SharePoint 2013: Discussion boards

JoostA few weeks ago SharePoint 2013 gained the Release To Manufacturing status. With this status Microsoft states that the code is complete and that SharePoint is ready to be installed at customers. With this status we can have a look at all new features and improvements that are made in the new version of SharePoint. One of the parts that has major improvements are the discussion boards. Within this blogs I will discuss some of the new features that are available.

Lay-out
Within SharePoint 2013 the discussion bard got an thorough remake. In SharePoint the discussion board was just an list within a page or site. Within the  discussion board a topic and some information about the number of replies was displayed.

imageWithin SharePoint 2013 the discussion board is not just an list. It is an entire site with a lot more functionality. On the discussion board site we now have a complete overview about all discussion topics and possible threads within this topics. Per thread the number of replies is shown. We also see some information about the creator of the thread, who has the latest reply and the date of the latest reply.
Not only the threads are important on the discussion boards welcome page but also the contributors. At the right side we also see a list of the top contributors in the discussion board. The top contributors are defined on a system based on points. In this way we are able to stimulate the usage of the discussion board.

Reputation Settings
As mentioned before points can be earned within the new discussion board. Points can be obtained by creating new threads (by default 1 point). Users can also score points by:

  • Replying to posts (Default 10 points);
  • post is liked or rated with a 4 or 5 star rating (default 20 point);
  • Post is marked as Best Reply (default 100 points);

Furthermore it is possible to gain achievement levels. The achievement level displays the number of points that are scored by the user. Within the discussion board 5 levels can be defined. For each user the achievement level is displayed on the discussion boards home page. The achievement level can be displayed as a plain text marked as ‘level …’ or with as a  visual (a bar of squares, see picture below). Where each square is displaying an achievement level.

image

The number of points that can be earned, is easy to adjust, by opening the settings page (Reputation Settings). We also can  define if the posts can be liked or can be rated with a five star rating system. Within this page it is also possible to change the achievement levels. Here we can choose whether or not the image is displayed or that the achievement is displayed as text. And the last setting is to manage the list of gifted badges.

Badges
Using the new discussion boards enables the organization to create badges for the users. The amount of badges is not set, so the administrators can provide an large amount of badges. The names of these badges are also not set, so the administrator has all freedom to create new interesting names for the badges. These badges needs to be assigned by administrators to the discussion board users.

Unfortunately the badges are not dependent on the amount of points that are gained in the discussion boards. By connecting these two functionalities a very important tricker to reward knowledge sharing is missing.  At the moment administrators are able to manually assign badges to the users, so it is possible to create a rewarding system.

Conclusion
In my opinion the discussion board has had a thorough make over, and is now vastly gaining an mature status. I absolutely think this is a major progression by Microsoft. By using the discussion boards knowledge sharing throughout the organization can now be more organized. Furthermore originations are now able to reward users more when knowledge is shared. In this case knowledge sharing can get of significant more potential than in the past.

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