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Enabling Anonymous Contributions to a SharePoint List

 
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Author: Marc D. Anderson
http://mdasblog.wordpress.com

If you are using WSS or MOSS for a public-facing site, you may want to allow people to post content in a limited way.  A great example of this is where you want to have a Contact Us form on your site.  If you have serious concerns about security, then this article is probably not a good answer.  If you are a small business or organization that wants to use WSS for a public-facing site, then this is a great tip for you.

Let’s assume that you already have a site set up which allows anonymous access (and that all of your licensing is in order to do so).  Set up a Custom List that contains the columns you want to collect; let's call it Contact Us.  Here’s an example:

This renders a form that looks something like this:

(I’ve done a little light branding on this one, so yours will look a teeny bit different.)

Now go into the List Settings for Contact Us:

(My custom branding again, and, no, it isn’t a Christmas store.)

Now go to Permissions for this list:

Then under Actions, choose Edit Permissions.  This will “break” the inheritance of permissions from the containing site, allowing you to customize the permissions for just this list.

 

Agree to the warning message:

 

Now under the newly exposed Settings menu option, choose Anonymous Access:

Finally we can set the anonymous permissions how we’d like them.  In the case of a Contact Us form, you’ll probably want to let people add items, but nothing else (you get View Items when you check Add Items):

Now you can embed a form into your Contact Us page for this list, and anyone, authenticated or not, can create items.  If you want to monitor the list, you can just set a simple alert on it.

Author: Marc D. Anderson
http://mdasblog.wordpress.com

Marc D. Anderson is a Co-Founder and the President of Sympraxis Consulting LLC, based in Newton, MA.  He has over 25 years of experience as a technology consultant and line manager across a wide spectrum of industries and organizational sizes.  Marc has done extensive consulting on knowledge management and collaboration and what makes them actually work in practice.  Marc is a very frequent “answerer” on the MSDN SharePoint - Design and Customization forum.

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Comments

Will D

Enabling Anonymous Contributions to a SharePoint List

Without some custom coding 2007 will not execute a workflow when the change is made by anonymous user. Workflows execute under the context of the current user and anonymous users do not have one.

Posted 23-Mar-2010 by Will D
SharePoint Daily

Enabling Anonymous Contributions to a SharePoint List

Managing SharePoint Users; Google Wave is More of a Ripple; Azure's Place in the Cloud... Top News Stories Five Key Steps to Managing SharePoint Users (CMS Wire) Managing user permissions in...

Posted 23-Mar-2010 by SharePoint Daily
Marc D Anderson

Enabling Anonymous Contributions to a SharePoint List

Doh! You're right, Will. I'll amend that statement above.

M.

Posted 23-Mar-2010 by Marc D Anderson
Christophe

Enabling Anonymous Contributions to a SharePoint List

Marc, could you elaborate on "If you have serious concerns about security, then this article is probably not a good answer."? What would be the security threats from enabling anonymous access to a single list?

Posted 02-Apr-2010 by Christophe
Marc Anderson

Enabling Anonymous Contributions to a SharePoint List

I've had people tell me that WSS "isn't secure". I'll let others weigh in on why because frankly, I don't know the reason for the statement. It's possible that it's a SharePoint Myth.

M.

Posted 02-Apr-2010 by Marc Anderson
Bjørn Furuknap

Enabling Anonymous Contributions to a SharePoint List

Christope,

You may want to take a look at http://furuknap.blogspot.com/2009/09/want-to-use-sharepoint-as-your-public.html to learn more about some of the dangers you face.

SharePoint security is a highly complex issue. The ease with which organizations can implement SharePoint is a dual-edged nuclear warhead. It's easy to get up and running and similarly easy to blow up parts of a continent and expose sensitive data.

Out-of-the-box, SharePoint sites are not secure.

.b

Posted 02-Apr-2010 by Bjørn Furuknap
Christophe

Enabling Anonymous Contributions to a SharePoint List

Thanks for the link Bjørn!

Posted 05-Apr-2010 by Christophe
Paul Horvath

Enabling Anonymous Contributions to a SharePoint List

Hi Marc,
You mention "without custom coding" to initiate a workflow after an Anonymous user makes a change. This is exactly what I need. In fact I am using a list for exactly the purpose you mention. Can you point me in the right direction to the code which can achieve this?
Many thanks,
Paul.

Posted 05-Jul-2010 by Paul Horvath
Marc Anderson

Enabling Anonymous Contributions to a SharePoint List

Paul:

Actually, Paul, as Will points out above, workflows won't fire for anonymous users. I took anything that I said about that out of the article back in March after Will pointed it out.

M.

Posted 06-Jul-2010 by Marc Anderson

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