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We are currently building a software application and I am working on a feature in which a user is able to create his own custom groups of assets for reporting. We would like to add the functionality to be able to share the group that he has created with another user.

Should the user that created the group, edit the group by adding or removing an asset, the group will also be amended everyone that he has shared it with. My concern is that anyone using the group may no longer be reporting on the assets that they thought they were.

My thoughts on this are:

  1. One option is to allow the user to duplicate the group and make it his own after it has been shared with him. This may result in many duplications of groups and may not be the most user-friendly.
  2. Another thought is that perhaps the group should stay in the same state as it was when it was shared, it is no longer linked to the owner of the original group. The owner of the group can edit the group on his side but will have no effect on the group that is being used by another user.
  3. Alternatively anyone who is using the shared group is informed of the change via email or through the UI.
  4. Or is it simply acceptable for the owner of the group to edit the group with no consequence to the people using it?

I would like some opinions on how to handle this as well as if there are generally accepted rules with sharing?

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Talk to your users & find out their mental model. –  dnbrv Jul 9 '12 at 13:16
    
All 4 are viable options, and most likely you'll need to provide 2 or more of these options to your users. –  Jung Lee Jul 9 '12 at 17:57
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1 Answer

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It all depends on the model that the users have in their heads. If I add Lauren's-contacts-group, I want the contents of that group to change if you add or remove contacts, because this group represents the actual contacts. On the other hand, there are probably some groups where the user doesn't expect the contents to change.

Only the real human-users of the system can tell if that particular group should be shared or cloned. Maybe you could design the system so that the creator of the group can mark it as sharable or clonable. Or you could give the user that wants to reuse the group the possibility to create a copy or share the actual group.

Personally I don't like giving users an extra option to choose from, but it seems this is not an all-or-nothing-situation and the choice of sharing or copying a group can't be automated. This leaves the user to be the only entity in the system that can make the distinction.

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