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Is it necessary to ask confirmation from user while removing sharing permission that has been shared earlier? Assume cases where there won't be any data loss. E.g., Folder sharing in OS (mac asks), Sharing an album in a photo sharing site, etc. Note, the owner can anyhow share again.

One good technique to avoid such intrusive messages is by having a confirmation message with an Undo option (as seen in GMail). But in case where this can't be adopted, I am seeking an opinion here whether to ask or not.

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2 Answers 2

up vote 4 down vote accepted

It depends on the mechanism for enabling sharing in the first place. If it's just a boolean setting, i.e. "This is shared" or "This is not shared", it is obviously very easy to reverse any change and probably doesn't need to ask for confirmation.

If, by revoking a share, you are doing something that cannot be reversed (such as invalidating a unique sharing link that has been distributed to people) or if the process for sharing something is particularly difficult and not something that you would want to have to repeat, I would ask for confirmation or PREFERABLY allow the action to be reversed.

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Thanks Matt Obee. But how does the user know about the internal settings? (S)he might think it's a process, particular in a case where the sharing process itself takes a few seconds, which in turn is responded by a visual feedback saying "Sharing..."? –  krishnajay Sep 12 '12 at 17:51
    
@krishnajay I don't quite understand, sorry. Could you rephrase? –  Matt Obee Sep 12 '12 at 21:02
    
Take an example of a URL that's been sent when something is shared.. the person who shares won't be knowing whether it will get invalidated or not (say in case of an accidental delete and re-share). Only the developer will be knowing it. –  krishnajay Sep 13 '12 at 5:30
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Indeed, so that's why I think there should be a prompt for confirmation in that case. That prompt would need to explain the consequences of what they are about to do. –  Matt Obee Sep 13 '12 at 7:52

If the action is non-destructive, as easy to undo as it is do, and the users actions are not being constantly reversed then I would not add any friction to the flow.

If on the other hand the re-share action requires significant effort, or the user is struggling with this I might add a user configurable warning, that is let the user decide in place whether to keep warning about this.

The above statements assume there are no structural issues during usability testing with "everyone" un-sharing then re-sharing which would point out a more fundamental issue that a confirmation mechanism would just mask.

Adaptive behavior is something that can be useful if you can get the dev's to swing it, pick and choose your battles though. Generally if pairs of unshare/share are happening within a preset timebox for a user and the configurable option was turned off then automatically resurfacing it might be appropriate.

You could also use the same mechanism to surface the warning initially if the res-sharing friction is higher but usability testing shows most people getting it (repeatably) right.

The same mechanism can be used to determine general usability problems in the field if these metrics are tracked to better understand the impact of these kinds of decisions but I find very few people actually thinking this stuff out in a root cause kind of way instead if they get a few complaints they just add a warning mechanism that ends up being worse than the cure for the majority of users.

If this is a web app it should be simple enough to do the global analytic's, which I usually add if I have questions that can't be answered pre-ship, or complaints/defects are being logged.

The internals though require more developer effort though so if you don't already have a framework built in to do this then good luck ;-)

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