Here's what this site does and doesn't do with your information:
- If you look at anything on the site, that's recorded. This happens at almost every site on the Web, unless they tell you they don't, and even then sometimes they're lying. That's because the software that runs a web site records this automatically, and you have to reprogram it if you don't want that to happen. It records your IP address (that's not your email address, it's something that your service provider uses). Someone clever could use it to figure out information including who gives you Internet service, and might be able to guess (although it's not guaranteed) what city and country you live in. I am clever, and I could do this. I can also probably tell what browser you're using, whether you're on Windows or Mac or Linux or what have you, and the page that linked to me (including the search terms you typed to get here, if you used a search engine), unless you've done something fancy with your web browser. Basically, if you didn't know this already, you're probably sharing that info. This also happens pretty much everywhere, whether they tell you or not.
I don't have the information about your street address, or your phone number, or your email address, or anything like that. But if you gave any of that to the company from which you buy your Internet access (telephone company, cable company, AOL, and so on) they have it on file.
So, here's the deal: I may look at that info from time to time, either for making myself feel like a successful writer or to find out how to make my pages more useful to people. If a company comes to me and says "Hey, does anyone come to your site by Googling for 'Lacuna Coil', 'cause if so, I want to give you money to advertise my fan club", I can tell them how many people every month do that (answer: lots.) When advertising-related stuff happens, it's normal to only tell them how many people are looking, not to give them IP addresses. If police in the United States come to me and say "Here's a valid court order, tell us if such-and-such IP address ever visited your site, when, and what the user there looked at," I'm going to tell them. Then they'll go to your Internet service provider and say, "Hey, who used this IP address on this day?" And they will tell the cops, and tell them your street address and so forth. Then the cops could knock on your door and arrest you. So, don't do illegal stuff here. If you do, you're leaving really, really detailed footprints. It's kinda like the "CSI" shows, except you've not hidden anything. With me?
- This site sells ads, and the advertisers will know that you've been here. I sell ads to help cover my costs: actual real money I have to give to companies every month so I can show you this kick-ass content. Some of those companies use little bits of data called "cookies". The way cookies work is that the website asks your web browser (Internet Explorer or Chrome or Firefox or Safari or whatever) "Hey, here's a bit of text. Would you store it on the computer's hard drive?" And by default, most browsers say "Yes". Kinda sucks, yeah? But the browser does that because sometimes it's really useful or even necessary. It is what allows shopping carts (at cool sites such as Amazon) to work at all. But it can also be used for sneaky things, such as tracking what kind of stuff you've looked at. Like, for instance, let's say you're into paintball. You go to sites about paintball that have also chosen to use the advertisers I use. Then you come here and look at a page I wrote that talks about paint. The fancy computers that the advertisers use will look at it and say, "Aha, this person has looked at paintball on another site, so since this page talks about paint, he or she is probably looking for sporting equipment rather than semi-gloss periwinkle latex!" And then they might show you ads about paintball guns and not Dutch Boy.
Yes, they really do this.
They do this because (1) they sell this feature as cool high technology so that companies buy advertising from them rather than another company and (2) because they can, and, sometimes, companies do stuff just because they can. By the way, I can't see that stuff. Only the advertisers can. That's ... for a lot of reasons that basically reduce to "they are billionaires and I'm not, so they set the rules".
- Please read the mcgees.org content license. That will tell you what I do with comments you submit to the site and emails you send to the site admins. Basically, if you hit "Post" or "Send", what you send me is mine, and I can do whatever I want with it. I don't intend to be a dick about it, but I kinda need to say that, because if I don't, then you could hire an expensive lawyer and pay him or her to say "Whoa! My client typed something, sent it to mcgees.org, and Joshua did something with it!" And I can't afford a fancy lawyer. So, if you don't want me to use something you typed and posted -- even if you were mad at the time or regretted it later -- don't send it. If you are not a dick about it, and say, "Hey, Joshua, I was drunk and angry and I shouldn't have sent that, would you delete it?" I probably will. But I don't have to, legally, and because this paragraph is here, your lawyer will know that I gave you the chance to learn that. Deal?
- I think that's it. Basically, I don't do anything that 99 point lots-of-nines percent of sites on the Web don't do. I just tell you about it.