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Or is everything saved in a cookie? I am aware that unregistered users are tracked by their cookies, but I think SO needs some reference to the owner of the question, and thus they must store some data?

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They save quite a bit, including ip and such. – jcolebrand Dec 23 '10 at 1:03
@drachmenstern, what is the point of storing the IP? How does it help? I mean it's not a reliable way of ascertaining identity. – Mohamad Dec 23 '10 at 1:58
up vote 1 down vote accepted

Unregistered users are essentially the same as registered users; the only big difference is their OpenID is a randomly generated GUID:

Screenshot of an unregistered profile

If they do decide to "register" the GUID is replaced with their actual OpenID, which will let them login in the future

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Yes, of course.. Also because when they register they have all their old posts assigned to their account, so at the very least they have to save enough data to do that.

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