Managing Web Discussions

Web sites based on Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services include Web discussion (Web discussion: Comments that users attach to Web pages and documents. Known as Web discussions to differentiate from discussion boards. Requires a Web server that is running SharePoint Team Services or Windows SharePoint Services.), a special collaboration feature that allows users to communicate with each other on the World Wide Web. Web discussions are threaded discussions that allow users to collaborate on HTML documents or on any document that can be opened with a browser (such as .htm, .xls, .doc, and .ppt files) on a server running Windows SharePoint Services. Users can add and view discussion items located within documents, or general discussion items located in the discussion pane.

About Web Discussions

Users can participate in discussions about documents created in word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation programs compatible with Windows SharePoint Services, such as Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, and Microsoft PowerPoint, as well as any HTML or Rich Text Format (RTF) file. The threaded discussions are maintained in the content databases (content database: The Microsoft SQL Server or WMSDE database that contains the content for one or more SharePoint sites.) for the site.

To participate in a discussion, users click the Discuss button on the Microsoft Internet Explorer toolbar, or in a spreadsheet, word processing, or presentation program compatible with Windows SharePoint Services; or click the Web Discussions command (Online Collaboration submenu on the Tools menu). If the document is stored in a document library, you can also use the Discuss option on the Edit menu for the document. All user discussion items are displayed in a shared document that users can view either in the original application or in Internet Explorer.

Because discussion items are stored separately from the shared document, users can modify the document without affecting the collaborative discussion. This separation also allows multiple users to create and edit discussion items simultaneously. Users can also add discussion items to read-only documents.

By using the Web Discussions toolbar, users can view Web discussions, search for discussion items, or filter discussions by author or by date and time. Inline discussions print as part of the document, while discussions in a discussion pane print on a separate page when the document is printed. Users can view discussions offline, but they cannot add to them offline.

Editing Discussion Items

The logon authentication account identifies a user, and depending on the site group (site group: A custom security group that applies to a specific Web site. Users are assigned to site groups to grant them rights on a SharePoint site.) assigned to a user, the user has different rights for working with discussion items in a document library or list. For example, in a document library, a user with View Items rights can only view other users' discussion items but cannot contribute to the discussion. Whereas a user with Add Items, Edit Items, and Delete Items rights can participate in discussions, and can also edit or remove other users' discussion items.

With Windows SharePoint Services, and with the appropriate user rights, you can perform the following actions on an existing discussion item:

  • Reply — Append your discussion item to another user's discussion item.
  • Edit — Change your own or another user's discussion item.
  • Delete — Delete your own or another user's discussion item.
  • Close — Mark a discussion item as closed.
  • Close Item and Replies — Mark a discussion item and any replies as closed.
  • Activate — Restore a discussion item after it has been closed.

A user must have the correct rights to view, edit, reply to, or delete a discussion comment in a site. The following table explains the rights required to work with discussion comments within different environments in a Web site:

Action Right Required (Web Site Page) Right Required (Document or Attachment) Right Required (List View and Form pages)
View discussions View Pages View Items View Items
Insert a discussion Add and Customize Pages Add Items Manage Lists
Edit a discussion Edit Items Edit Items Manage Lists
Delete a discussion Delete Items Delete Items Manage Lists
Close a discussion Add and Customize Pages Manage Lists Manage Lists
Close an item and replies Add and Customize Pages Manage Lists Manage Lists
Activate a discussion Add and Customize Pages Manage Lists Manage Lists

For more information about which site groups include these rights, see User Rights and Site Groups.

Anyone with rights to view discussions (from View items on up) can close his or her own discussion items. When discussions are marked closed, they are not deleted from the database, and therefore there is no risk of losing important information. If the discussion is needed again, it can be restored by using the Activate command.

Modifying Documents That Contain Discussion Threads

Because discussion items are not stored in the document, users can modify the document independently from any discussions they create.

The following table explains how a modification to a document can affect threaded discussions in a document.

When a document is modified in this way The discussion data is affected this way
The change is made in an area without a discussion item attached. Inline and general discussions are not affected.
The change is made in an area with a discussion item attached. Inline discussions attached to modified text are moved to the General discussions area and marked as "mismatched." General discussions are not affected.
The entire document is moved, renamed, or deleted. All inline and general discussions are lost.

Managing Web Discussions

You can view and delete discussion threads (discussion thread: In a discussion board or Web discussions, a series of messages or comments in which replies to a message or comment are nested directly under it, instead of the messages or comments being arranged in chronological or alphabetical order.) on your discussion server (discussion server: A computer that stores discussion text and information about the location of the file being discussed.). To manage discussion threads, you use the Manage Discussions page in the Site Administration pages for your site or subsite.

Manage Web discussion threads
  1. On the site, click Site Settings.
  2. On the Site Settings page, under Administration, click Go to Site Administration.
  3. On the Site Administration page, under Management and Statistics, click Manage Web discussions, and then do any of the following:
Applies to:
Deployment Center 2003