Custom Software Apps & SharePoint Consulting

Community Sites in SharePoint 2013

Our SharePoint consultants are still learning new things about SharePoint 2013 every day as we begin to implement this platform. One of the hottest new features of SharePoint 2013 is Community sites. What is a Community site and how does it differ from a Team site?

SharePoint_2013_New_Features_Community_BannerA Community site is a new collaboration method that allows people with common interests to communicate. It is an enhanced version of the Team site and has four basic parts plus a central location for viewing. The home page is the landing page for the community. Its content is available to everyone who has access to the Community site. The categories page offers an organized view of all the community conversations. The initiator of each conversation chooses a category for the conversation, but the Moderator can re-categorize, if necessary. The members page offers details about the people who belong to the Community site, while the About page describes the purpose and history of the site. Finally, the Community Portal is an aggregation of Community sites within the SharePoint farm. Since security trimming applies, employees will only see the portals to which they have access.

Community sites offer additional features beyond the Team site. For example, when someone joins a Community site, the discussion for that site is automatically added to the employee’s Newsfeed. The employee also has the option of following specific documents or people, which then also display in the personalized Newsfeed. Additionally, the employee can tag colleagues using the @ symbol or tag relevant information through a pound sign, commonly known as a hashtag (#).

While Community sites have permissions similar to those found on a team site, there are some differences. First, on a Community site, members who have contribute access can post questions, reply to other posts, and rate answers. By participating, members can earn badges and reputations as an expert or top contributor. Contrary to Team sites, Community site members cannot edit pages or delete web parts. Second, a new permission level called Moderator is assigned to at least one member who is responsible for adding managing memberships and handling reports of inappropriate content. Community site owners can also add or delete members. Finally, Community sites have four levels of privacy:

  1. In a private Community site, only invited users can view the site and contribute to it.
  2. With a closed Community site, anyone can view the conversations, but only accepted members can contribute.
  3. For sites that have an explicit requirement to join in order to view and contribute, auto-approval is recommended.
  4. In an open Community site, anyone can participate without joining. However, conversations from the site are pushed to the employee’s Newsfeed only for those who join as members.

Community sites can serve as an enterprise-wide collaboration tool within any organization. Technet has articles offering an overview of Community sites in SharePoint 2013 as well as how to plan for Community sites.

You can also check out my recent blog on some of the other new SharePoint 2013 features that business users should care about…

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