Share Google Drive documents with my group or share the account itself?
February 13, 2013 7:18 PM   Subscribe

I am in an informal workgroup that shares a Google Drive account– that is to say, we all have access to the account along with its password. This arrangement has worked fine. Now I'm starting up a new workgroup with a different set of folks (incidentally, this is not paid work and the folks I'm working with are not colleagues in a strict sense). I created a Google Drive account for this new group and started to mail out the name and password to the group but suddenly thought– "Hey wait, why aren't I just sharing these documents?" I'd be grateful if you could talk me through the relative benefits and disadvantages of both approaches.
posted by carterk to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: All it takes is one person getting pissy about something and changing the password...then you lose all of the work done on the account.

In general it is considered BAD PRACTICE to share a password within a group if there are options to avoid it.

Benefits to sharing = change tracking. That's a big one that you'd lose by all using the same account. No way to see who last handled the document.

I'm sure there are others I'm not thinking of. I'm a big fan of Google Docs (Drive), but also pretty adamant about not sharing logins with folks. So I vote share doc, not share password.
posted by HermitDog at 7:29 PM on February 13, 2013 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I have shared docs with a few different groups and it's super easy to create a shared folder/collection and any doc added to it is automatically shared with everyone with the folder. It's actually easier than a common account because you don't have to log out of your own and into that one, you just open your drive and it's in there.

And yeah, all the bad things about single account/password/tracking that HermitDog said
posted by krix at 7:41 PM on February 13, 2013

Best answer: The entire purpose of GDocs is collaboration and sharing for circumstances identical to yours. It also easily allows members of the group to keep the document on their Drive for future reference.

Also consider that the longer you continue just sharing passwords, inertia sets in and it becomes repetitive to continue doing so. Set it up properly now with sharing the document, not the password, to make life easier in the future.

The only possible benefit I can see of sharing the account password is your collaborators do not need to create their own Google Account. Every other element is a gigantic PLUS in simply sharing the document.
posted by jmd82 at 7:46 PM on February 13, 2013

Best answer: You didn't mention exactly what your workgroup was doing. Why would a workgroup need to share a Google account? If what the workgroup is doing is creating documents and editing them collaboratively, yes, that's what Google Drive is meant for, and you should use it. It allows you to:
- give different users different levels of access (i.e. view vs. edit vs. owner)
- easily unshare documents with certain people when they leave the group
- see who made what edits and who is viewing the document at the same time as you (and also chat with those people within the document viewing window), and also see who is editing the document or who made a certain comment on it, and you can respond to one another using the comments without signing your name to each comment

Remember that you can also easily share Google Drive documents with others by setting access to "anyone with the link can view/edit" and then sending the link to whoever you want to have it. This could be useful to share in an easy-to-access way with people who do not have a Google account.

If your workgroup needs some other feature of the Google account (like I'm not sure what, but if they all need to see the e-mails that the account receives, let's say), you could do that by simply setting up a Google Group and forwarding out the messages to it, you could even set it to auto-forward the messages to the group.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 9:52 PM on February 13, 2013

Best answer: As a side note, I do things like this a lot as part of my unpaid work, and I use Google for Business suite which you can do free as a nonprofit (or I think you can also do it free in a limited way as a small business).

I find that extremely useful because it allows me to make everyone in the group an email address i.e. group that they can sign into using the regular Gmail login, and there are some additional features helpful to that like allowing everyone in the domain to have access to the Google Drive documents without having to specify each person etc. We also use a Google Site within that domain as a "wiki" for useful information for the group. This might be something you'd want to look into.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 9:56 PM on February 13, 2013

Response by poster: Ok, sounds like sharing documents (but not the account) is the way to go. I'll mark this as 'resolved', but I would be interested if anyone could come up with a reason to share the entire account.
posted by carterk at 8:09 AM on February 14, 2013

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