Is it still "file sharing" if you don't share?
August 24, 2000 1:07 PM   Subscribe

Is it still "file sharing" if you don't share? According to a Xerox Parc study, 70% of Gnutella users are downloading music, but they aren't sharing with others. Some Gnutella developers say this is a self-correcting problem and that new users will step up to fill the gap. Others think this is the start of a growing trend and the whole copyright infringement issue might go away if the greed of users in a peer-to-peer network prevents it from succeeding in the first place.
posted by honkzilla (8 comments total)
Actually, there's a fundamental reason for some of the discrepency between what people download and what they offer as shared that isn't really mentioned in the article.

A good natured Gnutella user keeps their freshly downloaded files in a different directory than their shared folder. This is done so that if I found a Futurama episode and am 22% done with downloading, another person doesn't search for it and see it free for download from my machine. If they downloaded it, they'd get an unfinished file until I'm done.

Now, do people sync up their download and shared folders later on? I doubt it. I rarely do. It requires the user to physically move files. Actually, if Gnutella's authors made the download and shared folders the same, but prevented sharing of files that were <100% done, I think they'd solve their problems.
posted by mathowie at 1:31 PM on August 24, 2000

Why you should read MeFi every day
posted by owillis at 2:02 PM on August 24, 2000

That, and bandwidth is largely asymmetrical at this point. Most personal connections have pretty good bandwidth down, but not up. So they can get congested really quickly, which ruins one's whole experience. Imagine trying to post here, or chat, or do lots of things on the web, without upstream bandwidth?

I used to write that asymmetric bandwidth up and down was the coward's CDA. It might be that I'm sort of correct - but not against porn, but against alleged copyright infringement. Think of the millions of flowers that bloom in a world in which my personal web server is at home rather than at some web provider? Think anyone - capital, politics - wants that?

But it's coming anyways.
posted by mikel at 2:05 PM on August 24, 2000

This is an easy problem to fix - I've noticed that users are incredibly unlikely to change their default settings, especialy for things like connection speed, folders, etc. if given a default choice. Gnutella should create a "../Music" folder that holds downloaded and shared music, like Scour Exchange or Napster do. Probably drop that percentage to 40%, at least.

Personally, I try to share files, but I have that same problem of half-downloaded files. Another software fix - delete partially downloaded files (as an option) and don't show downloads in progress. Not that big a deal. Go Gnullsoft.
posted by billpena at 2:09 PM on August 24, 2000

Cynical view: it's the Tragedy of the Commons at work.

Less cynical view: it's because enough people are firewalled or under surveillance by their college/workplace/ISP to download but not offer stuff for upload. MojoNation may sort this out, though.
posted by holgate at 6:13 PM on August 24, 2000

bandwidth does have something to do with home we only have a 56K connection...we tried to have DSL installed and are something like 2 blocks out of coverage range...
it takes forever to download something as it is and when someone tries to download from us, our chance of getting a song before the other user logs off are nonexistent...
we immediately move our new songs to our nonshared music folder to keep people from slowing us down but we would actually love to share some of the songs we have...
i still think a payment system would be a good idea...most of our collection consists of things like robyn hitchcock singing "no woman no cry" live or obscurities like "the rain" by oran juice jones...i would never ever buy a whole cd for these songs, but i would be willing to pay for them as singles...
posted by centrs at 10:06 AM on August 25, 2000

One other observation, Matt: while I don't think that Nap and Gnu actually will reply to searches with files they're still in the process of downloading, they *will* add them to the sendable files list *even if the download was aborted*. I know you can't guarantee it was complete on the *other guy's* machine in the first place, but if the client moved aborted downloads into another unshared directory, things would be *much* cleaner.

*I* download into "Unchecked, Maybe Bad", and move to "Checked Good" only after I do, in fact, check them, but not everyone is that picky.
posted by baylink at 10:59 AM on August 25, 2000

Actually, the new version of Napster has run with this idea (beta 7 is the one that I have).

They've created an incomplete folder for all those songs that start the download, but don't finish.

Too bad Napster is most likely going to go the way of the dodo.
posted by dgallo at 1:20 PM on August 25, 2000

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