Microsoft 365 security

SharePoint Contribute: When and how to use it?

If you're looking for more details about Contribute, a core function of SharePoint Server, you've come to the right place.

But, before we break down the SharePoint Contribute permission, we need to define the SharePoint Permissions levels in SharePoint Server.

Permission levels in SharePoint Server

Permission levels are precoded sets of permissions that are assigned to individual users, user groups, or security groups depending on their functional requirements for using the server and their security considerations. 

SharePoint Server has seven default permission levels that control what users can do. You can customize five of these permission levels, while two (Limited Access and Full Control) can not be tampered with.

The  seven default permission levels in SharePoint Server: 

  • View Only: this permission level allows users to see application pages. This permission level is used for the Excel Services Viewers group. 
  • Limited Access: only allows users to access shared resources and a specific asset. This permission level was specifically planned and conceptualized to be used with other finely tuned permissions to allow users to access a specific list, document library, folder, list item, or document – without giving access to the whole site. 
  • Read: allows users to interact at a surface level with documents. They can view pages and list items, and also download documents. 
  • Contribute: the permission level you probably came here to learn more about. The Contribute default permission level allows users to manage personal views, edit items and user information, delete versions in existing lists and document libraries, and add, remove, and update personal Web Parts. 
  • Edit: allows users to manage lists. 
  • Design: allows users to view, add, update, delete, approve, and customize items or pages on the website.  
  • Full control: the most powerful permission level of them all. It gives users full control of a website and gives them all permissions. 

Contribute permission level 

Now that we’ve gotten all that out of our way, let’s get to the SharePoint Contribute permission level details, and there are a lot since the Contribute permission level includes 33 permissions. SharePoint Server allows you to configure which permissions are counted in a particular permission level (excluding the Limited Access and Full Control permission levels) and create a new one that can incorporate specific permissions, if needed, at any given time. 

These 33 permissions are categorized as list permissions, site permissions, and personal permissions, and what determines their grouping in the objects to which they can be applied. Site permissions apply to a particular website, list permissions apply only to lists and libraries, and personal permissions apply only to certain objects, such as personal views and private web parts.   

The following are the permissions that are included in the Contribute default permission level in SharePoint Server.

List permissions:

  • Add Items: Add items to lists and documents to document libraries. 
  • Edit Items: Edit items in lists, edit documents in document libraries, and customize Web Part pages in document libraries. 
  • Delete Items: Delete items from a list and documents from a document library. 
  • View Items: View items in lists and documents in document libraries. 
  • Open Items: View the source of documents with server-side file handlers. 
  • View Versions: View past versions of a list item or document. 
  • Delete Versions: Delete past versions of list items or documents. 
  • Create Alerts
  • View Application Pages: View forms, views, and application pages. Enumerate lists. 

Site permissions: 

  • Browse Directories: Enumerate files and folders in a website by using SharePoint Designer 2013 and Web DAV interfaces. 
  • Use Self-Service Site Creation: Create a website using Self-Service Site Creation.  
  • View Pages: View pages on a website. 
  • Browse User Information: View information about users of the website. 
  • Use Remote Interfaces: Use SOAP, Web DAV, the Client Object Model, or SharePoint Designer 2013 interfaces to access the website. 
  • Use Client Integration Features: Use features that launch client applications. Users must work on documents locally without this permission and then upload their changes.  
  • Open: Enables users to open a website, list, or folder to access items inside that container.  
  • Edit Personal User Information: This enables users to change their user information, such as adding a picture.  

Personal permissions: 

  • Manage Personal Views: Create, change, and delete personal views of lists. 
  • Add/Remove Personal Web Parts: Add or remove personal Web Parts on a Web Part page. 
  • Update Personal Web Parts: Update Web Parts to display personalized information. 

The information above covers how to use the Contribute permission level in SharePoint Server and its many possible associated actions. Let’s focus on an important question with that out of the way. 

When should you use the SharePoint Contribute permission level? 

The answer depends on many factors. Most importantly, we need to compare the Edit default permission level with Contribute. 

Users can add or delete lists in the Edit permission level, but with Contribute, they can only add or subtract items in an existing list and cannot add or delete lists. 

So, the main difference between the two is in control and authority. You should use the Contribute permission level in SharePoint Server in the following situations. 

Ordinary everyday use for general employees

Suppose your business requires general employees to use SharePoint Server for everyday routines and processes as part of their jobs. In that case, the Contribute permission level is the one you should opt for. 

It will allow them to interact with the data and lists without adding or subtracting more lists. They will only be able to interact with the data they are meant to. 

Security purposes  

A business should always strive to achieve secure environments for its software platforms. Ensuring a safe ecosystem for your SharePoint Server means your users should be provided only with the access and permissions required to complete their tasks and roles sufficiently. 

Any unneeded access or permission presents a security risk, and prevention is always better than a cure. Better to restrict access and permit as needed than permit unnecessarily and regret it later. 

External collaboration and SharePoint Contribute 

External collaboration is another case where you should use the Contribute default permission level. It will go a long way in helping you ensure security and efficiency. 

When working with external collaborators, they should only be able to interact with the data in a manner that fulfills the collaboration purpose without jeopardizing their data. Allowing them to add or subtract their lists is a major security risk and could cause havoc in a business’s data files. 

Internal collaboration and SharePoint Contribute

Every organization has multiple departments, groups, divisions, and teams. These diverse groups often have to come together to work on different projects or tasks. 

The Contribute permission level logically emerges as the permission level for collaboration, as it will prevent users from other departments and teams from adding or subtracting lists of other groups. 

Contribute SharePoint permissions in a nutshell

We hope we’ve helped you learn more about the SharePoint Contribute permission level and that you now know when and where to use it. 

To sum up, the Contribute permission level will allow users to work freely and provide your organization with an extra layer of protection and security. 

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