The Unshared Projects Bug – For Better Or For Worse?

Recently, The Scratch Team made an update that fixed a bug that allowed unshared projects to be viewed and downloaded using external viewers like TurboWarp and the official scratch-gui development instance.

This has been controversial for a number of reasons. Let’s go over them.

Your unshared projects are actually private!

This is the biggest reason I got behind this. When you open the project page on one of your unshared projects, you get a message saying “This project is unshared, so only you can see it.”

This message gives the impression that nobody can view your project unless you choose to make it public. However, with the unshared projects bug, this isn’t the case. If the project’s ID gets out in any way, anybody can load it up in TurboWarp and see your work. This can be especially bad if your project is still a WIP, or it’s something you never intended others to see. Even worse, people could export the project as an SB3 file, and distribute it by other means, like uploading it onto their Scratch account.

This makes the bug a major privacy issue. If any other website had a bug like this, it could be trouble. Imagine If Google Drive had a bug that allowed anybody to access your private files without needed to prove they were the owner of them?

Collaborations may be a little tougher now

The first time I heard of this bug getting patched was when I noticed a little topic called “Consider Collabs” in the Suggestions forum. This brings up the problem that collaborations rely on the unshared project bug to share stuff with each other without having to publically release the project containing it. I can completely understand this.

Some people want to keep their whole collaboration a secret, like when a series finale is in the works, and you want to prevent people from spoiling the ending before it is officially finished.

Just remember that TurboWarp, which popularized the usage of the bug, is a very recent creation and collaborations are not impossible with the bug patched. TurboWarp’s developers sum this up nicely:

It’s okay to share unfinished projects. Scratch is 15 years old while TurboWarp is two years old. Collaborations happened just fine during the 13 years without TurboWarp and will continue just fine.

TurboWarp Documentation, “Unshared projects are no longer visible”

This community is really adaptive. I’m sure that people will quickly find a new way to stealthily share assets and code with each other without the project leaking.

A potential vector for inappropriate content has been sealed

I know this may be a stretch, but this bug may have been abused by people to distribute rule-breaking content, like inappropriate projects or links or usernames to unmoderated chat websites.

People frequently look for ways around the Scratch filter, and this may have been one of the ways people did this.

That’s all I have to say on this bug. Thank you for reading :D