Let me start off by saying that in this short posting, I don’t intend to provide or discuss any solutions, that specifically address de-duplication of content in SharePoint. But rather explore the idea, that duplication of content is often mistaken for a problem its not, and that while de-duplication may seem like the most logical solution; it may really cause more problems then it solves.
I believe that when the topic of duplicate content comes up it generally revolves around content discovery, primarily the impact that duplicate content has on search results. While duplicate content is quickly pegged as the culprit, it’s really more of a discoverability issue around authorative content. Removing duplicate content may not really be the solution, but perhaps effectively surfacing authorative content by reconfiguring search result page(s), fine tuning your search configuration, and doing a better job leveraging refiners and scopes.
As a user who sometimes copies documents and presentation from other areas into my own collaboration or personal sites, I wouldn’t be in favor of a solution that automatically removes my copies. I believe that in trying to remove duplicate content, you’ll quickly find many such users, and you may ultimately find yourself trying to change too much about how your users get work done.
Of course, discoverability may not be the issue you are trying to solve with de-duplication, in which case it may ultimately have to do with storage. If so, it may point to a bigger issue around information architecture, lifecycle management, and content expiration… But I’ll leave those topics for another time in the interest of keeping this posting short.
I’ve been using MS Office 2010 as my primary office productivity suite for quite some time now and have been very pleased. It’s very clear that a lot of thought was put into the products; not just focused on added functionality, but making them more intuitive, really improving the user experience. So many features come as second nature, that you don’t even realize that they are new. Until you are stuck with a workstation with a previous version of Office installed.
One such feature is the “Share” menu, with the option to “Save to SharePoint”. The following screenshot is from the MS Word 2010 Menu after creating a brand new file… complete with Recent Locations.
May not seem like much, but try living without it after you’ve had it for quite some time.
True, we’ve had “My SharePoint Sites” within the “Save File” screen in previous versions. But its never quite worked as expected… you had to explicitly be a “Member” of the site (not through an AD group), the profile import had to be working just right, after you were made a “Member” of the site it may not have shown up on your list until the following day, and a slew of other things. You could also say that we had “My Network Places”, but that required a certain level of proactivity that often times you just don’t have.
Nothing in Office 2010 was my idea… but to whoever’s idea this feature was; Thanks for keeping my experience in mind.