Social computing terminology and concepts in SharePoint Server 2013

SharePoint 2013

Applies to: SharePoint Server 2013

Topic Last Modified: 2015-03-09

Summary: Learn about the terminology and concepts related to social computing in SharePoint Server 2013.

Use this article as a reference to understand the terms and concepts related to social computing in SharePoint Server 2013.

Table: Common terms and definitions for social computing

Term Description


A post is an initial message that is created by a user or generated by the system.


A reply is a response to a post.


An activity is either a post or a reply. Posts and replies are collectively known as activities.


A conversation consists of a single post and any number of replies.


When members post or reply to threads, other members can like the original post or individual replies. Likes provide a method to collect public validation or support for a message.

With My Sites, likes are available in the newsfeed. A user can view previously liked items from the Likes view in the newsfeed.

With Community Sites, likes are available for posts and replies. Members can improve their reputation in the community by building up likes.

Additionally, you can enable ratings on any list or library in the SharePoint site, and choose to use either likes or star ratings. These likes and ratings appear in the newsfeed.

Table: Terms and definitions for Community Sites

Term Description


A category is a unit of organization to define similar characteristics of discussions. For example, in a Community Site for products, there might be a separate category for each product that a company manufactures.

Discussions and threads

Categories contain discussions, which in turn contain threads. Discussions often focus on a question or a specific area of interest for member feedback. Members contribute to discussions by replying to the original post, which creates a thread within the discussion.


Users who visit a Community Site can join and become a member of the community. Members are maintained in a SharePoint list that contains additional information that is specific to the user within the Community Site.


A visitor is a person who visits a community but is not yet a member.


A member is a person who joins the community and has permission to participate.


A moderator is a community member who has permission and access to tools to manage, or moderate, the community settings and members.

Moderation involves reviewing and addressing posts that are flagged as inappropriate, setting rules for discussions, specifying interesting content as featured discussions to promote them, and so on. Strong moderation is important to promote quality content, to help users find useful content, and to make sure that that boundaries are in place to make the community successful.


Each member of the Community Site earns a reputation within the community. Users earn a reputation based on specific activities and feedback from other members, such as when the member’s posts are liked frequently or rated as a best answer.

Reputation functionality is maintained at the site level, and is specific only to that Community Site; in other words, reputation does not span sites within a site collection. This is by design because a member might be considered more reputable in one community than another community. Moderators and site owners define and adjust reputation settings for the community as a whole.

Gifted badges

Moderators and site owners can give a user a gifted badge to designate the user as a special contributor of the community. Gifted badges replace earned reputation. For example, you might give a gifted badge to highlight users who are experts in an area.

Best reply

In a discussion, one reply can be designated as the best reply. Only the original poster or moderators can designate best replies. By building up best replies, members can improve their reputation in the community.

Table: Terms and definitions for Microblogging, Newsfeeds, and Distributed Cache

Term Definition

User Activity

A user activity is a post or reply originating from a user, and not a system-generated post or reply.


Following refers to a user-initiated action that indicates a user's interest in a specific document, person, site, or tag. When a user follows an item, new activities about that item appear in the user's newsfeed on the user’s My Site.


When members post or reply to threads, they can tag other users by mentioning them. A mention takes the form of an at symbol (@) and the user’s name. The user profile service returns a list of names that match the member’s input. When users are mentioned, the users receive an activity in their My Site newsfeed that alerts them to the mention.


When members post or reply to threads, they can tag words by using hash tags. A hash tag takes the form of a number symbol (#) and the corresponding words that the member wants to include in the tag. The managed metadata service returns a list of terms that match the member’s input. When a post contains tags, the newsfeed displays an activity related to that tag, and any users who follow that tag see the activity in their newsfeed.


A notification is a system-generated email that notifies a user of an activity occurring on a thread they contributed to, or notifying the user that someone has started following him or her, or notifying the user that someone has mentioned him or her.


An entity is a person, document, tag, or site. Entities can be followed.

Feed or Newsfeed

A feed is a generic term that is used to refer to a container of conversation and activities. Special purpose feeds exist, such as the Likes view or the Consolidated Feed, where these feeds show different views or filtered views of conversations and activities. For example, the Likes view shows all items liked by the user. The Activities view, shows all activities, such as following a person, posts or replies performed by the user.

Likes view

The Likes view is a feed of activities liked by the user

Activities view

The Activities view is a feed showing all posts, replies and likes made by the user

Mentions view

The Mentions view is a feed showing all messages where the user was mentioned.

Everyone view

The Everyone view is the feed with all activities from all users.

Site feed

The site feed is a feed scoped to a particular group of users. The site feed is a feature on a team site. Security trimming applies to site feeds.

Consolidated feed

The consolidated feed is a feed that contains threads from entities a user is following. By default, the consolidated feed displays 20 items and is ordered in reverse chronological order. This is the default view of the newsfeed shown on the user's My Site.

Distributed Cache

The Distributed Cache is a service that provides caching functionality which runs on an application server in SharePoint Server 2013. All microblog features in SharePoint Server 2013 depend on the Distributed Cache service.

Feed Cache

The feed cache is an in-memory data store that stores recent activities of entities and provides data to various feeds on-demand. The feeds cache requires the Distributed Cache service to be running.