Canada: How Does Wordle Save My Stats?

35 24/07/2022

If you guessed cookies, you're wrong. Wordle saves yourstats onto your browser's local storage. Wordle does not usecookies to save your stats. However, you may be wondering, what arecookies and how are they different from your local storage?

Before I explain the difference between the two, you need togenerally understand what happens when you visit a website.Essentially, two tasks occur: first, you're sending a requestto the website's server asking for the website's data to besent to you. Second, the server sends you that data. Your browserthen reads the data, and voilà, the website appears on yourscreen.

What is local storage?

Local storage allows websites to save data onto your computer.Importantly, this data does not leave the user's computer. Datastored on the local storage has no expiration date and remainspresent on the computer until deleted. The local storage can alsostore much more information than a cookie (default is around 5MBcompared to a cookies' 4KB).

In the case of Wordle, when the New York Times' server sendsthe website data containing Wordle to your computer, that data (nowrunning off your computer) accesses the local storage to see ifthat user has played before. If the user has, then Wordle will loadthe user's stats. If not, then Wordle will create a save gameon the user's computer. After the user plays a game, Wordlewill update that save game. As noted above, no data leaves theuser's computer.

Please note that businesses may jump to the conclusion thatbecause data stored on the user's local storage never leavesthe user's computer, it is a safer way to store sensitivepersonal data. This is incorrect. Don't save personal data hereas there are many security vulnerabilities associated with usinglocal storage, such as cross-site scripting attacks. Wordle isdifferent as the data it stores is not sensitive.

What about cookies?

When a user receives the website's data, the server may alsosend the user a small file to be saved on the user's computer.This small file is a cookie. Then, whenever the user sends arequest back to that same website's server, the user'scomputer may also send that cookie. To put it simply, cookies areused when the server needs something from the user.

Canada: How Does Wordle Save My Stats?

First, cookies are classified by duration: Session cookies andPersistent cookies. Session cookies last as long as the user'sbrowser remains open. Persistent cookies last as long as they areprogramed to last.

For example, let's say you're a business owner and youwant to know how many unique visitors you get on your website. Youwould use a persistent cookie that lasts for a period of time (sayone year). Whenever someone new visits your website, your serverwould send them a cookie, and whenever they access your website inthe future, their computer would tell your server that they havevisited the website before.

Second, there are different types of cookies:

Essential (or strictly necessary) cookies

These cookies are essential for you to use a website'sfeatures. For example, being able to be logged into a site to visitcertain secure areas or using a website's shopping cartfeature.

Performance cookies

These cookies collect information about how visitors use awebsite. For example, the information these cookies usually collectrelates to which pages visitors go to most often and whether theyget error messages from web pages. These cookies don't collectinformation that identifies a visitor. All information thesecookies collect is aggregated and therefore anonymous. It is onlyused to improve how the website works.

Functionality cookies

These cookies allow the website to remember your preferences(such as your name, language, or the region you're in). Thepurpose of these cookies is to provide enhanced, more personalfeatures.

Targeting or advertising cookies

These cookies collect information about your browsing habits tomake advertising relevant to you and your interests. They are alsoused to limit the number of times you see an advertisement as wellas help measure the effectiveness of the advertising campaign. Theyare usually placed by advertising networks with the websiteoperator's permission.

In summary, cookies are sent to the user's computer and areread by the website's server. In contrast, data saved on auser's local storage is never sent to the server.

Businesses: Do I need a cookie policy?

It depends on how you're employing cookies and whetheryou're using a visitor's local storage. I would recommendasking your lawyer. In some circumstances, the law will require youto have a cookie notice / policy. Regardless, the rule of thumb isnotice and consent (the notice should also be in plain English).For more information about using plain English in a website'sterms of use, privacy notice, and cookie notice, check out myblog, TL;DR – Who reads the Terms of Use? If you'resaving files onto a user's computer, you should consider havinga cookie notice.

The content of this article is intended to provide a generalguide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be soughtabout your specific circumstances.

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