What are cookies?

Cookies are small files that websites distribute to your device that act like keys: they store information the website uses to streamline your interaction with the site. Most cookies are nothing more than data that allows the site to recognize your previously stated preferences for how the site displays or tells it what you’ve already done with the site so you receive up-to-date, pertinent information; others help website operators know how many unique visits each page gets, or collect other usage data that helps them design the best site or service. Cookies are stored in your browser’s website data directory as simple text files, not code or programs; they cannot run any procedures on your computer.
To maintain your privacy, a cookie is created with an expiration date: most commonly, the minute you close your browser. These ‘session cookies’ are only used for your visit to the site, whereas longer-lasting ‘persistent cookies’ can be used every time you visit the site over a period of months or years.

Why do we use cookies? uses cookies solely to evaluate and improve our site and services, and for basic ease-of-use functions.

What are those basic functions?

Our cookies work to make your experience with our site easier by tracking how our site should display in your browser, informing you which pages you have already visited, validating your authentication settings, displaying information for your country and language, and similar functions. Our cookies are created to ensure you only have to enter your site display preferences once, not upon every visit.

What are the site improvement functions?

Making sure our site provides the best service means understanding how our customers use it, and designing with your needs in mind. The data our site improvement cookies collect is looked at by us only in terms of trends – how many people viewed a page for how long, which pages get ignored, what links are clicked on frequently – instead of what any one individual user does. Knowing these trends helps us understand what our customers find useful and important, and helps us design future content to speak directly to what our users want and need.

What are my options when dealing with cookies on this site?

Most internet browsers give you the option to either remove or disable a site’s cookies, and that includes the ones we use. If you are accessing our site from a public computer where you do not control the security settings – for example, at a library, Internet café, or school – you may wish to disable cookies, as they will remember your settings on the next visit to our site.
If you are using a private or trusted computer, leaving our cookies active will make sure you do not have to reenter information on your next visit.