To share or not to share?

I have a question for makers / customers / hobbyist / shop owners:

How do you feel about sharing information?

We had a situation where a person asked us not to share what we have been sharing because that information takes time to learn and has an inherit value (i.e. talking about the glowforge, materials we use, and process). We live by the idea that sharing breads creativity and collaboration but understand that might not be the normal reaction. It’s definitely a double edge sword so I’m putting it out here to see how others feel.


Don’t let other people decide that for you. If someone tells you a trade secret under condition that you don’t share it, sure maybe they get a vote there, but if it’s your process or ideas, nobody gets to dictate what you do with it.


I work with intellectual property all the time. If I have information that should not be shared, it is specifically stated, usually through a non-disclosure agreement.
If you have learned something from someone and they don’t have an NDA, but are the owner of the information, you should stop sharing at their request because they own the information. They can’t penalize you for sharing, but they can ask you to stop. Intellectual property should be treated the same as physical property in that case.
I would clarify with the party asking you to stop to ensure that you understand their claim on the property and why they are asking you to stop. If their claim is valid, yes, you should stop. If their claim is not, you can proceed as you were. If their claim is valid and they have not licensed the information, you should ask them to establish an NDA for your protection and for theirs as this specifies what you can and cannot do with the information and also specifies the legal penalties for breaking the NDA.
Please remember to keep in mind that some information is available under Creative Commons or other similar licenses, where you are free to use and share that information under the license but certain processes need to be followed to maintain the license, including stating the license that the information or work is shared under.


You do you and if it’s your information to share, feel free! I’ve become less sympathetic to new folks who haven’t tried to help themselves, but if I want to share/help, I do it.


i will freely share information on how i do things with anyone. if someone doesn’t want to share that, they’re free not to. personally i’ve learned from others and will pass that on. that’s how communities form and people grow from shared experience.

i probably wouldn’t share it with/be helpful with someone who had the attitude that we shouldn’t share. and that person is probably worried that they’re not doing anything special and hoping to put up roadblocks in front of others who might do what they do even better (or cheaper).

that said, i only share files when i want to. i’m not a shop owner, i’m not selling designs or products. but my actual work is mine.


I believe in sharing. There are some exceptions.

  • If you were shown the technique by someone else and they asked not to share, then I would abide by their request.

  • I have no issues with someone offering paid glowforge classes, but I am dubious as to the value of driving enrollment by withholding information. IMO people who want a class will take a class that fits their schedule and budget. People who don’t, won’t no matter what. Also, offering YouTube videos and writeups is a way of advertising your class. Not to mention the obvious: the more popular glowforge becomes the larger the ownership pool of noobs with no making experience will be. This is the target market for your classes. If everyone owns a car, then the demand for driving classes will be greater.

  • If you are in the business of selling designs, then sell your designs. But the nature of the glowforge is such that many a maker can easily recreate all but the most complex of ideas. A lot of people consider this stealing, but I consider it free market competition unless you hold a specific design patent. Making something on a laser is a high cost endeavor. If you really have a popular design prototype it on the laser, and make small quantities. If it sells obtain a design patent and make it in bulk with a non-laser technique and you will undercut your copycats.

  • You have no obligation to share. If you do something cool, but don’t have the time and/or inclination to share that is your decision. No matter how much I may want to learn how you did that, I respect you getting on with your life.

There are probably other exceptions, but this no share idea is a common attitude I see all over the place. In pretty much all cases I see more value in growing the pie than in hoarding your tiny piece.

And to be perfectly selfish, glowforge isn’t out of the woods yet. The company has to continue selling units, and a decent number of them, or we will all be the owners of large, mostly hollow white and glass bricks. Sharing seems about the only thing we can do to keep that from happening.


Unless that person is asking you to withhold information about something they created or that they asked you to do on their behalf, then such a request is naive. There are often multiple ways to do something—some ways better, some worse. Hiding your method won’t stop someone from eventually figuring out something similar.

Sharing helps us all get better and more efficient; not sharing may give any one of us a period of advantage, but it won’t be held for long. Too, most of us will naturally share more with others that have shared with us. So, taking ourselves out of that community, in the long run, is disadvantageous.


Kind of tough to get the gist of where the problem lays. Are you sharing your own processes? Something you may have picked up from here, that was publicly shared here?

I’ve put a ton of stuff on this site about making puzzles (processes, materials, techniques, etc.), for example, but I haven’t put everything - and I probably won’t. Those things I don’t share give me a competitive advantage in what I’m doing, and I’d like to hold onto that. If I don’t share that with anyone, I don’t have to worry about it getting disseminated.


Totally up to you.
(Knowing how to do something doesn’t instantly grant a flood of creative ideas. I tend to lean towards sharing knowledge, then I can sometimes pick up some new ideas myself.) :slightly_smiling_face:


If the information is something like how to do X Y and Z on a design you made, go ahead and share it. If it is something you learned to do and someone is upset because they also use a similar method that is really unfortunate for them but it is not your prerogative to protect their techniques by showing yours.
If it is a design you did for them and they ask you not to show it I think it is fair they would say that. I’ve done designs for people and they have asked me not to share it because it is for a gift or they want that design to be low key. Most people are happy to let me share progress pictures and all that on my social media though.

Would be interesting to hear more about this story. What they were trying to ask you not to do and all that. From what you described its almost like a seasoned carpenter reaching out to a youtube woodworker asking them not to show how to do dovetails because its some sort of ‘trade secret’


If it is your work and you want to share then do so. I have learned a lot from the friendly people here who share.


This community has been invaluable for me in learning how to use the GF and working out kinks in various projects. I can’t imagine how much harder this would have been if I had to figure everything out on my own. I believe in sharing, in paying it forward, and in giving back. Being stingy with general information rarely pays off in the end.

I have also found that no matter how much free information is out there, there are those who are willing to pay to keep from having to seek it out/parse it on their own.

Don’t share other people’s stuff. Otherwise, be true to yourself.


I’ll also add in this:

Sharing is beneficial. But, so is learning how to do things on your own.

In the beginning, none of us had a lot to go off of. We tested, experimented, failed, failed again, and maybe succeeded. Nothing wrong with helping people, but at the same time, that testing and failing process is how you actually learn to master the machine and get to the point where you can really make it do what you want.

One has to understand what is actually going on… sometimes people can make the connection between advice received and what that means from a machine perspective, sometimes they can’t.


Dang! You’re so right! (I can’t delete the tutorials once someone has commented though.)

Dagnabbit…I just loaded a new one. (Sorry!)



Blame it all on you.

I just have to go back to the, learn to walk before you run mentality. Building blocks. Not just jumping off into the deep end. Do as I say, not as I do. I like to jump into the deep end and figure it out as I go. But I also figure out what’s going on in the meantime, so I’m not reliant on other people’s processes - but improving them for my own purposes.

Going back to the puzzles, because that’s really all I do, besides more engraving now… a lot of the info I have on here is really old and the processes are way beyond what are posted here. But, they are probably enough to get someone going. I mean, they did work for me at a point in time.

Now I’m just rambling, I’m afraid.


Of course, something could be said about making an action set that edits your photos for engraving.

No one should listen to me… ha.


Thank you all for your responses so far! This has been reassuring. I guess in the spirit of this thread I should share a little more… :wink:

We have a small shop and out of the blue a person (seemingly not a customer or a competitor) reached out saying how much they liked our stuff and shop but that we should not share anything about the process, materials, tools or equipment we use. They claimed that this kind of information comes from hard earned experience or having a paid consultant teach you (in forms of classes or 1 on 1 advice). They said we should respond to inquiries by saying experience will eventually give you the answer (and not provide any information). This person went on to say that maybe someday we could charge people for this information and that sadly this is the rule of retail. Further more they claimed that woman owned businesses often fall into the being too helpful category now and again and that unfortunately we would have to gain a tougher business sense.

Now this person has no right to tell us how to run our business but it got me thinking. Is this really “the rule of retail”? and how do others feel about this. As I said in my first post, we believe that the best way to foster creativity is to be open and collaborative and we don’t mind sharing information because it creates a community of supportive markers and customers (read: all of you fine people).


As a paid consultant, the most effective clients are the ones that share information with each other, and with us; and leverage us to share information with them. This helps them, it helps us build relationships, and ultimately, helps both parties be more successful. With professionals constantly moving between clients and competitors, knowledge flows fairly regularly; relationships are often the differentiating factor.

This sounds like business “sense” from pre-Internet days.

The rule is to invest your time where it will make you the most money, either today or in the future. If it takes too much time or effort to share information on a topic, because your time is better spent elsewhere, then focus where it matters. But, if you don’t see a significant impact on your time, or the value of your time, then share as you like.


Some businesses survive with that mind set. The ones that really thrive though, build relationships with their customers.


You do what you feel you want. I sell toner transfer foil and used to also make foil prints. People ask my foil source, I decline politely and I get called nasty names. I share the process making prints as there is a trick to it that can only be gained by experience.

I dont share my source because I sell the foil. It’s all up to you in your business.