Comments for Stream Files Stored in SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business

Stream Manages Videos Stored in ODSP

Message Center notification MC317765 (updated March 17) announces that Microsoft Stream videos stored in SharePoint Online or OneDrive for Business now have a comments button. The new feature is rolling out now (Microsoft 365 roadmap item 88521) and is part of the Stream 2.0 initiative to transition Stream from Azure-based storage to OneDrive and SharePoint (ODSP). Stream now stores all new Teams meeting recordings in ODSP. Playback and management of the videos are through Stream, which is why this feature is categorized under Stream.

Threaded Comments

The comments button is available in the Stream player. When playing an audio or video file, look in the set of options overlaid on the upper right-hand side of the screen during playback, and you’ll see the button included in the set available to manage interaction with the file. Other options in the set include ones to update video settings and access the transcript (if one is available). The button exposes a panel where people can interact through threaded conversations to discuss the content of the video (Figure 1). Video owners can edit their comments and delete comments from other users (using the ellipsis menu).

Posting comments to a Stream video stored in ODSP

Microsoft Stream comments
Figure 1: Posting comments to a Stream video stored in ODSP

Microsoft says that the backend for the feature is the same used for comments about files stored in ODSP, presenting the comments with “a new Office look and feel within the player.” In other words, Stream files now have the same commenting ability as other Office documents stored in ODSP., something that’s aligned with Microsoft’s goal to make video and audio content as easy to work with as Office documents.

More importantly, users with view-only permissions (to play the video) don’t need edit permission for files to create comments. Microsoft notes that this is “a change in behavior in terms of permissions for video and audio files.” Users who attend a Teams meeting receive view-only permission to view the video stored in ODSP afterward.

Per-Video for Comments

Not all Microsoft Stream videos are an appropriate forum for comments. For instance, you might not want people commenting about a video explaining a sensitive company policy. If so, anyone with edit access to a video can update its settings to disable comments (Figure 2).

Settings for a Stream video
Figure 2: Settings for a Stream video

Tenant-Wide Controls

Apart from per-video control, tenant-wide settings are available through PowerShell to control posting of comments to Microsoft Stream videos. To update the settings, run the Set-SPOTenant cmdlet from the SharePoint Online management module. Until now, SharePoint supported the CommentsOnFilesDisabled parameter to control if comments are available for all files stored in ODSP. The latest version of the module includes support for the ViewersCanCommentOnMediaDisabled parameter to control comments for video and audio files. Details for these parameters are:

  • CommentsOnFilesDisabled: The default is False, if set to True, it disables comments. for all files stored in OSDP (documents and videos).
  • ViewersCanCommentOnMediaDisabled: The default is False. If set to True, it disables the ability of users to add comments to video and audio files unless they have edit permission for a file.

To update the settings, run Set-SPOTenant. This command disables the ability of users with view-only permission to post comments:

Set-SPOTenant -ViewersCanCommentOnMediaDisabled $True

The Compliance Aspect

One issue I ran into is that I could not find comments posted for videos with a content search. Content searches can find comments in Office documents stored in ODSP, so the inability to locate comments posted for audio and video files might be due to a timing issue where Microsoft hasn’t yet deployed all the bits needed to support indexing to my tenant. In any case, it’s something I shall keep an eye on.

Comments Everywhere

Given that people are accustomed to commenting on videos posted to platforms like YouTube and Facebook, it makes sense to support comments for Microsoft Stream videos. The interface should be natural to anyone who posts comments in Office documents, once they find the Comments button.

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