Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Chrome Incognito Tracking (xerq.net)
20 points by XERQ on Feb 10, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 11 comments

Two misleading things from this post:

- the default when you clear browsing data in Chrome is for just "the past hour", not from "the beginning of time", as is selected in the screenshot in the post (so only any cookies set in the last hour would have been cleared, which would be equivalent to having used incognito mode for the last hour).

This is almost always what you want because a blank history is a dead giveaway that someone was doing something "private" on that browser, and because your wife (in the post's example) is now really annoyed with you because she suddenly has no history url completion and she's been logged out of every site she normally visits.

- that incognito suggestion message only shows up the second time you go to clear data in relatively quick succession, not the first time. The target audience isn't everyone, it's anyone apparently doing a repetitive task that requires browser cache/cookies/history/something to be cleared. At that point incognito mode is a perfect suggestion, as ephemerality is exactly what the user is after.

Interesting. It's a nice convergence of convenience for the user (incognito is a huge win over remembering to clear history) and financial benefit to Google. It also doesn't stop a dedicated ad-avoider from using Do Not Track or just clearing their cookies regularly.

Definitely true that the less people clear their cookies, the better it is for Google.

But that seems like a nice side benefit. I bet the main reason they did this is helping users avoid login screens. When you clear cookies, you obviously have to login to EVERYTHING again. It's a minor annoyance to me and you, but to regular users, hitting a login screen is like hitting a brick wall.

"Hmm, what was that password? Did I use my Gmail or Yahoo? Is it my password with capital letters, or the one with 123 tacked on the end? Bah, I'll just never use this site again."

Basically UX hell for most users, that's probably why they're really pushing Incognito. It's definitely good for the web if people reset cookies less.

Incognito mode was never meant as an "out on the internet anonymous" mode, but a local "don't leave evidence on this system" mode. I guess semantically people want it to be the former, some kind of encrypted tor ip-spoof anonymizer mode for the browser.

Be interesting if somebody forked it an produced a version that did just that.

There's been talk of Firefox incorporating Tor for a while.

See here: https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=901614

There's this https://www.torproject.org/projects/torbrowser.html.en which is pretty turn-key.

Has this actually been verified? I don't see much in the way of evidence in the article, and Google's support entry at https://support.google.com/chrome/answer/95464?hl=en implies that you'd have to sign into your Google account for even Google to know it was you.

Read the article more carefully. He's saying that Google benefits from incognito mode, since it causes your normal cookie store (which contains cookies valuable to google) to persist longer than if you just habitually wiped your history.

The title should probably be something different.

That's kind of a bass-ackwards way of looking at the feature. It's an effect, sure, but ephemeral sessions are a tremendous boon to users (troubleshooting issues remotely is SO MUCH EASIER when you can ensure users don't have some weird state messing things up by having them up an ephemeral session), you'd have to be obscenely cynical to think that this was the impetus behind incognito.

I think the_watcher's top-level comment is pretty spot-on here - it's a feature that happens to be great for both parties.

OK, makes sense, but certainly sounds a bit more alarming from the title.

Ultimatley, not sure I'd agree there's a nefarious motive here. Just having the ability to let other people check their GMail / Facebook / whatever on my laptop without logging myself out is a great feature that I've often made use of.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact