Understanding SharePoint 2013 Communities

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If you have ever used an online discussion forum, you probably already have a good understanding of what these communities are going to look like. Essentially, you will be able to use an internal bulletin board system to harness existing company culture.

According to a post on CMS Wire, Here are some of the traits of the new SharePoint communities that were clearly borrowed from online forums and social media sites:

–        The ability to post topics such as questions, ideas, and business guidelines

–        The ability to post a reply to the topic, or a direct reply to comments made by others

–        The ability to rate topics and replies, either with a “like” or a five star rating system

–        The ability to sort the discussion board by the ratings of others

–        The ability of members to earn points for their contributions by receiving “likes,” 4 or 5 star ratings, or a “best reply” status from a moderator

It’s easy to see that these features can be leveraged to create an incredibly helpful resource on the intranet, or they could become a massive distraction as people find themselves preferring to use the forum instead of getting work done.

Clearly, the role of the community moderators is going to be an important part of the process, as this will ensure that the community stays on track and work-focused. At the same time, good moderation isn’t going to become so overbearing that users prefer not to use the forum at all. Overbearing moderation could even result in slowing things down by enforcing unnecessary rules.

Ideally, SharePoint communities will be best leveraged as a way of offering employees quick access to information that they need to have, but wouldn’t necessarily warrant a phone call or face-to-face meeting. The fact that the discussion takes place publicly, and can be repeatedly viewed and revisited, means that questions that used to be asked 100s of times should only need to be asked once.

The potential counter-problem is, of course, information overload. Company policy and culture is going to be an important part of working out how to offer quick access to useful information, and advising people when it’s more appropriate to avoid the forum and have a direct conversation instead.

By: SBS Group New England – Massachusetts SharePoint, Microsoft Dynamics ERP & CRM and Microsoft Master VAR

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