Originally published April 27, 2016

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If you are one of the network admins for a Yammer network, one of your responsibilities is to govern the network, including:

  • Establish guidelines, principles, and creation/retention/deletion criteria for groups and networks
  • Monitor activity, moderate content according to guidelines, intervene as required, merge redundant groups, delete unneeded groups, and help retire groups when no longer needed

This post provides details on when and how to delete groups, users, threads, posts, files, topics, external networks and related networks. It is specific to Yammer, but can be adapted to other enterprise social networks (ESNs).

1. Groups

  • Publish guidelines for group deletion as described below
  • Regularly search for +”has created the” +group and immediately delete redundant, inappropriate, or inadvertently-created groups
  • Conduct weekly and monthly reviews as described below
  • Regularly delete inactive groups with “test” in the name

How to govern enterprise social network groups

Post a policy that states that groups which are redundant with other existing groups, are poorly-described, or have no activity may be deleted by the network admins. For example:

  1. If you create a public group for a subject which is already covered by, or is a subset of, an existing group, the new group may be deleted.
  2. Start with an initial post defining the group’s objectives and target audience. If you don’t post to the new group within one week of creating it, it may be deleted.
  3. If a group will include confidential or sensitive discussions, it should be private. If you create a public group for this purpose, it may be changed to private.

Each week, review all groups created during the past week. Look for those groups with:

  1. A subject which is already covered by, or is a subset of, an existing group
  2. No posts within one week of creation
  3. No description
  4. A description which does not help explain the group’s purpose
  5. Inappropriate privacy (should be public, not private, or vice versa)

Each month, review all existing groups to find those for which:

  1. There is no admin
  2. There has been no post in the last month
  3. The only posts are made to give the appearance of activity
  4. There is no description
  5. There have been no posts
  6. There has been only one poster
  7. There are fewer than two members
  8. The name of the group is very similar to another group
  9. The privacy is inappropriate (should be public, not private, or vice versa)
  10. There are questions which have not been answered within 24 hours

Provide guidance to all group admins to help them keep their groups active. For example:

Groups which have had no new posts in the past 30 days or which have multiple unanswered questions may be deleted. To prevent a group from being deleted, do the following:

  1. Subscribe to email notifications for the group to monitor what is being posted
  2. Make sure that questions receive answers within 24 hours
  3. Intervene as necessary if something posted is inappropriate, or contains confidential, sensitive, or third-party content not owned by us
  4. Set a calendar reminder to check the group at least once a week to see if new posts have been made
  5. If no posts have been made in the past week, start a new thread, or share relevant conversations taking place elsewhere with the group

Groups may also be deleted if:

  1. There is no group admin
  2. Multiple questions are unanswered after 24 hours
  3. Posts are all cross-posted shares from other groups
  4. Posts are all from the same person, with no replies
  5. Posts were made to keep the group from being deleted, but are not of any value

If any of the following conditions exist for more than a month, your group may be deleted:

  1. No posts in the past month
  2. No group admin
  3. No group description
  4. Unanswered questions
  5. Posts are all cross-posted shares from other groups
  6. Posts are all from the same person, with no replies
  7. Posts were made to keep the group from being deleted, but are not of any value
  8. If membership requires approval, there are pending requests that have not been responded to in the past month
  9. If it is a public group, it overlaps with other public groups focused on a similar subject
  10. If it is a public group, it has fewer than 30 members

Public groups with a small number of members

  • Groups with 200 or more members tend to be more active and provide better business results than smaller groups.
  • The rule of thumb is that 10% of the members will participate at all, and only 1% will regularly be active in discussions and presentations. In small communities, 1% can be rounded to zero. If only a handful of people speak up, that will not usually sustain momentum.

Groups with no admin

  • If the group is important and active, post to ask someone to volunteer, or assign the most active member as admin. Here is a message you can post: “This group has no group admin. If you are willing to take over as the group admin, and agree to monitor the group, make sure questions are answered, and that it is active with regular posts, please reply to this thread to volunteer. If no one volunteers, the group will be retired.”
  • If the group is not important or not active, determine if it should be merged with another one.
  1. If so, merge and then delete.
  2. If not, delete.

Redundant communities

  • Regularly review existing communities to ensure that they are still at the right level of focus (not too broad, not too narrow), are still active, and have leaders who are regularly leading them.
  • Merge groups which overlap

How to merge two groups

  1. Export the members of the first group to Excel.
  2. Convert the XML data to CSV format.
  3. Import the group members from the Excel file to the second group.
  4. Post a message into the group that will be deleted: “This group will soon be consolidated with the name and URL of group to be retained>. Please share any posts from this group which you would like to keep handy into that group using the Yammer Share function. This group will be deleted on date>.
  5. Posts in a deleted group are not deleted. So before deleting the first group, you can use the Share function to share any worthwhile conversations into the second group.
  6. Files and Notes in a deleted group are not deleted. So before deleting the first group, you can post links in the retained group to the key files and notes from the deleted group.
  7. If appropriate, add one or more of the admins of the first group as admins in the second group.
  8. If the first group had a better group image, description, or INFO box information, add some or all of this to the second group.
  9. Delete the first group.
  10. Welcome the new members of the deleted group to the retained group.

Defunct groups

  • The lights are still on, but no one is home
  • The group admins are not paying any attention

Poorly-managed groups

1. Creating a group, but never answering any questions in it, e.g.,

  • October 16, 2013 — group created
  • November 12, 2013 — I want to use this group as a place to share industry information. It is of critical importance in today’s world.
  • February 18, 2014 — question posted, but not answered
  • February 19, 2014 — question posted, but not answered
  • February 21, 2014 — question posted, but not answered
  • May 22, 2014 — question posted, but not answered
  • July 17, 2014 — question posted, but not answered
  • February 3, 2015 — question posted, but not answered
  • February 5, 2015 — question posted, but not answered
  • April 18, 2015 — question posted, but not answered
  • June 3, 2015 — question posted, but not answered

What to do: Publish expectations for group admins, post them prominently online, and send an email to all group admins: If the following condition exists for more than a month, a group may be deleted: Unanswered questions

2. Posting to a group just to make appear active, so it won’t be deleted, e.g., the following are all of the posts in one group:

  • July 19, 2012 — thanks for creating this group.
  • June 17, 2013 — not much happening around here :) just got a warning message that they’ll delete the group if we don’t post anything in the next month or so…
  • June 23, 2014 — just to save the group from being deleted
  • January 20, 2015 — once again, just to save the group from being deleted

What to do: Publish expectations for group admins, post them prominently online, and send an email to all group admins: If the following condition exists for more than a month, a group may be deleted: Posts were made to keep the group from being deleted, but are not of any value

3. Promising to make a group active, but not actually doing it, e.g.,

  • We still require this group and will ensure regular posts are made to keep it alive.
  • We require this group. I plan to make this group active this month.
  • Could we please leave the group open? We would like to encourage people to use the group and will be bringing it up in future meetings.

What to do: Reply with suggestions, e.g.,

Group Admin Archetypes

  • Create-only: Pay no attention to what is being posted; leave questions unanswered
  • Launch and leave: Post only once, then nothing further
  • Sole Proprietors: The only one posting
  • Need my own: Don’t want to use existing groups; don’t want co-leaders

Other actions besides deletion

  • Make a private group public — do this with the consent of the group admin if the group’s subject is of general interest and the discussions don’t actually need to be private
  • Make a public group private — do this if a public group is discussing things that should be private, e.g., client-specific, confidential, sensitive, etc.
  • Remove a private group from search results — do this if
  1. a group’s name, description, or discussions should not be visible to non-members
  2. the group admin does not want people asking to join it
  3. it does not need to be findable and removing it from search results will simplify the list of available groups for a commonly-sought subject

2. Users

  • If this is not automatically done using directory synchronization, remove users who have left the organization
  • If other means don’t work, or if there is an active case of improper posts, deactivate users who violate conduct guidelines — you can reactivate them or delete them permanently depending on how they respond to intervention
  • Those who change their name, email, or network may need to be deleted and re-invited using their new email address

Users who might need to be deactivated or removed

  • Trolls: Try to start online arguments and get people riled up
  • Spammers: Post over and over in every possible group
  • Ranters: Mad and won’t take it any more
  • Bullies: Attack others

How to remove users

  • In the lower left corner, click the gear icon, then click Network Admin, then under Users, click Remove Users, which will take you to:
  1. Remove Users
  2. Remove or deactivate an existing network name> user from the network. Please select a user by typing their name below:
  3. [box]
  4. Enter the user name in the box and select the desired user, which will result in:
  5. User name
  6. name>
  7. email address>
  8. Joined on date>
  9. Posted number> messages
  • Select one of the following choices and then click Submit:
  1. Deactivate this user (you can reactivate their account at any time)
  2. Permanently remove this user but retain their messages
  3. Permanently remove this user and remove their messages

3. Threads

  • You may decide to delete redundant threads which have been copied and pasted into multiple groups, retaining only the one in the most relevant group and sharing it into whichever of the other groups is appropriate
  • Threads started in the wrong group should be copied and pasted into the right group and then deleted from the wrong group
  • Spam should be deleted, and you should explain to the poster why this was done and how to post appropriately — repeated offenses may lead to account deactivation
  • Threads started long ago that continue to receive replies but that are no longer relevant should be deleted

4. Posts and replies

  • Delete posts that violate published guidelines, such as
  1. Confidential, privacy, or sensitive information that should not be disclosed in the group in which it is posted
  2. Abusive, insensitive, offensive, or otherwise inappropriate content, language, or tone
  3. Third-party content not owned by the organization
  • Posts containing undesired hashtags need to be deleted so that the associated topics can be renamed (see topics below)
  • Posts containing incorrect information should be deleted, and if appropriate, replaced with new posts with correct information
  • Until the edit post function is implemented by Microsoft, editing a post requires copying, pasting, and editing the original text in a new post, and then deleting the original post
  • Encourage the proper use of the Share function
  1. Instead of copying and pasting the text of a post and posting it into multiple groups, use the Share function (available under any post) to post a link to a thread in another group. Copy and paste some descriptive text to use when sharing the post, so that email subscribers will know what the shared post is about, but don’t copy and paste the entire post unless it is very short.
  2. Don’t post the same query or request in a large number of groups. Post only once, and then share it a few times using the Share function in only the most relevant groups. Posting the same message in so many groups will likely be perceived as spam. So be more targeted to ensure that the group members will appreciate your post.

5. Files

  • Files already posted in public groups should only be stored once and linked to from other groups
  • Files which should be findable in the organization’s knowledge repository should be deleted from Yammer, contributed to the repository, and linked to from Yammer instead
  • Content for which the rights do not belong to the organization should be deleted from Yammer and linked to instead, if possible
  • Inappropriate content should be deleted and the user who uploaded it should be contacted to explain why

6. Topics

Topics can’t be deleted, but they can be removed from existing threads and renamed, with the exception that if the topic exists as a hashtag within the text of a message, it can’t be removed unless the original post or reply is deleted.

If you come across a misspelled topic, or one that has # at the start of the topic, or a variation that might fragment tagging (e.g., “cloud_computing” instead of “cloud”), here is what you can do.

  1. Click on the topic you want to remove to go to the topic page.
  2. Visit all conversations using that topic, move your cursor to right side of the grey area with the topics, and click on Edit Topics.
  3. Type the desired topic into the Add topic text box and then click Add.
  4. Click the X to the right of the topic you want to remove it from that conversation.
  5. Repeat this process for all remaining conversations using the topic.
  6. If any of the conversations have the hashtag (text string starting with #) of the offending topic in the text of the post, you will have to ask the original poster to delete their post.
  7. Once all of this has been done, and there are no more conversations using the topic nor posts including it as a hashtag, then you can click Rename Topic at the upper right of the topic page.
  8. Enter a new name for the topic: an arbitrarily-long string of “#” and “/” which is not already in use.
  9. This will work until the next time that someone uses the topic again. If that happens, you will have to repeat the above steps.
  10. You can reply to anyone who uses the topic to inform them of the preferred topic and ask them to use it in the future.

If the topic you want to remove was used as an inline hashtag, you will first have to delete all posts in which it was used in this way, and then remove the topic as described above.

7. External Networks

  • To view your external networks, click the gear icon in lower left
  • Browse External Networks
  1. External Networks are separate Yammer networks used to communicate with external groups, like customers, partners, contractors, and fans of Deloitte Global.
  2. Our External Networks
  3. Related External Networks
  4. My External Networks
  • Remove any external networks that are
  1. Unauthorized
  2. Unneeded
  3. Unapproved

8. Related Networks

If your organization has more than one email domain, there may be Yammer networks in addition to your main one. You can ask Microsoft to merge these into your main network. If there are any networks associated with obsolete email domains, you can ask Microsoft to remove them.

It’s a good idea to ask Microsoft to help review all networks created using email domains associated with your organization. You may be surprised to find out how many there are, and will want to merge or delete these.

What are your suggestions for deleting items in Yammer?

Written by

Knowledge Management Author and Speaker, Founder of SIKM Leaders Community, Community Evangelist, Knowledge Manager https://sites.google.com/site/stangarfield/

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