Permanently move My Library items to Group

edited 15 days ago
I am considering moving almost the entirety of My Library to a Group, and keep only those items in My Library that are not being moved. I created this group many years ago with the intent it will be a public access, curated database of literature in my field of work. I have tried very hard to keep it up to date with My Library but that is almost impossible because I cannot keep up with the tag cleaning and metadata updates that I make in My Library regularly. This also creates two copies of each item in my Zotero DB.

Here’s what I am thinking of doing:
1. Currently, the attachments in My Library use the “Attach Link to File” method. I love it but Groups do not allow this. So, my first step would be to convert all linked attachments to stored copy style in My Library.
2. Purge everything in the Group library so it’s ready to receive the transfer. The group currently has over 4000 items.
3. Move contents from My Library to Group (over 4000 items). I want the attachments to move to the Group, too. However, I will not be sharing the attachments with other members of the group.
4. Delete all moved items from My Library.

Are my steps okay?

Further questions:
1. I will not share attachments with the Group. Does that mean when I login to my online Zotero, I will not see my attachments in the Group, or will they be available to me but not to others?
2. On the same lines, can other members attach their local copies of PDFs to group items? Basically, the group metadata is shared, but each member has their own article PDFs because of copyright issues.
3. Can I share certain attachments but not others? That would be handy for: open-access article PDFs, webpage snapshots, user-created notes – basically not protected by copyright.
4. What happens to the full-text search? If the attachments are not shared, is the search database still shared? I would want that, so a new member can find items based on a full-text search, where the search db is powered by local attachments of other members.
5. I think this move means all my past in-text citations will be orphaned since I am deleting those items from My Library. In the past, I have always cited from the My Library version of an item. I am okay with this but if it could be prevented that would be great.
6. The group has a few members and I plan to inform them of this change, so they can expect a prolonged Zotero sync when they open Zotero. What can I do to make sure there’s no hiccups or conflicts? Current group members are passive and do not have add/edit rights.

Given how significant the change is (for me), requesting @dstillman @adamsmith @bwiernik to chime in so I do this right.
  • edited 15 days ago
    (Please don't @ people with general questions. If people want to answer, they'll answer.)
    1. I will not share attachments with the Group.
    I'm not sure what you mean by this, but if you don't want everyone in the group to have access to files, you should disable file editing for the group, which will also cause Zotero not to create attachments. Simply turning off file syncing while leaving file editing enabled is not how groups are meant to be used — that's for use when you don't want to download files from groups to a given computer, not to avoid uploading them. This way, everyone in the group will see your attachment items, but they'll simply be broken, which doesn't make for a good experience.
    2. On the same lines, can other members attach their local copies of PDFs to group items?
    Separate child items? I mean, technically, but that sounds like a confusing mess.
    3. Can I share certain attachments but not others?
    No.
    4. What happens to the full-text search? If the attachments are not shared, is the search database still shared?
    Full-text content syncing allows full-text search to work even when files aren't synced. But again, that's meant for cases where people don't have the files downloaded, not where the person creating the files hasn't uploaded them.
    5. I think this move means all my past in-text citations will be orphaned since I am deleting those items from My Library.
    Yes, they will be. There's no way to avoid breaking existing citations.
  • edited 15 days ago
    Sorry about the @.

    What I am trying to do is have a group that anyone can join so they can benefit from the parent items and metadata. The intent is to give a head start to anyone interested in acquiring a curated bibliography that they can access, query, and cite. If they want to read an article, they will have to gain access to the PDF and attach it to the item.

    But attachments won't be shared/synced between members due to copyright issues. Is it not possible to prevent any sync of attachments (including child notes) but allow users to have their own local attachments?

    If not currently possible, can a setting be created that basically prevents any share/sync of attachments but allows local attachments? Thus, members ONLY see what they have attached to parent items.
  • Is it not possible to prevent any sync of attachments (including child notes) but allow users to have their own local attachments?
    No.
    If not currently possible, can a setting be created that basically prevents any share/sync of attachments but allows local attachments?
    No, that would be incredibly confusing and isn't something we would implement.
  • If the goal is just to give people a head start at a bibliography, they can copy the items from the group to their personal libraries, build up their libraries normally, and attach PDFs there (or just click through to the publisher page and read online). You would still want to disable file editing for the group in that case.
  • Okay. Could you help me understand why that would be incredibly confusing? I feel like I am not explaining this correctly because in my mind it is not confusing at all. If I am a member of this groups, I see all the parent items that exist and only my attachments. If I do not see attachments from other members or even links to those attachments, it is visually very clean. Almost how My Library is, except parent items are synced.
  • Because as a group member you shouldn't have to keep track of which visible items everyone can see and which visible items only you can see, including for potentially sensitive items like notes. It would be error-prone and unsettling. If something appears in a group, everyone in the group should have access to it.
  • "they can copy the items from the group to their personal libraries, build up their libraries normally, and attach PDFs there"

    This is what I was hoping to do originally, but it fails because the group library very quickly falls behind on tags and metadata because now the action is at two places - My Library and Group library, and these do not sync.
  • Better ways to update data between libraries are still planned.
  • "Because as a group member you shouldn't have to keep track..."

    Everyone can see all the parent items, so nothing sensitive there. If members make a stand-alone note (thus a parent item), that could be shared/synced or not based on whatever you (Zotero team) thinks is feasible. Attachments are never shared or synced.
  • edited 15 days ago
    "Better ways to update data between libraries are still planned."

    This would solve it to a large extent because I can keep My Library up to date and the group library could just follow along. I know it might be a major coding task. I have been trying to launch this "start with a curated library" thing for years now and was hoping my original thought in this thread would solve it.

    Though one issue would still remain even if the libraries sync metadata between preexisting items - members would need to continuously pull new items (added by other members) from the group library to My Library. Unless of course, somehow the sync also automatically pulls new items added to the group in to My Library.
  • Everyone can see all the parent items, so nothing sensitive there.
    No, the point is that we're not going to break the basic rule in Zotero that anything in a group is visible to any group member. You should be able to create notes or make other changes without there being any question about whether they're syncing to other users.

    This would also create all manner of technical complications and breakages. E.g., if a parent item is deleted while you added a child note, that's a conflict for you but not for them, which is a total mess. It would also be a total mess — and a dangerous one — if this were a setting and then the group owner changed the setting to allow synced child items after all.

    Sorry, this just doesn't work.

    But better ways of updating data between libraries will definitely happen — we know the current situation there is not great and hope to make improvements soon.
  • Okay, thanks for laying out the problems. Eagerly looking forward to better ways to sync between libraries.

    When that lands, will it:
    1. Run a sync on items added in the past?
    2. Can it have a setting that says "anything added to this Group should be copied to My Library"
    3. Will it allow for 2-way sync? Because sometimes I would like to push an update to an item to the Group while other times I would want to pull an update since someone in the group updated the metadata for an item.
    4. Will it include tags (this is the number one pain for me while trying to keep libraries synced)?
  • It won't be a sync. At least initially, will just let you drag items again with the ability to apply changes, instead of the current behavior where you first have to delete the item from the target library.
  • That would save a lot of time. I am hoping this initial version will allow for multiple items to be dragged and changes applied (including tags) in a couple clicks. In my workflow, if I am dragging A' on to A, where A' is my latest copy, I want all of A' tags to be copied and any tags existing in A that are not in A' should be deleted (not merged, because that would make a tag mess).
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