SharePoint 2013 Social – Part 3 – Exploring Community Site

In category SharePoint | July 28, 2012

This is the third article of a series of exploring SharePoint 2013 social features you have ever seen so far on the Internet. In previous posts, I walked you through the following things I would like to wrap up quickly:

  • Create a new Web Application which is used to host My Site Host site collection, as well as Community Site collection I’m going to create in this post. During creating Web Application, one of the big changes you get to know is that Claims-based Authentication is now the default authentication option. Classic Mode Authentication can only be managed via PowerShell. If you need to convert from Classic Mode to Claims-based, you can use the new cmdlet Convert-SPWebApplication.
  • Synchronize user profiles from Active Directory to SharePoint 2013 Preview. In this post, you continue seeing a very new method in the operation of user profile synchronization called “Active Directory Import”. This method helps you reduce much time of synchronization by connecting directly to Active Directory repository instead of passing through FIM typically in SharePoint 2010. However, using this method, you should have to consider that your environment is just using Active Directory, not external or line-on-business system which may be needed to synchronize to SharePoint.

The series will consist of the following parts:

We are living in a new revolution of social computing networks which likely seem to be indispensable to any of us. We create many activities by sharing knowledge, helpful documents, references, information, chatting, talking to our colleagues, friends by many ways supported popularly. Some of extremely remarkable social websites are Twitter, Facebook, Google + which really attract numerous users playing around.

You may be using Twitter to tweet every SharePoint-related article you think helpful. You mention people to tell something you have tweeted is related to them as well. What are the most interesting features in Twitter you would like to tell your colleagues? Is one of those MENTION feature? Or you like the way to re-tweet. Looking at Facebook as the biggest social website currently, you will see how people happily interact together. They can like statuses whether they or their friends write. They can reply, or mention people like Twitter. So most recently we have heard the big thing that Microsoft acquired Yammer which is one of the big enterprise social website internally. Since this acquisition, people in the community anticipated that Yammer would be integrated to SharePoint 2013 on social side. However, when looking at social features in SharePoint 2013, it’s said that what Yammer has is a piece of SharePoint 2013 social features. Do you agree with this? If not, let’s get started with the new feature in SharePoint 2013 I’m about to tell you.

If you read my series from the first post, you will notice one of the new things in SharePoint 2013 I mentioned was Community Site. Community Site is a site collection which has many features, helping people in an organization share idea; ask questions, share information, mention their colleagues in a particular topic, especially a reputation point system which is introduced very first time.
Before digging into how out-of-the-box features available in Community Site make you impressed, you need to create a new Community Site site collection. The following things you need to know before creating new community site collection:

  • Gather ideas from users in your organization before creating a particular community site.
  • Select right common topics people often discuss via instant message tools like Skype, Lync, Yahoo. Commonly organizations create groups in IM tools, which support sharing screen, sending file or chatting. But it’s hard to keep conversations so users can look up content, information once they want.
  • Leveraging reasonable topics is to help your organization improve specialization skills specifically. For example, I know people need to know much more about SharePoint, I will consider creating a new SharePoint community site where people can ask any SharePoint-related questions, share good references to help colleague solve their problem. As a result, I will know how much people in my organization know about SharePoint and then propose SharePoint training courses for them.

The steps of doing this are very similar to creating a new My Site Host site collection I did in the part 1.

Open Central Administration, and then click Create site collections. In the Web Application setting, I select existing Web application. In the Title and Description setting, complete basic information for your site collection. I have realized that over 100 people in my company are following Chelsea FC so now I would like to create a Chelsea club community in my organization. In this community, I will call upon those who are fan of Chelsea club like me.

In the Web Site Address setting, select URL based on Managed Path option. If you want to create new path, click Define Managed Paths. In this case, I use the part “network” using Wildcard inclusion type.

In the Template Selection setting, select template available in SharePoint 2013. You are able to select which templates are available in SharePoint 2010. Under Select a template, select Community Site inside the Collaboration tab. Assign primary site collection administrator and also secondary if needed. Before adding, you should check if these guys are Manchester’s fans.

Finally, select quota template if you have. You can create it later on though. After some minutes, you will see the first look like the image below. There are many things changed in the user interface as you can see in the right corner of the page. You now have a sharing functionality, follow and “a zooming in” icon which helps you view in full-screen.

Generally this #1 area is called “Quick Launch”. Although you all have known that the word “App” is applied to all document libraries and lists, but Microsoft doesn’t change “Quick Launch”. I though they would change to “Quick Navigation” though. You can check under Look and Feel setting in the Site Settings page.

We have Categories section where members in this community can see what topics are group specifically. For example, my Chelsea club has some categories: News, FAQ, Quiz. Another example in terms of SharePoint community site, you would have the following categories: Administration, Development, Branding, End-Users or so on. It always depends on what most popular topics people focus on.

The Members section shows you the number of users who involve in your community. It also shows you the top contributors who have many posts, reputation points in this community. Members will be displayed when they create discussions or leave comments. If a guy just likes a discussion, he can’t be displayed in this area. In the My membership area, you can see how active you involve in community. The reputation score is calculated based on a reputation system. When you reach to a specific score, you will move to new level. All of these things can be edited via community settings.

To write a description about your community, purposes of building it, goal or anything you want, come on the About section. To edit the body content in the About page, click Page and select Edit. As you see, there is a a little change here. Site Actions link is no longer, instead BROWSE and PAGE.

And one of the very first things you need to do is tell members about why to create your community, any recurrent events, community trip or so on in the About page. You can use editor tools under FORMAT TEXT tab, and put amazing pictures, videos or web parts. These things are familiar with those who have used SharePoint 2010. Some of the things I would like to recommend in this page:

  • Add a describable image to tell people what this community is all about. I have added a very meaningful image  displaying the Chelsea team was raising the Champion League 2012 cup in front of numerously fans.
  • Put common rules like default content Microsoft puts. Don’t force people much because this may get them angry or uncomfortable. If your community is about sport or entertainment like mine, let’s open friendly as much as possible. If your community is about specific topic like SharePoint, Finance knowledge, Soft skills, Leadership ..etc, consider reasonable rules.

In the #2 area is the body content of the home page where displays all discussions members create. Click new discussion in order to create a very first discussion. In the Subject, type your title of the discussion, type content in the Body. Select Question if the discussion is a question and select Category. Basically you just have one category by default. You can create more categories later on.

Now your question is displayed in the home page, however, you have not shared this community to members yet, so nobody can access to answer your question. To share this community, click SHARE in the right corner of homepage. Type the users you want to invite to your community and then click Share. Instead of saying “Give access to you“, Microsoft changed to “Share“. When you share a site with members, you conceptually assign at least Read permission to them. In the box, you don’t need to type entirely domain structure like: abc\thuan, you just need to type first letter such as “th“, and then SharePoint will automatically list all usernames that have the first letters “th“. This is one of the things I like in SharePoint 2013 Preview.

And then members will come to your discussion and help you find out the answer, or reply what you come up.

If you think a reply should be marked as a best reply, click . And there is definitively only one best reply in a discussion.

You will see a little change after marking a best reply. Remember you can’t mark two replies as best replies. So before marking, notice the number of Likes in the reply.

In the #4 area, you can see a current summary of this community: the number of members, number of discussions and replies. You also have a list of top contributors in the #5 area. The system will rely on reputation point system to put members descending orderly.

The latest area (#3) I would like to put in the end of this post is Community tools where community administrator can:

  • Manage discussions: where you can stick normal discussions as featured discussions so members will pay attention to them.
  • Create category: as I talked about category earlier, you have only category General by default. What you will have to do is create properly categories in your community site.
  • Assign Badges: if you are taking part in StackExchange, you will definitively know what “Badges” clearly means. I will keep it secret until the next post.
  • Set up a Reputation system: where you would want to do in the SharePoint 2013 Preview. You will set up a new reputation calculation as long as it gets people really excited when using.
  • Configure community settings: it is all about what you will have to do.

Conclusion

Like the manners of Social giants like Facebook, Twitter… The phenomenal features in Community site ever made in history in SharePoint 2013 indeed attract people. You now can post a discussion, getting people involved in finding out answers, liking interesting replies like Facebook, mentioning people who may be related to a specific like Twitter, especially a new reputation point system is changing the way of getting people heading to social in SharePoint Microsoft has ever made. However, in my opinion, some of best practices of using Community site to improve your organization:

  • Don’t create many Community sites. You should figure out which topics people in your organization are often talking about. This might be a personal development topic which helps improve personality, time management, killing stress. This also might be a Financial-related topic where people can share their ideas on saving money, or doing an investment properly.
  • Make your community site more informative, and clear. Unless, people feel bored when opening your community site.
  • Encourage people in asking in community site instead of chatting via Skype, or an email. This helps you control what people are stuck on. For example, if many soft-skill questions are come up, I realize that I need to invite an instructor coming to my organization to teach about soft-skill lesson. Or if I see many English-grammar questions came up, I will probably ask to hire a native English teacher.

In the next post, I will start looking at Community settings every community site administrator needs to know to make site more efficiently in developing social community in your organization.

To be continued.

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