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Sharepoint 2013 : Managing and Configuring Communities

11/27/2013 1:47:51 AM
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Communities provide an environment that encourages open communication between people who want to share their expertise and get help from others who share their common interests. Many different types of communities can be created, such as the following examples:

  • Communities of practice — A group of people who share a hobby, craft, or profession
  • Communities of purpose — A group of people with a common goal, need, or mission
  • Communities of interest — A group of people who share a common interest or passion for a topic
  • Communities of social interaction — A group of people who enjoy interacting with each other for any number of reasons, such as creating relationships, networking, and so on

The following sections describe the two community templates available with SharePoint 2013, and discuss some key aspects and configuration options for community websites.

Community Templates

SharePoint 2013 includes two different templates: the Community Portal template and the Community Site template. Each template is briefly described in Table 1.

TABLE 1: SharePoint 2013 Community Templates

TYPE DESCRIPTION
Community Portal This is an enterprise website template. The purpose of this site is to provide information about any community sites that exist in the farm. This is accomplished using two different Web Parts: a Search Web Part to search for communities, and a Popular Communities Web Part to display communities. Popularity is determined by the number of posts, replies, and members. You can have only one community portal per farm. An example of a Community Portal is shown in Figure 1.
Community Site This is a collaboration website template. The features and capabilities are very similar to that of a team site, as the Community Site template is based on the Team Site template, but the Community Site template includes many additional features.

FIGURE 1

image

Creating and Using Community Sites

One of the first things to consider before creating a new community is how public you want your community. With a goal of corporate participation, you want your communities to be “Open with explicit action required to join.” This enables everyone to view the conversations, and they can decide if they wish to be a community member. However, some communities require greater privacy, so that is also an option. You could also choose to make your community “Open but with no explicit requirement to join.” Unfortunately, this option precludes users from having their communities automatically added to their followed sites list. The following summarizes the four options available:

  • Private — Available only to invited users. Each person has Member permissions. The owner adds new members.
  • Closed — Everyone can view conversations, but only approved members can contribute. The owner gets an action request when someone wants to join, or auto-approval can be enabled. You need to enable access requests in Central Administration under System Settings, and configure the option “Configure outgoing e-mail settings,” so that requests can be sent.
  • Open with explicit action required to join — When nonmembers browse to the site, the “Join this community” button is displayed on the page. You need to configure the “Enable auto-approval” option on the Community Settings page. This page can be accessed from the Site Settings page or from inside the community using the Community Settings option in the Community Tools Web Part.
  • Open with no explicit requirement to join — Anyone can participate without joining. Without joining, however, there is no automatic following of sites.

So it’s time to create your first community. You create a community site by choosing the Community Site template on the Collaboration tab when you are creating a new website. Do so by executing the following steps:

1. You should create a new site collection for your community using Central Administration, but you can also create a community as a subsite of an existing site. If you create a community as a subsite, ensure that you select the “Use unique permissions” option. This is very important, and it will help avoid any confusion associated with the fact that there is a difference between community members and the SharePoint security group Members. When you create a community site with unique permissions, SharePoint automatically provisions default security groups: Owners, Members, Visitors, and Moderators. These groups have Full Control, Contribute, Read, and Moderator permissions, respectively. When you create a SharePoint Team site, the Members group has Edit permission by default. Users with Edit permission can edit pages, which allows them to delete Web Parts, for example. You do not want any community members to have Edit permission. A community member is someone who has explicitly joined the community. After they join, they are listed as a member on the home page, and the site is automatically added to their list of followed sites. To invite others to your community, you can use the Share button in the upper-right corner of the site. An example of a community is shown in Figure 2 .

FIGURE 2

image

NOTE You need to activate the SharePoint Server Standard Site Collection feature if the Community Site template is not shown on the Collaboration tab. This can occur when you are creating a community as a subsite.

2. Now that your community site has been created, briefly review some of the features. There are four basic pages to the community site: Home, Categories, Members, and About. Links to these pages are shown on the left-hand side of the home page. Home is the landing page for the community, as shown in Figure 2. Click on the Categories link, and it will take you to the Categories page.
An example Categories page is shown in Figure 3. The Categories page provides a more organized view of all the community conversations. As you can see from Figure 3, the Categories page displays an alphabetical listing of the different categories as well as a What’s Hot link to show the most popular conversations. When you first create your community, you will only have one category called General. Right after the community is created, and before it is opened to the organization, the owner should create a set of categories that users can assign to their conversations when they are created. New categories are created using the Create Categories link in the Community Tools section in the upper-right corner of the Categories page.

FIGURE 3

image

3. The administrator should review the Members page and the About page by clicking the links on the left-hand side of the Home page. The purpose of these pages is self-evident and won’t be reviewed here.

4. Click the Edit link in the upper-right corner, and then review the number and type of Web Parts on the page. You should become familiar with the different Web Parts by reviewing their individual properties. The Community Tools Web Part is displayed only to owners of the community. The Join Web Part is displayed only to visitors, who can click the Join button if they wish to join the community.

5. Next, browse to the Site Contents page, and review the different community lists: Community Members, Discussions, and Categories. Because community membership is maintained in a list within the site, membership is specific to only the community site. These lists contain information specific to the members and conversations in the community.

6. You should also assign one or more individuals as community moderators. The moderator’s job is to monitor, facilitate, and manage the community. Moderators have permission to manage categories and manage conversations, including editing and deleting content. Moderators are assigned by adding users to the Site Moderators group. The Site Moderators group is automatically created when the community is provisioned. To add users to this group, click the Site Permissions link on the Site Settings page, and then click the Site Moderators link, which takes you to the Site Moderators security page where you will add new members. This is the same process you have used to add users to any SharePoint group.

If you plan to use a community portal, be sure to execute an incremental search crawl after community sites are created. You should factor this in as you configure the crawl schedule.

Administrators should familiarize themselves with all the other links and features on the community site. Communities will be used as the organization adopts the social capability in SharePoint 2013.

 
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