Join a discussion

A discussion is the cornerstone of an online community. It’s where ideas are exchanged, opinions offered, and arguments debated. Discussions are generally free form and can cover a wide range of topics. They might be lengthy and include lots of participants or be confined to just a few posts between two members.

In this article


Find discussions

You can find discussions in multiple ways:

  • Browse through discussions on the community’s home page. Most communities have a summary view of recent and popular discussions on the home page.
  • Browse community categories. Categories are established by the community owner or moderator. Members assign their discussions to the category with the closest match to the discussion topic.
  • Search your community or intranet portal for topics of interest. Both discussions and replies are fully searchable and will show up in search results.

Use summary view

  1. On the home page of the community, click the links at the top of the page.
  • Click Recent to view only the latest discussions.
  • Click What’s hot to see the most active discussions.
  • Click My discussions to see only those discussions you initiated.
  • Click the Open Menu () to change the view to Featured discussions.
  • Click the Open Menu () to change the view to Unanswered questions.
  • Click the Open Menu () to change the view to Answered questions.

Browse community categories

  1. On any page within the community, in the Quick Launch, click Categories.
  2. Browse the categories in one of these ways:
  • Alphabetically by clicking the A-Z or Z-A links.
  • By amount of activity. Click What’s hot.
  • By most recent activity. Click the Open Menu (), and then click Recent.
  • By page when categories fill multiple pages. Click the arrow at the bottom of each page to advance or go back.
  1. Click the tile of the category you want to explore.
  2. Scroll the list of discussions, or sort them in one of these ways:
  • By most recent activity. Click Recent.
  • By amount of activity. Click What’s hot.
  • By discussions you’ve already started or replied to. Click My discussions.
  • By unanswered questions. Click the Open Menu (), and then click Unanswered questions.
  • By answered questions. Click the Open Menu (), and then click Answered questions.
  • By featured status. Click the Open Menu (), and then click Featured.
  1. Click the discussion title to read the full discussion, including replies.

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Participate in discussions

Participating in discussions enables you to meet other people with similar interests and learn from their expertise. Participation also earns achievement points, which contribute to your reputation as a community member. Your reputation statistics, such as number of discussions, replies, best replies, and so on, are displayed alongside your name and photo within the community and added to the newsfeed on your MySite. Anyone following you will get a notification in their newsfeed anytime you start a discussion or post a reply. (If you don’t want your community participation shared in Newsfeeds, you can turn off sharing by editing your personal profile.)

 Note    You must be a member of the community to participate in discussions.

Start a discussion

  1. From the home page of your community or from any of the categories, click new discussion.
  2. In the Subject box, type a succinct title as the subject for your post. Be specific as possible, because this text will be displayed in summary views of all posts on the community home and category pages.
  3. In Body, type the content of your post. Rich-text formatting options are available on the Format Text tab. You can also insert tables, images, audio and video, links, and code snippets.
  4. In Question, select the check box if you are seeking an answer to your post from the community.
  5. In Category, select the most appropriate category for your content. You can’t add new categories from here.

     Note    Only community owners and moderators can add categories.

  6. Click Save.

Reply to a discussion

  1. From the community home page or any of the category pages, click the title of the discussion you want to reply to.
  2. In the Add a reply box, type your reply. Note that you can reply to the original post or to any of the replies.
  3. Click Reply.

Edit your post

  1. From the community home page or any of the category pages, click the title of the discussion you want to edit. You can only edit your own posts.
  2. Click the Open Menu (), and then select Edit.
  3. Make your desired changes, and then click Save.

Rate a discussion

You can rate the root discussion post or any individual reply in a discussion, giving achievement points to the post’s author and helping to build the author’s reputation rating. Depending on how the community owner set up the community, discussion ratings come in two forms:

  • Likes    Users can like or unlike posts.
  • Stars    Users assign from 1 to 5 stars to posts.

To rate a discussion

  1. From the community home page or any of the category pages, click the title of the discussion you want to rate.
  2. Beneath the initial post or any of the replies, do either of the following:
  • Click the number of stars you want to assign to the post. For example, if you think the post deserves three stars, click the third star.
  • Click Like. If you change your mind about the rating, click Unlike.

Mark a reply to your post as the “best reply”

As the author of a discussion, you can mark any of the replies to your discussion as a “best reply.” This is useful when one reply stands out as particularly interesting or useful or explicitly answers the question you posed. Not only is the best reply helpful for highlighting information in a discussion, it also contributes to the author’s reputation rating and the reputation of the discussion itself. Best replies are displayed at the top of the discussion thread right below the original post.

  1. Scroll to the reply you want to mark. You can only mark replies to discussions that you started.
  2. Click the Open Menu (), and then click Best reply.
  3. If you change your mind, click the Open Menu (), and then click Remove best reply.

Delete a discussion

Members can delete their own discussions but can’t delete those started by other members. Once you delete a discussion, all replies and ratings associated with it will be deleted too. Achievement points will be recalculated to reflect the change. Moderators can delete discussions and replies if necessary.

  1. From the community home page or any of the category pages, click the title of the discussion you want to delete.
  2. Click the Open Menu (), and then select Delete.
  3. When asked to confirm, click OK.

Delete a reply

  1. Scroll to the reply you want to delete. You can only delete your own replies.
  2. Click the Open Menu (), and then select Delete.
  3. When asked to confirm, click OK.

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Use alerts to keep track of posts

Keeping track of various discussion threads can be a daunting task, particularly in an active community. Alerts make the task easier because they do the work of monitoring community activity and notify you when a reply gets posted to discussions you started or are following. Alerts are configurable and can be delivered by email or text message.

Set an alert

  1. From the community home page or any of the category pages, click the title of the discussion you want to follow.
  2. At the root of the discussion, click the Open Menu (), and then select Alert me.
  3. On the New Alert page, fill out all applicable fields.
  • In Alert Title, verify the title displayed. This title is pulled from the discussion subject.
  • In Send Alerts To, enter names of all users who should receive the alert. Separate each name with a semicolon.
  • In Delivery Method, select either E-mail or Text Message. The email and/or mobile address are pulled from your MySite profile. If no address exists, the delivery method will be disabled.
  • In Change Type, select the general type of changes you want to be alerted to. These include all changes, new items only, changes to existing items, and deleted items.
  • In Send Alerts for These Changes, indicate the specific changes to alert you to. These include changes to posts created by you, posts followed by you, posts modified by you, and so on.
  • In When to Send Alerts, select the frequency of alerts. Choices are immediately, daily, or weekly.
  • Click OK.

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Applies to:
SharePoint Online Enterprise (E1), SharePoint Online Enterprise (E3 & E4), SharePoint Online Midsized Business, SharePoint Online operated by 21Vianet - Enterprise (E1 & E2), SharePoint Online operated by 21Vianet - Enterprise (E3 & E4), SharePoint Online operated by 21Vianet - Midsized Business, SharePoint Server 2013 Enterprise