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Did you allow all users to create site spaces? How did it go?


Hello all, 

We're about to move from Confluence Server to Cloud. In our on-prem, users did not have permissions to create their own spaces. I'm wondering as we configure the cloud instance what the repercussions are of allowing all users to create all spaces. 

If you have done this, what was your experience? Do many people create spaces? Do they clean them up afterwards (I think I know this answer)? Do you have a cleanup/grooming policy?



Nic Brough -Adaptavist-
Community Leader
Community Leader
Community Leaders are connectors, ambassadors, and mentors. On the online community, they serve as thought leaders, product experts, and moderators.
Jan 24, 2018 • edited

Very good subject.

In answer to the title of the discussion, my easy answer is "no".  Not because I could have done it and chose not to, but because my second experience with Confluence was with one where the previous admin had, and I got paid quite well for writing code to help clean up the mess, even in quite a small Confluence.  To simplify - never grant "create global space" to more than a handful of people.

Moving on to the details, I've looked after many Confluences with both "can create personal space" and "cannot".  It's probably easier to separate out the answers:

If people can NOT create a personal space

  • They don't have a play area, which leads to a mix of "junk pages in real spaces" and "frustrated people who can't work out how to do stuff".  A test system can really help for a lot of people, but it won't catch all of them.
  • A tendency to go off and draft things in <insert their favourite tool> then complain about copying or importing because it's not as good as doing it directly in Confluence  (Although, I admit, today, I almost yelled at TWO of my peers for posting a link to a google doc today.  We're an Atlassian consultancy with a perfectly good Confluence 6 available, WTF are you doing using google to do collaborative editing when we're supposed to be "dogfooding" Atlassian?)

If people CAN create a personal space

  • Very much stronger uptake of Confluence, because people can try things out
  • Vast amounts of utter junk in personal spaces, that, unfortunately, Atlassian's default search weights tend to quite like.
  • I think your "I think I know" is spot on, and matches mine.  No, we humans don't clean up our personal spaces.  Mine has a banner across it saying "my profile is the only page here you should read", but that's really weak.
  • Yes, you should absolutely build a cleanup policy. 
  • The only place I have seen "allow personal spaces" work well forced the points we are concerned about.  I wrote some code that we ran weekly.  It looked at every top-level page in personal spaces (apart from the profile/home), mailed the admins the page title and wrote it to a new "this week I cleaned this" page, and then restricted the personal page to just the owner.  Clumsy, yes, but it forced people to think about moving their pages to the right spaces, and gave us lists of pages we could safely delete because no-one had ever asked about them again. 
  • I know I probably should not say this, but a policy is something everyone should have, and Adaptavist are just as bad as everyone else.  We're always finding damn useful stuff in people's personal spaces that really needs to be moved and shared.
  • Don't be scared to challenge people's personal space usage.  I am good at writing up stuff I do for clients in my personal space, when it's highly technical.  I am very bad at moving or sharing it because I will write something that works, but not like the criticism I might get from people who are better than me at what I've just done.
Like # people like this

Thanks for the response, 


I'm not so concerned about Personal Spaces because I don't really want to delve into them and enforce cleanups, but I do agree with your arguments. It also sounds like I need to start writing cleanup code for other businesses.

I feel like if people had the option to create both a site space, and a personal space, they would sometimes be using the wrong function for their purpose. 

Daniel Eads _unmonitored account_
Rising Star
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Jan 24, 2018

+1 for Nic's comments. You absolutely should consider personal spaces. And then challenge anyone who is linking documentation that lives in their personal space to move it to the appropriate site space.

I like personal spaces for:

  • Experimentation (can I do ___ with this macro? How can I upload attachments via WebDAV? Does a structure like this let me search differently than...)
  • Tracking personal work (things that are not and should not be Jira tickets)
  • Brainstorming on a personal level - e.g. these are the projects I would like to think about this year, which will eventually make it to Jira or into site spaces as better-written pages
  • Book reviews. I don't personally provide these in Confluence, but find it interesting to read through what coworkers have to say about books they've read

Pretty much everything else I can think of should be in a site space. If in doubt, move it out.

Really like Nic's points on automatically restricting things on a recurring basis in personal spaces. I try to keep my own space clean by restricting subtrees (like test pages) that are 100% only relevant to me. But very few people work like that; it's much more common to see a bunch of stuff you don't need or want to look at in other folks' personal spaces that you have View permission for.


We try to make it easy to request site spaces and get them set up within an hour or two of their request if possible. Only once or twice can I think of occasions where we asked someone to use an existing space instead based on their description of what they were looking for. We always ask for this info:

  1. Name of the space (usually folks explain what they intend to do here, even though we've only asked for the name)
  2. Preferred key
  3. Permission levels - we explain our defaults (everyone has Add by default) and ask that they provide justification if they want to restrict Add or View permissions

For our 400-person organization, I would definitely not open up permissions for people to create their own site spaces. Even though we've only turned down one or two over the years, the act of making the request tends to get people to consider why and if they need a site space.

Thomas Schlegel
Community Leader
Community Leader
Community Leaders are connectors, ambassadors, and mentors. On the online community, they serve as thought leaders, product experts, and moderators.
Jan 25, 2018

I would also not allow too many people creating non-personal spaces. We are about 1500 people here and three of them are able to create spaces.

If there's a need for a new space, we also try to set them up as fast as we can. The new spaces have to be added to some overview pages and macros (e.g. a blogpost compilation) and we try to make them having a similar look and feel like the other ones, e.g. create them with a similar homepage (but of course, they are allowed to change that afterwards).

If hundreds of people were able to create spaces, I'm sure we would run into permission problems (something is visible to someone that shouldn't be or vice versa). Most people don't know the structure of our active directory groups and are not allowed to look them up.    

But, on the other hand, we don't care about personal spaces. Personal spaces are personal and as long as there is no problem with a space or the user asks us about his space, I treat them as the users private field. I wouldn't also clean up his desk, so it's his own responsibility.    

Love the desk cleaning analogy, and the ideas to restrict sub-pages inside personal spaces. That may improve the default searching functionality, too.

John Price
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Feb 07, 2018

I've been using and administering various Confluence instances since wiki markup days.  My experience is that the biggest indicator of how messy your instance will get is not space creation permissions, but instead whether or not you have a dedicated group of people who have time to train users and act as wiki gnomes or wiki gardeners.  I try to spread best practices one team or person at a time.  For example, I notice someone has created a page (or space) that could better be merged with some other content, so I contact that person and say "hey, I noticed you created a page with some Jira tips.  Did you know there's already a Jira usage FAQ at xxxxx?  Maybe you and (other editor) can get together and merge your stuff - they both have really great ideas."

I tend to ask people to use a simple process to request a space, but without constant attention and cleanup by a variety of people (not just the admin!) your wiki is likely to become a jumbled mess in a couple of years either way.


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