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Changing a Private Sharepoint Online site to a Public one

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Jlee_Prosci
Contributor

Hey all, anyone have and advice on what is the PROPER way to take a Sharepoint Online site that was created from a MS Teams team and opening it to a Public (RO) site? We found multiple ways, but just want to know what is the best practice. Thanks!

16 Replies
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It really depends on what you mean by making a SPO site public....public or private makes more sense for Teams and Groups and not so much for SPO Sites
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@Juan Carlos González MartínPublic=viewable by anyone. Does not have to be inside our org. Does not require login. If we used Conversations on the SPO site though, would want people to login before they could make a comment.

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Solution

@Jlee_Prosci SharePoint Online does not support public websites. Everyone has to either be a member of your organization or be explicitly invited to the site.

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Yeap, what Trevor said
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Well this isn’t entirely true :smirking_face:. Depending on full use case, You can technically use a page and share it with an anonymous link for anyone to access outside the org but this will restrict you to making sure all the content and links on that page go to anonymous shared links or photos etc to prevent ahh prompts.

I use this in my org tenant currently for a pre hire information page where they can go to get forms etc. needed to be hired on and they don’t yet have an account to our systems so HR points them to this page. All links point to individually shared documents using anon links on the org site itself along with contact info web parts and HR rep photos. Works quiet well.
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Come on, anonymous access to SPO sites is not supported...that's what we mean....of course you can do some hacks to give anonymous access to specific elements (Folders, documents, pages) on SPO sites, but not to the full site.
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Well. True. And I don’t expect it to be an official answer but it is technically possible and gave a use case for it. It might not work in that use case but its a visible solution to a need :).
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Thanks @Chris Webb. I've asked around in a few places and what I get overwhelmingly is "It isn't supported. Forget it." Thanks for being a beacon of hope.
One of our use-cases is preemployment onboarding so your workaround is enticing. The problem is when we have webparts that have content that require a login and are not just simple pages we can grant anon access to.

Quite frankly, I expected better when I went digging for this. I was told numerous times to forget it. I asked why and was told "Because Microsoft doesn't support it." Cmon folks, be better than this. Push the status quo. Ask the question as to Why. After all Satya even said this week that his goal is to democratize access to data. Why not make it easy for people to access info no matter how they are creating it. Why have the barrier?

Yes, this can be done with SP on-prem, but what about orgs that do not have an on-prem server? What about making it easy and fluid for orgs to interact with people outside their tenant? Isn't that what Microsoft wants to do?

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I am seeing the attention start to focus this way thou. Power portals etc for example and guest access to powerapps. Other discussions I’ve seen around other workloads and the scenarios around d external collaboration so hopefully we will see some improvements here further but yeah it’s def an area if needed improvement.
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I highly doubt we will see a change here...when Office 365 started some years ago, we had the public site in SPO that as you know Microsoft decided to deprecate advising to have a public web site on popular web platforms such as WordPress and so on...PowerApps Portals could a good alternative here, but first you have to carefully review the prizing...and going back to the original question, SPO is not designed to provide this use case, this might change in the future thanks to the micro-services architecture that is running behind the scenes, but again I doubt it
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I mean, if a uservoice can spin up with 20k votes maybe? lol.
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It might be already there...who knows ;)
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@Jlee_Prosci Microsoft does make it easy to interact with people outside of the tenant, as external guests.  Unfortunately, you want public sites... but you are paying for a *service* and it's just not something that is offered anymore. 

With public sites, you'd be asking Microsoft to support the infrastructure/load of N number of users to Office 365... essentially for free. That really isn't a good business model. Second,  SharePoint was never the best/easiest public facing platform. There are better web hosting providers, that make it easier to consume web content.

My personal recommendation would to get up a site on a public hosting service such as GoDaddy/WordPress to share this kind of content.  Anonymous sharing links could work, if your sharing content such as files and don't need full fledged SharePoint features.

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See, now THAT's the kind of answer I was looking for. Thanks @Beau Cameron for the WHY behind the reason.

 

Would it be safe to assume it could still be used as a B2B solution where we know the people wanting access? If it is a capacity issue, do you have any guidelines as to when a site should be considered a candidate for putting on a dedicated B2C type solution? Thanks for the dialogue!

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@Jlee_Prosci Well the discussion really depends on the definition of B2C. Not only for your company, but in the eyes of Microsoft Tenants. In the outside world, we think of B2C as essentially public.

In the Microsoft Tenant world, B2C carries some of the same methodologies of the ability for non-organizational people to gain access to your content...However, Office 365 is a licensed service, meaning users who access content within your environment need licenses (either granted by you, or granted via External User flow).

I personally, do not like the idea of anonymous sharing links and in fact recommend disabling anonymous sharing links. Which makes my decision quite easy... if I have something that can be accessed by anyone, I stick it in a public site. I've built integrations with WordPress to copy/sync documents to a public word press site for this exact scenario. It benefits you for a couple of reasons.

1. You don't have to worry about access to your company's Office 365 Environment. If you have external sharing on, and anonymous links... without more IT oversight (though external perms can be managed at the site level), implementation of S&C services likes DLP, you are opening up the possibility of allowing your users to share internal content... that they shouldn't.

2. Being on a public platform allows you to create a nice looking web site, with your branding, corporate messaging and streamlined permissions management. SharePoint has never been a leader in WCM.

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I don't recommend disabling anyone links -- then you end up with uncontrolled email, a much worse scenario where you've lost all control over the content.