You know the drill: You get a collection of nice things that you’d like to share or trade with others. Inevitably, you get the “DM me plz” or “bump” or “I’ve got 1337 stuff so you go first” or “here’s a [tiny, blurred] screenshot of … [something] … for which you must pay me $50 first.”
Dull, eh? Predictable. And potentially risky.
I recommend the following best-practice techniques for protecting your collection while not engendering too much friction:
- Sharing is a two-way, not a one-way, street. A little generosity is good for the soul, but if you don’t receive at least some reciprocal benefit, why bother? Sharing is inherently risky; being too generous isn’t a good long-term survival strategy.
- Protect your stuff by closing your links. Folders in GDrive and Mega are convenient, but they get passed around worse than a bad case of the clap. If you share a link, close it after a brief window, or use a service like WeTransfer that includes a built-in self-destruct mechanism. If people really wanted the material, fine. They can make their own copy. It’s not uncommon for links to get shared, and if a link gets shared with the wrong person, your entire drive could be deleted.
- Use a trusted partner as an escrow service. Trust broke down? Find someone (or somewhere) you both can trust, then use that person or site as a form of an escrow service where you both give the middleman your part of the deal. If the middleman finds that both sides met the terms, he’ll grant crosswise access. (FMBN Social offers an on-demand escrow service.)
- Never pay for unproven assets. If someone offers a dozen video clip, don’t settle for a tiny, redacted screenshot that doesn’t definitively prove the authenticity of the material. Make the person cough up a real clip, first. Hesitancy to prove goodwill suggests you’re about to be screwed.
- In a world of leechers, keep a low profile. If you find yourself in a platform where posts are inherently public (like a forum or a chat group), and not too many people are sharing, beware. You’re likely in a “photocopy group” where people simply take whatever they find and cut-and-paste it somewhere else. For example, just because you’re on Telegram, which offers some protections, doesn’t mean the people in the group are forthright in their intentions.
A little common sense goes a long way to protecting your collection.