23 - Sharing is Caring

Unsichtbares Akkordeon

After sharing his files, his colleagues got mad at him.


A researcher worked in a team of six to write an encyclopedia of 800,000 words. After some deliberation, the team decided that all work should be shared on a common work area. There was already a server for this, which was used collaboratively for the project data by some members. When he put the result of his work on the shared memory, suddenly, the others were angry with him.

The problem was that both the researcher's own files and the other colleagues' existing files were given generic names. The absence of an explicit, content-based naming convention meant that many existing files were overwritten when the local files were copied to the shared memory. The researcher did not worry too much about it since the old files should have been safely restored by a backup - only, unfortunately, this was more than 1 month ago and the recent backup had only covered the new files due to bad timing.

Obviously, the research group did not place much importance on using a versioning system or a more thorough backup system. What is even more interesting here is the organizational structure, which apparently was never properly determined. Thus, all folders and files kept their default names that were created by the respective working environment (such as "index.html" on the web, "main.tex" in latex or simply "document.docx" in Microsoft Word) instead of well-defined names with the date, subject or author being part of the file name. This helps files to be recognized and retrieved more easily and reduces the risk of overwriting other files when copying.

  • personal communication
* Since the story is an anonymous submission, we assigned the gender randomly.