Taxonomies for SharePoint 2010 Must be Secured Against Inadvertent Disruption from Unauthorized Changes, or Reuse of Terms

The change and/or reuse functions provided by the Term Store Management Tool for SharePoint 2010 should also be manage under a taxonomy governance plan. Copying terms is an easy process. Once again, one simply right clicks on a term and selects “copy”. However, it is important to note that the copied term will not appear with the description of the original term. In fact, SharePoint system treats the copied term as a separate, distinct data element, and, accordingly, provides separate GUIDs for the original term as well as for the copy.

The label for a copied term includes mention that the term is a copy. It is not possible to delete the “copy of” syntax from the label as long as the term is a child of the original parent term.

A governance policy for taxonomy should be produced and enforced in order to prohibit everyday users from copying terms. As Mike Doane, author of our series Manage Enterprise Metadata with Taxonomy Management in SharePoint 2010, notes, the fact that SharePoint treats copied terms as wholly separate, and distinct data elements with discrete GUIDs can be problematic; therefore, it makes sense to restrict everyday users from copying terms within a governance plan for taxonomies.

Mike recommend simply “reusing” terms as a better alternative to copying them. As our course demonstrates, the procedure for reusing terms should begin at the intended destination point in the taxonomy, and, then, work back to the original term. Reused terms do appear with exactly the same attributes of original terms, including description, labels and GUIDs. Reused terms, therefore, are easier to manage than copied terms. Reused terms are designated with a special symbol within the navigation pane of the Term Store Management tool.

Despite the fact that the “reuse” function does not result in separate GUIDs for each instance of term use, there are some clear drawbacks to using the “reuse” function of the Term Store Management Tool. These drawbacks include the fact that any changes made to the the term, regardless of where these changes are made, will automatically be made to each instance where the term has been used, or reused. Of course, it may be very important that the description for a term remain consistent and pertinent within specific term sets. Therefore, it is easy to conceptualize the type of chaos that can ensue should descriptions, and labels change as the same terms are applied across different term sets.

Once again, it makes sense to include clearly presented procedures within a governance plan for taxonomy for how reused terms are to be implemented. Of course, one user should be designated as the owner of the process to ensure that an easily followed audit trail can accompany any reused terms for later review. Process owners and stakeholders can be set within the properties box for the parent term set to ensure that changes cannot be made unless and until proper prior notice has been provided to term set owners and/or stakeholders. As an extra safeguard, email addresses can be added via this properties box for the overall term set. Finally, the submission policy can be set to “closed,” or to “open”. When the submission policy is closed, further changes will not be possible.

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