Cookies, Terms, & Pop-ups
I am also taking this opportunity to clarify who owns the site (me!), whether or not Cafe Astrology is a company or team of people (the answer is “not”), and my overall approach to marketing (I don’t do any) and advertising (I place some ads).
First, for anyone interested, I will give some background. People often write to the site with the assumption that Cafe Astrology is a company with employees or a large team of people. In fact, I am the site owner, it’s always been me, it’s never changed hands, and it’s my personal website. I work on and update my site from my home, have never sold the site, and simply found a domain name that worked for me back in April 2002 and continued with it. At a certain point many years ago, Kristen began helping me fill report orders and answer some emails because I was overloaded, and my adult children have recently done some odd jobs for me. I write the site’s content and do the webmastering. The webmastering part, I don’t always do well, but I’m learning as I go along. I enjoy this element of my work tremendously, although I wish I had more time to learn the technology part better.
Although I believe that practices like using pop-ups, collecting email addresses or subscribers, using social media to promote a site, and so forth, are just fine as long as they’re not too invasive, I have either not done them or kept them to a minimum. However, it is currently strongly recommended that sites advise users that they’re using cookies and ask them to accept them or disagree, and that’s what I am doing.
So, the cookie/terms pop-up is my first and hopefully last pop-up ever–I only do it because it’s now strongly recommended to do so. I’ve discovered that some people lump cookies into one group and consider them to be trackers that follow them online. They don’t know that there are many different types of cookies, and most of them are functional. For example, anything you save at a site is made possible by a cookie. Without said cookie, your browser won’t remember what you’ve saved.
To explain my approach to Cafe Astrology, I don’t use any external advertising, and although I set up my social media accounts, I haven’t yet used them to remind people to come to the site. I am frequently asked to do so, and will likely venture that route some day, since many seem to want the reminder. I do use internal advertising instead of a donations-based approach because I prefer it, and I make an effort to keep it on the minimal side, placing them off to the side or under content instead of the more effective but sometimes offensive pop-ups and top-page ones. That’s my compromise!
I recommend a site only because I think it’s of value–I don’t charge sites for me to link to them, I don’t participate in any link exchanges, and I don’t pay other sites to link to me. I don’t practice these things because I feel that these practices degrade the quality of sites in the long run–ultimately, they push the individuals down and sometimes out, and it leads to companies with money and resources getting most of the traffic.
It’s not that I am against companies or teams creating sites, but some of my favorite sites are created and run by individuals with a true passion for the subject, and I don’t want these to go away. I am one of those individuals, so I am a bit biased in this direction!
There are some trends these days that concern me since the rise of social media. I won’t go into these fully here, but it worries me that people seem to need to be compensated to recommend sites. Ultimately, this practice leads to big companies taking over. We know it’s going in that direction, but it’s really too bad.
To demonstrate cookie use, I will take the free report section of my site as an example. From 2002 to 2016, people had to re-enter their data every step of the way. Since 2016, a very simple cookie system was put in place. If you’ll note, you don’t have to sign up for it or associate an email address to use this system. This is intentional.
To use the compatibility report feature, the site needs to “remember” the data for person #1 and person #2 to create a synastry or compatibility report. A cookie does this. This cookie isn’t going to follow and track you like some people assume. It makes the software easier to use. Keep in mind that you can delete this by deleting the profile or individual charts on the main page of the free report section if it bothers you. You can also use an incognito browser so that this information will automatically delete after you close the browser. Of course, this means that if you return to this section of the site to look at current transits, the natal chart report, or another compatibility report, you will have to re-enter the data. Most people want the convenience of saved charts, so I am keeping this function.
The other cookie is a Cloudflare one. I pay for a Cloudflare service that helps make the site load faster since it’s a far better experience for my readers. A cookie with non-personally identifiable information is used by Cloudflare, which is a Content Delivery Network service, to quickly serve up cached versions of the pages that you’ve already seen (without having to reload images, text, and stylesheets that were already loaded for you the first time you visited that page) and to serve up files to people from around the world from a location that’s closer to them, again to speed things up. It makes no sense to wait for a page to reload if it’s already been loaded once or multiple times.
Mind you, I also moved the site to two new bigger and better servers, and on top of it added these firewall and CDN services. It’s been costly, but I definitely feel it’s been a much better user experience. For these reasons, I’d rather ask a user to accept cookies (as much as I’d prefer not to) than remove these useful and functional elements from my site.
Three to four years ago, I didn’t have these features and there would be no cookies to talk about. However, charts had to be reentered every step of the way, and the site frequently crashed or was slow. Since then, the site is faster, more secure, and more convenient. I just don’t want to return to the old ways, so I have opted for the cookie setting pop-up that more and more sites are using.
Some have written angry that the “disagree” button was removed. However, the script/app I am using has made this change to communicate the fact that if you use any site, you are agreeing to the strictly necessary cookies. It is up to you to agree to the additional categories. How it’s currently configured (the default is to agree to ONLY the strictly necessary cookies), is equivalent to clicking on the “I disagree” button.
Strictly necessary cookies are vital to the site’s functioning (example, to save a shopping cart while you shop) and agreeing to them is implied if you use the site.
The strictly necessary cookie I use on the site is related to shopping–the shopping cart cookie. If you don’t shop on the site, it’s not placed, if you do shop on my site (or any site), the browser needs to remember what you placed in the cart, and that’s what this cookie does.
I hope this helps clarify my choices, and thank you for reading the site!