10 Key Things You Need to Know About SharePoint 2013 Community Sites

Tips for using the SharePoint 2013 Community site template

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If you've followed Tip #3 and created your site with unique permissions, the easiest way to make sure that you don't screw things up is to expose the site to prospective users with the SHARE button. Assuming that you are following Microsoft's recommendation to use Community sites for groups of 200-300 or more, then you are definitely going to want to have an AD Group to use for permissions. If you are setting up a private community and you don't already have an AD Group for the community members, you will definitely want to create the AD Group before you share the site.

Share this community

Tip #9 Think about creating each Community site as a new site collection

Microsoft recommends creating each new Community site as its own site collection for scalability, since you won’t always know in advance which communities are going to take off. If your community preceded your site, then you might actually already have an idea about how much content and activity the Community site will generate so you may be able to do a better job at predicting how much capacity your Community site will need. That said, you still have think about whether or not you will need or want to share site assets across communities because that can only be done easily if the sites are in a single site collection. The most important thing to remember is that the only way to have your community site listed in the new Community Portal is to create the site using the Community Site Template, which can be done whether or not the site is an independent site collection or a sub-site.

Tip #10 Watch out for Unanswered Questions

The Unanswered Questions view feels like a “not quite done” feature in the Community Site. A post appears in this view if the poster puts a check in the Question? attribute of a discussion entry. A question remains “unanswered” no matter how many replies it gets – until the Moderator or the original poster declares one (and only one) reply to be the “Best Reply.” In the real world, there is often more than one right answer to many business questions. Creating a single “best reply” for a question with more than one right answer means that the Moderator has to create a “compiled” answer and then declare it to be the best reply. This will take the question off the Unanswered Questions view

(and move it to the Answered Questions view) but it will not award any reputation points to any of the people who contributed the answers that each became part of the official “best reply.” I think it will be more helpful (at least for the Moderator) to also create a “No Replies” views that shows questions that no one has answered and perhaps use likes or ratings to “bump up” answers that the community considers especially helpful. I would also like to see a way to “close” a question without having to specifically identify a single answer as the “best reply.” Right now, the only way to do most of this is to ask users to not check the box that indicates that a post is a question, which doesn’t seem like a viable strategy because it doesn’t really makes sense. My guess is that Microsoft will get a lot of feedback about the default discussion views so hopefully, we will see an evolution over time. 

That’s my top 10 list for now, but I’m definitely going to update this list as we learn more and deploy to more communities. Please feel free to add your own tips to the comments. For additional information and an overview of the Community site template, I wrote a guest blog post on the presentation that John Pruitt and Robin Miller gave at SPC12 for Dave Coleman’s SharePoint EduTech Blog.

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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