SharePoint 2013: Social Features, Community Site

SharePoint 2013: Social Features, Community Site

SharePoint Social components

SharePoint 2013 has come with comprehensive solution for social capabilities. SharePoint 2013 has been optimized and provides capabilities to people to work in well connected environment using community sites, it provides capabilities to share knowledge, to collaborate through news feeds. Great minds can be recognized by giving badges and points. People can follow others to keep getting their updates. People can praise ideas, innovation by liking and commenting on post. And nowadays all organisations are switching to the Real Time work using social platforms and SharePoint is one of them.

Let’s start learning the social capabilities of SharePoint so that you can plan and create social platform effectively. In SharePoint 2013 architecture for social components is changed and we need to know about them. When you start planning social platform you need to study following social components: Community Sites, My sites, Personal Sites, User Profile service, Activity feeds. You need to decide how much space needed, how much load will be on SQL server, and very important Security: who will do what?

Community Site

We will start learning Community sites. Community sites in SharePoint provide you experience of a forum sites where you can start discussion with group of people; you can share ideas. In Community site you can categorize the discussions with the help of feature: category. You can make your Community site by putting recognition rules.

Which things can be achieved in Community site?

When you plan to use Community Site to create social or forum sites first question comes in your mind is what things you can achieve? So let’s get answers.

1.   Can I create forums for my organisation where employees can ask questions and get answer? – Yes, you can achieve this.
2.   Can I create/delete/manage groups/communities for various departments? – Yes, you can do this.
3.   Can I create application where Admins of department start discussion for staff? – Yes, you can do this.
4.   Can I get top contributor of my group or community? – Yes, you can do this.
5.   Can I get top rated, replied discussion? – Yes, you can do this.
6.   Can I put a workflow where Posts get approved first before they get posted? – Yes, you can use workflow or event receivers as ‘Discussions’ is a list.
7.   Can I moderate Posts? – Yes, you can.
8.   Can I have various games like Top Contributor, Famous Member? –Yes, you can achieve it.
9.   Can I create a forum/application where my employees can post ideas and then it get collaborated? – Yes, you can achieve this.
10. Can I get suggested groups/communities, users – Yes, this is possible.

There are so many questions, I am asking you guys to put more here if you have.

Create Community Site

There are three ways to setup the Community site; depending on your requirement you can choose any one of them.

1. By choosing 'Community' site template and create stand-alone community.

                With this option you can create Community site at site collection level or a site level. All the features gets created and are available for you to start with Community site once it has been created.
2. By activating Community features on the existing sites.
                With this option you can make community features available on existing site by activating the Community feature. This feature creates pages, lists, etc which needs for community.
3. By creating Discussion list.
                This is option is used for very minimal social purpose. Lets say if organisation just wants to setup the site for discussion purpose then you can just create the discussion list.

1. By choosing 'Community' site template and create stand-alone community.

In this example we are creating Community site as sub site.
a. Now go to Site Content.
Click on Add new Sub site.
On the form give name if the site and url, give other required information. And choose the template as Community Site.

d.  Click on create and wait for site gets created. Once Community site gets created you can see screen like below. On this page you can see various community site settings option.

Now you can add users to this community site as per your requirement. The types of members for a site can be categorized as owner, moderator, contributor, and visitor.

2. By activating Community features on the existing sites

Here we will see how to make existing site as a community site.
a. Log in to the site
b. Go to Site Settings-> Manage Site features 
c. Activate the feature ‘Community Site Feature’

After this you have all community assets created for you to start.

Community Site features

​1. Report to Moderation

Community site gives you monitor the content posted in discussion as Post or reply. By default it is not active. To active this feature, follow the below steps:
1. Logins as owner or moderator, Go to the home page.
2. Click Community site settings.
Now select the Enable Reporting of Offensive Content.


Once this is activated for community site, users can submit post or reply for moderation and moderator can see it in the moderation list and can delete,
edit or keep the post. To enable the email notification, the outgoing email settings must be done in central administrator

2. Reputation Settings

This is another feature provided in the community site. This feature keeps your users engaged on the community site and the result is your community site remains active most of the time. The other main objective of this feature can be you can set the milestones for people; take example of technet forums.
Now to change or setup these reputation settings for your community site, follow the below steps:

1.       1Login to the Community site as owner or moderator and go to the home page.

2.      2Click on the Reputation settings under the Community Tools. The Reputation settings page will get open.

On this page you can set points for various activities like Creating a new post, replying pos, etc. It totally depends on your requirement.  Also for rating you can either choose Likes or Star ratings.
3. Once all the settings are done then save the settings

3. Badges

In community site you can recognize any member by giving the badges. For example if you think a member is expert in a subject then you can assign him a expert badge of that subject. By default there are two badges available in site: Expert and professional. But you can create more badges to fulfill your requirement. And badge is nothing but a simple text which gets displayed next to the name of member.
There are two ways to give badges:
a.     On the basis of achievements points
        b.     Moderator can assign badges.
At a time only one badge can get assigned to member.
To create badge; go to the Badges list from the Community tools and add as many badges. 


4. Categories

This is another Community site element with which you can categorize all discussions. By default there is one category present: General. But you can still add more categories. Categories helps you to put discussion which are based on same subject/topic together. Best example is Microsoft technet forums.
To manage Categories go to the Category list from the Community tool

5. Discussions

These are the heart of the Community site; all the conversation happens around them in community site. You can manage all discussions from the community.  Discussions is the SharePoint list, so all commands are available for it as other lists have.

So what by default Community site contains?

It contains some lists, web pages with web parts, these are as follows:

•Discussions list 
Categories list 
Community Members list 
Badges list

•Community Home page
Administration settings page
Categories page 
About page 
Members page
Web parts
What’s Happening Web Part: displays the number of members, discussions, replies, etc 
My Membership Web Part:  displays member’s contributions to the community.
Top Contributors Web Part:  displays the members who contribute the most. 

Consideration of performance

When you are planning to create communities using SharePoint sites you need to consider the performance of your site; performance of your farm as well.

Because at the bottom all discussions, replies gets saved in Discussion list. So you need think about the health and performance of Discussion list. You need to think about how much discussion can be getting posted? How many replies you are expecting? If the use of Community site is extensive then you need to plan for retention policy, purging old discussion or even deleting unused discussions. All those things you need to plan before setting up Community sites because when it is in use you don’t want to loose important data.

Also you need to think about how many communities you want to allow to get created on your farm. Because ultimately communities are either site collections or sub sites. You need to note down one thing that SharePoint 2013 allows 5,000 site collections per content database, though you can change this maximum number but standard is 5000. You also need to think about the content databases, you need plan about the size of your content database according to the data will get uploaded to community sites. You can also think about deletion or closure schedule of site which is nice feature in SharePoint.

This is all about the Community Sites.

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