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I've been thinking about using Google Docs to share a novel with a few beta-readers because it is simpler than sending every one of them a separate text file and keeping track of the comments across files.

For this to work, though, I would need the comments of each reader to be visible only to them and to me, so they can't relapse into a "herd mentality". Each of them should read the novel and comment by themselves, with no influence from the others.

Is there any way to achieve this in Google Docs?

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Unfortunately, this is not possible in Google Docs. All comments are visible to all commenters.

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    This is really unfortunate. I can't believe this wouldn't be a common scenario, like AT LEAST every beta-reading scenario, and perhaps many, many other workplace situations. Not just a herd-mentality problem, but good old-fashioned spam, where everyone sees every other comment which is completely irrelevant to them, and pops a valuable one-on-one intimacy bubble they thought they had with the author.
    – bwperrin
    Commented Dec 22, 2019 at 13:18
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It's not possible to hide the comments made by one commenter to other commenters. One alternative is that you use Google Classroom to make an assignment for beta-readers. You could set the assignment to create a copy of the document for each of them. This way, only you will be able to read the comments of all beta-readers.

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