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While I was reading through the FAQ and other help pages (in the footer section) on SO Careers website, I clicked on the "feedback always welcome" link and it took me to the main page of Meta.SE website. But, I noticed my browser address bar was filled-up with a long URL as shown below:

https://meta.stackexchange.com/?__hstc=104275039.d804df69846ddd42e6beb809e499e579.1438824980727.1439163429713.1439166480698.21&__hssc=104275039.1.1439166480698&__hsfp=2721133399

That's a very long URL with a huge parameters at the end of it. And upon clicking, it took me to the main page of Meta.SE (short URL: http://meta.stackexchange.com). Out of curiosity, I looked at the other "feedback" links of S[OFU] and none of them had these very long parameters at the end. Also, upon searching for the "hstc", "hssc" and "hsfp" parameters in the Meta.SE search box brings "0" results.

Does anyone know about these strange and very long parameters in the SO Careers "feedback" URL? What are they stand for or used for?

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As for what they are generally, they're HubSpot tracking parameters.

  • hssc is "HubSpot Session Cookie"
  • hstc is "HubSpot Tracking Cookie"
  • hsfp is "HubSpot Fingerprint"

I don't know why they're there (or what the exact nature of each value implies), but my guess would be that they're automatically added by the HubSpot script to external-facing links to be picked up by the script on the target site, if it's present.

  • Thanks Tim. I found more details about these strange long parameters in the URL. Please see my answer below. – HackerKarma Aug 10 '15 at 2:17
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Tim Stone's answer provided me the necessary info. about the HubSpot's tracking parameters. I would like to add the following of my findings to his accepted answer.

Tim Stone's quote:

I don't know why they're there (or what the exact nature of each value implies), but my guess would be that they're automatically added by the HubSpot script to external-facing links to be picked up by the script on the target site, if it's present.

Yes, upon doing the "view page source" I see a tag for HubSpot Analytics Tracking Code (hubspot.js) as:

<script async="async" src="/mvcjs/hubspot.js" type="text/javascript"></script>

Then I went to HubSpot's Help & Support guide and did a search for "hstc" which brought me "What cookies does HubSpot set in a visitor's browser?" link in the search result page. As per that page:

__hstc

The main cookie for tracking visitors. It contains: the domain, utk (see below), initial timestamp (first visit), last timestamp (last visit), current timestamp (this visit), and session number (increments for each subsequent session) (Expires: 2 years)

__hssc

Cookie for keeping track of sessions. This is used to determine if we should increment the session number and timestamps in the __hstc cookie. It contains: the domain, viewCount (increments each pageView in a session), session start timestamp. (Expires: 30 min)

__hsfp

Could not find any info. neither on this page nor on a complete list of cookies set by HubSpot's app page. But, then upon looking at the source code of "hubspot.js", I see the __hsfp does points to "Fingerprint" as suggested by Tim Stone.

Hope my findings will help in some way for other users. Thank you Tim for the answer and solving the mystery behind these strange looking long parameters in the URL.

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