Is Dropbox a P2P / File Sharing site?

Comments

19 comments

  • Avatar
    rotblitz

    These arguments sound reasonable!

  • Avatar
    Brian Hartvigsen

    We've recategorized the one.ubuntu.com and I'm passing your feedback to our domain management team.

  • Avatar
    sheamuspatt

    That's great. UbuntuOne users will be happy (or better, won't notice OpenDNS at all)!

    Thanks.

  • Avatar
    cervezafria

    +1

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    odyss3y

    From a security perspective, Dropbox is definitely a file sharing site.  You can quickly and easily post a file with public access.  If I'm concerned about sensitive material leaving my business and want to block file sharing sites, this is obviously something I would expect the "File Sharing" tag to block.  Splitting P2P and File Sharing might be a better idea.

  • Avatar
    sheamuspatt

    There is already such a category, File Storage: "Sites that offer space for hosting, sharing and backup of digital files". That seems to fit with what Dropbox and UbuntuOne are about.

    The P2P/File Sharnig tag seems to be more oriented towards sites that cater to illicit (copyright-infringing) material, but the category description seems a bit overly inclusive. I'm happy that UbuntuOne was quickly removed from this category, which I take as a hint that in practice it is being applied in a more restrictive fashion.

    It's actually rather difficult to make files publicly accessible (not just available) through Dropbox and UbuntuOne. You can share a link easily enough but it has to be published somewhere so that a wide audience can find it, and this has to be repeated for each file shared. It's not possible to share a set of files e.g. a folder in this way at all; folders can only be shared with authenticated users.

  • Avatar
    odyss3y

    Rather difficult?  I don't think you're familiar enough with Dropbox, because you can easily share a whole folder structure, not just a single folder or individual file with other unauthenticated users.  Dropbox accounts are setup like this by default with the "Public" folder.  The last part of why I disagree about Dropbox is because it IS peer to peer (albeit limited more than bittorrent, etc).  They have the LAN sync feature which enables syncing folders between multiple users/accounts/computers.

    https://www.dropbox.com/help/137/en

    The only change that I can think of that would make the description more clear would be to change "especially" to "exclusively" since you're right, it does overlap with File Storage with its somewhat vague description.

  • Avatar
    sheamuspatt

    You're right; if  you can get a link to a folder, that's all you need. I was unaware that Dropbox didn't actually enforce security if you had a link to a folder. In this aspect UbuntoOne is less prone to uninhibited file sharing, as it only permits sharing of individual files by "file link", not entire folders.Thanks for enlightening me.

  • Avatar
    yo-jimbo

    I like your idea odyss3y.  Having 2 categories seems more appropriate.  One for sites with the primary purpose file sharing to the general public.  

    Also, I think the P2P should be removed from the descriptors as a simple sync functionality could be P2P depending on the implementation. 

    Technically speaking Dropbox is not a P2P.  P2P promotes sharing by accessing files from computers directly and potentially taking advantage of having multiple simultaneous uploads from the "Peers" to obtain a more robust download speed.  P2P does not use a centralized storage mechanism for file storage (thus the name Peer 2 Peer).  Dropbox stores files in their servers and then allows access and syncing functionality via the server, not through the computer they were originally stored on. 

    As the end user of Dropbox you may perform syncing but not outside of your local connection or subnet.  Also, identification of available sync devices is still server based.

  • Avatar
    r.sym

    Classifying dropbox as P2P essentially combines the P2P and File Storage tags.

    Just as tthe tag "Health and Fitness" and Humor were rejected for Youtube -because while they are on the site they are not its primary purpose - so P2P/File sharing should be rejected for Dropbox.

    "File sharing" on Dropbox is v. inconvenient, for example you need to get links andlinks and accounts can be suspended for violaintg terms of service.

     

  • Avatar
    cervezafria

    @reckless.symmetry...

    "while they are on the site they are not its primary purpose"

    I agree. This is the situation with many domain classifications here, though it is improving. Precisely how tags are ultimately approved is unclear (many make no sense if "primary purpose" is the criteria). And it is difficult to overturn approvals apart from the most extreme sense. Youtube is a good example. Nearly every imaginable tag has been submitted for this site at one time or another. Most should have been rejected without a vote. fortunate it is simply "video sharing:, It too was considered for the P2P tag at one time.

  • Avatar
    Brian Hartvigsen

    The proper categorization for Dropbox and Ubuntu One is File Storage.  That is the primary purpose of the domains.  The categorization of Ubuntu One as P2P/File Sharing was incorrect (and removed.)  For questions on what the categories mean and their usage, please review the descriptions at http://community.opendns.com/domaintagging/categories .

    File Storage may have some elements of File Sharing, but that usually requires knowledge a head of time (like a specific URL.)  File Sharing is more open-ended, it's designed to encompass everything from 4Shared to Bittorrent to Gnutella and on and on and on.  The major differentiator that I use personally is "is the information available through some search system", ie things like Super Hubs, Trackers, etc.  While someone could make a folder available on Dropbox, Dropbox (by itself) gives you no ability to find what other users have made publicly available, it's simply not part of the product.

  • Avatar
    odyss3y

    "The major differentiator that I use personally is "is the information available through some search system", ie things like Super Hubs, Trackers, etc."

    This would exclude private torrent trackers, as they are not public.  As an admin, I'd rather have OpenDNS categories match the description and site and write exceptions on my own after reviewing the previously blocked content based on a user request.

     

    There is also nothing on that page that says it needs to be the primary site function in order to be voted on and strictly speaking, based on the description of the P2P category, Dropbox does "facilitate the sharing of digital files between individuals".  The description says nothing about the content being "public" nor "searchable" which gets back to my point earlier that this categories description is too vague to be accurate and too far from your own definition to be valuable to end users who don't browse the forum and view the debate before making a decision to block a category.

  • Avatar
    Brian Hartvigsen

    odyss3y - no, the primary purpose of those sites is unchanged just because the tracker is private.

    Also, any site can be vote (for and against) for any category.  We never prevent users from voting on way or another.  However, approval by moderators is based on the primary purpose of the site.  That doesn't mean people get it right 100% of the time which is why we offer to review websites, allow users to flag them for review, and engage the community in the forums.

    We also understand that the descriptions aren't perfect.  It is something we constantly work on as you may have seen from our recent blog post with regard to the Sexuality and Tasteless categories.

    I can tell you that our Domain Tagging team and management is well aware of this thread and it is something that is being talked about.  That doesn't mean any changes will happen, but I just wanted to let everyone know the feedback was being looked at and reviewed.

  • Avatar
    skeezer

    Dropbox is as much a complicated challenge to properly tag as I imagine Evernote.com might be.

    Like a Swiss Army Knife, both can be used for multiple functions.

    I use Dropbox literally "AS" my hard drive, same folder hierarchy etc. because it allows me to move easily between computers and WHEN a piece of hardware fails, I can be back up and running almost immediately or access documents from any computer globally.

    HOWEVER, Dropbox "does" have the capability to "share" not just individual files but entire folders both publicly and P2P one on one.

    Same thing with Evernote.com. I use that for many, many different things - note taking, contact management etc.; HOWEVER, the functionality of Evernote allows me to "share" a Notebook with the public or an individual user.

    These two sites, which also have companion software programs for desktop and mobile, are not in and of themselves "File Sharing" or "Sexual".

    Like many applications that now sync with the "cloud", they have many applications and it is entirely dependent upon how the individual USER is using them. In and of themselves they are not nefarious. To say that they are and that they should be blocked is a bit like saying one can can technically send a sexual image via email so email should be blocked.

    Perhaps a sub-category should be added File-Sharing > Caveat, with the ability to provide notes; or Multi-Use > See Notes

  • Avatar
    rotblitz

    It's much easier: the ones who want to have it blocked, simply add it to their "always block" list. This is what this feature is good for. No need to discuss whether or not it could belong to a certain category.

  • Avatar
    odyss3y

    rotblitz: it should be the opposite. since it fits the category, it should be blocked, and people who want exceptions could add it to never block.  thats what opendns is good for.

  • Avatar
    rotblitz

    "it should be the opposite. since it fits the category"

    No, it doesn't. Its primary purpose and common use is certainly not P2P/File sharing, but File storage. Just that it could be used as such doesn't qualify it for this tagging.

  • Avatar
    Brian Hartvigsen

    I'm closing this thread as the discussion has become circular at this point.  We have already stated our standing and reasoning on the classification.  Different people will always have different opinions and that's what makes having a Blacklist (or Whitelist) such a great feature.  Regardless of how we categorize a domain, you always have the ultimate decision on how the domain should be treated on your network.

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