Keep up with all of the essential KM news with a FREE subscription to KMWorld magazine. Find out more and subscribe today!

SharePoint 2013 Readiness - It's the metadata, stupid!

Article Featured Image

For the purposes of this discussion, we'll assume you already have access to Term Store Management - through Central Administration or Site Actions.  Here are four important actions to use in preparing your metadata definitions  - all of which can be reached via right mouse click on the tag or term. 

Keywords (Folksonomy tags)

  • Delete Obvious typos, errors, tests etc. are clutter. Get rid of them!
  • Move The best reason to move a keyword is because it anticipated something that should be in formal taxonomy, or because it's a synonym for another taxonomy term.
    • For example, suppose you have a term for a project "P90125 IT: Data Center Move". If you find a tag/keyword "P90125" it's reasonable to infer that users are using this a shorthand rather than searching for and typing in the whole term. Moving the keyword "up" into an MMS term set is the first step in merging the keyword to another one, and sustaining it as a synonym. (We'll go through merge in a second.) For now, we just need to specify the target term set for the move (shown below).

Terms (Taxonomy) 

Obviously, we can always delete terms, but the two most common admin activities are deprecate and merge,

  • Deprecate This leaves the tag in place but removes it from being used in the future. For example, closed projects or obsolete divisions should still be seen as valid identifiers for older documents. But you probably don't want to confuse users by including the option for erroneously finding and adding old codes to new documents
  • Merge This is a powerful way to consolidate terms while preserving the fact that these tags were available before. But you can only merge taxonomy terms, not keywords - which is why promoting keywords by moving them up from the folksonomy is the first step. Taking the example above, we can merge the "P90125" term into the full "P90125 IT Data Center Move" term. You'll get a reminder that the process is irreversible (which is OK). 

You don't need to revisit each document to enforce this change - that's the advantage of making the shift in the central database.  Once complete, the merged term will be added as a suggested synonym for the full term. 

Remember, it's impossible to predetermine all possible end-user preferences for keywords and categories.   Users can generate a lot of potentially redundant keywords, which is OK as long as clear boundaries are established.  One of the less well understood features in SharePoint MMS is the synonym functions.  Synonyms are available in term sets and taxonomies - but not for keywords.   Create a few very general term sets - e.g., "Topics" - and promote frequently used keywords into the Topics term set so they can be merged and grouped with synonyms.  That way, users can be gently steered toward a common syntax for a tag like "Office 365" if they type "O365" as a keyword.


Preparing your content and applications for an upgrade to SharePoint is only part of the plan.  If your enterprise wants to sustain and amplify the value of knowledge managed in SharePoint, don't overlook the metadata!

KMWorld Covers
for qualified subscribers
Subscribe Now Current Issue Past Issues