Topics in the real world...


We turned on Topics on 20Feb across almost all of our tenant (not that big 10+TB or so).  To provide a bit of context: we've been waiting eagerly for this and see it smack in the middle of our long term digital strategy.  We've done a fair amount of curation in advance that included

  • acronyms
  • QnAs
  • Bookmarks
  • Adding Skills to People (using Delve)

We recognize we are in early stages and understand that all documentation, particularly about the logic and behavior of the crawler itself, has not been buttoned up.  We recognize this is a journey and are ok with all of that.  We are hoping that someone else is a bit farther along and is willing to share what they've learned.  In any case, here is a status report two weeks in:


  • What the Topics crawler has done
    • Has found about 1,500 Suggested Topics, the majority of which are clients (we're a professional services firm) and for each is suggesting
      • Name
      • Alternate Names (almost all do have one or more of these
      • Suggested People
      • Suggested Documents
      • Suggested Links
    • It appears to still be doing something (more topics found today March 1)
  • What we've done (in parallel)
    • created about 50 topics from scratch (to see if this impacted the crawler in any way--it hasn't so far)
    • edited approximately 100 other Topics that the crawler suggested (to see if this impacted subsequent crawler activity--it hasn't so far)
What the crawler has not done (yet anyway)
  • Acronyms - it does not appear to have used any of our existing Acronyms
  • QnAs - it does not appear to have used any of our existing QnAs
  • Bookmarks - it does not appear to have used any of our existing Bookmarks
  • It's possible that either it just hasn't gotten to that point in its cycle or that that is in a coming version
  • Descriptions - I haven't found a single Suggested Topic for which there is a proposed Description (all are blank) despite our having a number of Acronyms defined that do contain potential Descriptions and having a number of other places where candidate descriptions might be found
  • Filter out copies or near-copies of documents - there are a number of instances (generally from older client libraries) where 3 or 4 copies of the effectively same file are listed. The crawler appears to have a rough quota of 20 or less documents per topic.
  • Relate any Topic to any other - that is, the topic network diagrams all only have one topic on them
  • Merge duplicates - in cases where the crawler suggested two topics that are in fact the same and for which we have edited both so that they each share the same name and Alternative Names, no merging of those Topics has been done (yet anyway)

Other Observations

  • edits to crawler-suggested topics take a while to appear in the Topic Manager
  • a few other sort and select views would be handy
  • some global search-and-replace tools would be handy (we did some mass moves five or so years ago and the admin personnel wo did them are showing up everywhere--makes sense since it's just reading the names attached to the files.  But it would be handy to be able to just remove en-mass specific users who are no longer here or who we humans know aren't in fact experts on the Topic at hand)
  • we haven't figured out how to add related Topics through human curation
  • it seems a bit finicky about adding links to sites it doesn't either suggest in the first place or surface in the nearby sites -- that is, pasting in the link doesn't seem to work

Would love to hear any confirmations or work-arounds or other tips and tricks.


7 Replies

@Chris Shaida 

I can confirm we are in a similar boat to you, It definitely takes a good couple of weeks from what others have said and we have found to show the full Topics it has found. I would suggest to any new person to not create new ones until this process has finished, not that you can tell when that is. I only say that as yes I tried it and got duplicates and one page published fine, the other didn't. To publish a Topic takes quite a while to show in the Published Section and then when you are trying to tag Text to create the Topic connection.

Have you managed to add the Topics App to Teams yet? We have not as yet and can't see any tagging of Topics within Teams either.

@Simon Day Addint the Topic center to Teams is a roadmap item for later this year; but you can add it now to your SP home site and link it to Teams when Connections desktop ships in the next few weeks.  


@Chris McNulty yeah I noticed that. Most of our users don't have a license so links are not as nice as getting it to show in Teams not only as a side bar app for those that do but also to highlight Topics it has found or we have promoted.

We don't currently use Bookmarks, QnA or profile properties for generating topics. For acronyms, we use the AI generated items, but not currently those created by an admin.

The network visualisation web part is currently a manual only experience (you need to add the topic links during curation). We have a roadmap item for adding AI generated relationships. Merging topics is also on the roadmap.

@James Eccles 

another 5 weeks on...


  • We believe it has made its way all the way through our tenant (about 2.5M docs, 10TB) at least once.
  • It has suggested about 5,000 topics so far
  • It continues to have difficulty finding descriptions outside of very widely used terms from the Wikipedia
  • It still has done almost nothing with Topics we've created from scratch
  • It appears to prioritize Topics the AI has created over ones humans create from scratch
  • When a human Manages Topics
    • it WILL move a Topic right away from Suggested to Confirmed
    • it takes its time (24-48+ hours) though to move a Topic from Confirmed to Published and its behavior in the meantime is rather odd
      • the edits don't always show up when accessing the Topic from the Suggested view (but do show up if one sneaks around the back door and looks at the Page itself)
      • it will let one edit the apparently unchanged page until one tries to publish but then gives a conflict error (which is good albeit somewhat late in the process)
  • we've had mixed success with the manual 'merge' hack (mentioned in a separate thread)
    • we've manually edited several Topics we want merged by making all of the Alternate Names on both exactly the same
    • a few have merged but most have not

Human Curation

  • We are beginning a more concentrated human curation process
    • We've got a small group of highly knowledgeable people now trained on the Manage Topics experience (such as it is)
    • Each has a subset of Topics to work on (parsed out manually as we couldn't figure out a way to use the Manage Topics current capabilities to tag or mark or group them)
    • One person has been combing thru Suggested each morning and acting on the new batch of Suggesteds
      • Remove any we don't want to pursue further
      • Confirm any that are
        • terms of art -- general business (like CFO or Investment Committee), industry (like NER, CAM) or intra-company (lie SYC, Leverage)
        • solutions/vendors
        • agencies/industry associations
      • This puts those groups into the Confirmed tab and lets one set of curators comb thru them using Sort and Filter
      • leave behind in Suggested any that are companies/clients - we have a separate scripted curation process for companies/clients
    • We are trusting that eventually (see above re timing of moving edited Topics from Confirmed to Published) these curated Topics will show up in Published with both the human edits as well as additional suggested elements from further AI activity


  • some sort of status of where the AI is in its process at a high level 
  • a few more human curation aids
    • filter by person
    • ability to tag topics for sorting and filtering during the Management process (just a single column with one character or number would be quite useful)
    • ability to name a Curator (we're doing this now by pinning and then manually moving that person first but this is awkward)
  • some indication that it has touched a Topic again

Thanks @Chris Shaida for such detailed feedback! We're looking forward to sharing details soon on our next set of updates, which I think will address many (if not all) of your points.

@Simon Day I agree that having the links to Topics within Teams would be make Viva Topics valuable even before the Topic Center is added to Teams.  I'm fine with curating Topics and doing the heavy lifting within SharePoint.  My goal is to have Teams members access Topics via highlights in Teams.