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Forks of link-shared notebooks are not marked as fork

  1. If user A link-shares a notebook,
  2. and user B creates a fork of said notebook and publishes it,
  3. then the published notebook will have no indication that it is a fork.

This breaks the chain of attribution.

Aside: Does the license, which users grant to Observable and other Observable users, exclude attribution requirements?


This is becoming a serious problem. I’ve now had two instances where link-shared notebooks of mine were forked and published without any changes, lacking any sort of attribution or reference.


Given Observable’s declared commitment to proper attribution, it is somewhat disappointing to see that this still hasn’t been addressed, and has not even received a response from the team.


A fork of a fork only shows last user, showing the chain when clicked would be nicer.

Hi @mootari – sorry for the slow response on this. The site’s current treatment of forks of link-shared notebooks is actually intentional behavior. When a user chooses to enable link-sharing for their notebook, it’s an indication that they don’t want it to be discoverable on the site and listed in places like their public profile or the explore page. To avoid exposing the notebook somewhere that the owner does not desire or expect, we extend this logic to public forks of the notebook and do not surface information about a private or link-shared parent notebook when a public fork is being viewed.

If the parent notebook is published, however, attribution on the forked notebooks will become publicly visible (not only for future forks but retroactively for all forks of the notebook). But if you don’t wish to publish the notebook, some other options would be to (1) add a copyright / license to the parent notebook prior to enabling link-sharing, (2) comment on the fork(s) requesting attribution, or (3) add attribution to the notebook content itself prior to enabling link-sharing. Hope this additional context helps.


Are you (i.e., the original author) at least notified of the fork in your feed?

I wouldn’t call it a “notification”. You have a chance to spot it in your activity log if you happen to view it within 30 days. And if you don’t bother to click “Show all”, it may be significantly less.

I find the given answer insufficient, but I need some time to compile a proper, constructive, response.

Yeah, that’s what I figured. I would definitely at least like to know about it. Thanks.

@mootari I would definitely like to hear your thoughts on this once you have some time to compile them.

In the meantime, I am very curious how person B found out about your link-shared notebook. I think it is clear that the link-shared notebook is public, but it is also unlisted, so I assume the link-shared notebook was ‘leaked’ somehow by someone who received the link from you? Or perhaps you sent the link to person B? Just curious whether there are other issues with link shares (aka unpublished public notebooks) that we may not be aware of…

Not at all. I treat link-shared notebooks as “unlisted” and only publish them once they are polished enough. However, I frequently import from these notebooks, both in link-shared and published notebooks. I also occasionally share these links through various public channels.

My concern is really only with the attribution, not access to / forking of unlisted notebooks. Please note however, that new users in particular often fork and immediately publish notebooks because they are simply unaware that they can import from link-shared notebooks (see also this topic).

I’ve noticed this a few times too :slight_smile: new users will publish because they explore the interface a bit at random, and the publish button is much more prominent than “url share”.