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I recently edited an answer where the OP had taken some data from a large site, simplified it, and presented it in a personal Google sheet.

Should that be allowed?

[I removed it pre-emptively, but I would rather have community support for my decision.]

2 Answers 2

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I do not think we should allow such techniques in answers for the following reasons:

  • Privacy

    To read a Google Document, you must be logged in with a Google account attached to your email. This will often happen automatically if the reader is already logged in.

    Google Docs is set-up for small collaborations, and the email address is shared with the owner and other readers, effectively "doxxing" our users.

    I had an error in my understanding. Only "invited" people have their names shared with the owner. This makes my case somewhat weaker, because privacy was my primary concern.

  • Licensing

    Answers submitted to the site are subject to the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license. The parts of the answers submitted by Google Docs are (to my understanding) not subject to that.

  • Access Control

    The OP could restrict access to the data at any point.

    Link rot is always an issue here, and we generally address it by quoting (or screen-shotting, where necessary) the important part of the document. So, if you are going to allow a Google Doc, you should also have a screen-shot of the contents.

    But the OP can also restrict write access which would undermine the Wiki nature of this site.

  • Original Research

    While it is possible to create a Google Doc that doesn't violate our prohibition on Original Research, I suggest that this would be the main reason for using it.

For these reasons, I think we should disallow answers that are links to personal Google Docs (and similar services).

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  • "Link rot." - and... we're done here.
    – Mazura
    Commented Dec 17, 2022 at 6:24
  • If licensing and 404 are valid reasons, then you'd need to remove virtually all links. Commented Dec 17, 2022 at 14:06
  • @FranckDernoncourt: We have a way of dealing with 404 errors: quoting the key sections. However, typically linked sites to do not promote our users to edit them, so licensing becomes more relevant then.
    – Oddthinking Mod
    Commented Dec 17, 2022 at 15:48
  • @Oddthinking ok to quote, but that doesn't preclude from adding a link to the entire Google Doc. Why disallow links to the entire Google Doc? Commented Dec 17, 2022 at 15:59
  • @FranckDernoncourt: I think the Privacy reason is strong enough by itself. Add the Licensing and Original Research reasons, and I think I have a strong case. My fallback position, if the community doesn't accept these, agrees with you: "So, if you are going to allow a Google Doc, you should also have a screen-shot of the contents."
    – Oddthinking Mod
    Commented Dec 18, 2022 at 2:50
  • @Oddthinking To read a Google Document shared with anyone, there's no need to be logged in with a Google account attached to your email. Commented Dec 18, 2022 at 3:45
  • @FranckDernoncourt: Yes, if you are careful enough to log out of Google Docs before you follow the link. Otherwise, I believe it automatically shares your details.
    – Oddthinking Mod
    Commented Dec 18, 2022 at 4:13
  • @Oddthinking "I believe it automatically shares your details." -> no, unless using G Suite, in which case you'd only see your team members who accessed the doc alphr.com/see-who-viewed-google-doc Commented Dec 18, 2022 at 4:41
  • @FranckDernoncourt: There seems to be an error in my understanding. Google Docs shows the real names of people who are invited, random animals for people who are not, and email addresses for the logged in user. Thank you for pointing this out; I will update my answer.
    – Oddthinking Mod
    Commented Dec 18, 2022 at 9:31
  • @Oddthinking thanks, that's right, I'm an AA (anonymous anteater). Commented Dec 18, 2022 at 9:46
  • You can see who is currently viewing the document and their gmail name as I have seen it plenty of times on standard gmail accounts
    – Joe W
    Commented Dec 18, 2022 at 14:28
-1

Should we allow links to personal Google Docs?

Yes, but encourage the author to copy the content to SE, or if not possible, a more collaborative place such as GitHub, or a more long-lasting site such as https://archive.org/.

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