Creating and Using Moderated Public Folders in MS Exchange Server
Public Folders are one of the most useful features of Exchange Server, they allow you to share messaging items throughout your entire organization, distributed throughout a hierarchical structure, and protected by a comprehensive security model. However, it’s possible that there are situations in which a folder’s visibility makes it desirable to have some extra layer of control, one final check, if you like, before something actually appears in full public view. This is where Moderated Folders come in. A moderated folder is a Public Folder like any other, but with one important difference: someone gets to see all the posts before they get placed in the folder. In this article, I will describe how you create and use a moderated folder in Exchange Server.
First, create the new Public Folder. I am going to do this in Outlook, but you can also do this in Exchange System Manager. Right click the location in which you want to create the folder (I am creating it in the Public Folder root), and select ‘New Folder’ from the context menu (figure 1).
Fig 1: Creating a new Public Folder
Give the folder a name (mine is called ‘Announcements’), and indicate the type of messaging item that you want it to contain (figure 2). Click OK, and the new Public Folder will be created.
Fig 2: The new folder properties
Now, right-click the new Public Folder, and open its property pages. First, check the Permissions properties (figure 3) to make sure that the relevant users will have permission to post items in the folder. Also make sure that your intended moderators have permission to post new items (Author), or even modify existing items (Reviewer), otherwise the folder will always remain empty. In my example, I am simply going to allow all users to post new items to the folder (subject to moderation, of course).
Fig 3: The new folder permissions
Now, open the Administration properties, and click on the Moderated Folder button (figure 4).
Fig 4: The Public Folder Administration properties
First, enable the ‘Set folder up as a moderated folder’ option. Now we need to decide who is going to moderate the folder. Clicking the Add button allows you to select a number of users from the Global Address List. The users you select will be the only ones that will be allowed to post items directly to the folder, without them being moderated first. Now, we need to decide which of the moderators will receive each new item posted for review. Click the To button to select the principal folder moderator from the GAL. Make sure that you select a name that appears in the list of moderators, otherwise the user that receives all the posts for review will not be able to move them to the folder afterwards. In my example, I am going to use the Administrator as the principal moderator. You will probably choose a different user. Here you can also decide if you want users to receive a notification whenever they post to the folder (otherwise they may think that nothing is happening). Check the ‘Reply to new items with’ option if you want them to receive a notification. You can also choose if they will receive a standard response (which will be displayed later in this article), or if you want to compose a custom response of your own.
Fig 5: Configuring folder moderation
Click OK to close the Moderated Folder properties, and OK again to close the Public Folder properties. Now it’s time to test the operation of the folder moderation rules. It’s best to ask a non-moderating user to do this, so that the operation of the folder can be fully tested. Ask them to select the folder in Outlook and click New to post a new item to it. Type in some text, and a subject, and click Post to send it to the folder. If you have configured the folder to send a response, they should see one appear in their Inbox. Hopefully, the posted item will not appear in the folder yet. Here is the standard response to the originator from the Exchange server (figure 6):
Fig 6: The moderated folder standard response
Meanwhile, the new post should appear in the principal moderator’s Inbox for review. Once the contents of the post have been checked, the moderator can then move the item back to folder by using the Move or the Copy option from the messages File menu (figure 7), or simply by dragging and dropping within the Outlook window.
Fig 7: Moving the moderated item to the folder
Hopefully, the message will now appear listed in the correct folder. If the message does not appear in the folder, but keeps popping up in your moderator’s Inbox, make sure that they are present in the folder’s list of moderators.
Best Practices for Public Folders