It’s been our goal to make it easy to collaboratively create a timeline because we know creating an interesting timeline takes a lot of work.

Our attempts to make our timelines collaborative have evolved:

* At our launch last year in July, users could allow their “friends” to edit their timelines. However, we found that being friends on xtimeline didn’t necessarily equate with wanting to grant someone editing privileges. In fact, it almost became a disincentive to add on people you didn’t know well as friends.

* We then launched the “groups” function as a way of solving that problem. Instead of giving all of your friends access, you could create a smaller group to edit timelines. However, this was problematic too. Just imagine if you had made a group on US politics and you had timelines for both George W Bush and Hillary Clinton. Would you want the same group having editing rights to both timelines? Imagine even if you had a group for Democrats, could you imagine the same group editing both Clinton and Obama? If one Group manages multiple timelines, it’s not clear that you would want all of the group members to have access to all of the timelines. Groups also have other tricky internal management issues.

In the site redesign, we made two changes:

1) Edit History: We created an “edit history” function to track the changes on your timeline. This is similar to the history functions in most wiki-based websites. This is important for recording past changes to your data. You can see who made what changes, and you can quickly revert to a previous version if necessary. We think this function is critical for any sort of collaborative editing.

2) Timeline-based Permission: Editing permissions is now done on a per-timeline basis. Every timeline has a unique list of people who can edit that specific timeline. Viewers of a timeline can also send a request to the creator to become an editor of the timeline. Now it is transparent on every timeline who made what edits.

We hope these changes make collaboration on our site easier, more intuitive, and more transparent. Let us know your feedback in our forums!

The xtimeline team

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