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Mistaken Identity in the TidBITS Commenting System

by Adam C. Engst

Mea culpa! Some time ago, we found and fixed a cosmetic bug in the TidBITS Commenting System that caused a small number of people to be associated with another user’s name when they attempted to post a comment. The problem arose when our code set an incorrect cookie in an unusual set of circumstances.

Although we fixed the bug as soon as we realized what was going on, we don’t know exactly how many people might have been affected. Unfortunately, because the incorrect identity is stored in a cookie with a far-in-the-future expiration date, the problem continues to crop up even now. Worse, we have no good way of identifying or fixing these munged cookies from our side.

The solution is simple: delete the “tbcomm” cookie associated with tidbits.com, but since we have no idea who might be affected, and thus can’t contact them, our only option is to write this article and hope that the affected users read it. Our sincere apologies both for this bug and for having to explain it here, but to make this article more broadly useful, here are instructions for deleting cookies in each of the three most popular Web browsers, should you ever want to do that for other reasons.

Safari

  1. Choose Safari > Preferences to open Safari’s Preferences window.

  2. Click the Privacy button.

  3. Next to Cookies And Other Website Data, click the Details button.

  4. In the search field, type tidbits.com

  5. Select the tidbits.com entry that appears, and click the Remove button. (There’s no way to delete just a single cookie in Safari.)


  6. Click Done and close the Preferences window.

Chrome

  1. Choose Chrome > Preferences to open Chrome’s Settings page.

  2. At the bottom, click Show Advanced Settings.

  3. Under the Privacy heading (which is the first one to appear when you reveal advanced settings), click the Content Settings button.

  4. In the Content Settings dialog, under the Cookies heading, click the All Cookies and Site Data button.

  5. In the Cookies and Site Data dialog, enter tidbits.com in the search field.

  6. Select the tidbits.com entry, click the “tbcomm” button associated with the cookie we use for the TidBITS Commenting System, and click the Remove button. (You could also click the X button to delete all the tidbits.com associated cookies, and if you have cookies from other tidbits.com domains, you could remove all of them. The downside to doing that is, if you’re logged out, the site will forget whether you prefer to hide or show article summaries.)


  7. Close the Settings page.

Firefox

  1. Choose Firefox > Preferences to open Firefox’s Preferences window.

  2. Click the Privacy button.

  3. Under the History heading, click the Remove Individual Cookies link.

  4. In the Cookies window, type tidbits.com in the Search field.

  5. If necessary, scroll down until you see the tidbits.com cookies, and specifically the item with “tbcomm” in the Cookie Name column. Select it, and click the Remove Cookie button.


  6. Close the Cookies and Preferences windows.


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Unless otherwise noted, this article is copyright © 2013 TidBITS Publishing, Inc.Published in TidBITS on 2013-04-30.
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