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My question: How to browse a shared network drive as if it were read only

It's a question about software, and I hoped there would be answers like: "You can mount a read-only drive in explorer by doing ...", "You can use this alternative file explorer... " , etc. Why are questions about opening an office document as read-only upvoted and on-topic, and the same question about folders off-topic?

  • Enterprise computing issues that should be solved by involving the IT staff are off-topic. It looks like you were in luck that someone suggested a solution that would work for you without needing to involve them. In general, though, we can't know what systems and policies they might have in place, and don't want to complicate their lives by potentially circumventing things that are in place for a purpose. – fixer1234 Apr 7 '17 at 5:34
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    @fixer1234 How does it complicate an IT admin's life by having a user map a drive on their local system with less permissions than usual? They're not circumventing anything; they're just adding a safeguard. Besides, the question itself doesn't need to have any ties to a corporate IT world at all; it's a perfectly valid question for a home network as well. – allquixotic Apr 7 '17 at 13:05
  • @allquixotic, you missed the "in general". I didn't VTC, I was only explaining the logic other people used (and commented about). You are probably right that people tend to go overboard closing some enterprise computing questions, but I wouldn't call it irrational. We can't know why every policy is in place. A policy could be irrational, an over-reaction to something IT faced. People generally don't want to be in the position of second guessing policies, which is why people tend to err on the side of being hands off rather than carefully analyzing each question for its potential ramifications. – fixer1234 Apr 7 '17 at 18:06
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I think it was closed as off-topic because of some (in my opinion, completely irrational and unnecessary) aversion to questions that are related to "corporate IT" because of this line in the help center:

issues specific to corporate IT support and networks,

However, the only reason it's related to that is because you said it is in your question. You could probably edit out the exposition stating why you feel you need this feature, because honestly, telling us why you need something is not critical to asking a good question. Simply asking us how to do what you want to do is sufficient.

And if you left it at that, I don't think people would be able to close it as IT-related, because it could very well be related to home networking instead. Someone else could google your question and land on the answer later after wanting to solve the same problem when they accidentally deleted a file on their laptop when using file sharing on their home router.

As an aside, aggressive and completely unnecessary question closures like this one contribute significantly to my disillusionment about this community. I've seen Super User become increasingly more strict over the years, and many of the "newer" (relatively speaking) restrictions and criteria for closing questions are pure baloney.

I tell you what. I'm going to edit your question to make it impossible for anyone to say it's a "corporate IT" question, then I'm going to vote to reopen it. How's that?

  • Reopened .... :) – DavidPostill Apr 7 '17 at 13:58
  • Thank you very much, and I really like your re-wording of the question! – laika Apr 7 '17 at 18:18
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    And strong memo to follow. :-) Cultures evolve over time, and newer members lack the perspective of participating at a time when the culture was different. If you don't like the direction the site is moving, don't just stew silently about it. Educate newer users about historical differences and what you think are misinterpretations of the vague guidance in the help section. It would be useful to post such observations and advice here on Meta when you think things are drifting in a direction contrary to the original intention of the guidelines. – fixer1234 Apr 7 '17 at 18:21
  • @fixer1234 thank you also for your previous comment, it was illuminating since I don't use this site very often and I was not aware that "administrator of the server" has become a taboo word – laika Apr 7 '17 at 18:26
  • It's not, actually. If you are the administrator of the server you're probably better-off asking over in Server Fault, but you needing help on a system YOU ARE THE ADMINISTRATOR on is very different from asking for help accessing a system that you are not the administrator on, even if you are being careful and trying to get lower-than-default access. – music2myear Apr 12 '17 at 16:30
  • @music2myear even as an administrator, I think this specific question belongs here: the principal condition was not changing the permission on the folder, but having a solution locally. And this condition seems very reasonable to me: as an administrator, would you like to have an user asking you to change the permissions from full access to read only and back every 2 hours? Or would you give me another user account, just to make my life more difficult by logging in and out every time? Actually now I am genuinely curious for solution "from the other side" ... – laika Apr 12 '17 at 17:52
  • @music2myear by the way, not every "administrator" of a server is an IT professional... Where did people gather that the network share I want to browse is not the music collection of my brother (from his computer for which I don't have a password), or it's not from a small lab computer where the "administrator" is the side job of a busy student ? – laika Apr 12 '17 at 17:56
  • Assumptions occur frequently. Sometimes that means we have to comment or edit the question to correct them. It also ends up improving the question as it becomes more precise. – music2myear Apr 12 '17 at 18:21
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Full disclosure: I am an IT professional responsible for the proper care and feeding of servers and systems that lots of users rely on.

While some of this is tangential, I think it bears expanding here:

In a best-case scenario, if Share A should only be accessible to User Group A and NOT to User Group B, then the permissions on the share AND the files in it should be set to both Include User Group A and Exclude User Group B. The exclusion is usually best done by excluding everyone, and only including the specific User Group A

In many cases, what is done instead is that the Share A is open for people looking for it, but is only mapped for people in User Group A and the Administrator, either intentionally or unintentionally is simply betting that the other users won't go looking for what else is out there.

This is not correct, it is asking for trouble, but it is also the reality in far too many places.

OP MAY have been one of these User Group B people, disallowed by company policy but not by actual technology permissions and settings, from accessing Share A.

Another issue is that access is determined or designed to be in a particular way. While is it in some way commendable that OP is trying to get LESS access than possible, there may be reasons why this is inadvisable and if they actually NEED less access than they have been granted, this should also be a request to their IT staff.

In a properly configured environment people in User Group B should either not even see Share A or, if they do, they should be denied access to it.

Final Thoughts

There is a proper balance between giving good answers to good questions, but as a long-time user of this site, both for my own questions and for answers, and as an IT professional, I agree with the generally strict application of the No Corporate IT rule. There are simply too many variables, too many issues we cannot know the full context of, and frankly, most local IT should be able to answer most such questions far quicker and with far more authority than we can here. Further, to answer questions here is to subvert local IT. There are plenty of local IT people I've come across who are difficult to work with and that is sad, but at least as many times I've seen that the fault in tense user-IT relations cannot be laid solely on IT, and unwilling and uncooperative users may be at least as much to blame for difficulties in that relationship. Giving these users a backdoor support desk is NOT something that is actually helpful over the long term. While it may be only implied, a business hiring local IT assumes they expect their users to rely on them for their support needs. Enabling the circumvention of this is akin to assisting with circumvention of license requirements (not allowed here) and legal requirements (also not allowed).

  • "Local IT can answer it better" is not a reason (that I'm aware of) that the SU community has ever had for closing questions on Super User. Your disillusionment with users helping themselves is a typical "IT Admin From Hell" perspective, where you want to be a control freak with your users and hand-hold them through every single click on their desktop day and night. I will continue to voice my opinion against any of this Paranoid IT Guy philosophy seeping into Super User, especially with questions that are perfectly valid outside the context of corporate IT and needn't involve other variables. – allquixotic May 17 '17 at 15:00
  • A thorough reading would make it clear that I accept that is not always the case, and that it is not the only reason to discourage people from asking questions here that should go through their local IT staff. Further, it doesn't take much to recognize I am not the disillusioned paranoid IT guy. That should be rather clear from the majority of my interactions on SU. – music2myear May 17 '17 at 15:38

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