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Clever web dev trick for checking browser history

Sniff browser history for improved user experience

Talk about sufficiently advanced technology. Although you will surely see this post linked many times this week, I have to throw in my own kudos. Fantastic trick, Niall!

In a nutshell, Niall shows how you can use a combination of CSS and JavaScript to selectively display information based on previously visited URLs in your visitor's browser history. Have you been to Digg? Then Niall's site displays a "Digg This" badge (and, importantly for Niall's purposes, not 100 other badges for sites you haven't used).

Try Niall's live example to see this stunner in action.

Dang. That sound you just heard? That's a few million people scurrying to hit "Clear History." Terrific work, Niall -- totally clever.

Now, regrettably, I suspect the race begins for seeing how horribly something like this can be abused.

[via Brian and Ev]

scottnotrobot's picture

firefox protections are available too

personally i do think history sniffing is crossing the privacy line... i used to let it slide but facebook and zappos pretty much changed my mind when they wanted to tell all my contacts i bought some new shoes... kinda freaked me into really changing my browsing habits. at least facebook made the "beacon" sniffing visible... i revisited the paranoia of how much secret sniffing must go on.

but i know history sniff can be used for good and not just evil. for this, the firefox plugin SafeHistory is a fitting compromise, which implements same origin policy on history. see also SafeCache for cache sniffing (which i think is actually worse than history sniffing... mostly just evil and no good).

note for both of these, you need to make sure the same origin policy is enabled (network.cookie.cookieBehavior=1)... normally the policy just applies to cookies but these plugins conveniently refer to this centralized toggle.

one final tangent, i believe same origin used to be the default in firefox, but since 2.0 it is not nor is it even accessible in the standard conf screens... now you can only set it with the about:config . i find this somewhat disturbing... same origin really seems like it should be standard practice.





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