Are Solutions & Templates Shared by Users Safe?

As this community has grown & matured, it’s been great to see users generously sharing knowledge and insights with one another. Further, it is wonderful when some of the talented builders in this community share their personal sheets & solutions (often in the Show & Tell section).

From time to time, users ask, “are solutions & templates shared by users safe?”
The short answer is “probably”… but it is your responsibility to confirm so.

When you adopt a solution posted in the community, it is your responsibility to review sheets, spreadsheets and scripts from contributors. Review the formulas & scripts. Consider the author. Check for reviewers whom you trust to affirm that the solutions is safe. And, keep in mind that authors can change reviewed content that had previously been deemed safe by a trusted reviewer.

Ready-to-use, community-contributed content typically takes one of the following forms:

  • Individual sheets that can be copied into a spreadsheet
  • Entire spreadsheets that can be copied
  • Scripts

Individual Sheets

When you copy a sheet from a shared spreadsheet into one of your personal spreadsheets, only the sheet is copied. If the spreadsheet contains scripts, they are left behind. For this reason, copying a sheet shared in the community is relatively safe. That said, there may be ways that hidden calls within a sheet to formulas that link to external URLs (e.g. IMAGE() or IMPORTDATA) could route data from within the sheet to external websites. Most of these calls do not require explicit authorization.

Entire Spreadsheets & Scripts

Copying an entire spreadsheet is more dangerous than copying a sheet because any scripts contained in a spreadsheet will be included into your copy of the spreadsheet. Scripts (e.g. shared on GitHub) can also be added to your spreadsheet bye manually inserting them directly via the Script Editor.

Scripts, particularly when approved for broad scopes across your Google account, can be extremely risky. Keep in mind, after a spreadsheet or script is reviewed and blessed in the community, that an author may change the master content.

Proceed with extreme caution when copying spreadsheets & scripts.

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