Recommendation: Only create a Community site on a Community Portal site collection
Recently when tasked once again with creating a community of practice site, I decided to try out using a Community site template instead of just adding a discussion board and document library to a site and creating a landing page. I needed a centralized place where users could access training materials and also have discussions amongst themselves. The Community site has a really nice look and at first seemed really easy to use.
It comes standard with a Categories content type and list, Community Members list, Discussions list, Site Assets library, and Site Pages library. Community sites also use Reputation and Badging features to help encourage users to participate. The default home page comes with equipped with Community web parts: About this Community, Join, My Membership, Tools, and What’s Happening.
After creating the site I was excited to test it out with a few of my teammates. Come to find out, Community sites cannot really inherit permissions. Even if users have contribute level permissions to the site, they will not be able to contribute to the discussion board until added to the Members list. To be added to the Members list, users have to request to join and a Moderator has to accept them. The Community Members list items cannot even be edited by someone with Full Control. There is simply no option on the list or in the ribbon to edit or add items. Members are only added requesting to join and then participating.
This was a major problem for us because we wanted our users to be able to go to the site and participate immediately not have to wait to be accepted. We also knew our client was not going to want to moderate this site very closely. The solution is that if the Community site is part of a Community Portal site collection, there is an auto approval option so a Moderator does not have to approve users that request to join, they are automatically able to participate. Enabling Auto Approval
Here is a service announcement: Users with CONTRIBUTE level permissions on a community site can DELETE and CREATE lists. Yes it is true. You really need to make sure the users just have EDIT level permissions.
In conclusion, it really seems like these Community sites really work best when they are part of the Community Portal site collection. Enabling the feature on an existing site or creating a Community site in a site collection that is not a Community Portal can cause a lot of confusion and permissions issues.