K: “Hi Ellen, can you post this on the ICT News page for me, please?”
E: “Sure Karla, will do and I’ll let you know when you can review it.”
K: “Can you make sure all comments are directed to me?”
E: “Uh…I do not know if that is possible, I will try to find out.”
The other day a reader of my blog asked me how you can send the News comments to the person mentioned as the Author (rather than the person who created the post). I did not have an answer ready, so I decided to find out and report. I love investigating these kinds of things and finding as many workarounds as I can!
And yes, I have found a few workarounds.
Recap of the basics:
1. Read my earlier post on the topic
I suggest you read my earlier post “4 ways to manage comments on SharePoint news and pages” as a starting point.
2. By default, the Creator of the News post = the Author
When you use the defaults, the post will appear with you as the Author.
When you post something on someone else’s behalf, it is possible to click on the Author field and insert name or email address of the author. The author’s name will then be displayed on various places as the responsible person for this post.
You can simply click on the field below the title and insert the name/email address of the author. BTW, this is called the Author Byline. You can make the Author Byline visible in the Site Pages library (see screenshot with #6)
3. Readers can Like and Comment to posts and comments
There’s a simple thumbs-icon for Likes and a field to add comments. Anyone who can read the News post can give feedback.
This setting is enabled by default. If you find it is not, check with your SharePoint or Office365 admin because this is a setting in the SharePoint admin center > Settings >Pages.
The Author can decide to turn Comments off, but for News I do not think this is good practice. For Pages it can be a good idea, especially if they are meant for long-term usage.
4. You can receive or stop email notifications of Likes and/or Comments
- Check your settings on the SharePoint Homepage.
- Click the gear wheel top right
- Select Email Notifications Settings
- Make sure you have the first 3 enabled if you want to be notified.
Please note this setting is for all sites you have access to, so you cannot set this per site.
5. External publishers (Creators or Authors) NEVER get email notifications
I do not think this will be a big deal for most organizations, but in my own tenant, where I am the only user, I always need externals when I want to test things like these.
So I need to plan my tests carefully. 😊
6. You can show Likes in the Pages Library
You can make the column Like Count visible in the Pages Library. This can be helpful if you do not want to receive an email every time, but you do want to keep track of Likes.
You cannot show Comments in this way, nor is there a list of Comments in the site, as far as I know.
7. Email notifications only go to the Creator of the post
And this is where the problem is. Although Karla would like to receive a notification of the comments, they will always be sent to me.
How can I make sure that the Author gets notified of comments and likes?
There is no simple straightforward way to set this, but workarounds a. to d. may help:
a. Train people to ALWAYS @ the Author when making a comment
As you do not see who the Creator is (unless you go to the Site Pages library) this will have to become a habit for every post within the organization. This will need education and change management!
These comments will go to the Creator (when mentioned) and also to external Creators and Authors, so this is very dependable. 😊
However, if you are a Creator who has disabled Comments on the SharePoint homepage, you will still get these messages. 😒
b. Use an Outlook Rule to forward Comments to the Author
The Creator must be internal and needs to make sure he or she has comments enabled on their SharePoint Home Page. They can then forward notification mails to the Author.
If they always create News for someone else, or for the same person, they can add a simple Forward rule based on the word “Comment” in the subject.
If they only occasionally post News on someone else’s behalf, they will need to be more specific and create a new Outlook Rule for every post, based on the title. 😒
If the Creator does not like to have the comments, they can add an additional rule that these messages are deleted immediately after forwarding.
This also works for external Authors, providing your organization has not blocked external forwarding.
c. Use PowerAutomate
I tried to find a “trigger” for the addition of a Comment or Like, in order to notify the person in Author Byline if this was different from the person in Modified By, but could not find it. Whenever I thought I had a good trigger, I could not select the Site Pages library, so I guess Power Automate does not want me to automate something from here. (Which is strange, as the Power Automate link is visible in the Site Pages library)
Does anyone know if this is correct? Or have I just selected the wrong triggers?
Of course you can use Power Automate to forward the email that goes to the Creator, but I find Outlook Rules much easier to use.
d. Add a web part with instructions to move the conversation to Yammer or Teams
You can also disable Comments and divert the discussion to a Yammer or Teams community. The Author can set notifications there and join the discussion.
(For external Authors, please make sure you have externally facing communities!)
This will be most useful for updates for important projects that will stay in the organization for some time, as it will allow you to have an ongoing conversation about the project and its outcomes.
For a very temporary news post I think it is too much work, unless you have a generic News discussion community.
There are also some options that do NOT work or are not advisable:
e. Set Alert for Likes
Likes or Comments do not count as a “Modification of an existing item”. The Modified column shows no change when a Like or Comment is added. So, an Alert does not work for this purpose.
f. Set SharePoint Rule “when column value changes”
Sadly, this type of Rule, available for most types of modern Libraries and Lists, is not available for Site Pages libraries. 😒
For more information on this nice, but rather obscure functionality, read my earlier post: List Alerts Rule.
g. Add a web part with instructions and Author’s contact details
You could disable Comments and add the Author’s contact details and ask people to message or email them. (Just clicking on the Author’s name will already bring these details, but you may need to be more specific)
Apart from being extra work for the Creator, this will make the comments invisible to the rest of the organization. Comments are meant to start some open discussion in the organization. Moving this discussion to a personal email conversation is not the way to go.
I think being able to redirect Comments to the Author of a News post or page is useful functionality. There are a number of items on this topic in the Microsoft Feedback Portal and you may want to add your votes.
Depending on the situation one of the following workarounds may work:
- The best option for now is to train your users to always use the @mentioning in Comments. This will always send a notification to the person in question, external or not.
However, this will override disabled notifications for Comments on the SharePoint home page. 😒
- If you post for the same person on a regular basis, you can set an Outlook Rule to forward the comment email to the Author.
- If the News is part of an important organizational topic or project (and you post on behalf of the Project Manager, for instance) you may want to switch off Comments on the page and direct people to a Yammer or Teams community for any comments and discussion.
Please let me know if you have found other options!
Thank you very much for looking into this! I think we will go for option A and try to develop a system of tagging authors.
I’ve been heavily exploring the use of Yammer as an alternative to page comments, but you’re right – unless the infrastructure is already in place (communities, policies, trained staff, etc.) it would be a lot of work for one-off posts.
One method I’ve explored is to use Yammer as the central point of news and updates and a (static) SharePoint page as an information hub. For example, an internal committee that’s promoting an upcoming event can create a “hub” page in SharePoint with all of the key information, files, etc. That same page can include a feed of Yammer posts filtered by a specific topic (i.e.: Events – Holiday Party 2022), so whenever staff visit that page – they see all of the updates, questions, and discussion in one place.
If you want to get really wild, you can take that “hub” page in SharePoint and post it as news and/or post it to a Team Channel for extra visibility.
Hi Alex, great idea! Another organization I worked for used a workflow to repost all SharePoint news items to Yammer and asked people to discuss it there. That was custom news, before Microsoft had it. It worked but not optimally as people had to go to Yammer and not everyone wanted to do that. So succes is also depending on what is used in your organization.