works and the other browsers may make it difficult for you to track which sites serve which cookies. Use Firefox and in the main menu, choose Preferences and the Privacy tab to view and/or delete cookies. This method of deleting and viewing cookies is straightforward and simple. Using other browsers will make it very difficult to accurately track cookies by site.


The idea is to gather data similar to that in the table below which was gathered for seven college/university online newspapers. For each site, the number of cookies downloaded by visiting the site is listed as are the domains that supply the cookies. You are to pick between two and eight websites that have a related theme, though you can interpret that loosely. For each website determine how many cookies are served/saved by that site and from where the cookies originate. To do this you'll need to delete/clear cookies between each website you visit.


Each website you visit must be a top-level site, e.g., or --- in particular please do not include sites that have a slash-path, e.g., Any (reasonable) domain is ok, whether .com, .org, .edu, .net, .biz, and so on. You can use country-level domains as well, e.g., .uk, .us, .tv, for example.

cookie table


You (your group) will turn in a report describing the websites you visited, why you chose them, and any conclusions you can draw from the cookies the sites serve. The report should be at most two pages, one is probably sufficient. Turn in the report as a PDF, instructions to follow. You'll also need to enter the cookie data via a web form so that data from everyone in the class can be combined easily. The webform is here.