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Show HN: Sourceful – Crowdsourcing the best public Google docs (sourceful.co.uk)
110 points by MattSourceful 15 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 15 comments

Back when I was working on another startup, I hired a freelancer friend to create "The Freelance Rate Calculator" [0], which ended up on Sourceful a few months later. Before that, it went viral on Twitter (112,570 impressions) [1] and brought in a ton of traffic to my startup's home page.

Ever since then, I can't shake the feeling that I should probably turn it into a simple SaaS app.

It really made me think that nicely designed Google Sheets documents are probably the perfect way to prototype some applications. They're free, fast to build, and anyone can access them... And, apparently, you can get them to look pretty damn nice.

[0] https://sourceful.co.uk/doc/101/the-freelancer-rate-calculat... [1] https://twitter.com/panphora/status/1094081680166531072

It's a great spreadsheet! It's been doing really well on Sourceful and is currently the highest rated doc for tag "freelance".

I couldn't agree more with you about Google docs for prototyping. A Google Sheet + Form (e.g. collecting signup emails) combination offers some serious potential.

I would like Sourceful to be a place where projects like that are promoted and initial discussion around them takes place. Twitter/Facebook are not ideal places for that as the content there is too ephemeral.

I like the idea and have also noticed the rise of the public Google doc. I see it as a part of a greater trend of people flocking to semi-private internet spaces. (I'm in various semi-public Slack channels and Discord groups.) Bringing discoverability to these spaces could be valuable.

Good point about Slack and Discord. It's interesting that even though participants are semi-private - in my experience - the standard of discourse is usually higher than the non-private places like Facebook.

What are your thoughs about using Google Docs and Sheets as a quick-and-dirty way to create and distribute content, especially by non-tech-savvy users?

It appears that the use of this format has been growing, especially during the recent events (coronavirus pandemic, climate change then BLM protests).

I always felt strangely about it. It is quick, dirty, free, and easy, but the fact public docs hosted on Google Docs are very unstable, i.e. they don't get archived, and they're prone to removal by the writer at any moment, or by Google if either it breaks rules or if they get asked to by law enforcement/governments, I don't trust the URL to stay the same (not sure why), accessibility is poor, some docs require to be logged into google (and this also means identities are tracked) and they're not indexed. The list helps but I imagine it's quite a lot of work to keep it up, and in a year from now will be abandoned.

I can't say a static webpage is any better, since that requires quite a bit of know-how, hosting costs, and other in-conveniences than just making the google doc public.

I also feel confused when celebrities et al. share their deep thoughts, apologies, outcries, and other information by screen-shotting a story written in their phone's notes app and posting the images, but there really isn't anything simpler and more reliable than that (since writing in non-native apps, especially iOS, tend to reset themselves and delete your text if you exit the app for too long).

Those are very good points. Without going into too many details, I am hoping to resolve some of the issues you've mentioned and provide a bit more stability to this format.

Haven't thought about celebrities screen-shotting their thoughts but it's definitely a thing :) there could be something there.

This is neat. I'd love to know what are the most shared google docs/sheets on the web. Is it possible to scrape these off of Reddit/Twitter/Forums etc and get stats on how many times they have been viewed?

Sourceful viewing figures are taken into account in Sourceful to sort "Hot" page but not displayed to users.

Outside of Sourceful, to see what is the most viewed document on the web, the best way is to use a tool like ahrefs. However, the quality of the doc does not seem to be strongly correlated to this number as the top docs are often clickbait/practically useless.

Are these docs not indexed by google?

If yes, is curation the value?

No, most of the time they are not indexed by search engines - unless the docs has got a lot of good backlinks, it will not be visible through search. Also, a lot of docs which seem to do well in Google search are scam pages with illegal movie downloads, etc.

So there is a lot of added value in showcasing and promoting great docs which are not easy to find. Another area is giving feedback to the doc owner though commenting - the collaboration system in Google docs is not ideal for high-level discussion about the doc.

Lists can't be Show HNs. Please see https://news.ycombinator.com/showhn.html.

Apologies, I guess in the context of the Show HN it's less of a list and more a tool to submit and comment on Google docs to which people can try out.

Ok, I've put Show HN back and modified your title from "Sourceful – a crowd-sourced list of the best public Google docs".

Can I edit the title to something like "Show HN: Sourceful - a search-engine for public Google docs"?

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