ETA on "Attach Link to File" for Groups

edited January 19, 2017
Can the Zotero Dev team please comment on possibility of having the "Attach Link to File" feature for Groups. Currently, this feature is available for items in My Library.

I would like to share my entire personal library as a group AND not have to maintain two instances of the same citation. That is, after moving my library to a group, I would like to empty my library and thereafter only maintain/update the group library. However, I attach documents to main items using links and not having that feature in Groups is preventing me from going ahead with my plan. Further, I am expecting my group to have hundreds of members and anyone interested in attachments as links will face the same problem - they will have to maintain duplicates in their personal library simply to use the links feature.
  • My understanding is that this isn't a top priority for the core devs, since it for the most part duplicates functionality that exists via Zotero file sync (with the notable exception of privacy/security concerns for groups), so this is most likely to happen via a 3rd party patch and accordingly no ETA.
  • @adamsmith I did not understand "since it for the most part duplicates functionality that exists via Zotero file sync". Please elaborate.

    File sync does not work for linked attachments. And file sync is not possible for groups where PDFs cannot be shared due to copyright.

    Also, just to clarify, just having the linked file feature in groups, WITHOUT the links being synced to other users, is sufficient.
  • right, hence "for the most part" -- i.e. the ability to share files in groups is covered by file storage. I understand your use case, but I think (with a good empirical basis) that it's pretty rare.

    I do also think that your specific usage is more elgantly addressed with better integration between group and personal libraries, which is something that Dan has expressed interest in. Having links but not syncing them seems like a recipe for user frustration.
  • I agree, more elegant integration between group and personal libraries would be best.

    "Having links but not syncing them seems like a recipe for user frustration." Why? Links will sync for the same user across their computers but not across users. Links are better not getting synced because each group member will have their computer configured differently, even when they use base folder setup.
  • Also, just curious, why would my use case be rare? Does it not cover anyone who uses/prefers linked attachments? My understanding is that linked files, shared via Dropbox/OneDrive/GoogleDrive/etc, is a great setup since the files are synced fast, you do not need to buy Zotero space, but most importantly, the files are named and located in a location of your choice (rather than cryptically named Zotero storage folders).

    And, other groups are sharing copyright files? Or, they are not sharing files at all? Am I missing something about how most groups are configured/operate?
  • edited January 20, 2017
    Most groups share copyrighted files.
    Since a lot of people asking for links in groups do want to use links to share and typically everything that you have locally in Zotero syncs, having this one exception is going to cause a lot of misunderstandings and unhappy users.

    I said that your particular use case for this is pretty rare, not that very few people want to use links in group -- but most usage scenarios are covered by Zotero File storage so people can get what they want by using that. And given that that's the technology that works best across Zotero with full API support and thus mobile app support, availability from the website, and just general robustness (I answer questions about broken links all the time; file storage hardly ever breaks and that with much fewer people using links), it makes sense for devs to focus on the many, many things that currently don't have any solution at all.
    Again, this isn't a question of "would this be nice" -- which as you know everyone agrees with. All I'm saying is that it's not a priority and so isn't likely going to happen soon from the core team, which I'm afraid you'll just have to accept.

  • I understand the need to focus on things that do not have any solution or something which is broken.

    But I still fail to understand how having links for Groups is served by file storage or file sharing. If groups are sharing copyright files, they are either very small, members from same institute type of groups, OR they are violating copyright rules. Some journals/publications are meant only for the person downloading the article and not to be shared, even with other people in the same institute, and some are for sharing only with members of the same institute.

    The group I wish to launch and promote, via Zotero, spans the world and is intended to become the one-stop database for my research community. Ambitious, yes, but there is a need for it and Zotero is the perfect tool. The one, and only one, thing missing to accomplish this is links for groups.

    Along the same lines, for large groups, sharing links is actually not desirable. A link (absolute or relative) is unique to the user and I would argue sharing it will cause more problems than not. Just like me, other members would have their unique file naming convention or folder structure. What is common is the bibliography.

    Like I have said before, I am willing to put my money where my mouth is. But I can't afford to pay the entire cost of someone developing this feature. Can I start a fundraiser and will it get pinned to the Forums homepage, so other interested people can see it easily?

    I am asking for help to get me past this hurdle so I can launch my Zotero group and promote the use of Zotero in my research community.
  • Could someone share their experience of file sharing in groups? I am thinking if article PDFs are shared (in a Closed group), there might be two problems:
    1. Copyright issues
    2. Highlights and comments in the PDF will be shared/synced and if yes, wouldn't that mean your PDF is now hard to recognize (to yourself)?

    Also, when you have a group library, do you duplicate the items in your personal library? I think citing from the group library is best because another group member can directly open the item entry from a Word file. But if you cite from your personal library, that is no longer possible. Right?
  • 1. Copyright issues are potentially an issue, but most usage contracts allow for sharing among colleagues, which is essentially what a closed group is (analogous to emailing to the group members).

    2. Highlighting/notes are synced. I regard items in group libraries as belonging to that group, so they shouldn't have my personal notes on them unless I want to share those with the group. If I want private notes, I make those on a copy of the item in my personal library.

    3. You should generally cite items in a group-authored paper from that group's library. That will allow all members to edit item metadata if needed. Citing from your personal library will work fine if you check the (default) option to store reference data in the document, but other group members won't be able to edit items if there are errors.

    For citing items in a paper not authored by the group, you may want to use a copy of the item in your personal library, just in case the item is later deleted from the group library outside of your control.
  • edited January 24, 2017
    Thanks, @bwiernik

    1. Usage contracts that allow sharing with colleagues do so because the access license that is providing you a copy of the article also covers your colleague working in the SAME organization. I am doubtful if usage contracts allow for emailing copyright material to people in other organizations, and thus sharing in a closed group with people from multiple organizations is probably beyond the intent of the usage contract. What do you think? If Zotero is permitting copyright file sharing where it breaks the copyright, Zotero could be seen as facilitating illegal activity?

    Regarding 2. Sharing public notes might be okay, but I am not so sure about highlighting. Some highlighting could be of interest to other people, but often, there is highlighting of specific interest to one person. If the PDF is synced in a large group, it could end up with all kinds of highlighting leading to bad signal to noise ratio.

    Overall, I think the current group features work well for small private groups, but not for large closed groups such as the one I wish to create for my research community.
  • Re 1. Yes, typical usage agreements allow for e-mailing articles to colleagues outside your organization:
    If you are affiliated with a corporate organization that subscribes to ScienceDirect, you are what is known as a subscribed corporate user. You may share the publications you access via ScienceDirect privately, such as with individuals via email for their scholarly or research use. You may use such publications for internal trainings at your organization, and include them for grant funding or patent application purposes.|StartTopic=Content%2Fsharing_pubs.htm|SkinName=svs_SD

    Also, by US law, Zotero's legal responsibility is to promptly react to takedown requests of illegally used copyrighted material under the DCMA (and I think take reasonable steps to prevent systematic infringement).
  • (FWIW, I use Zotero groups in all types of different settings, including some larger, international and interdisciplinary groups and I think you're overthinking the complications.)
  • Thanks. I notice the difference in language for "academic or government institution' vs "corporate organization", where the former includes private workgroups (but only on partner sites) and the latter does not. Zotero groups are closer to private workgroups than private sharing over email. No?

    I am certain about my concern/s regarding the need for linked attachments versus directly attached files or file sharing. What I wish to create/achieve will simply not be possible with directly attached files (it will create havoc and break many copyright issues). The intended group is not only people who work on a common project or even know each other. Membership is closed but members will be in many hundreds, possibly thousands, and often remain strangers. My research community needs it badly.

    ** I think I am failing to explain what I wish to create or how it will be used. **

    Or more importantly, what impact it will have. I see the need EVERY DAY in my organization (US EPA), saw it during my Ph.D., at conferences, and while I am reviewing the work of my peers. And Zotero is THE tool to address the need.

    All said, Zotero groups as they are now could work, except that every member who wishes to use linked attachments will also need to have each item in their personal library. Two entries of the same article is a recipe for mishaps and even if I am willing to do that, I can't imagine myself convincing hundreds of new Zotero users to try doing that.
  • Where I think we disagree is the believe in the willingness of many Zotero users to just replace their entire personal library with a group library. I could never see myself doing without personal notes, ideosyncratic tagging (to read) and collections (test, buy this). And having worked with a lot of Zotero users, I think very few do. Everyone has their own idiosyncrasies of use. You're literally the only person I recall ever requesting links in groups _that don't sync_.

    (even leaving aside attachments, I think you massively underestimate the complexity of managing 100 people contributing to a Zotero group; even in much smaller groups that's quite difficult)

    OK, this is it for me in this discussion -- I don't think I'll have anything else useful to contribute.
  • edited January 24, 2017
    Based on my small survey, over 90% of the intended group members have never used Zotero and over 50% have not used any bibliography management tool. They don't have a personal library to replace.

    If I am the only person who has asked for links that don't sync, I'll take that as a compliment - maybe I am thinking of something that hasn't been thought by others :) I also do not want colored tags and personal notes to sync. I think that's already true for colored tags, but notes cannot be marked as personal or public, right?

    Note, the group I keep referring to is not a working group - it is a massive repository of the knowledge related to my field, a one stop shop kind of thing.

    Imagine a student in India, somewhere in Africa, China, or Mexico, without access to the expensive databases. I am from India and know how poor such access is at any place other than top tier institutes. This person is keen on high quality writing but does not know How or Where to start, that's who my group will serve MOST, though it serves anyone because I have seen shoddy citations from people in the US and Europe where access is abundant. They join the group and start citing, using the same bibliographic database that the world's leading academics in their field are using. There will be a taxonomy, implemented through Tags, that will let them drill down to the precise citation/s they need. Maybe they discover directly, maybe their faculty will promote the use. One way or the other, the bibliographic knowledge collected by the best in my field will be available, FREE of cost, to anyone who wishes to use it.

    Regarding people contributing, I am sure I am underestimating it but I have a plan that will scale as the complexity scales. I mentioned the creation of a "beta" group in another comment somewhere and that is the plan here. The main group will have a dozen or so gate-watchers who have edit rights. There will be an accompanying beta group that is a scratchpad where every member has edit rights. The beta group is only for everyone to contribute and the gate-watchers merge the contribution in to the main group (and then delete it from the beta group). As the number of members scale, we will increase the count of gate-watchers to keep pace with the inflow.

    I'll be around if you wish to return to the discussion :)

    And, I must thank you for your many, patient replies to my tireless (but not convincing enough it seems) comments about the need to add linked attachments to groups.
  • I have similar need for linking files to a group library. I have a business that uses Zotero to manage resources and references. Linked attachments would allow us to use Zotero in coordination with our current file system. We all also use google drive and therefor our relative paths are the same. But even if they weren't at least they would have the name and folder of the file so they could request it or go find it rather than multiple versions of the same file that causes more potential issues. It isn't any different than having a book in the Zotero database. Even though there is a item for the book I still need to go locate the book. I would suggest a warning box with an option for proceeding anyway rather than the confusing nothing happens when I drag a file in while holding ctrl+shift. Zotero already has the ability to do this. Thanks - Love Zotero - I do still want collections to show up in search.
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