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Web site troubleshooting fail - Mark's Journal
mhaithaca
mhaithaca
Web site troubleshooting fail
I just asked for help with an odd web site behavior, and got the following initial boilerplate suggestions:

This issue should resolve itself after you perform these steps:

1) Close the Extinguisher window/tab

2) Clear your browser's cache and cookies

3) Completely close your browser

4) Reopen and attempt to log in again


After I waited a bit for my login to time out, I found the site worked normally again without going through any of the above. I replied to say so, but added:

Also, I've got to say as a longtime IT professional that advising a user to clear all cookies as a preliminary troubleshooting step is a nasty, nasty thing to do to a person. Suggesting they should search for and clear cookies specific to your site would be fine. Deleting ALL cookies will screw up SO MANY things for the average user that you will be wreaking considerable havoc that will cost them countless hours. You should avoid being that destructive at all costs until you are so deep into troubleshooting that it's clear nothing else could possibly work.
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Comments
helianthas From: helianthas Date: June 16th, 2012 12:03 am (UTC) (Link)
How does clearing cookies create havoc?
mhaithaca From: mhaithaca Date: June 16th, 2012 01:14 am (UTC) (Link)

Every web site that knows who you are, or keeps you logged in, or knows your settings, or remembers what you've already read, etc., will forget. Every single one.
adelais From: adelais Date: June 16th, 2012 03:08 am (UTC) (Link)
Am I really the only one who feels that if you have to establish a password, that's a pretty good indication right there that you shouldn't have it keep you logged in?

Then again, my first real email exposure was at a small college where you could (and possible still can) send an email to the entire student body. People who forgot to log out of public computers got notorious in a hurry.
mhaithaca From: mhaithaca Date: June 16th, 2012 05:07 am (UTC) (Link)

Sure, but I'm not talking about public computers. I'm satisfied with my laptop's security such that I'm happy to stay logged into LiveJournal for months at a time, and Google, Gmail, etc., for as long as it lets me. Amazon wants my password each time I buy something but otherwise knows who I am on each visit without my having to do anything. Most web sites keep track of who I am without authentication each time. All that vanishes if you clear your cookies.
adelais From: adelais Date: June 16th, 2012 05:12 am (UTC) (Link)
See, I kind of like it all to vanish once in a while, and I'd rather most of those sites didn't track me, quite frankly, but I'm willing to accept that that's residual paranoia.
mhaithaca From: mhaithaca Date: June 16th, 2012 05:14 am (UTC) (Link)

Oh, there are sites whose cookies I block explicitly, and I have my browser set to never accept cookies for third-party sites, i.e. when I'm on a given site, its cookies are fine but Facebook's cookies for that site aren't. But sites I choose to interact with? I want them to work as seamlessly as possible, day after day. If I read a discussion forum, I want it to know what's read and unread. If I go to woot.com, I want it to remember who I am so I don't waste precious seconds when a Bag Of Crap becomes available. And so on. ;-)
prof_organizer From: prof_organizer Date: June 16th, 2012 05:08 am (UTC) (Link)
I live alone and I have a desktop. Nobody EVER has access to my computer and with the theoretical exclusion of financial web sites, I would prefer to always remain logged in. Mark's my hero for writing this, because I argue this same point any time this kind of issue has come up with tech support (though by that point, I've already deleted the cookies for that particular site).
helianthas From: helianthas Date: June 16th, 2012 07:42 am (UTC) (Link)
I guess I don't see why this is a problem? I don't have any sites remember passwords and periodically clear my cookies just for the hell of it.
jccohen From: jccohen Date: June 16th, 2012 09:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
Its a philosophy thing. You are willing to enter passwords for sites each time. That's fine. Mark would rather only have to do so when necessary. That's fine too. The point is, for people like Mark, the advice was a massive over-reaction.
From: sylrayj Date: June 17th, 2012 12:40 am (UTC) (Link)
I can see it now...

Grandparent (on phone): Honey, can you come over to help me with my computer again?

Grandchild: Why, what's happening?

Grandparent: Well, when I go to my web sites, they all want me to log or something, and I don't know how to do that.

Grandchild: ... Did you call tech support again?

Grandparent: Yes. Yesterday.


A lot cliche, but with the trend for computers permitting people to use them without knowing anything about how to program them, or even take note of user names and passwords, people who need the connection without having the knowledge would be lost without their cookies.

Thanks, Mark, for pointing this out. I hope the person's supervisor notices the comment and is willing and able to take action.
ickletarakins From: ickletarakins Date: June 18th, 2012 03:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
OMG I *hate* when people tell me to clear my cache/cookies. Most of the time I just refuse to do it and find another way around whatever problem I'm having.
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